What Do I Need to Know Before Starting My Renovation Project?

Building an addition to your home can be a dream come true! But the dream will become a reality only if you plan your project meticulously. The hoops to jump through can be overwhelming! And it’s very easy to get wrapped up in the fantasy of the end result and miss important steps long the way.

Here are a few issues that many people overlook when planning their addition projects.


If you live in the country you are likely on a septic system, which was built according to the specifications of the house as it was originally built. It is possible that the changes that come with your addition will require an upgrade to your septic system.

There are generally three factors that will guarantee the need for at least an assessment to determine whether you need bigger septic system:

  • Add a bedroom – Adding a bedroom increases the number of people that your house will accommodate, and will therefore potentially increase the demands placed on water and plumbing systems.
  • Add a new water fixture – A new powder room with a sink and toilet, or a new laundry room where none existed before can obviously lead to more water use and need for a more robust septic system.
  • Add 15% or more square feet of living space – Even if your plans are to build a large work-shop or home office which have nothing to do with a bigger family or more water fixtures, a septic assessment is required if you substantially increase your square footage.


If you live in the city, zoning bylaws will be your biggest issue. For example, there are restrictions on the setback measurements, which is the distance between your house and the edge of the property line.


No matter where you live, a lot depends on your neighborhood. Niagara Escarpment Commission, Credit Valley Conservation and Conservation Halton are three authorities that impact property ownership in Halton Hills. Securing approval from the conservation authority that oversees the region where you live is a process that must be completed as part of the planning stage, and can take longer than expected.


Your architectural technician will be a big help planning your addition or renovation. They can help you determine how big a project is really needed, and what your best options are for achieving it. For example, do you REALLY need (and have you accurately calculated the cost of) the large addition you are imagining? If your budget is tight, would you be better off to reorganize and renovate the space you already have? Do you clearly understand the factors that impact the cost, feasibility and timeline of your project, such as your sceptic system, zoning restrictions and conservation region?

Make sure to talk with your architectural technician about these factors, as well the many other issues that will inevitably impact your budget, blueprints, and schedule.

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