BANG ON – 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.
BANG ON – 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.
BANG ON – 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.
BANG ON – 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.
BANG ON – 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.
BANG ON – 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.
BANG ON – 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.
BANG ON – 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
BANG ON – 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.
BANG ON – 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.
BANG ON – LHBA AWARDED “LOCAL OF THE YEAR”
Last month at the Ontario Home Builders’ Association Annual Conference, the London Home Builders’ Association was presented with the coveted “Local of the Year” award. It was a great honour for me, along with a handful of other representatives from London, to be present to accept the award on behalf of our association.
The “Local of the Year” award is presented annually to an Ontario Home Builders’ local association that best exemplifies the spirit of community service, advocacy for our industry and commitment to industry growth. It is judged by past Ontario Home Builder Association presidents and is a prestigious award that we are very proud to have won.
The London Home Builders’ Association has a long history of hard working, dedicated members that work tirelessly on both the advocacy and community service fronts. The spirit and generosity of our members and their commitment to the many community projects undertaken over the years is unmistakable. On the advocacy front, our members and committees work with local, provincial and federal governments to ensure that housing affordability remains an attainable goal for potential new home buyers.
We are fortunate in London to have strong working relationships with municipal staff and city officials. An exciting recent development in Ontario is the acceptance of six storey wood structures in the Ontario Building Code. The City of London, in consultation with the London Home Builders’ Association, has supported this concept as it will bring a new housing alternative to the City. Six storey wood structures will mesh well with “The London Plan” in the areas of intensification and infill. At the local government level, the LHBA was able to work with municipal staff and officials to keep the development charge on new homes at a reasonable level.
On the community service front, the list of accomplishments is long and diverse. Our legacy project “The Cancer Survivors Garden” is a great example of the commitment and dedication our members have to enrich our community. The Garden, at the corner of Wonderland Road and Riverside Drive, serves not only as a place of celebration and reflection, but as a place of inspiration and hope for families grappling with cancer. The LHBA not only undertook to build the park but has committed to maintaining it for 10 years. Much of the labour and materials were generously donated by members, member companies and many other passionate people and businesses. A large portion of the funding came from the sale of the “Green Home” built by the LHBA. Again much of the labour and material was generously donated. The “Green Home” also served as an educational tool to demonstrate the latest in home building technology.
Education is also a major focus for the LHBA. Through our student ambassador program we introduce students to our industry. The goal is to encourage students to choose home building as a career choice. On November 5, 2014 in the Carousel Room at Western Fair District the LHBA will host a “Career Showcase” for students in grades 7 to 12 and their parents and teachers. This event will provide information about potential careers in the residential construction industry.
The spirit of camaraderie when a project is underway is a testament to the pride that our members take not only in our industry but in our community. A big thank you goes out to our members, partners and staff for the dedication and commitment that was instrumental in our association winning the prestigious “Local of the Year” award.
“The London Home Builders’ Association has set the bar extremely high with its extensive list of accomplishments and projects” says Joe Vaccaro, CEO of OHBA”. “LHBA is highly engaged in advocacy work in their community and the province and their members are a huge asset to our association”.
BANG ON – GOOD LIGHTING IMPORTANT DESIGN ELEMENT
When renovating your home or building a new one there are many design elements to consider. Good lighting is one of the most important design elements in your home but it is often the one most frequently overlooked. Poor lighting can wash out colours and textures and generally make the space unappealing and in some instances unsafe. It is important to understand the basics of functional and decorative lighting so that it can be incorporated and planned for in the initial design stages.
Decorative lighting combines general or ambient lighting, task lighting and accent lighting and incorporates a variation in light levels and sources. It creates mood and meaning and can create a focal point in a room or create visual interest like the illusion of height for example by bouncing light off a low ceiling.
General or ambient lighting is the principal lighting in your home and its purpose is to illuminate spaces for visibility and safety by bouncing off walls and ceilings and covering as much area as possible. It should exude a comfortable level of brightness without glare and is achieved through the use of down lighting and up lighting. Down lighting casts light down from the ceiling or walls through the use of pot lights and track lights. Up lighting illuminates light towards the ceiling and can be achieved through the use of torches and wall sconces.
