Friday, 29 December 2017

5 ways to prevent break-ins during the holidays

Happy Holidays!
(NC) A season filled with travel both near and afar makes a prime time for home break-ins. To minimize your home's risk, follow these security tips.
1. Out of sight, out of mind. Wherever you choose to gather your gifts this holiday season, make sure that they are out of any sightlines to the street. Showcasing the goodies stocked under your tree will easily pique the interest of a potential thief.
2. Time your lights. If you're proudly displaying your outdoor lights all season, one sure-fire way to compromise your home security is to turn them off. Put your lights on a timer so they go on and off at the same time each day, giving the illusion you're at home.
3. Stop the presses. Nothing screams you're not home more than a bursting mailbox. Plan to suspend your mail service while away, or ask a trusted friend or neighbour to collect it while you're gone.
4. Take to technology. Invest in home security accessories such as a video doorbell or an outdoor light with a built-in security camera. These stealthy gadgets allow you to keep an eye on your home and will even send alerts to your phone when sensing motion or a ringing alarm, providing comfort and peace of mind.
5. Lock it down. Verify that all your home's doors and windows have functioning locks and latches and that they're in place prior to leaving. Faulty closures make home burglaries a breeze.
One final tip — make sure your home insurance is up-to-date before your holidays begin. Esurance allows you to revise your policy online, making insurance easy so you can get back to what matters most, spending time with family and friends.

10 easy tips for holiday safety

Happy Holidays
(NC) Don't let the hustle and bustle of the holidays lead to distraction and accidents. Whether you're hosting a holiday bake-off or an adults-only cocktail party, it's important to remember that safety comes first. To safeguard your home from potential fire hazards, follow these tips and protect your family and guests:
1. Test your smoke and carbon monoxide alarms regularly to make sure they are working. Replace the battery as needed. If the alarms are more than 10 years old, replace them.
2. Have an exit plan in case of fire, and make sure you identify multiple exit points.
3. Check all of your lights before hanging them on the tree or around the house. Throw out any sets that have been damaged or frayed. When purchasing new lights, look for the certification mark so you know the product complies with applicable standards for safety and performance.
4. Use a timer for outdoor lights so they aren't left on overnight.
5. Don't overload power strips with too many appliances or lightstrings. Make sure they aren't covered by fabrics or rugs, and don't leave the wire exposed in areas where it can be damaged.
6. Blow out candles when you are done with them, especially when leaving the room or house. When lit, keep them out of reach of children and pets and never walk with them.
7. Be careful when cooking and don't leave the kitchen if you're using the stovetop. Never leave the house if the oven is on and keep countertop appliances unplugged when you are not using them.
8. Have your chimney swept if you have a wood-burning fireplace, and make sure to use the safety screen when there's a fire going.
9. Fresh is best if you purchase a tree or any green garland. Freshly cut trees are more resistant to ignition and smell wonderful, adding to the entertaining vibe.
10. Keep a fire extinguisher in the house. Hopefully, you won't need it, but it's best to be safe.
For complete peace of mind, consult your insurance provider to make sure you have the appropriate home coverage. Companies like Belairdirect can guide you to assess and understand your coverage needs. Find more information online at

How to get your home holiday-ready

Happy Holidays!
(NC) Prep your home for a flurry of activity with these simple steps.
1. Incorporate magical seasonal scents. Fill your space with holiday-scented aromas from candles, or simmer your own potpourri with ingredients like vanilla, cinnamon, pine or bitter orange.
2. Build a fire to create a warm and comfortable atmosphere. Keep fuzzy blankets and pillows on hand for both decoration and functionality and bring out a board game for a little entertainment. If you need extra warmth, cozy up in a Denver Hayes fleece robe from Mark's and make some hot chocolate.
3. Be the best host and stock up on supplies that guests will use if they stop by. Essentials include towels, sheets, pillows and shower supplies. Make sure you keep these items accessible close to where guests are staying.
4. Make a grand entrance. Welcome your guests at the door with a fresh wreath and add holiday touches such as an entrance table with lighted tinsel trees, candles and ornaments. These details make a great first impression.
5. Don't forget to make space in your home. Clear out your closet to make room for the influx of coats and winter boots and make space in your fridge and freezer for leftover food and beverages. Adding extra storage space will help keep you organized.

