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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.

best open room

The Trends that Will Influence Architecture in 2019

Architecture and interior design trends are constantly evolving and ultimately becoming new again.

Whenever we’re thinking about building a new home, interior design trends can give us an idea on what to expect for the future looking forward.

For the creative and design-driven architects to the trendy homeowners who always stay ahead of the curve, here’s a list of the hottest trends paving the way to the future in architectural and interior design. 

Architecture and interior design trend #1: Sustainability is in

Building for the future means more than just beyond our family lines. Building for the future means taking care of the ultimate and universal home we all share: Earth. 

At BRIKS Design-Build group, sustainability and environmental design isn’t a trend, but a moral decision we made as a company.

From large corporations to everyday households, more and more people are recognizing the importance of minimizing their environmental footprints.

Beyond just architecture and interior design trends, environmental sustainability has taken place at the forefront of consumers minds.

In an urban planning situation, preserving water, soil, and other natural resources are at the forefront when designing cities.

From a home building perspective, this means building with the best materials and team members possible.

It’s about building structurally with durability and intention in mind.

Architecture and interior design trend #2: Inclusivity should be incorporated into design for everyone.

More and more architecture and interior design trends are also signalling a move towards building inclusivity into design.

To give some context, in this article from Arch Daily:

In 2018, the most searched concepts on ArchDaily were, Accessibility (+108% YoY), Universal Design (+116%) and Inclusive Architecture (+132%).

A representative from the article continues to share that most architectural design was for children and reduced mobility, compared to last year where more people were searching for Architecture for the Elderly (+78% YoY) and different capacities related to mental health and visual impairments (Architecture for the Blind +250% YoY).

Architecture and interior design trend #3: Technology is changing things

Technology is advancing how work is actually being done on construction sites. Further, not only has technology enabled construction workers to be more productive, but it’s also helping them to build faster, better and smarter.

Here’s some more highlights from this direct excerpt of best technology trends in design-builds:

Architecture and interior design trend #4: Increase in speed and comfort

Consider the way in which technology has made everything else in our lives faster, more convenient and more comfortable. As a human-design trend, these concepts will extend to how we choose to live as a lifestyle too.

From smart home technology and remote home security. To design and other systems or services. Technology has (for the most part), improved our lives.

Hello, Alexa? Voice assistants are trending.

Architecture and interior design trend #5: Reuse & Recycle

More and more large organizations and municipalities as a whole are beginning to think about a circular economy which builds sustainability into design.

In simple terms, a circular economy focuses on decreasing waste and making the most of our natural resources. This idea would help us to better design our cities and custom homes in the future.

Complimenting the industrial-style well, recycled spaces are also becoming one of the most popular trends.

In a home, envision a space that highlights raw, wooden, old barn doors in the Master bedroom or restored tractor equipment transformed into co-working desk spaces for budding entrepreneurs.

As Arch Daily states:

Recycling (+145% YoY) and Ecological Awareness (+103% YoY) have not been absent from the debate surrounding the industry with one of the largest carbon footprints in the worldConstruction. Faced with this concern, some architects have identified solutions within the Sustainable City (+165% YoY) systems that stop growing (Degrowth +208%) through renovation (+82% YoY) and rehabilitation (+68% YoY) of spaces, and through the design of Adaptive Re-Use Projects (+154% YoY).

At BRIKS Design-Build Group, we partner with the best architectures in Ontario.

Whether you’re just starting to build your dream home or renovate your current property, trends can be great predictive factors of where to invest your money and how to get the most bang for your buck. 


Build Your Dream Home with BRIKS Design-Build Group

Finding your dream home in today’s real estate market isn’t easy. Instead, many home buyers are using design-build firms to start from the ground up.

A design-build firm offers the option to customize every detail to suit their clients needs.

With the ability to land desirable addresses in high-demand neighbourhoods, building your dream home has never been easier than it is today.

Whether you’re building or remodelling, the end result of developing your custom-designed home is a rewarding one. As long as you’re working with the best in the business.

Our offering at BRIKS Design-Build Group is one of distinct resonance and luxury.

Each of our projects include embodying our client’s vision and bringing it to life. Through decadent design-build solutions, we strategically build with functionality in mind.

Planning to Design-Build

As with anything, preparation is fundamental to successfully building your dream home.

