The Sense of Snow Removal

Clearing away ice and snow from your private and public walkways is important for two reasons: preventing anyone from injuring themselves in a fall; and to protect yourself from a fine.

For instance, Kitchener city by-laws require property owners to remove snow and ice from sidewalks within 24 hours of a storm – even in you’re in Florida! When a complaint is received, city staff will inspect the property and issue a notice to the resident. They’ll follow up to make sure the job is done, too. If the snow’s still there, the city will remove the snow and invoice the resident – a cost of $300-$500 each time!

City sidewalks aren’t the only no-snow zones — privately owned lots and plazas are the responsibility of individual property managers, and must be plowed properly, according to city rules. If snow from a private lot is plowed onto a City street, the property management company may be subject to a fine.

Municipalities have varying rules and regulations for the clearing of snow and ice, but business owners should also be aware that they could be liable should an injury occur on or in front of their property. While a recent Supreme Court decision absolved homeowners of injury liability for the sidewalks in front of their property, the same cannot be said for business owners, who are still subject to liability lawsuits under provincial law.

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For these reasons, it’s important to consider having professionals handle the snowy stuff – especially when it comes to Canadian winters. It doesn’t just save you back breaking labor, and rushing to have walks and lots cleared within the 24 hour limit, it also saves you time and stress, and provides peace of mind if a major storm hits while you’re out of town, or otherwise occupied.

When looking for a snow removal contractor, it’s important to consider the following qualities:

Meticulous – Attention to detail is vital to satisfying customers, and doing a job properly. Ask questions about what happens in the result of property damage, and if the contractor provides preventative measures, like ice removal, proper drainage, etc., which can save you money come spring!

Timely – Since most snow falls in the evening and is cleared in the early hours of morning, timeliness is important. Make sure your contractor provides a guaranteed window of time in which the work will be completed. Remember, as a business owner, you rely on snow removal contractors to have your lot clear of snow and ice in time to open. As a residential customer, you should expect to be able to get out of your driveway in the morning for work.

Efficient – Many people make the mistake of looking at price instead of productivity. It could take a contractor with a small snowblower several hours to plow the same area that a larger, more efficient piece of equipment could plow in one hour. Be sure to do the math! If a contractor is charging $100/hour for a smaller machine, and another charges $175 an hour for a large plow, the large plow is often the better choice, because it’s more efficient.

Further Reading

City of Kitchener – Guide to Rules and By-laws

City of Kitchener – Snow Removal

City of Waterloo – Sidewalk Clearing

570 News – Hefty Fines for Shovelling Snow Onto Roadway

Bob Aaron – Homeowners not liable for sidewalk mishaps

What is the Law in Ontario for Clearing Snow and Ice from Your Premises?

Stone Veneers: A luxurious finish to your home’s interior decor

Stone veneers have a history almost as long as humanity’s – the pyramids in Giza once sparkled a bright white thanks to polished Tura limestone veneers, and the Colosseum in Rome was decked out in decadent marble.

The look has always denoted a feeling of luxurious indulgence – and has carried on through the centuries as a favourite material of designers and architects.

However, adding geologic glamour to a home has long been a challenge. The high price of having heavy raw materials delivered, combined with the extra fees of having skilled labourers cut and install it safely, once made the aesthetic a cost-prohibitive one to achieve.

Some companies tried to take advantage of the market gap by offering DIY-friendly faux stone veneers, but they have never been able to replicate the look and feel of real stone.

However, Platinum Stone Design offers consumers an affordable, stylish solutiuon with our highly extensive selection of interior stone panels and tiles are adaptable for muiltiple uses, including fireplaces, accent walls, kitchens, bathrooms, backsplashes, planters, wine cellars, and more -and are diverse enough to fit into any decor scheme – rustic or contemporary,classic or modern. Whether you want a stone fireplace surrounded by country ledge stone or you want to add warmth and character with a textured accent wall, stone effects provide a soothing environment.

Those with a flair for the dramatic, or those looking to add a unique feature or focal point to their home would be hard pressed to find anything more standout than stunning stone veneers.

A fireplace or a 60sq. ft. wall can be installed within hours, and – factoring in drying time afterwards – most projects can be done in a day.

