Five Keys To A Successful Renovation – #3 – Manage Your Household

Manage Your Household

The partnership with your chosen contractor will be one of joint responsibility for certain components of your project.  One of the most important aspects will be the “work-around”… how the contractor and the trades work in a respectful, well organized way around your family during the build and how you, family members and pets work (live) safely and comfortably around the unavoidable and inconvenient construction activities.

Everyone (including visiting grandmas) needs to be in-the-loop about what to expect at a given time in the process.  This is an especially important safety issue, particularly when structural changes are being made.  Your contractor’s schedule (updated regularly) will be a valuable guide to organizing family activities around demolition/reconstruction and temporary interruption in services, such as water, power & heat.  Regular communication will ensure that showers will have hot water when needed, appliances are powered-up and the furnace is generating adequate heat.  You will need a designated “comfort-zone” away from the disruption so all can relax without stress.  Kids may feel like it’s all fun, like camping out, but pets (especially older ones) may not cope well without a quiet place to hide out.  If necessary, temporary activity areas can be set up, such as sleeping and play spaces.  Certain kitchen appliances can be moved and activated in a basement or other alternate area.  Vehicles may have to be parked off-site if your driveway or garage are part of the renovation project.

These are just a few examples of measures that may have to be taken to ensure your family’s comfort and safety during construction.  You could always move out for the duration, of course, but if that is not an option, daily communication with your contractor will go a long way to making this event an exciting one!  As in other parts of life, patience will serve you well through this upgrading process.  For more on that topic, see our next FIVE KEYS installment – PATIENCE AS A VIRTUE. 

**CHANNEL CUSTOM BUILDERS is a full-service design/build contractor with 25 years of dedicated service to our many valued customers.  Contact us today for a free in-home consultation.

Five Keys To A Successful Renovation – #2 – Hire Wisely!

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The renovation contractor you hire will be spending a lot of time in your home, so you will want this company’s project manager, site supervisor and crews to be friendly, efficient, honest and respectful of your home and family. This is especially important if you plan on living in the home while the work is being done. With that in mind, be sure to check all credentials to confirm that all claims being made can be backed up. Eg. – Municipal & Provincial Licensing, BBB Member In Good Standing, Customer & Trade References, Insurance Coverage, Warranty Program, Builder’s Association Membership and Renomark Program.

Now, let’s say you plan on requesting Bids based on your plans/specs. Ask for “line-item” product & service descriptions and related pricing. This “cost-plus” Agreement will be the most transparent, allowing you to assess all detail, including the amount of the Builder’s Fee. Although you may feel that a “fixed-fee” Agreement will give you more financial certainty, you will likely see no pricing detail, other than an “allowance” list for product choices. Proposals – One contractor may submit a high Bid (do they really want your job?), one may come in low (low Bidders sign more work, but often end up with unhappy customers, for an assortment of reasons, especially cost over-runs), then another may fall somewhere in the middle. Ideally, you want all Bids to “cluster” fairly tight together, usually confirming that your specs are being interpreted consistently. Bid detail should be examined closely to ensure that no one is missing anything.

Once hired, your preferred contractor should prepare a detailed schedule, a “decision-point” list to guide the timing of your product choices and a logistics plan for regular site meetings, family comfort & safety and the all-important mess-control! How best to do your share in this partnership? See our next FIVE KEYS installment – MANAGE YOUR HOUSEHOLD.

**CHANNEL CUSTOM BUILDERS is a full-service design/build contractor with 25 years of dedicated service to our many valued customers.  Contact us today for a free in-home consultation.

Five Keys To A Successful Renovation – #1 – Realistic Expectations

Realistic Expectations

Everyone begins the home renovation planning process by creating a “wish-list” (often after years of thought and the viewing of many, many samples & swatches).  Of course you want the most and the best of everything, right?  Then you speculate about how expensive your plan will be and decide on what you think is a realistic and affordable budget.  But once you take the plunge and begin meeting with design/building contractors, you may start to realize that your extensive “wish-list” is too long and your optimistic budget too short.

Don’t be discouraged!  This is simply when reality sets in and adjustments in your thinking allow you to develop an acceptable “revised” plan.  You have watched all the reno REALITY shows on TV and have been led to believe that your project will take ½ the time and require ½ the budget than what the contractors are all saying.  REALITY shows being seriously miss-named, best to trust your local contractors.  So, armed with a realistic plan, budget and timeline, you are good to go!

