Tuesday, 31 March 2009

Tales from the Renovation Track: One Woman’s Experiences of Being a Renovator: Part 1

Collage: construction, blueprints, women, STABILO All Pencils
Credits: MS Office ClipArt - j0291984.wmf + Opus Online Store - STABILO All Pencils

"We would like to take this opportunity to introduce Janice Bell who has kindly agreed to share with us some of her anecdotes of life as a renovator. We met with Janice recently and were impressed by her depth of experience in the trades. Not only is her experience in the building trades, but she also has a wide variety of related talents. She grew up knowing that her future would in the trades. She started off as a printer, and then made the trek to B.C. to become a sign maker. Her path then led her to employment on a huge construction company. When that ended, she came back to Ontario to start her own renovation company located near Peterborough.

What impressed us immensely was her commitment to helping women succeed in the trades and her determination to see them right. We also applaud her resolve to stay in the trades even though she experienced a number of hurdles and set-backs. We admire her grit to persevere despite personal hardship. Maybe at some stage she will enlighten us about her experience.

Meanwhile sit back, relax and enjoy her tales of her personal experiences as a renovator told with humor but always with an educational slant to them. We hope you will enjoy the stories as much as we did!"
Martina Ernst
Wo-Built Inc

Part 1 - All in All
All of a sudden, I took the pencil I had in my hand and made a big mark across the beautiful wood desk that belonged to my client, a business woman.

She froze in astonishment, and just as she was opening her lips to scold me, I took out a damp rag and effortlessly cleaned off the mark that left no trace of its presence.

She went wide-eyed again and then her shoulders sunk with relief.

I laughed at my inner mischievous self, having played a successful trick.

This particular pencil I have is no ordinary pencil. In fact, it is one of my most coveted tools of the trade, and I just have to tell you about it.

The pencil is manufactured by STABILO, and I discovered it when I was in the business of sign-painting in the last millennium, before computers took over the business of signs and rendered hand painting almost obsolete.

The full name of this pencil is STABILO All. As the name implies, it writes on ALL surfaces which includes wood, plastic, glass, metal, vinyl, leather, granite etc… You name it, it writes on it.

These pencils come in a variety of colors: white, yellow, orange, red, green and blue. I use them predominately for marking on walls where the locations of studs are - usually for installing kitchen cabinets and baseboards among other uses.

I use a stud finder to find the locations. Stud finders are essentially hand held meters that come in two types. The first type uses density to locate studs, as a stud location is denser than just a piece of drywall. The second type is a metal detector of sorts, and finds the locations of screws and nails which are of course, driven into studs. I like to use the density one as it has two settings, one for shallow and one for deeper applications. The deeper setting is used for thicker walls like lathe and plaster ones.

Stud locations are useful for baseboard applications because there are many times that a wall is longer than one piece of baseboard. When joining two pieces of baseboard, it is advisable to use a scarf (scarph) or angled joint instead of a straight butt joint. When a straight butt joint comes apart, it leaves a deeper and darker shadow which is much more noticeable than an angled joint. This is becoming more and more of an issue, especially in this day and age where cloud white is all the rage as a trim color.

I don't really know if there is a common angle one should use on a scarf joint, but I don't usually use a 45 degree one myself. This is because MDF baseboard usage is becoming so common and the resulting thin tip from a 45 degree angle is very weak and breaks off quite easily. I use something common, for instance, a 22 1/2 degree joint (one half of 45), so that the next renovator that comes along and has to replace a piece of the baseboard, does not have to do much guesswork to match the angle up.

I also prefer scarf joints, because there are times when I will glue the two angled edges together and the scarf joint provides more surface area to work with. It goes without saying though, that a 45 degree angle has more glue surface area than a 22 1/2 degree one. It is important to install the joint of baseboards on a stud, so the two ends can be tacked in securely.

Once the baseboard is installed, I merely take a damp rag and wipe the drywall clean of my marks. I use only the blue, green and white colored STABILO All’s as I found that the orange and red ones will leave a stain behind, a very undesirable trait.

There are some important considerations when using these pencils. Their "lead" is very soft, so one cannot press down hard on them without breaking them. It is also not a good idea to leave them in your vehicle during the summer months as the lead will heat up and droop like a limp piece of celery. And finally of course, they will not do well in wet environments ... remember the lead is water soluble.

The best use of these pencils is of course for teasing clients. Next time you need a humor break on the job, try writing on something in front of your customer. Just make sure they don't have a heart condition and for heaven's sake have the damp rag ready!

Happy Renovating!

