Take advantage of Bar-B-Que season
Be flexible with schedules
Rent a storage unit
Renovating your kitchen can be a very stressful event. If you can afford to move out for a little while and avoid the mess and lack of kitchen, I would recommend you do just that. Most people have to live at home during the renovations, so I have a made a list of things that can help get through the renovation easier. Besides having a good plan, having all the materials picked out, etc.
A temporary kitchen set-up can help. Most people set up in the laundry room so they can use the laundry sink as their kitchen sink. You can use the washer and dryer as counter tops, or set up some folding tables. If you do not have a laundry tub, you can get a temporary outdoor sink that hunters and campers use. They attach to a garden hose and can drain into a 5 gallon pale.
Take advantage of Bar-B-Que season
Try to schedule you kitchen renovation when the weather is mild enough to use the BBQ. Many meals can be cooked on the bar-b-que that would normally be cooked in the oven or on the stove. You also don't have to worry about the smell in the house with the range hood removed since you are outside.
Be flexible with schedules
Scheduling a renovation is one of the hardest parts of being a general. One day you have no one working at your house and the next day there are 10 people bumping into each other. Sometimes you need to be flexible with when people come and go. Some trades like to start early and some like to stay late. Sometimes trades get behind and need to work over the weekend. Try not to be too strict and don't expect the trades to work a normal 9-5 schedule. The more flexible you are, hopefully, the sooner the renovation will be completed.
Leave a lock box on the door so the trades can come and go as needed. It will take up a lot of time if you are waiting for the trades people to show up. You also don't want to rush them out if you have some where to go. You should be able to trust that the trades you hire will be respectfull to your home and trust them enough with a key.
Rent a storage unit
Put your furniture and other belongings into a storage unit while the reno is going on. You have to get everything cleared out of the kitchen. You don't want to store everything in the area that you need to live. There are temporary mobile units that can be dropped off in your drive way that you can store everything in while the renovation is going on.
I will try to add a few more tips if any more come to mind!
We have started working on an old home in kitchener this winter. The house had a very small kitchen and was cut up into 3 small rooms. We had to remove the load bearing walls. Relocate the plumbing for the kitchen sink and other plumbing upgrades to meet today's codes.
Older homes are usually finished with lath and plaster. The photo below shows the lath with the plaster removed. The studs are bearing the load of the joists above. Some one has cut in a new door on the right side but did not frame properly. This caused the second floor to deflect in that area.
We built temporary walls to support the load. We removed the old wall and installed 2 LVL beams. The beams are made up of 3 LVLs glued and nailed together. The are supported by 2x4s on each end and 2x6s in the centre. There are 2x6s below the column and are installed on a new footing to support the new point load.
The kitchen sink is to be relocated under the window on the right. We have run the new vent pipe to run along the new beam. You can see knob and tube wiring. This will be upgraded to meet current codes.
We had to sister up some joists that were cut out for plumbing. We relocated the bath tub drain so we could avoid compromising the strength of the joists. The bathtub also had to be vented properly.
Scott from PJSC Drywall is getting things ready to tape now that the drywall is up.
We passed all our inspections before we closed things up.
The vinyl floor was installed in between coats of mud. We covered the floors to prtect them and make clean up easier. Drywall is now finished and sanded, ready for paint.
Walls and ceilings have all been painted. We are ready for the kitchen and millwork to be installed.
Below is the finished product. We passed our final building and ESA inspections.
Thanks for visiting!
Tile flooring is great in high traffic areas of your home. Moisture resistance allows frequent cleaning with little worry of wear or damage. Not all tiles are equal and there is more to consider than just looks. Ceramics, stone and marble, etc all have their place when it comes to choosing the product that best suits your project.
Scratch resistance is very important when selecting a tile. If a tile has a low scratch resistance, it will look dull and worn in no time. Moving furniture or appliances may scratch the floor or simply regular cleaning. Some natural stones are softer than others, so be sure to do your research before you choose.
Thickness of the tile must be considered. Thicker tiles are usually stronger and therefor can resist high impact from dropping heavy object on them. Thick tile may also cause problems with height restrictions with doors and mouldings.
Colour and tone of the tile may make it look dirty too easily. This also applies for grout. Light grout may look dirty and change colour very easily if not properly sealed. Too dark or too light may show pet hair or dust very easily and it may seem impossible to keep up with the cleaning.
