About Ed Baruch

Hey there, My name is Ed Baruch and I hold a degree in Industrial and Management Engineering from Tel Aviv University, and I am a graduate of the George Brown College of Building Renovation Technology program as well. My company offers over 18 years combined experience in superior designing and implementing of both home and commercial renovation solutions. We offer a full two year warranty on renovation projects performed by our company. Whenever possible, we recommend and utilize earth and environmentally friendly products and techniques.

Winterizing Finished Basements

winterWinter is now upon us, and brings with it increased energy usage and potential damages to your home.  Many homeowners overlook the basement when they winterize their homes, but this is an important aspect for many reasons, particularly in finished basements used as living space.  These tips for winterizing finished basements will help you increase your energy efficiency and avoid damages to your home.

Why Your Basement is Cold

Although your cooler basement may be a good thing in the summer months, it becomes a nuisance in the winter.   Basements are surrounded by the ground on at least three sides, meaning that the cold from the frozen ground is transmitted to the basement itself.  Hot air also rises, so your basement, as the lowest point in your home is naturally colder.  Further, most basements aren’t insulated, only compounding these problems.

A cold basement increases your energy bills and risks damages resulting from frozen pipes that burst.  Winterizing finished basements is particularly important, both because the basement is used is a living space and because water damage resulting from a burst pipe is more costly to repair.

How a Cold Basement Increases Your Energy Bill

The basement frequently houses some or all of a home’s utilities including the furnace, HVAC system, water heater, hot water pops, ducts and others.  These utilities use energy to make heat, and if they’re in a cold environment, they need more energy to do so.  This means that every utility housed in your basement is more costly to operate in a cold basement.

A cold basement also results in a cold floor and chilly conditions upstairs, meaning that you will raise the temperature in your home and subsequently increase your energy expenditures even further.

Addressing Energy Loss

Windows are a key source of heat loss in basements.  Replacing windows, especially if they’re north-facing, with energy-efficient windows can make a world of difference.  It’s an up-front investment, but it will save a substantial amount of money on your energy bills and increase your enjoyment of your finished basement in the long run.

Insulating your basement walls is also very helpful, although improper insulation can accumulate moisture and do more harm than good.  Check out our article on basement insulation for more information.

Winterizing Your Pipes

Freezing pipes are particularly problematic in Toronto finished basements due to our cold climate.  It’s thus very important to winterize your pipes to prevent the catastrophic water damage resulting from a burst pipe.

Simply increasing the ambient temperature in your basement through improved insulation and windows will go a long way towards preventing pipe breakage.  You can also insulate pipes with polyetheyleine or fiberbglass tubes to protect them.  On particularly cold nights, it’s also advisable to keep faucets adjacent to external walls dripping.

Taking some extra time for winterizing finished basements can cut your energy bill back dramatically and even prevent damages resulting from frozen pipes.  If you feel out of your element, your basement finishing contractor can also help to make your basement more energy efficient.

Over to You

We’d love to hear your own insights on winterizing basements.  Please leave us your thoughts in the comments section.

Is a Finished Basement for You?

services_basementsFinished basements dramatically increase your home’s usable square footage, and provide an excellent recreation space that you will enjoy with your family for years to come.  A finished basement is also a major selling point, and will increase your home’s value and appeal to potential buyers.

However, basement finishing is a big job, and isn’t a decision to be taken lightly.  Prior to moving forward, consider the benefits, and identify whether they are worth the time, effort and expense.

Benefits of Basement Finishing

 If you’re working with limited square footage, as many Toronto homeowners are, a finished basement is an excellent way to increase your livable space, and is also cheaper than moving or adding on to your house.  Basement finishing runs from about $30 to $55 per square foot, while moving or additions can cost $150 to $200 per square foot.

A fully finished basement provides an excellent recreational space, and is also great for entertaining.  Further, a finished basement increases your home’s value, and makes your home markedly easier to sell when the time comes.

Basement Finishing Cost

Any reputable contractor will tell you that basement finishing is costly.  You can generally expect a finished basement to cost from 10-20% of your home’s total value depending upon the basement size and extent of the remodel.  Any contractor that quotes much less than this amount is likely cutting corners and using subpar materials, so be leery of the lowest bidder.

Consider your personal finances, and also how long you anticipate staying in your current residence.  If you’re not in a great place financially or are planning to move in the near future, it may be best to hold off for a while.  You want to make sure that you’ll be able to enjoy your finished basement for a good long while, and to do so without going bankrupt.

