When Glenn and Liz MacMullin decided it was time to buy a home in New Maryland, they explored all their options. With a baby on the way, they wanted to settle in a safe, family-friendly neighborhood. They were drawn to the Springwater subdivision. They decided on a house that they liked, but knew that it would need some work to become a home they would truly love.

It’s not always easy to see past a home’s current floor plan to envision its potential. Sometimes when we’re renovating a home, we play a role in the design decisions, but Glenn and Liz put in the hard work to figure out what they wanted and clearly laid out their vision for us.

Having had the pleasure of working with the couple before, we were excited to be invited to be a part of this new project.

The focal point of their vision was the kitchen/dining area/living room. They wanted to open up the small, closed-off kitchen to create a spacious, open-concept main floor area that would be perfect for both entertaining and day-to-day family life.

The small, enclosed kitchen is opened up to create an open concept living space on the mail level.

The small, enclosed kitchen is opened up to create an open concept living space on the mail level.

The first day of work and the final product.

The first day of work and the final product.

New countertop, appliances, backspash, cupboard doors, hardware and lighting!

New countertop, appliances, backspash, cupboard doors, hardware and lighting!

Taking out the wall created space for a large island.

Taking out the wall created space for a large island that offers extra drawer space and seating.

The kitchen was just the beginning. We also:

  • Updated trim, wall colour and flooring throughout the home.
  • Replaced the windows and put in a bright, cheerful blue front door.
  • Removed the tired, faded siding and replaced it with fresh new siding.
  • Upgraded the family bathroom with a custom vanity, countertop and sink.
  • Upgraded the ensuite bathroom to create a bigger floor space. We also added a custom vanity and spacious stand-up shower.
  • Transformed the fireplace area from a small, inconspicuous brick fireplace to the focal point of the sunny living room – now a favourite spot in the home.
Fresh siding, new windows and a blue door ramp up their curb appeal!

Fresh siding, new windows and a blue door ramp up their curb appeal!

Small half bath ensuite becomes a full-sized bathroom with large stand-up shower.

Small half bath ensuite becomes a full-sized bathroom with large stand-up shower.

Small, drab fireplace becomes the focal point of the living room.

Small, drab fireplace becomes the focal point of the living room.

As is nearly always the case when renovating an older home, the process didn’t happen without a few bumps along the way. According to Liz:

“Travis was very upfront about any unexpected changes to the budget due to our design preferences or typical things that come up in older homes. If there was an existing issue with the home that was going to cut into the budget, Travis had ideas for how to achieve our design style at a reduced cost to compensate for unexpected expenses.”

The end result? A beautiful, updated home that the couple loves. And the happy ending became an even happier one when they brought their new little one home from the hospital just days after moving in to their new home.

Congratulations Glenn and Liz and thank you for letting us be a part of your lives once more.

The couple worked hard to get this gorgeous nursery ready for their new arrival.

The couple worked hard to get this gorgeous nursery ready for their new arrival.

Carpenter vs Roofer: 5 Reasons it Matters Who Installs Your New Roof

Jayson DeVries Roof - edited

I read a roofing advertisement yesterday that said:

“Go for the cheapest option on you roof, it’s not like all your earthly possessions and your family are inside”.

It reminded me once again that it matters who installs a roof on your home.  The option of a roofing company or a licensed contractor/carpenter is more important that you might think.

Here are 5 reasons to consider hiring a licensed Fredericton carpenter to install your new roof:

1. Carpenters Understand Building Science

You might be thinking, “I just need a new roof not a science lesson!”  One of the most asked questions when talking with homeowners about a new roof is, “Why is it that ’25 year’ shingles only last for 10-15 years?”  The answer, in part, lies in understanding your home as a system.

When shingles heat up they deteriorate more quickly.  Shingles get baked off your roof when heat from the home gets trapped in your attic with no way to escape.  The heat pounding down on your roof is bad enough, without the underside of your shingles heating up too.  A carpenter who understands building science will look at two important factors:

1) How much heat is climbing into your attic? This is directly proportional to the amount of insulation you have above your ceiling.

