About the project…

In addition to the actual construction, we provided consulting for fixture and design selections; both interior and exterior.

A zoomer couple was anticipating retirement, and required an open, bright space reflecting the home’s original charm. We maintained the original charm of the home by duplicating narrow oak flooring, stained trim and stair elements. Radiant heat system was replaced with an efficient high velocity unit with ducts traveling inconspicuously through open-web joists to eliminate the need for bulkheads throughout the complete main floor.

GREEN?   Oh we’d say!

As our first Integrated Design Process project we convened designer, engineer, energy rater, HVAC and client at the pre-plan stage to design and build the most efficient, durable renovation possible. Pre and post energy audits showed improvements from EnerGuide:

Efficiency Reading from a 47 to a 78 !
ACH went from 9 to 3.6 !

HRV system was installed to provide fresh air while reducing energy consumption. Proposed skylights were reduced in size to minimize load on heating system.  Drain water heat recovery pipe was supplied by Enbridge. Bricks, doors, hardware and light fixtures were salvaged for reuse.

This project was a top 3 finalist in the city for the BILD “Best Green Renovation” award.

Check out the following candid shots from the renovation!

Front entrance of the bungalow before renovation.

The front entrance was totally upgraded with new stairs and covered porch.

Beautiful, energy efficient windows let in lots of natural light.

The back of the house was closed off from the interior space visually and functionally.

New sliding glass doors from the kitchen extend the living space outdoors.

The original bathroom was small and cramped.

Original mosaic tile section was rescued and re-used in the new bathroom.

The old tile section and new shower enclosure juxtapose the old and new.

The skylight brings natural light to the bathroom and shower enclosure.

The original, inefficient kitchen layout with old tile and cabinets.

The thoroughly modern, open-concept kitchen is beautiful and functional.

Wonderful natural light flows into the kitchen making it airy and bright.

Note the old radiator and how dark the livingroom feels.

The floors and fireplace were completely covered to protect them during construction.

See how much brighter the room feels after the renovation while retaining its old world charm.

The staircase has been fully integrated into the design by carefully matching the original woodwork.

The window at the landing and a new skylight flood the stairs with natural light.

Feedback from the client…

November 7, 2012

To Whom it may concern:

The intent of the renovation was to convert a two bedroom bungalow built in 1941 in the Toronto suburb of Leaside. We set out to achieve the additional living space that a second floor in the home would provide and to renovate the existing main floor to alter the use of that level. The house originally had hot water heating and while this was efficient and clean, it did not permit the addition of things such as air – conditioning. The other issue was outdated electrical wiring throughout the house (including original knob and tube wiring) that limited what could be done with the current (i.e. pre – renovation) electric wiring. In short, there were several challenges which faced us, and we came to the conclusion that a full – scale renovation would be required.

After a search of potential alternatives and contractors, we identified Sandra Baldwin’s Lifetime Contractors as a possible choice for the work we contemplated. For one thing we wanted to engage a design/build contractor who strictly did renovations (not someone who is a new house builder that also does renovations). We wanted some level of confidence that our chosen contractor will have ‘seen it all before’ in terms of the things that can arise in a renovation. Also we wanted someone whose passion was in seeing a home transformed from a ‘before’ to an ‘after’ to fit the tastes and needs of  its owners. This passion was definitely there, not only in Sandra but with the entire crew’s engagement in the project.

After an initial meeting with Sandra, we were provided with several references to contact and assist us in determining whether Lifetime was a sensible choice for our needs. One reference, in particular, impressed us. When I asked them the question about whether they had received any comments or complaints from their neighbours about the work Lifetime had done on his property, his answer was a definitive ‘no’. This impressed me because I know what it is like to live next to a construction site. Another one that impressed us was one that did not have much time to talk but offered to cut to the chase by saying they were very happy with the work and would not hesitate to work with Sandra and her team again. Enough said, which was great because this allowed us to move on with the job at hand.

