Friday, December 26, 2008

Joe Switalski's lessons in renovation

December 26, 2008

Lessons in renovation
Joe Switalski learned a lot from his renovation. Here are some of his tips: Think vertically in a small space. He reclaimed lost space over the old cabinets by replacing them with 42-inch-tall, honey birch cabinets that reach the ceiling.  Make windows look taller to give an illusion of height. He hung silk panels near the crown molding above the dining room windows. Celebrate original details. Rather than sanding the original knockdown plaster walls, Switalski embraced them. He painted the inside of the house a light tan, except for the back wall of the dining room/kitchen, which he painted deep, rich brown.

keep the lighting soft. He installed dimmers on every light in the house.  Save money with minor changes.Switalski saved the charm (and money) in the bathroom by keeping the original ceramic, aqua blue tile framed with a black, bullnose edge. The aqua-toned mosaic floor and white bathtub are also original. When he added a white pedestal sink, he moved the medicine cabinet to the side wall and replaced it with a large mirror that reaches the ceiling. Don't forget curb appeal. He paved the driveway, carport and curved path that leads to the front porch with Old Chicago brick-style pavers. Four-inch tumbled marble, similar in color to the pavers, cover the formerly cement porch. A bronze bistro table with two matching chairs and a pineapple porch light welcome visitors. 

The Reno Coach

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Canadian Institute Construction Superconference

Knowing what your policy covers ‘imperative,’ insurer says

While insurance is indispensable for construction projects, just having coverage isn’t enough, says a leading provider of insurance services.

With the numerous risks that are inherent in construction, it is imperative owners, contractors, designers and other industry professionals be thoroughly familiar with what their insurance covers, said Barry Smith, senior vice-president, Marsh Canada Limited.

The first step in that process is identifying those risks such as potential damage to adjacent property, losses causes by both excusable and inexcusable delays and damage to contractors’ equipment, especially for not-easily replaced machinery.

“Some equipment can be very expensive. If a large piece of equipment is damaged and the contractor can’t purchase another one, what will happen to the project?”

Barry Smith

Transit and marine cargo insurance is also important when the project requires the long-distance transport of expensive equipment from the manufacturer to the job site. An example might be the three-month ship transport of a chiller. “What happens if the ship sinks or is attacked by pirates?”

Smith was one of the speakers at the Canadian Institute’s Construction Superconference held recently in Toronto.

He also advised people to obtain transit insurance when materials and/or equipment can’t be stored at the building site.

A thorough review of both car and truck insurance, especially how it pertains to vehicles on and off site, is always a good idea. “There are a lot of heavy trucks driving around.”

Automobile insurance covers physical damage to vehicles, as well as third-party bodily injury and property damage, said Smith. “It should cover all vehicles, owned, leased or licensed and should be provided by all parties to the construction project.”

Touching on the diverse nature of building construction, Smith advised the audience to thoroughly understand the different insurance requirements for new construction versus renovations work.

In renovation projects, contractors are usually responsible for damage to the structure. They may be covered under builders’ risk policies. But insurance often becomes expensive if the building’s value is more than that of the renovation, said Smith.

Contractors “need to deal with a broker that specializes in construction insurance.”

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Rundown cabin is not just for anyone


You have to be on a special purchasers list even to be in the running for this small house on Ward's Island

While housing prices have taken a recent tumble, an old wooden cabin going for $22,900 on the Toronto Island on Lake Ontario still seems like an absolute steal.

The chocolate-brown house on Ward's Island is one of just 262 in North America's largest car-free community, just a 10-minute ferry ride away from the heart of downtown, with a stunning view of the skyline.

But No. 12 Second Street isn't on any real estate listings, and not just anyone can put in an offer. The price is fixed (and doesn't include $48,825 for the lease), and you have to be on a special "purchasers list" to qualify as a potential buyer.

Even still, the cabin is a definite teardown, with a rodent-sized hole chewed through a front-facing log, piles of dead leaves on the deck, cobwebs around the window screens and a contented community of raccoons living at the back. 

"It's totally unrealistic to think you can get a livable house for $22,900," said Pam Mazza, a long-time Island resident. "What you're really buying is an opportunity to live on the Island, to live on a land trust and to be serviced by a boat."

The Island offers a unique blend of urban and country living. Blustery in the winter, it is an idyllic spot in summer with clean beaches and bike trails that run its entire length. It maintains a rare sense of neighbourliness, and is at once safe, tranquil and spirited, attracting artists, writers, professors and teachers.

