If you’ve spent the last few years binge watching your favourite home renovation shows and looking for #DIYInspo projects all over social media, you’ve probably considered making a few tweaks around your home. 

However, when it comes to home renos, knowing when to hire a professional is essential.

recent survey conducted by Leger examined how Canadians changed their homes during the COVID-19 pandemic. The survey found of the 17% of people who had improved their homes, only one third hired professional help—the rest opting to tackle the jobs themselves.

While it may be tempting to take on home renovation and home improvement projects that don’t appear to present any risks on the surface, there are several instances when the expertise of a professional should be employed to ensure mistakes are avoided

“It’s always better to use a professional to help you steer clear of avoidable big-ticket mistakes down the road,” says Jessica Kee, REALTOR® and sales representative with Right At Home Realty in Toronto, Ontario. “Perhaps something that’s not so obvious is how it could affect a future sale. In markets where buyers can bargain, they’ll certainly notice cut corners and try to bargain the price even more.”

From electrical work and plumbing changes, to structural changes and work requiring specialized equipment, we’re going to delve into why it’s best to leave these types of projects to the professionals.

Electrical repair

Electrical work

The rise of online resources can often give you the confidence to try tasks that would otherwise be left to the professionals. However, just because you’ve seen how to do something doesn’t necessarily mean you should attempt to—and this is particularly relevant when it comes to electrical work.

It goes without saying electricity is dangerous. Regardless of whether the job is major or minor, unless you’re a trained professional, attempting to do electrical work yourself runs a much higher risk of injury, or even death, as well as significant damage to your home. While it may seem thrifty to do the work yourself, the best course of action is to reach out to a certified professional who has the skills and adheres to the latest electrical standards. This will also give you peace of mind when it comes time to sell your home, as you’ll know the work is up to par and will pass a home inspection.

A woman sitting on the floor next to the kitchen sink calling a professional plumber

Plumbing work

Major plumbing work should be done by a licensed professional who has the knowledge and experience to assess the full extent of the issues and react quickly to resolve anything unexpected in an effective and efficient manner. 

“For many homeowners, taking the DIY route is all about those quick and easy ways to save money,” says Loloa Alkasawat, architect at Retouche Inc. “Skip a permit here, skip the architect or contractor there, but the simple truth is there are costs to cutting corners and it’s going to cost you much more in the long run.” 

Hiring a reliable, licensed plumber will give a more holistic view of potential plumbing issues an untrained eye would likely overlook, not to mention the access to tools, parts, and plumbing materials the average DIYer won’t have at hand.

A man inspects insulation for a home renovationPhoto by Greg Rosenke on Unsplash

Structural changes

While it might be incredibly satisfying to tear down walls and create an open-concept floor plan, you just don’t know what could be lurking behind the walls or what those walls could be supporting so, when in doubt, hire a contractor. If there’s a reno that’ll impact the structure of your home, the only option should be to hire a professional—structural changes require a permit, and for good reason. 

Though it may sound dramatic to suggest a catastrophe could take place if structural modifications aren’t carried out by a trained professional, the truth is it’s a very realistic outcome. As highlighted by Alkasawat, “when you cut out the experts, you cut out the expert work.”

A professional uses a power drill on a drywall

Anything that requires specialized equipment 

It’s not only a case of considering whether you have the required expertise, it’s whether you have the tools to effectively complete the home improvement job at hand. Many jobs require specific gear and may need specialized equipment to ensure a properly completed project.

Certain projects will also contain hazardous waste, which needs to be disposed of safely. This includes: 

  • high-intensity light bulbs (HID bulbs), which can contain mercury;
  • certain thermostats;
  • types of caulking which contain polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBS);
  • older windows which contain lead; and
  • many other materials or components required for certain renovations. 

The bottom line is, while many products are designed with the modern-day DIYer in mind and online tutorials make everything seem doable, there are no-go zones that should be left to the pros. When in doubt, get in touch with your REALTOR® to ask for a list of professionals they trust to help get the job done.

Source: Realtor.ca

To see the original article, check out: https://www.realtor.ca/blog/renovations-you-should-always-leave-to-the-pros/26614/1363

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Condos are often attractive to buyers, not only because they can be in a more favourable price range than single family homes, they can provide easier access to amenities and a low-maintenance lifestyle. 

However, these benefits don’t come without a cost. In addition to your mortgage, you’ll need to plan for the maintenance fees, also known as condo fees. This article will look at what condo fees are, when they can be reassessed, and what they mean for your mortgage, specifically related to an apartment-style condominium building.

Photo by Nadine Shaabana on Unsplash

What are condo fees?

To put it simply, condo fees are monthly contributions made by unit owners to a condo corporation (the organization that runs the condo building). This money is then pooled together and goes toward funding maintenance and general upkeep of the building. Every condo has a condo board, made up of people from the building, who manage the property on behalf of residents and owners. They’re responsible for making decisions in the best interest of all parties. 

While every building is different, the most common costs included in the monthly fees are:

  • Utilities—A condo corporation may pay some or all of a building’s utilities. For example, it may pay for water and electricity, but not heat.
  • The reserve fund—A portion of condo fees will go toward maintaining the building’s reserve fund, which is essentially a sum of money set aside for unexpected repairs. For example, if the roof or boiler in a building needs to be replaced, the condo board can use some of this cash to pay for it. Before you buy into a building, knowing how much money is in its reserve fund can also help you understand the building’s financial health.
  • Common area maintenance—Condo fees can also go toward paying for garbage pick up, snow removal, and the upkeep of common spaces in the building or property including hallways, lobbies, elevators, and the grounds around the building or buildings.
  • Amenities—The more amenities your condo building has to offer, the higher your condo fees will usually end up being. Pools, reception services, saunas, shared rooftop patios, and parking all add to the cost of your condo fees, while admittedly offering a lot in return.

The size of the condo building can also be a factor in your overall condo fees. A building with 20 units will likely not have the same fees as a building with 200 units, as the required maintenance and utilities will be different. 

Do townhomes have condo fees?

Not all townhomes have condo fees—owning a freehold townhome is the same as owning a freehold single family home. That being said, certain townhome communities will have condo fees as well which can cover gardening, fences, garbage pickup, shared amenities, and other general maintenance fees as laid out by the condo board. When looking at homes with your REALTOR®, they’ll tell you whether or not the townhome is a condominium or freehold.

When can your condo board reassess your fees?

When you’re looking at condos for sale, it’s definitely easy to gravitate towards ones with lower condo fees. However, lower fees could come with a catch. If the fees are too low, the condo corporation may not have enough cash flow to pay for larger repairs which, in turn, may lead to a special assessment. Your REALTOR® can help provide a more clear picture of the building’s history as they know the area well. They can also recommend properties with better track records to help make you feel more comfortable with your choice.

A special assessment is a payment unit owners must make to the condo corporation, on top of their regular monthly condo fees and mortgage payment. The terms around special assessments will vary based on provincial legislation, so it’s always important to understand what your board can and cannot do. 

As an example, the Condo Authority of Ontario (CAO)—an organization that aims to improve condominium living by providing services and resources for condo owners, residents, and directors—indicates special assessments can occur for various reasons, but the most common include: 

  • Unforeseen expenses—A major expense may arise unexpectedly, such as the roof needs to be replaced. The CAO says this might happen during a critical year for the reserve fund, which is when the condominium board has depleted its reserve fund to complete major projects. As a result, the remaining balance is too low to cover the unexpected expenses and the special assessment has to be paid.
  • Under-budgeting—A special assessment can also be paid if an expense or major repair ends up costing more than expected.
  • Losing a lawsuit—Finally, the CAO says unit owners must “bear any judgment against the condominium,” which means if the condominium can’t pay the judgment from the operating fund, the board must turn to a special assessment to cover the costs.
Image via Vladyslava Andriyenko on Unsplash

Do condo fees affect your mortgage?

When you’re looking for a condo, it’s always a good idea to double check your monthly spend—mortgage payment, property tax, insurance, utilities, and condo fees—and ensure you can afford everything before applying with your lender. 

In short, Alex Obradovich, a REALTOR® and sales representative with Chestnut Park® Real Estate Limited Brokerage in Toronto, says condo fees can affect your mortgage.

“When applying for a mortgage or a pre-approval, the lender will most definitely account for condo fees when looking at how much debt they are willing to supply to a client,” he explained. “Condo fees are just one of many factors taken into consideration when determining the amount of debt a lender is willing to supply.”

Furthermore, when it comes to condo fees, Obradovich says they may also have an impact on an owner’s condo insurance.

“Not all condo fees are created equal. Each property may have different costs associated with it. Some condo fees may cover some sort of insurance and the type of home insurance policy you may want to secure may change,” he explained. “Conversely, the home insurance may or may not take into consideration what is provided by the condo or maintenance fees.”

If you’re unsure how to interpret what the condo fees represent, you can request for the condo board to share their status certificate with you. This report contains all the details about the current financial state of the condo maintenance corporation, as well as mention any details of the existing size of their reserve fund and if there are any ongoing lawsuits.

Regardless of whether you’re a first-time home buyer or not, it’s all about asking questions and keeping informed. Your REALTOR® can help navigate condo fees, status certificates, and every other aspect of your condo buying journey. 

The information above is for informational purposes only and should not be used as investment or financial advice.

Source: Realtor.ca/blog

To check out the original article: https://www.realtor.ca/blog/condo-fees-and-what-they-cover/25935/1362

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Putting in a new bathroom isn’t cheap, so you’ll want to be sure that it delivers. Although that striking freestanding tub or statement tile may make your heart beat a little faster, it’s the layout that largely determines how well the space works. Houzz Australia asked four experts to share the layout mistakes they regularly see inexperienced bathroom renovators make — and how you can steer clear of them.

We also scoured Houzz photos for designs that successfully avoided these 10 missteps to achieve bathrooms that look great and function beautifully.
The Design Gallery
1. Fixtures That Are Too Big

“Too often I see [60-inch-long] freestanding baths in rooms that are only [70 inches] in length,” says Frances Cosway, an interior designer and principal at White Pebble Interiors, and the author of Your Forever Home. “These bathtubs are simply too big for the space. I also see vanities and showers that are the wrong scale.”

