On Saturday November 16th, 2013, we will host our last Renovation Tour of the year. Take this opportunity to tour an incredible whole home Renovation; this exquisite two storey acreage home was gutted to the studs to increase square footage and reconfigure traffic lines. Come and see how we transformed what was originally a builder spec house into a contemporary, tailored home that perfectly compliments this Client family’s unique needs!
Come and enter to win an iPad Mini or 1 of 3 Thermal Camera Heat-Loss Assessments; we will professionally assess points of heat loss on your home with our Technician who will walk you through your entire home with our Thermal Camera showing you how to implement cost-effective solutions to mitigate or eliminate this Winter’s coldest outside temperatures!
Check out the BEFORE pictures and then come to see the spectacular AFTER's in person at the tour!!
We have spent the last few days helping several of our Client families with the early stages of recovery efforts from the flood. Amongst the devastation we have all felt the renewed sense of community spirit and the kindness and compassion of the entire Calgary community and beyond. In talking with people in these severely flooded areas, we have reached out to provide not only our manpower but our support and expertise in guiding these homeowners as to what steps to take next to rebuild their homes.
The feedback has been overwhelming positive and we have been encouraged to share this with our entire Pinnacle community; even if you haven't been directly affected by the flood, please pass this information on to any of your friends and family that may be dealing with flooded homes and businesses.
I think the most prevalent piece of information we can share with all of you, is that unfortunately along with bringing out the best of the community, an emergency situation also brings out the worst in the scam artists preying on those affected by the devastation. These unscrupulous people will very soon be on the phone and at your door posing as reputable contractors. We caution you – PLEASE DO NOT engage in any work with someone wanting deposits before starting work that cannot produce a written contract! They must also produce a valid City of Calgary Business license, a valid Bonded (pre-paid Contractor's license), and hold a BBB A+ rating in order to mitigate your risk when dealing with them.
Obviously this is an extremely emotional time for all families affected by this flood emergency and the desire to re-build as quickly as possible is on everyone's minds; however hiring a fraudulent operator posing as a legitimate contractor will only add insult to injury. In an effort to help you move forward as quickly and efficiently as possible, we have put together a list of questions, compiled from the recommendations of third party consumer protection organizations that include the CRHBA (Calgary Region Home Builders Association), CMHC (Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation), Better Business Bureau (BBB) and RenoMarkTM. Only the most qualified and reputable companies will be able to answer these questions; establishing the trust necessary to ensure you have a worry free Renovation after all you have been through.
1. Are you a RenoMarkTM Renovator?
2. Are you a member in good standing of the Canadian Home Builder's Association – Calgary Region?
3. Do you abide by the RenoMarkTM and Canadian Home Builders' Association Calgary Region Code of Ethics?
4. Are you registered with the Better Business Bureau; if so what's your rating?
5. Do you have any unresolved or unanswered complaints at your local Better Business Bureau?
6. Do you have Business Liability Insurance, and do you carry Workman's Compensation Insurance?
7. Do you offer a warranty on your work; if so does it comply with RenoMarkTM requirements ?
8. Do you take care of all applicable permits with the City or neighboring MD's?
9. Do you have proper City Licensing as a Contractor?
10. Do you charge a deposit? (If so do you have a pre-paid contractor's license?)
11. Do you know about the lien regulations & requirements of the Alberta Government?
12. Have you been in business 10 years or more?
13. Do you offer Tours of completed projects?
14. Do you have an actual Design Studio where I can compare products?
15. Do you provide a written contract proposal that includes a start date, completion date, full details of the work and material, and the complete cost? (Do you guarantee these details?)
16. What steps do you take to maintain a safe, organized & clean worksite and are you SECOR or COR certified?
To download this complete document that discusses these questions in details, click the following link and review the section DNA Expert Industry Questions:
As well, here is an additional list of resources:
Calgary Updated News On Progress & Services:
Volunteer and Donation Opportunities:
Our heartfelt thoughts and prayers continue to go out to all our neighbours in Calgary and surrounding communities affected by the flood.
We are a week away from our first Renovation Tour of the year on Saturday February 23rd, 2013 from 10am – 4pm in the fabulous community of Kelvin Grove! We are extremely excited about opening this project to the public and very grateful to our amazing Client family for the opportunity to do so!
