It can cost between $25K-$50K. Here are pointers to help you figure out a budget
My kitchen renovation last year was filled with surprises, most of them unwelcome (after all, our house is 100 years old). But by far the biggest surprise was the cost: After an initial meeting with our designer, we realized we needed to rethink our budget and come up with more cash (about 30% more on top of what we’d planned).
Turns out I’m not alone: Experts say most people don’t realize how much a kitchen renovation will cost and, as a result, they don’t tend to budget enough.
That could be because home renovation TV shows are notorious for showing unrealistic budgets for major work — so while a family might get a brand new kitchen for $20,000, it’s never explained what that price includes.
So how do you figure out what you should be spending?
Nancy Peterson, Founder and CEO of Homestars, a website that connects consumers with contractors and other home improvement professionals, says that, according to their data, the average kitchen renovation in Canada costs $25,593 — but, she adds, that number depends on how extensive the work is and whether you’re doing an outright gut of the space and replacing everything with new stuff. “A major renovation can cost as much as $50,000,” she explains, “especially if you’re buying high-end appliances or cabinets, which are by far the biggest expense in any renovation.”
So how much should you budget for your home renovation? Here are some pointers to help you figure it out:
Know where your money is going
Whether it’s cabinets, tiles or appliances, it helps to know how much each element of a renovation will likely set you back. Here are the top things you’ll be spending on, according to Peterson, including what the average Canadian spends on each during their renovation:
• New cabinets and countertops: $7,483.16
• Wood flooring: $6,392
• Stone countertops: $3,839
• Cabinets (refinishing): $3,819
• Ceramic flooring: $2,333
The 20% rule
Experts say to add between 20% and 25% on top of your budget to handle surprises and unexpected costs. Based on the average cost of a Canadian renovation, a healthy buffer would be $5,118 to $6,398 to cover anything that pops out of the woodwork (in our case, it was an old stove pipe lurking behind our kitchen wall — big bucks to get rid of that, and it put us off schedule to boot!).
You don’t have to splurge on everything
Depending on how you use your kitchen, there are some things you can do on the cheap and others where it might be worth spending more. In our case, we splurged on a high-end stove (we cook all the time), but we bought pre-made cabinets from Ikea. Peterson also recommends saving money by refinishing existing cabinets instead of replacing them. Flooring selection can also make a difference – ceramic is a lot cheaper than wood.
You’ll be eating out more
Remember, you are going to be without a kitchen for a month or longer. That means cooking will be limited – and you’ll probably be relying on prepared foods and restaurant meals more than you usually do. Be prepared to spend a bit more to feed yourself and your family while your space is shut down.
When my husband and I first bought our house in Guelph, Ont., 11 years ago, it was something Goldilocks surely would have approved of: not too big, not too small. Just right. Our first-born was still in diapers. Who needed a second bathroom? Then, seemingly overnight, the place felt cramped and entirely impractical. We’ve now got two kids, and our-nine-year-old has outgrown her teeny-tiny bedroom. Weekday mornings mean slapping together breakfasts in the cramped kitchen. And forget inviting more than one family over for dinner unless they don’t mind yelling over the din. (Basement play room? What basement play room?)
Not surprisingly, my husband and I have been discussing our options. Move to a larger, more suitable home in our neighbourhood or stay put and renovate what we have? Finish the basement or build an addition? And most importantly, what would each scenario cost?
I’m hardly the only Canadian faced with the choice between moving or improving to increase usable square footage. Back in 2012, Canada Post released numbers indicating that of the 850,000 people who changed addresses, 37% moved to upgrade their home for family reasons. More recently, Altus Group measured the boom in Canadian residential home renovation spending, valuing it at $68 billion in 2014, roughly $20 billion more than what was spent on new builds.
Families grow, possessions multiply, aging parents move in, or a new job means building a home-office space. Although everybody’s situation is different—and let’s face it, you can’t always buy a great neighbourhood but you can change your home—deciding to love it or list it usually comes down to finances. What will it cost to move versus renovate and stay?