Why delay turning your home into a showpiece your friends and neighbours will envy? Contact us to discuss your interior design needs today!

The Art of Outdoor Living

Outdoor living areas have become an extension of the home’s interior, with many homeowners creating outdoor living rooms and dining areas so they can relax and eat meals outside just as they do indoors. But homeowners thinking of creating outdoor living spaces should consider a few tricks of the trade before beginning their projects.

  • Strategically place the space. Property often dictates where the outdoor living space will go, but it helps to keep in mind that the outdoor space is more likely to be used if it’s easily accessible from the inside of the home. Whenever possible, plan the outdoor living space so it’s easily accessible from the home’s interior, preferably from the kitchen so it will be easier to carry meals outdoors when dining outside.
  • Emphasize comfort. Many homeowners look at their outdoor living areas as places to kick their feet up and relax, so comfort should take precedence when planning the space. Forgo the plastic patio chairs of yesteryear for furniture that’s more sturdy and roomy so you won’t feel cramped or sweaty on warm summer evenings and afternoons. In addition, don’t forget to shade the area. Some homeowners choose to build pergolas, but if the outdoor living area is near trees, they might provide sufficient shade from the often blistering summer sun.
  • Keep the design consistent with your home. In addition to providing an outdoor respite from the daily grind, an outdoor living space can also increase a home’s resale value. However, homeowners who have one eye on R&R and the other on resale value should keep the design of their outdoor living space consistent with their home. One of the goals when designing an outdoor living space should be to create a seamless transition from the home’s interior to its exterior. The best way to do that is to keep designs of living spaces consistent.
  • Don’t forget the fire pit. A fire pit provides a great focal point for an outdoor living area. Instead of sitting at the dinner table, families and friends can gather around the fire pit and relax with some s’mores and share stories. But even when guests aren’t coming over, a fire pit makes for a great place to relax and let the time go by. First, homeowners must decide if they want a permanent or portable fire pit. If you are ready to make an enduring change to your yard and landscape, then a permanent fire pit is the way to go. These can be made of stone or brick and are often very durable. Permanent fire pits can be incorporated into landscape designs to create a professional patio look, while portable fire pits are freestanding units that can be moved around the yard on a whim. Homeowners also must consider a fuel source. Wood can be inexpensive, especially when gathered from around the yard. If you want to have a roaring fire but don’t want to maintain it, then a gas-fueled fire pit is better. Gas fire pits will give you a greater number of design options, but there are still plenty of choices with wood fire pits. From bowl-shaped pits to rectangular-shaped pits to barrel-style pits to chimineas, there are designs to fit most preferences and size constraints.

With more and more homeowners transforming their homes into their own private sanctuaries, outdoor living spaces continue to grow in popularity. By employing a few simple tricks of the trade, homeowners can create the outdoor areas of their dreams.

Pro Tips for Spring

Although the temperatures outside might make it hard to believe, spring has officially sprung! Though it’s far too early to be digging into the dirt, now is the perfect time to begin planning your outdoor paradise for the season.

To help get you started, Platinum Stone Design recommends the following garden hacks that will save you time, effort, and money!

