Easier to Be Informed
This fact is both obvious and overlooked. A growing number of homeowners are logging on to the internet and learning enough to challenge the use of old building methods and materials with new reno trends, though not nearly often enough. And while the natural tendency of most contractors is to resist your efforts to steer them towards new materials and methods, ultimately you’re the boss. More than a few contractors could use a little prodding in the direction of innovation, and the best are always open to suggestions for new ways of doing things.
Foam Insulation On the Rise
Despite biased media reports on foam insulation, foam products of all kinds are becoming more common in new construction and renovations. That’s because foam works so well and because energy performance matters so much more than it used to. And the higher energy prices rise, the more energy performance wins out. As more people realize that R-values don’t tell the whole story when it comes to real-world insulation performance, the value of foam insulation of all kinds is being more widely recognized. And rising building code requirements are only going to make the trend towards foam insulation accelerate.
Stud Frame Walls In Decline
Governments across the continent are demanding higher energy standards in new construction, and this means that the good old R20 stud wall won’t cut it anymore in a growing number of provinces. You can still build with studs and make the current R22 or R24 minimum required in some places, but not forever. Smart builders are getting used to working with SIPs, ICFs and other innovative wall systems that have what it takes to go beyond code expectations. Sooner or later, everyone will build this way. Finishing basements, in particular, is the last place anyone should use stud frame walls.
In-Floor Heating is Hot
Everyone likes warm feet, especially after the winter we’ve just had in Canada. That’s why enquiries about infloor heating are more common. The hitch is, installing a complete hydronic in-floor heating system is the most complicated thing that can go into a home right now. The mechanics of the job make traditional wiring and plumbing look positively simple. Which is why it pays to learn how the best in-floor heating systems are installed, then suggest these to your contractor. One new type of electric infloor heating called DITRA-HEAT is especially promising.
Energy-Efficient Lighting is Finally Here
Don’t be fooled by the fact that incandescent light bulbs are still being sold more than a couple of years after bans were set to take effect across the country. You may still be able to buy the product of Thomas Edison’s genius right now, but not forever. The lighting technology that will take over isn’t those fragile, dim, mercury-containing compact fluorescent bulbs, either. The magic bullet lighting technology is LED. Bulbs like these are still expensive, but they’re good enough to become mainstream on their own merits, without the kind of ill-advised and short-live government support programs that made CFL bulbs temporarily popular.
Women Making More Renovation Decisions
Though this is nothing new, it is gathering steam. Leading home marketers preach a woman-friendly approach to selling renovations, and women can and should expect any decent contractor to treat them with respect. Social media involvement, an emphasis on durability, ease of cleaning and improved lifestyles go a long way to making sales with women, and that’s why you’ll find these things addressed by the best contractors. They understand that unless they’re building a man cave, delivering a woman-friendly renovation experience is key.