Tag Archives: Eurodale Developments

Trade tips for the perfect bathroom

Trade tips for the perfect bathroom

Latest News


Trade tips for the perfect bathroom

Washroom, Bathroom, Restroom, Lavatory – call it what you will, we all know what a nice one looks like, and we all steer clear of ones that make us cringe. In virtually every project we design and build, there is one, if not more, of these critical rooms in the homes that are being newly created, gutted or updated.

Bathrooms, as with any room in a home, are affected by the four key budget factors: area (size), architectural complexity (spatial design), HAAS (the systems) and the quality of finishes. Some key tips we offer our clients are not typical or standard inclusions in washrooms, but many of our clients wisely opt for these comfortable and stylish upgrades. We will outline them here for you to consider adding into your own spa-like escape at home.

Photography by Valerie Wilcox
Photography by Valerie Wilcox

The niche

Though many pre-manufactured options now exist, we can create custom shower cubbies to hold shampoo, conditioner, bar soap and razors. Cubbies can be placed to conceal these products, or be a more centralized focal point, depending on your personal preference.

The floor drain

We picked this tip up from our architect friend, Richard Librach. A floor drain, tied to the main stack and installed adjacent to the toilet, is the perfect minor add-on to handle those periodic and pesty toilet overflows. Especially handy in second or third floor washrooms, this can prevent a messy and costly cleanup!

The warm floor

Either electrically (cheaper to install, more expensive to run) or hydronically heated (expensive to install, cheaper to operate), nothing says luxury like stepping onto a warm tile or stone floor in bare feet. Once you go hot, you never go not.

Photography by Nikolas Koenig
Photography by Nikolas Koenig

The concealed drain

Under benches, long, linear or tile-covered drains have taken that traditional round grate from the centre of the shower and transitioned it into a showpiece, or concealed it completely for a more sophisticated look. With curbless showers taking a more prominent position in the marketplace, these drains are one of the most evolving aspects of the bathroom as of late.

Ventilation

While not a code requirement, adding a dedicated switch for your bathroom fan is a smart upgrade. We recommend a timer to increase simplicity and save on energy. ‘Set it and forget it’ helps ensure the fan doesn’t turn off when you turn off the light; it also ensures it runs for a good 30 minutes after a shower, and not all day and night, wasting energy. This also helps reduce mould. If you are really low-maintenance, you can put your trust in a moisture-sensing fan that will turn on and off when humidity levels command it. Or, for something smart and stylish, consider an automatic ERV self-ventilating skylight.

Not just any tile

We don’t recommend natural stone for shower floors. Toronto city water is very hard and has lots of iron that will yellow your beautiful Carrera marble in short order. Stick with the manufactured product here. Likewise, if you like to get a little steamy in the shower, a tiled ceiling will help ensure the moisture doesn’t condense on the painted plaster surface. It costs a bit more but provides a more resistant, easier-to-clean surface.

Steam units

What better way to cleanse the pores than to steam them out? At home personal steam units are becoming more common requests for those looking for the relaxing and pampered spa-like experience.

Photography by Will Fournier
Photography by Will Fournier

Moisture sensors

Eddy home, Alert Labs and similar manufacturers, are producing small sensors hidden, either beside or behind the toilet, that will alert you by text message, email or phone call that there is water accumulating on the floor (from a shower, vanity or toilet), allowing you to act before the issue gets to be a bigger problem.

Recirculation line

Especially useful for tankless or on-demand boiler applications and in second-floor bathrooms, a recirculation loop to the vanity sink and the shower helps ensure instant hot water is ready for use and helps prevent water wastage.

Transom windows

Privacy, natural light and fresh air are all plentiful with these awning-style, high-mounted windows.

Intelligent toilets

Not your grandparent’s bidet, these seats or full-toilet systems can supply your water closet with music, night lights, and warm air blowing at your feet and/or your backside. It’s the ultimate luxury to ensure the most luxurious “go” experience.

Single component grout

Premixed, colour-perfect and stain-proof, this grout resists shrinking, cracking and wear and tear and also prevents mould – the nice bathroom destroyer!

Mirror, mirror on the wall

From custom cabinet framing, to lit vanity mirrors, and mirrors with hidden TV screens embedded within the glass, voice and smart mirrors, the conventional mirror – even with your beautiful face in it – is just plain boring! “Hello Alexa, apply a filter to my bathroom selfie!” Thinking of a new bathroom or perhaps overhauling an existing one? As always, I recommend you start your search at RenoMark.ca to find a professional builder to help you undertake the installations of all the new finishes in your project.

Brendan Charters is a Founding Partner at Design-Build Firm Eurodale Developments Inc., the GTA’s only four-time winner of the Renovator of the Year award.

@eurodalehomes

(416) 782-5690


SHARE  

Featured Products


Design/Build Expert: Metals

Magic Metal Mix: The beauty of blending hardware finishes creates a unique look

Latest News


Magic Metal Mix: The beauty of blending hardware finishes creates a unique look

Metal is mined from nature and provides durable and stylish fixtures and hardware in our homes. Once upon a time, metal selection followed a “set and forget” method when detailing hardware accents – never veering from the single selected metal – no matter where it was used within a home. If the faucet was chrome, brushed nickel or brass, so too were the light fixtures, the door handles and the cabinet hardware. Those rules have now fallen by the wayside, as designers, contractors and homeowners are switching things up and even adding metallic accents where they were not typically thought of or seen before.

We interviewed Halina Catherine from Halina Catherine Design in Toronto to get her take on how and where she is mixing metals in her projects. First, we wanted to know if there were rules for mixing metals in a home.

Photography: Peter Sellar
Photography: Peter Sellar

BRENDAN CHARTERS: What is the rule when mixing metals?

HALINA CATHERINE: Mixing metals in home decor can give your space a clean and elegant look. Although some people may feel intimidated to do so, there is no hard rule against it. A trick of the trade to create a more esthetically pleasing mix would be to select a dominant metal and accent it with another. A kitchen, for example, with predominantly stainless-steel finishes (stove, sink and fridge) would look nice with an added pop of gold cabinet hardware to offset and accent it, and could be further layered with a matching highlight trim on the stove hood. If the homeowner is more reserved and prefers a more minimalist look, mixing darker metals, but still using different finishes like polished, hammered and matte finishes, can develop a similar, albeit muted effect.