The Island, which used to be municipal land, was transferred to the province through a land swap in 1993 to resolve a long-standing dispute between Island residents and Metropolitan Toronto, which wanted to turn their homes into parkland. The Toronto Islands Residential Community Trust Corporation was created.

Whenever a house comes up for sale, it is offered to the first 100 people on a list of 500 potential purchasers. Openings on the list are filled through a lottery system.

The Trust board, composed of two island residents and four provincial bureaucrats, acts as the intermediary between buyer and seller. Once the sale offers go out, potential buyers are given several weeks to respond, and the sale is awarded to the person who holds the lowest number on the list.

There is no negotiation about the price, which is based on the replacement cost, and determined by a set formula. "When you have a trust, you don't participate in market real estate forces and there are no windfall profits," Trust chairwoman Ellen Allen said.

Yesterday, a man who is No. 64 on the list came by to look at the most recent listing, which sits on a 40-foot-by-50-foot lot. "He's been on the list for 14 years," said Ruth Howard, who lives across the street.

Even though renovation costs are 30 to 40 per cent higher than in the city, because of the logistical difficulties of bringing in construction materials, turnover of residents is very low. "Living here isn't necessarily a good financial deal," Ms. Howard said. "It is the lifestyle."

A retail-free zone, there are no shops, dry cleaners or grocery stores here, although there is a primary school. Residents get around by bike and haul their groceries in wagons from the city.

Originally, the Island was a sandy, marshy peninsula. However, in 1858 a major storm cut through the narrow eastern neck and created an island. It was first populated by fishermen, but soon cottages were built and by the turn of the century the summer population had reached between 1,000 and 3,000, and included prominent Toronto families such as the Masseys and the Gooderhams, according toThe Essential Toronto Island Guide, by long-time residents Linda Rosenbaum and Peter Dean.

In the 1950s, the Metro government wanted to turn the entire island into a park, and bulldozed 750 homes at Hanlan's Point. The remaining islanders put up a fight to save their community, a battle that wasn't settled until the land swap in 1993. The Island remains a very popular place to live.

"We can't guarantee there will even be a house sold every year," said Ms. Mazza. "If you're in the first 100 on the list, you'll likely get a chance to put in an offer. But you won't get the house unless the other 99 people ahead of you don't want it."

It took 90 minutes for Daily News to 'steal' the Empire State Building

It took 90 minutes for Daily News to 'steal' the Empire State Building

Tuesday, December 2nd 2008, 10:46 PM

In one of the biggest heists in American history, the Daily News "stole" the $2 billion Empire State Building.

And it wasn't that hard.

The News swiped the 102-story Art Deco skyscraper by drawing up a batch of bogus documents, making a fake notary stamp and filing paperwork with the city to transfer the deed to the property.

Some of the information was laughable: Original "King Kong" starFay Wray is listed as a witness and the notary shared a name with bank robber Willie Sutton.

The massive ripoff illustrates a gaping loophole in the city's system for recording deeds, mortgages and other transactions.

The loophole: The system - run by the office of the city register - doesn't require clerks to verify the information.

Less than 90 minutes after the bogus documents were submitted on Monday, the agency rubber-stamped the transfer from Empire State Land Associates to Nelots Properties LLC. Nelots is "stolen" spelled backward. (The News returned the property Tuesday.)

"Crooks go where the money is. That's why Willie Sutton robbed banks, and this is the new bank robbery," said Brooklyn Assistant District Attorney Richard Farrell, who is prosecuting several deed fraud cases.

Of course, stealing the Empire State Building wouldn't go unnoticed for long, but it shows how easy it is for con artists to swipe more modest buildings right out from under their owners. Armed with a fraudulent deed, they can take out big mortgages and disappear, leaving a mess for property owners, banks and bureaucrats.

"Once you have the deed, it's easy to obtain a mortgage," Farrell said.

Many crooks have done just that:

Asia Smith stole her 88-year-old grandmother's house in Springfield Gardens,Queens, pocketing $445,000 in mortgages she took out.

"Her grandmother raised her," said Queens Assistant District Attorney Kristen Kane. Smith, 22, was arrested last December and is serving a one-year jail term for fraud.

- A man posing as someone who had been dead for 19 years deeded the dead man's property to himself. He then sold it to the scheme's mastermind, who took out a $533,000 mortgage and vanished with the cash.

