Archive for Construction/Renovation

DIY Vertical Garden

What a great way to add a little green to your outdoor space. No matter how small your outdoor space, this vertical garden is a simple way to add some colour, or maybe even some strawberries to your patio. This DIY project is super simple and inexpensive. In fact, some twine, a few nails and your leftover 2L plastic pop bottles are all you need! Of course, it’ll be a lot nicer if you add some dirt, seed or seedlings and water.

I think this would be a great way to start a beginner herb garden – keep each one in their own bottle, label them with a permanent marker and you have fresh herbs all summer long. Enjoy.


  • 2L bottles
  • Strings or Wire
  • For those using wire, you need 2 washers per bottle
  • Scissors
  • Dirt
  • Seeds or small plants

For a step by step tutorial check out this link:

Bottle Garden


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Renovating and want to be green?

Renovating a home or office building can be an exciting project – molding the place into a new form, turning it into the building you want it to be. However, the amount of trash this produces can be startling: chunks of drywall, old floorboards, pieces of furniture, shattered windows, broken doors. In fact, construction and demolition materials are 36% of all waste produced in Vancouver!

How can all this waste be avoided? Follow the follow steps to keep your renovation clean and green:

  1. Minimize Potential Waste

Before you start your renovation project, plan things out to minimize the potential waste:

  • Whenever possible, rearrange furniture and other objects within the building rather than actually adding or destroying parts of the building itself.
  • Dismantle instead of demolish and salvage what you can. This salvage can be reused by yourself, donated to someone else, or sold to a third party. Many newspapers and community websites have sections where you can announce things you’re giving away.
  • Once you come to the stuff that can’t be reused, make sure to separate them into clearly marked divisions of recyclable and regular waste.


  1. Recycle Whenever Possible

After you’ve dealt with the reusable material, move on to the recyclables. Where should recyclables go?

  • If organic, they can be composted.
  • If small enough, they can be placed in a recycling bin.
  • Scrap metal (steel, copper, etc.) and even appliance may be picked-up by a salvage yard.
  • Anything else can be dropped off at your local recycling center.


  1. Properly Dispose Of What’s Left

All remaining waste should be disposed of properly. Many old houses have various hazardous materials (asbestos, lead paint, mold, etc.), and they should be dealt with in the right way.


For Efficiency, Bring in the Professionals!

As we see, a lot of waste accumulates during demolition, and it’s pivotal that it ends-up in the right place. It’s of course possible for you to handle all the recycling and disposal yourself, but sorting and carting everything is a lot of work. It’s much easier and more efficient to bring in a professional removal company. Make sure the company is one that works with the environment, someone like Fresh Start Recycling & Disposal. We make certain everything gets divided-up correctly – the reusables, the recyclables, the hazardous waste, the regular waste – and once they’re classified, we send them off to the right places ourselves. Thanks to Fresh Start, you can have fun with your renovations and be confident that all your trash will be properly handled.

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What does Fresh Start Do?

Fresh Start helps homeowners, and building managers (among other people), to recycle and rid themselves of unwanted items around Vancouver.

Fresh Start helps people that have items of “negative value” which means what they used to pay money for, they now need to pay money to get rid of .

We make those negative value items positive again by charging to pick them up and recycle them so the circle can continue.

If you have a garage full of negative value, call Fresh Start Recycling; we’ll sort you out.

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No replacement parts = garbage

I phoned Stanley Canada @stanleytoolsec to ask if I could replace the wheels on my “mobile tool chest” and their advice was basically to throw it out and buy a new one. If it was warrantied, they would have taken it back and replaced it. Read: “Thrown out and replaced”. That doesn’t seem right to me. Not in 2012. The tool box is fine, it’s a box for tools but it’s not as easy to move around and that is kind of the point.

Why don’t you give them a phone call and see if they can help you out… 1-800-263-6292 press 2, then 1 between 8am and 4pm est.

We’re doing our part. Us. Fresh Start. Little ol’ Fresh Start Recycling when Stanley has so much more money, time, labour, a 1-800 number, people to answer phones, traded on the NYSE as SWK etc. Spare wheels? Nope. Throw it away; buy a new one. Earth? Get stuffed. Profits for investors, that’s our motto.