BC: Do you think this somewhat “glam” style of metallic influence has potential for crossing over into fabrics and furnishings?

HC: Yes! Metallic materials in fabrics have started to make their way from the fashion runways into home decor. Sheer neutral drapery with a slight metallic thread running through them is something I’ve incorporated in my interiors for the last few years. It’s so subtle but enhances the overall appeal.

Photography: Halina Catherine
Photography: Halina Catherine

Photography: Halina Catherine
Photography: Halina Catherine

BC: Since runway clothing fashion is increasingly influencing what we put into our homes, what trends are you seeing in metals for cabinet or door hardware vs. plumbing or light fixtures?

HC: We are living in a relatively unstructured time – people are resisting typical rules, they don’t want to follow trends, and they want individuality expressed in their homes. Designers want to flex their creative muscles to the max. Since clients are open to this, suppliers are now developing more metals than ever, in different and more creative ways. Furniture, including tables, sofa bases, kitchen and media cabinets with brass or brushed chrome or stainless inlays, are all unique methods of adding a touch of metallic, which highlights and mixes well with more traditional metallics. Light fixtures and plumbing fixtures are also following suit. I just finished a project where we used brushed platinum plumbing fixtures, accented with polished gold and smoked-amber glass. The combination was stunning! Who thought platinum would be available in plumbing fixtures? I always thought it was reserved for wedding bands!

BC: Boundaries are being pushed and interiors are looking more unique than ever, however, is there an urban vs. rural divide?

HC: It’s important to choose your finish according to how it will make you feel. It’s always about loving your space first, whether rural or urban. No rules. However, in saying that, if I were designing a space in an urban environment, I typically gravitate to cool tones – think chic polished chrome with white inlays, or matte-black paired with nickel. In a rural farmhouse I’m designing in Caledon, Ontario, we have incorporated bronze alloy hardware throughout, containing copper, silicon and zinc, giving all the fixtures a warm coppery-gold undertone. It’s rustic-warm but weighty at the same time to be able to hold its own in rooms with large wood beams and stone.

BC: Trends can change quickly, which can mean costly mistakes or changes. What would you recommend for people in search of something more “timeless?”

HC: The truth is, there is nothing trendy about metals. They have been around since the beginning of time. Gold is timeless, as is stainless steel, nickel, platinum and matte black pewter – though some of the finishing of these metals can change, the metals are all natural, hence timeless by their very nature. I encourage you to stop feeling like you need to follow a trend and instead be your own trendsetter. Do what you love and what feels best to you. Fortunately, the days of choosing all-polished chrome as the only acceptable choice have truly gone by the wayside.

The bottom line is that we can surrender our fears, as we are officially free to mix it up with metals and have some fun. At Eurodale Design + Build, we like to work with professional designers, like Halina Catherine Design, as experts help provide confidence and direction to homeowners undertaking an addition, renovation or custom home project, and their expertise always ensures things tie together nicely.

Brendan Charters is a Founding Partner at Design-Build Firm Eurodale Developments Inc., the GTA’s only four-time winner of the Renovator of the Year award.

@eurodalehomes

(416) 782-5690


SHARE  

Featured Products


Design/Build Expert: Laneway housing

Stay in your lane, pal: Laneways, now are for more than just vehicles and vermin

Latest News


Stay in your lane, pal: Laneways, now are for more than just vehicles and vermin

Toronto has a housing problem; some call it a crisis. One of the levers Council is pulling at to increase more urban housing options (a pilot project) is to construct laneway houses in rear yards that abut public lanes.

Photo courtesy of R-Haux
Photo courtesy of R-Haux

Beyond the basement

There are 2,433 lanes in the city of Toronto and since June 2018, residents have been able to plan for and build these secondary suites, in a (somewhat) detached fashion from the main dwelling. Essentially, it shifts the previously permitted basement apartment to move up and behind the principal dwelling, so long as the services are provided from the main building, and the lot is not severed. It’s a practice that has been allowed in many other metropolitan centres for some time. Cities such as Vancouver, Los Angeles and even Ottawa have had similar bylaws and a plethora of interesting solutions already successfully resided in. Over the past year, however, the Building Department reports there have only been 78 permits applied for and six permissions issued. The goal of the bylaw was to allow for quicker and easier action by Torontonians, but given its connection to the city’s more complex makeup of other governing bylaws, 15 other applications are awaiting Committee of Adjustment hearings for minor relief to the rules. That alone can add more than six months to the approval process, so seeing this put into any significant practice will take some time.

Livable lanes

So, who benefits from this pilot project, you ask? Potentially, anyone and everyone. Adding laneway housing brings eyeballs to the lanes, which increases safety of persons living in or passing through them. The city benefits from an increased tax base and the (hopefully) good news story about gentle density, increased housing choices and improved stock – therefore improved affordability.

Photo courtesy of Lanescape
Photo courtesy of Lanescape

How to make it happen

There are many options available to any current homeowner who has property abutting a lane inside the pilot area. One company that was a part of the laneway bylaw development is Tony Cunha and his team at Lanescape.ca. They hold regular public information sessions for designers, builders and homeowners looking to learn more about the intricate process and rules governing these initiatives. They also provide design and construction services, which range in cost due to factors including finished vs. unfinished areas, site-specific servicing, plus consulting fees. Tony emphasizes that this is not the ‘Tiny House’ movement gripping social media. “These units,” he attests, “can be up to 1,700 sq.ft. in size, with a 10mx8m footprint.” Lanescape has done a great job at creating illustrations of how to fit a laneway house onto a lot, and the zoning restrictions that govern it. Setbacks from the lane, the main dwelling, as well as height and angular plane restrictions ensures this is a true secondary suite, and not just another house behind a house. While every lot is unique, if you understand the basic rules, there is an as-of-right condition to fit something onto virtually every lane abutting lot. Stickhandling the rules, with guidance from professionals, can shorten the approval process and build the laneway home faster.

