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.

Genius small bathroom makeover ideas

Genius small bathroom makeover ideasLooking for your next reno project? Consider transforming your bathroom — the most renovated room in 2017 — with a few strategic upgrades so you can enjoy a relaxing oasis and boost your property’s resale value. Whether you’re looking to refresh your ensuite or a powder room, use these tricks to make the most of every square foot.

Savvy storage solutions. Maximize limited space by incorporating streamlined and efficient organizing and storage options. Think floating glass shelves to hold toiletries, built-in shelves and shower niches to house mood-setting décor and towels, and pullout drawers and desk trays to keep jewelry and makeup tidy.

Mix DIY with smart shopping. To keep your budget under control, combine simple do-it-yourself projects with new quality purchases. For example, update a builder-basic vanity with a fresh coat of paint and new hardware, and splurge on a clawfoot tub or heated floors. You can also go with more expensive tile and flooring in a small bathroom because you’ll need less material than you would in a larger space.

Opt for stylish resourceful fixtures. When upgrading your plumbing fixtures, choose efficient models that will make your life easier in the end. Make cleaning easier with the VorMax Plus self-cleaning toilet from American Standard. Available at Home Depot, this innovative toilet cleans and freshens with its Lysol Fresh Infuser every time you flush. Its smart design reduces the clutter of having multiple cleaning supplies and its antimicrobial surface eliminates buildup and dirt that cling onto conventional bowls.

Bring on the bold. Don’t be afraid to add fashion and flair — small bathrooms can benefit from character and charm that create visual interest and please the eye. Pick one or two features to play up. For a contemporary cottage look, try an oversized mirror framed in distressed wood. For a serious spa vibe, choose a luxurious showerhead, large tiles and plush accessories.

www.newscanada.com

Top tips to create an ideal income suite

Top tips to create an ideal income suiteFrom the condominium craze to the rise of multigenerational living, the climbing cost of homeownership across Canada continues to spawn new trends. The transformation of basements into rental suites is a big one that can help offset mortgage costs. There are plenty of advantages, as well as some important considerations to ensure the best result.

Do your homework. Check zoning, bylaws and adhere to your local building code. As with any new construction or renovation, building permits must be obtained, and all work must be code compliant. This will protect you and any future tenants.

Waterproof it. Check the interior foundation and floors for existing moisture issues, water damage or mould problems. Address any primary moisture issues before finishing the space.

Insulation is key. As a landlord, it’s wise to invest in smart renovations that can improve efficiency and bolster your bottom line. For the best results, insulate well. I recommend installing a rigid board insulation, like Rockwool ComfortBoard 80, against the concrete foundation before you stud the wall. The board is mechanically fastened or adhered to the concrete foundation wall, which prevents thermal bridging through the studs, providing better thermal performance. Finish with a moisture-resistant and dimensionally stable insulation between the studs, like R14 Comfortbatt, to protect against common basement issues such as mould, mildew and rot.

Consider fire safety and soundproofing. Select building materials with a high fire-resistance rating that will not off-gas or contribute to toxic smoke in the event of a fire. Soundproofing is also a must when you plan to share space. Install sound absorbent insulation between floors with resilient channels to reduce sound transfer between living areas. Contractors love stone wool fire and soundproofing insulation, because it protects against fire and noise and is easy to install.

Spend wisely. Keep the renovation budget reasonable. Spending no more than two years’ worth of rent to convert your space is a good general rule of thumb. Forego high-end finishes. Instead, create focal points that will “sell” the suite.

Scott McGillivray is the host of the hit HGTV series Income Property and Moving the McGillivrays, a full-time real estate investor, contractor, author, and educator.

www.newscanada.com