Posted on February 1st, 2016

Project: Complete apartment facelift

Thanks to 28 years of having my grandparents spoil me, their only grandson, it was finally my turn to give back to them.  They purchased a condo in the Colonel By building in Smiths Falls, and it was in obvious need of some updates.  
All of the carpet and vinyl was removed, along with the dated kitchen cabinet doors, countertops, vanities and one piece showers, making a blank canvas for something a little more modern.
Both the main and ensuite bathrooms have WarmlyYours in-floor heating systems installed under porcelain tile, American Standard right-height Cadet toilets and fixtures as well.  With my grandparents getting older and hoping to stay in the condo as they age, a custom shower was built in the ensuite bathroom with a sliding glass door and marble niche for storage.  A floating vanity is installed in the ensuite bath, giving it a more modern feel. 
The kitchen was also in desperate need of updating, and received a complete facelift.  New porcelain floors (with in-floor heating), cabinet doors, countertop, sink/faucet and under-cabinet lighting came together to provide a bright, open and easy to clean workspace.
Feel free to email or post a comment if you have any questions about the materials used!

- RH

Posted on January 3rd, 2016

Project: Fireplace Surround
Material: New structure, 12 x 24 tile
Timeline: 3 weeks

Melanie wanted to slim down the profile of the 'monster' in her living room, and create a more modern fireplace surround in her home.  The project involved the removal of an existing stone fireplace and chimney, patching of the roof, construction of a new fireplace surround and finishing the area with tile, crown moulding and custom mantle and flooring transitions.  No detail went overlooked, as we included an electrical receptacle and HDMI tv plug in the unit for a wall hung TV.  

Posted on December 8th, 2015

Project: Kitchen Backsplash
Material: 1" x 1" white backsplash tile
Timeline: 8 hours

Iris took advantage of Rona's Black Friday sale to purchase 40 square feet of backsplash tile. We transformed her kitchen over the course of a day, providing her with a clean, bright backsplash.

Posted on December 4th, 2015

Project: Kitchen Backsplash
Material: Irregular glass/marble mosaics
Timeline: 7 hours

We updated Lila's kitchen and bathroom by installing glass mosaic backsplash in each area. Each of these tiles retail approximately $12.60 per sheet from Holland Valley, and interlock with each other to form a seamless look across the entire backsplash.

Posted on January 12th, 2015

It didn’t take me long to get burned by the “underground market” of construction workers.  This is the group of renovators, builders, and ‘work for cash’ tax evasion specialists who make it so difficult for reputable, honest contractors to earn a living.
When a homeowner asks a contractor to perform work for cash, it is nothing short of an invitation to participate in evasion of tax, WSIB, and building permit applications.  As inflated as these costs are for Ontarians, all of these systems are in place to protect contractors, their employees, but most of all the homeowner.  At Holland Valley, our company is built on a foundation of fairness, reliability and professionalism.  
Holland Valley Construction has been built on a foundation of fairness, reliability and professionalism.  This means following the law to ensure the safety and satisfaction of our company, our employees, and our customers.  In order to be treated properly by your contractor, here are a few things to keep in mind when you are paying someone to work in your home. 

1:  Ask for WSIB clearance certificates
According to Mac Vanderhout insurance Brokers from Toronto, Ontario, if a contractor does not have WSIB, the homeowner can be sued by the contractor or their workers if there is an injury.  The easiest way to prevent being at risk?  Don’t pay cash for underground economy contractors.  
A WSIB clearance certificate can be printed by the contracting company, or requested and mailed from WSIB.   It’s no secret that WSIB rates are ridiculous, ranging from 9.1% for a renovator or home builder, to 14.8% for roofers.  Unfortunately these rates are much higher in Ontario than in Western or Eastern Canada (up to 50% less), however they do protect the homeowner from possible lawsuits, and protect the workers in case of injury.  
Often, if a homeowner hires a contractor without WSIB, they can be found legally responsible for any injuries under the Occupational Health and Safety Act, as the homeowner is acting as the general contractor.  In one instance, a Richmond Hill homeowner was fined $20,000 after a worker fell from 10.5 ft and died.  
There are certain exceptions to WSIB coverage.  However even in situations where these exceptions take place, the homeowner is still at risk.  For example, If a carpenter is working alone and only working directly for homeowners, they are not required by law to enrol in WSIB coverage.  However, if that carpenter has a helper (even a friend or family member), they must have WSIB coverage.  Again, even if the worker is not required to have WSIB, it leaves you open to legal action if they are injured on the job.  
Click here for a sample of a WSIB clearance certificate.

