Tuesday, 30 June 2009

Renovations for the Resale Market

Collage: Wobuilt: Home Renovations for the Resale MarketCollage: Home Renovations for the Resale Market
Credits: MS Office ClipArt - j0435995
Which ones will work for you to get that sale!

The most recent economic forecasts are telling us that home sales are starting to be on the upswing. So when thinking about putting your house on the market, which renovation measures would be the most effective in getting you that sale?

The television airwaves have inundated us with renovation reality shows. Several are about renovating your home for resale and making it more appealing to a prospective buyer. Having watched a few of these shows (in the name of research of course) it seems there are three reoccurring themes:
  1. spruce up the kitchen,
  2. de-clutter, clean and remove home owner’s personal influences, and
  3. consistent color scheme throughout the main rooms.
Since the main objective is to sell your home for the best possible price, the home owner’s personal tastes are often a major obstacle to selling. Remember that when you are selling your home, it has to be appealing to the buyer and not to yourself. Once you’ve made that decision to sell your home, your mental attitude should be that of detachment since it will no longer be "your" home. You should be looking forward to your new home.

When you renovate your home for resale it is important to keep your costs down. The main purpose of this renovation is to increase the home’s appeal to the potential buyer, therefore attaching the value to the house. If you plan to stay in your home, the main renovations that will increase the value of your home should you decide to sell further down the line are; extra bathrooms, new kitchens and of course extra space. These can run into tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars and should only be considered if you want to enjoy the home yourself.

For resale, a kitchen upgrade should focus mainly on upgrading the cabinets with paint and perhaps new hardware, painting the walls a more neutral color and removing all clutter. All these measure are designed to give the kitchen a more contemporary look, and to make it appear larger and more inviting. The rest of the house might also benefit from a fresh color scheme. The best return for your investment when selling your home is painting and accessorizing your space. On average the renovation should not cost you more than $10,000 for an average sized home. This may mean that you have to purchase some of the items and do some of the renovations yourself. But this should be considered a job that will bring a larger reward down the road.

Another significant measure is to eliminate the "gross out" factor, especially in the bathrooms. Nothing is more off-putting than grimy, dirty bathrooms. Cleaning the tiles and grout, re-caulking, a fresh coat of paint and perhaps some new vanity units will go a long way to giving the bathrooms a fresher appeal.

Regular maintenance and upkeep of your home should have been a priority all along, however we all get busy with life. Usually the costs and aggravation are the main factors why necessary maintenance is left to the last minute. However, before you sell, some easily fixable external maintenance issues should be attended to. They would include fixing any loose boards, attending to flaky walls, filling holes in the walkways and painting wherever possible to give your property a well maintained look. If you are thinking of putting your home on the market sometime in the future, remember that a regularly well maintained home will need much less work when the time is right for you to sell.

The more appealing you can make your home, the easier and faster it will be to sell it.

Martina Ernst
Wo-Built Inc.

links: Turning Your Dream Home Into a Reality: 10 sizzling ideas to get you exploring the possibilities of your house Renovations and Recession
Getting Your Home Ready for Resale

Saturday, 27 June 2009

Tales from the Renovation Track: One Woman’s Experiences of Being a Renovator: Part 10

Collage: industry, people at work, paintingCollage: industry, people at work, painting
Credits: MS Office ClipArt - IN00412

Part 10 - Very Painterly
On one of my recent jobs I had the task of replacing the siding on the front wall of a commercial space.

It seemed a straightforward job at first, but as renovations go, the Construction Demon reared its ugly head early and threw a batch of carpenter ants into the mixture, necessitating the removal and replacement of the 4 front windows, and of the well rotted OSB. And of course most of the tunneled studs, along with the interior electrical components, door bell, outside lights, eaves troughs, insulation, vapour barrier and drywall and trim had to be removed as well. Did I mention I had to do the siding too? Goodness!!

The electrician came by to unhook everything, and out of the one wall plug box flowed the black and lifeless bodies of an exceedingly large number of dead carpenter ants. This happened right in plain view of the customer. Her shoes were close enough to the carnage that a couple of the small black bodies rolled to rest by her toe.

"I guess you’ll be needing a vacuum cleaner?" the customer remarked to the electrician. Well I just about laughed out loud when he shot back "NO! ... but YOU might!"

Well the rest of the reconstruction was luckily unremarkable until it came to the point where the siding had to be painted then installed.

Now let me tell you, you need intestinal fortitude to do construction for a living because you always have to be brave enough to try new things. And be prepared to fail as well during the learning process. Such was my relationship with spray painting at this point.