It’s not the house, it’s you
Cut the clutter and uncover valuable unused square footage
First, let’s start with the biggest bang for the least bucks: creating more usable space by simply clearing out the junk and getting your house more organized. That’s been our own family project for the past few weeks. Snowshoes that have never seen powder? Gone. An ill-advised yogurt machine purchase? Ditto. Three boxes of baby shoes? Now that’s just embarrassing.
We decided to take on this Herculean project after chatting on the phone with Elinor Warkentin, a Vancouver-based professional organizer who runs goodbyeclutter.ca. She says some clients have hired her to stage their homes for selling, only to decide to stay put after uncovering unused square footage they never knew they had: “Sometimes people can’t see the forest through the trees. Decluttering and organizing give people a lot of clarity.”
Although the act of breaking up with unwanted belongings is free, tackling chaos can be overwhelming without some help. Hiring a professional organizer can be one of the most cost-effective ways to gain much-needed space—with no jackhammer or moving van required.
In order to command her $85/hour fee, Warkentin spends 15 minutes on the phone with potential clients to suss out their junk issues, then does a two-hour walk-through consultation, giving specific advice based on what she sees. While she may recommend storage solutions—anything from new shelving beneath the stairs, to under-the-sink storage hacks for soap and rags—she also tackles behavioural issues. Toys littering the floor? Maybe it’s time to teach the kids to pitch in and clean up. And yes, like all those clutter consultants on TV, she helps clients separate items into piles: some go to the garbage heap, others will be given away and the last pile are keepers. She’s on-site with bins and garbage bags, picking through items one by one. (Warkentin once spent hours matching up single black and navy socks for a client.)
Between hiring a professional organizer’s services and installing new storage solutions in previously unused spaces, expect to spend $2,000 to $10,000, depending on where you live and whether your new shelves are cheaper prefabs or pricier customs. If that sounds unreasonable, consider that “for every box of clutter you remove from your home, you increase the equity by $500,” Warkentin says. But think hard before building new pricey storage solutions if you don’t like your neighbourhood or hope to move to a new school district someday. There’s no point spending the money if you’re just going to sell anyway.
Luckily, there are a number of options that range from cheap and cheerful to extreme and expensive that could get you a house that works for you. Here we’ll take a look at four scenarios, from least to potentially most costly, to see how each choice adds up.
Building a better house
Renovate the existing space make a house feel more spacious
Earlier this year, Scott Sheppard, an air traffic controller living in the Greater Toronto Area, decided it was time to give his mother, who lives in his basement, a room of her own. A bathroom, that is. “As she’s been getting older, we’ve realized that we needed to build something for her, rather than expect her to walk two flights of stairs to use the shower,” says Sheppard. In the end, it was a relatively easy fix: They simply converted their old attached garage into a laundry and mudroom, and moved the basement’s washer, dryer and deep freezer into it. This freed up space for Grandma’s corner shower, sink and toilet.
David Kloss, co-owner of LoganSienna Design in Toronto, says that, for homeowners like Sheppard, it makes sense to maximize space with the footprint that you have—particularly if living in a semi-detached or row house with restrictive zoning bylaws. Moving a wall to, say, create two bedrooms out of one means you can stay in a home you love, while making it fit your lifestyle. And even if the house doesn’t become physically bigger through these renovations, a little ingenuity can go a long way toward making a house feel more spacious. For instance, at a recent reno job in Toronto’s High Park area, Kloss removed a hall linen closet and knocked down walls to create a bigger, more open washroom.
And don’t forget the attic. It’s a square footage gold mine, particularly in older homes with steeply pitched roofs. To determine if you can turn your attic into a usable loft, shine a flashlight up there. Got W-shaped trusses holding up the roof? The reno will likely be too costly to be worth it. But if you’re looking at a wide open space with ample headroom in the centre, it might be worth building stairs up through a closet, and adding insulation and heating ducts.
