||Live in Caledon - More than a Home...A Lifestyle!
|Posted on Tue, 28 May 2013, 07:49:53 PM in New home owner, Home Owner, home improvement|
How to Double your Storage Space While Using Your Existing Space.
Finding storage space in the home is becoming increasingly challenging. While living in the same house for a number of years, we all just seem to accumulate more stuff! I have found this a challenge of living in a small house which I talked about in a previous blog (read it here)
Luckily, you don't automatically need to rent a storage locker or add a new room to your home to fit everything once you move in or if you’ve been in your house for a long time. There are many innovative and creative ways to increase the capacity of the storage space you're already using and just may not know it.
For example, there are storage bins you can buy that are designed to fit neatly under a bed. Some have wheels, making the bins easy to pull out and access.
You've probably seen closet organizers at your local home improvement centre or other furniture stores. These can easily double the storage capacity of a closet, while making the space look neater and more organized, which is a bonus for a potential buyer.
Finally, there are storage units available that are camouflaged as something else, such as an ottoman, or a hutch.
Jump online to find some creative ways to find storage in your home. You may just have forgotten that the space under your stairs could be a cool play house for the kids or the spot under your sink could house laundry baskets.
|Posted on Tue, 16 Apr 2013, 07:57:58 PM in Community, New home owner, Home Owner|
Last week, a Spring ice storm whipped through southern Ontario bringing rain and freezing temperatures. This brought ice build up to 1cm thick in places, icy roads, and downed power lines. Buses stayed off the roads, programs were cancelled and the power went out. The power in some places in Caledon was out anywhere from 16-48 hours. How does one prepare living in the country in a power outage? Everyone should be prepared.
- First, have the essentials on hand: Batteries, flashlights, battery operated candles, water and non-perishable food. If you have a smart phone, get a flashlight app and keep your phone by your bed.
- If you are on a well, fill your bathtub with water before the storm to be prepared. You can use the toilet, flush it, then fill with water again. Forgot to fill the bathtub? Try to get rainwater from either a rain barrel or your down spout. Just be sure to filter out any debris.
- Consider a generator. There are many options from battery generated to gas powered. Have an electrician install it. If you have a battery powered one, have back up batteries.
- Have the hydro number on hand. Call Ontario hydro shortly after your power goes out to report the outage.
- Turn off all electrical appliances that were on when the power went off, especially heat pumps, air conditioners or electric heat. But leave a light on so you will know when power is restored. Unplug as many major appliances as possible. This will prevent overloading the power line circuits when power is restored.
- Make sure one of the phones in your home is not a cordless phone as these require electricity to charge, but also have a mobile phone for backup and charge it in your vehicle, if necessary.
- Keep refrigerator and freezer doors closed. Food should keep for up to 48 hours in a freezer, if the door remains closed. If the outage persists, cover your refrigerator or freezer with a blanket, or make arrangements to store food at another location,
- Turn off and unplug your computer if you were using it. Buy a surge protector to protect the machine when power comes back on.
Get creative! A BBQ can be a savior when you need a cup of morning coffee, (be sure to have some instant on hand!), or need to bake a pizza. Or pull out the old camping stove, and go camping in the backyard!
|Posted on Sun, 10 Feb 2013, 10:06:31 AM in Home buying tips, My services, For Sale, Community, New home owner, Downsizing|
When you are shopping for a new Caledon home, you want to find a great property that has all the features and characteristics you want and dream of – your Bucket List for a home. Like, a large deck surrounded by picturesque unique Caledon landscaping ... a beautiful updated kitchen with gleaming marble countertops... a cozy finished basement with warm fireplace....
You should look for the ideal home. You deserve it! But some home buyers make the mistake of becoming fixated on finding the "perfect" property, and passing too quickly on those homes that don't quite measure up.
Why is that a mistake? Look beyond the home, some of those less-than-perfect properties have the potential of becoming your next dream home.
There are benefits; first of all, a home that is lacking some desirable features, such as a finished basement, will probably cost less in the end. Those savings could be more than enough to cover any needed upgrades or renovations.
If you look at a home in terms of its potential, rather than the features it has now, there will be more desirable properties available on the market for you to consider.
If you are determined to have a large wrap-around deck for entertaining, for example, don't cross off homes that don't have this feature off your list yet. Instead, view these properties with potential:
- Could the backyard be big enough to accommodate a large deck?
- How would a deck look if added to the property?
