All posts by Kim Melchers

DECEMBER 20

As another year is quickly drawing to a close, I find myself reflecting back on the blessings and challenges of 2014. Human nature seems to compel us to focus on our failures or things in our lives we wish were different. We tend to view the glass as half empty and it can be challenging to remember all the positives that have occurred in our lives.

Since we tend to be reflective at this time of year, perhaps this would be a good time to look at our city with a fresh perspective. Most of us have had the good fortune to visit other cities as tourists. We marvel at all of the amenities that city has to offer and how lucky the local people are to live there. Between the hustle and bustle of everyday life and the trials and tribulations we face on a regular basis it is easy to forget how wonderful home is. London boasts beautiful parks, world class hospitals and educational institutions, outstanding arenas and recreational facilities and a plethora of organizations that support families and individuals who may be struggling.

The annual Business Cares Food Drive is a good example of how generous, compassionate and empathetic Londoners are. Each year the London Home Builders Association helps in the effort to collect food and donations for the Business Cares Food Drive. Last year alone the LHBA collected fourteen thousand pounds of food and more than $28,000 in cash. It is really heartwarming to see people organize and contribute to a program that ensures those who have fallen on difficult times are looked after. London is indeed an excellent place to live and raise a family.

From our industry’s perspective we also have much to be thankful for. We are grateful for the structure of building codes and regulations, the stakeholders of industry professionals, government officials and staff and the manufacturers and suppliers that allow our industry to build homes that we can be proud of. The result is that Canadians are among the best housed people in the world.

The construction of a new Canadian home has been carefully developed over time to suit one of the most demanding and varied climates in the world. Recent building code changes relating to energy efficiency have raised the bar yet again. Newly constructed homes are more energy efficient now than they were even just a few short years ago. Increased insulation values, superior building envelopes, high performance windows and state of the art heating, cooling and ventilation equipment have created comfortable, energy efficient, healthy and durable homes. Canadian construction techniques and building products are the most advanced in the world. Many countries including Russia, Morocco, South Korea, Trinidad, Poland, China and others are looking to the Canadian system to improve their own housing systems.

New houses are built with comfort and lifestyle in mind but a house does not become a home until you add personal touches. The type of flooring, wall colour, furniture selection and placement are a few of the things that can personalize your home. I am often asked what I think about doing a particular renovation. Normally my response is that only you know what will improve the lifestyle of your family. What other people think does not matter – you should be comfortable with your renovation.

So enjoy your home – make it a place of refuge, respite and sanctuary. Make it your personal haven where you laugh, share dreams, create memories, shape traditions and most of all feel secure.

From my home to yours, I wish you a safe and joyful holiday season and a happy, healthy and prosperous new year.

BRING OUTDOORS INSIDE WITH SKYLIGHTS OR LIGHT TUBES

Natural light has long been a popular design element in modern day homes. Skylights can provide your home with the warmth and brightness of natural daylight, cut down on the need for artificial light and brighten dark corners.

Studies have shown that when people work in areas of natural light they are happier, healthier and more productive. Natural light lifts spirits, makes spaces appear larger and lessens demands on electricity, an important factor in today’s energy conscious world. In the workplace natural light reduces eye strain, increases productivity and even decreases absenteeism. People seem to function much better in a light filled environment.

Windows are an obvious source of natural light but skylights can also be utilized to bring natural light into a space. Strategic placement of skylights can enliven your home dramatically by bringing natural light into an area that would otherwise be dim or dark without light fixtures.

Over the years skylights have evolved into durable energy efficient light sources with countless options available. Lowe E and argon gas filled sealed units are more energy efficient and block out noise, drafts and extreme weather. Options available include skylights that open by remote control to provide ventilation and rain sensors that will automatically close when it starts to rain. Remote controlled blinds are also available to control the amount of natural light let in. Integral flashing systems ensure that there will be no water penetration.

