The House Healers on Follow Friday!

April 9th, 2011 | No Comments
By: Jen

The House Healers were featured on The Pulse Network’s Follow Friday show with Maggie Rulli! Check out the full interview here!

Renovation, It’s All in the Details

April 8th, 2011 | No Comments
By: Jen

After years of renovating, I consider myself a bit of an expert on the do’s and don’ts of renovations. With every new project comes new challenges, new experiences and new lessons learned. When I renovate for resale, the bottom line is the most important factor in all decisions. There are very simple rules to renovating for resale: invest in elements with the highest return on investment, use neutral design to appeal to the masses, and know your target market.

1) ROI
Return on investment is all about knowing where to spend your budget. The safest investments in home renovations are kitchens and bathrooms. Kitchens have always been the heart of the home, but recently they have become the hub of every house. These new multitasking family spaces incorporate cooking, eating, entertaining, work, and play. Bathrooms, especially master ensuite bathrooms are reaching a whole new level of luxury and tranquility. For both kitchens and bathrooms the ROI is high, but the sky is not the limit. If the neighbourhood caters to middle income families you should too.

2) Neutrals
No matter how much you may love the colour purple, others may not. When choosing paint, tile, cabinets, hardwood, siding and counter tops, always chose neutral colours that are clean and contemporary. Check out design magazines for inspiration. Another element to consider is metal. When choosing hardware, light fixtures and other metal finishes, simple is better. White metal tends to be universally appealing and cost effective. If you are dying to express yourself through colour, towels and toss cushions in you favourite shade may be your safest bet.

3) Know your target market.
Everyone in real estate knows that location is the most important factor when hunting for a home. Knowing your location is just as important when you are renovating for resale. If your house is a four bedroom, three bathroom house in suburbia, you target market is the family. If your project is an industrial, open-concept loft in the downtown core your target market is a single professional or a couple without children. If you aren’t sure, take a walk around the neighbourhood, talk to your real estate agent or read the community newspaper. Once you have determined your target market, renovate and design accordingly.

Renovation starts out as a plan, pretty pictures clipped from magazines, sketches and paint chips. If you follow the rules and watch your bottom line, the plan can become a reality and make you a significant profit. Good luck!


P.S.- We would love to see your renovation before and after photos!

Park Place - Before

Park Place - After

Jen and Bren on Daytime Ottawa!

January 14th, 2011 | No Comments
By: admin

Jen and Bren appeared on Daytime Ottawa on RogersTV Cable 22 yesterday, to talk about The House Healers Season 3, premiering this Sunday, January 16th, at 7pm!

Check out the full interview on!

Season 3 Premieres This Sunday!

January 11th, 2011 | No Comments
By: Susan

We are back!

Starting this Sunday, January 16th at 7pm on RogersTV in Ottawa, Jen, Bren and the crew are geared up for all-new episodes of The House Healers.

This time around, The House Healers are taking on suburbia. Their latest renovation project is a horribly out of date house in Kanata, just west of Ottawa. This place has a lot of potential, but it’s really stuck in the 80’s. Bad carpeting, cheap cabinets, and a strange layout on the 2nd storey all have to go.

This is going to be our greatest transformation yet and there’s a TON of work to be done. But the real challenge? We’ve only got SIX WEEKS to finish this renovation before we have to move the whole family in!

Watch The House Healers, Sunday at 7pm on RogersTV Ottawa!

Welcome to our New Team Members!

The House Healers can’t do it all alone, and that’s why we are thrilled to be welcoming two new people to our team this season!

We believe that home renovation is about so much more than just pretty finishes and big additions. Home ownership and renovation is a package deal – and it starts with choosing the right real estate agent and the right mortgage professional. That’s why we’re happy to welcome Pat Morris of The Morris Home Team and Marie-France Lavigne from Dominion Lending to our team!

Pat Morris is the #1 real estate agent in Ottawa for Royal LePage, and we’re really excited to have him on the House Healers team this season! From selling the Park Place house to the purchase of our Season 3 reno project in Kanata, Pat has been lending his years of experience and expertise to help us find the best house for us for the best price. He’s also given us lots of advice along the way on how to get the most bang for our renovation bucks and maximize our resale value. Pat will be sharing his great real estate advice on the show too, with his weekly Morris Minutes.

Mortgage broker Marie-France Lavigne is in the business of helping you save money on your home purchase. She’s done a lot to help The House Healers learn about the many financing options available to homeowners. Whether you’re purchasing their first home, trying your hand at house flipping, or renovating your existing property, Marie-France can help. This season, she’ll be sharing her financing tips and advice each week with her Mortgage Minutes.

Have a question for Pat or Marie-France? Send us an email at, and we’ll post as many answers as we can, right here on the blog!

Blooper Reel

November 22nd, 2010 | No Comments
By: admin

Who doesn’t love bloopers? The House Healers have had their fair share of blunders while taping the show. Enjoy these on-screen fumbles!