Bylaw-friendly design

Another group focused on designing solutions that fit the bylaws, is Leith Moore and his team at R-Hauz. They are taking the approach of full bylaw conformity, and have designed a number of products that fit the as-of-right-bylaw, based upon the typical Toronto lot sizes aiming at range from 15 to 30 ft. with stops at 20 and 25 ft. Their goal is to reduce the time required to erect the dwelling through a level of pre-fabrication and repetition of product and process. With roots in larger tract-style development, they are focused on the speed and scalability of the build, for the benefit of the customer and their neighbours, who also share daily access in and out of the shared lanes. With a more contemporary square, yet curvilinear design and standardized options for systems and finishes, these houses have been designed with a “best square foot, rather than most square foot” mantra to maximize storage and comfort and flow for the occupants. With a design already hatched, zoning approvals as-of-right and a repeatable product with modularized components, these may be the most prevalent solutions we start to see around our lanes.

Photo courtesy of Lanescape
Photo courtesy of Lanescape

Urban revival

We at Eurodale Design + Build, coupled with a handful of architecture offices and custom builders throughout the city, have also dipped our toes in the collective waters, but on a per lot, per client, custom type solution. Many of these projects become lumped in with improvements to the original, aged dwelling that exists on the lot to begin with, as part of a more holistic gentrification of the site. Given the services for the new laneway must be tied to the original home, work will be required at the basement level for connecting electricity, water, sewer and gas anyway. Damages done will want to be repaired, and there is an economy of scale to do improvements to the principal dwelling when crews are on-site for the laneway project. These will create a whole host of unique designs and construction projects of varying style and quality levels, spearheading a tapestry of urban revival of sorts, while solving some housing challenges Torontonians are collectively feeling as we mature and grow.

Do you have any ideas as to how a laneway house could benefit your own life? Give one of the aforementioned professionals a call to see how this exciting initiative could become a benefit to you and your family. As always, I recommend you start your search at RenoMark.ca to find a professional builder to help undertake your project for you.

Who is laneway housing good for? Potentially anyone and everyone. Here is a quick list of who may find it a solution to their needs.

• ADULT KIDS – a great launching pad to help teach these birds to fly.

• AGING PARENTS – retaining independence of space, but safety and security of proximity to loved ones.

• FIRST-TIME OR MOVE-UP BUYERS – help qualify for and pay down the mortgage with a tenant in the main dwelling or the lane house.

• REAL ESTATE SIDE HUSTLERS AND SMALL DEVELOPERS – a way to maximize the value of a lot with some extra construction.

• CAREGIVERS OR PERSONAL SERVICE WORKERS – live-in-style care with a live-out feeling.

• RETIREES DOWNSIZING OR IN SEARCH OF RESIDUAL INCOME STREAM – convert an existing property into an income source without affecting the main house.

• DIVORCEES: better than the proverbial doghouse, this could allow families to stay close together, albeit not under the same roof.

Brendan Charters is a Founding Partner at Design-Build Firm Eurodale Developments Inc., the GTA’s only four-time winner of the Renovator of the Year award.

@eurodalehomes

(416) 782-5690


SHARE  

Featured Products


DESIGN/BUILD EXPERT: Crash Course to real estate royalty

Crash Course to real estate royalty

Latest News


Crash Course to real estate royalty

Homes in Canada are expensive. In the outlying GTA, the average price of a condo is over $600,000—a single detached home is approaching $1 million ($914,000 in October of 2018) and a staggering $1.31 million for the same product in Toronto proper. With the time and financial costs required to commute, which CMHC estimates at an average of between $400 and $800 per month—the perceived savings of living in a bedroom community and travelling into the core for work is seeming less of an ideal plan—especially when you factor in our weather and gridlock woes that are only worsening with intensification. One way to help bridge the gap, or help transition from condo living to a low-rise product, is to subsidize oneself by renting out a secondary suite within the building, or even outside of it, with the new option of laneway housing. In order to service the $311,000 to $386,000 of additional mortgage, you would hypothetically require to upgrade from a condo to a house, or to move from the suburbs into the city, you would need to add roughly $1,500 to $1,900 extra per month to cover it. No small amount, I know.

CAPTION: Before (Photography by Eurodale Development Inc.)

CAPTION: After (Photography by Andrew Snow)

CAPTION: After (Photography by Andrew Snow)

Rent on the rise

Coincidentally, the average rental amount for a one-bedroom apartment in the city of Toronto has also been climbing, and now sits at $2,200 in the core, and $1,200 in the outer lying GTA. If you look at those numbers, they start to offset each other, in some instances, creating a cash-flow-positive position. This means, for a bit of legwork, creating or finding a home with a secondary suite could be your ticket to upgrading your living situation by either transitioning from a condo to a singlefamily home, or by reducing or eliminating your commute. Does the thought of becoming a landlady or landlord sound good to you? Read on.

Before you sign the lease

Secondary suites or dwellings are permitted As-of-Right via provincial legislation in Ontario. Every municipality has their own governing rules that you want to familiarize yourself with—here are some of the keys.

A permit is required to create one, and is only allowed in a building aged five years or older. If an existing unit, Municipal Licenses & Standards, Fire and Electrical Safety Authority must have signed off for it to be legal. Minimum ceiling height 6’5″ for at least 50 per cent of the area, with at least 97 sq.ft. of space per occupant, so the space doesn’t have to be huge.

Fire egress (to escape) and firefighter access (to enter to save you) are generally 3.8 sq.ft. and 1.0m clear respectively, with some fine print nuances that are important.

Fifteen to 30 minute fire separation and a Sound Transmission Rating minimum of 50 must be achieved for safety and privacy. Interconnected smoke alarms with the main dwelling unit are also a must for optimal safety and the lower separation. Sprinklers are the best, but carry a high upfront cost.

The unit must be smaller than the main dwelling, and if there is parking, the accessory dwelling must also have parking, except in the case of a laneway house, which negates all needs for parking at the property completely, other than for a pair of bicycles.

CAPTION: Before (Photography by Eurodale Development Inc.)

