Source: Realtor.ca/blog


For many Canadians sheds are often seen as dingy storage spaces for seasonal equipment and oversized junk. Conversely, in Australia and New Zealand, sheds are passionately celebrated in documentaries, books, and magazines as places of invention, retreat, and productivity.

However, it looks like some Canadians are coming around, and realizing their sheds’ potential as stunning and functional extensions of their homes. From home office setups to backyard gyms, here are five amazing shed transformation ideas that go against the grain.

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

Join the tiny house revolution!

If the explosion of #TinyHouse Instagram accounts and YouTube channels is any indicator, the growing appeal of living in more compact, efficient, and even portable “tiny homes” is reaching a fever pitch. According to SEMrush’s 2020 Canada Real Estate Trends report, average searches for “tiny homes for sale” have soared throughout the East Coast. 

Redeveloping your backyard shed or garage into a separate structure (built to code, of course) can also provide a new source of income as a rental unit. In cities like Toronto, where the housing market temperature continues to rise, some residents are renovating their backyard sheds and garages into self-contained dwellings made accessible through the city’s intricate network of laneways, and renting or selling them as smaller one-person units.

As with any property renovation in Canada, whether in an urban or rural community, you’ll want to ensure your tiny house project meets standards and regulations. Make sure to assess your renovation plans against local zoning laws, bylaws, and building codes before you break ground. Or better yet, ask your REALTOR® for their insight.

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

Stretch out with a new gym or yoga studio

With gyms and fitness centres closed and Canadians staying home more than, it’s no surprise personal fitness equipment has seen a sharp increase in sales since the beginning of the pandemic. 

But in an already-crowded house with each room playing a specific role—“Honey, the dining room is for potatoes, not pilates!”—what better way to stretch out and use all your available space than by setting up a gym or yoga studio in your shed?

You can easily store your weights and machines in the shed when not in use, and bring them outside when the weather allows for a full-on outdoor iron-pumping session. Or, if zen is more your speed, clear out enough space for a yoga mat, plants, diffusers, and a Bluetooth speaker, and watch the stress melt away.

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

Work from home…at the office

For those of us working from home but still crave a light commute and/or have a crowded household during the day, a backyard home office offers a quiet and separate space to take Zoom calls, finish up your daily deliverables, or simply collect your professional thoughts.

With the number of people working from home going up and up, Canadians are looking for contractors to help build new offices in their existing shed space. The only restrictions are space, so let your imagination run wild. That being said, just be sure your new backyard office doesn’t pose any insurance risks.

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

Get back to basics with a greenhouse

For the budding gardeners among us, why not transform your backyard shed from a “fixed” state of storage to a “growth”-oriented hub by setting up your own sheltered greenhouse? By adding a few window openings and shelving units, you can take advantage of the shed’s access to sunlight and create a warm, insulated home for your seedlings. A shed-turned-greenhouse is also a great way to keep critters away from any fruits and vegetables you may be growing. So, whether planning a hydroponic herb garden or pop-up produce stand and flower shop, the options are ripe for the picking.


If you’re looking for some alone time, and perhaps a more stylish and less utilitarian use of your existing shed space, focus your shed makeover on creating your own backyard oasis. Whether it’s a meditation space or escape room, you can get away from it all while staying put.

Of course, all of these ideas will only be possible after a thorough spring cleaning. Good thing the weather is cooperating. Time to get started—your shed is waiting.


inside a shed that has been turned into a backyard oasis with pink walls, a table, and chairs
Read full post

Ah, moving day. It can either be a joyous occasion or a mind-numbingly stressful ordeal. No matter how much we prepare, there always seems to be some tiny detail unaccounted for. Let’s unpack the subtle art of preparing for and managing a—hopefully—flawless move.

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

Is everything worth moving?

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


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

Stack of cardboard boxesImage via Beeki, Pixabay

Think outside the box

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


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

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

3 men moversImage via 3 Men Movers, Giphy

Should I DIY or hire a moving company?

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

Couple packing boxesImage via Ketut Sebiyanto, Pexels

About downsizing

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

Person wrapping belongings for a moveImage via Ketut Sebiyanto, Pexels

Strategy is everything

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

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

moving straps

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

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


Source: Realtor.ca/blog

https://www.realtor.ca/blog/moving-day-are-you-really-ready/18929/1362

Read full post

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


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

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

Why a greenhouse?

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

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

Can I really build my own?

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


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

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

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

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


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

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

Plants for the beginner

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

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

Tomatoes

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

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

Zucchini

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

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

Spinach

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

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

Lettuce

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

a pile of picked cucumbersImage via krzys16, Pixabay
 

Cucumbers

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

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

Carrots

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

 stacks of green onions tied upImage via ArmbrustAnna, Pixabay
 

Green (spring) onions

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

strawberries growing off the plantImage via Bytran2710, Pixabay
 

Strawberries

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

close up of multiple basil plantsImage via fabersam, Pixabay

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

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

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

an outdoor greenhouseImage via EME, Pixabay

Two important considerations

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


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

a basket full of fresh vegetablesImage via JillWellington, Pixabay

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


Source: Realtor.ca/Blog

https://www.realtor.ca/blog/how-to-start-a-greenhouse-this-summer/18794/1367

Read full post

Source: Realtor.ca/Blog

https://www.realtor.ca/blog/decked-out-a-contractors-5-tips-for-your-dream-summer-deck/18400/1363


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


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

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

View from a deck overlooking the water

Choose the right contractor

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


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

Image via Ace of Decks

Decide which materials match your lifestyle

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


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


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

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

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

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

Select a deck size that makes sense and fits your budget

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

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

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

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

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

deck being constructedImage via Ace of Decks

Get an early start

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

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

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

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


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

Treated wood deck

If you want wood, be prepared for the upkeep

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


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

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

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

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

Read full post

Source: Scott's Blog

https://scottmcgillivray.com/downsizing-tips-for-empty-nesters/


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

Why Downsize?

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

What Matters To You?

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

Scott McGillivray Collection

Size Matters

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

Consider the Location

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

Special Considerations

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

Read full post

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

Bedroom finished basementImage via AddiGibson, Pixabay

Is it worthwhile?

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

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

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

Installing wall insolationImage via Erik Mclean, Unsplash

Common pitfalls to avoid

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

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

Drywall scraperImage via La Miko, Pexels

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

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

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

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

Home inspector smilingImage via sagoodi, Pixabay

Consult professionals

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

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

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

Materials

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

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

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


For the original article, see Realtor.ca/blog

https://www.realtor.ca/blog/a-planning-guide-to-finishing-your-basement/17759/1363

Read full post

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

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

A women painting the walls in her studio apartment

Update your paint job

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

Image via [EasyWallz.com]

Try a removable mural

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

A wall of artwork

Display your artwork

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

Make the most of your space

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

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

A modern floor lamp

Let there be light

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

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

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


Source: Realtor.ca/blog

https://www.realtor.ca/blog/postpage/17617/1366/damage-free-ways-to-decorate-your-apartment

Read full post

 

Since the first round of COVID-19 lockdowns in the spring of 2020, more home buyers have been purchasing properties in cottage country


Spending more time at home, and longing for additional space both indoors and out, has sent many buyers into rural markets across the country, causing sales to skyrocket in these communities. In December, the Lakelands Association of REALTORS®, which represents MuskokaHaliburtonOrillia and Parry Sound in Ontario reported new annual records for both non-waterfront and waterfront property sales, which grew by 16.5% and 44.9%, respectively.

CottageImage via Unsplash

Greg McInnis, a sales representative and REALTOR® with Chestnut Park Real Estate Limited who specializes in Ontario’s Haliburton region, says the cottage market was ‘going gangbusters’ consistently throughout 2020. With employer mindsets shifting towards more flexible work-from-home policies, providing home buyers with greater freedom as to where they can live, all indications are pointing to another strong year in 2021, he says. 


“People have been looking to get out [to] cottage country not just for the summer season, but all year long,” said McInnis. “We do see a lot of people looking at year-round places, [which] are more important to them. [A place] that they can live at, versus just being able to go away for a few days at a time.”


If you’re looking to make your first home purchase in cottage country, McInnis lays down a few crucial facts you’ll need to know before you buy. 

Looking out window at winter sceneImage via Unsplash

Consider property access and distance to amenities

Whether you’re eying a cottage by the lake or one that’s nestled in the forest, there are many unique settings to consider when buying a rural property. Your cottage’s location can greatly impact your lifestyle, especially if you decide to live there year-round.


One of the first things you’ll likely need to determine when buying a cottage property is how you’ll be able to access the home. If you plan to live at your cottage year-round, McInnis says you’ll want to ensure the roads to get to and from your residence are well maintained and accessible, especially during the winter. 


How remote your cottage is will also play a role in your purchase. McInnis says the recent surge of all-season cottage buyers don’t want to feel too isolated, and want to be fairly close to neighbours in case there’s an emergency.

cottage on the lakeImage via James Bombales

McInnis explains you’ll also want to consider proximity to basic amenities, such as grocery stores, pharmacies, and hospitals. Most cottage buyers prefer to be within 30 minutes of a small town where these services are available, he says, and up to three hours from a major urban centre. 

“They want to stay three hours or under away from the city, even if they are moving out or semi-permanently moving out,” says McInnis. “They still want to have access to the city for jobs or be able to go in and do whatever [they need to], so they don’t want to be too, too far away.”

Learn about rural infrastructure and home winterization

Unlike a city or suburban home, cottage properties don’t always share municipal services. Instead, cottage dwellers will have to get familiar with the rural infrastructure needed to independently manage their home’s water, heating and sanitation utilities. 


McInnis says buyers will have to be aware of the types of systems their home uses. Some properties feature dug or drilled wells, and source water from nearby rivers and lakes. Make note of how the home processes sewage, like through a septic tank, which is stored on-site and underground. You’ll also need to learn about how you can dispose of your garbage, whether a regular pick-up service is available or if you’ll be required to drive to the local dump. 

kitchen faucetImage via Pexels

If your plan is to live at the cottage all-year round, it’s vital your home is properly winterized and can withstand the cold. McInnis says to check the home is well insulated in the walls, pipes and roof, and to make sure the heating source is efficient for the size of the property. Be sure the cottage can also supply water in the freezing months with the help of a defrost line into the well or a heat trace that will keep the pipes from freezing.

cottage in winterImage via Unsplash

It’s not uncommon to get zero service bars in rural areas either—be sure to confirm you can receive reliable mobile phone and internet service at the cottage, especially if you’re working remotely.    

