We have all heard horror stories of a home renovation gone wrong, often because of a shoddy contractor. Mike Holmes has been providing the grim details on television for years.
Fortunately, Leasiders can escape that nightmare since they have their own, home-grown master builder. His name is Bill Meek of W.C. Meek Design & Construction whose motto is “Build in Theory Before You Build in Reality.” In other words, figure out what you’re going to do before you start – or as a carpenter might say, measure twice, cut once.
Following that motto, Meek Design has won top awards from the building industry every year for the past decade.
Meek grew up in Leaside, played hockey at Leaside Gardens and attended Rolph Road, Bessborough Drive Elementary and Middle School, and Leaside High. He began his career in 1994 as a student painter.
The transition from house painter to designer and builder came through on-site, hands-on work with the trades and post-secondary education at the International Academy of Design and Ryerson’s Architectural Technology program.
“My territory was Leaside. I must have knocked on every door in Leaside three times that spring and summer to feed my business,” he said.
“As a small business owner, you have to follow the work and you live where you can afford. My work and home shifted around and I lived and worked a lot in the Beaches.
“Still, I had clients all through Leaside, North Toronto, and Lawrence Park. As years passed, I worked in Leaside a great deal but my home and office were at Warden and Eglinton.”
Like everyone else, the Covid epidemic forced the business to adapt. Meek says: “A good part of 2020 was spent on exterior projects so we were not in people’s houses as much. As we fast forward to 2021 and the last six months, the biggest effect has been on the labour supply.
“We are very busy and typically when I have been looking for skilled or general type workers, I would place an ad and have any- where from 20 to 60 résumés within a week. Once Covid hit, I began receiving five résumés at most over two or three weeks. This raises questions: are the workers collecting EI or CERB doing cash jobs? Are they qualified to do renovations?”
This leads to critically important considerations for the homeowner. One is getting the work done reliably and protecting themselves at a time when demand is high and the supply of capable renovators is low.
There’s another consideration: the need to make your project fit in with a changing Leaside.
“I believe the biggest impact for Leaside will occur in the current industrial area as it is transformed into condos and retail. This will increase population density. The original Leaside area will continue to be in a constant state of renovation and rebuilding with older homes torn down to make way for much larger homes, or the older homes renovated to create better functioning spaces with additions, or a redefinition of existing space. People do not live the same way as when the houses were built.”
Although times have changed, the lure of Leaside still burns strongly for Meek.
“Over the last 10 years or so I was always looking for the right opportunity to locate my business in Leaside. Finally, last March, I was able to move back to Leaside, on Wicksteed near Home Depot. I’ve never felt more comfortable now that we are back in Leaside. Great area, great people and lots of positive energy every day.”