All posts by Dave Gray

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RENO & DECOR – Oct/Nov2020

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RENO & DECOR – Oct/Nov2020

Launched in 1990, R&D is Canada’s Home Idea Book, inspiring readers with the latest decorating/renovating tips and trends.

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Three easy ways to maximize productivity while working from home

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Three easy ways to maximize productivity while working from home

How’s your work-from-home set-up? Do you find your mind wandering? Your focus wavering? Your productivity suffering? Perhaps you’re new to the whole work from home thing, or maybe your space doesn’t meet your needs. Whatever the issue, a good home office environment can yield rich results! Here are some tips to make the most of your home office so that you can get down to business.

Put those unused nooks and corners to work

Two major challenges homeowners are facing right now are working from home and finding the room for a dedicated office space. You don’t need a big space to have a good set-up. All you need is some peace and quiet, a little storage and work surface, and a lot of creativity. We’ve seen some fabulous home offices occupying a home’s basement, an empty corner, the spare closet, built into a kitchen or tucked into the nook under the stairs. Remember, it needs to be quiet. The rest, like lighting and furniture, will make it comfortable and functional.

Think multi-purpose

Now before we dig into double-duty, let’s be clear – a multi-purpose home office is counterproductive. Regardless of where you set up your home office, however big or small, ensure your home office doesn’t double as the laundry folding table or kids’ craft zone. Instead, the multi-purpose factor comes into play when it comes to your furniture. Always opt for multi-functional pieces that can serve another purpose – a top priority if your space is limited. An ottoman or table with hidden storage underneath, an efficient filing system (if you haven’t gone digital yet) or a sitting-to-standing desk are an excellent investment and available for purchase and delivery online.

Get lit

No one functions well while squinting and suffering eye strain. Ensure your home office area is well lit with a layered lighting plan. If natural lighting via windows is an option, go for it. Your eyes will thank you. If you don’t have a window at your immediate disposal, ambient lighting is your saving grace. This is the room’s overall illumination, like overhead or pot lights. Next, task lighting comes into play to illuminate your tabletop, desk or reading nook. Regardless of where you like to hunker down, ensure the area is lit accordingly. Last but not least, accent lighting is decorative, but it can add ambience and emphasis to inspiring items, such as your prized collection of books, art or samples of your best work.

TIP: If you don’t have a window nearby, opt for a mirror. A properly-sized and strategically placed mirror can create the illusion of a window with a view, while visually doubling the size of the space and amplifying its light!

Even when working remotely, ensure that you feel comfortable and at home in your environment. Surround yourself with things that inspire you, and the tools to succeed. You’ll feel more relaxed, more motivated and up to any task.

Need more help with your home office? We’re here to help. Connect with us to schedule a free 20-minute discovery call; we can help you with our virtual design services.

Eugenia Triandos

Eugenia Triandos
Korina Khamis

Korina Khamis

Designers Eugenia Triandos and Korina Khamis are co-founders for Hibou Design & Co. With more than a decade of experience, this Montreal-based design firm provides complete bespoke residential design services throughout North America. hiboudesignco.com

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6 ways to modernize your kitchen on a budget

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6 ways to modernize your kitchen on a budget

By Jo Alcorn

Sometimes the best design decision is not to change things too much. Let me explain. I was recently working with a client who wanted to update her kitchen. She consulted with me to figure out how to spend her modest budget wisely while accomplishing a new look.

Storage

Like most people, her dream plan included replacing the cupboards to have more efficient storage. After an honest appraisal with a critical eye, I could see that wasn’t entirely necessary. She didn’t even need to paint them – she just needed to lighten the space up and get creative with functionality, and there were far less expensive and easier ways to do that. The overall footprint of the kitchen was good, so just a few adjustments to the cupboards were necessary. By adding Gliding Shelf Solutions (glidingshelf.ca) within the cabinets, we were able to solve the efficiency issue and add extra storage on a budget. Not having to do a full demolition of the existing kitchen put money back into the budget for what truly mattered, and splurging on the proper key elements.

Countertop

Changing out the countertops was mandatory. We needed to lighten up the space to make it feel more open, and to balance the darkness of the cabinet colour. We chose Caesarstone’s (caesarstone.ca) Empira White marble quartz because of its classic white base with deep grey veins to accent and complement the cabinet colour. This beautiful countertop modernized their kitchen instantly. Plus, it’s durable and easy to clean, so it’s a perfect balance of fashion and function for a busy household.