2:  Request a copy of liability insurance
Imagine hiring a contractor to build your dream bathroom - a custom walk in shower, granite countertops, and a heated floor to keep your feet warm in the morning.  After a long day of work, the contractor turns the water back on and heads home for the evening.  In the middle of the night, you wake up to a flooded living room, water ruining everything from floor to ceiling.  
When the water shut off and the leak repaired, what’s next?  Who is responsible for repairing the entire section of your home, covering all labour and materials?  If you pay cash for the job and your contractor doesn’t have insurance, it could be you.
Typically, a contractor will carry $500,000 in Tenant’s Legal Liability insurance, and be covered in case there is damage to your automobile or other parts of your home due to their negligence.   This will protect you during your home renovation project, and it is as simple as asking your contractor for a proof of insurance. 

3:  Ensure permits are acquired for the work being done
Permits are yet another step of protection for homeowners, ensuring the proper inspectors are called to review the work as it progresses.  Permits range from a general building permit to trade-specific inspections such as electrical, both which would be required for something as simple as a bathroom renovation. 
With a building permit, an inspector will visit the job site for random visits or scheduled appointments.  They will take a look at different aspects of the renovation, including framing, plumbing and insulation, approving the work is being completed properly and according to the building code.  Building permits range based on the proposed project, but acts as a second set of eyes to ensure safety.

Posted on January 12th, 2015

Thinking about renovating an area of your house, and hiring a contractor to perform the work?  There are certain things that you should do to cover liability and ensure your project runs as efficiently as possible.  These 5 steps will help to ensure you hire the right contractor, and have quality work performed in your home.

1: Look at a portfolio, ask for references
Would you buy a car without looking at it or taking it for a test drive?  The same logic should apply to hiring a contractor.  Unfortunately you can’t visit their previous job sites, but a reputable contractor will have photos and references, likely on their website.  Look at the details in the images and you should be able to tell if the contractor has an eye for detail, or rushes to complete a job without any interest in quality.

2:  Review the paperwork
Although it will be an added expense to your project, WSIB, liability insurance and building permits protect you during a renovation.  The WSIB premium rate for home renovators is 9.1% on all wages paid.  Building permits will range from $60 up, and liability insurance will cost your contractor approximately $40 per week.  This small addition to the overall price for the job will be more than worth the protection it provides.  Read our post about working for cash and the underground economy for more information.

3:  Know your budget
When your renovator knows how much you’ve budgeted for your project, they can provide options of which materials fit your budget.  Will your budget allow for porcelain tile, or does your it limit you to ceramic?  Will you have extra money to install in-floor heating in your bathroom, or do you have to compromise on your faucet selection to allow for granite countertops?  A good contractor and project manager will discuss your project during a site visit, and cater your quote to what you can afford.

4:  Hire a manager
Efficiency will make the best use of your budget, and a good manager will make your project as efficient as possible.  This doesn’t mean that there has to be a separate project manager, but make sure that someone involved in the project displays management skills, especially communication and time management.  The project manager will assist you in creative decisions and provide a wealth of knowledge on products and procedures. 

5:  Sign a contract
Along with the WSIB, insurance and building permits, a contract will outline timelines, financial draws, major project components, and any other details that are agreed upon.  This ensures the homeowner and the contractor are on the same page, and provides documentation to outline expectations and promises made.  All transactions should also be recorded, providing you with a receipt for every deposit made.  

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