This residential project was different from any we had taken on before, simply because our client would need to continue running her daycare while we were there working. Despite their unique situation, their needs were easy to decipher with a walk-through and consultation.
The family wanted the space to do different things – right now, she needed a space for her daycare kids, but in the future, her son’s bedroom would be relocated to the basement and the open play area would eventually turn into a theatre-style room.
Demolition began and we created space for a new bedroom, bathroom, a small office, and more storage space as well as an open area for play.
When we removed the vapor barrier, we discovered steel studs that were not properly installed, a couple of leaning walls, and more devastating, two massive cracks in the foundation. Whenever we take on a home renovation project, we always try to anticipate any possible problems, but sometimes foundation problems are not apparent right away.
We went to the client with our discoveries, and naturally, they were unhappy that they would basically have to start from scratch. We found out later that the foundation problems were not disclosed to them when they bought the home, which is illegal.
At first, they did not see any value in replacing the steel studs with wooded ones. While steel studs are cheaper on the labor side, they are not installed in a way that makes them structurally unsound and cannot handle impact or heavy weight. Also, you end up paying more in the long run because steel studs require upgraded electrical equipment. Consequently, steel studs can pose a problem is your basement floods and the water becomes charged with electricity.
The second challenge was working during the daycare hours. We managed our schedules so that the tradesmen would take lunch while the children were napping. We shut off the furnace and sealed off the stairwell to keep dust at bay.
We fixed the foundation, replaced the steel studs with wooden ones, and thoroughly inspected the foundation and framing before we moved forward.
In order to make the basement daycare friendly, we created a spacious play area with rounded corners and installed tamper resistant outlets. We sound proofed the mechanical room for a more comfortable atmosphere, as well as added a surround sound system for the future. We also upgraded the carpet and added a special pad to help eliminate mildew and odors.
The project was completed in less than 6 weeks. Now the homeowners know everything there is to know about their basement. They know where things are and exactly what we did to fix things. We encourage homeowners to be present as much as possible, especially during the home inspection. To us, transparency is key. We also tie up any loose ends before we leave.
At the end of every residential project we always include:
- Hot water tank inspection
- Furnace cleaning
- Before, during and after photos
- Professional cleaning
All in all, we solved their problems before they even knew what was wrong. Our communication back and forth was always on point and we involved the family as much as possible. We truly aim to go over and above for every customer – no corners cut.
When we first met with the business owner, he had already talked to at least 7 different contractors at all different stages throughout the design phase. He was a hairstylist looking to open his own salon in a space that he had previously worked in 19 years ago. Our client was already well aware of the drawbacks and limitations of the space and had a very specific idea of how he’d like to improve it.
There was no blue print – we had to conceptualize a design that the city would approve. It had already switched hands many times before, so we knew that we’d have to come up with a design that would stick and become successful.
Unlike our residential jobs, this required 6 to 7 in-depth meetings just to discuss the final look. We worked very hard to take his dream and turn it into a reality, while still considering practicality, functionality and his limited budget.
The theme he wanted was Early Victorian style from the 1800 and 1900s. Every aspect had to be truly perfect, but on a shoestring budget, which meant our team spent a lot of time sourcing décor to fit the context he wanted.
This project allowed our creative juices to flow. That’s where you begin to notice the very special details we integrated from the hand-formed copper piping in the washrooms to the galvanized buckets we refurbished into sinks to the custom-built display case.
Other important aspects of the design were a unique plaster finish for all of the walls, specialized light fixtures, marble countertops, vintage toilet and bathrooms fixtures that included customized faucets, and a high-end wallpaper installation.
The biggest challenge right off the bat was location. Pose is located downtown Edmonton, Alberta in the Scotia Place building, which made getting materials in and out as well as the trades in and out very difficult. We could only work in the space after hours, primarily at night. There was also nowhere to put a garbage bin, so we had to fill up trailers during the night and drive them to the dump in the morning.
Another big challenge was that the owner’s preordered fixtures and furniture started coming in without any specifications. We still needed to deal with wall placement and plumbing needs after the demolition, which meant we could not afford any miscalculations. Not to mention the fact that everything would soon be encased in concrete. There was no room for mistakes. We basically had to anticipate every fixture and every piece of furniture before it arrived or even existed to ensure the space was utilized the way the client wanted.
Perhaps the most interesting detail in the salon is the hair station mirrors. Our client wanted hanging, double-sided mirrors with lighting for each station. With 16-foot-high ceilings, this would prove to be our greatest challenge. The mirrors were roughly 150 lbs. each, so we used aircraft cables to hang them from the ceiling. We then had to figure out how to cut exact holes in the very expensive marble counter tops. The result was incredible floating mirrors for each client chair with lighting and power.
Everything was 100% custom. We had lots of creative brainstorming sessions with all of our trades to come up with the solutions we needed. One specific triumph included finding replacement tile to match the existing 20-year-old tile. A large display had to be removed and we had discovered a large patch of tile missing. Since it was not in his budget to re-tile, our flooring rep somehow managed to find a match and brought it in from Toronto.
We did some demo to expand the bathrooms and create the individual rooms they needed. We also soundproofed all of the rooms. In order to prevent water damage, we waterproofed all of the salon stations, as well as the wall behind the hair washing station using a product called Wedi board, a truly waterproof product, not just water resistant.
This project was completed in 6 weeks, just in time for their grand opening. They must have had confidence in our ability to complete the job because they were already fully booked for opening day. In order to complete this project, Steve himself worked roughly 600 hours in 6 weeks, and another 1600 hours came from the rest of the tradesmen.
Throughout the experience, we were continually innovating and discovering processes for work that no one had ever done before. Second to that, our aim was to create a striking space that would hold up over time.
This project is definitely a company show piece – there is nothing we can’t do based on this project.