“Cell and internet service are obviously very important, especially for people that are doing a lot of work from home,” says McInnis. “There are some areas of cottage country that have pretty good service. There’s other areas that don’t.”

Calculate cottage insurance and upkeep costs

Just like any home, cottages come with a range of maintenance costs, though some of these expenses are unique to rural areas. 


McInnis says you’ll want to factor in long-term upkeep expenses, like keeping the driveway in good condition so it’s easily accessible. Your property may be on a septic system, which will require pumping every three to five years depending on its size and usage, which also contributes to maintenance costs. When looking at a cottage property, McInnis recommends examining the health of any trees and their orientation towards the house—cutting down sickly shrubs can get expensive. 


“Danger trees can cost $1,000 to take down, so if you’ve got a number of those that you’ve got to take down in the next few years, that can really add to the cost of your purchase,” explains McInnis.

man with chainsaw cutting logImage via Pexels

When it comes to financing your property, there are a number of factors that will contribute to your insurance rates, such as your distance from local fire stations, if your home is elevated from nearby water, and even how often the home is occupied. 


The mortgage lending process will also look a bit different from what’s involved for your typical city or suburban home. If your home meets the standards to be a primary residence, McInnis explains you may be able to put down a 5%t mortgage deposit, though some lenders could request 25%in some cases. Hence, it’s crucial to understand the different implications for each cottage mortgage provider. 


“There’s a lot of things to think about, which is probably why it’s good to have a professional real estate agent looking out for you so they can go over all of those things with you,” says McInnis.  

Enlisting the help of a local REALTOR® when buying a cottage ensures you can get the most up-to-date advice on transitioning to rural living. Connect with the best REALTOR® for your needs at REALTOR.ca, where you can find thousands of agents that specialize in Canada’s many cottage communities. 


For the original article, check out Realtor.ca/blog


https://www.realtor.ca/blog/postpage/17459/1362/looking-to-buy-a-cottage-here%E2%80%99s-what-you-need-to-know 

Read full post

Congratulations, you’re a homeowner! (Or you’re a renter! Which also deserves celebration!) There’s so much to learn and explore about your new digs, but it’s important to get some basics squared away before you play. Your home will have countless surprises for you over the years—and the right time to learn how to deal with them is not when you’re smack dab in the middle of a crisis. From some emergency preparedness to basic troubleshooting, these are 50 things everyone should know about their home. While it’s not a comprehensive guide, it’s a great place to start:

The basics:

Safety first! These are the things to know to prevent everyday hazards.

1. Your exit plan

First and foremost, one of the most important things you should know about your home is how to get out of it. In case of a fire or another emergency, how are you going to get to safety? (Every sleeping area should have at least one exit identified, either a door or a window that leads directly to the exterior.) What about for natural disasters? You should have a solid exit plan for all scenarios—Ready.gov has great planning resources for both domestic and external emergencies.

 

2. How your smoke detectors work

According to the National Fire Protection Association, almost three out of five home fire deaths result from fires in properties without working smoke alarms. The best way to prevent this? Check to make sure your smoke detectors are working monthly.

Had them for awhile? It may be time for a replacement. According to Welmoed Sisson, home inspector at Inspections by Bob in Frederick, Maryland, and author of “101 Things You Don’t Want In Your Home,” they should be replaced every ten years.


 

3. How your carbon monoxide detectors work

According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission, more than 150 people in the United States die annually from accidental carbon monoxide poisoning. While you’re checking your smoke detectors, give your CO detectors a good press, too. Many devices will have an end-of-life alarm, but many, including those by First Alert, recommend replacing them after five years.


4. How to use your fire extinguisher

Sure, you may have received a fire extinguisher from your parents as a first apartment housewarming gift, but do you actually know to use it? Peruse the National Fire Protection Association’s guide for a quick how-to. Also, if you’ve never used it (other than as a doorstop), Allstate has a nifty blog post about how to effectively inspect your extinguisher.

5. If you’re at risk for radon

When you were going through the home inspection process, it’s likely your home was tested for radon exposure—aka what happens after the natural breakdown of uranium in rock, soil, and water. However, if you live in an older home in the Northeast, Southern Appalachia, the Midwest, or the Northern Plains, you should test for radon if you haven’t in awhile or if you’ve just done a major home renovation. The New York State Department of Health recommends every couple five years in different seasons.

 

One of the first things experts recommend doing when moving in a new house is changing the locks—but why spend the additional money hiring a locksmith if you can easily do it yourself? (Here’s an easy DIY from This Old House!) If you don’t want to change all the locks themselves (cause that’s still pricey!) but still want the added security reassurance, you can also use a re-keying kit, which runs about $9 (but is a little more difficult to install than an entire new unit).

7. How to change your garage access information

Here’s a tip: Default isn’t safe. Take a cue from Jill Schafer, an agent with Kentwood Real Estate in Denver, Colorado, and learn how to change your garage keypad stat.

 
Post Image

8. How to spot (or smell!) mold—and what to do with it

The CDC says that whenever you spot mold on a hard surface, you should deal with it immediately. However, some molds can require more intensive removal. One in particular is Stachybotrys chartarum (aka toxic black mold) and it grows wherever water or moisture shouldn’t be. Though it’s black, green, or gray, chances are you’re going to smell it before you see it since since it’s usually stuck in the pores of water-damaged drywall, carpet, or other flooring. Most of the time, a surface cleaning won’t do anything—you’re going to have to get rid of the materials entirely and address what was causing water damage in the first place.

9. How to deal with pests

Speaking of living things in your home: You should know what pests are common in your area and potentially may encounter in your home. From insects, like silverfish and even—god forbid—bed bugs, to bigger uninvited guests, like mice or other wild animals, you should know what to do if you see one as well as ways to prevent an infestation.

Post Image
 

10. Where the main electric shut off is—and how to turn it off

Generally, it’s good to locate where your breaker box is (and have it appropriately labeled).

 

“It may be in the main panel in the basement, but in some houses it’s in the garage or outside near the electric meter,” says Sisson.


While you’re most likely to interact with it after you trip a circuit breaker or blow a fuse, you should also know how to turn off your home’s electricity flow for maintenance and safety reasons. If you’re installing something electric (i.e. a light fixture or any appliance that’s more complicated than just plugging something in), you’ll need to turn off the individual circuit breaker. If there’s a local fire, too, (i.e. if your microwave catches fire) or if there are sparks coming out of your outlet—you should run to the breaker, too.

 

11. Where the main water shut-off is—and how to turn it off

According to Mr. Rooter Plumbing, your main water shut-off valve is most likely located close to your water heater and has a bright red handle. A strong clockwise turn is all it takes to turn it off.

But why should you know how to turn it off? According to Ben Creamer, co-founder and managing broker of Downtown Realty Company in Chicago, Illinois, quickly turning off the water in a plumbing emergency will alleviate potential water damage in the home.

“A cracked pipe, a leaky shower, or a broken sprinkler head can all cause serious and costly damage if you don’t stop the water flow quickly,” Creamer says.

 

12. Where the gas shut-offs are

For safety reasons, you shouldn’t try to shut off your gas main on your own—leave that to a professional, reports Katie Johnston at the Boston Globe. And if you smell gas in your home, leave and call 911 immediately.

However, if you need to turn off a gas-powered appliance, like a stove or water heater (for installation or maintenance purposes), look behind the machine for the valve and turn clockwise. For more detailed instructions, check out SoCalGas’s how-to.

 

13. How your home is ventilated

There are multiple ways to ventilate a home—and they all require their own type of upkeep. To prevent harmful pollutants and/or unwanted moisture to accumulate and wreak havoc on your health and home, make sure all exhaust vents are unobstructed and all mechanical systems are serviced yearly.

The nuts and bolts

Numbers and metrics are specific to your home.

14. Your experts

If a pipe breaks or the furnace poops out, who will you call? Keep a list of recommended plumbers, carpenters, electricians, contractors, handymen, and exterminators on your refrigerator to call in a moment’s notice.

 

15. The lifespan of all the components of your home, their warranties, and their maintenance schedules

Fun fact: Nothing in your home lasts forever—and even if something is made to last for a very, very long time, it’ll require regular upkeep to ensure you squeeze out every last potential year of your appliances and building materials. Knowing how old everything is in your home, the last time everything was serviced, if it’s still under warranty, and any major issues in the past will help you plan out just when you’ll need to perform maintenance (and save up for it.)

“Get a sense for the remaining lifespan of the roof, furnace, air conditioning condenser, and other mechanicals,” says Brian Davis, a real estate investor and co-founder of SparkRental.com. “These are expensive to replace, and homeowners should know if they need to expect a $15,000 roof bill next year or ten years from now.”

 
Post Image
 
16. Where your wall studs are

For anything weighing over a pound, use a stud finder to drill or hammer into the studs. Just $7 can save you from expensive damaged drywall, says Davis.

 

17. What type of insulation you have

“It’s important to understand the type of insulation that runs throughout your home,” said Bridget Rooney, a home renovation and safety expert. While all insulation types have their own benefits, risks, and maintenance routines, some are more dangerous than others. For example, if your home was built before the 1980s, it’s possible that your home has asbestos insulation. Asbestos is not dangerous if it’s contained, but if “friable” (easily crumbled by hand) and its fibers or dust are inhaled, it can cause abestosis, lung cancer, and mesothelioma. This is a common risk in older homes and, surprisingly, according to the Mesothelioma and Asbestos Awareness Center, there are no federal guidelines for home inspections around asbestos, and many inspectors don’t check. However, in many states, sellers are required to disclose any known asbestos products in the home.

“Replacing this insulation sooner rather than later with a non-toxic alternative such as paper insulation will ensure your home is a healthy place for many years to come,” Rooney says.