Water resistance is key in wet areas. Avoid porous tiles in showers and pool areas. They may easily stain and hold moisture that can cause mould issues. Sealing can help this but must be done regularly to maintain resistance.
Size must be considered when choosing tile. Many people like large tiles on their floors. This is a great look and has less grout lines to clean. Larger tiles require flatter and more rigid floors in order to make them work properly. If a floor is not flat it my need to be built to where things will be true. This may cause your new tile floor to be much higher than your other floors in your home. You must also consider structural conditions. Minimum code floors in most areas are not rigid enough for larger tiles and the deflection may cause cracked grout and tiles or loose tiles. You may have to do some structural work before you install large tiles. Small tiles require more grout lines and they are harder to clean. Grout is also a way for moisture to get behind the tile, causing problems. Be sure to choose the best tile for your situation.
Grout is also something you must consider for your tile. Larger grout lines may be harder to clean but will be more forgiving with the variance in tile size. It allows the installer to "cheat" when things are not lining up properly. Smaller grout lines (1/8" or less) require an unsanded grout which is not as strong as a sanded grout.
A quality tile supplier and your contractor can assist you in choosing the best tile for the job. Sometimes you may not get the exact tile you want because it will not be the most practical. Choose something that will last and does not require more maintenance than you are willing to do.
I love to see all the snow melt but I sometimes worry about my basement! We have had a lot of snow in the KW area and with warm weather and some rain it can cause problems.
Take a look around the exterior of your home before you have a problem. What you must do is keep the water away from the foundation. Check that down spouts have not been damaged from the extra snow. You can purchase flexible down spout tubes at your local hardware store to assist in moving the water farther from your home. Shovel away any snow that has blown against the side of the house that may cause a problem.
Once you have checked the outside, check the sump system inside. Make sure your sump pump is functioning properly. If you haven't had you sump pump checked or serviced in a few years, you may consider doing that now. If you are handy and can swap out a malfunctioning sump pump yourself, then keep a back up on hand in case of an emergency. I keep an alarm at my sump hole that detects when water is too high and I can fix the problem before it causes damage.
Check that any foundation cracks are not emitting water. If they are; move away any belongings that could get damaged and book in a crack repair specialist. They may be busy this time of year, so if your have a slow leak you may have to wait until they get caught up.
If you do get an overflow at the sump pump or water from a crack; clean it up as soon as possible. Many plumbers have 24 hour emergency service to repair a sump pump. Be sure to run fans and dehumidifiers in the area to help dry out the basement before you get a mould and mildew problem. You can also use a wet vac to help clean things up.
By Brent Darlington
Removing walls in your home is a great way to open things up. Many older homes seem to have more walls than newer ones with the recent popularity of open concept. There are a few things to consider before you get out the sledge hammer.
Is it load bearing?
A load bearing wall is a wall that is supporting a structural load in your home. It may be difficult for a professional to determine whether or not a wall is load bearing with all the variables involved. Some quick ways to tell if it is load bearing are if it is parallel over a beam in the basement, floor joist cross over the wall in order to support them, etc. It is best to have an engineer tell you whether or not it is OK to remove a wall. Any time you remove a load bearing wall you need a building permit.
It's not load bearing, so it's no problem to remove?
Many non-load bearing walls are used to hide plumbing, heating vents and electrical. It may be difficult to relocate these things. It may cost more than what it would cost to remove a load-bearing wall with out these item hidden inside. You may need to install columns and bulkheads to hide them. Check in the basement to see where these things are going through the floor above to help determine what may be hidden.
Is it easier to just cut an opening in the load bearing wall?
Sometimes cutting an opening is almost as much work as removing it. You still need the proper support for the structure to be safe.
Other things to consider
You may have to upgrade areas below the load-bearing wall to help support the new load. Bigger columns in the basement on bigger footings. This may be a lot of extra work if your basement is finished. You may need to add columns in places where there isn't one now.
Wall removal can be a good DIY project but always consult a structural engineer before you start and get a building permit. Doing this will protect you if you have issues in the future.
By Brent Darlington
You may have tried painting yourself and have had sub-par results or you are considering painting and want a few tips before you start. There is more to painting than just a brush and a roller, there is a lot of prep-work involved. Some of the tools you will need include a roller with a sleeve and pole, 2 1/2" angle brush, sanding pads and pole, painters tape, drop cloths, putty knife, "5 in 1" tool and scraper.
