Tag Archives: RenoMark

Suburban to Urban

Suburban to Urban – Density for the good of the community

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Suburban to Urban – Density for the good of the community

Toronto, having entered the global scene as a major world centre over the last two decades, still needs to mature in many ways. As residents of the fastest growing metropolis in North America, Torontonians have had to embrace change, and have done so reasonably well. However, where we have failed is mirrored across major centres throughout North America, and in many cases, the world. It has been highly publicized that Toronto is a tale of two housing types – the highrise condo and the lowrise single-family home. There is a gap in choice for the residents and new Torontonians immigrating to this city (more than 100,000 arrived last year alone).

The “missing middle” is a housing type that takes the built form of duplex, cottage courts, fourplexes townhouses, stacked triplexes, multiplexes and live/work suites. These are sometimes illegal due to the zoning that governs many of the areas defined as stable neighbourhoods. Also referred to as the “yellow belt,” this area makes up about 70 per cent of the city’s landmass. Still, it also includes a declining population (as those living in the single-family homes continue to age and their kids leave the nest, permanently). In comparison, defined strips of the city (generally downtown and along the Yonge Street corridor) are booming in vertical expansion of condominiums that scrape the sky.

The dichotomy is often not suitable, as it leaves an aging population in homes they may have difficulty aging in. It also relegates young cash-strapped families starting in tiny condos to move out sooner, fleeing the city in search of more house and more land.

With an excess of six million people calling the GTA home today, slated to grow past eight million in 10 years and balloon to more than 10 million in less than 25 years, the great bastion of the “stable neighbourhood,” and the people and property owners within it, must change. If everyone who moved out of a condo in search of an alternate housing type moved to one of the bedroom communities outside the GTA, our North America leading gridlock would only worsen. We just can’t build enough transit to keep up with that solution. In a mega-city such as Toronto and an even more populous group in the GTA, efficiently moving people will forever remain a significant challenge.

But, as we know, change is hard. The COVID-19 pandemic has brought about swift change for the entire world. One of the great challenges that has been noticed is the impact of density on the transmission of the virus. Rental rates of condos located downtown are reported to be down close to 20 per cent. While anecdotally, real estate professionals are citing a growing flock of persons cashing in and relocating to communities up to two hours from the city in hopes of finding affordability and physical distancing from others.

With the help of Zoom and similar technologies, working from home is possible, but can also provide strain when working and living with a family within a small condo. The single-family housing type which dominates most neighbourhoods can become more flexible and provide housing for many types of residents, across different life stages and various economic levels.

It makes little sense for a young family to become grossly indebted obtaining a single-family home, have their kids vacate the building in search of their own housing once they’ve grown, leaving two people to remain in a four-bedroom home. When one passes away, it can leave three empty bedrooms and a lot of house to maintain and safely provide for their own care within, all while shutting other families out of the market for longer than necessary.

Suppose we were to reimagine these existing buildings – to convert from a single-family dwelling to a duplex, triplex or fourplex. Or, even allow for the assembly of two to three of these structures for a lowrise, four-storey walkup (with elevators) as was allowed in old Toronto. We could provide for transition options for people to stay in their communities for their entire lifecycle if they chose to.

It would also develop a more accurate societal cross-section (a real “community,” if you will), comprising babies, young children, teenagers, young adults, families and seniors. Each of whom has vastly different housing needs and have varied socio-economic backgrounds. As Ted Knight famously quips in the movie Caddyshack, “The world needs ditch diggers too!” Why must the post-war suburbs be reserved for high-income professionals or those benefitting from generational wealth?

Toronto and its residents know full well that we are in a housing crisis. With only a few thousand legal secondary suites in the city and, an estimated existence of between 70,000 to 100,000 illegal basement apartments, a well-defined and exploited need is outpacing political abilities to make the changes we need.

