How to make sure your home is winter ready

How to make sure your home is winter ready

The cooler nights and shorter days are a sign that it’s time to make sure your home is winter ready. We may not be able to predict what the winter will bring but we can definitely prep our home for whatever comes our way.

Seal the windows

Sealing the windows is a very important task and for good reason. With the cold months quickly approaching you’ll want to keep the elements where they belong…outside! To prevent icy cold drafts from coming through the windows you’ll want to get a good quality silicon sealant. By sealing the windows you’ll save money on energy bills as your heater won’t have to work as hard to keep the house warm.

Service the furnace

After resting for the warm months it’s almost time to put the furnace back to work but before you do you’ll want to make sure to service it first. Tune-ups help to make sure everything is in good working order to ensure the most comfort for you and your family throughout the winter. By staying on top of furnace maintenance you will increase its life span, catch any potential problems and in the long run save time and money.

Protect the pipes

Don’t forget to turn off all outdoor pipes and store away the hose. With below freezing temperatures, outdoor pipes can crack or even burst if left on during the winter. You’ll also want to make sure to store your hose properly too. All you have to do is drain it, coil it, and store it in a warmer area such as the garage or basement. If you forget to put away the hose, accumulated ice can create pressure in your pipes and cause some serious damage. To erase a major headache in the spring, be sure to include these simple tasks in your winter preparations.

Run fans in reverse

A great winter tip is to change the direction of your ceiling fan. By changing your ceiling fan to move in a clockwise motion (when you’re looking up at it) you will be creating an updraft. This helps the warm air that has risen to the ceiling to be pushed back down to those using the room. Don’t turn the fan up too high, a gentle and slow speed is all you need to do the trick.
By following these simple tips, you’ll enjoy a warmer and stress-free winter.

Autumn Clean Up Tips

Autumn Clean Up Tips

As the cooler weather hits and the garden growing season ends, getting your home organized inside and out is a must. Here are some easy fall clean-up tips:

Outdoors

  • For the yard, trim back overgrown and dead limbs in your hedges to protect them for the winter. Don’t forget to trim your trees, especially those close to the house, garage or shed.
  • Clear old plants and weeds from your garden bed or pots to make it easier for spring planting and keep insects at bay. If not using winterized pots, bring them indoors.
  • Clear leaves from the lawn, aerate and consider a fall fertilizing.
  • Decks and garden furniture will need a good cleaning and, if appropriate, staining. Don’t forget to properly store cushions and outdoor tablecloths so that they can be used again next season. Garden tools also need a good cleaning or wipe down before storing for the winter.


Indoors

  • Moving inside, plan and prepare before you start. Make sure you have reusable boxes and bags on hand and create some storage space indoors or out. If outside, make sure the space is sheltered.
  • Organize room by room. When swapping out seasonal clothes in your closet, take some time to make sure you still need or use each item. If not, recycle or donate it.
  • Keep in mind that you can donate unwanted clothing, textiles and small household items, such as small garden tools, instead of throwing them out.
asis

Should You Consider An As-Is Property?

As-is properties are uncommon in today’s real estate market, but not unheard of. Although too many “as-is” might as well be written “run away” to a savvy buyer, an as-is sale might be a fantastic opportunity.

As-is sales usually mean that the seller isn’t willing to take on any additional upgrades or repairs—what you see is what you get. This is often reflected in the price—as-is properties are priced to sell and sell fast.

Of course, the first assumption is that the property is run down and needs some major repairs. This may well be true some of the time, but not always. It rather may reflect the status of the seller. The home may actually be in decent shape, but the seller isn’t able to undertake repairs for personal reasons. The seller may be elderly and not capable of the repairs, for example, or perhaps the seller has already been transferred to a new job and can’t undertake any additional projects from a distance. There are many reasons why a seller may choose this unconventional option.

If you have additional cash available for repairs and have a home inspector and/or a contractor you trust, this could be the deal you’re looking for. If you shy away from repairs or expect to bargain based on defects revealed in an inspection, this may not be the best option for you.

