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Distinction is in the Details

It is easy for a general contractor to say they have ‘an eye for detail’ but what does this really mean to the general public? It is a simple catch phrase that is easier said than done. It captures people’s attention quickly because there is a general assumption that detail oriented means trustworthy and meticulous. We both know this is a characteristic we all want in a contractor but we rarely know what to look for and ask about prior to hiring a contractor.
It’s all about the details.

At BlueKey, we lead by example through our core values. Of particular interest to this blog article is the one we value most, being meticulous. We pride ourselves on having created a process that puts our values at the forefront of everything.

Enough with the sales pitch. Get to the details.

The Screening Process

Don’t let personality win the race. Get tough with questions! Ask to tour a site. Check to see if the site is clean and organized. Ask about their process. How does the contractor describe their process to you, in detail or in vague terms? Ask for specifics! Don’t forget to ask about their standards too! What are they? What’s the process around remedying things that don’t meet your standards? Do your standards and theirs’ align?

But what about my budget? Isn’t that the most important thing?

To help ease your renovation woes, pay attention to the details from the moment you pick up the phone. Worry less about price in the beginning and concentrate more on the details. The price will work itself out in the long run.

The Contract

The real giveaway, if a contractor has an eye for detail or not, is their contract. How many lines in their contract are there? How detailed is the contract? Does the contract speak to specifications, product details, timelines and the overall flow of the project? Yes, a longer contract may be overwhelming to read, but it is in your best interest to review a more detailed contract than a shorter one.

The Completed Renovation

The shining moment for any contractor is the finished product. How does it look? Get up close and personal and look at things like, grout lines, flooring seams, seams on counter tops etc. Is everything plumb and square? Do not just look at the superficial renovation. Take out your level and magnifying glass if you need it. Hold your contractor accountable to their eye for detail.

The Deficiencies List

A post renovation walkthrough is essential but how this process is handled is crucial to the overall satisfaction of a project. It is all about the details yet again. Do you get a sticky note pad of your own to mark what you call deficiencies? Is there alignment on what is deemed deficient? Do they give a detailed timeline of when you may expect the deficiencies to be completed?

Done settle for mediocrity, set your standards high and have your contractor meet them.

Benefits to Doing Multi-Room Remodelling

If you are thinking about doing a multi-room remodeling of your home, you will achieve the best results if you contract with a design-build remodeling firm to see your project to completion. With 58% of homeowners planning to spend money on home improvement projects this year, it is no surprise that design-build contractors are reporting an increase in multi-room remodeling projects.

Today, homeowners are more inclined to remodel more rooms in their houses, as opposed to the conventional practice of remodeling the major rooms only, say kitchen and living room. Multi-room remodeling allows homeowners to get more from a remodeling project and add life and glamour to other rooms too. A multi-room remodeling gives you the chance to consider several options at once — you may want to combine two rooms, while dividing others.

Design-build remodellers make multi-room remodelling a success because, as both designers and builders, they can make design changes in different rooms without altering the overall aesthetics of your house. Remodelling multiple rooms in your house can go wrong in many ways if done without proper preparation or trying to DIY. You may tamper with the electrical or plumbing system, which could cost you extra to have it redone.

Multi-room remodelling projects are more complex compared to a single remodelling project, like kitchen remodels, because they require a deep understanding of the architecture of the whole house. Understandably, you will get more utility from remodelling multiple rooms in your house, compared to a single-room remodel.

You stand to gain the following advantages from multi-room remodelling.

1. Allows You to Fix Structural Flaws

After living in a house for a long period of time, you identify random structural flaws that you want to improve. These are the minor flaws that do not hugely affect the overall design of the house but are still reasonably visible. Maybe you don’t like the positioning of the windows in your bedroom, or you would like to expand your bathroom to fit a larger bathtub. To get these changes done properly, engage a design-build remodeler. He/she might even offer more ideas to make your home improvement more elegant.

