5 Electrical Renovations That Will Make Your Life Easier

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5 Electrical Renovations that will make your Home your Happy Place. No one thinks electrical renovations are exciting. But did you know how much easier your like would be if you make the right ones?

A renovation is an exciting opportunity to make your home your own personal heaven.

One of the ways you can do that is through your electrical system.

We know what you’re thinking: that’s nowhere near as exciting as adding an island or a fireplace.

There are actually several electrical renovations and upgrades that will not only make your home safer and more convenient, but will give you a thrill every time you come home.

1. New Audio and Entertainment System Wiring

We love our music, television, movies, and video games. Who among us hasn’t binge-watched our favourite Netflix original?

As we get more and more gadgets designed to entertain us, wires and plugs can rapidly get out of control.

Use a renovation to take your entertainment system from ‘oh man’ to ‘oh wow!’

First, make sure your living room/entertainment centre is on its own power circuit if you have a lot of things that need to be plugged into the wall. You don’t want to be reliant on extension cords or power bars. Not only is this bad for your circuit, but it just looks messy.

Next, think about your audio. Are you someone who likes to listen to music on a daily basis? A distributed audio system is a great way to listen, wherever you are in the house. Speakers can be discreetly installed in the walls or ceilings

Now you’ve got a great audio and entertainment system that can actually handle your demands.

To quote Gladiator, “are you not entertained?”

2. Safe, Well-Planned Outlets

Your outlets are almost never exactly where you need them to be. A renovation is your chance to change that. If you don’t think that’s exciting, think about all the cords you’ll be able to tidy up and even hide!

According to the current code, you’re allowed a maximum of 12 receptacles/outlets per 15 amp general power circuit. This means you’ll have to do a bit of planning about what you want each outlet to accomplish.

Cool Feature: If you’re someone with a lot of gadgets, consider outlets with USB ports built right in. There are perfect for charging your devices - not to mention convenient.

One thing all your outlets should have in common is an arc fault circuit interrupter (AFCI) or a ground fault circuit interrupter (GFCI).

AFCIs will cut power to a circuit if the electrical current arcs due to accidental contact between wires. An arc creates a lot of heat, and is a serious fire hazard without an AFCI.

GFCIs are similar, but protect you by monitoring the input and output of electricity. This helps prevent electric shocks. GFCIs are required to be installed near water - for example your bathroom or laundry room.

These outlets will help protect you against electrical fires and personal injury, making your home a safer environment.

3. LED Lighting Design

1 LED light can operate for 25,000 hours (residential, indoor). That’s equivalent to 25 incandescent lightbulbs.

Almost everyone has switched to LED lightbulbs. But now it’s time for a whole new lighting design.

Now imagine that we can design for you a whole new layout with pot lights, LED rope lights/strips, and gorgeous accent lights that are specifically designed for each room and the things you’ll be doing there.

A great example is your kitchen. Chances are (especially if you’re in an older home) you have one or two lights in your kitchen for everything - but that has never worked! You need lights for cooking, lights for dining, and lights for entertaining.

An LED lighting design will make every room more functional, more beautiful, and often lower your electricity bills.

Check out the lighting in these Livingscape homes >

4. Whole Home Surge Suppression

Surges are caused by inclement weather, failed distribution equipment, and even malfunctioning appliances in your own home.

A whole home electrical surge could cause thousands of dollars in damage to appliances. That’s why we recommend including a whole-home surge suppressor in your electrical renovations.

This will protect your home from electrical surges, and could save you a lot of money on replacement costs.

5. A Smart Security System

Smart homes are the latest wave in technological trends, and that includes smart security systems.

These will typically include remote operation capabilities from your phone, and allow you to monitor alarms, sensors, and other aspects of your home security through one interface.

A smart security system will also integrate nicely with other smart systems - systems that allow you to control your lights, your locks, and even your heat! That means less time spent fiddling with your keys and the thermostat.

This is an electrical upgrade that is all about convenience. We can walk you through what is involved in making your home a smart home, and help you select the right brand.