Marketing Matters

Chances are that you will move eventually, and you should always consider the effects that any major renovation will have upon your home’s value and appeal to buyers.  The two main points to consider here are quality and usability.

A well-finished basement makes your home stand out from the rest, and is a huge selling point.  However, visibly shoddy work may be unappealing, as the buyer will be concerned about potential repair costs.  Additionally, be aware that specialty finished basements, such as a photography dark room or microbrewery, for example, may not have a broad appeal to potential buyers.

Over to You

If you’re the proud owner of a finished basement or are currently considering a basement renovation, we’d love to hear your own thoughts on the subject.  Tell us what pros and cons influenced your decision and offer up your own advice by leaving a comment.

Planning Your Bathroom Renovation

bathroom remodeling torontoA bathroom renovation is an exciting job.  You’re sure to love your new space, and enjoy it for years to come.  You are probably bursting with ideas for your dream bathroom.  However, before jumping into a bathroom remodel, there are some less exciting (but very important) things to consider.  Careful preparation will keep your bathroom renovation on track and running smoothly.

Set a Budget

If your haven’t already done so, you should get an idea of how much you’re able to spend on your bathroom renovation and set a realistic budget.  This will help guide your decisions about what to include in the remodel.  A qualified contractor knowledgeable in bathroom renovation cost can help you set and maintain a realistic budget; fortunately for home renovation contractors Toronto homeowners have many excellent options.

Work Within Space Constraints

Bathrooms are usually the smallest room in the house, but are expected to fulfill a multitude of uses.  There are many exciting bathroom features currently available on the modern home renovation market, but few bathrooms realistically have room for all of them.

Consider how much space you have available, and also the locations of plumbing hookups and electrical wiring.  Use these aspects as guidelines for your bathroom floor plan, or seek the guidance of a competent home renovation contractor.

Contractor Selection

Some aspects of a bathroom renovation are DIY-friendly, but chances are that you will need the help of a professional for at least part of the job.  Plumbing and electrical work can be damaging or hazardous if done improperly, so it may be best to leave these and other jobs up to professionals.

Select a contractor who is experienced specifically in bathroom renovation, and who is licensed, bonded and insured.  Ask to see a portfolio of prior work, and also don’t be afraid to ask for references.  A reputable professional will offer a portfolio and references without hesitation.

Are you currently involved in your own bathroom remodel?  If so we’d love to hear your own bathroom renovation planning tips.  Tell us all about it in the comments section.

Kitchen Space Savers

kitchen flooringOne of the major issues with kitchen renovation Toronto homeowners face is limited kitchen size.  Kitchens are required to support a multitude of tasks, and the available workspace in a compact kitchen is frequently insufficient.  Incorporate these kitchen space savers into your kitchen remodel to make the most of your space for a kitchen that is both attractive and functional.

Work Your Wall Space

If you’re working with a compact kitchen, it’s important to use your available wall space wisely.  Hooks and racks provide extra storage without compromising valuable floor or counter space.

Knife blocks suck up a lot of space on countertops, so consider installing a magnetic wall mounted knife rack above your workspace.  Just be sure to install the rack in a place that children will be unable to reach.  You can also store other goods, such as pots, pans and utensils on hooks or racks.

Rethink Your Faucet

If you have a smaller sink, and articulated faucet can be an excellent kitchen space saver.  Articulated faucets can be folded out of the way until they’re needed, so increase your available space.  If an articulated faucet isn’t for you, select a faucet that is taller than it is deep, and in which the knobs and sprayer incorporated into the main console.  Some faucets can be wall-mounted, which saves even more space.

Make the Most of Corners

Corner space is often underused, as corner drawers and cabinets can be difficult to access.  To get better use out of your corners, install a lazy susan.  You can also install specially designed corner stack drawers.

Downsize Appliances

If you generally have a light cooking load, downsizing your appliances can free up a lot of storage and countertop space.  If you don’t often cook for a crowd, a smaller stove, oven or dishwasher may meet your needs without sucking up space.  Also be sure to install a built-in microwave, as a freestanding microwave takes up a lot of counter space.

Reconsider Trendy Extras

Today’s kitchen renovation market offers a lot of extra features that are both practical and attractive, such as pot filling faucets, kitchen islands and appliance garages.  However, if your kitchen space is limited, install these sorts of luxury features sparingly and after careful consideration.  An experienced kitchen renovation contractor can help you identify which features will truly add value to your kitchen, and install them strategically such that they take up minimal space.

