Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Mike Holmes on Modern Homes

Yesterday, I posted a great book review of Mike's "Holmes Inspection" book. In the review, the author talked about Mike's "build from the inside out" philosophy, as opposed to just worrying about the fit and finish of the home. In this recent article written by Mike, he talks about his idea of building "modern." To most people, the term modern applies to style, finish, and furnishings, but to Mike it means something a little different. When Mike thinks modern, he thinks about the latest and greatest building technology and materials. Structure isn't very sexy to the average homeowner, but in Mike's eyes, there's no point in having a beautiful interior without protecting it from the exterior. A person can pick the fanciest and most expensive tiles for his kitchen and bathroom, but if they're not properly installed using the correct materials, they will shift and crack. It's also important to know that the latest and greatest building technology is only as good as the contractor. If your contractor uses the best building materials but doesn't know enough about how to install them, you're in big trouble.

From the National Post:
Mike Holmes: How to keep your modern lovable

Mike Holmes | 03/09/13 | Last Updated: 30/08/13 4:26 PM ET

A lot of homeowners say they want a “modern” home. But what does that really mean? Is it a modern look or a modern build?

When most homeowners think of modern they’re usually concerned about the finishes — state-of-the-art appliances, the latest and greatest in bathroom and kitchen fixtures, lighting, flooring and so on. This is fine and I get it. If you have the money, why not?

But what I don’t get is homeowners spending all their money on “modern” finishes and not thinking about the construction that protects everything — including the fancy finishes — and makes it last.

The building and renovation industry is always changing. New products, materials and practices are constantly being introduced. Even building code changes, reflecting changes in the environment and the conditions in which we work and build.

There are new or “modern” building practices that help protect your home and keep it looking good for years. For example, using ice and water shield to protect the roof; PinkWood for its mould, moisture and fire-resistant properties; or Schluter®-DITRA underlayment to prevent tiles from shifting, grout from cracking and to protect the subfloor from water damage.

But modern also means new, so not everyone is going to know about these new products and how to use them properly. So choose your contractor carefully. That means doing the research, talking to the right experts and asking the right questions.

Bottom line: anyone you hire — whether it’s a contractor, designer, builder or architect — should be helping you make smart decisions for your home.

For example, when it comes to tiles, “modern” isn’t always better. New tile designs have a tendency to get discontinued, so if one cracks in a couple of years you might not be able to replace it. Getting a few spares is a good idea.

Big windows are another big trend in modern homes. They let in the light but they can also cause potential heat loss or gain. The bigger the window the more important it is to make sure it’s properly insulated, sealed and that the structure around it can support the weight sitting on top of it.

The good news is that “modern” big windows are better made than old ones. You can get windows with low-e, triple-glazed glass and argon gas in between the panes to help stop heat loss or gain.

I’m also seeing more curved walls in newer homes. Constructing a curved wall is more labour intensive, which means more money at the end of the day. And if you have a wall that bends, the baseboards and crown moulding will need to bend too. Can it be done? Yes. But again, it requires more work and it will cost you.

A modern home nowadays has more open space and fewer walls. That means using the right materials and proper structures that can carry the appropriate weight along long stretches. The best are steel beams but they are very, very expensive, especially the long ones.

So what some contractors will do is use LVLs (laminated veneer lumber) or TJI floor joists to carry that weight over longer spans, so you don’t need as many walls. The downside is that LVLs and TJIs tend to burn quicker because of the adhesives in them. I’m not saying they shouldn’t be used, but your contractor should tell you what you’re getting and why.

Another thing to remember is that modern can also mean trendy. If you choose to do a modern reno you might want to change things within a few years — especially if you’re thinking of reselling. Construction and trends don’t mix, unless you have boatloads of money. Not to mention all the extra waste it creates.

To me modern building is about protecting your home better, making it last, and using the right products and building practices that help do that — old and new.

Your home shouldn’t just look good; it should be good. You should learn what it takes to get the look you want and the protection you need.

Catch Mike Holmes in an all-new season of Holmes Makes It Right, Tuesdays at 9 p.m. on HGTV. For more information, visit hgtv.ca. For more information on home renovations, visit makeitright.ca.

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