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.

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.

 

Catch water damage before it costs you

Catch water damage before it costs youSpring has arrived, bringing with it new life, fresh vegetation and buckets of rain. In between splashing in puddles and smelling the budding flowers, make sure you take the time to inspect your home in advance of increased precipitation.

Water is the number one cause of damage to homes, outnumbering fire claims. To protect your home, look out for tell-tale signs of water damage in these areas:

Roof. Check for any leaks that could be causing water to seep into the walls and foundation. If your roof has shingles, inspect it after major storms to make sure none of them have blown off. To prevent water from pooling, clean your gutters regularly to make sure nothing is restricting or diverting water flow.

Ceilings, walls and frames. Look for water stains on the ceilings and walls of every floor of your home. Check windows and doorframes for cracks, dried caulking and any signs of mould and mildew. If a room has a damp or musty odour, it’s likely that water damage is hiding somewhere.

Foundation. Most homes built after the 1950s have a foundation drain that captures water accumulated near the home’s walls through a perforated pipe. But those pipes can get clogged by sand, soil and roots and should be inspected regularly. You can help prevent clogging by planting trees at least 15 feet away from your home and keeping them pruned to slow the growth of roots. If your home’s foundation has suffered water damage, you should notify your municipality in case the damage is related to the city sewers.

Water appliances and pumps. Though they’re not affected by weather, it’s a good idea to include your toilets, washing machines and dishwashers in your regular checks. Look for broken components that could cause leaks or overflowing.

If you do discover water damage, be sure to take photos of all the damaged items in your home, even if they will need to be thrown out. This will help you with your insurance claim. Insurance providers like Belairdirect offer a variety of coverage options and can work with you to make sure you have the right coverage. Find more information online at belairdirect.com.

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.

 

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

Modern plumbing makes renovations easier

Modern plumbing makes renovations easierWater supply pipes aren’t what they used to be — and that’s a good thing. Innovations have made water supply systems easier to install and more durable because of something called PEX pipe.

PEX is easier to install because it’s flexible. This lets your plumber install water supply lines where it would otherwise be impractical or highly disruptive to do with rigid pipe.

Flexible pipe connected to manifolds also makes it easier to control everything from a central location. Instead of shut-off valves at each fixture, a manifold installation puts all your shut-offs in one handy and easily accessible spot.

Finally, PEX won’t crack if it freezes with water in it. While you’ll still want to drain water from cottage pipes that will drop below freezing temperatures over the winter, if some water remains, it won’t mean a plumbing disaster in the spring.

When you hire a plumbing contractor to work on your home, make sure they do business the right way with a full written contract or work order that covers the work to be done, its cost and the warranty. The Canadian Home Builder’s Association offers free, unbiased information on how to hire a contractor the smart and safe way. Find more information at www.getitinwriting.ca.

www.newscanada.com

Questions every homeowner should ask about their property

Questions every homeowner should ask about their propertyDid you know that homeowners are responsible for the maintenance and replacement of service lines on their property when they fail? The costs associated with digging up, repairing or replacing service lines can run into thousands of dollars. More than that, any damages to trees, shrubs and driveways due to repairs must be paid out-of-pocket by homeowners.

Alarmingly, many homeowners are not aware that service line failures — including water, sewer, septic, electrical and telecommunications lines — are not covered by most home insurance policies.

“Every homeowner needs to be knowledgeable on what they’re covered for and what they’re not,” advises Isabelle Bientz, insurance expert from Aviva. “Most service lines run underground, making it easy to forget the importance of getting them checked for repairs. A lot of homeowners are also not aware that they own the outdoor service lines from their property line to their house, and behind their house to a well, septic tank or out-building.”

Before the unexpected break, leak, tear, rupture or collapse occurs, homeowners need to ask themselves these questions about their service lines:

1. How old are your pipes? The average lifespan of water pipes is 25 years, but the average age of pipes in many areas in Canada is over 50 years old, and several municipalities have water systems of comparable age. Knowing the age of your own water pipes will help you determine whether they’re due for a repair or replacement.

2. What are your pipes made of? Depending on what your pipes are made of, the life expectancy will differ. It’s important that you check the material of your sewer and water pipes in order to make an educated assessment, or consult an expert to see when they’re due for a repair or in need of a replacement.

3. Do you have mature trees near your property? If you own a home with mature trees on or near your property, the roots could cause serious damage to your service lines. Clay pipes, which are most commonly used to build water and sewer lines in older homes, can be easily penetrated and damaged by tree roots. If you suspect a tree root problem, contact a professional to investigate before the situation worsens.

Not sure if you need coverage for your service lines? Find more information from your insurance broker or online at www.avivacanada.com.

www.newscanada.com