Lorenda Simms
Personal Real Estate Corporation

Sutton Group - West Coast Realty

Office 250-479-3333

Cell 250-217-5787

Email: lorendasimms@gmail.com

Thanks to social media platforms like YouTube, Pinterest, TikTok, and Instagram, there’s an almost infinite amount of DIY inspiration out there. However, before you tackle that built-in bookcase or refresh your home with paint, you should know the DIY world is full of common—but thankfully avoidable—mistakes. To help you navigate your next DIY project, we spoke with three local home-owning DIY pros about the most common mistakes that are made.

Not doing enough research beforehand

When renovating her home, Tobie (@tobesgoesdiy) says she didn’t do enough research on installing tongue and groove laminate flooring and ended up installing it backwards. Similarly, in one of her first tiling projects, Dalyn (@humpjackhome) thought the bigger the tile, the faster the job. Instead, measuring and cutting the large tiles was more time consuming and ended up being more unforgiving than small tiles would have been. What may seem like a simple and straightforward task can quickly turn into a complex—not to mention, expensive—project if you haven’t done enough research.

Not investing in the right tools and materials

DIY can be a thrifty option, but one common mistake is not investing in the right tools and materials at the beginning. After painting her bathroom, Paisley (@thehomebodyden) says she found the use of cheap rollers and painter’s tape had led to paint seeping beneath the edges. Instead of crisp lines, she had an uneven finish requiring her to meticulously fix the lines with a brush.

While it can seem cost effective to make do with the tools you already have or to try and find the cheapest option, fixing the mistakes caused by subpar equipment will end up losing you time and money in the long run. Not having the right tools for more technical or potentially dangerous jobs, like hanging drywall, could even put you at risk of injury.

Not knowing how big the project is

Not every DIY project can be done over the weekend! Make sure you’re fully aware of how much work a project will be and that you’re ready to give it the time and effort it requires. Working too much for too long on one project can lead to burn out, diminish your excitement and commitment, and cause you to rush or make more mistakes along the way.

Not considering your home’s quirks

A common DIY mistake is not considering how your existing walls and ceilings could affect your project. From how your walls were painted originally to whether your ceiling sags, your home’s quirks could quickly derail your DIY.

“I wasn’t prepared to work with my existing walls and ceiling, which affected me while I was installing the kitchen,” Tobie says. “My cabinets were sitting too high to the low part of the ceiling and some of the doors wouldn’t open.”

She ended up having to spend a lot of time shifting everything down to leave a larger gap between the cupboard and ceiling.

While painting seems like an easy DIY (so long as you have the right equipment), Dalyn says to beware of oil paint, which is often used in old houses, as regular latex paint will peel right off of it.

Not having an overall vision for your space

If you’re doing a larger scale project, like a whole room redo, it’s much better to have an overall vision before you start buying materials or décor. In the past, Dalyn says she would replace certain things as needed, such as a bathroom vanity. Afterwards, when she was ready to tackle the rest of the room, instead of getting to fully embrace the style she dreamed of, she had to work with what was already there.

Not budgeting enough

Perhaps the biggest DIY mistake is not budgeting enough for a project. Surprise costs do arise and too many small one-off items sure add up (such as replacing that cheap tool you purchased thinking it would be OK). In Dalyn’s experience, DIY projects always end up costing more than you think they will, and suggests adding a cushion of at least 30% to your total estimated budget.

These six common DIY mistakes all lead to the same thing: lost time, wasted effort, and additional costs. Luckily, you can learn from those who have gone before and avoid most of these DIY mistakes through proper planning and attention to detail.



Source: https://www.realtor.ca/blog/6-common-diy-mistakes-you-can-avoid/25248/1367
Photo: pexels.com

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Whether your clients are seeking to buy into a new house already built, a semicustom home as part of a development or a pure custom home built to their personal specifications, you’ll want to help them create a schedule that allows pertinent questions to be asked in advance for the builder and throughout the build process.


While new builds tend to be designed with modern living in mind, have the latest in technology and plumbing, electrical and efficiency systems, you want to steer your clients to reputable builders and include references from people who have bought their finished products.


“No matter what you are buying, it is always a case of buyer beware,” says Fox, who has been involved in every type of home build and sale over the past 30 years. “There is no such thing as a stupid question in this process. Ask everything you want to know and put it in writing.”

Determine the warranty and financial details

The warranty program for a new home will likely provide protection against defects, determine how fit the home is to live in, address construction practices and consider other aspects of the build, so it’s important that your clients understand what it does and does not cover.


Every province has a different warranty program, including Ontario, which along with the provinces of Alberta, British Columbia and Quebec, requires builders to provide home buyers with a third-party warranty.


Elsewhere in Canada, a home warranty is left up to the builder, although Canadian Home Builders’ Association (CHBA) members must offer one as a condition of membership. You can search for professionals on the CHBA website.


“You need to be aware – does my house have a warranty and is it enrolled in a warranty program and if not, why not?” Fox says. “Ask who is backing up the warranty program. And even if you are buying a resale, is the builder offering a warranty? You need to know what might happen if, say, there is a leak in the roof or a crack in foundation.” All these are important questions a REALTOR® should make sure their clients ask.


Another consideration for new construction home buyers in some provinces, like Ontario, Saskatchewan, British Columbia and Nova Scotia, is the provincial sales tax (such as the harmonized sales tax in Ontario). New home construction in these provinces are subject to this tax but a resale is not. Make sure your clients check to see if there is provincial sales tax and if it is built into the new home construction price. Your client may be eligible for the GST/HST New Housing Rebate.


You will also want to make sure your clients ask what protections there are for the deposit and who holds it. In Ontario for example, condo deposits are held by a solicitor and the builder in a trust account but for houses, the deposit can go right to the builder and he or she can use it to build the house.

Make a detailed schedule and checklist

Once your clients have covered basics such as securing financing, getting pre-approved for the buy, determining budget, knowing the taxes and having a general knowledge of detail items such as window treatments, it’s important that buyers and builders agree on a schedule where items can get checked off as they are completed, says Fox. There can be delays but having an agreed upon schedule is a great guideline.


What may seem like small details add up to the entirety of the build. For example, how many pot lights per square foot is the builder allowing? What are the appliances, what are the countertops, what are the baseboards and windows, what kind of garage door, what is the heating and cooling system?


“We are talking several pages, here, not a quick list that is five lines,” says Fox.


This schedule should also include a payment structure: what buyers need to pay and when. Often with new builds you are making payments in installments, but make sure this is all laid out ahead of time.

Buyers should also be aware that any upgraded features could mean upgrades in your payments. As their trusted advisor, you should be able to help decipher any confusing clauses in fine print.

Research the lot and the neighbourhood

When purchasing preconstruction, it’s important your clients look at what’s happening in the neighbourhood. If it’s a new subdivision, is a change in the demographic bringing more young families into it and, if so, are there provisions with the municipality for a new school—or does the existing school have enough capacity?


“Lots of times we see new subdivisions go up but there isn’t adequate public transportation or schooling,” says Fox.


If your client is buying an infill where an old house has been torn down for a new one, you want them to determine what’s on the lot environmentally. For example, old houses might have been on an oil heating system and you want to know if there is perhaps a buried oil or propane tank on the property.


“Even if an old pool has been filled in, you want the builder to warrant it, because it could impact your insurance later,” says Fox. “You want to determine things like, did they keep the old foundation or is it brand new?”


There can be other surprises along the way, such as restrictive covenants common in subdivisions, which can prevent residents from erecting, say, clothes lines or fences over a certain height.


It’s common to see a registered easement for electricity wires that run across the back of land, which means utility companies can have the right to cross your property, says Fox. So, if your clients want to build a pool, there could be easements that would prevent them from doing so.

Make sure there is an inspection

Vancouver REALTOR® and agent Ron Basra, of Re/Max Select Realty, has specialized in spec homes during his 25 years in the business.