For our mutual benefit, as we all travel the journey of our lifecycle together, we could be creating walkable communities while rehabilitating the aged housing stock in the process and helping the environment, too. If still unconvinced, spend some time reading from local planners such as Richard Florida, Jennifer Keesmaat, Gil Meslin and Architecture critic Alex Bozikovic. Google terms “gentle and distributed density,” “missing middle” and “flexible housing” to get an idea of how subtle change can make a positive impact for everyone. If you like your community, let’s work together to change it so it will work for you and your family forever.

If you want to design, build or renovate your home for the long term, remember there is real value in working with a professional to design and build the space. Visit renomark.ca, the home of the professional renovator, to start your search when looking to start your project.

Brendan Charters is a Founding Partner at design-build firm Eurodale Developments Inc., the 2020 BILD Renovator of the Year.

@eurodalehomes

416.782.5690


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Renovate safely during COVID-19 with a RenoMark Renovator

Renovate safely during COVID-19 with a RenoMark Renovator

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Renovate safely during COVID-19 with a RenoMark Renovator

Photos by Eurodale Design + Build

New renovation projects were allowed to start this past May when the provincial government expanded the list of allowable construction activities under its COVID-19 emergency orders. Previously, only renovation projects that had already been underway were permitted.

The health and safety of homeowners and workers is the industry's number one priority.
The health and safety of homeowners and workers is the industry’s number one priority.

To help guide renovators and protect homeowners, our partners at the Ontario Home Builders’ Association (OHBA) developed a Health and Safety Guide that outlines best practices for renovators under COVID-19.

The health and safety of homeowners and workers is the industry’s number one priority. RenoMark renovators are industry professionals who only work with contracts, carry all the necessary insurance and permits, provide a warranty on their work and abide by the RenoMark Code of Conduct. When it comes to COVID-19, RenoMark members have all the necessary protective equipment and processes in place to complete the job safely and to the standards that homeowners expect.

During COVID-19, sanitation and cleanliness on the job site are paramount. For projects lasting longer than two days, portable toilets and designated wash stations will be made available or a washroom designated by the client will be used as an alternative. Daily cleaning requirements are to be documented in a cleaning log. Communal areas are to be cleaned regularly and logged daily. On weekends, the homeowner will be responsible for cleaning communal spaces. Workers will wash their hands frequently, sanitize and use proper hygiene protocol as outlined by the chief medical officer of health.

RenoMark renovators understand that communication with customers is now more important than ever. Renovators will ask that clients communicate directly with the site supervisor while practicing physical distancing. All site access will be scheduled by appointment only, and clients will be asked to sign in when entering the work zone.

To ensure that no worker shows up unexpectedly, RenoMark renovators will provide schedules of when trades will be in the home. OHBA guidelines require that renovators stagger on-site trades’ schedules to limit the number of people in the home. They also require the renovator to screen the health of tradespeople accessing a site every day.

These are some of the protocols that RenoMark renovators are putting in place to protect the health and safety of homeowners and their families. In return, renovators will ask clients to avoid entering the work site when work is being performed and to notify the site supervisor of any illness, wear a face covering when entering work areas and practice physical distancing.

Our industry is ensuring that work is carried out in compliance with the Ministry of Labour’s Guidelines for Construction Site Health and Safety during COVID-19. Our entire industry also supports closing any site that doesn’t meet requirements and welcomes increased inspection levels by the Ministry of Labour.

To find a RenoMark professional renovator for your next project, visit renomark.ca.

Dave Wilkes is President and CEO of the Building Industry and Land Development Association (BILD), the voice of the home building, land development and professional renovation industry in the GTA.

For the latest industry news and new home data, follow BILD on Twitter, @bildgta, or visit the website.


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Top honours at 2020 BILD Renovation and Custom Home Awards

Top honours at 2020 BILD Renovation and Custom Home Awards

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Top honours at 2020 BILD Renovation and Custom Home Awards

The Building Industry and Land Development Association (BILD) handed out their annual Renovation and Custom Home Awards to the GTA’s top renovators and custom home builders by video conference on April 8th.

