The thaws and deep freezes this winter aren’t just taking a toll on our roads, but a lot of cement stairs are cracking and crumbling too. A postal worker put his foot right through the front stairs at one of our client’s rental properties! We’ve had dozens of calls about replacing cement stairs with wooden ones this winter. Even though it’s tough to work outside at this time of year, the team have risen to the challenge and are busy helping keep our clients’ front entrances safe.
When naturally aged cedar decks need repairs, it is often necessary to replace some of the boards. Unfortunately you have to suffer through a season with differently coloured stripes since the new wood is a very different colour from the old. There are a few options for repairing aged cedar decks. Some people choose to apply a grey stain to the new wood but it is difficult to get a really good colour match and the new boards will always look like they have been stained. We have recently discovered a natural treatment that artificially ages the new wood immediately after it is applied. It isn’t perfect either, but it reduces the harsh contrast and lets the wood age naturally through the next season and keep its natural texture. Another option is to sand down the old wood and use a stain on both the old and new wood. For those people who don’t like the look of stained wood, we like this natural, tea-based option for hiding the stripes.
Ontario homeowners making environmentally friendly renovations to their properties can qualify for provincial rebates on upgrades ranging from furnaces and windows to faucets and shower heads.
On March 3, CTV news reported on the details of the new energy efficiency program that forms part of the new Liberal budget.
“Details of the rebates were obtained by CTV Toronto more than a month after the initiative was reported exclusively by Queen’s Park Bureau Chief Paul Bliss.
Earlier this year, the government announced the start of a $100 million program meant to help the province reach its aggressive greenhouse gas reduction goals. Homes and buildings are among the top emitters.
In an effort to encourage green upgrades, the government announced it would provide rebates to homeowners making environmentally friendly changes.
“It’s a very simple program. It’s a very attractive program,” Energy Minister Bob Chiarelli told CTV Toronto.
On Thursday, Bliss obtained additional information on which products will qualify and how Ontario residents can apply for the rebates.
Before any rebates are approved, all residents must cover the cost of a home energy audit. When the audit has been completed, all homeowners installing new furnaces, windows and hot water heaters will qualify for cash back.
The rebates also extend to new faucets, shower heads, doors, thermostats, weatherproofing and insulation.
Last month, the province announced that approximately 37,000 customers of Enbridge Gas and Union Gas would be given home energy audits, then will be able to apply for financial assistance to purchase upgrades based on the results of the audits.
Those making upgrades must provide receipts, but will then be eligible for rebates of up to $5,000 from Union Gas and $2,100 from Enbridge, Chiarelli said.
More items are expected to be added to the list in the coming weeks, and the province is expecting the federal government to add cash to the retrofitting program. Those willing to wait until the federal budget is revealed on March 22 may be able to get more cash back.
Paul Bliss and Kendra Mangione, CTV Toronto
Published Thursday, March 3, 2016 6:11PM EST
We have a lot of our clients asking us the same question: how many renovations will make the most difference. Common wisdom says that renovating the kitchen and the bathroom have the greatest impact on the value of your home, but it’s not always about that. Major kitchen & bathroom renovations can be costly, and sometimes minor renovations can make a really big impact. If your goal is to increase your own enjoyment, you might find that a small renovation is all you need. Updating tiles in either room is a great option and simply changing the vanity can change the whole look and feel of a bathroom.
These aren’t necessarily cheap options but they are a lot less expensive and disruptive than a full reno. Some kitchens don’t have backsplashes at all, so adding a new one makes a huge change. Adding bright colours to a kitchen is a popular choice. We have a client who has all of her counter top accessories the same colour as her bright red backsplash which makes it really pop! It is a focal point of her modern condo. This is particularly powerful in open-concept homes.
Matching kitchen accessories to the backsplash
Renovations & Repairs Coupon
Did you get our coupon?
Many of you who live in houses may have received one of our door hangers with a $20 off coupon. We want to offer this same great deal to everyone who lives in a condo too! If you mention that you saw our door hanger, or this virtual coupon, when you phone to make an appointment we would be pleased to offer this discount to you as well. Thanks again for your business!
Tip: Please share the coupon to a friend!
One of our clients asked us to change her glass-tiled backsplash to subway tiles for a more urban chic look. Traditional subway tiles generally use very little grout; they almost click together like hardwood flooring to give the look of a solid wall of ceramic tile. Our client had an alternative vision to this style.
