Two Stories, Two Stages

Renovating this two-storey, 1,700+ square-foot home in the Calgary community of Varsity ended up being a two-stage project. At first, we were hired to redo the basement, garage, and exterior, along with the roof. The clients were so happy with the results, they asked us back for a complete renovation of the main and second floors. Here’s what we did:

  • Turned a four-bedroom plan into a three-bedroom by converting a small bedroom into a luxurious walk-in closet and expanding the size of the master.
  • Redesigned the kitchen by removing a wall and the outdated sunshine ceiling, adding custom-built cabinetry and an island, and turning the front closet into a pantry.
  • Chose all the new fixtures and features, including flooring, tile, doors and trim, lighting, paint, etc.
  • Replaced all the plumbing and mechanical by cutting through the floor on the main. An unusual approach, but it was more effective since the basement had just been redone in stage one of the project.

Triple Crown Win!


Malbec Homes & Renovations has been awarded the Alberta Awards of Excellence in Housing ‘Best Renovation over $500,000’ for the “Barn House”.  This is Malbec’s third award this year for this truly stunning custom-built home.  This provincial award accompanies the National and Calgary SAM awards that Malbec has received.

Making your basement usable again after the Calgary flood

In one way or another, the floods that swept through Calgary, High River and area affected everyone. Hopefully your home was undamaged; if you weren’t so lucky, you’re now likely facing a basement full of water damage and a renovation project that you aren’t sure where to start. You’re probably saying to yourself, the water’s gone but now what?

While recovering from a flooded basement is a big job, it’s not insurmountable. The best way to tackle it is one step at a time. Here’s how you can do it:

  1. Decontamination is essential. Mould in your house is a serious health hazard. That means you should get rid of all flooring, drywall and insulation. Even the insulation in the ceiling should go. Don’t forget to check doors and windows for damage as well.
  2. If the water hit the electrical work, it needs to be replaced – the panel, the switches, everything. Any corrosion can be a fire hazard, so it’s better to be safe than sorry. The same goes for a gas system or any appliances.
  3. Before you start rebuilding, make sure everything is completely dry and bacteria free. Get it tested.
  4. If possible, turn this disaster into an opportunity. Did you have 70s wood paneling that you’ve been meaning to replace for a decade? Now’s the time to turn that cold, dingy basement into a stunning space that everyone will want to enjoy.

These same steps apply for anytime you’re facing renovations after water in your basement, whether it’s there from a sewer back up or a natural disaster.

And we suggest hiring professionals at every stage if possible, from mould removal to renovation. Making your basement livable after a flood is often more than a simple DIY project – your family’s health and safety depends on it being done right.

Going for the Triple Crown!

Winner Logo AB

The Alberta Awards of Excellence in Housing finalists have been announced with Malbec Homes & Renovations up for Best Renovation for the “Barn House”.  Malbec has received both a National and Calgary SAM award this year for this truly stunning custom-built home.  Winner will be announced in September at the annual CHBA – Alberta conference in Jasper.

Planning a home addition in Calgary?

Planning a home addition in Calgary?   It is a big undertaking, but a well-planned addition will pay for itself time and time again. Boost your home’s value and extend its square footage with an impactful home addition.

Home additions allow for more space by building up or off of your existing home. Whether you are planning a bonus room over the garage, a mother-in-law/nanny suite, one-room home addition, a second-story add-on, or an outdoor room, ensure that your new addition is a success by considering the following:

  • Start a list asking what problems you want the project to solve (more space) and what goals you want it to achieve (better indoor-outdoor access for entertaining). Once you’ve made the list, rank the improvements in order of priority. Knowing the end result will help your Calgary renovations contractor to plan accordingly for items such as wiring, plumbing, and location.
  • Ensure you understand the legal restrictions of what can be built on your property. Calgary has setback restrictions that govern how close a structure can be built to property lines, height restrictions, building area ratios, and design covenants.
  • Mimicking the style and pitch, or angle, of your home’s original roofline helps an addition fit in with the original structure, whether you’re building up or adding an entryway.
  • Repetition of architectural features is key to a well-designed addition. Otherwise elements can clash, if they’re of two completely different materials or design styles. Carefully consider all building elements on the original structure, including windows, trim, doors, gutters, lighting, and hardware. If the house features double-hung windows, for instance, don’t install swing-out casements in the addition.
  • Concern yourself not only with how the addition will look from the outside, but what the outside will look like as viewed from the inside of the addition. Design, place, and orient yours to take advantage of striking views — and so that it will look good when viewed through the windows of the original house.

In this 2012 Calgary and National SAM Award winning barn renovation project, Malbec added a second storey to a single level structure by building into the trusses.  This increased the square footage by ~40% without increasing the overall building mass or building footprint.

Barn to Custom Home Renovation


What are the most popular finishing materials for Calgary Renovations and Custom Home Building?

Granite and hardwood continue to be #1 choices in our Calgary renovations.  But other things we are seeing for kitchen renovations, bathroom renovations or custom home builds are more painted wood kitchen cabinetry, though stained wood continues to popular also, along with two toned kitchen cabinetry.

Barn doors are becoming more popular for custom renovation projects as they add more interest and visual appeal than the basic passage or pocket door.  They also allow for a wider doorway creating a more open feeling while still allowing a room to be closed off when needed.

Wrought iron and wood railing continue to be the preference.

Popular in lighting is plenty of indirect pot lights for the utilitarian lighting with some really impactful feature fixtures in the dining area and stairwell.  Also, we are seeing more hanging feature lights in the bedrooms rather than the traditional ceiling hungers.  The antique bronze finish is gaining popularity.

Below is one of our most unique staircases.Barn House Stairwell

What are the most popular renovations?

The most popular renovations in Calgary continue to be kitchens and bathrooms.   And the reason the kitchen is one of the most popular renovations is that it increases the resale value for your home.  The kitchen is the heart of the home, where everyone spends a great deal of time with family and friends.  In addition to updating the type and style of cabinetry, homeowners are really looking for the ‘open concept’ kitchen.  This is where the kitchen, dining and living room space are one large room, rather three separate.  This allows homeowners to define the space based on their personal needs, and it makes the main floor area large and open.  Adding a kitchen island is the #1 request when updating the kitchen.   The kitchen is the heart of the home, and the island is the hub of the kitchen.   The island is used for washing, cutting, prepping, holding, serving, leaning, sitting, and more often than not, eating.  Here is one of our amazing kitchens.  Calgary Kitchen Renovations - Barn house kitchen

Looking for a contractor – renovator or custom home builder in Calgary?

The most important consideration when looking for a renovator or custom home builder is to ensure you deal with a reputable company.  Look for a ‘RenoMark‘ contractor, a program that is backed by the Calgary Region Home Builders Association.  These companies will make sure you have written contracts, specifications, scopes of work, etc. so there is no confusion as to what is included in the price, or costly surprises at the end of the project.  Dealing with companies that are licensed and bonded ensure that there is some recourse or protection if something goes wrong.  Also, as a homeowner looking for a renovation quote, you should expect free estimates from your potential contractor or renovator in Calgary.CRHBA Logos together 1

Another Win for Malbec Homes & Renovation at Calgary SAM Awards

Malbec Homes & Renovations received their second ‘Best Home Renovation’ SAM award at the Calgary SAM Awards Gala on Friday, April 13, 2013 for the Barn House project.

Winner Logo Calgary

Calgary Renovation Award

View the Barn House Project Photos

National SAM Award WINNER!

Malbec Homes is thrilled to have been selected as the WINNER for Best Home Renovation over $500,000 for the Barn House project, announced on March 8, 2013!  To be selected as the best renovation for all of Canada in 2012 is truly an honour.  We are thankful to our clients for allowing us to work in partnership with them on such an amazing project.

National Winner Logo

View the Barn House project images