2. Achieves a More Cohesive Design

If you choose to remodel your kitchen, hallways, and the living room, you want the renovations to achieve a subtle uniform effect. Having one design-build firm do all the renovations at once will result in a uniform look in the kitchen, hallway, and the living room. When someone is moving around the house, he/she will not notice the different renovations made in each room, because of the uniformity achieved by the multi-room renovations. Multi-room renovations achieve more cohesive designs that complement the overall look of your home.

3. Renovations Are More Manageable

Considering the living and social inconveniences caused by any house renovations, it makes it much easier to have multiple renovations done in one project rather than separately. If you are remodeling your bathroom, living room, and bedroom, you want the remodeling done in tandem so that you don’t have to keep moving every time. With multi-room renovations, you will only be inconvenienced one time and then return to normal living after the renovations are complete in all the rooms you wanted.

4. Gives You More Value for Money

Having a large scope of renovation work gives you more bargaining power when you are talking budget with your remodeling contractor. Remodeling companies, just like other businesses, take advantage of buying materials in bulk. As such, when you engage them for multi-room renovations, you are likely to enjoy greater discounts.

For homeowners who are looking to get more utility from their homes, multi-room renovations are their preferred home improvement projects. Architectural designs for home renovations are improving and supporting more complex multi-room renovations, as more homeowners seek far-reaching home improvements.

BlueKey Design Build

Why Effective Communication is Vital to Successful Remodelling

BlueKey Design Build, takes pride in our communication with our clients. We feel that a good relationship and trust all begin with clear, concise communication.

Effective communication is vital to the successful completion of any renovation or new build project. Good communication can improve teamwork and lead to better collaboration. Poor communication can result in misunderstandings, delays and sometimes increased job costs of building contractor.

Being able to transmit a message so it is received and understood by the intended recipients is of the utmost importance. Seems simple enough, right? If you’ve ever played the Telephone Game you know it’s not always that easy. The message usually gets misheard a few times and then changes the message completely!

Communication throughout all aspects of your project is very important to us. For this reason, every project is assigned a Project Manager and Designer to create a budget & design plan. When we’re ready to begin building your project we also assign a Site Superintendent and Carpenter to your job site. Throughout the process our Team uses face to face, phone, txt, email, project documents and our BuilderTrend app.

In addition to establishing a clear chain of command for communication, determining the best methods of communication to use, and we also discuss with our clients how often they would like to receive information regarding the project.

Our Team also understands that being good at communicating is a skill that can be improved upon with practice and training.

Overall, we want every project to go as smoothly as possible, and working out any details beforehand is beneficial. Open and honest communication is always key! We have high expectations for our team members, and by using these guidelines we know your project will be a success!

Warm Regards

BlueKey Design Build

Client Profile – Meet Sharon and Dave

Meet Sharon and her husband, Dave. They are a client of BlueKey Design Build. Sharon hired Ed to build a 2-story addition on their home.

That first project included adding a family room, master suite, plus another bathroom to accommodate her growing family. Since then we’ve also remodelled her kitchen, basement, garage and a bathroom remodel. Sharon is not only a client but a cheerleader for BlueKey, by referring several family members, friends and neighbours.

Why did you originally choose to hire Ed and BlueKey Design Build? And why do you continue to choose them?

We had several proposals for our addition, but when Ed came over we just felt it was right, there was an immediate connection. He’s kind, compassionate and he really listened to what we wanted and needed. It was such a huge project and we were concerned about hiring the right person. You get more than just a construction company when you work with BlueKey. They really become part of your family. We love the transformation of our tiny bungalow into a home our family could grow into.

What’s been your favorite part of working with BlueKey?

It’s hands-down the people. Ed is an amazing soul and he attracts really good people. Even his subcontractors are great. When your living in your house through a remodel project you have to trust the people you’re inviting to be around your family. We’re just thrilled to be having Kurt to do our bathroom remodel! I hope we get to see Sanchez dance.

What advice would you offer to someone considering a remodel of their home?