Not all spaces are appropriate for renovations, however. Even though adding a room in the basement typically saves you between 25% and 50% of the cost of adding a room to upper floors, some aren’t worth finishing. There are foundation cracks that result in leaks. The furnace is smack in the middle of the room. The ceiling is low. Digging down to gain a few extra feet would cost in the range of $60,000. And to fix everything else? An extra $75,000. That’s before all the fun décor decisions.
All rooms aren’t created equal when it comes to pricing either. Contractors tend to quote in the $90 to $225 per square foot range, but if you’re aiming to add a bathroom to the mix or make your kitchen bigger, expect higher outlays: Plumbing, granite, fixtures and new appliances drive costs way up, while simply drywalling a basement or attic is going to be much cheaper. There are a lot of ways to save money—or blow through cash—so plan carefully before giving any project the green light.
Building a bigger house
Add value and living space to your home with an addition
Michael Berton and Cathie Hurlburt have had 13 years to live with their decision to turn their once small two-bedroom bungalow in North Vancouver into a 2,000-square-foot home by adding a second storey. They couldn’t be happier.
The Vancouver market was just heating up when the couple dragged their kids to open houses looking for a larger home—but eventually they decided to stay put. “We kept looking at houses that were three times more money than ours, were just as old and probably needed renovating anyway. It just didn’t make sense,” says Berton now. Instead, they hired a contractor, convinced the bank to help finance the $200,000 reno, moved into an apartment down the street for five months, and then waited for the plaster dust to settle.
Although hard to fathom today, the couple once worried about owning a half-million dollar home in Vancouver. But the gamble to increase the space paid off. Not only were they able to raise their three girls in a spacious home, but they made their house even more desirable to buyers. Their home—assessed at $320,000 before the reno—is now worth about $1.5 million. “But I don’t know if the math works like that everywhere, because I live in Lotusland where the house prices are nuts,” Berton cautions.
He’s right to question whether building an expensive addition is the best option everywhere. Most house prices don’t appreciate as quickly as they do in hot markets like Vancouver and Toronto. It can take decades before homeowners can recoup costs come selling time. An expensive renovation usually only makes sense if you plan on living in your home for the long haul, says Suzanne Ethier, a realtor in Kitchener, Ont. But for people who aren’t sure if they’ll need to move in five or 10 years? “Without fail, the numbers say sell the house and buy a new one,” she says.
The truth is that building onto a house is expensive. Location, size, finishes and labour costs will vary, says Brennan Waters, owner of Oakwaters Construction Ltd., based in Everton, Ont., but generally speaking, “$200 a square foot will give you options.” But expect to pay more if you’re digging down to expand the basement, or if you’re planning wholesale kitchen moves requiring all new plumbing and wiring.
What’s more, extensions can come with nasty and expensive surprises—from opening a wall to find old knob-and-tube wiring, to having run-ins with neighbours who are fed up with the construction noise and debris. Banks don’t finance the demolition work either, so that’s coming out of pocket, unless you get a construction loan. All of this isn’t to say building an addition can be the right choice, but just be sure you know what you’re getting into before the backhoe arrives.
Making the big move
Upgrade your living space by relocating to a new home
Sometimes you’ve just got to get out of Dodge and find a new place to live. That was Kate Kuok’s story when she moved from her suburban Toronto townhouse to Oakville, Ont., about four years ago with her husband Gabriel and their newborn.
Although their former property had three bedrooms and three bathrooms, soon the baby gear spilled out all over the living areas. Plus, they weren’t enamoured with their neighbourhood, what with drug deals going down on the street. “I always said to myself, ‘I’m going to see how we are with a kid in this place.’ I had my son in June and by August I was saying, ‘We’ve got to get out of here,’” Kuok explains, recalling all the factors that motivated their decision to find a new home.
So what does it cost to move? Put it this way: It ain’t cheap. Even if you clear a cool $100,000 after selling your old home, moving into a larger house will likely cost more than that. Take houses in Halifax’s hot South End neighbourhood. A three-bedroom, one-bathroom home is listed at $465,000. Move up to a similar four-bedroom, two-bathroom house and you’re likely spending about $200,000 more. Plus financing.