Once your project is underway, try to maintain a realistic, reasonable, common-sense outlook, even when things get a little complicated (as they do on almost every project).  Unrealistic expectations are the cause of much un-necessary conflict during home renovation work, so it’s critical for a successful outcome for you and your chosen contracting partner to manage expectations as a team.  How to find the right contracting partner?  See our next FIVE KEYS installment – HIRE WISELY!

**CHANNEL CUSTOM BUILDERS is a full-service design/build contractor with 25 years of dedicated service to our many valued customers.  Contact us today for a free in-home consultation.

JUST WHAT YOU WOULD EXPECT… FRESH IDEAS FROM A 25 YEAR OLD!

Looking back, it’s hard for us to fathom that Channel Custom Builders has been involved in residential design & construction for a quarter of a century!  And believe it or not, we are just as excited now about our creative mandate as on that day in 1991 when our doors first opened.

That excitement still translates into fresh ideas for all manner of projects that come our way, from interior & exterior renovation work to “from-the-ground-up” custom homes.  When a higher standard of design has been established before you build, it doesn’t really cost much more, but when combined with fine craftsmanship, this commitment to quality does deliver amazing value!

On both the design and construction sides, we try to stay current on trends, products, materials and methodology, all of which contribute to superior results for all projects, large and small.  Regardless of project type or scope, this focus on inspired solutions has served us and our past customers in the Calgary area very well for…you guessed it – 25 years!

So, a big thank you to all our valued customers from past years, and a big HAPPY BIRTHDAY to us…25 years young and looking forward to providing YOU with fresh ideas sometime in the NEXT 25!

CHANNEL CUSTOM BUILDERS – BRINGING GRAND PLANS TO LIFE SINCE 1991 

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“Before-You-Build” Series #5 – Exterior Tips

With all the problems being experienced in recent years with water infiltration and subsequent rot/mould behind residential, exterior cladding materials, you don’t want to take the chance of creating, rather than solving this kind of problem when upgrading your home’s exterior.

 
A complete, top-to-bottom cladding replacement will give you the opportunity to not only modernizing your home’s appearance, but also to address any problem areas and ensure that all current building codes are being observed.  From roofing to prefinished metals to stucco, stone, wood detailing and various siding materials, there are many attractive options, but beneath the surface, what is protecting your investment?  Ideally, good building-envelope design, including properly layered black building paper and/or rubber water-shield membrane and various metal flashings for the roof areas.  Vertical walls will typically have layered building paper or “Tyvek” wrap over the wall sheeting and into all window/door openings, metal flashings above all windows/doors and all mechanical protrusions to wick water away and “peel-and-stick” membrane strips around all elements that “break” the building envelope (ie windows/doors).  If you have chosen acrylic stucco, you may also have rigid insulation panels as part of your package, that act as a stucco substrate and also provide increased R-Value.

 
Window & door replacement is timely when renovating an exterior, not only for appearance, but also for the benefit of weather-resistant materials (metal cladding) and an increase in R-Value in all glass areas.  Your qualified building contractor will certainly be aware of and will oversee the correct installation of all these materials.

 
Why not contact a knowledgeable Channel Custom Builders representative for more timely thoughts, BEFORE-YOU-BUILD?

Exterior renovation in the Calgary community of Lakeview Village

Exterior renovation in the Calgary community of Lakeview Village

Exterior renovation in the Calgary community of Varsity Estates

Exterior renovation in the Calgary community of Varsity Estates

Unique Structural – Piling & Grade-Beam Foundations for Home Additions

If you are planning a main-level home addition, most renovation contractors you speak to will ask if you are considering a full basement under your new addition.  This will be a decision based on cost, space requirement and equipment accessibility.  So, the question will be, do you really need that extra square-footage, despite significant extra cost and yard disruption?

If the answer is no, you then have two less costly options.  The first would be to excavate the addition area and build a concrete “frost-wall” foundation that is 4’ in height, creating a large “crawl-space”.  The most common approach, but still an invasive one, likely requiring a complete rebuild of your yard.

