Whether you're renovating, redecorating or spatial planning—you know there's an app for that. We're taking a closer look at seven mobile apps that will give you a leg up on your next home project.


This is an app for everything from a brand new build to a redecorating project. Since you can recreate all of your doors, windows and furniture in the app (right down to their exact measurements), you can rearrange an entire room and see what works before rolling up your sleeves and pushing heavy beds or couches around.

There are different ways to create a floor plan in magicplan, from individual rooms with well-lit photographs, to free form drawing or even an augmented reality (AR) feature that will scan the space and create a to-scale plan. Once your room is sized, tap the “Add Object” button and add everything from doors, plumbing, furniture and electrical in various styles and sizes. On your floor plan, tap where you want to place your object and then add it. From there you can move it along the wall or across the plan.

Rating: 4.5/5 magicplan takes some getting used to, and there are a lot of options within the  app, but nothing here is trying to trick you or make you do complicated 3D math. The ability to create a floor plan of your space without grabbing a ruler and pencil is super efficient.

Cost: Free + in-app purchases

Platforms: iPhone, iPad and Android devices

Download for iOS

Download for Android


Be your own designer with the DecorMatters app. With a free account, you can save your designs, build mood boards and portfolios, follow your favourite designers and be part of a vibrant and creative community. 

Full of design inspiration, DecorMatters lets you fill a room with with features like furniture, art and lighting options from their expansive library—including real products from your favourite stores.

Even cooler:  Its augmented reality features. Scan the floor of a room through the in-app camera and add to-scale products to your space in front of your eyes. There's plenty to explore in DecorMatters, but the technology behind the app is seriously impressive.

Rating: 4.6/5 It feels like a game with how much you can play around with the products. Cycle through décor, furniture and colours to see what you like best before committing to a style. It's a full room transformation without the price tag. 

Cost: Free + in-app purchases

Platform: iPhone

Download for iOS

Pantone Studio

This colour palette app invites you to “explore a universe of colour and discover harmonies and colour values”. Simply put, this is a colour swatch app with plenty of perks.

Sure there are a lot of features you can unlock for a price, but the free components of Pantone Studio are a great starting point to find complementary colour palettes. If you allow Pantone Studio access to your device's photo gallery, the app will create a five colour swatch based on the hues and tones in pictures you select. From there, you can drag the swatch to the bar at the bottom for a closer look and detailed read-out of the colours.

You can even use built-in AR technology to create a swatch in real-time using any object in your home. 

Rating: 3.8/5 This is an easy-to-use app to help harmonize a room and get creative with your colour choices. If you want to design a room around your favourite piece of art, upload the photo to Pantone Studio and the app will pick five colours to work with. From there, you can paint walls, find textiles and stain woods to help tie the room together. 

Cost: Free + Free Trial and in-app purchases of the Pantone swatches

Platforms: iPhone

Download for iOS

Morpholio Board

Do you like to gather all of your ideas in one place before you start a big project? Morpholio lets you create mood boards with photos from your device's camera roll and real products from an extensive library (complete with links to websites with more information) or photos from the web.

Visit your favourite websites and crop out images to add them directly to your board and when you're done, simply export your board to save it to your device's photo gallery.

This app comes with a handy feature tour right away so you can get familiar with the app before you start collecting ideas.

Rating: 4.5/5 There are many products to scroll through and tools to alter each image you add, but the mechanics are simple enough that it won't take long to get used to. This app is like kind of like Pinterest if you could cut and paste each pin onto a corkboard for a more holistic view of a mood or idea. 

Cost: Free to build boards + in-app purchases to unlock special features

Platforms: iPhone, iPad

Download for iOS

iPhone built-in measuring and level

If you have an iPhone or iPad, there's an app package that can come in handy during your renovations or redecorating: the Measure app, which uses AR to measure objects and distances. Follow the on-screen instructions and simply tap a point at one edge of your object and move your phone along its length until you need to make a turn. Anchor another point and keep going. Once you're done, tap the measurement on the screen to get a final reading. Then, if you swipe to the right, you'll also find the built-in level. The level works in any direction; you just need to tap to calibrate 0º and let the red or green screen tell you if you're level or not.

Rating: 5/5 The design of both features is super streamlined and simple to navigate, and the AR component of the Measure app is still new enough to be pretty thrilling.

Cost: Free

Platforms: iPhone, iPad. 

Hey Android users, don't feel left out. Search “Bubble Level” on Google Play for your own built-in level.

iHandy Level

This one is a pretty straightforward app. Can't reach your level buried somewhere in your garage? iHandy Level will get the job done. 

The level is actually very sensitive and will give you an accurate reading in degrees from a flat, vertical or horizontal position. You can even turn on a beeping sound that will help guide you hot or cold style.

Rating: 3.9/5 iHandy Level has a simple design but it requires frequent calibration. You can also add on tools like a protractor, ruler, Plumb bob and surface level as in-app purchases.

Cost: Free for the level tool + in-app purchases for additional tools

Platforms: iPhone and Android

Download for iOS

Download for Android


The iPhone's compass app can help you figure out what kind of light each room will get throughout the day—like soft morning sun from the east or hot, direct afternoon light from the west. Knowing what light you'll get is helpful, especially if you're decorating with plants or art, or installing skylights.

Android's Compass Galaxy is a comparable app, with simple calibration and accurate readings.

Rating: 5/5. Works like a charm!

Cost: Free

Platforms: built-in on iPhone, available to download for Android

While enlisting the help from professionals is always the way to go when it comes to major home renovations or large-scale projects, the helping hand these apps offer can give you a lot of freedom to really plan and visualize your project. Plus, with so many augmented reality features, you can see the finished project before it's even started! Pretty cool. 

Do you have a favourite home design app? Let us know what's worked for you in the comments or on our social media channels.

Original Article from: Realtor

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Staying at home for the holidays? Use some of your downtime to tackle a house project or two, and you can start 2020 with a fresher, cleaner space. Take the time to work on a project you would never usually have time for (like editing photos from the past year), get a head start on your New Year’s resolutions (by building a healthy pantry) and put away those ornaments and string lights (actually untangled for once). These eight ideas may just motivate you to put down the Christmas cookies.

Higby Design

1. Clean Up Your Digital Life

The end of the year is a good time to edit digital photo files — you get to reminisce over the past year and create room on your hard drive for the year to come. Delete the fuzzy, out-of-focus and unflattering shots right away, then narrow your collection down further by choosing to keep only the best image when you come across a bunch of very similar shots. Once that’s done, order yourself a book of your favorite snapshots from 2013.

While you’re at your computer, be sure to back up data using a cloud service or an external hard drive (or both) if you haven’t already done so. Collect all of your passwords in one secure place and clean up your virtual desktop.

Impact Remodeling and Construction

2. Organize Your Book Collection

Sifting through old books is sort of like going through photos — they offer a snapshot of your interests and passions at the time you read them. Work your way through your bookshelves one by one, setting aside books you no longer love in a pile to donate or sell.

S. B. Long Interiors

3. Wipe Down Glass Light Fixtures

This is one of those things that’s actually pretty quick and painless to do, but that we don’t necessarily get around to very often. Use a sturdy stepladder to reach the fixture, and wipe it with a dry cloth or duster. If that doesn’t cut it, move up to a spritz of glass cleaner and another wipe with a dry, lint-free cloth. Your lights will be so sparkling and bright, you’ll wonder why you didn’t do it sooner.

deSigneR - Architects and Interior Designers

4. Organize Your Wardrobe

Get some new clothes for Christmas? Make room in the closet by getting rid of a few old, worn or ill-fitting pieces. Sort what’s left by type (pants, skirts etc.) and then, if you’re feeling really ambitious, by color.