Click here for the official invitation complete with the address for this upcoming tour: Reno Tour Invite
Here are some more specifics about this incredible project:
Pride of ownership has always been important to these Homeowners. Although they invested considerable effort in maintaining their beautiful family home throughout the years, it had become increasingly apparent that they needed to increase the square footage of the home to accommodate the needs of their growing family of 3 sons. They had a desire to redefine the space to support the changing needs of their family for years to come and truly make it feel like home. Every design choice in this 3200 sq. ft. home was crafted to perfectly compliment this Client family.
- Increase the square footage and reconfigure traffic lines.
- Create an open-concept Kitchen and Great Room.
- Modify the floor plan to include a larger scale Master Bedroom & Ensuite.
- Design an expansive laundry room and mud room.
- Bring aged home up to current code.
- Incorporate a design style featuring contemporary finishes.
- Determine design choices that reflect the Client’s desire to maximize their ROL (Return on Lifestyle); creating spaces that allow the family to flourish for many years to come and ensures their home is their favourite place to be.
How Was The Criteria Met?
- Five level split, located in the exquisite community of Kelvin Grove, was gutted to the studs both on the interior and exterior, to accommodate the magnificent new Master Bedroom and Ensuite on the expanded fifth floor.
- The single car garage was maintained at the request of the Client but the traffic lines were reconfigured, allowing for increased main floor living space. This includes a spectacular open-concept Kitchen connected to the Great Room and a much larger laundry room and mud room.
- The home has been brought up to current code which included the installation of larger windows, spray foam insulation, an updated HVAC system, a new electric hot water tank, new water lines, upgraded electrical services from 100amp to 200 amp and all new smart and audio wiring.
- Spectacular contemporary finishes are throughout the home including glass walls and countertops.
- Return On Lifestyle achieved!
This is Part ‘A’ of the final installment of our 5-part Series designed to overwhelm the odds in your favor when hiring your Renovation Professional for your Home Makeover project.
Given that statistically there are over 3000 touch points in a large scale renovation which include: scores of emails, an enormous paper trail, selection choices, phone calls, site meetings and the like. You should know unequivocally as your project comes in for landing that your Renovation Team has had, and now more than ever, has your Family’s interests at the forefront of their minds. The word INTEGRITY should be part of your descriptive vocabulary; not discussions of horribly derailed timelines, massive cost over-runs and overall nausea at the thought of your project.
Sadly these discussions of disappointment are heard much too often around Dinner tables in Calgary.
Part ‘B’ to be continued on our next posting.
This is the 4th installment of our 5-part Series designed to provide you with some common sense interview questions when selecting a Renovation Professional for your Home Makeover project.
If you’ve followed our previous 3-Star Checklist series and you feel you are confident in your choice of Builder Professional, there are two more ‘Stars’ you need to align before putting ink to your contract. The final two Stars (checklists) cover the ‘During’ and ‘After’ experience you wish to achieve from your Builder on your Custom Home or Renovation project. We will be covering the ‘During’ stage in this posting.
Your experience ‘During’ your project can and should be enjoyable! A few topics we will cover are:
- Project preparation
- Interim living arrangements
- Respect of your property
- Project supervision
- Online access to your project documents
- Project progress reports
- Change protocol
- Project cleanliness
- Timeline guarantees
These topics are more difficult to get answers for as many of these will be your actual experiences; however, a 5-Star Builder should provide all of the above. A great way to experience this first hand is to visit an actual project in progress; we encourage you to insist on seeing at least one or two projects either in an Open-House Pre-Board tour (prior to the installation of drywall), or by walking through a Builder’s construction zone in progress. This will greatly enlighten you on your choice of Builder. Viewing a project during construction truly is a window to the soul of your Builder; ensure you observe the condition of the site, and ask about their Best Practice observance.
Your project preparation should include discussions regarding the Refuse Bin placement. This is the bin utilized for all building debris resulting from the Renovation.
Protection should include:
- extensive use of plywood for driveway/step/deck protection (there is nothing like an oil leak or a destroyed deck to take away the fun of your project!),
- zip walls and plastic draping for furniture and room-to-room dust mitigation,
- foam and hardboard flooring protection should you be Renovating only one section of your home.
