Contractors, specialized or general, are sorry to see their clients pay much larger bills than if they had been better informed about the coordination of the different stages of their renovations. So, before launching a particular small or large project, make sure that half of it will not have to be demolished if another one has to be hired a year or two later; and take the opportunity to check if it is not possible to kill two birds with one stone, just to reduce costs.
“It’s a bit of the Wild West in renovation, everyone contradicts each other, and entrepreneurs only think of doing their own business in their corner. While the order of work can change the life and quality of a building, “says Tommy Bouillon, president of Maçonnerie Gratton. During his career, he has seen a number of recent works carried out before his intervention that he had to redo in part to properly carry out his mandate. Sometimes a simple pre-check would have avoided drastically inflating a bill.
“We have already seen workers, for example a balcony repairman who only does that as an activity, turn a blind eye to other necessary work [before or during his own], in order to finish the job quickly and get paid,” adds Stéphane Lessard, president of JG Lessard et Fils, general contractor. It is not necessarily out of bad will, but sometimes out of ignorance that a specialized renovator, unfamiliar with the impact of his interventions on those of other trades, will complicate things for the future.
These issues particularly concern owners of residences built between 1920 and 1970, the majority in Montreal, and whose standards are completely outdated.
Concrete examples? Let’s talk roofing. By redoing this element of a building, the roofer will install a metal flashing, a sealing strip surrounding the roof and ensuring the connection between the latter and the walls. “The problem is that it will seal on the flatness of the existing wall, and if the brick has to be redone, the flashing will no longer be good, because the wall will be straight again. We will therefore be forced to sell a new flashing to the client, who will pay twice for the same business…”, illustrates Mr. Bouillon.
Another case, still concerning the roof: after having renovated his, a client of Mr. Lessard noticed that condensation was created due to poor ventilation, causing the rotting of pieces of wood. A slight upgrade will therefore certainly be necessary to solve the problem. “He will have to destroy the new membrane to be able to carry out this work”, indicates the director of LG, who explains that old buildings, formerly little or not insulated at the level of the roof, can experience this kind of concern once sealed. Another effect of the insulation is that snow accumulates there more than before; however, the period frames were not designed to support such a weight – the contractor therefore advises to pay attention to this.
In short, the watchword for restoring order: try to obtain a more global portrait of the needs of your property, in order to launch any successive renovations in a strategic way.
Tommy Bouillon points out that the walls, with their large expanse, touch all the elements of a building.
With added costs.
We saw the example of the roof above, now let’s dive into the foundations. In the event of renovation, the masonry must be supported. But if the building is old and the anchors tired, these could unhook, which will require additional work. “Instead of ending up with a bill of $10,000 or $15,000, people end up with a bill of $75,000. Make sure your wall is stable first, so you know the time,” advises Bouillon.
For new balconies, same story as for the roof: fixing them on an aging wall is not the best idea, especially since the back of the balconies is a particularly critical area. “The sealant joint is often micro-cracked, the water goes back over time and damages the whole brick, which never dries out. It’s a very weak section of the building,” says Bouillon, who recommends having the old balcony removed, then working on the masonry and insulation behind it, before installing the new balcony.
For doors and windows, it’s on a case-by-case basis, he says. But here too, sealing new windows on old masonry is not ideal. What’s more, work on the brick can degrade new elements and their finish. “Masonry is corrosive, it’s full of angel hair, and even if it’s protected, tapped, canvas, fine silica dust seeps in,” warns the contractor.
In the short term, taking advantage of one intervention to implement a second, related one can feel like blowing a budget. But in the long term, it is often a good shot to play. “It is much more economical to do certain jobs at the same time than one after the other,” says Stéphane Lessard. He cites the possibility of installing, if space permits, insulation if it comes to redoing the masonry. Much of Montreal’s residential housing stock prior to the 1960s was wallpapered with dried-out, inefficient black paper.
We will also pay attention to opportunities to update electricity and plumbing, if they are obsolete and do not comply with current standards, for example during interventions in a kitchen or a bathroom. “If you are stripping ceilings, walls or floors in an old property, it is a must to take the opportunity to redo them. If we don’t want to break everything, we can at least go in sections, or try to use a technique to pass the wiring everywhere, “says the president of JG Lessard.
He strongly recommends not to think only of the aesthetics of his bathroom or his kitchen in case of renovation, but also to invest in the camouflaged elements. “A lot of people care about flashiness, but as a professional I’m more aware of what’s behind the walls. A client of mine wants to redo his kitchen and bathroom: it’s better to do one or the other at two different times, and do the job completely, than to do both half and not well. do them,” he believes.