Renovation Rules to Follow

I once heard someone describe renovating like falling in love. When you first begin, everything is new and exciting and nothing can tarnish the dreams you have for the future. But as reality sets in, the money starts flowing out, the dust starts to fly, and you can’t find anything in the mess that is your home, the dream starts to tarnish. Help avoid renovation regret by following these basic rules.

The excitement of seeing your new home being built can be heady. But stress can ruin the experience of watching it come together.

Know your Space

Before you start gutting and changing things, live in your space to better understand how best you want – and need – it to function.


What will be most important for you about the newly renovated space? Extra space? More functional layout? Better storage? Something else entirely? Keep the end in sight and focus on that when allocating your budget.

Do it Right

Find out what you need in terms of permits and get them before you begin. Be sure to schedule inspections along the way to prevent having to tear out work when the inspector arrives.

DIY or Professional?

Do you have the skill and the time it will take to complete the work? Asking for help may save you significant time, money, and stress in the long-term. But before you sign on the dotted line, do your research. Ask for proof of insurance and, in Ontario, Canada, WSIB coverage. For some trades, such as plumbers and electricians, you also want to be sure they have a license.

Put it in Writing

Communicate with all members of your team to ensure you’re on the same page. Put details in writing and have a signed agreement with all professionals hired. Include a clause that stipulates the final payment will not be issued until after final inspection and satisfaction with the completed work.

Map it Out

Consider taping out your plans onto the floor. If you want a kitchen island but cannot move around the space without stepping on the taped island, reconsider your plans before you spend the money.

Scales drawings are essential! I also highly recommend 3D renderings to get a better sense for the flow of the space pre-build.

Create a Scaled Floor Plan

Have you ever heard the expression “our eyes are bigger than our stomachs?” The same thing often happens with our homes since pieces on display in giant showrooms often appear smaller than they truly are. Creating a floor plan that maps out everything – furniture, cabinets, lighting, etc. – will create a truer sense of what will fit. Consider hiring a design professional to help you with this and ask for 3D renderings to be included in the package.

Measure Everything. At Least Twice

There’s nothing worse than waiting weeks for a new purchase to arrive only to find out upon delivery it will not fit down the stairs or through a doorway. Measure carefully. And then measure again.

Be Inspired

Whether you browse magazines or use online sources such as Pinterest, Houzz, or Cultivate, create a design file. What do you love? What do you hate? Creating one source makes it easy to make decisions and move forward.

Create a Wish List

While drawing inspiration, create a wish list of what you want. Have you seen the perfect area rug? Do you know what appliances you want for the new kitchen? Research styles and prices and create your dream list. Just try to keep some realism to the dream.

It’s All in the Details

Renovations and builds are a lot more work than many think. There’s more to do than just select paint colours and finishes when creating a functional space. Expediting orders and managing contractors can be a full time job in and of itself.

Stick to the Scope

Scope creep – the addition of tasks to the original project plan – are a double edged sword. It will be cheaper to expand door openings while the contractors are still there and before they’ve laid the flooring and installed the mouldings. Adding additional tasks will impact the timelines and the budget; do not expect the contractor to do it as a “favour.” Any changes to the Scope should be documented in writing, either via a change order, an amendment to the original Scope, or through the creation of a brand new Scope that relates specifically to the new tasks being added.

Allocate your Budget

Having a budget is a great start. But be sure to keep at least 10-15% available for contingencies. If you’re already at your upper limit, scour your budget to see where you might be able to cut back in case something unforeseen arises during the process.

If you are thinking of doing some of the work yourself, what can you realistically do on your own? A bad taping job, for example, will be forever apparent no matter how much paint you apply.

Know when to Splurge. Know when to Save.

If you’re planning on including a great accent tile, plan to let it stand out by using a simpler, more price-conscious tile to go with it. Prioritize your wish list. Do you need to spend upwards of $5,000 for an authentic Barcelona chair? Or could you live with a replica that costs less than $500, thus freeing up some of your budget for other things?

