Frozen

atlanta-frozen-pipeSadly I am not referring to the Disney movie of the same title…

Each winter we hear news reports of homes that have had the pipes freeze in the severe cold weather we experience. Everyone seems to be forecasting for us to have a colder than average winter this year, so I thought I would touch on this early enough for preventive measures to be taken.

Generally when pipes freeze it is because they either run through an uninsulated area, such as a garage, crawl space or an attic, or are located on exterior walls of the house without adequate insulation between them and the wall. Another unexpected, but common cause can be an outside hose that is left connected to an outside faucet. When it freezes it puts pressure on the interior pipes, and can cause them to break, so always disconnect your garden hose at the end of the season. Also, always turn off your outside faucets and drain the last of the water out of the spigot.

If your water pipes run through an uninsulated or poorly insulated area, you can purchase foam wrap for the pipes. If you are concerned that the pipes will be exposed to the full cold, you can also wrap the pipes with a heat tape that will maintain a minimum temperature to prevent them freezing.

For pipes running in exterior walls, the only effective way to correct the problem is to open up the walls and improve the insulation. On very cold walls, you may actually need to reroute the pipes to a less exposed location.

It may seem like a lot of work to do on the chance that the pipes may freeze, but broken pipes will lead to larger repair bills down the road, including the potential for mold removal.

If you are buying an older home, be sure to have your home inspector check where the water feed is in the house. It is always better to know before winter strikes whether you may have a problem…

Also remember if you have a home with a lawn sprinkler system, have the water blown from the system at the end of the season.

As always, one of our Coldwell Banker Community Professionals will be happy to speak with you about this and other home ownership concerns.

At Coldwell Banker Community Professionals, we don’t strive to be the biggest, we strive to be the best!

Are You Thinking of Buying or Selling? Here are 5 Reasons You Should Hire a REALTOR®

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When you buy or sell a home, often you are starting down a path you have never travelled before.  You need an experienced Real Estate Professional on your side to ensure you attain your goal.  It may seem easy to either sell or buy privately, with access to the information provided by realtor.ca. The following 5 Reasons to Hire a REALTOR® are even more important today, with all the options available through the internet and the information/misinformation that is out there.

  1.  Preparing and interpreting all the paperwork. There are many forms that need to be completed to buy or sell a home.  Also, there are many terms and conditions to consider to protect yourself in the transaction.  The last thing you want is a legal problem because something was missed.
  2. If you are buying, what do you do when you find your dream home? There are many considerations when you prepare an offer to purchase a home, from the decision of basics such as what is included in your purchase and moving dates, to what terms and conditions do you need to protect yourself in the purchase, and ensure that the  home you are buying is all that you think it is. Do you know the professionals to contact to have your new home inspected or to arrange the best financing?
  3. Are you a good negotiator?  Can you buy it for the lowest price possible or conversely sell it for the highest? Do you have the information you need to know what the home should sell for?  Can you remove your emotions from the negotiations?
  4. What is your home really worth?  Do you know how to price your home to attract the most buyers and generate the most offers?  We are currently experiencing a very robust market for sellers.  You want to maximize your sale price!
  5. Do you know what is really going on in the market? More particularly, do you know what is going on in your neighbourhood?  You need to know the specifics of the neighbourhood in order to know what price you should offer your home for sale at, or to know what to offer for your dream home.

By hiring a real estate professional you will have someone that will help you make an educated buying or selling decision.  They will tell you the facts, not what they think you want to hear.

Thinking of buying or selling?  Call one of our professionals at Coldwell Banker Community Real Estate.  They will provide you with the help you need.

Time to Renovate? or Time to Sell?

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Did you know that in our community, renovating is becoming one of the largest sectors of discretionary spending?

The discussion around renovating your home, often becomes a discussion of whether you should renovate and sell, or maybe renovate and stay. Often when families start to discuss moving, it is to correct problems they see in their current home. Sometimes these issues can be fixed by a simple renovation, such as a bathroom that needs a facelift, or refinishing a floor. Other problems such as not enough room, or needing one floor living when you own a two storey home can be more complex. When you begin to consider building additions, or repurposing main floor living spaces, it pays to fully consider your options. The cost of renovation may well out pace the value of the renovated home.

Another time families discuss renovating is when they have decided to move. Many times families downsize, or decide they want to enjoy condo living instead of maintaining a property, or perhaps just a change of area. In these cases, much thought should be given to renovating to place your home on the market. Studies show that some renovations will result in you increasing the value of your property by the amount you invested. Two examples of this are kitchens and bathrooms. You should always keep in mind that this is not always the case.

