Ideas, Projects + Products

There is a lot to think about and a lot to learn when it comes to deciding on the details of your home renovation project. Here is information about some of the most common renovation projects as well as other things you might want to consider as you plan your project.

House as a System - Renovating? Think "House as a System" A house is more than just four walls and a roof. It's a complex system of different components that interact and determine the performance of the home and the health, safety and comfort of the people living in it. Specifically, the system involves: the "building envelope", i.e. the separation between the inside of your home and the outdoors-foundation, walls, roof, windows and doors the mechanical equipment - heating, cooling and ventilation other factors such as structure, plumbing and landscaping, as well as the lifestyle of the people living in the house The professional renovation industry has long recognized the importance of "the house as a system" concept, and that changes to one part of the system affect others and, hence, the entire house. Why is it important to consider the house as a system? Construction technology has changed a lot since the mid-1970s, when tighter construction and greater use of insulation,…

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Energy Efficiency for Savings and Comfort - Recent years have seen a resurgence of consumer interest in energy efficiency. In part, this reflects rising energy costs, but homeowners are also becoming increasingly aware of the close links between energy efficiency, home comfort and a healthy environment. Simply put, an energy-efficient home not only reduces your energy costs, it is also a better place to live. It is easier to heat or cool, and to maintain comfortable temperatures throughout the house. Indoor air quality is improved as moisture, dust and other airborne pollutants can be controlled more easily. And at the same time, an energy-efficient home is better for the environment, because less energy means fewer greenhouses gasses contributing to climate change and polluting our natural environment. Most renovations usually present many opportunities for energy efficiency improvements. This is the time when these improvements will cost you the least as you can "piggy-back" them on other renovation work. If your renovation…

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Improved Indoor Air Quality - Improved Indoor Air Quality Through Renovation A healthy home is the foundation for a healthy living environment. Planning a home renovation offers an ideal opportunity to take stock of the healthiness of your home. The air in your home can have a big impact on how you and your family feel. Poor indoor air can leave you feeling tired and unwell; a wide range of airborne pollutants can aggravate asthma and allergies. Poor indoor air quality is not only a health concern; in an older home, it can be an indication of underlying problems needing attention. One of the best ways to detect indoor air problems is by using your sense of smell. After closing all windows in your home, spend a few hours outside in the fresh air. As you enter your home again, sniff the air. An earthy, musty smell can indicate the presence of molds or mildew while stale, odorous air may mean a general lack of ventilation. Chemical odours may be linked to cleaning products, recent painting or renovation, or materials…

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Renovating for Life's Changes - A home should be convenient, comfortable and safe for everyone in the household-young and old. "Renovating for living" reflects the fact that as we move through different phases of life, our housing needs change. When planning your home renovation, consider what you will need for both the short and the long term: A family with young children typically needs more space and convenience - extra bathrooms, larger family living areas and a more open kitchen with an eat-in area. As children mature, they (and their parents) want more privacy. Housing priorities shift towards larger bedrooms, increased closet space and separated living areas. Grown children returning home, aging parents moving in, home-based businesses - increasingly people need to plan for continuous changes in household composition and use of space. As homeowners get older, "accessibility" becomes a greater concern - the ability to move easily throughout the home and carry on day-to-day living activities.…

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Safe at Home - Your home is your castle - the place where you feel at ease, comfortable and secure. Home is also where more accidents happen to people than anywhere else. Renovation provides a great opportunity to improve the safety of your home. Building codes and practices have evolved over the years. If you live in an older home built to earlier codes, chances are that there are a number of things you can do to make your home a safer place to live. Not all safety improvements are expensive and time-consuming; many may be modest and simple but can still make a difference. A professional renovator can advise you on possible improvements that can be made to your home. Some may already be included in your renovation plans; it may be cost-effective for your renovator to make other improvements at the same time. Hardwiring your smoke detectors into your electrical system eliminates the risk of batteries running low or being "temporarily" removed. This is a simple measure that can save your family…

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A Welcome Addition to Your Home - Additions are easy to build, but it takes good planning to get it right. Whether you want to build a family room, add bedrooms or a home office, or enlarge your kitchen, talk with an experienced renovator before you get too far in your planning. Professional renovators can explain exactly what's involved and help you to develop a design that meets your needs. They often begin by making a sketch of your property including buildings and landscaping. Or you can make a copy of the survey provided when you bought your home. A larger sketch of the proposed addition for more detailed consideration is also useful. Make the most of natural light Marking the position of the sun throughout the day on the sketch will help to determine the best window and door placements. This in turn will influence the positioning of interior walls, closets, fireplaces and entertainment centres, for instance. Your renovator can advise you on the best type of windows to avoid overheating in the summer and prevent…