The old design acrylic dome skylights that were tarred into place were a constant source of concern. They required regular maintenance and often started to leak after a few years. The new generation skylights have an integral flashing system that, when installed properly, will provide a watertight seal that does not rely on sealants that can break down over time.

The placement of skylights within a home not only brings in natural light but can produce a dramatic design element in a home. For example, when installed in banks of multiple units you can give the illusion of bringing the outdoors in. Skylights give the impression of more space and can completely change the feel and ambience of a room.

Skylights can be installed on any type of roof whether it is flat or sloped. In the case of a flat roof a skylight is installed on a curb to raise it above the roofing membrane and ensure a weather tight seal.

An alternative to a skylight is a sun tunnel or light tube. They are normally 10 or 14 inches in diameter and capture natural light at the roof and deliver it into the home. They consist of a polished sheet metal tube with a weather proof acrylic globe and mirrored reflector that directs light into the tube. A diffuser at the ceiling level disperses the light into the room.

The advantage of a light tube is that it can be installed into areas such as hallways or small bathrooms where a skylight would not be practical. Light tubes can also be installed in roof areas that have complex valleys and ridges where skylights cannot be utilized. Another advantage of a light tube is that the cost of installation is less than the cost of installing a skylight.

Whether building a new home or renovating an existing one, skylights add an element of comfort and liveability. Skylights allow you to bring a little blue sky into your home during the day and at night they display the majesty of the night sky. Skylights will add to the resale value of your home and are well worth considering during the design process.

PLAN PUTS LONDON ON THE VERGE OF GREAT CHANGE

On behalf of the London Home Builders Association, I would like to take this opportunity to congratulate Mayor Matt Brown and the newly elected and re-elected councillors on their recent victories. As an association we look forward to working with the new council to promote job creation and economic growth in London. It is a very exciting time for London with a fresh new council coinciding with the introduction of London’s new Official Plan – The London Plan.

The London Plan, while still in draft form at the present time, will be the road map for city growth over the next 20 years. Through extensive collaboration with the business community and Londoners of all ages and lifestyles, the London Plan has evolved into a vision for the future. The 20 year plan will be reviewed every five years and will be in effect until 2035. During the next 20 years it is projected that London’s population will grow by over 70,000 people and 43,000 new jobs will be created.

The new council will oversee the implementation of the London Plan to start the process of bringing this exciting vision to reality. As a major player in the growth of the City, the London Home Builders Association and its members are excited to work with the new council as The London Plan is put into action.

The London Home Builders Association is not alone in advocating for job creation and economic growth. A coalition of organizations have come together to form a group called Progress London. The Progress London group advocates for job creation and economic growth by providing a balanced perspective on its benefits to the community. The organizations involved are:

London Chamber of Commerce
Labourers International Union of North America (LIUNA) Local 1059
London and District Concrete Forming Contractors Association
London and District Construction Association
London and District Construction Trades Council
London Development Institute
London District Heavy Construction Association
London Home Builders Association and
London and St. Thomas Association of REALTORS

It is the intention of Progress London to serve as a resource to the media, local government and Londoners to help and inform. We encourage the new council to utilize the expertise of these organizations to get the industry perspective on issues as they arise and the City moves forward.

The City of London and the London Economic Development Corporation (LEDC) actively work to bring private sector investment to London because they understand that along with private sector investors come jobs and prosperity for Londoners. It is important to recognize that new development, whether it is residential, commercial, institutional or industrial is a direct response to economic growth in a healthy community. Without economic growth, residential and/or commercial growth in a community will not happen. Economic growth spurs new and better jobs, higher incomes, a stronger local economy and tax base and a more vibrant community.

The residential construction industry plays a key role in a healthy and viable economy. A good indicator of the health of a local economy is the level of activity in the residential market. When jobs are created new homes are built and existing homes are sold. Both first time home buyers and move up buyers need new residential development to maintain a competitive housing market with a range of housing options to choose from.