Expect the Unexpected

Have you ever watched design shows on TV? Yes, in some cases, they create drama for better programming. But the reality is, contractors and design professionals do not have x-ray vision that allows them to see behind your walls before a job begins to know about plumbing, electrical, rot, or other potential issues. Surprises happen. Trust your design team and know they are working with your best interests at heart to complete your work on time and on budget.

Does Your Real Estate Have “Potential?”

“Wow – that house has great potential!”

We’ve all heard it before! In fact – pretty much every real estate listing that looks ugly or unattractive appears to have “Great Potential” these days. At least according to the Sellers or the listing agents. But let’s face it, the word potential is just a dolled up way of saying “I don’t know what to do with it” or “I’m too lazy to do it – so you figure it out!”

So regardless of whether or not your real estate has great potential, simply saying those words is no longer good enough! It’s like putting the word “green” or “eco” in front of your Company name. The words sound great, but they are so overused (green-washed) that they have lost much of their brand identity or appeal. You need to actually prove to customers what you are saying and no longer rely on simply saying it! Remember, buyers are smart and have plenty of options, so they don’t need to waste their time doing the leg work around this mystery potential themselves.

So how does this translate into action?

Well, it means you can’t simply say the words “great potential” and expect everyone to buy in. You need to show them that your real estate has great potential. Whether that means doing a little bit of the work yourself, or just providing them with a physical mock-up / sketch of what could be – you need to give them something to start with.

Let’s face it, some of us have vision and some of us don’t. Some of us can see “what could be” while others may only see rotten wood and dead grass. Why chance losing a buyer simply because they can’t see what $500 and a weekend worth of sweat equity can do?

Your vision may not be the same as what they want or see, but it will almost certainly be better than what is currently there.

Having worked professionally in commercial real estate for many years, I’ve seen this problem over and over again. We would be touring a potential business / tenant through our vacant industrial, retail, office – whatever it may be – and all they would see was blank walls and old carpet. As much as I tried to verbalize what the space would look like with their signage, their colors and their tenant improvements completed – the majority simply have a very hard time seeing anything other than what they are looking at.

The answer?

We send off the tenant’s branding information to our design teams and within a day, we have a mock up design of our vacant building showing exactly what that tenant’s business would look like inside our empty space. We didn’t have to spend big bucks renovating the units prior to securing a tenancy – we just needed to show our potential tenants via a single re-designed photo, how good they would look in our space.

But you don’t need your own design team on staff to make a great impression. Talk to a local graphic arts student, ask friends and family if anyone knows how to use photoshop, or hire an affordable designer through any number of great online resources.

Helping home-owners and property owners achieve that basic “vision” should be simple and cost effective. As the home handymen and handywomen out there know – there is nothing worse than painting the house or installing new patio tiles – only then to notice that maybe your color choice wasn’t so great.

So whether for yourself or for a potential buyer – spend the time creating a vision (or a few visions) of what could be. Because when all is said and done, great potential is only worth so much. Great results on the other hand…

Easy, Inexpensive Ways To Improve Home Safety and Fall Prevention

Each year millions of seniors slip and fall. A fall can lead to broken bones, hospital stays, and if the senior is undetected for a time, it can lead to dehydration and other medical complications. Taking a few steps to improve home safety, and reduce the risk of falling for seniors is important for health.

You do not have to do expensive renovations, or buy costly products to improve fall prevention in your home. The following are some easy, inexpensive ways to improve home safety and fall prevention:

1. Keep objects off the floor.

This includes throw rugs, books, shoes, boxes, blankets, etc. Make sure you do not have to walk over or around wires and cords. Basically, keep your floors clear. This may seem simple enough, but even one shoe that is not put away can be a tripping hazard. Make a concerted effort to keep things off the floor.

2. Make sure walk ways are well lit.

Putting some night-lights in walkways, using brighter bulbs, and using uniform lighting can all help reduce the risk of falling and improve home safety. Proper lighting will make it easier to see obstacles, and reduce glare.

