Wow! Have we ever been thrown a loop in this world.  The Corona Virus has us all working from home, home schooling and of course social-distancing.  One of the best videos that I have ever watched is on a gentleman by the name of Dick Proenneke.  He decided to move to and live in the Alaskan wilderness, alone.  The accompanying video fascinates me with how he was able to build his own home with only hand tools.  The workmanship is amazing!  My favourite is his carved door hinges.  Hopefully, we do not need to get to this state of quarantine but, just in case...

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If you could live in a home that goes all-out to conserve energy, save you money, and be both beautiful and comfortable, would you make the investment? Are you looking to buy a home you can convert into a green home? Green homes save both energy and money. To be considered green, a home should use at least 24% less energy than a conventional home. If well designed, a green home can also be stylish, architecturally beautiful, and they generally cost less to build while saving long-term on utility costs.

If you’re looking for some inspiration, here are some buildings that top the green list:

The high-end shipping container home

beautiful shipping container homes

Image: Container Home Plans

How do you cut 28% off the price of building a home while saving 70 trees and five years of electricity? You build a home with shipping containers.

A container home built in Victoria, B.C., was designed by Keith Dewey’s Zigloo company, with the goal of making a high-end home at a low-end price.

The result is a 1,920-square foot home made with inexpensive containers and insulated with spray foam for an R-28 result well above the minimum requirement. A poured concrete floor has radiant heat, and the home’s hot water is from a tankless, on-demand water heater. The radiant heat rises and also heats the upper level, while windows capture summer breezes for cooling. The final home costs $180 per square foot, about the same as spec homes, but significantly less than high-end homes of the same quality which would run about $250 per square foot; impressive savings up-front and long-term.

The award-winning capsule home

Ecocapsule homes

Image: ecocapsule

Have you found the perfect property that you’d love to build on but it has no access to utilities? Does the location make transporting building materials cost-prohibitive? The remarkable Ecocapsule has just entered production and gives eco-conscious owners a sleek, egg-shaped dwelling that is extremely efficient and comfortable for two adults. This Slovakian design was short-listed for the 2015 Lexus Design Award and will cost less than $120,000 Canadian plus shipping. They have a built-in turbine and impressive, solar-electric energy systems. The curved silhouette allows for the collection of rainwater and dew, and filters to make sure your captured water is safe to drink. The home can be transported in a shipping container, airlifted, towed, or even drawn into place by a pack animal for those hard-to-access islands, mountaintops, or nooks in the lake country! Simcoe County is home to some of the most breathtaking views Canada – this may be the perfect answer to finding your home away from home in the 705 area.

Green renovated home

eco-friendly homes

Image: Dubbeldam Architecture & Design

While lauded as the pinnacle of home renovation, the beautiful design of the Skygarden house in Toronto also lends itself to green design. Proving you can have a designer house without being in the mansion district, this breath-taking home is 2,400 square feet of scenic light. The original brick home was renovated with full-wall windows that overlook the yard and into the trees, a view that makes you feel you are in the countryside. Passive solar heat gained from the windows could be captured by concrete floors, but the actual design includes efficient radiant floor heat on each level. Super-insulated walls continue the green theme to minimize energy bills. This stunning home design be replicated here in Simcoe County.

The Net-Zero Home

green net-zero homes


East of Victoria, B.C. is Lopez Island, a part of Washington State. Here, 11 “net-zero” homes were built for a mere $236,000 each, far more affordable than others in the surrounding area. As a net-zero home, each makes as much energy as it uses. On only seven-tenths of an acre, these homes use solar gain to heat water, solar panels for power, prevailing winds for ventilation, rain to supplement potable water, and the use of gardening. Passive design minimizes heating and cooling demands. The resulting homes use 60% less energy and 30% less water than similarly-sized and -built homes. High-performance insulation, windows and doors ensure snugness and efficiency.

The “Passive Design” Home

eco-friendly homes


The most energy-efficient home in the world was built in 1977 in Regina, Saskatchewan, and then forgotten. Finally rediscovered by a German physicist, the building style has caught on in Europe with more than 25,000 homes built and growing. This home is so super-insulated that it could actually be heated by a simple hair-dryer!

Using a basic, square layout to minimize exposure to the elements, it creates as close to an airtight surrounding as possible, with R-40 wall insulation and R-60 ceilings. Dark brown cedar siding allows the house to absorb heat from the sun, and strategically planted trees provide shade in the summer and sun exposure in the winter. Today the boxy original has been improved upon with elegant styles while meeting the high standards set to be an energy-efficient certified home. The criteria for this certification includes a blower-door test to demonstrate the home is air-tight and the requirement that the home can consume no more than 15 kilowatt-hours of energy per square meter of floor space.  In Europe, a Passivhaus costs only ten-percent more to build than a standard home, but the lax window standards in North America make it more difficult to reach this high level of efficiency with standard window options.

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One of my other passions is that of skiing.  I love the mountains and the snow.  If you have been to a ski hill lately, you may also notice the incredible homes that are now being built on hill.  Check out a few of the homes currently for sale at 2 of my favourite mountain resorts.  Fernie and Whistler, BC.



