Sunday, 29 November 2015

Is buying a home in the winter a good idea?

(NC) Consider this: It's a cold winter day and you've just sat down with a mortgage professional to figure out how much house you can afford. You've determined that your finances are in order and you're ready to start looking for a home. You've heard that spring is the best season for buying and selling real estate. Does that mean you'll need to put your search on hold until the tulips start to bloom?
“If you've worked out what you can afford and you're ready for the home buying process, then shopping for real estate can happen at any time of year,” says Pat Verge, president of the Ontario Real Estate Association. “While spring and fall are busier times for real estate sales, a serious home buyer should be looking out for potential homes as long as they're ready to make a purchase. It can sometimes take many months to find the right property.”
If you are planning to shop for real estate during the winter, these are a few things to bear in mind:
Supply: There may be fewer homes to choose from, but of the homes available for sale you may have less competition to deal with when making an offer.
Weather: The homes you visit may already be covered with snow which may hide exterior defects; ask to see photographs of the home taken earlier in the year and rely on a home inspector to tell you about any potential faults.
Make time: The process for buying a home and the paperwork that follows is time consuming. Try to keep your other priorities organized so that you are ready to act if a home that you are interested in comes up.
“If you're eager to get ahead of the busy spring market, talk to your Realtor about looking into homes that aren't yet listed but that are being prepared for sale,” says Verge.
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Saturday, 21 November 2015

Monday, 9 November 2015

From the editor: What I learned about kitchen renovations

From the editor: What I learned about kitchen renovations

Wednesday, 4 November 2015

Top 5 renovation tips to create more space

(NC) As real estate prices continue to climb, the cost to trade up an existing home for a larger one has increased substantially. As a result, more and more Canadians are choosing to renovate their homes, rather than relocating. In fact, it was recently revealed that renovation spending in Canada reached a record $68 billion last year, outpacing spending on new home construction. While the hunt for more square footage can be challenging, homeowners shouldn't feel like a costly second story or complete addition are the only options.

Here are five great ways to create or optimize space in your existing home:
1. Finish the basement. This one renovation holds limitless potential and can increase the resale value or income potential of your home. Think about the possibilities: a home theatre, office, spare bedroom, basement apartment or recreation room. The key to doing it successfully is to focus on what's behind the walls, especially since moisture is a common issue in basements. Choosing the right insulation is critical. Look for products that are vapour permeable, dimensionally stable and mould and moisture resistant. Many contractors say they use Roxul products for that assurance. For example, the Comfortboard IS semi-rigid sheathing board paired with Comfortbatt batt insulation combats thermal bridging and protect against mould and mildew growth. An added benefit of this type of stone wool insulation is that it's also fire-resistant to 1,177˚C (2,150˚F). As well, for interior walls and ceilings, Safe 'n' Sound insulation is ideal because of its ability to absorb noise and indoor traffic sounds, ensuring your new-found space is a peaceful one.
2. Create an open-concept feel with light and colour. If your home wasn't blessed with towering windows, installing French doors and pot lights can encourage light to travel more freely, creating the illusion of space. Likewise, choosing a paint colour for walls, trim and moldings that is lighter and cooler in tone (think soft grays or blues) will help to reflect light and give the room a more open feel.
3. Remove non-load-bearing walls. Homeowners have the opportunity to rethink the layout of their home by removing non-load-bearing walls. Removing structurally unnecessary walls can make your whole home feel larger and improve the flow, lighting and function of your home.
4. Convert your garage. For many homeowners, the garage becomes an overflow room for storage––and is often a walk-in headache. Instead, convert it into another living space, like a guest bedroom or home office. Install carpet and quality thermal insulation such as Comfortbatt to keep in warmth and block outdoor noise.
5. Choose furniture and accessories carefully. Adopt a minimalist's eye. Begin looking around your home for furniture or accessories that overwhelm the space. Interior designers recommend choosing low-profile or small-scale furniture for rooms with less square footage. Dual-purpose items, such as ottomans with storage chests inside, are a budget-friendly way to save on space while staying organized.

Teach kids responsibility with regular household chores

(NC) Getting kids to help out around the house is often a struggle. Yet, encouraging your children to do household chores will benefit them in multiple ways, from teaching responsibility, organization and routine, to instilling a sense of accomplishment, boosting self-esteem and affirming that they play a valuable role within the family unit. It can improve their judgement, independence and help them to sympathize with others.
Here are the top ways to get your kids on board with daily chores:
Make it fun. Turn it into a game where they can earn points or privileges. You could also time them to see if they can beat their last record. This works really well when you have more than one child because you can turn chore time into a fun competition.
Talk about chores in a positive way. Don't associate them with punishments or complain about chores and household tasks of your own. Remember, you set the example.
Don't use a dictating tone. When asking your kids to do chores, don't ask them in a nagging or demanding way. Ask them gently so your tone doesn't give them an excuse to push back.
Create a chore schedule. This makes it fair for everyone, creates reasonable expectations, and turns it into a routine. Everyone knows what they have to do and when.
Choose age-appropriate chores. Don't give your child a chore they're going to struggle with, because is a set up for this sets them up for failure and creates negative associations. You know their abilities and strengths best, so choose chores and activities that reflect these.
Use kid-friendly supplies and equipment. Buy cleaning supplies and products that are easy for kids to use and kid-safe. Opting for the right equipment will help, too. If you're asking your child to vacuum, for example, giving them one that's hard to maneuver ultimately gives them an easy out. Retailers tell parents that they'll have no excuses with a lightweight, cordless and steerable vacuum, such as the popular Hoover Air Cordless 3.0.
Stick to the plan. Don't give up on your new family chore schedule too easily. It may take a few arguments and frustrating moments, but be both persistent and consistent until your kids understand the importance of helping out around the house. Your home and family will be better off for it.

Give your home new life with these tips

            Give your home new life with these tips (NC) As the change in weather has us retreating indoors, take some time to spruc...