Solution: “Ensure that the bath, vanity and shower are the right scale for your bathroom,” she says. If you are specifying a freestanding tub, make sure there is space around it for cleaning.

“Freestanding baths, while fashionable, are not always the best option — particularly in a small bathroom,” Cosway says. “A [60-inch] freestanding bath is very small, and if this is your only option, a larger inset bath would be a much better use of space.

“Likewise with vanities — having a super large vanity that butts right up to the shower does not look good and is awkward to clean. Instead, choose a smaller vanity and allow some space between the shower or bath,” she says.

Tip: A freestanding tub should be about 8 inches from the wall, with at least a foot of space at both ends to allow for cleaning access, Cosway says.
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2. Having the Door Open to a View of the Toilet

Having the bathroom door open to directly face the toilet is neither stylish nor necessary, Cosway says.

Solution: “Tuck the loo behind the door or place it to the side where it’s not in full view when you open the bathroom door. Even more important, ensure that your main bathroom has a separate toilet so people do not have to wait for the loo when someone is using the shower,” she says.

If lines are forming outside your bathroom every morning, Cosway suggests upgrading your powder room so that family members can use it to get ready. You can do this by making sure it has an adequate sink, storage cabinetry and a mirror.

Tip: When planning the position of your toilet, allow at least 8 inches on both sides for elbow room, Cosway says.

Find a bathroom designer near you on Houzz
Alison Kandler Interior Design
3. Insufficient Storage

Focusing too much on aesthetics and not enough on function often leads to insufficient storage, Cosway says.

Solution: “Eye-level storage is critical in a bathroom. Rather than having a mirror adhered to the wall, choose a mirror cabinet recessed into the wall that incorporates storage for everyday essentials, such as your toothbrush, shaver and makeup,” she says.

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Karen B Wolf Interiors, Associate ASID
Here are some of Cosway’s key measurements for medicine cabinets and vanities.
  • A medicine cabinet above a vanity should be the same width as the vanity or slightly smaller — never larger.
  • Recessing a medicine cabinet into the wall will give your bathroom a more streamlined look.
  • The right length for a vanity countertop depends on the size of the room. For a family bathroom or en suite, 36 inches is considered a standard minimum length, but 48 inches is a little more practical.
  • A double sink will need a countertop that’s at least 60 to 72 inches long.
  • The ideal depth for a vanity is 21 inches, although it will depend on the depth of your sink.
  • If you have a semirecessed sink, you may be able to make your vanity less than 21 inches deep.
  • When specifying your vanity depth, make sure you include enough room so that you can clean the sink and faucets.

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Pure Salt Interiors
4. Confining Storage to the Vanity

“Rookie renovators often don’t consider storage options beyond vanity drawers and cabinets,” says Maria Roussos, principal at interior design firm
Schemes & Spaces. “This often means the vanity ends up too clunky and dominating. As a result, the bathroom feels small and crowded.”

Solution: Roussos suggests thinking of alternative places to house bathing products, toiletries and toilet paper: “Can you work some custom [cabinetry] into the floor plan to store larger items? What about vertical wall-hung cabinets?” She points out that you also can use these to incorporate mirrors, lighting and towel bars, saving even more space in the bathroom and giving it a more purposeful feel.
Left Coast Architecture
5. Poor Lighting

Roussos says inexperienced renovators often simply resort to downlights over the vanity, shower or toilet instead of putting in a proper layered lighting design. “As a result, the bathroom is often too bright and lacks ambiance, which makes it far from a relaxing space to spend time in,” she says. “Plus, the bright overhead lighting creates shadowing when you look in the vanity mirror —dreadful when you’re putting on makeup or shaving.”

Solution: Roussos suggests planning a layered design that includes several lighting sources. “It should feature lighting for ambiance; concealed LED strips are a great option, as they don’t consume much energy and can be left on to create a low-key mood. Put them under vanities and shaving cabinets, behind mirrors and in shower niches,” she says.
Curated by Claire
“Then add in lighting for other purposes,” Roussos says. “For example, incorporate task lighting to assist with grooming or putting on makeup, such as a pair of wall lights on either side of the mirror. These will illuminate your face from the front, which is the most effective and flattering direction.”

Tip: Ask your electrician to wire lights so that they can be turned on independently. This will let you adjust the lighting levels and mood, Roussos says.

Shop for all kinds of lighting
Jennifer Wundrow Interior Design, Inc.
6. Not Creating Separate Zones

“When space is plentiful, I often see uninspiring and empty-looking bathrooms, with all the fixtures around the perimeter of the room and an empty space in the middle. Creating zones would have made these bathrooms far more functional and welcoming,” Roussos says.

Solution: Consider dividing a large bathroom into separate zones for the bath, shower, vanity and toilet. “This may be as simple as putting a stud wall into the center of the room,” she says. “Creating zones will enhance your experience of the bathroom and make it feel more luxurious.”
7. Not Considering Existing Infrastructure

“What’s behind the wall is a big deal when you’re renovating or changing a bathroom layout,” says Daniela Santilli, bathroom marketing leader for Reece, an Australian supplier of plumbing and bathroom products.

Solution: Make sure you work with your plumber to figure out if the new layout will work with current plumbing points and infrastructure,” she says. “You might need to rethink your layout if you don’t want to move these existing points. Remember, while changing plumbing points can give you the layout you really want, it can also blow out the budget.”
Portland building and remodeling
8. Measuring Incorrectly

Santilli warns that inaccurate measurements can end up being costly when you need to work multiple elements into your layout. “It’s a common mistake not to take account of the little things, such as the way a door will swing or the gap between the toilet and the vanity,” she says.

Solution: “Always measure twice before you select fittings and fixtures for your bathroom to make sure they’ll fit. Think how doors and drawers will open and how you will move through the space. Your builder, plumber or project manager should also be able to help you with this process,” Santilli says.
Lion Builder Construction Inc
9. Storage That Lacks Function

Jenefer Gordon, principal at interior design firm Eat Bathe Live, says failing to consider exactly how you use your bathroom means that the items you keep there often don’t have a proper home. “They end up being left out on the vanity, creating a cluttered look, or stored far from where you actually use them,” she says.

Solution: Consider how you use the bathroom and exactly which items need to be stored there, and then measure them and give them a dedicated spot, Gordon says. “For example, electric toothbrushes and shavers can be stored in a recessed mirrored cabinet with power inside, shallow drawers with dividers are great for makeup, and towels and standing toiletries can be placed in deep drawers,” she says.
Emily Pueringer Design Studio
10. Not Considering the Location of Accessories

Not giving enough thought to the location of accessories, such as towel bars and shower storage, will affect how the whole space functions, Gordon says. “It can mean frequently used items have to be positioned out of reach, or wall-mounted accessories end up in the way of drawers or cabinetry doors.

“You also need to plan where accessories will go, so you can install enough secure fixing points,” she says. After all, nobody wants to have a wobbly towel bar or the toilet paper holder to fall off the wall — “which is what can happen when they’ve only been screwed into a plaster sheet,” she says.
TVL Creative Ltd.
Solution: “Think how you’ll use and move through the space when planning where to position accessories on your bathroom layout,” Gordon says. Put towel bars within easy reach of the shower, bath and vanity. Put hand towel bars where they won’t prevent vanity drawers and doors from opening.

Also ensure that structural supports are in place before the walls are finished so that accessories have something to attach to, she says.
Tip: Consider a recessed tiled niche in the shower instead of a shelf affixed to the wall to give the area a more open feel, Gordon says.
Source: Houzz
To see the original article: https://www.houzz.com/magazine/10-bathroom-layout-mistakes-and-how-to-avoid-them-stsetivw-vs~116563168
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With the days lengthening and weather warming, spring is a good time to get outdoors and tackle some larger home projects. With the threat of winter storms past, you can look for damage and make any needed repairs, as well as prep your home and garden for summer. We spoke with an expert to get some tips on what to watch for this season, from proper irrigation to mosquitoes and termites (oh my!).
Mierop Design, FAPLD
Tasks to Check Off Your List in an Hour or Less

Inspect driveways and paths. Freezing and thawing are rough on concrete, asphalt and other hardscape materials. Take a walk around your property to look for damage to walkways, paths and driveways, then schedule repairs as needed. Asphalt can often be patched, but damaged concrete may need to be replaced entirely.

Keep an eye out for termites. Beginning in March and going through May or June, be on the lookout for these winged insects. “Termites swarm in the spring,” says Victor Sedinger, certified home inspector and owner of House Exam Inspection and Consulting. “If there’s a bunch of winged insects flying out of a hole in the woodwork, that’s probably termites. Call a licensed professional pest-control company. You’ll save money and trouble in the long run.”
Margie Grace - Grace Design Associates
Prevent mosquitoes. In recent years, we’ve become more aware of the potential danger mosquitos can pose to our health. “West Nile virus and Zika virus are just the latest diseases caused by these winged pests,” Sedinger says.

The best way to prevent mosquitos around your home is simply to get rid of any standing water. “Walk around your property [and peek at your neighbors’]. If you see anything or any area where water stands, fix it, tip it, get rid of it or maintain it regularly,” Sedinger says.

Find pest control specialists on Houzz
Chase & Arnold, Inc.
Tackle These To-Dos Over a Weekend

Wash windows. 
Clean the grime off glass inside and out for a lighter, brighter home indoors and increased curb appeal outdoors. Wash the exterior windows yourself by using a hose attachment, or hire a pro to get the job done.

Clean gutters and downspouts. After the last frost has passed, it’s important to have your gutters and downspouts cleaned and repaired. “Clogged gutters and downspouts can cause the wood trim at the eaves to rot, and that can invite all kinds of critters into your attic space,” Sedinger says.

Having your gutters and downspouts cleaned early in the season can also help prevent damage from spring rains. “Gutters and downspouts should be clean and running free,” Sedinger says. “If your downspouts are installed properly, water is diverted away from the house so that no water collects around your foundation.”