If you are intending to occupy your home while your Renovation is in progress, your Builder Professional should offer a ‘plan’ for interim living arrangements. This could include relocating a temporary kitchen to a room or location in your home. If your home makeover is extensive, ask your Builder if they have accounts or a network of contacts for furnished living arrangements. Calgary offers several options for furnished suites providing interim accommodations.
Ask your Builder about their supervision protocol. You should know who your project contact is and how you access updates, change requests and progress. Ideally, an online portal that allows you 24 hour access can truly mitigate the stress of your day to day experience. A single point of access online allowing you to approve your carpet color selections for example or an upgrade to additional pot lights with a click of a button. The freedom to access this anywhere in the world from your Ipad or laptop, contributes to a more organized and stress-free experience.
Insist that absolutely no changes or upgrades occur to your project without your express approval before any work occurs. Do not accept just a verbal approval; insist on follow up paper work. Once again, an online portal eliminates this issue; if your Site Supervisor has an Ipad on site an electronic signature ensures an immediate approval. Similarly, if you are in a remote location, a click of a button and your change is approved – hassle free.
Working with a Builder that employs a Team of Professionals that includes Architectural Designers, Kitchen Professionals, Interior Designers, and Site Supervision Professionals again is an ideal way to ensure your experience will gravitate towards a 5-Star experience. Communication is so incredibly critical during your project; the tighter the Team, the more likely mistakes will be minimalized. Notice we didn’t say things would be perfect; however, there should be a recognizable commitment to excellence that you recognize with each Team member you work with. Commitment to Excellence should be immediately recognized!
As your project progresses, insist that broom-clean is required protocol for the end of each day and at milestones like pre-drywall. Ask your Builder if they vacuum your home top to bottom including each of the stud bays in your outside walls; this ensures less airborne dust and contaminates once your home is complete. Clean sites not only produce a healthier home at completion, but they are also safe sites. For your peace of mind, insist that your Builder/Renovator is COR or SECOR certified.
If completing your project on time and on budget is important to you, ensure you find a Builder that not only guarantees your completion date and your project investment but also has a proven track record of success, and puts this in writing. A Builder with a proven track record of timely delivery is great but engaging one that actually guarantees both completion and costs before your project begins is truly your ticket to ensuring you sleep well during your project.
Just like you, we hear of horror stories all the time that by the completion date of a Renovation or new home build, Homeowners and Builders are at serious odds with one another. Did you know that in cost-plus projects, 8 of 10 are in litigation? This series is designed to help you break that paradigm; by creating a checklist and set of questions allowing you to increase your odds significantly in hiring the very best Builder possible.
Stay tuned for our final star criterion when we discuss what a 5-Star Renovation Experience looks like when your project nears completion and beyond!
Our intent from the beginning of this 5-part Series was to provide you with some common sense interview questions, educated dialogue, and somewhat of a checklist for your family when selecting a Renovation Professional for your Home Makeover project.
If your desire is to truly have a Five-Star Experience, before, during and after your Home transformation project, these keys are designed to provide helpful education as you navigate one of the most challenging endeavors your Family will embark on.
The next checklist will be helpful in the final decision-making process as you choose your Renovation Firm. It provides some basic understanding for you on the ins and outs of our industry and shows you how accomplishing your goals can be achieved; this is critical information that you need to know in order to make the best decision in awarding the right Builder Professional with your project.
If you watch any HGTV you’ll know that sadly it really is like navigating a minefield when attempting to find a Builder/Renovation Specialist that truly has your best interests at heart.
So here it is – Checklist #3:
1) Determine your investment comfort-zone before you begin your interviews; convey this to the Firms you are interviewing early in your discussions. Watch and listen carefully to the response of the Team on the other side of the table; and listen to your intuition; did the feeling of trust erode, or accelerate? If you honestly feel the Builder/Design Team is doing their best to get you the maximum value within your investment comfort-zone, chances are you are in good company.
2) Decide how you would score ROI (Return on Investment) or ROL (Return on Lifestyle). If you plan on being in your home for longer than 10 years, chances are you want to implement ‘Best-Practice’ decisions which include -
- Great quality products installed in your home.
