When it comes to choosing appliances, there's more to consider than looks. Whether you are a culinary expert or a microwave maven, you need to consider your appliance purchase carefully before jumping into this fairly large investment. Here's a good article that helps you think beyond the stainless steel box.
Make a neutral space pop with a bright colour. More specifically, do this by adding colour to a little niche that would have otherwise gone forgotten. Check out these 8 eye-catching niches and colour schemes and see if you could apply these tricks in your home.
Black isn't the easiest to work with. Many completely avoid it in fear that it will be too dark or depressing. If you use it in the right way, in the right places and with the right lighting, you have a stunning room with lots of impact. Bathrooms don't have to be stark white anymore. Bring in some black and make it stand out from the rest of the bathroom crowd. Click below for more ideas.
You may worry about what the upcoming trends are and how you can follow suit. Don't stress, if you have one or more of these 7 things going on in your house right now, according to Apartment Therapy you're still trending. Check out this article to see if you fit in with the 2015 crowd without having to change a single thing in your home.
The leaning tower of Pisa is becoming a very common theme out there and we are often getting calls from people having their recently installed (not by us) retaining walls failing after only a season or two. Contractors and homeowners are improperly installing and draining their retaining walls. Contractors probably know better (I hope) and choose to deliberately take short cuts to save on what is expected to be a long lasting installation. Homeowners aren’t expected to know, but should do as much research as possible before installing a retaining wall. For whatever option, be it concrete, block, brick, or rock, a properly prepared and compacted foundation is important. What is most important in our Northern climate is drainage, which is often neglected and the primary reason retaining walls push out, crack and undermine with time.
Case in point, see the following retaining wall and paver installation in Sudbury, ON.
Upon reviewing the installation, there was no evidence of a weeping tile exit, which one would have expected to drain out the bottom far side of the wall around the large field stone pieces. It is possible that the contractor forced water back towards the weeping system of the house, however, this should only be used as a last resort when dealing with below grade installations such as excavation for a basement entrance. Maybe there is no weeping system or maybe they didn’t even use drainage rock behind the wall, which is ideally clean crushed material that provides structural support (due to the interlocking of jagged faces) and drainage properties (due to voids created by the jagged faces). The weeping tile drainage system is a perforated pipe that is installed at the base, behind the wall, to lead water away from the rear of the wall. Water behind the wall will expand when it freezes and will push the wall out as seen in this example. Also, over time, water running behind the wall will undermine or erode the material behind the wall and the wall itself. The final thing you need is landscape fabric to ensure that the soil behind your wall and the drainage rock doesn’t infiltrate over time and fill in your drainage rock rendering the system useless. There was landscape fabric protruding right at the retaining wall, but where was it installed? If there is no drainage material behind the wall then it is not helping anything.
If one looks further, you can see the upper paver section (belonging to the neighbor) has sunk down and shifted. It is easy to assume that whatever existed before as a retaining wall was simply removed and this wall built in its place. By removing the existing wall, the soil behind is disturbed and instantly loses compaction. A bunch of soil would have to be removed to make room for granular drainage material and the installation of weeping tile. This clearly wasn’t done as the neighbours paver section was never touched in the process. This installation is falling apart and ruined whatever the neighbor had. Doesn’t help those great neighbourly relations people try to keep.
Always remember, base preparation, base preparation! Did I mention base preparation? Don’t let your contractor show up with an undersized compactor. It is pointless to have someone compact with a small plate tamper for a driveway or preparing for a garage pad foundation. Large roller compactors with a water ballast are best for increased compaction, not to mention speed and efficiency of installation. The base needs to have a certain amount of crushed material to a certain depth based on expected height/weight of the wall. There are tables for this. Be weary of contractors using the same thickness of base for all applications, unless they are being very generous. You shouldn’t be compacting large thicknesses of base at once either. This is to be done in smaller thicknesses (called lifts) to ensure you are getting proper compaction. Base design and installation is whole a science. Don’t let it be ignored.