How to Clean Your Gutters and Downspouts
Omnia Construction
Clean your fireplace. If your home has a working wood-burning fireplace, the end of winter is a good time to give it a fresh start. Protect your hands with gloves and cover the area around the fireplace with a tarp. Carefully remove the (completely cool) remains of any charred logs and ash using fireplace tools. Then gently clean the fireplace surround. Do not attempt to clean inside the chimney — that job should be left to a professional chimney sweep.

How to Clean Your Fireplace Surround
Pacific Lawn Sprinklers
Check sprinkler and irrigation systems. Checking your sprinklers or irrigation systems in the spring can save water — and your plants. Sedinger shares these tips for checking your watering system:
  • Run the system through all the zones manually and walk the property.
  • Make sure none of the sprinkler heads are broken or damaged.
  • Adjust any heads that are spraying the house, especially windows, as this can cause moisture problems.
  • Adjust heads that are spraying the street, sidewalk or porches to avoid wasting water.
  • If you don’t know how to maintain your system, call a professional. You’ll save money on your water bill and protect one of our most valuable natural resources.
Houzz guides to saving water at home

Find a landscape contractor to help with your irrigation project
Che Bella Interiors
Check screen doors and windows. Screens are designed to let the breeze flow in and keep the bugs out, but they can only do their job if they’re free from holes and tears.

Before setting up your screens for the warm months ahead, be sure to carefully check each one and repair any holes or tears, no matter how small. You can find repair kits at most hardware and home-improvement stores.
CH Architects
Maintenance and Extras to Budget for This Season

Inspect the roof. Winter storms can take quite a toll on a roof. When spring arrives, start by making a simple visual inspection of yours. “It doesn’t require a ladder, and you certainly don’t have to get on a roof to look,” Sedinger says. “Use binoculars or a camera or smartphone with a telephoto feature if you need to.” Look for missing shingles, metal pipes that are damaged or missing or anything that simply doesn’t look right. If you notice anything that needs closer inspection or repair, call a roofer.

Paint exterior. If you’re planning to repaint your home’s exterior this year, spring is a good time to set it up. Want to paint but can’t decide on a color? Explore your town and snap pictures of house colors you like, browse photos on Houzz or work with a color consultant to get that just-right hue.

Houzz guides to exterior paint colors

How to Find and Hire a Painting Contractor
B. Jane Gardens
Reseal exterior woodwork. Wood decks, fences, railings, trellises, pergolas and other outdoor structures will last longer if they’re stained or resealed every year or two.

Take this opportunity to make any needed repairs to woodwork as well.
Colossus Mfg.
Schedule air-conditioning service. “Home inspectors see a lot of air-conditioning systems that are just not taken care of,” Sedinger says. “Just because it gets cool doesn’t mean it’s working efficiently.” To get the longest life out of your cooling system and keep it running as efficiently as possible, change the filters at least once each season, and hire a licensed professional to service the equipment before the start of summer.
For a link to the original article: https://www.houzz.com/magazine/your-spring-home-maintenance-checklist-stsetivw-vs~62779344
Source: Houzz
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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 homeend 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.

Photo by Dillon Kydd on Unsplash

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.

The article above is for information purposes and is not legal or financial advice or a substitute for legal counsel.

For a direct link to the original article: https://www.realtor.ca/blog/when-is-the-right-time-to-move/24677/1362

Source: Realtor.ca/blog

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Well, it’s finally time. That dingy, worn-out carpet—the one that prompts cringy expectations of runs and pulls every time you get out the vacuum—has got to go. If you’re lucky, and your home was built before the 1980s, there’s potentially gorgeous hardwood flooring hiding under it. Even if you plan to replace the carpet or install a floating laminate floor, read on as a DIY carpet removal is fairly easy and can save you money if you plan to go with a new floor install.

Image via Curtis Adams, Pexels

Buried treasure?

The older your home is, the more likely the possibility of hidden hardwood under the carpeting. Due to how expensive repairing, restoring, or removing hardwood floors can be, previous homeowners may have opted to install carpeting—or even a floating laminate floor—over top.

Checking for hardwood floors

There are a few ways to check under carpet without causing undue distress or damage to the carpet installation in case you’re not quite ready to make the change.

Since the carpet is stretched across the room and held in place at the borders using tack strips (thin strips of wood with tacks sticking up from the underside, nailed to the floor), check in spots where the carpet is not tacked down. 

Two ideal places for this investigation are:

  • Around floor vents —This is the simplest place to check because you can lift the vent cover and likely see the flooring and subfloor layers, then all you need to do is pull up or peel back the carpet and padding to see what’s underneath;
  • In doorways — You can check here by carefully removing the transition strip from the floor to peel back the carpet and carpet padding to get a look at the flooring material underneath.
Image via jan_photo, Pixabay

Is the hardwood salvageable?

Discovering a hidden hardwood gem under your carpet is one thing, but the thousand dollar question is whether or not it’s suitable for restoration. Even if the hardwood looks decent where you initially check, this may not be the case for portions where excessive wear, chips, splits, or deep stains are present. Stains are an inevitable discovery after removing all the carpet since it’s difficult to prevent liquids from seeping through carpet and padding to the underfloor.

Preparing to rip up the carpet

Before you begin ripping, you’ll need to equip yourself. Make sure you have the following on hand:

  • safety goggles;
  • dust mask;
  • work gloves;
  • knee pads or a kneeling pad
  • floor scraper;
  • utility knife;
  • claw hammer or pry bar; 
  • broom and dust pan, or vacuum; and
  • twine.

Once your gear is assembled, you’re ready to roll—pun intended!

1. Relocate your furniture

You’ll want to remove all furniture from the room to make this job easier. If storage is an issue, consider temporary options like a storage container or a self-storage facility.

2. Detach the baseboards

Before removing the baseboards, you may need to run a utility knife along the top edge if the seam has been painted. If you plan to reuse your baseboards, delicately pry the boards free of the drywall from behind (not from above!) using your claw hammer or pry bar. Label the boards and mark their locations so you can replace them when finished.

Image via wifflegif.com, Giphy

3. Rip and roll

It’s time to don your mask, goggles, gloves, and knee pads to get ripping! Pull the carpet up from the tack strips around the perimeter of the room. Depending on the size of the room, you might want to cut the carpet into strips before rolling it for ease of removal. Be sure to lift the material as you cut to avoid marking the floor underneath. Do this for both the carpet and the padding, then secure the rolls using twine.

Be prepared for some dust and dirt, and in rare cases, mould or rodent feces. In the case of mould or feces, stop immediately and call a professional for remediation.

4. Remove staples and tack strips

After you remove the carpet and padding, the floor will look like a wasteland of staples, bordered by some gnarly-looking tack strips. Use the floor scraper to loosen any staples, and the claw hammer or pry bar to carefully lift and remove the tack strips.

Pro Tip: If you encounter stubborn staples, a blade (slot) screwdriver makes for easy removal.

Image via La Miko, Pexels

5. Cleanup

Once all the staples have been lifted and the tack strips removed for disposal, give your floor a good pass with a broom or shop vac to collect any loose debris, staples, and dirt.

Now your floor should be clear and ready for the next steps, whether that’s renewing your newly reclaimed hardwood floor, or installing new flooring or carpet. Stay tuned for part two, as we’ll get into what’s involved with restoring hardwood floors.

Source: Realtor.ca/blog

Link to the original article: https://www.realtor.ca/blog/floor-renewal-part-one-how-to-rip-up-carpet-properly/24110/1363

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If you live in an older home—or even some modern builds—there’s a good chance popcorn ceilings are commanding the overhead views. If you’re getting tired of this feature and plan to remove it, then you’ve come to the right place. Let’s find out what you need to know about removing popcorn ceilings from your home.

Image via Denis Agati, Unsplash

What is a popcorn ceiling?

Popcorn ceilings—also known as stucco, stipple or Artex—are marked by their bumpy texture, though they can be characterized by swirling designs, or peaks that look like the top of a meringue pie. The plaster-based material was originally called Artex, after the UK-based company that developed the textured finishing technique as a way to hide imperfections and seams in ceilings. The application also provided a minor sound-dampening effect.

Image via StockSnap, Pixabay

From 1945 until the 1980s, popcorn ceilings were a popular feature in the construction of most North American homes. Popularity peaked in the 1970s with a varying range of designs and textures gracing ceilings across the continent.

Asbestos fibers were originally incorporated into the plaster for added strength, while also acting as a fire retardant. Due to the severe health effects of air-born asbestos and the associated risks involved with building or renovating when it is present, it was eventually removed from production in the 1980s.

Testing for asbestos

Before attempting any kind of removal, make sure the material used for your popcorn ceiling is asbestos-free, especially if your home was built before 1986. While DIY asbestos test kits are available, they can sometimes be inaccurate. Although hiring a professional may cost more, it’s worth the extra peace of mind when this carcinogenic material is involved.

In the event asbestos is present, you’ll need to make a judgment call on moving forward with smoothing out your ceilings. It’s recommended to use an asbestos abatement professional to execute a safe removal. This may not be the ideal outcome for die-hard DIYers, but your household’s long-term health and safety–not to mention you and your family’s health and safety–always comes first.

Tools and supplies

You’ll want to pick up a few things at your local hardware store and be prepared for a messy undertaking. Here’s what you need:

  • dust mask or respirator;
  • safety goggles;
  • plastic sheeting (to cover furniture, floors, and walls);
  • painter’s masking tape;
  • popcorn ceiling scraper or floor scraper;
  • a wide, flexible putty/plaster knife;
  • spray bottle (a pump pressure sprayer is ideal);
  • garbage bags;
  • mud pan (to catch the wet plaster);
  • drywall sander;
  • drywall tape; and
  • a joint compound.

1. Test a small area first

Once you’re ready to dive into smoothing out your popcorn ceilings, start by testing out a small section. Mist a small inconspicuous area with water, allow the moisture to absorb for about 15 minutes, then use a flexible putty knife at a low angle to scrape the texture free. 