- Environmentally conscious design and construction.
- An extensively enhanced lifestyle as a result of your new Custom Home or Renovation.
These choices are what we call ROL; you may not ever see a true ROI on these choices but your ‘quality of life’ has been enhanced as a result of these choices.
3) Ensure the Firm you are considering is a member in good standing with RenoMark™, BBB & CRHBA. Good standing in these 3 categories mitigates an estimated 50% of your likelihood of a receiving a call from HGTV producers for the wrong reasons.
4) Become acutely aware of pros and cons with Design-Build with Builder accountability/liability to project costs; versus Cost-Plus with Homeowner accountability/liability to project costs. Determine who you wish to OWN that responsibility. Statistically more than 80% of projects that end up in litigation do so as a result of the Homeowner owning the cost accountability. A great question to ask those you are interviewing is “Have you been in court or been sued in the last 15 years?” (Need we to tell you what to do if they answer “Yes”?!)
5) Ensure they have been in business at least 15 years. In Alberta that means they’ve weathered at least one, if not two, economic downturns; chances are they’re financially sound and will still be in business to honor their Warranty obligations.
6) Find out if they operate with a Team of Professionals from an established office or Design Studio. In Calgary, as the White Collar capital of Canada we all know that Professionals SPECIALIZE; your Builder-Team should be no exception. Be wary of a one-person show who says they can do it all.
7) Find out if they have an established record or historical data dating back at least 10 years of delivering projects on time and on budget and ask if they guarantee they will deliver your project both on time and on budget.
8) Ask if they engage in a 3rd Party Customer Satisfaction Survey after projects are completed; and find out if this historical data is available. Nothing tells the real story like a non-biased 3rd Party evaluation; getting references on the other hand will most certainly be cherry-picked.
9) Find out if they have opportunities to tour actual projects; preferably more than one that will also allow you to meet with or converse with the Homeowner.
If you can complete this 3rd Checklist along with the 1st and 2nd we posted in this series; and your Builder/Renovator meets “all of the above”, you should be smiling as they are scoring 3-Stars out of a possible 5-Stars!
When your project is completed, laughter, excitement and hugs should be common-place, not court rooms and lawyers! Your family should be thrilled with the experience from start to finish!
Check back for future postings when we present the ‘4th Star’ in your quest for a 5-Star Renovation Experience!
We are continuing our series on how to achieve a Five-Star Renovation Experience using the deliberate resort/hotel analogy. We suggest you determine at the START of your Builder selection process, how many ‘Stars’ you are wishing to experience before, during and after your Home Makeover. These three distinct stages are comprised of:
- Before – Interview & Discovery Process
- During – Project Construction Period
- After – Warranty & Service
For now, we will focus on the Before Stage. During your interview with the Builder you are considering, followed by the Design Discovery process, ask yourself these questions:
1. On a scale of 1-10, how important is it for you to determine exactly what space planning, aesthetics, and key home comfort combinations/solutions make the most sense for your family?
2. Is there unquestionable professionalism, integrity, care, concern and intense dialogue regarding your Family’s needs taking place? Does every meeting, phone call, site tour, team member introduction, increase your TRUST or are there early warning signs?
3. Are there clear indications that you are dealing with Professionals? Are they operating from a Professional office setting or at their kitchen table or the tailgate of their pickup truck?
To err is human, we all get that. However, simple things like not receiving a prompt follow up call, showing up late for appointments, lack of organized meeting agendas, poor quality promotional materials or online presence, and overall lack of professionalism is a clear sign that you will not receive the 5-Star home transformation experience you are hoping for.
In summary, our second ’Star’ criterion would be to expect absolute engagement from every member of the Builder’s team of professionals (Architect, Renovation Consultant, Project Manager, Kitchen Designer, and Interior Designer). They need to be able to capture the essence of your present and future family needs. You should expect clear tools and an inclusive questioning document or process that truly digs up nuances and design needs that you may not have initially thought of. The simple truth is, the more intense the Design Discovery Process, the more likely your final results will meet each and every requirement for every member of your family, which translates to outstanding value and return on your Renovation investment.
Every member of your family should be validated and feel important and you should unequivocally feel like the Team you are working with understands how you want to FEEL, as you step into your newly Renovated or Custom Built home!