Task lighting is more intense and is focused on smaller work areas and should be free from distracting glare and shadows. Good task lighting can be accomplished through well placed recessed lighting, track lighting, pendants and under the counter lights. The general rule of thumb for task lighting is that it should be three times as bright as general or ambient lighting.
Accent Lighting adds drama to a room by creating visual interest. It is used to highlight treasured possessions or interesting architectural features. Place the light fixture so the light does not block your sightline and to avoid creating a glare or hot spot, aim the light at a 30 degree angle from the vertical.
When creating your lighting design, consider the activities that will take place in the various areas of your home. Most rooms will be used for different activities throughout the day and evening hours so it is important to vary the intensity of the lighting. Lighting controls will give you added flexibility to adjust and adapt the mood and ambience of the different spaces in your home.
Outside your home, a well lit entryway and a well thought out exterior lighting plan, gives your home a welcoming look, increases curb appeal and provides safety and security for your family and guests. Steps, pathways and driveways should be illuminated to ensure there is a safe path for family and visitors to follow after dark. Consider installing ground lights or spotlights in gardens, around shrubs or trees and in shadowed areas of your home for added visual interest and increased security. Grilling and serving areas are excellent outdoor locations for bright task lighting while eating or conversation areas are more suited to ambient lighting. Fibre optic lighting, motion sensors or a photocell that turns the lights on at dusk and off at dawn save energy are excellent options.
A well thought out lighting plan is an excellent decorating tool. It will add sparkle and interest to your home, complement your lifestyle and meet the various needs of your family. When shopping for lighting choices do not forget your floor plans and other decorating notes as these will be valuable tools when you are consulting with a lighting expert.
BANG ON – NOISE REDUCTION INSIDE
We live in a society where our lives are fast paced and noisy. From the moment we wake we are constantly subjected to a barrage of clamour and clatter. The hustle and bustle of traffic, the din of the city, busy workplaces where telephones, fax machines and email alerts bombard us constantly can leave us feeling weary and longing for a more bucolic life. When we finally settle down in the lazy boy to relax and enjoy some longed for peace and quiet at the end of a long day, the last thing we want to hear is the racket from modern day conveniences.
Intensification and maximization of land usage is environmentally beneficial but it results in subdivisions with homes on small lots and the neighbour’s noise often becomes your noise. While there is not much you can do about that there are certainly many ways to minimize the noise inside your home. New home construction has evolved over the years to include increased levels of insulation and a continuous air barrier. Although these improvements were implemented with energy efficiency in mind, the end result has dramatically reduced the amount of sound transmission from exterior to interior. Brick or stone veneer and triple glazed windows also add to the reduction of noise transfer. These innovations make it possible to have peace inside even when homes are built near railroad tracks, highways or any other source of noise.
Many homes are now built with an open concept design. Although this concept is very popular it can pose problems with noise transmission. Kids being rambunctious, the constant hum of appliances, the thunk of the washing machine’s automatic water shut off, the furnace fan and air conditioning unit going off and on, and even the sound of the sump pump are examples of typical noises that fill our homes. Appliance manufacturers are constantly improving their products to run more efficiently and quietly. Sound abatement has become a priority for the manufacturers of dishwashers, washing machines and dryers and replacing old appliances with new ones can make a big difference in the noise level of your home. The decor and interior finishes you choose can also have a significant impact on the noise levels in your home. Soft surfaces such as drapes, fabric wall hangings, rugs, carpet and plush furniture will help absorb sound while hard surfaces such as hardwood floors, plain wood furniture and bare walls can send sound reverberating through a house.