Remember whoever you hire you’re inviting them into your home for the duration of the project. You have to feel comfortable with their daily presence in your home. You can’t put a dollar amount on that piece of the process. BlueKey is professional and kind and their workmanship is top notch and first rate. Ed stands behind everything they do and Kurt and JP makes sure everything is done right.

We’re Hiring at BlueKey Design Build, Remodelling Experts in London, Ontario

We are actively searching for the best and most dependable people to join our TEAM here at BlueKey Design Build! Do you want to put your talents to work for a company with a stellar reputation and strong connections with each other and our clients? Are you looking to grow professionally and be challenged to learn and do more?
Having the best people working with us makes what we do more than a job; we are a Team…we are a FAMILY!

At BlueKey Design Build fostering relationships and having fun is part of our culture. We work together to build our clients’ dreams while being dedicated to the growth and job satisfaction of each team member.
If you are a team player, have a strong work ethic, are responsible, skilled in your craft, interested in career growth and longevity within the same organization, and ready to work for a premier remodeling company, we’d love to talk to you!

Currently we are seeking new team members skilled in:

* Painter – there is no project we do that doesn’t involve paint!
* Experienced in drywall repairs
* Adept at painting using airless sprayer equipment and brushing trim
* Proficient in painting walls and exteriors
* 3-5 years experience preferred
* Tile Setter
* Experienced with installation of tile for floors, tub surrounds, detailed backsplashes and shower waterproofing systems
* Experienced with floor assemblies including underlayment, uncoupling/crack isolation membrane, and heated floor systems
* Familiar with installation best practices and invested in surpassing industry standards
* 3-5 years experience preferred
* Carpenter
* Skilled in light interior framing
* Skilled in stair systems
* Experienced with interior trim details
* Experienced with cabinetry installation
* 5-7 years experience preferred

Are you interested in one of these positions working for BlueKey Design Build. Please contact today via email info@bluekeydesignbuild.com, 548-688-6880 or send us a direct message to apply, request information, or ask questions.
We look forward to connecting with you!

Warm Regards

BlueKey Design Build

Benefits of Working with A Design-Build Firm for Your Major Remodel

The term ‘design-build’ is slowly becoming more familiar in the world of home remodeling. In the past, if someone wanted to remodel their home, they would contact a general contractor and an architect. While contractors alone can do a lot of great work, they simply do not offer the many benefits that you would receive from working with a design-build firm, such as BlueKey Design Build.

Here are 5 benefits of working with a design-build firm for your major home remodeling project:

1. Design-build firms provide a step-by-step process from start to finish.

From creating the designs to getting the necessary building permits, to ordering the materials and completing a quality job in a timely manner – everything is taken care of by a professional and experienced team. While a general contractor might manage some of these steps, a big part of it may be left to the homeowner. Considering everything that goes into a remodel, this can be very stressful and overwhelming!

At BlueKey Design Build, the steps from concept-to-completion include:

Step 1: We start with an educational consultation.  One of our knowledgeable consultants will meet with you at your home to discuss your project. Upon communicating your ideas and answering your questions, they will provide you with a realistic estimate and timeline required to complete the job. If you decide to proceed and purchase a custom design package for your project, they will take measurements and photos of your existing space, along with notes about what matters most to you for your remodel.

Step 2: Our designer then gets started drawing the floor plans and 3D renderings for your remodel, based on the notes and any inspiration photos you provided. Once completed, these documents act as a detailed visual and communication tool, emphasizing functional detail and aesthetics to best suit your needs and match the style you specified.

Once the designs are finalized, our knowledgeable Estimator will create an extensive Scope of Work document for your specific remodel. This will map out the entire step-by-step process we will take to complete your project, including specifications like plumbing, electrical plans, foundation, framing, roofing, and more.

At the end of the Scope of Work will be your detailed Budget Items Worksheet, which shows the price allowance breakdown for individual items. This will help you understand the total cost of your project and allow you to scale back on large ticket items if needed.

On average, it takes us about 2 weeks to complete the design process and compile the Scope of Work and Budget documents.

