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Converting a garage into livable space

Turns out, today’s homeowners want livable garages.

The days of dirty, dusty and storage-filled garages have come to an end. This isn’t your grandfather’s garage anymore.

Believe it or not, many builders and renovators are transforming garages into useful, comfortable living spaces.

In fact, according to this article in the Globe and Mail, “the City of Toronto, building permit data from 2014 showed homeowners had spent almost $30 million on more than 2,400 garage conversion projects. This doesn’t take into account all of the other projects that have taken place since. Or might have been constructed without the appropriate building permits.”

So why are more and more people converting the garage into a livable space?

Converting your garage into a livable space is a fantastic opportunity to maximize your home’s square footage. Also, you’ll get valuable use out of the space. Whether it’s to accommodate a growing family or using the space to be better utilized for your lifestyle — garage conversions are all the rage.

The trend is especially popular in urban areas where real estate is expensive, and backyards don’t allow for further expansion.

Garages are a new-found treasure trove of space.

A great option for an extra living room, a home office, home gym, workshop, studio or other need. Also, with the increase in many companies allowing employees to work from home, the garage is the new frontier for gaining a workspace.

Turns out… converting the garage into a livable space is easier than people think.

Homeowners who are doing extensive renovations on their homes, find that it makes sense to demolish the garage completely in order to allow construction equipment to gain access to the rear of the house. Afterwards, garages are then rebuilt as part of the overall home renovation project as new living space. And if there’s a room also being built above the former garage such as a loft-style design, then the space is doubled.

For homeowners who want to convert their garage but don’t want to invest in a full reconstruction, making a garage into a habitable space requires a number of specific considerations.

Here’s how to get started converting the garage into a livable space:

To start, municipal codes often regulate certain aspects ranging from window and door requirements to electrical outlets and plumbing. Keep in mind, renovating a bare-bones area that was intended for cars and storage isn’t a total dream.

Special permits that adhere to zoning requirements are required.

Every city is different so it’s important to work with an experienced builder who is familiar with the building codes of your area.

Here are some other things to consider about converting the garage into a livable space

  • The space needs to be at least eight feet high and have proper ventilation, insulation, heating, lighting, and drywall.
  • A strong, insulated wall, with or without windows, needs to be built where the garage door is located.
  • The floor needs to be raised above the concrete and covered with a warm, comfortable material.
  • Household equipment that may currently exist in or near the garage such as a furnace, hot water tank, laundry appliances or central vacuum needs to be sectioned off if you don’t want the expense of moving them.

There’s no denying that garage conversions are a great way to avoid extending the square footage of your home. For Toronto and other areas in the GTA, sometimes additions aren’t permitted. Which means a garage conversion solves that problem. This way you’re not changing the footprint of your home.

What’s the process?

A general contractor will assess the space and provide design concepts. When a plan is confirmed, he’ll submit the application to the municipality to receive a permit to build, demolish or alter the structure or space.

The review process can be time-consuming. And sometimes, adjustments have to be made. But it’s a necessary step.

A zoning examiner will assess the garage to determine if all zoning requirements have been met in the plan.

Some of these requirements can include the size and scope of the project. Along with its location in relation to other structures on the property. This is also when the examiner will likely factor in parking requirements on the property and your street.

During this time, the zoning examiner will also outline any special requirements for the property. According to your city’s bylaws. In some cases, aspects can be modified to meet the needs of the builder. If this is the case, an application to the Committee of Adjustment is required.

If a builder or homeowner doesn’t apply for a permit and starts the construction, there can be major fines and stop-work orders. In addition to this being a huge obstacle for you as a homeowner, it can also be costly in the long run.

Failure to obtain the proper building permits can force you to have to remove already constructed material and still pay for the unused building materials as well.

And finally…

Although a garage conversion may be ideal for your needs, also consider the effect it may have on the resale value of your home if you ever plan to move. The conversion may or may not be welcomed by a buyer. Instead, remind the buyer that the space can easily be turned back into a garage. Then buyers might not mind your renovation. They might even enjoy an even cleaner and well-insulated parking space for their vehicle.

