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11Dec 2019
preparing for a home reo in Victoria -= MAC Renovations

A home renovation in Victoria is an exciting event that involves your whole family. Whether you’re in the ‘just thinking about it’ stage or in the middle of planning your renovation, there are a few things you can do to ensure you and your family minimize the disruption to your life during your home renovation.

Choose a professional

When it comes to home renovations for homeowners in Victoria, choosing a professional remodeller is one of the most important parts of the process. You want a team who can work with you to design the home of your dreams; explain what needs to be done and how it can be accomplished; oversee all aspects of the project, including the permits, sub-contractors, and appropriate insurances; and have a reputation for doing it right the first time. Fortunately, we know the right crew for you and your project.

Set expectations

Being realistic about your renovation will help you make it through to the other side a bit easier. While your home will look amazing after the renovation is completed, the construction phase will have a variety of crews working on your property and in your home. We work with your neighbours to minimize parking and noise issues, but it’s best that everyone involved understands that life at home will require some temporary concessions. If everyone is aware that tensions might be higher when routines are disrupted, it’s easier to appreciate that you’re in this together, and the end result will be worth the minor inconveniences.

Should I stay or should I go?

Depending on the scale of your renovation, you may want to consider alternate accommodations. While this isn’t an option for everyone, the ability to stay off-site during your renovation might be a more enjoyable experience. Plan a vacation or rent a smaller home for the duration of the renovation. Take an extended camping trip or stay with friends or family. By using smart tools, such as BuilderTrend, you can stay connected to what’s happening on your project, even if you’re not in the same hemisphere. 

Proper Planning

Kitchen Renovation - VIctoria BC - MAC RenovationsIf you’re doing a kitchen renovation, you’ll want to plan for no-cook meals or meals you can whip up in the backyard BBQ. While this is reasonable in the summer months, it might be problematic during the wetter months we have here in Victoria. Take-out every night sounds exciting, but the novelty wears off and the cost adds up quickly. Meal planning and cooking in separate facilities will make it easier and more enjoyable. We’ve had some families do their cooking in their RV: basically camping, but in their own yard, with better WiFi.

While you probably weren’t surprised by the need to plan your meals, another room that will require coordination is the bathroom. If you plan to stay in your home during the renovation, you’ll probably want to schedule your showers and bathroom needs appropriately. You might be down to just one bathroom, and depending on the size of your family, this will require a coordinated scheduled to keep everyone on time.

Pack it Up

Your project manager will tell you this multiple times during the planning stages, but it’s imperative that the space we’re renovating be as empty as possible. If it isn’t, we’ll end up moving it multiple times, which will slow the renovation process to a crawl and isn’t an efficient use of your budget.

Preparing for a home renovation in Victoria BC | MAC Renovations ltd.While we do everything we can to minimize the amount of dust and particulates during the renovation, including extensive protective plastic sheeting, building dust-walls and negative air units, when needed, and floor protection in the rooms we’re walking through or working in, it’s best if you pack everything but the essentials. If possible, move it to a secure storage area. This will give the demolition and renovation crews room to work while helping you and your family feel a little less crowded in your home.

Many of our clients will have a moving crew come in and box everything up so it’s all safely stored and out of the way. 

 

It sounds like a lot of work, but a bit of preparation, planning, and communication will go a long way to ensure your renovation is on time and on budget. In a short while, you’ll be looking back at the renovation as a minor blip in the creation of the home of your dreams for you and your family.

When you’re ready to make your home perfect, contact us to see how we can help.

28Oct 2019
Ageing-in-place renovation in Victoria BC

Challenge: create separate living areas for a mom and daughter while maintaining the original look and feel of a 1960s home in the Gordon Head community of Victoria, BC.

Ageing-in-place addition home renovation in VictoriaOne of the reasons homeowners in Victoria choose to renovate their home instead of buying something different is the relationship they’ve built with their house. There’s a story behind every nick in the wall, layer of paint, and that loose floorboard that seems to creak louder when you’re trying to be quiet. Instead of buying a new home in a different location, it’s often easier, better, and more cost-effective to improve the space you already love.

Local homeowner Phyllis contracted MAC Renovations to update her split-level home, built in the 60s near the university, to provide separate living spaces for her and her daughter. 

“When my husband passed away, I was faced with the decision to downsize into a condo or update my home,” said Phyllis. “I had a lot of sweat equity in this property, so I chose to stay here with a few changes to give us more living space and ageing-in-place options for when I need them. I contacted a local designer to start the process, and she explained that we needed a team like MAC Renovations.”

The Plan

homeowners and home renovations in victoria, bc

Hands-on homeowners!

