Special Guest Bryan Baeumler of Baeumler Approved and HGTV fame, along with Graeme Huguet of My House Design Build Team join Mike and Jennifer-Lee in the studio to talk about the value of working with the professionals.
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About the Speaker
Bryan is a Canadian television host on several HGTV/HGTV Canada shows. Learning the trade from his father, an aircraft engineer, Baeumler spent his childhood summers constructing his family’s cottage. At 14, Baeumler opened his own handyman business doing odd jobs for neighbors. He received his B.A. in Political Science and Business from the University of Western Ontario in 1996. After working as a builder, he founded a construction company, which became Baeumler Quality Construction and Renovations Inc., of which he is president and CEO. In 2011, Baeumler launched Baeumler Approved, a website that aids homeowners connect with home-service companies in Canada. Baeumler became the spokesperson of HeyBryan, a peer-to-peer mobile marketplace app that connects homeowners with home-service providers, in 2018. He has won a Gemini Award for his hosting and has published a book on home renovations. Bryan In 2017 Bryan and his wife Sarah bought a defunct abandoned beachfront resort on South Andros, Bahamas, and renovated it into a new sustainable luxury resort, Caerula Mar Club, that opened in December 2019, that they own and operate.
Founder & General Manager
If you had told Graeme that he’d be in the construction business 30 years ago, he might have laughed at you.
Born in Burnaby and majoring in acting, design, directing, business, and fine arts, from a young age Graeme has always had a creative “make things happen” approach to life.
The segue way into construction came from designing for theatre and television granted an opportunity to design in “real life”. He then saw a need within the industry to create a more holistic design and build client first approach that did things above and beyond what was expected. It was in this creative and non conventional approach that My House Design/Build Team was formed.
Here's the Full Transcript of this Episode
[00:00:00] Jennifer-Lee: Hey Mike. It’s nice to see you in the studio again for another episode of HAVAN’s. Measure Twice, Cut Once.
[00:00:08] Mike: Hey, Jennifer Lee. Always great to be back in the studio. Always love having these conversations, especially today because today is a very special day.
[00:00:15] Jennifer-Lee: Indeed, today we have Fellow HAVAN member Graeme Huguet from My House Design Build team, and a very special guest, Bryan Baeumler from Baeumler Approved and HGTV fame. I know I have a lot of questions for him, and you probably do too, so let’s dive right in and we’re going to discuss the value of working with the professionals when looking to build or renovate your home.
Mike: Welcome, gentlemen.
[00:00:40] Bryan: Thanks for having us.
[00:00:41] Graeme: Thanks for having us. It’s great pleasure. It’s a wonderful day here in Vancouver.
[00:00:44] Mike: Can you talk to us a little about some of the benefits of working with a professional versus working with someone who may not be as professional?
[00:00:53] Bryan: I mean, you, you could make the comparison to going, you know, to a doctor and needing surgery or something fixed and, you know, or just going to someone that is available. You know, our homes are living, breathing things and there there’s a lot of technology and you know, and skill that goes into building and renovating a home. But there’s a lot of art as well. And, you know, there’s always this argument is what is more art? What’s the percentage of art versus, you know, technology and skill required? Everything is subjective. So, the finish of a, a tiled floor, the finish of drywall, paint, et cetera. People will have different levels of acceptability, things that they look at and say, that look amazing. You know, Graeme and I may walk in and say, that’s horrible. Did you do that yourself? Not only that, but there’s also, you know, people tend to overestimate their skill, their abilities. They underestimate the expense and the time that it will take to do things properly, and they may not focus on the right elements within a home to spend money on, to really increase the value and make that home an asset. We can put lipstick on a pig, and at some point, someone’s going to have to pay the piper and you know, if you’ve saved too much money on electrical or plumbing or HVAC or structural and, insulation, the long-term operating cost and maintenance costs of your home. So, it’s bringing someone in that really knows that business that will do all the pre-planning necessary and make the journey as inexpensive or as affordable or as close to your budget as possible, and also minimize the amount of time it takes to do it.
[00:02:30] Mike: So, what are some of the ways we can help – let me put this differently. What are some of the questions we can ask to help identify those professionals? Because you use the analogy of medicine. Mm-hmm. I can’t say I’m a doctor, but I can technically say I’m a renovator, I’m a builder. I’m not, and I’m not qualified to be, but I can. So how do we what? How do we ask the right questions to make sure we’re working with someone who actually can do what they say they can do, as opposed to just saying they can do.
[00:02:52] Bryan: Well, it’s interesting and there there’s a lot of you know accreditations out there for skilled trades. You know, they have to have everything in the background. It’s something that the Home Builders Association, I think Reno Mark is associated. We’ve got Baeumler approved. There’s, you know the Chamber of Commerce, there’s a lot of different programs that will monitor and do the background work for you.
[00:03:17] Bryan: For us it’s, it’s having, you know, proper references, but you, you’re not, you need to get trade references as well. A tile installer is going to have a supplier that knows his name, A good tile installer is moving a lot of product. He’s going to have an in, you know, a supplier that knows his name. He’s going to have general contractors and builders that work with him. That a fine line, because oftentimes if, myself, I’m not sure about Graeme, but if somebody says, Hey, how’s your tile guy. We have him so busy I don’t want to give him a good reference and lose him. But the reference is the insurance, the worker’s comp the home warranty program, all of that stuff has to be in a file, and it has to be in the drawer. It all has to be there. And that’s what all of these services, like I said, the Homebuilders Associations and Baeumler approved and a lot of the accreditation services do, they do all that background information. We’re dealing with people. That’s the, that’s the difficulty and that’s the challenge. We’re dealing with human beings and that is always the weakest link in any technology. And you want to make sure that all of that paperwork is there, that’s great, has to be there. One of those accreditations will tell you that it is there. But you need to investigate the people you need to work with, someone that you trust, someone that communicates with you. You know, for example, Graeme’s working at your home and, and he finds a $10,000 worth of structural work that needs to be done or damage. He’s got two options. Do I cover this up and not say anything and just move forward. So, we stick to the budget. Do I tell the homeowner I’ve found $10,000 of additional work we need to do at the risk of the homeowner then saying, oh Graeme, it always goes this way. You know, you’re always trying to ding me for more or. Does he do what? I know he does, and I do, you know, sit down and say, look, we found an extra $10,000 worth of work we need to do. Here are five ways we can save in other areas to keep you on your budget and still get that required work done. You want someone you can trust; you can communicate with it. It’s very much like entering into a relationship or a partner with a potential spouse. Uh, you know, the beginning is. Roses and, and dinners and, and movies and what have you. But once that contract’s signed, you know, if things go south, they get very expensive and very ugly very quickly. So, you have to make sure you engage with someone that you connect with and that you trust.