Backsplash

This kitchen needed a new backsplash. We chose white, beveled edge subway tile for its timeless-simplicity, and to play off the new countertops. By using larger tiles, this kitchen kept its clean lines, but the tapered edge offered elegant detailing. The custom range hood became the focal point of this space. We removed the small useless cabinet above the metal range hood that was more of an eye-sore than a focal point. By making it white, it pulled the colour scheme of the kitchen together perfectly.

New appliances

A Whirlpool black stainless-steel kitchen suite (whirlpool.ca) kept the continuity of colour in this kitchen. I love to match cabinet colours and appliances whenever I can; making your appliances blend into the shades of the kitchen gives the illusion of a larger space. The appliances are fingerprint resistant, which helps keep things looking sleek and fresh with minimal upkeep. Having the counter-depth refrigerator further made the space more open and accessible. On top of that, the French door option allows for more clearance when the door is open, which makes it easier to have two people in the kitchen at once. While the kitchen used to have a microwave stand to the right of the range, replacing it with a custom wine rack, colourmatched to the cupboards, was far more visually appealing. Fear not, they still have a microwave – it’s tucked out of sight and utilizing a wasted corner.

Shelving with purpose

Notice the floating shelves? I removed the closed cabinets to modernize the look. By tiling that whole wall and adding the natural wood tone of the shelving it creates a more up to date, open look. I wanted to replace the tan floor tiles, but the cost, timing and mess didn’t warrant it. Instead, I used the shelves, chairs and accessories to tie it all together, making the floor seem more purposeful, instead of like the elephant in the room. It’s also nice to have an element from nature (wood) to help ground the space and add an organic feel to the design.

Finishing details

While the cupboards were able to be used, the hardware had to go. The new, modernized, brass handles were the perfect accents. And I was able to include a pendant light over the sink to match. I would have liked to include pendant lighting all around the kitchen, but the light locations didn’t align with the table, so this was a perfect compromise. As I shopped for the appliances, I found an ultra-useful stand mixer in blue, and I knew it would be so useful and fun for this busy family. I choose accent pieces like the dishware and vase in a coordinating blue. The floor runners also have a blue tie accent. While many people hesitate to include a runner in a kitchen, I love it. They keep your feet warm, add softness to the space and tie colours in. The secret is to buy ones that are machine washable.

I know this once basic builder kitchen has transformed into a kitchen that suits the family’s modern lifestyle. Remember, don’t be too quick to replace your entire kitchen; sometimes, a strategic update is the better way. And it can save you a bundle!

HGTV Jo Alcorn is an interior and product designer for Alcorn Home, she has a full home furnishing and pet line collection displayed and sold across Canada and the U.S. She is known for her clean line savvy design concepts. Alcornhome.com

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4 Ways to protect your family from fire

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4 Ways to protect your family from fire

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We all do our best to create safe and healthy homes, and yet many Canadians are underprotected and unprepared when it comes to fire and carbon monoxide (CO) safety. Fire Prevention Month in October is an excellent opportunity to prepare a safety checklist to ensure your home and family are protected from the threats of smoke, fire and CO.

Install smoke & CO alarms

Nearly one in five two-storey homes have just one smoke alarm installed. To secure the highest level of protection, install smoke and CO alarms inside every bedroom, outside each sleeping area and on every level of the home, including the basement. For enhanced home safety and convenience, install combination alarms, such as the First Alert 10-Year Battery Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Alarm, which features a slim, contemporary design that mounts unobtrusively on a wall or ceiling. The two-in-one alarm protects from both smoke and carbon monoxide and is equipped with a 10-year battery, which eliminates battery replacements and low-battery chirps for a decade. Remember that alarms don’t last forever and must be replaced at least every 10 years, regardless of the manufacturer. If you don’t remember when an alarm was installed, it’s best to replace it entirely.

Be prepared to fight small flames

Beyond alarms, having fire extinguishers – and knowing how to use them – is an essential part of maintaining a safe home for you and your family. Place extinguishers in easy-to-reach locations on every level of the home and in key rooms where there is a high risk for fires, such as the kitchen and garage. Make sure everyone in the home knows where extinguishers are located and how to use them. If the fire is too large and cannot be controlled, it is important to exit your home immediately to help ensure a safe escape.

