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The Vancouver real estate market has changed, and with it, the construction industry. This change has caused many people to stay in their homes and take more economical options like renovating. However, renovating the house can be an overwhelming task to start and execute, and that is why an Interior designer can be your best resource.
Let’s start with discussing the difference between an Interior Designer and an Interior Decorator, as this gets confused often.
The flow of the home and how the people function in it
Standard sizing/heights/placement of fixed pieces (ie: plumbing/lighting/etc)
How do I know if I need an interior designer?
Do you have time to research ideas, materials and meet trades? Hiring an interior designer will help narrow choices down quickly and give detailed instructions to the trades. Designers know where to purchase materials/fixtures and having contacts in the industry ensures you get the best service and pricing.
Many people are uncertain about their style. Designers are experts in drawing out your tastes and giving you a home you’ll love.
Size of the project? Larger projects have a lot of detail and are almost a necessity to hire a designer. Consider your capacity to handle the task.
Will there be many finishes and fixtures? Trades typically require detailed drawings. For example, the tile installer will want the tile pattern and in-floor heat etc. An electrician needs to know what he is wiring and mounting and how much voltage is required. The plumber needs to know the placement of fixtures on the floor and walls. Without this detail, things might get missed causing a costly fix.
Comments Off on Going up? Adding Ceiling Height to Your Basement Remodel
Last post we started the discussion of adding basement ceiling height to your remodel. We discussed the strategy of digging down to gain height in the basement. In this post, we talk about up by lifting the house to gain basement ceiling height. As mentioned in the last post, these strategies have a high degree of difficulty
First and foremost you have to check what the city zoning will allow. A few things to look for are how will house raising affect your floor space ratio and will the new height be above what’s allowable. Providing you are able to check all the city boxes and get a building permit, then we get to the good stuff.
Let’s Get that House Airborne
Have your qualified contractor and structural engineer inspect the condition of the home ensuring it can sustain a house lift and the additional weight. Next disconnect services like water, gas, electricity and sewage. In the basement demo the existing interior walls. Confirm subgrade condition for stable placement of jacks and support cribs. Cut holes in the foundation to allow beams under the building. Jacks are placed under the beams and the house is raised and crib supports take the place of the jacks. Now that the building is off the foundation, its time to build the structural supports between the foundation and the bottom of the home. Lower the home onto the new structural supports and voila you have a taller basement. Now you are ready for framing, plumbing, electrical etc.
Questions? Please feel free to contact me and I’d be happy to help out.
Comments Off on Bringing Height to Your Basement Remodel
Thinking about a basement remodel and need a little headroom? There are a number of reasons to gain some height in your basement. Be it to make a legal basement suite or a more comfortable primary living space. Whatever your reason, I have two basement remodel strategies for you that we have successfully compleated many times. These strategies are major construction with a high degree of difficulty. Sorry DIY guys.
Let’s Dig down
The first piece of business is figuring out how deep the foundation goes below the floor slab. You can figure this out by finding a spot (preferably two) to dig on the outside of your home and keep digging until you find the foundation footing. The top of the foundation footing is the lowest you can install the bottom of a new floor slab. Providing that a new lowered slab will meet your height requirements and city bylaws then you can move onto the difficult part
An opening in the foundation wall for the excavator
The difficult part entails a complete basement demolition including the concrete pad. First of all, the foundation walls are maintained, modified or replaced with beams (see engineer). Next start digging the basement by hand or excavator (if you can bring one in). At the same time, determine if you will lower your existing exterior drain tile system (very evasive and rarely practical) or install an interior weeping tile system.
Once you’ve got to your desired depth, install the interior weeping tile system, prep and pour the pad and install strip footings (per structural engineer). Upon completing the concrete work, you can begin the process of reinstalling mechanical, framing walls, plumbing, electrical etc.
