Tsawwassen renovation has a local focus
There’s two things you always hear about a home renovation. You’re always over-budget and you’re really happy when it’s finished.
That’s what Ana and Antonio Arciniega have to say about their Tsawwassen home reno, which began with something so small and simple.
The idea was to change the cabinet knobs in the kitchen, but Ana soon realized it would be better to change the cabinets, too.
It was then that they noticed a crack in the ceiling and decided to redo the entire ceiling. The floors soon followed.
“It was like a snowball effect,” says Ana, laughing. “So, I had to change the entire kitchen. I had no choice.”
The Arciniegas moved into their home seven years ago and estimate the last reno was done in the mid-eighties.
“And so my good husband decided to indulge me,” says Ana, looking askance to Antonio, who smiles.
The couple decided that their project would involve only local contractors and suppliers.
“You can find everything you need to reno within Tsawwassen and Ladner,” says Ana. “There’s a lot of expertise here.”
Their general contractor, Mike Phillips from Ladner’s MRP Construction, was able to find a local subcontractor for everything they needed. That included Tod Lowe from Bayside Cabinets, James Latheron from Southside Flooring, Dulux Paint in Tsawwassen,
Geralynne Mitschke Interior Design from Ladner, Tsawwassen painter Kevin Jamieson, and Ken Lillie from Oasis Windows.
“The lucky thing is we knew all these people in town who do all these jobs,” says Ana, adding there’s a community of contractors who all recommend one another.
Phillips was born and raised in Tsawwassen so he has a good reputation with South Deltans. A good contractor also brings the bulk discounts and connections that is a big advantage over the do-it-yourselfers.
Antonio says Phillips is a lot like a music conductor, directing all of the other trades and orchestrating the reno in perfect harmony.
“People tend to think they’re going to get a cheaper price if they go somewhere else but that’s not the case,” says Antonio. “It’s better to deal with someone you know than trying to save a penny and lose the difference.”
Ana says she knows friends who have done renos with supplies or subcontractors from out of town, but they usually can’t vouch for the quality or service.
Because their house is close to 50 years old, not everything went smoothly. When the electricians opened up the ceiling the code was out of date and they had to rewire everything.
Ana says you have to be really committed to your project because each decision costs money and time.
Nanno van Eysinga, a subcontractor on the reno, says challenges are all part of a renovation, particularly since no house is perfectly square and no walls perfectly plumb. The important thing is to have professionals able to work through it.
“People tell me they have a problem,” says van Eysinga. “I say no, you have a situation which requires a solution.”
Proper communication between the homeowners and the contractors is essential to maintain confidence. Some people have no idea what’s behind their walls until they’re physically ripped apart. Explaining that process is part of the job.
“You have to say this is what we have to do, and this is why we have to do it.”
Although it takes a lot of commitment from homeowners, the contractors become invested in their work as well. Van Eysinga even postponed his Christmas vacation by one extra day so he could leave the project feeling satisfied. He also knew how important it was to the Arciniegas that their kitchen would be useable during Christmas.
Thankfully, it was. With their children home from university during the break, they were able to cook a turkey in their new oven in their new kitchen.
Van Eysinga says it’s important that each contractor coordinates with one another in order to finish the job seamlessly. In his case, making sure his work was finished to the point where the countertop and hardwood flooring could be installed keeps the project efficient, on time, and ultimately on budget.
There’s also an emotional essence to a renovation, says van Eysinga.
“Everybody needs to take ownership for the project. It’s my approach to life. The mental attitude of approaching challenges requires it.”
No matter how flawless a reno, there will always be some stress, which is a natural reaction to the upheaval of one’s home and daily routine.
“That’s why you need three things during a reno,” jokes van Eysinga. “A good lawyer, and good banker, and a good counsellor for when it’s finished.”