Renovations Room By Room

A home should be convenient, comfortable and safe for everyone in the household, young and old.

Projects are practically limitless. Don’t fear creative thinking or soliciting others for advice. This is not a comprehensive list but provides some considerations and ideas for each part of your home.

Additions
Basement
Bathroom
Bedrooms
Decks & Patios
Exterior
Home Office
Kitchen
Recreation Areas
Sunrooms

Additions

  • Natural light - The sun throughout the day may influence the positioning of interior walls, closets, fireplaces and entertainment centres. 
  • Outside connection - What do you want to see from inside? You might want a clear view of the children's play area from a work area. 
  • Traffic flow - Hallways should not account for more than 5 to 7% of the total area. Place regularly used exterior doors close to an established outside traffic path to minimize maintenance, such as snow shoveling.
  • Room for furniture - It's much easier to enlarge the addition at the planning stage to accommodate your furniture. Before finalizing the plans, think about how you will furnish the addition.
  • Foundation - The foundation for your addition is important to the overall quality and lasting value of your renovation. A simple soil test can provide the necessary information about the condition, such as solid rock below the surface or unstable soil. The new foundation will also need proper exterior drainage to prevent moisture problems. 
  • Mechanical needs - Can add up to a sizeable part of the work and budget, particularly when kitchens and bathrooms are involved. 
  • Regulations - Municipal zoning bylaws can affect your plans: height restrictions; rear- and side-yard setbacks; percentage of windows to wall area; and even the location of an air-conditioner condensing unit. 
  • Tie in the look - A successful addition should look as if it was always there, such as matching or a complementary colour, and use flooring to blend the old and the new.

Basement

  • Energy efficient - A great opportunity to increase the energy efficiency of your home by considering to insulate, caulk and air seal your basement to make your entire home more comfortable. 
  • Light - Consider enlarging existing windows or adding new ones, depending on the above-ground height of the foundation, and what's around the house. Glass blocks can give you the extra light while preserving privacy. Remember when building a bedroom in the basement, the building code specifies a minimum window size for safety reasons. 
  • Construction considerations - Such as supporting posts in the middle of an open area, or floors that are too low for proper connection of bathroom fixtures to municipal sewer line. 
  • Heat - Is often supplied by registers set in the ductwork running along the basement ceiling. Relocating the heat registers and adding a cold-air return can create air circulation needed for even heat distribution and a pleasant living environment. 
  • Air quality - Pay close attention to moisture and air quality in the basement. Moisture problems should be addressed before moving ahead. Consider exterior drainage work or re-parging the outside of the foundation wall to keep water from entering the basement. If mold is present, wash the area with a bleach solution. 
  • Proper ventilation - Consider an exhaust fan or a heat recovery ventilator. Equipment such as the furnace or dryer should be vented directly to the outside and may require a separate air intake. A dehumidifier may be required during summer months. 
  • Sound-proofing - Will minimize the noise travelling from one area to another especially if you are planning a family entertainment centre and a bedroom in the basement. Your renovator may also recommend the installation of an intercom system connected to the upstairs for easy communication between levels. 
  • Storage - Make sure you set aside enough space for storage. Consider room for storage building a simple floor-to-ceiling shelving system to maximize space. Update your laundry room, with cabinets or shelving, and a counter. 
  • Planning for future - Rough in all the connections now for later installations, such as a fireplace. Install the wiring now for cable television, home office equipment, alarm system and dedicated telephone lines for future use.

Bathroom

  • Assessment - Identify problems and solutions before the work begins, such as an uneven floor that results in incomplete draining of your bathtub. Ensuring that the plumbing, venting, electrical wiring, outlets, and ventilation conform to current building codes. 
  • Coordination - A bathroom renovation can involve many different trades whose work must be coordinated and kept within your budget. Your renovator will act as the general contractor and manage the work every step of the way. 
  • Design - If the renovation goes beyond a simple replacement of fixtures, talk to someone with design expertise. Good designers begin by asking questions about your daily routines and what you like and dislike. By using cabinets and counters of varying depth, you can create visual interest and a sense of spaciousness. Corner cabinets, showers and tubs help make the best use of limited space. Use of mirrors can also open up the room. 
  • Storage - Consider pantry-style pull-out cupboards, and over-the-counter shallow cabinets with mirrored doors. 
  • Fixtures - Determine how much you are willing to spend as products are available in every imaginable style and price range.