Sound transmission between rooms can be minimized by a variety of means. Standard hollow core interior doors can be replaced with solid core doors. The use of resilient channel (metal strips that separate drywall from wood studs) works very well in walls and ceilings to reduce sound transmission. Other techniques to reduce sound transmission between rooms or between floors include the use of mineral wool sound insulation, acoustic foam panels, thicker drywall or light density spray foam. With the popularity of main floor or second floor laundry rooms these areas have become prime locations to implement noise reduction techniques. Home theatre or media rooms also benefit from this technology.
When finishing a basement consideration should be given to noise reduction. Normally the reason for finishing a basement is to create a space to “get away” from the main part of the house. It can be a space for kids to play, to entertain friends, or a separate living space for a growing family. In any event the noise level between the floors can vary greatly and some sound attenuation measures should be contemplated in the design.
If your goal is a comfortable, calm and serene oasis, sound attenuation is an important consideration when building a new home or renovating an existing one.
BANG ON – PARADE OF RENOVATIONS
For a number of years, the London Home Builders Association has organized the Parade of Renovations held in October of each year. This year, the Parade will take place on October 5th from 11am until 4pm. There are ten homes in this year’s Parade and the ten dollar admission fee allows access to each home with all proceeds being donated to The Unity Project.
Home renovation continues to be very popular and the Parade of Renovations has continually attracted many people interested in renovating their homes. A recent TD Economic report indicates that in 2015 the projected level for home renovations will be 45 billion dollars in Canada. That is more than double the amount of 10 years ago.
The purpose of the Parade of Renovations is to promote the profile of the Professional RenoMark Renovator and to provide the London community the opportunity to tour recently renovated homes. The Parade offers visitors the opportunity to see firsthand the difference that hiring a Professional RenoMark Renovator makes and it is a great place to start if you are contemplating a renovation. The Parade of Homes will showcase renovations that may be relevant to what you are considering and it gives you an opportunity to meet and speak with RenoMark Renovators or their representatives. The Parade homes may provide you with ideas for finishes or floor plans that could easily be incorporated into a renovation you are considering.
The RenoMark designation ensures the renovator is a member of a home builders association and that they conduct business under a specific code of conduct and adhere to specific requirements. RenoMark members carry proper insurance, provide warranties and understand the value of customer service not only during the renovation process but after the project has been completed. In addition, they have access to information on current trends, regulations and the latest materials and processes. A helpful guide for anyone contemplating a renovation is available on line and is called Reno Guide. It can be found at
This publication will guide you through the process of planning a renovation so that you end up with a quality, long lasting finished product.
When considering a renovation always take into account the level of disruption that will occur within your home. Tolerance levels vary greatly and for larger renovations it may be wise to move out of the house for a period of time if possible. One of the most disruptive home renovations is the kitchen. In any kitchen renovation your renovator will try to minimize the amount of time that the kitchen will not be functional, however, it may be a good idea to schedule the renovation during milder weather so that a barbeque can be substituted for a stove. Another good option is to set up a temporary kitchen elsewhere in your home.
When an addition is part of your renovation the bulk of the work in the addition is usually completed before breaking through to the existing house minimizing the amount of time that the existing house is disrupted.
Planning a renovation is a very exciting process as you research all of the possibilities that exist for finishes and floor plans. Although the renovation process will undoubtedly be stressful at times try and focus on the end goal. The completed project usually means a more modern and functional space for you and your family to make memories in and enjoy for many years.
I invite you to visit the homes in the 24th annual Parade of Renovations on October 5th, 2014 and see for yourself how RenoMark Renovators have assisted other families in turning their renovation dreams into reality.
BANG ON – RENOVATION DRIVES THE ECONOMY
Renovation plays a major role in the economic prosperity of our province. Last year over 170,000 jobs were attributed solely to the home renovation and repair industry. It generated 9.1 billion dollars in wages and represented over 23 billion dollars in investment value. Locally this industry created 6,200 jobs and generated 340 million dollars in wages.
Residential renovations actually surpass new home construction in total dollar value. A recent survey by Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation revealed that an average of 37 percent of Canadian households spent money on renovations in the past year. In Ontario new home construction saw an investment of just over 16 billion dollars. It is apparent from these statistics that the renovation industry is a key component in the wellbeing of a flourishing economy.
