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Perks and considerations for living on a lake or near the ocean

Have you dreamed about living on a lakefront or oceanfront property? Is that dream now looking to be a real possibility? Before you dive into purchasing a waterfront home, take the time to do your research so you know what you are getting yourself into. Our article outlines some benefits and potential considerations when living next to a body of water, so that you can be one step closer to making an informed decision.

Benefits for living in a waterfront home

Do the benefits of living near water outweigh the cons? Here are some of the most common advantages that people tend to mention when thinking about buying waterfront property.

Beautiful Views

Imagine having your morning cup of coffee while looking out your window to see a beautiful sunset peaking above the ocean’s horizon, or perhaps you are on a lake and are admiring a Bald Eagle as it soars across the water. There’s no denying it – waterfront properties tend to have exceptional views. Whether it is the lake or ocean, natural wildlife, or untouched forest, the scenery can be breathtaking.

Access to water activities

Besides enjoying the view, there is a functional component to living near the water. The ability to go for a swim, boat ride, or enjoy other water activities is a huge draw. Many people enjoy the option to come home from work and be steps away from something so relaxing. Lakefront or oceanfront properties make it so much easier to go fishing, swimming, kayaking, surfing, canoeing, or water skiing. When your commute to the water is less than a minute, there really is no excuse not to indulge.


The sound of waves crashing or gentle ripples on a lake can be very calming and relaxing. Many people find that living near the water helps them to de-stress and unwind. In a world that is so hectic and busy, finding pockets of relaxation like these is becoming more and more of a valuable asset.

Easier to breathe

Living near the water can provide cleaner air due to the breeze that comes off the water. This may not sound like much at first, but consider this: would you rather be next to a lake or ocean with a breeze, or downtown in a polluted city with the same breeze? We know what one we’d rather pick.

Usually, homes near water also have a considerable amount of forested area nearby. This naturally creates a cleaner environment. When a breeze comes by, it brings along a new batch of fresh air that hasn’t been contaminated by vehicle exhaust, large groups of people coughing, or any other contaminants. It’s just easier to breathe near the water!

Investment opportunity

There’s a reason living on the lake is such a big deal – it can be expensive. Homes with views or direct access to the water often carry a higher price tag than their city suburban alternatives. However, this can work in your favour.

A lake house property or oceanfront home can be a smart investment opportunity, given the right circumstances. As a rental, it is easier to charge a higher rent given the ideal location. In addition, setting it up as a vacation rental or Airbnb can provide more passive income. Over time, the assessed value of the home may naturally increase, too.

Considerations with waterfront living

There are some unique considerations when living along the shorelines. Some are common sense, but others could be things that are easy to overlook.

Higher risk of flooding

If you’re home is next to the water, there’s a chance of flooding, especially during storms or hurricanes. This can lead to damage to the property and potential safety hazards.

Increased insurance costs

That same flooding risk can be reflective on your insurance costs. A higher risk carries a higher price tag, so monthly or annual costs for insurance may be more than what you are expecting or used to paying.

Saltwater corrosion

If you live near the ocean, your home and belongings may be subject to saltwater corrosion, which can cause damage over time. What does this mean? The natural salt in the ocean reacts with metals on your property causing rust and breakage over time. Galvanic corrosion is another term used to describe saltwater corrosion.

More wildlife interactions (and mosquitoes)

While in the city, the worst of your problems might be the occasional raccoon getting into your garbage but waterfront properties bring a new ecosystem to contend with. Bears, fish, cougars, sharks, and other animals may try to coexist in the same area as your home. While it can be enjoyable to observe these creatures from a distance, it’s important to remember that they can also pose potential dangers. Areas with pools of sitting water are often the cause for large numbers of mosquitoes, too.

Tourist traffic

You aren’t the only one that loves the water – tourists do, too. Popular waterfront areas may attract a lot of tourist traffic, which can result in congestion and noise pollution, especially during peak vacation seasons. Additional measures to add privacy to your property may be a required investment given your unique circumstances.

Dock maintenance

Do you have a dock for swimming or mooring your boat? It takes a considerable amount of time, money, and effort to maintain a wharf. Regular cleanings, applying protective coatings, and inspecting for damages are some of the extra tasks associated with owning a dock.

Looking for more information?

Are you looking for the best lakes to live on year round, or perhaps you’d like more insight on what else comes with luxurious waterfront living? As Vancouver Island home builders, Ballard Fine Homes has extensive experience in building custom homes in places near or on the water. Whether you are wanting an oceanfront home in Nanaimo or Parksville or a place closer to Comox Lake, our team can help you find that perfect place to call home. Developments like Bayview Estates place your custom home directly on the beach – it doesn’t get better than that! Contact our team to learn more about what waterfront real estate listings are currently available on Vancouver Island. If you already have a place in mind, talk to us and discover what custom features are available to turn your dream into a reality.

Bathroom Design Ideas

Looking for some bathroom inspo? For your next build or renovation, you’ll want to check out our list for washroom design ideas – suitable for mains and ensuites alike. Make your space look brighter, more inviting, and easier to clean with a smart design.

Ensuite bathroom ideas

Whether it’s off the master bedroom or a guest room, ensuites tend to feel more personalized than the other bathrooms in the home. All the suggestions on this page are suitable for ensuites and shared spaces.

Elegant bathrooms

Take a page from the history books when choosing to design an elegant bathroom. By choosing a few gems and giving them a modern, updated look, these elegant bathroom ideas write their own histories.

  • Floating vanities and open shelving give the illusion of a larger space
  • Dimmer lights help control the feel of the room, making it seem more spa-like.
  • Install a large bathtub, such as a claw-foot or jet tub for a relaxed aura.
  • Go minimal. Minimalist bathrooms often appear to be more put-together than cluttered, disorganized alternatives.
  • Mix and match old and new styles such as antique wood vanities with glass shower doors or black matte hardware.

A modern bathroom design with a blue backlit wall.

Modern master bathroom ideas

How do you transform a regular bathroom into one that looks modern? One of the key features is how you organize your personal items. In short, hide them from view and adopt a minimalist design.