Created by BILD in 1999, the Renovation and Custom Home awards recognize professional renovators and custom home builders for their innovation, quality of work, customer service and industry leadership.

BILD received a record 117 submissions for 25 categories that included Best Overall Space, Best Overall Renovation, Best Overall Custom Home, Custom Home Builder of the Year and the coveted Renovator of the Year award. All submissions were evaluated by 28 industry professionals who served as volunteer judges.

This year, the Renovator of the Year award went to Eurodale Design + Build for their commitment to customer service and their contribution to the overall image of the renovation industry. Eurodale Design + Build also won Best Innovative Renovation.

“Eurodale customers were impressed with the renovator’s quality workmanship and professionalism,” says Dave Wilkes, president and CEO of BILD. “True to the RenoMark brand, Eurodale clients were provided with a warranty for the work done and clients felt that the renovator went out of their way to deliver an outstanding project with excellent service and followup.”

The award for Custom Home Builder of the Year went to Luxor Home Corporation. Luxor Homes’ clients felt that the builder went above and beyond to provide great quality of work and outstanding customer service. Luxor Home Corporation also won Best Custom Home Kitchen.

Profile Custom Homes won the Best Overall Custom Home award for their project in Mississauga. The design and flow of the home blurs the line between indoor and outdoor living areas. The modern design is softened by the use of wood and the integration of views of nature from every room of the home. They also won Best Custom Home over $2 million, Best Custom Home Washroom, and Best Renovation (No addition) over $500,000.

Best Overall Renovation went to Carmelin Design + Build. Carmelin Design also won Best Condominium Renovation under $200,000, and Best Renovation (No addition) under $250,000.

Both of these award-winning projects utilize high-contrast colour features in the kitchen, while softening the floor through the continuous use of hardwood floors throughout the home. The integration of large windows, which are expertly orientated in the design, maximizes the infiltration of sunlight throughout the home.

Lifestyles by Barons Inc. won Best Overall Space Renovation. This beautifully constructed whole home renovation is a testament to Lifestyles by Barons’ attention to detail and listening to the desires of their client. The integration of the soft-coloured stone and tile throughout the home provides an ambience of strength, while relaxing and easing the homeowner’s state of mind. Lifestyles by Barons Inc. also won Best Basement Renovation over $125,000, and Best Washroom Renovation.

“This year’s winners exemplify the quality, innovation, creativity and integrity that homeowners can expect when working with professional RenoMark renovators and custom builders,” says Wilkes.

All award winners are members of the national RenoMark program, which connects homeowners with professional renovators who have agreed to abide by a renovation-specific code of conduct. Contact information for all RenoMark renovators is accessible on renomark.ca. A complete list of winners can be found in the latest blog on the RenoMark website as well.

BILD would like to congratulate all the winners and finalists.

A complete list of winners can be found in the blog section of renomark.ca.


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Silvergate Homes

Silvergate Homes is redefining Niagara living

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Silvergate Homes is redefining Niagara living

For more than 35 years, Silvergate Homes has excelled in new home building in Niagara. Owned and operated by two generations of the Passero family, Silvergate has carefully nurtured a reputation for exceptional quality and a commitment to customer service.

This underlying philosophy hasn’t changed since day one, and Silvergate is now getting noticed well beyond the local new home market. Its two flagship communities, Legends on the Green and Village on the Twelve, are attracting the attention of a growing number of homebuyers from the GTA who are seeking value and luxury in Niagara.

Legendary living

An Energy Star®-certified contemporary bungalow townhome community, Legends on the Green, offers luxury living and architectural elegance. Backing onto the outstanding Legends on the Niagara championship golf course, this rare enclave community of 58 upscale bungalow towns is located in the charming village of Chippawa along the Niagara River.

“We’re extremely proud of Legends on the Green,” says John Passero, President of Silvergate Homes. “The location is second-to-none with its secluded backdrop along the golf course, yet it’s just minutes away from all the amenities Niagara Falls has to offer.”

