4 Things to consider when building a home in the Okanagan

4 Things to consider when building a home in the Okanagan

From world-renowned ski resorts to pristine lakes, the activities throughout the year are in abundance and make the Okanagan a highly desired place to live. In addition to the accessible year-round activities, the Okanagan is situated in the beautiful British Columbia Southern Interior and consists of multiple airports — flights to Seattle, Vancouver, Calgary or Victoria take just over an hour and are popular options for weekend trips.

 

With the Okanagan soaring in popularity, so is the demand for housing. With the lack of homes available, new & existing homeowners are seeking out land to build on instead. New builds can be time-intensive and require the coordination of many moving parts, which is why we have curated a list of crucial things to consider before you begin.

Planning

From permits to blueprints, the home planning process can be tedious and exhausting — that’s why a thorough plan is so crucial and arguably one of the most important steps. You may have an image in your head of your dream home, but you need to ensure the design is possible and fits within your budget. Working Hands offers pre-construction services to work with you to understand your goals and challenges — this will ensure a clear plan is in place before construction begins. Setting attainable goals will save you from disappointment and will assist with a smooth transition to the building phase. Click here to see our full range of pre-construction services!

Cost

How much will it cost? The million dollar question every soon-to-be homeowner wants to know. Unfortunately, it’s not a straightforward answer and the cost will depend on a multitude of factors. On average, the building cost per square foot can range from $175 to $325. This is a broad price range that will be dependent on your building plan, but choosing a building provider who is transparent and honest with you will help prevent any costly surprises along the way. Managing client expectations is also a major component — your chosen builder should help you define your “wants” vs. “needs” to ensure you don’t go over budget. Think of “needs” as components that are required for your home to function, and “wants” as things that would be nice to have, but can also be added down the road.


Working Hands prides itself on being a trusted establishment within the Okanagan community — assisting residents from inception to completion. Contact us today to talk about your budget!

Seasons

Living in a place that has 4 distinct seasons means you need to be mindful of when to begin construction. The ideal time to plan your build is in the winter when construction slows down — use the cold months to get your ideas and paperwork in order. To avoid disappointment & delay, ensure you book your contractors and subcontractors early before their schedules fill up. The perfect time to start your build is in spring — the snow has melted and the days get longer allowing for ample time to get the exterior in place. The summers in the Okanagan can be extremely hot, so having the exterior finished before the heat rolls around means the interior can be the main focus in the hotter months.

 

Still unsure when to begin your build? We may have the answer you need — chat with our construction experts here!

Location

The location is the driving force of the value your property will hold. You want to ensure your home continues to increase in value as the years go by. What makes a good location? There are plenty of myriad elements that affect property value such as transport, supply & demand, community involvement, highly ranked schools and accessible amenities. It is a smart idea to research your desired location and look for upcoming developments that will add cultural enrichment to the neighborhood — some of which might include cafes, restaurants and boutique shops. Not all developments are beneficial for homeowners, so keep an eye out for anything that might decrease the value, too. Facilities that may contribute to a decreased value include highways, cemeteries, waste management, recycling depots and gun ranges. 


Check out our featured vacation rental projects here!

We're here to lend a helping hand!

The building process is complicated and overwhelming, and there are a plethora of things you need to think about before you even get to the building stage. Having a trusted builder on your side who clearly understands your goals will make the process that much easier. Working Hands has a team of experienced and trusted professionals who will assist you every step of the way — you can feel confident knowing we are passionate and committed to making your home building process as seamless and stress-free as possible.

Your dream home is just a click away! Contact one of our experts and let’s get started!

3 basement renovations that will add value to your home

3 basement renovations that will add value to your home

Basement renovations can sometimes be overlooked because it’s easier to justify spending money on something more visible like a kitchen or bathroom — but if done properly, a basement reno can add undeniable value to your home. Intrigued? See below the best basement renovations that will bring enjoyment to the family, but will also grab attention of buyers down the road.

Wine Cellar

Naturally, basements are cooler in temperature, have higher humidity levels and lack natural light, all of which contribute to the perfect cellar conditions. Wine cellars are a luxury space that many up-scale buyers seek — there is now a designated filter for cellars on multiple real estate websites, a true testament to their appeal! To capitalize on the resale value, we have gathered some of our top tips on how to build an in-home wine cellar that no oenophile will be able to deny!

HUMIDITY – This plays a major factor in the outcome of your wine. Ideally, you want humidity levels at 70% — however, anywhere between 50-70% is okay. Anything lower than 50%, the corks are at risk of drying out and anything higher than 75%, mold will start to occur on the labels. 

LIGHT – Stay away from all light that gives off heat i.e sunlight & artificial light. Dimmable LED lighting will still provide you the light needed, without costing you hundreds (possibly thousands) in wasted wine.

TEMPERATURE – Arguably the most crucial aspect of any cellar and thankfully, it’s one of the easiest to control. Recommended temperature ranges from 55°F-57°F. At all costs, avoid any consistent fluctuations of temperature — this will cause your wine to age prematurely.

VIBRATION – Any minor vibrations will disturb the sediment causing it to mix with the wine itself, this affects the flavor of wine and the aging process.

Click here to see how we can help you with your custom wine cellar design!

Theater room

A basement is the perfect place for a theater room. With minimal light and noise, you will get the ultimate cinematic experience from the comfort of your home. In-home theaters have a positive influence on buyer interest and if done correctly, can add high-value to your home. To ensure you get the most out of your personal experience and resale value, here’s our cinematic recommendations and your go-to guide on how to build an in-home theater!