  • Clean and simple designs that lean towards minimalism make your bathroom look more spacious, clean, and clutter-free. Modern designs move away from ornate decor, emphasizing streamline designs.
  • Create a “wet room” where anything can get wet because there are carefully placed drains in the floor. Essentially, the entire room is like a shower, with no enclosed spaces.
  • Ditch the hardware on your cabinets and opt for soft-touch drawers. A smoother surface promotes a minimalist, modern look.
  • Grey and white are commonly seen in modern bathroom designs because of their versatility. Adding a pop of colour as an accent is easier when your base colours are already neutral.

Fun bathroom decor

Looking to add some personality to your bathroom? Perhaps you aren’t the type that is into a modern or minimalist look, but you still want your washroom to look a certain way.

Opt for subtle humor in an art piece. This could be a funny sign on the back of the door or a beautiful looking art piece that has a hidden message once you get close enough to get a good look at it.

Transform the room with a patterned shower curtain. If you can’t decide on a particular colour, use a shower curtain as your inspiration and then choose pieces that match.

Photo of an elegantly designed bathroom with white orchids

Bathroom wall designs

The right wall design can transform any room, just not the bathroom. As these rooms are often on the smaller side, usually there is only enough space to choose one or two wall decor items or designs. Choose carefully and measure your ideal size before you go to the art gallery. Using tile as an accent can make a great impact, too.

Ready to renovate your bathroom?

The bathroom is one of the most impactful rooms in the home. A beautifully renovated bathroom or kitchen can influence potential buyers to make an offer on your home. If not selling, a renovated bathroom can provide more functionality, easier to clean, and looks great!

Drop by Ballard Fine Homes to browse our showroom where you can see examples of different finishes and how they all work together to create something truly stunning. Our knowledgeable staff are happy to provide you with help to turn your ideas into a custom renovation. When in doubt, let us guide you through some decisions others have made so you can see if they will work well with your vision, goals, and budget. We look forward to meeting you!

Best places to live on Vancouver Island

Are you looking for a quick answer for where the best places are to live on Vancouver Island? Our article describes our top picks for cities and towns we think are great for families, retirees, and singletons alike.

Nanaimo Real Estate

The Harbour City of Nanaimo’s population has been growing steadily over the years – and for good reason. It’s central location, large amount of amenities, and variety of real estate options make it desirable for a range of interested buyers. So what does Nanaimo have to offer?

Luxurious waterfront and waterview properties look into the Strait of Georgia with views of the BC Ferries and distant islands. The region of Departure Bay is especially known for its outstanding views, large plots for single-family homes, and convenient access to the core shopping areas.

Looking for something a more humble? South Nanaimo neighbourhoods such as Cedar, Chase River and Extension are less developed than the northern end, meaning more opportunities for vacant land and an overall quieter vibe.

Travellers love to live in Nanaimo because it acts as an excellent home base. With access to the BC Ferries and Nanaimo Airport, travelling is a breeze. It’s central location also places it perfectly between destinations such as Tofino or Victoria.

Top Nanaimo Attractions

In general, people tend to gravitate towards Nanaimo because of these amenities and features:

Parksville Homes

Do you enjoy sandy beaches? How about a home on the beach, or within walking distance to one? Parksville is a small town on Vancouver Island with exceptional homes next to the ocean.

While originally popular with retirees, more and more younger people are choosing to live in Parksville because of its smaller size, friendly community, and proximity to Nanaimo’s larger attractions.

There are a mix of homes in Parksville, suitable for all budgets. Some of the cheapest homes on Vancouver Island are found near the outskirts of Parksville, usually on medium-sized plots of land with small ranchers or mobile homes. Conversely, Parksville also contains several luxurious waterfront condominiums that are highly sought after for their prime views and access to the beach.

Top Parksville Attractions

We love the beaches in Parksville, as well as the small-town community that goes along with it. Other great features of Parksville include:

  1. Rathtrevor Provincial Park (Rathtrevor Beach)
  2. Paradise Mini Golf & Fun Park
  3. Parksville Community Park

Comox Listings

The Comox Valley is perfect for those that enjoy outdoor activities such as fishing, hiking, and snowboarding. Surrounded by water on three sides, Comox is known as a picturesque, family-friendly community popular with growing families. It is also one of the best places to retire on Vancouver Island with its safe and vibrant community, mild year-round climate, and endless choices for things to do and see. The local Royal Canadian Air Force Base provides a sense of local security appreciated by Comox residents, plus it provides an airport for public use.

Homes in Comox range from small ranchers to large, executive style homes with ocean views. A selection of townhouses and condominiums are also found near the western edge as you draw closer to Courtenay.

Top Comox Attractions

The safe community of Comox contains the following attractions:

Courtenay Developments

As part of the Comox Valley, Courtenay shares many of its perks with its sister Comox. In addition, Courtenay contains more shopping options and is closer to the mountains. As a larger city, there is generally more going on in Courtenay compared to Comox. If you love having that perfect mix between downtown shopping and escaping to the great outdoors, Courtenay is a great fit.

As one of the fastest growing communities on the island, Courtenay contains several new developments and homes for sale. Many custom-built homes are built in Courtenay due to its desirable location, amenities, and accessibility to nature.

Top Courtenay Attractions

  1. Shopping at Driftwood Mall
  2. Near Comox Lake
  3. Near Mount Washington Ski Resort
  4. Numerous hiking and walking trails

But what about Victoria or Tofino?

Does it seem strange that we excluded Victoria and Tofino from our list? While they are good places to live, there are a few downsides that made us leave them off our list as the best places on Vancouver Island. Don’t get us wrong, they are still amazing choices for the right lifestyle.

Potential disadvantages for living in Victoria

What is wrong with the capital city of Victoria? Not much at all, actually. However, it’ll cost you an arm and a leg to live there as it is one of the most expensive cities on Vancouver Island for real estate. This makes it harder for families and retirees to get into the real estate market unless they’ve had a lucky break or have worked hard for years saving up for prime real estate. Traffic congestion doesn’t help the cause, either. If you take public transit, be prepared to share it with university students – standing room only.

