Know More About Home Inspections

Home inspections are often an important part of the pre-purchase routine when buying a house. You do not want to end with faults that you had not anticipated. Choosing a home inspector can be difficult process. It is important to consult with family and friends to find a reliable inspector that has good references. You should also contact several inspectors in your area and interview them in advance to ascertain their qualifications. Be sure to do your own independent investigation of the Inspectors’ qualifications.

Questions to Ask

1. How long has the inspector been in business AS A HOME INSPECTION firm?

2. Is the inspector specifically experienced in RESIDENTIAL CONSTRUCTION?

3. What does the inspection include? Inspections should include visual inspections covering exterior, structure, garage, plumbing, heating, cooling, electrical, interior, insulation and ventilation. Extras include radon testing, a pest infestation survey or inspection of septic systems or wells. Be sure the inspector will provide a written report.

4. How much will it cost? Determine fees up front. Inspections cost from as little as $200 to as much as $1,000 depending on the size of the home and which inspection services are requested.

5. How long will the inspection take? The time depends on the size and age of the home, the average is 2 to 3 hours. Anything less isn’t enough time to do a thorough inspection but many inspectors take a full day to thoroughly inspect your prospective purchase.

6. Does the inspector encourage the client to attend the inspection? This is a valuable educational opportunity, and an inspector’s refusal means you should look for a better qualified inspector.

7. Bluntly ask what educational and/or training facility the inspector attended. Does the inspector participate in continuing education programs to keep his/her expertise up to date? Ask to see the inspector’s papers. When hiring a company, make certain that your home will be inspected by a registered professional.

8. Does the company offer to do any repairs or improvements based on its inspection? This might cause a conflict of interest. We do not recommend that you deal with these firms.

9. Do they belong to an association that will investigate a consumer complaint?

10. Do they carry errors and omission insurance?

Plan Ahead For A New House

There are many advantages to purchasing a new home: buyers are able to build equity, to enjoy the pride of ownership, and to obtain accommodation that is often larger and/or more luxurious than what is available to rent. Property has also proven to be a relatively safe and profitable investment in the wake of the technology stock plummet of 2000 and the Enron and Worldcom scandals.

If you are planning to buy a home within the next few weeks or months, preparing now can help you save time and money. When competing in a seller’s market, being prepared may also give you an advantage over other buyers. Consider the following tips prior to beginning your home search.

1. Know your bottom line before you begin looking at homes.

This means more than just knowing what price you are willing to pay. Consider the distance you are willing to commute to work, the number of bedrooms and bathrooms you require and what you need in terms of local community facilities. If you have children, the proximity to schools and parks will likely also be a consideration.
By knowing your bottom line, you can avoid making snap decisions guided by emotional responses to attractive home features or the pressures of competing buyers

2. Check your credit.

Bad credit can happen to good people. Sometimes it’s due to an unpaid or lost bill and other times it can be inaccuracies in the report itself. Who wants to discover that they have a bad credit rating after finding the home of their dreams? Rather than waiting for a lender to inform you of your credit rating, it is wise to obtain a copy prior to beginning your home search. This will give you an opportunity to address any inaccuracies and perhaps settle any outstanding debts. The more ‘blemishes’ you have on your credit report, the more likely it is that your lender will charge you a higher interest rate as a hedge against a bad loan. You can obtain a copy of your credit report from accredited organizations such as Equifax.

3. Avoid making any major purchases prior to buying home.

Lenders tend to become nervous when they see that a potential homeowner has stretched their disposable income to the breaking point by buying a car or a boat for example. Such purchases can make it more difficult to obtain a mortgage or may lower the mortgage amount.

4. Calculate the maximum monthly mortgage payment you can afford.

Generally, the banks will allow people to take out a mortgage that is approximately equal to 30 percent of their gross monthly income. Depending on your personal circumstances, it may not be wise to take the largest mortgage possible. Consider your other long and short-term expenses such as tuition for yourself or your children, a new car, or vacations. Also be sure to factor in monthly retirement savings.