It’s not always possible to buy your dream home, particularly in today’s market. Renovating your home is quickly becoming the best solution to create not only a dream home but future profit. We understand deciding if you should renovate can be a stressful and confusing time. You will need to overcome renovation obstacles. Within a family/partnership there tends to always be one key researcher who initiates the need for a renovation. This person then proceeds to investigate if it’s a possibility (HINT – If you’re reading this, it’s probably you). That researcher then faces a barrage of questions. “How are we going to afford this?”, “How long will this take?”, “Why would we do it like that”. If this sounds familiar, fear not, we are here to help you overcome these confusing renovation obstacles and ensure your renovation is as smooth as possible.
Renovation obstacle 1: “How are we going to afford this”
The most obvious obstacle of all. How to finance your renovation. Your first step will be to do your research and find a Mortgage Broker preferably with real estate knowledge who can advise you on your options. Mike Donovan, Real Estate Agent, Mortgage Broker and Owner of Broker Smart has advised one of our co-owners on their own home and renovation. Your first step will be to contact Mike and fill out a mortgage application. Mike will then discuss your financing options, from a line of credit to refinancing your mortgage. Mike will be clear and honest with you regarding the best option to suit you. It may seem daunting but it’s actually far more straightforward than you think.
Renovation obstacle 2: “What do we want to change?”
Fortunately for you, we manage your renovation from the design through build stage. We have in-house designers who can work with your wants and needs and also inspire ideas that you would perhaps never have thought of! Sometimes it’s useful to have a design expert who can highlight how a layout could be more functional. Find out where practical items need to go and how to achieve that wow factor. We suggest you visit Houzz.com and collate everything you like to make it easier for our designers to gain a full understanding of what you want to achieve.
Renovation obstacle 3: “How long is this going to take”
A very difficult question to answer. It of course depends on the scale of the renovation. We create a timeline before the renovation starts and always remain transparent and try to manage your expectations. Many projects may have stumbling blocks which add on extra time. Examples of discoveries we have made: the demo stage has revealed two layers of flooring, hidden windows, incorrectly installed insulation etc. We encourage you to organise, if necessary alternative accommodation which is not going to cost you more money than necessary and always expect it to take longer than anticipated.
Renovation obstacle 4: “Why don’t I just get a contractor to do this work?”
If you are considering a smaller renovation we would advise you take this route. Contractors are great for smaller jobs which don’t require design or logistical planning. If however, you are planning larger changes and are busy professionals we recommend working with a design and build company such as us – reVISION Custom Home Renovations. We deal with responsibilities and issues such as waiting in line for permits, suppliers, trades, hazardous materials assessment etc. We take the pressure off by managing the logistics, the design, the demo and the renovation.
Renovation obstacle 5: “What will we gain from this renovation?”
It’s likely you have noticed that Canadians are investing in home improvements more than ever. The Appraisal Institute of Canada has highlighted the ROI opportunities based on different types of renovations. If you are looking to make a ROI via renovation, it’s important to match your renovation to your surroundings. For example a $100,000 kitchen won’t work in a home that’s only worth $200,000. Likewise, if you renovate your home to stand out in a lesser neighbourhood it’s unlikely to have ROI potential. Whereas if you are bringing your home up to par with your neighbourhood it’s highly likely you will make a ROI.
Kitchen and Bathroom renovations typically make a 75-100% ROI.
Painting, roof replacements, heating system improvements, additions, doors and window replacements, decks, hardwood floor, garage additions, fireplace or AC additions can provide medium ROI opportunities.
While Pool additions, skylights and landscaping provide low ROI.
Renovation obstacle 6: “What’s our involvement?”
You will be involved with all the decision making process. However you will not need to be involved in the time consuming tasks such as visiting City Hall to gain a permit, meeting trade on site and ensuring they stick to the plans, talking to suppliers to order materials etc. We will keep you updated every step of the way and try to ensure the renovation disrupts your life as minimally as possible.
Renovation obstacle 7: “Who makes decisions on the finishes?”
You do! Of course our designers advise and suggest what would be most cost effective and have the desired effect. We also help you stay on budget and work with suppliers to get the best deals possible for you. Ultimately, it’s your renovation, so you can have as little or as much involvement as desired.
Protection during a renovation. Protect yourself and your home.