Before you do any paint or prep work, be sure to protect the floor. Drop cloths made for paint work the best. They are heavy, so they stay in place better and stop the spills from leaking through. Some people use bed sheets but they are too thin and do not protect from spills. Plastic stops spills but can be too slippery and dangerous to work on.
Scrape any loose paint from the walls with a scraper. If it is a little tough to get off, it is probably OK to stay on the wall. Use a heavy grit sand paper (80 to 100) and sand all the surfaces you plan to paint. You can get sanding pads that mount to a pole to make the job easier. Sanding helps the new layer of paint stick to the old paint and gets rid of any high spots. You will need to patch where you have scraped off the loose paint using a spakling or drywall compound. You will need to patch any holes or dings as well. Let the spakling dry and sand with a fine grit sand paper or sanding pad. You may require more than one coat to get a flat finish, so reapply and sand as necessary. If you notice any gaps where the trim meets the wall, apply a paintable caulking and wipe excess away with a damp cloth.
Once everything has dried and has been sanded, you will need to prime the patched areas. You do not need to prime the entire area; just the patches. This is called "spot priming" . Some painters will use left over paint and spot prime the areas a couple times to seal them up but primer works best. If you are painting new drywall, then you will need to prime the entire area. Sometimes, it's better to prime drywall trice to be sure you have a nice seal before you do your finish coats.
Once you have everything spot primed and dry, it's time to roll on a first coat. Roll up and down and get as close to the baseboard and ceiling as possible. When applying new paint; start ahead of where you finished and back roll a bit before you start moving ahead again. Apply an even but heavy coat first coat. Latex paint will dry very quickly so you can usually get to the next step quickly. At this point you will patch any imperfections again. After the first coat is best because sometimes the new colour will show differently than the last colour. Once you are done patching and have sanded you must spot prime those areas with your finish colour to seal them. While you are waiting for the patches to dry, you can cut in all the areas you can't get with the roller. A 2 1/2" brush and a steady hand work best for cutting in. You can use painter's tape to help but it takes more time and can be expensive if you need a few rolls. There are "cut in" tools that you could use as well.
Once everything has dried and the cutting in is done I recommend giving everything a good sand again. This will get rid of any rough areas and help obtain a flat finish. Use 80 grit on a sanding pad to do this. Before you roll on your final coat you will want to cut in again. This way the brush strokes will be covered by the roller texture. Once the cutting in is done, apply an nice, even coat. The paint will be dry to the touch in a short time but may take up to a month before it is completely dry.
When choosing paint, you usually get what you pay for. Poor quality paints have more water in them, so you may have to do an extra coat. You don't need the highest priced paint either. Latex paints should be filtered before you use them. You will need a filter and an empty can to filter your paint. This helps remove all the little chunks that harden in the can during storage that get mixed in when you or the paint store mixes it up. Buy a quality, lint free roller. Thicker rollers hold more paint but add more texture to the walls. Holding more paint speeds things up because you do not have to keep applying paint in your paint tray.
These tips should help with your next project and remember that practice makes perfect. Professional painters work for years at the trade before they can do top notch work very quickly. It may take you more time but you can make your next paint project look like a pro did it!
By Brent Darlington
Every municipality has it's own rules and regulations for obtaining a permit for a renovation. I have worked with various municipalities and the building department but this blog post will be about Kitchener, ON.
Kitchener has it's own set of by-laws but the code is based on the "Ontario Building code". The first thing you need to do is make a drawing of what the project will be. You must show what is existing and what will be removed. You will need at least a floor plan and may need cross sections, elevations and other details. If you are doing structural work; you may need to draw other floors that will be effected by the changes. As a home owner, you may submit your drawings yourself and have them reviewed in order to approve a permit. The building office will either approve the drawings, maybe making minor changes, or reject it. You may have to make changes and re-submit if it is rejected. The review process can take up to 10 business days. Although you may do the structural engineering yourself, it is always better to pay and engineer to stamp your drawings. If you do not have structural work to do and do not wish to do the drawings yourself, you may use a BCIN designer. Kitchener has various prices for their permits and require a deposit that will be refunded when all inspections are complete.
Once you have your permit, you may begin the work. Always look through the package for any changes the permit office made and make sure that they did not miss anything. If any changes are made from the original drawings during the project, you must have your drawings re-approved.
