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Case Studies

We call them case studies, because they’re more than just a testimonial. Get an in-depth look at these projects and how we navigated renovation challenges.

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.


12Sep 2019

Challenge: Create an accessible, beautiful basement suite in a 1940s bungalow in the Gorge area of Victoria, BC

If the first thing that comes to mind when you think of a basement suite is a dark, dingy, and spider-filled cavern, decorated with a tube TV and a gaudy flower print camouflaging a couch that someone found on the side of the road, you’ll be happy to know it doesn’t have to be like that. We recently finished a renovation for a homeowner here in Victoria, converting his basement storage space into a sweet suite.  

When we design a renovation in Victoria, our goal is to provide the homeowner with options. When David contacted us to convert his Tillicum-area basement into a secondary suite, we designed a space that could be rented today; provide him with a wheelchair-accessible living space should he need it; serve as an on-site residence for a future caregiver; and down the road, provide his wife with a rental option if he’s no longer here. 

“My wife worked with a colleague who used and recommended MAC Renovations,” shared David. “Being a retired project manager in another field, I initially wanted to be the general contractor myself. In hindsight, and after working with the MAC team who were on site every day, the renovation would not have gone as well as it did.”

The Plan

“I wanted to highlight the architectural features of my home, such as the vintage post and beams and brick chimney, and the MAC Renovations team was able to make that happen while creating an extremely bright and beautiful suite,” said David.

The original basement was one you’ve likely seen in many homes in Victoria: faded wood-veneer wall panelling, chipped floor tiles, and overhead fluorescent lighting with acoustic ceiling tiles. Surface-mounted wires and junction boxes adorned the exposed beams, while dark brown switches decorated the door frames. We were excited to change this dated layout into something David and his wife could love today and in the future. 

Height is often a challenge for basement suites in Victoria, so the first thing we looked at was the available space. The existing basement had sufficient headroom, meeting the provincial code except under one beam, which dropped the space to 6’5”. The beam was structurally important, so we couldn’t remove it, but because David is in a wheelchair, the City of Saanich approved the variance. 

Homes and renovations completed before 1990 are always a candidate for asbestos, and David’s home was no exception. Fortunately, it was only the mortar around the chimney that had asbestos in it, and David was able to have this taken care of before we began. 

A common concern with basement suites is the transfer of noise from the upstairs to the suite. To minimize this, we opted for fibreglass insulation between the joists with resilient channels isolating the drywall from the structure. The results were impressive. “I stopped in early one morning to check on something, trying to be quiet so I didn’t wake David and his wife if they were sleeping,” said Derek Breen, MAC Renovations’ project manager. “I got a text from David later that morning, asking if I was mad at him because I didn’t respond to him. He’d been yelling down to me from the main floor, but due to the soundproofing, I hadn’t heard him at all – so we’re quite happy about that, as will anyone living in the suite.”

David was available throughout the project, providing quick answers to our questions and ensuring we were meeting his high standards, and we made good use of BuilderTrend, the project management software we use to track everything about a project. 

The Team

The basement renovation required multiple sub-trades and specialty crews, all managed and coordinated by MAC Renovations. “We had a fantastic team of professionals on this project,” said Derek. “Everyone working together to build this space for David and his wife.” 

Our internal crew of carpenters did an excellent job of framing everything up, building the walls and room structure to comply with the City of Saanich’s requirements. We added additional blocking in the ceiling to accommodate an overhead hoist that can be added in the future to help David access whatever he needs in the basement from his wheelchair. 

We’ve built strong relationships with local tradespeople, and they provide phenomenal value to every project. Gord Wade of Phil Ballam Plumbing came to the rescue to solve a substantial plumbing problem and to help us through some challenging inspections. “Gord was definitely one of the stars of this show,” said Derek, “bringing his trademark blend of easy-going expertise — he’s always a pleasure to work with and an excellent problem solver for all things plumbing related.”

In the bathroom, Mark Tebbut installed a transition-less, custom-finished concrete floor, so David can easily wheel into the shower without assistance.

We designed a little patio and private courtyard, just for the suite. McDonald Cement Finishing took care of the stamped concrete, with new front steps and a coloured-concrete patio.