18. Your home’s electrical load/capacity

Want to add another appliance or make a modernization update? Make sure your circuit can handle the additional load so you’re not constantly running down to reset your breaker, says Allison Chiaramonte of Warburg Realty in New York City.

 

The Spruce has a helpful article on how to calculate your home’s electrical capacity yourself, or you can hire an electrician for a comprehensive analysis.

19. Your water pressure

You can check your water pressure using a pressure gauge from a home improvement store. (This $6 one is top-rated on Amazon as well.) According to Mr. Rooter Plumbing, an ideal water pressure reading is between 45 and 55 psi. Any higher means you risk overloading your pipes and hoses, which can result in flooding. Any lower means a disappointing shower. You can easily fix any problems in pressure by installing and tightening/loosening a regulator. If it’s a problem directly from the municipal system, you can add a water pressure booster—but they’re somewhat pricey.

 
Post Image
 
20. Your proper light bulb wattage

“Overlamping, or using a light bulb with wattage too high for a given outlet, can easily result in a home fire,” said Craig Gjelsten, vice president of operations at Rainbow International. “Simply locate the proper wattage on each fixture outlet. If the fixture is unmarked, stay under 60 watts to be safe. Avoid using [compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs) in any lighting unit where the base of the bulb is enclosed by the fixture, such as with track and recessed lighting.” Instead, Gjelsten recommends a cooler option, such as LED.

 

Additionally, make sure all of your light bulbs are the same type and wattage—this is a common staging trick as uneven lighting can make a space appear smaller.

Basic troubleshooting

21. How to shut off your toilet

Look, shit happens. But don’t let your bowl runneth over onto your sparkling clean floor just because your tank won’t stop running. Turning off your toilet water valve (it’s the silver almond-shaped handle right under or behind the toilet) will stop messes before they happen.

 
Post Image

22. How to stop a dripping faucet

That plinky leaky faucet is not only driving you crazy, but it’s costing you money. Learn how to take off the faucet and replace the rubber washer—here’s an easy how-to.

23. How to unclog a sink drain

Forget those hazardous chemicals. Instead, turn off the water, place a bucket underneath the sink and unscrew the U shaped pipe underneath. Most likely, what’s causing the clog is in there.

 

24. How to unclog a shower drain

Slow shower? Try one of these 10 methods for how to unclog a drain before calling the plumber.

 

25. Where your water heater is, its capacity, and how to flush it out

Your home should be a no-cold shower zone—so you should know how much hot water your heater can contain. And step one in enacting that rule is knowing where your water heater is to check its size, but also in case of any on-the-ground troubleshooting (Spoiler alert: It’s usually tucked away somewhere and likely around the other utility hubs.) And while we’re talking about water heaters, remember that yours needs to be flushed every year. Sisson says you can do that using the faucet at the base.

Looking for your water softener? It shouldn’t be that far away from the heater!

26. What type of waste system you have, how it works (and where your main-line clean-out is)

The closer you live to an urban center, the more likely you are to have a direct connection from your home to a municipal sewer system. All pipes in your home most likely connect to the city system via a main-line, which can occasionally clog (and cause sewage water to seep up from floor drain. Yuck!) Thankfully, there’s a clean-out—usually outside the home and close to the foundation—that can easily solve problems. However, if that clean-out is blocked, the problem becomes harder and more expensive to fix.

 
 

If you’re in a more rural area, you may be dealing with a septic tank. Aaron Hendon of Christine & Company of Keller Williams in Seattle says there are many different designs of tanks and each has its own needs and ways to care for it. Hopefully you won’t be dealing with it all that often, but for emergency situations, you should know where in your yard your system and tank is buried. Not sure how to figure that out? According to FloHawks Plumbing and Septic in the Pacific Northwest, system diagrams may have been included as part of your home inspection, but you can also use country records to find the “as-builts” for your property (they usually contain the diagrams as well.)

27. Which air filter your HVAC system uses

While changing your filter every month may be overdoing it for those without pets or allergies, you should at least change it seasonally to ensure your AC isn’t working overtime. But these filters aren’t a one-size-fits all deal. Marla Mock, vice president of operations at Aire Serv, a Neighborly company, says you can figure out the right filter size by looking at the existing filter or consulting your HVAC manual.

“Write this number down to ensure you get the proper size,” she says. “Having the correct size increases effectiveness and helps lower your electricity bill.”

 

28. How to open and close your fireplace flue

If you’re lucky enough to have a fireplace—and use it for more than just decoration—you should know how to open and close your fireplace flue to reduce the risk of carbon monoxide buildup, says Roxanne Little, chief executive officer of HAFKAR Solutions in Atlanta, Georgia. She also recommends getting it (and your chimney, if you have one) cleaned and serviced at least annually.

 

29. How to clean your dryer vent ductwork

According to the U.S. Fire Administration, there are an estimated annual 2,900 fires, 5 deaths, and 100 and $35 million in property loss injuries due to clothes dryer fires every year. Yes, much of this is due to not cleaning off the lint catcher after every load, but did you know it’s also important to clean out your dryer vent ductwork every year too? Remove the hose behind the dryer, and take a brush and vacuum to remove any lint pileup. Not only will it reduce your chance of fire, but it will improve your dryer’s energy efficiency, too.

30. How to patch a window screen

Have a hole just big enough in your screen for a bug to crawl through? You can use clear nail polish to easily patch them right up. Bigger holes can be repaired with sewing, patches, or with a duct tape-like adhesive.

 

31. How to replace a circuit breaker fuse

Sometimes your fuse won’t have to be reset—but actually has to be replaced. Here’s the easy (and safe!) way to replace a circuit breaker fuse by yourself.

32. How to replace a light switch

Whether it’s broken or just kind of gross, installing a light switch is easier than you think it is. (And so is installing a dimmer!)



Having one outlet that just doesn’t work, is too loose, or just doesn’t look nice isn’t something you have to live with. And, quite frankly, it’s pretty easy to fix! Here, how to replace an electrical outlet.

 

34. How to seal up drafts

It may be an important step in winterizing, but covering up any poorly-insulated areas will lower your cooling bills in the summer, too. “As structures shift and settle over time, insulation, caulking, and other protective materials slowly lose their protective powers,” says Larry Patterson, franchise owner of Glass Doctor, a Neighborly Company. Here’s a full guide to insulating your entire home against drafts.

35. How to take off (and reinstall) your shower head

Your shower may be spotless—but, chances are, there’s one thing you haven’t cleaned in awhile: The shower head itself. At least once a year, you should remove it and give it a good cleaning. Or, while you’re at it, upgrade to an entirely new (and more luxurious) head, too.

36. How to care for your hardwood floors

Keep those hardwood floors as beautiful as they are today. According to the National Wood Flooring Association, you shouldn’t use water on them when the floor gets dirty. Instead, start cleaning your hardwood floors by using a dry cloth to promptly mop up spills and use wood-friendly cleaners on a monthly basis.

37. What your countertop materials are made of

Countertops can look like one thing and actually be another—which spells trouble when it comes time to clean and perform maintenance. “Natural stone that is proud, like marble, needs to be sealed annually and cleaned with a solution that specifically formulated to not harm the stone,” says Rainey Richardson, of Rainey Richardson Interiors in Houston, Texas. “Other materials like quartz and Neolith that are composites require much less maintenance.

38. How to clean a gutter

Be careful, but you should get up there and get out all the gook and the leaves and sticks. A clogged gutter can cause damage to your roof and leaks inside the walls. Here’s an easy guide to cleaning your gutters.

39. Where your manuals are

Gone are the days where you’d have to keep a zip-lock bag full of the user manuals for your toaster, fridge, and washing machine. Today, Schafer says you can find most of them online—just make sure to download and save a copies to the Cloud (may we suggest a dedicated folder?) so you always have access to them.

 

Contextual information

How your home relates to your neighborhood and the city where you live

40. Where your block/lot map is

“The map shows right-of-ways for utility companies and the county,” says Richardson. “This is important when you want to add improvements like a deck, fencing, an outdoor kitchen, or a swimming pool.”

41. Know local permitting ordinance requirements

Take a trip over to your local building department. “Learn the ordinance requirements so that any future additions or modifications are not the source of upset or extra expense,” said Hendon. “Height restrictions, setbacks, and building codes can change and you want to be clear that any future plans are allowed.”

 

42. When waste pick-up is (and what you can leave out)

Not only do different areas have their different days, but what can be left out as garbage, recycling, and compost (and how it should be presented) can vary wildly as well. Check with your local sanitation department to get the low-down and avoid any pricey fines.

43. Your neighbor’s contact information

We all have to look out for each other! Have your neighbors contact information on file in case of an emergency (or simply to invite them over for dinner one evening!)

 

44. Non-emergency numbers

911 should be kept for emergencies only. Use this number for all non-urgent matters—and only if you can’t resolve the issue yourself.

 

45. The noise curfew

Summer parties are fun—but your neighbors won’t appreciate your speakers blasting until all hours of the night. (And I’m sure you won’t like if a neighbor is mowing the lawn too early, either!)

46. The nearest hospital, 24/7 emergency clinic, and vet

It’s a great thing to know in case of an emergency. (It might be worth checking to see which is the closest ER that accepts your insurance, as well.)

47. Your polling place

Voting is your civic duty—locate where you need to be on election day.

 

48. Your elected representatives

It’s important to know who is doing the work for you and your community (and if they’re doing a good job.) Want to become a more informed citizen? Set a Google alert for their names.

49. The nearest donation center

There’s no reason to throw out old furniture or clothes when you can donate it—and often when someone will swing by to pick it up! Locate your nearest donation center (like Goodwill or the Salvation Army) and research what they can and can’t accept.

50. Who services your local utilities

Who provides internet, electricity, gas, and water in your area—and how can you contact them in an emergency?


Source: ApartmentTherapy.com

https://www.apartmenttherapy.com/things-everyone-should-know-about-home-268076

Read full post

Quarterly Forecasts

 
December 15, 2020 – The national average price is forecast to rise by 9.1% in 2021 to $620,400. Average price trends across Canada in 2021 are generally expected to resemble those in 2020. Shortages of supply, particularly in Ontario and Quebec, are expected to result in strong price growth, while Alberta and Saskatchewan are anticipated to see average prices pick up following several years of depreciation.
 