As we entered into the design process we were impressed with the attention we were given and the interest that Sandra and her architectural designer took in the helping us through the process. For one thing the house had certain original features which we wished to keep, or at the least keep in essence, and they were very supportive and helpful in this regard. Of course there were a few back and forth attempts to get it the way we envisioned but Sandra guided us well on what could be reasonably accommodated by the budget, our needs, structural requirements and good design principles.

Energy efficiency is a core priority that Lifetime brings to its jobs and given the age of the house there was a lot of room for improvement that we were very interested in achieving. One of the suggestions made by Lifetime was to apply an integrated design process with specialists in the energy field to advise on the use of new technology and methods of construction. Again, we were always offered practical suggestions in terms of meeting both our goals and our budget. We were regularly consulted on our needs and what could be offered. The results surpassed expectations – we expect to use less energy in our new home despite a doubling of its size.

Lifetime took the lead in dealing with the City on our behalf which was a very nice responsibility to have someone else shoulder, especially as it was at a time that a city strike threatened to hold things up. Because of the nature of the project we did not need to obtain planning exemptions. Nevertheless there are many steps to getting a permit approved and Sandra made the process as easy as possible for us and kept us advised at all times as to the status. It obviously pleased her when they were successful in obtaining the required permissions and this was demonstrated by the way she delivered the news.

When it came to creating and managing the actual contract throughout the project Sandra showed the utmost in professionalism. She was open with us about questions and issues that arose of a contractual nature and ensured that our understanding was accurate and our expectations were realistic at all times.

Sandra  treated us and everyone involved or close to the project with respect and this was carried through on-site by her crew at all times. At the initiation of the work, Sandra and Vaughn (Project Supervisor) went to the adjoining neighbours and informed them of the project, and made sure that they had the right contact information should a situation arise that they needed to reach someone with a concern. This, for me, reinforced the comments I had solicited when speaking with one of Lifetime’s references (see above). It is worth noting at this point, that, to my knowledge, not one neighbour has raised any issue of concern about the work and its progress. I have spoken directly with my neighbours and none of them has expressed to me that any problems have arisen (other than true curiosity about what was going on inside that house!). In fact, we actually received unsolicited comments from neighbours that all the workers were courteous and that they did a good job of keeping the area clean as possible.

At the commencement of the construction phase, Lifetime gave us a targeted time line as to when we could expect the work to be done. From everything that I have seen, that time line has been strictly adhered to, to the point that workers have been in on the weekends to ensure that the work remained on schedule. We visited the site on a regular basis and have noted two things. First, on each and every day there has been someone on site doing some work. Second, and more importantly, there has been demonstrable progress on almost a day – to – day basis. Every time we have visited the site, progress has been noted.

Sandra gave generously of her time to help with the selection of building finishes. Her advice and her wealth of sources was very much appreciated and there is no doubt that her assistance in these selections helped our decision-making which in turn helped the project keep to its timelines.

During the course of the construction, Lifetime maintained regular communications to keep us up – to – date with respect to what was happening and what was projected to happen the next week. It is important to note that these updates were accurate and adhered to, and if not, full explanations were given for any shortcomings. We never had to question if the dedication was there to get the job done on time, as targeted. This was worth a great deal to us as we were living in temporary quarters that we didn’t want to have to extend.

I can’t complete this letter without mentioning our great satisfaction with the results. In many ways our new home actually surpasses our hopes and expectations and we put this down to the high standards that Lifetime Contractors work by – they would see the things that could be done to produce a better result, even before we saw them. It was just part of the doing the job right. It was also evident in the other tradespeople and suppliers Sandra brought on to the job which is testament to her strong cultivation of trusted working relationships over the years.

In closing I just want to say that without exception, one of the questions that everyone asked when they found out what we were doing was ‘How do you find working with the contractor?’ Answer: We couldn’t be more pleased  – with the people and with the work.

Best Regards,

Peter Hutcheon

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Posted on

March 9, 2022