Perks such as additional ferry service to Vancouver, a local airport, and navy base aren’t actually located in Victoria, but its surrounding areas of Sidney, Saanich, and Esquimalt. If you have your heart set on Victoria, look around at the surrounding areas for opportunities for more affordable real estate listings. While there is nothing inherently bad about Victoria, the cities we listed earlier offer just as much value (or more in some cases), so we feel those are better choices for the majority of people.

Potential disadvantages for moving to Tofino

For families, Tofino provides limited opportunities for growth. With only a couple of schools and a tiny population, this is small-town living at its peak. While it does get busier in the warmer months for tourist season, Tofino may be better thought of as a vacation destination rather than a place to live.

The quiet, small-town feel may be desirable for some retirees, however medical care is limited. More serious cases will need to visit Port Alberni’s West Coast General Hospital (over 2 hour drive), which is usually quite busy.

If you’re okay with living away from major centres with limited supplies and amenities, then Tofino may suit your needs. But if you are interested in Tofino for its proximity to nature try checking out Comox or Courtenay instead, but with more options at your fingertips.

Take the next step

Are you ready to move to Vancouver Island? Build your dream home alongside the professionals at Ballard Fine Homes. Nestle your custom home amongst the trees and peaceful birds, or build near the ocean and fall asleep to the sound of waves gently lapping on the shoreline. Vancouver Island offers endless possibilities for custom builds in several outstanding locations. Contact Ballard Fine Homes today for a no-obligation discussion about your dream building goals.

Pros and Cons of living on Vancouver Island

Have you heard about Vancouver Island? No, we aren’t talking about the metropolitan city of Vancouver, but instead, its next-door neighbour to the west. This large island is home to many small towns and British Columbia’s capital city, Victoria. While many people choose to live on the Lower Mainland, there are even better reasons to make the move to Vancouver Island. In this article, we outline several pros and cons of living on the island.

Benefits of living on Vancouver Island

We love living on Vancouver Island. As a Nanaimo home-building company, we have helped countless clients build custom homes in Nanaimo, Parksville, Comox, and Courteney. Read on to discover a few of the reasons why people are flocking to the Vancouver Island real estate market.

Outdoor activities

Many people enjoy the dense, west coast environment for hiking, biking, water sports, camping, fishing, and other activities. There are several marinas located on all sides of the island, including neighbouring ones on the Discovery Islands. The ease of stepping outdoors to enjoy an outdoor activity makes this area desirable for a large number of people and interests.

Abundant nature

Lakes, ocean, mountains, dense forest – Vancouver Island has it all. Along with plenty of outdoor recreation activities, being surrounded by nature also provides exceptional views and opportunities for local flora and fauna to seamlessly blend into your lifestyle.

Relaxed, slower vibe

Less hustle and bustle means a more relaxed, slower lifestyle than its Vancouver counterpart. This makes Vancouver Island a great place to retire, but it’s also active enough for younger people to enjoy, too. If city living is too hectic for you, consider the slower vibe of Vancouver Island for your mental health.

Mild climate

Vancouver Island has a mild, temperate climate with relatively warm temperatures year-round, making it an attractive place to live. For example, many golf courses are open year-round – a rare treat in British Columbia!

In the city of Vancouver, rain is a part of life during the cooler months. While this climate does creep onto Vancouver Island, instead of hitting concrete it nourishes the natural plants and trees of the region, resulting in lush forests, vibrant blooms, and the occasional opportunity to observe a beachfront winter storm.

Less traffic

Sick of getting stuck in traffic? Those days are long gone once you’ve relocated to the island. The worst traffic is usually seen in Victoria during rush hour, but it is nothing compared to the long treks on the Lower Mainland. Imagine pulling out of your driveway and driving to the store and only passing by a car or two. It isn’t a dream – many small towns have plenty of space on the road for drivers, cyclists, and pedestrians. You might even see someone riding on horseback, depending on the area!

Affordable real estate

While real estate prices are rising everywhere, they are still relatively more affordable on Vancouver Island compared to the Lower Mainland. In addition, there are more real estate listings generally available for acreages or empty lots for you to build your own custom home.

Lower cost of living

When compared to places like Vancouver, Burnaby, Surrey, and Richmond, Vancouver Island tends to have a lower cost of living. Paired with more affordable real estate listings, this means you can purchase your dream home and still have money left in your pocket for other things you want – vacations, a second property, a new boat for your lakefront home, whatever you want! With rising prices across the globe, these opportunities to save a bit of money and still have a decent quality of life are becoming rare. Fortunately, Vancouver Island is still a relatively affordable place to live, surrounded by beautiful forests, good people, and a relaxed atmosphere.

Plenty of luxurious waterfront homes to choose from

The abundance of lakes, rivers, and ocean waters means finding a luxurious waterfront home on Vancouver Island is a high possibility, not a dream. Lakefront properties, beach houses, and river view homes are plentiful. Purchase a home that’s already established, renovate it to suit your needs, or start from scratch and build your own luxury custom home. Don’t take a vacation, live the vacation!

High sense of community

Do you miss the good old days before smart devices where people talked to each other face to face? While smartphones are still a part of life, Vancouver Island is home to many smaller towns with a large sense of community. In these towns, locals will spark up conversations with each other on the bus, at the grocery store, or anywhere else people gather. When unfortunate circumstances occur, often you will find the community gathering together to offer their help to one another.

Potential disadvantages for island living

Transparency is important to Don Ballard and his team, which is why we want to inform you of some potential disadvantages of living on Vancouver Island, along with the perks. In this way, you can decide for yourself if island living is suitable for your lifestyle.

Less sophisticated public transportation options

Do you rely on the SkyTrain? It doesn’t exist on Vancouver Island, so relying on your vehicle is more important than if you were living on the mainland. While each city or town has its public transportation system, it is limited to city buses that tend to run less frequently than the SkyTrains in Vancouver or Burnaby. So you may need to allocate a little bit of extra time in your travel plans if you are used to getting around in a flash.