CAPTION: After (Photography by Andrew Snow)

Landlord training

Once you have a compliant unit, you then need to learn the ropes when it comes to being a landlord. First, advise your insurer in writing of the tenancy. Second, read the new Ontario standardized residential lease and develop your own set of individual lease terms to insert under section 15 to protect yourself and the property, and ultimately help govern the relationship. Spell out rules around guests, smoking, parking, access to and/or maintenance of the grounds,and utility splits, so it is clear and concise. Then, when selecting your tenants: Exercise caution. It’s one thing to rent a unit to a tenant, it can be altogether different to rent a space connected to your personal home to someone. Familiarize yourself with the laws and rights of the parties, which will rule your new business relationship. The website landlordselfhelp.com has great videos and podcasts that cover many potential hurdles you could face.

Know the rules

Thinking short-term rental such as Airbnb, VRBO, and the like? Not so fast! Many municipalities are working through by-law changes to restrict them, as in Toronto where the new bylaw is still under appeal, but can have large implications on the compliance and viability of your unit as a legal, short-term option. Setting up furnished, vacation-type rentals can be costly; therefore, you want to be sure you don’t get shut down if you are not fully compliant after having spent thousands of dollars on furniture, artwork, and supplies.

The payoff

Setting up a secondary suite has huge benefits to help pay down a mortgage. It also allows you to afford a better home, or a home in a better area, increase income, and pay increased dividends at the time of a sale. It can also be a lot of work, and as with anything, what you put into it, you will get out of it. The more seriously you take this business venture, the smoother it will run, and the better the yield will be for you in the end.

When planning your own secondary suite, remember there is real value in working with a professional to design and build the space. We recommend you start your search at the relevant professional associations to explore your options, including BILD & RenoMark—the home of the professional builder and renovator, to find the true industry professionals to help guide you to success.

Happy renting my Lady, my Lord.

Brendan Charters is Partner at Toronto Design-Build Firm Eurodale Developments Inc. – 2017 OHBA Renovator of the Year.

eurodale.ca

@eurodalehomes

(416) 782-5690


SHARE  

Featured Products


DESIGN/BUILD EXPERT: All The Way UP

What to consider when putting a vertical addition on your home

Latest News


What to consider when putting a vertical addition on your home

There are many options when looking to put an addition onto an existing home. Finishing of basements, conversions of attics, expanding the footprint outward laterally, or on tight urban lots, expanding upward with a second- or third-storey addition. This latter option poses unique opportunities and challenges compared to the others. Key considerations include structure of the existing dwelling, wall composition, ceiling heights, mechanical supply and roof type.

Before
Before

WEIGHT EXPECTATIONS

When adding a new living area above an existing one, we are adding load. A roof load (dead load) is vastly different from the load applied when we add living space, as we are adding both dead load and live load to the existing foundation and footings. Dead load is the weight of the structure itself (think lumber and sheathing), while live load constitutes the weight of the occupants and their finishes, furnishings and personal effects. Typically, for a house, dead load is 20 pounds per square foot, while live load is about 40 pounds per square foot (heavier in kitchens). As such, a bungalow that is turning into a two-storey home is almost doubling the weight it exerts atop its foundation and footings. The good thing is, for the most part, footings and foundations of bungalows were built to the same size and thus, same structural abilities as their two-storey neighbours. This often means  you can top up an additional storey without having to do any foundation restructuring. In the case of expanding up from a two-storey to a three-storey, the loading changes dramatically and the verification of existing footings and the potential of additional support may be required.

During
During

OPTIMIZE THERMAL PERFORMANCE

Since load travels from top to bottom, from roof to footings through walls and floors, the composition of existing wall types can come into play when planning and designing a top-up. Solid masonry walls are great for adding to, as they function much the same as a foundation does. Wood-frame walls, or other similar wall types, require lateral bonding (such as a floor package) before being extended up, as they are more susceptible to racking. This can be limiting if you are trying to raise existing ceiling heights before adding the new floor level (such as changing from an eight- to a nine- or 10-ft. ceiling).

The difference between existing wall compositions and new wall compositions is that it can impact thermal performance between existing floor levels and the new one. This can result in different heat loss/gains, as well as varying moisture transfer properties, which can impact efficiencies, comfort and health of the occupants. An original, un-insulated, solid masonry wall will perform very differently than a new-wood stud wall with an insulated cavity or skin. Including some “house as a system” design principles can help address these potential pitfalls, or at least manage expectations. Building codes tend to change over time, and what may have been possible when the original walls were built may no longer be so today, therefore planning wall alignments and compositions can be a critical step to the success of any vertical expansion, both from a form and function perspective.

SPLIT-SYSTEM HVAC SOLUTION

Heating and cooling, as one builds up, is a key consideration. Warm air naturally rises and cool air naturally falls. As such, lower levels will often be cooler than upper levels. Forced air type systems are most affected by convection, and with mechanical systems typically located in basements, getting adequate airflow to upper levels can be challenging. Stratification of temperatures increases as you go up to two storeys, and increases even more with the addition of a third. For this reason, we strongly suggest some type of split-system for HVAC to combat physics and provide optimal control and comfort.

The most difficult thing to achieve is proper cooling of the upper levels in the summer. High heat from the sun upon rooftops and windows can add considerable solar gain in the areas most often reserved for bedrooms, which can result in uncomfortable sleeping conditions. Creating top-down cooling systems will combat the heated area as the cool air will naturally fall to the lower levels. Split-systems with newer micro-furnace technology can also offer more complete zoning, allowing people to control temperatures per floor, resulting in a more efficient and reactive system.

After - CREAM TO THE TOP: Eurodale Developments received national honours with this Bloor-West top-up - Best Renovation in Canada over $500k (CHBA). Photography: Peter Sellar
After – CREAM TO THE TOP: Eurodale Developments received national honours with this Bloor-West top-up – Best Renovation in Canada over $500k (CHBA). Photography: Peter Sellar

TOP INSULATION

In Toronto, third floor roof types (currently) must be sloped in nature. This means it is likely the living area is within a portion of the roof space. Cathedral or flat roofs are more challenging to insulate to the same levels as conventional and often end up with about half the R-value (as is required by code). For this reason, the insulation used within this roof should be maximized with the use of two-pound spray foam where possible, as it provides the highest R-value per inch, and is a perfect air seal. If you think of a toque, most of the heat gain/loss in a home occurs through the roof–so the thicker the toque, the better the performance and the greater the comfort.