This is an exciting time for London. The economy is showing positive signs of growth, a new and enthusiastic City Council has been sworn in and an innovative Official Plan is being implemented. All signs point to London being on the verge of significant positive change.

ENERGY-SAVING UPGRADES PROVIDE GREATEST PAYBACK

In recent years energy efficiency has prompted changes to the Ontario Building Code. These changes have created significant improvement in energy efficiency through advancements in the building and thermal envelopes of the home.

The building envelope is the outer layer of the building structure that physically separates the inside living space from the outdoor environment. An energy efficient building envelope limits air movement into and out of the house. The more continuous the thermal envelope is and the higher the insulation levels are, the more energy efficient the home is.

New homes are more efficient today than ever before. Advances in building science and improvements in technologies, techniques and building materials have lowered operating costs and increased comfort levels.

In 2012 an additional air barrier inspection by City building inspectors became mandatory. This inspection is meant to ensure that all penetrations through the building envelope are properly sealed thus preventing building envelope failures.

Because new homes are so tightly sealed it is necessary to install Heat Recovery Ventilators (HRV) to introduce fresh air and ensure the quality of indoor air in the home. In the winter, an HRV system exchanges stale air from inside the home with fresh outdoor air. To ensure absolute comfort and energy conservation the system captures heat from contaminated air before it is exhausted outdoors. The system works in reverse during the summer months capturing the cold from the indoor air before it is exhausted outside.

In an older home there are a number of improvements that can be made for greater energy efficiency, comfort and reduced operating costs. Draft proofing is first and foremost on the list of items that should be addressed. Air leakage can make a home uncomfortable and costly to operate. Often areas of air leakage can be addressed with simple caulking. Seal around windows, doors and any penetrations through the exterior walls of your home. Inside your home you can seal around window and door casings, baseboards, attic hatches, electrical boxes and anywhere else you notice a draft. Weather stripping around doors and windows should be kept in good condition. In an unfinished basement the area between the top of the foundation wall and wood framing is a likely source of draftiness. Ensure that this area is sealed and insulated.

Exterior doors and windows are a critical part of the building and thermal envelope of any home. Older windows and doors can be a major source of heat loss. Consider replacing your doors with new metal or fibreglass insulated units and replace drafty windows with new energy efficient windows. Not only will these improvements increase energy efficiency they will lessen outside noise and improve the look and resale value of your home.

Increased insulation levels in an older home can provide great improvement to the thermal envelop. Attic insulation is normally easily upgraded. An R value of 50 is optimum. Proper soffit and roof ventilation is also very important. Exterior wall insulation is more difficult to upgrade. If there is no existing wall insulation certain types of insulation can be blown into wall cavities through holes drilled from the exterior or interior. Basement foundation walls should also be insulated. Full height insulation with an R value of 12 to 20 is preferred.

Improvements made to the energy efficiency of an older home, may not be as glamorous or aesthetically appealing as a kitchen or bathroom renovation but it is the most practical place to start and will give the greatest payback by reducing your heating and cooling costs and making your home more comfortable to live in.

CO DETECTOR VITAL LIFESAVER IN YOUR HOME

For many of us, the arrival of colder weather and those first flakes of snow, signal the imminent arrival of the festive holiday season. Our thoughts drift to Christmas trees, twinkling lights and sipping hot chocolate by a crackling fire. Before we find ourselves consumed by the traditions of the holiday season, there are some important safety measures we should all review to ensure that our homes continue to be safe havens.

Candles are a very popular way to add ambiance or a nice scent to a room but they should never be left unattended even for a few minutes. Inspect Christmas lights and ensure they are safe and in good working condition. To avoid fire or shock risk, use only approved extension cords, replace any that are damaged and be mindful of overuse.

Carbon monoxide (CO) is a very real danger this time of year. Carbon monoxide is especially dangerous because you cannot smell it or taste it and if carbon monoxide fills your home when you are sleeping, you will simply not wake up. Any appliance or device that runs on fuel including wood can produce carbon monoxide.