- How much would such a renovation cost?
One thing is for certain, you want to find a home that has all the features and characteristics you want. If you work with http://www.liveincaledon.ca there is a good chance you'll find a property that has most of them.
Always keep an open mind. Sometimes a "diamond in the rough" can – with an upgrade or renovation – become a home you will treasure for years.
|Posted on Tue, 27 Nov 2012, 07:56:43 PM in Home buying tips, Home selling tips, For Sale, New home owner, Real Estate Information|
House Hunting Shopping List
You will want to make the process of shopping for a new home as productive and enjoyable as possible. Besides, you'll be on a quest to find your next dream home. That's why it's important to take the right things with you:
- A camera, so you can take pictures of the features you like in the properties you see.
- A notepad, to take notes.
- Measurements of your largest pieces of furniture you want to move with you, so you can confirm they'll fit in the rooms of properties you like.
- A measuring tape.
- Some energy boosting healthy snacks and beverages, (especially important if you're taking the kids along!).
- A map of the area, so you can check out local parks and other neighbourhood features. *Google map where you are going and catch other attractions on the way or while you are in the area
- Clear driving directions to each of the properties you want to see.
- One of the best ways to shop for a home, and actually enjoy the experience,is to work with a great REALTOR®.
|Posted on Fri, 16 Nov 2012, 01:07:13 PM in Home buying tips, Marketing strategies, Community, New home owner|
Home Safety: More Than Locked Doors and a Security System
When it comes to home security, most homeowners think about door locks and alarms. These are very important, however, there is also a lot you can do around your property to prevent the possibility of a break-in.
One important part of home security is outdoor lighting. Your home doesn't need to be lit up like a baseball diamond at night, but your exterior lighting should illuminate your yard enough to be a deterrent to burglars.
Some burglars hide around the property and wait for someone to arrive and open the door so they can use that opportunity to force their way into your home.
Security experts suggest that you walk around your property and look for areas where someone could hide, such as behind tall shrubbery like a cedar hedge or behind a shed. Make sure these areas are well lit.
Pay particular attention to lighting around exterior doors, especially the back door.
Home security experts also recommend that exterior lighting be installed with a timed dimmer. The lights can then be set to cast a bright light in the early evening, and then a dimmer light throughout the rest of the night.
Lights installed with motion detectors can also be effective in certain areas. The sensors will cause the light to turn on or brighten when someone comes onto that part of your property. Generally, thieves will flee as soon as they see a light turn on.
Do you hide a spare key under the front door mat or in a flower pot? No matter how clever you think you are, experienced thieves know all the common hiding places. So, if you need to have a spare key available, put it in a small combination lock box and hide the box. That way, if a burglar finds the box, he still won't be able to open it and access the key.
|Posted on Mon, 29 Oct 2012, 01:03:25 PM in Community, New home owner, Real Estate Information|
It’s Easy to "Go Green"
Everyone would like to be “greener”, especially living in Caledon, the 2003 co-recipient of “TVO Greenest Town in Ontario” Award.
Although you may not be able to install solar panels on your roof, or implement an in-ground heat recovery system, there are ways to be green. Here is a quick and easy list to be green and stay inexpensive.
Get a recycling bin and learn how to use it. Most jurisdictions have a recycling program. You may be able to get a rebate on your recycling bin or even get it for free. Keep a list of items that can be recycled on your fridge door, so that everyone in the family can participate.
Get a kitchen compost bin. Find out if your jurisdiction has a compost pick-up program. If they do, get a kitchen compost bin. Composting can reduce landfill waste by as much as 32%. You can even build your own composter and use it for your own gardens. Some Town of Caledon Landfills will also deliver compost to you in the Spring for your gardens for a small fee.
Use energy-saving light bulbs. Low energy light bulbs have come a long way in recent years. Their consistent glow and brightness now rival their incandescent counterparts. By replacing regular 40-watt bulbs with energy-saving 8-watt bulbs, you could save nearly 50% of the electricity you used for lighting. Results may vary by brand.
Shop for local produce. Many grocery stores and supermarkets offer produce – fruits, vegetables, – that are grown within a 100 mile radius. The short transportation distance, means significantly less fossil fuel is required to get the produce delivered to your local store. Keep in mind that some non-local produce, such as apples in the off-season, often need to be transported thousands of miles. Find local here in Caledon www.eatlocalcaledon.org
Let nature do the work. As an alternative to air conditioning, open windows and block out the passive heat gain from the sun with curtains. Do the opposite in winter. Strategically using curtains and windows can lower your energy bill by as much as 20%.
