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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.

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.


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. 

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.”



Sandra Wiles sits in her eat-in kitchen, one of three major renovation projects MAC has done for her family since 2010.

In 2010, Sandra Wiles moved back home to Victoria’s Cadboro Bay to take care of her father after her mom passed away. Her parents had purchased an unassuming two-level home built in 1983, and had made only a few updates to what she calls the previous owner’s “Whitehouse” style.

“Everything was white. From the siding to kitchen cabinets to the wall-to-wall carpet. It was not me at all,” says the former librarian.

While browsing through a local magazine, Sandra saw an ad from MAC. She immediately connected with the style of the bathroom photos in the ad. She combined this with her growing ideabook on Houzz, which she later shared with her MAC designer. The Scandinavian modern style was what she had grown up and fallen in love with because of its subdued, simple aesthetic.

“I prefer to let the artwork be the focal point, rather than the finishings. I had lived in Arizona for years, and was bombarded with over-the-top home decor. There, you don’t just buy a chair, you purchase a throne.”

Sandra shows one of the photos from Houzz that guided her kitchen design discussion with MAC.

Mac’s first project for the Wiles was an update to the ground floor office and laundry rooms. New environmentally-friendly bamboo flooring was added throughout, as were new shelves to display Sandra’s large collection of books. In the laundry area, an old closet housing the washer and dryer was moved to the outside wall, and built-in shelves and drawers were added to store Sandra’s prints and artwork. The space gives Sandra plenty of room to do her art, which ranges from gallery-quality paintings to pottery to wood crafts.

For the second project, MAC replaced the stairs in the front foyer. The bamboo flooring was carried from the entrance way up the stairs, replacing wall-to-wall white carpet. The previously non-compliant railings were brought up-to-height with some handsome metal balusters topped by an oak handrail. Today the lower and upper floors tie together seamlessly, and the entrance feels warm, airy and light, more in tune with Sandra’s tastes.

After living in the space for a few years, Sandra finally felt ready to tackle the biggest project of all — the kitchen. “You have to understand that prior to the other renos, I was a first-timer at this renovation thing,” she says. She had some trepidation, because it was a much bigger project than the last two. “But with MAC I felt confident once we talked it through. I asked a million questions, and Blaise, Jennifer and Ed all came out to visit me at different times. It was wonderful to know I was in good hands.”

The kitchen features maple cabinets, environite countertops (made with recycled glass), and gloss white appliances.

“One of the things I love most about MAC was they didn’t try to change my mind as much as tell me what would work and what would not, what was safe, and what was not safe. Jennifer saved me so much time. I told her the look I wanted and she brought three samples back to me, and we made the decision right there. It was easy.”

She was relieved by the highly organized nature of the renovation. “The first day of the project you get to meet everyone who is going to be working on your job (including subcontractors) and they get an introduction to the house and all the emergency shutoffs for water, gas, etc. You may not see that person again for 8 weeks, but at least you have met them so there are no surprises.”

I appreciate that I can call one person at MAC, and have any questions answered. Of course Blaise and Jennifer, my designer, is dropping by all the time to check up on everybody. You also see the MAC project manager everyday.

The kitchen layout remained essentially the same, but the doors were widened and some poorly supported walls were shored up. The old white melamine cabinets were replaced by new maple ones and extended to the to the ceiling. Built-in seating was added to the corner to take advantage of some bright windows, and a new white enamel fridge, custom-ordered from Europe, was added to match the existing appliances.

A focal point in the space is the quartz-like countertop. It’s made from Environite, a resin-based material interspersed with tiny specks of recycled glass. The company that makes it is locally based, and so “The glass is probably from our own recycle bin,” says Sandra, smiling. New large-scale natural tile replaced the old pinky white trivet-sized tiles, giving the room a unifying look and feel.


Laura & Dan Whitehorne talk about their home renovation adventure.

Dan and Laura Whitehorne bought their 1916, one-bedroom heritage home in Victoria’s Oaklands neighbourhood in early 2013. Every room had a different type of flooring, ranging from linoleum to laminate. To go upstairs you had to first go down. To get to the back yard, you had to go for a 10-minute tour through the house before exiting a side door. There was no dining room. And, like many house of the era, walled in spaces made the home very dark. In short, the house was a maze of past DIY projects that made the home feel disjointed and dysfunctional.

“We knew what we were in for when we bought this space, but once we had our daughter Ella, it started to feel claustrophobic,” says Laura, who works for the government. Getting rid of the wall between the living area and the kitchen became a priority. “But we are also on a tight budget, so we weren’t sure how it would play out.”

After getting some names of contractors from their home inspector, Sandra went on MAC’s website and filled out the contact form. Within hours, Ed, the founder, phoned her. They arranged a meeting and Sandra explained what they wanted to do.

“We had other contractors visit, and all wanted to get us to start designing new plans, do a whole bunch of new things. Ed was different. He listened to us, and kept it simple. Remove the wall, keep the lines clean and simple. That’s it. We didn’t want anything intricate. It was exactly what we were looking for.”

“We liked Ed, personally,” says Dan, a cabinetmaker. “He offered a lot of options without telling us what to do.” Laura adds that Ed’s team’s experience was key for her. “It was clear that Ed had the experience. My dad, who has done tonnes of renovations, came over to kind of vet what Ed was saying. He got a good feeling from Ed too.”

Laura, Dan and Ella standing in front of the transformed space that is their living room, kitchen and dining area.

The Whitehorne’s also wanted the work done before year end. It was already late September. MAC’s size allowed them to quickly pull together a team and commit to finishing everything within six weeks.

The work started with the wall removal. Previously the couple’s only seating option was a tiny 4-person table in the kitchen. This limited the entertaining they could do, as anyone else would have to sit at the couch in the living room.

While the MAC team was putting in a beam to support the roof, they noticed a sagging section, and realized the beam they had planned to do was no longer sufficient. The roof needed additional support. Laura said this was the first of several change orders, which were made easier by the online BuilderTrend project tracking software that MAC uses.

“I was on maternity leave at the time, and we were living in the house while the renos went on,” says Laura. “It was great to be able to log in in the morning and see what was going to happen that day, whether it was an electrician coming in or a carpenter. I could then take Ella out for the afternoon if the work was going to be to loud.”

The new dining area flows into a outdoor deck, which also gives access to the back yard.

Another surprise was when an oil tank was discovered in the side yard while they were excavating to build a deck. “Our hearts sank when we heard that, because we had heard so many nightmares about underground oil tanks and how expensive the clean up was,” says Laura. “But it turned out to be filled with water and the soil tested negative for contamination. Mac coordinated all the inspectors — fire department, hazmat, tank removal — and it was all done in a half day. it was amazing. We really felt we dodged a bullet on that one.”

The house today bears no resemblance to the dark disjointed home they moved into. The open floor plan is contemporary and offers space for entertaining and easy access to the BBQ, deck and backyard. Light floods the entire space, and there is a natural flow between the rooms thanks to the new flooring and paint.

“The functionality of this space has really transformed our lives,” says Dan. Laura points out that their already saving for their next project, which involves updating a couple new bathrooms. “We would hire MAC again in a second.”