General Contractors and Why you Need Them for your Home Renovation in Toronto

General Contractor

Renovating a home is not always as easy as Bryan Baulmer or Mike Holmes make it seem. Simple home renovations can go from bad to worse in the blink of an eye. A good general contractor not only possesses the skills and experience necessary to create beautiful, functional and accessible spaces but the resources and abilities to adequately plan and deliver on promises, projections and most importantly budget. Here are 5 reasons why need a general contractor if you’re thinking about renovating your Toronto, GTA or Southern Ontario home.

Quality Control

  • Quality control is a big factor in home renovations; this is where beautiful meets functional and accessible. Unfortunately many general contractors and handymen will polish up a poor renovation and it’s important you have a qualified, established and recommended contractor that will make sure the finished product looks great and is done right.
  • A good contractor will remain in active control over the job site to make sure all skilled trades, suppliers and crew members deliver on the client’s expectations and vision as well as making sure everything progresses according to the plan.
  • Home owners directly communicate to the general contractor, and a good general contractor should be easy to reach and eager to resolve any issues that may arise in a timely manner.

Sub Trades

  • Good general contractors have strong business connections with various trusted tradespeople in the construction industry that are just as highly recommended as the contractor.
  • Sub trades such as electricians or plumbers usually give general contractors better pricing as they will assist in the work and make the tradespersons job easier by having a straightforward job with a trusted and reliable contractor.
  • Many jobs that sub trades can do can also be done by a good contractor such as minor plumbing, framing, electrical etc. An experienced and knowledgeable contractor knows when to call in a sub trade that specializes in one area of the industry to adequately deliver on quality and timing.
  • There are many tasks throughout a renovation that no one sub trade is capable of doing, and that is where the general contractor comes in and makes sure everything is complete and in picture perfect condition.

Materials

  • A good general contractor will usually receive preferred pricing at building suppliers around Toronto, the GTA and Southern Ontario because of strong business relationships over many years.
  • General contractors know how to plan your renovation materials effectively so you are not only using the best possible materials for your space and budget, but that they are being delivered on time and in the appropriate order
  • All too often in Toronto we see glorified handymen posing as contractors having the client purchase all their materials themselves. This is usually a red flag as it shows that the person does not know how to plan a renovation, does not know which materials to use and does not have good relationships with suppliers.

Timing

  • A good, well thought out plan is essential to making sure your home renovation goes smoothly
  • Living and working in Toronto and the GTA, the weather not only affects how we build but the process in which we build; A good contractor knows how to adequately plan your renovation so weather complications and seasonal changes are accounted for
  • Good general contractors make sure that any complications within the renovation are directly communicated to the client immediately including possible setbacks to timing (i.e. asbestos abatement, pest removal etc.)
  • General contractors coordinating several sub trades needs to make sure they are all working on a planned timetable all the work is completed in the appropriate order, without overcrowding and rushing which can lead to a loss of quality and overall service

Budget

  • When considering a renovation it is important to note where your money is best suited and what space will yield the best return on investment
  • When planning a renovation, a good general contractor will lead you through the expected and possible unexpected expenses of your renovation
  • The residential construction market in Toronto and the GTA is competitive, and that leads to contractors giving clients a low price to secure a deposit, and increasing it once the renovation progresses or leaves the job unfinished
  • A good general contractor knows how to fairly and adequately price out a renovation so the client is not in for any bad surprises and the contractor delivers on their promises
  • Depending on the size and scope of your renovation, your Toronto general contractor should communicate the need for a contingency fund in the event of uncovering a problem during a renovation (i.e. discovery of foundation damage during a basement renovation)

Renovating your Toronto, GTA or Southern Ontario home seems easier than it looks. Good general contractors aren’t just highly and widely skilled tradespeople, they are problem solvers, managers, engineers and artists. It is important that your general contractor has the resources, knowledge and experience to deliver on your expectations. At Axicon Design-Build we pride ourselves on a perfect customer satisfaction record as well as the skills, experience, resources and ability to deliver on your Toronto, GTA or Southern Ontario home renovation. Contact us today to ask about special offers and to schedule your free estimate.

Axicon Design-Build

-Contractors who care.

-Your home deserves the best.

-Southern Ontario’s best.

-For Toronto, By Toronto.

