Rachelle Nieman: I have a question on reno's, how do I know I am not getting "ripped off" on renovation quotes that I receive from private contractors? It is hard to know what the "going rates" are for certain renovation work? I realize this is a hard work!!
Hi Rachelle, though I know there are contractors out there who do rip people off, most do not enter into that relationship with the intent to do so.
First off, get multiple quotes, at least three, and if they are separated by more the 10% then start asking them questions. Unfortunately there are multiple ways of performing certain job tasks and achieving equal quality in that task through those varying methods. Each contractor will believe in the method they use equally and depending on the method and materials used the costs will vary. In regard to “the going rate”, it varies… for many reasons, such as methods/materials used, reputation, experience of the contractor, operating costs…
When you first meet with your potential contractors, communicate clearly with them what you want done, what finishes you want in the area, (keeping in mind your budget), the more things you have already chosen, ie; flooring type, light and plumbing fixtures, even paint colours to a degree can affect your quote. Don’t be scared to ask questions, if you knew the answers or had the ability then you would do the job yourself. Not just job related questions, how long have they been in business, referals? (not just written), some past clients are comfortable with being contacted, groups and organisations they are members of or sponsors to, Trusted Regina? Insurance? Are they covered by SLWCB, liability insurance and how much?
Chelsea Derkach I have a whole bunch of raised plaster on my walls they tried to make a design. I want it off! Can I get it off or do I have to reboard my whole basement :o( Sorry. When I say they I mean the people who lived here before me...
Chelsea, sorry to hear about your dilemma… If the texture has not been painted then cover the floors well, and get a squirt bottle. Mist the blaster and use a flexible drywall knife to scrape. If it has been painted then I’m sorry to say that the process of removing the plaster will cause more harm than good. And then the process of patching the damaged areas is very time consuming and even the pros can find the task daunting at best. By all means, scrape a little to see if it will come off easily, but most people who have not been properly trained will end up making this a lot worse. The benefit to ripping out the wall board is it gives you a chance to see if anything has been hidden behind the walls…you’d be amazed!
Chelsea Carter: we currently have stucco on our house. It is starting to crack and deteriorate. Is siding easy to put over stucco? We want new siding as soon as our wallets agree that we can lol
Chelsea, though you can side over stucco, I do not recommend it, EVER, and in fact refuse jobs that don’t allow for the removal of the existing exterior finishes. Though I know it isn’t cheap or easy to remove stucco the benefits of doing so are far greater. This gives you the opportunity to upgrade your insulation by adding sheet insulation, properly redo your envelop and seal the house up, find damage caused by other trades people, animals, and weather and make the proper repairs. Keep in mind that there are grants out there to help pay for this type of renovation.
Cheryl Slowski: How can I insulate my basement floor...I'd like to make it comfortable down there but the floor is very cold.
Cheryl, there are many products out there to achieve your goal. First off consider the condition of your cement floor…is it fairly smooth or flat? If yes then you might want to consider using drycore sub floor panels. If the answer is no, then then it can be quite a costly procedure and you should get a professional to assess the situation and present you with the options and their financial consequences. Depending on the flooring you chose it could be a very simple solution.
Ann Lyte-Maille: what is the easiest way to put a ceiling in a basement and does it have to be a drop ceiling?
Ann, the easiest is to hire a professional. Depending on what is hidden in your floor joists, sometimes the only solution is a drop ceiling, though drywall is still most commonly used.
Cynthia Redyoungman: I have new windows installed in my house and everytime we cook they fog up all the windows, the windows get wet and acumulate water. What can we do about this?