Progressive conservative MPP Ernie Hardeman first introduced a private members bill calling for mandatory carbon monoxide detectors after the tragic death in 2008 of OPP officer Laurie Hawkins, her husband Richard and their two children. A blocked gas fireplace vent sent carbon monoxide through their Woodstock house which did not contain any warning devices. Bill 77 is called the Hawkins-Gignac Act in honor of the family.

Recently the provincial government passed legislation making it mandatory that all homes in Ontario have a working carbon monoxide detector. The Ontario Building Code has required carbon monoxide detectors in new residential construction since 2011 but Bill 77 applies to all homes in the province with a risk of carbon monoxide. If you have oil, propane or gas burning appliances, fireplaces or an attached garage you must have working CO alarms near your sleeping areas. Similar to smoke alarm laws homeowners who do not have a carbon monoxide alarm are subject to fines. Batteries in your CO alarm should be replaced annually although there are CO alarm units that offer sealed lithium batteries with a service life of ten years. Your fuel burning appliances should also be serviced annually to ensure proper working order and proper ventilation.

To minimize the risk of CO in your home:

Have a qualified technician inspect fuel burning appliances, vents and fireplaces to ensure proper operation.
A powerful kitchen exhaust fan can actually cause such negative air pressure in a home that they can pull fumes back down a chimney. A qualified technician can check this and make adjustments to ensure that this is not happening.
Never use gas stove tops or ovens to heat your home.
Always open your garage door before you start your vehicle and pull the car out immediately onto the driveway, then close the garage door.
Never operate barbeques, gas space heaters, lawnmowers, or any gas powered devices in your garage.
Regularly clean your clothes dryer ductwork and outside vent cover to avoid blockages

If your CO detector sounds an alarm evacuate the house including pets. If anyone is suffering from flu like symptoms call 911. If you can identify the source remove it or turn it off, ventilate the house and reset the alarm. If the source cannot be identified, call the fire department and do not reoccupy your home until the problem has been rectified.

For peace of mind this holiday season and beyond, I urge you to ensure you have a working CO alarm in your home – It’s the law.

YOU CAN BE SURE THEY WERE MADE TO STANDARD IN A SAFE WORKPLACE

Buy local. We have heard this frequently over the last few years and it is becoming an increasingly popular mantra for the food we eat, the clothes we wear, the businesses we frequent and even the products we use when we renovate or build a new home. Many of the products used by new home builders and renovators are manufactured right here in Ontario.

The Ontario Government’s Green Energy Act has invigorated Ontario’s large and diverse building products sector by offering incentives that have accelerated the development of new green building products in Ontario. These products will save energy, enhance environmental stewardship and reduce the environmental impact of building structures not only in Ontario but around the world. Ontario is also recognized as a leader in sustainable forest management, providing high quality products from a reliable source of renewable resources.

Although purchasing products from businesses that manufacture products in Ontario is critical to our economy, there are other tangible reasons for purchasing products and services from within our own community.

Ontario’s construction and building products sectors employ about 400,000 people. Every dollar spent on Ontario products or services enables our local businesses to offer their current employees job stability and also creates opportunity for expansion and the creation of new jobs locally. It goes without saying that people who are working are more inclined to spend money. Businesses that are succeeding financially often align themselves with local charities and fundraising efforts within their communities.

Ontario has some of the most stringent manufacturing regulations in the world ensuring job safety for workers, good product quality and environmental health. Transporting locally manufactured products as opposed to products manufactured overseas uses less energy and reduces our environmental footprint.

The strict manufacturing regulations in Ontario not only ensure the quality of the products manufactured here, they also ensure that the workplace is safe and that workers are treated and paid fairly.

It may seem cheaper to produce products on foreign soil but the reality is the cost of doing so is very high and the impact of outsourcing our manufacturing jobs to other countries is very distressing. Foreign workers will never spend their money at one of our local businesses or purchase products produced in Ontario.

