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Dreaming of Home Renovations? What You Need to Know About Building Permits

home renovations building permits

According to the Financial Post, Canadian homeowners are tackling remodeling projects in record numbers. BNN reports that, as of 2017, nearly half of all Canadian homeowners report that they plan to invest in home renovations this year!

When asked what their biggest remodel-related concerns are, these homeowners replied: project delays, spending too much, and the disruption to their regular home routines.

If you are planning a home remodel in the near future, you can probably relate to these concerns! You may also be worried about the permitting process itself. But Gravenhurst Plumbing, Heating & Electric can help you! Read on to learn the basics of applying for a building permit and how that process works.

The Hazards of Renovating Without a Permit

While this is not advisable, it is also not uncommon to find homeowners opting to complete small renovation projects without going through the building permit process.

There are four main areas where this strategy can backfire:

  • It can put you in a precarious negotiating position when you want to sell your home. Buyers are often reluctant to take on the responsibility of buying a home that includes unpermitted renovations.

  • If you are turned in, the Ministry of Municipal Affairs or your local municipality can shut down your renovation at any point until you obtain the required permits.

  • You may also have to redo part or all of the work already done to date if it was not done to your municipality's building code specifications.

  • If you work with a contractor and experience project delays or problems with the finished product, you will have little legal recourse without revealing the lack of required permits.

For these reasons and others, it is always best to go through the proper channels to get your building permit before starting a remodel project.

When You Need a Building Permit

According to the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing for Ontario, you are required to apply for a permit under these conditions:

  • If you plan to repair or renovate an existing structure.

  • If you plan to add to an existing structure to expand it.

  • If you plan to add a structure (such as a mobile home or a building).

  • If you plan to construct any new building that measures over 10 meters.

  • If you plan to excavate an existing foundation or build a new foundation.

  • If you plan to build a seasonal structure.

  • If you plan to alter, repair, extend or install a sewage system on your property.

If you are ever uncertain whether a proposed repair or remodel project requires a building project, it is always a good idea to ask your municipality.

How to Apply for a Building Permit

In most cases, you can have your permit in-hand in a relatively short amount of time. The average is 10 to 30 days after you submit your application, depending on the type and complexity of your project.

This is the basic process for applying for a building permit:

  • Request a permit application with the appropriate municipal office.

  • Fill out the application completely and add in all requested documentation.

  • Have your building plans reviewed and approved by an entity with a BCIN (Building Code Identification Number) such as Gravenhurst Plumbing, Heating & Electric.

  • Pay the filing fee at the time you submit your application.

  • Wait for your application to be reviewed.

  • Receive an approval.

  • Post your building permit approval notice in a window or other area of high visibility on your property and make sure to keep a copy of your plans on the premises.

  • Work with building inspectors at each major phase of your project to ensure compliance with your municipality's building code and your building plans.

  • Complete construction.

While this process probably sounds simple enough, there is one possible hitch that may arise. If you submit your initial building plans for permitting and your application is denied, you will have to decide whether to proceed forward and file an appeal.

The most common reasons why a permit application may be denied include these:

  • Your building plans are not complete at the time of submission (for instance, if you plan to demolish part or all of a structure and then remodel or construct a new one, which may require two separate permit applications).

  • The plans were not reviewed and approved by an entity with a BCIN license.

  • The plans contravene your municipality's building code or property use code in some way.

  • If you wish to change the use of your property in a way that is outside current zoning standards in your municipality.

If you decide to appeal, get an attorney familiar with building permit issues involved.

Your Building Permit Is Approved—Now What?

Once your building permit is approved and issued, you are free to begin construction according to the construction timeline you submitted during the application process.

If you alter any part of your building plans during the construction phase, you must first notify the municipality that issued your building permit before proceeding.

As you complete each phase, you must also notify the permitting municipality to send out a building permit inspector to review work-to-date. Once you notify the municipality, the inspector has five days to do the inspection. During this time, you may not do any further work on your project.