The benefit is that these rapid transit options aren’t needed. In most cases, you can drive across town in minutes (not hours), so getting around isn’t that big of an issue.

Potential for urban construction due to the rising population

The word got out and more and more people are relocating to Vancouver Island. What does this mean for you? With a growing population, there is more of a demand for services and housing. These don’t come out of thin air, so some areas will see more of a construction boom compared to others. Sometimes this can mean traffic delays or added noise, but it also means a higher quality of living once these amenities are complete and ready for public use.

Fewer job opportunities

The number of businesses and job opportunities is fewer than their mainland counterparts, so it might be slightly more difficult to find a job. This makes sense, as there isn’t a collection of metropolitan cities crammed side by side like on the Lower Mainland.

However, with so many jobs having the ability to work remotely from home, this can be more of a perk than a loss. What better place to have your office than in the relaxed, scenic environment found on Vancouver Island?

Ready to make a move?

Have you come to a decision about moving to Vancouver Island? Are you wanting a little bit more information before you make the leap? Contact the team at Ballard Fine Homes to find out more about what it is like living on Vancouver Island. We have built custom homes for clients in areas like Nanaimo, Parksville, Comox, and Courtenay to name a few, and are happy to provide insider information about each of these communities to help you be better prepared.

Why You Should Buy a Vancouver Island Waterfront Home

Vancouver Island is one of the best places in the world for waterfront homes. The natural, west coast beauty of British Columbia paired with warmer waters makes this a haven for waterfront real estate listings. Some of the most luxurious homes are found overlooking lakes and the ocean and for good reason. In this article, we discuss a few of our top reasons for living by the water, along with a few considerations to keep in mind when looking for a new home or beach house to buy.

Waterfront, Waterview – what’s the difference?

In general, waterfront homes are situated along the shoreline of either a lake, ocean, or river. The water is usually steps away from the home. If you are imagining a home on the lake, with a short path to the shoreline where your wharf is waiting for you – then you are thinking of a waterfront property.

Waterview homes contain a view of the body of water. This can be a glimpse off in the distance, or it can be paired with a waterfront home, giving the best of both worlds. Sometimes the home is near water, but not near enough to be right on the edge of the shoreline. Other times it is a considerable distance away, making some people wonder if there is much of a view in the first place!

Benefits of lakeside (or oceanside) living

There are so many great reasons to live alongside the water. Whether you choose the calm, still waters of a lake or the comforting sound of waves caressing the shoreline, there’s much to be said about waterfront living. Here are some of our top reasons why you should buy a Vancouver Island waterfront home.

    1. Vancouver Island is renowned for its breathtaking natural beauty, with rugged coastlines, pristine forests, and majestic mountains. Living in a waterfront home allows you to fully immerse yourself in this stunning environment and enjoy the sights and sounds of the ocean or lake every day. Also, there is a wealth of recreational opportunities available, from hiking and camping in the nearby mountains to fishing, kayaking, and boating on the water.
    2. Do you enjoy peace and quiet? There’s something inherently calming about living by the water, with the sound of the waves lulling you to sleep at night and the gentle sea breeze blowing through your windows. If you’re looking for a peaceful, serene lifestyle, this type of home might be just what you need.
      Many lakefront properties are considerably more private than their city counterparts. Living out near a lake can sometimes mean your home is nestled in trees, surrounded mainly by natural flora and fauna. Several oceanfront properties also contain private beaches, inaccessible to the general public.
    3. If a community is important to you, anywhere on Vancouver Island is a prime opportunity to connect with like-minded individuals who share your love of the outdoors and the ocean. This is another way to provide a sense of belonging within your community.
    4. Is your health important to you? Often these homes are away from cities and closer to nature. In addition to providing a serene environment, things like better air quality, lowered stress, and more of an inclination for physical activity can all benefit your health.
    5. Live the dream in your vacation home, full-time! Instead of renting an Airbnb or houseboat, relax on your terms when it is most convenient for you. While taking a week-long vacation is nice, there is something to be said for the opportunity to take an hour or so out of your day to lounge on the wharf, take a quick dip, or roast marshmallows on the shore, whenever you please.

Water features in a backyard.

Considerations when buying waterfront properties

Purchasing a waterfront property is a big investment, so it is important to consider how this purchase will impact your lifestyle and budget. Before jumping the gun, make sure you are aware of the following things to consider:

    • While you may initially consider purchasing a property for your home, it can also serve as an investment opportunity. Waterfront properties are highly sought after, and Vancouver Island is no exception. If you choose to invest in a waterfront home, you may see significant appreciation in value over time. You can live in it for years and then sell it later at a potentially higher price than the original purchase price, or you can rent it out as a vacation home for additional income. Nanaimo waterfront homes for sale today may end up being a great investment for later, as its central location, ample transportation, and access to amenities is so convenient.
    • Depending on the area, conveniences like municipal water and sewage might not be an option. This can mean there are added expenses for waste management and water filtration. Some homes may require a water filtration system that brings in lakewater to the home and purifies it for safe consumption. Getting the lake tested for contaminants ahead of time is a smart move, too. Regarding waste management, your home may require the installation and maintenance of a septic system. Household garbage may not be picked up curbside, so regular trips to the nearest landfill might be part of your new routine.
    • Insurance costs may be higher than a similar home located in town, depending on the possibility of natural disasters like flooding or tsunamis. How far away is your home from emergency responders? This is important to consider for both your health and may affect the price of your insurance premium.
    • Building regulations and zoning bylaws may differ from those in town. As there is more natural beauty, additional environmental regulations may affect where you can build structures, for example. If you envision developing your property, make sure your custom plans are approved by the governing authorities ahead of time.

Curious to see what waterfront properties are on the market today?

Are you excited to live along the waterfront? With benefits such as reduced stress, beautiful views, and easy access to fun water sports activities, living in a waterfront property can’t be beaten.

If you are curious about learning more about additional pros and cons of living along the waterfront, please reach out to our team at Ballard Fine Homes. As a Nanaimo home-building company, we have extensive knowledge of all the nooks and crannies of Vancouver Island and are excited to help you on the path to your dream home. Reach out to us to find out more about building a custom home or how we can help you renovate your existing home into something more luxurious.

