Five Keys To A Successful Renovation – #4 – Patience As A Virtue

The plumber is late, they delivered the wrong kitchen sink, there is no hot water for showers and the family cat has disappeared, but don’t panic!  The site supervisor is at the door and will have all issues resolved in minutes (look for the cat in the laundry hamper).  The renovation process can be a frustrating one at times, but with competent planning and supervision and a few deep breaths on your part along the way, it will all be just fine in the end.

Home renovation work is inherently disruptive, so it’s important for all family members to develop a flexible mindset from the outset to avoid frustration.  Kids, pets, Grandma (and Mom & Dad) all have differing needs and expectations, so regular family meetings based on your site supervisor’s regular updates will help maintain a relaxed daily routine.  Unexpected site circumstances can create a change in plans that affect the family dynamic, so we like to speak in terms of goals rather than fixed deadlines, which underpins the idea of keeping an open mind to avoid potential stress!  Taking it all in stride and supporting your builder’s actions will reinforce the positive nature of your relationship, resulting in the kind of exciting, rewarding experience you had initially hoped for.

Being aware that there will be ongoing issues to be addressed will prepare you for a process that can require a calm and timely pivot in your daily plans, but as your project nears completion, occasional changes in routine will now be second nature and totally secondary to anticipation of your Grand Plans becoming a welcome reality.  Almost time to celebrate!  You won’t need any guidance for that, but have a look at our final FIVE KEYS installment anyway – CELEBRATE YOUR SUCCESS!

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 – #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!


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!


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!



“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 undertaking an exterior renovation or remodel.
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 or remodel. 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 #1 – Kitchen Tips

As most realtors will tell you when buying a home, the importance of location cannot be overemphasized. The same thing can be said of appliance placement when first designing, and then renovating your new kitchen.

Once chosen, your appliances should be the first elements thoughtfully located on your space-plan. This will ensure that traffic patterns are optimized in this very busy area.  Although the traditional “work-triangle” concept is less stringently followed now, you will still want to maximize your kitchen’s functionality by planning your renovation or remodel around these appliances, while keeping in mind the equally important “form” (as in “form-follows-function”) that will create your kitchen’s visual impact. Another benefit of choosing your appliances FIRST in the planning process, will be accuracy of “fit”. Armed with the exact make & model specifications, your designer can plan for correct “opening” sizes and adequate peripheral “landing” areas to service each one.

And don’t forget, a kitchen renovation, more than any other home improvement project, will provide the highest return on your investment at the point of sale, not to mention the most enjoyment for you in the meantime!

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

Kitchen renovation in the Calgary community of North Glenmore Park

Kitchen renovation in the Calgary community of North Glenmore Park. See more at

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!