Houzz TV: See a Small Apartment Become a Glamorous Dream Home

Wettling Architects

5. Sort Out the Kids’ Stuff

After the holidays is a great time to weed out old toys and clothes from children’s rooms, since kids tend to be more focused on the new stuff they got as gifts. For very young children, you may want to do the editing on your own; older kids should get a say. It can help if you choose a children’s charity together and learn about how the items they give away will help a child who doesn’t have new toys or clothes.

Find an interior designer near you on Houzz

Evens Architects

6. Clean the Kitchen From Top to Bottom

Has marathon cookie baking left your kitchen looking a little worse for the wear? Give it some TLC before the new year. Clean out the pantry and fridge, set your oven to self-clean, wipe down the backsplash and walls, scrub the sink and counters and, last but not least, mop the floors.

KuDa Photography

7. Build a Healthy Pantry

Is one of your new year’s resolutions to eat more healthfully? If so, take this downtime as an opportunity to set the stage for healthier eating. Look at the raw ingredients you have and consider making some healthier swaps — whole wheat for white flour, quinoa or other grains for white rice, maple or brown rice syrup for refined sugar and so on. Make some healthy meal plans and shopping lists, and store them in your pantry where you can easily access them.

Portico Design Group

8. Put Away Holiday Decorations the Right Way

Commit to putting away holiday decor properly this year, and your future self will thank you. Wind Christmas lights around flat pieces of cardboard and stack the cardboard pieces in a box. Wrap delicate ornaments in tissue paper and pack them gently into a cardboard box (plastic can trap moisture and damage ornaments); pack less-fragile decorations in boxes with dividers meant for glassware. Old egg cartons are the perfect size and shape for storing small ornaments. Keep all of your holiday decor together, and label the boxes clearly.

Tell us: What home projects would you like to tackle over the holiday break? Share in the Comments.

Original Aritical from: Houzz

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On the northeastern coast of Vancouver Island, with cool neighbours like Nanaimo and Port Alberni, Qualicum Beach is designed for those prescribed to a coastal agenda. With a temperate climate and four kilometres of sandy beach along the Georgia Strait, Qualicum is an instant love affair. With a population of 8,943, there's enough space for everyone's beach towel!

Located within the traditional territory of Qualicum First Nation at the base of Mount Arrowsmith, Qualicum Beach is a distinct part of “Lighthouse Country,” a nearly 100km seaside stretch through Horne Lake, Qualicum Bay, Bowser and Deep Bay. Tidal flats and beachcombing beckon—as do the just-caught oysters and clams sold on the docks along the way.

It's no surprise then, that Qualicum’s natural beauty and easy access to both Victoria and Vancouver have made it a popular destination for tourists, with adorable rental cottages punctuating its pristine coast. Buyers of a certain age will be thrilled to learn that Qualicum is a thriving retirement community, and features the oldest average population in Canada with a median age of 65.9.

Photo courtesy of Town of Qualicum Beach, Facebook

Did you know?

  • At Free Spirit Spheres, you can sleep suspended in the trees. The spherical orbs are the kind of stuff grown-up dreams are made of and are kitted out with every possible tiny-home-for-a-night need. Just add falling stars to wish upon (*oh, and there are skylights too).

  •  A hotel in Bowser, just north of Qualicum Bay, made Ripley's Believe It or Not history for having a dog that not only served beer to patrons—but also collected their money and made change! “Mike” was trained to tend bar by his owners in the 1930s.

  • This summer, Qualicum Beach hosted their 61st Annual Ocean Mile Swim. A family-friendly event that features–you guessed it!–a mile-long swim in the ocean!

Things to do

Vancouver Island has the highest average winter temperatures in Canada,and with 14km of maintained trails, a paved promenade along the sea, 280-acres of town-owned parks and green space, there's little reason to stay indoors. Picnic spots abound with several nearby provincial parks: Rathtrevor Beach, MacMillan's surreal Cathedral Grove and Horne Lake Caves. From sushi to schnitzel, hiking to fiddling (the local all-ages Oceanside Jammers encourage play-by-ear fiddlers), life in Qualicum Beach is what most people seek from a restorative vacation.

Photo courtesy of Little Qualicum Cheeseworks

  •  At Morningstar Farm (home of Little Qualicum Cheeseworks and Mooberry Winery), you can order a genuine cow's milk latte from the cleverly named Calfé. Or, fill up a take-home bottle at, what's believed to be, Canada's first milk-on-tap dispenser.

  • Just 10 minutes away in Coombs, the legendary Goats on Roof Old Country Market has taken a roadside fruit stand to the next level. Through the roof, actually! While the goats get a lot of fanfare (you can actually email the resident goats' questions), the market sells more than 60 flavours of ice cream and Billy Gruff Bomber donuts that are loaded with bacon and caramel.

Photo credit: Old Country Market –Goats on Roof, Facebook

  • Looking for a touchy-feely experience? Deep Bay Marine Field Station in Baynes Sound has an interpretive centre with aquariums and touch tanks. Operated by Vancouver Island University, you can learn about local marine research projects, conservation initiatives and sign the kiddos up for a March Break Ocean Critter Camp.

  •  At Milner Gardens & Woodland, marvel at the rhododendrons and 10 acres of elaborate gardens or daydream in the shadows of ancient coastal Douglas firs. This 70-acre property was visited by Princess Diana and Queen Elizabeth—so, do as the royals do and enjoy an afternoon tea in the drawing room of Milner House.

Home sweet home

According to the Vancouver Island Real Estate Board (VIREB), in August 2019 a single-family home in Qualicum Beach, and the greater metropolitan area of Parksville, saw its benchmark price increase by 3% from the year before to $590,000. VIREB's president Kaye Broens, reports that “…sellers now recognize that the market has changed and are pricing their homes accordingly.”

The mix of homes in Qualicum range from townhomes to detached two- and three-bedroom properties with waterfront access or located in the town's residential hub.

Work with a REALTOR® to help you find your dream home or investment property in Qualicum Beach today!

Original Article from: Realtor 

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With the booming sharing economy and travellers often preferring to forgo traditional hotel stays, the notion of renting out a room in your home (or the entire house itself) could seem appealing. But before you jump into peer-to-peer short-term rentals, there are some things you should consider:

Costs of hosting: starting up, cleaning, higher utility bills and more

Becoming an Airbnb host requires some startup cash along with ongoing expenses. These include the costs to set up and furnish the space, ongoing utility and cleaning fees which is usually not more than $30 per room.

You'll want to make sure each guest space is attractive and has all the amenities that a weary traveller needs such as fresh backup sheets and plenty of towels. A savvy host can reasonably furnish an empty room for about $1,000. However, $500 can do the trick if you already have an extra bed. Big box stores can help supply furniture for a range of pricing. 

The upside of being a host is that if you work hard, possess excellent customer service skills and treat the platform like your own personal business, the revenue generated from the listing can surpass the initial startup costs and provide a nice monthly return. 

Have you read: Is Buying a Home and Renting It Out a Good Investment?

Young man and woman shaking hands


If your property is controlled by a homeowners' association or co-op, check its rules to make sure you're allowed to host; some may restrict Airbnb activity, while others may have no issue. If you rent, you'll want to get your landlord's blessing. 

A proportion of Airbnb hosts could very well be renters, who may or may not be telling their landlord. It is recommended to get your landlord's approval through a signed agreement. In most Canadian provinces, tenants cannot rent out their apartments without the approval of their landlords. 

