Homeowner Tips

Top 5 Tips to Prevent Basement Flooding

Have you ever had to deal with a flooded basement? If you’ve experienced basement flooding, you know just how traumatic it can be. And even if it has not happened to you before, chances are you may face it in the future. This is because every home with basement is at the risk of flooding during heavy rainfall, or when snow is melting.

Basement flooding poses various problems and causes serious water damage to your property. Typically, basement flooding is a result of problems such as drainage failure, cracks in your foundation or basement walls, and overflowing downspouts. By checking these issues, the risk of basement flooding can be minimized to a great extent.

As a homeowner, it’s essential to follow some simple maintenance tips that can help you greatly reduce the risk of flooding. To keep you and your basement dry, here we’ve listed 5 useful tips to prevent basement flooding.

  1. Plumbing Maintenance

Every homeowner should take a visual inspection of plumbing annually to check for leaks in the pipes. Make sure there’s no fault in your plumbing and your backwater valves, sump pump, and floor drains are in good condition. Most of the responsible homeowners call a professional at least once or twice a year to conduct the plumbing inspection.

  1. Sump Pump needs maintenance too

It’s seen that often basement flooding is linked to sump pump failure. Though a sump pump is useful in preventing mold, water damage, and flooding, it needs proper maintenance. As a proactive homeowner, you must ensure that your sump pump is undamaged, properly working, and plugged in. Your sump pump may stop working in event of power failure. To prevent this from happening, you may invest in a generator for your sump pump or get a backup sump pump that runs on batteries.

  1. Keep Gutters & Downspouts clean

No matter how much you hate doing it, but keeping your gutters and downspouts in top shape is vital. As a part of your home maintenance, make a habit of cleaning the gutters to ensure there’s no debris and the downspouts are properly located away from your foundation. It is recommended to position downspouts in a way that it directs water at least three feet away from your foundation. You may do this by using downspout extensions or troughs.

  1. Take a close look at foundation cracks

Cracks in your home’s foundation are not only dangerous from flooding point of view but can also cause other problems. These cracks are the source of water intrusion which further leads to water damage and pest infestation. As such, to prevent basement flooding, identify signs of foundation damage by looking at the exterior of your foundation, basement walls, and floors on a regular basis. Any minor crack can be filled using epoxy. While for more serious issues, call a professional basement repair and waterproofing company for help.

  1. Landscape your yard in the right way

Have you checked the slope of your yard? If not, check now! Maybe you’ve not properly sloped your yard or the shape of your flower bed is inappropriate. This can be problematic because wrongly slopped yard will direct water towards your home, and ultimately water will pool up around your property.

Top 3 Signs of Foundation Damage in Houses or Commercial Buildings

Your house is probably your most valuable investment. It not only reflects your personality but also protects your family. That’s why it pays to protect every aspect of your house. The strength of any building lies in its foundation. But unfortunately, most homeowners often neglect the health of their home’s foundation.

Over the years, like other parts of your home, the foundation also requires some maintenance. The change in soil composition beneath the foundation may lead to major structural problems within your home. When a structure is out of level, it needs urgent repairing to avoid other potential issues.

Foundation repair is a necessary part of any home maintenance plan. By timely fixing minor problems before it turns into a major issue, homeowners can save thousands of dollars. This is because proactive foundation repair is much less expensive than reactive foundation repair. To help you avoid major foundation-related problems, we’ve listed the top 3 signs that you need foundation repairs. By identifying the following warning signs of foundation damage in houses or commercial structures, you can take timely action to solve the issue.

  1. Foundation Cracks and Fractures

Typically, expanding and contracting soils, as well as rainy weather, negatively impact the health of your foundation. If you spot gaps in your foundation or cracks in the floor and walls of your home, it signals a problem with the foundation. It’s quite common and normal to find 1/16” hairline fissures. However, more horizontal cracks in brick exteriors indicate a problem. Vertical cracks aren’t that serious because dry walls run in that same direction. Although, be watchful of a gap of even ¼”. Also, the cracks of length more than 15mm, which is .6” needs to be fixed immediately. Take a look at the interior walls to find out horizontal cracks. The 45-degree angle fractures indicate that severe foundation movement has occurred. It is to be noted here that cracks don’t always mean that your foundation is damaged.

  1. Sagging or Uneven Floors

If you notice cracked tiles or hollow-sounding near tile, it suggests that the foundation beneath has dipped downward. A damaged foundation creates an uneven surface for your home. The slab foundations and pier and beam foundations show different signs of damage because they’re positioned differently. In the case of pier and beam foundations, the damage is indicated with sagging floors. While concrete slabs foundation damage makes floors uneven or out of level. All these conditions can be dangerous and need to get repaired by a foundation repair specialist before it is too late.