Toma Dushevic managed to steal seven dilapidated city-owned buildings inBrooklyn 10 years ago.

He got renovation permits, fixed up one of the buildings, and rented out apartments. He sold another building for $250,000 and ran his scam for nearly two years until he was caught. Dushevic returned the buildings and did 18 months behind bars.

The FBI says financial institutions filed 31% more Suspicious Activity Reports involving mortgage fraud last year than in 2006. Nationwide, lenders' losses totaled $813 million, and New York was one of the top 10 mortgage fraud states.

The Renovation Consultant

Dead man gets mortgage worth whopping $533G

Dead man gets mortgage worth whopping $533G

Wednesday, December 3rd 2008, 1:37 AM

Eugene Thomas had been dead 19 years as of Sept. 13, 2007.

On that day, "Thomas" showed up to sell his Jamaica, Queens, house to a man named Tolessi Enyonam - and lawyers, a mortgage broker and a title company representative at the closing found nothing wrong.

They didn't care much about ID, either: The buyer and seller presented green cards as identification.

At the closing, Enyonam also took out a $533,000 mortgage fromWells Fargo bank on the Union Hall St. house.

The deed transfer and the mortgage were duly recorded by the office of the city register.

The transactions have since blown up.

"Thomas" was con man Willie Thomas, who was paid about $1,000 for his brief acting stint, according to Queens Assistant District Attorney Kristen Kane.

While Tolessi Enyonam does exist - and Enyonam is a woman, not a man - she's not the person who bought the house and took out the mortgage.

"We don't know who that person is," said Kane, explaining that the male mastermind of the scheme stole the real Enyonam's identity for use in the transactions.

The scam chief replicated the real Enyonam's green card so it had his photo on it.

"Then, he disappeared with the mortgage money," Kane said.

Willie Thomas has been charged with grand larceny.

Prosecutors say they have since learned that others were involved in the scam, including an accountant, a city clerk and a disbarred lawyer.

Authorities say the ring stole another house in Queens and a third house inBrooklyn for a total mortgage takedown of $1.4 million.

In the aftermath, the real Tolessi Enyonam's credit has been ruined, and the bank is foreclosing against Eugene Thomas' widow, Dorothy, 74, who has lived at the Jamaica house for more than 30 years.

"I don't know any of those people, never met them, never heard of them," Dorothy Thomas said. "It's unbelievable what happened."

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Retrofit Your Home and Qualify for a Grant!

Retrofit Your Home and Qualify for a Grant!


Thinking of ways to make your home more energy efficient? Here's what you can do to reduce your energy consumption and receive grants through ecoENERGY Retrofit.

Natural Resources Canada (NRCan) is offering a new residential energy efficiency assessment service to owners of single family homes, including detached, semi-detached and low-rise multi-unit residential buildings (MURBs) that are no more than three storeys high. Under the ecoENERGY Retrofit program, property owners can qualify for federal grants by improving the energy efficiency of their homes and reducing their home's impact on the environment.

NRCan-certified energy advisors conduct a detailed on-site assessment of your home's energy use from the attic down to the basement. They then provide you with a personalized report, including a checklist of recommended retrofits to improve the energy efficiency of your home or MURB and, in some cases, to reduce water consumption. The report also shows the grant amounts for each eligible upgrade that you can receive by carrying out these energy-saving improvements.

On the following pages, you will find a list of improvements covered under ecoENERGY RetrofitHomes and the corresponding grant amounts. The maximum grant you can receive for a home or MURB is $5,000.

The grant is calculated and based on amounts that are in effect at the time of the post-retrofit evaluation (E evaluation).

Effective January 1, 2008

House Renovation

Assessing the Renovation Project

Over the years, we’ve developed a good understanding of how buildings perform. Construction techniques for new homes have changed rapidly. Most of these improved techniques also apply to renovations.

If you plan carefully, you can renovate your home to make it look better, work better, last longer and be more comfortable. Before renovating, it’s important to assess the condition of your home to determine if there are any significant underlying problems that must be addressed before or during your planned renovation project.


Figure 1: Problems that should be addressed

Common Situations

In Canada, we need affordable houses to provide shelter from the elements. We also want our homes to be pleasant, comfortable and attractive.

Homeowners have higher expectations than in the past, particularly about comfort and interior design. Renovations are an opportunity to address some of these expectations.