The same theory applies to the various trades required to complete a project. While typically in residential construction the trades are local, larger projects or specialty products may prompt competitive costing from out of Province sources. The mindset now is swinging towards giving local companies preference and perhaps intentionally choosing products that can be sourced and installed by local companies.

When it comes time to renovate your home or build a new one, I encourage you to research the products and services that you will use. There are many local businesses that produce, sell and service high quality stone, wood, insulation, kitchen cabinets and a myriad of other building products that can be used in the renovation of your home or when you are building a new one. These products will very likely be better quality than you may be able to purchase elsewhere. The people who design and manufacture these products are local and this translates into better after purchase service. In addition to a better quality, locally manufactured product, you will also have the satisfaction of knowing that you are supporting our local economy.

It is fair to say that Ontario renovators and builders are key players in driving the economy both locally and provincially. We are keen to use the high quality products manufactured in Ontario wherever and whenever possible to promote increased economic activity in our province.

ENERGUIDE

National Resources Canada (NRCan) has recently introduced a change to the EnerGuide Rating System. Under the updated system your house is rated by the amount of energy required to sustain your home for one year. The energy use will be measured in gigajoules (GJ). Under the previous system your house was rated on a scale of 0 – 100, the larger the number the better.

The NRCan housing program is an ongoing success story. More than one million homes have received an EnerGuide Rating resulting in a 20% annual average energy savings and a projected 3 billion dollar savings by the year 2016.

The process to obtain an EnerGuide Rating is relatively simple. An energy advisor who represents a licenced service organization will evaluate your home from attic to basement including an air leakage test. You will receive a personalized report with recommendations for energy saving upgrades for your home. You will receive a rating that indicates your home’s current level of energy efficiency compared to similar homes in your area and your potential rating after retrofitting your home.

The energy advisor will assess the existing amount of insulation, the type of doors, mechanical system, water heating and ventilation. He will also conduct an air leakage test. Standard operating conditions are assumed when calculating your home’s EnerGuide Rating. The assumptions are 2 adults and one child at home 50% of the time, hot water use of 178 to 199 litres per day, thermostat settings of 21°C for daytime heating, 18°C for night time heating and 25°C for cooling. Lighting, appliance and other electrical loads are calculated at 19.5 kwh per day.

There may be significant energy uses not included in the rating. Hot tubs and swimming pools for example are not included in the rating so that comparisons between similar homes can be measured with more accuracy.

The energy advisor will leave you with a Homeowner Information Sheet. This document will detail all of the results of the evaluation. It will identify all of the house details and will include charts that break down into percentages where your annual energy consumption is used and where your home loses heat. You will also be provided with a sticker that can be affixed to your electrical panel for future reference.

Renewable energy is also considered when calculating your rating. Onsite renewable power generation systems such as solar photovoltaic panels, solar water heaters or wind turbines offset your energy consumption and will lower your rating.

The new EnerGuide Rating System clearly establishes the amount of energy that your home is expected to use in a year. It also identifies areas which when upgraded will significantly impact energy consumption.

An EnerGuide Rating can also promote your home if and when you decide to sell. The rating is a standardized and objective measurement of energy efficiency according to the Government of Canada and a can be a useful tool in the selling process.

NRCan also supports an internationally recognized brand called Energy Star. This brand supports new home construction and many new home builders build under the Energy Star brand. An Energy Star qualified new home is on average 20% more energy efficient than a home built to current code. These homes present a practical choice for homeowners looking for a new home that is energy efficient and environmentally friendly.

Reduction of energy consumption in both new and existing homes will benefit everyone. NRCan has taken a leadership role in order to promote programs that encourage energy efficiency. The change in the EnerGuide Rating System has made it more user friendly and aligned it closer to existing systems for appliances and mechanical systems.

CONVENIENCE AND EASY MAINTENANCE

Today’s new homes are designed and built to provide a comfortable, convenient living environment with minimal maintenance and upkeep. Our homes are meant to be a haven from the hectic pace of our busy lives not the instigator of a long to-do list.