  1. Gaps around Window Frames or Exterior Doors

Another warning sign of foundation damage is gaps around your home’s exterior window frames and exterior doors. This includes warped doorframes and difficulty to open doors. In addition to this, sometimes the kitchen cabinets or countertops also become tilted. They might develop a gap 1/8” wide from the wall.

These are just the top three warning signs of foundation damage. Settlement issues, standing water, and mold growth near the bottom of the walls are some other commonly noticed signs of damage. Whichever sign you notice always consult a home renovation and repair contractor to prevent further damage.

How to Find the Best Contractor to Build Your Home

Home is not a place, it’s an emotion! Building a home of your dreams comes with much excitement, as well as, stress. The process of constructing a home, from finding the right property to hiring a reliable contractor is not an easy one. Of all the tasks, one of the most crucial is choosing a home builder to turn your dream project into a reality. Since a home is a place where we spend most of our time, nobody wants low-quality construction details.

Therefore, when searching for a custom home builder, it is necessary to find a right fit for your specific type of project. You need to find someone who can bring your vision to life. The contracting company you select is going to be around for many, many months (or even a year!) which means they must be trustworthy to avoid dealing with stress, unexpected developments, and challenging elements. As such, practicing due diligence is essential before hiring a contractor.

If you’re also planning to start your big project soon, consider the following tips to find the right home contractor.


  • Develop a detailed plan

Even before you approach a contractor, you should have your list of must-haves and your non-negotiable elements. These are the elements that are absolutely essential for you and it can be anything, such a number of bathrooms, a south-facing patio, or a home office. To develop this plan of what couldn’t live without, you can work with an architect or a professional designer. The plan should contain the general layout and structure information about the final design of your space. Discuss this comprehensive plan with your contractor about what you have planned for your space.

  • Ask about timelines

When you want everything to be just as perfect as you dreamed of, it’s worth waiting a year or two. However, this doesn’t mean you put your dreams on hold. Make sure to ask your residential contractor how long it will take to complete the job. Though you should keep a margin of extra eight weeks to help contractor manage your expectations, but make sure to tell them your absolute deadline. There are many unexpected incidents that can happen on a construction site which delays the work, but your contractor should be able to give you an idea of an expected work completion date.

  • Verify licenses and insurance certificates

The home contractor you choose must hold a current, valid license from the Contractors State License Board. In addition to this, it is necessary that the construction company has a recent certificate of insurance. Working with a licensed and insured contractor will protect you in the future. As we all know, accidents are part of the norm in this industry, so make sure your contractor is set up to deal with them properly.

In addition to these points, to find a reliable residential contractor you can start with asking your friends and family to get referrals. Once you have shortlisted a few names, ask for a list of references to check their previous work records. Moreover, before you sign a contract, make sure you understand each and every point.

Essential Tips to Hire a Basement Waterproofing Contractor

Waterproofing basement walls and floors is a job that mandates the presence of expertise and care throughout the course of the project. This obligates the hiring of professional basement waterproofing contractor, who you can select on the basis of the following criteria.

Credentials of The Contractor

This is perhaps the most vital parameter that you would need to verify before you strike a deal with a home improvement contractor for your residential property. Make sure that you have double checked their documentation that is pertinent to their insurance policies, bonds, and licenses. Although not all states mandate the possession of a license, it goes without saying a licensed basement waterproofing contractor would be immeasurably more comment in handling the project in question than otherwise. The presence of the licenses would additionally work to legitimize their claims as a reliable company in this domain. Also, if they have affiliations to building association memberships, it would be a clear sign of their standard of work and reputation in this arena.

Apart from the license, it is also crucial for your basement waterproofing contractor to be properly bonded and insured. They must necessarily have a workers compensation so that you are not made liable for any injuries sustained on the location of the job and other bonds and insurance to compensate you in case of any damages incurred on the site in the course of the home improvement project.

Lifetime Transferable Warranty

This clause should be a mandatory inclusion in your final contract with a basement waterproofing contractor of your choice. This would work as a guarantee for them to conduct any repairs that you might need one the job is done and over with.

Moreover, you must also take into account to check if the sump pumps are guaranteed for a lifetime and the only expenditure that would be made would be that of the installation. In this context, it would also be important to mention that the contact you make in correspondence with your basement waterproofing contractor must be precise and to the point. Any convoluted wording might engender a situation where you could be exploited. Thereby, make sure that you are completely comfortable with the contact that has been drawn out and that you have understood it in the fullest measure.