Step 3: When the design package documents are complete, we will set up a review meeting with you. Our owner, Ed, will accompany the project manager to all review meetings and help walk you through the plans & renderings. Once you are completely satisfied with the designs and every aspect of your project, you have the option to move forward with us as your contractor or take the finalized plans we have provided and get competitive bids from other contractors. If you do choose to continue with us as the contractor, the cost of your designs will be taken from your down payment, which we will collect, and put your project on the Production Schedule.

Step 4: After the down payment has been collected, we will set up a design selection meeting with you and your project manager to select all of your materials, paint, flooring, tile, etc. Once everything has been selected, we will place all of your orders with our trusted vendors and track everything. We will also proceed with obtaining any necessary building permits from the city prior to beginning construction. This is the ideal time for you to prepare your home for construction by clearing the area to be remodeled or put items into storage.

Step 5: Once all of your materials have been delivered, we can begin your project construction according to the start date we marked on the Production Schedule. As a company that emphasizes family, we hold your time and your family as our top priority. When the construction begins, our workers will do their best to finish up and keep the construction area clean, safe, and livable for your family each evening.

Step 6: Once the construction is done and the remodel is complete, we will set up a final inspection from the city to be sure everything is done correctly and to code.

2. A design-build firm provides homeowners with a single point of contact for both the design and construction phases of a project.

Having one person to reach out to with questions, concerns, scheduling, purchase orders, payments, etc., can really lessen the chance of miscommunication and lower the risk of error (not to mention, prevent a lot of unnecessary frustration!) Having someone manage all contracts with companies and subcontractors, equipment, vendors and material providers really takes a lot off the homeowner’s shoulders.

3. Design-build firms work with top professionals in every field.

This can’t be said for all design-build firms, but with 40+ years of combined experience in the construction business, BlueKey Design Build works closely with experienced pros in various professions. Carpenters, stone masons, tile and glass installers, plumbers, electricians, flooring providers, painters and more. If you’re having work done on your home, wouldn’t you feel better knowing it’s being done by a vetted professional and not a random subcontractor hired by your GC?

4. The Homeowners are involved in every step.

The beauty of working with a design-build firm is that you can be very much involved in the process without having to be solely responsible for managing it. Your Site Supervisor and Project Manager will update our Builders software platform where you have access through an owners’ portal, outlined what was completed, any issues that arose, how it was resolved, and what is on the schedule for the next day. This line of open communication provides the homeowners with peace of mind and a sense of involvement. Of course, the homeowners also take part in making design decisions throughout the project. We’ve found that such an involvement is inspiring and gives people a lasting sense of pride about their home.

5. Design-build firms make the most of your time.

Design and construction involve managing multiple timelines that need to coordinate. Because we work closely with a team of professionals and vendors, we can realistically predict how long a project will take. A number of factors come into play here; such as the availability of our professionals, lead time on ordered items, demolition and installation time, and of course, the allowance for unexpected setbacks. The ability to schedule everything in sync cuts down on wasted time and provides a cohesive timeline that you wouldn’t get with a general contractor alone.

As these are only a few examples, it’s easy to see the various benefits of working with a design-build firm over a general contractor. There are so many moving parts involved in a major home remodel, and having a team of professionals to manage the entire project makes for a smoother experience and a quality outcome!

If you have more questions about our design-build process, or if you’re interested in remodeling your home, please contact us today!

We look forward to hearing from you!

Warm Regards

BlueKey Design Build

Remodeling During the COVID-19 Outbreak

As London opens back up, any of our remodeling projects or additions that had been put on hold due to COVID-19 concerns are now well underway and we are excited to be engaging with homeowners on new projects. We have added protection protocols and made adjustments at various stages of the project process to help you feel comfortable going forward with your remodeling project during these unprecedented times. Here’s what you can expect:

  • Virtual meetings: As much as it is practical and possible, we are using video and web conferencing in lieu of in-person meetings. These virtual meetings include initial project consultations, design consultations, and weekly project meetings.
  • Social distancing: Sometimes it is necessary to meet in person. Whether it is in your home, at the job-site or at our office, we practice social distancing.  We carry masks and gloves that are used when the extra level of protection is needed and/or desired.
  • Job-site changes: We carefully follow all work-safe guidelines.  No worker will be allowed on site if he or she is showing COVID-like symptoms. 