Natural lighting is often a challenge in basement suites, and to overcome this we turned to the team at Thermoproof Windows, who delivered quality vinyl windows to let the sunshine in on this project. These sealed-unit vinyl windows helped bring a sharp look to the project, and contribute to the unit’s energy-saving ability.

The kitchen cabinetry was supplied by Pacific Rim Interiors, bringing an impressive level of quality to this essential space.

The Results

Our goal for this project was to make a basement suite as warm and inviting as the main floor of a home – and we did it. 

The new space looks amazing, with a u-shaped kitchen showcasing two-tone cabinets – a rich chestnut for the upper cabinets and a bright white on the lower, with stainless appliances and plenty of workspace on the new countertops, even for someone in a wheelchair. The new windows bring in a ton of natural lighting, and the slide-in range has controls on the front, making it easier for David to access them. The temperature controls on the commercial-style faucet are easy to grasp: a great feature for people with diminished motor control.  

Basement suites often seem to have a persistent chill, so we went with Dri-core panels and plywood, raising the finished floor off the cold concrete surface; a great solution to mitigate occasional subgrade moisture. Vinyl plank flooring was glued in place, perfectly matching the new cabinets and really tying the room together. 

“This renovation project has given us peace of mind that when I need full-time care, they’ll be nearby to assist me, living in a bright, beautiful, quiet, and well-insulated, self-contained suite,” shared David. 

If you’d like to make your basement a useful space to be proud of, give us a call to find out how we can make it happen. 

28Nov 2017

Kathy Funfer, sitting, loves how her new round kitchen peninsula, topped with blue pearl granite, allows guests and family members to interact while meals are prepared.

Spandex,  leg warmers, acid wash jeans — all 80s fashions that definitely left an impression. The equivalent in kitchen finishes of the time might be vinyl tile, oak-trimmed cabinets, and laminate countertops that the Funfer’s had in their kitchen. Being hobby musicians, Kathy and Dennis Funfer may have an appreciation for 80s music, but they certainly didn’t want to be reminded of the era every time they stepped into their kitchen. After 20 years, it was time for a change.

Kathy first expressed her desire for change to Terri, one of MAC’s kitchen/bath designers, at a Homeshow booth. “We just hit it off,” says Kathy, a former librarian. “Terri was as excited about our kitchen’s potential as I was. And of the three companies we had bid on the project, she was the only one to come out in person and visit with us.”

The collaboration led to a mixing of ideas on everything from the floor tile selection to paint colours. “Both my husband and I are decisive people — we know what we want,” says Kathy, smiling. “I was leaning towards a blue paint to match the floor and counters, but Terri talked us out of it. She urged us to go with gray, and I’m glad we did. It gives a much classier and more contemporary look.”

The highlight of the kitchen is an angled kitchen peninsula that ends in a circular countertop, an ingenious design that allows room for three chairs in a relatively small floor space. In fact, the whole kitchen is a marvel in space planning, enabling, says Kathy, three cooks to maneuver at once. “Myself, my husband and my oldest daughter can move around without bumping into one another.”

Kathy and her family also love the way the natural and artificial light mixes in the kitchen. To keep the budget manageable, Kathy and Terri agreed that the existing track lighting was sufficient for the floor space, while custom-made, battery-powered led lights are used under the cabinets to brighten spot areas. Meanwhile, large, South-facing windows behind the peninsula bathe the range and cooking area in natural light.

Numerous little innovations like the custom pull-out spice rack next to the induction heat stove are a life-saver, says Kathy. Around the corner, every cook’s dream is the custom storage pantry for pots and pans. Magnetic strips allow quick access to cast iron and stainless steel pans (a mandatory for the induction range).

Kathy and her family, who all love to cook, lived in the house while the reno went on. Evidently, it wasn’t as disruptive as expected, with MAC making sure all the subcontractors were efficient and cleaned up after themselves. “We cooked out on the BBQ, and we used a bar fridge in the garage, and the sink was down in the laundry room. It was a challenge to coordinate everything, but MAC was flexible. We didn’t go out for dinner once, and yet we still managed to eat well.”