I was at the phase where I was bound and determined to get my spray painting down pat, and I decided that this would be the perfect job, as there were 3 coats to go on. There was a lot of siding waiting for an extreme makeover.

The customer had chosen a maroonish barn red, so I purchased the paint and got down to work. I obtained a whack of 2x4's for dunnage, and laid all the siding out on top of it in the gravel parking lot out back.

I added some Floetrol to the latex exterior paint because it gives the paint a better consistency to be sprayed. As I poofed the first few boards, I noticed with a kind of sick feeling that the color was a bit off. But since this was the first top coat after the primer, I decided I might just as well give one good coat to all the siding because then the color would be consistent throughout the siding. I would also consider it somewhat like a colored primer. So away I went.

That job finished, I then started the clean up. I tried to unhook the spray gun from the air line, but they just wouldn't separate. I pulled on it like a robin on a worm, but it stayed together. Buoyed out of sheer frustration, I gave it one final hard yank and suddenly the paint came spraying out of the severed connection and wallpapered me like a gunshot victim, all over my grey and white striped coveralls, or should I say coloralls.

Pink!! It ended up drying pink instead of maroon. That horrible so not siding pink! The arriving customer's eyes grew very wide indeed as the shock of the visual experience registered. And pink was on my colouralls! Remember ... discharge the airline first .......discharge the airline first……

Back to the paint store where the staff gazed at my coveralls with thinly disguised hilarity and pity. The more courageous one approached me and asked me what happened. I just told her the truth, that I had busted an artery, sewn it back up with rebar tie wire and was back working. Once the tsunami of laughter calmed it was discovered that the color had been incorrectly mixed. With my arms full of new maroon barn paint, it was off to do more spray painting.

Ah! That color was more like it. The spraying went fabulously well, and I spent more time cleaning the spray equipment then I spent painting.

All of a sudden, a crack of thunder roared its presence over my head. I looked up and saw the swelling influx of angry grey clouds collecting overhead. I was still not too worried for having grown up in this area, I was used to rains taking a while to manifest, and I thought by then, a skin would have formed over the paint and protected it.

Crack - a quick boom of thunder, a flash of lightening and down she came, not a mere 8 minutes later. I very quickly put my spray equipment inside and ran like the devil to the dryness of the customer's porch.

The scene before me is forever etched in my mind, as I watched white dots start to appear all over the siding, like colorless measles. They grew bigger as the siding got whiter and whiter down to the primer. The thin rivers of maroon paint flowed away and then disappeared into the thirsty gravel.

I just laughed ... nervously. There was simply nothing I could do but wait and start over.

I sprayed it again after it dried. Good! Finally! Yippee!!

I installed all of the siding, but the very next day I noticed begrudgingly that the brownish knots of the pine had started to appear through the paint. I had used the recommended primer, but it didn't work. And don't let those weekend shift hardware workers tell you that white shellac seals knots either because it just doesn't!!

After some experimentation, I found a primer that actually worked, and spot primed this new white primer over the maroon siding on the front wall of this main street business. Like a white-on-maroon impressionist painting, those dotted patches of primer advertised my misfortune in a big way. The other local painters would drive by with knowing pity and "had it happen" looks carved into their passing smiles. The patches were finally painted over, and no one but the whole town knew better. This trying renovation was finally over.

After that, the local Chinese restaurant down the street started serving misfortune cookies!

Happy Renovating!

Janice Bell
Bell Renovating
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

Part 10: Very Painterly

Wednesday, 24 June 2009

Reminder: Wo-Built's Home Design Workshop Tonight! Conservatories, Additions and More

Flyer: Wo-Built Inc. and Wise Daughters Home Design Workshop: Planning Conservatory or Addition or Extension: What do you need to knowFlyer: Wo-Built Inc. and Wise Daughters Craft Market Design Workshop
Planning a Conservatory or Home Addition or Extension &
Need Some Inspirations

Photos: "From large historic conservatories: Kew Gardens, London, UK
to improving your living space by adding an integrated extension.
Locale: Toronto

Wo-Built Inc. and Wise Daughters Craft Market

Invite you to attend our next Home Design Workshop

Conservatories, Additions and More

Wednesday, June 24, 2009
7 pm - 9 pm

Wise Daughters Craft Market
3079B Dundas Street West, Toronto, ON M5P 1Z9
(facing Quebec Avenue, just south Dundas, behind Crema Coffee)

This is the right workshop for you if you are thinking of or already planning a conservatory or home addition or extension and you need some inspirations. From a historical perspective to great new design, we explore the possibilities for wow-factors and great imagery.

Cost: $10

Contact: 416-761-1555 or 416-345-2555 to reserve your seat
Or e-mail: or

See you there!