And don’t forget the extras. Realtor fees run around 5% to 6% of the final sale price, so count on at least $23,250, while lawyer fees cost $1,200 to $1,500. With the exception of Alberta and Saskatchewan, there are also land transfer taxes, which vary depending on where you live—for instance, you’ll pay $6,475 on a $500,000 home in Ottawa, while Torontonians can expect to pay $12,200 for that same-priced house. Plus, don’t forget moving costs that run additional thousands of dollars.
Despite the financial costs for Kuok’s family, it was a good idea to move. Although the couple spent a little more on the mortgage than they’d budgeted for, they ended up with something money can’t buy: a great low-traffic street with neighbours who look out for each other. You’ll find them on summer nights hanging out in the yard socializing over a beer while the kids whiz around on bikes and scooters. And in the grand scheme of things, that’s just as important as saving a buck.
“I would do anything to stay in this house because we love the street. I would put an addition on it, refinish the basement and make more space for the kids,” Kuok says. “We could never buy neighbours like these again, ever.”
Claudette Charron thought she bought her perfect house — a fixer-upper in need of a little TLC, at a good price in a small community — until she discovered there used to be a marijuana grow-op in the basement and the house needed tens of thousands of dollars of work to make it safe to live in.
“It was a foreclosure, so you know it was at a decent price because I couldn’t afford very much,” says Charron, who is a carpenter.
The real estate listing for the bungalow in Limoges, Ont., said ‘with a little bit of love this home can shine bright!’ (CBC)
“But it was a nice fixer-upper … with some work and with my skills, I was going to fix it and resell it in two years. It was an investment.”
Charron, her boyfriend and her 16-year-old son moved into their new home in Limoges, Ont., at the end of June 2016, one year after there had been a drug bust at the house.
A day after moving into the community just east of Ottawa, she talked to a neighbour who asked about damage to the basement.
Claudette Charron’s neighbour, Ethel Manns, is the one who told Charron her newly purchased house had formerly contained a grow-op. (CBC)
“I said, what do you mean how bad is the basement? She’s like ‘What? They didn’t tell you that there was a big drug bust here and that they took 148 [pot] plants out of the basement,'” Charron says.
“It was disbelief. My heart was in my stomach and I was sick.”
Go Public found there is a long list of failed attempts to implement grow-op registries that would publicly identify the locations of drug houses.
Instead, many provinces are left with a mishmash of rules and guidelines around who’s responsible for identifying and disclosing former drug houses in real estate transactions.
Experts say the lack of a workable tracking system and clear rules can leave homebuyers facing health risks, diminished home value and huge cleanup costs.
$30,000+ in cleanup costs
The home inspector Charron hired before buying recorded no evidence of a grow-op, even though home inspectors in Ontario are obligated to look for signs.
After learning of the home’s history, Charron got another inspection done.
Charron’s environmental home inspection noted several sign of grow-op activity, including this taped-off basement window. (Paul Battle)
A report from Enviro Pure First Response says there were “telltale signs” of a former grow-op, including marijuana leaf debris under the stairs and evidence of windows in the basement “being taped off with staples still in place and foil tape.”
The environmental home inspector held a flashlight beam parallel to the walls to reveal mould growth. (Paul Battle)
The company also tested for mould and moisture in the air and behind the walls. “The counts in this house were probably in the top five or six per cent of anything that we have encountered for an indoor spore count directly in the vicinity of the grow operation,” says Richard Sticklee, who works for Enviro Pure First Response.
The environmental home inspection found marijuana leaf debris on the basement floor. (Paul Battle) (Paul Battle)
He estimated the cost to clean up Charron’s home would range from $25,000 to $100,000, depending on what has to be done.
Charron has spent more than $30,000 so far on the house she paid $265,000 for.