The exterior finishes for new homes have evolved over the years to eliminate the need for painting. Aluminum soffit, fascia and eavestroughs have become standard features on new homes. Brick, stone, vinyl siding, aluminum siding, stucco or pre-finished fiber-cement siding all provide maintenance free exterior wall finishes. Vinyl or aluminum clad windows and steel or fibreglass doors also are common. Gone are the days of the arduous task of scraping, sanding and painting of soffit, fascia, eavestroughs, siding, windows and doors.

Inside the home, technology and new products are continually being developed to simplify our everyday lives. The task of keeping our homes clean is easier than in the past. The popularity of hard flat surfaces for flooring, countertops, cabinetry and fixtures creates a quick cleaning routine. A quick wipe with a damp cloth and perhaps a mild cleaning agent is all that is needed. Central vacuum systems eliminate the need to lug a bulky vacuum cleaner around the house and dust pan inlets allow for quick clean up in the most heavily used areas of the home.

Much of our time is spent in the kitchen. New kitchen designs address functionality and ease of operation for both cabinetry and appliances. Walk-in pantries, recycling bins and soft close doors and drawers are among the popular features incorporated in today’s kitchens. Cabinetry is often installed to ceiling height to eliminate dust collecting in the open space above upper cabinets. New design features and appliance options allow for a seemingly unlimited choice depending on individual preferences.

New homes are designed with today’s busy lifestyles and households in mind. Clutter can be reduced if not eliminated when there is a place for everything and everything is in its place. Organization and a tidy appearance ease stress and home buyers are increasingly requesting built in cabinetry in mudrooms, family rooms, laundry rooms and pantries. Walk-in closets, particularly in the master bedroom, can be outfitted to efficiently organize your wardrobe.

To ensure your new home meets your requirements and complements your lifestyle, have your family walk through the floor plan with your normal daily routine in mind. Think of things you may want to include or change to better suit the specific needs and preferences of your family. Discuss these changes with your builder so you can explore your options fully. An interior designer may help you work through this process.

Regular maintenance is part of home ownership and although the workload is greatly reduced in a brand new home, it is important to ensure that the mechanical systems of your home are regularly serviced to ensure continuous high performance. Exterior maintenance in new homes is now reduced to the occasional washing to eliminate dirt and dust.

All of the same principles apply to existing homes being renovated. The financial burden and drudgery of home maintenance can be greatly reduced by modernizing outdated finishes and designs.

Many homeowners find it relaxing to plan and tend to their gardens while others enjoy decorating and adding special personal touches to their living space. Some families relish the solitude of quietly being together in their well organized virtually maintenance free home.

However you and your family like to spend your leisure time, a new home or newly

TARION

The Tarion Warranty Corporation is a private corporation which was established in 1976 to protect the rights of new home buyers and regulate new home builders in the Province of Ontario. Tarion administers the Ontario New Home Warranties Plan Act which outlines the warranty protection that new home buyers are entitled to in Ontario.

For a new home builder to start a business in Ontario they must be registered and licenced by the program. To become registered, a builder must complete a process that accesses business and technical skills. Financial history and viability are also thoroughly reviewed. Builders that are undercapitalized may be limited to the number of homes they can build and are required to post security. Once licenced, a builder must operate under strict controls and their licence is subject to annual review for renewal.

The program is funded through enrolment fees which must be paid before each housing unit is started. It is mandatory in Ontario for new home builders to be registered with Tarion Warranty Corporation. The only exception to this requirement is if a homeowner decides to build their own home in which they intend to live. This exception has been misused and the Tarion Warranty Corporation is now working on means to better enforce requirements.

The program offers warranties against major structural failures for seven years and guarantees against defects in workmanship and materials for a minimum of one year with some components covered for 2 years. It also guarantees deposits made by new home buyers. Details can be found at
.