When planning your own top-up addition, remember there is real value in working with a professional to design and build the space. The process is as important as the final product here, not just the price. We recommend you start your search at the relevant professional associations to explore your options, including the OAA (Architects), AATO (Architecture Technologists), and BILD/RenoMark—the home of the professional builder and renovator, to find the true industry professionals to help guide you to success.

Brendan Charters is Partner at Toronto Design-Build Firm Eurodale Developments Inc. – 2017 OHBA Renovator of the Year.

eurodale.ca

@eurodalehomes

(416) 782-5690


SHARE  

Featured Products


DESIGN/BUILD EXPERT: A Tight Fade

DESIGN/BUILD EXPERT: A Tight Fade

Latest News


DESIGN/BUILD EXPERT: A Tight Fade

by Brendan Charters

Great at the barber, catastrophic at home

Sometime since the dawn of civilization, we became obsessed with curb appeal. Emotional creatures to the core, what started as a basic need, shelter has evolved as an avenue of self-expression. The exterior materials, architectural details, combination and orientation of finishes tell a story to the world about who we are, what we may value and how uptight we might be about the state of our affairs. Like it or not, the face our homes show to the world is a reflection of ourselves. Since the absence of personal time seems to be the norm, and very few people enjoy allocating their time or their hard-earned money toward regular maintenance, we will explore the finishes and colours that provide long-term value for your next exterior renovation project.

Photography: Andrew Snow
Photography: Andrew Snow

NATURE’S FORCE

All good things must come to an end. Rain, wind and sunshine erode mountains into prairies and valleys. Volcanoes are transformed into beaches. Some would argue none of those changes are bad things, but when Mother Nature applies her weathering ways to the face of your homestead, a bleached-out and battered esthetic is almost never a desired outcome. As such, when designing and installing your home’s exterior finishes, work from the following basic principles for lasting success.

1. Natural materials weather best: Fight Mother Nature with Mother Nature!

  • REAL STONE
  • WOOD rot-resistant or heat-treated woods, which are neither painted nor stained
  • BRICK
  • METAL such as zinc and weathering (corten), steel which is naturally self-sealing upon initial rusting.
  • avoid man-made materials with topically applied colouring.
Photography: Will Fournier
Photography: Will Fournier

2. Integrated colouring: These are products with colour that is within or part of the makeup, rather than applied

  • NATURAL STONE
  • BRICK
  • METAL
  • STUCCO with paint infusion (rather than painted after application)
  • EXTRUDED MATERIALS (such as PVC’s)
Photography: Valerie Wilcox
Photography: Valerie Wilcox

3. Factory-applied finishes: Controlled environment with baking process to cure finishes to substrates

  • search out flexible vinyl wraps, paints and stains that can expand and contract with the substrate, as all materials move based on their environmental exposure.
  • Warranty of finish is a massively important piece, as is stability of company manufacturing and honouring it.
  • Composite wood, Cement-fibre siding, aluminum siding all great examples of this.

4. Light to Dark: Dark colours attract sun and heat while light colours show dust and dirt more easily.

  • dark will dry more easily after rains but will oxidize and fade faster and more visibly.
  • light will pick up road wash and garden splash back, muddying the appearance.
  • lighter colours fade less and less quickly.
Photography: Andrew Snow
Photography: Andrew Snow

5. Moisture control: trapping moisture is never a good thing in a home, and it will always impact colours through bubbling, peeling and cracking.

  • design a method of moisture escape
  • understand the wall system as a whole, not just the exterior-applied finish as it works as a system.

When planning your own addition, renovation, or custom home, remember there is real value in working with a professional to design and build the space. The process is as important as the final product here, not just the price. We recommend you start your search at the relevant professional associations to explore your options, including the OAA (Architects), AATO (Architecture Technologists), ARIDO (Interior Designers) and RenoMark, the home of the professional builder and renovator, to find the true industry professionals to help guide you to success.

Brendan Charters is Partner at Toronto Design-Build Firm Eurodale Developments Inc. – 2017 OHBA Renovator of the Year.

eurodale.ca

@eurodalehomes

(416) 782-5690


SHARE  

Featured Products


DESIGN/BUILD EXPERT: Who's on First?

DESIGN/BUILD EXPERT: Who’s on First?

Latest News


DESIGN/BUILD EXPERT: Who’s on First?

by Brendan Charters
Photography by Valerie Wilcox

Architect, Designer or Builder—who gets retained and why

Unless you are a confident DIYer with lots of spare time, a home improvement project is usually born when someone puts pen to paper to retain the services of a professional. But who do you hire and in what order? Well, it’s neither an easy nor a one-size-fits-all answer.

ASSEMBLY REQUIRED - Architectural, interior design and building execution are all required to bring a project like this to reality.
ASSEMBLY REQUIRED – Architectural, interior design and building execution are all required to bring a project like this to reality.

WHERE TO START

The duty does fall upon you as the homeowner to take this first crucial step. Regardless of your experience or knowledge of construction or design, if you will be retaining the services of someone else to assist with the project, it is essential that you detail your wish list. Start high level, with the must-have items; for instance, a two-storey rear addition of a specific size, or the gut renovation of an existing kitchen or basement, or a 3,500-sq.-ft. custom home—whatever the high-level description of the project may be. Then figure out your realistic budget, and don’t be afraid to share it with those who will be helping you with the project. This will help people understand quickly if your goals match your pocketbook. Sure, retain a contingency for the unforeseen or unknown items that can come about in a project, and for items that the build may not include, such as furniture or appliances, but sharing the budget will help avoid both the homeowner and the professionals from wasting their time.

WISH LIST - Decide what the end goals are and your true budget to see if there is a fit.
WISH LIST – Decide what the end goals are and your true budget to see if there is a fit.

INTERVIEW THE EXPERTS

The second step is to meet with people—at least a couple from each discipline (architect or designer, interior designer and builder), and two to three firms that may roll all those services into one (i.e. Design-Build). We recommend meeting at the proposed project site, as it will allow the professionals to identify any potential obstacles to undertaking your wish list, such as trees, neighbours or other potential structure or site conditions. Get an understanding for their rough costs in a project like the one you are planning, and also use the time to get to know them and their process. Take notes, as different people will give you different advice and all of it could come in handy down the road, no matter who you ultimately retain to help. Designing and building a home or large addition/renovation project is unlike most other transactions. This service arrangement can involve working together daily for a year or more, and attitudes, egos and personalities need to mesh as well as the scope and budget do for the project to be a successful undertaking.