Pro tip: closets make the perfect test subjects as they will often have the same ceiling texture as the room they are in.

If the stipple comes off easily, then you’re looking at smooth sailing with this project. However, if you encounter a lot of resistance, or the water does not soak into the texture at all, this means it’s either been painted over or paint was mixed in with the material when it was applied—a serious wrench-in-gears situation.

What if there’s paint or asbestos?

If paint was mixed into the popcorn ceiling texture, if it’s been painted over, or if there’s asbestos present, it may just be simpler to cover over the ceiling with fresh drywall panels. This achieves your goal without disturbing any asbestos, dealing with the high costs of abatement, or heavily involved removal in the event of paint.

2. Cover everything

To save yourself a clean-up nightmare, remove large furniture pieces and cover the floor with plastic sheeting. Use painter’s tape and sheeting to line the walls, then cover all electrical outlets and light fixtures (remove any lights or chandeliers first).

Safety tip: Because you’re spraying water near electrical outlets and fixtures, it’s recommended to turn off the breakers for the room.

3. Spray, wait, scrape, repeat

Working in sections, use your spray bottle to moisten the stipple. As with your earlier test, wait 15 minutes and then use your scraper to remove the texture while holding the mud pan underneath to catch it. Repeat the process and as you near the edges and corners, switch to the smaller putty knife to avoid damaging your walls.

Pro tip: If you use a popcorn ceiling scraper, you can attach a bag to it to catch the material, negating the need for a mud pan.

Image via Ksenia Chernaya, Pexels

4. Sanding

Some rough patches or gouges are inevitable, and you can repair these easily with a drywall sander. If you wish to avoid excessive dust, aim for a sander that attaches to a vacuum or has a built-in vacuum assembly. Don’t forget to wear a dust mask or respirator!

Image via La Miko, Pexels

5. Touch-ups

If the underlying drywall tape gets damaged or if the seams become visible in the drywall, apply fresh drywall tape to affected areas and apply joint compound with your putty knife. If necessary, sand the areas smooth again.

Image via StuBaileyPhoto, Pixabay

At this point you’re ready to paint, clean up, replace the furniture and fixtures, and enjoy the smooth fruits of your labour. If you don’t mind getting a little dirty and incorporating some elbow grease into your efforts, this is a great project to handle on your own. Just don’t hesitate to reach out to the professionals if needed, because safety always comes first.

Reposted from Realtor.ca

Source: https://www.realtor.ca/blog/how-to-remove-popcorn-ceilings/23832/1363

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It’s happening! The seasonal section at most stores is swimming in holiday décor, and your holiday plans are probably coming together nicely. Over the past 20 months, we’ve all had to get pretty creative at celebrating with loved ones far and near while still staying safe and respectful of everyone’s comfort. If the pandemic has taught us anything, it’s that we can connect with each other in all sorts of ways, and maybe even open our eyes to new traditions we’d like to maintain in the years to come. 

For some of us it’s been a long while since we’ve been able to enjoy the bustling holiday celebrations we remember. However, the eagerness we’re feeling to get back to our traditions might be matched with a level of anxiety about doing so safely. Remember, if you’re going to be gathering, follow all public health guidelines to ensure you’re doing as much as you can to keep everyone safe. 

Here’s some inspiration on how to gather for this year’s holiday season, with tips on keeping all your merrymaking safe, sound, and fun!

Enjoy the fresh air 

Especially if you’re in areas that don’t see extreme cold during the winter months, an outdoor gathering could be the perfect choice for your holiday celebrations this year. Let your guests know to dress warmly, then set up some heaters or a firepit (be sure to check with bylaw to know what’s allowed in your area). With a few blankets, some chairs, a slow cooker of warm drinks, and some great food, you can create a winter wonderland in your backyard where people can feel more comfortable about gathering again. Consider renting a tent where the food and drinks can sit covered, or even use your garage. You can also find fun winter games for all ages to keep people moving—and warm!

Throw a mixed-attendance mixer 

For events with both virtual and in-real-life guests, your goal should be to make sure everyone feels heard and seen, especially the people joining from afar. Lots of fun and user-friendly online games have gained popularity in the last couple of years and can make a great addition to your party. Bear in mind when setting up for a game to keep the game’s audio and the sound coming from your guests separate, so nobody’s fighting to be heard. If possible, have more than one camera set up so virtual guests can still see people’s faces up close. You can also set up your own game, like family-specific trivia for example, as a fun way for everyone to contribute and feel a part of the celebration.

Do some good in the neighbourhood 

Let your neighbours know you and your party will be coming around to collect non-perishables or warm clothing for charity. Then, gather your party, bundle up, and grab something to carry your goods. If you want to sing carols, great! If none of your party can carry a tune, maybe your neighbours will give generously to get you to stop singing. Either way, it’s a feel-good way to celebrate outdoors. Plus, you come out of it with donations to give to those in need. Win-win!

Bring in an expert, virtually

It may feel a little counterintuitive, but having a little structure to your virtual social event can help it flow, avoid awkward pauses, or accidental interrupting. Having your family prepare funny slideshows to catch each other up on their lives is a surprisingly fun option, with a little creativity on the topics (e.g. “top 10 jokes Dad told this year” or “My kids’ year in homeschool outfits”). Another great option is to enlist the help of a local baker, chef, mixologist, or other type of maker to lead you and your guests through a virtual class. Besides being a cool way to feel connected in doing something hands-on, this is also an opportunity to support a local business around the holidays!

Stagger attendance

If you’re looking to host a lot of people, like with a festive open house, you may not be able to accommodate everyone all at once. However, you can stagger your invitations so there’s a constant stream of people coming in and out without too much overlap. Set up chunks of time for people to stop in, and be sure you set aside food for each time frame! You might also find people are more willing to stop in for a bit rather than committing to a full event. 

Wherever and however you choose to celebrate this holiday, there’s no shortage of options to keep everyone feeling connected. With a little creativity, the parameters we have to contend with can be an opportunity to explore traditions you’ll grow to cherish. Happy holidaying!

Source: Realtor.ca/blog

For a direct link to the original article: https://www.realtor.ca/blog/holiday-entertaining-tips-and-trends/23370/1367

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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: Realtor.ca/blog

For a link to the source article, click here:  https://www.realtor.ca/blog/flip-or-flop-4-things-to-consider-before-buying-a-flipped-property/21400/1362

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When it comes to investment properties, there’s a lot to take into consideration. Aside from the financial and tax responsibilities, finding an investment property that makes sense for your situation requires some serious soul-searching. 

It’s best to take a look at some of the pros and cons before getting into the market, as each type comes with its own set. However, there are some pros and cons that apply to every type of investment property. One pro, of course, is you’ll have a second income—always a plus. The biggest con for any investment property is you’re not guaranteed to have tenants at all times, which means that second income may not be consistent. As the landlord you’re also on the hook for any repairs or issues that need to be dealt with. 

Let’s walk through some of the other pros and cons of the most common investment properties to see which one suits you best.


Duplexes are popular choices for investors looking to be close to their property—really close. They can also be great family investments, allowing different generations to live under the same roof but with private dwelling spaces. There are additional tax deductions available to you as well when you live on the property! Typically, work done to common spaces such as your yard, roof, or adjoining wall can be written off at 50% if the duplex is owner-occupied. Some people also consider the proximity to your investment to be a pro. If issues arise you can deal with them in a timely manner, plus you can keep an eye on how your tenants are treating the space. If you’re not living in the space and are instead choosing to rent out each portion of the duplex, the biggest advantage is collecting that additional rent. 

On the flip side, duplexes can be more expensive to purchase, which puts you at a bigger risk if you can’t find tenants. It can also be harder in general to find tenants for duplexes, as more and more people are looking for privacy and larger spaces. Living attached to your tenants, albeit in a designated space, can also be a bit strange depending on who they are. If you’re not choosing to live in the duplex, you’ll have double the tenants to find—and double the repairs to deal with. 

Single family homes

Over the last 18 months, single-family homes have been in demand as buying trends have changed. With an increase in working and schooling from home, the need for space has become paramount. Because of this shift, single-family homes could potentially be more attractive as investment properties. 

Let’s start with the pros! In comparison to a full duplex, single-family homes are typically less expensive (depending on the home), which could see higher gains in your net income. Plus, the market for single-family homes is hot right now, meaning if you need or want to sell your property you’ll likely have an easier time doing so. From a rental perspective, single-family homes tend to attract longer-term tenants, providing a sense of stability to your financial situation. 

In terms of cons, there’s one big one that stands out. Owning a single-family home as an investment property means a lower return on investment the longer it sits vacant. The costs to maintain a single-family home can be higher, and when the house sits empty those costs can quickly add up.


With new developments popping up all over the country, buying pre-construction properties (either homes, condos, or apartments) can seem enticing. It’s easy to find the big pros for this type of investment. The customization allows you to create a space potential renters will find appealing. When you choose fixtures and finishes for a new construction home, you can find options that are agreeable to most people without breaking the bank. Plus, newer builds are more attractive to renters since they know things are in good working order and there likely won’t be any repairs needed in the near future. 

That being said, pre-construction comes with a unique set of cons some people just don’t want to deal with. These cons can really be summed up into two words: the unknown. Your build could be unexpectedly delayed, leaving you to navigate these financial waters without additional income. Your down payment could be up to 30% up front for a new build, and it may not be complete for up to two years, which means you’ll be waiting a while to recoup that money as well as start making any profits. You should always consider the type of tenant you’re looking for (students, young professionals, growing families, etc.) so you can assess and align the property and neighbourhood with what they’ll need and want.

Basement apartments

Basement apartments have come a long way in the last 10 years or so! They can be spacious, private, cost-effective, exactly what young professionals are looking for as they save to buy their own home. Having a basement apartment in your home shares a lot of the same pros (and cons!) as duplexes. They help pay the mortgage of the home you’re in and you can write off a lot of the repairs since the space is owner-occupied. But it also means you’re living in the same home as your tenants and you lose a portion of your home. 