You’ve chosen your contractor and have a construction/demolition start date i.e. it’s about to get busy! Protection during a renovation is key.
If any drywall is going to be disturbed, an asbestos test is required by a certified professional; and if it comes back positive, removed by a specialist hazmat crew.
A lead-based paint inspection should also be carried out in any home built before 1978, as exposure to this can also be harmful.
Any large quantity of drywall being removed or installed will generate a large amount of very fine dust, which if inhaled can be very harmful to the respiratory system. Because of this, it’s always a good idea to ventilate the area as much as possible. Wear a dust mask in the area while work is in progress and seal off the area with ‘poly’ walls for the duration of the work.
Again, prior to commencing work, all air vents should be sealed off to prevent the spread of dust and debris via the ducts. It stops your furnace from being damaged by foreign objects falling into the vent. It saves you time and money having to get the vents cleaned specially.
Floor and surface protection is key protection during a renovation! We use RamBoard, foam and drop-cloths to protect finished surfaces. Often trades are working as fast as possible and are sometimes careless with tools and lack spacial awareness. To prevent any unwanted scratches, chips or scuffs, laying down protection and secure it with tape. It also prevents annoying dusty boot prints on your floor.
Allocate an area for waste and debris to be stored and be sure to make trades aware of this. Setting out your standards of cleanliness encourage trades to maintain their own standards. Nothing annoys us more than careless and messy trades!
Time, money and effort spent preparing for construction mess saves much more tidying and repairing post-construction.
Protection During a renovation:
in extremely busy and active construction sites things get knocked out of place, moved ‘temporarily’ and not be put back. Be vigilant of this and replacing or repairing where needed. This includes removing the waste and debris from the allocated area; garbage removal/ recycling crews can seem pricey, but they’re extremely efficient and leave the place as though nothing had ever been there. Just be sure to separate drywall from the other garbage as they won’t take mixed bags.
Set and live by your own expectations. A clean and tidy work area means their workmanship won’t be called into question when they leave. Admittedly, there is always going to be some mess that nobody can control. Avoid the ‘blame game’ by setting standards and demand they be kept. We have this in our sub-trade agreement.
One of our biggest pet peeves at reVISION Custom Home Renovations is screws, nails and metal fixings being dropped on hardwood floors and not being picked up. Understandably they can get dropped, unforgivable that they’re not picked up. It takes one small screw to be stood on to damage a new hardwood floor. Magnetic ‘brooms’ can be purchased from hardware stores (Home Depot) to prevent this from happening.
This one may sound obvious, but whilst working, trades may forget, something as simple as a few signs reminding them not to put tools on finished surfaces will go a long way.
Lockboxes ensure nobody has to be chased around for access to the project. You know exactly who you have given the code to and when they were on site – accountability.
Deficiency walk throughs with each trade are beneficial when managing your own project. Be sure to walk through at least twice with a friend or relative first as you may have become accustomed to what you see. Don’t feel awkward about asking a trade questions regarding their work. They’re professionals and if something doesn’t seem right, they will often either have a straight-forward answer or may have just overlooked it and will correct their mistake.
Permits and inspections must to be completed and up to date. This means the final inspection by your constituent city can run smoothly.
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Follow up blog: Yesterday’s History is Today’s Mystery
A few weeks ago we wrote a blog in response to the recent poll from CIBC which found that ‘86% of people agree that renovations end up costing more than you plan for’.
We highlighted that exploratory work is one of the most important things to keep in mind when considering costs. Something which our recent renovation just discovered.
During the initial stages of a new renovation project, our team was demolishing the outside of the home. While pulling down the stucco siding of the home, they discovered another layer of a shingle sitting behind this outer stucco layer.
This new discovery was about to get even more interesting when one of our team heard a smash and realized they had put their hammer through a window behind the outer siding. The photos below show the current window sat next to the recently discovered original windows.
It soon became very clear there was a whole new layer under the stucco. A surprise that none of us expected!
The current owners had no idea the shingle or old windows existed behind their outer wall. The discovery provided a interesting ‘window’ to the past and painted a picture of how the original home would have looked. Our clients must have had similar taste to the original owners as they actually want a shingle effect for their new home. Little did they know they will actually be renovating their home to look more like the original than it did before demolition. Pretty charming right?