Consider what’s important to you in a new home. Try to make a list that’s as detailed as possible and then organize it from “must-haves” to “nice-to-haves”.

It’s important to realize that you may not be able to achieve everything on your list. You must take into account budget restrictions, property constraints or site availability.

Making a list will help you to determine what’s a non-negotiable for you and your family.

Determining your Design-Build budget

Contact your financial institution to figure out how much money you have to work with.

Unless you’re paying cash, you might need to secure financing for a new construction loan. This pays for the builder, subcontractors and suppliers in stages.

With any budget, ensure that you leave room for other expenses such as appliances, furniture, and landscaping.

Experienced design-build firms will be able to assist you with mapping out what’s realistic from a monetary perspective and how much it’s going to cost you.

Once you’ve determined your budget, be prepared to stick to it. Or at the very least, allow for some buffer room to make additions.

As your dream home takes shape and you start to see it in real life, some home owners want to make changes or additions periodically.

BRIKS allows you to complete your design-build project within your pre-determined budget. Our commitment to you starts with safeguarding the completion of your beautiful new home.

Selecting your Design-Build location

Location is undoubtedly one of the most important aspects to your new home.

You can always build a new home, but you can’t bring the address with you.

You’ll want to assess the property for the size of the house you want to build.

This will be particularly important if the area you want to build in has any zoning restrictions.

Often waterfront properties have to adhere to building height restrictions, maximum lot coverage and strict property lines.

Communicate your Design-Build expectations

When you’re working with a design-build firm, communicating your expectations with your builder is essential.

Ask yourself if you want to be heavily involved in the design process. On the flip side, you might want to work with a builder who can draw up different plans and take the lead with minimal direction.

You’ll want to get clear on the timeline, the scope of your budget and your expectations.

Drawing up your Design-Build

Once you’ve worked through the fundamentals of building your home — we get to the fun part.

Drawing from structural craftsmanship and made-to-order opulence, your custom build home has the chance to become luxe re-imagined.

While a design-build firm can create pretty much anything you envision, it’s your polished preference and personal taste masterfully balanced that will ultimately come to life.

Generally, there are three most popular home designs to consider.

Traditional homes are generally inspired by historic designs with vintage, classic fireplaces that add charm and character. 

Modern homes are usually characterized by clean lines, open spaces complemented with contrasting textures such as raw oak paired against mixed metals and sheer glass.

Modern homes can offer a range of design options, often showcased with alluring palettes of brass, bronze or gilded gold to make a striking statement.

The modern-designed home is one that’s architecturally striking in its appearance, yet subtle in its design.

Contemporary homes are often designed with simplicity and functionality in mind. A contemporary home is trendy and fashionable while simultaneously novel and smart.

Matched with textural touches, raw timber and polished concrete finishes, contemporary homes can give an ultramodern feel.

When it comes to the design-build process, architects can help you strategically design your dream home while working within your budget.

Meanwhile, an effective builder is overseeing and executing the day-to-day operations.

Acting as two counterparts merging their areas of divine expertise, at BRIKS we build for your future.

While building your dream home doesn’t happen overnight, one thing is for sure: the wait will be well worth it.

Click here for a full list of our design-build services.


Build Your Dream House with BRIKS Design-Build Group

Whether you want to build a new home or renovate your old one, both jobs require a lot of hard work as well as lots of capital. So do not think of this process as just building a set of “2 bathrooms and 3 rooms”. Your home shows what you are as a person as it is considerably one of the best impressions you can put over a person if the house is built with love and dedication.

Whenever you go for a trip you always do your homework right and do all the research prior to your trip to avoid any mishaps in future. Likewise, you would want to bring up the best possible plan to build your dream house instead of initiating carelessly.  Below are some of the prerequisites that will prove to come in handy while building your dream house with BRIKS Design-Build group:

Set Your Goals

Building a home is all about setting goals. You should be clear about what you want to achieve before the construction starts. Numerous questions arise at this time and you should be able to answer them all to give life to your house that you are planning on to build. These questions include;

  • What do you want to achieve?
  • Where should your house be located?
  • What’s the budget required to fulfill your demands?
  • Is there a plan B if plan A fails?

If you have answers to all these questions then congratulations! You are all set to move ahead.

Create a Budget

Creating a budget should already be in your list of goals but due to its importance we have mentioned it separately. For obvious reasons, having a fancy house sounds pleasing and everybody wants it but this does not mean that you oversee the amount of money you can afford to spend.

