Saturday, April 3, 2010

Top 10 house design trends for 2010

I was recently searching for new design ideas for 2010 and came across the following.

See this video produced by the National Home Builders Association (US) on new trends and product information. Go to New Home Trends Tour

Also, Paul Cardis, CEO of AVID Ratings Co., which conducts an annual survey of home buyer preferences, has produced 10 “must” features in new homes:

1. Large kitchens, with an island. “If you’re going to spend design dollars, spend them where people want them—spend them in the kitchen,” McCune said. 2. Granite countertops are a must for move-up buyers and buyers of custom homes, but for others “they are on the bubble,” Cardis said.

3. Energy-efficient appliances, high-efficiency insulation and high window efficiency. Among the “green” features touted in homes, these are the ones buyers value most, said Cardis. While large windows had been a major draw, energy concerns are giving customers pause on those. The use of recycled or synthetic materials is only borderline desirable.

4. Home office/study. People would much rather have this space rather than, say, a formal dining room. “People are feeling like they can dine out again and so the dining room has become tradable,” Cardis said. And the home theater may also be headed for the scrap heap, a casualty of the “shift from boom to correction.”

5. Main-floor master suite. This is a must feature for empty-nesters and certain other buyers, and appears to be getting more popular in general. That could help explain why demand for upstairs laundries is declining after several years of popularity gains.

6. Outdoor living room. The popularity of outdoor spaces continues to grow, even in Canada. The idea of an outdoor room is even more popular than an outdoor cooking area, meaning people are willing to spend more time outside.

7. Master suite soaker tubs. Whirlpools are still desirable for many home buyers, but they clearly went down a notch in the latest survey. Oversize showers with seating areas are also moving up in popularity.

8. Stone and brick exteriors. Stucco and vinyl don’t make the cut.

9. Community landscaping, with walking paths and playgrounds. Forget about golf courses, swimming pools and clubhouses. Buyers in large planned developments prefer hiking among lush greenery.

10. Two-car garages. A given at all levels; three-car garages, in which the third bay is more often than not used for additional storage and not automobiles, is desirable in the move-up and custom categories.

(c) 2010, Inc.

contact Ken at 250 859 6062 or

Saturday, July 25, 2009

BC Building Safety Branch seeking Kelowna Input

The Building and Safety Policy Branch is seeking public input on three proposals for changes to Provincial building regulations:

High-Efficiency Toilets - Building Code requirement for high-efficiency toilets (including dual-flush units) and urinals in new construction. The requirement supports greening the BC Building Code and Living Water Smart, BC's water plan.

Solar Hot Water Ready - Local government option to require Solar Hot Water Ready construction for new single family houses, which supports the 100,000 Solar Roofs Initiative and the Province's commitment to reduce GHG emissions.

Letters of Assurance - Update to the Building Code's Letters of Assurance. The update responds to industry requests and supports the Modernization Strategy's shift toward more clearly defined
responsibilities and accountabilities.

It is important that we hear from you. You are invited to comment on these proposals through the public review until September 14, 2009. The public review is available online through the Building and Safety Policy Branch website at:

Please feel free to forward this information to your colleagues and other stakeholders.  We look forward to receiving your

Best regards,

Teegan Meuser

Policy Analyst
Building and Safety Policy Branch
Policy and Research Division
Ministry of Housing and Social Development

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Kelowna Design - Inspiration by Nadine Andrews

I've been very fortunate to work with Nadine Andrews on several projects and she has helped my clients and I over come space issues in both new and renovation projects. This article revolves around finding inspiration in the design process.

Looking for inspiration for a new decorating or design project can be a very daunting process. Inspiration is a personal and individual thing, therefore, what might prove to be inspiring for one person won’t necessarily be inspiring to another. However the process of looking for inspiration isn’t something that changes with personalities. Below are some of the most common areas to look for inspiration and how to pull together the ideas from what you see.

• Inspiration can be as close as your clothes closet. Look inside to see which colours you purchase the most of. These colours are generally the colours that you are most drawn to. Usually you will see a colour pallet come through.

• Themes are a good way to become inspired for a specific room or area of the home. Basically a theme is the main idea of a room. For example “fairies” could be the theme for a little girls bedroom, or “old world library” could be the theme for a home office. Choosing a theme allows you to pose the question “Does this fit with the theme?” towards all of your potential decorating ideas and purchases for the room. If the answer to the question is no, then you can quickly put down the object in question and continuing searching for the perfect piece.