Have Your Panel and Wiring Inspected

When you renovate, you should have your electrical panel and wiring inspected.

If you’re adding more space - or more appliances - an electrical panel upgrade is a great investment. You’ll have more power, more convenience, and more options to add more appliances in the future. Just imagine having all your kitchen appliances on one circuit, and being able to do everything at the same time!

Professional electricians like the ones at Sun Solar & Electrical Ltd. can not only complete this inspection and any installations, but they can help with other electrical renovations on your list.

Ask Us About a Renovation Today

Electrical renovations are important, and something we’ll incorporate into your overall project. When you work with LivingScape Homes and Renovations, you’re working with us from Day One until the moment you walk into your completed space for the first time.

 

We take a hands-on approach that gives our clients peace of mind - not to mention a great new space that is made specifically for them.

 

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How to Plan Heating and Cooling for a Renovation vs. New Construction

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How to Plan Heating and Cooling for a Renovation vs. a New Construction
Working with us to design your renovation or new home involves a lot of important decisions (but also a lot of fun). Our commitment to being thorough and hands-on to create your perfect living space means that we’re going to be asking you questions about everything. That includes your heating and cooling system.

It’s not the most glamourous part of design, but it is important. Your home heating and cooling system is what keeps you comfortable everyday in every season, especially our Calgary winters. Now is a perfect time to look at making some changes/decisions that could not only increase energy efficiency, but save you money on your energy bills.

These are some things we’ll talk about in the design stage, with different options for a renovation vs. a new construction.


1. DUCTWORK:
Ductwork is the backbone of your home heating and cooling. There are different ways to approach it in a renovation vs. a new construction.
 
For Renovations

Your ductwork is pretty permanent once it’s put in place, because changing it would require you to tear the walls down. And that’s no small job. So if you’ve found that your ductwork leaves hot and cold spots in your home, a renovation is a good time to reevaluate the layout.

If you’re tearing everything down to the studs, talk to your contractor and a licensed technician about making alterations to improve your heating. This will increase efficiency, and reduce the hot and cold spots you’re experiencing. If you’re doing a minor renovation that doesn’t involve a lot of demolition, your ductwork will be staying as is.

What if I added a new vent? You may think that adding a new vent would do the trick because it’s much simpler than adjusting all your ductwork. This is not the case. Depending on the size and capability of your furnace’s air handler, you may find that you lose heat in other parts of your home because your furnace can’t handle that many rooms, leading to decreased efficiency and higher bills.

For New Construction

A new construction is a blank slate, which means the chance to get your ductwork right the first time. Meet with a licensed technician with experience in planning out energy efficient ductwork that won’t leave any rooms without heat.


2. MULTI-ZONE HEATING:
If you live in or are building a 2-storey house, you should consider multi-zone heating systems. Multi-zone heating requires multiple thermostats throughout your homes, each controlling a damper flap in your ductwork. This allows you to set different temperatures throughout your home, using your furnace more efficiently.

For Renovations

If you’ve been living in this home for awhile, chances are you’ve come to notice that the second floor bedrooms are always hotter, or the basement never gets warm enough. A renovation could be a perfect time to address that issue.

While you can install multi-zone heating with your existing home heating and cooling system, this requires some extra costs. Not only will dampers have to be installed in the ducts, but you’ll have to accommodate extra thermostats. While some new thermostats are wireless, if you go with a wired option, that means increased electrical work. Which means - you guessed it - tearing open walls.

Before deciding on multi-zone heating, make sure that your ‘building envelope’ has been optimized. Building envelope refers to the outside of your house. Have all the window and door seals checked, as well as any potential drafty spots, and make sure you have proper insulation all over.

For New Construction

Installing a multi-zone system right off the bat is a good idea if you anticipate many squabbles over the thermostat, or simply want increased control over where the heat is going. For example, why pay to heat a guest bedroom if it’s only used a few times a year? Instead, you can keep the heat on low in that room, and focus on keeping the family room cozy.


3. ENERGY -AND COST -EFFICIENCY:
Energy bills are an inevitable part of a homeowner’s life, and you want to do as much as you can to reduce those bills. There are some different options available to you in a renovation vs. a new construction, which home heating and cooling professionals can go over with you.