How to plan a home renovation

Planning a home renovation can be a daunting task, but with a systematic approach, it can be manageable. In this article, we share various steps to consider for a home renovation plan, a fixer-upper schedule, and where you may want to stay during the construction process.

Steps for your next home renovation plan

Goal Setting

First, define the scope of the renovation project, what is the end goal, and what are the priorities. Consider what you need vs. what you want and set realistic expectations. Brainstorm your ideas, look at home renovation books, and magazines, or walk through a showroom.

Set a budget

Determine how much money you can spend on the renovation and allocate funds accordingly. It’s important to set aside some money for unexpected costs or emergencies. Figuring out the cost to renovate your home ahead of time will allow you to determine what to prioritize and where to set your limits for unexpected design or functional features.

Hire the professionals

Consider hiring a professional to help you with the planning process, as they can provide valuable insights and expertise. An architect or designer can help you create a plan that maximizes space, functionality, and aesthetic appeal.

For the building process, various contractors specialize in different trades, or you can go with one company that subcontracts when needed so you have one less thing to worry about. Keep track of the renovation progress and communicate regularly with contractors. Be prepared to make changes to the plan if necessary.

Renovation plan

The renovation plan should include a detailed list of what needs to be done, the materials required, the timeline, and any necessary permits. The plan should be comprehensive and include every detail to avoid any surprises later on.

Depending on the scope of your renovation project, you may need to obtain permits from your local government or building department. These permits ensure that your project complies with building codes and regulations.

Choose your materials

Select the materials and finishes that meet your needs, budget, and style preferences. Consider durability, functionality, and aesthetics while making your selections.

When purchasing items such as paint or flooring, always consider purchasing a little bit more than what you think you need. This ensures the colour and texture of that particular batch stay consistent throughout the space. If you run out of paint partway through a project and run to the store to buy more, the new batch of paint may be mixed slightly differently and the colours may not be a perfect match. You will want the paint to match perfectly, especially if you need to do a few touchups down the road. Similarly, additional flooring is great for this reason, including fixing any mistakes that may happen along the way.

Review the work

Once the renovation is complete, inspect the work to ensure that it meets your expectations. Make sure all contractors are paid and obtain any necessary certificates of occupancy.

Planning a home renovation takes time, effort, and attention to detail. But if you follow these steps, you can make the process manageable and achieve the results you desire.

Inside of a shower

Fixer-upper schedule

How long does it typically take to fix up a home? It can vary depending on the size and scope of the renovation project, of course, but here is a small example of a fixer-upper schedule for a mid-size renovation project.

Weeks 1-2: Demolition and Prep

Getting down to a blank slate and understanding what you have to work with is the first step.

  1. Remove old flooring, cabinets, and appliances
  2. Demolish non-load-bearing walls
  3. Evaluate the condition of the electrical and plumbing systems
  4. Prepare the walls and ceiling for painting

Weeks 3-4: Electrical and Plumbing

While the walls are exposed, take the time to make sure all your electrical and plumbing are up to code.

  1. Update the electrical wiring and outlets as necessary
  2. Install new plumbing fixtures and replace old pipes
  3. Add additional lighting fixtures and ceiling fans

Weeks 5-6: HVAC and Insulation

Before closing up the walls, there are a few things you can do at this step to help save time and headaches later.

  1. Upgrade the HVAC system as necessary
  2. Install new insulation in walls and ceiling
  3. Replace old windows and doors with energy-efficient models

Weeks 7-8: Drywall and Paint

  1. Install new drywall and finish the walls
  2. Paint the walls and ceiling
  3. Install trim and mouldings

Weeks 9-10: Flooring and Cabinets

  1. Install new flooring (e.g. hardwood, tile, or carpet)
  2. Install new kitchen and bathroom cabinets
  3. Install new countertops

Weeks 11-12: Finishing Touches

  1. Install new light fixtures and window treatments
  2. Install new appliances
  3. Finish any remaining details, such as touch-up paint, hardware installation, and deep cleaning

This is just one example of how long these steps may take, and it’s important to note that each renovation project is unique and may require a different timeline. It’s crucial to work closely with a contractor and adjust the schedule as needed to ensure that the project stays on track and meets your expectations. If you are expecting to move in by a certain date, allow for some extra time in case of unexpected delays.

When determining how to renovate a house, thinking about the project in stages will help you organize your resources and produce a more accurate timeline.

Where to stay during a home renovation?

Sometimes it is better to stay somewhere else during construction or renovation. Contractors can work without distractions and your level of comfort won’t be disturbed if they happen to be working on the only bathroom in the home, for example.

Staying in a hotel is the first option that comes to mind, but it can be rather pricy depending on the time of year, area, and type of hotel. Other options include staying with family or friends, renting a temporary apartment or house, bunking up in a camper or RV right on your property, or finding an affordable Airbnb for the duration of your renovation. Depending on the type of renovation, some people prefer to take off entirely and go on vacation. If you have everything prearranged ahead of time, this can be a very desirable option.

Thinking about your next renovation project?

Renovating a space can be an exciting project, especially when the results make your lifestyle more comfortable, enjoyable, and functional. The process of setting up a renovation and going through the stages can be daunting for some, so consider allowing the professionals at Ballard Fine Homes to help you out. As a home-building company in Nanaimo, Ballard Fine Homes also provides custom renovations for clients. View our showroom for ideas and inspiration for finishes, materials, and how it looks once it is all together. If you can dream it, Ballard can build it. Contact us today to get started.

Home remodeling and renovation ideas

Renovating different spaces around the house is a great way to improve productivity and create space for enjoyment. Whether you work from home, have children who need a study area, or simply want a cozy spot to relax in, there are many ways to transform your living spaces. In this article, we will explore a few ideas for renovating various spaces around the house, focusing on ways to balance productivity and enjoyment.

A few small house renovation ideas

Is your house small? No problem. The benefit to a smaller home is the renovation costs are usually lower, as fewer materials need to be used to completely change the look and feel of the space.