Materials Used

The inspectors from the basement waterproofing contracting agency should dispense you with the provision of sampling and testing the materials that are going to be used in the project. A research and interview with multiple contractors would cumulate in you arriving at the best materials that would be used in your home at the most affordable market prices. You would have the opportunity to gauge and tally the materials that each of these basement waterproofing contractors plans on using for the project to help you judge the quality of these materials beforehand.


If you happen to be in the need of a reputable basement waterproofing contractor in the Toronto area, you can solicit the services of Icon Builders, a pioneering name in the industry for over twenty years.

Homeowner Tips, Interior Design, News & Events

How To Hire A Remodelling Contractor And What You Should Ask Them

Before you concretize a deal with the remodelling contractor of your choice for your next renovation project, make sure that you have checked off the following parameters that would be vital to the success of your project.

Location And Proximity

This is one of the primary questions that you should be putting forward while hiring a remodelling contractor for your residential property. The contractor would have to be in the vicinity of your neighbourhood so that they can be called upon at a short notice and a physical line of contact can be established with ease. A minimized travel time for your contractor would help you in economizing both time and money, facilitating the solving of any issues that might arise in the course of the remodelling as thereby, get the project successfully done within the stipulated time frame.
Before you settle down on the name of a remodelling contractor, make sure that you ask them if they will be readily available to dispense their services at a given point of time. This discussion would be crucial to the optimal functionality of the remodelling project and would be beneficial to you in both the short and the long-run.
If in case it so happens that the remodelling contractor you are interested in is outside the zone of proximity, you can always ask them for recommendations for a contractor who would be more amenable to servicing your locality. Apart from that, it is imperative that you have alternate options to fall back on if your first choice does not work out as you had imagined. Be certain that you have researched and verified the portfolio of multiple remodelling contractors near your area to give yourself the advantage of a spectrum of options.


Remodelling contractors specialize in a range of categories. Before you hire the services of one, be certain to ask them whether or not they have an experience and speculation in handling the type of project you have at hand. This would also ensue that you have a clear vision of your own project in your mind. Take some time to draw out a meticulous plan and an accurate description of what you want your project to be and what you envision as the finished results. This would be massively helpful on narrowing down and shortlisting the potential candidates for the remodelling job and aid you in arriving at the most suitable option amongst all. Specificity is key when you are rendering the services of a remodelling contractor because not every contractor would have a specialization and competence in knowing all the intricacies of a particular kind of job.
Additionally, you can look into the past portfolios of all the likely remodelling contractors you have in mind to see if they have undertaken similar projects recently. This would endow you with a veritable glimpse into their work and the success rate of undertaking such a project which can often act as a guarantee for a successful remodel.


Lastly, do not forget to chart out an itinerary of the entire renovation project with the remodelling contractor before you finalize a deal with them. Make sure that you are comfortable with the schedule presented and that there is a wiggle room for any adjustments that might arise due to unforeseen circumstances in the course of the job.


If you happen to be looking for a reputable remodelling contractor in the Toronto Area, you can rely on the name of Icon Builders to cater to your imminent remodelling project.


Homeowner Tips, Interior Design

Essential and Practical Tips to Renovate your House

Renovating a house is an enormous investment and, ideally, you should be privy to its positive returns for an extended period of time. However, often, this decision could engender a nebulous environment where you would be unable to proceed without a plan.

As such, the following list of guidelines would ensure that you have some respite in channelling your motives in the direction you would like to pursue while renovating your house.


Making a Budget

A well established and feasible budget would be a crucial determinant of your renovation through the process. This would be of assistance to you in administering your resources for a particular portion of the renovation, as well as restricting unnecessary expenditure on objects and procedures that might not come to play in the final picture. Establishing a budget would also give you a veritable glimpse into the realization of your finished project. This would also help you to align your needs and requirements in a productive manner and, in the long run, would serve to economize your capital.

The Doors

Doors are elemental components that are responsible for a positive first impression on your guests. While changing all the entry doors might not be too practical, you could invest in the embellishment of the existing entry door of your house to give it a fresh, new appeal. This could be achieved with a fresh coat of paint or varnish. Doors are also imperative in determining the lighting in the room. This could be brought into action by contrasting and balancing the current shade of your walls and your furniture to harmonize the overall aesthetic of your house. The correct shade would possess the potential of optimizing the distribution of light in a room as well.

Small Rooms

If your house happens to be too small for your liking, you could manipulate the available space in a manner that would open up an ostensible space in your rooms. This can be materialized by the use of large wall mirrors and their strategic placement in the key points of a room to allow for more light and space.



