5 Ways to Add Square Feet to Your Life... Without Packing a Box



You have a community you don’t want to leave. Your kids love their school and their friends.

You don’t want to mess with your commute to work. If it’s not broke, don’t fix it. Right?


But….you say, an extra 200-500 square feet would be SOOO GREAT!


We get it! People grow out of their spaces all the time. Families grow, guests come to stay, teenagers need their domain, your tastes change. Maybe you never needed a home office before, and now you started a home business, or just crave a quiet, private work space.


There are ways to renovate to add square feet, and not have to leave behind all you love about your home and community.


Here are five ways we help our clients expand their living space:


1. Finish the basement. This is always a great option, and increases resale value. A finished basement opens up invitations for house guests, keeps toy chaos out of the main living areas, and can be the perfect home theatre winter reprieve. In Alberta, the average cost for finishing a full basement hovers between 40,000 and 60,000, depending on what level of finishes you pick and the size of your space. James Bond marathon, here we come!


2. Build an addition. Whether you decide to bump out or build up, there are a few things to consider and talk over with your contractor before you build an addition. Bylaws and zoning will play a part in your home addition decisions. Some neighbourhoods have height restrictions on structures and they have to be within a certain distance from the property line. Find out what your property boundaries are, or have a contractor plan an addition that will comply with the rules of your property.


3. Level your rooms. It was once popular to separate rooms with steps down or up into the next. Though it doesn’t add much square footage, levelling out the floor and using consistent flooring throughout will actually make your home feel bigger, more spacious and modern.


4. Say goodbye to walls. Gone are the days of “front rooms” (thank goodness!) with their tea trays, pristine cream couches and vacuum-scuffed carpets, waiting for the tread of the next honoured guest. We have seen a cultural shift to minimalist mindset; homeowners are rethinking how they want to live in their homes, how they want to entertain. Don’t be afraid to take down some non-essential walls and ditch the dining room. Extend that kitchen island and give your guests room to hang out where they really want to be: With you!


5. Extend outdoor living space. Whatever you can dream up for your outdoor space is truly possible these days. Extend your deck and spill out into your yard for the summer, or add a sunroom or terrarium to increase indoor space during the winter months. If you’re pining for an all-season room, make sure your windows are triple pane to keep the heat in in winter and out in summer. Want to expand your deck? Go with a composite decking material (like our favourite, TimberTech!) to reduce maintenance and achieve the look of real wood. When we Edmontonians only have a few short months of summer, we have to make them count!


The reasons to increase square footage in your home are endless and personal. Maybe the best part of adding square feet is getting the best of both worlds: more room to live and no need to pack up and move!


Wondering what potential your home has for additional square footage? Call us and find out!


What the Heck is a Change Order?


Change Order.


Sounds like fast-food drive-thru lingo. Or a switching of the guards on duty at the local prison?


Nope. It’s actually a key piece of communication between renovation contractor and client, a rubber-stamped telegram, of sorts, requiring immediate action.


Change orders document all changes in the work that was outlined in the original contract or estimate.


There are usually two change order scenarios:


1. Sometimes there are unexpected construction additions or corrections needed. This is a contractor-driven change order.


We don’t always know what we will find behind your old walls, or the state of structural beams and piping. If structural beams are rotting or your HVAC piping fell apart and is doing a good job of heating the inside of your wall instead of your bedroom, that work requires a change order.


This is why we ask all our clients to have a contingency in their budget. That way, if there are any unexpected surprises, you don’t have to sacrifice your floor-to-ceiling glass tiled shower to stay on budget.


2. A client-driven change order occurs when there are additions to the scope of work, or changes in the finish selections.


For example, you decide your champagne taste just can’t resist the quartz countertop and you ditch the laminate, or it turns out extending backsplash tile to the laundry room ceiling isn’t in the budget. All major and minor, small or large changes require a change order.


These handy docs also keep the timeline for project completion fair. If structural beams do need replacing, that will add days to the end of your original projected completion date. Also, change orders keep standards in place for safe work practices and eliminate any confusion for trades working onsite. When a change order comes about, all our tradespeople are made aware, and can therefore adjust their timeline accordingly.


As with all changed decisions, the SOONER the better. You may think mentioning the extra kitchen plug-in you want isn’t a big deal. IT IS! Don’t sit on it. Pow-wow with your contractor and designer if you are uncertain; it will cost a lot less to install that plug-in BEFORE the drywall goes in, paint goes on and cabinetry is in place.


We always build contingencies into every plan. It’s impossible to know what is behind the drywall, buried in the backyard, hiding beyond the moat, and we like to keep our clients abreast of any issues and then take care of them.


In our change orders, we outline your original allowance, your upgrade (or a downgrade—YES! We have cost-savings change orders! That’s right people, sometimes you SAVE money on a renovation!) and the difference in cost.


One thing is certain, your renovation job WILL have change orders. Don’t forget to ask your questions, speak up sooner than later, and get your change order signed as soon as you can to avoid delay in your project timeline. Change orders may seem like a hassle, but they are a truly awesome way to track where your money is going when changes occur in your project.



3 Principles of Collaboration in Interior Design

Everyone you will ever meet knows something you don’t.

                                                                              --Bill Nye


We are always learning from our clients. Every project we dive into brings learnings, ways to better our business practices and make the renovation process easier and smoother.


We like to think of ourselves, the Interior Designers, as the glue in a renovation construction project—yes, we provide la pièce de résistance—the drawings—but we also ask one of the most important questions: How do you want your home to make you feel?