Help protect against the ‘silent killer’

Carbon monoxide is an odourless and colourless gas that is produced from any fuel-burning appliance. It is the number one cause of accidental poisoning and can only be detected with an alarm. Yet, more than one third of Canadian homes do not have a CO alarm, according to a consumer survey conducted by First Alert. There is a variety of First Alert CO alarms available such as a tabletop 10-year sealed battery alarm and plug-in alarms with battery backup for protection during power outages. Regardless of the type of alarms, you have installed, it’s important to check all CO and smoke alarms regularly using the test button.

Practice your emergency escape plan

Of the 56 per cent of consumers who report having an emergency escape plan, only one in five practice it twice a year. Make sure to involve everyone in your household in creating a plan, and practice it at least every six months. As part of this plan, equip second-floor bedrooms with escape ladders and discuss how to use them. Identify two ways out of each room and a meeting place outside away from the house. Emphasize that once at the predesignated meeting spot; everyone must wait until fire officials clear your home for safe re-entry.

Proper smoke and CO alarm installation and maintenance can mean the difference between a safe home and a dangerous home. To learn more about home safety products and tips, visit firstalert.ca.

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Caps on parkland fees should still be a priority

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Caps on parkland fees should still be a priority

The Ontario government recently introduced changes that will adjust the way development pays for the infrastructure, facilities and services required to support growth. The changes, the result of extensive consultation, are good news for municipalities, builders and ultimately homebuyers, but they underscore the challenges of producing one-size fits-all housing policy for a province as diverse as Ontario. As an example, while the province chose to leave the way municipalities fund new parks essentially unchanged, BILD will continue to advocate at the municipal level for caps on parkland fees.

Currently, municipalities can require that each new development contribute land for a park, or pay a fee in lieu, to be used to purchase parkland. Our industry believes that parks are vital parts of any vibrant and complete community, but we have concerns about the cash in lieu (CIL) of land that some municipalities opt to collect. Our concerns are threefold.

First, as CIL rates are linked to the value of the land, collection of parkland charges can act as a disincentive to density. This is especially true with high rise buildings in downtown areas across the GTA, where it is not unusual for a one bedroom condominium to attract double or more in parkland fees compared to a single-family home.

Second, many municipalities have a record of collecting far more in parkland fees than they spend on new parks. A study conducted by Altus Group in 2018 found that GTA municipalities had accumulated $1.13 billion in parkland cash reserves. This means that new-home buyers are paying for new parks as part of the cost of their new homes, but not necessarily receiving them.

Lastly, with infill development in existing neighbourhoods, parks are generally already in place, which leads us to wonder what new-home buyers are paying for with their parkland fees.

While the changes introduced by the province allow municipalities to set alternative parkland dedication rates and allow municipal parkland dedication bylaws to be appealed, it is still important to have a maximum cap for parkland rates in certain GTA municipalities so that new-home buyers are not asked to pay more than their fair share.

The changes introduced by the provincial government are a very positive step in addressing the housing supply and affordability challenge in the GTA. They provide builders with greater clarity and certainty about costs and allow municipalities to recover 100 per cent of costs for facilities such as daycare centres, long-term care homes, playgrounds and libraries. BILD’s advocacy with certain municipalities on parkland fees is meant to ensure that the way we fund parks does not add unnecessary costs for new-home buyers and erode affordability.

Dave Wilkes is President and CEO of the Building Industry and Land Development Association (BILD), the voice of the homebuilding, land development and professional renovation industry in the GTA. For the latest industry news and new home data, follow BILD on Twitter, @bildgta or visit bildgta.ca.

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In Conversation With… Gregg Lintern, Chief Planner, City of Toronto

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In Conversation With… Gregg Lintern, Chief Planner, City of Toronto

Gregg Lintern, for those in the urban planning field, has one of the most desired gigs in all of Canada – chief planner of the City of Toronto. But heading up the planning department of the largest city in the country, indeed, one of the fastest growing in the world, is no cushy assignment. Managing growth, housing development, transit and cycling infrastructure… the list of tasks is endless and the critics plentiful and often harsh. And in a COVID world, everything is that much more complicated.