[00:05:38] Graeme: Yeah, definitely is a mini marriage.
[00:05:40] Bryan: Yes. It mini, oh, I don’t know about mini. It depends on the size of the project. Yeah.
[00:05:40] Graeme: And you know, you, you talked. The doctor, they have a, they’ve got a plaque on the wall. They’ve got a certification. And the Canadian Home Builders Association and the local chapter here in Vancouver HAVAN. They have a certification program that’s recognized through BC Housing, and it’s called Certified Residential Professional and Certified Residential Renovator. Or Master Builder, and those are designations you can ask to see their certificate. It means that that individual, that person that’s you’re putting your, one of your biggest investments, if not your biggest investment into their hands that they don’t just know the building code, but they understand building science. They understand what the differences are in high performance building. They also understand business law and construction law. They understand accounting. They understand human resources. They have a reputation yes, but they also have the education and the experience to back that. And they’ve gone through, in my opinion, it’s a bachelor’s degree in certification and they may have other certifications like Certified Built Green, which is an organization within Canada certified Net Zero if they’re looking to build a pacific house that they’re certified in that. And so those certifications are huge.
[00:06:54] Jennifer-Lee: And as builders, both of you guys, it’s also managing expectations because there’s things like Instagram and so many photos out there that we have now. Yeah. So how do you really point your clients into being like, uh, okay, that’s not a good idea to renovate this room, or it’s not a good idea to spend your money doing this. And everyone’s like, but I want to be like the people on Instagram.
[00:07:12] Bryan: Yeah. That one of the harder things. And television, I think, has played into that a little bit. You know, those guys – we can blame them a little bit. In reality. You know, television or Pinterest or Instagram, anything that, that’s a media, that’s entertainment. You know you can’t show everything. You can’t get the full picture. When you’re working with a client and they think in 22 minutes they’re going to get the Pinterest look, you know, under budget you have to educate them on that. And I think that’s part of running a business, that’s part of being responsible. It’s part of being open and honest and it’s the conversation you need to have. I used to, you know, when I started out, I would do anything at any expense to pay the bills. And I think a lot of people did. And as you, as you start to grow, you have to have those conversations and like, look, this is going to cost what it’s going to cost if that’s what you want. But you also have to have the knowledge and the experience to say if you want that look, but. You know, we can get there, but we have to make compromises in other areas. I remember saying to a client years ago, uh, on a job that we were already losing money on, I said, look, I’m not going to go home and tell my kids they can’t have dinner because you want a home theater. That’s just, it’s not going to happen. So, you have to be very careful with, with expectations.
[00:08:30] Jennifer-Lee: Yeah. And that, that’s the thing. And I love how you’re blunt with them. And I think that’s what makes a good contractor is the fact that you have to be honest, like you said, it’s a marriage. You’re not always going to have good times and you’re going to have to have those honest conversations
[00:08:44] Bryan: And you can’t be scared to communicate those. When there’s, everybody makes mistakes, and you can’t be scared. When the homeowner comes back, you say, look, there’s something we didn’t find. There’s something we didn’t realize. You know, maybe due diligence wasn’t deep enough, or it was just a surprise. You can’t be scared to have those conversations. Because, you know, being open and honest is, is the only way that you can manage those expectations and avoid bigger problems down the road.
[00:09:07] Jennifer-Lee: Yeah, that’s it. My dad has been in construction for many years and that’s the thing he says, he’s like, it’s worse to be like, oh no, it’s fine, it’s fine. And then all of a sudden, the client’s like, well, why do I have a $50,000 bill? They’re going to be way more angry. I know it hurts and it’s scary to be upfront, but it’s way better to be like, rip the band aid off and be like, this is what’s going on. You need a new roof. Like this is serious. Here you go.
[00:09:29] Graeme: Mm-hmm. Yeah. The candid conversations are the hardest ones, but in the end, I think that’s how I’ve developed trust in the industry, with my clients, is because you’re willing to have those con, candid conversations, hopefully earlier in the process than later.
[00:09:44] Bryan: Then you have to record them in some way. Through change orders. Yes. Through exactly, you know, voice notes, videos, however it’s done. Whatever management software you use, you, you need, unfortunately, evidence of those because six weeks down the road, say, I don’t remember agreeing to that. He said, well, no, you certainly did, and here’s your signature and here’s the, whatever it may be. So that keeps both sides honest. It keeps things, you know, flowing, flowing along as best they can because we’re really, you know, in the construction industry and dealing with clients, you’re walking through a minefield at all times, expenses, change, you know, things happen, materials, supplies, whatever it may be. So, you have to mitigate all of those risks and emotions. By just being upfront and honest immediately.
[00:10:27] Jennifer-Lee: Well, building is such an emotional thing because like you said, you’re dealing with money, you’re going to have highs and lows. So, it’s like how do you really manage the client’s expectations through this process? Because anytime something is tied to money that can be really emotional.
[00:10:41] Graeme: It’s also their home. So, it’s emotional. You’re in their nest And so, the money part often is definitely high on the list, but it’s, they’re super invested. I think, you know, those that work in the commercial side of things, that’s different. That’s just all about money. But people’s homes, that’s, that’s where they live and, and these last several years have proven it’s where we cocoon, where it’s our safety place.