If you’re currently involved in a compact kitchen remodel of your own, we’d love to hear your own kitchen space savers.  Tell us all about it in the comments section.

Basement Lighting

basement remodelingBasement lighting is an important aspect of any basement remodel.  You’ll want to install adequate, even lighting that lights the entire basement effectively.  There are some special considerations for basement lighting, so you’ll want to choose your lighting carefully.

Special Considerations for Basement Lighting

Your basement is unique from most other rooms in your house in that it has no windows, but is also a fairy large space.  Therefore, you’ll want lighting that is bright and also distributed throughout the space. Additionally, most basements have a relatively low ceiling, so you’ll want to install lighting that doesn’t take up too much vertical space.  For example, pendant lighting may not be the best option for basement lighting.

Can Lighting

Can lighting consists of a round fixture, or can, that is installed above the drywall of the ceiling, meaning that the trim of the fixture is flush with the ceiling.  The bulb is then placed within the can. There are many trim options for can lighting, meaning that it can be customized to your finished basement’s décor.  Can lighting can be installed on both sides of the basement spanning the length of the wall such that the entire basement is evenly lit.

Track Lighting

For the track lighting method, light fixtures are attached on a continuous track that contains electoral conductors.  This is unique from other forms of lighting, which rout to individual light fixtures. Track lighting has several benefits in that it is easy to install, effective and versatile.  Light fixtures can be evenly dispersed throughout the track, or instead focused in particular areas.  Track lighting is an excellent choice for larger spaces that require ample lighting, so it is an ideal choice for finished basements.

Safety First

Any kind of electrical work, including lighting installation, can be very hazardous if done improperly.  Serious or even fatal injury can occur during installation, and an improper install poses a fire hazard.  Don’t be afraid to seek the help of a professional if you’re inexperienced in electrical work and always make sure that contractor’s work get inspected by ESA inspector. This little step that most contractors try to skip will save a lot of trouble down the road.  Fortunately for basement finishing Toronto homeowners have many excellent contractors available. Are you currently undertaking your own basement finishing project?  If so, we’d love to hear about which type of lighting you selected.  Give us your own thoughts on basement lighting in the comments section.

Bathroom Lighting

bathroom remodeling torontoBathroom lighting is an important but often overlooked aspect of any quality bathroom remodel.  It’s very common for bathrooms to be inadequately lit, which makes the space visually smaller and also makes the bathroom harder to use.  Whether you’re interested in a full bathroom renovation or are after a simple touch up, these bathroom lighting tips will help you make the most of your bathroom.

A good bathroom lighting scheme is comprised of a series of layers, in which ample lighting is placed where it is needed, such as in the vanity or shower, and additional lighting enhances the room’s overall ambiance.

Vanity Lighting

Vanity task lighting is a top priority, as it is needed to illuminate the head and face for shaving and grooming.  A very common mistake is to place a single ceiling fixture directly over the mirror.  This casts shadows on the face and hair, making grooming very difficult.

Vertical fixtures mounted on both sides of the mirror are best for casting an even light across the face and hair.  If mounting lighting to the side isn’t an option due to space constraints, lighting can also be placed above the mirror.  Be sure that the light source spans the width of the mirror for nice, even lighting.

It’s also worth noting that fluorescent bulbs may make the skin tone appear washed out or drab.  Soft incandescent lighting may be the best choice for vanity lighting, as it efficiently illuminates the face and hair without inordinately washing out the complexion.

Shower Lighting

Shower lighting is another priority for task lighting.  In small bathrooms with clear shower doors, a dedicated shower fixture may be unnecessary.  However, in larger bathrooms or if frosted or opaque curtains or doors cover the shower, a dedicated fixture may be appropriate.  A recessed light with a glass lens works best here, as it is more durable and will not yellow, unlike plastic.

Ambient Bathroom Lighting

Ambient lighting substitutes for daylight, which bathrooms often lack.  Ambient lighting is typically supplied by a central fixture, which is ordinarily a surface-mounted ceiling light.  However, you can also get creative with options like pendant lighting or even a small chandelier.

Safety Concerns

Keep in mind that water and electricity are a deadly combination, and that the bathroom brings water closer to electricity than any other room in the house.  Be sure to consult with a certified electrician before beginning your bathroom lighting project, and discuss these concerns with your bathroom renovation contractor.

Fixtures that are close to the shower or tub must also be “wet” or “shower-location” rated.  Remember that this rating differs from the “damp” rating necessary for outdoor lighting.