Recently we have been discussing the idea of what distinguishes a Five-Star Renovation experience using the analogy of a hotel/resort experience.
Follow along this blog series to discover what you should be looking for to ensure you receive a Five-Star home-makeover experience with your chosen Renovation Professional!
To begin with you must first determine what caliber of ‘Renovation Store’ you are shopping at? Or using the analogy of a hotel/resort; how many ‘Stars’ are you willing to invest in? Would it be feasible to think that choosing a Five-Star builder would reflect in the outcome of your Renovation experience?
If you watch any HGTV you’ll know that sadly, finding a Renovation firm with integrity really is like navigating a minefield. Is it even possible to mitigate your risks upwards of 95%?
Having spent over 28 years in this industry; it’s still amazing how many Consumers have the paradigm that Renovations are somehow different than any other investment or purchase. Worse still is the sad fact that shortcuts and shoddy building practices behind the walls are largely unnoticed or unknown by many Consumers; yet it’s these elements that contribute to the comfort, quality, safety and peace of mind that comes as a result of a qualityfocused, versus a quantity focused Builder.
Therefore, our first ‘Star’ criterion offered here today as a way to avert risk when awarding a Renovation firm your project, is to ask or better yet be offered, a tour of a home project BEFORE the drywall is installed. Even better would be to have each one of the experts involved in the installation of each sub-trade discipline be on site to discuss the quality of their installation. At Pinnacle Group, we refer to these tours as Preboard tours and we regularly open the doors to the public to view these projects in progress. Showcasing our projects in progress is essential because it provides insight into Pinnacle’s attention to detail and concern with every aspect of the project. For us it is not just about the finished aesthetics; it is about the entire functioning of the home. We cannot live our creedCreating Homes For Life™, without complete due diligence to the entire build process. Attendees of these tours are amazed as they cannot believe the level of craftsmanship and the intricacies of the decisions that are incorporated at this point in the build process that significantly affect the entire home. Seeing this first hand provides a whole different view point into the level of commitment we have to building the very best for our Clients; as well, it demonstrates the incredible quality of our Trades.
Hopefully this series of posts designed to educate and challenge paradigms will help you navigate your way to a successful Renovation or Custom Home Build. More ‘Star’ criterion to be continued in future posts!
We are honoured to be a part of the panel of experts helping Consumers demystify the home Renovation process as well as find out how to maximize your Renovation dollar and project impact.
This seminar will provide you with valuable information regarding project financing, planning, permits, dollar
return and costing of both small and large home Renovation projects. Tips and tricks as well as what to avoid to ensure a successful Renovation will also be discussed!
There are only 60 tickets available for this incredible event so don’t wait to register! You can register at Calgary Infills or call 403.240.2020. We hope to see you there!
DATE: Saturday, November 3, 2012
TIME: 9:15 am to 11: 15 am
COST: FREE to the first 60 homeowners
$20 dollar donation from building and
real estate industry members
With the recent launch of the Pinnacle Group of Companies lasted marque – HomesForLife™, we have expanded our team and have assembled a dedicated team of associates that are truly committed to providing the very best Customer experience that you have come to count on with Pinnacle Group. Our HomesForLife™ division is dedicated to servicing our Clients with specialized projects such as room-specific Renovations, one-off aesthetic improvements, custom built-ins, and home maintenance.
Chadwick Johnson joins us as our HomesForLife™ Project Manager and brings with him a wealth of experience having spent the past 23 years in many aspects of the construction industry. Chadwick’s career path includes growing up in a construction family completing major restaurant makeovers. He has spent many years working with a Custom Home Builder as well as with Shane Homes in the Service and Warranty department. In the past seven years he has owned and operated a successful Renovation Maintenance company in the Chestermere area. Not only is he an extremely talented, multi-faceted tradesman, he is committed to Client centered care and has also been engaged in providing consulting services within the industry. Chadwick has generated much respect in the industry and as a member of the Pinnacle team; we are delighted to have him managing this new division!
For more information on HomesForLife™ visit our website MyHomeForLife.ca or read our ongoing blogs where we will be introducing the HomesForLife™ service offerings in more detail!