Winter is fast approaching and even though we live in a moderate climate city,
it’s still very important to make sure your house is well maintained! Here is a
winter maintenance check list for all of you home owners out there.
– Check the attic for leaks, check the insulation, look for blocked
vents and look to see if any daylight is coming through the
roof or around the chimney (may indicate a leak or hole).
– Replace the furnace, air handler filters (home owner), clean
your HRV system (home owner) and have your boiler serviced
if it’s been more than 12 months since your previous service
(a technician is required to provide this service).
– Clean and test all smoke alarms – check or replace the
batteries if they are not hard wired.
– Remove ice and snow from porches and concrete stairs as
soon as possible – don’t use salts or other chemicals that will
damage the concrete, membranes and/or tile to melt or
– In freezing or snowy conditions check for ice dams on the
overhangs of the roof.
– Occasionally open windows to allow the house to air out
(weather permitting). Not needed if your home contains an
– Avoid overloading circuits with heaters, light decorations or
appliances during the winter.
– Remember to remove and store all your hoses, turn off the
water supply to the exterior faucets and drain hose bibs
(remove diverters too) BEFORE freezing temperatures. This
may not be necessary if your home uses frost free hose bibs.
– If you have an in-ground sprinkler system, make sure it is
properly drained and winterized BEFORE freezing
– Check that your faucets are not leaking – this will save you
money especially on your hot water heating costs.
– Check all the CO (Carbon Monoxide) detectors for operation.
This is especially important in winter.
– Do not pile snow against the side of your house.
– Check for any areas with failed caulking and/or sealants,
keeping it maintained will prevent larger issues from
It’s unfortunate that your home can’t talk because if it could it’ll remind you about the benefit and importance of caulking & sealing. It’s probably one of the most important and overlooked parts of construction. Even if you spend tons of money on equipment and devices making your home as energy efficient as possible, it won’t make a difference if your home is not sealed properly with quality, long lasting products. Those dollars spent on higher end energy efficient equipment will leak out through every unsealed nook and cranny.
Furthermore, even when using the right product it’s essential that it’s applied properly. Certain products require clean, dry, dust free applications, while other products are more robust and can be applied to less prepped surfaces. It is also essential that you know the longevity of the product. Most often, the product will need to be reapplied within as little as a year depending on the temperature, moisture, and environmental exposure.
Don’t be afraid to ask you builder questions about what products they suggest and if there’s higher performing options available. The smaller increases in price could be beneficial in long term monetary and environmental gains.
Yes this is a blog about construction, not about some nasty gingivitis and mouthwash. Scope Creep by definition refers to uncontrolled changes or continuous growth in a projects scope. This phenomenon can occur when the scope of a project is not properly defined, documented, or controlled. It is generally considered a negative occurrence, and therefore should be avoided. Now as builders, our job is to provide our clients with direction, not to just take orders. This at times requires being critical, not critical in the sense of making judgments (e.g., “that’s a dumb idea”) but in the sense of breaking down an idea in order to make sure that it’s sensible for the project and budget. It is our job to challenge the client on decisions to make sure it’s for the good of the project and not just an impulsive decision. Your builder needs to be aware of the details; for example, adding a few pot lights here, and couple extra dimmers, a tile that is slightly more expensive and the next thing you know your budget has increased by a few thousand. It is often difficult to know what a small change in price in material will mean in the end. Does this material require different installation? Are the products for installation more expensive? Will it require more upkeep? Working with an experienced build & design team will ensure they help keep you on-budget, and on-time.
When it comes to green energy there are many options to consider in regards to the surrounding environment in which your home is located. It’s not about the quantity, more so the quality. Just because you throw money to get the latest and greatest doesn’t mean you’ll do the environment any good or even save money.You need to consider many variables before installing any type of green technology.
Let’s take Vancouver for example. Over the last few years Geothermal heating has been very popular and had much publicity, however it requires a bit of real estate which is now at a premium in this city.
Recently wind energy has been in the media and although it’s an effective and very environmentally friendly source of energy there are still many obstacles to overcome. In particular, there must be enough wind to power the turbines. As well, municipal processes and public education of this application are still in its early stages and can see some resistance.
Another popular green energy source over the last ten years has been solar energy. This technology has made huge advances in the last several years due to its extensive use in Europe and Australia. It’s the least costly of the three mentioned and can be used anywhere that has ample amounts of sunlight.