Finally, the foundation system that Channel Custom Builders has been employing for over 15 years, wherever feasible, is very cost-effective, non-invasive and just as structurally acceptable as the methods mentioned above…the piling & grade-beam foundation.  This method of construction has been successfully utilized for some commercial buildings and residentially in Scandinavian countries for over 100 years.

Beginning with engineer-stamped drawings and a relatively flat site, a series of 6’ deep piling holes are drilled 5 – 7’ apart, around the perimeter of the future addition.  Concrete is then poured into these 12” diameter holes which are then fitted with rebar reinforcement and sonotube collars that form flat tops just above grade.  A 3-ply 2X8 pressure-treated beam is then placed on top of the series of piles, forming the base of the 2X6 wood foundation wall.  Simple, fast and with minimal yard damage!

www.channelcustombuilders.com/renuwww.channelcustombuilders.com/renu

The interior of what will be a relatively small, heated crawlspace is finished off with a row of ridgid foam frost-heave protection at the base of the perimeter wall, a black poly covering for the unexcavated ground (even over grass), followed by a layer of washed gravel.  Insulating foam is then sprayed into the 2X6 foundation wall cavity.  You now have a clean, dry, sealed crawlspace that can be economically heated in winter months.

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Finally, everything from the floor up is standard construction, where you can now put more of your hard-earned cash into nicer finishings, rather than into the ground!  Contact a Channel Custom Builders representative for more information about this little known system.

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Energy Efficiencies – Expanding Foam Insulation

Energy consumption in homes is certainly a hot-button topic these days, with high-efficiency furnaces, tighter building envelopes and upgraded insulation all combining to deliver the most cost effective options for both new homes and home renovation projects

As an example, expanding foam can deliver tighter seals in perimeter walls than batt insulation, thus cost savings over time due to reduced heat loss (and gain).  Consider two BASF products, Enertite and Walltite Eco, that are installed in Calgary by Beyond Foam Insulation (beyondfoam.com).  Enertite is an open-cell ½ lb. foam (pale yellow in color) that delivers approximately R-20 insulation value in the 2 X 6” stud walls of a typical new home. This product requires a 6 ml. poly vapour barrier over it.  Walltite Eco is a closed-cell 2 lb. foam (purple in color) that delivers upwards of R-20 in the 2 X 4” stud walls of a typical older home (see photo) built before the Building Code required 2 X 6” perimeter walls for residential construction.  This product has a built-in vapour barrier, so 6 ml. poly is not required.  Both of these applications meet the current Building Code requirement of  R-20 insulation value for new walls.

Walltite Eco color has changed from blue (above) to purple

Walltite Eco color has changed from blue (above) to purple

 

So whether you are building new or renovating, expanding foam can provide significant benefits in the above applications and many others.  These products are also eco-friendly and once installed, produce no off-gassing.  Most new homes being built today offer a combination of batt insulation and expanding foam because the foam products are more expensive, but if you are thinking long-term energy savings, foam may be the way to go!

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Specialty Floor & Roof Trusses

These engineered products are uniquely useful in “Bonus Room” addition projects where extra living space is needed above a front-drive garage.

The traditional method of insulating a floor above an unheated garage involves packing a 12 – 14” deep floor joist area with 12” of batt insulation.  Despite an R-40 insulation factor, these floors were almost always uncomfortably cold to walk on during winter months, due to the eventual transfer of low temperatures from the unheated garage.

“OPEN-WEB” FLOOR TRUSS – This less conventional style of floor truss typically provides about 18” in depth that will accommodate 12” of batt insulation in the lower truss area, as well as allowing for 6” of open space in the upper truss area where forced-air heat can be introduced.  This airflow in the floor below the living space ensures that floors are warm to walk on and more likely to be useful throughout the winter!

“SCISSOR” ROOF TRUSS – It’s always nice to have a vault ceiling, right?  Most people assume that cost would be prohibitive, but not so with scissor trusses!  Instead of the standard horizontal-bottom-cord truss (flat ceiling), the scissor truss is designed to elevate the center of the ceiling as much as 3’ in a 24’ wide space, with a 4” in 12’’ exterior roof pitch.  These trusses are about the same price as standard trusses, but the batt insulation instead of the “blow-in” and drywall installation/finishing are a little more money, although not by much.

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