Whether you need more storage space or just want a more livable space in your home. Renovating a garage may be the ideal solution. It’s a major renovation. But the rewards of that extra square footage can greatly enhance your lifestyle and enjoyment of your home.

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Most popular flooring for kitchens and bathrooms

What’s the most popular flooring for kitchens and bathrooms? 

There’s no denying that the quality of your interior finishes for your custom home or home renovation has a significant impact on the look and atmosphere of its style.

As a custom home builder, we’re dedicated to helping you make choices that are timeless, durable and affordable.

So that you can enjoy your home for decades — and don’t feel the need to do a renovation 10 years later. Choosing quality materials is key.

So, what are the most popular flooring for kitchens and bathrooms?

With kitchens and bathrooms being busy, high-traffic rooms, here are the most popular materials for flooring. Remember, whatever option you choose to go with, safety should come first. Flooring in these rooms needs to be non-slip and easy to clean. Without sacrificing beauty.

High-quality vinyl

Vinyl is one of the most affordable flooring options available. Since it’s a man-made, manufactured material it’s completely water and stain resistant. It’s easy to clean. And simple to sweep to remove dust and debris.

Today’s luxury vinyl flooring is made of much higher quality material than what existed decades ago. Today’s patterns and textures mimic the look of other materials such as wood and stone with remarkable accuracy.

Ceramic and porcelain tile

Ceramic tile is extremely durable and easy to keep clean — including the new stain-resistant grouts that are available.

Additionally, Ceramic is also an inexpensive option. Made from clay, sand, and water, this material is molded into shape. Then baked to remove the moisture.

Due to the higher moisture content in ceramic tile, it should only be used indoors. The reason is that ceramic tile is more susceptible to freezing and thaw-related weather cracks.

Porcelain tile comes from dense forms of clay (compared to ceramic). Since it’s less porous it’s more durable.

Porcelain can be used for both indoors and outdoors. It won’t crack as easily in colder climates as ceramic tile does. And it also generally lasts longer than ceramic in pretty much every application. Lastly, it easily withstands high foot traffic and increased levels of wear and tear.

Since ceramic and porcelain tiles both come in endless shapes, sizes, colours and patterns. You can create any look or style you want in your kitchen or bathroom. From farmhouse vintage to modern sleek simplicity. There are tiles and pattern combinations to suit any style.

Natural stone

Whenever you’re incorporating natural materials into your custom home or renovation, they usually give a luxurious look to the space. The most popular natural stone options for kitchens and bathrooms are marble, granite, slate, travertine and sandstone.

It’s important to note that natural stone is porous. Which makes it susceptible to water and stains. You’ll have to seal the stone on an annual basis depending on how much how much foot traffic it gets.

Additionally, a super-absorbent stone can be prone to cracking and damage in freezing cold conditions. Certain stones are also more porous and susceptible to water damage than others. So make sure you choose the right stone for your space.

Consider the quality of materials

Whenever you’re sourcing natural stone materials, some retailers might use a grading system to rate the quality of materials. This grading system is often dependent on size, shape and thickness of the material as well as the condition of its surface.

  • Grade 1: refers to high-quality, uniform materials.
  • Grade 2: might have some minor defects done to the stone like chips, scratches or irregular surfaces.
  • Grade 3: will likely have major flaws in size, shape and surface. These are only going to work as accent pieces as part of a decorative application.

Ultimately, choosing the right materials for your kitchen and bathroom is an important process and selecting your finishes. Which usually means that your end goal for your dream home is likely in sight.

Whether your design taste is modern and sleek, or you prefer a more traditional or natural look, work with an experienced and professional home builder and a talented interior designer to help make a choice that’s both practical and attractive — but also has a timelessness. That way as décor trends change throughout the years, your floor will still look good and complement any new interior design trends.

