Report Summary

Tower Renewal: A Field Guide to Retrofits in Occupied Buildings

The Centre for Urban Growth + Renewal has released a new “Field Guide” designed to assist apartment owners, the construction industry and apartment residents navigate retrofit construction projects in Canada.

Over the past year, the CUG+R has been working to develop a resource to assist property owners, residents and the construction industry with conducting a retrofit efficiently and effectively while tenants are in the building. It provides an overview of a typical residential high-rise retrofit construction project with residents remaining in place, from first concepts to post-construction evaluation.

From a resident’s perspective, retrofit construction projects are often extremely disruptive, confusing, and a source of instability or  insecurity in the lives of tenants. For people more vulnerable to disruption – such as those with respiratory conditions, mental illness, or limited mobility – these issues are amplified. Retrofits in occupied buildings require a unique approach to minimize disruption; including measures such as rigorous and multi-faceted communication, more complex sequencing, and specialized training for contractors.

The Field Guide provides owners with an understanding of what a retrofit might entail, designing projects to mitigate disruption to tenants, special considerations for construction in occupied suites, and a number of innovative approaches that can help make these projects successful. For tenants, the Field Guide is a tool to help frame expectations and anticipate what may happen during construction. It will also help tenants understand their rights during construction, how they may be able to get involved to improve the outcomes for themselves and their communities, and how to understand the risk of renoviction. The guide is organized chronologically into five steps. In each section, key stakeholders and their roles are highlighted — with opportunities for improving the experience of all parties and links to additional resources. In some phases, case studies and interviews are included to highlight success stories from around the world.