Have you recently embarked on a bathroom lighting project, or are you upgrading your lighting as part of a bathroom remodel?  If so, please share your own bathroom renovation ideas and lighting insights in the comments section.

Kitchen Sink Selection

kitchen remodelGourmet kitchens are gaining increasing popularity, and today’s homeowners are seeking kitchen designs that are both stylish and functional.  There are a plethora of kitchen sinks available today, and the sheer number of options can be overwhelming.  Here’s a rundown of the most popular kitchen sink options with the pros and cons for each.

Stainless Steel

Stainless steel sinks are both durable and affordable, so are a great way to cut your kitchen renovation cost.  Stainless steel sinks are also easy to maintain and clean, and come in a variety of finishes to best fit your kitchen’s design.  However, because stainless steel sinks are made of a thin sheet of steel, they can be somewhat noisy as dishes and other objects brush against the side.  Additionally, they may develop fine scratches with repeated use, and although there are a variety of finishes, the color will still be silver.

Enamel Sinks

Enamel kitchen sinks, which consist of either stainless steel or cast iron with an enameled finish, come in many colors, and are also affordable.  This could be a good way to customize your kitchen remodel without going over budget.  Enameled cast iron, while heavier, may also be more durable, so is the preferable choice so long as your countertop can support its weight.  However, both kinds of enamel sinks are prone to chipping and scratching, so should be used with care.

Composite Sinks

Composite sinks are made of either acrylic or fiberglass, and provide a sleek, shiny look.  They are moderately priced, and will cost a little more than stainless steel or enamel, but are cheaper than composite granite or integrated sinks.  However, composite sinks are prone to scratches from improper cleaning or knife usage on the sink’s border.  Because of their low tolerance for wear and tear, composite sinks may not be the best choice for diligent cooks.

Stone Composite Sinks

Stone composite sinks are comprised of either granite or quartz and acrylic.  Because they are part stone, they are more durable than standard composite sinks.  They will not chip or scratch with dropped pots and pans, although harsh abrasive cleaning can still leave scuff marks.

Integrated Sinks

Integrated sinks are manufactured along with the countertop, similar to most bathroom sinks.  Integrated sinks create a smooth, seamless look, and spills can be swept directly into the sinks.  However, integrated sinks aren’t available in all of the media described above, and are typically either composite or stainless steel.

Ultimately, your kitchen sink selection will depend upon your home’s décor, your projected wear and tear level of your kitchen and your budget.  A reputable home renovation professional can help guide your decision, and can also ensure that your new sink is properly installed.  For kitchen renovation Toronto-area homeowners have many well-qualified contractors available.

Are you currently remodeling your kitchen or looking to replace your kitchen sink?  If so we’d love to hear your own thoughts.  What kind of sink did you ultimately select, and what impacted your decision?  Tell us all about it in the comments section.

Four Common Bathroom Renovation Mistakes

bathroom renovation torontoBathroom renovation is very rewarding, and updating your bathroom can create an enjoyable space and increase your home’s value if it’s done correctly.  However, it’s a big job, and can be a daunting task for your average homeowner.

It’s easy to get distracted during the course of bathroom remodeling and to become overwhelmed with unanticipated expenditures and stumbling blocks.  Avoiding these four common bathroom renovation mistakes will keep your bathroom renovation on track to deliver the anticipated results.

Insufficient Budgeting

Realistically speaking, bathroom renovation is expensive.  If you don’t allocate a sufficient budget to the project, you’ll end up knee-deep in unanticipated expenses and likely with a subpar bathroom remodel.  Get a quote from a reputable bathroom renovation contractor, and discuss how to cut costs without compromising quality.  A competent professional will set a realistic budget, and will be honest about which aspects of a remodel are necessary and which are optional.

Cheaping Out on Materials

You should absolutely shop around to find the best possible deal on fixtures and materials for your bathroom renovation, but it’s critical to avoid compromising quality.  Shoddy fixtures, cabinetry, flooring or other materials will only need to be replaced in a few years, so it’s much cheaper to buy the right materials in the first place.

Hiring the Lowest Bidder

You’ll also want to hire a quality contractor, and keep in mind that the lowest bidder is often inexperienced, poorly qualified and likely to cut corners.  Choosing a reputable contractor experienced specifically in bathroom remodeling will save you heartache and repair costs down the road.  Don’t be afraid to ask questions or request customer references.  For bathroom renovations Toronto homeowners have many excellent contractors available; just make sure you hire the right person for the job.

