Archive for home renovations

A Guide to Sustainable Plumbing in the Home

A Guide to Sustainable Plumbing in the Home

A Guide to Sustainable Plumbing in the Home

Are you thinking of updating or upgrading some of the plumbing fixtures in your home? If so, this guide from the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation is for you. This guide is intended to provide interested homeowners, licensed plumbers, and building contractors with an overview of fixtures, appliances and actions that can help homeowners conserve water and energy in different areas in the home.

This plumbing guide for the home covers:

  • About Sustainable Housing
  • The House as a System
  • Water-efficient Plumbing in the Kitchen
  • Water-efficient Plumbing in the Bathroom
  • Water-efficient Plumbing and the Hot Water System
  • Water-efficient Plumbing in the Laundry and Mechanical Rooms
  • Rainwater and Greywater

There is increasing strain on urban water sources across the country. Making homes more sustainable will help to reduce energy and water consumption, enhance the indoor environment, reduce the environmental impact and make housing more affordable for Canadians. Using less water means that:

  •  less water has to be pumped, treated or distributed, which leads to reduced energy consumption;
  • existing water supplies and infrastructure can support growing populations and economies (which could avoid having to build bigger storage facilities and treatment plants, or having to secure additional water sources).

To access the Guide to Sustainable Plumbing in the Home click here.


Which Renovations Should You Consider Before You Sell Your Home?

Which Renovations Give the Best Return on Investment?

Which Renovations Give the Best Return on Investment?

Like many homeowners in the Kitchener and Waterloo area who are considering selling your home, you are probably thinking about which renos you should do before listing your home for sale. Some renovations are completed in hopes of increasing overall sale price, but are you confused as to which renovations will actually get a good return for your investment? What are potential buyers looking for most? What helps pay those renovation bills in the long run? Let’s take a look at a few of your options.

  • Curb Appeal Projects: From something as simple as replacing your front door to replacing all of the siding on your home, curb appeal projects add serious value to your home. One report suggested that worn siding alone can make your home lose up to 10% of its value, and full siding replacement is near the top of the projects with the highest return on investment.
  • Kitchen Remodel: Think smaller here instead of bigger. While those dream kitchens you see plastered on every home magazine on the shelf and on Pinterest seem like a great idea, they’re also incredibly expensive. You may want to update your kitchen somewhat to make sure it looks like the hub of your home. It should look attractive, clean, and modern. Beyond that, don’t waste your money.
  • Outdoor Living Space: People are looking to be outside more than ever before, and these days, creating a gorgeous outdoor living space can really add to the value of your home in Waterloo Ontario. Build a deck if you don’t already have one, throw in an inexpensive outdoor fireplace for cool fall nights, brighten up your lawn furniture with colourful pillows, and you have a winning addition home buyers are going to love again and again.
  • Tackle that Bathroom: According to HGTV, inn the hottest housing markets, springing for a kitchen or bath remodel is a sure-fire investment, often returning more than 100 percent of the cost. People consistently rate a bathroom remodel at the top of the list, and for good reason. A beautiful bathroom is a selling point for many buyers in Kitchener-Waterloo. As with the kitchen, don’t get too carried away. A small bit of luxury in the bathroom can go a long way toward adding to your listing price.

No matter which renovations you actually choose to complete, there are several things to remember about handling this process in general. In order to prevent anything from going awry, ensuring you have as much knowledge as possible at the outset can be quite helpful.

  • Check Your Contractor’s References: The importance of this step cannot be understated. If you’re seriously considering hiring someone to handle the bigger projects such as your kitchen renovation, new bathroom, or your add-on, you’ll want to ask how long the company has been in business and ask for references of past customers. The next step is the most important – CALL THEM! Ask if the work was completed on time and on budget. Go out and take a look so you can judge the workmanship for yourself. It’s the single best way to see exactly whom you’re hiring. In addition to checking those references, be sure you look into the contractor’s licensing and whether or not they’re insured and bonded against damage. You may also want to run a credit check on the contractor to get some additional information.
  • Learn More About Permits: In almost every renovation situation, at least one permit is going to be needed somewhere along the way. If you have a contractor who tells you one isn’t required, you may want to find another contractor. Wondering why it’s so important? If you have the permits on file before the work begins, you can be sure the city you live in will complete a full inspection after the work is done. That will help protect you in the event the title insurance company asks to see the permit and inspection paperwork before you can actually close the sale on your home when the time comes.
  • Don’t Go For Cash: Some contractors offer to do a cash deal to help you save a little money. Don’t! It’s against the law and you don’t have any proof of payment if the contractor doesn’t fulfill his end of the bargain. Saving a few bucks now is not worth the court costs you may have to pay later.
  • Don’t Pay In Full Up Front: For best workmanship, you will want to create a payment plan that is tied to the milestones involved in the project. It is recommended that you put no more than 10% down on any project, and then pay out a little at a time as the contractor completes certain aspects of the project. That way, you won’t lose much if something happens to the deal.
  • Get It In Writing: It doesn’t matter what the “it” turns out to be, make sure you have everything in writing. You want a written contract that spells out everything the two of you have agreed to, the stages of work, and the associated payments with each stage. You also want any special options you’ve included in writing, like those special drawer pulls or that particular paint color. Finally, make sure there’s language included about clean up and repair. Renovations can be an excellent way to increase the value of your home, but finding the right combination of that great renovation project and a good contractor is essential.