Give Us a Call for Help With Building Permits

Here at Gravenhurst Plumbing, we are very familiar with the intricacies of building permits, municipal codes, technical requirements, and zoning rules and regulations. We hold a BCIN (Building Code Identification Number), which means we are licensed to review and approve your building plans.

If you are planning a building project, we can help streamline the process for you. Give us a call at 705-687-3402 or 877-885-3403 (Canada only).

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Seeking to Lower Your Stress Levels? We Can Help With That!

relaxed at home

Owning a home can be one of the greatest joys in life. It can also be one of the most stressful experiences.

In addition to the stresses every homeowner has in common (property taxes, household pests, utility bills), there can be home-specific stressors. These are usually related to the age and state of large appliances that you inherited from the previous homeowner when you bought your home.

When these major appliances begin to deliver less-reliable performance, life can get stressful pretty quick. It is cold outside but you're never sure whether you will have adequate heating. Then it gets hot outside, but it feels hot inside as well.

Or there is that one fateful morning when you wake up in eager anticipation of a hot shower, only to be surprised with a cold shower instead. Stress! Your aging appliances are letting you down left and right!

We can help you with this. Our comfort and heating maintenance plans can spot small issues before they turn into big issues that are capable of ruining your day, your week, or (worst of all) your bank account. Read on to learn what we can offer to help save you time, money, and stress.

Do You Own These Major Appliances?

The typical homeowner will own at least one major appliance from each of these categories below. Each appliance represents a significant investment, and many are needed year-round.

As you look over this list, you’ll get why it can feel so stressful sometimes to be responsible for maintaining an entire home full of appliances and gadgets, Just one glitch or unexpected outage can eat up an entire day of your time—or longer!

Heating

  • Gas furnace

  • Oil furnace

  • Electric furnace

  • Air source heat pump

  • Geothermal heat pump

  • Heating boiler

  • Fireplace

  • Electrical floor warmer

Cooling

  • HVAC system

  • Air conditioning system (mini-split, ductless, or window)

  • Heat recovery ventilator

Water

  • Hot water heater

  • Tankless hot water heater

  • Sump pump

  • Sewage pump

  • Toilet (Entrada, UltraMax II TOTO, Maxwell, Ascent II)

  • Drain water heat recovery

  • TrojanMax ultraviolet water purification system

Emergency Power

  • Air-cooled Muskoka standby generator.

How Gravenhurst Plumbing Can Help Lower Your Stress

In our more than seven decades serving clients in the Hamilton and surrounding areas, we have observed that most homeowner stress tends to fall into these three categories:

  • Time. Every time anything goes wrong, or any time you even suspect something may be going wrong, you have to drop what you are doing to investigate and maybe even attempt minor repairs. That can add up to a lot of time spent on house maintenance pretty quickly!

  • Money. When something does go wrong with any aspect of your home, it is nearly guaranteed to hit you in the wallet. Even the most careful budgeting can't always control for the costly surprises your home may yet have in store for you.

  • Making choices. If you find you need to make a major repair or replace something, then you are confronted with a list of choices. Should you choose this or that contractor? This or that appliance? This or that material? The sheer number of choices you have to wade through can cause tremendous stress.

We can help you in all three areas through one of our two convenient maintenance plans. By delegating the tasks of inspecting and maintaining your home’s major heating and cooling appliances to us, you get rid of that headache once and for all!

Two Simple and Convenient Maintenance Plans to Choose From

So here, you do have a choice to make. You can select our heating protection maintenance plan or our total comfort maintenance plan.

Heating Protection Plan

This one-year renewable heating-only service and maintenance plan gives you lots of perks while saving you money on your annual inspection and heating maintenance costs.

Here are the highlights:

  • You are in the priority queue for any emergency heating-related service.

  • All labour and parts come with an automatic 30-day warranty.

  • There are NO surprise costs—we will always ask you before performing any repairs outside the scope of the protection plan.

  • There are NO overtime or service call charges for maintenance performed under this plan.

  • If you include two or more appliances under the plan, you score a 10 percent discount.

  • If you opt for the 5-year plan, you score a 20 percent discount.

