YOURHOME’S GRAND ENTRANCE

Ifyou’re thinking of selling your home, nothing says SOLD like curb appeal.Before tackling any back yard deck projects, consider updating, refurbishing orlandscaping your front entrance.

FRONTENTRANCE FEATURES

Whetheryou want to reflect a charming country style, a sleek contemporary look orsophisticated upscale grandeur, your doorway is your grand entrance to theneighbourhood revealing your personal style.

TheWalkway

First,ensure that you have easy access from the driveway to the walkway along aprimary path. You may want to add a secondary path which extends to a flower orvegetable garden, water feature or secluded seating area.

Acurved or diagonal path attracts your gaze from side to side, creating acuriosity for what lies beyond. A meandering path can conceal and reveal gardensculptures, special plants and architectural features. A stepping-stone pathnot only protects your lawn from wear and tear, but adds interest along thewalkway leading to your front door.




YourFront Door

Nomatter what porch style you choose, your front door sets the tone of your home,inside and out. You may want to add colourful paint, mouldings and trim or featureplanters and topiaries to add a warm invitation.

Butbefore changing doorknobs, knockers, and other fittings or getting out thepaint and primer, it’s best to consult a renovation specialist or installer.Those simple stylish touches can create major havoc if you don’t have the righthardware or need to negotiate lopsided levels or off-set doorframes.

For moreinformation or a free estimate, visit http://www.homeforcebc.ca.




Springis the perfect time to tackle a home renovation. If you’re thinking of puttingin an in-law suite to care for an aging parent, here’s a helpful reminder onhow they can benefit from the $1,000 Seniors' Home Renovation Tax Credit.

TheB.C. Seniors’ Home Renovation Tax Credit will be a new refundable personalincome tax credit to assist with the cost of permanent home renovations thatprovide individuals age 65 and over with increased independence, allowingthem the flexibility to remain in their own homes longer.

Themaximum credit will be $1,000 annually, calculated as 10 per cent ofeligible expenditures. The credit will be available to individuals who incureligible expenditures on or after April 1, 2012. The credit can beclaimed by seniors, whether they own their home or rent, and byindividuals who share a home with a senior relative.



Beyond Deck Design:Landscaping


April showers may bring May flowers, but how do you arrange your gardenareas to create a landscape design that complements your home’s features?

You may have built or designed your dream deck, but now the challenge isto create a landscape design that looks professional and is easy to maintain.

Landscaping is a creative task which needs to be consistent around yourentire home, not only your outdoor living space.

The first step is to come up with a plan which suits your budget and lifestyles,factoring in how much time you have to maintain your trees, shrubs and gardenareas. 

Here are some main landscaping principles to consider:
  1. landscaping around a focal point
  2. landscaping texture
  3. landscaping color
  4. landscaping scale and proportion 
  5. landscaping grouping 
  6. landscaping repetition, rhythm and sequence


Formore information on home renovations and landscaping, visit http://www.homeforcebc.ca.







Preventative Deck Maintenance

Mostof us in BC live our lives outside on our decks in the summer. Now is the timeto exercise preventative maintenance so your summer will be safe and enjoyable.

Ifyou check and repair things right away, maintaining your deck can be relativelysimple and inexpensive to do versus facing a big problem later.

To examineand evaluate your outdoor deck, first ask: Is it tired and worn out? Does itneed replacement or just some cleaning and TLC?

Pressurewashing decks can be the first step to restoration. If you don’t have apressure washer, there’s many different cleaning products available designed toremove moss, mildew, and mould, to keep your deck clean and in good shape.


Wooden Deck Maintenance

Isyour deck made out of wood? Once the dirt and grime has been removed, it may betime to re-coat with stain or paint, depending on your deck design. Sun is hardon wood, causing it to break and crack. You’ll want to take extra steps to protectit from the sun and heat, depending on where your deck is facing.