Thursday, 21 December 2017

Radon is a threat all homeowners should know about

Radon is a threat all homeowners should know about

While it may sound more like a villain from the Transformers movie, radon is a threat you won’t see on the big screen. Radon is a naturally-occurring radioactive gas, produced by the breakdown of uranium in soil, rocks and water. It is present in all homes across Canada but at different concentrations.
Radioactive gas in a home can pose serious health risks if left untreated. However, the good news is radon testing is simple and accessible for all homeowners, and fixing the problem is generally inexpensive.
How do you make sure your clients are effectively testing for radon?
The most important thing is selecting the right type of test. Long-term testing, a test that occurs over a three-month period during the fall and winter months, is the most effective method, according to Health Canada because it provides a more representative annual average exposure.
Once the test is complete, the results are sent for analysis by certified radon professionals to determine radon levels (your clients can find all of this information in their test kit).
If the radon concentration exceeds 200 Bq/m3 (becquerels per cubic meter), a mitigation system should be implemented by a radon professional to reduce the radon levels in their home. Remind your clients to always get estimates, ask questions and check references before selecting a radon professional.
This year, the Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA) along with boards and associations across the country will be undertaking radon testing in our own buildings. To see the results, make sure to visit the CREA Café next spring.
Radon tests are widely available across Canada. To find a retailer near you, visit
Looking for more information about Radon? I am here to help you. In the comment section, ask for a complimentary copy of  A Homeowner’s Guide to Radon 

How to peak appliances for your dream home?
(NC) With so many options to consider, shopping for appliances can sometimes feel overwhelming. Function, size and design — it's about finding the right model for your lifestyle. Here are a few helpful insights from The Home Depot Canada to consider before making your next appliance purchase.


The sky's the limit when it comes to configuration — top-mount, bottom-mount and side-by-side are just the beginning. Review your daily needs and consider special features such as easy access doors, multi-tier freezer sections, icemakers, second refrigerator drawer options, convertible freezer sections, wine chillers and even smart home-connected capabilities.

Think outside traditional white or stainless-steel finishes. Instead, bring a contemporary feel to your kitchen with slate, glossy or matte black stainless or even a warm, gold-hued veneer.


 New designs have a host of convenient options available, like double ovens that cook at two different temperatures simultaneously and warming and baking drawers to help with multi-tasking and entertaining. If space is tight, also consider installing a separate cooktop for maximum flexibility in your kitchen.

Cooking requirements.
 If take-out is your regular go-to, a standard electric model will work for your needs. However, if you are an aspiring chef take it up a notch and consider going with either gas or induction, which both deliver intense heat for quick cooking and boiling. If you have small children, induction cooking is a safer alternative because the coils are underneath glass, protecting little hands.


Take the work out of washing dishes by opting for a dishwasher with multiple tiers and washer arms for full water coverage. To ensure your cycle doesn't stop until your dishes are clean, look for models with new sensor technology that monitor food debris in the water. Ensure the model you choose considers future changes to your family size so it grows with you, and look into getting a model with a third rack.

Energy efficient options can provide long-term savings to your monthly bills. For example, two-drawer dishwashers operate like separate dishwashers in one unit, offering increased flexibility and efficiency. To save you time, look for bonus features like quiet operation or advanced cleaning functions.