  • Ottawa, ON December 15, 2020 – The Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA) has updated its forecast for home sales activity via the Multiple Listing Service® (MLS®) Systems of Canadian real estate boards and associations.

    Current trends and the outlook for housing market fundamentals suggest activity will remain relatively healthy through 2021, with prices either continuing to climb or remaining steady in all regions.

    Economic activity continues to improve slowly following the initial stages of the pandemic. Over the past several years, record levels of international immigration, low interest rates and an increasing share of millennials entering their home buying years have helped make the housing market a significant source of strength for the Canadian economy. The recent government support programs for individuals and businesses have also helped the overall economy through the most severe parts of the pandemic to date.

    Mortgage interest rates have declined to record lows in 2020, including the Bank of Canada’s benchmark five-year rate used by Canada’s largest banks to qualify applicants under the B-20 mortgage stress test. With the Bank of Canada committing to keep interest rates low into 2023, mortgage interest rates are expected to remain near current levels through 2021.

    Recent national sales trends have improved more than anticipated over the second half of 2020. New listings in most of the country have also recovered. However, while sales activity rebounded to record-high levels, new listings only recovered to about their five-year average in most markets. The relative strength of demand for homes compared with supply has meant sales activity has been eroding active inventory, which was already scarce in many markets pre-pandemic. That said, this has been a trend since 2015.

    The increase in demand has impacted every part of the country, including the Prairies and Newfoundland and Labrador. While these regions aren’t experiencing the same intensity of upward price pressures as the rest of the country, compared with previous years, demand is strengthening and prices have indeed started to increase.

    Despite the historic setback to the spring market caused by the pandemic, CREA projects national sales to hit a record of 544,413 units in 2020, representing an 11.1% increase from 2019 levels. The strength of the Canadian housing market was broad-based, with every province except Alberta registering a year-over-year increase in sales. British Columbia and Quebec stand out as large contributors to the overall gain.

    The national average price in 2020 is on track to rise by 13.1% on an annual basis to just over $568,000. This reflects the current balance of supply and demand, which heavily favours sellers in many local markets.

    On a monthly basis, sales are forecast to ease back to more typical levels throughout 2021; however, presuming there’s a more normal spring market in 2021, the year as a whole is expected to see more home sales than 2020. National home sales are forecast to rise by 7.2% to around 584,000 units next year. All provinces except Ontario are forecast to see increased sales activity in 2021, as low interest rates and improving economic fundamentals allow people to get into the markets where homes are available for sale.

    Ontario has seen strong demand for several years, particularly outside of Toronto, which has eroded active supply in the province. This shortage is expected to limit sales activity in 2021. The strength of demand, particularly for larger single-family properties, will drive the average price higher as potential buyers compete for the most desirable properties.

    – 30 –

    About the Canadian Real Estate Association

    The Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA) is one of Canada’s largest single-industry associations. CREA works on behalf of more than 130,000 REALTORS® who contribute to the economic and social well-being of communities across Canada. Together they advocate for property owners, buyers and sellers.

Source:  CREA

https://www.crea.ca/housing-market-stats/quarterly-forecasts/?utm_source=membermarketing&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=biweekly&utm_content=jan21 

Read full post

With most of us spending extra time at home this year, there’s certainly a backlog of projects you’ve been hoping to get to when you have the time. New Year’s resolutions aren’t just for you, they can be for your home too! So why not take some time this holiday season to plan your house goals for 2021. 

From cleaning every nook and cranny to finally getting around to building a new headboard for your master bedroom, we’ve got all affordable DIY New Year’s projects you could ask for. 

Cleaning the bathroom tiles and grout

Grout is one of those “set it and forget it” things we often overlook in a home. But grout is actually quite porous and can easily stain in high-traffic areas like kitchens or hallways. 

Get yourself a stiff bristle brush and some hydrogen peroxide, or another type of grout cleaner, and start scrubbing! You’ll be surprised by the difference freshly cleaned grout makes to your tiled floor or wall overall. 

Cleaning your floor

DIY an accent wall

If you’ve been thinking about a refresh but aren’t sure what to do, rather than repainting an entire room try an accent wall! 

You can use wallpaper or a mural to highlight a wall in a room or go the full distance and DIY wall paneling to create a more built-in and authentic effect. 

Accent walls can truly transform a room and can be done for well under $300 if you rent the necessary tools and equipment.

Baseboard maintenance

Oh baseboards. Those tricky out of sight, out of mind accessories. Except that baseboards are rarely completely out of sight. Baseboards are a friend to dust and grime and require some grooming to keep them in good condition. 

So, maybe this year’s resolution involves a little baseboard cleaning. Not to worry, it’s actually really easy. All you need is some soapy water and a dishcloth (OK, and maybe a few hours to get the job done). 

If your baseboards are starting to separate from the wall, grab some white baseboard caulk and work it into the crevice using a 5 in 1 tool, or your finger, to reseal them to the wall. 

https://unsplash.com/photos/NrR6ByFMBas

Eliminate office drawer and shelf clutter

We’ve been spending a lot of time in our home-offices this year. So naturally, things have piled up. With work-from-home orders extending into the new year and beyond, it’s a good time to clear out the clutter in your workspace. 

Start by going through all cabinets and drawers. Toss any loose papers, receipts, and miscellaneous items you don’t need. Order some drawer organizers, or get your hands on a couple of small baskets to group loose items together. 

Donate any books you don’t plan on re-reading, and store old notebooks in a box for safekeeping. 

Deep cleaning the oven

While some might regularly take care of this chore, others leave it as a once-a-year activity. 

This task takes about an hour and can be done for under $20! Snag some oven cleaner from your local grocery or department store, as well as a rag and scrub brush.

Remove everything from your oven and spray it down, including the back, sides, top, and bottom. Let sit for as long as your cleaning product suggests, usually 30 minutes or more. Remove the racks, spray them down, and leave them to sit for 20 minutes. 

Once the appropriate amount of time has passed, take a wet rag and wipe down all surfaces you sprayed. Rinse your racks in the sink, or outside with a garden hose, and voila! You’re done! 

A clean showerhttps://unsplash.com/photos/LGJ6MkX-la4

Cleaning hair out of the drain

Not for the faint of heart, this one’s for the folks truly committed to those home-inspired resolutions. 

If you’re handy, you can fashion an easy drain snake out of a wire hanger following this tutorial. Otherwise, head to your local pharmacy and pick up a bottle of CLR or Drano for an easier, less-involved option. Although, there’s something oddly satisfying with pulling it out yourself. 

Washing curtains/dusting blinds

Likely not on your laundry list are your curtains. These things just stay clean forever, right? Wrong! Curtains are a dust magnet, and overtime can actually lose their colour and vibrancy from the amount of dust they hold onto. 

Read the care instructions before throwing them in the wash—some curtains need dry cleaning, while others can be hand-washed. 

If blinds are your window covering of choice, take a wet cloth to them and lightly brush over them to reveal a good-as-new shine. 

A beautiful bedroom, with a freshly made bed and attention grabbing headboard. https://unsplash.com/photos/iAftdIcgpFc

Build your own headboard

Headboards can really upgrade a bedroom, but when purchased are quite pricey! But headboards are surprisingly easy to DIY. All you’ll need is some plywood, foam, and fabric as well as the right building tools. 

Make your own tufted headboard for under $150 in an afternoon. 

Steam cleaning the carpets

Every once in a while you’ll want to clean your carpets to keep them from collecting dirt, dust, allergens, and stains. 

Before steam cleaning you’ll want to remove all furniture, vacuum and spot treat any tough stains. Then, you can either use a carpet cleaner bought online or rented from your local hardware store for under $150! So easy, and so worth it. 

Bright lights with fun shades.https://unsplash.com/photos/NGb91VwnOWY

Take apart and clean your lights

Flush mount lighting and ceiling fans are prone to collecting dust and are rarely (if ever) cleaned. Take it upon yourself to go the extra mile and dust off those ceiling lights, your lungs will thank you later! 

Cleaning the fridge

Yes, it’s a grubby job, but there’s nothing like a sparkly clean fridge to lift one’s cooking spirits. Start by clearing out your fridge and emptying containers filled with old food and sauce you completely forgot about (gross, but worth it for the environmental impact of saving waste!) 

Next, remove any drawers and shelves. Take them to a bathtub or laundry sink and spray them down with some antibacterial cleaner. While they sit, spray down the inside of your fridge and wipe with a damp cloth. Rinse off the shelves and drawers and place them back in the fridge. 

Once it’s time to put things back in the fridge, opt for an organization method that works for you. We love the suggestion of using the top fridge shelf for ready-to-eat, or close to expiry items! 

A simple backspace, making your kitchen even cleaner.https://unsplash.com/photos/DlO0yz4U67A

Re-tile your kitchen backsplash

2020 brought a wave of hot new tile trends that will leave older kitchens looking outdated. Most kitchen backsplash tiles range from $4-10 a square foot. So, depending on the size of your kitchen, this is a project you can do for under $300! 

Follow this simple DIY tutorial to nail your first backsplash project!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uDLtF9ET6rY

Whatever your New Year home resolution, make sure to take it slow. Don’t rush into a million projects; start with the things you think will give you the most satisfaction and take it from there! 


Source: Realtor.ca/blog

https://www.realtor.ca/blog/postpage/16461/1367/12-simple-diy-resolutions-under-300

Read full post

It’s not that hard to build a basic outdoor fire pit. You can do it in an afternoon, with a little elbow grease and less than $100.


TOOLS

  • shovel
  • level

Show All

MATERIALS

  • retaining wall blocks (we used about 36)
  • metal fire pit ring
  • 7” square concrete pavers or fire brick for the bottom of the pit (we used about 15)

STEP 1

Plan Location and Layout

A fire pit should be built at least 15 feet from any structure and close to a water source. Ideally, you’ll want it on level ground; it’ll make building it much easier and sitting around it more comfortable.