CARPET – Carpet is a great sound-dampening tool that will help prevent the sound from traveling to other areas of the house and it will work cohesively with the sound system to prevent echoing and sound travel. It also doubles as a space to lay with added pillows or bean bags.

LIGHTING – An integral aspect of a good movie experience is the lighting. Too much lighting and it takes away from the movie, not enough and it doesn’t add any ambiance. Think about the lighting in a movie theater, it’s there but you don’t realize it’s there — and that’s the point! Think LED strips and warm dimmable lights (stay away from anything fluorescent!)

SCREEN – The size of your basement will heavily influence whether you choose a projector screen or TV.  TVs tend to provide a better quality picture, but projector screens can be cheaper and can provide a much bigger screen. Do your research and ensure you are choosing the right option for your space.

SOUND – One of the most important aspects of the movie-watching experience is the sound  — it immerses you into the story. Invest in a good surround sound system and you will not regret it!

Your dream in-house theater awaits! Contact our renovation experts to get started

Secondary Suite

Last, but certainly not least on our list is the addition of a secondary suite. Not only will this significantly increase the resale value of your home, but it doubles as passive income while you reside there. Here are some requirements from the government for building a legal suite in BC:

  • The total floor space should not exceed 90 square metres (968 square feet)
  • The suite must only use less than 40% of the entire habitable floor space in the home
  • There is only to be one other residential occupancy in the entirety of the home
  • The home must only contain one other principal dwelling unit
  • It is required that a secondary suite must have one additional parking space available 

Building a basement suite in BC doesn’t have to be stressful — you just need the right team on your side to assist you along the way. Check out our latest secondary suite renovations here!

How will you choose to renovate your basement?

There you have it — our top three basement renovations that will add the most value to your home, and luckily for you, we are experts in home renovations and can guide you through the process. Let us help you plan the perfect reno — whatever that may be!

Three reasons to hire a handyman before selling your home

Three reasons to hire a handyman before selling your home

Selling your home in British Columbia is a big deal. Not only is it a change for you and your family, but it’s also a lot of work. Navigating the BC housing market in its current condition and getting the best value for your home takes time and expertise. That’s why it’s important to get help with as many parts of the process as you can.

 

Handyman services exist to make your life a bit easier during a stressful time. While you may think that hiring help for basic repairs and maintenance is unnecessary, there are several strong arguments for outsourcing this work as you get ready to sell your home.

1) Increase the value of your home

It’s no secret that touching up your home will increase its value. But sometimes those things can fall to the bottom of your list, especially if you have work and family priorities to balance already.

 

Investing in handyman services is well-worth the money when you consider the return you’re likely to get when you sell.

2) Take advantage of expertise

You’ve got your list of repairs and minor upgrades you’d love to get to before listing your house, but there are probably other ideas you haven’t even thought of.

 

A qualified handyman can take care of the tasks you know you want done and provide advice on additional work that will give you the best return on your investment. 

 

Plus, using handyman services can give you peace of mind that each task will be done correctly and efficiently—the first time.

3) Save time for other priorities

If you’re selling your home, you’ve got a lot to deal with. From working with a realtor to organizing showings to making arrangements for your next residence, there is a lot to manage.

 

Enlisting an experienced handyman is a great way to save your own time and energy for the things that only you can do. Sometimes just removing even one responsibility from your to-do list can make a big difference in how prepared you are to handle everything else.

Easy and affordable repairs, touch ups and upgrades to increase the value of your home

Still working on your handyman task list? Here are a few small, easy things you can do around your house to increase the value of your home before putting it on the market:

 

  • Give the walls, doors and ceilings a fresh coat of paint
  • Fix any squeaky door hinges, loose fixtures, sticky locks, etc.
  • Unclog the sinks and drains
  • Install new cabinets or, if that’s not in the budget, consider replacing the handles and knobs to freshen up the look of the space
  • Replace old light fixtures and make sure all your lightbulbs are in working order
  • Touch up your baseboards with a good scrub and/or a coat of paint
  • Upgrade your taps, faucets and shower heads
  • Tidy up your yard—trim hedges, plant flowers or put in a garden bed for the next owners

Where to find a handyman in the Okanagan

Working Hands Inc. offers comprehensive handyman services that allow you to work with one company for all your maintenance and repairs, rather than going through multiple trades.

 

If you’re looking for some expert help and advice on getting your home market ready, contact us for a free, zero-obligation quote today.

 

Get quote now

5 Major mistakes to avoid when renovating your bathroom

5 Major mistakes to avoid when renovating your bathroom

When it comes to an outdated bathroom, newer doesn’t always mean better. From changing the layout to the little things such as sealing the tite grout, there are a lot of things to consider — and mistakes to avoid – when it comes to renovating your bathroom. 

Forgetting about functionality

Many times after a home is built, homeowners will realize that they should have added an outlet in a particular place, or moved a loud space like the kitchen sink or TV room further from a bedroom wall.

 

The benefit of a renovation is that you already know how the space functions as is. Before calling a contractor or beginning to make your plan we recommend keeping a notepad in the space and jotting down notes you want to consider when renovating:

 

  • What do you like about the space?
  • What do you want to change?

It’s easy to jump to the aesthetics but what about the corner you always bump into, or how you need to unplug a toothbrush charger to plug in a hair straighter everytime?