Researching for a reputed and trustworthy housing renovation contractor is the primary determinant to a successful renovation. For the execution of this step, you would have to take your time to research and tally the credentials of the shortlisted contractors according to your stylistic and monetary preferences. Hiring such a contractor would evidently take a load off of your shoulders and facilitate the unfolding of your plans in the best way possible. A seasoned contractor would also be attentive to your needs and choices and will be able to help you through any quandary you might encounter on the way. This would be inclusive of the services establishing a direct and open line of communication with you and making sure that all the steps that are being conducted are in accordance with your final goals.


If you are looking for a renovating service to assist you in the imminent renovation of your house, you can rely on the name of Icon Builders to aid you in realizing your dream projects into reality.

Architecture & Building, Homeowner Tips

How To Select The Right Contractor To Build Your House

Building a house from scratch is often a nerve-wracking and daunting experience to undertake. This time inevitably engenders feelings of apprehension, excitement, stress, and confusion pertaining to the alterations of what you thought would be an ostensibly fixed path towards constructing the home of your dreams. This dreaded feeling of overwhelm and arduousness can be alleviated to a significant degree with the assistance of a reputable and considerate house contractor.

A successful contracting enterprise would be competent to materialize your visions of the perfect house into reality by incorporating their best skills, labor, and contacts. Few things are as permanent as your house, thereby, the investment you make in this arena is crucial and long-term. It automatically necessitates the involvement of a contracting service that you can depend on for years to come. In fact, it is the decision of choosing such a company that is the hardest part rather than the actual construction of the house. As such, settling down on a name of a reputed contracting service can be a challenging one.

Enumerated below are some of the guidelines that would help you to navigate through this situation to decide on a company that would be conducive to your proclivities.

Establishing a Timeline

Building house entails a great deal of patience on your side. There might arise a situation that would lead to a wait of at least a few months, maybe even a year to be able to render the services of the company you want to work with. In that case, you would have to be responsible for making an executive decision regarding whether or not you would be willing to wait that long. In doing so, you might be losing time, but there is an added chance of you working with a contractor who would be the best for your needs. This would be highly circumstantial and you would have to decide if it is worth the wait or not.


It is advisable to ask around for recommendations of a reliable housing contractor to your friends and family. They make for excellent assistance in this selection procedure as they are well acquainted with your style and aesthetic preferences and would be able to guide you towards a contractor more inclined to that particular speciality.


Just the personal recommendation of your colleagues and family would not suffice in this department. To find a good contractor, you would also have to initiate research into individual companies and assess their claim and accreditations. The best contractors would be emblemized by their good and responsive communication. They would always be ready to answer all the counts and questions you might stumble upon every now and then.


Make A Budget

While your budget might be a predominant concern in the selection process, make sure that you do not entirely depend on that parameter. The best services could cost you a little more, but in the long run, this would be a profitable venture and would be more advantageous to the construction and sustainability of your house itself. That being said, you could always set up a budget to ensure that you do not go overboard with your expenses and find a middle ground between the monetary side and that for the quality.


If you are looking to build a house anytime soon, you can solicit the services of Icon Builders, based in Toronto, who have been pioneers in this industry for over two decades.


Toronto Underpinned Basement
Architecture & Building, Homeowner Tips

How to Hire The Right Underpinning Contractor

Underpinning is a meticulous construction job that require requires a structural engineer, and trained contractors. Although many renovation jobs may be completed by handymen, underpinning is an extremely sensitive construction task as it involves the property’s foundation.

Basement underpinning involves digging a home’s foundation and then reinforcing the structural piles around it. The result is higher ceilings and a stronger overall foundation for the property.

Receiving Approval for Basement Underpinning in Toronto

Firstly, before any underpinning or construction can begin, the project must receive a stamp of approval from the local municipality.  Whether you’re in Etobicoke, Scarborough or Richmond Hill, you will require approval from one of five local municipalities in order to proceed with a major construction project.

The Greater Toronto area consists of five municipalities; Toronto,Durham, Halton, Peel, and York. Each of these municipalities have their own bylaws and building codes that pertain to basement underpinning.

In order to obtain that stamp, your local municipality must see a list of statutory documents and a detailed map of the home’s underpinning job.  Once your proposal are complete, a designated engineer will be responsible for obtaining the final stamp of approval for the building project.

Hiring a Structural Engineer

Hire an engineer with a proven track record in basement underpinning. This will also improve your likelihood of gaining approval to complete the construction.