Why Owning Property in Toronto is a Wise Investment

Investing in Toronto Real Estate

Soaring housing prices across Canada has led to many new developments and a booming renovation industry. With Toronto showing astounding numbers in the housing market over past several years, and with no signs of slowing down, Toronto home owners and investors alike have been enjoying their position in one of the North America’s fastest growing cities.

The average price of a detached home is nearing $1 million in Toronto, which would make it the second Canadian city to join the million dollar homes club. The Toronto Real Estate Board’s July numbers show that the average price of a single family detached home within the downtown city limits is roughly $880k, up 11% from the same period the year before.

Toronto also has the most skyscrapers under construction than any other city, with 130 high rise projects versus New York City’s 91. While housing values have soared way past income values in Toronto, at an astounding 7.9 times the average income compared to an average of 5 times the average income in 1997, the number of new home buyers has remained relatively consistent.

In an article by Toronto Star’s Mark Weisleder, he mentions that although Canadian real estate is 20% overvalued, based on market fundamentals, these inflated prices exist because the demand hasn’t faltered and most trends point to a continued rise in property values regardless of how inflated they might seem.

There are far fewer places to build new homes as well; 22,000 low rise buildings and 8000 condominiums in 2001 vs. 22,000 new condo units every year and only 8000 detached homes built in recent years. One thing that has remained consistent, and is a very important factor to consider: the numbers of buyers coming into the GTA has remained relatively consistent. This has led many people to invest in one of the many condominiums sprouting up the city, as population and congestion alike continue to rise, with an astounding 17% of condo property in Toronto estimated to be investor-owned.

According to Altus Group, Canadians’ Total renovation spending is continuing to rise as well. $61.5 billion in 2011, to $63.4 billion in 2013, and forecasted to hit $65.2 billion in 2014, $67.3 billion in 2015. Residential renovation spending has more than doubled since the late 90’s, with the last lull shown in 1998 of only 2 percent.

While Alberta leads the charge in national renovation spending with the recent oil and natural gas boom, Toronto’s consistent growth over the past decade and it’s commitment to becoming a world class city has made the renovation and housing value steadily rise and has proven to be a great return on property investments.

Altus Group also mentions the profound effect television has had on the rise of home renovation:

”The increase is a combination of an increased willingness and ability to undertake renovation work. Willingness, at least in part, can be attributed to what is sometimes referred to as the HGTV effect. With HGTV Canada launching in late 1997 and starting the home improvement television programming craze, many homeowners did not know how badly they really wanted new designer kitchens and bathrooms then. The increasing willingness/desire was reinforced by improved ability/affordability to undertake renovations.”

The value of housing is directly correlated with the renovation industry; as housing values go up, so does equity in their home; and many home owners are tapping into that equity in the form of lines of credit to further increase the value of their home through renovation and restoration methods.

Housing prices are poised to continue to soar over the next few years. The Toronto Dominion Bank (TD) recently upgraded their sales expectations for the coming years as interest rates remain low and demand remains high.

Most home owners agree that property has proven to be a sound investment, and If the past 2 decades can be an accurate marker of what’s to come, Toronto’s realty and renovation market shows no signs of slowing down.

Reference:

http://www.thestar.com/business/personal_finance/2014/08/15/weisleder_real_estate_to_crash_not_by_these_yardsticks.html

http://www.fool.ca/2014/08/21/8-mind-blowing-numbers-from-torontos-real-estate-market/

 

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Dome Structures

Introduction to Dome Structures

Domes are and have been a very structural and beautiful means of construction. A dome is an element of architecture that resembles the hollow upper half of a sphere. Many different culture from around the world have used domes when building their structures and have been using this building styles for centuries. Ancient Rome, Russia and the Muslim world applied lofty domes to their religious buildings to create a sense of heavenly transcendence.

There are two different ways to build a dome, the first is geodesic and the second is monolithic. A geodesic dome is a spherical or partial-spherical shell structure or lattice shell based on a network of great circles (geodesics) on the surface of a sphere. A Monolithic dome is a structure cast in a one-piece form. The form may be permanent or temporary and may or may not remain part of the finished structure. This style makes great buildings because of their structural integrity, reduced environmental footprint, and cheaper cost to construct.