Some of the reasons people decide to renovate are to:

  • Upgrade or improve outdated or deteriorated systems — replacing an outdated furnace, old siding or windows are common upgrades.
  • Maintain and repair various elements of their house — reshingling a roof or fixing foundation cracks are typical renovations.
  • Address lifestyle needs — converting unused attic space to living quarters, add a sunroom or build a home office.

Healthy Housing™

Renovating is an ideal time to make your house healthier for you, the community and the environment. When assessing your renovation project, be sure to consider the five essentials of Healthy Housing™.

House as a System

A house is much more than just four walls and a roof — it’s an interactive system made up of many components including the basic structure, heating, ventilating and air conditioning (HVAC) equipment, the external environment and the occupants. Each component influences the performance of the entire system. A renovation provides an opportunity to improve how your house performs.

As you assess your renovation project, ask yourself how changing particular components will affect the performance of the whole house. For example, as part of a bathroom renovation you may want to add a hot tub that will generate large amounts of humidity during operation.Your existing ventilation may be inadequate to handle the increased moisture levels. It will be important to provide proper ventilation to avoid mold growth, indoor air quality (IAQ) problems and damage to the structure or finishes. You may need to consult with a qualified home inspector or a professional renovator.

Avoid Surprises

A systematic and thorough inspection will help you to assess the condition of your home. Look for any signs of deterioration and the possible causes. Start your inspection in the basement. Many problems in other parts of the house originate there. Depending upon the size of your project, you may want to ask a qualified home inspector or a professional renovator to help you assess your building and develop a plan. Here are some of the likely questions that you’ll want to think about.


Before You Start Renovating Your Kitchen

Before You Start Renovating Your Kitchen

Your kitchen is probably the most used room in your house. Poor layout, inadequate lighting, cramped spaces, outdated fixtures and old cabinetry are common complaints of homeowners.

Before you decide to go ahead with a kitchen renovation, it is important to clearly identify the features you want in your new kitchen. Just as important is a thorough pre-renovation inspection to identify any existing problems.

Renovating your kitchen

Common Situations

Kitchen renovations are high on the list of the most common home renovations. A renovation can be as simple as installing new flooring or be a major undertaking that includes enlarging the space and replacing all fixtures and finishes.

Homeowners consider kitchen renovations for many reasons including:

  • Size and design — the existing kitchen may be too small or poorly laid out.
  • Fixtures and appliances — the fixtures and appliances may be worn out, inefficient or outdated.
  • Cabinets and countertops — cabinet finishes, hardware or countertops may be outdated, need repair or replacement.
  • Structural problems  — there may be problems that require structural changes or repairs.
  • Moisture — the floor, walls or finishes may be unsightly or damaged due to moisture problems.
  • Plumbing and electrical — many older kitchens don’t have enough electrical outlets and circuits. Older plumbing and plumbing fixtures may include lead or galvanized steel piping.
  • Heating and ventilation — older kitchens often have inadequate ventilation or heating systems. The area may be poorly insulated and have a high degree of air leakage, two factors that lead to high energy consumption.
  • Finishes — older finishes may be unattractive or not durable enough to withstand the daily wear and tear.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Ontario builders seek relief in budget

Ontario builders seek relief in budget

Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty's top priorities in the upcoming 2009 budget should be job creation and infrastructure projects in an effort to stave off a devastating slowdown in the economy, according to the province's property developers.

A survey by the Ontario Home Builders' Association found more than a third of builders expect to lay off staff for 2009.

"People will continue to work and we can ensure adequate roads, transit and residential services are upgraded and expanded," OHBA president Frank Giannone said.

Job creation, infrastructure spending and personal and corporate tax reductions were the top three priorities identified by home builders. A balanced budget was in fourth place. Financing in tight credit markets was another issue.

About 47 per cent of home builders surveyed said availability of financing was down. A third also said they had difficulty financing new home and renovation projects.

Meanwhile, separate reports released yesterday show the housing market hasn't hit bottom yet.

"Issues affecting the overall economy are impacting housing markets across the country and the situation is not expected to be remedied until consumer confidence is restored," ReMax Ontario Atlantic Canada executive vice-president Michael Polzler stated in a report.

ReMax is forecasting average prices across Canada will fall 3 per cent this year and 2 per cent next year to $293,000.

Other forecasters however, are taking a gloomier view.