[00:11:06] Bryan: Yeah. Live, work, teach school. You know, everything, all of it.
[00:11:09] Graeme: So yeah, it’s very emotional.
[00:11:11] Mike: So, one thing that I imagine you guys deal with on a regular basis are people who are armchair experts. They’ve educated themselves; they’ve gone to watch a lot of television. Absolutely. So, in that there is obviously there’s information that’s pertinent to them and there’s information that may not be pertinent. How do you sift through all of that to get to what they really need? Because at the end of the day, I think a lot of what you guys do is make sure people don’t make mistakes. With their resources, where they allocate them, what they invest in, how do you balance what is versus what they think is, and how do you get to that common ground in the middle where everybody’s on the same page?
[00:11:19] Bryan: I mean, one of the things I started doing very early on in, in our construction career was I would sit down in the very first question is, What’s your budget? How much money do you have? I mean, Leave it to, Bryan was a series I filmed that. I started as a joke and I said, you know, I would love people just to hand me their money, hand me their keys, I’ll throw them out of their home, and I’ll do what I think they need done. And it turned into a reality. It was, it was a lot of fun and there were some surprises and tears and, and bad words. But, you know, at the end of the day, you can get an idea of what you want from a homeowner that you know, in reality that’s going to live within the budget that they have. So you get all the ideas on the table, you get the budget, and you know, builders should come back and say, here’s what I can do. Within your, your snack bracket. You know, it’s, it’s like sitting down at a restaurant. Say, I got a hundred bucks, what can I eat? You know, you, you can have the Wagyu, but if you get 20 bucks, you’re having the fries, they’ll be great fries, but that’s all you can afford. And you, you have to be very careful not to overpromise.
[00:12:47] Mike: We don’t have that in the restaurant. We don’t have people going back to the chef going, I watched a cooking show last week and you’re doing it wrong. How do you get past all of that?
[00:12:54] Bryan: I mean, you just, you explain it. You, you have to educate the client the same as a, and the client has to ask the right questions. I’ve always said, you know, if you have a lot of questions or the question from homeowners is, what questions should I ask my contractor? And the honest answer is, if you have a book of questions left after that initial meeting and walkthrough, you’re dealing with the wrong person. They should be educating you and telling you, here’s what you need. Here are the essential things you need within this renovation. I don’t care what you’ve seen on YouTube or, or television or what book you’ve read, this is reality. This is how we present it. If you’re more focused on getting that job with a client that you can, you know, it’s, the budget is proper. You can afford to do it properly, you know they’re going to be happy, you’re prepared to warranty it, and you’ve got those safeties built into place, that’s going to be a much easier job and it’s going to be much more rewarding job than just, I’ll just do whatever they want and I’ll, I’ll deal with the, the, the fallout later. So, it’s again about those honest conversations.
[00:14:00] Jennifer-Lee: And budget is always a hard one to talk about. And I was watching some of the episodes of your shows and it’s funny because the clients are like, oh, $30,000 and they’re like, no, go up a little higher, like $40,000. And again, it’s having those professionals of like being like, what is realistic? Because when we’re seeing things out there on tv, on Pinterest, on Instagram, we don’t know what they cost. We don’t do the homework. We’re just like, oh, I love that gold sync. But we don’t know if it’s practical either. What is it like to clean it? Yeah.
[00:14:29] Bryan: And you may be watching something, you know that. That’s one of the reasons I try not to talk about the budget too much in the shows. You may be watching a show from 15 years ago That show, you know, in Vancouver, your kitchen may be $150,000 in, in Newfoundland where the show also airs it’s $30,000 in you know, Israel, Turkey, Germany, Brazil. There, there’s different prices everywhere. So you, you can’t take that as information that’s the same as an Instagram post. It’s filtered, it’s shined up. It’s a very curated post. The things I don’t want to see are cut out. That photo. It’s, it’s not real life. It’s entertainment. It’s inspiration. Sure. Certainly. And I think that’s one thing the shows have really done is inspired people too, to look at design and, and think about things. But that budget number is the number one number. Tell me what you want to spend and I’ll tell you what I can do for that money.
[00:15:20] Graeme: And then you got to be, those clients need to be willing to listen to that. Yeah. You know, they’ve got to be willing to be realistic and, uh, that, that. A quality builder knows what he’s doing. He’s got history, he’s got experience, actually shares that information. A homeowner needs to be willing to trust that and uh, and not trying to push that.
[00:15:40] Bryan: And it, it’s very much a two-way street. I mean, now, I mean you have a, a, a lot of builders like Graeme, myself, a lot of the, the BA members and others that, that are highly educated and, you know, they’ve got the background in, in the trades and in business and in in business management and marketing and what have you. You have to. You have to interview the client as much as the client’s interviewing you. Once you’ve decided at what level you want to work, there’s certain jobs that you just say, this isn’t the right one for us. You want to, you want to cut back on all the important stuff, and you want to spend on the cosmetics. I’m not going to warranty that. So that, you know, maybe we’re not the right people for you. So, the interview goes both ways.
[00:16:19] Mike: So budget and unrealistic or realistic expectations around that. That’s got to be one of the biggest mistakes homeowners make. Can you talk to us about some of the other common mistakes that you both see out in the field on a regular basis? Because understanding some of the mistakes we as homeowners can make helps us avoid them, but also helps people understand who the right person to work with, who is making those mistakes and who has learned from those mistakes.
[00:16:42] Bryan: Yeah. Do you have some big, big mistakes, boss?
[00:16:44] Graeme: Well, Bryan, you’ve often talked about how people can always replace their countertop in the future, but they can’t replace their foundation, they can’t replace their building envelope.
[00:16:53] Bryan: It’s a lot more of a pain to go in and replace your, your foundation and your insulation then it is to put a new countertop, that’s for sure.