Richard Sticklee, a remediation expert who worked on Charron’s house, says the first thing he noticed was the mould odour, then he saw live mould growing on the walls. (CBC)
Sticklee says the system should work like this:
Police notify the city of the location of a grow-op.
The city tags the home.
The homeowner takes specific remediation steps.
The city oversees the cleanup to ensure it’s done safely and properly.
The house can be sold, but the seller needs to disclose its history.
Seller denies knowledge of grow-op
In Charron’s case, Street Capital Bank of Canada was the seller. It took possession of the house after the people who had the grow-op declared bankruptcy.
Street Capital Bank of Canada (Toronto office pictured) sold the house to Claudette Charron in June 2016. She has filed a lawsuit against the company. (CBC)
Charron is now suing Street Capital, its realtor, and the original home inspector she used.
In its statement of defence, Street Capital “denies having knowledge that the property was used as a grow-op” and denies it “was aware and/or failed to disclose any latent defects.”
The mortgage company did not answer Go Public’s questions, but in an email from its lawyer, David Ward, it says circumstances like this are rare and “we always work towards resolving issues amicably which we are working on doing in this case as well.”
The case is now heading toward mediation and Street Capital says it’s “hopeful that all matters can be fairly resolved.”
Tracking systems failing
Go Public found tracking systems that should alert potential buyers of a home’s drug history are either failing or nonexistent.
Ottawa police do list dismantled illegal grow-ops online, but only five locations have been listed over the past five years.
In Ontario, there is a provincial guideline that says police should notify municipalities, in writing, of grow-ops so the municipality can oversee the remediation and ensure it’s done safely and properly. That didn’t happen in Charron’s case.
In some other provinces, like B.C., that’s the rule, not just a guideline.
On a national scale, the RCMP tried to launch a website in 2010 that was supposed to list addresses of homes across Canada where marijuana grow operations and illegal drug labs were found and dismantled. That too went bust.
Go Public also found no provinces require sellers to disclose a home’s history as a former drug house. The closest to it is in B.C. where it’s “strongly recommended” sellers disclose a house’s drug history.
In most provinces, sellers don’t have to mention a marijuana grow-op specifically, as long as it didn’t do damage. If it did, it is considered a material latent defect, which does have to be disclosed.
Barry Lebow has been a real estate broker and agent and now works as an adviser for brokerages and the public.
“I think that a registry makes sense. I really do. I think that withholding information from the public isn’t a good thing and it would make it so much easier,” he says.
Real estate expert Barry Lebow advises prospective home owners to talk to neighbours before buying. (CBC)
Lebow notes that realtors in a lot of provinces are responsible for making their “best efforts” to find out the history of a house.
He says marijuana grow-ops are more common than most people realize, saying buyers need to use different search engines to look up the address and owner’s names of a property they are interested in buying and searching news archives for reports on grow-ops.
He also suggests talking to neighbours. Go Public canvassed Charron’s neighbourhood after she contacted us, asking if anyone, real estate agents or the mortgage company, had come by to ask about the home’s history before or after the sale.
“Nobody. The only person that came over was the new owner,” says Ethel Manns, the neighbour who told Charron about the drug history of her new home.
“I’d be really upset,” she says. “It’s somebody’s fault. It had to be reported. You can’t have a grow-op and not tell anybody.”
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Before buying a fixer-upper, consider these tips to ensure this option is right for you, and planned renovations prove profitable.
1. Consult a real estate agent to find out more about the neighbourhood
The real estate history (recent sales, pricing) of a neighbourhood will tell you if investing in a fixer-upper is worth your time and money. An agent can advise you on community news, including property development, environmental projects and other factors that will have positive and negative effects on your home’s resale value.
2. Schedule an extensive home inspection
Houses that need work may contain structural or cosmetic concerns, so it is important to know what elements need to be fixed in order to work those costs into your budget. Invisible upgrades (electrical, plumbing and heating) can be expensive fixes that don’t always increase a house’s value because they are naked to the eye of a potential homebuyer.