3350 Panorama Ridge

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The Griswold's aren't the only ones to decorate their home for the holidays. 

Besides decorating the interior of your home for Christmas, also you should pay attention to the exterior. Make a magical atmosphere in your backyard that will be admired by all who pass by it. Use all lights you have available and if you are able to buy more it will be better, that way you will make your exterior even more beautiful and attractive. We made one collection of fascinating ideas to help you to transform your yard into astonishing paradise with all kinds of lights that emits magical atmosphere and everybody gonna love it for surely. Take a look and get inspired to make this Christmas atmosphere like never before. Have a fun and enjoy! Check out these over the top decorated homes.

The Best 40 Outdoor Christmas Lighting Ideas That Will Leave You Breathless

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Image result for best exterior christmas lights displays

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The Best 40 Outdoor Christmas Lighting Ideas That Will Leave You Breathless

The Best 40 Outdoor Christmas Lighting Ideas That Will Leave You Breathless

The Best 40 Outdoor Christmas Lighting Ideas That Will Leave You Breathless

The Best 40 Outdoor Christmas Lighting Ideas That Will Leave You Breathless

Image result for best exterior christmas lights displays

Image result for best exterior christmas lights displays

Image result for best exterior christmas lights displays

Image result for best exterior christmas lights displays

Image result for best exterior christmas lights displays

Image result for best exterior christmas lights displays

Image result for best exterior christmas lights displays

Image result for best exterior christmas lights displays

Image result for best exterior christmas lights displays

Image result for best exterior christmas lights displays

Image result for best exterior christmas lights displays

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7 Reasons Fall Is the Very Best Time to Buy a Home

Arpad Benedek/iStock

Spring and summer usually get all the real estate glory with lofty accolades as the best time to buy a home—and, of course, the busiest. Meanwhile, their seasonal sibling, fall, often gets tossed to the leaf pile by potential buyers who might think autumn is just about haunted houses and turkey dinners rather than house hunting.

But surprise! Fall is not only a great time to buy a home, it might also be the best season to find the perfect property (and not just because you can browse the listings while cupping a pumpkin latte).

Read on to discover the many reasons.

Reason No. 1: Lower home prices

The best month to snag a deal when buying a home? October. This isn’t just some random guess; it’s based on RealtyTrac’s analysis of more than 32 million home sales over 15 years. The resulting data showed that on average, October buyers paid 2.6% below estimated market value at the time for their homes.

For a house that would normally be $300,000, 2.6% translates into a $7,800 discount. Those savings are nothing to sneeze at, so bargain hunters should get hopping once autumn rolls around. (For an even better deal, aim for Oct. 8, when buyers get a home, on average, at 10.8% below estimated market value.)

For buyers looking for a better deal, fall is a great time to make offers. (In case you’re wondering, the worst month for buyers is April, when homes sell for 1.2% above estimated market value. The worst single day is Jan. 19, with an average 9.6% premium.)

Reason No. 2: Less competition

Like a beach after Labor Day, the realty market clears out as the days turn crisp. Most summer buyers have already found a home, meaning a fall buyer will have way less competition for the available houses on the market. And don’t worry about those buyers who didn’t close before August, either.

Many folks will drop out of the market until after the new year, giving a fall buyer even greater room to roam at open houses. There may not be as many properties to choose from, but “a little patience and perseverance could reap big rewards.”

Reason No. 3: Worn-out home sellers

Say hello to your little friend, leverage. Sellers who have their homes on the market in the fall “are generally people who need to sell, which can make for better negotiations for the buyer,” says Golden. And if a home you have your eye on has been on the market all summer, you’re really in the driver’s seat as far as making an offer the seller can’t refuse. The longer a home sits on the market, the more negotiating power the buyer wields.

Reason No. 4: The holidays are around the corner

Not only are most home sellers worn out after the summer selling season, they’re also caught between a real estate rock and a hard place in that the holidays are barreling down on them. If they want to move and settle down in time to host Thanksgiving and put up their Christmas lights, they’ll have to close, fast. So use this preholiday window to your advantage by offering to help them vacate fast if they cut you a deal.

Reason No. 5: Year-end tax credits

No one wants to buy a home purely to make their accountant happy. But there’s a sweet added incentive to closing on a home at the end of the fiscal year. Come the following April 15, you might be able to take some nice tax deductions, including closing costsproperty tax, and mortgage interest, to offset your taxable earnings.

Reason No. 6: More quality time with your real estate team

As the year comes to an end, fewer buyers also means you should have the full attention of your real estate agent, mortgage broker, real estate lawyer, and everyone else on your house hunting team. You can take your time to ask all those questions you have about earnest moneydue diligence, title transfers, and more without feeling like you’re horning in their busiest season to turn a buck.

Reason No. 7: Home improvement bargains

Once you close on that home you found in the fall, you may want to upgrade your appliances. Luckily, December is when major appliances—refrigerators, stoves, washers, and dryers—are at their very cheapest, according to Consumer Reports. It’s also the best time of year to buy cookware and TVs.

So once you’re settled in (and provided you have any money left), get ready to renovate!