The architecturally controlled exteriors at Legends combine a stylish fusion of dark siding, stone and modern brick. Interior layouts and finishes exude luxury, with designer kitchens, spa-like ensuites and spacious living areas.

Village on the Twelve

Overlooking a beautiful ravine along the banks of St. Catharines’ historic Twelve Mile Creek is one of Silvergate’s most luxurious releases to date. The sixth phase of Village on the Twelve is a limited collection of two-storey and bungalow townhomes.

These homes offer upscale, modern design, along with architecturally controlled exteriors to ensure aesthetic beauty and balance within the community. Innovative floorplans and contemporary styling elevate this collection of stunning homes, with multiple windows that highlight clean lines and bright interiors.

This secluded oasis in one of the city’s most prestigious areas, and is referred to as Niagara’s Urban Hub. Residents of Village on the Twelve are just a short, five-minute drive from the downtown, which offers premier dining, a new performing arts centre and the Meridian Centre sports and spectator facility.

Niagara’s growing allure

Real estate in the Niagara Region is booming as buyers from the GTA look to escape an overheated metropolitan market. It is the perfect place to downsize, and to lock in exceptional value. GTA sellers can upscale their comfort and luxury, while achieving considerable savings.

Both Legends on the Green and Village on the Twelve are ideal home bases for enjoying some of Niagara’s top amenities. The area caters to millions of visitors every year, so when it comes to conveniences, comforts and hospitality, the Niagara Region’s population of approximately 450,000 punches well above its weight. Destinations include 88 nearby wineries, Niagara’s Ale Trail, fine dining, two casinos and the Fort Erie Racetrack. Golfers can choose to play at more than 40 courses, and hundreds of kilometres of hiking and biking trails are available throughout the region. In addition to local farmers’ markets and harvest festivals, shoppers have access to outlet malls on both sides of the border.

Better build homes

By choosing a home at one of these two communities, you’re selecting a better-built home by Silvergate, which includes superior architecture and craftsmanship, along with innovative designs and the most up-to-date materials. Staff members are committed to personalized customer service throughout the home buying process.

Silvergate Homes is an award-winning, Tarion Warranty builder and RenoMark contractor, with more than 30 builder awards for Excellence, Design, Marketing and Environmental Stewardship. Their homes are built to exceed provincial building code standards. Silvergate is dedicated to building energy-friendly new homes through eco-friendly practices and technologies.

CONTACT INFORMATION

The model homes are located at 8974 Willoughby Drive in Niagara Falls.

905.680.6000

silvergatehomes.com


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Successful renovation

At the crest of the busy renovation season, here is a guide to planning a successful one

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At the crest of the busy renovation season, here is a guide to planning a successful one

Photography: Courtesy of Alair Homes

Spring is a great time to turn your attention to begin that renovation you’ve been putting off. If you are planning an upgrade or renovation, you are in good company. Based on Statistics Canada’s Canadian Housing Survey (2018), over one million Canadian homes are in need of major repair.

Renovations and repairs may include a smaller job, like a bathroom refresh or finishing a basement, to meet changing life needs, or maybe it’s something more substantial. Regardless of the project, understanding the process and planning is a key factor in achieving the results you want.

Articulate your wish list

Your first step should be to develop a very clear vision of what is required. Take time to articulate what goals you want to achieve with your renovation and develop a clear description of what you want to change. Write down your priorities and items that you’d like to have if your budget allows. Make sure everyone in your home participates in the discussion so you have a complete picture of what is needed.

Pick a pro

Then it’s time to find a professional renovator that will guide you through the process. The good ones get booked up months in advance, so it is in your best interest to start this process early. You will be putting a lot of trust in this person, so look for a renovator that is a member of BILD’s RenoMark program. This means that they have committed to the RenoMark code of conduct and BILD’s code of ethics. To find a RenoMark renovator, visit the website.