Janice Bell
Bell Renovating

P.S. If you are located near Toronto, Canada, you can purchase these pencils at Curry's Art Store. Conversely, you should be able to find them at most any art supply stores.

2009 © Janice Bell

Tales from the Renovation Track: One Woman’s Experiences of Being a Renovator
Part 1: All in All
Part 2: Weld on Fire
Part 3: They Were Nailed
Part 4: It Pays to Be Honest
Part 5: Rural Renos
Part 6: Messy Is Costly
Part 7: Door Hell
Part 8: Just Where Do I Stop?
Part 9: Dressing for the Trades

Thursday, 26 March 2009

Wo-Built Is Launching a New Home Design Series Covering All Your Home Improvement Questions

Wo-Built and Wise Daughters Crafts Market Workshop, NewsletterScreenshot: Wise Daughters Craft Market Newsletter, April 2009
Wo-Built's Home Design Workshop Series
Wo-Built and Wise Daughters Crafts Market in the Junction have joined forces and present the Interactive Home Design Talk Series. These are talks about interesting and topical renovation issues.

First Talk: Solving problem spaces - bring photos of your home and get great design ideas is on Wednesday, April 1 from 7 pm until 9 pm.

Talks will be held at Wise Daughters Craft Market, 3079B Dundas Street West (facing Quebec Avenue, south of Crema).

Please register at 416-761-1555. Hurry only 12 participants will be accepted.

Martina Ernst
Wo-Built Inc.

Please contact us:
Wo-Built Inc.
Construction company helping women enter and succeed in the building trades
2917-B Lake Shore Blvd West
Etobicoke, Ontario M8V 1J3
tel: 416-402-2679
fax/tel: 416-354-2555

Wise Daughters Craft Market
Local handicrafts and do-it-yourself workshops

Wo-Built Home Design Series
Wise Daughters is pleased to host a series of 6 interactive talks on home design.

[] Wednesday, April 1, 7 – 9 pm
Solving problem spaces – bring photos of your home and get great design ideas

[] Wednesday, April 22, 7 – 9 pm
Designing with colours, materials and fabrics

[] Wednesday, May 13, 7 – 9 pm
Kitchens and bathrooms

[] Wednesday, June 3, 7 – 9 pm
Planning a large renovation

[] Wednesday, June 24, 7 – 9 pm
Conservatories, additions and more

[] Wednesday, July 15, 7 – 9 pm
How to be green

Series continues every 3rd Wednesday.
Fee for each session is $10, or all 6 for $50.

Want to take a workshop? Please pre-register:
Wise Daughters Craft Market
Local handicrafts and do-it-yourself workshops
3079B Dundas Street West, Toronto, ON M5P 1Z9
(facing Quebec Avenue, just south Dundas, behind Crema Coffee)
There is ample street parking on Dundas and Quebec.
Via TTC: Junction bus # 40 from Dundas West Station,
Lambton bus # 30 (or 15 min. walk) from High Park Station.
tel: 416-761-1555

For future workshops, see
links: GET SCHOOLED: Wise Daughters April Workshops (April: Wo-Built Home Design Series
by rosalyn Wise Daughters Upcoming Workshops: Wo-Built Home Design Series
Wo-Built Inc.: Wo-Built Is Launching a New Home Design Series Covering All Your Home Improvement Questions

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Thursday, 12 March 2009

Wo-Built Inc Home Maintenance Plan: How It Works to Your Advantage

Poster: Wobuilt Home Maintenance ServicesPoster: Wobuilt's New Maintenance Service
2008 @

How would a Wo-Built Inc home maintenance plan work to you advantage?

As with Wo-Built’s "Your Dream House" Program every home maintenance client starts with an assessment of their entire home. The following describes our maintenance process using a hypothetical scenario of the problems we might find in a turn of the century or early 1900, 2-storey home.