3. Install grab bars and non-slip rubber mats.

The bathroom is one of the danger-zones in the home for slips and falls. If you want to prevent them, install grab bars and non-slip rubber mats. Water makes floors slippery, as well as bathtubs and showers. Non-slip rubber mats can help to reduce the risks. Grab bars provide support and security when entering and exiting the bathtub, as well as for getting up from the toilet. They need to be installed properly.

4. Put things you use in easy to reach places, not too high, not too low.

This is especially important in the kitchen. Do not put things you need regularly in hard to reach places. If you keep these items in your most accessible cupboards, you will find yourself in much less risk. You won’t have to climb up on chairs, or bend low to get things.

5. Make sure the paths to and from high traffic areas are clear of furniture.

This is especially important for the paths taken at night, such as from the bed to the bathroom, or the bed to the kitchen. If you have to walk around furniture, your chances of slipping, falling, tripping, etc. increase. Keep those walkways clear.

In addition to making these simple changes to your home, you can also take care of yourself to reduce the risk of falling and improve home safety for a low cost. This includes things like exercising regularly to improve balance and coordination. Getting up and down slowly so as not to get dizzy. Have your vision checked annually to make sure you can see. None of these things come with a high price tag, but they can all help improve home safety and fall prevention.

Your Kitchen and Bathroom Colour Scheme

Kitchen and bathroom design isn’t always about selecting kitchen cupboards or rest room fixtures. It involves shaping a brand new area in your home and giving it some of your own personal style through all the tiny fashion selections you create, as well as the colour theme you select.

There is a reason why most kitchens and bathrooms begin with a comparatively neutral color palette – a kitchen or rest room renovation is an investment, and neutral colours aren’t as likely to travel out of fashion than that fantastic shade of red you felt smitten with last year. Classic neutral tones don’t seem to be solely a pretty selection for your new kitchen or rest room style but additionally make economic sense. Will that mean you have to possess an all-white Kitchen or bathroom? No, not at all. A neutral palette spans a variety of colours, each of which might form the planning of your new house. Below are the most popular neutral colours for kitchen and bathroom design:

Whites and off-whites still hold the highest place, followed by beiges as the second preferred colour. The popularity of grey color schemes has gone up sharply over the previous few years, almost tripling in numbers as a selection for kitchen and rest room renovations. Brown colours are on the decline, however sepia tones have gone up slightly.

What will this tell us? Whites and off-whites are a classic selection and don’t seem to be traveling out of favor anytime shortly. Greys on the opposite hand, have become the selection for many customers because it still provides a classic, neutral foundation for your style while still making a stylish, refined atmosphere for your new house. Grey is also a relaxing color, and might be a superb selection for a spa room/rest room. Some designers are currently trying out variations on this theme with splotches of black on a very grey or white background.

That doesn’t mean you can’t still work that fantastic shade of red into your room or rest room renovation project though. Your neutral palette merely provides a dateless foundation onto which you can add a pop of color to replicate your own temperament. The accent color you select depends on your own tastes more than on the design of your house and also the look you’re attempting to realize. The most liked accent colours nowadays are yellow, emerald and tangerine, however your neutral base colours will combine well with virtually any color. To add an additional relaxed feeling select softer colours in little accents throughout the space, or to give your house additional spirit add a daring accent color.

Where are you able to add these accent colours? The options are endless and might vary from paint colors to piece of furniture. Here are a number of ideas as well as colors for your kitchen and bathroom design:

Choose a paint color, window treatment or light-weight fixture in an accent color, as these are easily replaced over time. Create a center in your room with a spread hood in a very daring color or a colourful backsplash. The rest of your room cupboards could also be a neutral color, however you could outline the design by adding a room island or customized hutch in an accent color. Similarly, the rest room vanity will give a chance to show off your personality through color selections.

Your designer will be able to assist you and point out the simplest ways to show off your personal style in your next design project!

Choosing The Right Home Remodelling Companies

In this article we are talking about the ways to choose the right home remodeling company for your house.