STEP 2

Determine the Size

The size of your fire pit will be determined by your metal fire ring. Place the ring and retaining-wall blocks on the ground to figure out the size of the fire pit. Mark the outside of the circle with the edge of a shovel.

STEP 3

Dig a Hole

Move the retaining wall blocks out of the way and dig inside the marked hole. Make the hole at least 7” deep.

STEP 4

Line Hole With Sand

Add a 1” layer of all-purpose sand in the hole and tamp it down flat. You may want to use a level to make sure it's all on the same plain.

STEP 5

Add Base Row

Lay the bottom row of blocks inside the hole. Place the outside of the block on the very edge of the sand.

STEP 6

Place Metal Ring

Place the metal ring on the sand inside the base row of blocks.

STEP 7

Insert Bricks Into Fire Pit Floor

Lay the pavers or fireplace bricks in the bottom of the fire pit. Cover as much area as possible.

STEP 8

Add Pea Gravel

Fill the gaps between the blocks and the pavers with pea gravel.

STEP 9

Place Remaining Rows of Blocks

Stack the outer blocks to your desired height. Stagger the seams of each layer.


To see the original article and video, check out: https://www.diynetwork.com/how-to/outdoors/hardscape/build-a-fire-pit-in-a-few-hours-for-under-100

Source: DIYNetwork.com


Read full post

When we think about buying and selling real estate, it’s easy to overlook that, in many cases, the property being sold is a rental property that likely has tenants. In fact, with a majority of households in Canada owning their homes (67.8% according to a 2016 Census) nearly one-third of all homes in Canada are rental properties. 

While most real estate transactions are pretty straightforward, different rules apply when a rental property is concerned. Let’s look at the different scenarios you might encounter when buying a rental property that has tenants.

A young adult signing a lease.Image via Cytonn Photography, Pexels

Scenario 1: You wish to keep the tenant(s)

This is the simplest scenario and has the least impact on timing and conditions of the sale. No matter if the tenant has a fixed-term or periodic tenancy (month-to-month), once the sale closes they will fall under your responsibility as the new lessor (a.k.a. landlord). In most provinces, any fixed-term lease will revert to a periodic tenancy automatically when it expires.

You may be asking, “do I need to sign a new lease agreement?” According to licensed paralegal Ashley Katamay of Ottawa, while it’s not mandatory to sign a new lease, “The rules in the Residential Tenancies Act (RTA) will always apply, regardless if there is a contract or not. If the parties sign a new lease, the landlord can change the terms ONLY if the tenant agrees and if the changes comply with the rules stipulated in the RTA.” 

A grandmother and granddaughter talking while having a cookies. Image via Andrea Piacquadio, Pexels

Scenario 2: You wish to occupy the home or rent to a family member

There are two ways this works, but in both scenarios it’s important to clearly state your intent to occupy the home or assign it to an immediate family member (parent, spouse or child)—this does not apply to extended family or close friends—as part of your purchase agreement.

The tenant has a lease that has not come to term: “The tenant’s lease remains protected until the end of the fixed term. Therefore, landlords need to ensure the buyer is aware they must comply with the existing tenancy agreement,” shares Katamay. This means you must assume responsibility for the tenant and serve notice to end the tenancy no less than the minimum period required by law before the end date of their fixed-term lease.

If you need the home vacant at the time of purchase, then the sale can only close on the last day of the tenancy, and the current owner is responsible for providing notice. Notice must be given according to the laws of the province or territory in which the home exists. 

When it comes to this situation, Andrew Miller, a REALTOR® and salesperson from Ottawa says, “The lease must be respected regardless. When I have this situation we will typically open discussion with the tenants and try to find a monetary compensation that they are comfortable breaking the lease agreement for so that all sides are happy.”

The tenant’s lease is month-to-month: The same minimum notice requirements apply in this case, though notice can be given immediately once the terms of sale have been satisfied. If you require the unit empty, the sale can only close after the day on which the tenancy ends.


NOTE: A tenancy in Quebec cannot be terminated by the landlord before the sale closes, making it the obligation of the new owner to take the necessary steps to end the tenancy.

 

Scenario 3: You wish to demolish, renovate or repurpose the property to a non-residential use

This is often where things can get difficult, especially if due diligence has not been taken to prepare ahead of time before ending a tenancy, or if the work is not completed within a reasonable timeframe after the tenancy has ended.

Generally, if a plan is in place to demolish the home, if the home requires substantial renovations that require it to be empty, or if it’s being converted to a non-residential use, longer notice times can be expected. The notice period is anywhere from two months to a full year, depending on the province.

In the case where a multi-unit building is replacing the original rental unit, or where renovations are concerned, Katamaya mentions, “The tenants have the right to move back into the unit once the work is completed. Or the landlord and tenant may agree to end the lease early.”

In some cases the landlord may be required to pay moving expenses, or to compensate the tenant, depending on the province and number of units in the property.

Home agent using a calculator Image via Toa Heftiba, Unsplash

Scenario 4: The tenant is paying below market rent

When a tenant has been residing in a home for many years, rent often falls below market, causing what Miller says is the only downside for a buyer when they wish to keep a tenant. As years pass, property values, taxes, and mortgage rates rise, increasing the overheads for landlords and narrowing profit margins. 

Most provinces set annual limits for rental increases to limit abuse, though the premise is that a landlord risks losing a good tenant if they unreasonably raise the rent. A landlord must follow a minimum notice period, and if they have good reason to increase the rent beyond the guidelines, they can apply for permission from their provincial landlord tenant board. 

Rent may also be increased beyond the guideline amount if it’s justified by investing in improvements or renovations to the property.

A couple moving into their first aparmtent. Image via Getty

Residential Tenancies Acts Resources

While there are many similarities from province-to-province, notice periods and restrictions on ending tenancies can differ greatly. For instance, in Manitoba, a tenancy cannot be terminated during a school year if there are school-age children in the household. The minimum notice period in Manitoba is also tied to the vacancy rate in the respective community and can range from two to six months. Alberta law requires a full 365 days notice for renovations that require the unit to be vacant. In Ontario, a fine of up to $25,000 can be levied against a landlord on top of damages for bad-faith evictions. If a unit in Quebec is owned by a company, then the owner of the company cannot reclaim the unit for themselves or a family member.

Here are links for each provincial resource where you can become familiar with the laws in your province:

A mother and daughter packing to move. Image via cottonbro, Pexels

While buying a rental unit is becoming a popular long-term investment, there’s a lot to keep in mind to ensure you stay on the right side of the law while respecting the renters. Let’s not forget they’re individuals and families who love their home and have made memories they will carry forever. Doing your due diligence and approaching tenants with empathy will go a long way to ensure a positive outcome for all.


Source: Realtor.ca/blog

https://www.realtor.ca/blog/postpage/16051/1362/buying-a-rental-property-with-tenants

Read full post

Whether it’s your very first home or a fresh start, there’s a lot to be aware of when it comes to household maintenance. While some developers provide guides to help homeowners get acquainted with maintenance schedules, most owners have to learn on their own. That’s why we consulted Paul Justice, of Justice Construction, to compile a comprehensive—and handy!—timeline to give you a head-start on what to check, when to check it, and how to prepare for the short and long term. 

Yearly planner Image via JessBaileyDesign, Pixabay

The importance of scheduling

Many homeowners overlook maintenance items until serious repairs are needed, ultimately costing more money. According to Justice, the two most commonly overlooked items by homeowners are the foundation and mould. By being aware of what to look for and establishing a habit of regular maintenance and inspections, you can stay on top of your home’s care, boosting its value and ultimately reducing stress and saving money on costly repairs or renovations.

A clean, warm family home. Image via kirkandmimi, Pixabay

Monthly

Choose one day each month for these revolving items which can easily be performed in a morning or afternoon.

  • Replace the furnace filter (if you don’t have central air conditioning, then you only need to do this during months of operation).
  • Clean your kitchen range hood filter.
  • Test your smoke and CO (carbon monoxide) detectors.
  • Wash hardwood floors (if you have them).
  • Clean your shower heads and faucet aerators.
  • Inspect and clear out all sink and tub drains.

Pro tip: The best way to prevent drain blockages is with a fine filter drain insert in your kitchen and bathroom drains. This ensures your drains never collect sediments, hair or food waste. Never rely on liquid drain cleaner to clear blockages. 

Storing your tree in the attic Image via Jeswin Thomas, Pexels

Semi-annually

These tasks should be performed twice each year, once when preparing for winter and again each spring.

  • Replace smoke and CO detector batteries.
  • Check your attic for evidence of water incursion, rodents and confirm your insulation is in good shape.
  • Inspect your windows and doors (ensure frames, sweeps, stripping and caulking are in good shape).
  • Test your hot water tank’s pressure relief valve.
  • Inspect your eavestroughing, gutters, and flashing.
  • Clean your baseboard heater grills (turn off any breakers beforehand and be sure the grills are dry before re-engaging them)
  • Vacuum your air return ducts
  • Pull out appliances like your fridge and stove to vacuum and dust behind 
AC units Image via ElasticComputeFarm, Pixabay

Annually

Annual maintenance and inspections usually happen in the spring or fall with a few exceptions that are not season-specific.

Spring:

  • Inspect and pressure wash your home’s exterior.
    Pro tip: Keep an eye on the caulking used to seal your siding.
  • Inspect your roof, eaves, and flashing each spring.
    Pro tip: If there’s any sign of curling, cracking or disintegration, we recommend calling  a roofing inspector immediately.
  • Inspect and clean your AC.
    Pro tip: You only need to use a garden hose to clear dirt and debris from the unit. Remember to disconnect the power first!
  • Check your deck or porch, and wood fence for damage or rot and replace boards as needed.
  • Pressure wash your deck and fence. Watch your pressure settings though so you don’t accidentally gouge your wood!
  • Inspect your asphalt driveway. If you see the colour and definition of individual pebbles, then you know it’s time to reseal.
  • Have your carpets professionally cleaned. You can also rent a carpet cleaning machine.
  • Have your chimney and fireplace/wood stove inspected and cleaned.
  • Check for mould: Inspect your home’s interior, especially places you don’t see often, and check for musty or dank odours.
    Pro tip: If you discover mould, do not stop until it’s safely cleaned and the source identified and corrected—this may require a mould remediation expert.
  • Inspect horizontal runs from your gutters.
    Pro tip: Ensure water is being directed away from the house so it does not collect and soak into the foundation.
  • Inspect your foundation for cracks and moisture.