FINISH LINE - Touring finish suppliers early in design can help determine budget needs for finishes.
FINISH LINE – Touring finish suppliers early in design can help determine budget needs for finishes.

DECISION TIME

The third step is to retain services to commence the project development. This is the scariest, we know, but is the only step that thaws the project freeze we discussed before, and is required to convert the project into something real. If you are hiring someone for architectural design, as well as interior design, and a third person to build the project, we recommend bringing them all on-board simultaneously. It may only involve a minor commitment at the outset to buy some time, but will help ensure that the architectural design and interior design stays in line with the budget, and most importantly what it will ultimately cost to build. If you have a single source design-build firm retained, getting updated budgets upon crystallizing the basic floorplan will ensure budget constraints are adhered to if design changes are needed. It can be done early in the design phase, and thus be cheaper. Likewise, if you are selecting your own interior finishes, or retaining professional interior design help, we recommend touring suppliers to get a sense of tastes for finishes, and how those costs fit in against the initial budget. A high and low(er) type selection in the early stages will help your designer and your builder understand where your goals are esthetically, and will also help you to learn the cost impacts of your decisions related to finishes, and what compromises you may have to make to keep the project within the budget.

SERENITY NOW - The right budget, the right team and the right attitude ensure a dream home come true.
SERENITY NOW – The right budget, the right team and the right attitude ensure a dream home come true.

DETERMINE THE COURSE OF ACTION

The final verdict is that while some may say you should start with a builder first, others will suggest the architect or designer needs to come first. We feel that ultimately the homeowner or project initiator comes first, and that upon the first project idea development, the other three disciplines should quickly follow, but in unison as soon as possible to ensure an accurate and successful outcome. It is ultimately up to you, the property owner, to decide how you bring them together, either by way of building your own team of designers and builders, or reaching out to a single source design-build provider. Neither option is right for all projects, nor for all consumers, and we urge you to meet with all options to see which people and process will work best for you and your specific project.

SMOOTH PROCESS TO DESIRED RESULTS

When planning your own addition, renovation, or custom home, remember there is real value in working with a professional to design and build the space. Remember, the process is as important as the final product here, not just the price. We recommend you start your search at the relevant professional associations to explore your options, including the OAA (Architects), AATO (Architecture Technologists), ARIDO (Interior Designers) and BILD or RenoMark, the home of the professional builder and renovator, to find the true industry professionals. Best of luck with your next exciting project!

Brendan Charters is Partner at Toronto Design-Build Firm Eurodale Developments Inc. – 2017 OHBA Renovator of the Year.

eurodale.ca

@eurodalehomes

(416) 782-5690


SHARE  

Featured Products


Design/Build Expert - Kitchen Trends

Design/Build Expert – Kitchen Trends

Latest News


Design/Build Expert – Kitchen Trends

by Brendan Charters

Don’t get caught up sporting old trends in the most crucial room of the home

The most popular room in every home, the kitchen has become more than a space to simply prepare meals. As a family, we all congregate there, socialize, entertain and fill two of the basic needs of life to sustain our existence— we eat the food and drink the beverages we store within it. Given the wide spread popularity of the space, more and more homeowners are allocating sizeable parts of their new home or renovation budget to creating the perfect kitchen for them. It has also become a very fashionable room, and often dictates the architectural or interior design style of the rest of the home. Cabinet doors, countertops, appliances and backsplashes set the stage for the rest of the rooms in the home to follow. And those style trends are in a constant state of flux.

In working with our in-house Design-Build team here, I will break out the key trends we are implementing in this all-important room for our clients in 2018.

Still the most popular colour in cabinetry, white is starting to share the space with greys, blues and greens for a bit of fun. Photography: Valerie Wilcox
Still the most popular colour in cabinetry, white is starting to share the space with greys, blues and greens for a bit of fun. Photography: Valerie Wilcox

THE EXPERTS WEIGH IN

Interior designer Laura Thornton from Thornton Design, Jimmy Zoras from Distinctive by Design Fine Cabinetry and Jim Cunningham, architectural technologist from Eurodale Developments, all shared key elements they are recommending to clients. These experts guide homeowners in two areas of the kitchen—functionality and style—and at times, those two areas of focus can be at odds with each other.

Thornton suggests, no matter what the style or trend of the day is, no one can ever go wrong with paying for quality in this room of the home. Kitchen cabinets, counters and appliances are all touched on a daily basis, and if things begin to break down quickly, it will both look horrendous, and limit the true effectiveness of the space.

FUNCTION BEFORE FORM

In line with HOUZZ’s annual consumer survey, she also states that ingenious and creative storage is a must, allowing us to hide everything and create the esthetic of a clutter-free and vast countertop. This also lets people show off the style of that key kitchen feature more easily. It will also create a calm feeling of order. She notes that many people are experimenting with the removal of upper cabinets from their designs, or the introduction of open-display shelving. While it may look great in a staged photograph, or could work for a single person, it is somewhat impractical for a family with a greater need for organized and hidden storage.

The kitchen is no longer a room on its own, with only one function. A built-in banquette seamlessly provides lounge, eating and working space when desired. Photography: Valerie Wilcox
The kitchen is no longer a room on its own, with only one function. A built-in banquette seamlessly provides lounge, eating and working space when desired. Photography: Valerie Wilcox

MINOR UPDATES

Because these style trends change so rapidly, there are cost-effective options that freshen and update a space in order to remain current. Thornton recommends starting with the lighting, door and drawer handles (hardware) to inject some new life. Cunningham believes a countertop and backsplash change, while slightly more costly and invasive, will really alter the esthetic and feel of the room.

COHESIVE & CLUTTER-FREE

Zoras from Distinctive still sees many white cabinets running through his production line, however, people are starting to experiment more with colour for islands and base cabinets, which is helping to tie the kitchen together with the other rooms in the home. This bleed effect is something Cunningham from Eurodale sees architecturally. With smaller urban homes, the kitchen is increasingly becoming part of the dining, family or other common spaces. Kitchen cabinets tying into desk spaces and eating spaces, or even media millworks are starting to erase the word “kitchen” from blueprints, replacing it with “great room,” making it difficult for people in the space to clearly identify where one room ends and the other begins.