Before buying a new home confirm that your builder is registered with Tarion. Once the home is under construction ensure that the home has been enrolled. All this information is available on the Tarion website.

Prior to the closing of a new home the builder is required to do a walk-through with the home buyer. This is called the Pre-Delivery Inspection or PDI. Any deficiencies or items not completed are recorded on the Certificate of Completion and Possession. A copy of this Certificate is left with the home buyer, the builder retains a copy and one is sent to Tarion. The warranty is not limited to the items on this list, it just identifies the unfinished work and deficiencies seen at the time of inspection. There is also a 30 Day Form, Year End Form and Second Year Form. There are stipulated periods within which the builder must address the items. If there is a dispute between the builder and the homeowner regarding a particular issue, then Tarion will conduct a conciliation to determine if it is a warranty issue.

The staff at Tarion is trained to assess situations objectively in relation to the legislation under which the coverages are defined. If something is not right Tarion will ensure that the issue is rectified by the builder. If the builder refuses to address an issue deemed a warranty item under the legislation then Tarion will undertake to get the work done. The builder in this case would no longer be registered with Tarion and would be prohibited from building new homes.

The Tarion Warranty Corporation provides security, protection and peace of mind for new home buyers throughout the province. Since its inception enrolment is well in excess of one million homes. In relative terms the cost of enrolment of new homes is very reasonable. For example the premium to enroll a $350,000 home with Tarion is $710 plus HST. When comparing this cost to other insurance costs it represents good value at a reasonable cost.

DESIGN AND LAYOUT

Design and layout of a new house or renovation is critical to achieving a well functioning, aesthetically pleasing home. Model homes and builder sales centres are chalked full of state of the art features and technology that are bound to entice a potential new home buyer. The vast selection of styles and designs available is truly remarkable and sifting through the possible options is both an exciting and arduous task. A designer will help you navigate your way through the process and is a great investment to ensure the final product is just what you want.

Square footage is not necessarily an accurate gauge of the actual useable space in a home. Today’s design trends tend to lean towards less square footage but more efficient use of available space. Spaciousness can also be a matter of perception. High ceilings and large windows can create the illusion of roominess without adding square footage.

When it comes to functional design, what works for one family may not work for another. Families with children will require something different than empty nesters. If you work from your home you may want to consider locating your work space in a quieter area of your home. If you have frequent out of town visitors a designated guest area may be something you would like to incorporate into your design.

As a family grows and changes, so does the way they use the space in their home. A flexible layout will allow for future changes or modifications when for example, children reach the age where they move out of the family home. Another important design element is the traffic flow within your home. Consider the ease with which you can get groceries from the car to the kitchen, the location of a dedicated entrance to the home where your family can remove boots and jackets to avoid clutter and dirt from being tracked through the home or a rear door where the family dog can be let out.

The popular open concept design is a more efficient use of available space and usually integrates the kitchen, dining and living areas into a single “great room”, creating an environment where there is more interaction between family members. Gone are the days where the kitchen, dining and living rooms were separate spaces. Although very popular, the open concept design is not without its challenges. Wall area is at a premium so hanging art and placement of furniture must be well thought out. Different living spaces can be defined through the use of ceiling bulkheads, placement of furniture or flooring variations. Creative use of lighting can also help define space without taking away from the overall sense of open space.

Another design element that creates a bright spacious feeling is by maximizing the amount of natural light in your home. More energy efficient doors and windows have made natural light a viable design feature in today’s homes.

To eliminate clutter and keep your home tidy storage areas are essential. Closets in bedrooms and at entrances are commonly incorporated into every home. Built in entertainment units, mudroom and laundry room cabinets all keep clutter behind closed doors. Basement or garage shelving is also useful in keeping a home neat and tidy.

All of these design elements are applicable to both new home construction and renovation. Many renovations projects are undertaken to not only modernize a home but to increase its functionality and complement and enhance your lifestyle.

A well thought out design is essential and will pay dividends and create a home you can enjoy for many years to come.