October 11, 2011

Matchless Makeover

B.C. renovators are tops at their craft and the GVHBA’s Renovation Gallery website includes outstanding examples of their work, such as those featured here.


Everyone loves transformation whether big and bold, or small and subtle – the chrysalis becomes the butterfly. Buildings, too, can shift and alter their shape, achieving new life as their bones are reset, roofs raised, rooms reconfigured. B.C.’s skilled renovators are among the best anywhere and you’ll find marvellous examples of their craft on the Greater Vancouver Home Builders’ Association Renovation Gallery, from kitchens and feature rooms to conversions and heritage makeovers. reVISION’s 1912 Heritage Haven shows a sensitively updated old-timer, a beautiful transformation using reclaimed hardwood, rewired original iron chandeliers and a dark attic storage space redesigned as a bright yet private master suite accessed by a unique and elegant new staircase.

In another act of wizardry the company turned a barren back yard into a dazzling four-season entertainment space featuring a bar, barbecue pit, fireplace, eight-person hot tub and an open kitchen. Peter Simpson, president and CEO of the GVHBA, notes that British Columbians will spend more than $7.5 billion on home renovation and repair this year alone, $4.4 billion of that in Metro Vancouver. The provincial figure, he predicts, will increase by 1.7 per cent next year. “It seems folks are hunkering down and spending money to spruce up their homes, doing kitchen and bathroom makeovers, adding media rooms and outdoor kitchens, extending the indoors out. They’re making lifestyle changes.” New HST regulations could pose a problem for those considering building and renovating, he says. “When the HST came in it fuelled an already burgeoning underground economy. Now we’re concerned that homeowners might decide to wait for 18 months.

Castle Creek Contracting tore off the upper floor of this Point Grey home and undertook a top-to-bottom makeover, adding significant value.

The government needs to put something in place such as a tax rebate to neutralize the current impact of the HST.” It’s difficult to believe that Level One Construction’s before and after photos of a dramatic kitchen makeover show the same area. Before, we see a drab, uninspired, cramped space with dated cabinets. The sink leaked, the stove barely worked, the floors were uneven and lifting. Engaged to create a spacious, modern kitchen with plenty of storage, Level One project manager Eduardo Silva and his team took down both living-room walls – one load-bearing – built a peninsula as a room divider between the kitchen and living room and opened up the back wall where a french door was installed to give access to the back deck and yard.

Using IKEA rather than custom cabinets kept the cost down and enabled Level One to spend more on stunning waterfall granite, black back-painted backsplashes, pot lights and pendant lights. Everything is built-in, creating a sleek, streamlined look. “I love this kitchen; it’s very charming,” Silva says. In a dramatic renovation, Laurence Cohen, owner of Castle Creek Contracting, tore off the upper floor of a Point Grey hillside residence, adding a fully dormered floor and hand-cut roof, opening up the house to sweeping North Shore Mountain views. His company undertook a top-to-bottom makeover, tearing up much of the basement to add new concrete footings, columns and beams. The old house had no windows on the north-facing second floor and an outdated heating system. Cohen’s team added an upper-floor bathroom, reconfigured the main floor adding a music room, and replaced small windows with large bay windows with wraparound corner glazing in the living room and master bedroom. This type of major renovation makes eminent sense with a property such as this, Cohen explains, “because we haven’t changed the footprint of the building but for approximately $300,000 we have added significant value to the property.”

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