  1. Ants Away: To rid your selves of ants in your gardens and on patios, use lime in the soil. To stay green – baking soda and a pinch of sugar mixed in a plastic lid will attract ants, who will take the mixture back to the queen and kill off the colony!
  2. Flawless fingernails: Prevent accumulating garden soil under your fingernails! Before heading outside, draw your fingernails across a bar of soap, and you’ll effectively seal the undersides -preventing dirt from collecting beneath them. Then, after you’ve finished in the garden, use a nailbrush to remove the soap, and your nails will be sparkling clean!
  3. A Well Oiled Machine: To prevent the line on your string trimmer from jamming or breaking, treat with a spray vegetable oil before installing it.
  4. Measure twice; plant once:
    • Turn a favourite tool into a measuring stick! Lay a long-handled garden tool on the ground next to a tape measure.
    • Using a permanent marker, write inch and foot marks – or whichever measurement you prefer! – on the handle.
    • When you need to space plants a certain distance apart, you’ll already have a measuring device in your hand.
  5. Twine is on my side: To have garden twine handy when you need it, just stick a ball of twine in a small clay pot, pull the end of the twine through the drainage hole, and set the pot upside down in the garden. You’ll never go looking for twine again.
  6. Plastic Pots are Performers! The small green plastic pots from garden centres and the like make great cloches for protecting young plants from sudden, overnight frosts and freezes, they can also be used to protect your seedlings from other garden work like mulching and weeding.
  7. Where the hose goes: To turn a clay pot into a hose guide, just stab a roughly one-foot length of steel reinforcing bar into the ground at the corner of a bed and slip two clay pots over it: one facing down, the other facing up. The guides will prevent damage to your plants as you drag the hose along the bed.
  8. Keep that garden organized: To create perfectly natural markers, write the names of plants (using a permanent marker) on the flat faces of stones of various sizes and place them in the soil at or near the base of your plants. For similar DIY markers for potted plants, write the plant name on an old wine cork, and insert a BBQ skewer into one end. Then simply plant the other end of the skewer in the corresponding pot!
  9. Got aphids? You can control them with a strong blast of water from the hose or with insecticidal soap. But here’s another suggestion, one that’s a lot more fun; get some tape! Wrap a wide strip of tape around your hand, sticky side out, and pat the leaves of plants infested with aphids. Concentrate on the undersides of leaves, because that’s where the little buggers like to hide.
  10. Vegetable Soup: The next time you boil or steam vegetables, don’t pour the leftover water down the drain. Let it cool, and use it to water potted patio plants, and you’ll be amazed at how the plants respond to the vegetable soup.
  11. Even flowers need their coffee fix: Use leftover tea and coffee grounds to acidify the soil of acid-loving plants such as azaleas, rhododendrons, camellias, gardenias and even blueberries. A light sprinkling of about one-quarter of an inch applied once a month will keep the pH of the soil on the acidic side. The coffee filters themselves can also perform double duty as liners for small pots. The filters will allow for drainage, but prevent soil from eroding.
  12. Tea Time: Use chamomile tea to control damping-off fungus, which often attacks young seedlings quite suddenly. Just add a spot of tea to the soil around the base of seedlings once a week, or use it as a foliar spray.
  13. For the birds: If you need a birdbath for your feathered friends, look no farther than your collection of clay pots and saucers. Just flip a good-sized pot over, and top it off with a large saucer. Fill the saucer with water, and your old, unused pot is now a rustic-chic birdbath.
  14. Herbal Remedy: The quickest way in the world to dry herbs – Just lay a sheet of newspaper on the seat of your car, arrange the herbs in a single layer, then roll up the windows and close the doors. Your herbs will be quickly dried to perfection. What’s more, your car will smell great!
  15. Shoe tree: If you want to put the bare side of your shed, fence, or patio to work, this simple hack will turn your unused vertical ace into you own personal hanging garden. Hang a canvas shoe organizer, fill with potting soil, and plant your favourite herbs in the pouches. With some strong sun and adequate water you’ll have a thriving spread of herbs to flavour your favourite dishes.

Got any more tips you would like to share? Join us on Facebook and leave a comment!

Before and After

Sometimes it’s difficult to truly visualize the impact of superior landscape design. In this section, we will showcase a variety of before-and-after examples of how much a property can change when given an expert’s touch!

To view the images below, drag the slider from left to right to see what happens when you hire Platinum Stone Design!

Platinum Stone Design – We’re Baeumler Approved!

Baeumler Approved members are independent and have confirmed references, liability insurance and regulatory certification.

 

Aim High and Create Your Dream Landscape!

It’s spring and you’re ready to start landscaping your backyard! You have called every contractor, responded to every ad, and still unable to find the right provider.   This close to planting season many contractors are unavailable and are booked many months ahead of time, so don’t wait until it’s too late!

Don’t be stuck waiting for a phone call from a second rate company.  Start early, do your homework, and chose the contractor that’s right for YOU.  Make sure that you have a realistic budget and some idea about what you want your home and garden to look like BEFORE you begin calling potential landscapers, this will save both you and them time and avoid headaches.