There are two types of solar energy; solar thermal (hot water) and solar electricity. Solar thermal which sits flat on the roof like a skylight can provide up to 70% of a homes hot water needs (including radiant in floor heating) annually. That’s 30-40% in the winter and 100% in the summer. This can translate to huge savings on gas energy. Solar electrical can provide electricity which can either be stored in batteries (requires space in the house) or sold into the BC Hydro grid and purchased back at a reduced rate. Both solar energy sources are fairly economical and have a shorter payback period than wind or geothermal. It’s also quicker to obtain permits for installation and easier to maintain.
Hardwood floors are essential to the comfort and décor of one’s home. With that said it’s important to maintain and take proper care of your hardwood floors.
A humidity level of 40% to 60% must be maintained all year long. A good quality and properly maintained drum humidifier attached to the furnace is required to achieve the proper humidity level. An inexpensive Hygrometer purchased by the home owner is a wise investment to ensure the proper humidity levels are maintained.
Failure to maintain proper humidity levels can and will result in boards cupping and face checking; as well as cracks opening between boards. This is especially true in our dry winters, even during Chinook conditions. Please keep in mind that in most cases it is the reasonability of the home owners to maintain the proper humidity levels!
Here are some more tips:
- Homes with radiant heat floors require independent humidification capable of maintaining humidity
- Portable humidifiers are not recommended
- Hardwood floors should be vacuumed prior to cleaning
- Only use the hardwood floor cleaner that is recommended by the hardwood floor manufacturer
- Damp mopping of any type is strictly forbidden
- Never use water, water/vinegar mixture, oil soap products or ammonia based cleaners
- All furniture must have felt pads attached and cleaned on a regular basis
- Walk off mats at entry doors and in front of kitchen sinks should be used
- Denting and scratching are not covered under warranties
- Damage done by pets with their claws are not covered under warranties
Keep your toes warm and the your pockets green with heated floors
Whenever you’re doing a reno that involves laying a new floor, whether it’s tile, stone, concrete, laminate, or hardwood or engineered hardwood, consider adding a radiant heat floor system like Nuheat. Radiant heat works by warming everything it touches from the ground up, therefore only drawing energy when it’s used. Besides the benefit of warm toes, you can count on savings because no energy is lost through ducts in traditional forced air units. For an average sized bathroom, you’ll spend in the neighbourhood of $400-$800. It’s super simple to install, just unroll the thin mats with coils at a perfect spacing to avoid cold spots, have an electrician hardwire to a thermostat, and lay your new flooring on top.
- Silent- no hum of a furnace switching on.
- Eliminates dust, pollen, and germs blown through traditional force air ducts to decrease allergens.
- Reduces dust mites and mould for a healthier house.
- Installing an energy-efficient product such as this make you eligible for a federal tax credit.
- Can allow the thermostat to be set 2-4degrees lower than a forced-air system, which can lower energy costs by 10-40%
Visit www.nuheat.com for more info.
Manager, Design and Client Services
Bet you didn’t know…that most homeowners are unaware of an existing law that stipulates the financial and legal liability is on the HOMEOWNER if an unregistered WorkSafe worker is hurt on the homeowners jobsite. In fact, most homeowners would hire a contractor assuming that the contractor would take full responsibility in making sure that everything is looked after. That is often NOT the case.
If you’re looking for a contractor to do either small or large renovations or builds etc… you need to make sure to hire a contractor that is fully registered with WorkSafe. As well, under the current Legislation it states that YOU as the homeowners are responsible to assign a prime contractor in writing and if you neglect this procedure, then you become the prime contractor.
We know that most homeowners hire contractors based on their experience and price rather than their liability credentials. A lot of people just don’t realize that as a homeowner the liability can attach itself both as the employer and as the prime contractor leading to potential financial catastrophes if a worker not registered under WorkSafe is injured your site.
A prime example was a roofer who was killed when he accidentally fell through a skylight of former Gordon Campbell’s vacation home. Gordon Campbell became the “prime contractor” because he failed to assign in writing the role to one of the three general contractors working on his home. As a result, Campbell was legally responsible for coordinating and establishing compliance with health and safety requirements. Luckily for him all the workers were fully registered under WorkSafeBC and the unfortunate death of that worker has been fully compensated. This story highlights the importance of due diligence when hiring subcontractors to work on your home. If that individual who was killed was not registered under WorkSafeBC, then Gordan Campbell as the prime contractor would’ve been legally and financially responsible.
We urge everyone before hiring a contractor to A) Establish the role of prime contractor in writing and B) check on WorkSafe’s online registration database to ensure their chosen contract is registered. If they aren’t registered you can pay an assessment fee to cover the workers on your property, based on a 5.19% payroll of labour costs. Example: $100,000 labour cost should equal $5190 of registration insurance premiums.
For more information: http://www.worksafebc.com/