• Fabric stores can provide great sources of inspiration for a decorating project. Having a theme before going to the fabric store can help to narrow down the choices, but if you haven’t gotten that far just start browsing the different textures and colour combinations. Purchase small samples of fabrics that you like, including any coordinating fabrics (stripes, checks, plaids, or solids) that you might be able to use for accents and trims.

• Interior design magazines provide a source of photos from a wide range of decorating styles. They are also a great source for looking at current trends. When looking through the magazines, don’t spend too much time analyzing what it is that you like about a picture. If you like the look or feel of a room shown, tear the page out and move on. Once you have accumulated a pile of pages you can go back through to see whether you are still feeling inspired by the picture. You should begin to see a common thread between all of the pictures that you have accumulated. For example, the majority may lead towards a more traditional style of decorating, or they all might have dark coloured hardwood floors.

• Other places of inspiration can include showhomes, websites, friends’ homes, photos, area rugs, and artwork. Take pictures of items or designs that you like and make sure that you ask specific questions about paint colours or the place of purchase.

• Compiling all of the sources of inspiration and ideas into a scrapbook or design file will allow for quick and easy access when you want to look back at an image. Divide the file into sections such as pictures, samples, furniture, etc. Glue or tape samples onto white pages and insert into the file or scrapbook. Make sure that you make notes about what the piece is or why you’ve included it. For example, “Really like this faucet” or “These colours remind me of Hawaii.”

Remember that sources of inspiration are truly just that, inspiration. It is the personal interpretation of this inspiration that will inject your space with personality and truly make it your own.

Nadine Andrews D.I.D.
Design Evolution
250 864 9848

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Design - When Building dreams meet Reality

This topic follows up an earlier article “Design - Start with a Goal and a List” from the November Newsletter - No Better Time to Start your Building Plans.

Moving from your “wish list” to developing a budget is when dreams meet reality or when the rubber meets the road and when many people may become discouraged. Many people are shocked to find out the 600 sq foot addition they’ve been dreaming about may cost as much and take as long to build as it did their split level Kelowna special did 25 years ago. Read more …

Can I suggest that when thinking about renovating or building your dream home you keep in mind the quality – quantity – cost – triangle. This is a project management term that was made popular by Sarah Susanka author of the “Not so Big House series”.

In short, Sarah suggests that after a “wish list” has been created, take a piece of paper and draw a triangle and at each corner place a circle with quality, quantity and cost in each one. Write a dollar amount that you set as your bench-mark in the centre of the triangle. If your budget is fixed then quality or quantity will have to give. If you are planning on keeping your home for some time then Quality may override Quantity, which may result in a down scaling the scope of the project or phasing it.

Keeping this triangle in mind will also help you stay focused on the budget and ultimate goal. It can be very tempting during the build phase to splurge on one item and then find you have to cheap out on your finishes or landscaping to stay within budget.

So remember – one of the three will have to give to achieve your dream:

Cost – how much are you willing to spend to accomplish your dream? Can you do some of the work to help the bottom line?

Quantity – how much space do your really need? Can you spare a square?

Quality – what are you willing to sacrifice or are you willing to risk quality by cutting costs. Will quality be sacrificed if you do the job yourself?

For more information contact
Ken Kunka
Flywheel Building Solutions
250 859 6062

Monday, November 10, 2008

Flywheel - Design - Start with a Goal and a List – Ken Kunka

“A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step." ~ Lao-tzu

When planning your renovation, accessory building or dream home it is important to set goals and priorities. Start first with making the decision to remodel or build. That is the difference between a wish (dream) and a goal. A decision is required to start and has a deadline. A wish is transformed into a goal when you simply glue a date onto it. A goal has a date associated with it, and in order to make it happen by that date you have to do certain things -- in a certain order. So you develop a plan to get you from here to there, and each step has certain things that need to be done to complete it. So whether you want to build or create a working set of drawings for prices – set some goals.

Setting goals that you can look to will help fine tune your design and get you through the rough spots during the building process. Engage the entire family and have all members agree on this objective so that you can make it fun. There is nothing more disheartening than seeing couples argue during the design/ build process because they have not agreed on why they are actually building or renovating. This is what we call the “divorce dust” syndrome. Write at least three main goals down – what do you want to accomplish.

Next list all the things that you would like to have – your dream list. I personally have a library of magazines, books and articles that I have collected to help me develop my dream house and to assist others. Start a collection of articles, sketches, and photo’s and store them in your dream book. If you can, I would strongly suggest going to the Lower mainland and areas like West Vancouver and find what style and trends turn you on. When creating your dream list, think of homes that you have been in as a child, while on vacation or at friend’s homes. Don’t think about budget or how it will be built. Have all the family members create their own lists and then consolidate them. Slow down and make sure you have written everything down.