Airbnb Canada details here how tenants should go about this process.

Bike hanging on living room wall.

Taxes and business licenses

Depending on where you live, you might require a business license and you might owe local taxes on any income you earn.

Quebec law requires short-term rentals of less than 31 days to obtain a licence from Tourism Quebec. Vancouver has proposed regulations that only allow the issuing of short-term rental licences for a primary residence — meaning the host, whether owner or tenant, must live in the dwelling. This rule targets hosts with multiple investment properties who operate as commercial hosts and eat into the housing stock.

Toronto has proposed a two-pronged approach to licensing, requiring both companies such as Airbnb and hosts to register and pay an annual fee. Hosts of short-term rentals in Toronto would be required to pay an annual fee ranging from $40 – $150. 

As tax is a relatively complex topic, Airbnb has provided some information about local regulations in different Canadian markets. Above all, it's good to consult a tax professional to get more specific information.

Clean + Declutter

You'll want to tidy your space, present it in the best possible light and hide your valuables before you photograph it.

Like the listings you love to peruse here on, the photos and listing title are the first thing a potential guest will see on Airbnb. This is your opportunity to catch their attention. 

You can either take your own photographs or contract out a professional photographer. Many hosts opt for professional shots, given how important eye-catching photos are for your space's profile.

Before photographing, ensure that you prep by arranging suitable lighting conditions and use a quality camera (now available on most smartphones).

Woman standing at bottom of stairs smiling

Insurance and liability

Airbnb's Host Guarantee provides up to $1 million in insurance coverage for property damage in 29 countries, including Canada, the United States and the United Kingdom. Airbnb's insurance is not a substitute for homeowner's or renter's insurance and it doesn't protect against theft or personal liability.

Airbnb states that damage to a host's property (home, unit, rooms, possessions) in every listing is covered up to $1 million USD. However, hosts must provide documentation as part of the resolution process. Payments made through the Host Guarantee are “subject to Host Guarantee Terms and Conditions,” meaning there are exclusions, limitations and conditions. As well, it's common for Airbnb hosts to receive emails from Airbnb, at random, informing them that various terms and conditions have changed. 

Call your insurance company to see what is covered, as some home insurance policies cover short-term rentals. But if there are multiple short-term visits, the insurance company might require you to buy a business policy that would cover a hotel or a bed and breakfast. 


Airbnb's host guarantee doesn't protect against wear and tear to your place, but you can charge a security deposit to cover possible damage.

Installing a reasonable security deposit is a no-brainer move for new hosts. Airbnb allows hosts to set up a security deposit to cover minor damages that would not be covered under the Host Guarantee. For example, if a guest breaks a door handle while staying at your property, you'll want to replace that before the next guest comes.

However, Airbnb won't consider this damage to be major and won't cover it under the Host Guarantee. As a result, this becomes an out of pocket expense for you, unless you charge the guest a security deposit. When guests make a reservation, they are not immediately charged for the deposit – only if a host makes a claim.

Even if a host is only renting a single room, a security deposit is a safe move just in case anything gets damaged. 

Couple meeting with another woman.

Getting paid

Airbnb could require you to refund a guest's payment if you cancel a reservation at the last minute, forget to leave the key, misrepresent your listing, don't clean your home or otherwise fail to meet Airbnb's hospitality standards. Airbnb suggests making sure you're available during the guests' scheduled check-in to address any concerns. 

Airbnb's payment system is quick and efficient. Payments are sent through direct deposit after the guest completes their first night (regardless of the length of stay). 

When a guest books a host's space, they also agree to the host's cancellation policy, which dictates the percentage of the booking costs (minus Airbnb's cut), if any, they will get back. Most moderate policies allow a guest to cancel within two days of the first night to get their money back. Less moderate policies allow the host to collect more of the booking money. 

Host cancellations also happen from time to time. One study found host cancellations are the top complaint on Airbnb, representing about 20% of all complaints. 

Depending on when a host cancels a stay, they'll be deducted either $50 or $100. If a host cancels three or more reservations within a year, Airbnb may deactivate the listing.

To Airbnb or not to Airbnb 

If you talk to enough long-time Airbnb hosts, they'll be able to tell you an endless number of stories about inspiring and interesting guests who shared their home. Others might have bad experiences. There are clear potential advantages and disadvantages to becoming an Airbnb host.

However, if all the regulatory checks are taken care of, the space is up to par and you're taking your hosting responsibilities seriously, the platform can serve as a nice way to earn extra cash and meet interesting travellers from around the world.

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

Original Article from: Realtor 

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Aside from connecting the lower and upper floors, an elegant staircase can also take a home’s design to the next level. But there are countless ways to design this key element in a multistory home. If you’re looking for staircase designs, this countdown of the top 10 staircase photos uploaded to Houzz in 2019 might help you find your way.

Birdseye Building

10. Classic Character

The newel post that anchors the staircase in this Vermont farmhouse was custom-made by Birdseye. Paired with the space’s wide-plank floors, white shiplap walls and warm wood treads, the vintage-style piece sets the tone as homespun but polished.

Pacific Hardwood Flooring

9. Bright White and Wood

Embellished woodwork and glass, abundant natural light and a substantial traditional staircase come together in this Los Angeles-area home to create a sophisticated entryway. Beneath the stairs, wide planks of ashy European oak from Pacific Hardwood Flooring keeps the room looking fresh.

Find a flooring professional near you on Houzz

The Fox Group

8. Warm and Welcoming

A medium-warm wood set against bright white in this Salt Lake City home designed by The Fox Group establishes an immediate sense of cozy farmhouse charm. Overhead, a more contemporary gold light fixture updates the look and adds another element of warmth.

Shop for lighting

Thos. Moser

7. Transitional Charm

With a complementary old-fashioned rocking chair in the background and neat, geometric metalwork, this staircase doesn’t stick to just one style. Wood accents, added by custom furniture maker Thos.Moser, introduce more character.

Timeless Interiors

6. A Touch of Colorful Tile

By decking these stair risers in colorful patterned tile, the team at Timeless Interiors incorporated a fun, unexpected component to an otherwise refined space in New York. Alongside the graceful curve of the staircase, the rich dark-wood railing and the ornate metalwork, the tile strikes a balance between laid back and luxe.

Robert H. Delafield, Inc.

5. Contemporary Storage

Form and function shine in this Tampa, Florida, staircase. Aside from the striking contemporary railing made by local fabricator Vasquez Custom Metals, the staircase stands out with its clever storage spaces. General contractor Robert H. Delafield and other design pros made the most of an often-overlooked space with natural wood cubbies that are playful and practical.

Solitude Homes

4. Shades of Wood

Solitude Homes’ rustic staircase in this Idaho home features a statement-making wood railing in a slightly richer stain than the wood floors. Combined with the house’s open shelving, a comfy carpet runner, white walls and other wood accents, the stairs feel immediately inviting.


3. Surprise Shelving

Another home making smart use of its under-the-stairs space, this Los Angeles-area property, developed by NUMI Home, makes tucked-away storage the star of the show. With clean lines, simple shelf styling and that bold pop of saturated blue, it’s no wonder the shelves-and-staircase combination was a hit among the Houzz community.

8 Clever Ideas for the Space Under the Stairs

Kathryn J. LeMaster Art & Design

2. A Reading Rainbow of Risers

Who says you can’t have a little fun with your staircase? Artist and designer Kathryn J. LeMaster gave this Little Rock, Arkansas, stairway a literary look by painting colorful book spines along the risers. The result? A library’s worth of details to love.

