3 tips to consider before your backyard renovation

3 tips to consider before your backyard renovationIf you’re thinking about transforming your outdoor space with a new deck or garden, here are a few things to keep in mind before you get started:

Think about appliances and equipment early. Give some thought to the types of appliances or equipment you may want installed based on what’s most important to you. Is it comfort, energy efficiency or aesthetics? Plan based on what you’d like now and potentially in the future to identify what you’ll need, such as support beams, electrical wires and natural gas lines. When choosing the appliances, don’t forget to factor in the fuel source. There are several natural gas appliances available, like fireplaces, pool heaters and outdoor lighting.

Barbecue like a chef. If you’re designing your backyard with entertaining in mind, opt for a natural gas barbecue. Since they’re hooked up to your home’s natural gas line, you won’t run out of fuel or have to wait for charcoal to heat up. That means more time to spend with your guests.

Chefs also chefs prefer cooking with natural gas because the direct and consistent heat allows for more precise temperature control and even cooking.

Call or click before you dig. When you’re ready to start your backyard project, but before you do any digging, contact Ontario One Call to see what’s underground. Damage to a natural gas line can result in a gas leak, fire or explosion, and can even cut off utility service to an entire neighbourhood. A natural gas connection should also only be installed by a licensed HVAC contractor. Find more information at www.on1call.com or by calling 1-800-400-2255.

Renovating? Some DIY projects to avoid

Renovating? Some DIY projects to avoidUnless you have technical qualifications and a lot of experience, there are some projects and types of work that you are better off leaving to the pros. These are the ones that involve safety risks for you and your family, and it is better to let a professional to do the work.

Plumbing, electrical and gas repairs and installations. Depending on provincial regulations, a licensed contractor may be necessary by law. Make sure you know the rules where you live. For the sake of your family’s safety, work involving electricity and/or gas service should only be done by a qualified and licensed contractor. Because this type of work can result in a safety hazard if done incorrectly, permits are usually required.

Roofing or other exterior work involving heights. These projects require proper safety equipment that must be correctly used. If you don’t have such equipment and know how to use it properly, don’t take chances — hire a pro.

Asbestos removal. You should always use a professional for this tricky project, and provincial laws likely require it. Don’t risk your health by doing this work on your own.

The Canadian Home Builder’s Association offers free information on how to hire a contractor the smart and safe way. Find more information at www.getitinwriting.ca.

 

5 tips to help you keep your home clean during renovations

5 tips to help you keep your home clean during renovationsThere is no better time to renovate or spruce up a room than spring. But living through it can be messy. Here are five tips to help keep your home in good shape during a reno:

  1. Take down decorations. Before starting a project, remove decorations, light fixtures and extra furniture from the room and organize into bins. Removing any household goods that are not needed will help prevent them from becoming dirty or damaged during the process.
  2. Keep dust at bay. Dust can build up quickly while remodelling and can settle throughout your home, even outside the space you’re updating. For dust in the air, try an air purifier such as the Dyson Pure Cool HEPA Air Purifier and Fan that traps microscopic dust and other airborne particles. The device automatically senses indoor air quality in real time and projects clean air to every corner of the room.
  3. Isolate the area. While the renovation is in full swing, try to keep it isolated from other parts of your home. Hang a plastic sheet between rooms to help contain some of the dust and debris. If you’re kicking up a lot of dust, close your floor vents to help reduce the amount of dust that travels to the rest of the house.
  4. Vacuum up high, down below and in between. Despite your best precautions, it’s inevitable that debris from the renovated area will spill into other rooms. Take time to vacuum regularly to keep your other living spaces free of dirt and dust. Use a lightweight cord-free vacuum that has different attachments to reach on top of window panes, under furniture, in between upholstery and on stairs.
  5. Be aware of chemicals in the air. A fresh coat of paint can transform the look and feel of a room, but it can also emit volatile organic compounds into the air. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, VOCs may have short and long-term adverse health effects. The Dyson Pure Cool purifying fan has a sensor that detects and captures VOCs and emits cleaner air into the room.

Great tips for hiring a renovation contractor

Great tips for hiring a renovation contractorIf your home needs a refresh, consider opting for the services of a licensed and qualified contractor for projects that are beyond your DIY skills. Use these tips to select the right one:

Find a contractor you can trust and are comfortable with. Check out the renovator thoroughly. Ask lots of questions when you meet, talk with previous customers, and visit past or current projects. Don’t underestimate the importance of a comfortable personal fit so that you feel they are easy to talk with and are responsive.

Find out what services the contractor offers. Many professional renovation contractors also provide design and planning services that add value to the process. A true pro will point out opportunities for improving your design and any alternative that can save you money or improve the overall quality of your project.

Make sure you have a detailed written contract. A professional contractor will always provide a complete written contract that spells out everything, including their warranty. Never settle for anything less than this. Working with a contractor who does business the right way means not having to lie awake at night worrying what the final costs will be, or if the job will even get finished. A cash deal with no contract is no deal at all.