When you receive your permit package, you will have an inspection schedule explaining when you need to call for an inspection. Inspections for a renovation would normally be Framing, HVAC, plumbing, insulation, and final. Usually, you can have some inspections at the same time for smaller jobs and just have a final when the job it complete. Kitchener has a convenient, automated phone service for inspections. You make your appointment the day before your inspection and they are scheduled for the following morning or afternoon.
Tips to make your inspection run smoothly
You must be prepared for an inspection because you do not want to delay your project and you don't want to create a bad relationship with your inspector. Have the permit package and the drawings ready to go when they show up. Have the site clean for when they are there and ask any workers making noise to take a quick break. The inspection process is usually fairly quick when things are organized properly. If the inspector makes you change something; always make note of it and inform who ever made the drawings. If your engineer or designer agrees with the changes the do them right away, if they do not, have them call the permit office to get more information. Sometimes a photo sent by email is good enough for the inspector when you make changes, other times then need to come back and verify on site.
If you are not sure if you need a permit, call the building permit office and ask. It's always easier to get things done properly the first time around.
Link to Kitchener Building Department Click Here
By Brent Darlington
Is your kitchen old and out of date? Do you want to fix it up but just don't have the money right now to do it all? I am going to share a few tips that can have a big impact on the look but don't cost a lot.
Paint the walls!
Sometimes all you need to do is put a coat of paint on the walls. If you have a small kitchen and it seems too dark; try adding a lighter colour. I recommend painting your ceiling first because cooking tends to cause the ceiling to change colour over time. If you paint the ceiling first, paint down the walls about and inch when you cut in the corners so when you repaint the walls it is easier to cut in a new line. Make sure you sand the walls first to get rid of all the roughness and help get the dirt off. Use 80 grit sand paper on a sanding pad and pole. If you find the walls and ceiling greasy then clean it with TSP first. You do not have to prime the walls before you repaint;even if its a bold colour! Primer/sealer is used to seal new drywall but your wall have already been sealed before they were painted the first time.
Paint the cabinet doors and Drawers!
This is another great way to spruce things up. You must give all the surfaces you plan to paint a good sanding. You do not have to remove the entire finish but just remove the shine. Ask your paint supplier what they recommend to use to paint the doors. Usually a good quality melamine paint will work. It is a good idea to test that the paint will stick by painting the back of a door first.
Change the knobs and/or handles!
Changing the handles is easy to do. If you replacing handles be sure to buy a new handle with the same drilling pattern. They have some standard sizes but be careful that you don't get metric and imperial mixed up.
Change the counter top!
The sky is the limit with counter tops. Plastic laminate tops are the most economical choice if budget is a concern. They make so many different colours, textures, edges and other finishes that you can easily get it mixed up with natural stone. Natural and man made solid surfaces are also a great investment if the kitchen is in good shape. I wouldn't recommend installing solid tops in a kitchen you plan to rip out in the next 5 years.
Change the flooring!
There are a lot of options for floors that can help spruce things up. Plastic laminate flooring can usually be installed right on top of the existing floor to help save time. They come in many styles and some even look like tile. If you are handy, you can easily install it yourself on a weekend. Tile is also an option but quality ceramic or porcelain tile is expensive. Vinyl is a good, inexpensive option that can often be installed over the existing floor.
Change the lighting!
Upgrading your lighting in the room can add a lot of needed light. There are many LED options these days that can save money by using less energy and not having to buy bulbs.
Install a Micro Hood!
Microwaves can take up a lot of counter top space. Micro Hoods have become very popular because they put 2 appliances together! Before you run out and buy one; you may need to update the electrical that goes to the hood. Most range hoods are direct hookup where as micro hoods plug in. You also need a dedicated circuit to run these units. Consult an electrician before you make the investment.
Install back splash tile!
Tiling your back splash is a great way to add life to your kitchen. There are many options available and a handy home owner can often do it themselves.
Change your sink and faucet!
Sometimes a new faucet is all you need but a sink can look awful too. If you buy quality products they will last longer and can be reused if you ever install a new counter or upgrade your entire kitchen. If you notice your current faucet is starting to leak but it still looks good you may not need a new one. Often a cartridge inside just needs to be replaced and sometimes the faucet parts will be covered under warranty.
