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30Jun 2020
Asbestors abatement in Victoria, BC

How to protect yourself and your family while renovating your home in Victoria, BC

With nearly 40 years in the home renovation business, we’ve seen many new products come and go. Few have been as controversial as asbestos, a product that was once a lifesaver, but in many cases turned out to be a significant hazard. So what can you do if you have asbestos or other hazardous materials in your life?

Asbestors abatement in Victoria, BC

Do homes in Victoria have asbestos?

Asbestos was — and is — quite common throughout Canada and the US, so it’s pretty likely that you have lived or stayed in a house with asbestos in it somewhere. It’s commonly found in vermiculite insulation, popcorn ceilings, drywall and drywall compound, heating ducts, window putty, flooring tiles, and more. The big issue with asbestos is when it’s disturbed, which causes the harmful fibres to be released to the air, possibly contaminating the surfaces in your home and creating the risk of being inhaled by you and your family. If it’s been in place for years, it’s not an immediate concern, but keep in mind that you will need to disclose any known asbestos when you’re selling a home, and there are rumours of imminent changes in the insurance world that may require disclosure as well. 

If you’re going to renovate or demolish your home, you need to plan for the safe and effective removal of your asbestos. Even if it’s as simple as replacing some floor tiles or updating your heating system — the white tape around ducting typically has a high concentration of asbestos — it’s best to assume that asbestos is present. It’s far more affordable to have the experts test and remove instead of risking it and contaminating your home. 

How do I find out if my home has asbestos?

If your house was built before 1990, assume that you probably have some asbestos materials in your home. Before you start your next project, contact a qualified environmental consultant to have them do a hazardous material assessment, confirming where and what you have for asbestos and other materials.

“The number one call we get,” explained Summer Green, co-owner of Victoria-based Removall Remediation Services, “is from a homeowner who has had a friend or family member come over to ‘help’ with a job, only to discover that the materials they were removing are asbestos-containing. And while it’s great that they called, much of the damage has already been done. The fibres may spread throughout the home, and could require extensive cleaning to prevent possible exposure.”

Is asbestos the only hazard to be worried about?

While asbestos is a high-profile concern, there are other potential hazards in homes in Greater Victoria, such as lead paint and crystalline silica, which may be present in homes built since 1990. Choosing a crew that is aware of and experienced with safe handling of hazardous materials will prevent unnecessary risk for your renovation project.

Asbestos exposure is the number one killer of workers in B.C. and was the contributing factor in 47 work-related deaths in 2018, or about 36 per cent of all work-related deaths in the year. – WorkSafeBC

How do you choose a professional team to remove your hazardous materials?

Like many things in life, you will find that the price of hazardous materials abatement can vary substantially. When you are ready to make your selection, price shouldn’t be the only factor. The costs of disposal of hazardous materials, testing, PPE, and insurance have increased substantially over the past decade. “If you receive a quote that is substantially lower than the rest,” explained Summer, “you should question the business to ensure they are equipped and prepared to safely remove your hazardous materials.” 

Choose a contractor with a track record of positive service, ideally with many years of service to your community. At MAC Renovations, we’ve built strong relationships with local contractors who have proven they have the skills, service, and experience to deliver the calibre of performance our customers in Victoria expect from us. 

District of Saanich Hazardous Materials Report Form

Do I really need a professional to remove the hazardous materials?

The short answer is – yes.

The long answer is – definitely yes. WorkSafeBC regulations state that a hazardous materials inspection for any worksite is required, and many municipalities will not issue a building permit without proof that the inspection was completed. 

If you, or the crew you choose to complete your abatement, don’t complete a hazardous materials assessment, you may be issued a stop-work order, creating an expensive pause or a permanent loss for your project. 

Here are some examples of when a stop-work order may be issued (via WorkSafeBC):

  • The employer allowed workers to disturb asbestos-containing materials without necessary precautions to protect workers.
  • Asbestos-containing materials identified in the hazardous-materials were not safely removed.
  • An inspection for hazardous materials had not been conducted before demolition or renovation work began.

It’s not just WorkSafeBC that might issue a stop order – municipal enforcement has the ability to stop or pause a project if they suspect that procedures aren’t being correctly adhered to.


The Importance of Paperwork

Once the assessment of the hazardous materials has been completed, and any hazardous materials have been safely removed, you will be issued a clearance certificate. The clearance letter documents that abatement of the hazardous materials was conducted in accordance with regulatory requirements, such as the Worker’s Compensation Act, the WorkSafe Occupational Health and Safety Regulation, and the BC Ministry of Environment regulations. This abatement contractors’ checklist outlines what is required in the written confirmation letter. 

Dealing with Asbestos

Asbestos is a fact of life for many of the homes in Victoria, but with the right crew following the proper procedures, it can be taken care of effectively, efficiently, and safely. If you are considering a renovation, remodel, or demolition in Victoria, set yourself up for success by choosing a trusted professional.