Waterand sun attack materials differently. New products are available to protect andeven refurbish the finish on your deck as well as extend its life. These protectiveagents are available in a variety of colors and applications. If your deck isworn, a couple of thick quotes can salvage a distressed looking deck and buyyou more time to plan its replacement.

Vinyl Deck Maintenance

Ifyou have a vinyl deck, be gentle with the power-washer. It’s better not to betoo aggressive, or it can take off your vinyl finish and remove the color fromyour vinyl membrane.

Whileyou’re cleaning, be sure to check out the vinyl seams. Are they intact or looseor coming apart? If so, it’s time to apply a small amount of seam sealer. Youcan use heat to soften – not melt – the seams for better bonding.

Doinga little work now prevents you from doing a lot of work later. Once a seamgoes, and water seeps through the seams and spreads beyond underneath your deckflooring, rotting could occur, and then you’ll have a much larger problem todeal with.


Preventative Maintenance Check

Remember,when it comes to outdoor decks, water needs to stay out.  It’s your enemy and does all the damage. Youneed to stop moisture from collecting and water from seeping into joints andcracks where it could promote rot.

Itmeans taking a little extra time to inspect the overall condition of your deck,but it’s worth it in the long run. Once you find these vulnerable areas, applya urethane sealant to caulk where needed.


Plastic or PVC deck Maintenance

Compositedeck materials are relatively low maintenance. As long as there’s no worrieswith the foundation or structure itself, like any deck, you want to pressurewash it and provide a clean, non-slip surface.

Aluminum Decks

Aluminumdecks are also low maintenance, but check railings to see if they’re sturdy andsolid. Thoroughly check the stairs to see if they need replacement. Again, bediligent, as though you are a home inspector. Look below the surface for thosehidden details.

Take a good look around.

Besure to replace boards that are rotting and posts that seem loose. Check yourwooden railing. If pieces are rotten, you want to replace those as well.
Itmay also be time to rebuild those stairs. Make sure they’re safe.

It’simportant to repair things as they come up, so you won’t be spending a largeamount of time and money later. Plus, you’ve have peace of mind that your deckis safe and well-maintained.

Alittle maintenance WILL save you a lot of money – perhaps even some headaches -in the long run. That’s what preventative maintenance is. It’s taking the timenow to prevent bigger problems from happening later.


A Little Planning Goes a Long Way

Split Level Deck
A deck not onlyadds value to your property but increases your outdoor living space forentertaining and family relaxation. Make sure that your deck plans match yourhouse design and reflects your personal lifestyle.

Try to imagineall the ways you'd like to use your deck, because most design elements will bebased on those kinds of preferences.
Importantquestions to ask:
·        Do you entertain frequently?
·        What kind of seating will you need: built-in benchesor patio furniture?
·        Do you want a cozy seating area or one large commonspace?
·        What lighting or heating requirements do you need?
·        How large or small of a deck do you build tocomplement your home?

Plan for the Elements

Do you want tolocate your deck in shade or bask in the summer sun? If you want the best ofboth worlds, you may need to add an overhead screen, a trellis or plant a largeleaved tree for summer shade.

Also considerwind protection, noise mitigation and blocking unwanted views with the use ofplants and shrubs or design elements. If you’re planning on adding a hot tub,plan to maximize privacy and ensure that the deck is reinforced to carry thewater’s weight.

Shaping it Up

While an angleddeck can add interest to an ordinary home, it may be a more complicated taskrequiring more materials and labour. You can also consider a wrap-around deckwith seating flush to the railing, or utilize lattice, planters and an overheadtrellis to make it more visually appealing.

Deck Anatomy

Here are fivestructural deck components:
·        Vertical posts, usually set in concrete
·        Horizontal beams to carry deck weight
·        Joists to distribute deck weight
·        Decking or flooring
·        Railings or balusters to retain

Carefully Select Materials

Decks must standup to extreme weather conditions, excessive heat and moisture and preventagainst rot. So durability is important. Pressure-treated cedar, pine orredwood can withstand extremes while standard spruce, fir, or pine needs to betreated to endure. Check out the many deck materials to see what best suitsyour deck design.


