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Finding A Renovation Contractor you can Trust

You’ve decided to renovate your home.  It may be a small bathroom renovation or a full home addition.  As a renovation contractor I have always been amazed how little time customers spend vetting our company.  Our customers will often take the time on large jobs, like home additions, but will take very little time when renovating their washroom.  I’ve heard so many renovation horror stories and its always the same issues;

  • We paid him cash and he’s disappeared.
  • The job was a mess, they ruined my floors, damaged my personal property, never removed the construction garbage.
  • My 2 week bathroom renovation turned into 4 months
  • The quality of work was poor and needs to be redone
  • Water damage due to not using quality trades – especially plumbers

Even recently I spoke to a homeowner who was renovating their whole main floor including their kitchen – the initial budget was $200,000 and to my disbelief they were paying the contractor cash.  Surprise, surprise, when everything fell apart.  Really, $200,000 in cash!

Here are some tips to help you find a contractor;

The simple things to check – Does the contractor have a business number, HST number, WSIB, and General Liability insurance.  Ask for documentation – this should be easily accessible for a reputable renovation contractor.

Check to see if they are part of any industry associations – contractors who have pride in their work and their business are involved in their industry.  They are constantly learning and improving.

There are so many on line rating services that it is worth the time to read up on your contractor.  The public domain can provide great insight as to the company’s strengths and weaknesses.  However, a company that only has 10 out of 10 ratings can be suspicious.  Look for companies that respond to their reviews – good or bad.

Once you have narrowed down the list of contractors to 2 or 3 that you think would be good to deal with, invite them to your home to provide an estimate.  This initial meeting can offer a lot of insight in how your renovation will be managed.  Did the renovation contractor arrive on time, did he remove his shoes, how detailed is his quote, how did he speak to you, did he show you and your family respect?

When deciding to embark on a home renovation, whether big or small, take the time to protect your investment.  It is your home, plus your own well-being that you are dealing with.  Renovations can be very stressful. They can completely disrupt your life while they are going on.  Spending time upfront is a huge advantage.

Tips That Can Make Selling Your House Easier

Are you planning to renovate your home so you can get the highest possible sale price? If you are, then follow these easy cleaning, maintenance, and renovation tips on how to get the most for your sale.

Maintenance

Take the time to go over your every detail of your entire house.  It would be worth it to hire a home inspector prior to listing your house so that you can find out any possible deficiencies before potentials buyers walk through your front door.  If you are not planning to hire a home inspector prior to listing then take the time to really go through your home with a critical eye.  Some things to look for include torn or damaged window screens, moldy or missing caulking (inside and outside), rotting siding, decks, or handrails, worn out or missing weather stripping around windows and doors, ensuring all of your exterior and interior door handles are operational (be sure that they latch and that the locks work) uneven patio stones, cleaning any exterior gutters of leaves or debris, checking to ensure the slope of the flower beds or yard is away from your house, completing the annual furnace and air conditioner maintenance…  These are simple steps that take a little time, but wont cost you a lot of money.

Clean Your House and do What You Can to Make it Brighter

Nobody wants a gloomy house. To make your house more attractive to buyers, go through this simple exercise;  pretend you are coming to look at your house for the first time.  Stand on the street and walk up your driveway or front sidewalk.  What do you see?  Does your house look clean, bright and inviting?  Are the shrubs overgrown? are the windows clean? Once you get to the front door take a look at the door handle, is it rusty or worn?  Is the door or the key hole scratched?  Now you are inside, what do you see?  Is your entry bright?  This is what your potential new buyers will see within the first 30 seconds of coming to view your property.  You can make it or break it in these first 30 seconds.

Be sure to clean the walls, floors, and ceilings (you don’t want any cobwebs). Remove drapes, curtains (or replace them with thinner ones), and open your windows. Replace your old light bulbs with new or more powerful ones. How does your house smell when you walk in – old, dank, and musty?  Use an air freshener so that when potential buyers come into your home for the first time they aren’t taken aback by pet odours, or dirty shoes in the closet.

