Mike Holmes: Remember when homes used to last? When families would keep them for generations?

Using better products that are durable, resistant and long-lasting on your next renovation will save you money in the long run, as well the environment.

June 5th is World Environment Day, and as a contractor and builder, I have a responsibility to be green. In my line of work I see a lot of materials, a lot of products and unfortunately, a lot of waste.

I can’t tell you how many tons of concrete, plywood, shingles, lumber — you name it — I’ve ordered, used and demoed. It’s enough to make your head spin. And it’s part of the reason I have absolutely no tolerance for bad jobs. Not only is it potentially dangerous (for example, a bad reno can lead to bad electrical or unsafe structure) but it’s also a massive waste of new materials.

That’s why I do things once, and I do them right — so I don’t have to do them again and use twice the materials. And whenever my crew works on any demo job, we save what we can — tiles, brick, lumber, fixtures, etc. — anything we can use again, and we recycle whatever materials we can. For example, you can recycle asphalt shingles.

There are plenty of choices you can make as a homeowner, too. For example, you can collect the rainwater that comes off your roof and use it to water your lawn or wash your car; you can install low-flow water fixtures, use eco-friendly paint, power off when you’re not using appliances, and use alternatives to cooling, such as awnings over your windows. You also can switch to LED lights and start incorporating solar lighting around your home. (Going completely solar is obviously a top choice, but it might still be too big of a leap price-wise for some homeowners.)

I read an article that did a very good job of spelling out the situation we’re in today. It said that 50 years ago, we knew we had a consumption problem. But now we have double the population and our consumption has skyrocketed. Just one generation ago, if you bought a car, that was the car you had for the rest of your life. Today we change our cars like we change our tools — almost every five years.

And what about our homes? Remember when homes used to last? Families would keep them for generations. Same with the furniture and the finishes. I’ve seen homes where the tile on the floor is the same tile that was there 70 years ago. Not only did it last, but the homeowners never wanted to change it.

We need to think about why we renovate, what choices we make for our homes and why.

Are you renovating to make your home more energy-efficient, watertight or healthy? Are you increasing its durability and longevity? Or are you just tired of the paint colour, or maybe the neighbours redid their kitchen and now you’re thinking yours needs an update, too?

I’m not saying don’t renovate, but what I am saying is do it smart. Work from the outside in. Before you start updating the kitchen and bathrooms, make sure you have a good roof and a strong building envelope that protects your home and saves you energy. Always hire someone who knows what they’re doing. Yes, it will cost more, but cheaper is always more expensive because you will have to do it again.

And choose materials that you won’t need to replace five years down the road. That’s why I’m a big fan of materials that last — things like quartz, composite wood, metal roofs, quality insulation, etc. And that’s why we make sure everything is installed properly. Because you can have the best materials, but if they are not installed properly they are going in the garbage, and so is your money.

Protecting the environment benefits all of us — every single person on this beautiful planet. The bottom line is that we need natural resources to survive. So let’s be smart and use them responsibly and protect them. We all have a role to play here, and let’s make it right.

Source: National Post

Watch Mike Holmes on Holmes Makes It Right on HGTV. For more information visit makeitright.ca.

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