Other interesting discoveries included a milk delivery door which would have once been used for the milk man to deliver milk and the owners to collect it in the morning. A endearing blast from the past which reminds us how much architecture and homes have changed over time. Don’t worry, the owners have kept as much of the old material as possible and even plan to use the old milk delivery door as decoration in their new home.
I can hear what you’re saying… if the current owners want shingle siding why wouldn’t you restore the original and use this? We wish we could. Unfortunately the method that had been used to stick the stucco siding to the home had required nails to be hammered into the shingles, meaning many of them were too split to salvage. What this means is the demolition is not a simple job, the job technically needs to be done twice.
This discovery will end up costing more money in the long run, which will of course affect the expectations of the client. Where possible we try to keep the costs down for clients, however there are of course some unexpected situations which are out of our control. This is why it’s paramount to understand that exploratory work can be costly and to always consider this before planning out a budget. We created a handy checklist of items to consider before renovation begins.
With that said, if you want a job done well, it’s important to do it properly. This home will look fantastic, increase it’s value and will no longer have any hidden surprises.
Comments Off on 86% of people agree that ‘renovations end up costing more than you plan for’
A recent poll by CIBC found that 86% of people agree that ‘renovations end up costing more than you plan for’.
With over half of Canadians polled by CIBC planning to renovate their homes this year, we look into, ‘why does the renovation end up costing more than you initially thought?’
Incorrect expectations can be ‘nipped in the bud’ by creating a realistic plan, sticking to it and not forgetting that exploratory work has to be done before the renovation begins. Cost are easily controlled. Yes, of course, from time to time there may be situations where costs have to be increased due to unforeseen circumstances. However, the majority of the time, the reason renovations cost more than expected is because plans haven’t been properly thought out and investigated.
It’s important to do your homework and go into a renovation with a good understanding of what your budget can achieve. We recommend checking out Houzz and other resources. Keep in mind many TV renovations will be more expensive than they suggest, plus they are often not based in and around Vancouver, therefore your budget may not stretch as far.
With that said, we totally understand it’s very easy to get carried away, making changes on the fly to upgrade fixtures or whole rooms during the renovation process. However, it’s important to know these decisions can quickly escalate the original costs. Without a project manager to help steer you on course it can be hard to keep track of the bottom line.
Renovation planning is key! When starting out the renovation process is very important to have a clear plan that includes the less glamorous elements of your renovation. For example, you might want to open up your living and dining room by knocking down a wall and be fixated on making the area modern and sleek. However, by focusing on the glamorous interior design tasks, you may have forgotten that it costs money to examine the room initially. Is the wall able to be pulled down? Does the room need to be leveled? These are all aspects that are easy to overlook. Don’t get carried away with how you want your end renovation to look and forget about the logistics.
It’s best to not have a cost expectation until your exploratory work has been completed. This can really have a huge impact on your budget and how much you want to invest in your property. When discussing the renovation in the initial stages, it’s important to be realistic. When picking out fixtures and fittings later on in the process, remember why you agreed on that budget and stick to it. Keep in mind, changing a fixture could ultimately have extra added cost such as further design time or manual labour costs. That upgraded flooring you have picked, may take twice as long to install and be twice the cost.
Here at reVISION Custom Home Renovations we see a project through from start to finish. We have project managers who manage the budget and day to day tasks. Our interior designers understand the budget and most importantly are educated on essentials such as building permits and zoning. No one will put anything in front of you that is not realistic or possible, therefore helping manage your expectations in the long run.
We have created this handy checklist which highlights the more exploratory elements some clients forget about when renovating. Everyone in our company follows this checklist during each renovation project. It means we don’t miss anything, and ensures client’s have a true understanding of how much their renovation is going to cost them. Very important information if you are looking to improve the value of your home.
