Tag Archives: Eurodale

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