Lintern opens up about his vision for the city, his department, and the challenges of the development approvals process.

You’ve been in the chair a few years now… What have you learned or come to appreciate about the job?

Growth and change in a city of three million people is complex. The job is about managing that complexity to focus finite energy and resources to influence positive outcomes – usually in partnership with public and private interests. I’ve learned that is not easy – and it takes people and your ability to inspire people to get things done.

How would you describe your philosophy as Chief Planner for the City of Toronto?

Be values driven – I ground my thinking in values such as humility, empathy, generosity, perspective and resilience – and be people-centred. Think about the outcomes – the city we want to be in 20 years, and work backwards. What choices can we make now that will get us there and have our children and grandchildren say we made good decisions?

The city as we know it is a consequence of evolutionary change, driven by internal and external forces. Part of my role is influencing change for the better, understanding mistakes and showing a willingness to change direction, and push for beneficial outcomes.

The tensions that exist within the system of evolution are many, including things such as cars versus other modes of transportation, and exclusivity of land use versus mixed use. These tensions often result in incremental compromise, even as the general direction is clear.

Change doesn’t happen overnight, but COVID has seemingly accelerated and clarified both our opportunities and challenges. Ideas with long-standing support, such as increased cycling infrastructure, have moved forward quicker than they otherwise might have. But just as quickly, existing issues such as access to housing and social and health inequities have an increased urgency and visibility around them.

If we remain grounded in our values, I do think we can use this moment of clarity, even if it feels overwhelming at times, to make some lasting changes for the better, particularly for our most vulnerable groups.

What do you hope to accomplish in your tenure?

I set out a simple goal at the beginning of my tenure, and that was to build on past accomplishments and leave the Division and the City in a better place than I found them. I see that as the contribution everyone should make – in service to their family, friends, community and city – is to add, to enrich, to get it ready for who comes next as an intergenerational responsibility. In that sense, the city having more housing available and affordable for more people and better mobility than they have now – to have that access to opportunity that people across the city require. Toronto has landed on many top 10 lists across many measures of success; my job is to keep us there and to grow the list.

What changes would you like to make, or are making, from the way your office has operated in the past?

I would simply emphasize communication with staff and stakeholders. I know you can’t get things done alone – the more we communicate in a way that resonates with people, the better off the results of the services we provide and the outcomes in the community.

What are the top priorities in the planning department these days (such as improving the approvals process, addressing the need for “missing middle” housing, cycling infrastructure…)?

While we are looking at improvements to the approvals process, we are very much focused on improving the outcomes of the process – ensuring that new development contributes positively to the idea of complete. That’s really our main priority and much of what we do is aligned with this objective. In addition to the construction of new housing and commercial space, expanding and improving transportation infrastructure, cycling connections, expanding and making better use of our public spaces are all elements in the process of building complete communities.

Building a more livable, equitable Toronto is also a top priority. The City’s recently approved Housing Now projects are examples of smart density, building complete, mixed income, mixed-use communities with housing accompanied by child care facilities, open spaces, pedestrian connections and new streets, and retail and office space in various configurations. It’s about developing a broad range and mix of uses, combined with good urban design, to support daily life. Missing middle housing, and expanding housing options in neighbourhoods, is part of that work and city planning has a considerable role to play.

The home building industry is lobbying various levels of government to make the approvals process faster and simpler. How do you see this issue, and how are you addressing it?

The City conducted an End-to-End Development Review, which provided recommendations to improve the development process for both applicants and the City. To implement the recommendations, the City has established the Concept to Keys (C2K) program – a dedicated, multi-divisional team that will guide this work and will modernize how the City of Toronto attracts, facilitates and regulates development activity. C2K is working to create more predictability, efficiency, transparency and collaboration. Early areas of focus include a revised operating model and governance structure, enabling online applications and evaluating options to enhance backend technology to more effectively manage the development review process from start to finish.

New home supply and affordability, some say, are at or near crisis levels, and that we really need to approve and build more new housing, and more quickly, in order to meet demand and address affordability concerns. What’s your take on all this, and how realistic is it to expect your office to “fix” this problem?