 

We have a knack for working around quirks in our own home until we forget they’re an inconvenience but if you take a step back (or ask a friend) you can remind yourself of where you need to improve functionality.

Improper planning

This one might seem like an obvious first step but it comes with a caveat: there’s a chance something might not go according to plan once you get started. 

 

Anything is possible with time and money, but the most common crusher of renovation dreams is the latter. We recommend considering what the reason for your renovation is, and then coming up with a few different versions to share with your contractor. An example guideline might be:


Option A – which includes all of your hopes and dreams for the space

Option B — updating everything but following the same layout

Option C — what is absolutely necessary to make the space work for you? Maybe you have children and you need a bathtub. Does it have to be in this room? 

Devaluing your home

 

Yes — it’s possible. When it comes to renovations, more doesn’t always mean more return. While there are a few ways your investment could become a loss, we have identified 3 of them:

 

  • Improper craftsmanship – HGTV and YouTube are great resources but they rarely explain building codes and what can go wrong. Example: failing to tile a sink backsplash could result in water damage.

 

  • Incorrect material – this goes hand-in-hand with poor craftsmanship and is the very reason we recommend consulting a professional. Example: bathrooms require moisture resistant drywall sheets.

  • Timing of trends — it’s you’re home and you should absolutely design it how you like. If you want a jungle themed bathroom with pink flamingos wallpapered on to the walls, we say go for it — but if you ever plan on selling just remember the next buyers may not share your flare for sub-tropical waterfowl and you may have to make a second investment in erasing this hard work.

  • Decreasing the square footage there are rarely two rooms that impact value as much as the bathrooms and the kitchen. Shaving off space from either is rarely recommended. Example: if you need to add laundry to the main floor, consider converting a closet rather than adding one to your bathroom.

 

Ordering online

We’ve all seen it, an amazing deal on a fixture or vanity at Costco or on Wayfair that just can’t be beat. But we recommend talking to your contractor before making the purchase to determine if it will really save a few dollars or if it will increase your budget with quirky surprises. Example: Table style vanities with a beveled countertop edge look fantastic – but they don’t always line up properly with the bathroom tiles depending on what style and layout you have selected. That means that this small saving could turn into a big moldy bill a few years down the road if water from the countertop is sleeping down behind the vanity.

Not talking to a contractor

When it comes to renovations (especially if you’re inexperienced), you don’t know what you don’t know. A contractor will typically have a few pointers, cost saving tips and suggestions that hadn’t crossed your mind. Call a member of the Working Hands team today for a no obligation quote today. 

Understanding the new Okanagan carriage home zoning

Understanding the new Okanagan carriage home zoning

Carriage homes are a popular income helper in the Okanagan, and recently it became even easier to build one. So what is a carriage house and is your property eligible?

Why is it called a Carriage house?

Source: Realtor.com (Jacob Lilley Architects)

 

Originating in the United States, carriage houses were, once upon a time, just that: a smaller building out back which housed the horses, their carriages and their gear downstairs, with their caretaker on the floor above them.

 

While you typically won’t find any horses or carriages in modern carriage homes, the premise is generally the same today: a smaller detached home, with a garage downstairs and full living quarters upstairs.

What is a carriage house in the Okanagan?

A modern carriage house is a smaller, secondary detached dwelling on the same property as the primary home. Carriage houses are considered secondary use—they don’t subdivide the property or behave as a stratified unit.

 

The City of Kelowna has been issuing permits for these secondary mortgage-helper dwellings in downtown neighbourhoods for decades. Gaining popularity on properties in Kelowna’s downtown core with heritage and war-time homes that may have actually seen actual carriages passing by in their early days.

Who can build a carriage house in the Okanagan?

The City of Kelowna states that a carriage house is permitted on all RU1, RU2 and RU4 zoned properties within The City of Kelowna’s designated area. Learn more.

Carriage homes can only take up an allotted percentage of your property as well and while there are several building codes and regulations to contend with, it has recently become easier to add a secondary home to your property.

City of Kelowna Carriage home expansion zone

On August 20, 2021, the City of Kelowna’s planning department began to move forward on a proposal to deregulate carriage home zoning in many parts of the Kelowna urban core.

How to build a carriage home in Kelowna

There is an application and extensive checklist to get you started however a carriage home is not the only mortgage helper opportunities available. Secondary suites, guest houses and extensions are potential solutions which may provide a better return and cost savings on your property.

What is the cost of building a carriage house

While the cost of building in the Okanagan has grown to $400/square foot, there are ways to save on building costs. In the end, everything depends on square footage, City of Kelowna permits and finishing materials. Call a member of the Working Hands team today for a no obligation quote today.

Which renovations will add the most value to your home?

Which renovations will add the most value to your home?

Kitchen and bathroom renovations are typically thought of as the biggest value adds—but what if they’re already done? What if they’re not in the budget? How much do you need to spend on your kitchen or bathroom renovation to recoup your costs?

 

In this article, we’ll explore the common and the creative ways you can increase the value of your home in the Okanagan and beyond. 

Consider the easy updates

When it comes to selling or saving energy, there are a few one-stop shop renovations you can do such as:

  • Replacing your windows
  • Refreshing your main entrance
  • Updating flooring (consider hardwood and laminate) 
  • Upgrade lighting (installing LED pot lights, adding more natural lighting)
  • Replacing the roof (if needed)
  • Upgrading to smart technology and adding in solar power

Add a secondary suite

A mortgage helper not only adds value — or savings — for you, but also for the next buyer. First time buyers often are only able to enter the market if they purchase a condo, or a home with a secondary suite already in place.