 

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How Millennials are influencing custom home building

In the custom home building industry, it’s important to be at the leading edge of innovation and design trends. Quite simply, to meet the demands of constantly evolving lifestyles.

The newest home buyers on the horizon are Millennials. Since they don’t have the same lifestyle of their Baby Boomer parents, they have different home design tastes and preferences.

Many Millennials are focused on functional design. Think low maintenance, energy-efficiency, environment-friendly materials and beyond.

The good news is, Millennials plan to own a home within the next five years

Millennials are having a surprising effect on custom home building and in 2018 alone Millennials made up half of Canada’s first-time home buyers.

In fact, the cross-Canada survey conducted by Leger found that 87 per cent of Canadians aged 25 to 30 believe homeownership is a good investment. More so, 69 per cent hope to own a home in the next five years.

This home buying generation has unique requests.

Millennials care more about function than square footage

Convenience and connectedness are the new square footage to the Millennial generation. From technology to neighborhoods, wellness amenities and social networks, Millennials want to build their home where they can feel connected and part of a community. To this generation, a new home represents an opportunity to connect and socialize with friends and family.

Many Millennials opt for urban city dwellings over the sprawling suburbs for their first home. As the saying goes, Millennials want to “be where the action is”. At this stage, they don’t want “too much house” since it requires more upkeep than they want to do.

Less house to maintain means more time for the social scene.

Some Millennials also perceive smaller homes to be less demanding on the environment. Further, Millennials want design elements and home construction materials that have been ethically sourced and are eventually biodegradable, recyclable, or good for the environment.

Smart homes infused with technology

Having a SMART home is also important to this high-tech generation. Jill Waage, an editorial director at Better Homes and Gardens, said during a presentation at the 2015 International Builders’ Show, “Our research shows that women 35 and under see value in owning a home and their attitudes toward making space livable through smart technology and integrated design are significantly stronger than those of their older cohorts. The next generation of homeowners will lead the way in adopting new technology — making features like the ability to preheat an oven or unlock the front door from a smartphone the new norm in home convenience.” 

More and more homes being equipped to support SMART home technology. It’s a no-brainer that this technology needs to be supported starting with the new home construction process. From properly wiring the electrical throughout the house and insuring WiFi connectivity is strong and consistent from room to room.

Multifunctional spaces to maximize on space

Millennials care about minimalism and maximizing space for functionality with clever design.

Top of the list for design strategies includes capturing and creating opportunities for sunlight from various areas in the home.

As well, fluid and open floor plans, lots of windows, half-wall dividers and translucent or clear glass-paneled doors that allow light to travel more deeply into the interior of a home are desired.

Light naturally expands smaller spaces which makes this a great design strategy to make the space look larger than it actually is.

Flexible space is key

Aside from adding light to a room, multifunctional spaces that are flexible in their use are key.

Incorporating movable elements such as doors on tracks rather than swinging open, and cabinetry or storage on wheels are all ways to be more space-efficient.

With Millennials choosing smaller spaces, they’re able to indulge in high-quality finishes and interesting features in their home. For example, even with less square footage, they’ll opt for a eucalyptus-infused steam shower with rainforest shower heads.

In this article by New Home Source, it’s surprising to learn what the most desired features are that Millennials want in a home.

Turns out, features related to energy efficiency topped their list of interests. A separate laundry room was also on the most-wanted list, with 55 per cent saying they wouldn’t buy a new home without one. Believe it or not, exterior lighting came in second, with 88 per cent saying it was essential or desirable. Storage also made the top 10 list, with linen closets, a walk-in pantry and garage storage also being important.

The least likely features Millennials claimed to care about? Outdoor kitchens with plumbing and appliances and two-story foyers and living rooms. However, entertaining outdoors is important to Millennials and living room like settings are key. But anything beyond having a barbecue for grilling hasn’t really been deemed as necessary.

Regardless, your custom home or renovation should represent your personal style. And reflect who you are and what you want the space to embody. Millennials are proving to have unique tastes which makes for an exciting future in home building and design.