Best of Vancouver: Renovations

Got a list of things you need to fix, change, upgrade? But don’t know where to start, or how to sort the experts from the charlatans? We’ve done the dirty work for you. We looked far and wide, asked customers and competitors, and tried out many of these enterprises ourselves. Here’s the inside track to the city’s miracle workers. 


Pith helmet in place, machete sharpened, you’re ready to pacify your yard. Don’t kid yourself: you need a jungle guide. Senga Lindsay, landscape architect, knows plants (17 years on the job will do that). Just as importantly, she knows psychology: every “bomb-proof,” low-irrigation plant she suggests will “complement your lifestyle and highlight your vision of self.” Senga Landscape Architecture, 4268 Fonteyn Way, North Van; 604-929-8627.

Laneway housing was approved in 2009. Could an experiment in density help you avert a mortgage crisis? Tom Kosichek, of TK Carpentry, is a contractor who can pull off something more that a “habitable garage.” Expect a six-month timeline for 1,500 square feet (at $130 to $500 per). Michael Green, of MGB Architects (a firm that brings intelligent design to laneway housing) says, “When it came down to building my own laneway studio, I knew that Tom had the hands-on talent.” TK Carpentry, 604-802-5732.

Lots of trades are low-balling bids on construction and reno jobs these days, but what if the discount brings low quality? North Van’s Multivista photo­documents each step of the job-up to 500 shots per visit for a large home-at crucial junctures. A monthly progress archive not only helps apportion responsibility in case of disputes but leaves you with a record for resale. Multivista documented over 120 million square feet in 2009, from prisons to condos; your house album starts at $500. Multivista, 203-38 Fell Ave., North Van, 604-988-4280.

Love belting out power ballads, but your neighbours aren’t amused? Bill Barker is the go-to guy for all things sound. With over 25 years’ experience as a contractor, Barker doesn’t just soundproof rooms and build recording studios and home theatres; he analyzes frequency, amplitude, sound diffusion, and air flow in order to manage your noisy emissions. Bill Barker & Associates, 604-724-9991.

Other Rolodex-worthy experts who specialize in:

Home Entertaining
Getting Fit 
Fashionable Alterations
Greening Your Life
Who Ya Gonna Call?