Renovation and the Art of the Deal

September 14th, 2010 | No Comments
By: Jen

I have been renovating houses for around fifteen years and I like to think that I have learned a few things along the way. It didn’t take long for me to realize that while there are many jobs that a homeowner should leave to the professionals (plumbing, electrical, etc.), there are even more projects that can be tackled by amateur renovators willing to learn. The more work that can be done by a homeowner, the lower the costs, and the higher the potential profit margin. . For me, the work starts long before demolition day. As soon as I commit to a property I start sourcing our building materials. One common mistake that people make is having their contractors provide the supplies for the renovations. Nobody works for free and you can be certain that a significant percentage of what you are paying for is your contractor’s mark-up. I start with the big box stores as a basis for comparison and then I expand my search.

One of my favourite places to find great deals is the Habitat for Humanity Re-Store. This fantastic organization not only helps build homes for families in need, they also accept used and new building material donations to sell in their stores. For one of my projects I found a cast iron claw foot tub for only $150! The staff at these stores is always friendly and really helpful. Don’t forget to donate your unwanted building supplies.

Another great way to save money is to check out local garage sales. For my first house, I found a great chandelier for only $10, including new lightbulbs! This year I found an antique dressing table for $30 that I plan to fit with a new top, a sink and some plumbing and it will become a fabulous one-of-a-kind bathroom vanity in my new house. Garage and yard sales can also be great places to find tools. We are always on the hunt for power tools for great prices.

In my opinion, one of the best places to shop is in bed. Over the years, I have spent countless hours sourcing building materials in my pyjamas, on my laptop. I have saved literally thousands of dollars on plumbing fixtures and lighting as a result of on-line bargain hunting. I LOVE Ebay, Craigslist, UsedOttawa, and Kijiji. We just bought a giant soaker tub in mint condition for $40, from a local seller on UsedOttawa. The retail price for the tub is $825 + tax, what a find! We always start our search locally, to avoid costly shipping charges.

I consider myself an on-line ninja. I love a good bargain and I strive to find interesting items that make my home unique. By saving money on building materials, I reduce my costs significantly and increase my profit margin. At the end of the day, a little extra money in my wallet can always become new shoes in my closet.

[photo credits: carlosgomez and ikes on Flickr]

House Hunting 101

August 23rd, 2010 | No Comments
By: Jen

As the House Healers start planning our next renovation, is has occurred to me that we have never really shared our house hunting process with our viewers. While it may seem like the project starts with demolition, in reality there has already been a tremendous amount of planning. Long before the hammers swing and the dust flies, hours and hours are spent scouring the internet for the perfect house.

What people don’t realize about me is that in addition to my passion for home renovation, I am slightly obsessed with residential real estate. After twelve years of home buying, renovating and selling, I feel that I have mastered the hunt for the perfect house. Here is my method for finding the perfect place to call home.

Research, research and more research!

I spend several hours per week surfing the net for the perfect house, street, and neighbourhood.

My favourite real estate sites are : – the tried and true grand-daddy of Canadian real estate sites – the locally owned for sale by owner site which has increased significantly in popularity in the last few years – a recent, interactive addition to the on-line real estate business.

All three sites provide detailed listings, photos, neighbourhood maps and tools. Often, houses are listed on more than one site and this increases the amount of information available to seekers.

In addition to finding the perfect house, I am obsessed with finding the perfect neighbourhood. Before I consider any house, I use the local school board’s school locator to determine the local elementary and high schools. Next, I research the provincial rankings for the local schools. Once I have found the perfect neighbourhood with the best schools, I start my “drive-bys”.  I will literally drive down every street in my chosen neighbourhood to familiarize myself with the house styles, parks, residents, community centres, amenities and tree varieties. Additionally, I like to visit at various times of day to track traffic and activities. This may seem excessive, but your home is your biggest investment, where you spend most of your free time and where your family sleeps, you can’t be too thorough when planning your next move.

I want to know what you think…how do you find the perfect home? Share your tips in the comments!

Happy Earth Day!

April 22nd, 2010 | No Comments
By: Jen

Nine years ago I made a New Year’s resolution to quit smoking. It was the first and only resolution I have ever made. In celebration of Earth Day this year, I have decided to commit myself to an Earth Day resolution to be a better Earth inhabitant. As much as I pride myself on being someone who makes eco-friendly choices often, I think that we can all work a little harder. Here is a list of the three efforts that I will make this year as my Earth Day resolution.

1. I will try to eliminate bottled water from my everyday life. It is unbelievable how much waste is created by water bottles and I have been guilty of ignorance until recently. Did you know that only 30% of plastic water bottles are recycled and that the other 70% will take up to 700 years to decompose in trash heaps? I need to make this change right now. How, you wonder will I achieve this goal?

This Brita Ultramax has a fresh filter and a full tank and is currently chilling in my fridge. I promise to drink this water, refill the tank and replace the filter every three months. I have tried it, it tastes great, there is no excuse.

2) I will try to use only washable reusable containers in my kids lunchboxes. It wasn’t until yesterday, when a friend of mine (and fellow parent) pointed it out, that I realized how much garbage is produced in an average week from a lunch box. One child’s lunch box can produce 38 kilograms of waste per year! I have been a fan of zipper sandwich bags for a long time, but I must break this habit! From now on, when my kids open their lunchboxes they will find their edibles in containers like these:

and these bottles for their drinks:

3. I will REALLY compost. I will no longer take a passive approach to composting. The City of Ottawa has made it very easy for its residents to participate in composting. I will take this program and the enormous benefits more seriously. This is something that I will use daily in an effort to reduce the amount of waste that I produce.