[00:16:59] Graeme: So, putting the money in the right places in the house and starting off in design with the end in mind, what is it that you want to end up with in the end? And, you know, we’ve seen a lot, especially here in Vancouver, of homes that literally are microwaved. You know, like we’re, we’re, we’re, we’re seeing houses being demolished that are 25 years old. That’s, that’s ridiculous. Right. So that, a lot of that is because we haven’t built well over the years and just because it was building code at the time doesn’t mean it was built well. Right. And so, a lot of times people are putting money in the wrong places in their homes. They are looking at the Instagram picture of that final finish. But they’re not realizing what’s behind the wall, what’s behind the finish. And I think, you know, that’s one thing I’ve learned from you and over the years, obviously as a builder learned, it’s behind the wall. That’s where you start off and, you know, we’re talking about today’s building code. We’re finally sharing with the public and in the building code what they should have been doing all along. Building high performance isn’t necessarily just about energy efficiency. It’s building it right? And you have to start with the design in the, with the end in mind, you need to start off with all of those goals. What are your goals as far as now we have a step code here in British Columbia. What does that mean? It’s got to be part of the initial goals. I hear these names like, Passive House or Net Zero or Built Green, is that part of our goals? And those lay the foundation and should lay the foundation for the whole design and then the build process. And if that’s foundations laid right, you make good choices along the way.
[00:18:33] Bryan: Yeah. We’ve been such a consumer driven market. I hear all the time, why are these builders’ building homes that 15 years later are full of mold and the shingles are curly, and the siding is coming off? And my answer is, because you buy them. If the consumer, if there’s a consumer demand, the market will provide a solution to that demand. If consumers started demanding, I want a smaller home that costs less to operate, that is going to last longer, where I can save some money and invest that properly. That’s what I want. You know, I want it built properly. Look at the European model. You know, it makes much more sense. And as we’re, as we’re moving back, I’ve been talking about this a lot lately. As I, as I’ve met different people in, in, you know, the large asset real estate holdings market, we’re moving back to the feudal system in real estate. If you’re not in the market, if you can’t afford to get into the market, there will come a time very soon where you will not be allowed to get into the market, because those will all be renter-based homes. I can tell you those companies that start building those condos are looking at operating costs. They’re looking at long-term maintenance costs because they want to maximize their revenue and their profit on the rentals. They don’t want to spend money on heat and the hydro. They don’t want to spend money replacing roofs and fixing leaks. They want to build these things properly, so they’re a forever asset and we can pay for them you know, for the pleasure of living there. So, we have to start looking at our own homes, not from the cosmetic Instagram photo, uh, side, but we have to start looking at how do we build a safe, comfortable nest that’s affordable and, and sustainable, that also adds real value and, and provides me with, with passive income in, in the, in the form of savings long-term. And we have to start prioritizing.
[00:20:14] Jennifer-Lee: We do. And I think a big component though, when I talk to people about high performance and stuff is changing the mindset because I still think there’s a part of society that’s like, I need to own the big home to showcase that I’m successful. I don’t want a small, like I hear this from a lot of people like. I don’t want to live in a smaller home, I’m moving out. Like, so how do we get people to kind of go, like, I know we have different codes now here in BC for Step Code, but like how do we educate them that this is a better way to do it for the future? And I know this is a bigger question because we can’t change everyone’s mindset overnight, but how do we do that? How do we get people go to smaller greener friendly homes.
[00:20:51] Graeme: Well, education is the key. I mean, that’s what this podcast is about. That’s what we, I know that’s what Bryan does when he is on the stage, like here at BC Place, at the home show. That’s what we do. We do webinars every week available on different subjects. We try to. Educate. And it’s just education. You know, a lot of times we’re also forced into some of that education, like the step code. People hear these words, and they go, well, what is that? Unfortunately, they can google a little bit of that and, hopefully they can go also to the local Homebuilders Association, find out what information they have. And start educating. But ultimately, the homeowner needs to ask the questions to generate that education for themselves. And, the builder needs to be able to try to educate them.
[00:21:39] Bryan: Yeah, it definitely starts with education, I think then it moves to legislation. And people don’t like to be legislated too much. However, you know, there’s, I have four children. I worry about the market for them. I worry about the future for them, the housing market. So, at some point it has to be legislated if the consumer’s not making the proper decisions. And we have to look at models that work. And the model that worked is not the McMansion with the peeling roof and the, and the least luxury car in the driveway and the, you know, highly leveraged indebted owners that are just trying to keep up with the Jones’s. And then they’re the ones on the internet making comments to people that have, you know, made sacrifices and done things properly for 20 years. Oh, must be nice to be on vacation. It is because we made the sacrifices and we did things properly. I think that’s what needs to be taught. Don’t just think about breakfast tomorrow. Think about whether you need a deep breakfast next week, next month, next year, 10 years from now. I joked about that this morning. If, if you want the Wagyu and the prime rib for dinner in 10 years, that you, you need to do a little farming now and eat the porridge now. And you’ll enjoy it later.
[00:22:52] Graeme: And your house will last longer, therefore your investment. And that’s what people, I think, miss out. This is an investment. And so, invest wisely.
[00:23:01] Mike: One of the things I like talking about the most is definitely technology and the building science, and what’s really exciting is building science and building designer finally meeting each other. Can you talk a little about how building design and building science are working with each other to support their respective goals?
[00:23:18] Bryan: Well, I think, I mean I mentioned earlier there’s, there’s part science and part art, and the, the design is certainly our art part. But if we, you know, if we start looking at materials and products that are not only decorative, but are designed and engineered to last a long time and to perform well and start incorporating those into designs and it’s back to education as well, back to education with designers, architects with homeowners – and it, it’s getting those types of materials and products and systems into that Instagram photo to, you know, convince the consumer that that’s the direction we want to go. So, design really drives function at some point, you know, the design is, is what people want first. But we have to turn it around and say, well, here, your, your functional options are beautiful and sell them that way and educate people on them.
