Danforth Home Renovations
Danforth Home Renovations Project
Woodsmith Project Journals:
This Danforth home renovation project tested every bit of our team’s skill and know-how. Funnily enough, it started as a simple third-floor renovation: just some interior alterations, no big deal. We did not have to deal with permits, structure or anything significant. This home was fully renovated in the 90s, so everything seemed to be done with modern construction techniques. Well, as we came to find out, looks can be very deceiving, and this project turned out to be anything but a walk in the park.
Danforth Home Renovations: Problems found behind the walls
Right from day one, once we started pulling the third floor apart. There were some big red flags with what we began to reveal, and it was trouble behind the drywall. As it turns out, the entire third floor was framed on an old roof. Which is not uncommon, but this roof had never been stripped. The entire 700 sqft structure was sitting on little scraps of wood used to prop up some 2x3s on the flat. Now after seeing this, we were all amazed that this third-floor addition was even standing. This was no way to support any structure, let alone one three storeys in the air.
Danforth Home Renovations: Buyer beware home sold with an illegal addition
Our little Danforth home renovations project had taken a turn for the worst right out of the gates, and it would not get better anytime soon after scrambling to get engineers in to design a new structure to support what was there and get the framing well underway. We then came across our next little surprise: the third-floor flat roof that had been on there for years was just that, flat. It had no slope on it and had caused pooling and leaking behind the insulation pretty much ever since it was built.
We then began a complete removal of the entire roof of the home. Only to experience the very worst this project had to throw at us. Although educational, it was a harsh lesson learned that everyone in Toronto probably is unaware of. The neighbour from across the lane (a retired engineer) decides that he will try to extort the homeowner for a piece of their backyard. That way, he can pull out of his garage more quickly in the mornings. Now the way he went about it was the exciting part. He said he had proof that a part of the existing third was constructed illegally and that he would go to the city with this information if we didn’t comply with his wishes. As you can imagine, we are less than impressed with his tactics. Figuring that there was no way a neighbour could force an issue with an existing structure my client had never even built. We decided not to engage in such a ridiculous conversation and get back to work at hand of finishing the third floor.
Danforth Home Renovations: Process to legalize what was already built
Now that was where we were wrong, and he did go to the city, and yes, even though you might not have built it. If someone, anyone, can prove that it was done illegally. You, as the homeowner, can be forced to bring it up to code. We then spent the better part of the following year in various committee hearings and OMB to get rid of him and “legalize” the third floor.
Danforth Home Renovations: Lessons Learned
It was an excruciatingly long process that nearly bankrupted my client when she could not afford the stress, as her son had been diagnosed with cancer just after the Danforth home renovation project began. We stuck it through and kept pushing to get her what was rightfully hers anyways, and in the end, we did just that. She was able to fix many problems with her house and, after a painfully long process, got there. She can have a bath in her new third-floor main suite. Lesson learned, though, when planning any home renovation project, always ensure what you plan to work on. No matter how good it looks, it has been built with the proper permits. It will save you a whole heap of heartache; take my word for it.
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