These may not seem like big changes, but that’s the point. By sticking to these goals I will dramatically reduce the amount of waste produced by my household, I will be more aware of the impact that I make and hopefully, I will positively influence my children.

If you are wondering, I haven’t had a single cigarette in nine years. I take my resolutions very seriously.

What are your Earth Day resolutions?

Spring Is In The Air!

April 21st, 2010 | 1 Comment
By: Jen

I never really appreciated spring until I moved to Ottawa. After months of being snowed-in, it’s so nice to put away the shovels, toques and snowtires, and open the windows! Not only do I like to let the fresh air in, I also like to freshen up my decor in celebration of the new season. Sadly, I don’t have Martha Stewart’s budget, so a complete re-design is out of the question. I have come to realize that it doesn’t have to take a huge investment to ring in spring. Here are my top five ways to freshen up my decor for Spring for under $50.00:

1) Fresh Cut Flowers
Whether you pick them or purchase them, flowers are a simple and scented way to bring the outdoors in.

2) Decals
A simple and inexpensive way to change the look of a room. There are thousands of decals to chose from, or you can design your own. The best thing about decals is that they are not only easy to apply, but also easy to remove if you want to change the look. These ones are only $10.99 at (affiliate link).

3) Spring cleaning!
There is nothing better to make your house feel fresh for spring than a good cleaning. Something to consider if you haven’t already is purchasing or making you own “green” cleaning products.

4) Cushions
It is amazing how a decorative cushion can change the whole tone of a room. This one is bright, fresh and contemporary, and only $2.99 at Ikea.

5)  Drapes
Open the drapes or remove them all together.  In rooms that don’t require privacy consider removing heavy draperies and letting the sun shine in.  If you feel too revealed, try a light weight simple drapery panel instead.  These drapes are only $14.99 for a pair at Ikea.

After all of your hard work, pour yourself a cold drink and enjoy this wonderful season!

Planning Your Next Reno? Here are Some Tips

April 20th, 2010 | No Comments
By: Jen

Spring is here, and what better time to start those renovation projects you’ve been putting off all winter! Getting started with a renovation project can sometimes be a bit daunting. It’s hard to know where to start with a project, how far to take it, and how to do it without breaking the bank. Many people end up procrastinating on getting that new bathroom tile installed or fixing up the kitchen, simply because they are fearful of it costing too much, taking too long, or not being what they envisioned. Here are a few ways that you can get motivated to get moving on your next renovation project.

Dream big, dream often. Every good reno project starts with a vision, but if you haven’t even got that part down, then the project might never get off the ground! Looking to renovate your bathroom? Pick up some magazines (not just home decor mags, either!), grab your scissors, and start a book of clippings of colours, furnishings, and styles you love. Visit web sites and save pictures of fixtures, paint, tile, and linens. Watch home renovation and design shows (like The House Healers!) and get inspired. Record them on your PVR so you can refer back to them. Surround yourself with the kinds of design and decor features that appeal to you. You’ll start to see some patterns emerge and begin to zero in on your preferences. Most of all, don’t rush it. Inspiration takes time. Yours will come, with patience!

Live in the space. Many people are in a huge hurry to get their home in perfect condition the second they move into it. But often, it’s better to wait. If your home is new to you, then take some time to live in the space for a while. Figure out which rooms you use the most, and for what purposes. Make note of the parts of the space that you love, and what doesn’t work well for you, either aesthetically or functionally. Keep an ongoing list of issues, and determine ways to improve upon the spaces. Taking some time to really understand how you and your family function in a space can go a long way to helping you to make it work.

Design your dream space, but keep resale in mind. Once you’ve been inspired, and figured out how to design your space so it’s functional and beautiful, it’s time to really get the plan down solid. You’ll need to start thinking about what kinds of materials and finishes you want, and how you want the space to look and function. This is often the point where budget becomes a concern. Let’s face it, we’re all working with limited resources, but by making good decisions on finishes and features, you can not only maximize your enjoyment of the space, but improve the resale value too. Always get the best quality finishes you can find within your budget.

Do your homework. Take the guesswork out of your renovation by finding out how much it’s really going to cost, and what it’s going to take. Start by perusing the big box home renovation and decor stores. Not only will this be a source of inspiration, you can get a really great sense of what your materials will cost. Also, there are plenty of experts on hand at these places to answer your questions. Maybe sign up for a workshop or two, too! For kitchens, IKEA has a wonderful online planning tool that will not only help you design your dream space, but will tell you exactly how much it will cost to do the job! It doesn’t get much easier than that.

Planning a renovation doesn’t have to be scary. All it takes is a little inspiration, research, and preparation. Once you’ve got it all planned out, getting underway is a breeze!

What are some of your best tips for planning reno projects?

Photo credits kevinmarsh and kpwerker on Flickr.