Home remodeling or redoing the very words bring an image of a stylish home with the perfect home decor you dream all the time. But all these beautiful thoughts can actually get crumbling down when you choose a wrong home modeling company. Obviously there is no company who claims that they are bad in their service. Hence there are some criteria that you should check before you hire such a company to do the renovations and change in your house. Always remember that after the work is done there lies little on your capacity to alter things.

Tips On Choosing The Right Home Remodelling Company

· When choosing a home remodeling company, explore all types of contacts you know off. You can search online to find a good company and in this case testimonial of clients is an important yardstick. The best way is to check those that are established near your house for some years. Another reliable way in which you can get hold of a good company is through contacts from friends, relatives and neighbours.

· Always ask whether the company has a proper license and specially liability insurance of the contractor of that company who would be working in your house.

· Sometimes we often make some initial planning of the remodelling of the house. A good home remodeling company is one who would not like to impose on you with new plans rather they would try work on your plan and make it better according to taste.

· Such a company should always have strict policies from their end which actually speaks high of their professionalism. This is important especially when they give the deadlines of the work. In case of failure to finish within the deadline the clauses or compensations has to be clearly written in the contract.

· The more details are the expenses given by the company the better it is. It helps you to assess the cost of every item and also helps you to make any alterations in the remodeling project if the expenses go beyond your budget.

· Home remodeling may include either working on the entire house or parts of it specially kitchen or bathroom. In case you want kitchen or bathroom redoing, it is always better to call those companies who are specialized in these jobs. They always have more number of plans and designs to offer.

Always remember that if you stay in an apartment it is imperative to tell the other residents of the apartment and specially your neighbours as during the work, sound and commotion is sure to take place.

Why Soundproof a Ceiling?

Living close to our neighbours can have many advantages, especially if we get on well with them, but one of the big drawbacks is that noise from neighbouring homes can intrude on our own lives. While you never hear a peep out of some neighbours, others, especially if they are heavy-footed, have booming voices or like to listen to their music or favourite TV shows at full volume, may be loud enough to be a source of annoyance. It can be especially troublesome if they keep unusual hours and, just as you are trying to get a little sleep, their day is just getting started. While many people soundproof their walls and floors, many overlook the importance of soundproofing the ceiling and yet there are a number of excellent reasons for doing so.

The obvious reason for soundproofing your ceiling is that if you only soundproof the walls and floors of your home, the job is only partly done and your home will not be as effectively soundproofed as possible. This is especially the case if you have neighbours living above you. You may be insulated from any noise from people living on either side of you, but still be kept awake at night by noises from people living directly overhead. A second, related, reason may not be to keep noise from your neighbours out, but to insulate them from your noise. If you are the one who might be keeping people awake with noise, it’s considerate to take steps to reduce the amount of disturbance as much as possible. It helps neighbours to get along well. Besides, if you love to crank up the volume and listen to your music, the last thing you need is to have your neighbours knocking on the door asking you to keep the noise down.

If you need a third reason to soundproof your ceiling, consider the effect this step can have on the value of your property. In the past, few people gave much thought to the question of soundproofing when buying a property, but today it something that many home buyers ask about when they are looking at potential properties. If you are thinking of selling your home, taking the trouble to soundproof your ceiling, whether with a fibreglass installation or some other kind of acoustic membrane, this is a factor which can only make your property more attractive to buyers and it could even increase its value.

Hidden Costs of Owning A Home

There are many hidden costs when it comes to life- kids, pets, travel, commuting, and more. Everything costs money and we spend our lives trying to mitigate those expenses. When you buy a home you often aren’t prepared for the little costs that eventually stack up into very big credit card bills- here are a few hidden costs of owning a home to watch out for in the future.

1. Taxes. When you purchase a home you become in charge of paying taxes on that property. This information can usually be found easily, so make sure to budget that tax money into your monthly payments. Taxes often increase as well, which means you’ll be paying even more. You’ll also want to get home insurance to protect your investment, which is another monthly payment to tack on.