There are two additional cons to consider when it comes to basement apartments, though. The biggest one comes if you’re adding a basement apartment to your home vs. buying a home that already has one built. Adding a basement apartment requires money up front to ensure the space is up to code, not to mention any regional requirements (i.e. permits, inspections). You also have to consider things like parking for your tenants, how they’ll get into their portion of the home, etc. When it comes time to sell your home, not having a “typical” basement could affect your resale value. You eliminate the group of people who aren’t looking to purchase an investment property, which could make the home harder to sell. 

Something to consider when it comes to basement apartments is actually living in it yourself! I got my start in real estate by purchasing a home with a basement apartment and renting out the main floor while I lived in the basement apartment. I was able to charge a higher rent, allowing me to pay off the mortgage more quickly and ultimately make my way up the real estate ladder. If you’re going to purchase a home with a basement apartment, or are considering adding one to your current home, I really do recommend living in the basement portion yourself if possible!

Identifying risk factors

As with any investment, you need to identify the potential risks. There are four main risks to consider before purchasing an investment property. 


You need to spend money to make money, but owning an investment property does come with some financial risks. If you can’t find tenants for an extended period of time, you’ll need to cover the mortgage out of your primary income, which may leave things a little tight. 

Property location

Do some research on the neighbourhood to see if there’s a high demand for rentals in the area. If not, you may struggle to find people willing to commit to a lease. It’s also a good idea to ask a REALTOR® about the projected evolution of the neighbourhood. If it’s an up-and-coming spot, you may find yourself getting a great deal! Other things to consider include transit access, proximity to schools and daycare, nearby amenities, and access to the highway. 

Age of the property

Older homes can be appealing for a vintage look, but they may end up causing you more issues than they’re worth. Homes over a certain age will likely need more frequent (and more expensive) repairs, which will ultimately cut into your profits. 

The real estate market

No matter when you buy, this will always be an important thing to consider. The real estate market is unpredictable, which means any time you enter the market there are a lot of factors to consider. However, when you’re buying an investment property, you really want to be sure you’re getting a good deal so your profit margins can be higher. You’ll need to look at it as a longer-term investment and consider how it will affect you over a course of years, not months. 

Investment properties can be a great way to earn a secondary income while getting yourself onto the property ladder. There are plenty of different property types you can find, each with their own set of pros and cons, but one thing remains constant: owning an investment property is a commitment! It’s not something you can do on a whim, which is why doing your research is the most important first step you can take. 

*The information above is for informational purposes only and should not be used as investment or financial advice.

Source: Realtor.ca


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Whether it’s a hole from mounting hardware, or discovering a torn screen, minor damage and everyday wear-and-tear in our homes is a fact of life. Despite the rising popularity of DIY, not everyone feels comfortable making their own repairs, opting to employ professionals or family and friends, instead. Before starting your online search for a “local handyperson,” let’s look at eight easy repairs you can do around your home.

1. Repair or replace window screens

Small holes in a screen can be corrected in moments using a screen patch kit, while larger tears require a screen replacement kit. Nylon screen replacement kits are the easiest to install and contain a roll of nylon screen, spline (the vinyl cord which secures the screen inside the frame), and a spline roller (used to push the spline and screen into place).

The following video by Ace Hardware walks you through both a screen patch and replacement.

2. Fix squeaky hinges

A few drops—or sprays—of lubricating oil makes a quick fix for noisy door hinges. But, if that doesn’t do the trick, place a shim or wedge under the door for stability, and remove the hinge pins. Wipe each pin with steel wool, then replace and apply oil. Your door should operate smoothly (and silently) again.

Image via Theme Photos, Unsplash

3. Replace door knobs and locks

Damaged or aging door knobs can be replaced with a new one using a screwdriver or electric driver in about five minutes. While new knobs come with detailed installation instructions, the video below by Pretty Handy Girl shows just how quick and easy this job is.

4. Patch drywall holes

Small holes (¼ inch or less) in drywall (also called gypsum board) from old hooks, or small dents from furniture on moving day can quickly be corrected using a putty knife and spackle. Fill the hole using the putty knife and spackle, then allow it to dry completely. Sand it down lightly and repaint the area (if necessary). 

A drywall patch kit is best to handle larger holes up to 4 inches (10 cm) and typically cost less than $15. Larger holes require a sturdier material to actually bridge the gap and hold the repair for a long period of time. Follow the instructions included with the kit for the best results.

5. Replace weather stripping

The weather stripping around doors and windows deteriorates over time, so it’s important to replace them before they affect heating and cooling costs. You’ll generally need a flathead screwdriver and a utility knife or scissors, along with the replacement stripping.

The following video from HouseImprovements shows how you can replace your door’s weather stripping with ease.

Windows require a little more work as they need to be removed altogether and may have one of a variety of stripping types. If you’re choosing to take the windows out on your own, be sure to monitor window openings during this task, especially if you have young children in the house. This is more of an advanced fix, so we’d recommend leaving this to a professional or someone with more experience. Replacing windows is not quite a beginner’s activity.

6. Fix a leaky showerhead

If your showerhead leaks where it attaches to the fixture, it’s time to refresh the teflon plumber’s tape��at a cost of a few dollars. Remove the shower head, clean off any excess grime and tape using steel wool, then apply a few layers (three to five full wraps) of teflon tape in a clockwise direction (this is key so the tape won’t bunch up when you screw the showerhead back on). Then screw on your showerhead until it is hand-tight—don’t use tools to tighten as over-tightening can damage the shower attachment, causing further leaking.

7. Refresh bathroom caulking

Deteriorating or peeling caulking in your bathroom should be replaced promptly to avoid moisture incursion and mould. A utility knife can be used to peel and clean off any old caulking, then apply silicone bathroom caulking using a caulking gun.

Note: Caulking requires 24 hours to fully cure, so plan accordingly before resuming use of the respective sink, bathtub, or toilet.

8. Silence a squeaky floor

There are a few ways to correct creaky floors, which occur when the subfloor separates from the floor joists and rubs against the nails. 

For wood floors, locate the joist where it squeaks (using a stud-finder), and drive two finishing nails at opposing 45 degree angles into the joist through the subfloor, ensuring they are flush. If you can access the joists from underneath (from your basement for example), affixing a shim between the subfloor and joist with carpenter’s glue will correct this.

For carpet, cut a small hole in the carpet mesh using a utility knife, then drive a flooring screw into the subfloor and joist beneath. DIY Network provides a visual step-by-step guide to making these quick flooring fixes.

Image via Daniela Gisin-Krumsick, Unsplash

When to call a professional

Of course, when it’s a matter of scope or safety, there are times when the best thing to do is call a professional. Shoddy electrical wiring, mould incursion, basement foundation cracks, and DIY renovation foul-ups are just some of the many scenarios that are best managed by the pros.

Whether it’s your first home, an older model, or your first downsize from an empty nest, tackling your own home improvement tasks—even the simplest of repairs—can open the door to a whole new world of skills—and confidence—you never thought you had.

Source: Realtor.ca/blog


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Do home renovation shows have you drooling over exposed brick wallscement tile backsplashes, and marble countertops, but you find yourself without the budget to make it happen? Don’t fret, these costly design and décor projects are easy to hack, allowing you to replicate expensive-looking designs with a few “fake it till you make it” ideas!

Whether you’re looking to spruce up your rental space, redecorate your home, or are a REALTOR® helping a client improve their home for resale, these easy design ideas will deliver impact without breaking the bank.

Image via HandyAndy.NYC on Instagram


Design hack: There’s no denying how much impact a tiled backsplash can have in a kitchen or bathroom. It completes the space and makes it feel finished. Tiling a backsplash yourself takes skill and patience, and hiring a contractor takes time and budget. If you don’t have either of those, consider faking it with peel-and-stick tiles. From funky to classic, peel-and-stick tiles have come a long way in terms of design. Available in large squares or single tiles, this budget décor project is perfect for renters or those looking for a quick, temporary, but stunning solution.

Estimated cost: $75 to $300+ depending on the size of the backsplash area.

Tip: When installing peel-and-stick tile, it’s important to make sure the area is clean and dry. This will ensure a strong hold, preventing the corners of the tiles from lifting, which is a common problem.

Image via NatalieSurdivalHome on Instagram

Feature walls

Design hack: Loving the look of shiplap, exposed brick, and barn board, but don’t have the resources? Fake it ‘til you make it! Forget about spending hours installing shiplap or the mess of exposing old brick, these eye-catching features can be brought to life with wallpaper or printed murals, and they look just as good as the real thing!

Estimated cost: $100 to $750+ depending on the size of the wall and type of covering selected.

Tip: If you are renting or sprucing up a space in order to sell, opt for the removable kind. This will prevent damage to the walls if it needs to be taken down.

Image via My City Apartment on Instagram

Marble countertops

Design hack: There’s nothing quite like the timeless look and durability of stone countertops, so if marble or granite is a must-have for you, start saving! In the meantime, you can hack those builder-basic laminate countertops into something just as beautiful using marble paint-based and epoxy resin kits or stone-like countertop film. While these products might not last as long as the real thing, you should be able to get a few years out of them.

Estimated cost: $300 to $700+ depending on the size of the countertop area.

Tip: Ensure these products look as real as possible by cleaning the surface thoroughly to remove any debris. This will allow you to apply the product smoothly, without air bubbles or streaks. Also, always follow the application instructions. Always!

Image via Desert_Hydrangea on Instagram


Design hack: What homeowner hasn’t dreamed of cozying up next to their fireplace with a glass of wine and a good book? In addition to their functional benefits, fireplaces have become a must-have design element and focal point. However, installing a real fireplace in your home isn’t without expense and caution, which is why more and more budget design enthusiasts are opting for electric. But how do you make those free-standing fireplaces and electric inserts look like they truly belong? Hack it! Build an insert surround from a real mantel, frame out your wall from floor to ceiling, or add built-ins to either side of a free-standing unit.

Estimated cost: $350 to $2,500+ depending on how elaborate you go.