Affordability and access are major challenges facing Toronto and many other growing North American cities. Council adopted the HousingTO 2020 – 2030 Action Plan in December 2019. It recommends a host of actions to improve supply and affordability across a whole spectrum of need. It’s a tool kit approach because there isn’t one fix for the housing challenge. About 20,000 units of housing are approved every year in Toronto, but a greater variety of housing more targeted to specific needs is required. Ideas such as expanding housing options in neighbourhoods, and more ground related housing such as laneway suites and secondary suites in homes, are gaining interest, for example.

What other cities, either in Canada or elsewhere in the world, have planning departments, systems and processes that you believe work well, and that we could learn from, and why?

We are always looking toward other cities, and encourage other cities to look to Toronto, to seek out and share best practices. No two places are the same and local context is always important, but there absolutely are lessons to be learned from work being done elsewhere.

Many cities in Canada and around the world are contending with the same challenges, though perhaps at different levels of intensity, as Toronto. Expanding housing options and providing for some that of “missing middle” are one such example, where cities are looking at what other jurisdictions are doing and then developing a suite of tools that work for their communities.

How did the early days of the COVID-19 shutdown impact your office? We’ve heard a lot about approval processes slowing, and submission backlogs…

Like any other organization, the pandemic disrupted core business in the very early days but the initial disruption was short-lived. Staff pivoted to work from home over the course of eight weeks, and that transition limited backlog and enabled staff to perform duties normally undertaken in the office.

One of the challenges posed by COVID has been hosting community consultation meetings. We host hundreds of these meetings in communities throughout the year to consult on new development applications and the development of new planning policy. What used to occur in person has moved online, and there has been a period of adjustment in adapting new consultation approaches. These new approaches to consultation present an opportunity for us to reach a broader audience and incorporate more constructive feedback into the planning process.

Lintern cycling on Lake Shore Blvd. during one of the recent ActiveTO weekend road closures.

How have things progressed since then? Is the planning department back up to full capacity?

Since the initial weeks of the shutdown, we have provided staff across the Division with resources to continue processing development applications and new policies remotely. We have been running at full capacity for several months now.

What has your office learned, or changes you’ve made, since the pandemic began?

We focused initially on keeping the economy going with development approvals, introduced temporary use bylaws to expand cafes, supported new housing initiatives for vulnerable people such as modular housing, moved consultation online with virtual consultation meetings and workshops, reformatted services including holding Committee of Adjustment hearings online. We have adapted our processes to work better remotely and provided our staff with resources to continue managing development review applications.

Additionally, the pandemic provided a renewed sense of clarity and urgency to certain areas of work, including the need to expand housing options and build local resilience right across the city.

toronto.ca

And on a personal note:

What part of town do you live in (from your Twitter account, it looks like you’re a west-ender…)?

In Toronto, you are either east or west of Yonge. I’m west of Yonge – actually grew up in Rexdale and have lived in the west end ever since. But I love the east end too, of course!

What is your favourite thing about Toronto?

When I get asked this I usually say – it’s a good place to call home. I often think of the people who were here before European settlement, of the waves of immigrants who have come here and of the people who desire to come here. It’s grown into a big city, but remains a place people want to call home.

When you’re not at the office (real or home office), you’re:

Walking or cycling in my High Park neighbourhood.

If you weren’t a city planner, you would:

Cook for people.

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Building Excellence – Fall 2020

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Building Excellence – Fall 2020

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Condo Life – Sept. 12 – Oct. 10, 2020

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Condo Life – Sept. 12 – Oct. 10, 2020

Condolife, launched in 1998, continues to be Toronto’s finest and most comprehensive guide to the condo market and lifestyle.

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What are the key responsibilities of a construction project manager?

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What are the key responsibilities of a construction project manager?

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Various projects exist out there, ranging from advertising through different types of media to planning company events. One type of project requires special attention and, most importantly, a subset of industry skills and knowledge. We are talking about construction. To succeed in the role of a construction project manager, it is necessary to handle document review and distribution, coordinate onsite facilities, practice good record keeping, schedule maintenance, and carry out quality control.

The construction manager oversees the project from beginning to end – more exactly, from the pre-design phase to the closeout phase. The professional must possess in-depth knowledge of all aspects relating to residential or commercial construction, keeping the project up and running without having to be involved. Construction project managers wear different hats. As time goes by and the industry witnesses numerous changes, it should not come as a surprise that the duties of the project manager are continually evolving.