Carl Gomez, vice-president of research for real estate consultants Bentall Investment Management, said prices have to fall nationally by at least 10 per cent from their peak to return to normal valuations. In Alberta and British Columbia, where prices have gone up a lot quicker than the national average, values may have to fall by as much as 30 per cent. However, prices may fall further than that as the market seeks to correct itself, Gomez stated in a report released this week.

"All markets in Canada are facing deteriorating economic conditions that are likely to either accelerate or cause a larger than required cumulative decline in house prices."

Prices in Ontario are about 10 per cent overvalued, but could fall further depending on economic conditions, Gomez stated.

"The recent deterioration of macro economic conditions and the potential for deflation to affect all asset prices in the current environment could potentially result in Ontario home prices falling by even more than the expected 10 per cent," Gomez stated.

Globally, Canada is in better shape than other industrialized countries because home prices increased far more moderately, by about 80 per cent between 1997 and 2008, according to the report.

By contrast, Britain and Spain saw increases of 200 per cent in the same period. United States house prices jumped 190 per cent between 1997 and 2006 before crashing in 2007.

Another, tough-minded report yesterday by the Center for Economic Policy and Research in Washington says U.S. house prices must fall further to stabilize the market.

"Prices in many markets are still hugely out of line with trend levels," it said.

"As long as house price remains inflated there is no way that the market can stabilize since there will continue to be a large excess supply."

The best way to stabilize house prices is to deflate the bubbles by allowing government-sponsored enterprises such as Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to refuse to buy mortgages in markets in which house prices are out of line, said the U.S. report. ."

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Bathroom Renovation: Still Popular In Todays Housing Market

Double Bathroom Vanities Top Of The Line Bathroom Furniture

Toronto, CA 12/01/2008  

With homeowners significantly scaling back their remodeling plans or scrapping them altogether in light of a floundering economy, many are finding ways to create the bathroom of their dreams while avoiding the excessive costs of full-scale renovations – by opting for double bathroom vanities from

Bathroom renovations are expensive. The cost to renovate even a small bathroom averages at least $20,000. A bathroom remodel, though, is also among the most valuable renovations one can make to a home.

Many leading economists expect the current financial crisis to last for some time, but the need for homeowners to renovate their bathrooms isn’t dropping with the stock market. But homeowners don’t have to forestall their remodeling plans.

With such a wide array of styles and sizes available, finding a double bathroom vanity to fit an existing bathroom, or the bathroom of your dreams, at a fraction of the cost of a full remodel at  is a snap.

Replacing existing vanities, or expanding a single vanity to a double vanity, can significantly upgrade an existing bathroom.

double bathroom vanity is a perfect for master bathrooms. They offer more storage and the ability to use two sinks at one time – solving morning conflicts over who gets to use the sink first and ending battles over drawer space. offers numerous traditional, antique and contemporary styles. The wood, color and metal finishes available can fit any bathroom’s motif. All of the vanities come complete with countertops and sinks, with many offering a number of faucet styles.

Double bathroom vanities from  make remodeling a bathroom simple and affordable without scrimping on quality. The vanities can be easily installed in one day without having to hire a contractor and cost a fraction of the price of a bathroom remodel.

What’s more, double bathroom vanities from  are durable and easy to maintain. They are sure to add a more luxurious feel to any bathroom.

Enhancing a bathroom with considerable improvements can be done easily and without breaking one’s budget. For a complete listing of different styles and designs, installation guides and more bathroom renovation ideas, 



Monday, November 24, 2008

Tilt and Turn PVC Windows

Tilt and Turn Windows
Architectural Style:
Where function and coordinated looks are a consideration, windows and French doors will enhance any architectural style and provide you with custom solutions to simplify your planning and design. vinyl profiles offer a variety of shapes and functions, suitable for either the contemporary or traditional home and will always guarantee stability and exceptional thermal protection under the most extreme weather conditions.
Technological Advances:
has considered wind loading, security, water penetration, thermal resistance and maintenance when designing these windows. Our profile system was developed with constant improvement and development of innovative accessories we can solve your most challenging detail or installation.
Durability & Security:
The 900 Series profile proves its reliability utilizing corrosion protected reinforcing steel. The special multi point locking system adds security whether closed or tilted open. These and many other features, exclusive to , are incorporated into every window and French door built in the 900 Series.
Functional Simplicity:
Tilt and Turn windows and French doors were pioneered by for tough northern European weather conditions where positive seal requirements are mandatory. The unique function of the tilt position allows ventilation to the room without drafts; worry free rain protection; and in the turn position, they act just like casement windows. The inward opening function allows for easy cleaning from the inside. The advantage of the turn-tilt function is the enormous safety and security features. The multi-point locking mechanism around the entire frame makes the window extremely secure from unwanted entry - even when in the ventilation tilt position.
Tilt and Turn Details:

