Inspiration & Style - ‘Do I renovate, add or rebuild?’

What happens when you find the perfect property, but not the perfect house? The property should always be the priority because the house can be modified, added to, renovated or demolished and rebuilt. The first question that needs to be asked is whether it makes economic sense to build an addition or do a renovation. Perhaps the house is beyond repair and should be demolished to make way for a new home. Secondly, do any regulating authorities have jurisdiction on the land and will any zoning bylaws affect the development of the property? Other questions to consider are the budget; the ability of the existing structure to handle the loading of a second floor; the capacity of the water, sewer or septic systems to be upgraded, and whether there is an existing architectural style that warrants saving and repeating.

Some of the most rewarding projects are the homes that have what I call ‘good bones’ structurally but lack in character. That’s when we have the freedom to infuse a style. In Mark & Lara’s case, inspiration stemmed from Lara’s memories of life in Scotland where she grew up. Scottish farmhouses, with their white clapboard siding and dormered rooflines, gave direction for the architectural design of their renovated home which is featured in this issue of Seasonal.

Steel Roofing

Of the many choices we have for roofing materials in Canada- asphalt shingles, wood shingles, slate, and composite products, steel roofing is becoming more popular than ever for residential projects. Steel roofing has an urban, clean style that enhances many different architectural styles.

Metal roofs can initially cost three to four times more than traditional roofing materials, but when considering the life cycle of the product is 50-60 years (compared to an average of 15 years for asphalt shingles), metal roofing is a clear contender. Energy savings need to be considered as well- steel roofing’s higher reflectivity reduces attic temperatures up to 30%, lowering the cooling load in summer months.

The interlocking steel panels provide a weather-tight barrier against the elements, withstanding wind forces up to 190 kph and resisting damage due to freeze/thaw and ice damming because of the nonporous exterior. Metal roofing comes in a variety of styles (vertical rib, standing seam or tile profiles), with attractive colour and finish options.

Proper installation of not only the steel components, but the underlayment is key. Mark Baxter, of Semple Gooder Roofing in Toronto says, “The type of underlayment, whether it is breathable or non-breathable, is dependent on the design of the roof and attic space.” He advises to find a qualified and experienced steel roofing installer.

Mark Baxter, Semple Gooder, email:

Winter is here and it’s time for stews and soups and evenings in front of the fire. After all the Christmas entertaining is done, it will be time to begin planning projects for 2014. Hopefully this fourth issue of the Seasonal will ‘spark’ some ideas.

LIFE ~ ‘With Space to Grow’

Mark & Lara first contacted me after they purchased a 40 year old house on 50 picturesque acres in Adjala Township. Mark described the home as, ”memories of plywood floors, spalling bricks, a leaky roof, and squirrels in the wall.” In the process of planning their addition and renovation, Mark and Lara’s family grew from one child to three, with twins. Provision was made for a completely accessible home as one of the twins was born with developmental delays. An interior elevator shaft will service every level of the home should the need arise. Approvals were required for expanding the home from 2700 to 4250 square feet and a new septic system. This included review from the Township of Adjala Tosorontio for Oak Ridges Moraine and OBC compliance and the NVCA (Nottawasaga Valley Conservation Authority).

Architectural: Jane Cameron, Life Home Design
Builder: Michael Dunn, Dunn Construction
Landscaping: Mark Sant, Cold Creek Landscaping
Kitchen Design: Sarah Overholt, Sarah Overholt Design Email:
Steel Roofing: Mark Baxter, Semple Gooder Roofing
Windows & Doors: Ed Hattle, Windows First
Wood Flooring Supplier: Bill Van Veen, Century Wood Products,

Peanut Butter Popcorn Balls

I’ve been making these for years for all sorts of occasions. They’re a sweet treat for Christmas, for a home movie night, or for watching the upcoming Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics! OK… I admit… I get hooked! These are super easy and quick to make with only 5 ingredients.

Pop enough popcorn to make 2 quarts.
Cook to a rolling boil:
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup honey or light corn syrup (I use honey)

Remove from heat and stir in:
1/2 cup chunky peanut butter (I use the unsalted natural kind)
1/2 teaspoon vanilla

Pour over popcorn, stirring to coat. Let cool slightly and shape into balls. Enjoy!

Copyright © 2013 Life Home Design, All rights reserved. Our mailing address is: 5087 4th Line, Tottenham, ON L0G 1W0
905-939-8025 - -