He recommends to buyers that, aside from researching the builder’s reputation, they need to get a reputable inspector to ensure the job has been done right.


“When you do your research on the builder, see if they are just doing it part time and if she or he has any claims against them under the warranty program,” says Basra. “Look at previous homes the builder has built and, if you can, talk to homeowners who have purchased before you.”


In the end, buying new home construction is a considerably different process than with resale homes.


There can be delays, usually more money has to be paid up front (although new builds can have the advantage that a price can be locked in early) and warranties and any upgrades need to be well understood by the buyer.



Source: https://www.creacafe.ca/tips-for-helping-buyers-navigate-new-home-construction/
Photo: pexels.com

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Most of our homes are works in progress – budget and time are two big factors, but our own design knowledge can also be a constraint. Fortunately, these timeless home-decor tips will show you how to improve your own interior-design skills to create a home that truly reflects who you are.

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Investing in the exterior of your home is important. Not only can exterior home renovations like adding a new roof, windows, or doors add immediate benefits and curb appeal, they have the potential to increase the value of your home and give you a greater return on investment (ROI) when you decide to sell.


A 2021 Canadian Real Estate Renovation Trends report from RE/MAX, which used data collected by Leger marketing firm, said more than half of Canadians renovated their home during the pandemic for personal or “non-ROI” purposes. According to the report, 29% chose to renovate for non-essential “lifestyle” reasons, such as recreation-inspired projects, while 16% of Canadians renovated to increase the market value of their home to sell within in the next one to three years.


Similar to interior home renovations, not all exterior renovations are created equal, with some costing much more up front, while others are relatively more cost-effective. If budget is a concern, read on to learn about some of the most cost-effective exterior home renovations that could help increase your ROI when it comes time to sell.

Why is curb appeal important?

The way your home looks from the outside—or its curb appeal—gives potential home buyers their first impression of the property even before they step inside. This is why exterior renovations that help boost curb appeal are important, as the aesthetic look of a home’s exterior can give the buyer a sense of what they can expect to find once they walk through the front door. In other words, if your home presents itself well, the yard is nicely kept, the paint is vibrant, the siding is aging well, and the roof is in good shape, prospective buyers could be more inclined to look inside if they like what they see on the outside. 

What are the current trends in exterior renovations?

If you’ve been thinking about completing an exterior home renovation project this year, My Design Home Studio suggests while “farmhouse vibes are here to stay,” five other exterior design trends will gain popularity in 2022, including “a shift toward natural textures, a stronger connection to the outdoors, and a minimalist approach to architecture.”  

These trends are: 

  • Natural textures: Blonde woods, hand-sawn beams, and aged brick are popular, but you can recreate these looks at a lower cost with wood-like siding or stone-like accents.
  • Dark exteriors: Pairing lighter siding and brick with moodier blacks and charcoals is becoming a trend, so if you’re looking to sell soon it might be worth the investment now. 
  • Black accents: External features—like door handles, door frames, locks, shutters, etc.—are being swapped out for matte black instead of classic brass or silver. It’s a more modern look without requiring a total overhaul.
  • All-season outdoor entertaining: Adding a patio or deck to your yard can help increase curb appeal, especially when equipped for year-round usage. Covered areas for places with a lot of snow, or lounge areas with an outdoor fireplace (depending on your municipal bylaws) for places that remain relatively dry during the winter, are great additions to help extend patio season.
  • Natural light: Large panoramic windows that will flood your home with natural light are definitely a bigger investment than say, a door handle, but they’re a hot commodity as buyers are looking for homes with more natural light. 

Top exterior renovations to help your ROI

While trying the latest renovation trends is a great way to ensure your home fits the modern look, there are tried and trusted exterior renovations that are not only cost-effective, but also known to help increase a home’s ROI.


According to Alex Obradovich, a REALTOR® and sales representative with Chestnut Park® Real Estate Limited Brokerage in Toronto, the best cost-effective exterior renovations would be “functional over the cosmetic.”


“Taking a good look at what’s necessary to fix will be the most important when it comes to selling your home in the future,” explained Obradovich. “Common items may be drainage, grading, deteriorated items or heating/cooling efficiency problems like making sure windows and chimneys are sealed properly.”


However, once the functional exterior renovations are complete, Obradovich says cost-effective and cosmetic upgrades to improve your home would be painting and tidying up landscaping.


“Plus, both of those can be done yourself inexpensively,” he added.


Other things to look at would be your roof, garage door, front door (steel and fibreglass are becoming popular materials), and siding. The average cost to install an asphalt roof in Canada is around $4,750 (depending on the scale of the project), while replacing a double-car garage door can cost between $1,300 and $3,500. If you’re trying to stay on budget, you can also revamp your home’s exterior by swapping out old furnishings for newer pieces and adding potted plants and annual flowers for a pop of colour.


The best way to assess what your home needs is by enlisting the help of a REALTOR® who will be able to give you insights into what buyers are currently looking for in your neighbourhood and what renovations may help sell your home quicker—and for a better price.


Your REALTOR® can also provide you with contacts for roofers, painters, contractors, etc. to help you find the best person for the job.




Source: https://www.realtor.ca/blog/cost-effective-exterior-renovations-that-could-help-sell-your-home/24343/1362
Photo: pexels.com

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Blowing the budget is everyone’s biggest fear when it comes to home renovation projects. Even if you follow standard guidelines—like building in a 20% cushion to cover unexpected costs, vetting contractors, and staying focused—it’s hard to prevent spending more than you’d like to. But with some strategic planning, you can save money in the lead-up to your big remodel and cut costs without cutting corners. 

1. Figure out your priorities

We get it: You’re super excited to get into your new house, and you can’t wait to make it yours. But before you start envisioning walls coming down, scale down your big dreams, suggests Toronto financial counsellor Jessica Moorhouse, who is also host of the Mo’ Money Podcast. 


“Yes, there’s a long list of things you want to do to improve your property, but be patient,” she says. “Take your time and slowly save up so you can pay for the renovations in cash.”


Avoid taking on more debt by making a list of what must get done versus what you wish can get done, a strategy that paid off for Moorhouse, who bought a house four years ago and made improvements without borrowing more money.


“We’ve paid for everything in cash, living within our means and saving up for those renovations. It makes us feel good, because we didn’t have to worry about adding more debt onto our budget. That’s the best strategy.”

2. Take a closer look at your new home’s utilities

Instead of simply swapping your name onto the property’s current utility bill, shop around for a better deal. 


“See if another utility company can provide the same service for less money,” suggests Moorhouse. 


“Sometimes, it’s so chaotic when you settle into a new home, but don’t let your home insurance auto-renew without checking with different providers to see if you can get the same policy for a cheaper price; that could save you hundreds, if not thousands of dollars in the long run.” 


Other things you can probably get a better deal on include your internet, cable or satellite provider. 

3. Keep yourself accountable

Instead of focusing on cutting out your daily $7 latte, Moorhouse recommends tracking your spending and making a budget to see where all your money is going. 


“Look at every single line item and ask if it makes sense or if you get the same thing for less money,” she says. “Doing that–especially for monthly bills–is important, because if you can decrease those expenses, you’ll be saving much more money.”


One way to make sure you stick to the saving mindset? Plan a year ahead. 


“Don’t just decide to redo a room on a whim; sit down and ask yourselves, ‘What are we doing this year?’,” says Moorhouse.  


“I’ve got a whiteboard on my fridge outlining what we’d like to do in priority sequence. We know we won’t do reno number two until number one is paid in cash. Keep checking in with yourself about your financial plans.”

4. Out with the old, in with the not-so-new

Instead of paying full price for new furniture, appliances and decorative accessories, check out online marketplaces where you can buy or sell just about anything. 


“Our previous owners had put in a brand-new, but ugly stove that had never been used, so we sold it and used the proceeds to buy a new one,” recalls Moorhouse. “Something you don’t like may be exactly what someone else is looking for.”