3. Request an estimate from a contractor
Based on an assessment by a certified contractor, determine how much money you’ll need to set aside for desired upgrades.
4. Know what you’re getting yourself into – both financially and personally
When buying any house, it is important to stay afloat and avoid swimming in debt. Fixer-uppers aren’t just hard on your wallet. Renovations can be disruptive, stressful and time-consuming, so it is imperative to have a solid financial plan in place and your family’s lifestyle taken into consideration prior to purchase.
Knowing if and when you plan to buy [?] your house can help you manage your renovation schedule and budget accordingly.
6. Know the law
Contact your local municipality office and request information on your city’s building permit laws before undergoing any renovations. Many large structural changes (additional storeys, extensions, decks) require a building permit. Future buyers might request proof of permits on condition of sale.
7. Don’t over-improve for the market
Once the renovations start rolling, you might not want them to stop. Designing your dream home is tempting, but only if the housing market will reimburse you for your efforts. Finishings (wood, stone, hardware) should be in line with houses in the neighbourhood.
8. Stretch your money
Forgo expensive wooden kitchen cabinets in lieu of higher quality countertops. Prime features of a home (luxury work surfaces, flooring, appliances, lighting) hold their value more than cosmetic fixes (paint, cupboards, carpet). Opt for energy efficient appliances that will save you money during residency and will be an attractive detail on resale.
9. Avoid over-customization
Remember that people’s tastes vary, so pull back on any customization that might discourage potential buyers.
10. Challenge yourself
Renovating is an excellent opportunity to try do-it-yourself projects. Simple changes like paint colour or swapping cabinet hardware are easier ways to be involved in your renovation and can also save you on labour costs.
Don’t be discouraged if you find yourself saying that about a potential property. Even the best homes may require a few tweaks to get them move-in ready. For first-time homebuyers, fixer-uppers offer amazing value. Identify the great bones hiding behind dated wallpaper or lighting, and you can save money, while custom decorating your property to your liking. Here are 5 property flaws that are fairly easy to fix.
Flaw #1: Unstylish wallpaper or a unattractive paint colour
Fix: One of the cheapest and easiest ways to refresh a space is to paint it a clean, neutral colour. That’s why it’s so surprising when a home seller skips this step. Unflattering walls, from unappealing paint shades to outdated wallpaper, can elicit a visceral response in certain viewers: “Not. This. Home.” That gives savvy house-hunters an advantage: more homes to choose from, and possibly a bargaining chip when it comes to sales price.
Lacklustre walls are easy to fix. Repainting a room takes just hours, and even if you have to strip old wallpaper beforehand, it’s a straightforward weekend project.
TIP: If possible, tackle chores like painting before you move into your new home.
Flaw #2: Dark, gloomy rooms
Fix: Dingy rooms are often the result of bad lighting. Upping the wattage of light bulbs can make a big difference, but installing new light fixtures is the surest way to give a darker room a bright new outlook.
Well-lit rooms combine ambient lighting with task lighting. A solid lighting strategy pairs overhead illumination such as modern recessed lighting or a traditional chandelier with additional light sources like table lamps, floor lamps or desk lamps.
Lighting is an easy fix so don’t let this flaw deter you from making an offer on a fixer-upper. Basic lighting installation can be tackled by DIYers, while a pro can make short work of installing recessed lighting.
Fix: Old carpets put off potential buyers, but don’t let that stained floor covering deter you. Ripping out wall-to-wall broadloom takes elbow grease, but isn’t difficult.
If you’re lucky, you may find well-preserved hardwood underneath. If not, don’t stress: stained or scratched-up hardwood can be refinished by sanding, re-staining, and varnishing. Ambitious DIYers can tackle this, otherwise, you can hire a pro to do it for less than it would cost to have new hardwood installed.
If the carpet was hiding linoleum, consider today’s next-generation engineered hardwood or budget-friendly laminate: it looks like hardwood, and features basic, glue-less, click-in installation.