Anatomyof a Deck
  

Arbors:A structure thatcan be used for hanging plants or vines.

Awning: An overhead covering to provide shade and protection from theweather.

Balusters: The vertical members of a railing in between the posts. Anoverhead covering to provide shade and protection from the weather.

Bridging: Blocking used between joists to prevent them from rocking andtwisting.

Decking: The boards that make up the floor of the deck. The decking ordeck boards attach directly to the top of the floor joist.

Fascia: A decorative board used to cover the front and side rim joists.

Flashing: A material used to prevent water from entering the homeparticularly where the ledger board bolts to the house.

Footings: The concrete support foundation the deck is built upon.

Girder: A lateral support beam the floor joist rests on.

Joist: Spans of lumber that make the substructure of the floor thedecking is fastened to

Joist Hangers: Metal brackets used to secure the joist ends to theledger board.

Lattice: An open cross pattern of interweaved strips generally used forprivacy screens and skirts.

Ledger Board: The board bolted to the house and joist ends get fastenedto.

Deck Posts: The vertical lumber that rests on the footings to supportthe girders and deck.

Post base: Metal brackets to securely fasten the bottom of the post tothe footings.

Post top: A decorative top that can be added to a railing post.

Rails: Rails are the top or bottom horizontal members spindles attachedto.

Rise: The vertical distance of one step.

Risers: The vertical boards behind or in back of stair treads.

Skirt: Covers the deck underneath.

Spindles: The vertical members of a railing in between the posts alsoreferred to as balusters.

Stringers: The framing for stairs the risers and treads attached to.

Tread: The step or part of stairs that is stepped on.

Trellis: An overhead wood structure constructed for a decorative lookand to shade sun.

For more information on renovation industrybest practices, home financing or home maintenance needs, contact: http://www.homeforcebc.ca/.



TIPS FOR A SMOOTH RENOVATION

Living with Renovation…Comfortably
(SourceCanadian Homebuilder’s Association)

You’veprobably heard stories about renovation nightmares. Here’s some helpful tipsfor a smooth, successful and stress-free renovation outcome.

Onceyour project gets underway, you and your renovator need to work closelytogether to make sure that everything goes as efficiently as possible.

Therenovator needs a good working environment so the job can progress withoutproblems or delays. You want as few inconveniences and disruptions to yourdaily routine as possible.

Manyof the responsibilities of both the renovator and the homeowner have alreadybeen spelled out in the contract. Before the work starts, sit down with yourrenovator and discuss everyone's expectations and responsibilities in detail.Good communication is key to a good renovation experience and a satisfyingresult.


Before the Work Begins

Renovator Requirements

Discussthe renovator's requirements for the work including access to electricity andwater on a regular basis, delivery and storage of building materials, anddisposal of wastes.

House Rules
Determinethe rules of the house for the work crew. Clarify access to bathroom facilitiesand eating areas, as well as kitchen privileges, if any, and also which partsof the house are off limits. Set out your smoking policy and if you permitmusic in the work area.

Permits
Verifythat municipal permits and approvals have been obtained as needed. The contractmay stipulate that your renovator will do this; however, the ultimateresponsibility rests with you, the homeowner.

Renovator Responsibilities
Yourprofessional renovator will make every effort to avoid disruptions and minimizethe impact on your household. For instance, additions will be built andpartially finished before the connecting wall is removed. Temporary hook-upsfor water and electricity will allow you to continue your daily cooking andcleaning routines.

Tokeep you informed, your renovator will name a contact person for your project,usually the site supervisor or the renovator personally, who will stay in touchwith you throughout the project. You will get regular updates on the progressof the work and be told when to expect trades people and when you will beneeded for decisions. This person will also be available on short notice torespond to any questions or concerns that you have.