Renovations fall into two groups – alterations and improvements and maintenance and repairs. Alterations and improvements are defined as any work performed to add value or extend the useful life of a property while maintenance and repairs are defined as any work required to keep a property in working order or to maintain its appearance.
Of the renovations performed 75 percent of the households had a form of alteration or improvement completed, while 46 percent of the households had maintenance and repairs completed and 21 percent had both types of renovation completed.
The CMHC report also concluded that the primary reason for renovating was to update a home, add value to a home or in anticipation of selling a home. The next most popular reason is the home needed repairs. Overall, 11 percent of renovations were performed by 25-34 year olds, 21 percent by 35-44 year olds, 28 percent by 45-54 year olds, 23 percent by 55 to 64 year olds and those over 65 years of age accounted for 15 percent of all renovations.
The average cost of a renovation according to the CMHC report was almost $14,000 with 81 percent of households paying for the renovation, at least partially, from savings. Fifteen percent financed their projects through a mortgage while 11 percent financed their projects with the help of a line of credit or credit card. A large majority of renovating households – 68 percent in fact used only savings and did not see their debt level increase as a result of renovating.
Of those surveyed 48 percent reported that their renovation was on budget and 37 percent went over budget. Thirty five percent of the renovated households contracted out all of the work, 30 percent performed some of the work themselves and contracted the remainder and 29 percent completed all of the work themselves. Eighty three percent of the respondents had a written contract for the work.
All of the statistics support the fact that the renovation industry is an integral part of a prosperous economy. While maintenance and repairs are deemed necessary, alterations and improvements are completed at the discretion of the homeowner. A healthy renovation industry usually translates into a healthy economy.
Consultation with a professional renovator is critical for all of your renovation needs. A reputable contractor will provide you with a written contract and proof of proper insurance and they adhere to strict building codes and regulations. As a homeowner, due diligence is ultimately your responsibility and when shopping for a contractor, I strongly urge you to seriously consider using an approved LHBA RenoMark contractor.
The renovation industry is thriving not only in London but all across Canada. If people are willing to spend money on home additions and improvements they are obviously confident in our economic future. Clearly there are a huge number of homeowners in London and across Canada who agree that a professional renovation is a sound investment.
BANG ON – HOME OWNERSHIP PROVIDES FOUNDATION FOR SECURITY
Home ownership has always been an important personal goal for most Canadians. Over 70 percent of Canadian families own their own home. A Statistics Canada survey shows that the single largest asset for the majority of Canadians is their principle residence. Research also shows that people who own their own home generally have a higher net worth than those who do not. Traditionally, home ownership is the foundation for long-term financial stability and security. Surveys by the Canadian Housing and Mortgage Corporation show that 35 percent of the homes sold in Canada were bought by first time buyers proving that home ownership is certainly a popular goal in the lives of Canadians. Of the homebuyers 25 percent were between the ages of 25 and 34, 28 percent were between the ages of 35 and 44, 19 percent were between 45 and 54 and 25 percent were over 55 years old. These numbers are very evenly spread out between the age groups indicating that home ownership is a priority to people of all ages.
Single detached homes are still the most popular choice with 50 percent of home sales falling into this category. Condominiums came in at 27 percent. Condominiums are identified with a more carefree lifestyle and are becoming an increasingly popular choice with empty nesters and young professionals. As a rule, yard maintenance, snow removal and sometimes exterior building maintenance are taken care of through the homeowner association monthly fee. Condominium units can be found in a variety of different styles including high rise, townhouse or single detached.
Typically buyers finance their purchase with a mortgage loan. Statistics Canada surveys show 54 percent of homeowners hold a mortgage on their home. Historically home prices rise at or above the rate of inflation and as time passes and the mortgage is being paid down, the equity in the home increases. As the equity in the home increases it also allows for the possibility of remortgaging to provide funds for home improvements or other endeavours.