Need more ideas or are you inspired to do more?
Recycle Household Batteries: www.ecocaledon.org
Reduce Energy Consumption: www.homeenergyontario.ca
Car Pool: www.carpoolzone.smartcommute.ca
Purchase a water efficiency kit or rain barrel: www.watersmartpeel.ca
|Posted on Tue, 10 Jul 2012, 02:23:44 PM in Home selling tips, My services, For Sale, Community, New home owner, Downsizing|
Hiring The Right Moving Company
How do you select the best moving company for your needs?
- Ask for recommendations from friends other professionals in the local real estate industry.
- Beware of fly-by-night operations. They may seem like a bargain, but you get what you pay for.
- Does the company provide you with a written estimate and contract? (Beware of movers that just give you a price over the phone.)
- Ask if they are covered by insurance, and what their policy is regarding lost or broken items. Make sure you receive a copy of their insurance certificate.
Finally, always ask what circumstances would result in extra charges being applied. The number one complaint received about movers by the Better Business Bureau is unexpected extra charges.
Questions about moving? Call me today.
|Posted on Wed, 13 Jun 2012, 01:20:45 PM in Home buying tips, Home selling tips, New home owner|
Inexpensive ways to reduce your energy bill
You could get upgraded insulation installed in all the walls of your home, or buy a new high-efficiency furnace and air conditioner. These improvements would certainly reduce your energy costs – but they each require a significant investment.
What if you don't have the budget?
There are a lot of little things you can do to make a big difference in your heating or cooling bill. Here are just a few examples:
- Turn down the thermostat a couple of degrees in winter. (And turn it up a few notches in summer.) Chances are, you'll hardly notice the difference in comfort, and you'll cut your heating/cooling costs by about 5%.
- Do you need the air conditioner on all the time during the summer months? Consider turning it way up, or completely off, at night when it's cooler outside.
- Invest in a programmable thermostat. That way, you'll be able to set up a schedule that uses less heating/cooling energy while you’re out of the house.
- Let the sunshine in through windows in the winter (and block the sun where possible in the summer.) "Passive heat gain" can contribute to up to 20% of the heat in your home. Best of all, the sun is free.
- Use energy efficient lights throughout your home. These can cut the cost of lighting by up to 40%!
- Be careful with outside lights, which can use a lot of energy! Turn them off before you go to bed or, better still, use programmable outside lighting that can be set to turn off automatically.
- These are just a few ideas for reducing your energy bill. If you do some research, you can probably discover many other ways to cut your costs. It's worth the effort!
|Posted on Wed, 16 May 2012, 07:46:06 PM in Home buying tips, New home owner, Downsizing|
Living in a Small House
Inspired by our friend’s house along the river, we gave up our 2300 square foot home with double attached garage, workshop, forest & pond on 10 acres and bought a 930 square foot fixer upper along the river. We had been looking at homes along the river, but they were all set well off the water, so that you had to travel to the back of the yard to even know you were on the river. This “cottage” was set well back on the ½ acre property so that we could hear the river from our bedroom window.
In this article, I am not going to tell you how we got ready to downsize; there are lots of books on how to do that – and believe me, I read them all! We put the things we couldn’t bear to part with in storage and dropped our dining room table at another friend’s house, while we experimented with downsizing.
It’s been 6 years; we are still married and our daughter is still talking to us - sometimes, just barely.
I stopped calling it the cottage because it confused people, but really it is a winterized cottage, with all the warmth, charm and coziness you would expect at the cottage. Because the house needed a total remodeling, we were able to reconfigure space to suit our lifestyle. Some decisions we made were good and others – well, I’d do it a little differently next time.
First is that we only have one bathroom – this is one of the things I would do differently next time. I would add at least a 2 piece powder room. Most of the time one bathroom is just fine, but when you gotta go, you gotta go! And in this day and age, we are not used to waiting.