2. Appearances and fix-its. Sadly, the new things in your old house are going to become old things in your old house. Air conditioners, water heaters, windows, and gutters can break and crack and often are an unexpected and costly fixes. In the same way, paint peels and trees die; houses need repainting and landscapes need to be touched up which all costs money. Your lawn itself can cost and arm and a leg to upkeep, depending on how large it is; the time and money spent keeping the lawn clean and green amounts to more than you’d think.

3. Tools. If you haven’t been blessed with a toolbox yet you’re going to need one. Fixing loose curtains, rods, and window screens takes drills and screw drivers and hammers! You will also likely need a lawnmower, weed whacker, and the odd assortment of other tools that will be accumulated over the years which aren’t always inexpensive. You may only use them once or twice, but they will stay in your shed or garage for years to come.

4. Add-ons. Another hidden cost of home ownership are any changes that you might make to the house or property. Adding on a room, deck, patio, or outbuilding are going to change the value of your house (sometimes for the better!) but will also change the property taxes you are already paying.

5. Technology. You will find yourself paying a lot of the technology in your house, from electrical wiring to outlets to setting up wi-fi, televisions, and phone lines.

6. Cleaning. Cleaning a house is much different than cleaning an apartment! From kids to pets to general wear and tear you will find yourself with an army of vacuums, cleaning products and rag bags in no time. When something particularly unpleasant happens to a carpet you may have to rent a carpet cleaner. If you decide to hire a cleaning service that is going to be another way your home costs you money.

7. Emergencies. We all have them and no one is ever expecting them. From unexpected babies to accidentally backing your car into the fence, unexpected costs come up.

Home ownership is more than the accumulation of hidden costs, though. Owning a home is a great experience and the things that happen are simply life being lived!

House Extensions: Ensuring That the Project Is Done Right

Did you buy your home assuming that it would be all the space that you need? Has the size of your family grown or has the need for space changed, leaving your home feeling too small for comfort? Many people go through this and they feel that their only options are to live in a space that is not right for their needs, or they feel as though they have to move. While these are options, another option is putting an extension on the home so that you can stay where you have made your home, but you can change the space up so that it is just what you need it to be.

Putting an extension on the home is a great option. It allows you to change up the space as much as you need, while also gaining more square footage. Of course, this is a job that is best left to the professionals because it can mean dealing with the electrical and plumbing systems of your house. You also want to ensure that it is done right because an extension done wrong can cause a wide range of problems that will actually affect the overall integrity of the home.

Hiring a contractor is a great step in the right direction of having your extension done right, but you need to know that not all contractors are created equal. You want to work with one that is well known for their ability to create extensions that suit the house well and really do look great. If you aren’t sure how to locate a contractor that is great at performing this particular type of job, you may want to ask the people that you know for recommendations.

Friends, family members, neighbors and even coworkers can provide a lot of feedback for you. They can tell you about their experiences, both good and bad, which will allow you to contact those contractors that have done good work in the past. You can have them come to your home and show them what it is that you had in mind. They will be able to talk the plan over with you, make suggestions that will serve you even better, and you can get a great idea if they are the type of person that you want to do business with. From here, you will also get estimates from the contractors, so it is a good idea to meet with three to five of them. This will allow you to find the right contractor for your needs, as well as ensure that you get the work done for the fairest price.

Putting an extension on your home will allow you to make it the space that you need and want it to be. You don’t have to move and you don’t have to live in too small an area, instead, you can really personalize your home. It will serve your needs well, and then over time it may be something that adds value to the home if you go to sell it. Finding the right contractor for the job will help you make the most of your vision for a bigger home.

Home Renovation – The Magical Tool to Bedeck Your House in an All New Avatar

Two years back, we shifted into our home, an antique structure of the 1980s. Surely, you would be thinking that I was mad to take on the renovation work of an age-old residence. Well, I had a very tight budget, and I didn’t have any sort of experience in home renovation or home remodeling. It was as though I had driven my car 300 miles down my comfort area, then lost track of my way. For me, the only way to make the antique structure look new was to opt for total property refurbishment. Since my budget was a little limited, I knew that I would have to manage within my own resources. So, I simply did that. Today, let me share those brilliant ideas with my readers.