Tip: Do your research when selecting an electric unit—not all are equal. Know how much clearance and airflow is required for your selected unit before building any type of structure and be sure to engage a certified electrician if needing to conduct any electrical work.

Image via Annavynguyen on Instagram

Black window frames

Design hack: Black window frames have quickly become part of the standard options when building a new home, but what about older homes with wooden panes, basic white vinyl, or dated coloured frames? If a $20,000+ window replacement project is out of reach, try bringing new life to the interior of your window frames using black paint. Want the industrial look? That might be as simple as applying some black electrical tape.

Estimated cost: $80 to $200+ depending on how many windows you are updating.

Tip: Success is in the prep work. Make certain your frames are clean and free from debris, then prime the frames with the appropriate primer and wait the recommended amount of time before applying any paint. This will ensure a good paint adhesion and prevent you from having to constantly touch up the windows due to flaking or peeling.

No matter the type of home project you are tackling, there are so many design ideas and easy hacks that can make your home look high-end and beautiful without breaking the bank!

Source: Realtor.ca/blog


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From the classic Brooklyn brownstone to the exposed brick wall in what seems like every start-up’s office space, bricks offer both a classic and enduring design feature. While traditional brick laying is a time-consuming and expensive procedure for the average homeowner, installing interlocking bricks is a popular way to improve the appeal of any paved surface, be it a driveway, walkway, pool surround, or even walls. 

It’s important to understand the differences between interlocking and traditional bricks, as well as interlocking advantages and disadvantages, project ideas, and installation tips.

A bicycle sitting in front of a wooden garage with an interlocking drivewayImage via Unsplash

Interlocking bricks vs. ‘traditional’ bricks

Interlocking bricks are made by compressing a mixture of sand, soil and cement in an interlocking brick-making machine and curing them with water for seven days. They’re made to fit together, avoiding the use of mortar, using a self-locking shear-key and lock system. This allows for more aesthetically pleasing and functional designs when you’re using bricks for your driveway, patio, front walk, or other projects. 

Traditional cement bricks, like the ones used to build your home or buildings, are cut into their uniformly rectangular shape with a wire and bound together with mortar. Since they’re plastered, traditional bricks hold up longer to wear and tear, extreme weather, and insect infestation. That’s why they’re used for residential and commercial buildings, unlike interlocking bricks which are generally reserved for vanity projects.

If you’re using interlocking bricks for the exterior of your home, remember they can only be used for the first three stories of a building. It’s not safe to use interlocking bricks for tall commercial buildings. 

a home with stone facade and stone pathwayImage via Pixabay

The interlock advantage

Think of the savings

Depending on your project, interlocking bricks can be less expensive than traditional brick! They also require less labour for construction and maintenance, and a significantly shorter curing period—standard brick mortar can take up to 28 days to fully cure.

Reduce your emissions footprint

Since interlocking bricks are compressed and have more mass than standard ones, their internal temperatures provide a more environmentally friendly way to help keep building interiors cool in the summer heat

Earthquake safety

If you live in an earthquake-prone area, take note. Interlocking bricks used in retaining walls can be more resilient against earthquakes than traditional cement bricks. If the mortar that supports cement bricks fails, then so too does the entire structure, whereas interlocking bricks support each other. As a result, some governments have recommended building durable interlocking brick structures in earthquake-prone areas, like Nepal, California, and British Columbia.

How you can use them

The versatility and variety of interlocking bricks makes them ideal for improvements to your exterior landscape design. They’re also increasingly used for some interior features, like the much sought-after exposed brick wall in trendy loft spaces. 

A winding interlocking brick driveway


Driveways and walkways are among the most common uses, and for good reason. Interlock systems are more flexible and have a longer lifespan than poured concrete and asphalt. Plus, with a variety of shapes, colours and custom designs, interlocking driveways and walkways could boost your curb appeal and overall property value.

a set of patio furniture on an interlocking brick patio

Patios and garden features

Interlock brick features can also really tie your backyard together. An interlock patio can add texture, depth, and solid ground for al fresco dinner parties while reducing time spent on lawn care. Gardens encased in an interlock retaining wall help organize and protect your blooming flower beds

If you’re choosing an interlocking brick patio, keep in mind pesky weeds or anthills can eventually start to sprout through the cracks. Keep an eye on these and try some of our methods for keeping weeds and pests out.

an interlocking brick pool deck around an in ground pool

Pool decks

swimming pool surrounded by interlocking blocks or stones enhances appearance and improves pool safety by helping to reduce slippery surfaces. Plus, similar to how interlocking brick can help keep buildings cooler when it’s used for walls, it’s also cooler on your feet so you don’t have to worry about the heat while you sit poolside!

gray interlocking bricks being assembled on gravel

Adding interlocking brick to your home

You’ve weighed the pros and cons and decided an interlock feature is right for your building project. What’s next? It’s important to consider several factors that will affect your final product, such as: 

  • The size of the project (i.e., a long driveway or a small retaining garden wall?);
  • any borders or features that will affect the pattern and size or space;
  • the colours, patterns, textures, and mixture composition that work best for you; and 
  • maintenance and repair (i.e., do you want to seal your interlock for that extra layer protection from the elements?)

Once you’ve settled on the details, it’s time to start bricklaying. While in theory you could do this yourself, unless you’re a seasoned DIYer it may not be the best choice. More likely, you’ll want to seek out the help of a professional. Contact a landscaping contractor or ask a your REALTOR® if they have any contractors they tend to use. Your REALTOR® will also know the trends in your neighbourhood to see if interlocking brick features are the best option for your resale value. 

Interlocking brick is a great way to add personality and curb appeal to your home, and it comes with its advantages! Whether it’s your driveway, patio, and pool deck, you’re sure to end up with a design you love.

Source: Realtor.ca/blog
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Source: Realtor.ca/blog

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.

a tiny home shed that has been built in a backyard Image via Rob Cardillo – This Old House

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.

inside a shed that has been turned into a gym with a view of the backyard

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.

 inside a shed that has been converted into a home office with a desk and wooden accentsImage via Pinterest – Editions de L’Arkhan

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.

 a shed that has been turned into a greenhouse with shelves and windowsImage via Family Food Garden

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.

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.

inside a shed that has been turned into a backyard oasis with pink walls, a table, and chairs
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Ah, moving day. It can either be a joyous occasion or a mind-numbingly stressful ordeal. No matter how much we prepare, there always seems to be some tiny detail unaccounted for. Let’s unpack the subtle art of preparing for and managing a—hopefully—flawless move.

Man struggling to move a couch up a flight of stairsImage via memecandy, Giphy

Is everything worth moving?

Ever try to get a queen-size box spring up narrow stairs with 90º landings? Furniture that squeaks into one house may only jam up in another. Assess what will fit and what won’t by measuring your largest items ahead of time then test those measurements in the entries, stairs (especially around those corners and low suspended ceilings), and doorways of your new home.

On the flip side, unnecessary clutter tends to follow us from place to place, which makes moving the perfect opportunity to de-clutter, paving the way for a smoother move. 

Stack of cardboard boxesImage via Beeki, Pixabay

Think outside the box

Traditionally, we’ve scrounged local retailers for empty boxes or bought new ones. More sustainable options have presented themselves in recent years, making it easy to obtain high quality used moving boxes, or renting reusable bins

The Buy Nothing Project is dedicated to keeping items out of landfills by passing them onto others for free. They have Facebook groups across Canada and can be excellent resources for moving boxes. 

If you can’t find free or reusable moving materials, that’s OK too. You can buy tape, boxes, packing paper, and other materials from your local moving companies—even if you’re doing all the moving yourself.

3 men moversImage via 3 Men Movers, Giphy

Should I DIY or hire a moving company?

Hiring a moving company can be more costly than renting a truck and paying friends in pizza and beer. So why is it better to hire a professional? It’s simple. They’re professionals who do this every day, are insured against damage or injury, and their experience gives them the benefit of efficiency. Friends and family may be willing to help when called upon, but is it a fair test of your relationship to put them at risk of injury and expect them to assume responsibility for the safety of your most valued possessions?

Couple packing boxesImage via Ketut Sebiyanto, Pexels

About downsizing

Whether you’re an empty-nester who no longer needs a three-bedroom home, or find yourself unexpectedly moving into a smaller placedownsizing presents a unique challenge. If life teaches us anything, it’s challenges are opportunities in disguise. In this case, it’s a chance to take inventory of the possessions that are truly important and get rid of anything that isn’t necessary or doesn’t contribute to your happiness.

Person wrapping belongings for a moveImage via Ketut Sebiyanto, Pexels

Strategy is everything

The key to a successful, stress-free move is having an effective strategy in place. Consider these points when planning your move:

  • Start early: If you need to purge for a downsize, start 90 days before your move date. Otherwise aim to start two months before; 
  • Make a checklist: List everything that needs to get done, packed, moved, switched, rented or hired, and cleaned;
  • Stock up: Make sure you have enough boxes, packing tape, packing paper, tissue paper for delicates, and a pack of Sharpies;

moving straps

  • Get moving straps, a dolly and/or hand truck: These items are lifesavers when it comes to moving heavy or bulky objects over any distance and are essential if you plan to move on your own.
  • Choose a reputable mover: The Office of Consumer Affairs advises to obtain estimates from at least three certified movers. Read their reviews, but also obtain references and be sure to read their documentation carefully.
  • Get written estimates: Ideally, movers will give an in-house assessment with a detailed written estimate, although many movers have detailed estimate forms you can complete on their websites. 
  • Add insurance: Your home insurance and that of your movers is usually enough to cover any incidentals. Items of extreme value may not be covered, so check with the mover and your broker in case additional insurance is needed on moving day.
Books packed in a box for a moveImage via kohnrebecca0, Pixabay
  • Distribute your weight: It’s easy to underestimate the combined weight of your belongings once packed. Distribute weighty items, use the smallest boxes for books and dinnerware, and largest for lighter bulky items like duvets, comforters and pillows.
  • Inventory and label: Keep an inventory as you pack and label boxes accurately. Nothing is more frustrating than rifling through 20 kitchen boxes to find a spatula when it’s time to cook.
Couple sleeping on a mattress in a new homeImage via cottonbro, Pexels
  • Remember your moving day essentials: These are the final items to pack and should include a few days’ worth of everything you will need to cook, eat, clean, bathe, dress, and sleep. It’s advisable to move these items yourself to keep them close to hand.
  • Separate important valuables: As you pack, keep your most valued possessions together so you can pack them and move them over yourself. If you have a safe or lock box, this is the best place for these items. 
  • Change your address: It’s easy to let this one slip until the last minute. Make sure to update your address with all your service providers and accounts, and request a service change for utilities, internet and telephone. If needed, set up mail forwarding through Canada Post.
packed box with a key hanging from a stringImage via congerdesign, Pixabay

What once may have been a stressful ordeal can easily turn into a smooth-running operation. Taking the time and care to follow these strategies can help remove a lot of stress from the equation when moving into a new house—especially if it’s your first home—so you can enjoy the process rather than fear it. Happy packing!