Fall:

  • Test your home’s thermostat.
  • Inspect and clean out your eavestroughs and gutters.
  • Check your septic system (if you have a septic tank, it’s important to have a professional inspect it annually).
  • Drain and shut off exterior faucets.
Pipes under a sink PImage via Eugene Brennan, Pixabay

Any time of year:

  • Inspect your plumbing for leaks or sweating.
  • Review your electrical system. Whether you live in an older home, or a new build, identifying potential problems early can save a lot of stress down the road.
  • Call an HVAC professional to service your furnace each year.
  • Inspect your flooring for wear and tear.
  • Check your toilets-if they start to rock, prevent damaging leaks by replacing the flange.
  • Check for wiggly door handles and squeaky hinges

Here’s how to replace your toilet’s flange:

Image via Skitterphoto, Pixabay

Preparing for the long-term

You know that rainy day you’re always told to save for? Putting money aside for any eventual repairs is a smart way to avoid unnecessary shocks down the road. With modern building materials and warranties, it may be decades before repairs are needed, but it’s best to be ready. 

Five years:

  • Have your ducts cleaned
  • Replace carpet in high traffic areas. A long-term, economical solution is to install laminate flooring, which can last upwards of 15 years with little maintenance.
  • Paint your home’s interior
  • Replace the gaskets and washers in your faucets to prevent leaks.

Ten years:

  • Re-paint your home’s exterior. Depending on the type of paint and materials used for your siding, you should budget to repaint every 10 years. 
  • Refinish your hardwood floors. This may need to be done sooner—or later—depending on how highly trafficked your floors are.
Image via alluregraphicdesign, Pixabay

15 years:

  • Be prepared to replace all or part of your roof, depending on the materials used and any warranties applied. 
  • Laminate flooring may need to be replaced.
  • Siding may need to be replaced on your home’s exterior.

25 years:

  • CSA approved windows reach the end of their lifetime at 25 years, and will likely need to be replaced.
A family making food in their family home. Image via August de Richelieu, Pexels

It’s never too soon to start your own household maintenance schedule, and to start saving for those larger eventualities down the road. The savings to your pocket book as well the peace of mind that comes with preparedness will go a long way to ensure long-term enjoyment and comfort in your home.


Source:  Realtor.ca/blog

https://www.realtor.ca/blog/postpage/15596/1363/your-complete-home-maintenance-timeline-simplified

Read full post

Seasoned gardeners will tell you landscaping is far from seasonal. Designing a backyard that pops throughout the year requires careful consideration to ensure everything rotates in turn with the Earth’s axis. Consider the simple concept of a snow globe. The scene is serene when all is calm—and even more magical when shook up with falling snow.

Instead of feeling discouraged by our gardens being buried in snow, it’s time to rethink the winter season–it’s an opportunity to shift focus. Visual interest can be achieved by integrating ornamental grasses, trees and hardscaping. In fact, you’ll find these five tips will allow you to show off your property in an unexpected way. Rain, snow, sleet or shine!

A landscaped garden on a winters dayImage via Flickr @FourSeasonsGarden

1. Evergreens

Evergreens are a bit of a misnomer. Typically, they’re easy to identify as their foliage remains green year-round. However, evergreens can also be yellow, like the feathery Gold Thread False Cypress or semi-weeping Cypress Gold Mop. Plant either in full sun and they will turn a rich gold. In shady areas, the foliage will remain lime green. Evergreens can also be blue, like the blue spruce which is a popular choice for both accent and privacy screening. Evergreens are low-maintenance, resilient and offer staggering focal points in a yard or garden. A whimsical choice would be the Birds Nest spruce, a shrub that grows in a compact ball. It has a characteristic depression in its centre, like a bird’s nest. 

Boxwood hedge and English Boxwood will also ride out a heavy snow load and keep your garden green!

A forest on a winters dayImage via Flickr @wewon31

2. Bark

Depending on your province and growing zone, consider planting winter-blooming tree species. The Red Twig Dogwood remains blood red year-round, painting a remarkable contrast against the snow. It’s also a favoured addition to planter boxes to complement lengths of birch trees and cedar branches.

Ornamental trees like birch and sycamores offer texture, height while providing seeds and shelter for birds. 

Image via Flickr @KevinOliver

3. Hardscaping

There’s nothing hard about it, really! Hardscaping includes all the man-made features used in backyard design, balanced by vegetation. It includes pathways, stone walls, trellises, arbours and benches. Sculptures, colourful birdhouses and fire pits also act as strong visual cues of warmer days ahead! Outdoor lighting, playful potting sheds and treehouses make hardscaping flexible and easy. Visit your favourite parks and gardens for inspiration.

3 birds sitting on a winter tree in a snow fall. Image via Flickr @IngridTaylar

4. Berries

Birders and berries are simpatico. Tree and shrub varieties that bear berries will automatically attract overwintering birds (and early migrators come spring). Barberry and Cotoneaster are gorgeous considerations while the berries of the Mountain Ash will persist on the tree all winter. Birders (and birds) note the ‘Leonard Springer’ variety of ash is not popular on their menu.

The Snowdrift crabapple dazzles with a mass of snow-like flowers in early spring and the orange-red fruit hangs well into winter for wildlife to enjoy like a back alley food truck. Winterberry holly is also a pleasing choice and enjoyed indoors and out. The shrub loses its leaves in autumn to reveal thousands of bright berries that hang like holiday ornaments. Snowberry shrubs are loved for their white bulbs and berries which appear in autumn and last into winter.

An outdoor winter flower with a fresh bed of snow. Image via Flickr @anokarina

5. Four-season perennials

Perennials are like the bears of the plant world. They simply rest during the freeze/thaw cycle, but still add visual interest, especially if their seed heads are left intact. Sedum varieties like “Dragon’s Blood” turn red in autumn and add colour when winter’s white palette dominates.

Ornamental grasses are useful for privacy from neighbours and a natural accessory. Grasses left to stand throughout the winter also act as an abundant seed supply for birds. Sunflowers, asters and zinnias serve the same useful purpose.

Hellebores will surprise with a burst of colour sometimes as early as December while other perennials lie dormant. The Christmas Rose cultivar pops with white flowers that can turn deep pink throughout the winter.

Perennials that bounce back in spring in a bigger and better way include hostas, peonies (trim dead foliage in fall to ensure big blooms come spring), Wild Columbine and Bee Balm.

As you incorporate these ideas into your property, remember, the first day of spring is March 20, 2021. We’ll get there soon enough, so enjoy your revamped winter landscape—it’s the only time we don’t have to worry about weeds! 


Source: Realtor.ca/blog

https://www.realtor.ca/blog/postpage/15772/1363/5-tips-for-winter-landscaping

Read full post

October was another busy month for Canadian home buyers and sellers. Housing activity across the country continued to increase from September into October, breaking yet another record!

Which begs the question: is this trend here to stay?

Download our October 2020 market snapshot.

“Many Canadian housing markets continue to see historically strong levels of activity, and at this point over and above what would have been required to make up for the very quiet spring market this year,” says Costa Poulopoulos, Chair of CREA.

At this rate, 2020 may set an annual record for sales activity! Check back next month to see if we’re still on track for a record-breaking year.

Remember, contact a REALTOR® for detailed information about your neighbourhood and its price trends.


Source: realtor.ca/blog


https://www.realtor.ca/blog/postpage/15795/3195/october%E2%80%99s-housing-market-snapshot-the-market-stays-hot-as-the-weather-cools-down

Read full post

We’ve all heard the phrase “play is a child’s work,” and it’s true in every sense of the word. Play has shown positive contributions to the cognitive, physical, social, and emotional well-being of young children. So why not embrace and support their need to play with a dedicated space they can call their own–a playroom!

Traditionally playrooms have been associated with bold colours, flashy patterns, and toys everywhere, but that doesn’t have to be the case. Whether you have a dedicated room or a sectioned-off corner, a fun, engaging, and design-friendly playroom is possible.

When planning your kid’s playroom there are several aspects to consider, from colour and storage to décor items and furniture. We’ll walk you through all the major decisions and help you pull together a playroom or area that’s fun for the kids but also speaks to the design sensibilities of adults.

A gender neutral play room with beiges and creams. Image via [AlmostMakesPerfect]

Colour palette and pattern

Playrooms often get a bad rep because of their loud, bold colours and patterns, which in an adult world, are anything but design friendly! Gender neutral playrooms are becoming the norm and offer the perfect balance of design and function. That’s not to say you can’t inject pattern and colour. Select one primary colour and run with it! Use it on an accent wall or furnishings (emerald sofa, yes please!). Bold patterns can also be incorporated on textiles such as pillows, curtains, and rugs. Then inject a bit of personality with a few accessories in a complementary colour. Kids toys, books, and crafts are already super colourful, so leaving the base of the room a little more neutral can make it feel adult-friendly.

A globe on a shelf with a floating shelf with childs toys. Image via [Pexels.com]

Storage

No parent enjoys walking by a playroom and seeing toys thrown everywhere, which is why easy-to-access storage is key. The best storage solutions allow your kids to easily grab their toys, games, books, and crafting supplies as well as put them away. Cubby shelving is great as it can double as a space where favourite toys or items can be put on display. Fabric drawer inserts are also available for cubby-type shelving, which can hide and store large amounts of smaller toys like figurines or wooden blocks. Place baskets and totes made of fabric on the floor making it easy for young children to get to their toys. Storage ottomans, wicker baskets, and traditional toy boxes also make great options. 

A mom and her child playing with train tacks in a neutral children's playroom.

Flooring

Kids are notoriously hard on floors. If it’s not toys being dropped from varying heights it’s spilled drinks and cookie crumbs, so you’ll want to consider the type of flooring in your playroom. If you’re renovating a room from the ground up select a durable and easy to clean flooring like linoleum, wood laminate or solid wood. If you’re simply looking to protect your floors use area rugs that can be laundered or are made of sturdy natural fibers. Patterns and prints can also help disguise the inevitable spills and stain. Foam playmats are also a great option. They are perfect for kids who love to tumble, not to mention they’re easy to clean.  