 For Renovations

A renovation is a great time to look at making your home more energy efficient, which will in turn decrease your energy bills, leading to significant savings over time. Some systems you can look at include:

A high-efficiency furnace.
A new tankless water heater.
A high-efficiency air conditioner.
Air source heat pumps.

This is also a good time to look at systems that will improve your comfort, including:

A whole-home humidifier to battle the dry winter air.
Air quality systems like filters and cleaners - they’re a real lifesaver for people with asthma or allergies.

For New Construction

In a new construction, all the same options are available to you as in a renovation, and more. In a new home build, it is much easier to go ultra-green. You can:

Properly insulate and seal your home.
Use geothermal heating.
Explore the option of solar energy.

That’s the beauty of building - you can pick anything you want, as long as it is safely installed and up to code.
No Matter the Project, We’ll Get the Job Done Properly
Our company is committed to creating better living for our clients. We’ll work with you and licensed professionals to design a home heating system that suits the new construction or renovation plans. The end result will be a living space you’re thrilled to call home.

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TOP 5 REASONS To Hire a Calgary Renovation Contractor:

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When it comes to renovating or building in Calgary, one of the most common questions homeowners ask is “Why should I pay a renovation contractor?”  It’s true that some small DIY jobs make sense to tackle on your own, but for other little projects, and especially larger projects like kitchen renovations, basement developments, home additions, and custom homes, it is highly advisable to leave it to the professionals.  There are far more reasons than what we are showing here, but we’ve narrowed it down to what we consider to be the top 5:

1. COST.  Yes, really.  Cost.  One of the most common misconceptions homeowners have is that by being their “own general contractor” they will save money as compared to hiring a custom builder or renovation contractor. However this is seldom reality.  The fact is that most professional builders and contractors buy at wholesale or contractor-discounted prices that are substantially less than what a homeowner would pay buying building products at retail. And because professional contractors have a stable of regular trades they work with, this can be especially true for renovation or construction labour costs. This means that even though your kitchen renovation contractor charges a fee or markup for his services, typically those costs are mostly or even fully absorbed by the savings he can provide on materials and labour. Professional Calgary home renovators also won’t make the same costly mistakes commonly made by inexperienced homeowners, and because they have qualified and competent trades and suppliers to complete your renovation project, they will also help ensure better future resale value for your home.

2. PROJECT MANAGEMENT EXPERTISE.  You may be a very organized person, but are you experienced in construction management?  From the start of your custom home or renovation project to the finish, a professional renovator helps you navigate through the sometimes daunting process of turning your remodelling ideas into successful results. They are experienced in managing timelines specific to home building and renovations and they understand the critical path and the proper sequence of trades and events.  They will organize and handle the procurement of materials, and the scheduling of those tradespeople and suppliers, and will execute the job efficiently and in a timely manner. Renovating any existing structure can reveal surprises. The experienced and competent home renovator in Calgary will bring solutions to those renovation challenges and will have the knowledge and experience to catch potential problems early in the project, and know what to do when they arise.

3. TRADE CONNECTIONS & RELATIONSHIPS.  Ask almost any professional Calgary home renovator, and they’ll tell you one of the biggest challenges in becoming a successful renovation contractor in Calgary (or anywhere) is finding the RIGHT trades that are timely, reliable, conscientious & honest, and do excellent work - all at a fair and competitive price!  It can literally take years to build an top-quality stable of trades, and often it comes by trial and error. Professional, full-time general contractors come with established working relationships and discounts with the sub-trades and suppliers who they know, from experience, will deliver excellent workmanship and value to their clients. As a homeowner embarking on a basement development or a home addition, there can be considerable peace of mind in knowing that your home renovation contractor has properly vetted the trades that you are placing your trust in. After all, your home is usually your biggest single investment, so you owe it to yourself to protect it.