Bedrooms

A renovation can update a cramped bedroom space into a dream master bedroom suite or refresh a child's bedroom into a more sophisticated space. Consider these questions:

  • What will you use the room for?
  • What other types of furniture do you want to include?
  • Do you have adequate storage?
  • Do you need an office or study space?
  • Do you need space for overnight guests?

Decks & Patios

  • Size & use - How do you see yourself using your deck or patio? Do you need a cooking and eating area? Will you be entertaining? How much furniture do you plan to put there? Stake out the space you think you need. Will everything fit in comfortably? Don't scrimp on size-adding a few extra feet is less expensive at the planning stage than later. 
  • The elements - If the deck or patio will be bathed in sun the entire day, you may want to create a shaded area. Consider awnings, lattice walls, roof structures covered with plants or fabric…there are many options to suit any style and budget. Or think about planting a tree for shade. Don't forget to check the prevailing wind - you may also wish to build a windscreen. 
  • Lights & water - If you plan to spend evenings outside on your deck or patio, make sure you include outdoor lighting fixtures as well as electrical outlets. And install an outdoor faucet for easy watering of flowers and shrubs. 
  • Storage - Consider built-in benches, or an adjacent shed to put things away easily and conveniently.
  • Avoid problems - It is important to prevent water penetration where the deck joins to the house as you could face moisture problems and rot later on. 
  • Regulations - Municipal regulations could affect how you design and use your outdoor living space. If you need a building permit, make sure to get it before any work begins.

Exterior

  • A new look - There is a great selection of quality exterior products to create an attractive, custom-tailored exterior. Replacing your doors and windows can make a big difference to the overall appearance and brightness of your home. 
  • Energy efficiency - Replacing your siding gives you the opportunity to upgrade the insulation from the outside. Consider energy-efficient windows to help capture the sun's heat on the north side, block out sunlight and excess heat gain on the south side and to cut glare. 
  • Security - Exterior doors can be fitted with dead bolts and strong locks, and windows can be installed with solid locking mechanisms. Good lighting is also important to safety; install lights over entrances, along walkways and next to sheds or garages. A programmable timer or lights that are photo- or motion-sensitive offer additional security. 
  • Maintenance - As you select the products and materials for your renovation, make sure you understand the maintenance requirements. 
  • The details - Renovating is your chance to add the touches that make life just a little easier such as moving exterior taps, and installing or relocating outside plugs.

Home Office

  • You may need an efficient office space in your home; think about the type of work space you need, including equipment, meeting space, furniture, lighting, and your preferred working conditions.

Kitchen

  • Accomplishing - Do you need more storage and work space? An updated look? Better traffic flow? What bothers you about your existing kitchen? 
  • Larger work area - Can you gain the space you want from a more efficient layout? Can you run cupboards to the ceiling for storing seldom-used items? When more space is needed, can you relocate a small bathroom or closet to another area of the home, or "steal space" from a rarely used dining room? 
  • Design help - Speak with a kitchen designer as it's often difficult to see beyond what you already have, and you may not be aware of all the possibilities. 
  • Mechanical work - Changing your kitchen layout may mean moving the plumbing and electrical.
  • Decision - You shouldn’t make a single purchase until you have decided on the entire style and colour scheme. Take your time as you will be using your kitchen every single day for years to come.

Recreation Areas

  • Homeowners are increasingly interested in spaces for recreation and socializing. Do you want to add a home theater, exercise room, library, sound system, or other features to enjoy recreationally?

Sunrooms

  • Usage - A four-season sunroom is built on a foundation and is heated and fully insulated. A three-season sunroom should be wind- and waterproof, while a two-season sunroom may be no more than a deck or porch with a roof and screens. 
  • Cooling - Sunrooms commonly overheat so choose windows that open, to get good cross-ventilation in the summer time. The type of glass is equally important; look for glazing with reflective film which will keep some of the sun's rays out and thereby reduce heat gains. Use venting (opening) skylights, and consider built-in blinds for windows, skylights or an all-glass roof.
  • Heating - With a large glass surface area, you can expect greater heat losses in the cool seasons. Energy-efficient windows can help keep the heat in. When you are planning an all-season sunroom, assess your heating system to ensure it can handle the additional heating requirements. 
  • Foundation - All-season sunrooms should sit on a proper foundation that extends below the frost line. Otherwise, you may have excessive movement due to settling, which can result in broken windows. 
  • Trim trees - Trees can provide shade in the summer time. However, if you have a glass roof, watch out for overhanging branches that could break and fall on the roof. It is a good idea to use tempered or laminated glass, or alternatives to glass, for the roof to avoid dangerous shattering in case something does fall on it.