A large cozy pink poof in a neutral play setting with a tea party set.

Fabrics and textiles

Durability is the name of the game when it comes to selecting fabrics and textiles for a playroom. Opt for thick, tough fabrics on pillows, ottomans, and poufs as they will stand up to all the jumping, rolling and the occasional spill. If the space is large enough to include lounge furniture, like chairs and a couch, consider selecting a fabric that has a built-in stain guard or purchase slipcovers that can be removed and laundered as needed. 

Large pillows on the floor, in a room that has colourful animal wallpaper.

Kid-friendly furniture

Kids furniture has come a long way in terms of design, which means you’ll have an easier time finding pieces that match the aesthetic of your home while being safe and useful for your kids. Tables and chairs are a staple for any playroom as they can be used for everything from play to snack time. Lounge furniture like bean bag chairs, tot-sized couches, day beds, and oversized floor pillows offer up places for your kids to take a break. Bookshelves, cubbies, and toy storage that’s lower to the floor allow kids to access their toys, games and crafts without adult help. Kid-friendly doesn’t always mean the size of the furniture, it can also mean safety. Ensure all large furniture in your playroom, such as shelving, lighting, and art are properly secured to the walls to minimize tipping and falling.

Children's play zone with faux grass, trees and fence. Perfect with indoor picnics

Create zones

A playroom is more than a place to send your kids for an hour, it should encourage growth, ignite the imagination, increase dexterity, and physical, cognitive, and emotional strength. Creating “zones” within your playroom can help encourage different types of play and activities.

A reading nook complete with floating bookshelves, oversized floor cushions, fluffy throw pillows, and comfy blankets is the perfect place for your kid to cozy up with a good book (or two) and unwind after a busy day of play. Whether it’s a mini play kitchen, canvas tentMontessori shelf or a tot-sized tool bench, setting aside a space for imaginative or pretend play can help your child express, explore and work out their own ideas, thoughts, and feelings. An active area with an indoor rock-climbing wall, a pikler triangle, indoor swing or slide can help those little ones release their energy and experiment with physical movement. A craft corner or art zone with tables, chairs, and easels will turn your little one into a Picasso in no time! Don’t forget to include a bulletin board for them to hang their masterpieces – after all, you don’t want all of them to make their way to your kitchen fridge!

Lastly, if your kids are older and video games are their guilty pleasure, set up a gaming zone with a small wall-mounted TV, gaming console, and a few gaming chairs

A childs play room with a painted mural on the wall of rolling hills, flowers and clouds.

Décor items

Using décor items and accessories is an excellent way to personalize and add character to a playroom. Wall decals are a low-commitment option as they can be swapped out or removed as your kids get older (or they move onto the next big thing!). Art can also liven up the space, just be sure to choose shatter-proof frames or opt for canvas artwork. Trendy wall hangings like pennants, woven textiles, faux taxidermy animal heads, and macrame add texture, colour, and a touch of whimsy. Lastly, fun wall lights or string lights can make any space shine and twinkle.

Tight on space?

Small space living doesn’t mean you have to forgo a playroom completely. Even the smallest spaces can allocate a corner, nook, or alcove to create an area for play. If you’re setting up a play area for your kids in their bedroom or in a common area such as a family room, a simple foam mat or colourful rug can help them differentiate “their space” versus “our space.” Or think outside the box (or room in this case). Any unused space can become a kid’s dream play area–a closet, empty space under your stairs or even a crawlspace can become a cozy place for play.

The playroom is by far the most fun room in the house, so make sure it can be enjoyed by you and your kids!


Source: Realtor.ca/blog

https://www.realtor.ca/blog/postpage/15564/1366/design-friendly-d%C3%A9cor-for-kids-playrooms

Read full post

You fell in love with your new home because of its commanding focal point: a cozy fireplace where you envisioned spending fall and winter evenings warming by the fire. But what if you love the flames but hate the crumbling brick, the dated brass hardware or the dirty stone? Luckily, there are a number of things you can do to glam up a tired fireplace to suit your design style. We asked two designers for tips–ranging from super-affordable to worth-the-splurge–to give your fireplace a much-need facelift.

Older fire place with paint cans, and renovation supplies.

Give it a fresh coat of paint

As long as your fireplace is in good shape structurally and is safe to use, the easiest and most budget-friendly option to transform both the tile and mantel lies in a can of paint, says ChilliwackBritish Columbia-based colour designer Maria Killam.

“When my sister and her husband bought a house, there was this really ugly 1970s orange, black and white brick fireplace, and I said, ‘We need to paint that right away!’ but they didn’t,” recalls Killam. “For years, nobody wanted to be in that room. Then, we finally redid the room and painted the fireplace white and it was absolutely transformational. White works best for a fireplace because it usually can be an extension of your trim colour.” 

Whether you go the all-white or all-black route, or you choose contrasting colours to make it pop, don’t forget to refinish your mantel, too, says Courtney Turk, president of Courtney Turk Interiors in Ottawa.

“If your mantel is made of solid wood, sand it down until any finishes are removed on the surface; this will help the paint adhere and last a lot longer,” says Turk. “With your tile surround, be sure to use a primer before applying your latex paint in your desired colour.”

To freshen up stone fireplaces, Killam leaves the latex paint behind.

“Chalk paint does miraculous things today; you can create this multi-dimensional look that’s whitish-grayish instead of just a solid painted stone,” she says. 

Fireplace that is under renovation to be refaced.

Cover a faded fireplace with another material

For a mid-range budgetary option, consider refacing your fireplace. You’ll get a completely new look without the huge mess and expense of a total tear-down. Try cladding the fireplace in reclaimed wood or cream millwork to add warm texture, or incorporate concrete to bring an industrial, contemporary vibe to the space. You can also purchase masonry veneers which look like brick or stone but are much thinner and lighter.  

“When it comes to stone or millwork for your fireplace, call in the pros or someone handy,” advises Turk. “Stone and tile require a wet saw to cut, which can be tricky.”

To cut down on costs, put up 12×12 tiles or an even border of stone around the fireplace, she adds.

“If you want a great DIY alternative, try using shiplap for the upper portion of the wall above your mantel. It’s relatively straightforward to install, and can easily transform a dated fireplace into something more modern and refined. Be sure to paint the shiplap and fireplace surround the same colour so that it flows as one cohesive unit.”

If you go the wood route, consult your local municipality–most building codes advise against installing combustible material within six inches of a working fireplace.

Other inexpensive refacing options include drywall, ceramic or porcelain tiles, stucco, concrete, or veneered stones–all can be affixed directly to your existing fireplace for a simple solution.

Antique fireplace inside a wall to be used in two rooms in a home.

Start from scratch

If your fireplace is traditional and your overall design scheme is ultra-modern, a can of paint probably won’t cut it. Sometimes a sledgehammer is the only choice, says Turk. 

“Depending on your personal style, I would suggest a full demo to create the fireplace of your dreams,” she says. “That may be a sleek marble surround or farmhouse shiplap incorporated with a live edge mantel.”

Other splurge-worthy materials include quartz, granite or exotic wood, as well as extending the entire fireplace up to the ceiling. You can also apply any of these tips to your outdoor fireplace, if you’re lucky enough to have one.

Revamped and updated mantel

Give your fireplace mantel some love, too

An updated fireplace won’t sing until you’ve also styled your mantel, says Turk. 

“Start with an anchor or large piece to ground the space and layer with asymmetrical vases and artwork,” she suggests. “Elevate the rest of the mantel with stacked books to create visual interest and finish off with some fresh greenery to complete the look.”

Killam suggests arranging a few picture frames, too.

“Don’t be afraid to get a bunch of accessories; you don’t know what’s going to look good until you bring it home and you can always return the rest.”

You can also dress up your fireplace with a spiffy new screen, or as Killam suggests, paint a dated brass screen or hardware using high heat black paint. 

No matter what your budget or style is, there’s a fireplace revamp that matches, so have some fun with this important design element.


Source:  Realtor.ca/blog

https://www.realtor.ca/blog/postpage/15502/1363/how-to-revamp-your-dated-fireplace 

Read full post

Ottawa, ON, October 15, 2020 – Statistics released today by the Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA) show national home sales set another record in September 2020.

Summary:


  • National home sales rose 0.9% on a month-over-month (m-o-m) basis in September.
  • Actual (not seasonally adjusted) activity was up 45.6% year-over-year (y-o-y).
  • The number of newly listed properties fell back by 10.2% from August to September.
  • The MLS® Home Price Index (HPI) rose 1.3% m-o-m and was up 10.3% y-o-y.
  • The actual (not seasonally adjusted) national average sale price posted a 17.5% y-o-y gain in September.

Home sales recorded over Canadian MLS® Systems edged up a further 0.9% between August and September, raising them to yet another new all-time monthly record.


The small change from August to September had under its surface a mixed bag of results with about 60% of local markets seeing gains. Increases in Ottawa, Greater Vancouver, Vancouver Island, Calgary and Hamilton-Burlington sales were mostly offset by declines in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA) and Montreal; although, activity in the two largest Canadian markets is still historically very strong.


Actual (not seasonally adjusted) sales activity posted a 45.6% y-o-y gain in September. It was a new record for the month of September by a margin of some 20,000 transactions, the equivalent of a normal month of September with an entire month of December tacked on. Sales activity was up in almost all Canadian housing markets compared to September 2019.


So far this year, some 402,578 homes have traded hands over Canadian MLS® Systems, up 5.8% from the first nine months of 2019.


“Many Canadian housing markets are continuing to see historically strong levels of activity as we enter into the fall market of this very strange year,” stated Costa Poulopoulos, Chair of CREA. “Along with historic supply shortages in a number of regions, fierce competition among buyers has been putting upward pressure on home prices. Much of that was pent-up demand from the spring that came forward as our economies opened back up over the summer. With second wave worries growing, we will remain vigilant in adhering to government and health officials’ directives to keep our clients safe. Now as always, REALTORS® remain the best source for information and guidance when negotiating the sale or purchase of a home,” continued Poulopoulos.