2) How much heat is getting out of your attic? This factor is influenced by the amount of ventilation you have in your attic.

A carpenter with a working understanding of building science will give specific direction towards adding both insulation to keep heat out and ventilation to get heat out.

An additional unwelcome problem associated with high heat and low ventilation is the potential for mold growth.


2. Two Birds with One Stone

If you’re getting a new roof it means that your home is at least 10-15 years old.  If it isn’t the first roof replacement for the home, then your home is at least 20-30 years old.  Homes need ongoing loving care to help them age gracefully.

Over time style changes, building codes are updated and newer, more innovative products come onto the market. Getting a new roof installed is often part of the process of updating or repairing the house as a whole.

But who doesn’t have a wish list of things they’d like to do around the house from whole additions to incomplete “Honey-do” lists?  Hiring a licensed carpenter is a great opportunity to talk about your other ideas and get a free quote on future home upgrades.


3. The Roof System

A roofing company can address the roof covering but a carpenter can give a comprehensive overview and provide direction for the roof system in potential problem areas such as:

  • Insulation
  • Masonry
  • Ventilation
  • Sagging rafters
  • Water damaged sheathing
  • Structural damage under the roof
  • Soffit and fascia

Instead of having multiple crews on, in and around your home, a licensed carpenter with a good working knowledge of roofing and building science can speed up your project cutting costs along the way.


4. Greater Variety of Products

Many roofing companies specialize in one or two types of roofing products.  However, you may want to consider other options. Products have been popping up for the last 10-15 years that have had a chance to prove themselves in real world conditions.  Asphalt shingles have grown from a 3-tab dominated market to include architectural shingles with many high end designs and patterns to enhance the look of your home.

Metal roofing has expanded from straight steel sheets to standing seam, low and high profiles, European designs and individual steel shingle applications.  There are also many examples of composite, rubber and aluminium roofing.

Finding a contractor who has access to and experience with these new products will expand your options, and help you determine which product is right for your budget and the style of your home.

5. The Cost and Quality are Equal

The remaining factors in roof replacement tend to be the quality of the roofing install itself, the clean up at the end of the job and of course the cost!  In terms of the installation of asphalt shingles, quality is the same, a thorough clean-up should also be the same (although these do vary from company to company).

The final and most important factor is cost.  Will a roofer or carpenter charge more?  That depends on the company and their experience with the product you choose.

Considerable weight should be placed on the long term value of a proper roofing system installed with the rest of the house and relevant building science in mind. If all you need is a new roof covering, a licensed carpenter or a roofer will come out about even.  If you’re after long term value, product options and peace of mind about the complex system over your head, then maybe it does matter who installs your roof.

5 Things to Think About When Doing a Basement Renovation

The hardest part of anything is usually just getting started.  A new job, going back to school or cleaning up after the guests have gone home is never quite as painful as you imagine it will be once you get into it.  Basement renovations are no different.

As with most things, a basement renovation takes careful planning to avoid going over budget or becoming a decade long ”weekend warrior” project.

Earl & Faith Stairs II

Here are the 5 main factors to plan for:


A lot of home renovation shows pretend that price is no object or pay for their projects themselves and fail to inform viewers of the most important factor in almost all home renovations.  You can have great basement ideas fit for any house and home magazine cover, but with a calculator and some common sense most of us realize that we need to practice some restraint.

Planning is vital to using limited funds effectively and creatively.  Regardless of whether you’re taking out a mortgage, using savings, getting a loan or line of credit to renovate, planning your budget is the very first step.

Figure out how much you would like to spend. Then figure out how much you actually can spend.  This probably won’t be the same number, unless money is no object!

However, almost every renovation project changes part way through and you need to be flexible financially.


Contracting Services

Find a contractor you can trust. Ask your friends and family who they recommend and check out the contractor’s website, past work and references.