Updates and Renovations

The main selling features of your house are the kitchen and the washrooms, plus the flooring and the condition of the walls.

Painting

The first step is to paint the main areas, over time we all nick and bang the walls leaving marks and scrapes, especially by the front entrance.  Be sure to patch, prime and paint the the well used areas – hallways, doors and trims.  Doing a simple refresh will create an inviting environment for the new purchasers.

Flooring

Flooring an be an expensive venture. Depending on the size of your home it and when it was built will make a huge difference.  We find that new home buyers will want to put their own stamp on the home anyway, so I wouldn’t break the bank here.  However, take a look at your carpets and hardwood.  Are they scratched, stained, or worn through?  Hire a professional carpet cleaning company to bring some life back into your carpet, or a hardwood company to repair any scratches or worn areas on your hardwood floor.  Be sure all the grout lines in your tile are clean and replace any grout that is cracked or missing.

Bathrooms

You can easily refresh the look of your washroom without spending a lot of money.  A simple refresh like re-grouting and caulking of the showers and tile walls and floors.  Replace your washroom vanity, sink and faucet can be completed in a day and having your tub refinished will bring an old tired bathroom back to life.  Of course you can completely renovate your washrooms, but be sure to budget $10,000 to $12,000.

Kitchens

The kitchen is the heart of the home, this is where prospective buyers will go first.  There are some simple and cost effective things you can do to update your kitchen.  Take a look at your cabinets – are they worn, are the doors straight, do the doors open and close properly?  If you don’t have enough time or the budget to renovate from scratch you can (depending on the type of cabinets) have them painted, or re-stained.  When re-staining wood cabinets use the same colour and a product which has the varathane and stain in one application.  If your kitchen cabinets are in good shape, then consider updating the backsplash with a new tile, or replacing the counter top, sink and faucet.  The simple task of replacing all of the handles and knobs can really add a quick and dramatic improvement.

If you do have the budget and the time, renovating your kitchen and washrooms tend to add the most value to your home and help to create the quickest sale.  If you do chose to fully renovate your kitchens and washroom, be sure to plan far in advance.  Ordering cabinets, making selections and having a kitchen renovation completed can take 2-3 months, a washroom renovation is generally 2 weeks once the work has actually begun.

Renovating your home for sale can put some extra cash in your pocket.  Don’t miss out.

Top 5 Reasons to Renovate

We all have different reasons as to why we would renovate our homes.  The important thing to realize is why you are doing it, and that your decision is right for you.  Here are 5 of the main reasons why our customers renovate their homes;

  1. They simply want something better – as we go through our lives our tastes and attitudes change.  The kitchen or bathroom that was perfect when you were just starting out lacks some of the new renovation options that are available today.  Wanting some of the comforts to make our lives a little bit easier or more enjoyable becomes important to us.  Some of the many new features are heated floors, heated towel bars, rain head showers with a hand held option, stone or hard surface counter tops, built in appliances, soft close doors and drawers – the list goes on and on.  When you are ready to renovate your home there is no shame in wanting to induldge in the finer things that life can offer.
  2. Family is changing – Over time our families can grow and as a result we need more usable space.  Finishing the basement so that the kids have a place to hang out with their friends or creating a space for your relatives to live.  An extra bathroom or bedroom is great for guests and gives them some privacy while visiting.
  3. Selling your home – our homes are often are biggest investment in our lives and keeping it up to date and current will drive a bigger sale price when you are ready to sell.  Buyers will often want discounts when your home is out of date or when it is in need of repair.  Companies make profits on “flipping houses”, don’t let your house become someone else’s flip.  Key areas to update – kitchens, bathrooms, flooring and paint.
  4. Income Suite – looking to make a little extra money every month and help pay down that mortgage?  Check your local by-laws about the possibility of creating a basement income suite.  Our customers have often been able to get financing to finish the renovation. Once the suite is rented they have been able to pay for the financing as well as put some money towards their mortgage every month.
  5. The house is showing its age and needs some TLC – houses need maintenance, they won’t last forever if we don’t look after them.  Over time many of your homes features will deteriorate.  Some of the more common areas are;
    1. windows and doors – replacing your windows can improve your homes look as well as reduce your energy costs.
    2. Gutters and downspouts – its so important to keep the water away from your foundation.  Next time it rains check to ensure your gutters and downspouts are free of debris and that the water is flowing well.  Extend the downspouts to at least 4′ away from your foundation.
    3. caulking – caulking only last a few years.  You should be removing the existing caulking from your tubs and showers and re-caulking them every 3-5 years.  This will keep the water from penetrating the wall surfaces and causing rot and mold.
    4. tile and grout – over the years tiles can crack and grout can become dislodged from in between the tiles.  Its important to inspect your washroom and replace any broken tiles and re-grout any areas where the grout is missing.
    5. exterior vent covers – most exterior vent covers are vinyl (plastic) and dry out over time.  When they dry out they crack and fall apart.  This can allow birds to make nests inside the vent pipes or allow water to penetrate your exterior building envelope.  If they are in disrepair take the time to change them.