[00:24:10] Graeme: Now, house is a system. That is a great phrase to building science too. And so that system isn’t about the quarts countertop, it’s, it’s about how the foundations and the drainage of the lot, it talks about how the building envelope goes together, what type of glazing, what the air ceiling of the house is, types of insulation used thermal conductivity through that house wall. Whether it’s heat coming in, whether it’s heat leaving the house the developing a healthy. Is also, that’s been our mantra for years and definitely in these past several years as the world’s realized that their house is that safe haven having a healthy home to come too. We have lots of clients who have health allergies, health issues, whether it be simple allergies or asthma or even more complicated respiratory, uh, challenges. And if you design your house, understanding, building science, understanding house as a system, you can develop a healthier environment than a quality hospital environment.
[00:25:16] Bryan: Yeah, and it’s, it’s education and it really is trial and error. The building codes developed over trial and error. You know, we used to see two by six is spanning six 16 feet for floor systems and now we know they droop a foot and a half over, you know, a hundred years. We saw, I think, a big change with the healthy part. We saw radiant heating and in-floor heating become very popular, you know, what was it, 10, 15 years ago? But we hadn’t caught up with the air handlers and the ERVs and the air exchangers and filtration. So, we were noticing, you know, the typical home, the air inside is, 10 times dirtier than the air outside. Everything is off gassing furniture, flooring, your clothing, you name it. So, we’re ingesting all those chemicals in the home. We went to, you know, radiant with no air handler systems. It only got worse. And now we’ve developed that where we do have air filtration and, and secondary you know, ERVs and air handlers and air exchange. So, we’re creating ytat healthier environment in the home because we’re spending so much more time there.
[00:26:16] Graeme: And if you’re renovating a home, that’s not necessarily a building code or something an inspector’s going to tell you, you have to do. Putting in an HRV, for example, I call them fresh air machines because that’s really what they are. That is part of code for new construction. But when we’re talking about renovations, the challenge also in education is there’s a lot of things that now go into a new home that you don’t have to by code do in a renovation, but we educate people what the right way to end up with, in that home and healthy home. There’s also different types of filters. You can do an ultraviolet light filter that kills off the bacteria in your home, just like you can do ultraviolet filtration of your water system for, for drinking water. So there’s a lot of different, simple methodologies and technologies available to have that healthier environment.
[00:27:06] Jennifer-Lee: See if more people knew that I’m like, sign me up. I want a passive home or a high-performance home. But I think that’s the thing is they need to be educated, like you said, they need to know the benefits of that, because the misconception I hear, and I know it’s not true, is I don’t want a high-performance home because I don’t get to be fancy with the design on the outside, and I know that’s not true.
[00:27:26] Bryan: No, you can certainly, I mean, you can make anything look again the sky’s limit. But again, it all comes down to what’s your budget, where are the priorities? You know, as an experienced home builder, it, it’s about presenting here, here’s what you need. Here’s the baseline, what you need. Let’s look at the cosmetics later. The better built a home is the less it costs to operate and maintain long-term. The more you can afford to spend on cosmetics every 10 to 15 years, you’ll walk into your kitchen. You’ll say, this is terrible. Who designed this? Uh, we need a new kitchen. And that’s how it works. It’s over and over. But if you build a house properly, you stop at the drywall. And you don’t have to go back and change that. That’s done. That’s forever. And the cosmetics are the thing that rotate in and out.
[00:28:13] Graeme: We just finished renovating a home for a couple here in the Oak Ridge area of Vancouver 1967 bungalow, and she suffers from asthma and, and challenges in health and they’re aging in place. Instead of tearing down that home, we rebuilt that home and created what was certified in the end as a Certified Platinum Built Green Net Zero renovation. They went from using 200 giga jewels a year in energy to 56 giga jewels. They went from nine tons of carbon output to less than one ton. Things as they say, they don’t even see, they know they spent more money on things they don’t see, but they’ve realized the benefits just in terms of their everyday living. And then recently we had these, these heat domes here in BC Bryan, we had these heat domes, uh, and uh, and they said, All their kids came over to their house during those heat dome weeks and then during the winter snap we had, you know, where it got down to minus 15. I know that’s, you know, no big deal back in Ontario but here, minus 15. And, and all the kids came over cause the house was comfortable and it met those needs and a lot of times people. Again, focus on the court’s countertop and not on, Hey, how do I want to live and how do I want to feel? I want to feel in, I want to feel comfortable in every single room. I don’t want certain rooms that are colder than others and drafty rooms and so forth and so forth and down the road, I don’t want to see mold either. I want to have a healthy home that lasts.
[00:29:44] Bryan: And now I’m, we’re seeing in the market as well, you know, and I’m telling people and repeating this over and over. People say, well, if I can’t see it, it’s not really worth it, right? If I haven’t, if I haven’t done the marble in the, in the kitchen, it’s not really adding value on the market. You have to put these things on the table and say, this is how it’s built, this is how it operates. Here are your operating costs. Double or triple energy costs in the next five to 10 years. And compare those costs, you know, conventionally built home that looks great. It’s a little bigger. You know, it’s got all the makeup on to a home that’s built properly. And all of a sudden you look forward into the future and you say, well, I could actually afford to continue to live at this home and, and still retire one day. So, priorities change I think as people start to get older as well. And maybe as more homes are gobbled up and put in the rental market, you know, the, like I said, goal of those builders and developers is to, is to lower their, their costs. You know, if, if the average residential consumer won’t do it, you know, maybe the bigger builders will. So, it has to change.
[00:30:46] Mike: Well, it’s nice to see an emphasis on things like indoor air quality, because there’s a lot of people who have been suffering as a result of living in unhealthy unsafe homes. And it’s great that it’s part of the conversation almost consistently with every guest we’ve had. I want to talk more about budgets, but first we’re going to have a quick break to thank our sponsors. Stick around, we’ll be right back.
[00:31:06] Jennifer-Lee: Measure Twice, Cut Once is grateful to our podcast partners FortisBC, Vicostone Canada Inc, and Trail Appliances. Support from our partners helps us share expert knowledge and resources with families looking to build, design, and renovate the home right for you.