Cynthia, Congratulations! Your windows are doing their job quite nicely, unfortunately you have a humidity issue. Hot, moist air is attracted to colder surfaces, the resolution to this is increased air circulation. This is very common in new and older houses. First off do you have a range hood that vents to the outside? If it only recirculates the air, then I would get it vented out. Simpler yet, in the short term open your kitchen window a little while you cook and leave it open for about a ½ hour after. (This is a very short term solution) If you do not have a range hood at all, then you need one. If you have an older furnace then go to your thermostat and switch the fan to the on position, this will help circulate the air in your house and keep the temperature more consistent throughout. Check all registers to see if they are blocked, pull your beds couches, etc…, away from walls at least 6 inches to allow the air to reach the window more effectively and make sure the return air vents aren’t blocked as well. If you have a newer furnace with an air exchanger then the exchanger control will display settings based on seasons or exterior temperatures. Keep in mind that with radical changes in temperature it could take up to a week for the humidity in your house to adjust with the proper controls in place and there are comfort issues to consider as well. The colder it gets outside the more humidity you are to remove from the interior to stop condensation…this leads to static shocks and other discomforts.
Carm Schramm: when it comes to insulating and framing a room...(the old inside wall gone, outside wall is cement)...do you put the poly behind the insulation as well as in front? How thick of insulation do you need? keep in mind this is an older house and had the old lath wood and blown in insulation...so reframing wall and reinsulating...sorry if this long...Thanks!
Carm, this question has many answers depending on what you are trying to achieve. First you build the new walls keep them a minimum of ½” away from concrete treated or not and determine if ½’ is enough based on humps in concrete wall. Second, there are many approaches to poly right now, if you are going to wrap the poly under the bottom plate go no further than 3’ up the back side of studs. This is done in an attempt to mitigate mould growth in the insulation because of water penetration. My argument against this method is quite simple – water wicks up even through metal fasteners, (though very slowly), also, how well can you breath if you put a plastic bag over your head? Not very well at all, so if the insulation gets wet for whatever reason how will it dry out. Tar paper is making a come back and some builders/contractors are using it behind the wall system and carrying under the bottom plate, with the plate sitting on a foam gasket. The gasket is required by code. The theory is that the paper will wick the moisture out from behind the wall and into open circulation therefore preventing mould growth. This method makes sense to me. Also, if your budget will permit it use a better quality insulation then glass wool such as Roxul. If you are considering Roxul you might as well get quotes for spray foam insulation. Can’t get better performance than spray foam.
Lastly, the accepted R-Value to achieve is R-20 or greater, to which you require 2X6 studs.
Aleaha: I have a house built in 1929 with original lath and plaster. It's in good shape considering it's age but does have some bad cracks, bowed out & bumpy patches from shifting. I've been patching up areas on my own & have noticed more coming through in the last year. My intention is to eventually sell so I was wondering what's the pros and cons to tearing out the lath & plaster & putting up drywall, & if it would be worth it considering I will sell in 2-5 years.
Aleaha, the cons are few and the pros are many. In short the cons are costs…and in homes of that era the costs can spiral out of control quite quickly. The pros are you can insulate the walls, there will be none or spots where none could be blown in. You can finally get rid of the knob and tube wiring that remains in the wall, trust me it’s there and most likely some of it if not most is live. Finally, standards have drastically changed since then, such as your floor joists will be 2X8 fir not 2X10, and that is the tip of the structural ice berg of changes.
To repair the plaster only use plaster, not drywall mud. I suggest you using a plaster based compound such is Pro Set 90, keep in mind you have 90 minutes to use it up before it hardens so mix a little at a time until you are used to the product.
Sabina Walston Edwards: I was told by a plumber that my shower taps could not just be replaced, that he had to replace my bathtub, surround and the taps...seriously could that be right?
Sabina, yes. Though if you can find similar taps and the pipes are in a closet wall, than go at it from behind and leave an access panel for future issues. While he is in there get him to replace the riser to the shower head and the feed lines back out the floor if they are accessible. If your surround is very dated or in disrepair then you most likely have damage to the walls behind the surround and one should view this as an opportunity. Mouldy drywall, bad insulation…eww.
Trent Pare: What is the proper way to insulate a concrete floor in the basement.