Here are the main responsibilities in running a construction project.

Hiring, firing, and supervising

The construction project manager does not hire or fire employees, but they are able to make suggestions, as they know who would be a good fit for a project. In other words, who is capable of handling tasks such as preparing construction materials or assembling barricades. The right workers can carry on the company’s values and promises by providing quality work. The issue is that there are not too many talented workers left.

Controlling and allotting the company’s resources is one thing, and supervising construction workers is a completely different matter. It requires having a high level of contact with people, communicating on a daily basis, and overseeing their health and safety. Supervising can turn out to be difficult because it is necessary to pay attention to the smallest details. The construction project manager has to take notice of these details and use them in light of execution.

Procuring the equipment and materials

Every tasty dish comprises a set of ingredients. Similarly, a construction project necessitates certain pieces of equipment and materials. The construction project manager has to choose what will be used for completing the job, which will be procured from a network of preferred suppliers and manufacturers. Examples include but are not limited to:

  • Telehandlers and mobile cranes
  • Excavators
  • Wheel loaders
  • Dredge pumps and dredging equipment
  • Plywood
  • Concreting tools
  • Vibrating hammers

The list is not exhaustive, needless to say. It is paramount that the construction project manager is thorough in selecting the equipment and materials; otherwise, time will be lost on procuring additional equipment or making repairs once the project commences.

Staying within budget

Construction projects are becoming more and more complex, so overspending can occur. It is necessary to keep money in mind while planning the project and work. Problems can arise due to resource utilization, accounting, monitoring and control. Let us focus a little on accounting. For cost accounting purposes, professionals use construction project management accounting software, which eliminates human error and data issues.

Cloud software solutions can be deployed by field staff, as well as office staff, meaning that they are highly versatile. It isn’t possible to have an adequate budget without the correct application of accounting principles (cost principle, reliability principle and time period principle). Although it is impossible to carry on without making changes to the initial budget, it is important to avoid making too many expenses.

Time management

Time is of the essence, but that is not exactly a secret. The project, whether residential or commercial, needs to be delivered on time to avoid client dissatisfaction. Ideally, it should be completed ahead of time, but that’s often wishful thinking. Effective time management translates into coming up with a solid strategy relating to the time necessary for work activities. The construction project manager cannot afford to be a week or let alone a month late.

The schedule will determine what and when needs to happen. Attention should be paid to the fact that any changes to the schedule can lead to a disturbance that affects everything. A good construction project manager will know how to prioritize tasks and delegate them as necessary. No person is deemed incapable of completing the task. Workers do the best they can to contribute to the success of the project. The construction project manager empowers the team to grow together with the company.

Controlling underlying threats

There are risks associated with construction projects, namely not being able to meet contractual obligations or accidents. To be able to manage the various risks, construction project managers make lists of what could endanger the activity, whether it is linked to the finances or the competition. Most importantly, they select the right resources for overcoming the risks in question. These resources can take the form of software applications, training, financing and insurance.

The aim of the construction project manager is to minimize costs due to a failure and take precautions to avoid human loss. Knowing where potential threats come from is very important. In the absence of that knowledge, the construction project manager cannot mitigate the risks once the project commences. It is best to make neutral decisions, which in turn will yield superior performance.

All in all, it is clear to see that construction project managers do not have an easy life. We have outlined some of the specific responsibilities of the construction project manager. There are many more other tasks to juggle. There is a genuine need in the industry for professionals who can optimize capital investments. Project managers play an important role in the development of the construction industry, whether they realize it or not.

Ensuring the success of a construction project requires a lot of hard work, training, and, as mentioned earlier, special skills. The exact role of the construction project manager depends on the situation. On large projects, it is not uncommon to come across two or more professionals. What is important to keep in mind is that the health and well-being of the project depend almost exclusively on the project manager.

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7 tips to make your home a safe haven

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7 tips to make your home a safe haven

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Want to make your home feel like a safe heaven? These seven tips will help you make your home a safe environment for you and your family.

You know what they say, “There’s no place like home.” And, this couldn’t be any truer because our homes are the environment where we feel comfortable and protected. Or, at least that’s how your home should feel, too.

