Tag Archives: bathroom renovation

Men At Work - Bathroom Reno

4 tips to design your dream bathroom

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4 tips to design your dream bathroom

Photography by Valerie Wilcox

We get it. A bathroom renovation is by no means a glamorous undertaking. No matter what the end result looks like, you can count on an unimaginable amount of dust, loud noises and traffic from tradespeople, who you’ll soon get to know all too well. Despite the stress and costs that come with renovating, we promise you that investing in your bathrooms is worth the headache. Aside from the kitchen, bathrooms are hands-down one of the best ways to increase your home’s value while greatly improving your everyday living.

We tend to appreciate good bathrooms the most on those hectic mornings we’re just trying to get out the door, or those relaxing (and often rare) evenings we take the time to run a bath. The functionality and luxuries of good bathrooms come down to thoughtful design and thorough project management. Here’s a handy guide of what we think you should know before taking on your next bathroom renovation project.

1 Set a budget

Our designers and renovation professionals are always stressing how important it is for homeowners to understand the financials behind the renovation. What can you afford? What can you expect to get from spending that kind of money? Setting a realistic budget early on will help your contractor determine what the budget parameters are for each category required to complete the project. For example, a contractor or project manager will know what percentage of your total budget will need to be spent on different trades, and what can be spent on interior selections. Start by determining what you’re willing to spend and what your priorities in spending are; then be sure to communicate that to your contractor from the start.

2 Determine your scope

Decisions like tearing down walls, rearranging plumbing, or adding more natural light through a skylight or window are bound to increase the cost of your project. The longer it takes to finalize big decisions, the longer the life of the renovation – meaning more money spent. Our professionals agree that an average bathroom renovation will take anywhere from six to 12 weeks, however, much of that is dependent on the scope of work that’s been set and the length of the overall design phase.

As the homeowner, the single most important thing you can do to speed up the design phase is to be quick with approving designs and deciding on interior finishes, fixtures and accessories. Something that people tend to greatly underestimate is the time it takes to choose finishes. Today there are seemingly endless options of everything, so it often becomes overwhelming to commit to one faucet, one tub filler, one shower system, when thousands are so readily available.

Another miscalculation that homeowners often overlook is how long it can take the items they chose and ordered to arrive at their home. Longer lead times can be the result of various things, but it’s often due to items being on back order or the manufacturing process happening overseas that cause orders to take weeks, sometimes months, to get to the jobsite. It is for this reason that our design team always stresses the importance of selecting fixtures quickly and placing orders early on to avoid delays and unforeseeable expenses.

3 Lay it out

Once you’ve determined the budget and scope, you can start playing around with the configuration of the space. Consider how you, or those visiting your home, will use that particular bathroom. Is it a kid’s bathroom that requires a bathtub and height considerations? A main floor powder room or a guest bathroom that will be used by many people. Or maybe, this is your dream master ensuite that you’ve been relentlessly pinning inspiration pictures towards for years. Regardless of which bathroom you’re renovating, maximizing the space and layout to be as functional as possible is of the utmost importance. A fun little exercise to try, that always seems to pay off, is to have your family create a wish list that includes ‘must-haves’ and ‘nice-to-haves.’ Fill out those two sections and present them to your designer and contractor. Lists like these are helpful for everyone involved in the project because they clearly point out the bottom line priorities of the renovation, and what the ‘nice-to-have’ add-ons are.

4 Make it timeless, not trendy

It’s likely that you won’t be renovating your bathroom every few years, so choosing timeless over trendy elements, tends to be worth it in the long haul. Realistically, if your next renovation provides you with a functional bathroom layout and relatively timeless finishes and fixtures, giving your bathroom a little facelift in a few years might be as simple as swapping out sconces or replacing the shower curtain. All this to say, never underestimate the impact that small changes can make to a familiar space that you’ve grown bored of.