Trent, there are many products out there to achieve your goal. First off consider the condition of your cement floor…is it fairly smooth or flat? If yes then you might want to consider using drycore sub floor panels. If the answer is no, then then it can be quite a costly procedure and you should get a professional to assess the situation and present you with the options and their financial consequences. Depending on the flooring you chose it could be a very simple solution.
Dan Bedell: Everyone seems to want to do home renos themselves or know someone who can help them,so what is the advantage in hiring a construction company as opposed to the do it your selfer.
Dan, the primary reasons would be knowledge and experience. Even the pros get put into situations that test them to the extremes; the home warrior would be confused beyond reason in such scenarios. The best example of that would be Brian Baumler's DIY show, I can’t believe the situations people get themselves into. The next major issue to consider, an issue that is becoming more prevalent as the years go by are warranty. More and more manufactures are requiring certification to install their product and when it comes to warranty request, when and if they, send someone out to assess the first thing they will be looking to do is to void the warranty. A greater percentage to warranty issues are due to installer error and the manufacturers know this. Also consider your insurance costs, if you or your friend(s) get hurt working on your house how will you pay your bills if you can’t work? Your friend’s solution is easy, they will just sue you…not usually something that keeps the friendship alive. A good analogy to consider would be that you take your Porche to Chev for reapirs, they know a lot about their cars not Porche’s.
Bruce Voldeng: Shane, we added on to an old house a few years ago but we are finding the floors on the old half have a few creaks and humps to them. Is there a way to fit that as our basement is pretty much finished?
Bruce, not without undoing what has been finished.
Crystal Frombach: Shane, we are putting in new cupboards and have never done it before. How do we install them?
Crystal, call us for a quote…seriously. In some provinces the certification to be a cabinet maker/installer takes 5 years of technical training and 10s of thousands of dollars to complete. You most likely do not have the proper tools to do the job and have already stated you are lacking in the knowledge. If you bought mouldings for your cabinets as well then you will definitely need help there. Trades people spend years refining their skills to be passable at best with prefinished mouldings. Also, consider the condition of everything behind the cabinets… a lot of electrical codes and needs have changed in the last 20-30 years and the electrical that met the needs and codes for when your house was built are now considered dangerous by todays power demands. Your only chance to redo all of this is when you gut your kitchen, chances are you will disturb something in the walls which won’t reveal itself till you’re done. Usually plumbing or electrical issues.
If you are determined to do this yourself, then go to a book store or one of the big three box stores and buy a book on modern cabinet installation procedures. You will need a 4’ level and 8’ level, jig saw, planer, drills, table saw, at least a 2 ½” and 1 1/2” drill bits as well as 3/16” drill bit, lots of shims. Next you will determine the high point in the room and decide how much you need to raise or lower your cabinets so they look good. This is just a bit of what you will need to consider, there literally are large volume books written on this…In some provinces the certification to be a cabinet maker/installer takes 5 years of technical training and 10s of thousands of dollars to complete.
Steve Gurski: I need to redo bathroom how much work is it to put in a counter or even a new vanity this house is almost 50yrs old and everything is original pretty much so realy in man hours I guess how long would it take to redo a bathroom Sink,Toilet,Tub?
Steve, depending on the finishes you chose it takes at minimum 4 business days start to finish. Budget 8-10 thousand dollars as well. When you gutt the room you are legally required to bring electrical and plumbing up to code. The plumbing usually grandfathers but the electrical is very strict.
Alana Anderson Baumgartner: If you want to re-tile a wall, what is the best way to get the old tile off and prep. the area for new tile?
Alana, as always it depends on where you are removing the tile. In the bath tub or shower area, take it all out right to the studs. If is a kitchen splash, then you can usually knock them off with a stiff scraper, lightly patch any large voids and retile.
Ross Carolan: Shane, I am going to be doing a massive renovation on my basement. The previous owners of my house repaired the basement but on;y made the height 5'10 1/2... and I want to put a I am pretty sure I will need to cut into the floor for piping? Any assistance would be greatly appreciated.
Ross, this is not a job for the do it yourselfer. Call a professional, there are rules and regulations that need to be followed.