Get older trees inspected before ice storms

Get older trees inspected before ice storms

Protect your dream home!
(NC) In many Canadian neighbourhoods, older trees add character and a sense of heritage to streets and homes. But during severe weather, these trees often show their age and can break or fall, causing damage to property and even injury to people. Don't wait until after a major ice storm hits to inspect your trees — use this guide to spot signs of trouble and protect your family and neighbours.
Inspect. Check your trees for dead branches, peeling bark, cracks in the trunk, fungus near the roots and cracked or raised soil. Take a step back to look at the tree as a whole to see if it's leaning; trees leaning towards the East are more likely to fall because most winds blow from the West.
Prune. Tackle damaged limbs and branches to help balance leaning trees and distribute their weight more evenly. Pruning also opens up tree canopies to let in more light and air for a healthier tree.
Brace. Add some support to weaker trees with cables or bracing rods on either side of the tree. Protect tender bark with padding before attaching the cables.
Prevent. Keep trees healthy and stop problems like damaged branches before they start with year-round gardening and maintenance. Use appropriate treatments for pests and fungus, and water, fertilize and mulch regularly. Don't be afraid to call in a professional arborist or landscaper for help and expertise.
Find more information from your insurance broker or online at

Products to stretch your small space


Products to stretch your small space

Music to my ears

With the advent of music streaming services and the digitization of our own collections, the footprint devoted to creating spectacular sound has shrunk. There is no more need for expensive and inflexible wiring. Wireless speakers from Sonos come in a variety of sizes (match to the size of your space), and can be paired together for stereo sound. Best of all, they only need to be plugged in where you want them, and can be controlled from your computer or device. Never has it been so easy to have music flow through your entire space!

Freezer magic

Appliances in small spaces often come in more diminutive sizes, putting pressure on how much food we can keep. Even if you live in a petite place, buying food at its freshest or when it’s on sale never loses its appeal. The FoodSaver Vacuum Sealer goes a long way to maximizing not only what you can store in your freezer because you’re not wasting any space on oxidizing air, but it also means your food will keep fresher up to five times as long. The clear bags not only let you see everything easily (critical for any effectively organized space), they are sturdy enough to transfer from freezer to hot water without compromising. Space savings, money savings and efficiency make for a win-win-win solution!

Storage space super tools

To get the most out of every closet and cupboard in your place, you’ll want to think first about which items belong in each space. Ideally this will be based on proximity to use, but if space is really tight, then grouping like shapes can also be helpful. Tools such as the Harmony Twill line of organizers from Neatfreak make it easy to divide your closets to organize what you need to store. Work from the bottom up and install shelving on the floor for footwear or paperwork. Hang a lower closet bar to double short hanging space. Add hanging sweater or shoe organizers to hold clothing and accessories or even office supplies. Neatclips provide versatility on to hook on boots, belts, purses and more. Use bins and drawers on the top shelf to keep things tidy and manageable, and from falling on your head!

Kitchen space savers

Condo kitchens seem to be getting smaller and smaller. If you enjoy eating and entertaining at home, you’ll want to look to Joseph Joseph who cater to small, design savvy kitchens. You’ll find everything from the smallest can opener, to simplified scissors, to a twist whisk and graters which store flat. As well, new in their Intelligent Waste line is the Stack system which allows you to build the garbage, recycling and compost centre you need stacked in the open, or tucked into a cupboard.

Multifunction furniture

Look for smartly designed furniture to meet more of your functional needs. Examples include ottomans that serve as seating and storage and coffee tables that lift up to serve as dining tables. If you’re trying to combine an office and guest bedroom, consider the Hemnes bed from Ikea. It appears to be a simple day bed, yet offers built-in deep draw
Photo: Dann Taers (a great place to store the bedding), and surprisingly can expand its full width to become a king size bed! This allows you to preserve some floor space in the office yet turn it into an ultra-comfortable sleeping space when guests arrive.rdif

Yes, even resale homes can come with a warranty

(NC) Are you looking to buy – or have you just bought – a resale house or condominium unit that is less than seven years old? If so, there...