You may also want to check with friends, neighbours and family to see if they’re purging things you might need. For example, repurposing someone’s kitchen cabinets or leftover construction materials can save big bucks. Or, purchase good quality second-hand furniture that can be transformed with a coat of paint, adds Moorhouse. 

5. Don’t forget about un-sexy home improvements, like maintenance

In addition to your budget for upgrades, set aside money for when things ultimately break down, cautions Moorhouse. 


“We bought a 12-year-old place and once we got the keys, things started breaking down: We had to replace our air conditioning unit, our boiler, our dishwasher and our fridge,” she recalls.


Although these purchases weren’t high on Moorhouse’s wish list, she knew going in to expect repair and maintenance costs, so the funds were there. 


“Depending on how old your house is, you need to set aside one to 2% of your home’s value for maintenance every year,” she suggests.


Your home inspection report can be a valuable tool; many inspectors include a range of fees associated with maintenance, repair and replacement costs. Keeping these tips in mind as you plan your renovation will save money and buy peace of mind.



Source: https://www.creacafe.ca/saving-for-a-renovation-tips-to-keep-homeowners-on-budget/
Photo: pexels.com

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Deciding whether or not it’s time to move—either across the country, province, or within the same city—is a difficult decision to make. Are you ready to uproot your life and leave your friends, family, and job behind? Are you ready to either sell your home, end your lease, or move out of your parents’ home for the first time? Regardless of your situation, deciding to move is a momentous life event and one that doesn’t often come easy.

If you’re unsure whether or not moving is the right call right now, read on to learn about some of the different reasons why people often choose to move to a new home.

Common reasons people choose to move  

There are, of course, the obvious reasons why you might consider moving. Perhaps you’re starting a family and you need a bigger home with a fenced-in backyard where the kiddos can play. Or, maybe all of your children have moved out and you’re ready to downsize. 

But other common reasons could be:

  • you’re growing tired of your commute to and from work; 
  • you have safety concerns in your neighbourhood;
  • you aren’t getting along with your neighbours; or 
  • you’ve received a job offer in a new city.  

To get a better understanding of why some homeowners have recently decided to move, we spoke to James Strathy Warren, a REALTOR® and salesperson for Chestnut Park Real Estate Ltd. Brokerage, who revealed some of the frequent themes he’s seen from his clients.

Future planning

Warren says a change in interest rates can be a factor. When people find out interest rates are going up, they’ll look at moving beforehand to lock in on a competitive mortgage to save money in the long run. Not everyone moves when the interest rates change, but it’s something that can trigger people to start assessing the market and whether they’re happy where they are. 

Bang for your buck

Finding a renovated house in a “move-up” market can be a big deciding factor for many people. Warren suggests this can be less expensive than finding a home that requires a substantial renovation, which is appealing to those who don’t want to go through the process.

“There’s also the time factor of a lengthy renovation as well as the associated costs,” he explained. “So, essentially you’re buying your new home at a slight discount.”

Market trends

For those looking to move up, Warren explained sometimes in a market that tends to pull back in price increases, the spread can be less between the sale price of their existing home and the one they’re purchasing. For people scaling down, such as empty nesters, when the market is moving up, it can be a great time to sell.

“It’s always good to try and time the market, this is very important for people moving up,” said Warren.

Time of year

When moving out of a home, Warren said historically, the best months to sell for the highest sale price are usually February and May.  

“February, because January is usually hit with snow and there is so little [on the market], so appetite gets pent up,” he explained. “May, because everything is geared to the school year and people want to settle prior to summer vacation and the beginning of the school year. Sometimes we do see a good market in late September and early October when there is generally less supply.”

How can a REALTOR® help you make your decision?

Ultimately, when it comes to deciding if you should move, it’s up to you and your family to make the call. A REALTOR® can guide you through the decision process to ensure you’re making the move for all the right reasons, providing current market trends and conditions, and asking the right questions to help you feel informed in your choice.


A REALTOR® can also share properties available in your price range and desired location; answer any questions you have about different local neighbourhoods and property values; and they can help you decide whether or not it’s the right time to buy based on the market.


Warren says being aware of the market and how homes are performing in the areas you’re considering is very important when it comes time to decide whether or not you should sell your home.


“I think to be successful in a purchase, or when you’re selling your home, you should view houses first and get an idea of the houses available to you and watch their movement—their days on market and their sale prices. If you’re comfortable, then jump in and buy first, but make sure your home is looking its best and well-priced before putting it on the market,” said Warren.


Working with a REALTOR® also gives you a better understanding of what’s happening in the market and if it’s the right time to make moves.


“It’s all about ‘reading the market’ and hopefully connecting the pieces of the puzzle,” added Warren.


While the prospect of moving might be daunting, there are different factors and indicators to help make your decision. If you’re thinking about embarking on a home buying journey, be sure to speak with a REALTOR® today.



Source: https://www.realtor.ca/blog/when-is-the-right-time-to-move/24677/1362
Photo: Pexels.com

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With an entire new year ahead of you, decluttering your home may not seem so hard. But after January, when that new year energy begins to wane, the prospect of tackling such a big project tends to overwhelm.


Enter this month-by-month guide to clearing the clutter from every room of your house. I’ve zeroed in on areas of the home that I find fit with certain events, such as back-to-school or spring fashion, but feel free to reorganize as you see fit to tackle specific areas of your home that need attention sooner.


No matter what, by the end of the year, your home should be feeling more spacious and, perhaps more important, you should be feeling more capable of maintaining a clutter-free space.


Getting Started: Turbocharge Your Decluttering


If you’re feeling inspired and motivated by the new year, take advantage of that energy and spend a few weekends clearing clutter throughout the house. Making noticeable headway will help motivate you to keep up the decluttering effort in the coming months. Try to get the other members of your household onboard — but if they are not interested, don’t try to force it. Hopefully they will see the positive changes happening around the house and change their tune!


Habit to cultivate: Keep an empty reusable bin in a closet, and use it to corral items you plan to give away.


January: Kitchen and Pantry

Give yourself a fresh start for the new year with a clean kitchen, decluttered cabinets and a healthy pantry and fridge.

  • Toss worn dish towels or cut them up to make rags
  • Sell or give away specialty small appliances and tools you seldom or never use
  • Recycle or toss freebie cups and Tupperware containers without lids
  • Toss expired food and spices
  • Take stock of cookware and dishes; give away or sell pieces you do not need

Habit to cultivate: Clean out the pantry and fridge each week before shopping.


February: Home Office — Digital Documents and Papers

Get a jump-start on tax time by getting your files (paper and digital) in order.

  • Sort through random stacks of paper; file, shred or recycle everything
  • Streamline your files, shredding any documents you no longer need
  • Use one calendar to keep track of all events
  • Switch to paperless bills and statements if possible
  • Clean out computer files and back up everything, using cloud-based storage and an external drive

Habit to cultivate: Sort your mail at the door, tossing junk immediately into a recycling bin.


March: Clothes and Accessories

The seasonal transition is a good time to sort through clothing. Sort through winter clothes before storing, and pare back spring and summer clothes as you begin to wear them.

  • Donate or sell clothes, shoes and accessories in good condition
  • Have winter clothes laundered or dry-cleaned before storing until next year
  • Try on all clothes for the upcoming season and give away or sell any items that do not make you feel good

Habit to cultivate: As soon as you wear something and notice it doesn’t fit, has a hole or doesn’t flatter you, toss it in a bag in your closet. When the bag is full, donate it.

April: Bath and Beauty Products and Medicine Cabinets

Give your daily routine a spring cleaning by sorting through all of those bottles and jars hiding in medicine cabinets, on counters and in drawers.

  • Toss expired makeup and skin-care items, as well as anything you do not use or like
  • Clean drawers and shelves before returning items
  • Store heat- and moisture-sensitive items (medications and some skin-care products) away from the bathroom

Habit to cultivate: Keep a list of your favorite bath and beauty products and order them online rather than shopping in person. This helps avoid overshopping and impulse purchases.