  • We provide you with timely guidance to save on energy and utilities costs.

To learn more and opt in: Gravenhurst Heating Protection Plan.

Comfort Maintenance Plan

This one-year renewable heating and cooling maintenance plan ensures your HVAC and heating equipment will be inspected, thoroughly cleaned, and well maintained.

It also comes with the following special perks (as applicable to covered equipment):

  • Preventative maintenance kit with oil included with generator maintenance.

  • Nozzle and filter included with oil furnace maintenance.

  • Discounted prices on all parts.

  • You receive a 10 percent discount for two or more covered appliances.

  • You receive a 20 percent discount for choosing the 5-year plan.

To learn more and opt in: Gravenhurst Comfort Maintenance Plan.

Give Us a Call!

Here at Gravenhurst Plumbing, our primary goal is to provide you with ample time and cost savings, and total peace of mind regarding your heating, cooling, plumbing, and emergency power needs. Give us a call at 877-885-3403 or complete our handy online form to make your inquiry.

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Opening Your Cottage for the First Time? We Can Help With That!

opening cottage mist

While your thermometer may not reflect this just yet, we are finally closing in on the end of another long, cold, snowy, rainy winter season.

It feels good to think about spring's imminent arrival!

As Ontario's urban areas become increasingly congested, more Canadians are turning their eyes toward an investment in seasonal housing.

According to Canadian Real Estate magazine, a full three-quarters of seasonal homeowners are buying a cottage for now and later. Now, they want to enjoy cottage life with their kids. Later, they want to enjoy cottage life during their retirement years.

In this post, we share our favorite spring cottage-opening tips for first-timers and seasoned cottage owners alike. If you need assistance with getting your cottage in ship-shape condition for spring's arrival, give us a ring: we're happy to help!

First Things First: Retracing Your Steps

If you are an established cottage owner, you have likely developed a regular routine regarding cottage closings and openings. But if you are new, this may be your very first cottage opening—exciting!

The first and most important step is to remember what you did and didn't do when you closed down your cottage for the winter season.

For example, some cottage owners will turn off the main power source, while others will leave that on to power outside lighting and security and just turn off individual elements instead.

For help jogging your memory, we've created a handy Cottage Closing Checklist you can refer to and use to make notes about what to do when you arrive to re-open your cottage.

What to Do Before You Head for Your Cottage

If you chose to disconnect any of your regular services for the winter season, you will want to call your providers to have these services reconnected before you arrive to re-open your cottage:

  • Electricity

  • Propane

  • Water

  • Phone/internet/television

You will also probably want to assemble some tools and supplies for the re-opening (if you don't already have these at the cottage):

  • Copies of your insurance documents and claim phone numbers (just in case)

  • A ladder and tarp

  • Basic tools (hammer, wrench, screwdrivers, etc.)

  • Broom, dustpan, cleaning supplies, and paper towels

  • Batteries (to change out the smoke alarm and other devices)

  • Air filters as needed

  • Snacks for the road and when you arrive

  • The cottage keys!

The Cottage Pre-Opening Walk-About

When you arrive to re-open your cottage, first do an exterior walk-about, paying special attention to any of these (or similar) issues:

  • Fallen tree limbs and debris

  • Hanging power lines or phone lines

  • Cracked windows or missing/torn screens

  • Loose roof shingles or siding

  • Visible holes in roofing or elsewhere

  • Loose boards in the porch or deck

  • Areas of soggy ground or standing water

  • Evidence of wildlife, rodents, or insect pests

  • Missing components to secure your dock

  • Any strange or unpleasant odour

Now you can do the interior walk-about, paying special attention to any of these (or similar) issues:

  • Damp or discolored patches on the ceiling

  • Soggy areas of carpet or pooled water on flooring

  • Evidence of wildlife, rodents, or insect pests

  • Any strange or unpleasant odour

Make notes about anything you will need to return to fix or investigate further later.

Restoring Your Water Supply

Even experienced cottage owners sometimes find it challenging to go through the steps of reconnecting the water pipes, cleaning, and then priming (filling) the water pump, replacing the filter, filling up the hot water tank (as applicable), and restoring water to the cottage.

