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  •    Feb 26, 2014
  •   0 Comments
  • Posted in Best of Awards

  • Posted by Andrea O

Best of season is in full swing!

Our annual Best of Awards highlight the best contractors on our site. Each company’s listing has our secret algorithm applied to it to determine who has the most customer reviews from that year with the highest rating.

 

Awards have been given out in Ottawa, Edmonton, Toronto, Calgary, Vancouver, Durham, Halton/Peel/Wentworth and Southwestern Ontario.

 

Ottawa

Full list of Eastern Ontario Best of ’13 winners

 

Edmonton

Full list of Edmonton Best of ’13 winners

 

Toronto

Best of '13 Toronto

Full list of Toronto Best of ’13 winners

 

Halton/Peel/Wentworth and Southwestern Ontario

BOA PAN(2) Feb25,2014_alexbrowne

 

Calgary

Full list of Calgary Best of ’13 winners

Vancouver

Full List of Vancouver Best of ’13 winners

Durham

group photo durham

Full list of Durham Best of ’13 winners

  •    Feb 13, 2014
  •   0 Comments
  • Posted in Uncategorized

  • Posted by Andrea O

HomeStars U — Bathroom Reno 101

In the lastest installement of HomeStars U, Mark Ashton of Ashton Renovations takes us through the basics of what every homeowner should know before they do a bathroom reno.

1) Plan and design document

  • Details the layout of bathroom, labour specifications, material specifications, and goes through the design
  • Cost: $300 – $500
  • Money well spent and eliminates change orders (work that is added to or deleted from the original contract) and misunderstandings.
  • You own your plan! You can take it to another contractor to execute.

2) Have a budget before planning

  • $15,000 is realistic number for a basic bathroom reno
  • Set aside an additional $3,000-$4,000 in your budget in case structural, mechanical, electrical or plumbing issues come up during the renovation.

Bathroom Reno Cost

The following pricing information is based on data from reviews. An average for each of these jobs was calculated in order to determine cost.

Complete gut $9514

Reno on two bathrooms $9887

Bath tub refinishing: $463

New toilet $433

Shower install $4920

 

And the Best Goes On..

best of

 

Like all contractors know, some projects take a little longer than you think. We thank all of you for your patience the past couple of days but now… The Best Of Winners in every region have been picked!  Click the links below to find out who won where:

Best of  Toronto

Best of Eastern Ontario

Best of Hamilton

Best of Southwestern Ontario

Best of Durham

Best of Edmonton

Best of Calgary

Best of Vancouver

The awards are determined by Homeowner reviews of companies during 2013.

You can read more about how the winners are determined here. 

Congratulations to all the winners!

 

  •    Feb 4, 2014
  •   0 Comments
  • Posted in Best of Awards

  • Posted by Andrea O

And the Best of Award goes to…

best of

The Best of 2013 winners in Calgary, Edmonton, Vancouver and Durham have been announced. The awards were decided based on reviews that companies received during 2013.

You can read more about how the winners are determined here.

If you are still biting your nails waiting for results in Ontario stay tuned! We will be announcing all the other winners tommorrow.

Congratulations and see you soon!

Home Theater 101

Consumers often associate home theaters with a lot of clunky equipment. Mike Widerman of Toronto Home Theater debunks these myths by showing us a sleek and modern home theatre that doesn’t skimp on picture and sound. 

 

Myth #1: TV’s are better than projectors

  • At the heart of this room was the 108-inch projection screen
  • Mike says from a price per inch standpoint there is far more value with a projection screen.
  • In this case you get a lot more screen for the price of a flat panel 5-inch TV achieve something like this for the same cost
  • Under the proper conditions Mike says the picture quality is just as good as a LED/LCD or plasma TV.
  • Projection systems aren’t limited to movies you can connect video games, television and just about anything else as you would with a TV.
  • Average cost of projection screen: $500-$3000
  • Average cost of projector:  $1200-$3600

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Myth #2: Home Theater = retractable screen

  • The correct way to install a projector is with a fixed frame on wall screen

Myth #3: Big sound = big, visible speakers

  • A big challenge in this room was where to put the speakers in this case they used a specialty screen that allows sound to travel through it and they installed the speakers on the wall behind the projector screen. This is the same technology they use in movie theaters.
  • They also added in ceiling and in wall speakers

 Myth #4: The projector dangling from the ceiling

  • None of that here. They constructed a custom space for the projector and blended it with the existing bulkhead in the basement.

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Myth #5: Wires everywhere

  • No main components are visible, they are all tucked away in custom-built cabinetry and controlled using a universal remote.

Home Automation/Smart Home Technology 101

Home automation, smart home technology and the connected home are all terms that have been thrown around a lot in the last year and if you are still wondering what it all means check out this video below.  Rob May of Sounds Good Audio & Video Solutions explains what it means and how it can work in your home. 

1. The Basics

  • Home Automation involves taking all the elements in your house and controlling them centrally from an iDevice, Android or in wall touch panel.