As a contractor, my main goal is customer satisfaction.   I try to be honest at all times with my clients and it works best for them to be honest with me about their renovation ideas and their budget.  A good contractor will be able to get you the most bang for your buck and will likely have many ideas about how to save time and money while still delivering a high quality end product.



When planning this stage, ask yourself: “What is the purpose of renovating this space?”  Reasons abound and you need have this clearly in mind as you plan.

During the planning process, get some graph paper and draw out your space to scale.  Once you start drawing some walls, furniture, doors and appliances it will become apparent what will work and what won’t.  This is a great stage in which to include your contractor.  He should be experienced in basement design and bathroom design which is paramount in most basement renovations.

Special consideration should be given to access to natural light, stair restrictions, sub-floor construction, and bathroom placement and bearing walls.  There are so many things to consider in making your basement functional, but careful planning beforehand will decrease your stress and the duration of the project.


Moisture Prevention

The number one problem in basements is moisture, which can lead to harmful mold growth.  Special consideration needs to be given to any point where moisture can enter, get trapped and encourage mold growth.  These points are usually the sub-floor, walls, windows, window wells and bathrooms.

You need to think about how you will stop moisture and how you will deal with moisture if it does get in.  Again, this is an important point to talk about with your contractor of choice. It is possible to have a warm dry basement provided you plan accordingly.



Are you on a time crunch? Do you need your basement completed in time for your relatives’ annual visit? Talk to your contractor about it. Contractors often have two or more jobs on the go so that they can be working on another project while one of the other trades is working on your project. If however, he knows that your project has the tighter deadline, he will ensure that his other jobs don’t jeopardize that timeframe.

The biggest delays to basement renovations are usually the result of changing plans when construction is already underway.  Changing labour methods or materials can result in longer wait times for deliveries or doing one job more than once.  Time is money and time (therefore money) can be saved by planning in advance.  I can’t stress it enough: it’s easier to plan what you want and how to make it happen before walls are up or sub-floor is being laid.

An average of 6-8 different trades will most likely be on site during a basement renovation. It’s important to know when each trade needs to come and when they will finish so the next trade can begin.  Having and adhering to a trades schedule can cut the project time down by 30-40%. It’s your contractor’s job to ensure the trades move in and out of your home seamlessly and efficiently.

The Best Renovations to do in the Summer


While most of us would rather enjoy our summers rather than living in the midst of renovations, some renovations will actually save you money when you do them in the summer. And since there’s not much summer left to be had, here’s the short list for you:


Additions and Large-Scale Renovations

These types of larger renovations can take weeks or months to complete. During that time, your home will be opened up and exposed to the elements to some extent. Although your contractor will ensure your home is not damaged by wind and rain, you will be affected by the temperature outside.

Save money:  So rather than cranking your heat in the winter to try to keep warm, summer is a much more comfortable time to do a large-scale renovation.

Save time: In addition, doing a large scale renovation in the summer means more daylight and longer work days which translates into you getting your life back to normal even sooner.


Kitchen Renovations

Let’s be honest. No time is a good time to give up the use of your sink, stove, dishwasher and kitchen space while it undergoes its transformation. The end product may be your dream kitchen, but the process can feel more like a nightmare.

Save money: Instead of eating out every evening during your renovation (fun…but expensive!) fire up the BBQ and grill your dinner at home. Eat off of paper plates and sit out on the deck and enjoy the beautiful weather. If possible, you can move your fridge into your garage and set up a makeshift counter space for food prep.


Updating your Outdoor Space

    • Driveway Paving: If your driveway is a little worse for wear, now’s the time to do it. Working with asphalt to create a smooth surface takes time. Hot weather allows more time for this process because the higher temperatures keep it from hardening up before the smooth finish is achieved.
    • Landscaping, pool installation and building a deck: Well…these can pretty much only be done in the summer. Plus doing them in the summer means you get to enjoy them while it’s still warm out.