Park City Design Build

1. Floating Modern Features

The modern Utah staircase that users most saved to their ideabooks this year mixes clean lines with mountain views. The team at Park City Design Build wanted to emphasize the walls of glass that look out over the surrounding natural scenery in the house, so airy details like the cable railings and custom floating wood stair treads are meant to keep sight lines clear and dramatic.

Original Article from: Houzz 

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Vancouver Is Awesome founder Bob Kronbauer with dog Frankie, his wife Kate and son Arlo at their new home that’s not in Vancouver. Photo courtesy Bob Kronbauer

The issue surrounding affordability in Vancouver is nothing new. No matter what your opinion or your income, the one thing most everyone can agree on is that Vancouver is an expensive place to live.

That fact was driven home again recently, when Bob Kronbauer, founder and editor of Vancouver Is Awesome, which shares office space and owners with the Vancouver Courier, moved out of the city he has passionately repped for more than a decade. Bob, his wife Kate and son Arlo have joined an exodus of young families feeling Vancouver’s financial pinch. They have relocated to a much smaller, more affordable town. Kronbauer now makes the commute into the city four days a week.

“I came to the conclusion that I wouldn't be able to own a house in Vancouver a couple years ago, and I have already mourned that fact,” Kronbauer told me last week. “We could have bought a condo, but I grew up in Vernon, in a house, I wanted my son to have the same freedoms and joys that come along with that. I'm buying him a drum kit for his birthday this weekend. We're planting a tree that we'll watch grow over the years that we live here.”

Back in his early 20s, after a short stay in Vancouver, Kronbauer moved to Southern California. He immersed himself in the skateboard industry, landing a gig working for Spike Jonze’s company Girl Skateboards. He returned to Vancouver in the early 2000s, and thought that, compared to L.A., Vancouver felt like Shangri La. He couldn’t figure out what all the complaining was about.

“I was like, ‘This is the best!’ and everyone else was like, ‘This is No Fun City!’” he told the Courier in 2017.

Around the same time Kronobauer returned from the states, Vancouver was also considering whether it should put in a bid to host the 2010 Winter Olympics.There was so much public discourse at the time that then mayor Larry Campbell held a citywide plebiscite that saw a record number of citizens turn up at the polls. Somewhat surprisingly, the “yes” side won by nearly two-thirds, and the rest is gold medal memories.

A few years after that vote, Kronbauer decided to do something else for the city, founding the then-ultra-positive Vancouver Is Awesome website on Valentine’s Day 2008. Over the last 10 years, it has grown into an empire of sorts, spinning off into books, podcasts, a T-shirt line, award-nominated TV shows and a massive reach on social media.

How is it that a person who has arguably done so much to boost the morale of this city can’t live here?

“I don't feel like the city owes me anything for ‘passionately repping’ it for all those years while I was a renter,” Kronbauer told me. “I made good money off of that ‘repping,’ and I continue to do so. We made the decision as a family. The kid had a veto, but he wanted to move. I feel extra good about us all having a say in it, and it not being about yanking the kid out of his school and away from his friends so we could own a home.”

It could be argued that Vancouver’s affordability crisis has been a great thing for small towns. With the influx of young families comes new businesses such as breweries, restaurants and tourism ventures. As such, many smaller towns in B.C. are experiencing renaissance-like upswings in economy, culture and livelihood.

And despite what you may hear about Vancouver, it’s apparently still awesome. Newcomers continue to flood in, searching for places to rent and own, as they have done since this city was incorporated. Why? Vancouver has always been viewed by those looking in as a great place to live — expensive, “no fun” or otherwise.

As for Kronbauer, the man who promotes the awesomeness of Vancouver for a living, he seemingly has no regrets on leaving it, or spending his first Christmas in a decade outside of the city limits.

“I'm so happy to have moved out of the city,” he exclaimed. “No mixed emotions about it. I'd be driving out to the sticks on the weekends to fish and camp, so I basically just flipped that schedule upside down. Now I drive into town during the week and live in the sticks on the weekend. My son also gets to see his grandma every day as opposed to every month. And my house feels like a palace!”

Kronbauer and I haven’t always agreed on some of the issues facing this city, but we can agree on this: home is where the heart is.


Original Article from: Vancouverisawesome
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moderate income housing project 1

One building is proposed for 3680 East Hastings (left) and a second is proposed for 3600 East Hastings (right). Rendering BHA Architects

Vancouver council referred another three rezoning applications under the city's Moderate Income Rental Housing Pilot Program (MIRHPP) to public hearings in the new year. The referrals were made at council's Dec. 10 meeting.

The public hearings get underway Jan. 21, 2020.

Council already approved the first three of 20 projects allowed under the pilot program in December — two on Renfrew Street in East Vancouver and, despite significant pushback from neighbouring residents, one on Larch Street on the city’s West Side.

To qualify under the MIRHPP, proposals must devote 20 per cent of the residential floor area to units for moderate income households earning between $30,000 and $80,000.

Average starting rates for moderate income rental units for East Side buildings are $950 for studios for average household incomes of $38,000; $1,200 for one bedrooms for households incomes of $48,000; $1,600 for two-bedrooms for household incomes of $64,000; and $2,000 for three-bedrooms for household incomes of $80,000.

moderate income housing project 2

The proposal is for a five-storey rental building for a site at 1990 to 1956 Stainsbury Ave. near Victoria Drive. Rendering Carscadden Stokes McDonald Architects

January’s public hearings will deal with PCI Developments’ rezoning applications for a pair of 14-storey buildings on East Hastings Street — one at the corner of Boundary Road and the other at the corner of Kootenay Street.

The projects faced general neighbourhood opposition at a joint open house last June, but they also earned some support. Together, the two East Hastings buildings would create a total of 212 rental apartments, 43 of which would be for moderate income households — the one at 3680 East Hastings at Boundary Road would produce 118 rental units, 24 for moderate income households, while the one at 3600 East Hastings at Kootenay would produce 94 rental units, 19 for moderate income households.

Carscadden Stokes McDonald Architects submitted the third rezoning application going to public hearing Jan. 21. It’s for a site at 1956 to 1990 Stainsbury Ave. near Trout Lake.

The proposal is for a five-storey building. Approximately 13 of the 80 rental units proposed would be for moderate income households About 59 people attended a May open house for the Stainsbury proposal. The city received 67 responses about the project through comment sheets, letters, emails and online comment forms.

Original Article from: Vancouverisawesome
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For some people, living in a city loft is the epitome of style; think skyline views, plank hardwood floors, exposed brick walls and heritage features offering inimitable character. With open floor plans and central locations, lofts make ideal crash pads for downtown living. However, the loft lifestyle isn't for everyone. 

Here are a few things to know before deciding if a loft is the right home for you. 

The high rise of loft living  

Photo by Jason Briscoe on Unsplash

Lofts today are seen as upscale urban dwellings for city slickers, but this wasn't always the case. In the 1950s and ‘60s, New York City's decommissioned factories and industrial warehouses became popular housing alternatives for artists and bohemians. 

Lower costs and high ceilings made these spaces perfect canvases for galleries and workshops of large-format artists, like Andy Warhol, Jackson Pollock and Willem de Kooning. Warhol famously converted a loft on East 47th Street in Midtown Manhattan into a studio called The Factory, which became a denizen for artists like David Bowie, Jean-Michel Basquiat, Debbie Harry and Lou Reed. Rent cost $100 a month at the time. 

Andy Warhol at ‘The Factory’, 1966, via Kristine on Flickr

As uptown art buyers turned up for exhibitions and downtown happenings, the lure of the loft lifestyle prompted many to buy and retrofit lofts of their own. As the affluent moved in, market values went up and lofts became hot commodities. 