This walnut cabinetry tucks away clutter and frames the style of the entire home. This contemporary style offset against the concrete floor and ceiling is then paired with furniture for a unified, clean and dramatic esthetic. Photography: Valerie Wilcox
This walnut cabinetry tucks away clutter and frames the style of the entire home. This contemporary style offset against the concrete floor and ceiling is then paired with furniture for a unified, clean and dramatic esthetic. Photography: Valerie Wilcox

This further enforces the need for creative and ample storage to keep the spaces collectively clean, so the visual focus can be on the beautiful finishes rather than the clutter of dishes, cooking utensils and countertop appliances required to execute the culinary magic occurring in the space (or hidden places for your takeout container trash, depending on your lifestyle).

TO TECH OR NOT TO TECH

Lastly, while kitchens are under the technology assault, implementing Internet connectivity to appliances and creating hubs for device-charging or television or tablet screen integration, the kitchen as a lounge is helping people to actually disconnect from tech and speak to one another. Built-in banquettes, eat-in kitchens, desk spaces are allowing families the ability to congregate in one main room to remain connected to each other vs. ducking away into private rooms with their personal devices. Cunningham believes wet bars and butler pantries are helping to connect entertainment spaces to the kitchens, so families can easily eat, live, play, entertain and clean in an attractive and organized environment. Zoras helps us all get there by designing amazing pullout waste-sorting stations, baking and serving tray sections, full-extension Lazy Suzan inserts and deep-drawer organizers. These are the things you don’t see, they add some cost but completely revolutionize the function of a kitchen.

When planning your own kitchen in a new home or renovation, remember there is real value in working with a professional to design and build the space. Function is as important as form here, and planning your search at renomark.ca, the home of the professional renovator, is a great place to start looking for help.

Brendan Charters is Partner at Toronto Design-Build Firm Eurodale Developments Inc. – 2017 OHBA Renovator of the Year.

eurodale.ca

@eurodalehomes

(416) 782-5690


SHARE  

Featured Products


Design/Build Expert: Custom Home Collaborations

Design/Build Expert: Custom Home Collaborations

Latest News


Design/Build Expert: Custom Home Collaborations

by Brendan Charters
photography: Valerie Wilcox (exteriors), Peter Sellar (interiors)

An architect, designer and builder outline how to create project synergies

Embarking on the design and development of a new home is a big decision. It requires a clear outline of goals, the assembly of specialists, the management of egos, budgets and a pinch of added stress. Some experience greater success at it than others. To help guide those looking to undertake a custom home project of their own, we talked with the architect, Brad Abbott, Abbott Design Ltd, designer, Meghan Carter, Meghan Carter Design, and the project manager, Jim Cunningham, Eurodale Developments on a recent project we collaborated with. By connecting, we gain insight on how they help guide their clients to create both a beautiful finished project, and a smooth process, all while working together. Sounds impossible, right? It’s really not.

Q&A


Firstly, what makes the perfect custom home client for you? (i.e. style preference, personal character type, or other significant detail)

Architect Brad: A variety of tastes and styles is fine. Ideally the client has trust in the ideas and expertise of the architect and and allows freedom of creativity.

Designer Meghan: Our ideal client seeks to follow the design intent for creating a seamless esthetic, versus a choppy and piecemeal one often found through design on-the-fly type projects.

Builder Jim: The client is someone that understands challenges arise during any project. Nothing is seamless, you need to break an egg to make an omelette…so to speak. There has to be trust as you are working on their behalf at all times. Most importantly, respect and value for our role in the process.


Do you prefer to have the architect, designer and builder involved along all steps of the process, or just in their defined segment?

Architect Brad: The architect is integral to the overall design of the space, including the interior, such as: trim and door packages, post and beams and the overall structure. Continuity between the exterior and the interior can be critical. Involving the interior designer and builder early ensures a shared vision, as well as cost implications for the owners to use in their approval of the design direction. If possible, involve all parties at key design and budgeting milestones in advance of the build.

Designer Meghan: The clients need to understand the roles of each party and use them accordingly to obtain ultimate value. With increased collaboration throughout come the best ideas and the smoothest process from design to execution. If the architect is not doing the interiors, the interior designer should be involved at the first design stage to ensure details (such as window placements) work with furniture placement and flow on the inside.

Builder Jim: The involvement of all three is key when something is identified, which will not allow for the execution of the original design intent. While we do not require our hands held, we understand our role in the process is to execute the vision, and if it’s not possible, we are not tasked to design the solution—though we surely will make suggestions, the architect or designer will need to be the one to recommend and design the ultimate change for the homeowner to approve.


Introducing each other – when is it appropriate?

Architect Brad: If retained first, we prefer to do high-level budgets upon creation of floorplans and elevations. We recommend contacting two to three design-build firms for a meet-and-greet and reputation review. This review includes historically guided budgets, not trade/ supplier firmed pricing. It can help guide final designs and set the relationship path.

Designer Meghan: In years past, people would hire the builder first, then reach for the designer. This has now flipped, for the better. Once floorplans are about 85 per cent complete, a lighting plan and scopedocument has been created, we then look for one to two contractors to ballpark. They can then scale back, if needed, while it is still relatively cheap to design.

Builder Jim: As early in the process as possible, so that everyone can understand the goal from a space, style and budget perspective, as well as help the owners create a list of their priorities, which will govern how we allocate their budget throughout the project. It also helps build the team relationship approach if everyone starts from the first phase.


What to do when issues arise vs. that which is planned for?

Architect Brad: Don’t cut the architect and/or designer out of the conversation, just because they aren’t on site that day. A misguided or misdirected solution to a perceived problem can horribly impact the overall design. Keeping all involved can avoid diluted projects and relationships.

Designer Meghan: Start the build off with a project walk with all team members to try and flush these out at the get-go. Failing that, continue that method in the spirit of collaboration to ensure continuity of ideas and process for the benefit of the homeowner and the project!

Builder Jim: I would personally call the architect and ask them how they would like to handle the situation. Sometimes this can be flushed out by phone. Failing that, I would call an on-site meeting. If the client is unable to attend, I would brief them on the meeting and get their final approval on decisions before making the change, and document it.


