Sunday, April 14, 2013

Post The Seventh: Your Questions Answered Part Deux!!

Hi Everyone! Well, it's been around a year since we last spoke: Kids grew bigger, sleep got less, however Stanleigh Renovations grew much, much bigger, so things got quite busy for me, super apologies :). Thank you to everyone for the continued popularity and I will do my best to keep this updated :). So in my tribute to you, here are the second batch of questions you've asked (well, the more interesting ones)...and the answers! :)

1. "How did you start out, and how big are you now?"
After university I actually had hoped to be working in the music industry, and had a position lined up with a production company to oversee larger live performances. Unfortunately the contract was never solidified with the venues, so I was out of a job. I had a friend who worked for a reno company and asked if I'd like to come as a helper, so I did. It didn't take long for me to realize I was really the only employee after many had left, and when I realized those reasons, I too left. I was contacted by one of the companies' current clients and was asked to take over the project, so I did, and I haven't looked back. After a brief stint in Guelph I moved back to Toronto and business grew steadily over the years. Once you do one good project, it leads to another, and another, and soon you have 2-3 people calling at once. I decided I needed to take the leap and take on more work and hire more people if I ever wanted to be more than a small fish in a big pond. Trials and tribulations come with the territory, but with 6 different job sites ranging from Ensuite Bathrooms to a $150,000 underpin/basement renovation, 8 full-time employees, plus an electrician and plumber at my disposal, I feel I'm at the point where I originally wanted to be. Now I want double that in the next 5 years :)

2. "My main floor is oak hardwood, and after years of the dog and kid toys, there are many scratches and we're thinking of selling. Is there an easy way to "hide" the scratches?"

Easy way? Depends on if you're planning on tackling this or hiring someone. If the damage are surface scratches only, ie only in the clear layer of finish, then a couple top-coats of polyeurethyne can fill in these inconsistencies. If the scratches are deeper, ie in the wood itself, then they should be sanded and refinished properly. This extra investment of sanding and refinishing, in my opinion, is definitely worth it, as first impressions on your home last forever, especially with the new-age mindset of buyers. A great side-effect of refinishing your floors is that you are forced to move all your furniture, and if you are selling, this helps in getting rid of clutter and purging unnecessary items. See...I'm not just a great renovator, I can help with everything! ;)

3. "Do you have recommendations for paint brands? Everyone tells me Benjamin Moore is the top?"

Benjamin Moore (BM), in my opinion, is certainly not the top. Many designers like BM because they provide many great colours and colour pallets compared to other brands. However, with the colour-match technology that most retail outlets have now, coupled with an internal database of known brands/colours and their colourant codes, you can get pretty much any colour, from any brand, in any brand of paint. Personally, I use Lifemaster VOC-Free paint for most of my projects (ICI Paints carries it). It's not the cheapest, but there's a reason for that ;)

4. "Do you really need a permit for a deck? I mean, seriously, it's just a deck!"

Lol, yes and no :). You'll have to check with your local municipality for specifics (as I don't know the entire country!). Generally (just generally, may not be specific to your area), in Ontario, if it is under 108sqft, NOT attached to your home structure, and less than 18" off the ground, then you won't need a permit. If your deck is ANY ONE of the above, then you may require a permit. See my post on "Permits Are A Girls Best Friend" for why it is important for the homeowner to ensure they are available. Just because it may not require one, does not mean that you don't have to get a review from an inspector to ensure the job is being done properly and to code.

5. "When is the best time during a project to fire my contractor?"

Oy, before it's too late!! There's never a "good", however the most "ideal" time is as soon as possible, before things become too emotional for both parties, and when the project is at the point in the contract where deposits are up to date and you won't owe any money (see previous Posts for the importance of Payment Schedules). It is very easy for a contractor to have a Lien put on a property (topic for future Post, stay tuned!!), so make sure payments are up to date, as a Lien can be a long and expensive process to settle, even if you win.

6. "I'm having my bathroom renovated, and after reading your advice I'm worried about permits, do I need them?"

You will require a permit for any electrical work that occurs (ESA), as well as a permit if current fixtures are significantly changing location, and/or you will be adding a new fixture. Of course, anything structural as in removing load-bearing walls or removing sections of joists to run plumbing. Check with your local municipality and contractor so you're comfortable you have the right info needed to move forward.

7. "I want my basement renovated, but I hear that my property taxes will increase if I get a permit, is that true?"

This is the most common question I'm asked when estimating projects, I would say 90% of all potential clients ask!

My first answer is this: so what if it does? Is a few hundred dollars extra per year is that large of an influence to have questionable work done on your largest investment that houses your family? Seriously? If you've been following my posts (which you have, of course), then hopefully I've changed your mind on the permit issue.

2nd answer: Possibly, but eventually, yes, but maybe not :). Here's the short version: MPAC does not sit around monitering each and every house 24/7. They assess larger neighbourhoods at one time, generally every 4 years, looking at many factors, including pulled permits for residential projects and what those projects were. If enough homes in one area pull permits for the same type of project, like basements, then the overall value of the entire area will increase, therefore your MPAC number will increase because your home is now worth more. So whether it was you that pulled a permit with your neighbours, or your neighbours pulled one and you didn't, your property taxes will go up.

8. "Why aren't you on tv?"

I have no freakin' idea!!! Even my license plate says "RENV8TE"!!

Thanks for reading, keep sending me comments and questions and I'll keep answering :). Stay tuned for the 8th Post: Sticky Situations (a MUST read!!).

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