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.

DIY – Seriously, why would you put yourself through all that?

DIY Blog

By “all that” I mean the self-inflicted pain & stress of the Do-It-Yourself project!  Those TV Shows and product supply stores all make it sound like anyone with a hammer and time on their hands (LOTS of time) could undertake a home renovation project of almost any size.

By comparison, as a home renovation design/build contractor of 25 years, I would no sooner try to program/code a piece of software or replace an automobile engine than fly to the moon in a teacup!  That’s why there is an entire industry of trained, experienced professionals dedicated to just the kind of project that you are contemplating.  The laws of unintended consequence may not be front-of-mind when you are thinking of how much money could be saved by doing-it-yourself, but they begin to make sense when you realize that:

-   You needed a permit & inspections, so all the new drywall has to be torn out.

-   Your measurements were off and none of the new cabinets fit.

-   The trades you hired (who take payments under-the-table) were not as honest or as skilled as they claimed (what, no references?).

You are smarter than that, of course, but here’s the thing…stuff happens.  And if you are not trained to head off this stuff before it happens, the money you thought you were saving could evaporate.  Along with your sanity.  Not to worry though…Channel Custom Builders and other qualified builders like us are happy to help you avoid the DIY Blues before you get infected!

From an initial meeting or two, through the planning/pricing phase, to a well-executed construction process, your beautiful home renovation project will be completed in a timely and virtually pain & stress-free way.  Just contact Channel Custom Builders today to arrange for a pain & stress-free consultation and avoid the DIY Blues!

Cool Products – Freestanding Bathtubs

If you think back to when tubs were made of copper, filled by hand with buckets and much resembled horse watering troughs, then to the iconic cast-iron claw-foot tub and indoor plumbing, much has changed in the world of bathing! But what was old is new again, with the modern day version of the Freestanding Bathtub.

Freestanding tub/bathroom renovation in the Calgary community of Lakeview Village

Freestanding tub/bathroom renovation in the Calgary community of Lakeview Village

No longer made of copper or cast-iron, most of these current tub offerings are of one or two piece formed acrylic, which are much lighter to handle and warmer to the touch. There are many attractive design choices that reflect traditional and contemporary styles, but the common theme is soaking comfort! And for a gentle, relaxing massage, add in a soothing bubble-jet feature. Plumbing fixtures can be highly decorative when installed outside the tub in a floor-mounted “stand” configuration, or internally plumbed with deck-mounted taps, filler and even a telephone spray head. It takes some planning and co-ordination between plumber and flooring installer to ensure the kind of professional “fit & finish” desired, but this extra effort will be worthwhile.

Freestanding tub/bathroom renovation in the Okotoks community of Downey Ridge

Freestanding tub/bathroom renovation in the Okotoks community of Downey Ridge

If you are curious about the world of relaxation bathing, have a look on Channel’s website “Shopping” page for links to a variety of manufacturers’ products. Or give Channel Custom Builders a call about the bigger picture…your new bathroom, kitchen, basement renovation, addition or completely new home plan!

Freestanding tub/bathroom renovation in the Calgary community of Hidden Valley

Freestanding tub/bathroom renovation in the Calgary community of Hidden Valley

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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“‘Tis The Season” Series – #1 – Fall

NO, NOT CHRISTMAS…FALL!

FALL (Sept/Oct/Nov) is the season when many a thought will turn to having a brand new kitchen renovation done before the holidays!  Sorry, but if you are not already well along in the process, you will have to choose another gift for yourself.

Starting at the beginning, you will have been doing your homework for some time and will have a pretty good idea of what you want in a kitchen (Houzz, anyone?).  Once you engage a professional Kitchen Designer (your official beginning point), you will likely spend 4-8 weeks refining & detailing your renovation plans/specifications.  Your Building Contractor will need about 3-4 weeks for his planning/pricing and another 2-3 weeks for permits (if needed).  The construction phase could take 8-12 weeks, depending on size/components.  That means, for a final pre-Christmas completion of your beautiful new kitchen renovation (also known as that BIG gift to yourself), you will typically need approx. 4-6 months and an official beginning point as early as sometime in JUNE!

What you should start planning for in the FALL could be that home addition, garage or landscaping project where you could have shovels in the thawed-out Calgary ground by the following April/May.  Whatever your plan or schedule, when you are all done thinking about it, call Channel Custom Builders…we are all about timing!