I know that many of you live in age-old houses just like me, constantly trying to seek out ways for improving the look of your property. Yes, I understand how it feels, as I was in your situation just 3 years back. Luckily, you can reach your goal with just a little bit of effort, wisdom and self-confidence. Following are some of the easiest ways for you to upgrade the look of your property. And the best thing is that all the remodeling ideas involve paint. When you’re on a tight budget, there’s nothing more valuable than a jar of paint.

Old furniture

When I moved into my house, the first thing that drew my attention was the furniture. Well, they weren’t as bad as I had expected them to be. Just adding some new furniture to an old house would not make any sense. Moreover, it wasn’t much sensible for my small budget. Instead, I thought of painting some unique pieces and give them a totally new look. This involved loads of discount shopping, garage sales and gallons of paint.

Old kitchen cabinets

Kitchen is an important part of every residence. After all, it’s the place where we cook, eat and share some special moments with our family members. Therefore, I wanted my kitchen to look nice, pretty and colorful. With just a jar of chalkboard paint I was able to completely modernize my old kitchen cupboards.

Old light fixtures

Since childhood, I had an intense liking for great light fittings. To my utter disappointment, the ones in my home were completely shabby and dull. Since I did not have a big budget for splurging on new ones, I found unique ways for re-using the old ones.

What Is Your Marketing Strategy? 5 Reasons To Let Someone Else Decide

If you own a home improvement business you could easily spend hours a day researching remodeling marketing strategies and test countless ways to grow your business and expand your client base. Deciding what your marketing strategy is takes time and money and trial and error. That is why more replacement contractors are opting to hire a professional to take over their strategic marketing so they can get to work. Here are 5 reasons why you should do the same!

1. Know Your Strengths – 95% of remodeling businesses have no marketing system in place and no way to get new clients. This is because they are experts in their field and do amazing home renovations but simply put, know nothing about marketing. For most business owners, time is precious and embarking on developing a marketing strategy alone will cost time and money. Hiring someone else lets them focus on what’s most important, the work they do for their clients.

2. Referrals Won’t Cut It – If a big part of your remodeling marketing strategy relies on referrals, you’re in trouble. Referrals are great and they do bring in quality leads however they are not predictable. Relying on referrals alone will not let you grow your business and hire additional staff because you will not have a steady flow of new work coming in. Marketing professionals can bring in quality leads regularly.

3. You Have Competition – You have competitors out there ready to snatch up potential customers. This competition isn’t charging the lowest prices in town, in fact they might have the highest. What they have is the drive and aggressive remodeling marketing strategies in place to ensure their businesses is growing. If you want to compete at that level it’s time to invest in your business.

4. Your Prospects Don’t Trust You – It’s not you, it’s all remodeling contractors. Clients are fearful that they won’t receive quality work or that a contractor may just walk off with their deposit. Building an online brand reputation takes time and management. Professionals know how to open profiles on review sites that will make it easy for past clients to review their experience and help give prospective clients the confidence they need to choose you. Everyone is turning to the internet for reviews before they hire anyone, make sure you can be found amongst the competition.

5. Time Is Money – Running a home improvement business takes a lot of time. If you are out working all day there is still estimates, invoices and communication that needs to be done. If you are trying to run your own business adding remodeling marketing strategies to your plate will start to cause stress. In fact, for most remodeling contractors, simply reallocating current marketing dollars to more successful endeavours will be enough to change business for the better. You probably don’t need to spend much more than you already are, you just need to use your marketing dollars more efficiently.

What Is Your Marketing Strategy?

The economy hasn’t been great for home improvement and real estate investments over the past few years, but things are changing. The real estate market is up in many areas and if people aren’t selling, they are committing to improving upon their existing home. The business is out there, you just have to put yourself in a position to be found by potential customers. Making the decision to invest in a professional to handle your remodeling marketing strategy means you’ll have a team of experts in you corner who can help you grow your remodeling and home improvement business today.