What ever the reason you are renovating for, be sure to take the time to plan, and create a budget that works for you. Doing your research is the most important step of any renovation project.

 

 

Spring Maintenance and Cleaning That Every Homeowner Should Do

Now’s another new year, and it is time for the regular spring-cleaning. We definitely love doing it. After all, it is a chance to let the house breathe through the open windows — refresh your home with clean air.

We advise you that you should not be daunted by this task. You can do it one at a time. An hour every day. And once you are done with everything, we are sure that you will never regret doing it or spending time with your home.

Anyway, for us to give you a bit of help, we have supplied an awesome check to follow.

Maintenance

  • Check exterior exhaust vents to ensure they are not blocked – birds, leaves etc need to be removed
  • Check exterior foundation for cracks
  • Check exterior grade for settling – its important to ensure that the ground is sloped away from your home to keep the foundation as free from water as possible.  If there is any settling be sure to add some soil to bring up to the proper grade
  • Check exterior caulking – cracked out deteriorated caulking can let water rot your exterior framing.  Take the time to remove old caulking and re-apply
  • Exposed wood or peeling paint – winters can be harsh in Canada and as a result rotting wood is a concern – especially wooden pillars, pickets, and handrails.  Inspect these carefully they can be a safety hazard.
  • Check shower/tub caulking and grout lines – remove old caulking and re-grout where necessary.

Basic Stuff

  • Dust bulbs and other lighting fixtures.
  • Wash and disinfect switch plates, knobs, cabinet handles, wherever people put their hands on regularly
  • Open windows and turn on electric fans — be sure it is not that cold outside or not snowing, but it is up to you
  • De-clutter rooms
  • Clean, vacuum, or wash carpets and mats
  • Clean places under furniture pieces
  • Wash windows
  • Clean air conditioning filters and vents if possible
  • Clean, and sanitize refrigerator and freezer
  • Clean oven, stove, and toaster if you have one
  • Vacuum sofa and wipe down chairs
  • Sort books and magazines

Hardcore Stuff

  • Wash sills, trims, and walls
  • Wash and scrub doors, especially the ones in the washrooms
  • Empty closets and cabinets, clean and wipe the insides and the items, and put them back in
  • Find unused items and get rid of it — donating or selling them is a good way to get them out of the house
  • Shine or polish metal fixtures like faucets
  • Sharpen your knives, disinfect cutting boards

Take the time maintain your home and you will feel better as well as retain the value of your home.

Simple Steps to Follow When Painting Your Room’s Walls

Is the paint on your walls peeling, cracking, or showing wear? This is not a big problem; to get perfectly painted walls follow these basic steps.

 

Clean the Walls

Before anything else, make sure that your walls are clean. No grease, dirt, or dust must be sticking on the wall. Do note that skipping this step will ruin your paint’s finish.

 

To clean your wall, just get a sponge, water, and mild detergent. Lather the detergent on the water, dab the sponge, and rub the sponge on the wall. After that, rinse the walls with water, and let it dry.  You can also use a product called TSP which is specifically designed for cleaning walls prior to painting.