4. ACCURATE PRICING.  Have you ever talked to someone who was planning a major home renovation project, and in the end it ended up costing 20%, 30% or even 50% more than they had anticipated? Yes, it happens all the time. Calgary’s experienced custom builders and renovation contractors know what it takes to do a job right, and they have current knowledge of what each piece of the home renovation puzzle costs. They will use that experience and knowledge to help you establish a realistic budget based on the estimated scope of work. When the design is finalized and all finishes and details are worked out, your contractor can give you a detailed price on your home remodelling project. By choosing a design/build renovation contractor, and talking to your contractor early on in the design process, or better yet, using their in-house designers, you’ll gain a much better understanding of what what is achievable within your budget.

5. FASTER PROJECT COMPLETION. There’s a saying in legal circles that says, “The man who represents himself in court has a fool for a client”.  In other words, there is no replacement for experience and knowledge. By virtue of their profession, experienced, professional Calgary home renovation contractors know everything that is involved with the home renovation process in Calgary. They know what decisions need to be made, when they need to be made, and in what order; and they know what needs to be done, how it needs to be done, and by whom.  They understand through experience that the scheduling demands of construction projects are very unique, and are often a moving target.  As a result, they are able to avoid the pitfalls and delays that can typically occur on homeowner-run renovation projects. And when something does go wrong - and it always does - their full-time availability, and their knowledge and experience helps them provide timely solutions with minimal impact to the project schedule.  In our experience, the average timeline to complete a major Calgary kitchen renovation or basement development project is about half when a professional renovation contractor is used vs. homeowner managed remodelling projects. This means that by hiring a good builder/renovator, not only are the chances of success greater, but you will save money on costly mistakes and delays and get to enjoying your home sooner.

TLTR (too long to read) - In the short version: When planning your custom renovation, hiring a Calgary Renovation Contractor can provide expertise in regards to:  COST, PROJECT MANAGEMENT EXPERTISE, TRADE CONNECTIONS & RELATIONSHIPS, ACCURATE PRICING AND FASTER PROJECT COMPLETION.

 

Questions? We’re here to help.  Call (403) 398-6514 or email info@livingscape.ca to discuss your project.

Planning Your Renovation Project...

Whether it’s a custom home you’re contemplating, or a renovation to an existing home, much of the planning process remains the same.  Proper project planning considers many factors including the overall goals of the renovation project, functional requirements, lifestyle needs and desires, architectural elements and interior design preferences.  When you start a renovation plan, it is always good to compile a file with photos of rooms, homes, or design styles that you like from magazines, books, websites, etc.  Photos can easily convey your renovation concepts what words sometimes cannot.

 

The following checklist will assist you in thinking about the many decisions and elements that go into the proper planning and design of your renovation or build project.  Some you may have specific ideas about - and others you may have not even considered.  Either way, combined with a visit from the  LivingScape Team to your home, this checklist can be a very valuable tool to initiate the thought process and dialogue necessary for a successful project, be it a kitchen renovation, basement development, or a full home makeover. 

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General Information-

1.        What are the main objectives of the custom renovation project?

2.        If there is considerable demolition to be done, or if key components of the home will be out of commission, (ie. kitchen, bathroom) do you have a plan for this such as a place to live temporarily.

3.        Have you considered your budget for this project?  What is it?  Does it include furnishings, window treatments, etc?

4.        Is this a custom home build, or a renovation to your existing home?

5.        If renovating, will the work be done all at once or in stages?  If stages, have you considered the impact on your daily routine for a sustained period? 

6.        What is your timing?  Consider when you would like to finish as this will dictate when you want to start.

7.        How many years do you expect to live in the home?

8.        Do you have pets?  If so, identify the pets, and the design considerations for them (for example, a location for a dog crate, pet wash station, consideration for flooring surfaces, etc.).

9.        Are there special items that you want included in your renovation project (eg. media/theatre/games room, home automation, home office, etc.)?

 

 

People -

1.        Movement of people.  Consider traffic patterns in your existing home.  Do access requirements between rooms conflict with activities?  For example, do people have to pass through a television area to get to the bathroom?  List any current limitations, and the improvements you’d like to see regarding the flow of people.