To be able to answer that question successfully for every client, we rely on these

 3 Principles of Collaboration every day at Revolving Rooms.


1. Get into the trust tree.

The best part and sometimes toughest part of our job is building trust. Interior Designers take the leap-of-faith out of big decisions, such as, what kind of wood to install on the main floor of your home, but that takes trust. And, it’s tough to trust someone you just met!


First, we work on creating a safe space to talk freely and be honest; a space where creativity is unlimited, no idea goes ignored or unexplored, and no one is afraid to get personal.


We want to know the details! Who is the cook in the family? What room in the house do you spend most of your time with the kids? What do you value? What don’t you value? Favourite travel destination? Why you love a certain piece of jewelry? The meal you would choose if you were stranded on an island—And who’s the special someone sharing the meal with you (wink wink).


All these great things influence your lighting, paint colours, cabinetry ornaments, and shape of your bathroom tile, believe it, or not! These details are like an Interior Designer code that informs us about the space you want to live in and how you want it to make you feel.



2. Candid communication.

We need to know what colours you love, but more importantly, what colours you hate. (Remember that bubble gum pink bedroom you grew up in—yeah, let’s not make that mistake again.) We all know the most important aspect of communication is not talking, but LISTENING.


One of the first things we find out is why is your current space not working for you?

Then, what are the limitations of your space? Too bright? Too dark?


Interior Designers play the part of sounding board, psychologist, and treasure chest holding all your ideas. We are both masters of detail and agents of action. Listening is also critical when clients aren’t sure what they like and don’t like. Know that your Interior Designer is there to coach you to achieve some clarity, facilitate decision making, and make your vision a reality.


But, your Interior Designer is there to help you execute the ideas in your head, not read your mind! So don’t be afraid to ask for what you want, voice your dislikes, divulge every detail and secret desire! Remember, it’s a collaboration, no one’s feelings will be hurt.



3. Be honest about who you can work with.

We have learned over the years to get honest about relationships. Let’s face it, not every kid on your childhood playground was your BFF! Same thing goes in the professional world—not everyone is meant to work together.


Your Interior Designer should feel like a best friend. After all, you are going to share some intimate discussions (“So, two showerheads, hey?” Nice.) You are likely to dive into some hot topics, and we might be witness to some domestic disagreements and heated discussions. We have seen and heard it all! And that is why it’s essential to feel comfortable with your design team.



Renovating your home is often touted as a stressful, uprooting experience, but, in actuality, it can be a blast when you have the right Interior Designer on board. We all trust that our lawyers, mechanics, and plumbers are well trained and educated and will do the best job they can do. Once you find that perfect match of an Interior Designer, don’t be afraid to jump in and trust the person you chose to work with and his or her process.


And don’t forget to have some fun!


Where’s My Contractor?

Finding the contractor you can count on can be like a game of Where’s Waldo? ® Napping-Man-with-Beer-Gut or Creeping-Burglar-with-Mask seem to dominate the page, and as a kid, the man in red stripes and coke-bottle glasses could be frustratingly elusive.


For some homeowners looking for a renovation contractor, finding the right person can feel like a similar experience.


We’ve all heard the fly-by-nighter stories—the contractor who takes a deposit and flees into the abyss, or starts a job and leaves a homeowner with demo’d walls, exposed electrical, and no toilet (the WORST!).


But there are ways to never caught in this mess!


Not many people know,

In Alberta, it is illegal for any contractor to take an up-front deposit without being a licenced contractor.


Alberta actually has strict rules for prepaid contractors—they aren’t allowed to ask for cash up front if they are not licenced. In fact, under Alberta’s handy Fair Trade Act, contractors who ask for deposit and are working without a licence can be fined up to $300K, and, in some serious or repeat offences, face prison time. Crazy! But good for us, and good for you.


So, let’s get to the good stuff—How do you find out if a contractor is licenced?


1. Start by asking if he or she is surety bonded.


Service Alberta uses the terms “surety bond”, “security,” “letter of credit,” and “cash or term deposit” to describe the money they withhold from a contractor in the event a consumer suffers financial loss due to negligence of a prepaid contracting business.


2. Find out if the contract they present to you has been approved by Service Alberta.


Every contract must contain at the very least, scope of work, start and completion date of the job and location, pay schedule and how monies are to be exchanged. Some contractors will add their own miscellany.


For example, we like to ask permission to use the email you provide us for communication purposes, and permission to share progress and completion photos on our websites.


We also present waivers that protect us and our clients from any unforeseen liabilities on the work site, just in case Jack the Cat makes a clean escape out the front door, or rogue neighbourhood children show up and need babysitting while we are working on site.


3. Go to the Service Alberta website to look up the name of the company and contractor you are looking to hire.


4. Phone the Service Alberta Contact Centre at 1-877-427-4088 for confirmation of whether a contractor’s license is up-to-date.



At Diamond Contracting and Revolving Rooms, our Prepaid Contractor Business Licences are renewed every two years, and during the renewal, we are responsible for providing an updated copy of our contract. Service Alberta then approves our contract, and we are granted the Prepaid Contractor Business Licence.  


We are sometimes asked by clients to change the terms of our contracts, but, in fact, we are not permitted to do so without it being approved by Service Alberta.  



Other ways to tell if your contractor is legit?


Better Business Bureau (BBB) and Canadian Home Builders Association (CHBA) memberships are a good indication that your contractor considers outward, public accountability an important part of their business and profession.


So, it turns out a good contractor isn’t as elusive as that little guy in red stripes, as long as you do your homework!


Questions about this blog post? Don’t be afraid to contact us!