When considering home ownership many factors must be taken into consideration. The choice is very personal and the criteria as individual as the homebuyer. Along with home ownership comes a feeling of personal pride and accomplishment. Often the purchase coincides with other major milestones like getting married, starting a family, securing a new job or retirement.
If you are considering purchasing your first home here are some questions to ask yourself. Are you at a point in your life where you are ready for homeownership? Are you ready to be grounded and committed for the long term? Do you qualify for a mortgage and if so how much? Schedule a meeting with a mortgage representative from your financial institution to gather valuable information and guidance. Do you have an understanding of all of the costs of home ownership such as, utilities, property taxes, maintenance costs and insurance requirements? Do you have access to funds for a down payment, closing costs and legal fees? If you are currently paying rent consider what the additional costs would be to own your own home. You may be surprised to find that the difference is less than you might expect.
Past generations purchased homes and stayed in that home for an entire lifetime. Nowadays, it is not uncommon for families to move multiple times throughout their lifetime because of career changes and changes in the needs and wants of a growing family.
It is reassuring for us in the homebuilding industry to know that home ownership is still an aspiration for many people and is an attainable goal for most Canadians.
BANG ON – AUGUST 30 2014 – ADAPTABILITY HOUSING RECOGNIZES AGAIN POPULATION
By the year 2036 more than half of all Canadian households will be owned by people over the age of 55 and accordingly, the changing requirements of people as they age are being considered in the design and construction of many new homes being built today.
This concept is called “Adaptable Housing” and it is a growing trend throughout the country with varying degrees of adaptability being incorporated into many new homes. Integrating much of the technology that may be needed down the road at the time of construction is cost effective and will not dramatically change the esthetics of the home.
An adaptable home can be designed to easily incorporate specific wishes as your needs evolve without costly renovations or structural changes down the road. Wider doors and hallways, lever handles, entrances without steps, no changes in floor height and reinforcement in walls for future grab bars and rails are some of the areas being addressed. As well, wall switches can be installed lower and wall receptacles can be installed higher for ease of use.
The kitchen is the heart of the home and we tend to spend a great deal of time there. As we age, the possibility of mobility may become an issue and many modifications can be made to this room at the time of construction to make it a user friendly and comfortable space both now and in the future. Cabinet pulls instead of knobs on cabinetry doors and drawers are both esthetically pleasing and much easier on arthritic hands. Contrasting edges on counter tops may be considered for someone who is visually impaired. Adjusting the height of cabinets or removing cabinets over the course of time can maintain the functionality of a kitchen as your needs change. Another consideration when you are building a new home is appliance selection and placement. Appliances like under the counter refrigerator drawers, an elevated dishwasher or wall oven, open space below a sink, lower countertop work surfaces and pull down shelves in upper cabinets all make a kitchen more functional and accessible for someone in a wheelchair and are some of the options you may want to consider. While the cost of some of these appliances is relatively high the price will go down as they become more mainstream.
The bathroom is another room where functionality and comfort should go hand in hand. Adjustable height shower heads, backing for grab bars and rails, curb free showers and 5 foot clear floor space for turning a wheelchair are considerations that warrant serious consideration.
Adaptable housing can also include the possibilities of expanding useable floor space, dividing into extra units, removing walls to create larger rooms or roughing in an additional bathroom in an area initially used as a closet.
Adaptability is no longer just limited to your home. Planners are now developing communities that offer a wide range of housing types including detached homes, row housing and apartments. Retirement homes interspersed throughout neighbourhoods provide varying degrees of care ranging from self-contained apartments for independent living to full care housing arrangements enabling people to transition without relocating.
The basic elements of adaptable housing are incorporated into almost every new home built but beyond the basics these features can be customized to meet your own individual needs. It is considerably less expensive to prepare your home for the future at the time of construction and with some forethought and good planning your home will evolve with you as your needs change.
BANG ON – NEW HOME BUYING PROCESS
The purchase of a new home is an exciting endeavour. Due diligence during the buying process will ensure a quality home that your family will enjoy for many years.