For most people price is an important consideration when choosing a renovator, but it’s important to note that you often get what you pay for. Make sure to consider the renovator’s experience, construction schedule and references. You should verify that the renovator has the appropriate licences, WSIB coverage and insurance. Take the time to check three references to get a good understanding of how the company operates.

Outline budget & potential permits required

Once you have selected your professional renovator, he or she may bring in a designer or architect, and together you will work through your project outline and create plans and specifications. This will help determine the budget estimate and any building permits and approvals you will need. In some municipalities, obtaining building permits and approvals can take many weeks and even months. This is another reason to start the process early.

Get it in writing

When you are comfortable with the preliminary design, budget and timetable, you’re ready to draw up a written contract with your renovator. The contract sets out the precise scope of the work, the price, a schedule of payments, a reasonable timetable for completing the work, product-specific details and a warranty clause. The contract should be reviewed by a lawyer. A RenoMark renovator will provide a contract for all projects. Remember good contracts provide protection to both parties in the event of a dispute or problem.

For more information about the nuances of planning a renovation, BILD has recently compiled a new Reno Guide to assist homeowners through the process. The Reno Guide is published with the support of the City of Toronto Environment & Energy Division and can be found on the BetterHomesTo website.

Dave Wilkes is President and CEO of the Building Industry and Land Development Association (BILD), the voice of the home building, land development and professional renovation industry in the GTA.

For the latest industry news and new home data, follow BILD on Twitter, @bildgta, or visit bildgta.ca.


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Kitchen Trends 2020

Kitchen Trends 2020 – Tips to advance your home into the roaring ’20s

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Kitchen Trends 2020 – Tips to advance your home into the roaring ’20s

Photography: Thornton Design

In 1949, the U.S. Department of Agriculture developed a full research project around what it described as “A Step-Saving Kitchen.” YouTube it, it’s pretty awesome…but technology, trends and how “the farm homemaker” (or urban millennial) uses the kitchen has evolved greatly since then. So, where does one start and how do you filter the noise? We sat down with our team to break down the main kitchen trends we are implementing in 2020.

Jim Cunningham, Architectural Technologist from Eurodale Design + Build, Interior Designer Laura Thornton from Thornton Design, and Jimmy Zoras from Distinctive by Design, all shared key elements being recommended for consumers. These experts routinely guide homeowners in two crucial areas of the kitchen – functionality and style – so we posed three key questions for them (and you) to consider when crafting the perfect kitchen for this new decade of food storage, preparation and the social interactions connected to food.

Firstly, what is the single most critical design feature you try to convince clients to include in their kitchens?

JC ARCHITECTURAL DESIGN: Incorporate more receptacles, with integrated USB ports for connecting devices. Backsplash, under cabinets, sides of islands, counter pop-ups, even inside drawers – you can never have enough. Lastly, always rough-in for water to the refrigerator, and a future pot-filler over the range to future-proof the space.

LT INTERIOR DESIGN: Kitchen islands are a great addition to any kitchen, offering extra seating and storage. If size allows, instead of one large island, we prefer dual islands. They are a fantastic way to increase traffic flow while expanding a kitchen’s function, dividing between meal-prep island and a serving island or additional seating island.

JZ KITCHEN DESIGN: Specialty hardware adds real-life functionality. Automatic Servo Drive mechanisms for doors and drawers, pull-out drawers instead of doors, cabinet door-lift systems and corner-cabinet hardware (magic corners and Lemans units), these are all great investments for easy cleanup and access.

What do you feel is the outgoing or passé trend (style or function-based element)?

JC: Gold knobs. Some things should remain in the ’80s, if only for historic preservation.

LT: Goodbye boring subway tiles and say hello to slab backsplash. Eliminating grout eliminates maintenance. In addition, a vertical-run slab adds show-stopping drama.

JZ: Dark-stained cabinets are a thing of the past as we are using more natural wood as accents for cabinetry to make the kitchen pop with a statement.