Tips for Planning a ‘Staycation’

Vacations are great, but sometimes, they don’t end up being quite as great as we imagine. For one thing, they can get expensive, especially if you’re going to be flying. Secondly, travelling long distances, changing routines or time zones and minor planning hiccups are all made more challenging when you have a young family. You might just end up coming home feeling more tired and frazzled than when you left.

The solution? Have you thought about planning a staycation this summer?

A staycation is taking time off from work to explore your own city and the surrounding area. Maybe that sounds boring initially, but think about it for a minute. Do other people take vacations to visit your city or surrounding area? What is it that draws them there? Maybe you’ve never really taken the time to explore the shops and cafes and parks and festivals and live music and farmer’s markets and ice cream stands your city has to offer. If not, maybe this is the summer to save a pile of money on an expensive family excursion and check out the sights and sounds of your own hometown.

Fundy 09 059

Mirimachi 011




Here are a few tips for planning the perfect staycation:

1. Hit up your local tourism information office. This is where you find the staycation gurus! The tourism information personnel are paid to know what’s fun and exciting in your area. Ask them for maps, guide books, brochures, tips, ideas, coupons…whatever you need to find the places and events that interest you and your family most.


2. Resist the urge to be productive. No sneaking into the office for a day here and there. No answering work emails if you can avoid it. No picking up an extra shift for the co-worker begging you to bail them out. No using your free time to clean your house or “get ahead” on other home projects. You’re on vacation! Just relax and do all the things you’d normally do on a vacation…sit on your deck with a book, eat out, find some water to swim in, have a campfire, buy an iced coffee, and all those other wonderful vacationy things that rejuvenate you.


3. Go camping. Pack up your gear and head to a nearby campground and use it as a base for your daytrips. Or camp out in your yard or a friend’s yard.


4. Be more like a kid than a grownup. As grownups, most of us are tired. And when we’re tired, we just want to sit and veg out…which is probably why kids think grownups are boring. And sometimes they’re right. Once you feel your batteries recharging after a day or two of staycation, enter into the excitement of seeing things through your kids’ eyes as you explore together.  Believe me, they’re never going to forget the way you chased them into the water, even though it was cold.


5. Stick together as a family. If you were on a family vacation, you’d all be together and your kids’ friends wouldn’t be around asking them to come over and play. The same goes for a staycation. You take your day trips together, eat out together, make a big breakfast together, watch a movie together, etc. Most of your staycation should be spent together as a family.  


6. Plan a weekend staycation. If summer vacation time is just not an option for you, plan a weekend staycation. Just getting away from the daily grind might refresh you more than you realize.



From the time Liz MacMullin, a successful business owner in New Maryland, first launched her highly reputable daycare, Serious Fun Childcare Inc., she had high hopes of renovating the additional building on her property.  At first she considered fixing up and maintaining the two apartments it contained; but after discovering what a significant need there was for quality licensed infant and toddler care in the area, she decided to completely renovate the building and turn it into a facility that could meet that need.

In the winter/spring of 2014, we had the privilege of helping Liz transform her vision for her business into a reality.

But it was no easy task!

While Liz sought to comply with strict daycare operator standards, we had to observe strict commercial building code standards. Much to our mutual frustration, there were times when these two codes seemed to even contradict one another! But with frequent, ongoing communication between Liz and ourselves, we were able to comply with both sets of codes.

The result?

A beautiful new facility to provide care for 22 adorable little infants and toddlers.

“I am very satisfied with the result,” says Liz. “My clients, even those without infants and toddlers, have asked for tours. Everyone who walks through the door has been very impressed. Fresh Homes Construction was the best thing to happen to our renovation!”

Not only does Liz love what she does, she loves where she does it. “Being a business owner in New Maryland is fantastic! We have wonderful neighbors and some days the Mayor pops in just to say ‘Hello!’ Owning your own business anywhere has its ups and downs, but I am fortunate to have great clients and a very supportive group of friends and family.”