This is one of the hardest tasks for cottage owners, especially if you have to haul the water to prime the pump by hand. And doing a visual inspection of your water lines, pump, and whole system can be confusing if you're not sure what warning signs to look for!

Another common issue is water pipes that leak or have frozen and cracked/burst during the winter.

Sometimes watching a professional go through the steps of restoring water to your cabin is just what you need to learn how to do this yourself in future years.

As well, if you have noticed signs that there may be a water leak or a pipe has burst, this is a good time to call in the pros.

We are happy to help with restoring water to your cottage and handling well and septic system inspection and cleaning chores.

NOTE: We always recommend that you consider having your well and septic cleaned at the start of the new spring/summer season, for your own safety.

Restoring Power to Your Cottage

Before you restore power to your cottage, first take a look at the central electrical panel and tighten all the fuses. If you see any tripped breakers (in the case that you left the central power on), restore those as well.

Take a look at any exterior and interior power cables or connections to be sure nothing has been damaged.

Uncover the chimney and open the flue, then inspect for any signs of wildlife if you plan to use the fireplace.

If all looks operational, restore power to the central electrical panel, and then power up each individual appliance and test that everything is working as it should.

Here, please do not attempt DIY electrical repairs, for your own safety!

Contact Gravenhurst Plumbing

Give us a call at 705-687-3402 or fill out our online form to schedule your service appointment. We are happy to do a full inspection and perform any maintenance or repairs you need to be sure you can re-open your cottage safely. We look forward to hearing from you!

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Why Standby Generators are Essential

backup generator generac

Canada can kick out some pretty difficult winters. This is a fact most Canadians simply take for granted (and new transplants will find out quickly enough).

During the winter, it is more common to hear about the need for a standby generator. Heavy snowfalls, ice and snow buildup in trees and on rooftops, high winds, freezing rain—this is the type of winter weather that reliably produces power outages.

But the truth is, power outages happen all year long. Spring, summer, and fall storms can be just as devastating. Wildlife, construction, natural disasters, and simple human error can cut power to homes and workplaces at any time.

This is why we became a Generac authorized dealer for the Muskoka, Gravenhurst, and surrounding areas here in Ontario. We believe that having a reliable source of emergency standby backup power is simply a necessity in a world where nearly every resource we rely on requires power to operate.

In this post, find out what you need to know to choose the best standby generator for your home or business.

What Would Life Be Like Without Power?

The choice to purchase and install an emergency standby generator is a deeply personal one. For some people, they choose to install a generator because they have gone through an extended power outage and don't ever want to do it again.

For other people, the birth of a new family member or a perfectly understandable fear of the future unknown prompts them to pick out an emergency generator and have it installed.

Because no two home or business situations are ever identical, the best way to decide if now is the right time to install a standby generator is to ask yourself these types of questions:

  • How well would I be able to cope without access to light, heat, air conditioning, cooked food, and similar power-driven comforts?

  • Are there members of the family (especially the young and elderly) who might struggle to cope with an extended power outage without health consequences?

  • How would an extended power outage (more than 24 hours) affect stored foods such as frozen meats, perishables, and groceries?

  • Would it be safe for family and/or pets to go without power during certain times of year, such as when temperatures are very hot or below freezing?

  • Is it possible the house or business itself might sustain damage from an extended loss of power (such as burst pipes or inoperable sump pumps that might cause water damage or flooding)?

  • Would there be a potential safety or security risk during a power outage in terms of high-value items that are stored on site under the protection of a powered security system?

By answering these and other similar questions for yourself, you can get a better sense of how well your home or business and its occupants would fare during a power outage.

Most importantly, you could more accurately gauge the financial consequences of a power outage and weigh those against the choice to invest in an emergency on-site standby generator.

How a Standby Generator Works in an Emergency

If you have never had an emergency standby generator before now, you are likely quite curious about how it would work.

For example, let's say all of a sudden the power goes out. What happens next?