We start with looking at the exterior and record all areas that need repairs, that are overdue for maintenance and which can benefit from a home improvement. In this hypothetical example we have identified the following problems:
  • Two windows need to be repaired due to severe weathering. The wood on two of the windows has rotted over the years, but the home owner does not want to replace the windows.
  • The front steps are cracked;
  • The porch area needs painting;
  • The rear storm door or screen door is badly warped and a little torn;
  • The roof needs re-roofing;
  • Gutters are clogged.
After having identified all the items on the outside of the house we proceed to have a look at the interior.
  • Minor repairs are required – the railing on the stairs is loose and some doors do not close properly;
  • The bathrooms need new grouting and/or caulking;
  • The ducts have not been cleaned for a while.
  • The kitchen plumbing needs to be upgraded. The kitchen is dated and in need of refurbishment, but in discussions with the home owner it is decided that the kitchen is not a priority.
The home owner signs up for maintenance package #1, the package would include 3 hours every 6 weeks for a total of 27 hrs. The start date is April, the maintenance visits run for one full year and break down as follows:
  • April 15th – cleaning of gutters accessible from a ladder;
  • May 27th – repair of windows, i.e. cleaning off the rotten wood, replacing outside casements, painting and caulking. In this example the time estimated at the outset is 6 hrs. As the owner opted to pay for 3 more hours, both windows can be repaired at the same time. Otherwise the repairs might take two visits. Materials such a wood, paint and caulking are also extra.
  • June 17th – bathroom caulking and grouting. Also, caulking in the kitchen and the plumbing for changing a faucet. Faucet, grout and caulking are an extra charge.
  • July 29th – painting of the porch. Estimated time required 9 hrs. As the owner opted to pay for 6 more hours the painting of the porch can be finished all at once. Paint is charged extra. This work could be eligible for tax credits.
  • September 9th – minor repairs such as storm doors and internal repairs that the owner wanted to have done, i.e. a new shelf put up in the kitchen.
  • October 21st – cleaning of gutters again as gutters should be cleaned twice a year. This ensures that water is kept away from the building, making water ingress more difficult.
  • December 2nd – cleaning of ducts, changing furnace filters and minor repairs;
  • January 13th – minor repairs;
  • February 24th – the final visit for this years maintenance plan and a few more minor repairs.
The front steps that needed repairs could be moved into next years maintenance plan or fitted in as an extra during the present year. We would also get three quotes for the re-roofing of the roof.

Wo-Built can help maintain your largest investment in tip-top shape. And if you hurry you can take advantage of the Home Improvement Tax Credit which is in place for the year. Let your dollars do double duty in the home renovations area as well!

Lonya is the staff writer for Wo-Built Inc.

Wo-Built Inc.: Invest in Your Home Renovations and Be Eligible to Receive up to $1,350 in Tax Relief
Wo-Built Inc.: Wo-Built’s New Maintenance Service
Wo-Built Inc.: How to Come out ahead on Your Home Renovation

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Tuesday, 10 March 2009

How to Come out ahead on Your Home Renovation

Wo-Built Home Maintenance PlanCome out ahead on Your Home Renovation
2009 @

"The prime minister reminded the audience about some of the budget measures designed to stimulate the economy such as the home renovation tax credit. He said already there have been 12,000 inquiries about the credit to an information hot line and he joked that anyone with a home and wife will likely be doing home renovations this year."
Harper: American economy hit twice as hard as Canada's
by Shane Dingman, March 10, 2009
Wo-Built’s Home Maintenance Program and the Home Improvement Tax Credit - How to come out ahead when considering home renovations.

In these tough economic times, we are all trying to stretch our dollars to do double duty. The home renovations area is no exception. Wo-Built Inc. offers a Home Maintenance plan which could easily be converted into Home Improvements. Clients who enroll in this program to receive regular monthly maintenance with Wo-Built can also take advantage of the Home Improvement Tax Credit (HRTC).

For instance your kitchen may be outdated and in need of some repairs. Some of the more popular improvements to brighten up the kitchen and make it more inviting might include painting the kitchen doors or installing new ones, replacement of the kitchen cabinets and new hardware. New counter tops, new floor tiling, a new sink and a more contemporary paint color for the walls would also give it a fresher appeal. Wo-Built would be able to do all these improvements to your kitchen under our new home maintenance plan. And as an added bonus these improvements are eligible for the new Home Improvement Tax Credit. Our service also helps in increasing your home value should you want to consider selling your home.
Lonya is the staff writer for Wo-Built Inc.

Wo-Built Inc.: Invest in Your Home Renovations and Be Eligible to Receive up to $1,350 in Tax Relief
Wo-Built Inc.: Wo-Built’s New Maintenance Service

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Thursday, 5 March 2009

Smart Kitchen Upgrade Tips: Interesting Reading

Screenshot: Kitchen Upgrades For The Money Conscious by Maria PolidoroScreenshot: Kitchen Upgrades
For The Money Conscious by Maria Polidoro

In these recession ravaged times everyone is looking to squeeze a lot more from their dollars. Renovations are no exception. With the home renovation tax credit in place that is good for one year, more people will be looking to renovate their homes for either resale or just to take advantage of the tax credit while it is in effect. We just came across an interesting reading for anyone thinking about a kitchen renovation with a few tips to get you started. And remember – if you have a project in mind that is too big for DIY, Wo-Built Inc. can come to the rescue!