Source: Realtor.ca/blog


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We’ve enjoyed some unexpected benefits from spending so much more time at home. You may have discovered—or at least considered—your thumb is far greener than you ever thought. 

You’re not alone as nearly half of Canadians turned soil to grow their own food in 2020 as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Now that it’s time to start planning for the next growing season, let’s take a look at why a DIY greenhouse could be the perfect thing to kick your gardening efforts up a notch.

exterior shot of a greenhouse in a backyardImage via hsvall, Pixabay

Why a greenhouse?

The Canadian growing season is short, especially farther north, and a greenhouse is the perfect way to start plants that need extra time to establish before planting them outside in the ground. It also provides protection to seedlings so pesky squirrels, slugs, and other insects don’t get to eat the fruits of your labour before you do—making it an outstanding alternative to an open air garden altogether. A greenhouse opens up more options for produce that would not normally thrive in our temperate climate. Plus, if you take the extra steps with a heated four-season greenhouse, you can grow year-round and add to your winter landscape.

exterior shot of a tented greenhouse with planters around itImage via DanielSjostrand, Pixabay

Can I really build my own?

You may question whether or not this is something you can do on your own with little or no building experience. Fortunately, there are many ways to accomplish this project. If you prefer a turn-key solution, there are plenty of kits of all sizes out there. 

If you prefer to build your own from scratch, then you may find the perfect set of plans in this epic list compiled by Morning Chores. For you expert builders, that list makes a good starting point to inspire your own design!

When planning for a greenhouse, one of the most common issues growers encounter is running out of space too quickly. Always plan a little larger than you think you might need (if space allows). There are also ways to make the most of your space like layering, increasing your surface area, or staggering crops.

a greenhouse box with rows of lettuce growing insideImage via titosoft, Pixabay

Although most kits are small, a building permit may be required to construct larger or more complex greenhouses, especially if your goal is a heated three-to-four season setup. Check with your municipality to ensure you’re following building codes and to apply for a permit if necessary.

To give some insight into what it’s like to build from scratch, check out the accounts from three Quebec residents, what they did, how they use them, and what was involved to accomplish their projects.

a row of seedlings in soil inside a greenhouseImage via jag2020, Pixabay

Plants for the beginner

If you’re just starting out, sticking to species that are easy to grow is an excellent way to build confidence and gain experience to succeed in this endeavour. Here are some veggies and herbs that can thrive under the most basic of conditions and care.

rows of tomato plants in orange pots with popsicle sticksImage via jag2020, Pixabay


Tomatoes can be remarkably easy to grow, and can produce loads of fruit through the late summer and into the fall. 

a close-up of a zucchini plant with flowersImage via ajcespedes, Pixabay


This delicious squash variety is perfect for the beginner gardener and will continue to flower and produce fruit right up until the first frost. Just make sure to harvest them every few days so they don’t get too big.

a close up of a pile of spinachImage via millenialab, Pixabay


Spinach is delicious and versatile, easily fitting into many raw and cooked dishes.

a close up of red and green heads of lettuceImage via blende12, Pixabay


From red and green leaf lettuce to juicy romaine or iceberg, your salad game will be spot-on with these easy-to-grow greens.

a pile of picked cucumbersImage via krzys16, Pixabay


Cucumber varieties are relatively easy to grow, and perfect for both raw and pickling applications. Like zucchini you need to keep an eye on their size once they start to ripen.

a pile of carrots freshly pulled from the groundImage via rauschenberger, Pixabay


These delicious and popular root vegetables are a breeze to plant and maintain in a greenhouse setting.

 stacks of green onions tied upImage via ArmbrustAnna, Pixabay

Green (spring) onions

A staple for salads, omelettes or garnish for stir-frygreen onions are super easy to grow. You can even start them from leftovers you bought at the grocery store as long as they still have their roots. You can also continually harvest them by snipping off the tops as needed and leaving the rest to re-grow.

strawberries growing off the plantImage via Bytran2710, Pixabay


This sweet, delicious early summer fruit is surprisingly simple to grow, and there are even varieties that produce continually as long as the ambient temperature remains moderate.

close up of multiple basil plantsImage via fabersam, Pixabay

Many herbs grow quite well in Canada’s climate, and will thrive in a greenhouse setting. If you’re planting outside, be aware most herbs are perennial and will come back each year. Varieties like mint, lemon balm, chives, and parsley spread quickly (keep an eye on them if you are planting outside). Here are a few must-haves:

  • Parsley;
  • Sage;
  • Summer Savoury;
  • Oregano;
  • Basil;
  • Thyme;
  • Dill;
  • Fennel;
  • Mint;
  • Cilantro;
  • Lemon Balm; and
  • Chives.

For more ideas on what can easily be grown in your greenhouse, this comprehensive list has you covered.

an outdoor greenhouseImage via EME, Pixabay

Two important considerations

Because the sun can be quite piercing and glass windows can amplify its heat and intensity, it may be necessary to take additional steps to moderate the temperature and light penetration, like employing a shade or enabling ventilation.

While some plants require little-to-no help with pollination, if you plan to grow in a fully enclosed greenhouse for the duration of your plants’ life cycles, some assistance may be necessary to ensure a healthy crop.

a basket full of fresh vegetablesImage via JillWellington, Pixabay

Building a greenhouse to grow your own produce is an amazing hobby with benefits to your health beyond just the expected fresh and nutritious harvest. It’s a great—even cost-friendly—way to learn new skills, relieve stress, build confidence, and make opportunities for valuable family time—even for the most timid of green thumbs.

Source: Realtor.ca/Blog


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Source: Realtor.ca/Blog


Since the pandemic hit, more homeowners have been staying put. Many continue to invest money into their properties, especially their outdoor space, so they can entertain friends and families safely. That means deck-building companies have been very busy.

“The industry has absolutely exploded, with so many customers wanting to build decks,” says Justin Szekely, owner and co-founder of Ace of Decks, which designs and builds custom decks in BeaconsfieldQuebec.

Thinking of improving your outdoor living area by putting in a fabulous new deck? Here are Szekely’s top tips to get the right space for your lifestyle and budget.

View from a deck overlooking the water

Choose the right contractor

“A lot of companies claim to be able to do just about anything under the sun, and they’ll take jobs they’re not used to doing, so make sure your contractor is very comfortable installing the specific products you’re hiring them to build with,” says Szekely. “With products like composite decking, each manufacturer has very specific installation techniques, and if the contractors aren’t familiar with that product, they may install it wrong and void your warranty.”

Also, because municipalities have bylaws and permit processes that vary, you’ll want a contractor who’s familiar with your area. And don’t forget to ask for references and check out their work by inspecting the decks they’ve already built, if possible.

Image via Ace of Decks

Decide which materials match your lifestyle

Probably the biggest deck decision is cost  versus maintenance. A composite deck typically costs twice as much as treated wood, but it lasts at least twice as long, explains Szekely. 

“And while you own that deck, you’ll never spend any money or time maintaining it, so for that reason, the cost of ownership is actually less for a composite deck,” he says.

However, if you’re not planning to stay in your house for long, you might not want to invest in composite.

One more thing: Composite decks get a lot warmer in the sun than wood. 

“If the deck is being built near a pool where everyone will be barefoot, we recommend either wood or a lighter-coloured composite, because a dark-coloured composite can burn your feet,” says Szekely.

treated wood deck, big enough for a barbecue, a table and chairsImage via Ace of Decks

Select a deck size that makes sense and fits your budget

A treated wood deck, big enough for a barbecue, a table and chairs starts at about $3,000-$4,000. More elaborate projects run as high as $80,000-$100,000, says Szekely.

On paper–and on TV–multi-level decks look pretty awesome. But there’s no point building something without lots of usable space.

“Think about whether you need space for a four- or eight-person table and if you want a couch there or lighting? These decisions will forecast how big of a deck you need, but we recommend 12-x-24 feet as the smallest size that makes sense for a multi-level deck.”

Check with your city to see how close your deck can encroach onto your property line. Even if you have enough space for a massive deck, you may not be allowed to build it. 

“Privacy is always important, too. A big deck can quickly become a big stage for your neighbours,” explains Szekely.

deck being constructedImage via Ace of Decks

Get an early start

Believe it or not, now’s the perfect time to plan for your new deck. 

“You can build the deck anytime you want, as long as there’s no snow in the way; we start working in March, and we’re already booked until the end of May right now,” says Szekely.

The pandemic has also meant some construction materials are on back-order, so the earlier you start, the better. 

If you request a permit to build a deck now, you’ll probably get one within a week or two, adds Szekely. But if you wait until May, it could take up to two months. Booking early means there’s less chance your project will be delayed.  

“You also have to think about safety; the city won’t grant a permit for any project missing the proper railing requirements.”

Treated wood deck

If you want wood, be prepared for the upkeep

Treated wood decks are affordable and beautiful, but be aware that you’ll be committing yourself to maintaining it, says Skekely.