Here are a few quick ideas for remodelling smaller spaces:

  1. A simple coat of paint can give your home a fresh, new look. You can choose a neutral colour to make the space feel larger or go bold with a statement colour to add character. We recommend white or off-white ceilings to create openness while using bold colours as accents.
  2. Update fixtures and hardware. Replacing outdated fixtures and hardware in your kitchen and bathroom can give the space a modern, updated look. This includes things like faucets, drawer pulls, and light fixtures.
  3. Installing new flooring can completely transform a space. You can choose from a variety of options, including hardwood, laminate, tile, and carpet.

These tips are general and can be used in most rooms. Read on to discover more tips based on specific rooms in your home.

Home Office Inspo

If you work from home or need a space to study, having a comfortable and functional home office is essential. One way to improve productivity in this space is to ensure that it is well-lit and free from distractions. Consider installing adjustable lighting fixtures or adding window treatments to control the amount of natural light in the room.

You may also want to invest in a comfortable desk and chair that support good posture, as well as shelving or storage options to keep the space organized. Personal touches, such as artwork or photographs, can make the space feel more inviting and inspire creativity. A nice rug under your desk is an easy way to add a pop of colour and protect your floor from friction caused by your office chair.

However, it’s important to strike a balance between productivity and enjoyment in your home office. Your home office layout matters, too. Incorporating plants or a small fountain to create a soothing atmosphere, or adding a cozy reading nook for breaks and relaxation are nice options. A nice candle or small statement piece can go a long way in adding personality and charm to your desk.

Large and small kitchen renovation ideas

The kitchen is often the heart of the home, where we gather to cook, eat, and socialize. However, a cluttered and disorganized kitchen can lead to stress and decreased productivity.

One way to improve the functionality of your kitchen is to create more storage space. This can be seen through the addition of cabinets or shelves, or investing in a kitchen island with built-in storage. This will help you keep your countertops free from clutter and make it easier to find what you need when cooking or entertaining.

As an alternative to the norm, you may also consider adding a cozy breakfast nook or creating a space for socializing while you cook. You could also add a small herb garden or indoor plants to bring a touch of nature into the space.

Here are some more kitchen renovation ideas:

  1. Update the Cabinets: Replacing or repainting the cabinets is a great way to give your kitchen a fresh new look. You can also replace the cabinet doors or add new hardware for an updated look.
  2. Upgrade the Countertops: Upgrading the countertops can make a huge difference in the look and functionality of your kitchen. Popular options like granite, quartz, or butcher block are stylish and durable surfaces.
  3. Install New Appliances: Upgrading your appliances can make a big difference in the functionality of your kitchen. Look for energy-efficient options that can save you money on your energy bill. Smart appliances look great and they add a ton of functionality.
  4. Add a Backsplash: Adding a tile or glass backsplash can give your kitchen a stylish look and protect the walls from spills and splatters.
  5. Change the Flooring: Upgrading the flooring can make a big difference in the overall look and feel of your kitchen. Hardwood, tile, or laminate are good picks.
  6. Upgrade Lighting: Upgrading the lighting in your kitchen can improve functionality and create a more welcoming atmosphere.This can be achieved by adding task lighting under the cabinets or pendant lighting over the island.

Compact kitchens especially benefit from additional storage solutions such as built-in cabinets, drawer dividers, and risers for storing canned goods.

Living room or basement renovation ideas

The living room is a space where we gather to relax, watch TV, and entertain guests. Both living rooms and basements tend to be some of the largest areas in the home. But what do you do with all that space? Here are some ideas to use upstairs, downstairs, and anywhere else you have a large, unused room.

Create a Home Theatre

Turn your basement into a home theatre by adding comfortable seating, a large screen, and a sound system. This is a great way to create a dedicated entertainment space for your family and friends. A basement media room also means most of the noise is muffled by being downstairs – a great idea for those that have kids.

Create a dedicated gaming room

A large screen for a home theatre can also be used as a gaming room. Many of the same features are handy for console gamers such as a large screen and comfy seating. Throw in a mini fridge, snack bar, and LED lights to set the ambiance and increase your focus.

Other fun and playful game room features can include objects like a pool table, foosball table, or ping pong table. This is a great way to create a space for your family and friends to have fun and unwind.

Add a Guest Suite

If you have guests staying with you frequently,it may be worthwhile turning your basement into a guest suite. This can include a bedroom, bathroom, and a sitting area for added comfort and privacy.

Personal fitness center/home gym

Looking for home gym ideas? Transform your basement into a cool home gym by adding workout equipment, mirrors, and a sound system. If your budget is larger, installing a personal sauna, hot tub, or inground swimming pool only help to complete the picture. This is a great way to stay fit without having to leave your home.

Other affordable ideas

Aside from specific themes, enhancing what you already have with a few tweaks can go a long way.

One of the easiest ways for decorating on a budget is by updating the walls with a fresh coat of paint or tasteful wallpaper. Along with new walls, lighting is key to creating a warm and inviting living room. Floor lamps, table lamps, or dimmer switches all help to create a cozy atmosphere. You can also add a statement chandelier or pendant light for a dramatic effect. Together, fresh walls and new lights have an impactful effect on the overall look and mood of a room.

Arguably the most affordable suggestion is to simply rearrange the furniture. Changing the layout of your living room can make a big difference in the overall look and feel of the space. Try different arrangements, feel it out for a day or two, then rearrange it back or try something new to see what works. Explore a thrift store for a second-hand piece of furniture if you’re looking to add character, or invest in a designer sofa or similar piece for that “wow” factor you’ve been looking for.

Another affordable option is to simply clean up! If your living room lacks storage, you could spend some money on custom built-in shelves, or you can declutter to create more of a minimalist design. Even if you aren’t a minimalist, having less clutter can make a room look brighter, larger, and more put together.

And finally, adding a statement piece like a large piece of artwork, a unique coffee table, or a striking rug can add personality and character to your living room. These don’t have to be high-ticket items to have an impact. A family heirloom such as a handmade blanket, a piece of artwork created by a family member, or an exotic plant is another idea.