Kitchen Upgrades For The Money Conscious
Author: Maria Polidoro

Most experts agree that if you are only going to update one room in your home, the kitchen will give you the most bang for your buck when it comes to resale value. The return on any home renovation investment will vary depending on your location, market conditions and a host of other factors.

Whether you want to freshen up the look of your kitchen for yourself or to put your home on the market, these ideas can help you achieve an updated look without undertaking a costly renovation:

Tip #1: One word: Paint. Outdated wall colors and chipped paint will make any room look drab and unkempt. The great thing about painting a room is that it is an easy and inexpensive fix. A new coat of paint in an appealing color will give any kitchen an instant update and make a major impact even if it is the only change you make.

Tip #2: Refurbish instead of replacing cabinets. Brand new cabinets make a beautiful addition to any kitchen, but are also a costly investment. If your cabinets are in good condition, you may consider painting, refinishing or re-facing them with new doors and drawer fronts rather than replacing them. Any of these projects will require time and work, but will give your kitchen an updated look and feel. Finish up with new hardware on all cabinets and drawers, and your kitchen will emerge with a fresh new style for a fraction of the cost of new cabinets.

Tip #3: Replace an outdated sink and faucet. Replacing an outdated sink and faucet is a relatively simple upgrade that is also easy on the wallet. If your sink is in good shape, you can spend even less by only replacing the faucet. Be sure to coordinate a new sink and/or faucet with the rest of the fixtures in the kitchen such as light fixtures and cabinet hardware. Mismatched metals such as a brass light fixture and chrome hardware makes for a less cohesive look, and a streamlined appearance is a major goal of a minor kitchen remodel.

Tip #4: Patiently seek out great deals on appliances. Saving money on appliances can be tricky. Scratch and dent warehouses are a great place to begin your search for deals on kitchen appliances. While those with obvious damage should be avoided, these warehouses can be the perfect place to find appliances with minor blemishes.

Be a savvy shopper when looking for appliances. Major holidays such as Memorial Day and Labor Day are popular times for big sales, and may present opportunities to find discounts. Ask salespeople if there is room for negotiation and if any sales are coming up. Find out if there are any floor models or discontinued models from last year. Seeking out energy efficient appliances is a great way to save money for the long haul.

Consulting with a licensed real estate professional in your area prior to making changes that will affect the value of your home is always advisable.

About the Author:

Maria Polidoro is the Founder of Ace Tool Online. Ace Tool is an authorized distributor for virtually all major power tool manufacturers and houses a full power tool service center. Please visit Ace Tool Online for Milwaukee cordless tools, Amana router bits and saws, Festool saws, Occidental Leather tool belts and much more.

Article Source:

Wo-Built Inc.: Kitchen Design Tips
Wo-Built Inc.: Kitchen Design Trends Kitchen Upgrades For the Money Conscious

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Wednesday, 4 March 2009

Home Renovation Tip: Donate Reusable Items to Non-For-Profit Organizations

Screenshot: Habitat for Humanity ReStores: building supply storesScreenshot: Habitat for Humanity ReStores are building supply stores that accept and resell quality new and used building materials. They generate funds to support Habitat's building programs, while reducing the amount of used materials that are headed for overflowing landfills!
Tip: Please consider donating your used items when renovating

Very often when looking to renovate a bathroom or kitchen there are items which are still in good shape, such as kitchen cabinets, sinks, bathtubs, doors, windows and many items more. A great idea is to donate these items to organizations that help out the community, such as Habitat for Humanity, the Salvation Army and shelters. Habitat for Humanity will also accept building materials.

Please go to Charity for more information on not-for-profit organizations in your area.

Martina Ernst
Wo-Built Inc.

links: Renovating? Have items to donate? Go to Charity Village to find where to donate
Wo-Built Inc.: Renovation Design Tips: Tip 1: Know Your Zoning and By-laws
Wo-Built Inc.: Renovation Design Tips: Tip 2: Design Time
Wo-Built Inc.: Renovation Design Tips: Tip 3: Professionals Involved in the Design
Wo-Built Inc.: Invest in Your Home Renovations and Be Eligible to Receive up to $1,350 in Tax Relief
Wo-Built Inc.: Smart Home Improvement with ecoENERGY Retrofit Grants
Wo-Built Inc.: The Foundations of Renovating Your Home
Charity Village: A list of organizations across Canada that accept goods as charitable donations How to Donate Used Appliances to Charity
By eHow Culture & Society Editor
City of Toronto: Solid Waste Management - ReUseIt: Reuse before you recycle: Donate leftover renovation supplies

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