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“Before-You-Build” Series #6 – Landscaping Tips

The term “curb-appeal” is usually an important talking point when buying or selling a home, but it’s also high priority for those homeowners who take pride in the appearance of their property. Much of that street-side appeal will be attributed to the diversity of the landscaping features, both “hard” and “soft”.

Good landscape design will take into account the entire property, of course, not just the front area. Your plan could include “hard” elements such as concrete, paver & stone walkways/patios, block & stone retaining walls, wood decks, fencing & gazebos, barbeques and water features, and also “soft” features like grass, planting beds, trees & shrubs. Beneath it all should be a well thought-out contour/placement layout that takes into account traffic patterns, activity areas and all important drainage. The last thing you want is water pooling around your home’s foundation walls, either from miss-directed run-off, over-watering of foundation plantings or downpipes directing water into window-wells! A well-planned underground sprinkler system will deliver measured amounts of water to specific areas of your yard, at pre-scheduled times when the air is cool.

Once your design professional has combined all the elements you have chosen to create your own personal “oasis” plan, you should be ready to build well-functioning, beautifully detailed, climate-appropriate activity areas for the whole family to enjoy!

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

Landscape renovation in the Calgary community of North Glenmore Park

Landscape renovation in the Calgary community of North Glenmore Park

Landscape renovation in the Calgary community of North Glenmore Park

Landscape renovation in the Calgary community of North Glenmore Park

“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

“Before-You-Build” Series #4 – Interior Tips

Given the popularity of the “open-concept” these days, it’s wise to consider the impact of removing interior walls prior to getting too far along with planning your interior renovation. If your plan does include wall removal, what are those important structural issues that need to be addressed?

 
From a cursory inspection of both basement and attic, an engineer or experienced builder can tell you if your wall is “load-bearing”. For example, if there is no beam or teleposts below this wall in the basement, odds are that there are no upper loads (roof, truss, upper level) being transferred down to the foundation through your wall, and it can be removed without structural risk. If there are teleposts and a beam, your wall is definitely carrying upper loads, but don’t despair! The wall can usually be removed, but with the introduction of a ceiling beam that transfers the upper load(s) off this wall onto new “point-load” locations. This new beam will either be a “drop-beam” (visible) or a “flush-beam” (up in the ceiling). All a bit technical, but this is why there are experts to advise you.

 
Safety and structural integrity considerations require that you obtain an engineer’s report and a building permit for this type of work. Also, similar “loading” issues can come up when planning to remove/reconfigure walls in a basement or second story, or when planning a main, second level or bonus-room (over-garage) addition, so be sure to consult a design professional who has the appropriate technical skills.

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

Interior renovation in the Calgary community of Woodbine

Interior renovation in the Calgary community of Woodbine

Interior renovation in the Calgary community of North Glenmore Park

Interior renovation in the Calgary community of North Glenmore Park

“Before-You-Build” Series #3 – Basement Tips

Almost every basement will pose development challenges that can discourage a homeowner before even getting a start on such a project. Issues such as steep/narrow stair access, low ceilings, ugly service “drops”, awkward telepost locations, small or no windows, low light and poorly located services are all too common.

If you are fortunate enough to have higher ceilings (9-12’), you will have avoided the most limiting problem that many are faced with. But for everyone else, what to do? Try breaking up long, low feeling areas with design elements that emphasize the vertical. Good space-planning will help here, along with drywall ceilings, rather than “T-bar” panels that usually reduce ceiling height by at least two inches. Also, ducting, plumbing lines and wiring can often be reconfigured to help clean up the appearance of a ceiling. Stairwells can sometimes be widened or rerouted to create a more welcoming access and teleposts relocated for a more open feel. A good lighting plan will go a long way in making your lower level seem more like the rest of your home, along with larger windows cut into the foundation walls that bring in lots of natural light and also allow for safe egress, in the event of an emergency. Drains and waterlines can be moved to improve a bathroom’s location/design or to add a well-appointed wet bar.

With all these problems solved, your newly renovated basement can now be used for family recreation, rather than storage!

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

Basement development/renovation in the Calgary community of Mountain Park

Basement development/renovation in the Calgary community of Mountain Park

Basement development/renovation in the Calgary community of Mountain Park

Basement development/renovation in the Calgary community of Mountain Park

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