“Over the next few years, magazines praised the versatility and the creativity of loft design,” writes Sharon Zukin in Loft Living: Culture and Capital in Urban Change. “In many lofts, the integration of work space, living areas, and art objects was paralleled by a fluid adaptation to structural features (primarily light, floor and volume) and “incidental” arrangements.”    

Loft living was instrumental in defining the Industrial aesthetic. And perhaps more importantly, the popularity of lofts redefined a way of living in the city. 

The difference between hard lofts and soft lofts 

Demand for the “loft look” has inspired many developers to replicate loft aesthetics in newly-constructed developments. Known in real estate as soft lofts, these constructions mimic characteristics of typical lofts, such as open concept spaces, large windows, high ceilings and exposed features. 

Photo by Yucel Moran on Unsplash

By contrast, hard lofts can be found in heritage buildings, vacant factories and other places that have been repurposed for residential living. While these industrial buildings tend to be a little rougher around the edges, they often abound with character via exposed brickwork, original wood beams and other inherited traits. 

Photo by Orlova Maria on Unsplash

Two-storey lofts  

Photo by Antoine Gayraud on Unsplash

Unlike single-floor lofts, two-storey lofts have the advantage of offering occupants more privacy. Two-storey lofts often preserve the open concept feel by limiting the reach of the second storey. Often, this top tier overhangs the first floor and is finished with open walls, so the bottom floor is kept in view. Bedrooms are the most common use for the second floors, as added distance allows for more privacy. Two-storey tall ceilings and walls are often utilized for an expansive gallery of windows. 

Pros and cons of loft life  

Photo by Nathan Van Egmond on Unsplash

Because soft lofts tend to be more modern constructions, they're often equipped with more modern furnishings, plumbing and electricity. Hard lofts, on the other hand, may require more work and repairs, depending on the condition of the property. Tall ceilings can mean tall energy bills, too. 

While hard lofts were once located in rundown parts of the city, many of these areas have gentrified and transformed into vibrant urban centers thrumming with activity. For young professionals who work in city centers, lofts are often well connected and ideally located for short commutes and enjoying the cultural advantages city life has to offer. 

Arguably, the primary feature of a loft is an open-concept layout. This setup is ideal for those who feel at home in tall and airy spaces but, for others, it can lack privacy and coziness. These spaces are ideal for singles or couples but can become cramped when children enter the equation. Likewise, hosting company can pose the occasional challenge, especially for a more private person. 

Decorating your loft  

Lofts leave space for a fair deal of decorative freedom, but also pose some unique challenges. Here are a few design tips to help you make the most of your loft lifestyle. 

Define spaces

Via Jennifer D. Ames on Creative Commons

Use large pieces of furniture, such as L-shaped couches, bar counters, bookcases, or even folding screens to help divide and define spaces in your loft. In small spaces, curtains can make for good hanging room partitions. Install a curtain track so they can be easily drawn or closed. 

Opt for oversized art 

Stay true to the loft's legacy by investing in a large painting or sculpture. Small pieces tend to get lost on tall ceilings and in open spaces, whereas larger prints and installations have obvious impact and can help to organize space. 

Add contrast with soft furnishings 

Photo by Israa Hilles on Unsplash

A large area rug lends warmth to hardwood or concrete floors typically found in lofts. Try curtains instead of blinds for window coverings, as they can bring contrast to gridded industrial panes, while still exposing their character. Look to Urban Modern design for examples of how to embrace this aesthetic. 

Embrace character  

Photo by Matthew Henry from Burst

Think twice before covering up raw features of your loft like exposed brick walls or open ducts and beams in the ceiling. These characteristics are prized by fellow loft buyers. 

Ready to embrace the loft living? Work with a REALTOR® to help you find the perfect space.

Original Article from: Realtor

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You found your dream century home and your conditional offer has been accepted. But after receiving your home inspector's report, it turns out your charming Victorian cottage needs more than a fresh coat of paint.

Photo by Nolan Issac on Unsplash

While this doesn't mean you need to back out of the deal, it's important to know you can always head back to the negotiating table. Your REALTOR® is a great resource for knowing the repairs you might be in for—and what they could cost you—before buying an older property.

“Disposable” systems that need replacing

Roofs, air conditioners, furnaces and boilers don't last forever, so don't be surprised if you learn at least one is at the end of its lifespan, Graham Clarke, President of the Canadian Association of Home and Property Inspectors in Toronto said.

“For a 50- or 100-year-old house, there’s a really good chance one of those systems needs to be replaced in the short term,” he explains. “Buyers should really expect that and it shouldn’t taint the house as being a ‘bad' house.”

While having to replace multiple failing components at once can be a budget-buster, Clarke notes you'll typically get 15 to 20 years of use after replacing one of these systems. Here's what he estimates it could cost you.

Expect to fork out:

  • Between $5,000 to $15,000 for a roof, depending on the size and whether it's pitched or flat;

  • $3,000 to $8,000 for a new furnace;

  • $5,000 to $15,000 to replace the boiler;

  • $2,500 to $6,000 for a new air conditioning system.

Note: Costs for these systems can vary outside these ranges depending on the size and condition of the home and more.

Foundation cracks and sloping floors

Nobody wants to move into a house that's sitting on a crumbling foundation, but cracks aren't always a sign of doom, Clarke said.

“Foundational cracks, in some cases, aren't structurally significant, but may still have water leakage implications, a common finding during a home inspection,” he explains.

“However, more significant cracks are often the result of structural movement, which can be very difficult to determine during a home inspection, because there are so many invisible factors: The quality of the soil underneath the footings and the footings at the bottom of the foundation themselves, which are outside the scope of a home inspection.”

Because home inspectors base their professional opinion on what they can see or reach, they'll evaluate the performance of a house instead, Clarke adds.

“If I have a 100-year-old house that is dead level and dead straight, that’s good performance. But if it’s developed sags, slopes and leans, and the doors and windows aren't square, it's moved.”

Expect to fork out:

  • A few hundred dollars to repair cosmetic cracks and up to $10,000 or more for major structural fixes.

Plumbing and electrical elements

According to Clarke, many older homes include obsolete plumbing or electrical systems, whether that's knob-and-tube wiring or galvanized steel piping. Often, any remaining original wiring and plumbing are located in difficult-to-access areas.

“I may go into a Victorian house and see brand new wiring in the basement, but on the second or third floor, I'll see ungrounded receptacles indicating knob-and-tube,” he said. “The stuff that was easy and less expensive to replace was done, but the stuff buried in behind the plaster walls 30 feet up from the basement hasn't been.”

Expect to fork out:

  • For a two- or three-story house, it can cost between $20,000 to $30,000 to replace wiring, with a portion of that going towards making holes in plaster walls, patching and painting.

  • Galvanized steel pipes or cast-iron waste piping in upstairs bathrooms can run several thousand dollars to replace.


Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash

Just because a home inspection report reveals a house still has its original windows, that doesn't mean you need to replace them if they're functioning properly, notes Clarke.

“A lot of people spend a lot of money replacing their windows, either for windows that are easier to open or to improve energy efficiency or to enhance the aesthetics of the house,” he says.

Expect to fork out:

  • A minimum of $500 per window, plus installation costs, for a less expensive model.

Other issues a home inspector might recommend outside tests for in older houses include checking for the presence of lead paint, mold, or asbestos tile or insulation.