The first step is to choose an area that suits your lifestyle. A family may prefer to live close to good schools and amenities geared towards children and a professional may prefer to live close to downtown. Your priorities will dictate where you will be most comfortable.
Once you have chosen a location the next question is what can you comfortably afford. A consultation with a representative from your financial institution will provide you with information regarding the price range within your reach. A pre-approved mortgage will allow you to shop with added confidence.
The next step is to choose a builder. It is always wise to contact a number of builders that offer new homes in the area and price range that suit you. Check out company websites, model homes and each builder’s approach to dealing with potential homebuyers. In Ontario every home builder must be registered with Tarion – a new home warranty program that protects a home buyer from costs incurred if a builder fails to address deficiencies in a new home. A search on the TARION website will tell you if the builder is registered and if there is any history of claims. It is also a good idea to check to see if the builder is a member of the London Home Builders’ Association as members receive information and training in the latest technologies and codes. Get references from past customers and follow up. Following these steps, will give you a solid foundation for comparison and decision making.
After you have chosen your builder it is time to get down to details. Most new home builders offer a great selection of finishes for cabinetry, trim, flooring, light fixtures, plumbing fixtures etc. This process can be overwhelming for the homebuyer and consultation with a professional designer may be very helpful. Many new home builders offer designer consultation as part of their sales package. Often builders offer the option of changing floor plans by moving walls, expanding closets or adding windows. Each builder addresses those changes differently so be sure to ask if you can make changes and what the costs may be.
Before signing your Agreement of Purchase and Sale have your lawyer review it and advise if any changes should be made. The agreement should include the selling price, payment schedule and closing date along with detailed plans and finish schedule.
Seeing your home being built is an exciting aspect of the process of buying a new home. Simply driving by will keep you informed as to the progress of the build. Always ask your builder about their policy regarding site visits and how to arrange them. Any time you step onto a construction site, provincial safety laws require you must have the proper safety gear. To ensure compliance, usually the home buyer will only be allowed to visit when there is little or no construction activity.
The Pre-Delivery Inspection (PDI) is usually the first time you visit your new home in its completed state. The PDI provides you with the opportunity to learn how to operate and maintain the systems in your new home and to identify any deficiencies that need to be addressed. TARION provides a publication called “Getting Ready for Pre-Delivery Inspection” which is available online and will help you to understand the process. A PDI Checklist is also available to ensure that the PDI is thorough.
Never hesitate to ask your builder anything that is on your mind. A well informed home buyer ensures a far more enjoyable and satisfying experience for both you and your builder.
BANG ON – EXTERIOR RENOVATIONS
The summer solstice has long passed and inevitably the days are getting shorter and summer is quickly slipping away. As fall approaches it is time to think about exterior renovations which are very dependent on weather and outdoor temperature.
Exterior renovations can be grouped into 3 categories – maintenance or necessity, curb appeal or cosmetic and function or quality of life. The first category, maintenance or necessity, involve any improvements that are required because of the lifespan of building materials. This includes roof shingles, window replacement, exterior painting or any repair required to the exterior to maintain a homeʼs integrity. This type of renovation will not typically alter the appearance of a home significantly but these improvements protect a home and help maintain its value well into the future.
The next category, curb appeal or cosmetic, can include many different renovations from something as simple as changing the exterior colours of a home, to something more complex like re-building entire elevations.
New exterior finishes are continuously being developed and are becoming very popular. An exterior renovation of this type can completely transform the appearance of a home without altering the interior whatsoever. Popular finishes including stucco, fiber cement siding, natural stone, manufactured stone and aluminum longboard siding provide a long lasting, durable surface that will modernize the look of a home. Aluminum soffit, fascia and eavestroughs can replace existing wood soffit and fascia and galvanized eavestroughs. This eliminates the painting cycle and will provide you with a maintenance free finish. We have all seen homes with façades that just do not look balanced because of the size or placement of windows. These design flaws can be rectified by designing a façade that will incorporate proper proportions. Changing window size, placement and style can add much to the curb appeal of a home.