Comments Off on Top 10 Misconceptions About Home Design
There are some typical misconceptions about home design we aim to address in the next 10 points. We all want a modern and beautiful home to live in. However, most of us cannot afford to buy a new home when we begin our adult journey. We usually opt for a home that is structurally sound and well-cared for. We move into this home that reflects the taste and life of the previous owner and plan to redesign the home as soon as possible. There are many myths and misconceptions concerning home designs and home designers. We are going to try to debunk these misconceptions for you with these 10 tips.
1. I can do it myself and save money.
This is usually not true. A designer is not simply a person who has an eye for colors and fabrics. They are professionals with an eye for design and floorplan of the house. Choosing fabric is a small part of the designer’s job, you are actually spending more than they would have charged you for the same work.
2. All home designers are female
Like any other profession, there are male and female home designers. In order to become a home designer you must meet specific (college level) educational requirements and in-depth training. The field is open to either sex.
3. All a designer does is work with fabrics, drapes, and color.
A designers job is to inspect the home and design it in a way that will maximize usable living space and increase the value of your home. In order to do their job, a designer must be familiar with:
4. If you have a good contractor, you do not need a designer.
While a good contractor is a must, their job is to remodel, renovate, and repair. They work closely with the home designer to ensure the renovations requested are possible while maintaining the integrity of the home. They help determine when upgrades require more than the minimal required materials. While their work does improve property value and contributes to the home aesthetically, the look of the home is not their job or expertise.
5. A designer will always want the most expensive products available.
A designer is like any other business person. They know that in order to get return business and recommendations, they must give you great service at reasonable prices. It is true that they want quality items, but they keep their eye on the industry and select items like the modern pieces at Maestro Bath. This is quality and luxury at a great value,
6. Designers keep the colors drab and basic because it sells better and allows new owners easier decorating.
A designer will work with you on the colors you like. They will add splashes of color to accent the special features of the home. People want to see a home when they look at buying. Your home should reflect your style and likes, not the ones of some future buyer.
7. Pools always add value to a home.
Some people want homes with pools, but some do not. People with small children and pools are not a good combination. Pools also require time and maintenance. Some people are not interested in adding any more work into their home and opt not to have a pool.
8. Designers and contractors cannot work in the winter.
In some cases, a contractor or designer may postpone a job due to rain or snow, but most jobs can be done year round. You may choose winter months because they are usually available during winter.
9. Only the inside of the house matters, that is where I need to invest.
Your home must have good curb appeal. You could have perfect and beautifully designed interiors but if the house looks worn and uncared for from the street, buyers will not stop to go inside.
10. Outdoor buildings on the property do not matter.
Having a beautiful yard, storage areas, and a yard to relax in is a major selling point. The trend is to purchase a backyard pub. Click here to see shed and outdoor pub ideas.
We hope we cleared up some the misconceptions you had about home designers. When you are ready to renovate your home, have a pro on your team, contact us today.
Wendy is a super-connector with Outreachmama.com and Toweringseo.com who helps businesses find their audience online through outreach, partnerships, and networking. She frequently writes about the latest advancements in digital marketing and focuses her efforts on developing customized blogger outreach plans depending on the industry and competition.
Comments Off on Probing Questions to Consider When Hiring a Renovation Company
With so many different renovation companies and Design Builders out there its hard to compare one to the next. Below are a set of questions to ask yourself and then to ask the firm you are thinking about hiring. To make it easy, we’ve put down our answers for you.
1. Is it important to you that your contractor is truthful and transparent with construction costs?
reVISION Custom Home Renovations passes on our wholesale costs directly to our customers. There are no hidden costs. You see our invoices we get from our vendors and suppliers.
2. Is it important to you to hire a firm to take care of all the details and paperwork from beginning to end
From Proposal to final construction inspection, reVISION Custom Home Renovations handles all the details for you. Our team of expert designers and project managers will pilot you through budget, design permits and construction so you can sit back and enjoy your new space.
3. Is it important to you to have a working budget at the start of the project?
With our clients we build a rough budget. Our design team uses the rough budget to drive toward your goals. Before construction starts, we review a final working budget with you to approve or tweak before we get started.