You should always consult with a professional when you are considering spending money on your home before selling.  Often buyers have entirely a different idea on how they would renovate your home if they were to buy it.  A larger percentage of home renovations are completed by people after they buy a home – ususally within the first 12 month of living there….

If you have questions, or are considering a move, call one of our real estate professionals.  They know their community and can help guide you in the right direction.

ARE YOU READY TO CLOSE UP THE COTTAGE?

My family and I recently came back from our annual vacation at the cottage. We have been going to the same cottage resort for 20 years. While driving home I thought about all the cottage owners out there who have to start thinking about closing up there vacation home for the winter months.

I came across some basic tips from the Canada Safety Council that I would like to share.

Water Supply

If your cottage is not winterized, you can take steps to prevent your water supply line from freezing during the winter. You don’t want to arrive there next spring to discover the consequences of not having drained the pipes before you close up this fall. Frozen pipes can burst, causing damage and meaning you’ll have no running water.

Pipes can be fully drained when you’re closing up the cottage. The water supply line can be filled with non-toxic anti-freeze made especially for supply pipes. And pipes that are carefully wrapped at key junction points are better protected against the cold.

As part of your maintenance routine you should also check the inside of your hot water holding tank for residue that can affect water quality and get caught in the faucet screen. Also, you should have your water analyzed regularly by a lab to ensure its quality, especially if the water suddenly shows a yellow or brown tinge. A filtration system can significantly increase the purity level and lessen the wear-and-tear on your cottage water system. This is also the ideal time to thoroughly check your plumbing and faucets after a summer’s wear-and-tear.

Wildlife

Damages from small animals such as mice and squirrels are a concern to cottage owners. Avoid using poisons to keep out these critters that love to move in when you move out. You should remove all food from cottage before you close it. Bats, mice and squirrels can wiggle in through the smallest of holes. Inspect the building inside and out to make sure there are no small openings for them to enter. Place a wooden cover on the chimney to discourage birds and small animals from entering, and to stop any rain or snow. Tightly close your fireplace damper to prevent animals from getting in.

Electrical system

Some people choose to shut off electricity to their home in the off-season by throwing the main switch at the fuse box. If you do this, be sure to turn off all major appliances, your water heater, and electrical room heaters before you turn off the main switch. This will ensure a smoother and safer start-up when you re-open your home.

If you leave your electricity on to operate security systems or lighting, you should turn off the power supply to your major appliances at your main panel. Turn off the power supply to any space heaters. Otherwise they may turn on during cold weather.

To ensure the stove, fridge and other electrical equipment are not used in your absence, remove fuses and hide them in a safe place.

Visually inspect your hydro metre and power lines for damage. If a power line is down or damaged, stay clear and call your Hydro Company. Inspect visible wiring to outdoor lighting fixtures, water pumps and other equipment. If wires are damaged, remove the fuse to that circuit or turn off the circuit breaker, and call a qualified electrician.

Check all household appliance cords. If damaged, unplug the appliance and do not use it until the cord is replaced. If your electrical panel uses fuses, make sure they are screwed in tightly and that you have spares. Don’t use fuses higher than 15 amps in normal receptacles and lighting circuits.

Boat Motors and other power equipment

When storing power boating motors and other power equipment do not drain gasoline from fuel tanks, instead use a fuel stabilizer (available from your dealer or auto parts store). Winterize your engine(s) away from the water. Store boat motors, lawnmowers and other items with engines in a dry, weatherproof place. Cover anything that may rust over the winter with a coat of oil.

If your cottage is in a heavy snow area, consider installing temporary supports to protect the roof from caving in. Another option is to hire a reliable local person to shovel the snow off the roof when necessary.

I hope these tips were helpful and remember that time spent in preventative measures now will pay significant dividends next spring when you open the cottage for next year’s season.

 

 

WHY SHOULD I HIRE A REAL ESTATE PROFESSIONAL?

Why should I hire a real estate professional? This is a question REALTORS® get asked all the time. There are numerous reasons to hire a real estate professional but today I am going to highlight some of the more important reasons.

Who looks after all the paperwork?

Over the years I’ve heard horror stories about buyers and sellers doing a transaction on their own and the paperwork goes bad. They don’t use the right forms for the right action, the paperwork is not forwarded to the lawyer on time, or they don’t adhere to the time limitations stated in the contract.

Who do you negotiate with?

Most buyers and sellers believe they are good negotiators. Most often they let their emotions take over and negotiations go sour. They also don’t realize they need to negotiate with upwards to 10 people during the course of the transaction, such as home inspectors, lawyers, contractors, etc.