Meeting Deadlines
Therenovator is responsible for meeting deadlines. The contract should clearlyoutline the project schedule and deadlines to which your renovator will work.If the work gets off-track for unforeseen reasons, the renovator will discussthe situation with you immediately and find ways to correct it.
Dailyclean-up is part of the service. Professional renovators leave a clean worksite at the end of each day. Be sure to discuss your expectations.


Homeowner Responsibilities

Personal Belongings
Clearwork areas of furniture, drapes and art. Protect your valuables by placing themin an area where no work is going on, or out of the home, and cover anythingthat might be harmed by dust.

Make early product selections.
Thecontract may stipulate that you select (and/or provide) specific items such asflooring, lighting equipment, tiles and kitchen cabinets. Have these itemsavailable to your renovator when needed to ensure the smooth progress of thework.

Keep changes to a minimum.
Mostrenovators are willing to accommodate changes to the original plan as you goalong. However, changes may result in a cost increase or a time delay so makesure to discuss the implications with your renovator. Change orders areamendments to the contract and must be signed by both parties.

Be available to your renovator.
Invariably,you will be asked to make a number of smaller decisions as the work progresses.Make sure that your renovator can reach you on short notice.

Discuss your concerns as they arise.

Bringany concerns and questions to your renovator's attention immediately; don'twait for "the right moment".

Providepayment as agreed upon in the payment schedule set up in the contract. Be sureto hold back the appropriate amounts required by the Contractors' Lien Act inyour province; contact your provincial government or your lawyer forinformation.

Acceptthe unpredictable. Foul weather, unavailable products, unforeseen complications. . . these can be part of the renovation experience and will be dealt with by yourrenovator in a professional manner.

For moreinformation on best practices to help you plan your renovation project, visit: http://www.homeforcebc.ca/




Curb Appeal and Functionality: Your FrontEntrance Says it All

Whilespring is the time to focus on backyard patios and decks, your home’s frontentrance may need a little attention, too. It’s the first impression peoplehave of your home and glimpse of your personal style. A porch can add functionand a classic, contemporary or vintage look to enhance your front entrance.





Front Porch Focal Points

Beforeyou get out the lemonade to sip on your favourite rattan rocker on your newscreened porch, here are some key structural areas to consider:

Foundation
Whetheryou’re using a pier, slab or perimeter foundation, your porch’s platform needsto safely support weight, slope and soil conditions.

Roof construction
Cuttingand fitting rafters is an integral part of roof construction and requires expertknow-how. Choose from metal, cedar shake, rubber or ceramic tile roof materialsin various architectural styles to define your home’s character.

Columns
Columnsconsist of a capital (ornate feature), tapered or non-tapered shaft, and a base,which structurally support roof beams but can also be purely decorative.Columns are used to define your home with more prominence and make it moreinviting.  

Railings
Railingsadd security, charm and curb appeal to your front entrance. Whether usingaluminum, sawn, wrought iron, lattice, or glass siding supports, calculationand spacing of your balustrade or railing system can be tricky and is best leftto a professional.

Ceilings
Anopen porch will have visible rafters or joists or will be covered by vinyl,bead-board, tongue and groove, PVC or composite ceiling materials. Attractiveceiling fans can add a tropical feel and provide cool breezes in summer heat.

Floor Construction
Yourporch’s footings, joists, and foundation are your porch’s structural anatomy. Awell-constructed base will allow you to use a variety of decking materials tocosmetically protect, including wood, stone, aluminum and vinyl membranes.Latticed or landscaped skirting will cover any exposed piers, joists or beams.

Flashing
Ledgerflashing is a critical moisture barrier, guarding against rot and deckcollapse. Consulting a professional can save valuable time, dollars and promotepeace of mind.

Electrical Systems and Lighting
Lightfixture placement, control and power are an important part of your porch’s framework.You may choose photo-cell or time activated energy-efficient lighting. For adramatic effect, consider placing sconces or outdoor chandeliers in functionalbut strategic locations.

For information on renovation industry bestpractices, home financing or home maintenance needs, contact: http://www.homeforcebc.ca/.


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