“To determine whether there’s asbestos in a house, an environmental consultant has to take a lot of samples,“ says Clarke. “But even if a house has asbestos — and most homes built before 1970 do — that doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s a problem. If it’s in the drywall joint compound, that’s probably not a problem, but if it's in vermiculite insulation up in the attic, that can represent a hazard for people.”

If your home inspection report includes a number of issues, remember it’s not the end of the world. Trust your REALTOR® for guidance and support and together, you can make the right decision.

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

Original Article from: Realtor

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he question of whether to buy a condo or a house may be obvious to some, but for others, it's not so simple. Each comes with its own pros and cons as far as convenience, amenities, resale value and space is concerned.

It's important to start by identifying your goals, lifestyle and budget. A REALTOR® can help you navigate the different options in your desired market, including the factors to consider when choosing between a condo or a house. Get started on by using the property type filter and compare all the options in your neighbourhood.

Condo types

There are two main types of condos on the market, freehold and leasehold. Freehold condos can be buildings divided into a number of units, row townhouses and even standalone townhouses or homes. Within freehold condos, there are standard condominiums, in which you buy your unit and have an interest in the property's common elements but do not own the land. In common elements condominiums, there are no units but you own the property and the land on which it sits. The owners within the common elements condominiums community share ownership of common elements, jointly funding their maintenance and repair. There are also leasehold condominium corporations, in which the land is not owned by the condominium corporation, but where lease purchasers buy a leasehold interest in units and common elements.


Photo by Liao Je Wei on Unsplash

Buying a standard condominium is a bit different than buying a house, as you're only purchasing a unit in a building, not a parcel of land. (This may not be the case for other kinds of condominiums). Generally speaking, a condo is more affordable than a house in the same area, however the gap is much wider in some markets than others, and may not be all that different if it's a common elements condominium, for example. In cities like Vancouver and Toronto, your willingness to sacrifice a more central location for a lower price will play a big role in whether you opt for a house or condo.


Condos come with monthly fees, which pay for services like security, maintenance and amenities. They're typically determined by the size of your unit and how many units are in the building. Some condos offer luxurious amenities, like a 24-hour concierge, pool, gym, sauna, big-screen theatres and in some cases, even a bowling alley. It's important to note, the more amenities offered, the higher your condo fees will likely be.

Photo by Casey Schackow on Unsplash

Condo fees also generally cover the costs if anything breaks within the building (not inside your unit). For homeowners, no such luck. A leaky roof or window upgrades are a few of the big-ticket items you'll be responsible for yourself, especially in an older home.

Insurance is another expense that varies between a house and condo. Typically, insurance rates for a condo are much less than a house as the walls are insured by the building. Same goes for heating and electric bills, which are typically higher with houses.


Photo by Filip Mroz on Unsplash

If you hate mowing the lawn, shovelling snow or emptying out eavestroughs, a condo may be just the ticket. Houses require a lot more work and physical maintenance, which means more time on the homeowner's part.

Location and lifestyle

Photo by LinedPhoto on Unsplash

Condos usually have central locations, giving owners easy commutes and accessibility to public transit, as well as proximity to shops and restaurants. For professionals, these urban conveniences may be more of a priority than an extra bedroom or backyard. And while houses outside of the downtown core are more affordable, you'll sacrifice location and other conveniences associated with condo living. To help discover locations matching your lifestyle, get started with Local Insights.

If you have kids or plan on having them soon, you want to carefully consider things like space, noise and privacy. While two people might be content in a condo, if their family grows, a house may have a lot more appeal. Even a two-or-three-bedroom condo will generally have less room for a burgeoning brood than a house.


Photo by Jonathan Borba on Unsplash

Condo boards have rulesall owners or tenants are expected to follow. These can limit the number or size of pets allowed, prevent smoking in common areas or private balconies, restrict the use of visitors in common elements (such as a pool or gym), prohibit owners from renting out their units (like on Airbnb), prevent using personal BBQs on patios or dictate certain decorative elements, such as hanging Christmas lights or even the colour of your curtains.

Pros of a condo:

Photo by Daniel DiNuzzo on Unsplash

  • You won't be responsible for most repairs or maintenance outside of your unit.

  • You could have access to amenities like a gym, pool or 24-hour concierge.

  • They offer increased security.

  • They're often easier to rent in the short term.

  • They're more likely to be in a central or convenient location.

Cons of a condo:

Photo by Joseph Albanese on Unsplash

  • You generally have less privacy.

  • There's limited outdoor space.

  • You will have to pay monthly maintenance fees (on top of mortgage payments and property tax).

  • You might have to pay for amenities you don't use.

  • You'll face possible restrictions on things like usage of common elements, parking, pets, renovations and decorations.

Pros of a house:

Photo by Morgan Thompson on Unsplash

  • You typically have total freedom over how you decorate and renovate.

  • You have more control over your own space.

  • You'll likely have more outdoor space.

Cons of a house:

Photo by Brina Blum on Unsplash

  • You are responsible for all maintenance.

  • You are responsible for all repairs.

  • Utility bills and insurance is usually higher than in a condo.

a decision-tree graphic on wheether you should buy a house or a condo
Original Article from: Realtor
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Passive House via Construction Rocket

Passive houses are really anything but passive—the truth is, they're total powerhouses. They boast incredible energy efficiency, superb insulation and optimal temperature and comfort 12 months a year.

With that being said, passive homes aren't very common in Canada yet, as our intensely varied climate presents challenges for anyone trying to keep a home comfortable year-round. 

To learn more about these unique homes and their growing place in the Canadian home landscape, we spoke to two PHIUS-certified (Passive House Institute US) builders: Chris Weissflog of EcoGen Energy in Kemptville, Ontario and William Murray of Construction Rocket in the Eastern Townships in Quebec. 

What's the difference between a passive house and a passive solar house ?

As soon as you hear the words “passive house”, you're probably thinking about solar panels—but they're not always a necessary component. 

Passive solar homes are designed to get the maximum benefits from sunshine with solar panels and other systems that use sunlight to heat the air and water in the house.

Weissflog explains that, despite popular belief, passive homes don't need to rely on the sun and can actually perform well in the shade too. For a passive home, the ability to maintain a consistent ambient temperature, regardless of the season and without the help of mechanical systems, is more important than the use of solar panels. This is achieved by keeping the house well insulated, and appropriately sealed and ventilated.

What are the advantages of a passive house?

Passive House via EcoGen Energy

Comfort: Both builders agree, it's impossible to find a house more comfortable than a passive house. Whether it's -30 or +30, in the middle of a room or right next to a window—passive houses maintain a consistently comfortable inside temperature. Will Murray had a client who wanted to do yoga in front of her glass patio door in the middle of winter without freezing. In a passive home with effective ventilation, this is totally feasible.

Energy efficiency: Passive houses use very little energy and cost almost nothing to heat in the winter or cool in the summer. Murray reported the annual energy costs for a  1,980-square-foot PHIUS-certified passive home his company constructed were an impressive $700 (approximately $58 per month) and included—among other things—appliances, heating and cooling. 

Passive House via Construction Rocket

Air quality: Because passive homes are built to be extremely airtight, they require efficient and  regular ventilation and air filtering. This makes them a great choice for people with allergies or breathing problems. 

Predictable energy costs year after year: A passive home's strong seals and effective insulation help keep energy from varying dramatically so you'll likely avoid surprises like expensive heating and electricity bills through the winter months

Passive House via Construction Rocket

Durability: Passive homes are built to last. Mostly-sealed and built with high-quality materials, passive houses are generally less likely to deteriorate over time—which means lower maintenance costs, too.

Quiet:Another benefit of all that insulation and their thicker walls, triple-glazed windows and lack of forced-air systems for heating or cooling, passive houses can be incredibly quiet. 

