winter

New Year, New Home

A new year doesn’t only have to mean a new you. Apply these New Year’s resolutions to your home and start the year off with a BANG!

Be more eco-friendly
When buying products for your home consider products that are eco-friendly. There are many certified eco-friendly cleaners at local grocery stores that are easy to find and well priced. Make the swap with kitchen soaps, laundry detergents and all-purpose cleaners. You can even have some fun by researching different ways to make your own products with ingredients right from your own cupboards!

Rearrange your space
It is easy to be tempted to buy fun decor to keep up on trends for your home. To give your home a fresh new feel, try rearranging your home every season. Rearranging a room can make it feel like a brand new space.

Get organized and stay organized
New Year’s cleaning is the new spring cleaning. Go through every room of the house and completely declutter. Clear off all of the surfaces, find a spot for everything, and donate what no longer makes you happy or suits your style. A great way to stay on top of things is to ask yourself how long it will take to put something away. If it will take less than a minute, do it right away. These little things add up quickly and when not put away, make for a full afternoon of cleaning instead. Surprisingly, most things take only a few seconds to put away.

Just do it
What’s holding you back? Make this the year of yes! Have a home renovation you’ve been putting off? Just do it! Want to redecorate the bedroom? Just do it! Spruce up your home to fit your style. Be sure to check flyers for post-Christmas sales to save!

reno

Smart renovation projects that provide big return

If you’re planning on tackling some major home improvements next year, it’s a good idea to do some research first. If increasing your property value and eventually getting a high return on your investment (ROI) is important to you, steer clear of projects that don’t have universal appeal and aim for improvements that a majority of buyers are seeking.

Did you know that a sunroom addition is considered one of the worst renovations for getting a high ROI? A home office remodel is right up there, along with an upscale garage addition. All three projects provide only an estimated 50 percent cost recoup.

Here are five projects that could see a recoup of up to 80 percent of your investment:

1. Flooring. Today’s buyers prefer hardwood, even in places like bedrooms. If hardwood isn’t in your budget, there are a number of excellent quality laminate substitutes out there that look as good as hardwood and last nearly as long. If carpet is old, dirty and worn down, replacing it will also offer a good return on your investment.

2. Bathrooms. If your bathroom is stuck in the 80’s and desperate for some TLC, you can tear it out and rest easy knowing that you will likely recoup most of the money you spend on the renovation when it comes time to sell. Spend a few extra dollars on fancy faucets and light fixtures – these are good selling features.

3. An income suite. A properly completed and legal income suite is one sure way to raise the property value of your home. Plus, you can look forward to collecting rent each month you remain in the home.

4. Kitchens. We’ve all heard it before – kitchens sell homes. Even when completed on a budget, a kitchen renovation will earn you a good ROI. Buyers look for new or refinished cabinets, pretty backsplashes, new flooring and upgraded appliances.

5. A finished basement. Any time you are adding living space to a home, you are appealing to buyers. The key here is to avoid expensive, luxury finishes, like a state-of-the-art wet bar or solid hardwood flooring. Keep the space open and usable, install a drop ceiling and use good quality flooring.

Attic & Basement Storage Ideas to Gain More Space

Maximize every square foot in your small space

There’s a lot you can change about a home, but without a major renovation, square footage is rarely one of them. Making smart use of space can make a room, a floor or an entire house feel bigger. There are plenty of ways to optimize the space in your home to give the appearance of increased space but the key to creating that illusion is to be organized and to find clever ways to maximize every square foot in your home. 

Use mirrors: One simple way to make any room seem bigger, longer or wider is to add reflective surfaces like windows and glass that create reflections. Mirrored tabletops or mirror placed under candles or vases can bounce light in different directions. Get creative with your reflective surfaces.

Every surface counts: Most of us tend to focus on the flat, horizontal space we have available and ignore the endless possibilities of a vertical surface. Shelves, art and objects can be placed on walls to draw attention upwards which creates the illusion of more space.

Brighten up: Make sure to keep curtains and blinds open to allow as much light in as possible. Light makes a room feel larger and more airy. Hanging curtains from the ceiling instead of the window frame will also make the room appear to have more height.

Storage creates space: Storage is the easiest way to make any room appear larger than it really is. Using storage bins under beds, in closets and bathrooms can hide clutter and open the room up to more space. Mudroom benches conceal a lot of items such as wet umbrellas and rain gear that can damage hardwood floors.

Tips for the kitchen: Dark surfaces can be a big culprit in making rooms seem smaller or – as small as they actually are. By giving cabinets and doors a coat of light paint and using glass on doors to lighten the space you can give the impression of a larger kitchen. Hanging a pot rack on the wall will not only give you more storage for pots and pans – it will add some style to your space.