Please reach out to BlueKey for more information on how you can safely move forward with your project in this unique environment. We stand ready to help make your vision a reality.

Does Your House Have Good Bones?

Over the years, clients and potential homebuyers have turned to us for help determining if a particular house has the potential to meet their needs. They want to know if the house has “good bones”. We’ve all heard the term, but what does it actually mean?

The definition of BlueKey is a house that has the basic framework necessary to meet the needs and desire of our clients. With years of renovating and adding on to homes, we have found houses with “good bones” have these key features:

Quality construction – A house with good bones is well-built. I “walk” a building looking for fundamental structural problems. How does it feel? Does it bounce or list, or does it “feel” solid? I look for cracks above doorways or in stairways. Are things tight? When I go to the basement, I look along the bottoms of the floor joists. Do they seem to be in a flat plane, or do they sag in the middle of their span? Are the joists notched into the sill or resting on their full depth? Can you see cracks between the ends and the sill or are they still tight? When looking down along the foundation wall, does it look plumb or is it listing outward? When outside the building and stepping back looking at it, do the walls have bows or are they straight? Does the house lean to one side or the other? Does the roof of the front porch sag? Are there sways to the roof or is it in one plane?

Solid infrastructure – It’s relatively simple to replace aging roofing shingles or update plumbing fixtures, but it is far more complicated if the basic infrastructure of the home is lacking. If the foundation, roof, heating, plumbing and electrical systems are in good shape, your house renovations become much easier.

Good floor plan – Is there good flow between frequently used rooms? Are rooms arranged logically?  Look at how traffic travels through the house as a whole. You can renovate to make particular rooms more livable, but it is far more costly and complex to make fundamental changes because the entire home’s floor plan just does not work.
If a floor plan feels awkward, try to envision the space with walls moved or taken down entirely. We recently worked on a center entrance colonial in which the small dining room and kitchen made the entire first floor feel disjointed and tiny. By removing the walls between the dining room and kitchen, and the dining room and hallway, we created a sense of spaciousness without changing the footprint of the house.

Well-proportioned rooms – Are the home’s rooms a useful size and shape? Can they be easily changed? Many older homes have small rooms that are unsuited to modern lifestyles. It is often possible, however, to move walls and open up spaces relatively easily. Removing walls, adding a beam and creating an open a floor plan can make a separate kitchen, dining room and living room a great entertainment area or family space. On the other hand, sometimes there are fundamental problems that are not easy to correct. When I recently toured a newly renovated condo, I was surprised that I had to duck at the last step when entering the third floor master suite. The walls sloped so steeply that the “walk in closet” had almost no useable space. The room’s underlying structure was so limiting that it would have been very expensive to create space that worked better for the homeowners.

Character — Houses with good bones have a personality. They don’t look like they were stamped out by a developer with a cookie-cutter. Sometimes even the quirkiest architectural detail can be used to create a fascinating focal point. In one London home, we took a steep attic stairway and added a skylight and delightful handrailing to create an eye-catching, artistic feature that doubled as a welcoming entrance to a nanny’s bedroom and owner’s office.

Natural light – A sunny, airy home feels happier and more spacious, but don’t automatically give up on a house because it is dark. Consider small changes that could bring in more light. We’ve added skylights, transom windows and even cut openings in walls and floors to help light spread throughout a home.

Does your house have good bones? We can help you decide whether renovating or adding on to your home makes sense. To arrange an appointment contact us!

Designing a Timeless Bathroom

A bathroom remodel can breathe new life into your bathroom space, but it can also be an investment of both time and money. If you want to design a bathroom that will stand the test of time so you can avoid tackling the job again in a few years, then you need to focus on classic, timeless elements. BlueKey Design Build specializes in timeless, elegant designs. Here’s what we recommend for a timeless bathroom.