How do you know if your home is “suite-able?” As a rule, when it comes to construction it’s said that anything is possible with time and money and it is typically true. 

 

Not everyone has this construction-minded vision or background, so it helps to contact a professional for a quote and to brainstorm.

 

If you’re considering selling and looking for a competitive edge, adding in the secondary entrance and leaving the rest of the renovation to the new homeowners could still knock off a big ticket item which might be very desirable.

Add square footage

Simply put, if you bought a 2 bedroom, 2 bathroom home and sold it as a 3 bedroom, 2 bathroom house that is going to count for something. The trick in maximizing the ROI in this situation is to consider the next buyer–even if you’re only adding square footage for you today. If you want to add a hobby-specific room, consider that the next buyer might want to use that space as a workshop or bedroom when you’re designing it.

If you are adding additional square footage purely to add value, then mortgage helper spaces, the kitchen or your bathrooms will still be a top priority. If you have the opportunity to add a powder-room or a half bathroom in your bedroom as an en suite, you may want to consider this before adding a custom space.

Energy efficiency

When it comes to homeownership and upgrades, there are opportunities in all shapes and sizes to save energy and make your house more desirable to potential buyers.

Updating windows saves on energy in both hot Okanagan summers and during the winter.


Adding solar panels are expensive and the batteries required for storage take up space, however once the deed is done, you can eventually sell power back to the grid for cashback and there are currently solar power rebates of up to $5000 in British Columbia.

 

Improving appliances such as outdated furnaces and hot water tanks are smaller upgrades which offer a large cost—and at times even space—savings. Sustainable installations such as tankless water heaters mean your hot water is on demand and you no longer need a large, space consuming tank which is heating water 24/7 just in case you need it.

Bathroom updates vs renovations

Adding bathrooms and doing complete renovations are always going to add the most value—but they will also come at the highest expense. There are quicker updates which can still be done to add value and functionality:

  • Updating the tub/shower unit
  • Increasing storage
  • Aesthetic changes such as updating the paint, tiles and backsplash

Kitchen updates vs renovations

Kitchens are the biggest ticket items when it comes to home renovation ROI and it rarely pays off to do it half-way. That said, if you have found that the layout of your kitchen is entirely functional you can consider updating: 

 

  • Countertops
  • Cabinets
  • Backsplashes
  • Flooring 
  • Appliances

Regardless of considering an update or a full scale redesign, renovations of this magnitude are where a professional opinion is always recommended. Contact our team for FREE advice and a no obligation quote.

Top wine cellar innovations in 2022

Top wine cellar innovations in 2022

We’ve said it before: you hang your art collection on the wall, showcase your books on a shelf, and place your china in a cabinet. If you’re proud of your collection, your wine should be on display — but the best part of a custom wine cellar? Well, we’d argue it’s just that: it’s completely custom.

We may have explored all the technical pros and cons of a wine wall versus a wine cellar or wine room, and how to determine which is best for your home and your collection, but regardless of which you selection, this space is a showpiece and there are countless stunning, creative or just plan innovative approaches you can take when deciding on your perfect design and aesthetic.

Here are a few of our favorites — and our advice before your build them:

Under the stairs

Source: Pinterest

You can build a wine cellar almost anywhere including under the stairs. That said, some locations are better than others. Stairs are convenient for homes where space is hard to come by or in a home where the stairs are not used daily, but for collectors with high-value wines, this option may not be ideal due to the level of vibration caused by walking up and down the stairs.

 

If you are proceeding with an under-the-stairs display, there are no shortage of options – however in the Okanagan we would only recommend this for a home where the stairs aren’t used daily, such as in the popular and classic 60’s split-level.

Try something traditional

If space isn’t an issue and tradition is what you’re after, you can combine the use of your stairs storage space or build out a design into any room or exterior house addition.

While savings can be achieved in the use of some incredibly cutting edge faux rock and wood materials, the environmental changes and benefits from using real materials might mean an opportunity to skip some of the climate control features.

This local favorite, Bouchons Bistro, plays host to another great example of a rustic and traditional cellar which has been built out into an open space.

You can admire this stonework and craftsmanship out over hors d’oeuvres on your next date night at this classic Parisian bistro

Pairs well with books…

A lot of homes have shelving for books or trinkets either around the TV or elsewhere in their living rooms and sitting spaces.

If you find these shelves cluttered or collecting dust, or if you have room for more books than you have the time to read, you might want to consider swapping out the TV-stand library or feature book wall for bottles.

Personalized variations for lighting, back lighting and climate control are all possible in these wine wall style storage options.

Source: Elle Decor

Let there be light (but not too much)

Source: Vintage View

If there is a wall you want to remove without opening the space entirely it could be another unique opportunity to create a statement piece or feature of another kind.

Regardless of medium (metal, acrylic, wood), there are plenty of freestanding standard and custom options. The advantage of freestanding displays is that no consideration to wall type and support ratings are required. 


Due to material needs, both aesthetically and structurally appropriate. For this reason, freestanding displays can cost a bit more per bottle than wall-mounted options.

Trap doors and speakeasies

While this particular trap door style has the feel of space saving meets modern minimalist, imaginations can run wild with a little bit of extra space if Al Capone speakeasy is more your style.

Cellar entrances have been easily hidden by custom bookshelves, cabinets and even behind title walls!