Our company picked it up as “garbage” from a job site to replace the wheels and use it for our own tools. We were going to PAY THEM MONEY to keep something out of the landfill. Stanley? Not so much. Seriously, phone them. They should be prepared to defend their stance. Or at least have their PR people defend their stance.

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Lights. Turn Them Off. Even in Hallways.

Does anyone I know have the skills required to make a movie? I don’t, but I bet one of my readers does.

I’m moving into my girlfriend’s apartment and I find it quite irksome that BC Hydro is running ads periodically that ask me to unplug my cell phone, laptop, VCR or whatever while the lights are on in every hallway of every building every hour of every day of the entire year. They’re NEVER turned off. NEVER EVER. At least not in the residential buildings and maybe not in office buildings either.

I’m the farthest person you know from being a conspiracy theorist, but I do have a theory… I think BC Hydro wants to act like they care about the conservation of power, and at the same time, they don’t want their bottom line to take a hit. On some level, they know their ads will have little if any effect when they make advertisements about unplugging our office computers at the end of the day, but if they advertised what a drain it is to have hallway lights on 24/7 they’d actually sell less power and be less profitable.

And who wants to be less profitable? Not BC Hydro.

I’d LOVE it if I could see a time-lapse video of any hallway in any building. We could add up the amount of time someone is walking from the elevator to their door, or from their door to the elevator. I bet it’s less than an hour a day leaving 23+ hours per day that the lights in that hallway could be turned off.

Why don’t we use timer switches like they do in Europe? I would have thought our Mayor would be right on top of this. It’s green, and no one is inconvenienced. Not even in the slightest.

Bike lanes? Controversial. Turning off the lights when no one is using them? Not controversial.

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Service Life of Household Systems

Service Life of Household Systems

In case you are wondering just how long things will run or last at your home, here’s what the experts say about the life expectancy of some products…

A wood deck should last 15 years, an asphalt driveway 10-12 years and a wood fence 12 years or so.  With gas furnaces, a central unit should last for 20 years while a sealed window unit will last only 10.

A typical roof lasts up to 20 years. Window systems last 20-25 years.  Exterior siding can last 35-45 years, while stucco may only last 15-20.

A clothes-dryer may dry for 14 years, while the washing machine may wash only 13.  Newer microwave ovens will last you about 10 years.  Ranges, both gas and electric, are designed to last longer — about 20 years; fridges and dishwashers not quite as long.  A water-heater will last 7-10 years on average.

An electrical service panel may last 40 years.  Typical water service entrance and perimeter drain tiles – about the same.

Smoke alarms should be replaced within 10 years; CO detectors within 5 years.

More durable things, natural wood floors and slate, flagstone, marble and ceramic tiles can be expected to last up to a lifetime.

Glenn Duxbury & Associates-Building Inspection and Consulting “Uncovering Tomorrow’s Surprises, TODAY !”  604 524-2502

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What’s worse?

Went to dump a load of garbage this morning from a construction site at the transfer station in North Van. It’s owned by Wastech, but administered by Metro Vancouver.

Metro Vancouver has a ban on Cardboard in the waste stream, and auditors there to monitor it. They are ruthless.

I was asked if I was going to pull out the cardboard from the load, to which I replied, “What cardboard?” Because I genuinely hadn’t noticed it.

She pointed it out, and what my client had done, was use old boxes lying around the site to put garbage in and then threw those boxes in the garbage. I pulled them out.

But it forced me to think, what is better, using an old box lying around your construction site for garbage, or, noticing you have a problem with detritus on your site. Getting in your car and driving to the store, buying a box full of plastic bags (made from the same (potential) oil that was spilling up through the ocean floor until just a couple of days ago), driving back to the construction site, putting that garbage into the bags, throwing the bags away. Bags that don’t break down. Cardboard, last I checked, breaks down relatively quickly.

I get banning cardboard from the general waste stream, when a cardboard compactor makes logistical sense, but I think an environmental argument can be made for the 2 cardboard boxes that I almost threw out this morning.

Thoughts? Seriously, lay it on me.

People get so upset about the potential burning of garbage and turning it into a commodity, but what about all the extra driving? The driving to and from the store to buy these bags made of plastic/oil, or hiring me to separate the more environmental solution out of the waste stream and then driving to another location. With all this extra driving, aren’t we burning the garbage already? We just call it, “stopping to get gas”.

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