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We have been very busy lately.  I have been honoured with the priveledge of presenting two Regina programs with money raised recently at our annual golf tournament.  Story below...

Cheque Out Your Generosity!


What a proud day to be a Regina REALTOR®

First, ARR President Tim Chicilo presented our friends at the North Central Family Centre with a cheque for $15,000! That's half of the record $20,000 you helped us raise at our annual charity golf tourney plus another $5,000 from your association, bringing the total we've contributed to the NCFC over the past decade to almost $113,000! "Your long-term support is helping to motivate, educate and create the opportunities for our youth that are the most promising answer to breaking the cycle of welfare," says the NCFC's Executive Director, Sandy Wankel.

Next, Tim got to hand Ladette Fuchs of the Albert Park Community Association a cheque for $10,000to put towards upgrades at REALTORS® Park! With last year's donation, we've contributed nearly $17,600 to that project!

That's all in addition to the over $71.6 MILLION that REALTORS® across Canada reported raising for charity from 2012-2014! Check out this video from the Canadian REALTORS Care® Foundation — but first, GROUP HUG!

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Regina home sales down 21% in May

Home sales were down more than 20 per cent in Regina in May, while the number of active listings for sale in the city remained at 20-year-plus highs, according to the Association of Regina Realtors.

Photograph by: Don Healy , Regina Leader-Post

REGINA — Home sales were down more than 20 per cent in Regina in May, while the number of active listings for sale in the city remained at 20-year-plus highs, according to the Association of Regina Realtors. There were 331 sales reported in the Regina area, down 21 per cent from 419 sales in May 2014, and below both the five-year average of 412 and the 10-year average of 396. This was the lowest number of sales since 2005 when 306 sales were reported, the association said.

Single-family detached home sales were off 12 per cent, while sales of other types of single-family housing units, mostly condominiums, were down 43 per cent.

The average sales price in the Regina area for the month was $320,393, an increase of one per cent from $318,276 in May 2014. “This is entirely attributable to a larger proportion of higher-priced homes selling and should not be interpreted as an indication of rising property values,’’ the association said.

The Home Price Index (HPI) — a more accurate measure of housing price trends than average price — reported a composite residential price of $285,300 for the city, down 3.2 per cent from last year’s composite HPI price of $294,800.

“This indicates that residential selling prices have fallen in the Regina market over the past year. The HPI also shows selling prices as being down 2.7 per cent over the past three-year period.”

Sales in the Regina area in May totalled $106 million compared to $133.4 million in 2014 — also 20 per cent decrease. For the year-to-date, 1,275 sales have been reported in Regina and area — a 13 per cent decline from 1,461 in 2014. Year-to-date sales volume stood at $402 million, down 13 per cent from $462.5 million for the same period last year.

There were 1,549 homes for sale at the end of the month. This is the highest number of homes for sale at this time of the year in over 20 years.

“We were hoping that sales taking place in the traditionally active second quarter would absorb much of the high inventory carried over from 2014 and added to in 2015,” said Gord Archibald, CEO of the association. “So far, this has not been the case,” he said.

“Elevated supply levels are not only persisting, but are continuing to grow and are having a definite impact.”

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Photos: Michael Jackson's Neverland Ranch, now $100M Sycamore Valley Ranch

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The train station is modeled on Disneyland's. Click a photo for a slideshow.

The train station is modeled on Disneyland's. Click a photo for a slideshow.

Michael Jackson's Neverland Ranch just hit the market, the Wall Street Journal reports.


Details so far are fairly scant, but one certainly jumps out: The asking price is $100 million -- "very optimistic," the Los Angeles Times is told by one Randall Bell, a "specialist in evaluating stigmatized properties."

"It's hard to get by the fact that Neverland is closely associated with child molestation," Bell tells the Times. (Indeed, a fascinating Times story during Jackson's 2005 trial was headlined "Neverland: Paradise or Trap?" and characterized the ranch as "a shrine to innocence or a shortcut to depravity.")

The county assesses it at about $30 million.

(Click here or on a photo for a slideshow with dozens of photos inside and out.)

Jackson created Neverland from what was once known as Sycamore Valley Ranch — the name that it has resumed, according to the listing agents. He lost control of it amid financial problems not long before his 2009 death.

Its 2,700-odd acres lie outside Santa Barbara in Los Olivos, California. The six-bedroom main house has about 12,000 square feet of living space; there are also about 20 other buildings on the property, listing agent Suzanne Perkins told the Wall Street Journal.

Sycamore Valley Ranch was built in 1981 by developer William Bone, who is known especially for his golf course properties. He sold it to Jackson in 1988 for $19.5 million.

Jackson is said to have put upward of $30 million into Neverland improvements, including an amusement park, a train, animal menageries and more. Most of those additions are gone now -- though the Journal notes without elaborating that "there is currently a llama on the property."


The tub faucet in the master bath. Click any photo for an extensive slideshow.

The tub faucet in the master bath. Click any photo for an extensive slideshow.

Investment firm Colony Capital, led by Tom Barrack, bought out the $23 million mortgage in 2008 when foreclosure threatened Jackson. Colony and Jackson formed what was intended to be a joint business venture, but he died the next year at age 50. It's Colony that is now selling Neverland.