May: Laundry Room, Linen Closet, Cleaning Supplies

Cleaning routines are much easier and more pleasant when the supplies you need are neat and orderly. Sheets, towels and other household linens do not last forever — go through them this month and make some space.

  • Recycle worn-out and stained towels, washcloths, sheets and tea towels at a textile recycling center.
  • If your child has graduated a bed size, donate the old bedding to charity
  • Clean under sinks and in any cupboards where cleaning supplies are stored. Get rid of empty containers and products you tried but did not like

Habit to cultivate: Don’t downgrade old towels and sheets to “guest” status. Only keep linens you would personally want to use — get rid of the rest. Your guests deserve better!


June: Family Room, Playroom, Media, Art and Schoolwork

The end of the school year is a good time to review collected artwork and school papers, and choose a small number of special pieces to save in a portfolio or document box.

  • Edit schoolwork and art from the past year
  • Gather a bag of DVDs, books and CDs to give away or sell
  • Sort through toys and games; get rid of those your family no longer enjoys, as well as anything missing key pieces

Habit to cultivate: At the beginning of each school year, pick up a simple art portfolio. When your child brings work home, enjoy all of it for a while, but choose only a few special pieces to put in the portfolio.


July: Yard, Shed, Garage and Tools

Being outdoors in midsummer makes this a good time to get outdoor tools and equipment in order.

  • Get rid of broken tools and those you no longer need
  • Sort through gardening supplies
  • Toss worn-out outdoor furnishings and decor
  • If you’ve been collecting items to sell, hold a yard sale this month. At the end of the day, take unsold items to a charity donation center

Habit to cultivate: Keep everything in your garage or shed on shelving, not on the floor. This helps prevent accumulating a pileup of junk and keeps your gear cleaner.


August: Photos

Photos seem to be one of the most problematic items for many people to keep organized. Use the lazy days of August to sort through old photos and make books or prints from new ones.

  • Choose a few favorite photos from this year and have them framed
  • Edit digital photos and back up using a cloud service as well as an external drive
  • Make a photo album or book from recent photos
  • Sort through any bins of loose photos and put them in acid-free photo boxes or simple albums

Habit to cultivate: Take a few extra moments to tag favorite digital photos each time you upload. Then when it’s time to print or make an album, you can go straight to your favorites.


September: Mudroom, Entrances and Junk Drawers

Embrace the back-to-school spirit (whether or not you have kids) by getting the busiest zones of your house clutter-free this month.

  • Put away stray items in entrances that belong elsewhere
  • Add extra hooks or shelves if you need them to help corral items
  • Sort through junk drawers, baskets, trays and any other spots that accumulate random junk
  • Invest in drawer organizers or a wall-mounted organizer to keep small items neat

Habit to cultivate: Do an end-of-day tidy-up of the entryway, putting shoes, coats and random items back where they belong.


October: Dining Room and Entertaining Supplies

With the big holidays coming up over the next few months, October is a good time to get ahead of the curve and sort out your entertaining arsenal.

  • Get rid of worn-out and stained tablecloths, placemats and napkins
  • Count your dinnerware and serving pieces and consider whether you have enough, too much or too little for the amount you entertain
  • Get rid of decor, table linens and serving pieces that you don’t like or that no longer fit your lifestyle

Habit to cultivate: Just like creating a wardrobe with lots of pieces that work together, think of creating an entertaining wardrobe that you can mix and match, rather than having lots of distinct sets of dishes.


November: Hobbies and Crafts

Get ready for holiday crafting and gift wrapping by clearing out your stash and organizing supplies this month.

  • Clean out gift-wrapping supplies, tossing empty tape dispensers, out-of-ink pens and shreds of gift wrap and ribbon
  • Downsize your craft stash by donating spare fabric scraps, yarn, scrapbooking paper and other materials — many organizations (schools, retirement centers and the like) are happy to accept donations of craft supplies, and there are even some craft-specific donation centers, like Scrap in San Francisco
  • Keep works in progress together in bags, bins or boxes

Habit to cultivate: Take the time to put away your craft supplies neatly when you are done working. A messy stash makes it more likely you will buy something you already have simply because you couldn’t find it!


December: Holiday Items and Decor

With so much going on around the holidays, it’s wise not to expect too much of yourself when it comes to clutter-clearing. That said, with all of the new gifts coming in, it does make sense to do some paring back to preserve balance in the house.

  • Give away holiday ornaments and decor that you did not use this year, or that you no longer love
  • Toss broken ornaments and recycle strands of lights that no longer work
  • Exchange or give away gifts you received but know you will never use, and do not like — don’t keep things out of guilt. The one exception to this rule may be hand-knit sweaters. The knitter will never forgive you; that’s just how it is.

Habit to cultivate: Tell friends and family who ask (in advance of the holidays) that you and your family would prefer gifts that are experiential or edible. Most people honestly want to give you something you will like, and are happy for the guidance.



Source: https://www.houzz.com/magazine/your-clutter-clearing-plan-for-the-new-year-stsetivw-vs~58173213?fbclid=IwAR0ayzzfRwewG3IXSCv7ORuxSklrNRjOPltHI6_3IYi2P85jr1OLuvv1q5k

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Winterizing your home creates a cozy space, lowers energy bills, and prevents damage such as broken eavestroughs or a cracked foundation. The following steps can be completed in a weekend—and all for less than $180.


Check that your rain gutter spouts are pointing away from your house and there are no blockages. Doing this can save you from an expensive and potentially catastrophic foundation problem. If water from the roof is repeatedly deposited beside your home, the soil becomes saturated with moisture. In the winter, that moisture turns to ice, which expands and creates cracks in your home’s foundation. Over time, those cracks become larger and larger until there is a flood or structural damage.


Extend the life of your furnace, save energy, reduce duct cleaning, and improve indoor air quality by changing (or washing) your furnace filters. Washable filters use an electrostatic process to capture dust and particles and although they cost more upfront (approximately $100), they pay for themselves in less than two years. Disposable filters cost an average of $20 each and should be changed every three months. Washable filters may be cleaned up to 60 times depending on the product specifications.


Drafts swoop down chimneys in the wintertime (even with the flue closed) and cold seeps through the walls of the stack. For as little as $40, a chimney balloon or plug fits just above the hearth and will keep your heat indoors and the cold outdoors by blocking the fireplace opening. Don’t forget that the opposite is true at the peak of summer. In July and August, when you don’t need a fireplace, seal it to save on air-conditioning costs.


Winter heating is typically the largest single consumer of household energy (e.g., gas or electricity). With rising utility costs, it makes cents to put on a sweater or an extra blanket instead of cranking up the heat. Turn down the thermostat at night and whenever household members are away at work or school.


A programmable thermostat is a convenient way to automatically set different temperatures for various times of the day and night. In the long run, this saves effort and money. However, these are best for standard furnaces. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, a programmable thermostat may interfere with the optimal functioning of heat pumps, electric resistance heating, steam heat or radiant floor heating.


Drafts can waste five to 30 per cent of a home’s energy, according to a report by the David Suzuki Foundation. Check for drafts by holding a lit stick of incense near doors, windows and chimneys; where the smoke wavers, there’s a draft. To seal windows, use weatherstripping tape, which costs as little as $5 per roll. For your doors, there are all sorts of products for less than $20 that either fit next to the door or wrap around the bottom.


Electrical outlets, especially those on an external-facing wall, can allow cold to seep into your living space. Conversely, in the summer, the outlets bring unwelcome warmth into your air-conditioned home. A simple once and done solution is to install insulating covers underneath the wall plates. These cost approximately $5 each.


Have you ever noticed the difference in the air temperature near the windows when you first open the curtains? Window glass is a poor insulator allowing some cold and heat to pass through. Heavy curtains are one solution. In the winter, when you want to enjoy as much natural light as possible, a better solution is insulation film. The thin plastic shrinks to fit the window with the heat of a hair dryer and costs as little as $15.