Initially, you would want to make an overall list of the things that are required to build a house. These include things like the cost of land, cost of construction material, cost of engineering and designing and most importantly the fittings and furniture you want to put in your house. As a piece of advice it is always suggested to use a program like Excel to maintain a list of expenditure as you can also edit it in case of any changes in plan or cost. BRIKS allows you to complete your project in your decided budget so you don’t run out of cash without completing your construction.

Find a Suitable Location

Location is undoubtedly one of the most important aspects of your house. It decides how you want to live and which area you choose to live. You might want your house to be near a sea so you can get an oceanic view from your window. Or you might want to live in middle of dense vegetation. All this is possible if your pockets can support it. Anyway, you need to find the best possible location according to your budget. There are some features that you should lookout for in your desired location like;

  • ease of access,
  • Availability of services like grocery shops and hospitals etc.
  • type of people in your neighborhood

Finding the Right Team

We would suggest you to collect a team of highly experienced proffesionals as it practically is the right choice. We all know that building a new home can possibly be once in a lifetime investment which is obviously huge in sum so it is better to entrust your investment to an experienced company like BRIKS design-build group.

A builder and an architect are the most important ones to have on your team. Architects would help you in the interior and exterior designing of your home on a budget. On the other hand the builder will carry out all the operations on his responsibility and give shape to your dream house. Likewise, the job of an engineer is also crucial and this is because without him the structural calculations cannot be carried out. So why worry more? Let BRIKS accompany you as you embark on a journey of creating your hard-earned house.


Net-Zero Dream

About Insulated Concrete Forms

Insulated concrete form is basically reinforced concrete which provides high amounts of heat insulation. This insulation is permanent and provides insulation to floors, walls and roofs. These forms are interlocked units which are stacked in a dry manner further filled with concrete for added insulation. These units form the foundation of walls or floor present in a building. You can get the idea of it by thinking of Lego blocks because these two are very similar. Constructions which include ICF are on a rise in both commercial and residential sector. Moreover, they are resistant to majority of the natural disasters. Stick to BONE Structure to cater all your insulation needs for a house.


Net Zero Homes And Its Benefits

In the modern eranetzerohousing has come into vogue. The European Union aims to have net zero homes across Europe by 2020. But what is actually meant by netzerohomes and is it worth all the hype?

A net zero home is referred to a house where the total amount of energy consumed is equal to or less than the amount of energy used up by the entire house over the course of a year. The generation of energy is by means of renewable resources like sunlight, wind etc. Below are some of the perks of living in a net zero house;

  • Tax Incentives:

            In many countries government support and encourage the building of net zero houses for reasons like        zero wastage, eco friendly production etc. In order to do so governments have severalcut downs on annual taxes if you have a certified energy production method. You can get as much as 30% cut off on your taxes.

  • Exceptional Insulation:

          Net zero homes are based on top quality insulation. This means that such homes have lesser heat gain during hot season and likewise lesser heat loss during cold season. You are also saved from paying bucks spent on heating and cooling appliances.

  • Energy Bills:

          Once you embark on the journey of net zero homes you save loads of money for yourself on a longer run. Imagine getting electricity without having the need to pay for the bills. This has been made possible through such homes.

  • Eco-friendly:

         The emission of greenhouses gases through netzero homes is dramatically lesser as compared to traditional homes. This means you have a sense of responsibility for your surroundings. Moreover, some countries even give awards to its citizens based on their eco-friendly initiative.

Join hands now with BONE Structure to get your home turned into a complete net zero house.


BONE Structure:

Innovation has always been a part of the construction sector. Different companies come up with a variety of  solutions to cope up with the increasing demands of people from their houses. You can find a number of new ways to construct your home but these days bone structure takes the lead by proving to be the famous and effective one of them all. The technology of bone structure is a combination of post and beam structure with an energy efficient solution. Bone structure houses are already net zero ready because they use the same technology and framework as a net zero house. proudly claims to be the leader in this field by providing the customers with the best net zero houses and home structure for their homes so that they don’t just have a pleasant experience but also save a lot of money for themselves on a long run.

2019 - Latest Trends for Home Renovations

2019 – Latest Trends for Home Renovations and New Home Construction, Toronto and GTA

Who doesn’t want a home that follows the latest trends but is also cozy for you and your family? Here are a few trends you could follow for your upcoming renovations or the new house you’re thinking to build, and tailor them to your unique lifestyle. 