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Kitchens That Work - A kitchen upgrade can be one of the most exciting and important changes you make to your home. It can also involve a significant investment, so you want to make sure you do it right. Begin by visiting building suppliers, retail outlets and kitchen showrooms to find out what's available and get an idea of prices. However, kitchen renovations go beyond cabinetry and appliances. Talk with a professional renovation contractor in the early stages of planning to get a sense of the full scope of the work involved. Then you'll be in a good position to make informed decisions and choices. Here are some of the issues you and your renovator will want to discuss. What do you want to accomplish? A simple-sounding question, but one that your renovator needs to understand in order to give you the best advice. Do you need more storage and work space? A new updated look? Better traffic flow? A quiet, bright morning breakfast spot? What bothers you about your existing kitchen? Often, renovators…

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Better Bathrooms - So you have decided to upgrade your bathroom. You have looked through magazines, browsed the Internet, visited building suppliers and spent time at the home show. You have a fairly good idea of what you want and what new fixtures will cost. The next step is to contact a professional renovator. Redoing a bathroom can involve a lot more than just plumbing. An experienced renovator can explain what's required for your renovation, and how to do it right. Assessment of work Renovators can identify problems and solutions before the work begins: an uneven floor that results in incomplete draining of your bathtub, for instance, or rotted flooring from years of water penetration. An experienced renovator will make sure that plumbing, venting, electrical wiring and outlets, and ventilation conform to building codes in your area. Project Coordination From stripping the existing room to doing structural, electrical and plumbing work to installing fixtures, cabinets and finishing touches, a bathroom…

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Basement Renovation for New Options - In many homes, the basement represents great, untapped potential for more living space. It may offer a cost-effective alternative to adding a new family room, an extra bedroom or a home office. With careful planning and the assistance of a professional renovator, most basements can be turned into attractive, comfortable living space. Energy efficiency and comfort Renovating your basement offers a great opportunity to increase the energy efficiency of your home. An experienced renovator will inspect your basement and make appropriate recommendations for insulation, caulking and airsealing that can make your entire home more comfortable. Light Consult with your renovator on ways to brighten up your basement. Often you can enlarge existing windows or add new ones, depending on the above-ground height of the foundation, what's around the house and the intended use of the new space. Or the renovator may recommend glass blocks - you get the extra light while preserving privacy. Keep in mind…

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Exterior Renovations Enhance Your Home - If you live in an older house, chances are that you will want to update or replace cladding, doors and windows at some point. Exterior renovations can give new life to a "tired" home and reduce maintenance significantly. At the same time, you can improve the energy efficiency, security and general comfort of your home. When you are ready to begin planning, talk with a professional renovator to get ideas and a sense of cost. Make sure it's someone who is experienced in exterior renovations and can offer you both sound technical advice and design assistance. A new look Maybe you simply want to update the appearance of your home, or maybe you want to transform it with a different look - now is the time to explore the possibilities. To begin with, there is a great selection of quality exterior cladding products - bricks, stucco and siding in many different materials, colours, sizes and styles. Renovators sometimes mix and match materials to create attractive, custom-tailored…

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Brighten Your Home With a Sunroom - Imagine enjoying the sun's warmth, surrounded by lush green plants on a cold winter's day. Imagine fresh spring breezes and long summer evenings while protected from insects …. A sunroom conjures up images of tranquility, relaxed living and a green outdoor environment indoors. Whatever your dreams are for a sunroom, experienced renovators say there are a number of things you need to consider. What is the main purpose of your sunroom? Will it be an extension of your family's living area, or a private space for reading and quiet contemplation? Will you want an eating area for leisurely weekend breakfasts or space for entertaining? Do you plan to do extensive gardening or other hobbies? Do you want to use it all year round or for only part of the year? A four-season sunroom is built on a foundation and is heated and fully insulated. A three-season sunroom should be wind- and waterproof, while a two-season sunroom may be no more than a deck or porch with a roof and screens.…

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Deck and Patio Extend Your Living Space - Outdoor living is part of today's lifestyle, and many homeowners are turning their outdoor areas into attractive and relaxing extensions of their homes during the warmer months of the year. This can be as simple as a sitting area for the family, or include a combination of decks, patios, walkways, gazebos, gardens, pools, ponds and fountains. When planning a deck or a patio, professional renovators can offer valuable advice to help you get the most out of your property and your budget. Be creative The sky's the limit when it comes to design. Explore ideas, browse through magazines and look at what other homeowners have done. Discuss your plans with a professional renovator, and ask for suggestions on design, materials and details. Be realistic about size How do you see yourself living on your deck or patio? Do you need a cooking and eating area? Will you be entertaining? How much furniture do you plan to put there? Stake out the space you think you need. Will everything fit in…

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