With a small investment of effort and money, you can enjoy a cozy, draft-free space as you save money.


Sources:

“How to winterize your home,” David Suzuki Foundation, accessed October 27, 2021, https://davidsuzuki.org/queen-of-green/how-to-winterize-your-home.


“Thermostats,” US Department of Energy, accessed October 27, 2021, https://www.energy.gov/energysaver/thermostats.



Main Source: https://www.sutton.com/blog/home-improvement/winterize-your-home

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Everyone knows not to leave cash on the kitchen counter or jewelry sitting on your nightstand before an open house but there are other things besides valuables you should think about stashing away. Thankfully, with a bit of due diligence, it’s unlikely you’ll run into any issues.


“I’ve only had one screwdriver stolen during a property visit in my 23-year real estate career,” says Katia Samson, a REALTOR® and certified real estate broker with Group Sutton Centre Ouest in Montreal. “I always do a tour of the property before any showings and if I think an item should be put away, I tuck it in a drawer.”


With lots of visitors coming and going, you still want to be sure to secure, hide or remove these nine items. Your REALTOR® can help guide you through the process to make sure you’ve checked off the various items on this list.


1. Mail, private documents and passwords

If identity thieves don’t mind rooting through your garbage to find personal information, they will happily swipe it off your desk. Tuck away your mail, social insurance card, banks statements, passport, utility bills and credit cards. If you can’t take these things with you, hide them somewhere visitors won’t find them. This goes for your online passwords, too. Don’t display your Wi-Fi password and avoid leaving a list of your personal passwords taped next to your computer.


2. Ashtrays

You may already know the smell of smoke is a huge turnoff to home buyers, but even the suggestion people light up in your home is enough to make them move on to the next property.


“If a property smells like tobacco or marijuana, it will be very difficult to sell,” says Samson.


3. Plug-in air fresheners

Yes, you want your house to look and smell fresh, but buyers might be sensitive to that flowery mist. Worse, they might wonder if you’re trying to cover up a bigger problem. While you’re at it, avoid sloshing bleach or other harsh chemical cleaners everywhere before the open house begins–buyers might think you’re concealing mould issues and could be turned off by the harsh smell.


4. Fans or space heaters

Neither of these items will do you any favours in the décor department, but buyers who see spot heaters plugged in everywhere may also wonder if something is wrong with the heating system or if your home is poorly insulated. On the flipside, fans may suggest the house can get too hot.


5. Pets and their stuff

We know you’d never leave your dog–even in its crate–during an open house, but you may also want to pick up food dishes, slobbery toys, litter boxes and other things that suggest an animal lives in the house. Buyers who don’t like cats or dogs don’t want to wonder if your pet has peed all over the basement carpets.


“Any signs that an animal is part of the household should be removed from sight for visits,” says Samson. Which means, don’t forget to thoroughly vacuum furniture if your furry friend sheds everywhere.


6. Prescription drugs

Thieves are more likely to steal valuable medication than wander off with a piece of jewelry, so don’t make it easy for them to find any. That means clearing out the medicine cabinet, your night table drawer and your kitchen cupboard if you usually store meds there.


7. Fridge magnets and family photos

Take down the wedding photos, kids’ awards, plaques, school photos and even magnets on your fridge. “Items that might make clients uncomfortable should be put away as well, such as toothbrushes, sponges in showers, hygiene items and dirty laundry,” adds Samson.


Not only is this a good way to declutter, but buyers will be able to see themselves living in the space if it doesn’t seem so personal.


8. Valuable paintings, sculptures or heirlooms

Electronics are not the only items that can mysteriously disappear during an open house, so keep expensive things away from view. Even if thieves can’t walk out with a large sculpture, don’t tempt them to come back and steal it another time.


9. Your keys and remotes

Nothing screams, “Come back some time and rob our house or steal our car!” more than extra keys dangling from hooks in your entry hall; ditto for the garage door opener. Store these items in a safe, secure place or bring keys and remotes with you when the open house begins.


Anything else?

While it’s very unlikely you’ll encounter any issues during an open house, it’s good common sense to take precautions. Listen to your REALTOR® and use your best judgment for a safe and successful experience.



Source: https://www.creacafe.ca/9-things-sellers-should-never-leave-out-during-an-open-house/

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There’s something about looking at images of a perfectly put together fridge or pantry that inspires you to do your own #fridgemakeover or reach #pantrygoals. It’s a popular trend on social media right now, but a well-organized kitchen isn’t just good for an Instagram post or TikTok video. Smart fridge and pantry organization can also help reduce food waste and inspire more home-cooked meals or snacks. If you have an appetite for organization, we’re sharing fridge and pantry hacks you can use in your own kitchen today.


Consolidate, decant, and label

The first thing to do is check what you have, toss out expired items, donate other unwanted items to a food bank (if accepted), and see what you have left. Once you know what you’re working with, batch similar items together and use a label maker, label sheet, or tape and marker to add visible labels with expiry dates to every item. Matching containers—either glass or clear plastic—help make it easy to see what you have on hand and will create a polished look in your pantry. If you don’t have storage containers, or you don’t want to buy any, you can still group things together based on their similarities and label them clearly.


There’s no right or wrong way to group your food items, but some of the more common categories are:

  • By meal: group all your breakfast items together, your lunch items, snack items etc.
  • By height: if you’re really going for aesthetics, grouping by height is a good choice.
  • By function: all your spices in one spot, all your baking supplies in another, etc.
  • By healthy choices: make it easier to grab a healthy snack by grouping them all in one. spot, and likewise for when it comes to finding a sweet treat.

You should also be sure to follow the FIFO rule—first in, first out. When you bring home a round of groceries, place the newest items towards the back and go through what you already have. This will help eliminate food waste and clutter.


Think outside the crisper drawer

We’ve all thrown away uneaten produce that was forgotten in a crisper drawer. To help your produce last longer and encourage healthy eating, wash and prep all your fruit and veggies before loading them into the fridge. This way, they’re ready to go when it’s time for a meal or snack. According to Oxygen Magazine, meal prepping can help take away the stress of healthy eating, since everything is conveniently ready when you want a quick snack. Make snacking simple by adding a labelled snack drawer to your fridge and filling it with healthy grab-and-go items you and your family love.


Opt for clear fridge containers with drawers or lids to help make produce easy to grab and go, and use the freed up drawer space to organize other items like cheese, meat, or backstock of milk or juice.


Stick to your own style

There’s no rule your pantry or fridge has to be filled with clear or white containers all items lined up in a row! If you’re into a more rustic style, aim to use natural materials like woven baskets, wooden boxes or crates, and glass jars of different sizes for a clean but homey look. In this example, glass jars make it easy to see what’s available while doubling as a design element on an open shelf. Plus, using recycled glass jars or baskets is environmentally friendly and often more cost effective.


Organize on your own budget

Wire bins, lazy susans, acrylic containers, and baskets can quickly add up with some items costing $20 or more per unit. Save money on your kitchen organization project by starting with what you already have at home, then looking for budget-friendly options at your local dollar or discount store. Dollar stores can offer inexpensive and cheerful solutions like baskets, containers, and jars in a range of materials. In this #pantrygoals example, dollar store organization finds are used to pull off a pantry overhaul on a small budget.


Use stadium shelving and turntables

Deep cupboards seem good in theory, but in practice they can become a waste of space. When you stack cans and boxes four or five deep, you lose sight of what’s available! Using stadium shelving, or shelf risers, lets you utilize the space towards the back but still keeps everything in view. Turntables offer the same convenience, letting you access things with ease.


Adjust your shelving height

Most pantries and fridges have adjustable shelves, but most people neglect to use them! If you buy a lot of tall items, such as cereal boxes or juices, make sure there’s a shelf to accommodate them. A good rule of thumb is to allow 2 inches of clearance above the tallest item on the shelf so you can add items easily.