A three point handle makes our Series Tilt And Turn System so easy to use.
Three simple steps:
1. Turn the handle to the side, as shown to the left, and the window swings in.
2. Turn the handle so it's pointing up and the window tilts to the inside from the top.
3. Turn the handle so it's pointing down and it's locked.
We use the same handle system for both the windows and the doors, keeping a consistent look throughout your home.
Safe and Secure:
You can rest easy with the Series Tilt and Turn System. The eight point locking system will keep you safe when your home and your belongings safe when your not. Warranted for as long as you own the home.
Long Lasting, Easy Operation:
Heavy duty hinges allow the 8000 Tilt and Turn System to open fully. Heavy aluminum reinforcing coupled with the fact that all screws go through the vinyl outer layer into aluminum allow the openings to be over sized. Available sizes: Widths up to 48" and heights up to 96". Windows and Doors use the same frame material so you get a consistent look around your home. All hardware is Zinc Dichromate dipped to resist corrosion.
Smart and Effective:
The inward tilt action of the Series 8000 gives you all the benefits of a top opener with the peace of mind that comes from knowing that your windows and doors are still locked. Heavy duty hinging system allows the entire window or door system to tilt to the inside to allow hot air trapped at the ceiling to easily vent out.
Weather Tight:
When closed, with the handle in the down and locked position, the Series 8000 System is the most air and water tight system on the market. All EPDM Rubber Seals are replaceable if required making your new windows and solid investment. The Series 8000 Tilt and Turn European Window System has received higher test scores than any other window system on the market. It is the most weather resistant system you can buy.

THE NEW DIMENSION IN Window Construction

THE NEW DIMENSION IN Window Construction
From the 2nd to 5th April 2008 presented at the REHAU Window the leading trade fair for windows and facade engineering, in Nuremberg. The emphasis this time was the world premiere of the new, revolutionary window profile generation GENEO ® from the high-tech material RAU FIPRO ®.

RAU FIPRO ® from REHAU is the future material for window profiles and gives GENEO ® an unbeatable stability.
The innovative high-tech material

1st Unbeatable stable
RAU FIPRO - High-tech in perfection. Highest stability and torsion set entirely new standards for window profile systems. With RAU FIPRO may be additional Armierungen, with unchanged static properties that are virtually abandoned.

2nd Uniquely innovative
RAU FIPRO is the result of over 50 years REHAU development expertise and innovation. The industry sets new mark with a high-fiber composite material. The sophisticated formulation and production technology, provide excellent static properties. After aircraft and Formula 1 bring fiber composites now also high performance in the window.

3rd Quality
Best raw materials and processing the highest standards offer excellent quality and longevity of profiles from RAU FIPRO. Even at maximum loads. The good, smooth surfaces REHAU stand for quality and durable easy-care profiles.
GENEO ® --
The efficient window profile system

The 1st Future fully
GENEO - the vision of a fully reinforced window system without steel reinforcements has become a reality. The perfect profile design offers together with the high-tech material RAU FIPRO unbeatable advantages in manufacturing. Reinforced with additional screw Queraussteifungen IVS (Integrated amplification system) provide excellent stability. Examination resistance class 2 (without additional steel reinforcements) existed.

2nd Unbeatable thermal insulation
Rated with a value of up to Uf, BW = 0.8 W / m K is highly GENEO thermal insulation and unique in its class. And at the low elevation width of 115 mm. Through the use of appropriate window glasses are GENEO passive-suited.

3rd Genial economically
GENEO enables rational storage and manufacturing. Easier handling by up to 40% weight advantage. Independence of steel prices. New concept with a single gasket seal area forms on the outside wing and window frames. Cost because without weldable holders. Large Falztiefe from 66 mm to accommodate 3-times-glazing.
Euro Premier Windows

Monday, November 17, 2008

Matchmaking Services with Prescreened Service Providers; Beware of Risks Involved

Matchmaking Services with Prescreened Service Providers; Beware of Risks Involved

This popular contractor matching service maintains an extensive database of prescreened contractors.”