“My daughter and I had discussed this project for quite some time, and we even made some full-scale drawings. The goal was to have a home with separate living spaces—we both enjoy our independence—with a shared kitchen and living room. The MAC Renovations team took our drawings and improved them. They made the hallways slightly larger to accommodate a wheelchair and redesigned the bathroom to include hidden supports for safety bars in the future, and a roll-in shower. It turned out that this would make my life much easier sooner than expected, as I had knee replacement surgery when the reno ended and then again just a few months ago. Mobility has been my focus for the past six months, and this renovation made it easy to cope with that.”

Jason Marsh, a MAC Renovations project manager, said, “Phyllis is a wonderful lady; very on top of the project and not afraid to share her thoughts. When we discussed the long-term use of the home, Phyllis said she realizes she’s not going to be there forever and wanted a way for her daughter to keep using the space after she was gone. We designed the addition so the space could generate income as a rentable suite, if needed.”  

Gordon Head ageing-in-place addition Victoria, BC

The Team

Building an addition requires substantial coordination between multiple sub-trades. “It takes a variety of professionals to complete a project at this scale effectively,” explained Jason. “Our crew took care of the structure, and we had local teams come in to install a new furnace and ducting, an on-demand gas water heater and gas fireplace, new oak flooring to tie into the existing, and in-floor heating for the lower level. Elevated Electric took care of the wiring, and Fineline Stucco gave us great surfaces to work with. A secondary project was taken care of by Authentic Landscape Design and Construction: building a raised patio for Phyllis to enjoy her new garden space.” 

“As this is a split-level home, we knew that connecting everything for the three floors would be challenging, but the original homebuilder had built a wall cavity that made it possible to run the ducting, plumbing, gas lines, and electrical where we needed it,” said Jason. “The team at Accutemp came up with a creative ducting solution to service each floor, and Decora made adding in-floor heating on top of a concrete slab look easy. As well, they did a great job with the roll-in shower, despite the walls being out of plumb.”   

forming the foundation - home renovation in Victoria BC“The MAC employees were fabulous. They showed up when they said they would, they cleaned up at the end of the day, and they were always easy to get along with,” said Phyllis. “The most I’d done on the house before was painting and small upgrades, so I had no idea about what to look for in terms of materials and design. MAC made suggestions that I followed up on, and I am extremely pleased with their recommendations. For every single aspect of the renovation: painting, plumbing, heating, windows, and all of the crews required to make it work, they were all simply terrific.”

“Another thing that I — and my neighbours — appreciated: MAC informed everyone on our street as to when they would be starting, what time of day they’d be working, and whom to call if there were any problems. Many of my neighbours stopped by to see the project take shape, and I know some of them contacted MAC for their own projects.”

The Results

With the majority of the renovations we do in Victoria, there’s usually a dramatic difference between the start and finish, but the goal for Phyllis’ project was to seamlessly bring more space to her home while maintaining its original look. 

“I’m really happy with this project. We managed to match everything—making a new addition look like it was part of the original home when it was built in the 60s,” said Jason.

Ageing-in-place renovation in Victoria, BC

When asked about her experience working with MAC Renovations, Phyllis shared: “The MAC team is busy and definitely in-demand, but they haven’t grown away from the family-business feel. The way they conduct their business is excellent.” 

We get many compliments for the work we do for families in Greater Victoria, but what Phyllis shared is one of the best. We’re hoping that Phyllis and her daughter enjoy their new space for many, many years.  

Contact us to find out how you can build more usable space into your home.

 

22Oct 2019
MAC Renovations - energy efficient upgrades for homes in Victoria

Updating your kitchen, building an addition, or converting your basement into a suite are upgrades you can see immediately, and typically appreciate from the moment we finish your renovation, but there are improvements that aren’t as apparent, yet provide substantial value to you and your family every day.

We’ve already shared information about home renovation rebates from companies like BC Hydro and FortisBC, featuring financial incentives to install energy-efficient solutions for homeowners in Victoria and throughout the province. In this article, we go a bit deeper, sharing some of the available upgrades that are easier when done during a renovation.    

Set a baseline

Before planning for any changes to your home’s energy efficiency, it’s important to have a starting point so you can measure the difference made through your renovations. Also, if you’re planning to take advantage of the available rebates, most of them require an energy evaluation, where an energy coach will measure the actual difference made by the upgrades you’ve chosen. Check out CleanBC for information available rebates and Free Energy Coaching Services.

Upgrade Your Windows

Windows are typically the first thing you think of when looking at energy efficiencies in your home. It’s not uncommon to feel a draft around older windows, and this could be from the way they were installed or due to the windows themselves. New tools and best practices eliminate the drafts and cold spaces while providing more flexibility for your home.