Bev Carnegie Do you know what the fire rating for an exterior wall, on a commercial building. The building will be grandfathered into old code and city will allow it to be directly on the property line as long as the appropriate fire rating is established?
Bev, the fire rating depends on the intended use of the building. In general the minimum is a 2 hour rating with no flammable materials on either side of the property line and no windows in the wall on the property line.
Donna Berger: We want to do renovations on windows maybe put in garden doors where there was a window, if that is a good idea we would have to make a window space large by kitchen table! What is the best to use for kitchen windows and can you put a bay type if you have a flat window over the sink? Best deals, prices and warmth for winter months as I don't want money going out the windows, as a single parent I can't afford all the whistles and dimes, I am open to ideas!!!!Also need flooring throughout the whole house kitchen, living room bed rooms is the taiga synergy vinyl tile and plank flooring a good way to go? Thanks for all the help, advice etc!!
Donna, please give us a call at 550-2849 to set up a consultation to discuss all your needs/wants and the costs/benefits to them.
Kelly Perley-Labadie: When you have a draft coming through your door, both front and back and it causes a cross draft, would weather stripping be sufficient or should he doors be replaced?
Kelly, the answer is yes. If there is rust showing on your doors, they are visibly warped or worse yet they are wood then I would suggest replacing them. If you are going to replace them a reasonable budget is 1000-1200 installed for a single wide entry door. BUT, depending on type of glass you choose, hardware and if you want a storm door or not that budget can easily double or even triple per door. New weather stripping and bottom sweep generally cost about 75$ or less pluss labour. The average company charges about 85-125$/hour to service doors.
Bonnie McBride: What is the best surface to put glass tiles on a wall? I have seen the self adhesive backing, is it as good as using the tile adhesive?
Bonnie, Dens shield backer board or concrete board are best. As far as self adhesive tiles are concerned…, Rome wasn`t built in a day but the craftsmanship is still present. Stick to the known on this one, no pun intended. The jury is still out on this.
Michelle Blackett: How can I find out if a wall in my home is able to be taken down?
Michelle, any wall can come down, how much of it depends on finances, structural loads and what services pass through it. I suggested calling one of or all of the contractors given the thumbs up by Trusted Regina, Accurate Construction being my suggestion. ;) Depending on which wall(s) you want removed an engineer may be required.
Wanda Goertzen Bedell: what can a home owner do to help offset the stress that renovations inevitably cause?
Wanda, LOL! What do you normally do to alleviate stress? Depending on the size, area and time frame of reno, and your emotional fortitude, stay somewhere else. When we are working for an extended period of time on the interior of an occupied dwelling we start later and finish earlier to give the people time and privacy for their morning routines, as well as clean the areas up more thoroughly so it is more liveable – though it`s never enough. This has its own repercussions as well, primarily cost…shortening up the work day causes delays in completion, people want to be paid for 8 hours of work not 6, therefore the costs are passed down to the customer, another source of stress. Whatever you do to un-stress, do it more and have patience.
Shontell Sigda:I NEED to know...I have a slab house as many homes in my area do. When I bought the house they had put a laminate flooring down...I need to change it, it is very uneven and pulling apart...What type of flooring will best suit my home...many of my neighbors have the same question.
Shontell, carpet and lino are best. It should be noted though, that more and more flooring installers when installing laminate floor systems are gluing all joints to prevent the pieces from pulling apart due to seasonal humidity changes causing the materials to expand and contract. If you have the finances to purchase European laminate flooring which is solid colour all the way through and designed to outlast you it has to be glued and clamped. North American laminates are copies of the European stuff though better priced, don`t get the cheapest stuff, you get what you pay for. In the end, gluing the joints will increase install costs but longevity of most of the products as well. The installer will also end up using more transition strips as well, and you will need 3/4` thick base boards as well or cut drywall up so that the installer can get laminate tight to drywall but allow it to expand under if need be. Go to a reputable flooring store, not box store, if your product needs a warranty due to defect past one year from install you will be on your own with the box stores.