Good luck with your renovations!
Many home owners I speak to about their basement are looking at options for "sound proofing". Whether it's for a theater set-up or for banging around on a drum kit. Unfortunately, it is nearly impossible to sound proof a basement and still meet all building codes, make it comfortable and without costing a ton of money. There are lots of options to help with sound reduction that you can add to your renovation. The key is to absorb as much sound as possible and limit the vibrations transferring through the structure of the home.
Adding insulation to the voids between walls and floors helps but it's only part of the solution. Choosing the insulation that is best for the job can be tricky. Watch out for marketing gimmicks that want you to buy the expensive stuff that really don't do any better than the cheapo stuff. The keys is that "more is better" fill every void, space, crack, anywhere noise can get through. Rock Wool is fire proof and waterproof but may not be as good at absorbing the low frequencies as apposed to fiberglass. Fiberglass is much less expensive and easier to work with.
Regular 1/2" drywall doesn't absorb to much sound. When it's attached directly to the studs it will transfer the sound sound through the room. 5/8" drywall is a bit better, 2 layers is better yet. There is acoustic glues you can put between layers to help. There is special "quiet" drywall that glues 2 thin layers of drywall together that works well but is very expensive. The main thing to do with the drywall is to "decouple" it from the structure. There are a few options to choose from. The cheapest is installing rows of resilient channel between the structure and the drywall. There are special decoupling clips available that work similar to resilient channel but are independent of each other.
Suspended ceilings are a huge help with absorbing sound and decoupling from the floor above. Ceiling tiles have a sound absorption rating. Usually the thicker the tile, better the rating. You can install a layer of drywall to the joists above the suspended ceiling to get an even better rating.
Doors can be a trouble spot for sound. Installing an insulated exterior door would be the best option. A pre-hung door without a window isn't too expensive. There are insulated interior doors available that you can get to better match other interior doors. Install sweep to the bottom of the door and gaskets to the door stop to seal them in. 2 doors that swing in opposite direction (like 2 attached hotel rooms) could work too.
You heating and venting system is a tough one. If you have baseboard heat, then it's not a problem. With a forced air system, you almost have to install a separate system to stop the transfer of sound. One option I have seen is temporary doors that can be closed when sound proofing is needed. Decoupling the vents and ducting will help with transferring the vibrations but unfortunately, there just isn't an easy solution
You need to absorb as much of the sound as possible. Just having a couch in the room is going to help. There are sound absorption panels and bass traps available to help. There are also lots of DIY tutorials available online. Be sure to caulk and seal all gaps you can find. Use special insulated receptacle and switch plates. Capet and rugs help as well.
Good luck with your renovations!
Housing prices in the area have been getting a little crazy in the area over the last few years. Many people are having trouble affording to buy a new house. My wife and I are in that boat as well. We had a 5 year plan to upgrade our house, but have had to make some adjustments. Instead of moving, we decided to work with what we have which included finishing the basement. This is a great way to add square footage to the house we already own.
Lately people have been contacting me about finishing their basements for the same reason. Adding some room for the kids, having a place for relatives to stay or a man cave. I also get a lot of calls about adding an apartment to the home.
Finishing your basement to make an apartment or duplex has a lot more rules than just adding a rec room. Even if you just want to add a "Granny Flat" with a kitchenette, you still have to follow the rules. Each municipality will have their own set of guide lines and rules.
Check the website for you municipality for duplex requirements, including zoning and parking. You may also need to work with a BCIN designer to create the drawings for you to obtain the proper permits. The home owner is allowed to act as their own designer. If you don't know a lot about the Ontario building code, it may save you time and money to contact a professional.
Some of the building code requirements are:
Proper fire and safety requirements (fire doors, X-Type drywall, exits, smoke detectors, etc)
Minimum natural light requirements (bedroom windows)
HVAC requirement (Heating, Venting and Air Conditioning)
No matter how you finish your basement, you will need a building permit. This will ensure that things are done to minimum code and that it is safe for you and who ever else is enjoying in the future. This will affect the value of your home in a good way, but may also add to your property tax. Unfortunately, MPAC visited us shortly after the building permit was closed.
City of Waterloo:
City of Kitchener:
City of Guelph:
City of Cambridge:
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!
Total Homeworx Inc. started this project at the end of summer and it continued for just over 7 weeks, although they had a fully functioning kitchen at the end of the 5th week. This is a custom kitchen with solid counter tops. The back splash is glass with a 3rd offset and no grout. The flooring is engineered tile, which can be installed tightly without grout. The micro/hood combo is a great way to save space in a smaller kitchen. All of the electrical was upgraded to meet current codes.
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.
In this blog post I would like to share some tips when buying an older house that you plan on fixing up. I am not a home inspector and don't pretend to be but I have fixed up my fair share of older homes and would like to share my experience with them. If you are handy, a fixer upper might be appealing to you to save some money off the asking price but some of the problems may put you over the top.