Here are some typical pantry shelf measurements you should keep in mind:

  • 6.5 to 7 inches for canned goods
  • 14 to 16 inches for cereal boxes
  • 18 to 20 inches for larger items (bags of potatoes or rice, soft drinks, etc)

Whether you opt for a total organization overhaul or make some simple changes to make your fridge or pantry more functional, a little effort can go a long way towards making the most out of your kitchen’s storage space. 



Source: https://www.realtor.ca/blog/5-fridge-and-pantry-organizing-hacks-you-can-do-today/22638/1366

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Purchasing a property in the winter can be a pretty chill idea. Buying in the wintertime can be advantageous for both home buyers and sellers—with a smaller buying pool, the (typically) off-season market can lend more serious offers from motivated purchasers who benefit from less competition. However, wintery weather can make it tricky to assess a home when you can’t fully see the condition of the property under layers of ice and snow.


Don’t overlook the home’s exterior


A home’s first impression from the sidewalk is always important to consider when buying, and it’s no different during the winter.


Travassos and Rushforth agree it’s crucial to inspect the outside of the home in the winter time. Travassos notes you want to make sure the property’s driveway, outdoor stairs, and sidewalks are shoveled so you can clearly see their condition. A blanket of fluffy snow can also make it a challenge to gauge the property’s roof and grading to see if water is running away from the house correctly.


“Sometimes it can be difficult to see the condition of the roof or the shingles if they’re covered in snow, and then if all of the other roofs [in the neighbourhood] are covered in snow and yours isn’t, it means there’s probably not enough insulation—heat is getting out of the house that shouldn’t be,” explains Travassos.
Image via James Bombales


Landscaping costs for trees and grass can add up, so it’s best to get a sense of the condition of the back and front yards, too. Rushforth says a buyer should ask for pictures of the home in the summertime to assess the state of the yard, gardens, and any outdoor structures such as pools.


“You want to know what you’re buying, and the problem with [the winter], everything is covered,” said Rushforth. “You don’t know if there’s grass, if there are weeds, if there’s interlock, if there’s not interlock. Trying to get some recent summer pictures is absolutely key.”


Examine the interiors from floor to ceiling


When touring the inside of the property, you’ll want to keep your eyes peeled for any wintertime red flags that could indicate issues within the house.


Rushforth says to look for any signs of drafts, fogging, or condensation in the windows that could point to broken seals, allowing cold air to enter the home.


“Looking in the wintertime, you get to see if there are any drafts in the windows,” said Rushforth. “Can you feel cold air coming through? Do you see any leaking? Are you seeing any water stains?”


As colder weather tends to dry out rooms, Rushforth explains a buyer will want to look for gaping or splitting in hardwood floors, which can speak to the home’s humidity levels. Dryness can cause things to shrink slightly, so a purchaser should inspect the home to ensure interior doors and cupboards can close properly. By feeling the interior walls, you can also assess if they are cold to the touch and therefore poorly insulated—Travassos points out some homes may be double bricked and not insulated.


When viewing a home in the winter, Rushforth notes purchasers should monitor for big differences in temperature between rooms, a sign there could be ventilation problems to address.


“You’re looking for signs of chilly rooms, drafty rooms, or even rooms that are really warm,” said Rushforth. “Why are they really warm in the winter time unless the heat is punched up? You’re looking for differences in rooms that will be a tell-tale sign as to whether there are issues.”


Inspect your home utility systems and out-of-season amenities


The winter often calls for homeowners to shut down seasonal home amenities like pools and cooling systems, but this shouldn’t mean a buyer should skip on investigating these features.


Travassos and Rushforth explain a buyer won’t be able to turn on and test the home’s air conditioning in the winter to confirm if it’s working properly or not. Because of this, it’s important for the buyer to do their due diligence and ask the seller and their agent questions about the state of home systems such as the furnace, septic, pool parts, and other property features.


“Quite often, additions aren’t done with permits and pipes were not insulated properly, so in really cold months, they freeze a little bit,” said Travassos. “So you want to run the water on all of the taps and make sure you’re not seeing any of that.”

For pools and hot tubs, you may want to request copies of receipts, maintenance reports, and proof of professional services to ensure they—as well as all of the other home systems—are in good working order when you purchase the property. As always, opting for a home inspection can be a way to ensure a professional can get a deeper understanding of the property, including in areas like the basement and attic.



Source: https://r.trendinghomenews.com/8pdi0?fbclid=IwAR1dlVH0fJjVCSqywMN3l1drYE9HSNRAAwrRAR9ABm2Bl6ikZL0HFbL-00A

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If you are buying a home, should you have a home inspection?  In my opinion this is always the best option.  Sometimes in a seller's market, buyer's are waiving this condition in order to secure their bid on a  home purchase.  If you choose to forego an inspection, can you afford the potential consequences?  This video highlights a few of the potential concerns that home inspectors look for when doing an inspection.
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Just like it’s in your best interest to get a head start when it comes to holiday shopping, it’s also a good idea to start prepping your home for winter early, too. Once the first signs of crisp air and winter-like weather make an appearance, you know it’s the perfect time to start making sure you won’t be left in the cold literally and figuratively.


If you’re a former longtime renter new to homeownership, you may be at a loss determining how to best prepare your home for winter. I talked to seasoned real estate agents to learn the best winter home maintenance tips which will spare your home in the cold and possibly save you time and money.


Clean the gutters ASAP.
If you want to preserve your walls, ceilings, and insulation, it’s best to keep your gutters clean, says Patricia Matus, a Realtor with CENTURY 21 Alliance Realty Group. Allowing snow and water to freeze and accumulate at the eaves of the house can cause damage to the roof and create leaks in your home, she explains. Use a snow rake to remove heavy snow when temperatures fluctuate between above and below freezing — this can prevent ice buildup and reduce the potential for leaks.


Make stray branches disappear.
The trees you admired in the spring and summer can do damage to your property come winter. Dealing with fallen branches after a snowstorm can be a huge headache turned financial burden, especially if they land on your house. Hire a professional to identify dead trees and trim branches before it’s too late, suggests Matus.


Drain your hot water heater.
Sediment build-up is a common problem for hot water heaters. Draining the heater can help the reduction of sediment so it runs efficiently, says Ryne Lambert, co-founder of Sell My House In Wisconsin.


Tune up the snowblower.
Nothing is worse than having the first big snowfall of the season, pulling out your snowblower, and finding that it doesn’t work. You’ll end up frustrated and tired from shoveling your way out a foot of snow and thinking about the money you wasted on the snowblower. Avoid this pitfall by having the snowblower tuned up. Replace spark plugs, change the oil, and make sure the unit is running efficiently ahead of time, says Lambert.


Install weather stripping.
A drafty house can be just as uncomfortable to live in as it is to effectively heat. Keep it warm by replacing or installing stripping for exterior doors to save money, says Lambert. Take it a step further by putting insulation or plastic around the windows as well.


Clear the chimney.
Chimneys can be problematic if they aren’t properly maintained, Matus says. “If you have a fireplace, call a chimney sweep to have it cleaned before you start using it,” she says. “Creosote build-up and debris such as a nest or leaves can be a fire hazard.” 



Source: https://www.apartmenttherapy.com/winter-home-maintenance-tips-real-estate-agents-36987441

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Prior to a home inspection, Boston real estate agent Sam Reifman-Packett makes sure he manages his clients’ expectations. “A home inspector isn’t there to hype up your dream home,” cautions Reifman-Packett, a vice president with Compass. “Their job is to find and make note of everything wrong with the property.”


Home inspectors are a bit like professional bearers of bad news. But their work can save you big bucks, because they often spot things you overlooked during an open house. Sometimes, the home inspection report includes several little fixes. Other times, they’re big, costly ones, like a roof that needs to be replaced or outdated electrical wiring. To further complicate the matter, there are parts of a home that will pass a home inspection but are still expensive to fix.