Integrated Technology:

Integrated Technology:

Fact: Smartphone technology is here and its here to stay. So we have to learn to live with it and to be able to integrate it into our day-to-day life. Today, smartphones have become a necessity and it’s hard to believe how we’d survive a single day without our cell phones.

Technology is gradually becoming more and more intertwined in our daily lives and we are now seeing that it is also shaping our lifestyle and influencing everything around us.  Similarly, technology has equipped our houses as well now, what we term as “smart homes”. Wireless technology is now at the forefront of all homes these days.

Home automation with Audio/Visual, security cameras, switching lights on and off with smartphones, using sensors to automatically switch lights, lifting and closing blinds, automatically sensing and adjusting heat/cool patterns in an integrated HVAC package, integrated appliances that will cook the food for you but just scanning the cooking instruction; are all becoming more and more common than you would possibly think.

You would be surprised to learn that with this ever-changing technology landscape, and with the number of options available out there, it has become ever so affordable to equip your home with home automation that fits your unique lifestyle. Give us a call to book a free Design-Consult with our talented team at BRIKS Design-Build Group, to see what you are missing out on. 

Open Kitchens:

Open Kitchens

Gone are the times when homeowners opted to seclude their kitchens in an area that closed off from the rest of the house to avoid any sort of disturbances or inconveniences when guests arrived. With the lack of floor spacing, and to optimize living space, people are now opting for their kitchens to be open right along with the dining room or living room.

Open kitchens provide a way for homeowners to keep cooking while watching your favorite TV show or talking and entertaining with the guests across the kitchen island.

With careful planning and a functional Interior Design package, the team at BRIKS Design-Build Group carefully plans put and maps out the optimal kitchen layout that considers function and aesthetics as part of the overall home design and layout.

This open-concept trend just might give your home kitchen the right spice to give it the trendiness it needs.

Lane-Way Housing with Smaller Floor-plans:

Lane-Way Housing with Smaller Floor-plans:

The definition of Lane-Way house in Toronto and surrounding areas is a “self-contained residential unit located on the same lot as a detached house, semi-detached house or townhouse, and generally located in the rear yard next to a laneway. Laneway suites are generally smaller in scale and completely detached from the main house on the lot.”

Naturally, homeowners might think this to be a small home with a limited functional building envelope and floor-plan.  However, with the rising home costs, affordable housing has become a major issue that most municipalities are struggling to deal with.

And this has led to lane-way housing as a viable concept that will seek to inject more residential homes into the market place. Working with an experienced Builder allows the homeowner to design and build a lane-way home that makes up for the limited floor plan by integrating multiple floors and a basement into the overall concept and design of your home.

Give us a call if you are interested in our concepts and designs for lane-way homes, and see how the team at BRIKS Design-Build Group can optimize your living space.

Maximized Outdoor Space:

Maximized Outdoor Space:

This is the most misunderstood space that gets overlooked by almost all homeowners all the time. Your back yard and outdoor space is an extension of your home, and thus should be considered as part of your floor plan. Maximizing your outdoor space is another trending concept that we are seeing in the housing market in Toronto. The conventional thought process was to focus on the interior and to only do spring cleaning when it was BBQ time in the summers.

Homeowners focused more on a bigger interior of the house, and the outdoor space came as an afterthought and so a simple flat garden or back deck and porch would make do. Homeowners are now realizing that by functionally integrating the outdoor space with the interior, they are able to extend and enjoy the seasons for longer with wall-systems that fold and slide all the way.

Nanawall Systems uses this technology to bridge the gap between indoor and outdoor space. Whether you want a larger swimming pool to spend your summer nights in, or just to relax while reading a newspaper on Sunday morning – outdoor spaces are trending year-by-year. So get started with designing and integrating outdoor space as part of your floor plan and don’t leave it to the end.

Give us a call and one of our BRIKS Design-Team will get in touch with you to see how we can tailor your outdoor living just in time for your upcoming season. If you’re residing in the GTA and are struggling with how to design or renovate your home, or even have your own designs made up and just want someone to give your house the right contracting needs it requires; call our talented and experienced team at BRIKS Design-Build Group.

We are one of Toronto’s bespoke full-service Design-Build Firm and can take your home renovation or new home construction project to the next stage.