What is the next hot thing that will find its way into new kitchen designs for 2020 and beyond?

JC: Contrast is back. Now we see a flip to three-tone colouring and wood uppers with painted lower cabinets. Light blue is making a splash as well vs. the navy that has been prevalent the last five or six years.

LT: Concealed hood fan covers. The unexpected use of metals, marble or quartz, stained wood, tiles and even shiplap has become a way to cover the hood fan for a sleek and clean overall esthetic. Material, texture and sizes are changing the face of this long-ignored kitchen element.

JZ: Black-powder coated metals for exposed tubing and framed open-shelving with wood accents. Stone is also a big item now for full-height backsplashes as well as accent pieces such as hood fan covers as a vertical stone show like an art piece.

Lastly, the biggest thing to remember is that kitchens are now multi-faceted spaces that allow for almost everything you could otherwise do elsewhere in the home (excluding sleeping and washroom facilities, thanks). Sizes of homes in urban settings are shrinking and the kitchen has evolved into a space, which is constantly visible, not excluded from the rest of it. Built-in banquettes, eat-in kitchens, desk spaces and multi-use elements 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. Housing affordability is also shaping these spaces as in many bachelor condos, the kitchen is open to the combined family room and bedroom, so concealment of storage, prep items and appliances is essential. Whatever the square footage, we are sure that the design team’s suggestions of functional storage, hardware selection, texture, colour, millwork elements and tone integration as well as multi-use islands are all critical features for a modern kitchen to kick off the new decade.

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 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


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Make room for mudrooms

Make room for mudrooms

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Make room for mudrooms

The Four Seasons – no, not the luxury hotel chain – the actual seasons that are responsible for supplying the dust, dirt, snow, salt, leaves, grass clippings constantly deposited inside your front entry are a year-round issue. The sandals, shoes, boots, coats, toques, mitts, scarves, ball caps and knapsacks that we drag inside (and out) join in too, making it next to impossible to have a presentable and formal entry in any home – unless you have a mudroom, of course.

A few short steps to a lower level can reduce stress on the main floor. Photography: Valerie Wilcox
A few short steps to a lower level can reduce stress on the main floor. Photography: Valerie Wilcox

Lack of space, surplus of footwear

The reality is that many urban homes have tiny main entrances. As such, finding a creative and attractive way to store outerwear becomes challenging. Even if you have the room to tuck away all the outdoor paraphernalia, the floors quickly become an extension of the exterior – and not in the good way – like when architects reference the free flow between the main floor family room and the pool terrace off the bi-folding Nana-wall in Arizona. This is just messy, and when guests come to your door, it is best if they are not greeted with footwear strewn about and forced to step into slush or mud in their socked feet as they enter.

Enter Peacefully – a clean main entry is only achieved with an associated mudroom. Photography: Valerie Wilcox
Enter Peacefully – a clean main entry is only achieved with an associated mudroom. Photography: Valerie Wilcox

Carve out some unconventional space

The solution is to add to, or creatively remodel, your space to allow for an alternate entrance. With space at a premium in urban house settings, the footprint of homes needs to maximize the lot areas and if they don’t already do so, pushing outward off the side of the existing dwelling is the first natural choice. Second to that, is to push off the back of the home, allowing pedestrians to avoid the front door entirely and access the home from either the side or the back. If neither option is available, a front-facing expansion can occasionally allow for a de-formalization of the main entry and create an expanded combination vestibule/mudroom at the front of the home. Let’s face it, if we get a chance to install some more storage elements, it will instantly make the space feel more clean and organized, reducing clutter and mess. If none of those options are viable, we take a look at a quick floor level shift. Given the main floor in the majority of homes are a couple of feet above established grade (a function of pushing footings at least four feet below grade to avoid the heaving effects of winter frost), a side door at, or close to grade will provide for a short run down to the basement level where one can install a mudroom, leaving only a few stairs to keep clean and removing the mess entirely from the main floor.