Check out the basement
The basement is the best place to give you early tips on how things were done. If the basement is finished, look how it was finished. If a basement looks like it's poorly finished, smell musty or doesn't match how the rest of the basement was finished then it probably was never finished properly. You normally cannot replace the floor and paint the walls and think it will be good. It will probably have wiring issues and insulation issues that must be addressed. If you are expecting to have a nice basement area then include a tear-out and refinish. If it is not finished, check for foundation cracks and leaks. If it is insulated, what type is it? Is it moist, or damaged from water? All these things will help determine the health of the home.
The basement may also have a mechanical room with the furnace and hot water heater, and maybe the electrical panel. Check the dates on the units to see when they were installed. Look for leaks and odd smells. If you have gas, look for gas tags to be sure a licensed gas technician installed the units.
The electrical in your home may be a big factor in whether or not you purchase a fixer upper. The age of the home may greatly impact the areas that you can renovate first. If you plan on remodeling your kitchen you may have to do a lot to your electrical system to bring you kitchen up to code. Very old homes may still have "knob and tube" wiring. This type of wiring must be updated and will require a skilled electrician to do so. You will also have to patch many holes in the walls when they are done where they have run new wires. Some homes from around the mid 60's to mid 70's were wired with aluminum wire. Aluminum wiring may not need to be completely replaced but caution must be used when making alterations. If someone had made alterations and did not use the proper techniques it may cause a fire. House with "knob and tube" or "aluminum" may not be deal breakers but know the cost to have them upgraded to current codes.
Check the roof for obvious issues like missing or curling shingles, areas with patch work done, the flashing, venting, etc. If the home has had the roof redone recently, was it done by a roofing contractor and if so who was it? Is there a warranty still in effect?
Check the gutters and down spouts. The down spouts should be going into a drain or directing the water away from the house. Many times a down spout has been damaged and just drained right against the foundation which can cause water problems in your basement. The grading around the home should be high at the foundation and slope away. Good grading will help keep the basement dry
The siding or brick condition should be inspected as well. Check the condition of the bricks and mortar joints. You can usually tell if there have been repairs due to the colour of mortar or different bricks installed. If the siding is in good condition but is dirty or an ugly colour can be cleaned and painted. If it is damaged it should probably be replaced.
Check out any decks for rotting and that they are still sturdy. If it is a newer deck, you can check with the building department in you municipality that they pulled a permit to do the work, if required.
There is more to a renovation then you might think. Picking paint colors and tile may take up time but there are a lot more things to worry about. I will touch on a few things and give you an idea of how long things will take.
Many people do not understand how long it takes to design and plan out a project. Kitchens may require a lot of time for a designer to take your wants and needs and put them on paper. You may need to go back and forth a few times to get what you want. If you need to remove walls, you have to get a structural engineer to assist with the project to get a proper plan and building permits. Be sure to answer calls and emails promply to help speed up the process. Pick out colours and materials as soon as you can to keep the project moving. Special orders may take weeks or month and you do not want that "must have" tile slowing down the renovation.
Scheduling is key to a successful remodeling project. Larger project may require many sub-contractors which can have conflicting schedules. Scheduling the project too tight may not leave room for errors, so leave so extra wiggle room in the schedule. On smaller jobs, it's better to have different trades work on different days. The electrician and plumber can't work while the tile floor is being installed so allow enough time for people to finish their work before the next worker shows up.
Pay contractors promptly
Contractors need to keep their cash flow going in order to run their businesses. If you don't feel it is urgent to pay your contractor when the payment schedule specifies, you cannot expect them to finish the work on their dime. Make sure you and your contractor figure out a fair way that you are not paying too much up front but the contractor isn't floating too much at a time. If you cannot pick the paint you want or the special order item has been back ordered, pay for the work that has been done and the materials used. A well paid contractor that does not have to chase his client for payments is a happy contractor. The contractor prefers to work with those clients and will make sure to do what it takes to maintain that relationship.
Stay out of the way
Many people like to live in the house while a renovation is being done. To help keep things rolling, make sure you are out of the way of the contractor. This means moving you car out of the driveway before the come to your home. This will help with delivering materials, removing waste, etc. Make some room in your garage (if you have one) so they can store materials and set up cutting tools when it's raining. Move appliances and furniture that could be in the way or you do not want dirty. Make sure your pets are not getting into the work area or do not try to escape if the door is left open.
The key to all of these points and your renovation, over all, is communication. Be available to answer questions and make decisions as soon as possible. Let the contractor know the best way to get a hold of you during the day such as email, text, cell, business phone etc.. Make sure you do not over communicate either! It takes time away from the contractor to answer your calls and too many may slow things down. Don't call or email about small things. Wait until you have a few things to talk about and go over them all at once. If something is not going the way you expected, then say something. Usually, the contractor has your best interests in mind and will gladly work with you to fix a problem.
Hope this will help with your next project. There are a lot of other simple things you can do to help keep you project on schedule with solid planning but I will go over them in another blog.
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
Owner of Total Homeworx sharing renovation tips to home owners and DIYers.