Structural Integrity

One of the main reasons why monolithic domed structures are fit for humans to live in is because of their structural integrity. Domes have been known to survive many different types of natural disasters such as earthquakes, tornadoes, and hurricanes. For example, in Missouri in 2003, a tornado ‘sat right on top of the dome and then rolled off into the woods’ with virtually no damage. In addition, a fifteen-hundred year old church in Turkey, which is now a museum, has withstood a significant amount of earthquakes over the years and is still standing with only partial damage. It is still standing because when there is an earthquake, the arches and pendentives distribute the weight equally from the four pillars below. Not only are they known to survive natural disaster, but also man-made disasters such as nuclear blasts and fires.

As well, the structure limits the amount of wind against the dome because of its more aerodynamic shape, which reduces the cost to heat the building compared to a conventionally box-framed house. A great example of a dome’s integrity is St. Peter’s Basilica which was built in 1629. It is the tallest dome in the world. Its internal diameter is 41.47 metres and still hosts thousands of tourists every year to view its structural beauty and painting. Monolithic domes are made out of concrete to provide a strong structure, thought domes have been build with many materials such as wood, ice and even bones. Since the shell of the dome is round, rain will slide down the structure to the ground because of its continuous roof and walls, making no need for an eavestrough.

Environmental Benefits

The environmental benefits are also another reason to build using the dome shaped building method. The utility costs are greatly reduced because of the natural flow of air. Monolithic domed schools save about four times the amount of energy than a traditional shaped school with the same capacity of students. They use about thirty to fifty percent less energy for heating and cooling because they have around thirty percent less surface area than normal buildings. The concrete in monolithic domes are only two and a half to four inches thick, which is about fifty to seventy percent slimmer than conventional concrete structures. Furthermore, since the primal material is concrete, it significantly reduces the amount of lumber used, which provides more trees to take in carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and release oxygen. Given these facts, monolithic domes can easily meet the standards of the LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) energy savings criteria.

Cost

Monolithic domes are much cheaper to build and maintain versus the standard structure. They are self-supporting so there is no need for any load bearing partitions, which saves on the lumber and construction costs. For instance, a high school in Texas was built for a total of two million dollars, which cost eighty-five dollars per square foot. They were able to get thirty percent more floor space than the traditional building. Also due to the fact domes are self-supporting and don’t need partitions it allows for larger open areas under the dome then conventional building. A big problem with lumber-framed houses is that there can be problems with termites if the proper air or vapour barriers are not continuous throughout the building. With monolithic structures, the walls, ceilings, and floors are continuous which provides a consistent barrier and is therefore termite proof.

Concrete is a long-lasting material and because of that there is very little maintenance required and the structure can last for hundreds of years. Monolithic domes generally use about fifty to seventy percent less material than a conventional building, which saves on the costs, or you could get a higher quality material because the quantity need is much less. To demonstrate, if you had a cube that is 10 feet on all sides you would need 600 square feet of material to construct it and it would have a volume of only 1000 cubic feet. If you were to build a sphere with the same amount of material it would have a radius of 6 feet and 11 inches and would have a volume of 1382 cubic feet. That is an increase of 38 percent in volume. Thought the design and support systems used to build these domes are often more complex.

Conclusion

Due to the material savings and natural energy efficiency of dome construction new companies are forming that focus on building residential monolithic dome houses. These companies are using new construction techniques to bring this old style of building up to date. New Domes are constructed following a method that requires a tough, inflatable Airform, steel-reinforced concrete and a polyurethane foam insulation. This is becoming a growing market around the world due to the fact Monolithic Domes are neither restricted by climate nor by site location. In terms of energy consumption, durability, disaster resistance and maintenance, Monolithic Domes perform well in any climate, even extremely hot or cold ones.

Monolithic domes provide a building that is structurally sound and can survive just about anything that nature or humans throw its way. Domes have been used to build everything from tiny igloos to gigantic cathedral ceilings. Due to this they have been implemented into our buildings for centuries and are still a means of construction today. They are considered to be green buildings because they are energy efficient. They have been used around the world by different peoples to provide a beauty to their important and religious builds. Finally, monolithic domes are much cheaper to construct than the conventional structure. The Monolithic Dome has a number of unique benefits: construction affordability, healthy environment, disaster protection, energy savings, longevity, all leaning towards the pros of building domes, leaving one to wonder why on an earth that is round, we continue build square structures on it?