Know what to expect. Ask a lot of questions before any work begins. Who will be at your home for each portion of the work? How will your day-to-day living be impacted? Should you consider moving out during any portion of the construction process? What if want to make changes? The more you know upfront about the whole process, the less anxious you’ll feel.

Take an active role throughout the project. The best renovation results come from good communication between you and your renovation contractor. Ask for regular updates and know how to get hold of the contractor if you have questions or concerns. Be prepared to spend time going over drawings, monitoring the project’s progress and fully discussing decisions.

Don’t expect a problem-free renovation. The bigger the project, the more likely you’ll run into the unexpected, such as existing deficiencies hidden in the walls, delays in special orders or bad weather. Be flexible and understand that some things are beyond the contractor’s control.

The Canadian Home Builder’s Association offers free information on how to hire a contractor the smart and safe way. Find more information at www.getitinwriting.ca.

 

5 rooms you can brighten with a skylight

5 rooms you can brighten with a skylightAdding a skylight can enhance any space, making it lighter, brighter, fresher and more cheerful. A skylight can also improve our experience indoors, where we spend 90 percent of our time but the air quality is three to five times worse than outdoors.

In addition to the health benefits of more natural light, skylights reduce the need for artificial light and can lower electricity costs delivering twice the amount of light as vertical windows allowing for daylight to penetrate the center of the home. Here are five rooms that would be even better with one of these light solutions.

Bathroom. By adding a venting skylight, you can allow in an abundance of natural daylight while also letting the steam out after a hot bath or shower. Plus, did you know that the best lighting for make-up application is natural light? A skylight can let you enjoy privacy, an unobstructed view and a sophisticated design touch in your bathroom.

Kitchen. Programmable skylights from Velux will let in natural light and they give you the control to properly air out your home and keep your kitchen fresh during and after cooking. By opening your skylight, gases like hot air, cooking odours and toxins escape through the roof.

Living room. Make this popular space feel bigger with a skylight — you can even combine multiple units to create an architectural statement. Add a solar-powered blind to reduce the glare on your television and other screens.

Home office. Incorporate more natural light into your home office or studio to increase productivity, minimize mistakes and improve your mood. Working in natural light will also lessen eyestrain, which can help reduce headaches.

Attic/loft conversion. By converting your attic into a functional loft, you can add more usable square footage, increasing the value of your home. Keep the space bright, airy and open by including a skylight in your new design, leaving you with views of the sky and not your neighbour’s roof, exterior side wall or bathroom. This will allow you to transform your dark attic space into a practical bright space flooded with natural light.

Find more inspiration online at moredaylight.ca/5rooms.

Tips to choose the right tape for DIY projects

Tips to choose the right tape for DIY projectsThere’s an old saying, “if you can’t fix it with duct tape, you’re just not using enough.” Only what if the amount isn’t the issue, but rather the type? That’s right, not all tapes are created equal! So, how do you choose what’s right for your project? Here’s a few tips:

There are some jobs that simply need a quick fix or short-term hold. For these temporary applications, a Basic or Original duct tape can serve your purpose and save you some cash.

However, there are many projects that require extra strength and durability. For these, be sure to choose a higher-grade product, such as Duck Max Strength duct tape that will offer strong adhesion to a variety of surfaces for long-lasting repairs.

If you need strength, long-term performance, durability in extreme weather or adhesion to rough or dirty surfaces, you need a high-end product. For these situations—or if you simply want a top-of-the-line product for all of your projects—stock up on rolls of T-Rex Tape. It’s formulated with super-durable, extra-thick, UV-resistant materials to work longer and hold stronger than other utility tapes, in all kinds of weather and temperatures. (T-RexTape.com)

Finally, once you’ve determined the appropriate grade for your needs, tapes are also available in colours beyond traditional grey, such as black or white to blend in with surfaces. So, stock your workbench and junk drawer to ensure you’re ready for any project or situation.

Five DIY renovation tips

Five DIY renovation tipsAs the days grow longer and the sun begins to warm the soul, many of us might be thinking it’s time to get our home ready for the warmer weather. It’s a perfect time to embark on that painting or renovation project you’ve been dreaming about.

  1. Let the clean, fresh air in. Make sure there is plenty of ventilation during painting or varnishing projects, or when installing any flooring using glues or adhesives. You can find out about your local outdoor air quality by visiting www.airhealth.ca.
  2. Understand what you’re using. Whether it’s paint, caulking or even window cleaner, use chemical products as directed. Follow all safety and usage instructions on the label, including how to dispose of any leftover products. Be sure you use all personal safety equipment recommended on the label.
  3. Choose low-emission products when possible. Paint or varnish products often have a noticeable smell. The odour will contain volatile organic compounds (VOCs). Some chemical products that are labelled as “low emission” give off fewer VOCs. Look on the label to see if the product is low emission.
  4. Check for asbestos. If you are planning renovations and your home has building materials already installed that you think may contain asbestos (like insulation, exterior siding, floor or ceiling tiles), contact a trained and qualified asbestos abatement professional. They can test for and remove asbestos before you begin. Never try to remove building materials that may contain asbestos yourself.
  5. Keep chemicals away from children. Keep all household chemical products safely stored where children cannot see or reach them.