Vicostone Canada’s showroom and warehouse are located on Broadway Street in Port Coquitlam. Specializing in the manufacturing and distribution of superior quality engineered quart SLS for all residential and commercial countertop requirements.
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Competition alert. Listen, and like this episode, for your chance to win a Napoleon Prestige P 500 stainless steel natural gas BBQ valued at $1,649 compliments of our podcast partner, FortisBC. Details at havan.ca/measuretwicecutonce. Now let’s get back to our guests.
[00:32:22] Mike: I want to shift things a little bit because this is the big one to talk about is budgets, right? Because there is a cost associated with doing all of this stuff as well. Can you guys talk a little about how to understand budgets from like, because anyone can throw out a bunch of numbers. How do we as homeowners understand what those budgets mean and make decisions based on the information being presented to us?
[00:32:47] Bryan: I think you have to work with someone that presents you with the budget, with proper breakdowns. Understanding that the market is always changing. Our lumber costs, our material costs, our finished costs, design, whatever it may be, shipping fuel, labor costs, they’re always changing and fluctuating. Uh, so we have to do takeoffs for customers and present them with real numbers. You have to do as a homeowner, you have to do the research and see what the, you know, there’s average square foot costs that you can reference, but everything is going to be pretty market specific and design specific. So, you just have to break it down and, really decide if that’s what you can afford, what’s being presented with the people that you want to work with.
[00:33:33] Graeme: I think I’ve heard you also tell people when it came to budget, really the end, they’ve often just not had enough in their budget. And they’ve not been realistic about that. And they’ve approached it like maybe buying a car and, you know, negotiated down to, hey, I need this X dollar. Not realizing that things cost money to produce well. And they definitely have gone up in these last several years, more so than not, and understanding realistic costs.
[00:34:02] Bryan: Yeah. You definitely have to you have to present the budget first. I often tell a story of a basement I walked into, and the homeowner said, what can you do down here?” And the answer is, I’ll put a train station, indoor pool and a Starbucks in if you’d like. And they laugh and say, no, seriously, what can you do? And I say, what’s your budget? And the answer used to always be, well, I’m not telling you you’ll spend it all. But you need to present how much money do you have in your pocket or available to you? I would say take 35% of that as a contingency or a mind change or a market cost. Increase security and put that to the side and work on 65% of your total available cash or credit or whatever you want to spend on the job. And let the professional come up with the plan to tell you what is possible within those plans, considering the cosmetics that you would like to include and go from there.
[00:34:55] Jennifer-Lee: Well, it’s a two-way street. You have to be honest with the client. And the client has to be honest with you. Right? So, if they’re hiding their budget, it’s not going to make for a great relationship. And you’re just going to have fights. It’s going to be a bad marriage. A lot of lawyers and something else that you have to set expectations with. And I know here in Vancouver. Specifically, it’s a little bit tricky because depending on municipality, your timeline can take a lot longer because of permits and everything. So, when you sit down with your client, how do you say, when is your home going to be roughly done? Everyone thinks, can I move in before Christmas? Can I move in before this? And we know that depending where you are, can take a while.
[00:35:34] Bryan: What do they say? You can have it built well; you can make it look good, or are you going to do a good job? You pick two. Right?
[00:35:41] Graeme: Also, when I watch shows on tv, Bryan, it’s always 20, what is it? 22 minutes to build a house or renovate a house.
[00:35:47] Bryan: Well, and that’s, that’s with the intro and outro. So, timing. Certainly, the more preparation you do before the start of a job, the better you’ll be able to stick to an estimated schedule. But the schedule, you know, people take it. As the word, you know, your promise that six months will be in and out of here, not considering. Well, it’s going to take an extra four weeks to now redraw things after your design change, your idea or was something we found to deal with. So, a budget is a lawn dart. It’s your best guess of when it could possibly be finished, assuming that everything falls into place the way you’re hoping it will. Best case scenario, you have to put a bit of a contingency into your budget. But at the end of the day, things will take as long as they take to finish, and they will cost what they cost to finish. If you’re doing them properly. And there are areas, depending on the budget, again, in the schedule, I’ve had people say, I want, you know, these five rooms done for 30,000. And I say, well, it’s not possible. Pick two rooms that you don’t want to include in that scope of work, and we can manage it within that budget and that timeline. So, it’s really about having those honest conversations and being open and communicative throughout the process.
[00:37:06] Mike: And I would imagine also creating an awareness that there’s something called a supply chain that you don’t manage.
[00:37:11] Bryan: And the last couple of years has been, we waited in Florida, but we waited seven months to get permits. And, and we had to wait nine months to get trusses from the factory. So, you can’t, you know, you can’t call Graeme up on a Friday and say, hey, on Monday we’d like to start excavating for the footings. No, we don’t have our plans done yet. But can you be done by Christmas? It’s just, Realistic.
[00:37:36] Graeme: And that’s in, you talked about permits, delaying things, those are things that you can forecast pretty well. I always encourage people; you’re going to spend the most amount of time in the pre-construction. If you’ve, if you do that process right, with the right people, given the right information, your build experience will be so much better. You, you should be a more stress-free, build experience if you’ve done all that planning up front. I think the biggest thing to avoid is making changes. So, if you can get everything decided before tearing something apart, if it’s a renovation or before coming into the ground, if it’s a new construction before that, you will stay closer to your budget. You will stay closer to your timeline. It’s when people make those additions and those changes in the middle, they don’t realize how much that affects the whole process. I recently somebody wanted to just add some simple plugs into the floor of their theater, which happened to be made of concrete, and it was literally they made the decision the day before we were to pour. So fortunately, it was before we poured. But it, it delayed that process probably by three weeks because you’ve already got a schedule with that electrician.
[00:38:57] Bryan: You don’t keep your electrician in the back of the truck?