It is important to have a basic idea of what type of landscaping features you would like to see in your space before you begin searching for contractors.  Do you wish to install an outdoor fireplace or water feature? What about flowers and planters? Take a piece of paper, grab a coffee and spend some time sketching out ideas.  You will be surprised at how much this will aid in the landscaping process.  Landscaping companies charge for every official design plan they create for a customer, and being sure about what you want from the get-go will save you both time and money!

Ask a Professional – Advice for Hiring Contractors

In today’s landscaping industry there is so much competition that the homeowner is often overwhelmed.  When choosing the right professional for your landscaping project there are many factors to consider. The professional you chose should be someone who has experience in the industry as well as a passion for the work.

I started as an independent contractor and grew my business from seed with hard work and determination.  When choosing Platinum Stone you are you choosing a great firm with years of experience.

Are you thinking about starting a landscape project? Here is what you need to know!

It has recently been brought to my attention that I should write blog on helping home owners with advice on successfully completing a landscaping project.  The list of frequently asked questions is a lengthy one.  Where do you start? Do you need permits? How do know that the contractor we hired is honest and reliable? In this article I will attempt to answer most of these queries so that you may head into your next big project with knowledge and confidence.

Choosing the right contractor starts with finding one.  There are many ways to do this.  The internet holds a cornucopia of advertisements for landscaping professionals, the same can be said about printed ads in newspapers and industry specific magazines. The best course of action at this juncture would be to go directly to the source, the suppliers.  They are the best resource for finding you the best and most qualified contractor for your project.  Not to mention they can give ideas, show you products, and can even help with an idea of a typical cost for a project.

It is advisable to narrow your search down to a minimum of three contractors. Look at their website, call and speak with a representative.  This is an important step that will help you make an informed decision. Do not be hoodwinked by pretty pictures.  Be wary of contractors who do not provide any information on their process and guidelines.  Different contractors have different styles and it will show in their work.

Once you decided on the right fit for your needs, contact the company for a free estimate?  Key word is free.  I have heard that there are contractors that will charge a fee for their time to see your project. To me that’s the cost of doing business. It should be free.

The next step is choosing the materials you want to use in your project.  Go straight to the manufacturer and request catalogues, or take a stroll through the grounds and take a look at the products in person, sometimes seeing something in a catalogue isn’t the same as actually being able to feel and touch the materials.  This will be a permanent addition to your home, so take the time to be confident in your choice.  The contractor is an invaluable source of advice in this process, they have years of experience to lean on when helping make the right decision.

Now comes the design process.  Sit down with your contractor and go over the ideas that you have come up with for your project.  There is a design fee that usually starts anywhere from $250-1500 for a 2 dimensional plan or up to $6000 for a 3D design depending how large and intricate the plan needs to be.

Make sure that the contractor provides you with information on their insurance policy as well as any WSIB information.  Any professional will with no hesitation give you this information.  You need to make sure you are protected from being sued for a contractor getting hurt on your property.   Ask if you need permits and inquire if the contractor part of any organizations that are within the industry.  These contractors are usually part of large associations like Landscape Ontario or ICPI.

Next is the proposal, it needs to be in depth and should give you installation information down to contract terms and conditions.  Also payment terms need to be clear. Typically 25% down and 25% job start and 25% at the three quarter completion than remainder at completion.

Next step is to go see the contractor’s references. This is a crucial step.  Don’t just call them, ask to go and see the project. Any homeowner will be pleased at showing their great landscape to you for simple pride that they were part of the designed project.

Are DIY reality shows always installing correctly?

It’s great to see DIY landscaping shows popping up all over television.  These new types of shows are getting a lot of attention, and homeowners are eager to educate themselves on everything from installation methods to the “do’s” and “don’ts” of landscaping. But is this information correct? Are we really getting good advice from the media?

Recently I met with a very nice couple that had called me looking for expertise on a landscape project they were planning.  They began by explaining their needs and expectations for the project, which were well thought out and modest.  One of the issues that has surfaced were permits.

The clients had seen a project on a DIY television show that they were eager to try.  Unfortunately they were unaware that on their type of property a permit was needed.  I had brought this to their attention and soon the matter was resolved.  This goes to show that it is important to look into the details of a landscaping project before jumping into the physical work.  And the right contractor is your Fairy Godmother when it comes to this.