Beer (or wine!) for my horses

The saying takes on a new meaning when it comes to this rustic barnhouse design. In the Okanagan, the challenge is often to ensure a cellar’s storage doesn’t become too hot in the summer. However, a chilly stable, workshop or outdoor space is at times the only space available.

Outbuildings can be insulated, the appropriate styles of heating can be added and options can be added to suit the needs of your guests and your collection.

Geometric styling

Want to see your collection from another angle?

Custom wine cellar builds mean you get something truly unique that perfectly pairs with your home, preferences, and needs, like these unique geometric shelves.

Source: backsplash.com

When it comes to a custom wine cellar, the entire project is an innovation. Our trusted team of Okanagan wine cellar experts can help you find, design and build the perfect custom solution for your home or restaurant.

Wine Walls vs Wine Cellars and Wine Rooms

Wine Walls vs Wine Cellars and Wine Rooms

Wine cellars, wine walls and wine rooms—what’s the difference and what should you build? The answer comes down to personal preference—what do you plan to use it for?

 

  • Space-related storage solution
  • Style & interior design
  • Aging your bottles
  • Fun, function or both

The beauty of all 3 wine storage solutions is that they are completely customizable to each connoisseur and are all about wine. There are several environmental factors to consider when selecting which of the 3 options is best for your space:

  • Proper temperature for wine storage is 12–14°C (55-59°F) 
  • Proper humidity for wine storage is 55-75%
  • Lighting (or lack thereof) 
  • Sound and vibrations  

Wine Walls

Source: BuilderOnline.com (left) and Contemporist (right)

Wine walls are aesthetically pleasing, often smaller in magnitude and can still be temperature controlled if behind a glass wall or cabinet. 

 

Materials and labeling configuration are an important factor in wine wall construction. Before getting started, consider:

  • Will you be using a peg system or column racking?
  • Are the pegs going to be affixed to wood, concrete or drywall?
  • Are you planning to have the labels or the corks face outwards?

 

Avoiding direct sunlight is also a critical component of building a wine wall versus a wine cellar. If your wine wall location will be receiving direct sunlight, you may want too move it. You may have to consider devoting an entire, enclosed space, like a basement wine cellar, to your collection instead.

 

A wine wall can offer you just as much storage space as a standard sized wine cellar and climate control is not impossible provided it is in glass.

Wine walls are not necessarily the most cost effective solution but this is often the case due to square footage and, if omitting this portion, the lack of humidity control and glass.

Wine Cellars

Source: Home and Gardens (left) Heritage Vines (right)

If you want your wine hidden away in a basement,  stored in a traditional european-style wine cellar or as a decorative focal point, or stored in an otherwise “walk in” space, you’re going to want to begin exploring wine cellar options over a wine wall.

 

As noted above, a wine cellar isn’t necessarily the only way to store a larger quantity of wine, but it will give you more space to play with.

Source: Under stairs, Pinterest  (Left), Kitchen Pantry (center), Chelsea Simmang (right)

Movement and vibrations are another consideration. Those familiar with Frequency Winery will have heard how the son of award-winning winery Vibrant Vines owners would use his parents’ wine cellar for band practice until they noticed how the vibrations were altering the sedimentation process. While this brand has worked to weave this fun twist into their wine and vines, excessive vibration can, if left unchecked, cause damage to your wines in storage. While proper building techniques and insulation should be implemented in every cellar, selecting the best location for your home is the place to start, for example:

  • Adding a wine cellar under the stairs of the classic and common Okanagan-standard: a1960’s suite-able split level home, is an ideal storage solution for many
  • Adding a wine cellar under the high traffic of stairs in a busy home with upstairs sleeping quarters such as those built in Kettle Valley, Glenmore and other newer developments might not be best for vibrations, and at the very least will add in considerations of where to place the bottles

Wine Rooms

Source: Houzz

The difference between a wine room and a wine cellar can, at times, be merely a matter of interpretation. Across the pond in Europe, where the practice gained much of its original popularity, Sebastian Riley-Smith, Smith & Taylor Chelsea Bridge Cellars in London puts it down to location and linguistics:  “The term room also implies a twist of display. Cellar implies storage.”  Typically, cellars are underground whereas rooms are usually part of your main floor living. 

In short, in Europe it is generally felt that a “room” is for human use and in this case, entertaining; a cellar is merely a dark space for storage. 

In North America, and increasingly in the Okanagan, a wine room is a functional place to store your bottles, enjoy a space dedicated to wine, and entertain your guests. Things to consider when deciding whether to build a wine room are:

  • Cleanup: Should your wine room have a wet bar or dishwasher? 
  • Comfort: Your wine room will be chillier than others. Is there a place to store warm blankets? Will a faux fire add to the cozy vibe?
  • Layout: Your wine wall, cellar or room can all be organized alphabetically, by region, variety or style. 
  • Impulsivity is a real consideration for most clients when it comes to entertaining. Special bottles and those left to age are often left out of sight or in hard-to-reach places to be left out of mind (and well away from being underappreciated during a 2am “good idea” during a late night of entertaining).

Fun Fact:

Several bottles of intact wine have been recovered from the infamous RMS Titanic and various other wrackages.

This has given rise to a new aging technique of ocean aging or aquaior first attempted by Napa Valley’s Mira Winery and popular in Croatia

A wine room is a luxury entertaining space. As Okanagan cellar building experts, we know that no two wine cellars are created equal — and it’s a challenge we love to rise to:

 

Is it better to build a wine wall or wine cellar in the Okanagan?