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


Get Your Smart Kitchen & Bathroom Design Ideas: Wo-Built's Home Design Workshop at Wise Daughters
Reminder: Wo-Built's Home Design Workshop Tonight!
Our First Session of
the Home Design Workshop Series
How to Improve Your Home Spaces: Wo-Built Design Workshop Tonight
Wo-Built Is Launching a New Home Design Series Covering All Your Home Improvement Questions SNAP Bloor West: 2009 May: Craft Market Hosts Home Design Series Business Idea Center: Home Renovation Classes

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Thursday, 18 June 2009

Tales from the Renovation Track: One Woman’s Experiences of Being a Renovator: Part 9

Tales from the Renovation Track: One Woman’s Experiences of Being a Renovator: Dressing for the TradesCollage: construction, hard hats, people at work, tool belts, women
Credits: MS Office ClipArt - j0434449

Part 9 - Dressing for the Trades
You know, a gal can find out all sorts of things about the construction business; which tools to use, how to use them, which construction methods to use etc. This information is available quite widely on the web, books, magazines and DIY TV shows.

But nowhere, does someone interested in getting into the trades as a career, do people tell you how to dress for work. Honestly. And it took quite a bit of experimentation for me to discover exactly how to do that.

No matter what the weather, you are going to be wet all day long, either from rain, melting snow or sweat. The important thing is to keep warm while you are wet. And here is exactly how I do it.

Let’s start with work boots. There are tall ones and there are ankle ones. I find the ankle length ones good for summer and lighter construction work, but when I am pouring concrete, I want the taller boots, as concrete is quite abrasive and you want your protruding ankle bones to be protected. I also like to purchase the more expensive boots that are entirely rebuildable.

Now, good boots take some time to break in and feel comfortable. I always cringe when I see someone on a construction site with brand new booties, knowing full well that their feet are going to hurt like the dickens later on. Once you are in a trade, it is advisable to have 3 pairs of boots, so you can break new ones in slowly, and you can allow any leather ones to air dry instead of force drying, which shortens the life of the leather. And speaking of leather, please, please clean and grease you boots regularly. It keeps the leather soft and supple, and repels fluids. And carry extra laces with you to the site.

There are specialty trade boots. For example, welder’s boots have a special exterior "tongue" on them which prevents the molten slag from burning the laces. It drops to the floor and helps prevent the slag from lodging in a crevice of the boot and burning your feet.

Iron workers have "Red Wings" - a type of boot distinct by its maroon colour. It has more eyelets than most boots and a white sole on them that is softer than regular workboot soles, which helps to grip the iron better. These are the pair I use the most for a few reasons. One, they were the fastest ones to break in, and two, the white soles mark floors less than black soles do. Three, they are devoid of any heels and because the soles are softer, they slip less on ice and wet ceramic floors.

There are all kinds of workboots out there. You need to pick the ones that best suit your trade. Pick ones that aren't too heavy and a little larger, because your feet will swell during the day. Ones that have breathable fabric on their tongues are also very prone to leaking moisture in.

I also own steel-toed running shoes, steel-toed rubber boots and steel-toed snow boots, as well as Baffins, a steel-toed rubber boot that has a liner like a snowmobile boot.

Gloves - there are so many types to list, I'm not even going to try. I have long fingers, but if I buy gloves long enough, the fingers are too wide as they are made for a man's hand and the extra material is a hassle. If I look for women's gloves, they aren't usually large enough.

The most important information I have to share about how to dress in construction is the following:
  1. Wear polypropylene socks, and long johns. These wick away water from your body and keep it dry from rain and sweat.
  2. Wear a cotton T shirt over top of the polypropylene to soak up the water that the poly repels.
  3. On top of that, wear a good old Stanfield's grey wool sweater. It keeps you warm even if you are soaked. If wool makes you itch, wash this many times before wearing and it helps to keep the itchiness away. Some people could wear wool longjohns (not me) and keep them from being itchy by turning them inside out and burning off all the little hairs with a tiger torch first.
  4. Lastly, wear a good rubber rain suit, not those cheesy yellow plastic ones. Rubber is much hardier, and if you catch it on something like rebar and it rips, you can just take some rubber cement and patch them with inner tubing.
Coveralls, jeans etc. are all a matter of personal preference. However, I have found that some coveralls shrink and keep shrinking when you throw them in the dryer. And I get dirty enough every day that my work clothes need to be washed everyday. So if you pay big bucks for coveralls, let them air dry or be prepared to lose weight.

Dress for success!