A false dormer or changing roof lines can modernize a home. A false dormer can add interest to what would otherwise be a plain façade. One of the best compliments that you can receive regarding an addition is that it looks as if it was an original part of the house. The roof line is one of the most important components to consider. An addition’s roof should have similar slope and style as that of the original house, however, if an addition has been added to a home in the past, quite often this is not the case. A flat or incorrectly sloped roof can be changed to create rooflines that tie into the existing roof.
Landscaping also falls into the curb appeal or cosmetic category. A professionally designed landscape plan will enhance curb appeal and properly balance the house and lot.
The third and last category includes renovations related to function and quality of life. This type of renovation includes patios, decks, outdoor kitchens, social gathering areas, hot tubs and swimming pools. Today many people forego purchasing a cottage or taking exotic vacations and instead choose to create a personal oasis in their own back yards. During the fair weather months this exterior space is considered by many families as a getaway and an area to entertain family and friends. Covered patios can provide useable outdoor space when Mother Nature does not co-operate and a screened in porch provides protection from the pesky bugs that annoy us at certain times.
The possibilities for an exterior renovation are virtually limitless. When you are ready to begin planning, a consultation with a professional renovator is very beneficial. An experienced renovatorcan provide sound technical advice and design assistance to ensure overall satisfaction with the finished product.
BANG ON – STEPS TO A SMOOTH RENOVATION PROCESS
When contemplating a home renovation that suits your family, budget and style, the first step is to have a good functional design. Consultation with a professional designer who is aware of current trends, new materials and practices you may not have considered is often very beneficial. Many renovation companies now have designers on staff – part of a growing trend towards one stop shopping.
For a simple renovation the design can often be worked out between you and a qualified renovator. If the renovation is more complex a knowledgeable renovator can give you sound advice on the level of assistance you might need from a designer.
The home renovation design process typically begins with discussions regarding your ideas, goals and possible options. A review of photos, drawings and any product literature that you have collected, will help your renovator and designer come up with a design and potential options that will suit your renovation goals and budget.
At this point it is usually wise to obtain “budget pricing” for your project. In my experience most people contemplating a renovation have a “need to have” list and a “want to have” list. Your contractor can give you a price for “the need to have” portion of your renovation and separate costs for the “want to have” items. This will give you a better idea of the potential costs involved so you can make an informed decision regarding scaling back the project if necessary or if multiple options have been priced, which one best suits your requirements.
When a design has been decided on, then concept drawings are prepared. At this point you have usually committed to a particular renovator. Computer Aided Drafting (CAD) software is a very useful tool when preparing drawings so that you can clearly see what the end result of your renovation will be. A variation of CAD called REVIT lets you see your renovation three dimensionally allowing you to view the area from any angle and can provide you with a virtual walk[thru. This is especially helpful for those that cannot visualize a renovation from a two dimensional drawing.
At the end of the design phase you will have a set of plans that will allow you to obtain firm pricing for the project. Specifications for products and finishes will have been finalized at this point and will be part of the design documents. Your contractor will prepare a written Contract that will refer to the design plans and specifications and include additional information required such as payment terms, timelines, proof of insurance etc.
In some instances finish decisions have not been finalized at the time the Contract is signed. People are often overwhelmed by all of the decisions they need to make, particularly with a larger renovation. Including realistic allowances in the Contract will give you more time to make these important choices and your renovation can get underway sooner. Common allowances included in Contracts are flooring, cabinetry, light fixtures and plumbing fixtures. Of course the designer will direct and suggest finishes but ultimately the final decision is up to you.
When your renovation entails structural changes, plumbing fixture relocation or other work, a building permit is required. Working drawings must be prepared in this case and submitted to your municipality for approval and a series of inspections by municipal building officials will be required during the renovation process.This may seem like a lengthy process but it is well worth the time and effort. Working with a professional designer and/or renovator will prove invaluable as they systematically guide you through the renovation process, helping you avoid costly mistakes and delays.