Flaw #4: Out-of-date kitchen cabinetry
Fix: Nice kitchen, not-so-nice cabinetry? Not a problem: Wood cabinets are easy to update! Just give them a cheap-and-cheerful facelift via a couple coats of hardwearing enamel paint and new knobs or pulls.
Or, for a more radical makeover, have your cabinetry refaced by a kitchen specialist. New doors, drawer fronts and hardware provide a kitchen makeover, minus the hassle and waste of ripping out serviceable cabinetry.
Flaw #5: Zero curb appeal exterior paint palette
Fix: Curb appeal is huge. And when a house is seriously lacking, you may think twice about the investment. But take a few minutes to analyze a house’s exterior before you cut it from your list. Would a new exterior paint palette for the walls, porch, window shutters and front door transform the house from drab to delightful?
Skyrocketing Toronto real estate prices are motivating many existing homeowners to improve their homes, rather than replace them. “We’re seeing a big trend to add value to homes through renovations and to increase living space by building ‘up or out,’” said Kris Potts, president of Toronto’s Norseman Construction & Development. “In doing so, existing homeowners are achieving the living space improvements they would normally seek by moving to another home, but at a much lower cost.”
Whether the homeowner’s goal is to add living space by ‘building up or out’ or just to bring kitchens, bathrooms, and other rooms up to 2017 standards, their biggest challenge is often finding a contractor who can be trusted to do the job right; on time and on budget.
With an impressive 83 per cent score on the consumer rating site HomeStars.com, Norseman Construction & Development is one such contractor. Established in 2005, this family-owned-and-operated company listens to its customers throughout the design and build process; keeping them constantly informed about their project’s progress until it is completed, and each customer has received exactly what they asked for.
“We do our best to take each homeowner’s vision and make it a reality, ensuring that the finished product exceeds their expectations,” said Potts. “We do this by keeping on top of the perpetual advancements in the field, and by addressing the constantly changing needs of local homeowners. Add Norseman’s wealth of experience, superior workmanship and unparalleled attention to detail, and we are able to provide our customers with innovative solutions, competitive pricing and timely results on all their home improvement projects.”
Norseman’s attention to customer needs starts with the company’s consultation process. “Book an appointment on our website, and one of our skilled estimators will come to your home to provide a free quotation on whatever you have in mind,” said Kevin Potts, Norseman’s Operations Manager. “We will do our best to come up with a plan that not only meets your needs, but also fits within your budget and schedule.”
Once the home improvement project is underway, Norseman keeps customers ‘in the loop’ about the project’s progress on a daily basis. “Our people use a program called Buildertrend to upload status reports and photos of each day’s work,” Kevin Potts said. “Our homeowners can log into it as often as they wish to see firsthand how their build is going, and to get answers to any questions they may have.”
“Today’s homeowner is very savvy, thanks to all the home improvement shows on TV,” said Becky Potts, Norseman’s Marketing Manager. “Here at Norseman, we respect this level of awareness by giving homeowners open access to information about their projects at all times. Check out our Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter pages, and you will see our customer-first values in action!”
‘Customer-first values’ is a phrase that means something at Norseman Construction & Development. It is why this contractor provides a two-year warranty on its work – many other contractors only provide a year’s coverage.
It is also why the Potts family insists on alerting customers to project-related issues should they occur. All construction projects carry with them some element of the unknown. Opening walls or floors can bring to light new information not present at the project’s beginning. “Setbacks happen,” said Kris Potts. “When they do, we tell the customer about them upfront, and we fix them in consultation with the customer.”
As well, customer-first values drive Norseman’s approach to its skilled tradespeople. “Unlike some other contractors who are focussed on profits first, Norseman treats its trades fairly,” said Kevin Potts. “In return, we inspire loyalty in the most skilled tradespeople in the industry. The payoff is the best quality work on our customers’ homes.”