Note that in some areas, as-is has restrictions. Most municipalities require working smoke alarms and utilities before allowing a building to be sold. This varies from city to city, so it’s important to have your agent check for you.

When an as-is property appears on your search, it might be worth consideration. Sometimes “as-is” might actually read “buy me”!

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Late Summer Lawn and Garden Care

In September, we as Canadians count our last warm days and hold onto them, knowing the cold weather will be here way too fast. September is still a wonderful month for relaxing on the patio and enjoying the last days of summer, especially if you’ve put a ton of hard work into maintaining a beautiful yard, flower bed or vegetable garden.
If you want to extend the life of your garden and get a jumpstart for next spring so your garden or lawn is as healthy as it can be, here are a few chores you can do now:

Lawn care:

1. Continue with regular mowing. If you usually bag and dispose of clippings, stop. Leaving clippings on the lawn will provide extra nutrients for the long winter months.

2. Check your lawn for diseases and pests and address if needed. Look for brown spots, which could be caused by yellow chinch bugs or disease.

3. Early September is the best time to overseed your lawn. This helps keep your grass healthy, lush and green. After mowing, de-thatch with a thatch rake, taking care not to damage your existing grass. Then apply a good quality grass seed, rake lightly to help seeds settle into soil and water regularly over the next week or so to help seeds germinate.

Garden care:

1. Divide and transplant perennials like peonies, daylilies and irises late in the month, if needed.
2. Deadhead as needed to prolong the life of annuals and perennials.
3. Prune your summer flowering shrubs and trees.
4. Fertilize shrubs and trees
5. Pick your vegetables and herbs in early morning. This is when their sugar content is the highest.
6. Cut tops off tomato plants and remove new flowers in order to divert energy to fruit already growing.
7. Freeze excess vegetables and herbs for use all winter long.
So go ahead and enjoy the last days of summer!

Give your curb appeal a big boost!

Give your curb appeal a big boost!

While late summer might not be the most popular time of year to sell your home, sellers do have one fantastic advantage over spring sellers – curb appeal! As the growing season in southern Ontario winds to a close, garden beds and trees are at their absolute best and lawns are looking healthy and green. In other words, you don’t have to try too hard to show your home at its best!

But if you’re looking to add that extra wow factor that some buyers are looking for, here are a few ideas for making your home stand out from the crowd.
Adding a new design element – If the façade of your home could use a little excitement, a new walkway, garage doors, or a beautiful timber frame porch are all projects that will add value to your home, meaning that you can recoup some of the costs.

Plant a tree – Trees are incredible. Studies have shown that trees on properties add value by increasing a home’s curb appeal and also adding to a neighbourhood’s “walkability” score. Trees have also been associated with lower crime rates and reduced tenant turnover! Choose a level site a minimum of 10 feet from any structure, depending on the species you’ve selected. Avoid overhead wires and underground pipes as well. A tree on the north side is a good windbreak. A tree on the south or west will help with cooling.

Dress up your driveway – A well maintained asphalt driveway should last up to 25 or 30 years. If yours is reaching the end of its lifespan, with noticeable cracks and crumbling areas, it may be time for a replacement. There are many options for driveways nowadays, including coloured asphalt, laid brick, concrete and laid stone. Your selection will greatly impact price – you can pay anywhere from $2-$10 per square foot.

While these are mainly big-ticket items for improving curb appeal, there are also a number of inexpensive ways that you can improve the look of your home. Try adding shutters, a lamppost, landscape lighting or a new mailbox and house numbers for quick and easy updates.

What to do after you’ve found your dream home

Simple ways for new homeowners to control their expenses

Being a new homeowner has its share of expenses. In addition to your mortgage, insurance and utility costs, there is a host of other weekly, monthly and annual expenditures that you will need to factor into your budget in order to stay on track during your first year in a new home. Take a look at these tips that will help make your experience as a homeowner a pleasant one!