"Our seller is not encouraging a lot of showings," listing agent Jeff Hyland told the Journal, and his colleague Suzanne Perkins concurred: "We're not going to be giving tours."

Time magazine says that "the person selling the ranch is specifically looking for a buyer who doesn't plan to turn the place into a museum for the singer," but Yahoo Homes was not able to confirm or corroborate Time's claim.

Yahoo Homes could not reach Hyland or Perkins for comment; their offices instead referred us to a public relations firm, which said that no one would be commenting on the story.

However, we did reach the third listing agent, Harry Kolb of Sotheby's, who -- when we mentioned that he must be deluged with media interest -- acknowledged with a laugh, "It's a wonderful storm."

Then he referred us to the PR firm.

Click here or on a photo for an extensive slideshow of Michael Jackson's Neverland Ranch, now on the market for $100 million.

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Feeling extremely honoured to be able to represent the Association of Regina Realtors this year as their president.  However, quite embarassed by the video as I was not given a heads up and was caught wearing my "40 below and working in office" attire.  Sorry Mom.

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This year I am looking to really step up my game and am looking to add a Success program to my education.  There are lots from Anthony Robbins and Deepak Chopra but I quite like this guy.  What are your thoughts?

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Toronto condo project uses Augmented Reality to reach global buyers

By using a free Augmented Reality app from developer Lanterra, investors from around the world can see 3D views of new Toronto condo project, 11 Wellesley

A go-ahead Canadian developer is using 3D augmented reality to promote its new Toronto condo project around the world.

FitnessBy using a free augmented reality app, real estate buyers of the recently-launched 11 Wellesleycondo project can see realistic 3D images when scanning embedded photos on the computer or those included in the New Homes & Condos supplement of the weekend’s The Star newspaper.

Lanterra Developments says the augmented reality app allows brokers and buyers to get an idea of what the development looks like long before construction work has started.

Augmented Reality is ideal for overseas buyers who could otherwise not get to see a 3D representation of the site of the 60-storey building at 11 Wellesley, which will include  742 suites, ranging from 300 square feet to 878 square feet and starting at CAN$199,900.

poolAugmented reality superimposes computer-generated images, videos or sounds using computers or digital devices including tablets, smartphones and smart glasses.

The Lanterra AR app, which can be downloaded at, enables brokers and buyers to go on virtual tours of suites and see 3D views from various floors and admire the fitness room, pool room and more.

Adelino Hilario, a vice-president and partner with Toronto-based Klokwerks Creative Production Studio, the firm that developed the app for Lanterra, told the The Star.  “Talk about epic experiences. A broker can place buyers in front of the building, or go inside and show them the amenities. It empowers the broker as well as the buyer.”

UK-based real estate technology expert, James Dearsley, says only around 20 developers around the world have used Augmented Reality to market their products globally.

Using an Augmented Reality app, home buyers do not need to attend a sales centre to learn about a project. “They’ve got a complete sales centre on their iPad,” says Adelino Hilario.

The app is certainly helping sell units at 11 Wellesley. “In 15 years we’ve never sold a project that quickly — it’s crazy,” says Joe Latobesi, of Montana Steele, the Toronto advertising agency that oversaw development of the Lanterra app.

He believes it is the first time that a Toronto condo development has been sold in this way, but says that many more developers are set to follow.  “I’d say within a year most major developers within this marketplace will have an app like this to augment their projects.”

Toronto is in the middle of a building boom and has more condo towers under construction than any other North American city, according to industry researcher Emporis GmbH.

Foreign investors are still active, but are not as important as local investors at the moment, says Simon Mass, a founding partner of real estate investment manager The Rosseau Group LLC, speaking at last month’s Bloomberg Canada Economic Summit.

“Overseas investors have been a strong foundation for our company originally, but we find that locals right now — especially mom and pop investors — are really looking at condo investments as a new type of investment versus the stock market.

Foreign investors are seeking larger returns and so their interest in the condo market has gradually declined in the past five to six years, he says.

By Adrian Bishop, Editor, OPP Connect
Twitter: @oppnews

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Interior designer Kristi Will spends most of her time creating high-end, luxury interiors. But for clients with small children, she turns her mind from custom furniture to decorating pumpkins at Halloween time. “It started last year,” she says. “Because the kids are young, the family wanted me to help them find something that was Halloween but wasn’t superscary.” That first year she decked the halls with what she calls “happy monsters.”

This year while visiting the family, Will noted the youngest child’s affinity for Sesame Street’s Elmo and, with that in mind, designed a new Halloween look that thrills more than it chills.
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When weather stripping on doors and windows gets worn out, cold air comes sneaking in. Here’s how to replace weather stripping and stop air leaks.

Weather stripping on windows and doorsprotects the home from air leaks while increasing comfort and saving energy. But as weather stripping ages, it loses its effectiveness. Stay ahead of the game by checking for worn-out weather stripping and replacing it.

Identifying Worn Weather Stripping

Weather stripping deteriorates due to age, friction, and exposure to the elements. It also can be damaged by people, pets, and pests. At least once each year,inspect your windows and doors to check for air leaks that indicate your weather stripping isn’t doing its job.

