We have a project currently under construction - a small addition onto an existing house with a full gut and renovation to the existing house and structure. We are very excited to see the progress of the project. The contractor is very professional, organized and knowledgeable. Between the client, the contractor and the architect we have a great team all working together towards an excellent result. The experience so far has been great. There have been hiccups along the way, but with all of our efforts we are overcoming the obstacles together. Here are some progress photos.
There are many rebate an incentive programs available throughout Canada that support sustainable and energy efficient renovation and new construction. Unfortunately the majority of programs are available for commercial development or multi-family dwellings including townhomes and condominiums.
For the typical homeowner based in Toronto, the current options are very limited. For approximately five years the Federal Government ran a very successful program called the Eco-Energy Retrofit. This program provided up to $5,000 for improving the energy efficiency of your home including installation of new windows, adding wall insulation, and improving heating and cooling equipment. The incentive money was relatively simple to receive as long as a prescribed process was followed. Regrettably, this program was phased out in March of 2012.
When undertaking an addition onto your home or starting from scratch with a new build, information is required about the soil on your property to determine its bearing capacity – or ability to withstand loading created by the house, its materials, furnishings and the people inside. This test will help the architect and engineers determine the type and size of foundations required to support your home.
Soils vary from one property to another. In some locations such as Toronto’s west end near High Park, soils are typically very sandy. This provides good drainage, but usually low bearing capacity. Conversely, locations in Toronto’s Beach neighbourhood typically have dense, clay-filled soils which support structures well, but also retain water.
Let’s be honest: legal surveys are a boring topic. They are boring, but they’re also important. A real property report – or legal survey – is an important tool. It is essential not only for property resale but also a requirement for any property development – even minor applications such as front yard parking permits in the City of Toronto must be accompanied by a legal survey. They also provide legal definition to the extent of a property; they determine where one property begins and the other ends in relation to its neighbours. In older areas – especially Old Toronto – there can be surprises. The fence doesn’t always sit on the property line. The legal survey may help resolve – or potentially start – neighbourly disagreements.
When a homeowner wishes to develop their property – whether an addition or new construction – they must start collecting information on ‘existing conditions’ – or the state of the property prior to any intervention. Of the required information to document existing conditions, the legal survey is the most important.
Integrated into the 2011 Federal Budget, the government announced yesterday a one-year extension to the Eco-Energy Retrofit program for home owners. If you live in a drafty old house and feel like you are paying too much for your heating and cooling, the program can help offset the costs of upgrading building insulation, weather stopping, doors and windows. However before any of the renovations start, make sure that a qualified engineer of energy auditor tests your home in its current state to create a benchmark reading for comparison. If the drywall is already ripped off, you will not be able to conduct the test, and thereby become ineligible for the program. For additional information, refer to Natural Resources Canada's website. For information and suggestions on how to improve the energy performance of your home, contact KHA Design.
The Ontario Power Authority is offering up to $650 worth of incentives for homeowners to replace their existing furnace and/or air conditioning unit with new, Energy Star certified heating or cooling systems. According to the Power Authority, up to 60% of a typical home's electricity bill is devoted to heating and cooling. With the continual rise in energy costs and another hot, humid summer expected for Ontario, installing a new system can help reduce utility bills and the home's draw on our shared natural resources. The offer is valid only in Ontario between January 1, 2011 and December 31, 2011. For details, refer to the Ontario Power Authority's website.
Aging-in-place is a hot topic these days. As baby boomers enter retirement, the government is bracing itself for the impending “gray wave” of elderly adults who will need access to specialized health care services and accommodation at the same time. Ideally, an individual will stay in their own house or condo as long as possible. There are many modifications – both permanent and temporary – that can be made to a home to achieve this. As there are many different considerations, this topic will be broken down into different parts, the first being dedicated to bathrooms.
Despite everyone's best attempts to age gracefully, the process is often accompanied by slowly diminishing capacities such as vision, hearing, balance, flexibility and strength. Washrooms that were once considered luxurious can become hazardous, but with simple modifications can be made safer and easier to use. A person can spend thousands of dollars retrofitting a washroom with permanent components. However; if on a budget, many temporary items can be rented, or found on Craigslist, Kijiji or other classified ad websites. Below is a list of considerations that incorporates both permanent and temporary measures that can make a bathroom more accommodating.
For those who sorely miss the venerable Ballenford Books, Swipe Books has stepped forward to create a store-within-a-store to fill the void left after the former landmark institution closed it doors. Currently, Built Books offers Toronto's best selection of Architecture and Urban Design publications. It can be found at 401 Richmond Street West, just east of Spadina Avenue. Their website features a blog that discusses new acquisitions as well as architectural issues in Toronto.
Source: Masonry Heater Assoc.
The Masonry heater goes by many different names; Finnish Fireplace, Wood Heater, Kachelofen, Grundofen, Varaava Takka, Tile Stove and Ceramic Stove among others. All of these names refer to a large, specially-constructed fireplace that uses small amounts of fuel and is capable of heating an average family home. Although not always appropriate in a retrofit application, in the cold Canadian climate they are a sustainable home heating alternative in new home construction.
Masonry heaters first appeared in Northern Europe in the early 16th century. Historically, they were used in the kitchen, combining a stove, oven and seating areas. Located in the center of the home, they were fired twice daily for the preparation of meals and heating. The heaters were in all homes regardless of social status; however they varied aesthetically from white wash clay to ornate masterpieces.