Create an airy and open space with your next bathroom remodel.


Bathroom renovation ideas

Another high-traffic area in the home is the bathroom. A bathroom makeover is always welcomed. Similar to the kitchen, there are some key things you can do to increase the look and functionality of your bathroom.

  1. Update the fixtures: Replacing outdated fixtures like faucets, showerheads, and towel racks can give your bathroom a fresh new look. Choose a cohesive style that matches your taste and the rest of your home.
  2. Change the flooring: Replacing the flooring in your bathroom can make a big difference in the overall look and feel of the space. Options like tile, vinyl, or waterproof laminate are suitable for bathrooms.
  3. Add storage: If your bathroom is lacking in storage, simply adding cabinets or shelves to keep toiletries and towels organized can make a world of a difference. You can also add built-in storage solutions like recessed shelves or niches. Bathrooms are often smaller rooms, so small amounts of clutter tend to have a larger impact. 
  4. Upgrade the shower or bathtub: Upgrading your shower or bathtub can give your bathroom a spa-like feel. A walk-in shower, a soaking tub, or a jacuzzi tub all make for a luxurious bathing experience. A renovated shower that contains an overhead or rain showerhead is another popular option.
  5. Install new lighting: Installing new lighting can create a more welcoming and functional bathroom. This can be done by adding task lighting around the vanity and mirrors, and ambient lighting in the ceiling or on the walls.

Tying in design features from other rooms often works in bathrooms, too. Do you have a large plant in your living room that acts as a statement piece? Adding a smaller version in the bathroom can benefit from complimenting what you already have, as well as being its own mini statement piece.

Transform your Bedroom

The bedroom is a space where we go to relax and recharge. To create a peaceful and restful space, it is important to invest in a comfortable mattress and bedding. Adding blackout curtains or shades can also help you get a better night’s sleep by blocking out light and reducing noise.

For those that like to work from their bed, creating a designated workspace will look better and feel better on your lower back. This could be a small desk or table where you can work on your laptop or read. Adding a comfortable chair or ottoman can also make the space more versatile and inviting.

Soft lightings, such as a bedside lamp or string lights can help transition between day and night. A cozy reading nook or a small seating area can also create a relaxing space where you can unwind and recharge.

Ready to renovate?

In conclusion, renovating various spaces around the house is a great way to improve productivity and create space for enjoyment. By incorporating functional elements, such as storage and workspaces, and adding personal touches, such as plants and cozy textiles, you can transform your living spaces into comfortable and inviting areas that balance work and play.

Are you inspired to update your look? Any job, small or large, is treated the same way by the staff at Ballard Fine Homes. We treat your home as if it were our own, which means it gets the attention and respect it deserves. Explore our Showroom for design inspiration, or talk to one of our staff about possibilities in renovating your home. We hope you enjoyed this article and look forward to hearing from you!

Nanaimo general contractors you can trust

How do I know if I have a good contractor?

When it comes to hiring a contractor, there are many factors to consider. Finding reliable contractors in Nanaimo can be a daunting task, but with some research and due diligence, you can identify a good contractor who will meet your needs and complete your project to your satisfaction.

It is important to find a trustworthy contractor because not only are you paying them substantial amounts of hard-earned money, you are relying on their craftsmanship to look good and be safe for your family.

Here are some key things to look for when determining if a contractor is good:

Credentials and Experience

A good contractor will have the necessary credentials and experience to perform the work you need. Check if they are licensed and insured and if they have experience working on projects similar to yours. Don’t be afraid to ask for references or examples of their previous work.

A trustworthy set of credentials and experience is something Don Ballard and his team takes very seriously. We have only hired builders that are certified and experienced in their particular trade, along with holding the same core values as our company.

Ballard Fine Homes is also proud to announce we have won the “Best of Houzz 2023” award in their service category. This, along with the positive feedback we have received from our valued clientele over the years, including celebrity Marie Osmond, has allowed us the privilege of continuing to build custom homes on Vancouver Island.


Regular and clear communication throughout the project are positive signs to look out for when hiring a contractor. They will provide detailed estimates, explain the scope of work, and keep you informed of any changes or delays. They will also be responsive to your questions and concerns.

A solid handshake and a mutual understanding of terms are essential for any successful project. For both Ballard Fine Homes and our clients, we understand how important renovating or building a home is for families so we go the extra mile with our customer service. From start to finish, transparent communication is part of the package. We often form long-term relationships with our clients after the job is done because we treat our clients like our families. We are always here to lend a helping hand and listen to any concerns.

Angled view of another beautifully designed and constructed kitchen by Ballard Fine Homes.


Professionalism & Quality of Work

What does a professional contractor look like to you? They should arrive on time, keep the work area clean and tidy, and be respectful of your neighbours and community to start. These contractors will take pride in their work and strive for excellence. A professional contractor will use quality materials and employ skilled workers to ensure the finished product meets or exceeds your expectations. If you see a contractor cutting corners by using cheap materials or taking forever to finish the job only to have it look like it was rushed, those should be red warning flags that perhaps you hired the wrong company.

All the homes built by Ballard Fine Homes are built with the highest standards for building materials, craftsmanship, functionality, durability, and design. We strive to go above and beyond in areas that other contractors tend to overlook or neglect. An exceptional eye and careful attention to detail (small and large) are essential to our business. We want our clients to not only be satisfied with their new homes, but we also want them to be thrilled and excited about moving in. View our testimonials to hear straight from our clients what professionalism and quality of work mean to us.

Warranty and Guarantees

If a contractor refuses to stand behind their work, it means they usually have no indications to ever see your face again – especially if there are problems. Warranties and guarantees demonstrate the contractor is serious about the quality of their work, while also providing the client with peace of mind and assurance that the contractor will make things right if there are any issues.

Ballard Fine Homes is proud to stand behind every home we have built. We encourage potential clients to walk through our Showroom for design inspiration and to view our FAQ for answers about warranties, landscaping, and other concerns. If you have additional questions about our work, we welcome you to contact us to find out more.