They're ideal for apartments: For a multiplex or student residence, building a passive structure is a great option. By assuming most of the costs during construction, you'll save money on utilities long-term and the added insulation will make it harder for tenants to disrupt each other with noise. 

Before you build

Cellulose insulation. Passive House via EcoGen Energy

  • If you want your home to be certifiably passive, make sure you involve a PHIUS or Passivhaus certified expert from the get-go—even before hiring an architect. Make sure the involved professionals communicate the nuances of the process to avoid paying for plans and drawings more than once.

  • Keep in mind, renovating an existing house into a passive house can be more expensive than starting from scratch.

  • The up-front costs of building a passive house can be significant (a construction mortgage might help) but factor in the long-term savings on energy and maintenance when creating your budget.

  • While the topics of sealing or energy-efficient insulation aren't exactly sexy when compared with kitchen and bathroom design, they're essential to a passive home and too ensure comfort year-round.

Passive House via Construction Rocket

  • Various experts will need to collaborate on your passive house through design and building to ensure your home meets the standards for certification. 

Passive House via Construction Rocket

Interested? Try searching for homes for sale near you with the keyword search term, “passive”. 

More on green homes: Five Eco-Friendly Ways to Renovate More Sustainably, Eco-Friendly Ways to Get Rid of Renovation Waste, Using Thermostats to Reduce Your Heating Bill

Original Article from: Realtor

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Summer's warmth is now a fading memory and the inescapable and important task of winterizing your home before the first big freeze looms. Luckily, we've created a checklist of many things to consider before that first snowfall with help from Jim Fisher, a general contractor with 50 years experience in the industry.

1. Garden hoses

Disconnect any garden hoses, drain them of any residual water and store them away somewhere dry, protected from the weather.

Why? Garden hoses can become stiff and crack during the winter if left outside. Water in the tubing can freeze and expand, causing your hose to split and forcing you to replace it in the spring.

2. Outdoor taps

Turn off all valves inside the house, then open the taps outside to drain excess water. Be sure to leave the outdoor valves open through the winter.

Why? When water sits in the pipe feeding the outside tap, freezing temperatures can conduct along the pipe to create ice inside the pipes. This can cause cracks and damage the pipe's joints and valves, resulting in bursts and flooding.

3. Attic vents

Inspect and, if necessary, clean the venting from your attic to avoid ice dams.

Why? Attic vents allow moisture to leave the attic space, preventing mold and mildew. Your insulation and HVAC system will be more efficient when your attic is properly vented, allowing better temperature regulation in your home.

Pro Tip: Check your bathroom vents as they pass through the attic. It's easy to forget that if the piping is not insulated all the way to the exit point, this can create ice from condensation through the winter, causing water damage inside your home when it thaws.

4. Chimney

Sweep your chimney to remove any creosote buildup and ensure a clear airway for smoke and particles to exit the chimney. This may require the services of a professional chimney sweep.

Why? Blockages can cause smoke to backdraft into the home and creosote buildup will ignite under certain conditions, causing devastating chimney fires.

Pro Tip: Have your chimney cleaned and inspected annually by a certified professional before you use it for the season. Some insurance policies require this.

5. Flower pots and planters

Empty flower pots and planters of all soil or water and store them where they will be protected from precipitation. A garden shed or garage will do.

Why? Sudden and severe changes in temperature and humidity will cause breaks in terracotta and ceramic pots, with plastic becoming brittle over time—especially if they have water or soil in them.

6. Gas grill or barbecue

Clean the interior of your grill and all its internal parts. Coat the metal parts of your burner in cooking oil. Store outdoors with a sturdy cover or wrapped in heavy plastic if stored in a garage or shed.

Why? Cleaning the grill prevents mould and using cooking oil prevents oxidation of your burner elements, while covering protects it from the elements. Wrapping in plastic for indoor storage helps keep critters from nesting inside.

7. Air conditioners

Turn off the power to any external AC unit. Now is also the time to remove any window or portable units, clean their air filters and store them for the season.

Why? Shutting off the power to external ACs prevents phantom power – the little bit of heat generated by running power to the unit. This small amount of heat can attract critters to use the unit as refuge against cold weather. While you can cover the unit during the colder months, this added layer of protection can be an added attraction for shelter-seeking critters. If your unit is in a location susceptible to snowfall, you can instead cover it with a piece of plywood and a rock to hold it down. If you do opt to cover the unit, be sure to use a specially-made cover that will wrap the unit tightly and not a tarp or other loose-fitting option that can create damaging moisture build-up. Removing window and portable ACs will help insulate your home against drafts, lowering utility costs.

8. Furnace

Have your furnace inspected and serviced by a certified HVAC technician. It is advised to do this annually. 

Why? This ensures your furnace is working optimally, preventing inconvenient breakdowns during winter.

9. Furnace filter

Replace your furnace filter, then set reminders to replace the filter as needed (check monthly). 

Why? Furnace filters remove dust, dirt and allergens from the air in your home. Replacing the filter also enables your furnace to operate more efficiently.

10. Gutters and eavestroughs

Once the trees around your home have shed their foliage, clean all leaves, twigs and debris out of your eavestroughs to ensure clear passage down the gutters.

Why? Clogged eavestroughing and gutters cause ice dams which apply unnecessary pressure and stress along the edge of your roof. This can lead to water incursions, as well as an excess of water close to your home when the snow on your roof thaws and runs off.

Pro tip: Low voltage heat wires (also called heat trace, heat tape or de-icing cables) can help prevent ice dams by warming the eavestroughing. For best results, turn them on after freezing rain or a heavy snowfall, or during a mid-winter thaw. These are especially effective with older homes because their dormer angles are prone to ice buildup.

11. Windows and doors

Install weather stripping around your doors and windows, removing any old material if not done annually. For older windows, applying shrink-wrap plastic can also help reduce drafts.

Why? Heat is lost through spaces around doors and windows. Applying this stripping will help prevent drafts and reduce heating costs.

Pro tip: Door sweeps placed on the bottom of doors really cut down on heat loss. Foam or rubber stripping for door frames and windows will also help reduce drafts, especially with older windows. 

12. Program your thermostat

If you have a programmable thermostat, now is the time to set your temperatures for the winter to save on heating costs. Now is also the time to check your thermostat's batteries and change them if needed.

Why? When you turn your thermostat up, you're not just heating the air in your home, it takes energy to heat the objects in your house, too. If you're planning to be away for an extended period, it makes sense to lower your home's temperature but otherwise, it's often more cost effective to set the temperature in your home and leave it there.

13. Hot water tank thermostat

Check your tank's thermostat and reduce it if necessary. In general, it's recommended that it be set to 60ºC, but homeowners with small children or eldery may choose to reduce it. If you do, the Canada Safety Council recommends a temperature no lower than 54ºC.

Why? If the temperature of your hot water is set too low, you could run the risk of not having enough when you need it or even growing bacteria within the stagnant water in your tank. If you're unsure, set the temperature to 54ºC and increase it incrementally until you're satisfied.  

14. Smoke and carbon monoxide alarms

Test your carbon monoxide and smoke detectors and replace the batteries with new ones. 

Why? These are life-saving devices and should always have fresh batteries. Used batteries can be repurposed as backups for alarm clocks or electronics.

15. Bushes and shrubs

Give your bushes, shrubs and hedges a final trim, then wrap or cover smaller or more fragile shrubs. 

Why? Pruning plants in the fall will save time and help manage their size if you wish to prevent them from overgrowing. Covering smaller and delicate shrubs and bushes prevents damage from heavy snow and ice.