Mark Fyffe from VinylTek explains that windows have come a long way from the aluminum-framed, double-glazed windows of the 1980s. “Today’s windows provide a much higher NAFS-rating, which means they are rated for their performance, such as positive and negative air pressure, water penetration, and air infiltration. Good windows are an important part of your thermal envelope: they help you save on your heating and cooling costs, and they improve the view of and from your home.”

“There are a number of rebates available for new windows, and in most cases, they require the application of a specific coating to ensure they meet – or exceed – the required standards,” explained Mark. “With the current rebates, you get a more efficient window for about the same price, which creates better savings on tomorrow’s energy bills.”

Light Up Your World

Lighting is another opportunity to improve energy efficiency in your home. LED lights are an easy conversion, but there are other features that can be built into the design to improve usability and minimize energy consumption. “Installing dimmers gives you the flexibility to adjust your lighting to the level that works best for you, which saves energy, even with the low-wattage LED lights available,” explained Mike McDougall from McLaren Lighting. “Along with dimmers in my house, I have sensors on the lights in my laundry room, so when I walk in or out with a basket of clothes, I don’t have to stop to turn the lights on or off.”

“We’re also seeing a lot of people build in control systems, saving energy by having more control over the lighting in their home. With smart home automation options, such as geofencing, you can have your lights the way you want them, turning on or off as you enter or leave your property, and randomly coming on when you’re on vacation to prevent your home from looking unoccupied.”

Better Insulation For Climate Control

For homes built before 1960 in Victoria, there’s a good chance that the walls were not insulated when the home was built, and up until the early 70s, the insulation required was minimal. 

Corey Mealings, from Knights Insulation, explains, “the thermal envelope around your home is like a balloon – if there’s a hole in it, the air will leak out, and you have to work considerably harder to keep it inflated. Insulation plays a big part in keeping that thermal envelope intact, making it easier to keep the air in your home at the right temperature.”

“Insulation has a history of being an afterthought in the building process – only 20% of homes built before 1980 are considered ‘well-insulated’ – but it’s one of those components that just keeps giving back, long after the initial investment. Whether you go with blown-in cellulose, fibreglass batts, or sprayed in foam, you’ll save energy and have a more comfortable living space.”

Better Thermostats

Micro-managing the temperature in your home is not fun, especially if you have multiple people with different climate preferences. Fortunately, there are smart controllers now that can be used to ensure your home is at the right temperature when everyone is home, while conserving energy when they’re not. Today’s advanced controllers have the ability to learn your heating and cooling habits, and use that with other data, such as the current and predicted weather conditions, then use magical algorithms to determine the stages required to bring your home to the right temperature efficiently.

If you have a heat pump in your home, you’ve probably been told to set it and forget it: it usually takes longer for the internal temperature to reach the preferred level or it might trigger the auxiliary heat, resulting in more energy consumption. With the newer thermostats, they’re able to accommodate for this and offer configurations to give you the best balance of energy savings and comfort in your home.

Smart Appliances

Smart appliances sound amazing: getting a beep from your freezer because “someone” left the door open, again, or never making another wasted trip to the laundry room to see if the washer or dryer is done because they send a message to your phone when the cycle is complete. Self-cleaning ovens are nice, but how great would it be to have a self-cooking oven? And anyone who’s done the sock-swipe after accidentally overfilling their water glass at the fridge will be glad to know there’s a unit that will sense the size of your glass and automagically turn off the water when it’s full. All of these features are available, from one brand or another, for home appliances, and while there might be some energy efficiencies – especially with fridge and freezer doors that are left open – most of them are still in the ‘nicetohave’ stage. But, the future is friendly, and as standards are established we’ll see devices that can control multiple appliances, actually saving energy and ensuring dry socks at all times.

Generate Your Own Power

While not technically energy saving, there are options to generate your own power. Solar and wind power generation is getting closer to being viable for homeowners. The technology might not be ready yet, but you can prepare for it by prewiring for external power sources during your renovation. We’ve done this at The Ranch so that when solar is a practical option, we can mount the panels and connect them to the wiring we installed when we built our HQ. Adding new lines during the renovation is far more affordable than adding them after, so if you’re looking at updating your home, consider the future options as well. It could be well worth it.

Designed for Energy Efficiency

As a full-service remodeler, we can incorporate energy efficiency upgrades into your new design: choosing the right spot for new lighting, adding windows to bring in more natural light, and configuring control systems that give you the ability to automate your home. Since we’re changing the walls, spray foam can be added easily and new wiring can be put in to accommodate smart thermostats. By considering these aspects during the design phase, we can maximize flexibility and minimize the installation costs – it’s far easier to do when we’re already in there.

If you’re interested in conserving energy, our design team can help you find the right solutions to fit your home and lifestyle. Give us a call to find out what we can do during your renovation to reduce your carbon footprint, prepare for the future, and help you enjoy your home for as long as you want.