2.  The Heart of Home Automation: The System Controller

  • Elements in your home i.e. music, heating, lighting get connected to the system controller
  • Prices range from: $1500-$3500
  • A good contractor will help you pick the right one for your home.
  • Adding elements to the system controller as modules costs between $500 – $10,000, depending on size of the house and system.
  • A good contractor will hide all cables and hardware away for you inside cabinetry, a basement or furnace room.
  • The controller should be installed inside a metal equipment rack where it can be easily moved and ventilated.

3. The Living Room

  • Typically home automation starts here
  • People can control their television, cable, DVD player, Apple TV, etc. from a universal remote, iDevice, etc.

4. Lighting

  • One of the most popular elements of home automation
  • Turn lights throughout your home on and off remotely
  • Potential for energy savings i.e. tricking the system to work at a maximum of 60 per cent when you turn the lights on and off
  • Set timers so lights come on at specific hours
  • Retrofit is simple: You can swap your old light switches for home automation ones

5. Whole Home Music

  • Add keypads and speakers into the rooms where you want to hear music and at the click of a button you can have your favourite tunes playing throughout the house or in one room.

6. Costs

  • Wiring: $500-$3000
  • Labour for final install is typically $1000-$5000
  • Budget at least $5000 to get started in smart homes but think closer to $15,000 to really make an impact.

Ice Storm Superheroes

The ice storm just before Christmas left a lot of homeowners without power and with damage to their properties. Many called companies listed on HomeStars and had their issues fixed in time for the holidays. Over the last few weeks we have seen an outpouring of reviews from grateful homeowners who had contractors (many on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day) come in and save the day. Here are snippets from a few of our favourites:

“They were quick in getting the service fixed and I certainly did appreciate their holiday spirit!! Our tree lights are back on and the prime rib is in the oven, all thanks to Steve and his incredible crew. Really I can’t thank these guys enough.  I will be singing their praises to everyone.”

“I called at 8am on the day before Christmas Eve and by 8:30am he had called me back   and came to the house by 11am - amazing considering there were people without          electricity scattered through the city and it was holiday season."

“During a time when there are so many people being taken advantage of it is truly amazing to encounter such a hard-working, honest, capable and compassionate man.”

“The estimate I got was a breath of fresh air, it was fair and honest, seriously I     heard the angels singing. I had some other exorbitant quotes from other contractors,   who were obviously taking advantage of the ice storm providing them with a flood of    damaged service stacks and meter bases... That old wise saying that 'people show their true colours in times of crisis' holds so very true.”

“Our furnace was red tagged and shut off by Enbridge the night of the ice storm. The installers showed up on time, worked quickly and cleaned up their mess…this was one of the most professional outfits we have dealt with since beginning our ground floor gut in May. We’ll be calling them back to install air conditioning in the spring. Highly recommended!”

“On Christmas Eve morning I called and left a message. Late on Dec 25th the            neighbourhood power was brought back on, including our home, thanks to the their       efficient work.”

“A ++ Company !!! With the big ice storm that just happened, along with many others, our pipe burst and we had a big issue… Never having dealt with something like this before, I searched on HomeStars. They dispatched a team right away and the Supervisor even called on route to check in.”

“Prompt service and excellent work on the busiest day after Christmas. I would strongly recommend him to anyone.”

“They worked diligently in sub freezing temperatures and I really appreciated their positive attitudes and great sense of humor during this stressful time. Bravo, you truly are real life superheroes!!”

“He couldn't fix the problem but he arranged for help which should come tomorrow--and  this during an ice storm and right before Christmas.”

Best Of 2013 – Are you the best?

Each year HomeStars.com awards companies who have done fantastic work, based on their customer’s feedback.  We apply an algorithm to each company’s listing to calculate who has the most customer reviews from the year with the highest ratings in each category. Companies have less than 3 weeks to get qualifying reviews in!

2013-best-of

Award Criteria:

Once the HomeStars Team is back at the office in January (the HomeStars office will be closed from December 23rd to January 2nd, core support services will still be available ) we start compiling The Best-Of lists in each competing city. For the 2013 year, HomeStars will be awarding companies in Toronto, Hamilton, Eastern Ontario, Calgary, EdmontonVancouver, South Western Ontario, and the Durham Ontario region.

We work really hard to ensure that each winner is well deserved and we have a selection criteria to help our Best Of selection team figure that out. Determining winners can take awhile so expect the results to be announced in late January. Here are the criteria for the 2013 winners; please review carefully as we have updated some factors to help give more geographically accurate results :

  • Only 2013 Reviews count – All reviews must be received before midnight of December 31st PST.
  • Companies must have a minimum of 5 reviews in 2013 to qualify for the award.
  • Awards are determined based on the HomeStars ‘Best Of’ match algorithm, which uses both the quality and quantity of reviews.
  • Companies can only win in one category but may win in multiple cities based on the location of the homeowners who have reviewed them.
  • Companies must be in the category they wish to be considered for before midnight on December 31st.
  • Companies listed in multiple categories will be considered in all of their categories for a best fit win. Reviews and ratings will be the deciding factor.
  • The city or region where a company can win will be determined by the location of their homeowner’s reviews not on the company’s location. For example, a company with an address in Toronto who has many reviews from Ajax, would be a contender in the Durham Region.
  • Companies who have been involved in any review tampering, such as suspicious or fraudulent review activity, or ‘review bullying‘ (threatening of homeowners to remove negative reviews) during the 2013 year will not be eligible.
  • Tie situations will be settled by HomeStars staff based on the quality of reviews and company involvement with the site (think: awesome company responses to reviews, forum activity,  event participation, twitter and facebook mentions, etc)
  • Once the announcement is made all winner decisions are final.