In Closing

In conclusion, finding a good contractor in Nanaimo can require some effort and research, from looking for credentials and experience, communication, professionalism, quality of work, and warranties or guarantees. To ensure that you are hiring a reliable contractor who will complete your project to your satisfaction, feel confident in asking any questions that come to mind and ask others for their experiences, too.

Ballard Fine Homes are reliable contractors in Nanaimo, Parksville, Comox, and Courtenay regions. Our team will be privileged to work with you on renovating your home or helping you build the home of your dreams. With our extensive experience, solid family values, and high standards for building materials and quality of craftsmanship, you can be sure you are in good hands. Reach out today and we will be happy to show you the Ballard difference.

The Importance of Home Inspections

Vancouver Island has seen a change in the real estate market. Rising home prices have contributed to a seller’s market, meaning more people are competing to buy a home. Instead of hoping for a single offer, sellers are now faced with several offers to choose from.

With a hot real estate market, it can be tempting to make your offer as desirable as possible to a seller. Besides, you want them to choose your offer over the others, right? Sometimes cutting costs in an attempt to give a seller a better deal does more harm than good. Passing on a home inspection can cost buyers thousands of dollars they didn’t anticipate spending in the first place. Purchasing a home is a costly investment, so being informed about the pros and cons of something like a home inspection is worth considering.

Reasons to get a home inspection

So why bother getting a home inspection? We outline ten reasons below why skipping out on this condition may do more harm than good.

    • Safety: A home inspection can identify potential safety hazards such as faulty wiring, damaged foundations, or mold growth. This can influence your home insurance premiums, especially as homes on Vancouver Island are susceptible to earthquakes, flooding, and damp conditions.
    • Cost-effective: A home inspection can help you identify potential problems before they become costly repairs, saving you money in the long run.
    • Negotiating power: If the inspection reveals any significant issues, you may be able to negotiate with the seller to lower the price or make necessary repairs. An issue estimated to cost $10 000 is often a valid reason to reduce your offered price or put in a condition for that issue to be fixed in full or partially by the seller before the deal goes through.
    • Peace of mind: Knowing the condition of the home and any potential issues can give you the ability to relax and help you make an informed decision. It is one less thing to worry about.
    • Disclosure: An inspection can reveal any undisclosed issues with the property that the seller may not have been aware of or disclosed.
    • Insurance: Many insurance companies require a home inspection before they will provide coverage, and some may offer discounts based on the results of the inspection.
    • Future planning: Understanding the condition of the home and any necessary repairs or upgrades can help you plan for future maintenance and renovations. If a home inspection reports that the roof should be replaced within the next five years, then that gives you a bit of breathing room to plan for that expense, for example.
    • Legal protection: A home inspection can help protect you from any legal issues that may arise from undisclosed problems with the property. This is especially important if you are planning to use the property as a rental unit.
    • Professional assessment: A professional home inspector can provide an objective assessment of the property, giving you a better understanding of its condition. Sometimes our emotions can cloud our judgement, making it so we unintentionally make decisions we later regret. An objective third-party is a great way to add an unbiased opinion to your purchase.
    • Education: A home inspection can be a valuable learning experience, helping you understand the various components of the home and how they function. It may uncover things about your home you didn’t pay attention to previously, allowing you an opportunity to become a better-informed homeowner.

Nanaimo News

Desperate to get into the real estate market, more and more Canadians are making riskier offers. On Vancouver Island, news stations like Chek News and the Nanaimo Bulletin have revealed people are starting to forgo home inspections when purchasing a new home. The fear of missing out on a property due to high interest has led many families to skip home inspections, and then dealing with a myriad of problems to follow. Instead of walking through a home and being the center of attention by the real estate agent, Vancouver Island residents are finding that they are now the ones competing for the attention of the real estate agent because so many more people are trying to – literally – get their foot in the door.

A creative shot of a bathtub showing a brassy/copper-like faucet.

What do home inspectors typically look for?

Home inspectors are on the lookout for several issues around a property. These are places and things you may see but are unable to identify as being problematic. The question of “how bad is it, really?” can be the difference between $5 at the hardware store or $20 000+ to replace a foundation.

Some areas of concern include:

      • Structural issues with the foundation, roof, walls, or other structural elements of the home. Did the previous homeowner renovate to code, or are you potentially moving into a death trap?
        The electrical system including wiring, outlets, and circuit breakers are all inspected to make sure they are safe and up to code.
      • Got some old lead pipes? Inspectors will check your plumbing for leaks, corrosion, and other issues. Some insurance plans will not provide a policy if certain features are not up to code, plumbing included.
      • HVAC systems for heating, ventilation and air conditioning can have costly repairs if they aren’t functioning properly.
      • Roofing materials like shingles, tiles, and flashing are inspected to ensure they are in good condition and not at risk of leaks. Replacing a roof is a very large expense that often takes years to plan ahead for.
      • Does your home contain asbestos? Checking the insulation in walls and attics are up to code is also important for your health.
      • It might be exciting that the home comes with appliances like the refrigerator, oven, and dishwasher but what if they are broken? Knowing ahead of time if you should pack your appliances in your new house or not is a considerable cost.
      • Smoke detectors, carbon monoxide detectors, and other safety features are examined to ensure they are installed and functioning properly.
      • On Vancouver Island, water damage can be a big issue. Stains, mold, and mildew can indicate underlying (costly) issues with your home that can effect your health.
      • Inspectors are also on the lookout for signs of pests such as termites, rodents like rats and mice, and other insects.

A Nanaimo builder you can count on

What does it take to feel comfortable knowing you are in good hands? Integrity, hard work, and a strong reputation go a long way. Ballard Fine Homes are Nanaimo builders that specialize in building custom homes that put these values up at the forefront. We understand the importance of care, trust, and transparency between builders and clients. As part of our business profile, inspections at all levels are a guaranteed part of the process. Take a look at our available homes for sale in Nanaimo, Comox, Courtenay, and Parksville regions to view our craftsmanship. If you are looking to start off on the right foot, contact the team at Ballard Fine Homes to discuss your next renovation or custom home project.