She asked us to have them spaced like regular tiles. She went one step further: she went with extra-large spacers. She chose white tiles and dark grey grout. The extra wide grout lines with the contrasting grout create a great, dramatic effect.
The kitchen has a 14 foot ceiling so there is a 2 foot space above the cabinets. We also tiled this area to match. The tradesman doing the tiling loved the idea. He jokingly referred to his technique for reaching around and over cabinets and duct work as “billy goat tiling” We laughed. It certainly was a fun project. The final result is a bright kitchen with a modern feel that works perfectly with a modern loft.
One of our clients recently gave us an interesting challenge: could we use hardwood flooring to cover the back and sides of an IKEA wardrobe? The flooring was real wood, not laminate. What an innovative idea!
The client wanted to use the wardrobe as a room divider between the front door and the living room of her condo. This way you don’t open the front door and walk right into the living room. Because it faces the front door it has created a foyer in addition to providing valuable closet space.
The wardrobe is not meant to be free standing, so the back is unfinished. It also isn’t strong enough to attach the hardwood to it. Our solution was to attach particle board to the back for strength and to provide an area to attach the hardwood to. The end result was what looks like a solid wooden wardrobe with mirrored doors. Fabulous!
Hardwood flooring isn’t designed for this purpose so it took some creative problem solving, but in the end, it was a great success.
A friend recently told me about a discussion that had come up when she was out for dinner with some of her friends. One of the dinner guests mentioned how difficult it was to find a handyman to come to her downtown Toronto condo.
Then she told them about Fixit: we do a lot of work in condos.
Everyone was surprised that there is actually a company that likes to work in condos. One of the dinner guests was so excited to hear about us that she booked an appointment the next day.
She had a list of jobs that are very common in the condo community. We hung up a curtain rod, installed some floating shelves and hung up 3 paintings and one heavy mirror. Some people seem a little embarrassed when they call us with this kind of a list because they think they should be able to do it themselves.
They shouldn’t feel like that!
We probably work on half a dozen identical job lists each week! Our clients are both men and women. In fact when we reviewed our past year, we were pleasantly surprised to find that 55% of our clients are men!
A lot of condos have concrete walls and there is simply no way around it: if you don’t have a proper concrete drill, the screw is not going in the wall.
Without Fixit, there would be a lot of bare walls in condos! High ceilings are also a challenge. Few people have the room for a 10 foot ladder in their storage locker.
We actually just spent 3 hours changing light bulbs at one of the private residences at the Ritz.
It’s not surprising that so many contractors prefer to stay away from condos since they are a completely different environment than residential neighbourhoods. Downtown condos have restrictions about times that contractors can work in and parking for trucks can be nearly impossible.
We aren’t concerned about parking or concierges, or booking the elevators. We have mastered the process. In fact, we are on a first name basis with some of the concierges in the buildings downtown.
If you have a ‘honey do’ list that never gets done, please get in touch with us. We’d love to help.
I was just recently asked what makes Fixit! different from other contractors & renovators. One of the major differences is that we will work on small jobs. It can be really difficult to find contractors that will take on a small job. We provide estimates over the phone, so we can book jobs on short notice and when our tradesman arrives at your home, he will confirm the estimate. Our appointments can be as short as 2 hours. Some examples of the REALLY small jobs we take care of: hanging mirrors, hanging pictures, re-caulking a bathtub, repairing a small patch of drywall, hanging a shelf, hanging wall paper on an accent wall. Most contractors consider projects like replacing the cabinets in a condo kitchen, or updating the fixtures and tiles in a bathroom to be too small of a job. Fixit! specializes in small renovations like these.
Tip: If you live in a condo you may need to provide your property manager with copies of insurance and licenses. We have these ready for you to help keep things simple.
Small office space. Can we say, “really small space”. It’s part of living and working in Toronto. Sometimes it isn’t about the design and the look but more about being functional. A quick and easy way to get both is to add shelves. We just did this in a small office in downtown Toronto. In this case, there are 3 desks in a space of 150 square feet. Instead of bookcases that sit on the floor, we installed floating shelves starting halfway up the wall and then another row above that. This way they kept the floor space uncluttered while still having a place for file folders and binders. Many of our clients have bought floating shelves at IKEA.
Tip: to add color to an area you can paint the wall a different color. This may add flare to a kid’s room.