You may also want to compile a “never in my lifetime” list of things you could never have in your house. If you are renovating then you may also want to create a list of the things that are not working for you such as space or problems with the lighting, structure or plumbing etc.

Once you have created your dream list, go through it and sort the items that are musts, wants and pipe dreams. Brainstorm together and take a collective approach and learn to understand each family members desires. You will likely find that a lot of the items can be combined or may not be that important after all. Ranking them may also benefit you when trying to work out a budget. Take all the must items and ensure they will help you reach your goal(s). Expand every must in further detail, this is working towards your reality list which can be compared with the “never” or not working lists.

Having a clear vision of what you want and the specifics will greatly assist you in reviewing stock plans or communicating with your designer and or builder. A good designer or architect can help up refine your vision and find economical solutions to achieve your goals. They should be able to channel your ideas not design what they want, which can happen if you are not prepared. You could move into your house and find it’s not at all what you had in mind.

So remember:
1. Decide to start and set some goals.
2. Develop your objective and work as a team.
3. Create your dream list and book.
4. Create a never and or not working list.
5. Compare and refine these lists and confirm they will achieve your goal(s)

If you require assistance in setting your goals and building your list please contact us at or 250 859 6062.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Flywheel - Okanagan - Not so big house - Sarah Susanka

Last weekend my wife and I decided that we would go check out some of the open houses in Westbank prior to taking the kids to the beach. Our first stop had two homes side by side backing onto a golf course. What caught my attention after the asking price of over $1.3 million! was the size of the homes + 3800 sq ft. I started thinking of the writings of American Architect Sarah Susanka's series of books "The Not So Big House". The average Canadian family is getting smaller and in the Okanagan there is large number of Baby Boomers downsizing as they move to the valley. So why build a big house, especially when you have to clean, heat and cool it. You can see others may be thinking the same with the glut of homes in the 3/4 quarter to one million dollar range.

Sarah educates the reader in the importance of hiring professionals who are trained in looking at the details that make a house a home. She also states that why not build smaller but put that money back into the finishes and truly build a masterpiece set apart from the large stock homes out there. Her design principles lead naturally to building towards sustainability and use of natural products for a healthier home.

If you are thinking of building new or renovating then I strongly suggest reading one or more of her books.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Ken Kunka - Proper design or proper planning

Proper design or proper planning is the key to any successful home building or renovation project. A few extra hours or days spent on the planning side will save you days or months in the construction phase. After getting a general understanding of the regulations of building it is important to understand your ultimate goal - why am I really doing this? Are you renovating to flip or are you thinking long term, maybe even your dream house. Knowing your "why" will get you through the tough times - and there will be tough times no matter what.

When thinking about design you should be thinking about four key elements:

1. Function

Understanding your ultimate purpose of your building project. Is this a long term goal or a quick update and flip? Will this project benefit you financially? Are there different ways to achieve the end result. Should you hire a professional to flesh out your ideas and needs.

2. Form

Mass and shape define form. Mass refers to the volume defined by a structure relative to its surroundings. Mass can be controlled by your surroundings, cost and local regulations. Shape is the composition and complexity of the surface planes. Shape can be controlled by cost and the materials proposed.
3. Materials

Both exterior and interior building materials should be selected based on upon their appropriateness for the building type, durability, impact on the environment, climatic conditions, code, cost, availability and the prevailing design and character of the installation.

4. Cost

Establishing a budget and securing proper financing. Knowing who to hire and what type of contracts. Understanding hidden expenses. Establishing a time line.

When to get help?

If you have been collecting articles and magazines but don't know how to put those ideas on paper or if you know little about construction, then seek out the help of a professional designer. If you have problems visualizing 3D form 2D drawings then seek the help of a professional. It is easier and cheaper to change your mind on paper then half way through your building project. Depending on the scale the project you could hire a student designer, draftsperson, contractor or an architect or interior designer. Keep in mind that you may also require the assistance of engineers or specialists depending on your local permit requirements or complexity of project. As a suggestion - if you are thinking of spending over $50,000 on a renovation then hire an engineer and unless your building a simple box home then always retain the services of an engineer. Most building departments have reduced building permit fees when a engineer(s) is on board.

Four other key notes to remember to designing

Investigate, Educate, Communicate and Coordinate.