  • Self-adhesive foam tape loses its grip over time, causing it to pull away from the door or window frame — or fall off completely. Foam also can lose its resilience, no longer springing up to fill the gap.
  • Rubber and vinyl weather stripping becomes dry, brittle, and cracked. Over time, it can also lose its shape and effectiveness.
  • Spring-metal V-shaped weather stripping bends out of shape, cracks in spots, and comes loose thanks to missing nails.

How to Remove Old Weather Stripping

For peel-and-stick-type weather stripping, simply pull the foam strips off the door or window by hand. Stripping that is fastened in place with nails or screws requires a more tedious process of locating and removing all the fasteners. 

Options for New Weather Stripping

There’s no shortage of weather stripping options at hardware stores and home improvement centers. As is often the case, the cheaper and easier the product is to install, the less effective and durable it probably is over time.

Adhesive-backed foam tape is inexpensive — costing less than a buck a foot — and peel-and-stick types are easy as pie to install. It works best where the bottom of a window sash closes against a sill, or a door closes against a doorframe. It’s the compression that produces the seal. Don’t expect this product to survive longer than 3 to 5 years.

V-shaped weather stripping, sometimes called tension-seal weather stripping, is the best option for the side channels of a double-hung window or a tight-fitting door. This product springs open to close gaps and plug leaky windows and doors. 

Inexpensive peel-and-stick V-shaped vinyl (as little as $0.50 per foot) is easy to install but won’t last much longer than foam tape. More expensive copper or bronze styles cost as much as $2 per foot and must be nailed into place, but they look better and will last decades. 

Tubular rubber or vinyl gaskets prove the most effective for sealing large and irregular gaps, such as around an old door. These hollow tubes are large enough to plug big gaps but soft enough to compress nearly flat. Types that are nailed in place last longer than peel-and-stick varieties. Prices range from less than $1 per foot for peel-and-stick to $1.25 per foot for nail-in-place.

Prepare the Surface

Before installing any new weather stripping, start with a smooth, clean, and dry surface. Remove all old adhesive using an adhesive cleaner and perhaps a light sanding. Fill and sand old nail holes. If old screw holes can’t be reused, fill and sand those as well.

Installation Tips

  • Some peel-and-stick types should only be applied when the temps are at least 50 degrees. Check the product label.
  • Start with one small area to make sure the door or window opens and closes without difficulty before completing the entire job.
  • Measure twice before cutting to prevent mistakes and waste.
  • Cut rubber and vinyl varieties with shears or a utility knife, and metal types with tin snips. Be careful not to bend the thin metal while cutting it.
  • Make sure to face the opening of V-shaped weather stripping out toward the elements to prevent moisture from getting inside.

Installing Weather Stripping

Adhesive-style weather stripping: Remove the backing and press firmly in place. Removing the backing as you go helps prevent the sticky part of the strip from accidentally adhering to something it shouldn’t.

Nail-in weather stripping: Fasten the strips in place by nailing through the pre-punched holes. For double-hung windows, you’ll need to install the lower half, drop the sash, and then install the upper half.

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Would you throw away $20,000? You are if you’re letting your home age faster than it should. Here’s a simple maintenance strategy to keep your home young.Water damaged wall

You know how Dr. Oz says that if you keep your body fit and your mind nimble, you’re likely younger than your chronological years? The same principle applies to your house.

An out-of-shape house is older than its years and could lose 10% of its appraised value, says Mack Strickland, an appraiser and real estate agent in Chester, Va. That’s a $15,000-$20,000 adjustment for the average home.

But good maintenance can even add value. A study out of the University of Connecticut and Syracuse University finds that regular maintenance increases the value of a home by about 1% each year.

So if you’ve been deferring maintenance, or just need a good strategy to stay on top of it, here’s the simplest way to keep your home in good health.

Focus on Your Home’s #1 Enemy

If you focus on nothing else, focus on moisture — your home’s No. 1 enemy.

Water can destroy the integrity of your foundation, roof, walls, and floors — your home’s entire structure. So a leaky gutter isn’t just annoying; it’s compromising your foundation.

Keeping moisture at bay will improve your home’s effective age — or as Dr. Oz would say, “real age” — and protect its value. It’ll also help you prioritize what you need to do. Here’s how:

Follow This Easy 4-Step Routine

1.  When it rains, actively pay attention. Are your gutters overflowing? Is water flowing away from your house like it should? Is water coming inside?


2.  After heavy rains and storms, do a quick inspection of your roof, siding, foundation, windows, doors, ceilings, and basement to spot any damage or leaks.

3.  Use daylight savings days or the spring and fall equinox to remind you to check and test water-related appliances like your washer, refrigerator, water heater, HVAC (condensation in your HVAC can cause leaks) or swamp cooler, and sump pump. It’s also a great time to do regular maintenance on them. Inspect any outdoor spigots and watering systems for leaks, too.

4.  Repair any damage and address any issues and leaks ASAP.

Don’t procrastinate when you spot minor leaks or drips inside your house. Ongoing small leaks can slowly erode pipes and fixtures, and even cause mold and mildew issues you won’t notice until it’s too late.