How do you decide which is a fit for you: a wine cellar vs wine room? The devil is in both the functional and stylistic details:

  • Is this a place solely for storage, or guest entertainment? A room with entertaining space might be your answer. 
  • Would you like to omit climate control? A dark corner of your basement is absolutely the preferable location. 

 

Essentially, the biggest consideration when choosing between a Okanagan wine wall, wine cellar and wine room in 2022  is personal preference in terms of style, storage and usage. All 3 options can maintain the correct temperature, humidity and store any number of wines.

If you have a wine collection and are looking for a custom solution, contact our team for a free no-obligation consultation

Everything to consider when building a custom wine cellar

Everything to consider when building a custom wine cellar

Wine cellars are gaining in popularity and according to Zillow, result in a significant increase in home value, with 31% of sellers getting over the asking price on their home. Building a custom wine cellar for your home has never been more accessible—or as flexible. From style, to purpose and location—absolutely anything is possible with time and money with custom construction. 

 

When it comes to designing and building your own custom wine cellar, there are a few things to consider to ensure you end up with the perfect build for both fashion and function.

How To Design Your Wine Cellar

You can have a wine cellar that tucks neatly under your stairs, a statement piece for your kitchen wall, something replicating the original 1600s European design or even a futuristic portal in the floor. Most design considerations come down to only a handful of factors:

  • Is the style of your home traditional, contemporary or otherwise?
  • Are you looking for an open, airy and eye-catching display or something more historic and hidden
  • Are you filling a space with a wine cellar, or building a space for one?
  • Is price a factor? In British Columbia, custom wine cellars tend to come with a price tag of $20,000+ once all time and materials are factored in.
  • Do you want to be able to read each label, or fit in as much wine as possible? Or a combination of both?

 

Much like how you would have designed your home, either yourself or alongside an interior designer or home builder, you’ll want to go back to that same drawing board. If you’re hoping to share in the design process with your wine cellar builder, it’s always great to start with looking through builder portfolios or even building a pinterest board so that your ideas can come to life.

Location considerations

Your realtor said it and, if you built your house, then your engineer probably said it too and it remains true to the success of your wine storage as well.

What made you decide you wanted this incredible space? Did you decide to build a wine cellar as a showpiece or was it for the utmost care of your tannins? Maybe it was a blend (pun fully intended). There is no wrong answer! But it does impact your next moves:

 

  • Temperature and lighting. If you plan to store your wine in the basement you may be able to forgo the added implementation (and expense) of a climate control system. By contrast, if you would prefer it to be a showpiece in your bright and spacious main floor you will want to consider a location (or a design implementation) where it will be free from direct sunlight
  • Entertaining your guests vs. your vintage. If you’re a frequent entertainer you may wish to consider how a basement wine cellar will divide the party if this is a space you want to use for social gatherings. If you’re collection comes first, it may be worth moving the cellar a little further away from gathering spaces to ensure perfect climate, lighting and exposure to vibrations.
  • How many bottles it will store. You can store anywhere from 2 bottles per square foot up to 8 bottles per square foot. This comes down to a matter of capacity and design. 

 

Wine Cellar Racking & Label Placement Matters

What happens when your wine cellar is not completely full? Depending on your design this will impact the look.

 

Is cost a consideration? Wine rack placement matters when it comes to storage capacity, look and even price. Wine rack systems range from $3-20/bottle. This means that a basic wine seller without any design or cooling mechanism may be only the cost of the wall and installation.

 

There are 6 modern rack designs

 

  • Column racking accommodates a showcase or “label-forward” configuration and while this takes up more space for your collection, it can be anchored to drywall, wood or concrete. This is often a more cost-effective option with the cost of $3/bottle 
  • Peg systems accommodate both label-forward and cork-forward configurations. Bottles look as though they are suspended and can increase capacity or provide a minimalist look. This option averages $13 per bottle stored if building in the Okanagan region.

Source: Vintage View (left and center) and Vintage Cellars (Right)

  • Floating displays may be common in restaurants however are increasingly seen the home. Often spanning floor to ceiling heights of 12’, and enclosed with option glass walls. These options will add an additional $3 – $5/bottle on top of the racking price
  • Freestanding wine and bookcases are an impressive sight to behold and are often designed with aesthetic top of mind. Both options elevate the price to a base of $10/bottle.

Source: Vintage View (left and center) and Vintage Cellars (Right)

  • Secure lockers are a step up from a traditional in home wine rack and their optional freestanding nature means that construction can be forgone and temperature controls optional

Source: Vintage View (left and center) and Wine Enthusiast (Right)

 

If you’re looking to store as much wine as possible, it may be good to have the corks face out, rather than have the labels displayed. Many larger cellars have a mix of both.

Building it right and building it to last

Wine cellars are often humid spaces – does your home have an adequate vapor barrier in the room in question? Chances are it does not. Insulation should be at minimum R-19 on the walls and R-30 on the cellar ceiling. Professional installation is only part of proper construction. 

 

Our Okanagan based team has been building custom wine cellars since 1997. If you’re not sure where to get started or if you are looking to build your own custom wine cellar, contact us for a free estimate. 