Spacious living places: There are several ways to make the areas you lounge in look larger. Flat screen TV’s can be mounted on the wall or hidden in cabinets and using large, bold pieces of furniture that are proportioned to each other can make any room seem more spacious. The trick is to avoid overstuffed furniture and patterns that are too bold.

Creating width: The quickest way to fix up a space is to give it a fresh coat of paint, however wallpaper can be an invaluable tool for increasing space. Tone on tone wallpaper can trick the eye into thinking a room is wider.

While a small space will always be small, these tricks can help you to make it look and feel larger. Any sort of clutter can quickly reduce that space so make sure to consider storage options to maintain the illusion of more square footage.

Fire safety in the winter

Fireplace Safety Tips

Nothing is quite as cozy as curling up in front of a crackling fire when it’s cold and blustery outside. Wood and gas fireplaces are popular features in home purchasing and are often on a homeowner’s wish list. With a few easy common sense tips, you can enjoy your fireplace and stay safe at the same time.

• Although it’s tempting to dispose of paper products, such as newspaper or gift wrapping, in the fire, paper burns very quickly and can push the heat limits of your fireplace. It’s best to save these items for the blue bin and use only seasoned, dried wood in your fireplace. Also avoid any pressure-treated wood—burning this wood can release toxic fumes into your home.

• Keep all flammable items far away – at least a metre – from your fireplace while you have a fire burning. (In fact, keep flammables away from all open flames, like candles, and away from portable heaters too!)

• Keep a sturdy screen or consider a glass insert for your fireplace to protect your family and home from sparks.

• Keep your fireplace and chimney clean. Sweep away ashes after each use and place them in a fireproof container. Have your chimney cleaned and inspected each year too.
With these easy measures, you can cozy up to a fire, confident that you have kept your home and family safe and warm.

Take Care of Your Furnace

Take Care of Your Furnace

Your furnace works hard over the winter, here are some tips to make sure it stays in working order so you don’t run into any problems and have to pay more money to repair it down the line.
Make sure your furnace filter is clean. The filter is meant to help keep the air circulating through the furnace. Over time, dust can accumulate and cause the filter to get blocked. Make sure to keep an eye on your furnace’s filter and if you notice it collecting a lot of dust, it’s time to replace the filter.

Keeping the area around the furnace clear is very important. Having the area clear will help the air circulate more freely and help your furnace last longer. Most furnaces are in the basement, where most people tend to store their extra belongings so remember, you should have 3 to 5 feet of space cleared around your furnace.

Taking small steps to keeping your house warm can also help your furnace. If you’re looking to redecorate this season, getting curtains, rugs, and carpets are all ways to prevent drafts from going through your house and will make the space feel (and look!) warmer. However, make sure that if you are redecorating your house, the registers for your furnace aren’t covered by any furniture or decorations because that will halt the air circulation process and will damage your furnace over time.

Consider having your furnace checked once a year, as there are many benefits to keeping on top of your furnace. You’ll be able to catch small issues before they turn into large issues. You’ll have peace of mind knowing that it’s been checked and any issues have been prevented. And lastly, you’ll save money on repairs – especially in winter when your furnace is working hard and you need it the most!

Selling your home this fall

Selling your home this fall

Deciding to list your home during the cool fall season can create a few hidden benefits to your sale and can also help ensure you get top dollar for your property. Here are some advantages to listing your home in the fall.

While spring will always be a hot market for real estate deals, sellers are at one particular disadvantage over fall sellers. Curb appeal! Your foremost opportunity to make a great first impression, curb appeal during the fall season is almost effortless with well-maintained lawns and flourishing gardens looking fantastic after the growing season. As the season cools, some homeowners may invest less time in yard work. Discerning sellers can use this to their advantage, making their impeccably maintained properties stand out from neighbouring homes. In addition, cool fall weather is the perfect time to finish do-it-yourself projects, repaint window coverings and garages, stain the decks and repave driveways. Appeal to the season and plant bold fall colours. Selling a home is much like selling an image.

Selling your home can be a lengthy process; attracting buyers, arranging meetings and drawing up offers to complete the sale takes time. Fall schedules usually see people home from vacation and back into scheduled routines. This applies to both sellers and buyers. It can also apply to professional inspectors, appraisers and notaries you may need to hire to complete your sale. Back to their scheduled routines means they are able to complete work more quickly.

With kids back in school and out of the house all day, it’s also easier to keep your home spotless and ready for showings!

One final advantage of listing your home during the fall season is the presence of serious buyers. Often first-time buyers, retirees and people moving for career changes, fall buyers are well researched, eager and ready to commit to the sale. As winter gets closer, most buyers want to ensure they are comfortably moved into their new home before the holidays and the stormy weather begins.

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.
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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!