That being said, the bathroom is my favourite room in the house. I figured if I only got one bathroom, it was going to be amazing. The bathroom is a combination bathroom, vanity, laundry and change room. Part of living along the river is that we enjoy a lot of the time in the water, and in our hot tub. I didn’t want people traipsing through my house dripping wet, so we put French doors in the bathroom and lots of hooks to hang towels and wet bathing suits. The laundry is also right there, so things can also get dumped into the washing machine if necessary. We all prefer showering over bathing, so we sacrificed a bathtub for an upscale European Shower with rain showerhead, jets and hand-held nozzle. We figured the hot tub near the river and under the stars would act as both an outdoor room and a more sociable way to soak. We deliberately chose not to put a second sink in the bathroom because all we use it for is brushing our teeth and washing our hands. The fact was, the extensive lighting meant the space was needed for a vanity or a place for my daughter and me to do our hair and makeup every day. A final touch that is pure comfort, and I would recommend it whether you live in a large or small home, is heated ceramic tiles underfoot. All of these touches combine to make a truly sensual experience and a very functional room.
Like the bathroom, every room serves a dual purpose. The kitchen, living room and eating area are open to each other, so one TV does the trick, and the gorgeous slate and walnut-framed gas fireplace can also be seen from every room. Since we like to entertain, we created a fully functioning kitchen with extras such as a second sink in the breakfast bar, a wine fridge, a gas stove and natural stone countertops. Lots of pot drawers help with accessibility, open shelving above keeps it light and airy feeling and a little wall space allows us to display artwork. French doors on fridges were a new thing at the time – and the perfect addition to a small, but very functional kitchen.
Finally, the original house had 3 bedrooms; we decided to make 2 larger bedrooms so that each had a sleeping and a sitting area – private space is very important in a small house! It also allowed us to incorporate a sofa-bed for company and an area where our daughter could hideout with her girlfriends. I mentioned earlier that our daughter was still talking to us – that’s because we gave her the bedroom with the view of the water. Yes, I am not ashamed to say that we bribed our daughter to get her onside with our decision to move.
Would I do it again? I think we downsized too much and too soon, but we have made it work, and every time we dine with guests in the gazebo, overlooking the water, I can’t imagine living anywhere else.
Thinking of downsizing, please feel free to give me a call – I’ll understand!
|Posted on Wed, 09 May 2012, 02:00:00 PM in Home buying tips, Home selling tips, Marketing strategies, For Sale, New home owner|
Experience: Worth its Weight in Gold – Literally!
Last month, I had my first, up front & personal experience with a For Sale By Owner (FSBO) who had paid a real estate company just to list their ad into the Toronto Real Estate Board website. With the laws that passed last year, “the public” can now have their houses listed on the website that had traditionally only been available to licensed Realtors®. There are a whole bunch of concerns with this new “open” policy – that’s not what I am going to talk about; what I want to share, is my negotiating experience with the “For Sale by Owner”.
My buyers, who had signed a Buyer Agency Agreement with me, got the FSBO listing automatically when there was a match between the listing and the criteria I had set up for this buyer. When they notified me that they would like to see the house, I pulled up the listing and noticed that I had to deal directly with the sellers. What made this even more interesting was that I knew the sellers! I had worked with the husband for many years, but had lost touch when we both ended up leaving the company around the same time, about 10 years ago.
After the small talk, the husband, wife and I reviewed the offer. It is important to note that under a Buyer Agency Agreement, I am legally bound to do what is best for my buyers – aside from breaking the law! A document called “Confirmation of Co-operation and Representation” explains everyone’s role and the fees associated. I explained my buyers’ offer to the sellers and sat back while they had a brief conversation – they then turned to me and asked for my advice!
The offer included a condition on sale of the purchaser’s property, which the sellers had no way of knowing whether or not the buyers’ house was going to be priced competitively; I had included a clause that allowed their lawyer to look at the document before it became final, but a lawyer would have no way of knowing whether or not the “backup” house would sell. Plus, it was the weekend, so the lawyer was not available to give his advice.
The sellers decided to counter the offer with a higher price, but left the other conditions as they were initially set out. My buyer countered at another price and the potential deal fell apart as we were not able to come together on price. The next week, I got a call from the sellers saying that they would accept our last offer, but by then, my buyers had moved onto another house and were no longer interested.
I have heard people complain that Realtors® try to scare people out of going the For Sale By Owner route. Personally, I like working with people who have tried to sell their house on their own – they have a greater appreciation for what Realtors® do, or can do, when necessary. This story isn’t scary, no one got sued, no one ended up inadvertently owning 2 houses, this story is simply sad. A really nice couple could have had their house sold quickly, for a reasonable price, but due to their lack of experience in this business, they missed out.