The on-site engineer will be responsible not only for collecting the documents, but also developing the underpinning plan. Furthermore, an effective project plan will ensure that the construction process is completed on time and within budget.

After the project is approved, a basement-underpinning contractor must be hired. In Toronto it can be difficult to find a contracting company that supplies both workers and an engineer.

Factors to Consider When Hiring an Underpinning Contractor in Toronto

  • A written guarantee that the task with be completed within budget.
  • Valid construction Insurance in Ontario, and proof with the relevant documents.
  • Evidence of prior projects and references
  • Paid estimates are usually a red-flag. There are exceptions for larger and more complex properties.

You have invested too much money and time into your home to hire a contractor that could potentially damage your property. If you’ve been wronged by an underpinning contractor, do not be hesitate to contact legal advice and report the company.

At Icon Builders, our team consists of experienced contractors as well as a seasoned structural engineer that are assigned to manage individual projects.

How Much Does Basement Underpinning Cost in Toronto?

The cost of an underpinning project can vary based on several factors. Experience and knowledge should always be prioritized when hiring contractors for such a sensitive construction project.

Base cost is typically calculated by a price per linear foot, which is multiplied by the proposed excavation depth and bench footing. As well, the properties overall surface area and structural intricacies must be considered in the project cost.

Can Underpinning Prevent Water from Flooding my Basement?

Homeowners should know that basement underpinning and waterproofing are much different projects. Underpinning is intended to raise ceiling heights and add aesthetic value to a basement interior.

Waterproofing involves structural repairs to a building foundation, which prevents future moisture and leakage. If you’re planning on investing in basement underpinning, we recommend you ensure that your property is fully waterproofed.

Cracks in a home’s foundation allow for easy water access and moisture build-up. Spring in southern Ontario usually starts slushy and ends with heavy rainfall. For homeowners in the Greater Toronto Area, the spring can create flooding and leakage issues. Visit our blog to learn more about flooding and leakage issues in Toronto homes,

Homeowner Tips

Protect Your Home from Basement Leaks in Spring

In Toronto the most common source of basement leaks is from heavy precipitation. Unfortunately, melting snow and thawing ice is just as detrimental for a home’s basements. Basement leakage is common in homes across the Greater Toronto Area. If your basement is not sealed or underpinned appropriately, the spring months of March and April can be catastrophic and wet.

As Southern Ontario experiences frequent weather changes, areas such Richmond Hill, Vaughan, Thornhill, and Toronto, often fall victim to the chaotic basement leaks. A leaky basement is not only a hassle, but can pose serious threats to your house.

How does a basement leak affect your home?

    • Basement leaks depreciate property value! History of a leaky or damaged basement can be noticeable for potential buyers or investors. The house value equation will always involve “living space”- which considers a property’s basement space.
    • Often times, our basements serve as a place of storage of vintage wines, electronics, and family heirlooms. These items are priceless and virtually irreplaceable for many of us.
    • Leakage in your basement can serve as a tunnel for unwarranted and dangerous bacteria, posing health threats to your household and family.
    • Building materials such as wood and drywall that are exposed to moisture over time can crumble and deteriorate. This can affect your properties entire infrastructure.
    • Anything that accumulates moisture can result in mold and mildew growth. Mold naturally grows and causes damage that can be extremely expensive to remove and repair. In addition, it can be a serious health risk for humans and animals.

Foundation Cracks and Repairs

After ice turns into water, water takes its natural course and follows the path of least resistance. Furthermore, water continually builds up and enters the basements through concrete that can no longer withstand the pressure.

The main gateway for water to infiltrate the basement is the through the soil surrounding the foundation. Cracks can even result in flooding and mold growth. That’s why it’s crucial to contact a waterproofing specialist as soon as you suspect vulnerability or spot cracks in your floor.

Why Hire an Experienced Waterproofing Contractor?

Basement waterproofing requires an experienced construction team. Issues in a property’s foundation can be difficult to detect and may require an engineer.

It’s also imperative to work with a contractor that’s familiar with Canadian building codes. A failed waterproofing job can destroy your basement. Waterproofing is complex task that requires removing the existing foundation, balancing the basement after stripping the foundation, sealing any cracks, and laying-in new support. In some cases, a new foundation and footing must be built or repaired, which requires the property’s foundation to be dug out.

If you’re renovating or underpinning your basement we recommend having your property evaluated by a waterproofing contractor. It should be noted that basement underpinning does not waterproof your basement. If you’re interested in learning more about basement underpinning, read our basement underpinning blog article.

Learn more about our basement waterproofing services in Toronto.

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