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.


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!



“‘Tis The Season” Series – #1 – 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!


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

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

If the answer is NO, you then have a few other less costly options. The first would be to excavate a four foot deep trench around the perimeter of the addition area, then install a concrete footing and “frost-wall”, then backfill. This is the most commonly used approach, but still a costly one, an invasive one and one that could require a complete rebuild of your yard.

The next option, and a much less costly and invasive one, is the piling/grade-beam foundation system. This system consists of the augering of a series of six foot deep holes which then are filled with concrete and rebar, with a three-ply 2×8” pressure treated grade-beam being placed on top of the piles around the perimeter of the addition.  Channel Custom Builders has been advocating and implementing this methodology for more than twenty years, with great success, while these engineered piles have been widely utilized in commercial construction (and less so in residential) for over one hundred years.

However now, with the advent of the helical “screw-pile”, we are beginning to save our Customers time and money by replacing the concrete piles with a series of engineered, thermal “screw-piles” that are simply drilled into the ground. No excavation, no muss, no fuss. The process is pretty much the same from that point on. The grade-beam is placed on top of the screw-piles, then a shallow “pony-wall” with the floor joists being placed over all to complete the basic foundation/floor structure. The interior of this shallow space (can’t really call it a “crawl-space”, as it will typically be very low in height) would have thick rigid insulation panels covering the grade area, with black poly sheeting over top that is then sealed to the grade-beam/pony-wall assembly. Fourteen mm. washed rock is then spread over all at a depth of approx. four to six inches to complete the insulation value required. The perimeter wall and joist-end assembly is then sprayed with two pound expanding foam to the R-value dictated by the building code.

You now have a clean, dry, sealed under-floor space that can be economically heated to maintain warm, comfortable floors in your new addition! Finally, everything from the floor up is standard construction where you can put more of your hard-earned cash into nicer finishings, instead of into the ground.

Contact a Channel Custom Builders representative today for more information about this slick new system!


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 (  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!

Specialty Floor & Roof Trusses

These engineered products are uniquely useful in “Bonus Room” home 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.