Say you’ve got a bit of cracked caulk around the kitchen window. It may not seem like much, but behind that caulk, water could get into your sheathing, causing mold damage and rot. Before you know it, you’re looking at a $5,000 repair that could have been prevented by a $4 tube of caulk and a half hour of your time.

To help you with this routine, we have several guides with specifics and tips:

Once you settle into a routine, it becomes easier to handle other maintenance tasks, which will only do more to protect and enhance your home’s value. Plus, you’ll get to know your home better, which will help you spot other one-off problems, such as termites and other wood-destroying insects, that can cause costly damage.

If You Want to Take Home Maintenance to the Next Level …

If you’re a geek about home maintenance like we are, and you want to do more than water patrol, these ideas will help you keep your house in great shape.

Give yourself an incentive to do maintenance. Maintenance is your springboard to sexier projects like a kitchen remodel or basement makeover. So plan a room-per-year redo. This way you’re maintaining, fixing, and improving. For example:

In your basement:

  • Check for dark stains that could signal plumbing leaks. If you find any leaks, fix them.
  • Check your ductwork for leaks that are wasting energy.
  • Clean the lint out of the dryer vent. The machine will last longer, and you’ll help prevent fires.
  • Caulk and seal basement windows to stop air leaks.
  • Once your space is moisture sealed, you can start converting it into a family room or other livable space.
  • Brighten it up with paint.

In your kitchen:

  • Clean out all the cabinets, then wipe them down. It’s a great way to purge and get organized.
  • Take a good look under your kitchen sink. Remove all the wastebaskets and cleaning supplies to help you spot any leaks, and fix them.
  • Re-caulk the seam between your backsplash and wall to keep moisture out. To give your whole kitchen a low-cost facelift, how about a new backsplash?


  • Re-paint the walls using paint with a tough, semi-gloss sheen that stands up to repeated cleanings and resists moisture.

Keep a maintenance fund. Some sources say you should save 1% to 3% of your initial house price annually to pay for maintenance. On a $200,000 house, that’s $2,000-$6,000 a year. Yeesh, that’s a big nut.

Alternatively, make it a goal to save enough money to do a major replacement project, so the bill won’t catch you off guard. Probably the biggest single replacement project you’ll have is your roof or siding.

You can build up this fund over several years by paying yourself a monthly assessment — whatever you can manage. Keep it in a separate account to avoid the temptation to tap it for hockey tickets or other impulse buys.

If you need to replace the roof before you have a fund, an equity loan is an option. But consider very carefully.

Related: When to Use Home Equity and When Not To

If you’re practicing maintenance in the way we’ve outlined here, you won’t need $2,000 per year to manage your home’s natural aging process.  Some routine tasks, such ascleaning rain gutters and changing furnace filters, could cost you $300 or less per year.

Your house takes care of you — not just for shelter but as a financial asset.  Return the favor and keep it hale and hearty by caring for it with regular maintenance.

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Although spring lawn care gets all the attention, fall lawn care is the make-it or break-it season for grass.

“I’m already thinking about next year,” says John Dillon, who takes care of New York City’s Central Park, which features 200 acres of lawn in the middle of Manhattan. “The grass I grow this fall is what will be there next spring.” 

Fall lawn care is no walk in the park. It’s hard work, and Dillon guides you through the four basic steps.

1. Aeration

Aeration gives your lawn a breather in autumn and provides room for new grass to spread without competition from spring weeds. Aeration tools pull up plugs of grass and soil, breaking up compacted turf. That allows water, oxygen, and nutrients to reach roots, and gives seeds room to sprout. 

If kids frequently play on your lawn, plan to aerate twice a year — fall and spring. If your lawn is just for show, then aerate once a year — and maybe even once every other year.

A hand-aerating tool ($20), which looks like a pitchfork with hollow tines, is labor-intensive and meant for unplugging small sections of grass. Gas-powered aerating machines (rental, $20/hour) are about the size of a big lawn mower, and are good for working entire lawns. Bring some muscle when you pick up your rental: Aerating machines are heavy and can be hard to lift into your truck or SUV.

Depending on the size of your property, professional aeration costs about $150.

2. Seeding

Fall, when the soil temperature is about 55 degrees, is the best time to seed your lawn because turf roots grow vigorously in fall and winter. If you want a lush lawn, don’t cheap out on the seed.

Bags of inexpensive seed ($35 for 15 pounds) often contain hollow husks, weed seed, and annual rye grass seed, which grows until the first frost then drops dead. Splurge on the good stuff ($55 for 15 pounds of Kentucky Bluegrass seed), which resists drought, disease, and insects.

Water your new seed every day for 10 to 20 days until it germinates.

3. Fertilizing

A late fall fertilization — before the first frost — helps your grass survive a harsh winter and encourages it to grow green and lush in spring. Make your last fertilization of the year count by choosing a product high (10% to 15%) in phosphorous, which is critical for root growth, Dillon says.

Note: Some states are banning phosphorous-rich fertilizers, which are harmful to the watershed. In those places, look for nitrogen-rich fertilizers, which promote shoot and root growth. Check with your local extension service to see what regulations apply in your area.