See Marissa McTasney's "Tomboy Trades Ltd." Brooklin, Ontario
Elizabeth Johnston's "Toronto's Working Women Workwear"
and for women's fall arrest harnesses (it's about time)

Janice Bell
Bell Renovating
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

links: These boots are made for workin'
With more women entering the skilled trades, Whitby mom saw her niche: a line of totally cute female-friendly work wear
By Lisa Wright
ToolGirl: Mag Ruffman's Official Web Log: Workboots for Women in Red, Green, Blue and Pink Construction fashions for women
Elizabeth Johnston models of the her innovative work clothes designed specifically for women who work in the construction trades
By Patricia Williams
charm and hammer:
Safety Gear for Hard Working Women™

Tuesday, 16 June 2009

A Renovation Company‘s Rites of Passage – Our Evolving Missions and Commitments

Collage: A renovation company‘s rites of passage – our evolving missions and commitments, by wobuiltCollage: A renovation company‘s rites of passage –
our evolving missions and commitments

2009 @

Occasionally I feel the need to tell everyone how proud we are of the company we are constantly evolving. It has now been almost 6 month since our New Year message and it is time again for an update.

Despite the recession we are designing and building numerous home improvement projects of various sizes and we are more than ever committed to providing great design with affordability. We provide detailed cost breakdowns of the projects on an ongoing basis throughout the design period and keep track of the costs during the construction.

We have now added an environmental mandate starting by offering "green roofs", mainly because we are trying to incorporate new technologies in our designs to combine the wow-factor with practical solutions. Any reduction in our carbon footprint will be a step towards environmental responsibility. Our Maintenance Plan initiative also helps the cause as a well-maintained home can reduce energy consumption.

Our renovation tips have been well received and we are now holding design workshops on a regular basis and the one about kitchens and bathrooms was a great hit. Over the last six months it has become very clear to us that we love the design aspect of our design and build process and that we would like to share our passion for design with the community.

We are still working on our mandate to create more women renovators, but truthfully it has been slow, but we are committed to the cause. We are still trying to have training courses for women and hopefully by the end of the year we will be able to report success. As part of this effort Elida volunteered her expertise at the Habitat for Humanity Women’s Blitz earlier in the season. Where we can, we like to help Habitat for Humanity, especially with donating reusable items. We have met many interesting women in our journey and one of them is now a regular writer on our forum (Janice Bell of Bell Renovations).

Even though our community work is important to us our main focus are our clients. We are grateful and excited at the opportunities that are presented to us in every new project. One of our last year’s projects was nominated as a finalist in the prestigious BILD awards. A proud moment for our client and us. Our aim is to share many of these moments in the future with our clients.

Martina Ernst
Wo-Built Inc.

Wobuilt Inc: 2008 New Year's Message from the CEO
Wobuilt Inc:
2009 New Year's Message from the CEO

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Thursday, 11 June 2009

Turning Your Dream Home Into a Reality (Again !!!!)

Collage: Turn Your Dream Home Into a Reality, by wobuilt.comCollage: Turn Your Dream Home Into a Reality
2009 @

10 sizzling ideas to get you exploring the possibilities of your house.
Let’s face it: selling up, moving out and finding a new home is hassle. You like the neighbourhood, your kids go to school nearby, you have lots of fond memories of the house you live in and the new house will need renovations anyway (who wants to live in someone else’s tastes?). Also the economy has tanked. But your home does not meet your needs anymore, the kids require more space, the kitchen is dated and the décor you once thought as charming is now horribly depressing (sounds familiar? Reality shows have been designed around this theme).

But renovations are scary! You heard lots of stories, the work will disrupt the family and will it really be worth it? ….

Absolutely, if you want to stay for many years to come.

If the issue is a need for more space or the need for a bigger house why not consider an addition or an extension to your existing home? The design and build process may just be the answer to your need for added space dilemma. The design element of the whole project is the fun part because you get to wish and dream of what the potential might be and what the finished project might look like… and …..find out at the same time how much it will cost.

The key to making your dream home a reality and adding that wow factor is good communication with your design and build team.

A good designer will help immeasurably by looking at the existing space in your home and considering your wish list and coming up with real possibilities that can make your home the house of your dreams again. The builder component in the team will check the costs and keep it real.

Just some ideas to get you dreaming:
  1. How about a new bedroom above an existing extension?
  2. New bathroom or having your own en-suite?
  3. How about your own spa?
  4. How about a conservatory or sunroom?
  5. Mezzanines, overlooking living areas?
  6. Open concept kitchen?
  7. How about a deck on top of your extension?
  8. How about a "green roof"?
  9. Or your own private attic retreat?
  10. Or if you are really want to increase your space how about a complete second floor addition.