Millwork is perfect to hide it all with stylish doors and drawers. Photography: Will Fournier
Millwork is perfect to hide it all with stylish doors and drawers. Photography: Will Fournier

Design considerations

We have developed many different configurations for these rooms and the total space allocations and quality of the finishes are dependent on how many people reside in the home, how many visitors (extended family and close friends) come over on a regular basis, if there is a home-based business on the property, whether the home is a single family dwelling or if there is a secondary suite within the same building, and what the budget provisions are for the undertaking. Closets, millwork, benches, flooring type and natural light are all key considerations in the design.

Use earth tones to hide the dirt we bring in from the outdoors. Photography: Valerie Wilcox
Use earth tones to hide the dirt we bring in from the outdoors. Photography: Valerie Wilcox

Creative space alternatives

No matter what your existing home and lot may offer, if you are struggling with the mayhem at the front entry, some careful planning and design can go a long way to retain the sanity of all residents and guests visiting your home. It just takes a little creativity, time and initiative. Don’t get bogged down by the conventional labels for spaces. Define how to best allocate the areas of a home for the needs of everyone who lives there. Let’s mudroom together! For your really good friends, invest in one of those kitschy mats that suggest “Back door (or side door) guests are best.” Trust me, you (and they), will be glad you did!

Thinking of a mudroom in your new addition, renovation or custom home project? As always, I recommend you start your search at RenoMark.ca to find a professional design-builder to help undertake the full project from initial plan, through design, approvals and final construction.

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


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Toronto tour of laneway housing

Tour of Toronto’s laneway housing

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Tour of Toronto’s laneway housing

Photography: Craig Race Architecture Inc.

A few weeks ago, we took BILD’s RenoMark renovators and custom homebuilders, as well as a number of journalists, on a tour of laneway and infill homes in Toronto. We were delighted by the level of interest in this event and happy to add an extra bus to accommodate everyone. We were not surprised to see that people are enthusiastic about the possibilities of laneway housing and eager to learn about the technicalities of building them. With laneway dwellings allowed to be built “as of right” in Toronto and East York as of only last summer – and with city council expected to make a decision in the near future on expanding this to Scarborough, North York and Etobicoke – we are all entering exciting new territory.

The adjunct advantage

A laneway home is typically a second, smaller dwelling built at the back of a lot, facing onto a public lane that shares utilities with the main house. Laneway housing has many advantages, both for homeowners and for neighbourhoods. For the homeowner, a laneway home can be a source of rental income or provide extra living space for extended family. For neighbourhoods, having homes facing onto laneways can improve safety and inject beauty and vibrancy. Laneway housing increases density in a non-intrusive way, enabling a more efficient use of infrastructure such as: transit, schools and community centres. Finally, and perhaps most importantly, laneway homes will contribute some much-needed rental housing in the city of Toronto.

Style meets function in The Junction

The Junction

That will certainly be the case with the first project on our tour – a laneway home that just broke ground in The Junction. The homeowners, who graciously answered questions from our tour participants, are planning to rent out the two-storey, three-bedroom house when it’s completed later this year. With more than 1,400 sq. ft. of living space, this home will do away with notions that laneway homes are cramped sheds in backyards. The best part? The homeowners report that the neighbours are excited, and some are even interested in building on their own lots.

The second laneway home on the tour also offered a feeling of spaciousness, both in the open-concept living area on the ground floor and in the courtyard behind the house. This two-storey, two-bedroom Leslieville home, currently rented out to a young family, was converted from an existing garage.

Sustainable supplement

Leslieville

Next on the tour was an infill project in Leslieville. Infill construction means building and renovating homes in established neighbourhoods. Infill homes, like laneway homes, add gentle density in our communities. The infill home we visited was created after an architect severed an unusually shaped lot into two separate properties. The home is filled with light and its high-performance building envelope helps conserve energy. A basement apartment provides extra rental income.