4. Is it important to you to be updated weekly on your project budget?
Each week our office manager will send you a budget update on what was spent versus what was budget and what is remaining
5. Is it important to you to work with a Firm that is BBB accredited?
reVISION is an accredited BBB business. Accredited businesses have been reviewed by the BBB and reVISION is committed to BBB Code of Business Practices. Those practices are: Build Trust, Advertise Honestly, Tell the Truth, Be Transparent, Honor Promises, Be Responsive, Safeguard Privacy and Embody Integrity
6. Is it important to you to work with a cohesive design and construction company?
Our designers and project managers are full time revision employees and only work on reVISION Projects. We do this to deliver a consistent product and a seamless customer experience.
7. Is it important to you to work with a firm current on all the new building bylaws and construction practices?
Our team is trained and experienced with the latest construction bylaws and practices to not only get through the permitting and inspection process quicker but to deliver you a safe and energy efficient home.
8. Is it important to you have a detailed renovation agreement?
With our clients we review and agree to a very extensive renovation document that protects all parties.
9. Is it important to you for the workers to be safe?
All of our projects are equipped with the necessary protections and first aid equipment.
10. Is it important to you to work with a firm that has a very detailed design and construction process?
We don’t “wing” it here at revision. Each project goes through the same steps every time to minimize surprises, improve the customer experience and delivery of a consistent product.
11. Is it important to you that a renovation company can accept visa and mastercard?
For our customers convenience and benefit we accept Visa and Mastercard. Many of our clients have gone on vacation with the credit card points they accumulated paying for the renovation.
12. Is it important to you to have custom design that’s uniquely yours?
No two customers are the same. Our designers work with you to deliver a renovation that’s uniquely yours and will improve the quality of your home life.
13. Is it important to you to meet the management team before work starts?
We will be in your life for a long time. We encourage clients to meet the reVISION team to get a feel of what we are about and if we are a mutual fit.
14. Is it important to you to minimize any surprises or unforeseen costs?
Our team will do “exploratory” work to discover as many unforeseen items as possible in order to minimize surprises that renovations can bring.
I’ve written about typical things people miss in their renovation construction budget. There are also costs which we call unknowns. Unknowns are costs that we renovation contractors can sometimes predict but can only confirm by taking your home down to the studs and checking with local building bylaws. When going into a renovation, consider a contingency for unknowns. Value your contingency at approx 20% (above your renovation budget) for single family and 10% for condominiums. The older the building, the higher the percentage.
Here are some of the common and costly unknowns we find.
Squaring existing walls and levelling floors – your home has settled and moved since it was built its quite likely some work will have be done to straighten things out.
Requests from local building department – depending on what work is being done and its dollar value, cities can request things like drainage upgrades, sprinkler installation and energy efficiency upgrades.
Zoning – You may be in a home that is non conforming to local zoning. This is usually as a result of renovations done without a permit. Some common problems are too many openings on the side of the house facing the neighbour, enclosed decks pushing FSR out of legal range, illegal rental suites, etc.
Building Code – insulation, windows, framing, stairs, rails, you name it may have been installed under outdated building code. Granted there is a certain amount of grandfathering of old code providing you don’t need your contractor “touch the old code item” for your renovation.
I want to thank you again for the great service you have personally provided from start to finish of our project. It has been very much enjoyed and appreciated.
I would be happy to speak with any future prospective customers on your and your companies behalf.
Larry D, Vancouver
We have undertaken several projects over the past couple of years using your company’s services and have found you to be attentive to our needs and concerns, responsive to our requests, and as efficient as the busy construction industry can under existing conditions.
Christopher T. Wilson – President, Faireharbour Strata NW 649, Tsawassen
When our renovations were complete, we were very pleased with the quality and detail of the work that had been done. Also the estimated time in which Todd quoted at the beginning was accurate.
Peter M., Richmond
Todd is very organized and detail-oriented as well as being incredibly reliable…Todd represents a high level of professionalism within the work being done as well as on a personal level.
David C., Vancouver
A special thanks is due to Todd for seeing to it that the work progressed efficiently, with materials and trades people arriving when needed.