West End Semi Renovation

Toronto West End Semi Renovation

Woodsmith Construction Project Journal:

This project was one of our most challenging and of our most rewarding to date. On paper, it seemed pretty straightforward—a small rear addition and a complete gut and rework of the existing home. However, what is on paper is rarely the case once you do it. The clients had a few simple wishes that were a must. Number one was ensuring the party wall was as soundproof as possible. The other side of their semi was a rental rooming house; things could get loud over there regularly. The second wish was to clean up the basement and ensure no more water was coming in. We were confident we could hit on both of those marks without much hardship.


West End Semi: Renovation Challenges 

We knew little, but making those wishes come true would be the least of our concerns. Problem number one was the rooming house next door. The landlord did not get along with our client and decided it would be a great idea to complain to anyone in the city that would listen. So almost weekly, from the minute work began, we would have surprise visitors from the city expecting the house to be falling down from what the neighbour had described to them. This was never the case, to their relief, but they, of course, have to come whenever someone complains. Thus began the weekly ritual of talking down another complaint from the neighbour.


West End Semi: Renovation First Problems

For anyone considering a West End semi-reno,  please factor in your neighbours because this project was an example of what they can do to mess things up. With regular visits from the inspector came requests for additional information about what and how we were dealing with the tasks at hand. Now we always have an engineer deal with all structural alterations. Still, usually, the process is that they oversee everything, and we submit a report on the process and inspections made at the end of whatever phase of construction we are in. This time was different because, for every complaint, the inspector was forced to come and cover his ass; he had to request individual reports. That way, the city records would show he had dealt with the “problem.” This costs the clients both time and money for no reason at all. So the lesson for any West end semi-reno is always to factor a problematic neighbour into the potential equation.


West End Semi: Renovation Second Problems

The second source of fun on this project was the basement. As it turns out, it had only been half underpinned to look that way from the inside but only supported half of the foundation wall. This not only let a tremendous amount of water into the basement but also compromised the entire building structure. So we had to redo a lot of the pin work to have it pass for the engineers. Of course, this also costs time and money, but the client got a brand new basement, with better ceiling heights and thoroughly waterproofed, out of the deal.


West End Semi: Renovation Key Take Aways

These challenges on our West end semi-reno lead to cost overages and loss of time and productivity. But, as with our projects, we battled and got through it. No matter what type of renovation project you are considering attacking, always make sure you think about some things that can go wrong. There is no need to paint the worst-case doom and gloom story possible, but there is a need to be realistic. There is no such thing as a perfect renovation. There are too many variables involved not to have something go wrong. The key is to figure out how to work around it in the best way possible and to have a little extra in your budget to absorb some of the costs.


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