If you have a standby generator, this is what will occur the moment the power goes out:

  • Your standby generator will detect the loss of power and prepare itself to take over.

  • Your standby generator will automatically turn on whether you are home or not.

  • Your standby generator's automatic power transfer switch will begin sending power to your home via the generator and continue until regular power is restored.

  • Your standby generator will sense when regular power is restored and automatically shut itself off when it is no longer needed.

This entire process will unfold in a matter of seconds once your regular power source is no longer accessible.

So as long as you have selected a standby generator that is sized and rated appropriately for your space and power needs, you will hardly know that there has been a power outage—this is how fast your generator power will take over.

How to Select a Standby Generator

The key to making this all work, of course, is to select the right generator for your space and power needs on a daily basis.

Here, it is important to understand that there is a very real difference between the small portable generator you have probably seen on sale at home improvement stores and a true standby generator.

The typical small plug-in generator generally taps out at around 12,000 watts, which is far less than the 22,000+ watts the average home requires for backup power.

The difference is one of powering a single appliance or room versus powering an entire home or office. With a small plug-in generator, you might be able to keep your perishables from spoiling for a day or two.

But with a full-size wired standby generator that is well-matched to the needs of your space, you could power your entire home or office until regular power is restored.

Here, you need to decide what you need to power during an outage. Powering just a few essential appliances will require less generator energy than will powering your entire home or office.

Contact Gravenhurst Plumbing, Heating & Electric for Help

Here at Gravenhurst Plumbing, we are proud authorized resellers of Generac standby generators. With more than seven decades of expertise under our belt, we have the knowledge and expertise to recommend and install the right standby generator for the size of your space and your power needs.

Contact us at 705.687.3402, 877.885.3403, or online.

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6 Reasons to Protect Your Family with a Standby Generator

backup generator

If you have ever endured a power outage, you can probably easily recollect the feelings of helplessness this event can evoke. You may become acutely aware of just how much you take ready power for granted. The microwave doesn't work and neither does the stove. Your cell phone is down for the count, as is your HVAC unit.

But there is a way to ensure future power outages don't cause discomfort and possibly danger to you, your home, and your family. In this post, learn 6 key reasons why a standby generator might be the best investment you make this year.

Reason #1: No power? No problem!

If you look at the fundamental function of a standby generator, you will quickly realize its sole purpose is to provide power when there is no other ready power source. As such, a standby generator is your last-resort power supply for any need you may have, no matter how specific.

Reason #2: Customized options can meet your specific power needs

When you were shopping for your home, you may have felt overwhelmed by the sheer number of options. Some homes had these features but not those. Other homes were perfect in this way but not in that way. Finally, you walked into the door of that special, one-of-a-kind property that you now call "home."

Standby generators are just as customized. Whether your power needs are minimal or extensive, and whether you need your generator to be able to travel with you or remain stationary, you can find a standby generator to meet your needs.

This also holds true for emergency generator options. If you are comfortable with starting up your generator manually in the event of an outage, you can find an option that works for you. In the same way, if you need your generator to detect the loss of power and start up instantly and automatically, there is a generator that can meet your needs.

Reason #3: Today's standby generators are built with safety chief in mind

The whole reason to invest in a standby generator is safety for you and your family. Today's standby generators are built with safety listed at the top of the features and specifications list.

For example, you can choose between a range of safety options, including these:

  • Automatic transfer switches This specialized switch will automatically activate the generator in the event of a loss of power and deactivate the generator when the regular power source is restored.

  • Automatic voltage detection/regulation If the standby generator is wired to power sensitive electronic equipment (examples include computers, entertainment centers, home security systems), it will automatically block fluctuations in voltage so no harm will be caused to these devices.

  • Automatic safety shutoff If there is any internal issue that may cause the standby generator to malfunction (examples include low oil or coolant, overheating or other similar issues), the generator will automatically turn itself off for safety reasons.

  • Built-in circuit breakers This essential safety feature blocks excessive voltage surges that may harm the generator or any appliances or equipment that the generator is wired to power.