4. Mulching

Instead of raking leaves, run over them a couple of times with your mower to grind them into mulch. The shredded leaves protect grass from winter wind and desiccation. An added bonus — shredded leaves decompose into yummy organic matter to feed grass roots.

A mulching blade ($10) that attaches to your mower will grind the leaves even finer.

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Today’s homebuyer is different to those of previous generations. In the age of smartphones, apps and smart homes, the modern house hunter’s demands have changed dramatically. At the same time, in an era defined by fluctuating house prices, today’s homebuyer is more cost-sensitive than ever before.

As searching for the perfect property continues to evolve, global real estate portal Lamudi explores the top 10 most important factors for those looking for a home in 2014. From energy efficiency to the latest technology, these are the top demands of modern house-hunters.

1. Energy efficiency

Cost of living and the household budget have always been important factors for those on the hunt for a new property. But as the price of amenities such as gas and electricity increase, it is no surprise that buyers now want reassurance about a home’s energy efficiency.

2. Storage - and plenty of it

One word: built-ins. To satisfy the needs of the modern household and help homeowners stay well organised, an ample amount of storage space has become a high priority. Built-in storage - including linen closets, wardrobes and even walk-in kitchen pantries - are now a must to attract modern home buyers.

3. The latest technology

Technology is now part of all elements of our lives and our home life is no exception. This can be something as simple as LED lighting, or involve more complicated technology like automated thermostats. These days, many property seekers expect to have the latest gadgets and high-tech features installed before buying.

4. Top notch security

Home security has been completely transformed by new technologies. Features like glass break sensors for windows and doors, and motion-activated lighting for exteriors, are just some of the modern security solutions that are attracting buyers.

5. Open plan living

Bright, open living spaces have become a staple of the modern home. The trend has even reached the kitchen, which homeowners often prefer to combine with the dining area. In fact, a 2012 study in the UK found that the dining room was becoming a thing of the past, with one in three households featuring a combined kitchen-dining area.

6. A modern kitchen

Kitchen design trends have changed significantly in recent years, as popular features of the past decade have started to look dated. Granite is no longer in vogue, with marble countertops and a simple black-and-white color palette giving the kitchen a distinctly modern edge. Here too, buyers are looking for the latest state-of-the-art, energy efficient household appliances.

7. Entertainment options

The modern home is much more than a place to sleep and eat. It is now also a place to entertain and be entertained. As a result, features including game rooms, home theatre systems and outdoor entertainment areas are now highly sought after.

8. A dedicated laundry room

It sounds simple enough but several recent surveys have pointed to the importance of a laundry room for new home buyers. According to a recent study of the most popular characteristics for new homes from the National Association of Home Builders in the US, a laundry room is one of the top features of a typical single-family home in 2014.

9. Smaller homes in general

As buyers have become more cost conscious, the appeal of the traditional McMansion or large home has dipped. Instead, homeowners are willing to sacrifice space for other key features, such as high-quality appliances and overall energy efficiency, as well as easier upkeep.

10. Location, location, location

The desire to find the perfect home in an ideal location remains top of mind for most house hunters. Where a property is located is often the number one factor influencing a property seeker’s decision to buy. It seems some things about looking for your dream home will never change.

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Lots of people who decide to buy a home haven’t got a clear idea about all of the costs involved, beyond the purchase price and, perhaps, the legal fees. We often enter into the biggest purchase of our life without a clear plan, research or budget.

Here are some things that should be considered:

Mortgage Loan Insurance:

If you are putting less than 20 per cent of the house value down,  you’re going to need mortgage loan insurance. Depending on the lender, the premium can be added to mortgage payments. Usually, mortgage loan insurance premiums range between 0.5% and 2.75% of the principal plus applicable fees.

Appraisal Fee: 

Lenders typically loan a percentage of the home’s purchase price or the market appraisal of the property. Cost depends on the size and complexity of the assignment.

Land Survey: 

The lender may ask for a current survey or certificate of location before signing off on the loan. There can be a substantial cost for having a new survey done on the property.


A deposit normally goes with the formal offer to purchase.

Property Insurance: 

If you have a mortgage, your lender will insist that you have enough home insurance to cover total since the property is their security for the loan. Your lawyer will need confirmation that insurance has been arranged. Should your house be completely destroyed, the insurance company is required to pay the lender first. You will still own the lot but will have to negotiate with a lender to borrow to re-build. Home insurance is priced based on the value of your home and current reconstruction costs.

Title Insurance:

Title insurance is optional and covers problems that may arise due to encroachment issues (for example, a structure on your property is actually part of your neighbour’s property and needs to be removed), existing liens against the property’s title, title fraud, undischarged mortgages and other issues relating to the property’s previous owners. The cost is relatively low, usually a few hundred dollars.

Legal Fees:

You can save some of the legal fees usually charged by the lender if your lawyer draws up the mortgage. You’ll also pay for disbursements which are the costs involved in drawing up the title deed, conducting a title search, and preparing and registering the mortgage. Make sure your interests are protected by discussing your Offer to Purchase with your lawyer or notary prior to signing.