Your home is the place where you spend most of your time. It’s the place where you eat, sleep, spend time with your family, and relax. Such a place must be your safe haven and a refuge for well-being – the place where you feel comfortable and protected from all hazards.

1. Install fire and carbon monoxide alarm

According to the National Fire Protection Association, three out of five deaths caused by home fires happen in homes that aren’t equipped with a smoke alarm or have a non-functional smoke alarm. In fact, people without smoke alarms are more than twice as likely to die as those in homes with functioning smoke alarms. So, installing a fire alarm in your home can literally save your life in case of a fire.

There are various causes of home fires that lead to deaths, including electrical fire or unattended cooking.

As for carbon monoxide, it can leak and become a threat that you can’t see, smell, or taste. Since it is a poison gas with no odor, colour or taste, it can be really difficult to detect it on your won. And, unfortunately, it can be fatal when inhaled. It can come from any fuel-burning appliance in your home that isn’t functioning correctly, including your boiler, fireplace, gas stove or furnace.

So, a carbon monoxide alarm is essential on every level of your home, including, or most importantly, in the sleeping areas.

Fire and carbon monoxide alarms will keep you and your family protected in case of a fire or a gas leak. So, not only that you must equip your home with these alarms, but you must also check them every week to make sure they function correctly.

2. Have a fire extinguisher

The fire alarm will only let you know that there’s a fire burning in your home. However, the fire alarm doesn’t stop the fire from burning. So, that’s why you need a fire extinguisher in your home to react promptly if there’s a fire happening.

When you promptly put out the fire, you save you and your family, but you also protect your property from getting more damaged.

Place the fire extinguisher in a place that is easy to reach, preferably near your kitchen because the kitchen is the room where most fire hazards can start in a home.

In case you will use the fire extinguisher anytime in the future, remember: Pull the pin and aim the base of the fire, then squeeze or press the handle. Next, sweep from side to side at the base of the fire until you put it out.

3. Install a driveway alarm

According to Statista, burglary affected all 50 States in the U.S. and was the third most common type of crime in 2018. Moreover, a recent report from FBI Uniform Crime Reporting Services, there are roughly 2.5 million burglaries every year, and 66 per cent of those are home break-ins. The same report shows that burglars are most attracted to homes that don’t have a security system, and only 17 per cent of properties actually have a system in place.

With home security being so important to protect your family and belongings, you should definitely not neglect to install some security alarms. For example, a driveway alarm can prevent any unwanted entry. This sensor-based device will detect all sorts of motion that cross their path, including vehicles or people entering your property.

4. Hide toxic substances

Every year, millions of kids are injured or die due to toxic chemicals that are right under their own roof. This means not only cleaners, medications or caustic cosmetic items such as nail polish remover, but also substances such as perfume, bath oil or aftershave. In fact, data shows that one million kids are poisoned by ingesting common toxic household substances every year.

So, if you want to protect your family, keep these items that can be toxic hidden from your children. You can keep them in a closet out of their reach or locked. This way, you’ll have control over these substances and protect your kids from getting injured or even worse, die.

5. Test for radon

Data shows that nearly one in 15 homes has a high level of radon. A substance that is medical specialists believe is a common cause of lung cancer in non-smokers. Radon is a gas, a radioactive one, that gets released when uranium naturally breaks down in soil, rocks and water.

Radon is a substance that you can’t see or smell, so it’s impossible to know that you and your family are being exposed to it. Therefore, it is essential to test your home for radon. If you discover that your home’s levels are high, you’ll need to have a certified radon-mitigation specialist install a piping system in your home to vent the gas out.

6. Avoid tripping hazards

Tripping and falls are probably the most common causes of injuries. Places such as the stairs in your home and the bathroom are the areas in your house that are most dangerous when it comes to the risk of tripping and falling.

Thus, you should make sure that stairs and walkways in your home are always clutter-free to avoid tripping hazards. As for the bathroom, you can place safety non-slip bathmats to reduce the risk of slipping and tripping.

7. Have a first-aid kit in your home

Injuries happen all the time. If you are a parent, you’re most likely used to nursing your kids almost every day for small wounds.

Yet, while small injuries such as superficial cuts aren’t that dangerous, more severe injuries can even be life-threatening, and the faster you treat them, the less dangerous they are. So, make sure that you have a fully equipped first-aid kit in your home in case any accident happens.

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