“Upkeep depends on how much sun your deck is exposed to, what product you put on there and just how critical you are of that product fading a little bit,” he explains. 

“If you put on an opaque paint, that’s going to be super high-maintenance, because the second a piece chips off, you’ll see it right away. And once you go with the opaque, you’re stuck with it, unless you’re going to sand and strip it all off, which is a huge job.”

If you use a clear oil or a stain that soaks into the wood, you won’t notice it deteriorating and it leaves a rustic patina. 

No matter what type of deck you choose, it will definitely boost enjoyment in your backyard for years to come, so it’s an investment you can feel good about.

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Source: Scott's Blog


Most empty nesters have to face this decision at some point or another – to keep the family home or downsize to something smaller. Deciding to move from the home where you raised your kids can be an emotional process. For some, it’s sad, while for others it’s an exciting new chapter. Whatever you may be feeling, don’t let your emotions get in the way of making a smart decision. Like any real estate investment, there are a lot of things that need to be considered when downsizing to a smaller home. Here are a few downsizing tips to consider.

Why Downsize?

The first thing to figure out is why you’re downsizing. Some people choose to leave because the family home has become too much to manage, for some it feels too empty without the kids in the house, and for others it’s because they desire a lifestyle change. Whatever the reason it’s important to understand why you’re downsizing so you can determine the needs of your new home.

What Matters To You?

Before you settle on your new digs you have to determine what matters and what doesn’t. The best way to start is to make a list of the best and worst features of your current home. Do you love your big family-style kitchen? Will you miss it if you move to a tiny condo? What about the backyard? If outdoor entertaining is important to you a small bungalow with a yard might be a better option than a condo. While compromises will always have to be made, there’s no point in moving to a place that lacks the things you love.

Scott McGillivray Collection

Size Matters

Downsizing to a one or two-bedroom condo can be a tempting prospect for people who don’t want to deal with a lot of upkeep, but make sure the space can accommodate your lifestyle. Do you host a lot of holiday get-togethers? Make sure you can fit your loved ones in the space. Do family and friends come for overnight visits on a regular basis? In that case, a guest room is a must. And keep in mind that your kids may have moved out of the family home, but that doesn’t mean they might not come back! If this is something you want to encourage make sure there’s somewhere for them to stay.

Consider the Location

Location is as important when downsizing as it is at any other time, and the area you move to will affect your cost of living. While moving from a big home to a condo might seem like a money-saving venture, cutting square footage might not save you money if you move to a prime real estate location. And keep in mind that condos come with maintenance fees that must be budgeted for. When deciding on a location you also need to think about what’s important to you now and in the future. Staying close to family is very important for some people while being close to specific amenities is important to others.

Special Considerations

As an empty nester, you need to think about the needs of tomorrow as well as today. Townhouses can be great in terms of size and upkeep, but they tend to have a lot of stairs, which can become difficult as you get older. Other elements of universal design are also worthwhile to keep in mind. When looking for downsizing tips, think about things like curbless showers, door handles instead of knobs and under-counter appliances. While these things might not be a concern now, they could be important in the future.

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With Canadians spending more time at home, opportunities to level-up our living spaces continue to present themselves. You may have spent time pampering your pets, setting a new tone in the bathroom, or even performing some long-overdue home maintenance. If you’ve been considering uncharted home improvement territory, then it could be time to finish your basement. Let’s look at some key considerations to help you plan for this project.

Bedroom finished basementImage via AddiGibson, Pixabay

Is it worthwhile?

Undoubtedly this is one of the biggest projects you can undertake in your home, and it carries some risks as well as a hefty price tag. On the flipside, you’ll not only increase the livable space in your home, your property value could see a substantial boost. Whether you hire a pro to complete the work or execute this epic DIY yourself, the added value alone makes this a worthy endeavour (if approached correctly).

Besides general considerations for this project, you’ll need to assess costs. Consider a professionally finished basement will cost between $35 and $55 per square foot (0.93m2). Of course, this cost would be reduced for a DIY, but it’s a good baseline for budgeting. 

Important: If you’re considering converting to a basement apartment, consulting your municipality and a qualified professional are both key in planning for a safe and legal living space for family or tenants.

Installing wall insolationImage via Erik Mclean, Unsplash

Common pitfalls to avoid

Working without a permit: This is one of the most common mistakes when it comes to any type of renovation, causing potential financial and legal woes down the road—especially when selling your home.

Ignoring moisture: Before proceeding it’s important to confirm if conditions are suitable for finishing. Basement humidity levels must be maintained at 55% or less. Anything above 60% presents a mould risk. Tip: Taping two-foot squares of plastic sheeting strategically on the walls and floor for two-week periods is an excellent way to test for moisture penetration.

Drywall scraperImage via La Miko, Pexels

Improper flooring: Another major pitfall for finished basements is when carpet or organic flooring are laid on concrete. This can create conditions for condensation to collect, so it’s important to employ proper subflooring materials, or if possible, use inorganic flooring such as ceramic tiles.

No backup sump pump: If your basement requires a sump pit and pump to address drainage during spring or sustained rain, it’s important to maintain a working backup pump for emergencies. Tip: During dry periods, practice swapping out your pumps to avoid any panic when there’s a pump failure. 

Poor drainage: One of the most important considerations takes place outside your home. Ensure your gutters direct water at least 10 feet away from the home, and that the surrounding soil slopes away from the structure. 

Inadequate ceiling clearance: While most homeowners are not likely to attempt finishing a crawl space, it’s important to meet minimum code requirements for ceiling clearance. Clearance height may vary from city to city, but generally speaking you must keep a minimum height (below beams and ducts) of 6’11” for at least 75% of your usable floorspace.

Home inspector smilingImage via sagoodi, Pixabay

Consult professionals

This can’t be stressed enough. Even if you plan to do the finishing work yourself, it’s best to consult a professional for this type of project. A building engineer or architect can help you develop a plan to avoid missing key details, while also helping to assure building permit approval.

All electrical, plumbing, or support structure work should be performed by licensed professionals to avoid costly, dangerous mistakes.

Power drill and home plans on tableImage via JESHOOTS.com, Pexels


Once you have a plan, it’s time to purchase the materials you’ll need to accomplish this project. Assuming any drainage or moisture seal issues have already addressed, here are the main materials to plan for: 

  • Treated lumber for studs (treated lumber is less susceptible to warping and rot)
  • Metal or wood furring strips to create offsets along your walls (a must for uneven walls)
  • Insulation (a solid foam insulation is recommended if it will contact the walls directly)
  • Flooring materials (subflooring, carpet, laminate or tile)
  • Drywall
  • Paint
  • Concrete sealer
  • Hammer drill with masonry bits, masonry screws or slip anchor sleeves
  • Plumbing (if you plan to install a bathroom or make changes to your laundry area)
  • Sump pumps (every sump pit should have a primary and a backup pump)
levelerImage via jarmoluk, Pixabay

Understandably, there’s a lot to consider, learn, and absorb when preparing to finish your basement. Taking the time to carefully plan out your project while being mindful of potential pitfalls will go a long way towards creating a beautiful space you can not only be proud of, but will provide years of enjoyment for your family, and those of future owners.

For the original article, see Realtor.ca/blog


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Updating your rental property is a delicate balance—you want the place to feel like home, but might not be keen on investing a whole lot of time and money into a place that’s not yours to keep. Plus, there’s the matter of preserving your deposit and staying in your landlord’s good graces. 

While these are responsible things to consider, you deserve to live somewhere that doesn’t feel temporary! As we weather the most indoor winter of them all, it’s important your place feels like home. Here are some damage-free, simple, and cost-effective ways to get started. 

A women painting the walls in her studio apartment

Update your paint job

A fresh coat of paint is great for morale, making your space look cleaner and brighter. Send your landlord a quick email before embarking on this one, as they may expect you to return the apartment to its original colour when you move out. If so, you may want to avoid dark colours or use them sparingly (like on an accent wall, maybe?) to avoid hassle when you repaint. Your landlord may also thank you for saving them the trouble of having to repaint themselves!

Image via [EasyWallz.com]

Try a removable mural

Temporary wall treatments have been gaining popularity in recent years, meaning there’s a tremendous variety of textures and patterns to choose from. It’s easier to install and to remove than traditional wallpaper, making it a kind choice for when “future you” moves out. Temporary murals can be an excellent option for kid bedrooms too, as they can be replaced with your child’s changing interests. 

A wall of artwork

Display your artwork

Does reluctance to put holes in your walls have you putting off assembling a gallery wall?  Command strips are a great alternative to more permanent methods. Be sure to wipe your frame and the wall with alcohol before hanging, so the strip can easily adhere. You’ll also want to use a level to make sure your image is hanging straight the first time, as removing and replacing the strip onto the wall will make it less sticky each time. 

Make the most of your space

Does your rental’s layout have some quirks you could do without? A little creativity can help optimize the space you have to work for you. 

  • The addition of a butcher table to your kitchen can make a big difference for counter space, especially one with additional storage beneath. 
  • Partitioning your space with room-dividing screens can help make purposeful pockets in an open-concept space. This is especially handy for those of us working from home in terms of video conferencing. Sometimes freeing up a physical space for reading or meditation can help free up mental space too.
  • Over-the-toilet storage like this one and no-drill hooks like these can help free up counter space in your bathroom. 

A modern floor lamp

Let there be light

Lighting in a rental unit can be sparse, or just ill-suited to how you use your space. Personalizing your lighting scheme can help you see your space in a new light (pun absolutely intended). 

  • Floor lamps are an easy way to achieve both ambient and task-oriented lighting, without taking up precious space on your surfaces. 
  • An edison pendant light is a vintage-inspired option to provide overhead lighting without rewiring or changing your fixtures. 
  • Though popularized by Gen Z on TikTok, LED light strips and bulbs make it easy to change the vibe on a whim, while still looking modern and grown up. Plus, they set the mood for all your best impromptu home dance parties. 

While the apartment may not be yours for keeps, there are ways you can add your own flair and make the space feel like home. 

Source: Realtor.ca/blog


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