 

Patching

When preparing your walls use drywall compound or a product called Drydex to cover any holes or blemishes.  Drydex goes on pink and dries white.  Sometimes these marks can be very difficult to see, it largely depends on the light in the room.  If you are very keen on details you can take a flashlight and slowly go over the walls from end to end.  You should be able to see all marks and blemishes using this process.

Once the patching material you use is dry, be sure to sand it with a flat surfaced sponge sander.  If you use a piece of sandpaper and your hand when you sand it is difficult to get a smooth wall.  Once you have completed sanding, clean all of the dust and debris by wiping down the walls with a damp cloth.

Once all of the dust is cleaned, it is time to caulk the gaps, cracks that may be showing between the trims and the walls.  When applying caulking use a damp cloth to wipe away the excess.  Using your finger doesn’t work as well and can leave an uneven finish.

Do Not Skip on the Prime

Depending on the colour you are painting, the walls may need to be primed.  You can have the primer tinted to reduce the number of coats of paint you may need to get an even finish.  There are also products that have the paint and the primer in one can – a great innovation for the painting industry!  Prior to coating the whole wall with primer, go over each of your patched areas with primer and a brush.  New compound needs the extra primer or the spots may show once you have completed painting.

Taping

Once all of the caulking and patching is dry.  To prevent a painting mess, make sure that you use painter’s tape (the blue or green tape you see in hardware stores). Tape the places you do not want to get painted (e.g., door frames, window, trim, etc.). It is very important to remove the tape before the paint dries.  If you wait, the new paint and the tape will stick together and when you remove the tape the paint may peel off with the tape.

Cleaning, Patching, Priming Complete – Time to Put on the Colour

Once you have the trims and ceiling taped off, complete all of the edging with a 2 – 2 1/2 inch brush.  For those tight to reach areas have a small brush handy.  If you can, work quickly so that you can roll the walls before the edging paint is completely dry.  This will help to reduce any potential lines.  Prior to rolling the paint on the walls remove all painters tape.

When rolling on the paint be careful not to put on too much paint at once.  If you do put on too much paint it may “run” or show drips.  A key to having a professional painting finish is to back roll all of the walls.  This means that once you have completed the wall or area you are painting, go back to the beginning and re-roll the wall without any new paint on your roller.  Be sure to have the part that connects the roller to your handle leading.  When you apply pressure with your roller, there will be more pressure on the side that is connected to the handle.  If the high pressure portion of the roller is trailing you may leave streaks.

Do Not Forget the Trim

Once you are done painting the walls and removing the tape it is time to paint the trims, and doors. This is the job that really counts – a quality paint job shows up the most on how well (or straight) you can paint the lines between the trims and the walls.

All done!  Time to step back and enjoy your handy work!

 

Renovation or Relocation

 

Renovation can be costly. Relocation can be a huge headache. But which will be the better choice? In some point in time, you could have asked this to yourself. Many factors should be considered. And this article will let you articulate and think about those considerations and factors.

Consider the Location of the New Property You are Eyeing

Are you prepared to leave the neighborhood that you were living in for years? Is the new property seated on a very convenient location? Those are just a few of the important questions you must ask yourself. And here are a few more:

  1. If you have a kid, is the local school good for your child?
  2. Is it near a market or mall? Is it walking distance from the new property?
  3. Is the property scalable? Are you allowed to renovate or expand the house on it?
  4. Is the house on the property a cookie-cutter house? Is it identical to the houses of your neighbor? Are you okay with that?
  5. Will you get what you want and will it be much more cost effective to relocate than renovate?

Some of these things can make or break your plan to relocate. Some of them cannot be controlled, which can easily make you create a decision for your family. Of course, your answers to those questions depend on your priorities.

Can You Let Go of Your House?

Have you made a lot of memories there and are you willing to let go of that special place? This is an essential factor that you must consider. Leaving your current house can be heartbreaking. Make sure that you also consult the other family members. Some of them might not handle letting go of the friends and places they have been accustomed and familiar with after all these years.

Is Your Budget Ready?