2.        Use of space.  Think about the amount of space you require, and the extent that this space should remain open or closed.  If it’s an existing home, will interior walls need to be moved?  What about exterior walls/adding on space?

3.        Are there impending changes (or have there been) in your family situation such as the birth of a new child, an aging parent, or grown children moving away from home? 

4.        Identify all the people that live in the home.  What are their ages?  Do you anticipate their lifestyle needs to change significantly within the next 10 years?

5.        What hobbies does each individual have?  Are they shared by more than one person? How do these hobbies impact your living requirements (storage of sports equipment; requirement for and exercise area, shower room, workshop/sewing room, etc.)?

6.        Are there any physical challenges that create mobility or accessibility needs?  Will you want to consider the possibility of future physical challenges in the design?

7.        What about allergies?

 

Style and Design Considerations -

 

1.        What impression do you want visitors to have of your home?  How do you want you and your family to feel in your home?

2.        Is special heating cooling, lighting or ventilation required for any part of the home?

3.        Do you have artwork or collections that require any special display or lighting considerations?

4.        Do you have a style preference for your home -eg. Mid Century Modern, Urban Contemporary, Arts & Crafts, French Country, Transitional, etc.

5.        What would you NOT want to see in your home?  Why?

6.        Do you have colour preferences?  What are they?

7.        What about surface materials?  Do you have a preference between natural or man-made? Is maintenance free a priority?

8.        What other comments or considerations have you thought of that may be useful towards the design and planning of your renovation or custom build?

 


 

 

Add Design Style with a Bulkhead

Often thought of as a necessary evil to hide pipes and electrical wires, the addition of a bulkhead in a kitchen, dining room, bar or bedroom can actually add a very chic design touch. Whether we are aware of it or not, as human beings we have psychological responses to spatial design elements.  Adding some interest to expansive spaces and ceilings that lack visual appeal can go a long way towards creating a better sense of comfort, style, and interest.  Beyond that, the addition of a bulkhead can accomplish some very specific design goals as well:

Define a Space.  When it comes to open-plan kitchen and living areas, a bulkhead can be used to great effect, serving to define space and function. This bulkhead extends from two walls to span the kitchen, ending in line with the kitchen island. Being white, it contrasts with the timber-lined ceiling in the rest of the large open space. It also offers the opportunity for recessed lighting, pendant lighting and greater air projection.

Enclose the Kitchen.  A dropped ceiling provides a sense of enclosure in the kitchen. In this case, the kitchen bulkhead functions like a canopy extending from the wall of joinery behind.

Have fun with Materials. While a bulkhead can help define the kitchen area, the use of materials can also define the bulkhead. Encased in timber slats and with recessed lighting, the bulkhead here is a standout feature – a perfect accompaniment to the warm leather sofas.

Create a Mood.  Formal or informal, relaxed or refined.  Bulkheads can help create a mood that a flat ceiling just can't do on its own. In this example, it is constructed of the same wood as the chairs and table top that truly sets the dining area on its own.

Tie Elements Together.  Here the bulkhead was designed to break up the ceiling and to add visual interest, but also to provide cohesion with the island to offset against the white cabinets.

Add Consistency to an Overall Theme.  Here the bulkhead constructed of rustic beams plays off the kitchen chairs, the hardwood, and the cabinetry to create an unmistakeable impression of country chic. 

Add Contrast.  Try to look at this kitchen and ignore the bulkhead.  It is clearly an ultra modern, linear motif. But with the addition of the warm wood, the light fixtures and iron stools,  it achieves a sense of modern industrial, and again breaks up what is a rather expansive ceiling.

Create Drama. This bulkhead does double duty hiding the ventilation system while creating a visual impact. It adds a touch of warmth to the gleaming white island and modern cabinetry and furnishings.

Create Lighting Options. Depending on how the bulkhead is designed, it can create a variety of options for both mood lighting and task lighting.

Add Cohesion.  This suspended bulkhead creates cohesion with the material used on the island and cabinetry as well as those found in other areas of the home.  Not only does this create consistency throughout the home, it adds interest and impact not found in a basic vaulted ceiling.