Architect Brad, you work about 50 per cent in the city and 50 per cent in cottage country in Collingwood— what are the differences for you?

AB: In the country, clients tend to be slightly older, more experienced and are often moving out of the city. Typically, my country clients are better heeled and are more relaxed, having undertaken a few renos in the past. City homes offer unique challenges, such as this site with tight confines, whereas more rural settings provide ample views, along with more siting process to capitalize on topography, prevailing winds and lake views.


Designer Meghan, you acted as designer here, but you also undertake permit drawings and some project management duties for clients—how does this process differ for you?

DM: We know to enter with a low ego when working in collaboration as everyone at the table is skilled at what they do, hence their reputation and why they were retained. When we run from start to finish for the client, the project has more of a singular vision—our vision— which can make things easier but can also be limiting. When working as a group versus working independently, a clear outline of roles, responsibilities and deliverables of each member is a necessity to avoid overlap or conflict between professionals, which confuse clients.


Builder Jim, you acted as the project manager on this build, but your firm also undertakes an in-house Design-Build approach to projects—how does this process differ for you?

BJ: Our design process is more function-based in nature. Working with an architect and interior designer provides another level of design, which raises the profile of the project. It also tends to remove some of the copycat DIY design direction that is so prevalent in the industry. It’s not the right solution for everyone, however, and the Design-Build method works very well to help people undertake their dreams of expanding, updating or recreating their space to suit their tastes or needs. About 75 per cent of what we build is designed in-house, but we love building interesting and challenging projects designed by other professionals, too.

Brendan Charters is Partner at Toronto Design-Build Firm Eurodale Developments Inc. – 2017 OHBA Renovator of the Year.

eurodale.ca

@eurodalehomes

(416) 782-5690


SHARE  

Featured Products


Design/Build Expert: Bathroom Basics

Design/Build Expert: Bathroom Basics

Latest News


Design/Build Expert: Bathroom Basics

by Brendan Charters

Standard features with an eye towards the future

The earliest records of baths date back to 3000 BC. In 5,000 years, the basic need for bathing has not changed tremendously, though the frequency of use of this societal norm has increased and so has our expectations of this essential space. The technological revolution is also helping to shift our expectations of what we encounter when we enter these rooms. When thinking of these spaces, virtually every aspect of these rooms can be categorized into two main segments.

HIGH STANDARDS: Heated floors, steam showers, stone and glass tile, custom niches and cabinets are all perceived luxuries we see as standard or basic features in most projects today. Photography by Valerie Wilcox.
HIGH STANDARDS: Heated floors, steam showers, stone and glass tile, custom niches and cabinets are all perceived luxuries we see as standard or basic features in most projects today. Photography by Valerie Wilcox.

DEGREES OF DISCRETION

The first is privacy. Powder rooms on the main floor must never open directly into the dining, kitchen or even living rooms. The expectation is growing that these rooms have some level of sound attenuation to them, with solid-core doors and sound insulation, and even sound-board drywall. Stack drains are also frequently being insulated. Pocket doors, while functional at saving space, do little to conceal what is occurring beyond the door. Quiet ventilation fans are nice when located as an ensuite feature, yet noisier fans can come in handy when trying to cancel other sounds. In many ensuite bathrooms, we are noticing a resurgence of more formal water closets, giving the toilet its own space for its own function, resulting in a more spa-like experience for the rest of the bathroom, and allowing for more comfortable multi-user scenarios.

EXCUSE ME The fortress of solitude-or—enclosed water closet—is a luxury few think about, but all fall in love with when they realize the functionality. Photography by Valerie Wilcox.
EXCUSE ME The fortress of solitude-or—enclosed water closet—is a luxury few think about, but all fall in love with when they realize the functionality. Photography by Valerie Wilcox.

COMFORT ZONE

The second is comfort. Comfort is a highly subjective term, and one which we internally frame in different ways, depending on our personal situation and lifestyle experience, as well as needs. While 10 years ago, I would have thought comfort includes a shower with multiple body sprayers, a Kohler steam shower, heated floors, marble-tile finishes and a Toto washlet (a toilet with a heated seat, built-in bidet and blow dryer function—who needs toilet paper?!). Now, in 2017, I think of accessibility, critically positioned grab bars, wide doorway entrances, curbless showers, floating vanities, occupant-sensing lights, and moisture-sensing fans. When we are healthy and able-bodied, bathrooms fill dream and Pinterest boards with spa-like set-ups, rich finishes, mountain or seaside views and candles. When loved ones around us (or even ourselves) are not physically well, the access to and simple usability of a washroom becomes the most basic of needs, that if not designed and built with access restrictions in mind, can become an unattainable and non-functioning space, forcing them out of the home.

CAUTION–CURB AHEAD Regardless of the quality of finishes, if you are unable to get in to, or out of, a shower safely and easily, it can render a beautiful bathroom, useless. Photography by Andrew Snow.
CAUTION–CURB AHEAD Regardless of the quality of finishes, if you are unable to get in to, or out of, a shower safely and easily, it can render a beautiful bathroom, useless. Photography by Andrew Snow.

PREPARE FOR THE FUTURE

In recent years, I have noticed more and more clients planning for the dream of aging in place, or simply being able to return home, versus staying in hospital or a long-term care facility. With personal family and friends being forced to undue prior expensive cosmetic renovations in order to make an existing bathroom an accessible place, it definitely makes me pause and think about what the new era of standard features in a bathroom should be. Even if only needed for temporary injury or rehabilitation, an accessible bathroom in every home should become a basic need, one which I bet our Baby Boomer generation will push for in upcoming building code revisions. Forget your spa experience (for now)—let’s create spaces that everyone can use and benefit from for the long term—so we can all stay at home if we want to, no matter the health circumstance.

Lastly, and most importantly, before undertaking a renovation project in your own home, start your search at the home for the Professional Renovator at renomark.ca, where the top licensed and insured contractors can be found in Canada, from coast to coast. Happy Renovating!

Brendan Charters is co-owner of Toronto Design-Build Firm Eurodale Developments – 2016 BILD Renovator of the Year.

Visit eurodale.ca or follow Brendan on Twitter @EurodaleHomes



SHARE  

Featured Products