Undertaking a bathroom renovation of any sort may seem invasive and overwhelming, but the results will make it worth your while. One way to reduce the stress for you and your family is to hire an experienced Design Build team to take on the project. This will make the experience more enjoyable because you can focus more on the design side of the project (the fun part), and leave the production side in the hands of your trusted contractor.

Jessica Millard joined Men At Work Design Build in 2017 while studying at Ryerson University.

The Toronto-based firm offers integrated engineering, design and professional construction services for addition and major renovation projects on old Toronto homes.

Jessica has been involved in various internal departments within the firm, and is currently the company’s Project Coordinator.


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CHBA Connects: Judgement Day

Judgement day – five tips for a great renovation award entry

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Judgement day – five tips for a great renovation award entry

Winning an award can set your company apart from the competition. In addition to the marketing opportunity that all smart businesses capitalize on, it shows potential customers that not only does your work look great, it’s got the stamp of approval from others in the industry. Receiving accolades adds an additional layer of credibility and confidence, and gives homeowners one more reason to trust doing business with you.

Award season for many competitions is in the fall and winter months. While most competitions have their own eligibility requirements and entry questions, there are universal tips for preparing a solid entry and increasing your chances of impressing judges. We’ve compiled the top five tips for creating a great award entry.

1. Choose a standout project

This doesn’t always mean the most impressive-looking project, or the most expensive project. Keep in mind that judges are often your peers. How would you assess an entry? In competitions where all the product is beautifully designed and executed, you need to tell the judges why yours stands out. What makes your entry unique, creative, or exemplary? What challenges did you overcome? Perhaps you had zoning restrictions or budget constraints that required outside-of-the-box solutions. Maybe the homeowners had unusual needs or unrealistic expectations. Once you’ve selected a project, focus on communicating why it’s a winner when you answer the entry questions. Make sure you elaborate on the thinking behind your project and express to the judges why it stands out. Doing so will ensure your entry isn’t just another gorgeous renovation – it will make the effort and skill behind it stand out from the others.

The uniqueness of this custom cat litter privacy chamber was a hit with judges. Marvel Pro Contracting & Renovations Ltd., Kelowna, B.C. The 2019 CHBA National Awards for Housing Excellence winner for the renovation category "Bathroom."
The uniqueness of this custom cat litter privacy chamber was a hit with judges. Marvel Pro Contracting & Renovations Ltd., Kelowna, B.C. The 2019 CHBA National Awards for Housing Excellence winner for the renovation category “Bathroom.”

2. Photography matters… a lot

For many competitions, judges will not have the opportunity to see projects in person. This means the photos you submit are their only way to visually assess the space. It’s very difficult for judges to see beyond poor photography and imagine what the space truly looks like. Arranging for a professional photographer to take images of your work should be part of your construction workflow. If you’re not already, you should be using quality images for your portfolio, your website, and social media marketing. What makes for “good” photos? The space should appear bright and welcoming, with natural light flooding in. The image exposure should be high enough that you can see the details in your work. If you want to showcase accent lighting, let your photographer know; he or she may suggest shooting closer to dusk when they can capture interior lighting and natural light at the same time. Make sure to include wide shots to give judges an idea of what the space looks like as a whole. Conversely, get some close-up images of fine detail work and craftsmanship that you want to highlight. Your photographer should deliver images that are in focus and true to colour. To really help judges (and potential customers) understand how the space is used, it should be staged as though the house was for sale; minimize distracting elements (remove clutter, knick-knacks, and personal portraits) and take a less-is-more approach to design. Consider adding welcoming touches like fresh fruit in the kitchen or flowers in the entryway.

Plenty of natural light makes the home bright and welcoming. Granite Homes, Fergus, Ont. The 2019 CHBA National Awards for Housing Excellence winner for the renovation category "Kitchen – under $70,000."
Plenty of natural light makes the home bright and welcoming. Granite Homes, Fergus, Ont. The 2019 CHBA National Awards for Housing Excellence winner for the renovation category “Kitchen – under $70,000.”