As a bonus an addition or extension will add value to your home should you decide to sell further down the road.

Let’s face it: exploring the possibilities of the home you have is really your starting point for an exciting journey of discovery and we can help you.

Martina Ernst
Wo-Built Inc.

links: Renovations and Recession Getting Your Home Ready for Resale The Development of an Addition Project Tales from the Renovation Track: One Woman’s Experiences of Being a Renovator

Wednesday, 10 June 2009

Large Renovations And What You Need To Know: Workshop Slide Show Presentation

Check out our SlideShare Presentation:

Wo-Built's Large Renovations Workshop:
  • What you need to know to prepare for Your renovation project and How good planning will make large renovations easier.
  • This is the right workshop for you if you are thinking of or already planning a renovation that may involve many trades, permits, designers and engineers or is just bigger than you want to handle by yourself.
  • We will explore the different stages of a renovation, any pitfalls you may encounter and you will receive any general and specific advice you may need.

Thursday, 4 June 2009

You've Got a Question, We've Got an Answer: Wo-Built Responds

Collage: Wo-Built's Forum: Questions and Answers
Credit: MS ClipArt j0439384


Rebecca said...
I really like the look of the rustic design and really enjoyed reading your article. I'm based in England and am currently researching for my kitchen redesign. I've just signed the contract for a hand made kitchen so am on the look out for some unique or contemporary design features. I have a young family at the moment and we're extending the house to make room for our third child and lucky me I get a new kitchen too. I'm having to live elsewhere though as the building work is at an open house stage and my 9 month old can do without the draft. It'll all be worth it though.

Wo-Built responds…

Wo-Built Inc. was very pleased to hear that we were able to help out with design ideas as far away as England. Our resident design expert, Deborah is always on top of the trends and always has some great ideas for remodeling kitchens to provide maximum efficiency with a warm ambience. After all, the kitchen is the heart of the home, so it’s important to have a design that reflects that sentiment. We would love to see your finished kitchen and please feel free to post a picture of it once it is finished.

Joanna said...
On May 1st – 9th, Habitat for Humanity Toronto will host thousands of women for its Women Build initiative. These women will come together to build homes with low income families in the West Hill area of Scarborough. The Women Build is all about the solidarity of women, and the power to change the lives of those in need. It is also a tangible way for women to directly help other women. This Blitz Build will go down in Habitat for Humanity history as the largest Women Build in Canada, and our goal is to raise $2 million dollars.

For more information, please visit, email or call 416-755-7353

Wo-Built responds…

As Wo-Built Inc. has a social mission to help women succeed in the trades, an event such as this one was close to our hearts. We were quite pleased to have been able to contribute to this most worthwhile event. Please read about the many wonderful experiences we had in our current postings on our forum.

Tuesday, 2 June 2009

Getting Your Home Ready for Resale

Wo-Built: Getting Your Home Ready for ResaleCollage: Wo-Built: Getting Your Home Ready for Resale
Leave the house repairs to us, so you can do what is important!!!
Credit: MS Office ClipArt - j0430538

Recently while watching the news it was reported that a house in Leaside, Toronto, had sold for $100,000 above asking price. Even though the consensus is that the housing market is looking up, buyers are still quite conscious of the choices available in the market. It would therefore appear that the time to get your home ready for resale is NOW.

Consequently, a good renovation to the main areas of the house such as the kitchen, the bathroom(s), and the living room prior to putting your house on the market will increase the property’s appeal and possibly invite multiple bids.

The costs for the renovations do not have to break the bank. Much can be done by applying the right paint colors, choosing pleasing fixtures such as faucets, handles, knobs and other hardware for the kitchen and bathroom(s). Doing the proper maintenance of the exterior of the house as well as the interior is also a must. However, it is more than just staging of the house.

A proper cost and benefit analysis should be worked out prior to embarking on any improvements. The key is not to go overboard with any renovation to achieve the maximum return for your investment. A home inspection should also be done prior to listing, so that there are no surprises later down the road. This is especially important in cases where a larger cash outlay is proposed.

The key to getting the maximum return for your renovation dollar is proper design and some innovative thinking. A small budget can go a very long way into making some major improvements so that your house will stand out above the rest and perhaps inspire those multiple offers.

Martina Ernst
Wo-Built Inc.
links: Renovations and Recession
Wo-Built Is Launching a New Home Design Series Covering All Your Home Improvement Questions Improving Your Home's Resale Value
By Greg Sullivan Maximizing Your Home's Resale Value
By: Molly Bennett Renovating - HGTV Canada
Garth Turner's Blog - Greater Fool - The Troubled Future of Real Estate - The greatest fools

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