 

Request a free consultation today

Four Tips for Building a Wine Cellar in the Okanagan

Four Tips for Building a Wine Cellar in the Okanagan

So, you live in the Okanagan, drank the kool-aid that is delicious Okanagan wine, or international gems; your wine collection has amassed and you are considering how best to store it? You’ve reached the right place! Below we have put together a few simple things to think about and keep in mind when planning your very own home wine cellar

1) Location, Location, Location

There are two types of cellar systems; Active and Passive. Active – this type of cellar uses heating or cooling units and humidifiers to control the temperature. Passive – this type of cellar has a naturally stable temperature and humidity thanks to its location and elements. Much like the ones that have been used for centuries throughout France. Depending on your cellar’s location, you will need a more or less active cellar system to keep it in the optimal conditions for storing wine. This is a constant temperature between 45-65 degrees and a humidity level between 50-70 percent, protection from vibrations and light. For example a cellar on a heavily trafficked main floor will need more insulation and a more powerful heating/cooling unit than one located in a less-trafficked, cooler basement.

2) Know Your Display Needs

Firstly, you need to figure out the bottle capacity you need for the cellar. Keeping in mind that anyone who loves wine knows that it is a never-ending love affair, and an ever-growing wine cellar is a simple fact. So, leave room for expansion (if your space will allow it)!

 

Secondly, how are you going to organize your wine? If you have a love affair with Riesling, perhaps that will take center stage? Or perhaps you would rather have your wine organized by region? Think about these things and bring them to the design table!

 

Thirdly, what type of bottles do you need to display. Do you need room for Magnums? Do you have any spirits that you would like included in the display? This will affect the end design and is essential for your designer to know.

3) Quality Foundations

When it comes to the storage of your wine, it’s important not to take short-cuts. It is imperative with climate-controlling factors such as insulation and finishings like mohair on glass doors. The extra money spent here can save you some serious heating and cooling costs in the long term. It’s important to speak to specialists about these items because, although you can build a wine cellar without proper insulation – it doesn’t mean you should!

3) Know Your Heating and Cooling (or Someone Who Does!)

When it comes to heating and cooling units, bigger is not always better. There are several factors to consider when purchasing. If you over-shoot with your system, your unit may suffer a shorter life due to over-work, and your energy usage will be unnecessarily high.

There are also several other options to consider, such as ducted or split systems. These are all decisions an expert can consult with you on based on the size and locations of your cellar. Essentially it is important to consult an expert for this step.

Secondary Suites in Kelowna – Are They Worth It?

Secondary Suites in Kelowna - Are they worth it?

With the current rental climate in Kelowna and most of the Okanagan currently on fire, the lure of rental income from a secondary suite has grown almost as much as the local house prices. So, whether your already own your home or are looking to build from scratch, we’ve put together a few things to think about before you start cleaning out the basement or drawing up plans.   

Size of Your Home:

The current City of Kelowna regulations stipulates that a secondary suite should be no more than 90m2 and MUST be less than 40% of the total habitable floor space. What this means is;

 

a) if you have a smaller sized home with a basement suite, you might be restricted to a smaller one-bedroom suite;

 

b) Regardless of your home’s size, if you’re building a secondary suite within a house, the maximum number of bedrooms you would want is two – you might be able to squeeze in a home office at a push.

Size of Your Home For Secondary Suites

Who are you catering to? Long-term or Short-term tennats.

While the market for long-term renters is on fire right now, the summer rental market is not going backwards either. With units being booked for $400 a night depending on the location and amenities, it doesn’t take a homeowner long to exceed the income from a long-term renter. However, again there are some things to keep in mind. Number one is your lifestyle. If you travel often and are out of town more often than not in the summer, perhaps a long-term renter is better suited. Secondly, who do you want in your home? While more money is great – it can be hard to gauge the potential risks of short-term renters from a profile on an app. While a long-term tenant still comes with some risks, the selection process allows you to do reference and credit checks.

 

Depending on who you decide to cater towards, this may change your design plans; for instance, storage is unnecessary for a short-term renter, but this is a must-have for a long-term renter!

Building Codes and Permits

As mentioned previously, there are several regulations and restrictions that must be followed when building your legal secondary suite. A permit should be applied for before construction, and a quality builder (us included!) will assist with this process. Additionally, secondary suites come with their own set of building codes that need to be followed. These codes cover everything from fire alarms to the size of windows. That’s where an experienced builder like Working Hands is essential – it is our job to know the code, and we do it well! 

Following Building Codes When Building Secondary Suite

Getting to Know Your Space

While some basement suite renovations are straightforward – with wiring and plumbing where they need to be, others are not. So, it’s essential to get an expert to take a look before you start calculating your additional income and increase in home value (as tempting as it is!). Some builders, including us, will come to take a preliminary look free of charge.

The Verdict

What do we think? If you know who want to rent to, and how; if you have the space; and you’re prepared for the work to retrofit your basement – then yes definitely. A secondary suite can be a great little money-maker that increases the value of your home.

Owners Representatives – 11 Reasons Why You Should Hire One for Your Next Project

Owners Representatives - 10 Reasons Why You Should Hire One for Your Next Project

An Owners Representative ensures that the owner’s best interest are taken into during every step of the construction process. This role is essential when dealing with large projects to ensure no steps are missed and any conflicts are dealt with quickly to ensure a smooth and efficient construction process. 

 

1. Communication

You have a team of experts with your architect, contractor, legal, and accounting team, but who sees the big picture? Having an Owner’s Representative facilitates communication across team members in a timely fashion. Note, the owners can often be the culprit of why projects become delayed; an Owner’s Representative can assist in preventing these delays and miscommunications.