Remember that relocating might seem inexpensive first. However, you should know that it could be costly, too. You will need to hire movers, cleaners, and even real estate agents. You might also need to finish some contracts if you are renting. And you will be required to update some documents to reflect the changes in your address, and so on.

Why Renovate Instead?

If you are going to sell your house to relocate, it will be a good move to perform a renovation first. The good thing here is that the value of your property will rise. And you can easily get the amount of money you have spent on the renovation job.

On the other hand, it will delay your relocation plan. If you suddenly change your mind, then you will still have a nice house to keep. If your mind does not change, you still get to sell your old house on a higher price.

In a Nutshell

Depending on your priorities and family members, this decision can be complex or simple. Make sure to talk to them first. Having a nice house is good, but living with depressed people is much worse.

Getting Familiar with the Parts of Your House or Home

Let’s admit it. Most homeowners do not have any concrete idea about the parts of their house. To be honest, it isn’t a bad thing. After all, making houses is not everyone’s specialty. However, it can be a bad thing if you are going to ask somebody to do renovations in your home or build a house.

Why is that? First, you will have a difficult time communicating with the contractor that you will hire. Second, you might provide the wrong idea to the contractor, and it might lead results you don’t want. Third, malicious contractors that take advantage of unknowledgeable customers might fool you.

Of course, learning the parts of your home is not essential for adults alone. Kids and teens should get familiarized with them, too. After all, they will be homeowners themselves in the future.

Anyway, so what are the parts of a house?

Lot

This is the piece of land where your house will be built on. Of course, most people will be already familiar with it.

Flat Work

This is the part of the lot where concrete has already been applied. It can be a pathway, road, deck, driveway, patio, or your house’s floor.

Footing

This is the section of your house where your house and ground meet. Primarily, the footing support your house and allows it to “stand.”

Foundation

The foundation is the combination of walls and pillars that will support your house and flooring. It is often rooted down to the ground. Modern houses use concrete foundation for greater structure support. Wood can be also used. In some cases, some houses do not have foundations. However, different construction methods and materials are needed to create a house without a foundation.

Floor

Of course, you will be familiar with the floor. A floor can be made of wood, concrete, or a combination of both. In residential houses, wooden flooring is common. In commercial structures and buildings with multiple floors, concrete is the standard floor material.

Walls

Walls are essentially dividers. It divides the interior of your house and your property outside. And of course, it also divide your rooms as well. Aside from dividing rooms, walls also act as support for the roof or another floor.

Roof

And then you have your roof that goes on top of your house. Your house’s walls, foundation, and floor support your roof. Due to that, the materials that you can use for your roof depends on how sturdy and the materials used in your walls, foundation, and floor.

Systems

This includes the mechanical, electrical, and plumbing connections within your home. It also includes heating, ventilating, and air conditioning. In more modern homes, security, entertainment, and communication systems are included here.

Equipment and Fixtures

All the appliances and fixtures in your home are under this section.

Outdoor Elements

As it name implies, all things that are not included on the previous parts and are outside are in this category.

5 Things to Consider When Getting a New Carpet

It’s snowing a lot this month, and it would be nice if your feet is on something warm. No we’re not going to talk about your socks. What we would want to talk about are carpets. Yep. Those warm and fluffy rags that feels heaven while it’s freezing cold outside and you’re in front of your fireplace. Kind of a romantic setting, yah?

In this article, we will provide you with five simple consideration that you need to know before you buy your new carpet.

1. Too many people in your house mean a cheaper and sturdier carpet. There’s nothing you can do about it, especially if you have pets. Unless you’re buying a carpet for your own room, then spend luxuriously. But if it’s for the living room, forget about that fancy carpet you saw. Get something that can handle abuse. Preferably a shag carpet will do well in that situation. Another type you might want is modular tiles.

2. Bring a small piece of your drape or old carpet with you when buying. You don’t want your new carpet to be out of place. Make sure that you get the correct color that will match with your drapes or your walls.

3. Know that carpets have extra-added cool features, too! One of the feature you want to have is Anti-Static Technology. It would really save you against those sudden mini arc lightning.