THE RIGHT COLORS

First, you will need to choose your colors carefully. The only truly timeless color for a bathroom is white. After all, your toilet, tub, and sink are probably already white, so it’s clearly timeless. Of course, white on its own can be a little boring, so consider complementing it with a neutral color palette of creams and beige tones, topped with a few tones of your favorite hue to add character. When you choose white for the walls, you can accent with decorative items that are easier to swap out when it’s time for a change.

CHOOSE CLASSIC MATERIALS

There are many different materials for surrounds and countertops in your bathroom, but if you want it to be timeless, go with the classics. Marble, stone, and ceramic are all excellent options. These are considered luxurious additions, and they stand the test of time. After all, nothing says luxury quite like a marble shower, and that hasn’t changed for decades. Re-create it at home. Don’t be afraid to add some wood, which rarely goes out of style, to accent all of that stone.

ADD LIGHTING STRATEGICALLY

You have to have lighting in a bathroom, but make sure you’re careful about this addition. If you have the room, consider a chandelier on the ceiling. This can add a touch of elegance to the space and avoids the trap of buying an outdated light fixture.

In addition, make sure the bathroom has some wall light, especially around the vanity. You want to properly light your face when you’re getting ready for the day. Keep this lighting simple so it adds function without detracting from your overall design goals.

CHOOSE TIMELESS FLOORING

Finally, select your flooring carefully. Bathroom flooring needs to be able to withstand constant exposure to water. It also needs to add to the design, not detract from it. Tile and wood floors are both good choices, but make sure the wood floors are installed and treated appropriately to withstand water damage.

ADD SIMPLE DECOR

In the bathroom, keep the decor as understated as possible. Use natural materials and classical shapes when adding decor, and don’t forget some plush fabrics. Choose neutral color tones to keep the look timeless and classic.

SCHEDULE A CONSULTATION TO DISCUSS YOUR BATHROOM REMODELING PROJECT WITH BLUEKEY CONSTRUCTION TODAY

If you are looking for timeless bathroom design, BlueKey Design Build can help. Our design and build team will help you explore classic style and create a custom bathroom design that beautifully embraces it. Our award-winning team will take the time to listen to your goals before we build a bathroom that fits.

Call (226) 980-9807 to learn more about our timeless bathroom design services in London, Ontario and the surrounding communities.

Curbless Showers: From Universal Design to Universally Popular

Curbless (also known as zero-threshold) showers were once primarily a solution for homeowners with accessibility issues. Today, curbless showers are one of the leading bathroom design trends. Recently, the majority of bathroom renovations that we have completed have featured a curbless shower.

As its name suggests, a curbless shower has no threshold to step over. The bathroom flooring simply extends right into the shower. The elimination of a separate shower enclosure creates a seamless, contemporary look that makes even small bathrooms look and feel larger.

Most clients considering a curbless shower ask the two questions below. We hope our responses help you evaluate whether a curbless shower might work for your home renovation.

Q: How does water stay in a curbless shower?

A: Most curbless showers incorporate a trench drain, which is a long narrow trench that runs the length or width of the shower. The trench feeds into the main drain and is covered with a grate that is flush with the shower and the room floor. The floor is pitched on both sides of the drain to funnel water into the trench.

Q: Can I put a curbless shower in an existing home?

A: In most cases, the answer is “yes”. Since the floor needs to have a slight pitch, it is important to plan for the shower in the framing stages of a bathroom renovation. To achieve the necessary pitch, existing floor joists may need to be cut. Occasionally the location of floor joists will make it difficult to install a curbless shower in an existing space, but this is the exception rather than the rule.

The beauty of curbless showers shows that elements designed for accessibility do not need to look institutional. As more and more younger homeowners install curbless showers, they are discovering that they now have bathrooms that all generations of family members may safely use and enjoy – while enhancing the aesthetics of the room. We are delighted to see curbless showers listed on many lists of hot bathroom remodeling trends.

For more information, contact us.