By following these renovation health tips, you can brush away the last signs of winter safely.

4 tips to prep your house for the real estate market

4 tips to prep your house for the real estate marketWhether you’re selling or renting, it’s important that your home looks fresh and makes a good first impression with potential buyers or renters. Here are some tips to add value with little effort.

Paint outdoor trim. The elements can wear down painted surfaces over time making them look tired, but a fresh coat of paint can go a long way toward making your home stand out. Remember, the buyer’s first impression is extremely important. Try painting your outdoor trim and window shutters black to add drama to your exterior.

Preparation is equally as important outdoors as it is in, so use a quality painter’s tape like Painter’s Mate Green to protect windows and ensure a flawless finish. It can be used on many different surfaces and delivers excellent results, without the premium price point.

Swap out hardware. Upgrade the hardware around your home — including door knobs, drawer pulls and faucets — for an easy, stylish update. Enhance your kitchen cabinets with brushed nickel knobs to complement the moulding of the cabinetry to give the space a vintage look. A great choice for modern and contemporary kitchens is elongated stainless steel drawer pulls that enhance clean lines.

Refresh trim and baseboards. Clean up your baseboards and trim with a coat of paint to add new life into your home. A classic white works well as a no-fail option. White works well with both neutral and coloured walls for basic trim as well as more elaborate moulding styles.

Painting your baseboards is one of the top projects you can do and guarantees maximum results with only minimal effort. Begin by masking off the lower edge of the wall right above the baseboard to ensure a faster and cleaner paint job.

Neutral colours in common areas. Instead of giving in to the urge to replace everything in your home, consider some quick paint projects for your living room or kitchen to show off what you already have. A fresh coat of light-coloured paint helps the buyer envision themselves in your home, versus bold colours that may not fit their personal style.

Find more painting projects and tips online at paintersmategreen.com.

3 ways to refresh your home for spring

3 ways to refresh your home for springLooking to update your home for the season but don’t have time or budget for a major renovation? Do it right with these three easy DIY paint projects that can each be done in just a day.

“The seasonal transition from winter to spring is the perfect time to freshen up,” says Sharon Grech, colour and design expert for Benjamin Moore. “If you’re like me, you don’t have unlimited time to devote to working on your home, which is why small weekend projects are perfect because they’re quick, easy and affordable.”

Hit refresh with paint. Nothing says refresh quite like bringing new life to a tired piece of furniture. A fresh coat of paint is the perfect solution to make old, dated furniture seem trendy and new. Look for pieces that have solid construction and interesting shapes. Grech says headboards, wardrobes, chairs and side tables are all great pieces to transform. If you are unsure of the condition of the furniture or how to paint it, visit a local paint retailer to ensure you get the product that is right for your project.

Amaze with an accent wall. Feature walls are a great way to make an impactful change to a space. “Many people think accent walls need to be very bold and vibrant hues, when they can be neutral to create a more cohesive and harmonious feel,” says Grech. Explore painting the fifth wall, otherwise known as the ceiling, for a unique and modern look that can add dimension to a space.

Front door décor. The front door has the ability to instantly create an inviting impression before guests enter your home. “Applying a fresh coat of paint to your front door is a great DIY project that can be done quickly and can invigorate the look and feel of your home,” says Grech. “Because it’s so easy, you can even change your door colour seasonally.” Benjamin Moore’s Aura Grand Entrance collection, inspired by European enamel finishes has more than 42 curated colours.

Find more information at www.benjaminmoore.ca.

 

3 steps to a new roof

3 steps to a new roofA sound roof protects your home and family, but after a particularly rough winter it is vulnerable to wear and tear. Jack Rende, senior merchant for building materials at the Home Depot Canada shares three steps to a roof that stops leaks and increases curb appeal.

Self-inspection. Sun, snow, ice, branches and wind can all age or damage roofing materials. Common signs you may need to replace your roof include missing, blistering and curling shingles; deteriorating chimney flashing; and shingle granules in the gutters. Other signs include water stains, leaks, mould, mildew and daylight peeking through roof boards in the attic.

In-home consultation. At the initial consultation, an installations services consultant assesses and measures the roof, presents samples, discusses a budget and outlines the timeline. To best prepare for this appointment, catalogue any damage; note any personal style, brand and colour preferences; and determine your budget. Factors to consider when choosing a roof are style, colour, durability, warranties and installation. For an on-trend look with great quality, consider Timberline High-Definition shingles from GAF with high definition colour blends and Advanced Protection technology.

Removal and replacement. Arrange a pre-installation inspection as well as an installation date for your new roof. Removal of existing roofing materials includes the delivery of disposal bins to ensure a thorough cleanup is accomplished. Once the project is complete, the installer reviews the project and performs a final inspection.

For more information on replacing your roof visit Home Depot Canada in-store or online at homedepot.ca.