For smaller renovation projects we have personally worked with and recommend Kris Kostecki in Kitchener. Kris performs work on: flooring; tiling, interior doors and trim; interior and exterior painting; drywall and taping; and bathroom renovations. You can reach Kris at 519.781.9311.

If you would like a FREE Market Evaluation of your home or you would like to learn more about the process of selling your home in Waterloo Region, I would love to talk to you. You can call me at 310-SOLD or email me at For more home selling tips you won’t find anywhere else, subscribe to my YouTube channel.

Renovating Your Kitchener-Waterloo Home


renos for my home in Kitchener

If you’re looking for a contractor, read this first


What you need to know before you hire a contractor

In 2011, $63 billion was spent in the renovation sector in Canada, exceeding new home construction expenditures by approximately $20 billion. You can create the home of your dreams by taking a solid home in a neighborhood you love and renovating the interior. Changing out finishes and moving walls seems easy on TV but there’s a great deal involved in a renovation. You will most likely need (or want) to hire a contractor, especially if you’re dong major work like taking out walls or changing the floorplan. All of the work requires permits and will need to be performed to code, so for that you need an expert.

A general contractor is the site boss of your renovation project. He or she is the manager, the overseer and the coordinator for the project. Some will be onsite swinging a hammer along with the tradespeople but another might spend most of his time in the office managing the details. The contractor deals directly with the architect (if there is one involved), the inspector and the tradespeople to get everything done right in your home. A good contractor will make sure the work stays on schedule and on budget, too. There are a lot of contractors in Waterloo region so we put together a list of questions you can ask, when you’re calling around looking to hire one for renovating your Kitchener-Waterloo home.

How long have you been in business in Waterloo Region?

Everyone has to start somewhere but do you really want to be your contractor’s first job? You want an established contractor with experience in your area so that he has good relationships with tradespeople and suppliers. Someone commuting from Toronto may not have these relationships in place.

Don’t be afraid to politely ask a contractor where he lives. Chances are if he lives in Waterloo Region, most of his projects have been closer to home. Local is usually the better choice not just for services but for building supplies too.

Do you have a license?

I know it seems like a no-brainer but I have to state it anyhow: always hire a licensed contractor. Not ALL contractors require licenses for all jobs. You can find contractor license requirements in Ontario here.

Is your price an “estimate” or a “fixed price?”

There’s a big difference between an estimate and a price. If you think your contractor has given you a fixed price and you get a call that something now costs more or has to be changed, it could be an unpleasant surprise.

Keep in mind that changes in prices aren’t always a sign of a bad contractor. Some costs can legitimately rise due to market fluctuations or shortages in materials. Demand goes up and supply becomes diminished causing a spike in price. Then there are instances where the unforeseeable occurs – like a compromised structure. In these cases it’s only reasonable that your contractor may have to make adjustments, but he should also have ideas about how to stay within budget too.

There will be a certain amount of “unknowns” involved in any renovation. It’s impossible to know that the floor joists are compromised until you start removing materials. However, you can start to eliminate the unknowns if you have an open discussion with a quality contractor.

Who are your major suppliers and workers?

Talking to your contractor’s suppliers will give you a better idea of his reliability. If he isn’t paying them on time, you should look elsewhere. Suppliers will be able to tell you if a contractor buys top quality materials or if he skimps. If it’s a hefty renovation, take the time to talk to the tile shops, lumberyards and home improvement centers to get a feel for how he does business. If he’s left a long string of unhappy tradesmen behind, he might not be a good hire for you. Your contractor needs to have solid relationships with skilled workers to give your home the best results.

Are you insured? What does your policy cover?

The last thing you need after an expensive home reno is an insurance claim or lawsuit over an injury sustained on your property. The contractor should have current insurance for workers’ compensation and general liability. That way, if someone gets hurt or if your property is damaged, it won’t be you or your insurance company that has to pick up the bill.

Can I see a project in progress or speak with a recent reference?

A contractor should have references that you can call or a project that you can see to show the quality of his work. Satisfied customers are happy to show off their homes. If you are looking at photos on a website, make sure this is their actual work and not stock photos.

This is just the start of the many questions you should be asking your contractor. Talk to friends and coworkers who have been through the process and find out who they used and what they wish they had known. You can also ask your Real Estate Agent for advice and referrals.

Links to Helpful Renovation Information

The Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation has a free “Renovators Green Guide” which you can find here.

Better Business Bureau (BBB) Accredited contractor listing:  At the bottom of this page the contractors are broken down into categories (e.g. Kitchen and Bath; Interlocking Stone; Concrete Contractors)

Engaging in DIY renos? The Bob Vila’s site is “chaulk” full of useful renovation information here.

From “how to de-stress wood” to “renovation mistakes to avoid” to “budget room makeovers,” Pinterest is a treasure chest of great renovation ideas and information.