I asked real estate agents and home inspectors which finds in a home inspection can be the most serious or the most costly. Here’s what they had to say.


The Deck
A deck nearing the end of its life cycle can be a costly fix and also spell danger, explains Welmoed Sisson, a home inspector and author of “101 Things You Don’t Want in Your Home.” Typically, decks are built to last for 12 to 15 years in the outdoor elements, she explains. After that, the fasteners can corrode, which could lead to a collapse, Sisson says. While deck repairs can cost less than $3,000, a full replacement can run between $4,000 to $11,000, according to HomeAdvisor.


Foundation Repairs
Foundations can be very costly to repair, says Khari Washington, broker and owner of 1st United Realty & Mortgage. “The repair might even entail raising the house off of the foundation to repour footings on older homes,” Washington says. While minor cracks can cost a few hundred dollars, more major ones that require hydraulic jacking can cost tens of thousands of dollars.


Roof Replacement
A roof replacement has high material costs, Washington says, and can vary in cost depending on the roofing material and square footage of the home. While some roof replacements can soar over the $10,000 mark, the average homeowner pays $8,453 to install a new roof, according to HomeAdvisor.


New Septic Systems
A septic system is the non-urban way to deal with human waste, explains Glen Pizzolorusso, a broker with Compass in Fairfield County, Connecticut. These systems are designed to last 30 to 50 (or more) years, but mistreatment of a septic system can be very costly, with a new system costing between $20,000 and $50,000.


“It’s something that you cannot see when you fall in love with a home, and will only come up on inspection,” Pizzolorusso says. There are all types of systems, and they have changed over the years, he explains. Houses built in previous decades adhered to previous building codes, which are now obsolete, and new codes are adopted every few years.


“If a system fails and is outdated, you may be required to replace the system, but replacing a system must adhere to the new codes, so hopefully you have good soil and enough land, otherwise an engineered system with a hefty price tag is required,” he explains.


Water Damage
Oftentimes, water damage goes hand in hand with homes that need a roof replaced, explains Valentino Gecaj of Valentino Home Inspections in Westchester, New York. Although anything from leaky toilets to burst pipes to floods can also give way to this pesky problem. Water damage can lead to an abundance of mold, Gecaj explains, which can cause a slate of health problems. If the water damage is extensive, it can also cause major structural damage in the home.



Source: https://www.apartmenttherapy.com/most-expensive-fixes-home-inspection-36985263?amp=1

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Technology is a wonderful thing and, as luck would have it, there’s a bunch of handy smartphone apps created specifically for homeowners! Here are five great ones…


iScape
If you’ve got outdoor spaces that you’d like to improve, iScape is the app for you! This app uses your phone’s camera to allow you to drag and drop elements like trees, plants, fences, water features, etc. and visualize how it all fits together in your specific yard!


Happy Plant

This app is a very simple solution to a very common problem. If you frequently forget to water your plants, use Happy Plant to serve as a smart reminder system! There’s also a cool feature which creates time-lapse videos of your plants surviving, thriving, and growing.


HomeZada
This app is like six apps rolled into one! HomeZada helps homeowners with everything from managing remodel projects to keeping track of home-related financials and much more. As they put it, HomeZada is, “A personal finance solution that is a digital hub of all the important information about your largest financial asset – your home.”


Letgo

We all have too much stuff, right? Whether it’s stuff we don’t need, stuff we haven’t used in years, or stuff we don’t even remember getting, the Letgo app is here to help. Simply snap a pic of something you no longer want/need, list it on Letgo, and you’re done!


AroundMe
This app is endlessly helpful whether you’re new to the area or visiting somewhere you’ve never been. AroundMe basically gives you all the information you need about various businesses near you. A straightforward concept, but a very handy resource when you need it!



Source: http://www.trendinghomenews.com/2019/02/5-great-apps-homeowners/?token=4D975B0E-7224-4ADB-BA95-8673111264CF&final=1

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For many Canadians sheds are often seen as dingy storage spaces for seasonal equipment and oversized junk. Conversely, in Australia and New Zealand, sheds are passionately celebrated in documentaries, books, and magazines as places of invention, retreat, and productivity.


However, it looks like some Canadians are coming around, and realizing their sheds’ potential as stunning and functional extensions of their homes. From home office setups to backyard gyms, here are five amazing shed transformation ideas that go against the grain.


Join the tiny house revolution!
If the explosion of #TinyHouse Instagram accounts and YouTube channels is any indicator, the growing appeal of living in more compact, efficient, and even portable “tiny homes” is reaching a fever pitch. According to SEMrush’s 2020 Canada Real Estate Trends report, average searches for “tiny homes for sale” have soared throughout the East Coast.


Redeveloping your backyard shed or garage into a separate structure (built to code, of course) can also provide a new source of income as a rental unit. In cities like Toronto, where the housing market temperature continues to rise, some residents are renovating their backyard sheds and garages into self-contained dwellings made accessible through the city’s intricate network of laneways, and renting or selling them as smaller one-person units.


As with any property renovation in Canada, whether in an urban or rural community, you’ll want to ensure your tiny house project meets standards and regulations. Make sure to assess your renovation plans against local zoning laws, bylaws, and building codes before you break ground. Or better yet, ask your REALTOR® for their insight.


Stretch out with a new gym or yoga studio
With gyms and fitness centres closed and Canadians staying home more than, it’s no surprise personal fitness equipment has seen a sharp increase in sales since the beginning of the pandemic.


But in an already-crowded house with each room playing a specific role—“Honey, the dining room is for potatoes, not pilates!”—what better way to stretch out and use all your available space than by setting up a gym or yoga studio in your shed?


You can easily store your weights and machines in the shed when not in use, and bring them outside when the weather allows for a full-on outdoor iron-pumping session. Or, if zen is more your speed, clear out enough space for a yoga mat, plants, diffusers, and a Bluetooth speaker, and watch the stress melt away.


Work from home…at the office
For those of us working from home but still crave a light commute and/or have a crowded household during the day, a backyard home office offers a quiet and separate space to take Zoom calls, finish up your daily deliverables, or simply collect your professional thoughts.


With the number of people working from home going up and up, Canadians are looking for contractors to help build new offices in their existing shed space. The only restrictions are space, so let your imagination run wild. That being said, just be sure your new backyard office doesn’t pose any insurance risks.


Get back to basics with a greenhouse
For the budding gardeners among us, why not transform your backyard shed from a “fixed” state of storage to a “growth”-oriented hub by setting up your own sheltered greenhouse? By adding a few window openings and shelving units, you can take advantage of the shed’s access to sunlight and create a warm, insulated home for your seedlings. A shed-turned-greenhouse is also a great way to keep critters away from any fruits and vegetables you may be growing. So, whether planning a hydroponic herb garden or pop-up produce stand and flower shop, the options are ripe for the picking.


Retreat to your fortress of solitude
If you’re looking for some alone time, and perhaps a more stylish and less utilitarian use of your existing shed space, focus your shed makeover on creating your own backyard oasis. Whether it’s a meditation space or escape room, you can get away from it all while staying put.

Of course, all of these ideas will only be possible after a thorough spring cleaning. Good thing the weather is cooperating. Time to get started—your shed is waiting.



Source: https://www.creacafe.ca/from-drab-to-fab-five-shed-transformation-ideas/

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Carpenter ants, wasps, fleas, roaches, bedbugs…insect infestations can be a nuisance and a real threat to your home. While you may expect the bugs when you’re on the patio, you’re likely not expecting them when you’re crawling into bed. We asked an entomologist to share tips so homeowners can learn how to spot the early warning signs bugs have found their way into your home, and ways to prevent them from getting inside in the first place!


Carpenter ants

Carpenter ants can cause major damage in your home, says entomologist Taz Stuart, who is the director of technical operations for Poulin’s Pest Control in Winnipeg, Manitoba. Most of the time, their primary nest is outside your house.