[00:39:00] Graeme: And the same with the concrete guy. I didn’t keep him in the back of the truck either, and they had their schedule as far as delivery and placing and all the things that had to go just from that one. Hey, while you’re there, can you add fourplex? Which by themselves, had they been designed in the early processes, probably would’ve been very inexpensive to do, ended up being very time expensive in this case, uh, because that decision was added in.
[00:39:26] Bryan: And it comes down to relationships again. It’s people. If you’re working with someone that has a great relationship with the plans reviewers, with the inspectors, with the city, with the, you know, the bylaw officers. They’ve got the phone numbers, the phone calls, the relationships to help move things along, keep them moving, and may maybe to sneak in line in front of somebody at the trust factory or you know, or on the schedule of the concrete guy, whatever it may be. But that’s where that art comes in, apart from science. You have to have those relationships in place to manage these jobs properly and pull some favors here and there.
[00:39:59] Jennifer-Lee: And again, it all comes down to relationships. So how do you pick the right contractor besides you?
[00:40:05] Bryan: How do you pick the right homeowner to work with? That’s another good question. That’s where the industry is going. I mean, like I said, the industry now is full of young, educated, motivated, you know, business-minded people that are, that are starting to run. This is no longer like, oh, hey, I saw you in the parking lot at, at, uh, the big box store. You know, come on down for 10 bucks an hour and build me an addition. That’s not the type of industry we’re in anymore. The value of real estate is skyrocketed. It’s such an investment that this is now, you know, this is now a real bonafede industry. There are no no stigmas attached anymore to the home builder or the tradesperson. For me, this is the gold standard of, of industry. So, it’s, interviewing both ways and, and choosing the right person again is, is making sure all those credentials are there and everything is in the background, but then sitting down and, you know, go for coffee, go for dinner. Don’t make your decision based on a phone call or a website, go and meet the people, spend some time talk to them. If you have that red flag feeling it’s wrong, you know, don’t get married, don’t sign the contract.
[00:41:18] Mike: What is the most important question in your opinion, that a homeowner could ask either of you when determining who to work with? Like, is there one question out there that’s like the golden question?
[00:41:29] Graeme: HI don’t have one question.
[00:41:32] Bryan: Yeah, there’s there’s too many questions..
[00:41:36] Graeme: But you know, I mean, everyone’s different. Every personality is different. If we’re dealing with a couple or a family, and today we deal with some multi-generational families where we’ve got grandpa and we’ve got the parents and we’ve got the kids all in the decision process. And I think, you know, mitigating those personalities is huge too. So, homeowners need to come with their questions, thought through, especially if there’s more than one person asking the questions and maybe have their own, uh, pre-meeting of how are we going to address this? Because it is, they’re investing in their home. So how are we, what questions are we going to ask? What’s important to us? What are the answers we need to make a decision of whether this is the right fit for us as a family? And then when they come there a professional builder, designer, they’ve got their questions, they’ve got their process, we have our process laid out. But a homeowner also needs to know what’s our goals? What are we trying to accomplish here? And then if they have that candid conversation together, and they’re both willing to share those things, they’re going to get their questions answered. They’re going to feel comfortable making the next decision, making the next move.
[00:42:49] Bryan: We’re starting to see in the market with some of the builders and you know, with, Graeme and, and My House, people have to look at, you know, you, you’ve all heard like, oh, I was wearing this suit or designed by this, or, you know, this art was done by, we’re going to start to see housing where when people go up to sell that property, it’s going to be, well, I designed, it’s designed by this architect and it’s built by this company and that adds value to the sale price of the home. So there is legitimacy there. There’s a trust there, and you’re starting to see a lot of companies pop up where there there’s this pride like, yes, put my name on that job. I don’t want it to be like, oh, don’t tell them we,
[00:43:25] Mike: that’s, that’s already happening. A lot of the real estate listings in and around the Vancouver area was renovated. Or built by or designed by. And it’s awesome seeing our fellow Haven members up there because it seems amazing. Those people are working with the right people. And that means this process you’ve identified is working and it’s slowly affecting change in our expectations as homeowners. Your expectations as builders and renovators and generally the finished results we see as a result of this relationship we have. Yeah. Working together, which is awesome.
[00:43:56] Jennifer-Lee: I actually have one more question. It’s. As a perspective person that would be going to get their home bill, what are some red flags you should watch out for? Because that’s the thing that a lot of people talk about because there’s unfortunately a lot of builders out there that maybe aren’t credited and great, but what are some things that you’d be like, no, leave the meeting right away if they said something.
[00:44:17] Bryan: There’s a lot. It’s, it’s the same on a, you know, you’re speed dating to the table and what red flags pop up, you know, if you just have that gut feeling it, you know, that that’s the best one to follow by. But the great thing now is there’s so much media available, so much information available. You, you can do your background checks and you know, typically if there’s you know, a one-star rating, there’s a reason for that. It’s a tough game out there for builders as well, because there are, you know, there’s all different scenarios, but really you want to find someone that in their heart, wants to build something that they’re proud of that’s going to last a long time. They want to put their sign and their name on. Yeah, the red flags are you know the same as a date. If somebody shows up on a Friday and says, we can start Monday, and you know, their van won’t start and they get out in the coffee cups and tools are falling out the back and they get stain on their shirt, and maybe they’re an incredible tradesperson, maybe they’re great with their hands. But maybe the business management and the marketing and the, that side of it isn’t really up to snuff, and that’s just as important as the physical job. Making sure the numbers are in the right place, the schedule is in the right place, and they’re presented properly,
[00:45:31] Graeme: And making sure that that builder’s going to be there five years from now. To take care of the thing they built for you or renovated for you, make it, that’s all got to be built in. Yeah. And the warranties and their service and a track record to prove that’s how they’ll take care of things and that they’re not just showing up there to say, this is who I am, but they’re also talking about who’s going to actually do the work because it’s not one person. And there’s no one person that does everything in any renovation or any build, right? They’ve got a team of people, whether it’s trades, sub trades, employees, whatever it is, what are their accreditations, what are their experiences? Who are they hiring to work on your home? Because ultimately, it’s a product of what the least educated or experienced person going into that home to a certain degree So, who’s the whole team.