At MAC Renovations, we test for hazardous materials as part of our pre-construction process, so we can develop an informed strategy to protect you and your family, as well as our crew. This investment in everyone’s safety is an essential part of a home renovation in Victoria and just one of the many reasons we’ve earned a reputation as a contractor you can trust. We do it right from the start. 

Contact us to find out how we can make your home safer and better. 


19Jun 2020
planning a home reno in victoria, bc

How pre-construction planning keeps your renovation on time and on budget.

Whether you’ve lived in Victoria for years or you’re planning to move here and need a renovation done remotely, it’s important to begin your home improvement with the right information. Your renovation budget is part of the equation, but it’s far from the only aspect. Timeline, zoning requirements, environmental assessments, and other factors play a major role in the completed project. A home in Victoria is probably the biggest asset you’ll ever purchase, so it’s vital that all considerations are taken into account. The estimated price shouldn’t be the sole reason you choose one contractor over another – you need to trust that you’re getting the best team for your investment and that they can deliver what they promise, on time and on budget.

“Our job is to take care of the problems our customers are having,” said Blaise McDonald, co-owner and operations manager at MAC Renovations.  “Whether that’s not enough space in their home, updating it to reflect their lifestyle, setting them up to comfortably age-in-place, or improving a room so they can enjoy their time at home.”MAC Renovations - contractor for life

A smart start

“By asking questions, we can better understand what’s important to the homeowners,” shared Ed McDonald, co-owner of MAC Renovations in Victoria. “We find out what you want to do as well as why you want to do it. When we know the reason for the renovation, we can use that to make decisions in the planning stage of your project, as well as while we navigate the municipal requirements.”

We are a team of professionals, and one of the reasons we’ve become Victoria’s most trusted renovation contractor is because we’ve developed effective processes to ensure every project is successful. We follow the same approach, every time, to ensure we know exactly what to expect during each stage of your renovation, whether it’s a whole home remodel or a much-needed update to your cramped kitchen

The power of pre-construction planning

“Pre-construction is where a project is made,” explained Blaise. “With smart planning, we can establish a timeline and a fixed-price, and identify any issues that might prevent the renovation from happening. It’s about mitigating risks early in the process. We’ve had more than one project halted or shelved due to zoning issues, architectural challenges, environmental concerns, or other matters where the available resources weren’t sufficient to begin the project.”

“Our clients are not obligated to do the project with us at the end of the pre-construction process.  You can use everything we discover in the planning process with whichever builder you want,” said Ed. “We’ll do our best to show you that we’re the right choice for your project, but you are free to do it with the team you are most comfortable with.”interior renovation victoria BC

Our pre-construction planning covers a lot of ground:

We’ll complete a feasibility study to determine if the changes you want are possible. We’ll identify any safety concerns, and then consult with the architects, structural engineers, and other professionals. We might open a  wall to see what the structure is like, have an electrician examine the wiring to see what’s required to bring it up to code, or have a geo-technician test the soil. 

We have a talented architectural designer who understands all of the municipal requirements, and he’ll guide us through the tricky waters of municipal planning, observing the setbacks and planning to overcome potential limitations. 

Once we’re confident we can complete the project, we’ll move to the next stage – bringing in an interior designer to develop a floor plan that encapsulates the building requirements to add or update the space you want to improve. The designer will work with you to create a plan for your remodel based on your needs, wants, and personal preferences.

Following the design component, we’ll finalize the plan specifications, with firm quotes from our suppliers and contractors, timelines for the building permits, and a schedule to know who and when each component will be completed. We’ll pre-purchase the materials to allow for long delivery times, so we can be efficient with our time throughout the project. 

And then we’ll add everything to BuilderTrend, the project management tool we use to keep everyone informed and on schedule.  interior design - MAC Renovations Victoria

Planning for success

There is a substantial amount of work before we make a change in your home, and the time invested at this stage of your renovation in Victoria ensures that every phase is completed as expected – whether you’re living in the house during the renovation, or you’re planning alternate accommodations while we take care of everything. 

“Through our pre-construction process, we’re able to determine a fixed price for every job,” said Blaise. “The majority of changes to the scope of a project, if any, are client-driven – changes that bring value to the home, but weren’t part of the initial design. This is usually because our clients like what we’re doing, and trust us to do it right for them.”

If you’re considering a renovation in Victoria, whether it’s for a single room or to update your whole home, give us a call to discover the MAC difference for yourself – we know you’ll be happy with the outcome.


29May 2020
1960s update - whole home renovation in Victoria, BC - MAC Renovations

This was an incredible project to take on for a local family who had outgrown their current home but loved their neighbourhood. Through creative design, we were able to update the space to match their lifestyle, building in style and usability.

Check out the video then contact us for a no-obligation consultation to see how we can help you love the space you’re in.