Land Transfer Tax:

This is charged whenever a property changes hands and is based on the purchase price. Most provinces in Canada charge a provincial land transfer tax and some cities also charge an additional municipal land transfer tax. In some cases, first time homebuyers may be exempt from a portion of this cost. You can obtain further details about land transfer tax on provincial or municipal websites to help you estimate the cost.

Goods and Services Tax:

Resale (used) homes are exempt from GST but it does apply to newly constructed homes and may qualify for a partial rebate depending on the sales price and if the home is going to be your primary place of residence.

 Home Inspection Fee:

An inspection protects the buyer by revealing any problems in the property that you’d want to know before you move in. The home inspector evaluates the structures and systems that make up your home and provides you with a written report. While not mandatory, many people make a professional home inspection a condition of their Offer to Purchase.

Property Survey:

Sometimes requested by the lender, a survey is done to verify the property’s boundaries, measurements and structures and identify any easements, rights of way or encroachments on your, or adjacent properties. If the seller does not have one or does not agree to get one, you will have to pay for it yourself.

Mortgage Broker’s Fee: 

If you use a mortgage broker, a fee may be charged to arrange a mortgage on your behalf.

Don’t forget general expenses such as moving costs, fees charged by utilities for service hook-ups, property tax and other adjustments (an adjustment takes place when the seller has already paid for something in advance and wants to be credited for the unused portion on the date the house becomes yours), and ongoing maintenance (condo fees, etc.), and utility costs.

What expenses do you consider when you purchase a new home?

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If planned out properly your garage can actually become an extension of your house and provide you with a ton of storage space. Why not take advantage?

Here are five simple garage organization tips you can incorporate quickly and easily:

1. Chalkboard Paint

Chalkboard paint is a great way to help with organization. It comes in a variety of colours and saves frustration and money. With chalkboard paint if you outgrow the space, simply swap the contents; wipe off the outside of the cabinet or bin and re-label with chalk.

2. Vertical Height

Take advantage of the vertical height in your garage and place shelving on the ceiling. There are a few different options: you can use shelving or you can build a sliding track for bins. Whichever option you choose, it is best to use one that allows you the most visibility of the stored contents. The ceiling is also a great place to hide a ladder.

3. Magnetic Strips

Magnetic strips are an easy way to keep track of lots of different objects one has roaming around the garage. You can place items like scissors, wrenches, drill bits, etc. directly onto the magnetic strip to get items that are often used out into the open so that you can quickly grab them while working away. You can also buy small metal containers and place smaller items like nuts, bolts, nails, etc. into the containers and then the containers onto the magnetic strip.

4. Curtains

Curtains are perfect for hiding clutter. Place adjustable shelving or hanging solutions for storage and hang curtains in front to place everything out of eyesight. You could choose a plain colour to have them blend in or you could incorporate a nice pop of colour. Colour is not expected in the garage and makes a nice statement.

5. Walls

Covering an entire wall or a portion of a wall in pegboard or slatted wall panels allows you to adjust and move your organization system as you need to without the hassle and mess.

Consider painting your garage. This is often overlooked and can make a huge difference in the space.

What is your favourite garage organization tip?

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Whether you’re considering minor updates to perk up a room, or a full-scale renovation of your entire home, it’s important to be aware of how renovations might affect your property value, especially if you’re thinking of selling in the near future.

Since most renovations resolve an issue or improve quality of life, many people automatically assume that they also increase a property’s sale price. That’s often true— but it’s not always the case. According to the Appraisal Institute of Canada, “If the value of your house exceeds the average market value in your neighbourhood, your renovations will not yield much return. But if your house value is below the average, you can recover a larger part of the renovation costs.”

That being said, there are certain changes to a home that are more likely to yield a financial return on investment.  Top renovations that have the most potential for a financial return on investment include:


Kitchen renovations often give you the best return on investment compared to any other room in the house. Remember to carefully calculate your budget and to take into consideration the average house price in your area to make sure that you aren’t pricing yourself out of the market should you choose to sell. A kitchen upgrade often yields a 75% to 100% return on investment.


The majority of people prefer bathrooms with a soothing colour palette and modern design with chic materials and finishes. Bathroom renovations typically yield a 75 to 100% return on investment.

Income Suites:

Income suite renovations, such as a basement apartment, an attic or loft conversion or a coach house style suite in a garage, when done correctly, can often double your investment. An income suite adds a significant amount of value to your home and it can help you make money while you build.


Hardwood floors are the number one requested type of flooring by prospective homeowners. Hardwood looks fantastic, is classic and is super durable. Make sure to do lots of research so that you get the most bang for your buck.


Replacing an older front door with a new, high quality one can often pay back over 70% on your investment and it greatly improves curb appeal. The same thing applies for a new garage door replacement.

Hardware & Fixtures:

Homes that are fresh and updated always sell faster and often at a higher price. A very simple way to modernize the look of a home is to update things like faucets, sinks, toilets, cabinet hardware, doorknobs, light fixtures, etc. Hardware updates can improve the entire feel of a room and a small investment can equal a big return.

What renovations are you hoping to complete?

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Tim Chicilo
Phone: 1 (306) 539.0085
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