NOW Magazine - Toronto Living - - Front Page -

Ren­o­vat­ing your bath­room is a great way to add value to your home, both for your fam­ily’s daily living and for fu­ture re­sale. Be­fore you de­cide to go ahead with a ren­o­va­tion, it’s crit­i­cal to have a good idea of any un­der­ly­ing prob­lems that could cause un­wel­come and costly sur­prises. Tak­ing time to find prob­lems be­fore you start your ren­o­va­tion will save you money, pro­tect your in­door air qual­ity and pre­serve the dura­bil­ity and struc­ture of your home.


A bath­room ren­o­va­tion is one of the most com­mon home im­prove­ment projects. Bath­room ren­o­va­tions come in all types and sizes – from a sim­ple up­date of the floor­ing to en­larg­ing the room and re­plac­ing all fix­tures and fin­ishes. Your project is unique, but your rea­sons for ren­o­vat­ing will prob­a­bly fall into th­ese com­mon cat­e­gories. SIZE AND DE­SIGN >The room may be small or poorly de­signed. FIX­TURES > Fix­tures may be out­dated, small, hard-to-clean, leaky, cracked or in­ef­fi­cient. STRUC­TURAL > There may be prob­lems that re­quire struc­tural changes or re­pairs. MOIS­TURE > Ex­ces­sive bath­room mois­ture may have de­te­ri­o­rated the bath­room sur­faces, af­fected the in­door air qual­ity or jeop­ar­dized the struc­ture of your house.

PLUMB­ING AND ELEC­TRI­CAL If your house is over 30 years old, the plumb­ing and elec­tri­cal ser­vices may be out­dated and need up­grad­ing. Houses built prior to 1950 of­ten have lead pip­ing that may pose a health haz­ard.

HEAT­ING AND VEN­TI­LA­TION Bath­rooms are of­ten cold be­cause of poor in­su­la­tion or poor heat de­liv­ery. Ven­ti­la­tion is of­ten in­ad­e­quate or nonex­is­tent, which may cause sec­ondary prob­lems that need to be fixed. A house is much more than just four walls and a roof. It’s an in­ter­ac­tive sys­tem made up of many com­po­nents in­clud­ing the ba­sic struc­ture, heat­ing, ven­ti­lat­ing and air con­di­tion­ing (HVAC) equip­ment, the ex­ter­nal en­vi­ron­ment and the oc­cu­pants. Each com­po­nent in­flu­ences the per­for­mance of the en­tire sys­tem. A ren­o­va­tion pro­vides an op­por­tu­nity to im­prove how your house per­forms. Bath­room ren­o­va­tions of­ten in­clude changes to HVAC equip­ment that can im­prove mois­ture man­age­ment in the house. Struc­tural changes may im­prove air seal­ing and in­su­la­tion, re­sult­ing in in­creased oc­cu­pant com­fort and house dura­bil­ity. Be­fore you start ren­o­vat­ing, you’ll want to think about your bath­room, your needs and your bud­get. Look care­fully for signs of de­te­ri­o­ra­tion and the pos­si­ble causes. This will save you money and also help you to be bet­ter in­formed if you’re deal­ing with con­trac­tors. Re­flect­ing on your project will also help you to de­cide whether you need the ser­vices of a pro­fes­sional. Be­ing un­sure of what needs to be done, rec­og­niz­ing that the job is very com­pli­cated or that you don’t have the time or en­ergy to do the work are good rea­sons to hire a pro­fes­sional ren­o­va­tor.


A home­owner with good fix-it skills may be able to do some of the work in­clud­ing:

■ Re­mov­ing old fix­tures.

■ Gut­ting old wall sur­faces.

■ Re­mov­ing non-load-bear­ing walls.

■ Fix­ing roof or win­dow leaks.

■ In­su­lat­ing, in­stalling a vapour bar­rier and air seal­ing.

Se­ri­ous struc­tural work may re­quire the ser­vices of a pro­fes­sional ren­o­va­tor. You’ll also likely need an elec­tri­cian for any new wiring, a plumber for the plumb­ing work and a heat­ing con­trac­tor to in­stall or move heat­ing or ven­ti­la­tion out­lets. You may want to hire trades­peo­ple to do the struc­tural work, roof­ing, win­dow re­pairs or in­stal­la­tion and any ex­te­rior wall re­pairs. The cost of es­sen­tial re­pairs will de­pend largely on the de­te­ri­o­ra­tion of the ex­ist­ing struc­ture and how much pro­fes­sional labour is needed. This ar­ti­cle was sup­plied by CMHC (the Canada Mort­gage & Hous­ing Cor­po­ra­tion). Go to for other ar­ti­cles.


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