“This is starting to sound like a broken record (about records being broken), but Canadian home sales and prices set records once again in September amid record-tight overall market conditions, as they did in July and August,” said Shaun Cathcart, CREA’s Senior Economist. “Reasons have been cited for this – pent-up demand from the lockdowns, Government support to date, ultra-low interest rates, and the composition of job losses to name a few. I would also remind everyone that sales were almost setting records and markets were almost this tight back in February so we were already close to where things are now, as far away from Goldilocks territory as we had ever been before,” added Cathcart. “But I think another wildcard factor to consider, which has no historical precedent, is the value of one’s home during this time. Home has been our workplace, our kids’ schools, the gym, the park and more. Personal space is more important than ever.”


The number of newly listed homes fell back by 10.2% in September, reversing the surge to record levels seen in August. New supply was down in two-thirds of local markets, led by declines in and around Vancouver and the GTA.

With sales edging up in September and new supply dropping back, the national sales-to-new listings ratio tightened to 77.2% — the highest in almost 20 years and the third-highest monthly level on record for the measure.


Based on a comparison of sales-to-new listings ratio with long-term averages, about a third of all local markets were in balanced market territory, measured as being within one standard deviation of their long-term average. The other two-thirds of markets were above long-term norms, in many cases well above.


The number of months of inventory is another important measure of the balance between sales and the supply of listings. It represents how long it would take to liquidate current inventories at the current rate of sales activity.

There were just 2.6 months of inventory on a national basis at the end of September 2020 – the lowest reading on record for this measure. At the local market level, a number of Ontario markets are now into weeks of inventory rather than months. Much of the province of Ontario is close to or under one month of inventory.


The Aggregate Composite MLS® Home Price Index (MLS® HPI) rose by 1.3% m-o-m in September 2020.

CREA is pleased to welcome a large number of Ontario markets to the MLS® HPI this month. The list includes Bancroft and Area, Brantford Region, Cambridge, Grey Bruce Owen Sound, Huron Perth, Kawartha Lakes, Kitchener-Waterloo, the Lakelands (Muskoka-Haliburton-Orillia-Parry Sound), London & St. Thomas, Mississauga, North Bay, Northumberland Hills, Peterborough and the Kawarthas, Quinte & District, Simcoe & District, Southern Georgian Bay, Tillsonburg District and Woodstock-Ingersoll.


Of the 39 markets now tracked by the index, all but two were up between August and September.

The non-seasonally adjusted Aggregate Composite MLS® HPI was up 10.3% on a y-o-y basis in September – the biggest gain since August 2017.


The largest y-o-y gains in the 22-23% range were recorded in Bancroft and Area, Quinte & District, Ottawa and Woodstock-Ingersoll.


This was followed by y-o-y price gains in the range of 15-20% in Barrie, Hamilton, Niagara, Guelph, Brantford, Cambridge, Grey Bruce-Owen Sound, Huron Perth, the Lakelands, London & St. Thomas, North Bay, Simcoe & District, Southern Georgian Bay, Tillsonburg District and Montreal.


Prices were up in the 10-15% range compared to last September in the GTA, Oakville-Milton, Kawartha Lakes, Kitchener-Waterloo, Mississauga, Northumberland Hills, Peterborough and the Kawarthas, and Greater Moncton.

Meanwhile, y-o-y price gains were around 5% in Greater Vancouver, the Fraser Valley, the Okanagan Valley, Regina, Saskatoon and Quebec City. Gains were about half that in Victoria and elsewhere on Vancouver Island, as well and in St. John’s, and prices were more or less flat y-o-y in Calgary and Edmonton.


The MLS® HPI provides the best way to gauge price trends because averages are strongly distorted by changes in the mix of sales activity from one month to the next.


The actual (not seasonally adjusted) national average home price set another record in September 2020, topping the $600,000 mark for the first time ever at more than $604,000. This was up 17.5% from the same month last year.

The national average price is heavily influenced by sales in Greater Vancouver and the GTA, two of Canada’s most active and expensive housing markets. Excluding these two markets from calculations cuts around $125,000 from the national average price.


– 30 –

PLEASE NOTE: The information contained in this news release combines both major market and national sales information from MLS® Systems from the previous month.

CREA cautions that average price information can be useful in establishing trends over time, but does not indicate actual prices in centres comprised of widely divergent neighbourhoods or account for price differential between geographic areas. Statistical information contained in this report includes all housing types.

MLS® Systems are co-operative marketing systems used only by Canada’s real estate Boards to ensure maximum exposure of properties listed for sale.


The Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA) is one of Canada’s largest single-industry associations, representing more than 130,000 REALTORS® working through 90 real estate boards and associations.

Further information can be found at http://crea.ca/statistics.


For the original article, see: The CREA website at https://www.crea.ca/news/canadian-home-sales-and-prices-set-records-again-in-september/ 

Read full post

Whether your children are in elementary school, secondary school, or university, one thing is for sure, there will be homework. Your child’s learning environment can have a significant impact on the quality of their study time and academic success. A space that’s dull, filled with clutter, uncomfortable, and too noisy just won’t do. Here’s how you can set your child up for success by creating a functional space, study nook, or homework zone that can help increase productivity, information retention,and has minimal distractions.


Find the right location

Location, location! Do not underestimate the importance of the location of your child’s study space. Look for a space in your home that’s quiet, private, and free of potential distractions. A spare or unused room would be an excellent place to start, but if you’re like most homeowners, space often comes at a premium. Think creatively as you walk through your home. Do you have a closet that could be converted into a homework station? Is there room for an extra desk in your personal home office? Can you find a quiet corner in your living room, library, dining room, or basement? It’s all about getting creative with the space you have and making it work for your child.

Regardless of the location, consistency is key in making the study nook effective. Don’t let your child move about the house, doing homework at the kitchen table one night and reading on the couch the next. Creating a routine and habit of sitting at the homework station will help build an association with that space, so when your child sits down, they know it’s time for business!


The key elements of an effective study space

Any space can be instantly transformed into a comfortable place to study with just a few essentials: a desk, chair, lighting, and storage.

  1. Desk: A desk is the foundation of any workspace. Ensuring it’s the right size for your child will encourage them to stay put and be comfortable. You want the top of the desk to sit somewhere between your child’s waist and lower ribcage when they are seated, allowing elbows to comfortably sit on top, minimizing hunching and slouching. Attention should also be paid to the size of the top. It needs to be big enough to accommodate textbooks, notebooks, tablet/laptop, and accessories, while not being so large it will just gather clutter.
  2. Chair: If you’ve ever sat in an uncomfortable chair you know how hard it is to focus on anything else. A good, high-quality chair will not only help your child concentrate on the task at hand, but also alleviate and reduce problems that can affect other parts of the body, like the neck, back, wrists, and hands. Use an adjustable chair or one that’s made specifically to be paired with your chosen desk.
  3. Lighting: While natural light is ideal, it’s not always feasible if the study space is located in a basement, closet, or corner. Ensure the workspace has at least two sources of light, including ambient lighting (ceiling lights) and task lighting (a desk lamp). The level of lighting is also a factor to consider; too bright and it can cause headaches, too low and it can cause eye strain.
  4. Storage: Mess and clutter can be a real distraction for your child, pulling their focus from their work and slowing their productivity. Reduce the disruption by storing all study essentials out of sight or away from their desk. Bookshelves are key for storing books and binders, while desk drawers or cabinets can hold paper, pens, scissors, and such. Just keep in mind, all tools should be within reach, so they’re not constantly asking you for help retrieving items.

Study supplies

Look at your child’s syllabus or supply list from school and stock their space with the necessary and age-appropriate supplies they need to complete their studies. Ensure they have a variety of paper including plain, lined, and construction, writing utensils such as pens, pencils, erasers, markers, and crayons, as well as other miscellaneous items like rulers, staplers, sharpeners, a calculator, scissors, and sticky-notes. A large whiteboard calendar is a great investment as it allows your child to track homework assignments, tests, reminders, or class events. It also helps you see at a glance what the month ahead holds. Lastly, if your child has trouble concentrating, concentration tools can also be helpful. Consider including a fidget spinner, squishy/stress ball, or silly putty for them to hold while they work.


Design to inspire

Just because this space is dedicated to learning doesn’t mean it needs to be sterile and boring– after all, it’s a place you want your child to feel inspired and productive. Consider letting your child pick out a few personal items to decorate the space–posters, family photos, and wall decals are a good place to start. Take a trip to the dollar or craft store and let them select colourful dividers, patterned file folders, and fun containers for their pencils, crayons, and other miscellaneous items. Some small faux plants can also add warmth and liveliness to the space. A few personal touches and your child will feel at ease and ready to study in their space.


Tips for children who are doing virtual learning

Given the current situation around COVID-19, some parents are opting for virtual learning, meaning their child’s study nook or space will be occupied all day, every day. Here are a few additional tips for children who are going the virtual route.

  1. Do your best to eliminate distractions: If the study area is in a shared space (like a dining room or living room) consider investing in a simple room divider that can help compartmentalize the space; a good investment if you’re planning to stick to virtual learning for the foreseeable future.
  2. Be aware of your background: In most virtual learning scenarios, the use of a webcam will be required. Be aware of what is visible behind your child when attending class. You don’t want it to be too distracting, inappropriate, or embarrassing.
  3. Establish a routine and stick to it: Once your child has their syllabus, help them make a study schedule and fill in any key dates on their calendar or whiteboard. Teach them to reference the calendar and schedule at the start of the day so they’re prepared. Getting into a routine will increase the chances of success.
  4. Don’t forget about nutrition and movement breaks: Encourage your child to get up and fully leave their space for breaks. This will continue to reinforce the fact the space is for schoolwork only.

Setting up a dedicated space for your child to study and learn will ensure their success for the school year ahead, and it’s not as hard or complicated as you might think.


Source: Realtor.ca/blog

For the original article: https://www.realtor.ca/blog/postpage/15266/1367/create-a-study-nook-that-inspires-learning 

Read full post