1. Establish a budget and stick to it: There are many ways to do this; find the one that works for you. You can use an Excel document, a desktop calendar or an online expense tracker for tracking income and expenses. The Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) offers a simple one on their website. Find it here: https://www.cmhc-schl.gc.ca/en/finance-and-investing/mortgage-loan-insurance/the-resource/determining-your-household-budget-worksheet

2. Start a reserve fund: A household savings account should be a priority for new homeowners. Putting away a few dollars every month for unforeseen maintenance costs will not only give you peace of mind, but it can also prevent you from going into debt when it comes time to replace your furnace, install a new roof or replace your windows.

3. Be a savvy shopper: Before you move into your new home, you will need to set up your electricity, home insurance, home security, gas, phone, TV and Internet services. While there may not be more than one or two options in electric and gas companies, you can shop around for a better rate for insurance, TV, internet, home security and phone services. Call a few places and ask about special ‘bundling’ rates for both telecommunication services and insurance.

4. Connect with your inner-DIY’er: A fantastic gift for any new homeowner is a complete toolkit. Knowing how to repair and maintain simple aspects of your household systems will save you the cost of hiring a professional. You can find step-by-step instructional videos online for everything from installing a ceiling fan to repairing a hole in the drywall. Just be sure to turn to an expert for any major issues, like electrical and plumbing.

backyardbugs

Banish Bugs from Your Backyard and Home

Pesky insects are a minor summer annoyance that most of us are willing to put up with after a long winter season. But the fewer insects the better! If you’d rather skip the harsh chemicals and use an all-natural deterrent to banish bugs from your home and on your patio, try some of these simple solutions.

No one wants to be swatting away mosquitoes while enjoying a meal or fire in the backyard. A good first step is to surround your seating area with plants that repel bugs.
Feverfew, with its pretty, daisy-like blossoms, is great for keeping mosquitoes and other biting insects away. Mosquitoes also steer clear of lavender, so pairing feverfew and lavender plants together in clusters around your deck and seating area will not only look gorgeous but also repel these pesky bugs. Citronella grass can also be added in for a punch of green and even more mosquito-fighting power. Other insect repelling plants include marigold, pennyroyal, rosemary and lemon balm.

When it comes to keeping mosquitoes off your body, some people can’t stand the smell of traditional bug repellant. There are countless natural remedies out there that claim to work – try a couple and see which one works for you!

• Fabric softener sheets rubbed on exposed skin (use caution, this may irritate sensitive skin)

• Dab some Vick’s VapoRub on your ankles, elbows, inner wrists and neck (steer clear of any minor cuts)

• Make a homemade mosquito repellant with distilled water, witch hazel and a few drops of essential oil – citronella, eucalyptus, tea tree oil and lemongrass are all said to work well

The wasp is another backyard bug that can get out of hand. Since they are attracted to sweet drinks and sugary food, try to keep garbage well secured and drinks and food covered. If you have a wasp problem but haven’t located the nest, make a homemade wasp trap. Check out www.thegardenglove.com/diy-wasp-solutions/ for some simple solutions.

Flies are dirty, bothersome insects – and fast too. There’s nothing worse than misplacing your flyswatter when one of these pests is circling your head at the dinner table! Prevent entry into your home by keeping screens closed and kitchen work areas clean. Wipe down counters and don’t leave exposed food out. Keep the garbage covered at all times.

Finally, if ants have found a way into your home, the first step is to locate their point of entry and block it off. You can use petroleum jelly or duct tape to clog small cracks or holes. For a natural, chemical free solution, black pepper and baby powder are both known to deter ants. Pet owners will want to opt for baby powder.

Dandelion

Weeding Tips and Tricks

Weeds can be aggressive and invasive to your beautiful lawn so it’s important to learn how to best get rid of them and keep them away. Even though it takes some work, it is worth it, in the end, in order to enjoy your lawn and gardens without pesky weeds.

Uprooted

First, the most important rule to remember when weeding is to not leave the roots behind. After you pull it out, if the roots are left the weeds will grow back. So be sure to grab it close to the ground and not leave any behind. 