"Our free contractor referral service provides verified US insured and licensed contractors.”

“We prescreen all contractors before we choose to partner with them…a contractor must provide proof of insurance and licensing…and must also submit a solid list of previous customer references.”

Such are the assertions made by 3 different consumer-to-contractor matchmaking services that prescreen member service providers.

Sounds good; until one begins considering possible drawbacks. Or what dangers could be lurking behind such carefully worded sales pitches.

The first area of concern is that consumers can be lulled into a false sense of security by this type matchmaking service. Putting them at risk for hiring a contractor based upon old, outdated information.

Contractor proof of insurance, licensing, and other credentials that checked out even just a few short weeks prior could no longer be valid. And references offered at the time of membership, obsolete and no longer reflective of the contractor’s workmanship. In addition, any number of personal problems or health complications might have arisen that could affect the work quality or integrity of services.

The second area of concern is the screening process itself:

• how extensive is it

• “who” implements it

• what resources are used

Each of these aspects directly affect whether or not information gleaned is truly a reliable gauge as to the contractor’s professionalism, credibility, and reliability as a service provider – even at the time of membership.

Combine these concerns with the fact consumer-to-contractor prescreening service providers offer no written guarantee that contractor members will perform as expected. Or that licensing, insurance coverage and good standing as a service provider are still in tact at the time of hiring.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Ontario homeowners are showing more enthusiasm for home renovations, according to a new RBC survey

TORONTO, Oct. 29, 2008 (Canada NewsWire via COMTEX) -- RY | Quote | Chart | News | PowerRating -- Ontario homeowners are showing more enthusiasm for home renovations, according to a new RBC survey. The poll, conducted by Ipsos Reid, found that 71 per cent of Ontarians surveyed plan to renovate within the next two years, just above the national average of 70 per cent and up five percentage points from 2007. Of those polled, 75 per cent said that if their homes were in need of major renovations, they would still rather assume the work themselves, than sell and move.
"Despite the current economic uncertainty, we can expect to see a moderate increase in renovation activity in Ontario over the next couple years," says Catherine Adams, vice-president, Home Equity Financing. "For those making renovation plans, it's important to carefully consider all the potential costs involved, obtain quotes, look for the best financing options and set a realistic budget that you'll be able to stick to."

Among homeowners who have completed renovation projects in the last two years, the poll found that 67 per cent of respondents in Ontario had a budget for their renovations. Of those, 46 per cent said they went over budget, by an average of 25 per cent. In fact, Ontarians were more likely than homeowners in other regions to say going over budget was their biggest renovation mistake or disaster (28 per cent). Despite budget overages, the majority of Ontarians (72 per cent) are likely to pay for most or all of their renovations with cash or savings.

The average amount that Ontario homeowners plan to spend on their renovations is also up over last year from $10,489 to $12,306 - well above the national average of $10,853 and just shy of Alberta ($12,420) which has the largest average budget spend in the country.

The most popular choices for renovations and home improvements among Ontarians include new floors (42 per cent), bathrooms (40 per cent), and exterior landscaping (36 per cent). Kitchen counter tops (30 per cent) and decks and patios (26 per cent) were also among the most likely makeover choices.

Eco-friendly renovations

More than three-quarters of Ontario homeowners (78 per cent) would choose an environmentally-friendly approach if it would save money in the long run, even if it costs more now. Of those polled, 56 per cent would consider "living off the grid" - living in a self sufficient manner without reliance on public utilities, while 67 per cent of Ontario homeowners would consider becoming 'net zero' household, enabling their homes to produce at least as much energy as they use. The majority of Ontarians (78 per cent) believe that 'green' improvements would increase the value of their home.

<< Intentions among Regions Average Spend ------------------------ ------------- Ontario 71% $12,306 BC 69% $10,064 Alberta 74% $12,422 Sask/Man 71% $ 9,743 Quebec 67% $ 8,463 Atlantic Canada 73% $10,042 Renovate or Sell/Move --------------------- Region Renovate Sell Ontario 75% 19% BC 75% 19% Alberta 71% 23% Sask/Man 75% 17% Quebec 74% 17% Atlantic Canada 78% 15% >>