Being Trendy

There are many intriguing bathroom renovation trends on the market currently, and although some of them may be the ticket to your dream powder room, others are impractical and overly expensive.  Additionally, some of these trends will quickly go out of style, meaning that your bathroom will be outdated in only a few short years.

A newly renovated bathroom can be a sanctuary for your family to enjoy for years to come, and increase your home’s appeal on the real estate market in the future.  If you carefully plan your bathroom remodel and avoid these common mistakes, you’ll be well on your way to a successful bathroom renovation.

If you’re currently involved in your own bathroom renovation project, we’d love to hear about the potential stumbling blocks you’ve addressed, and your personal insights on bathroom remodeling.  Please feel free to leave your thoughts in the comments section.

Bathroom Renovation Tips

bathroom renovationsBathroom renovation is a big job, but it is manageable with proper planning.  These bathroom renovation tips will help you keep your project running smoothly to create a beautiful new bathroom that you’ll enjoy for years to come.

Have Everything On Hand Before you Begin

Some items such a vanities or custom-order tiles can take a while to arrive, but you’re best off waiting for everything to ready before beginning.  Bathroom renovation can be inconvenient, as your bathroom is difficult or impossible to use in the midst of a heavy remodel.  Waiting until everything has arrived minimizes the time that your bathroom will be out of commission.

Allow for Shower Storage

 Shower storage is an important but often overlooked bathroom design feature.  Planning for built-in storage in recessed nooks or ceramic shelves creates an attractive and practical design.

Choose a Curved Shower Rod

The shower rod is a seemingly trivial detail, but a curved shower rod allows a surprising amount of additional shower space.  It may be a little more expensive than a standard straight rod, but the extra space is more than worth the cost.  Additionally, a curved shower rod is screwed into the wall rather than relying on tension, so it can’t be pulled down easily.

Upgrade Your Lighting

Lighting is relatively inexpensive compared to other components of bathroom renovation, but it makes a big difference.  Select bright lighting that makes a bold statement and coordinates with your finished bathroom’s design.  Recessed light over the shower is an added bonus; just make sure that it’s rated for bathrooms.

Call a Professional When Necessary

If any aspect of your bathroom renovation is out of your comfort zone, don’t be afraid to call in a professional.  This may cost a bit more at the outset, but an improper job could cause damage to your home or even compromise your personal safety, so a contractor can save you money and heartache in many cases.  Fortunately for bathroom renovation Toronto homeowners have many excellent contractors in the area.

A well-done bathroom renovation is rewarding, and creates a space that you and your family can enjoy for many years.  Just be sure to plan carefully and you’ll be well on your way.  If you’re currently planning a bathroom remodel, we’d love to hear your own bathroom remodeling ideas in the comment section.

 

Bathroom Flooring

bathroom remodeling torontoBathroom flooring is an important component of any bathroom renovation, flooring can easily become worn and dated.  The right flooring choice is not only practical, but also sets the tone for the bathroom’s design.  Here we give a rundown of the most popular bathroom flooring options and discuss the pros and cons of each.

Tile Bathroom Flooring

Tile is one of the most popular bathroom flooring options, as it’s waterproof, low-maintenance, stain resistant and durable.  Ceramic bathroom tiling is available in many sizes, shapes colors, patterns and textures.  However, tile feels hard and cool underfoot, and smooth-surface tile can become slippery when wet.

Vinyl Bathroom Flooring

Vinyl flooring is durable and resists water penetration.  Vinyl is available in both sheet and tile form, and comes in a wide array of colors, prints and textures.  However, sheet vinyl flooring can be difficult and costly to install, so should only be installed by competent professionals.

Marble Bathroom Flooring

Marble is the quintessential flooring, and creates a stately, classic look.  It is highly durable, and comes in a variety of colors and finishes.  However, marble can be slippery when wet, so if it is used around showers or tubs proper non-slip bath mats should be in place.  Marble is also quite costly, and the underlying structure may need to be reinforced to accommodate its weight.

Stained Concrete

Most flooring sits directly on the concrete slab, which can actually be dyed to create an attractive flooring all its own.  Stained concrete is waterproof, low-maintenance and the most economical flooring choice available.  It’s also an excellent DIY flooring option, and can be installed by most amateurs.  However, stained concrete can be very slippery when wet, so non-slip bath mats should be placed around showers and tubs to prevent slips and falls.

Over to You

Are you currently engaged in a bathroom remodeling project, or have you just remodeled your bathroom?  If so, we’d love to hear your own bathroom remodeling ideas and flooring insights in the comments section.