Tug of war

Another key trick to help make weeding easier is to do it when the grass is wet after the rain. This helps the weeds to pull out easier. If there is no rain in the forecast, you can water your garden and lawn yourself before you start pulling. 

Clean fill wanted

When planting your garden remember to not leave bare spots for the weeds to move in. Space plants apart as recommended and fill in unused spaces with a liberal amount of mulch. Use mulch as much as possible as it retains the moisture and doesn’t let weeds grow. 

Natural weed killer

To kill tough weeds you can make a solution with vinegar and water in a spray bottle, which works as a weed killer. Just be sure to only spray the weeds and not the plants. 

Keep away

The last tip is after you pull the weeds out, do not throw them in a compost pile as any seeds that have already formed might spout. Keep on top of the weeding to make it a less tedious job and achieve that desirable weed-free yard you’ll love.

Summer Maintenance

Summer Maintenance

While there is certainly no need to spend every weekend this summer tackling household chores, there are a few key tasks that most homeowners will want to tend to in the coming weeks to keep your home’s systems running as they should and to prepare for the season ahead.

Your roof and eavestroughs’ main function is to keep the elements, namely water, out of your home. Summer is a good time to check for cracked, curling or missing shingles and have them replaced immediately. Be sure your eavestroughs are clear of debris and properly affixed to your home. Siding is also susceptible to leaks, especially where it meets windows and doors. Look for mushrooms or fungus growing out of siding, a sign that moisture is beneath.

After you’ve checked your home’s highest point, you should turn your attention to its lowest. Take a good look at your home’s foundation to see how it faired the winter months and the rainy spring season. Walk the perimeter of your home, examining the foundation for cracks. Even the smallest opening can allow water to seep into your basement. Use a ruler to measure. If the crack is wider than 3/16 of an inch, it can be a problem. Mark smaller cracks with tape and keep track of their progress. You can likely fix a smaller crack yourself but larger ones will need to be tended to by a professional.

Proper care and maintenance will go a long way in extending the life of your deck and fencing. The blistering summer sun and harsh Canadian winters take their toll on wood elements, so it’s important to stay on top of maintenance. Dry rot and wet rot are two issues that you will have to watch out for when it comes to your deck and fence. An annual stain application is the best way to combat both potential problems. You can’t go wrong with a good-quality linseed oil-based, solid or semi-transparent stain.

Staying on top of your home’s many features and fixtures will save you money, headaches and time down the road!

How to avoid moving day hassles

How to Avoid Moving Day Hassles

If you’re lucky enough to convince half a dozen strong, able-bodied friends to dedicate their Saturday helping you with your move, kudos to you! If not, and you’ve decided to hire a moving company, there are a few things you can do in advance to ensure that things go smoothly on the big day.

You’ve done a lot of work to get to this point, between preparing your home for sale, sealing the deal and packing up all of your worldly belongings. The last thing you need is unnecessary stress on your closing date/moving day.

First, ask around for a moving company recommendation. Check with friends, colleagues, neighbours and family for referrals. If you’re not able to get a good referral from a trusted source, check online websites like Kijiji, but proceed with caution! Ask the company to provide at least three recent references and follow-up with them. Request a meeting ahead of time to get a feel for the individual. Are they professional, prepared and courteous? Did they show up on time?

Once you’ve chosen a mover, get everything in writing. It’s the law. According to Ontario’s Consumer Protection Act (CPA), all moving contracts worth more than $50 must be in writing. Under the CPA, your contract must include:

1. The mover’s name, address and contact information

2. A description of the service(s) and their prices

3. The total cost that you will have to pay, additional charges that may apply and taxes

4. Start and end dates for the service

5. The terms of payment (cash or cheque)

Other items that should be included in the contract are size and value of items, who is responsible for loss or damage, the number of staff and vehicles that will be provided and the name of the person who holds their insurance policy.

Hopefully with a little research ahead of time, you can help ensure a stress-free moving day!