2. Cost Savings

You hire an accountant to do your taxes, and their efforts often return results that cover their fees. Owner’s Representatives should not claim that they will save their entire fee through their efforts, but it is rare when their involvement does not result in savings to their clients. Like an accountant, you are also receiving peace of mind that your project follows industry protocols to reduce your risk.

3. Time

You, as the Owner, have a job, and most likely, it is more than full-time; adding a large capital project increases the burden of your daily responsibilities. An Owner’s Representative will not replace the Owner but do the heavy lifting related to project management that will allow you to be engaged and informed without being overwhelmed.

4. Software & Information

A reputable Owner’s Representative will have implemented a project management software that allows exchanging information and filing of records efficiently. As the Owner, you need access to information, and therefore it should be filed within a system you can access. An Owner’s Representative will manage countless documents on the Owner’s behalf.

5. Translators

Like any, the Architecture and Construction industry is more than guilty of industry-specific acronyms and terminology and can be hard to understand for those new to the field. An Owner’s Representative can assist the Owner in continually reviewing the project’s goals and walking them through the drawings and specifications as needed to ensure every detail is understood.

6. Scope Identification

Architects and contractors have their roles on a project, but many tasks have to be completed by the Owner. These can include but are not limited to surveys, soil information, IGA agreements, Contracts, hazmat, move management, IT management, security systems and more. The Owner’s Representative will work with the
team to outline the roles and responsibilities and work with the team members to ensure no items are overlooked.

7. Relationships

Owner’s representative should have solid relationships in the industry and can weed out good consultants from bad. They often know the architect and construction firms and sometimes even the architect’s project manager and construction superintendent.

8. Hiring

Your project may require miscellaneous consultants to meet its goals. Owner’s representative’s work to generate the RFP, interview (if necessary), and negotiate the required contracts.

9. Budget

The Owner’s Representative will manage a comprehensive project budget that includes hard and soft costs. An established Owner’s Representative needs a solid master budget, alongside real industry experience managing multi-faceted budgets. The Owner’s Representative will generate the master budget and accurately track expenses related to progress on the project.

10. Schedule

An Owner’s Representative will work with the team to build a master schedule and track it. The master schedule should include details related to critical path and deliverables from all parties.

11. Quality

Quality comes not only at the implementation of construction but is also related to the quality of drawings and even includes items such as meeting minutes. The Owner’s Representative should know what is industry standard as a minimum and work to review the documentation and construction for accuracy, timeliness, and quality.

Design Trends for 2022 Home Building

Design Trends for 2022 Home Building - Okanagan

There is no doubt that many of us have spent more time at home than we ever have before in the last two years. The time we have spent at home has also looked a lot different to previously, with kids at home, parents working and sharing spaces, much more time cooking than grabbing that quick bite as we leave the office. So it makes sense that the emotions and functions that we seek from our home have changed, and with that, our designs must change to meet these new expectations.


So what can we expect from 2022? Well, according to a few different sources, home is going to look a lot more like ‘home.’ You can expect less of the sterile, minimal white or the industrial designs, but see more of the natural tones, softer shapes and a more pronounced sense of place.

Colours & Tones - Nature Is King

Out with the whites, and in with the earth! Think shades of a forest – earthy browns and greens give a room warmth and natural elements. And to back us up, Benjamin Moore’s colour of the year is a soft sage green; October Mist. A gentler approach to colour is a welcome change to many after spending months in a single building – even if it is our home!

Interior-Design-Colour-Trends-2022-1

Furniture - Flexible & Soft (not just the comfy kind!)

If anyone were as lucky as I was as a child, you will be very excited about this next trend! I would arrive home from school on more than one occasion to find a completely new room – my mother had re-arranged my furniture and created a new space – ensue much excitement. In 2022 we see much more planning for this, furniture that serves more than one purpose, furniture that fits in more than one room or space, and many pieces with a purpose.

 

 

Don’t let the practicality of 2022 fool you though, furniture design trends are also heading to the softer side, with more curves and less harsh angles to add to the more friendly interior design looks of 2022. 

Interior-Design-Colour-Trends-2022-1

Interior Spaces - Flexibility & Privacy

Undoubtedly, due to the pandemic, many new home designs are now moving away from open-plan spaces to a more traditional segmented style. Families seek a little more privacy, quiet rooms and ultimately the option just to close the door.

 

As with furniture, flexibility will also play a role in space design. For example, our home office may need to serve as a spare bedroom, or perhaps the garage can be used dual purposely as a gym – saving you from displaying your rusty gym weights in the living room. These spaces need to be designed well in advance, with you and your family’s lifestyles and needs in mind. We like to call it Building with Purpose!

Interior-Design-Space-Trends-2022

Creativity

A trend for 2022 that will be across the board in exterior design, landscaping, and the interior is a push for more creativity and personality. Like sunflowers? Go for that bright sunflower feature wall or bright yellow cushions. Do you love wine? Create a wine wall in your living room (or better yet – a custom wine cellar!). People are tired of walking into their own home and feeling like they don’t identify with anything. Yes, they might like the prints on the wall, but what do they mean. In 2022 we will find much more meaning and creativity showcased in our home designs. I mean, if you’re building it – make it unbashfully yours!

Interior-Design-Creativity-2022

Finally - It's Yours

We would be amiss not to mention, that trends come and go faster than you can re-design your home… So when designing your home keep in mind your deeper style. If you love minimalism, and strong lines then by all means delete all colours from the colour palate. It is after-all you who will be living and ideally, enjoying your new home!