Kitchen Renovations

April 23rd, 2011

Before You Start — Renovating Your Kitchen

Your kitchen is probably the most used room in your house. Poor layout, inadequate lighting, cramped spaces, outdated fixtures and old cabinetry are common complaints of homeowners.

Before you decide to go ahead with a kitchen renovation, it is important to clearly identify the features you want in your new kitchen. Just as important is a thorough pre-renovation inspection to identify any existing problems.

Common Situations

Kitchen renovations are high on the list of the most common home renovations. A renovation can be as simple as installing new flooring or be a major undertaking that includes enlarging the space and replacing all fixtures and finishes.

Homeowners consider kitchen renovations for many reasons including:

  • Size and design — the existing kitchen may be too small or poorly laid out.
  • Fixtures and appliances — The fixtures and appliances may be worn out, inefficient or outdated.
  • Cabinets and countertops — cabinet finishes, hardware or countertops may be outdated, need repair or replacement.
  • Structural problems—there may be problems that require structural changes or repairs.
  • Moisture — the floor, walls or finishes may be unsightly or damaged due to moisture problems.
  • Plumbing and electrical — many older kitchens don’t have enough electrical outlets and circuits. Older plumbing and plumbing fixtures may include lead or galvanized steel piping.
  • Heating and ventilation — older kitchens often have inadequate ventilation or heating systems. The area may be poorly insulated and have a high degree of air leakage, two factors that lead to high energy consumption.
  • Finishes — older finishes may be unattractive or not durable enough to withstand the daily wear and tear.

Healthy Housing

Renovating is an ideal time to make your house healthier for you, the community and the environment. When assessing your renovation project, be sure to consider the five essentials of Healthy Housing.

House as a System

A house is much more than just four walls and a roof — it’s an interactive system made up of many components including the basic structure, heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) equipment, the external environment and the occupants. Each component influences the performance of the entire system. A renovation provides an opportunity to improve how your house performs.

Kitchen renovations often include changes to HVAC equipment that can improve indoor air quality and moisture management in the house. Be careful if choosing large volume exhaust fans because they can cause combustion heating equipment to backdraft. Structural changes may give you a chance to improve air tightness and insulation, resulting in increased occupant comfort and house durability.

Avoid Surprises

Once you start a renovation, there’s no turning back. Your life is disrupted and any unexpected problems will lead to higher costs and delays in finishing the project. Thorough planning will help you to develop a realistic understanding of the work to be done and the costs involved. Here are some of the likely situations that people encounter. However, every situation is unique and you may need to hire a qualified professional to do a thorough investigation, find the problems and suggest the best solutions.

Source: CMHC

Before You Start Renovating Your Bathroom

April 23rd, 2011

Renovating your bathroom is a great way to add value to your home — both for your family’s daily living and for future resale.

Before you decide to go ahead with a renovation, it’s critical to have a good idea of any underlying problems that could cause unwelcome and costly surprises. Taking time to find problems before you start your renovation will save you money, protect the indoor air quality and preserve the durability and structure of your home.

Common Situations

A bathroom renovation is one of the most common home improvement projects. Bathroom renovations come in all types and sizes—from a simple update of the flooring, to enlarging the room and replacing all fixtures and finishes.

Your project is unique, but your reasons for renovating will probably fall into these common categories.

* Size and design — The room may be small or poorly designed.
* Fixtures — The fixtures may be outdated, small, hard-to-clean, leaky, cracked or inefficient.
* Structural — There may be problems that require structural changes or repairs.
* Moisture — Excessive bathroom moisture may have deteriorated the bathroom surfaces, affected the indoor air quality or jeopardized the structure of your house.
* Plumbing and electrical — If your house is 30–40 years old, the plumbing and electrical services may be outdated and need upgrading. Houses built prior to 1950 often have lead piping that may pose a health hazard.
* Heating and ventilation — Bathrooms are often cold because of poor insulation or poor heat delivery. Ventilation is often inadequate, non-existent or causing secondary problems that need to be fixed.

Healthy Housing

Renovating is an ideal time to make your house healthier for you, the community and the environment. When assessing your renovation project, be sure to consider the five essentials of Healthy Housing.

House as a System

A house is much more than just four walls and a roof—it’s an interactive system made up of many components including the basic structure, heating, ventilating and air conditioning (HVAC) equipment, the external environment; and the occupants. Each component influences the performance of the entire system. A renovation provides an opportunity to improve how your house performs.

Bathroom renovations often include changes to HVAC equipment that can improve moisture management in the house. Structural changes may improve air sealing and insulation, resulting in increased occupant comfort and house durability.

Avoid Surprises

Before you start renovating, you’ll want to think about your bathroom, your needs and your budget. Look carefully for signs of deterioration and the possible causes. This will save you money and also help you to be better informed if you’re dealing with contractors. Reflecting on your project will also help you to decide whether you need the services of a professional. Being unsure of what needs to be done, recognizing that the job is very complicated, or that you don’t have the time or energy to do the work, are good reasons to hire a professional renovator.

Source: CHMC

Renovating Your Basement for Livability

April 23rd, 2011

Renovating a full-height basement can be a relatively easy and cost-effective way to add new living space to your house.

But is your basement really a good candidate for a renovation?

If your basement isn’t high, dry and sound, you should correct these problems before starting renovations.

If you are planning a basement renovation, you should inspect your basement for possible problems.

* Must you stoop to avoid bumping your head on a beam or duct?
* Are there intermittent or permanent traces of moisture or mold on the floor or walls?
* Is there a persistent musty odour in clothing and other objects that are stored in your basement?
* Are there cracks as wide as a pencil, or that appear to widen or shrink, in the walls or floor?

If the answer to any of these questions is “yes,” you should include the costs of fixing these problems in your budget.

Preparing the groundwork

Building permit

You must obtain a building permit if you intend to alter the structure of your house, increase the size of windows or exterior doors, or change the occupancy—for instance, by adding a self-contained apartment.

The building permit ensures that the changes respect minimum standards of health and safety. To make a good living space, a basement should be high enough to permit ceiling fixtures or fans with space beneath for a 1.8-m (6-ft.) tall person. Most municipalities require a height of 2.1 m (6.8 ft.) from finished floor to ceiling before they will issue a building permit, which is also the minimum height required by most electrical codes for a ceiling light. Some jurisdictions permit limited obstructions, such as beams and heating duct bulkheads, within this space. Ask your building official what minimum heights are required.

Source: CMHC