3. Include before and after pictures from the same angle

The most impressive aspect of home renovations is the transformation. Judges want to know the true scope of the project, and they need “before” pictures of what the space previously looked like so they can appreciate how much work was done on the design, layout, construction, and finishing. Before images should show as much of the space at one time as possible so judges can see in a glance what the room looked like. Almost as important as before pictures is having an after photo from the same angle. When the transformation is easy to see, your entry becomes more competitive. This is especially important if interior walls were removed, windows were relocated, or room layouts changed (kitchen appliances moving or a fireplace switching walls). It’s easy for judges to get disoriented, even when consulting floor plans. Make it easy for them. Before images don’t need to be taken professionally, but prior to starting on a project you should take images from all angles. Later, your professional photographer will have the flexibility to capture an after image of the best angle for the new space, and you’ll have a before picture that matches.

Interior image featuring lighting, taken at dusk. West Ridge Fine Homes Ltd., Calgary, Alta. The 2019 CHBA National Awards for Housing Excellence winner for the renovation category "Whole House – $500,000 to $1 million."
Interior image featuring lighting, taken at dusk. West Ridge Fine Homes Ltd., Calgary, Alta. The 2019 CHBA National Awards for Housing Excellence winner for the renovation category “Whole House – $500,000 to $1 million.”

4. Be clear and concise

In addition to supplying images and floor plans, most award programs will require a written component to entries. Whether you need to answer specific questions or you have a big block of space to write freeform, be aware of the language you use. Make sure you are clear and concise. Use point form if you can, but don’t be so frugal with words that sentences are hard to read. Don’t repeat content from question to question – that’s a red flag for judges who will feel your entry isn’t interesting enough to come up with more varied responses. If you can, find out what level of expertise the judges will have. If the judges are renovators, for example, you can use a fair bit of industry terminology and they’ll understand. On the other hand, if you’re entering a category that’s getting judged by the public, you’ll likely want to explain things in layman’s terms. No matter who you’re writing for, remember that judges often have a lot of entries to get through. Discuss your most important points first, write clearly, and concisely express why your entry is a standout project. Before submitting, make sure someone else proofreads your work. And if the idea of writing up an entry is overwhelming enough not to enter, consider hiring someone to take over the task. There are professionals who specialize in preparing award entries for renovators and builders.

Before and After pictures from the same angle illustrate the transformation.

Interior image featuring lighting, taken at dusk. West Ridge Fine Homes Ltd., Calgary, Alta. The 2019 CHBA National Awards for Housing Excellence winner for the renovation category “Whole House – $500,000 to $1 million.”

5. Give yourself time

This tip is as basic as they come, but it’s worthy of being on the list. Putting together an entry at the last minute is not only very stressful, but puts you at risk of not successfully communicating to the judges why your project is award worthy. Give yourself plenty of cushion time. Fully read the award requirements, judging criteria, and questions well in advance of the deadline. This will give you time to assemble all the elements you need. Be aware that many competitions require a specific homeowner permission form to be filled out, and that it may take some time to have your customer sign off. Familiarize yourself with the award entry method, whether it’s online software or paper forms. Make sure you have all of the required documents and images; you don’t want to be disqualified for missing information. Give yourself time to put thought into how you answer questions, touching on the elements that make the project stand out. And finally, don’t wait until the final minutes to submit an entry or count on an extension, or you may just be out of luck.

Maximize your chances of winning by following all of these tips. You’ll have a great entry, and likely more marketing material for promoting your business, win or lose. And finally, if you are recognized as a top project, make sure to make the most of it! Provide your local media sources with great images and a ready-made story. Use the opportunity to connect with your customers and your community – introduce them to the team that was behind the project, let them in on added details about the home, or tell them why your company is passionate about doing such quality work. Winning an award can be a great motivator for your team, and an excellent marketing tool. So get out there and enter!

NATASHA ROMBOUGH, CHBA’S Director of Marketing and Communications

 


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