These are some of the findings of an RBC poll conducted by Ipsos Reid between August 13 and August 18, 2008. The online survey is based on a randomly selected representative sample of 3,733 adult Canadian homeowners, including 1,423 Ontario residents. With a representative sample of this size for Ontario, the results are considered accurate to within 2.6 percentage points, 19 times out of 20, of what they would have been had the entire adult population of Ontario been polled. These data were statistically weighted to ensure the sample's regional and age/sex composition reflects that of the actual Canadian population according to the 2006 census data.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Incomplete home renovations

Incomplete home renovations
Hard-up developers are giving up on unfinished homes, meaning a tidy profit for the next buyer

Susan Emmett
Pen y Bryn sits in a beautiful spot in the wilds of North Wales. Set in a bowl of rolling hills, with stunning views, it is an ideal location. Yet the condition of the property, which looks like a cross between a medieval castle in ruins and the remains of an old mine, is less than attractive.
It could be perfect – if only the work were complete. Sadly, the credit crunch and the banking crisis have taken their toll on the owners, Paul Hilton, 42, a sculptor from Liverpool, and his wife, Harpal Rai, 39, a fashion buyer. They cannot afford to finish the job.
“There is a huge amount to do,” Hilton says. “In the current market, there is no incentive to spend money I haven’t got finishing the place. Something has got to give.”
The couple’s mounting debt – they are also trying to sell their permanent home – means they cannot continue with their ambitious plans or dream of moving to a house in the country any time soon. They have had little choice but to call in the estate agents. The property is for sale at £350,000: still considerably more than they paid for it, but nothing like what they had hoped for.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

How to Work Best with Your Renovation Coach

How to Work Best with Your Renovation Coach
By:Reiner Hoyer
Remodeling in Toronto is an exciting and rewarding experience. There are a lot of beautiful homes and apartments ready and waiting to accept a makeover!

The hardest choice is where to begin and then how to fit all the project components together to ensure you are completely happy with the outcome - within your desired time frames and within budget.

Remodeling may come easy to you and you may complete your project quickly and on budget. Or you may be like the rest of us and have a great plan, but no idea about how to begin to initiate the process - have you ever thought about hiring one of the highly qualified Renovation Coach in Toronto?

The thought of hiring someone to do something you think you should be able to do yourself is sometimes a little difficult, but how can a Renovation coach in Toronto help you?

Well to begin with, the job of a Renovation Coach is to act as a 'middle man', they find the best contractors available to do the particular job you need completed. General contractors are responsible for finding you the best most qualified contractor available that will help you to complete your dream remodeling project.

So you have decided to use some of your budget to access the services of a Renovation Coach to help you to complete your dream project, you need to get the best results for your money - but how?

The first thing you will need to remember is that you have to be ready to be completely open and honest with your communication. You will be relying on this person to achieve maximum results for you and you need to develop trust early in the relationship.

There are a number of things that you can do to establish a trusting relationship. You may begin to research the availability of good Renovation Consultants in Toronto with friends and family or perhaps at work. If people can recommend someone the next obvious step is to view their work, either in person or by looking at photographs, and then discuss in detail the overall professionalism of the Renovation Coach to get a better understanding of their work ethic. If you don't know anyone who has accessed the services of a Renovation Coach in Toronto, then do your own research, look for someone who specializes in the projects you require, set up a meeting with them and view their work.

The next thing you should do (if you haven't already) is confirm your plans. What do you want to achieve for your space, how much money do you have to spend and what time frames do you have in mind. Without these basic decisions, your project will either not begin or will end up costing you a lot of money and time!

Ensure you have details about the size of the space you want to change, information about your building and any building permits or local regulations that you need to abide by. Do the research! Make it easy for your contractor and put together a book of ideas full of your favourite materials, fabrics, colors and fittings! Take photographs of existing spaces that friends and family live in, visit art galleries to get a better idea of colors and textures, and really research thoroughly what you want.

A good Renovation Coach will help you to access sub contractors and products quickly and easily, and will be worth the money so that you can spend more time worrying about other things in your life. In saying this, however, verbally stress the importance of your budget and time frames - you don't want to spend more money than you need to.

Renovation Coaches have so much knowledge and access to the latest products, materials and technologies, try not to get too carried away with what they offer. Be really clear and upfront with all items that will potentially cost you money, no matter how attractive they appear. Hiring the services of a Renovation Coach has the potential to make your life stress free for the duration of the intended remodeling project.

If you embark on your project with a positive attitude, have a clear understanding of what you want and need, stick to your budget and time frames and maintain an open level of communication with your contractor you will be happy with the end result.
The Reno Coach