That’s not all: Norseman invests money and time in ‘giving back’ to the GTA community. Its charitable efforts include underwriting the annual free Messiah for the City Christmas concert for clients and staff of the United Way. This much-loved music is performed by the Toronto Beach Chorale and members of the Toronto Symphony Orchestra. Norseman also supports Habitat for Humanity, which aids low-income families in attaining affordable housing; serves hot meals at the Scott Mission, and funds numerous local sports and charity events in the GTA.
“The way we treat our customers and our community underscore what Norseman Construction & Development stands for,” concluded Kris Potts. “When you hire us for your home improvement project, you will receive quality-oriented, customer-focussed service from a stable firm that truly puts you first, and who cares about the community we all live in.”
For more information about Norseman & Construction & Development, visit their website or connect on Facebook.
This story was created by Content Works, Postmedia’s commercial content division, on behalf of Norseman Construction.
Before starting any job, it’s important to check code to ensure you’re using the proper materials and practices so that when the project is finished, it will pass inspection. By now, you all know that I like to build above minimum code whenever possible — and by doing so, we’ll have stronger buildings that are built using better products and practices.
In fact, because building codes are different depending on where you live, the best way for me to teach others is to leave minimum code at the curb and focus on teaching homeowners how to build better and stronger homes in the first place.
Here’s a question I’m asked often: When it comes to fasteners, what do I use? While there’s not one fastener for all occasions, when it comes to screws or nails, I’m going to use screws wherever possible.
The right fastener for the job
When it comes to fastening, I always say to glue it and screw it. Gluing gives you a solid connection while the screws will keep it there — and not loosen over time. Find the right fastener for the job by checking code first.
There are some projects where you need the right kind of screws, and other jobs where screws on their own just won’t cut it.
Wood screws are used to secure lumber, but the kind of job you’re doing will dictate what kind of screws to use. There are screws that are designed for interior or exterior projects.
In the case of exterior wood screws, you can get them specifically designed for the type of wood you’re using, like cedar, or a pressure-treated wood. Pressure-treated wood is treated with Alkaline Copper Quaternary (ACQ), which is more corrosive for metal. That means you need a fastener that is approved for outdoor use with ACQ treatment in mind.
For indoor projects, drywall screws are designed to hold drywall securely in place because they have deeper threads than a typical screw, which keeps them from dislodging from the wall.
Screws popping out of drywall
Have you ever had your screws pop right out of your drywall? There are a few reasons why this could be happening — but it usually comes down to an issue with the installation. A lot of installations are done too quickly. If you’ve only got one guy installing the drywall as fast as possible they might not be putting proper pressure on the sheet of drywall making sure it’s on tight.
Too many builders worry about speed, without taking the time to truly do the job right.
In the case of minor popping there’s a relatively simple fix. Push the drywall in and ensure it is snug against the stud, and add some new screws. From there, mud over the screws, sand it, and add a fresh coat of paint.
If you’ve ever tried to quietly sneak around your house only to be given away by the telltale sound of a squeaky floor — the problem may actually lie in your subfloor, and how the builder fastened the sheathing to the floor joists. You can sheath a subfloor with hardwood but you will find that it contracts and expands depending on the humidity conditions in the home.
Because the hardwood is nailed to the subfloor, in time, as the wood contracts, the nails can pop out.
To keep things quiet and in place, use a plywood subfloor that’s been properly glued down and secured with screws. The glue makes the connection between the sheathing and the subfloor, and the screws hold everything in place without loosening over time.
Builders often use a nail gun to install subfloors, and you sometimes have the nail missing the joist. When not completely secured, the floors will move when pressure is placed on them (every time someone walks on them), causing that annoying squeak you hear.
Before you decide on fasteners for your next project, always check what code dictates in your area. The spec of the job will let you know what kind of fastener you should be using. If it’s my choice — I’m going to glue it and screw it.
Building a strong house that will stand up to anything you can throw at it is all a matter of building it right and choosing the right materials.
Watch Mike Holmes in his series, Holmes Makes It Right, on HGTV. For more information, visit makeitright.ca.