“The queen then finds old or water-damaged wood, and you’ll see sawdust being pushed out and the ants themselves,” explains Stuart. “Getting a positive identification on these ants will then allow a pest control professional to treat inside and outside the home, and find the source colony to get that removed.”



Bedbugs

Bedbugs are great hitchhikers, and they can get into almost everything. They’re also hard to get rid of. 


“I’ve seen them in bags, books, and boxes, so it’s very important to look at your items. Don’t assume just because something’s new that bedbugs can’t be on it,” says Stuart. “In an infestation in the home, look for the bugs themselves. Their skins molt, so that’s another piece of evidence to look for. You’ll also see little black spots on your bed frame, mattress, and even on your dressers, your drawers, lampshades, baseboards, or sofa.”



Cockroaches

Cockroaches thrive in unsanitary conditions, says Stuart. They love it when food or water is left out, and they’ll often arrive in your home by hitching a ride inside a cardboard box. 


“We’ve seen a big increase in the number of calls about roaches since last year. More people are staying home, leaving out their stuff or ordering in products that may have roaches in them,” he explains. 


Your home can quickly become infested, because females don’t need males to mate: Within 36 days, you’ll have between 30 to 48 new cockroaches from one bug, and they’re incredibly resilient. 


“They can live without water for seven to 14 days, and without food for more than 30 days. They’ll eat their own young if they have to, or their own waste,” says Stuart. 


Because roaches are nocturnal, you’ll see them scurrying across the floor when you turn on the lights during the evening. 



Wasps

Yellow jacket or paper wasps are common now, because the queens have started their nests, says Stuart. 


“During the summer, they’re docile because they have lots of alternative food sources, so they’re not really going to be bugging you until late August, September, and October when their natural food sources disappear,” he explains.  


Wasps can be a nuisance when they go after your sugary drink or hamburger out on your deck, but don’t swat them away, because they’ll become aggressive, adds Stuart. 


“They can sting you multiple times and release pheromones to make you more attractive to their wasp friends so they come sting you as well.” 


If you notice a wasp’s nest under the eaves of your roof or near a window, bring in a professional. It’s best to have wasps sprayed and the nest removed at night when the workers are inside it. 



Fleas

Have you ever seen a tiny black spot leap off your dog’s neck onto the floor? That means your pet has brought fleas into your home, and you can quickly become infested with them, says Stuart.


“Look for the evidence like fecal matter around the pet’s ears or in the hairline, or the fleas themselves,” he says. “It’s important to get the proper products to treat your pet, and to bring in professionals. Be sure to wash everything and dry it at high heat to kill all stages of fleas.” 



How to make your house unwelcoming to insects

When it comes to bug infestations, exclusion is the key: Insects sneak into your home wherever there are holes or cracks in your foundation, explains Stuart. 


“Seal those up, and install tightly fitting screens to make sure nothing gets in,” he suggests. “And get rid of any old or water-damaged wood on or near the house, because insects will start excavating that out to create a new colony, which can become a structural issue.”


Stuart also recommends keeping food stored away, and placing insect traps and monitors at strategic spots around the house, such as entry points and along baseboards inside. 


“Any bug can cross the trap and get stuck on there, so you’ll see what you have,” he says.


Noticing bug infestations when they’re in the early stages can make it easier for you to deal with them before they become a bigger issue. It’s always recommended you contact a professional before doing any work that could cause structural damage, or when it comes to using harsh chemicals to deal with infestations. 



Source: https://www.realtor.ca/blog/5-creepy-crawlers-to-watch-for-in-your-home/21489/1363

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Buying a flipped home—a property that’s been purchased, renovated, and re-sold by an investor—is all the rage these days, and for good reason! It’s an enticing idea, especially since you get to move into an already-updated home without having to handle the renovations yourself.


Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, the Bank of Canada saw evidence of “a lot more flipping” driving investor activity in some Canadian housing markets, as housing prices across the country rose 25% in February over the previous year.


It’s easy to jump headfirst into a flipped home because everything seems shiny and new. But it’s important to weigh the pros and cons to avoid a potential headache down the road. Here are some things to keep in mind when looking to purchase a flipped home.


1. What’s your budget?

Remember: Investors flip houses to make money. The average investor can make thousands in net profit on a property flip—that’s why they undertake the risk, effort, and financial investment to renovate a house they don’t intend to live in. As a result, you’ll probably end up paying a higher price as a sort of “convenience fee” for someone else taking care of all the renovations. You’re the one benefitting from buying a freshly renovated, move-in ready home, so it can be worth that extra cost. Just be sure the higher price tag for this convenience doesn’t strain your budget!


2. How long did the flip take?

Flipping a house takes time to do it properly, but the longer an investor holds onto the property, spending money on remodeling, the less profit they’re making. This may cause the investor to rush the flip and even cut corners on safety or quality of construction—not great for you, the potential buyer.


It might be a red flag if a house has been flipped in three months or less. However, different projects will take a different amount of time. A full flip will take longer than a kitchen or basement redo. Plus, timelines will vary depending on who’s completing it!


Work with your REALTOR® to find the full history of the house, specifically the date and price of the property’s last sale, to help verify when work began. Additionally, contact your local building department to check if the investor obtained the proper permits and the home is up to code. More on this in a bit…


3. Inspect everything carefully.

A common pitfall experienced by first-time buyers of a flipped house occurs when they don’t inspect closely enough, avoid doing due diligence on the flipping process, and are shy about asking a lot of questions. They’ve become the proud new owners of a home that looks beautiful on the outside but may hide shoddy work on the inside.


A critical step to take once you’ve submitted an offer and secured your financing is to hire a professional home inspector to “kick the tires” of your new home. Learn more about the home inspection process including how to find a professional inspector in your area by visiting the Canadian Association of Home & Property Inspectors. Your REALTOR® can also connect you with a reputable home inspector who knows and serves your neighbourhood.


If you put in a conditional offer, your sale is not final until the inspection is complete. This means if the inspection uncovers any issues, you can go back to the seller to renegotiate the selling price or revoke the offer if the issues are too extreme. If you buy the home without conditions, you’re responsible for resolving any issues that arise during the home inspection, which could end up being pretty pricey if the flippers cut corners. A typical home inspection should take about three hours and can cost anywhere between $300 and $800 depending on the size of the house, but the peace of mind this will afford you is worth every penny.


4. Ask questions about every single thing.

Be sure to accompany the inspector (if possible) during the walk-around of your flipped house and come equipped with more questions than you thought you needed to ask. Some of these questions include:

  • Can you provide all the work permits?
  • Can you provide the proof of inspection for the electrical work?
  • What was structurally changed?
  • What was done to the foundation?
  • What was done to the wiring?
  • Are there signs of mould?
  • What was done to the plumbing?
  • How was the insulation upgraded?
  • Did you touch the roof?
  • How did you address insect, water, fire, or other major damage discovered during the project?

You don’t want to be blind-sided if something happens to your new home, so asking these questions is crucial to ensuring you feel comfortable if and when you move in.


A good flip has its benefits

If you do your research, talk to the right people, and are OK with someone else making all the renovation choices, then purchasing a flipped house isn’t a bad option. While it may be a bit more expensive and require diligent inspection, you’ll sit comfortably in your newly remodeled living room knowing you invested in a new home that will stand the test of time.


If you are looking to buy a flipped home, be sure to connect with a REALTOR®. They’ve likely been through this experience before and know what you should be on the lookout for! Their knowledge of homes, inspections, housing markets, and the neighbourhood will be extremely beneficial to helping you make an informed decision. 



Source: https://www.realtor.ca/blog/flip-or-flop-4-things-to-consider-before-buying-a-flipped-property/21400/1362

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MLS® property information is provided under copyright© by the Vancouver Island Real Estate Board and Victoria Real Estate Board. The information is from sources deemed reliable, but should not be relied upon without independent verification.