I think these are all great tips for the frugal home owner that wants an upgrade in the kitchen. If your cabinets are in bad shape; look on classifieds for used kitchens. Home owners often sell them if they are in good shape to help fund their new kitchen!
By Brent Darlington
There are many things to consider before you install hardwood flooring in your home. If you choose to do it yourself you can save a lot of money but make sure you prep things properly. It may seem simple but some situations can be hard to navigate if you are a first timer.
The first thing you need to do is screw down the sub floor, into the joist, where you hear any squeaks or feel movement. The direction the hardwood will go is not just an aesthetic concern but is a structural one too. Typically, hardwood should be installed perpendicular to your floor joists, so that it is less likely to move between them. If you want to go parallel with the floor joist, then you must build up the floor with plywood first. The overall thickness should be over 1" and be screwed down. Any high spots in the floor should be sanded down with a belt sander. Be sure that the sub floor is clean and dry before you start. Some hardwoods need to be acclimatised before it can be installed. Read the manufacturer's recommendations on this. Avoid storing the material in cold or damp areas like a garage or basement. Use a sample piece of hardwood to cut all of your door casing up to the right height so the wood will slide underneath. You will have to remove doors that are in the way and they may need to be cut down to account for the thickness change.
Many people like to put red rosin paper under their hardwood and the reason for this varies among installers. Some say it helps the wood slide over the sub floor for ease of install, acts as a vapor retardant, stops squeaks, keeps the dirt from coming up through the floor, etc. Read the instructions with the material or consult your supplier and decide for yourself.
Starting the floor is the hardest part of the install. Use a chalk line or laser to get a straight line to start your first row measured off the wall by the width of the hardwood. Most walls are not straight so you may have to scribe out humps in the wall. I like to glue down the first row and pin nail it along the wall and then work out from there. You can use wood glue but a polyurethane glue works better. You will need to glue down in areas that are too tight for the flooring stapler. Follow the flooring recommendations about whether to use staples or cleats to install the flooring. They have their benefits and draw backs for both. When changing directions, you can use a spline. I like to glue and nail it in place.
There are a lot of other issues but that's good enough for now. If this seems like too much for you then do yourself a favour and call a professional. It may save you money in the end.
By Brent Darlington
Finishing a basement in your home is a great way to add usable space but there are many things you must consider before you start. The biggest issues in basements is water and temperature. In order to save you money in the long run; be sure you and your contractor understand these issues.
Concrete is a porous material that allows water to move through it and many foundations have cracks. You need to reduce the moisture from moving outside your foundation and into your basement. Proper waterproofing on the outside of your home will ensure that your basement will stay dry. Regularly check your down spouts to be sure that the water is moved away from your foundation. Check your foundation for cracks and whether or not those cracks show signs of leaking. Leaking cracks can be fixed from the inside and a good contractor will guarantee that it will never leak. If your basement has a sump pit and pump be sure that the pump is functioning properly. It's a good idea to set up a back up pump in case of a failure.
Check that your HVAC system is set up properly for your basement design. Most new home builders only install the minimum requirements for unfinished basements and do not consider future changes. Make sure each of your new rooms have a heat vent before its too late. While you consider changes and upgrades to the system also consider the design of the bulkheads to cover all the ducting.
When insulating your basement you must consider both water and temperature. Different insulation practices may be considered for your basement depending on your situation. Many consider urethane spray foam the best option for basements but it can be a higher up front cost; so do your research on what is best for you. If your home has been insulated with roll-on blanket style insulation; it must be removed prior to framing. Basements are required to have an insulating rating of R20 in Ontario as of January 2012.
Some people think it's a good idea to install moisture and mold resistant drywall in their basement. This would be a good idea except that if you are worried about mould on your drywall then it is already too late. Fix the moisture problems first. Mold and Moisture drywall is good for areas like bathrooms where you are adding moisture to the room. Unless you plan on adding moisture to your basement; save your money.
Your floor is another area of concern for your basement. Check it for cracks and signs of leaking. If you have moisture coming up through the cracks in the floor then you have a water table issue. Your sump pit is used to pump out the extra water from under the floor and around the foundation. If you have water coming out of the floor then this is not working properly and you need to fix this first. Sub floors can add R value and protection from leaks. There are many options now that will work best in different situations. Never install a floor directly on concrete unless it is approved by the manufacturer and you have any water issues fixed. If you want to install tile on the floor consider in-floor radiant heat.
By Brent Darlington