  • Liquid cooling option This newer cooling option is a specific fix for high-watt standby generators that have a tendency to run more loudly. With liquid cooling, even generators that can handle a very high wattage will run quietly and unobtrusively in the background, with no risk of overheating.

Reason #4: Easy manual operation (for manual standby generators)

Automatic-start and manual-start standby generators each come with their own unique set of considerations and options.

Even better, in addition to many of the features outlined here for automatic-start generators, the new breed of manual-start generators also offers these features:

  • Button-start operation So long as the generator's battery is holding a full charge, today's manual generators can be started with the press of a button.

  • Easy-to-read fuel gauges Know at a glance how much fuel is remaining to power the manual generator by looking at these gauges.

  • 12V outlet options If there are batteries that need to be charged during the power outage, this special outlet can take care of that while the generator is running.

  • Wheel kits. For generators that are manual-start and portable, wheels make it easy to travel with the generator in tow.

  • Automatic idle. For manual generators that are needed only sporadically throughout a power outage, this feature will idle the generator engine to save fuel.

Reason #5: A standby generator saves perishables

There is no worse feeling than waiting out a power outage while knowing all the food in the fridge and freezer is slowly spoiling. Sometimes these perishables can represent hundreds or even thousands of dollars that become literally unsalvageable when the power goes out.

With a standby generator, this investment won't go to waste. For some families, this savings alone can more than justify the investment in a standby generator!

Reason #6: A standby generator saves lives

There are so many known safety issues that can crop up during a power outage. But it is the unknown issues that are the scariest. For example, for some families who have an ill or recuperating family member who requires in-house powered medical devices, a standby generator is simply not optional.

Finally, in severe weather conditions, especially extreme heat and cold, young and elderly family members may rely on the temperature control function of a standby generator for their health and life.

Contact Gravenhurst Plumbing

Gravenhurst Plumbing has been serving the HVAC needs of the Muskoka and surrounding areas since 1945.

Contact us today to learn more about standby generator equipment and installation options at 877.885.3403 or online.

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Remote access of thermostat adjustments and programming including full zoning

Energy & Performance Monitoring

Symphony gives you the power to monitor and track your unit’s energy use instantaneously or as a daily, weekly or 13-month history. Symphony gives you the power to track trends visually and provides the information you need to reduce consumption even further. Make tweaks to your thermostat and watch the effect on your bills!Your WaterFurnace Dealer can also monitor your system remotely giving you piece of mind whether you are travelling or if this is a second home with immediate alerts to any equipment issues that may come up.
 

 

Aurora WebLink

The Aurora WebLink router communicates directly with our Aurora control board rather than simply connecting to the thermostat. This provides you and your dealer with access to unit sensors, energy use and system information rather than the limited information a typical thermostat sees.

Symphony Thermostats

An internet-enabled thermostat allows homeowners to change temperature, set a schedule, monitor vacation mode, and more via smart phone or tablet. Connect to the personalized dashboard for remote functionality—all from the comfort of your sofa.

Invisible Thermostat

The concept of a dedicated thermostat is becoming outdated. If you’d rather not have a thermostat cluttering your walls, install an invisible flush-mount ‘mud-in’ temperature sensor (pictured above) and use a Symphony-based smartphone or tablet to control your home comfort levels instead. - optional feature.
 

 

Water/Sump Alarm

Symphony can also be expanded to prevent water damage from household equipment failure. External water sensors provide you email/text notification in the event of a sump pump malfunction or washer hose failure. - Optional Feature

Advanced Zoning System

Remotely control temperatures and programs in up to six areas of your home with our IntelliZone2 zoning system. WaterFurnace is the only geothermal manufacturer to offer its own zoning solution, and now we’re the only ones with online control. - Optional Feature

Symphony Dashboard

The personalized dashboard provides quick access to your system’s settings, operational status and history, alert history, energy usage, and zone temperatures as well as local weather. - Accessible from anywhere
 

Consumer Benefits

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If you have no electricity, your air conditioner will not work. Please call your utility company.

Troubleshooting for No Cooling

What to do if the air conditioning won't come on:

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