4. Decide if the carpet will be only for winter use. If you are looking for that warmth during the cold season, a mohair carpet will be ideal for you. However, it’s a delicate carpet that tends to shed a lot. So, if it isn’t for those warm cozy nights, choose another type.

5. If you don’t care much about the warmth the carpet might bring but you want to make your room look warm, then it is best to get a hemp and sisal. It’s screaming with “tropical weather.” Although, this is another delicate carpet you might not want if you have children or pets.

Turn Your Vacant Room into a Game Room!

Once your kids become adults, they will surely get out of your house (or you might kick them out instead). Whatever reason they had for leaving home, it will surely result into one thing: a vacant room. And for us old folks, it’s an opportunity.

 

Of course, we’re not saying that you should heartlessly turn your old kid’s room into anything you like. In some cases, it will be much better for you to set your eyes on the guest room instead. After all, your kids will surely visit once in a while, and it will be sad for them to stay in a guest room or find out that you have disemboweled their rooms.

 

Anyway, the point here is that you will have an opportunity to add a new room. It can be a home office, a music room, or a game room. In this article, we will talk about turning your spare room into a game room.

 

For you to have that, you must get the essentials first: the “games”. Mostly, the cheapest game rooms will have a large televisions and game consoles. But if you aren’t into video gaming stuff, you can settle for billiard tables, dart boards, table tennis, and even a mini golf course.

 

Once you have your gaming stuff bought, then it’s time to redesign the room. First of all, make sure to paint the walls with a bright color. Light green or yellow works best. Put some yellow accents, and you’re done. Why bright colors? They exude fun and excitement while dark colors bring gloom. Surely, you want the former effect.

 

A few things that your game room must have are sound systems (jukebox for a more classic vibe or stereo for a modern feel), couch, and a table (for food and drinks). In case that you want your game room to be more used frequently, adding a television set will be a must. And if you want your wife to approve of what you plan, you might want to add a karaoke machine for her to have fun with some of her friends in there.

 

If you need more ideas, it will be much better to consult your friends. Ask them what games they want to play whenever they’ll be around for some beer. Surely, you’ll have a blast once you get this done.

Financing Your Home Renovation

So you have finally purchased that 19th century farm house that you have always pictured yourself living in the problem is how do you finance the restoration? It is easy to get mortgages for the value of the home even a little extra if you have a good credit rating but today a renovation can cost more than the original purchase price of the property.

The first option s to look at your available assets. You can get a home equity loan if there is any equity in your house. Use your credit cards for short term renovation or borrow money from your parents these ideas are only usable in a short term renovation once the renovations completed you should be able to refinance your home and pay of the relatives, high interest credit cards and roll your home equity loan into your mortgage.

You may be able to get a “line of credit” a line of credit is usually easy to get up to $30,000.00 with out much effort and with a minimal amount of paperwork these lines of credit are good for short term renovation that are under the $100,000.00 dollar mark. The interest rates tend to be on the high side but you can draw out the money as you need it and only pay interest on the cash that has been withdrawn and again once the renovation is completed you can refinance and pay of the line of credit and combine all your loans in the mortgage.

Depending on the scope of your renovation you may be eligible for store loans and credit card offers. Many home stores now have their own credit cards they offer deal such as interest free credit for one year you may be able negotiate a longer term. The important thing here is to pay off the loan/credit card prior to the free period expiring otherwise the interest will revert back to the initial purchase. Some stores will also offer you a interest free construction loan for your project the terms of these construction loans vary from store to store read the fine print carefully like the credit card deals these usually have a time limit. Again one the renovation is completed you can refinance and pay off the loan avoiding high interest dept.

Construction loans are generally reserved for larger projects this kind of loan is a short term loan the money can be taken as needed and interest is paid on the money that has been taken out. Almost everyone now offers construction loans this completion has brought the costs of these loans down. The nice thing about construction loans is that you can withdraw the money as you need it once the renovation is done you can refinance and have one closing and one mortgage. One thing you should keep in mind when shopping for a construction loan is the fees and finance charges as always keep an eye on the fine print for hidden charges.

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