We have been thrilled to be a part of this project and we wish Serious Fun Childcare, Inc. all the best in their future endeavors!

Front Entryway:  Before and After

Before Front Entryway          After Entryway


Kitchen:  Before and After

Before Kitchen          After Kitchen


Main Play Area:  Before and After

Before Main Play Area    After Main Play Area


Hallway:  Before and After

Before Hallway          After Hallway


Additional Play Room 1:  Before and After

Before Playroom 1       After Playroom 1


Additional Play Room 2:  Before and After

Before Playroom 2          After Playroom 2


Bathroom:  Before and After

Before Bathroom          After Bathroom







Asphalt Shingles vs. Metal Roofing: Which is Better?

As you drive around town, you might have noticed that more and more people are choosing to redo their roofs with metal, rather than asphalt shingles. Which one is better? Which one is more cost effective?

Let’s take a look at a few of the main points to consider when making your decision.

Phillips roof


Cost. Metal roofing can cost two to three times more than asphalt shingles, which is one of the main reasons most people still choose shingles.

Heat.  Asphalt shingles absorb and retain a lot of heat, which is eventually absorbed into your home. This can produce an increase in the temperature of your home. While that sounds great in the winter, it’s not so nice in the summer. However, insulated rooflines and vented attics can help to mitigate temperature increase.

Metal roofing reflects the sun’s heat rather than absorbing it, so there is no alteration to the internal temperature of your home.

Durability. Although it is more cost effective initially, shingle roofs are much more susceptible to the elements, especially heat, and will need to be replaced much sooner than a metal roof. A shingle roof can last anywhere from 12 to 25 years depending on the quality of the shingles, the weather it endures, whether or not it is maintained, etc.

A metal roof can last for 50 years, maybe even longer. To maintain its long life, your roof’s screws and gaskets will have to be replaced at some point, as the rubber gaskets will not likely last 50 years.

Design. Design is another reason many people choose shingles over metal. Shingles offer a more familiar homey look, while metal tends to look a little more industrial. However, as metal roofing has grown in popularity, new designs, colours and textures have become available. Some designs are paneled, while others are made to mimic shingles or slate. Roofing materials are typically made of steel, aluminum or copper.

The Green Factor. While neither shingle nor metal roofs are either eco-friendly in their initial production, you will send two or three shingle roofs to the landfill in the lifespan of one metal roof. And when it’s time to replace your metal roof, 100% of it can be recycled.

Noise, noise, noise? Metal roofs are noisier than shingle roofs when it rains. An insulated roof helps to mitigate the sound, but it’s still going to be noisier. Some people don’t mind (or even like) the pitter patter of the rain, while others are annoyed by it.

Safety. Snow doesn’t slowly trickle off of a metal roof…it slides off, avalanche-style. That’s why you need to install snow guards at various points along the bottom of your roof to help break up the snow chunks so you don’t get caught underneath.

4 Signs Your Roof Needs to be Repaired or Replaced

Replacing your roof is one of those things that everyone hates doing. Spending money on your roof is not like other, more fun renovation projects. When you renovate your kitchen, for example, you get a beautiful, new, updated kitchen of your dreams at the end of it. But when you renovate your roof…you end up with a roof that looks a lot similar to what you started out with – minus the cracked or curling shingles.



But sometimes replacing your roof is one of those necessary evils you just have to go through with and putting it off may end up costing you more in the end. Here are four signs to watch for if you’re thinking you might need to repair or replace your roof.

 1. Signs of leaking or water damage. Take a flashlight and go on an attic exploration adventure. See if you detect any signs that water might be getting in.

  • Does the roof seem to be bowed or sagging in places?
  • Do you notice any water stains, particularly around the chimney or other ventilation pipes and openings?
  • Is the insulation wet?
  • Do you notice any holes through which the outside light is coming in?
  • Is there any moldy or rotted wood?