Get your reviews in!

There are only a couple weeks left in 2013. To homeowners out there, there is no need to procrastinate! Your review might be the difference between your favourite company winning the award or not, so write the review now!

Celebrations!

We will have a celebratory awards ceremony in each city awarded, the locations of which will be announced soon. These events are always a great time and everyone is welcome! Check out photos of some of last year’s events below.

Toronto

Screen Shot 2013-11-28 at 2.21.31 PM

Durham

Screen Shot 2013-11-28 at 2.23.13 PM

SW ON

Hamilton

Screen Shot 2013-11-28 at 2.19.00 PM

Vancouver

Screen Shot 2013-11-28 at 2.24.22 PM

 

 

 

Calgary

Screen Shot 2013-11-28 at 2.28.44 PM

 

 

Edmonton

Screen Shot 2013-11-28 at 2.30.07 PM

 

The One of a Kind Show 2013 – Want to go too?

If you’ve got a long list of people to buy gifts for this December but aren’t in the mood for the mall or online shopping, and want some holiday cheer the One of a Kind Show makes a great alternative. It’s the largest consumer craft show in North America, featuring the works of over 800 exhibitors.

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This is a great place to purchase unique and thoughtful gifts. While the winter edition of the One of a Kind Show is typically considered a Christmas show, most of the items for sale aren’t holiday themed. Though there are splashes of Christmas decorations at the show most items can be used year round and they truly vary.

Here are a few eye-catching exhibits from the show:

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Sylvain Tremblay

La Glasserie

La Glasserie

TinHouse Designs

TinHouse Designs

TinHouse Designs

TinHouse Designs

All through the House

All through the House

foutu tissu

foutu tissu

Pheylonian Bee Works

Pheylonian Bee Works

Tania Gleave

Tania Gleave

reCYCLEr

reCYCLEr

Stinson Studios

Stinson Studios

Daniel Pollack Accessories

Daniel Pollack Accessories

The One of a Kind Show runs until December 8 (Sunday) and HomeStars is giving away tickets! We only have 50 left, so start writing!

Happy Holiday Shopping!

“HONEY CAN YOU TURN THE THERMOSTAT UP!?”

Arguments over temperature control are an old faithful in most Canadian homes once the temperature drops. In addition to these rising tensions, once the heater gets turned up hiccups in the system are often revealed, and the HVAC technician is called in a hurry, to get things up and running.

HomeStars recently spoke with Phil Hanna from AtlasCare Heating and Cooling about the smartphone technology that can help you save money and simplify the heating of your home. Cy Goh from Spring Home Heating & Cooling Systems has offered up tips on what your furnace room should look like in order to help ensure safety and ease of use, should a problem arise.

Phil’s Tips:

  • By connecting to a smart phone, smart thermostats allow homeowners to control their home temperature through a Wi-Fi base, anywhere in the world.
  • Installation is simple; a licensed HVAC technician can have smart thermostats up and running within a few hours.
  • Highly beneficial for people away from their homes from a long period of time
  • Check temperatures and fan speeds, change your heating schedule and set alarms remotely.
  • Track energy efficiency throughout the seasons — at the end of the year you can see where you are saving and wasting money, and make adjustments accordingly.

Cy’s Tips:

  • Your furnace should have a gas tag that indicates: who is the contractor is, the licensed person who installed it, and the date of when it was installed.
  • In finished basements where the furnace is often enclosed, you need at least 24 inches of clearance in front of the furnace so you have easy access to the blower if it needs to be replaced
  • The power switch should be accessible: Many times in mechanical rooms it is challenging to find the power switch, they are often hidden behind the furnace or high up, on the other side of the room.

Pricing on smart thermostats

  1. Honeywell Wi-Fi Smart Thermostat $224
  2. Ecobee – we spoke with Ecobee on the phone to get pricing info, smart thermostats start at $209 for Smart SI thermostat and $326 for the Smart Thermostat
  3. Homewerks Radio Wireless Thermostat with Wi-Fi $139.95
  4. Nest Learning Thermostat $249

What does your region spend on heating installation and maintenance?

Calgary: $1846

Maritimes: $2142

Durham: $2015

Toronto: $2234

Eastern Ontario: $1950

South Western Ontario: $2386

Edmonton: $2161

Hamilton: $2430

Manitoba: $769*

Saskatchewan: $5000*

Vancouver: $2172

* limited stats available in this region, for this category

 

In this week's newsletter: True Stories and New Promotions!