At this point, two years after the installation, good luck getting the original contractor to return to remedy the situation. A reputable one wouldn’t have to come back for this scenario, as it would have been installed properly the first time.
We won’t know until redoing the whole installation properly as it’s not surviving the Sudbury climate. There are ways around re-doing a whole wall that was not installed properly, but this is only before damage is truly apparent. There is no way to repair the scenario mentioned above without a complete removal and replacement.
This same contractor performed a landscaping job at the same property along the waterfront. They did not account for the rising of the water levels throughout the season, so the first tier has washed away. This is a $20,000 mistake and guess who is now paying for it? There are optimal times to do these projects and winter is not one of them. Unfortunately, these homeowners will have to bare with this eye sore for a few more months before we can tackle it for them.
Stay tuned for our next article related to this from the -Engineering & Construction team
A new year means new beginnings and often, new projects to tackle. If you are contemplating doing a renovation but are not quite sure if you are ready, you might want to make sure you have these things in order first.
The first thing you have to think about is your budget. Remodeling isn’t cheap, unless you’re thinking of just adding a coat of paint. Don’t be fooled, that can be expensive as well, just nowhere near the cost of a complete overhaul. A kitchen renovation costs as much as 10% of the value of your home, while bathrooms can tank you with high-end fixtures alone.
Price will also vary if you do the work yourself, versus hiring contractors. Many think that tackling the work themselves will mean the need for a lesser budget but if you don’t know what you are doing, hiring help will end up saving you lots of time and money.
If you really want to tackle a renovation but don’t have the necessary budget on hand, consider doing it in stages. It’s cheaper if you do the entire project at once but not everyone can afford to do this. Have your contractor of choice price out the job in sections so that it can be done as the money comes in. Just make sure you can afford to go to the point where the room being renovated is livable. The last thing you want to do is lose the functionality of a room because you could only afford the demolition.
There are other ways to fund renovations, like home equity lines of credit or borrowing from lenders. It’s not unreasonable to do because in the end, most renovations will increase the value of your home. Just be cautious and speak with your financial advisor to ensure this method will not end up making you house poor.
Timing is the next big item you need to look at when remodeling. If you are tackling this yourself, make sure you actually have the time to do it. Double the amount of time you think you will need to complete the task. Triple it if you work full-time and have a family to take care of. Also note that the last 10% of the work is what takes the longest. Many run out of steam and have no energy to complete all the final touches such as trim, painting, installing doors and so on.
If you’re paying contractors to do the work, they should give you a good estimate of the time it will take. A good contractor will have a detailed schedule and allot time for the unforeseen.
Consider what time of the year you want to tackle a renovation as well. If your kitchen is out of commission for a bit, consider doing it in the warmer months, when you can cook and eat outside. If you don’t have AC, consider low humidity times of the year for projects that will require paint, grout or glue to dry.
Please note, there are times of the year when designers, engineers and contractors are busier. If you have a specific start date and company in mind, make sure you book well in advance because securing both last minute can be an issue.
Make sure your stress levels are at an all time low because with any renovation, you have to be prepared to deal with a lot of potential trouble. It doesn’t seem to matter how big or small the job is, disruptions from noise, dust, messiness and furniture rearrangement are bound to occur. Every renovation comes with its own set of complications. It’s a good idea to familiarize yourself with these so that if they happen, panic doesn’t set in.
Choosing a contractor that will treat your home and time with respect will also help minimize the stress. They should be keeping your home as tidy as possible by sealing off the work areas, laying protective cloths and cleaning the renovation space on a daily basis. They should also respect the schedule they gave you in their detailed quote. If these basic criteria aren’t being met, have a chat with your contractors. They should be able to walk you through the entire process. If they are evasive or won’t answer your questions, you might want to re-evaluate your choice.
Think You Are Ready For A Change?
If none of the above put a damper on your plans, you are definitely ready. If half of these worried you, talk to us. We’ve seen it all, been through it all and we know how to ease the pain. If all of these are an issue, consider holding off until the stars are aligned.