16. Salt or sand supply

If you use salt, sand or another anti-slip substance to protect your driveway and walkways, be sure you have a hearty supply on hand.

Why? It's best to be prepared in case of an early freeze. It's easier to have a supply on hand before winter hits, than to run out after bad weather strikes and when supplies are in high demand.

17. Deck and porch

Check to see if you need to patch any worn spots with fresh weather protectant.

Why? Winter weather can be hard on wood and ensuring your deck's sealant is fresh will help extend its life.

Pro Top: If your deck is raised, placing lattice or skirting around the outside will prevent snow from blowing underneath and building up against the wall of your home. It is also possible for the ground to slope towards the home underneath the deck. Installing a vapour barrier under the floorboards—sloping down and away from the house—will prevent any ice from thawing and running towards your home. 

18. Lawn mower

Clean and service the engine of your lawn mower and remove any grass or mulch buildup underneath. Empty the gas tank or add a stabilizer and sharpen the blades before storing it in a dry, protected place for the winter.

Why? Like any machine, regular maintenance will help extend its life and ensure it will be ready to go in the spring.

19. Pest prevention

Ensure any possible entries into the home—spaces in the siding, under the eaves and vent openings—are sealed or adequately protected.

Why? Mice, chipmunks, squirrels and racoons will want to burrow in the warmest and safest place they can find for the winter. Keeping them out of your home will save you frustration and money resulting from any damage they might cause.

20. Insulation

Check the insulation in your attic to ensure it hasn't sagged and confirm its “R” value. R value indicates the insulating power and its ability to resist heat loss. The higher the R rating, the lower the heat loss will be. 

Why? Certain types of insulation (like fibreglass batting) can sag over time, reducing its effectiveness and allowing more heat to escape. Conversely, in the summer, the insulation in your attic is the barrier to keep the hot air from affecting the temperature in your home.

Winterizing your home may require a couple of weekends to complete, but taking these steps to secure your home before the cold weather hits will not only help save you money, it will allow for many more—warm and comfortable—years of enjoyment.

Original Article from:  Realtor

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You've been saving for a down payment, watching your credit like a hawk and are ready to make the big leap into homeownership. What now? And what steps should you take so you don't feel like you're wading through a jumble of details? We've put together 10 steps to guide you on your journey to holding your first set of keys. You can also download the Home Buyers' Road Map for more on what to expect.

1. Prepare to buy

One of the first things you should do is decide where you want to live. Is your heart set on the urban living or would a small town be preferable? Enlist the help of a local REALTOR® to research current market prices and get a sense of how much homes cost in your ideal location.

Consider what type of house you picture yourself in; are you leaning toward a house or condo? Both can be amazing places to live. Where condos are typically lower-maintenance but carry maintenance fees, houses, semi-detached homes and free-hold townhouses must be maintained by the owner.

2. Plan your finances

You'll need to plan for a down payment that's at least 5% of the total purchase price of the home. Keep in mind that mortgages with less than a 20% down payment will also require default insurance. 

Think about the impact of your mortgage payments on your budget. A good way to determine readiness is to use a mortgage affordability calculator to estimate how much you can manage based on your income and current debts. You'll also want to think beyond your mortgage payments to account for added monthly expenses for maintenance, repairs, upgrades and unexpected surprises.

3. Get pre-qualified

Now that you have a general idea of how much you can afford, it's time to get pre-qualified for a mortgage by a qualified lender. Any financial institution like a bank or credit union, or a mortgage broker will manage this process. 

Getting pre-approved doesn't guarantee you will be approved but it can be a good indicator of the price range to aim for. That being said, keep in mind pre-qualification amounts may overestimate affordability, so plan your budget accordingly. You will also need to account for additional costs when arranging a mortgage as well as a list of things to bring when you meet with a lender.

4. Find a REALTOR®

REALTORS®  are your home buying MVPs. They are the most familiar with the housing market and will work with you to find the best home based on your budget and needs.

Once you meet your REALTOR®, let them know in detail what you're looking for in a home, your preferred location and the price range you'd like to stick within so they can help you find and explore different options. From there, they can walk you through the entire home buying process and will be a great resource when it comes to getting to know a new neighbourhood.

5. View properties

You've done your due diligence and now comes the exciting part—browsing properties! Search listings in your price range, by location and preferred features and share any that catch your eye with your REALTOR® so they can set up a viewing.

While touring a property, consider:

  • Testing the plumbing fixtures.

  • Checking the light switches in each room.

  • Opening and closing the doors and windows and checking for moisture.

  • Looking at other homes on the block to see how well they are maintained.

  • Checking the traffic density in the area.

  • Confirming parking.

  • Is the driveway (if there is one) well maintained?

  • Checking proximity to nearby amenities (like schools, shopping, dining, parks or public transportation).

You can also use this House Hunting Checklist to track details about a prospective home. 

6. Select your mortgage loan

Now is the time to decide on the type of mortgage that's best for you. It may be helpful to get a good understanding of mortgage terminology and this payment calculator takes the guesswork out of determining different scenarios for interest, amortization period and payment frequency.

Your lender or broker can help you decide what's best for your unique situation, depending on factors like floating or fixed interest rates, your desired payment frequency and affordability or ensuring that your monthly payments never increase.

7. Make an offer

Now, for the moment of truth: it's time to make an offer. Your REALTOR® can help you come up with a strategy and prepare a fair offer based on their knowledge and experience,  your initial impressions of the home, observations made when viewing it and the asking price. Essentially, what you are willing to pay?

Your REALTOR® can also help you determine any conditions – like financing or inspections – you'd like to include as part of your offer and set a deadline. Generally, 24 to 48 hours is customary to accept or reject the offer.

8. Get a home inspection

Purchase offers generally hinge on a successful home inspection and your REALTOR® can arrange the inspection within a few days of the acceptance of your offer by the seller. It is always recommended that you have the home inspected by a professional before you buy. It will likely cost a few hundred dollars, but this small up-front investment can save you unpleasant surprises and financial woes down the road.

9. Hire a lawyer

Buying a home involves a great deal of legal paperwork. There are likely many qualified real estate lawyers your friends and family can recommend. Your REALTOR® can also share the names of lawyers in your area.

A lawyer handles all the paperwork for transferring the land title and can help you deal with possible pitfalls like zoning issues, unpaid taxes or liens, legislation or—in very rare cases—fraud. A transfer of title generally takes two weeks to complete.

Get a fee estimate from prospective lawyers with an outline of their fee structure and be sure to ask questions if you are unsure of anything. Translating legal verbiage into layman's terms is an important part of their job.

10. Close the purchase

You're on the home stretch! All that needs to happen now is to close the deal. Your REALTOR® and lawyer do most of the legwork here, but you should consider the following:

  • Start satisfying your end of any conditions of the agreement—your REALTOR® will confirm and document these;

  • Purchase homeowners' insurance to activate on the closing date;

  • Contact your lender or broker to finalize the mortgage documents;

  • Arrange to have any utilities and services to be connected or switched to your name upon close;

  • Meet your lawyer a day or two before closing to sign the closing documents.

Buying a home will likely be one of the biggest single purchases that you'll make and there's a lot to know, understand and do. These resources available on will help you along your journey to homeownership:

Happy house hunting, and don't forget to breathe and enjoy the process, you're about to be a homeowner!

Original Article from: Realtor

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Moe Pourtaghi

"Nothing brings me more joy than seeing my buyers & sellers have success in their Real Estate endeavours. I hope you find the articles on my blog inspiring and educating in your ventures." - Moe Pourtaghi

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