Laneway building incentives

The City of Toronto is offering two programs to encourage homeowners to develop laneway suites. The first allows for a deferral of development charges for 20 years, while the second provides a forgivable loan for property owners who agree to rent out their laneway suites at an affordable rate for 15 years.

Are you thinking of adding a laneway home on your property, or building or renovating an infill home? Laneway and infill building projects come with their own unique challenges when it comes to zoning requirements, design considerations and construction techniques. Your best bet is to work with a professional RenoMark renovator or custom homebuilder who can guide you through the process. To find one in your area, visit renomark.ca.

Making sure we have enough housing for the 9.7 million people who will call the GTA home by 2041 is a generational challenge. We need innovative solutions — laneway and infill homes among them — to meet it.

David Wilkes is President and CEO of the Building Industry and Land Development Association (BILD), the voice of the home building, land development and professional renovation industry in the GTA.

For the latest industry news and new home data, follow BILD on Twitter, Facebook, BILD’s official blog.


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Toronto Fall Home Show

The 2019 Toronto Fall Home Show

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The 2019 Toronto Fall Home Show

As fall brings changes to the weather, it also inspires us to make improvements in our homes. Whether you’re looking to do a big kitchen renovation, a small bathroom revamp or convert your laneway into a livable space, the 2019 Toronto Fall Home Show will help make this a reality.

With more than three decades of experience helping homeowners, condo dwellers and renters restructure, reorganize and restyle their spaces, this year’s show is set to once again bring the best experts to the GTA.

The 2019 Toronto Fall Home Show is a source for consumers to connect with the right people and find the right solutions for their living space (even ones to help you get rid of ghosts).

Here’s a peek at what will be featured:

Tiny Village

With rising real estate prices, there’s a tiny movement happening in Toronto. Small space living is becoming more of a reality for most people, with an increase in small condos, container homes and even laneway/infill housing. There are 47,000 lots on laneways that exist today, which can provide homeowners ample opportunities to supplement their income. Still, small space living doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice style. The Tiny Village brings together the best of small space design, with units from True North Tiny Home and Eva Lanes.

Bad reno or paranormal activity?

For the first year ever, the Toronto Fall Home Show is bringing its very own paranormal activity expert, so you can figure out if the creaks in your floorboards are just your pipes… or if they’re ghosts! Chat with paranormal investigator Glenn Laycock for tips on what to do if you have an unwanted guest from beyond in your home, or take a Ghost Walk through the haunted Horse Palace.

Designer Pumpkin Patch

Ditch your plastic Halloween decor for chic and stylish pumpkins to give curb appeal a whole new meaning, with tips from the exquisite Designer Pumpkin Patch. Let designer Nicholas Rosaci inspire your own posh pumpkin design, make one yourself or purchase a pre-styled option, with all proceeds going to the SickKids Foundation.

Kitchen stage

The kitchen is the focal point of a home, and the 2019 Toronto Fall Home Show will be no different. Sit back and enjoy some of the city’s top chefs cooking up a storm on the kitchen stage and pick up tips from several expert speakers, including Ramsin Khachi, Marie Kondo Way expert Effy Nicopoulos, Rebecca Hay, Emmanuel Belliveau and Chef Christopher Woods.

Home Hardware Here’s How Centre

If you’re getting ready for a DIY project and want to learn a few skills or just don’t know where to start, stop by the Home Hardware Here’s How Centre. Here, you’ll get hands-on advice and practical tips from fan favourites such as Canada’s Handyman Shawn Monteith, Jordan Spear and, new at this year’s show, Mark Rason.

Project Jump Starter

Presented by RenoMark, this show feature will give you a one-on-one professional consultation, guiding you on where to start with your renovation and give you all the tools you need for success. Check out more than 100 award-winning, quality projects to get inspired for your next renovation.

The Toronto Fall Home Show runs from Oct. 4 to 6 at The Enercare Centre. For more information visit the website.


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