[00:46:20] Mike: Great advice. I really wish I’d had this conversation about eight years ago,
[00:46:25] Jennifer-Lee: and I need you guys on my dating apparently, because I forget. Got the red flag.
[00:46:28] Bryan: Wish, knew all, wish this eight years. Well, maybe eight. Yeah, maybe 15.
[00:46:31] Graeme: Well, Bryan, how did you, how did you even start? You know, a lot of people just say, well, he’s just a guy on TV. But how did you start? It was so handsome. You do have a Vancouver tie here in terms of your, your career in construction?
[00:46:43] Bryan: I do. You know, I spent eight years at a private school wearing a tie to school, with a blue-collar dad, you know, and I came home to the shop every day and played with tools. But, you know, they made sacrifices and thought. We’ll throw him into private school. Maybe he’ll become something. And I went to university. I had a degree in political science took business. I took a year off and moved to Vancouver, planning to go to law school and bumped into a friend of mine that we had a handyman business in the summer when we were 14, we started this and did our apprenticeship hours with a framing company. But coming from that private school background, I always thought I should be a lawyer or doctor, or investment banker or something that’ll make my parents proud. But I actually went back to Toronto, went to George Brown, did Reno Tech and the, and the building code update courses and bought a pickup truck and went out on my own in construction it’s owner operator, and, that, that was my passion, that that’s what I wanted to do. So, I teamed that with the, the business background. I always say Polisci teaches you to lie, cheat, and steal, and then business teaches you how to account for it. Uh, you know, and then the trade school actually teaches you, you know, the, the rules and, and how to do things. So, the television thing was a, was a marketing, you know, we had six people. We had, we had been doubling business for five, six years already. And I thought, what a great marketing opportunity to do some free work for a host on another show. You know, build some decks, do some work, and get that, that name out there. And it was all about branding and sales. And, it got all twisted around and they said, hey, do you, you want to do your own thing? And yeah, 20 years later, here we are.
[00:48:21] Graeme: And Bryan and I met actually through HAVAN, almost 12 years ago. Yeah. An event in fact at the BC Place Home Show. We were introduced through Peter Simpson, then past president of the Homebuilders Association here in Vancouver. And Bryan was back east, but looking to expand their BA program. and we’re looking to somebody to partner within in this area. And that’s, we connected.
[00:48:50] Bryan: That’s how we got together. The Baeumler Approved program, again, it popped up, you know, once we were known. And we’re, local in Oakville. We’ve got 150 employees between 17 companies there. But you know, we’ll probably do north of 50 million this year in custom homes and developments and renovations and building in Ontario. But we started getting all these, you know, a thousand emails a week. I need a plumber; I need an electrician. IAnd I said, you know, we’re not recommending any of our trades. We need them. They’re, very busy. And I said, but we can’t recommend as a service to a homeowner. People that we haven’t vetted ourselves, people that we haven’t dug into their background and filled that file of all the information that needs to be there. But not only that, met them and, you know, made sure they’re, you know their heart is in this same place. Their interest, their intent. And that’s how that program came about as a service to homeowners to identify people that are operating to our standards and above, across the country. So, it’s been a great journey.
[00:49:53] Mike: Bryan and Graeme, I just want to say huge. Thank you. These sorts of conversations are so important. Helping people like myself who are not coming from the building background understand how to better work with people like yourselves. And the net result of that is, better finished product. Mm-hmm. So, thank you very much, both of you. The information you’ve given us has been stellar. It’s been amazing. And I can’t think of a single person who I know who wouldn’t benefit as a result of getting some of that information. And I wish there was more conversations like this out there because the more we open up, the curtain, so to speak, the plastic curtain with the zipper on it that goes into the house.
[00:50:27] Bryan: Yeah. Uh, the better with the negative air pressure. Uh, yeah, absolutely.
[00:50:31] Mike: Now we know what that is too. The better end results we’re going to create, and the better results are going to be created for homeowners. So, thank you so much for everything all you guys do, uh, for our industry, uh, for being here with us today and just for educating people like myself so we can finally start to make some good decisions for ourselves. Yeah.
[00:50:48] Jennifer-Lee: Thank you so much. Like we appreciate it. Like you guys were so honest with us. I come from a, a long line of building family and I’ve just always been immersed in it, so it’s just nice to hear everything that I’ve heard about the building community from you guys and it’s just been great that you’ve opened it up because I think a lot of listeners, like I said, there’s so many things out on the internet now. It’s a blessing and a curse. Yeah. And it’s just great that we have two professionals here helping us guide us through the world. So yeah. Thank you.
[00:51:16] Bryan: There’s a lot of information out.
[00:51:17] Graeme: It’s a lot of fun. Thanks for having us.
[00:51:19] Bryan: Yeah, thanks for having us. It’s been great. Thank you. Thank you. Let’s go build something.
[00:51:25] Mike: Hey. To our listeners, if you enjoy today’s podcast, please like, share, tell your family, tell your friends. The more people we have listening to our podcast. The more people we have following our podcast, the easier it’s going to be for people to get access to the great information our guests are talking.
[00:51:40] Jennifer-Lee: And for links to everything mentioned on today’s episode, including Resource Assured by Graeme Huguet and Bryan Baumler, go to haven.ca/measure twice. Cut. Once next week we have Harv Sihdu from BuildSmarter. Joining us to talk about Build to Box, a prefabricated plug and playroom for your backyard.
[00:51:58] Mike: Hey, and you know what Every backyard needs, they need a beautiful new Napoleon peeve 500 natural gas barbecue from Fortis BC, and you are in luck because we actually happen to have a contest. If you go to haven.ca/measure twice, cut once all the details are there and you can enter for a chance to win a barbecue for your backyard.
[00:52:18] Jennifer-Lee: Thank you, Mike, and it’s going to be another interesting conversation about building trends and leveraging your property. So, see you next week.