What is the home really worth?

What is the home you’re buying or selling really worth? Many people rely on “experts” who don’t actually buy and sell houses as a profession to tell them what their house is worth. A buyer or seller needs to analyze what houses are actually selling for in their neighbourhood. They must also uncover other information that may affect the value of the home such as new schools or school closures, public transit, location of amenities, etc.

Do buyers and sellers really know what’s going on in the market?

We are bombarded every day with information on the housing market, interest rates (up or down), actual home sales statistics and so on. The real estate market is different from neighbourhood to neighbourhood. Buyers and sellers need to know what is happening in their backyard, not across town, provincially, or nationally.

These are just a few reasons to hire a real estate professional. After all, why would anyone make one of the most important financial decisions of their life without the help of professionals.

If you work with a Coldwell Banker® Pinnacle Real Estate professional, he or she will take care of all the details to ensure a successful transaction.

 

 

How to plan for an In-Law Suite?

This week I would like to touch on in-law suites. They come in all shapes and sizes so here are a few ideas to make sure you end up with the appropriate situation.

Today’s home buyers are often young parents, trying to find enough hours in the day to meet all their commitments.  Many are responding to this challenge by having live-in help assist with childcare and household chores…and that means you’ll probably need an in-law suite.  In some cases, you may be one of the fortunate homebuyers who find caregiver accommodations ready-made in your new home.  Other homeowners may go with the DIY approach.  Here are some helpful hints to keep in mind when planning your space.

An effective in-law suite will be appealing to your caregiver, while at the same time giving you some privacy.  The challenge is to do that without putting too much strain on your pocketbook.  A good benchmark to help you determine what improvements are worth doing is to measure the cost against the expected lifespan of the expense.  For example, putting in a 4-pc bathroom can be costly, and may not be worth doing if you only see it being needed for three or four years until the kids go off to school.  In a case like that, rather than adding a full bath, you might consider a compromise of adding a sink and counter to a bed-sitting room, that could later evolve into a den with a wet bar.

On the other hand, if you can see the caregiver’s space being used long-term as a permanent in-law suite or used as additional living space as your family grows, then you’ll probably feel the cost is well worth it.  Remember too, the number of bathrooms is an important factor when determining the resale value of your home.  If you do it right, you have an excellent chance of re-couping some, if not all, of the expense when the time comes to sell. Your Coldwell Banker Pinnacle Real Estate professional will be glad to advise you on how such improvements may impact a home’s future value.

Privacy and space are important issues with an in-law suite.  Your caregiver will probably appreciate a lock on the bedroom door, or at least a cabinet that can be locked.   As to decorating, keep it simple.  Light colours, mirrors and recessed lighting will all help make a small space seem larger.  Keep it bright with extra task lighting, including a reading lamp.  Choose inexpensive window treatments such as mini-blinds that let in lots of light, but still allow for privacy.  Add a large framed corkboard for photos, notes and other mementos which will allow your live-in help to personalize their space without it looking cluttered.  Include a writing area, either a small table or desk with a lamp and chair.

Plan your room layout in advance, and don’t forget to take wiring and other facilities into consideration before you start painting.   For example, you may want to install a cable TV or internet outlet or add a phone jack, or a baseboard heater.  A little planning can help make your space a pleasure for years to come.

Please share your ideas on how your in-law suite has made your life easier.

HOW TO WHAT???

This month Ann and I are trying to provide our readers with some great How To’s. Now we all have our own favourite way of doing things and we all think our own method is best, but I am always looking for a better way to do things.

For example the best way that I have found to prevent fish from sticking to the barbeque grill is to put slices of orange and lemon directly on the grill and place your fish on top of the slices of fruit. Not only does the fish remain moist and absorb the juices from the fruit it also doesn’t burn or stick to the grill.

Now I could go on all day about why I think my way is the best way to do things but there is always a better way being developed as we speak.

So what I thought I would do is provide our readers with some links to some great tips and How To’s.

My daughter is a bit of a photography buff and came across this website full of tips and how to’s, even how to photograph spider webs – How to Photograph…

For all you do-it-yourself homeowners the Lowe’s Home Improvement website is a great source of information on how to do almost any home project, many with instructional videos. Go to http://www.lowes.com/ and click on Ideas and How To’s.

For people who have a difficult cleaning situation this website, http://www.howtocleanstuff.net/ , has hundreds of cleaning tips from cleaning your car to cleaning laptop speakers and everything in between.

Now I know all you readers out there have your own way of doing things, so if you have some great How To’s or tips please share with your fellow readers or if you’re looking for a specific “How To” let us know and we will try to help you out.