If your roof is leaking in one spot, you can probably have someone repair the damaged area. If you have multiple leaks, you’ll want to get your roof replaced right away.

 2. Cracked or torn shingles. Do you notice any broken or missing shingles? A few cracked shingles doesn’t mean your whole roof needs to be replaced, but it does mean you should call someone to repair your roof before you do need an entire replacement.

Find out if you can get replacement shingles that match your current ones. If not, your patch job will be fairly obvious.

3. Curled shingles. The south-facing side of your roof is the best indicator of heat damage to your shingles. If the corners of the shingles are just beginning to turn up, you don’t have to replace your roof yet. But if the shingles are badly curled, you’ll want to replace your roof soon before it starts to leak.

It’s possible to replace only one side of your roof if the south-facing side is curling badly, while the north-facing side is not. However, you should take the age of your shingles into consideration. If they’re more than 10 years old, you may want to replace your whole roof in one shot, which will probably be cheaper overall than replacing one side on two different occasions.

 4. Shingle granules in your gutters. As asphalt shingles age, they begin to lose some of their granules. You’ll see these in your gutters or on the lawn around your downspout. This is a sign that your shingles are getting thinner and less able to keep water out of your home.

If you’re not sure if your roof needs to be repaired or replaced, call a recommended contractor who you can trust to give you an honest assessment of the situation.

Project Spotlight: River Room

From their vantage point in Douglas NB, Doug and Georgina Spidell have an absolutely spectacular view of the Saint John River. However, they felt they could really only enjoy the view from their deck during the too-short summer season.

Now that their kids are out of the house and there’s a little more time to sit and relax, the Spidells wanted to be able to enjoy their view throughout the entire year.

The solution we implemented was three-fold.

Firstly, we put a sliding door into their dining room so they could enjoy both the view from this room, as well as the additional natural light.

Secondly, we extended their deck so that it wrapped the house and joined up with the newly-installed sliding door. This gave them a larger deck space for entertaining in the summer.

Finally, we added Doug’s “dream home” element – a second storey three-season room from which the couple can enjoy the view all year round. The couple loves their new ‘River Room.’

“After years of discussing ideas on our new ‘River Room,’ we saw it all happen exactly like we had hoped.”  – Doug Spidell –

Spidell Sliding Door Spidell Deck 1 (2) Spidell Deck 2 (2) Spidell Deck 3 (2) Spidell Deck 4 (2) Spidell Deck 5 (2) Spidell Deck 6 (2) Spid. Sunroom 1 Spid. Sunroom 2 Spid. Sunroom 3  Spid. Sunroom 5 Spid. Sunroom 6 Spid. Sunroom 7













6 Tips for Avoiding Basement Flooding


Basement flooding is a common problem this time of year. Here are six tips to avoid basement flooding this year or to prepare for next year.


1. Seal it up

Seal up even the tiniest cracks in your foundation, basement walls and floors. Make sure all basement window wells are also sealed up tight against any intruding moisture.


2. Create drainage away from your home

Does the grading (sloping) on your property send water pooling around your foundation? A gentle grade away from your home can ensure water drains away from your home rather than straight for it.


3. Clear your eaves troughs

If you didn’t do it in the fall, you might be getting water pouring over the sides of your leaf-blocked eaves troughs in these heavy spring rains. This adds extra unwanted water to your already soggy lawn.


4. Lengthen your downspouts

You want your downspouts to empty their contents approximately two metres away from your foundation to send water well on its way – away from your home.


5. Clear away debris

If there is debris in the grates on the road near your home, it could be slowing the drainage from your property. The same goes for the shallow drainage ditches on the boundary between your property and your neighbor’s. Make sure both are clear of leaves and other debris.


6. Increase green space

Is there enough green space on your property to absorb water or is the area around your home predominantly patio stones and non-porous pavement? Consider creating some additional green space and using porous pavement and patio stones to ensure moisture percolates well.