5. Anticipate higher interest rates.

Recalculate the above maximum monthly mortgage payment based on interest rates that are two or three percent higher than current rates. Ask yourself if you could afford to pay a higher monthly payment without infringing on other commitments

6. Determine your cash flow at the time of purchase.

There are various fees involved in closing a deal including the down payment, closing costs (federal and property taxes, appraisal fees, title insurance, survey fees, etc.) and home insurance. If you are moving from a rental suite, you should also be prepared for expenses that may have been incorporated into your rent such as heat, hot water, electricity and cable service.

7. Budget for any repairs and maintenance that may be required in your new home.

Sometimes people purchase a ‘fixer-upper’ because the home has other redeeming features such as a large backyard or proximity to schools or parks. If your new home will require repairs or maintenance be sure to budget for these expenses. For example, a bedroom renovation can wait for a few months but most families cannot go a day without a functioning water heater!

8. Get your paperwork in order.

Lenders will often need to see bank statements, pay stubs, and tax documents for the past two years. If you are self-employed, tax documents, bank statements and collateral such as a vehicle or other property are important criteria to securing a mortgage

9. Get pre-approved for a loan.

Once you have calculated a budget you can live with, approach a lender to find out if you can get approved for a mortgage and how much you can spend on a home. Being pre-approved can put you in a stronger position when you make an offer and can save you valuable time in a seller’s market.

Buying a home is not only a lifestyle change; it is an important investment. Making the most of your investment means planning ahead to find the right home, the best rates and the ideal time for you to enter the market.

Tips To Building a New House

Finding the perfect combination of house and location can often be a challenge. Perhaps you have found a lot with a lovely view, privacy and mature vegetation. The only problem is the house. The World War II-era foundation is cracked, the kitchen is the size of a closet and none of the bedrooms will accommodate your furniture. Rather than passing up the purchase, consider whether it is feasible to renovate or rebuild. Once you have done a careful analysis of the renovation costs, it’s time to weight them against the costs and benefits of rebuilding from the ground up.

One of the greatest benefits of building a new home is freedom of choice. You can choose the size, layout, style and other features of your home. As you write your wish list, consider these factors:

Size: Will you be adding to your family with children or accommodating elderly parents? If so, anticipating future needs will ensure your home will be suitable for years to come. However, keep in mind that size directly affects the cost. Most builders provide a price based on square footage. As well, there are long-term expenses: a large home will cost more to heat, light, cool and furnish. If you choose a large square footage, consider building upwards rather than outwards to minimize the size and cost of the foundation.

Style: Although new home construction is an opportunity to express your individuality, be careful about venturing too far from the norm. A cutting-edge design may be difficult to sell in the future. Also, consider the styles in the neighbourhood. For example, you may not recoup the costs of building a high-end, 4,000-square foot home in a neighbourhood of moderately priced bungalows. Shape: Be aware that the shape of a home can affect the cost of construction. A rectangular or square home is the least expensive to build. The more angles and corners, the more labour and materials will be required.

Materials: Energy efficient materials and building techniques can substantially reduce heating, cooling and lighting costs over the long run. Technology is constantly improving and you may be pleasantly surprised at the current ‘pay back’ on some items. Solar water heaters pay for themselves in 8-10 years and, considering that they have a lifespan of approximately 25 years, you can enjoy 15 years or more of free water heating! Can you think of any building materials that are dropping in price? Solar panels are one of the very few. Increased consumer demand has resulted in a reduced cost-per-unit. This gives homeowners more incentive to use solar panels to supplement their energy needs and/or provide emergency power. There is also a wide range of energy-efficient options in flooring, insulation, roofing and windows.

Mobility: If you would like to spend your retirement years in the house, design with mobility in mind. This means creating the space to accommodate a wheelchair or walker. Traditional bathrooms and kitchens are too small to allow someone in a wheelchair to turn around. The Canadian Housing and Mortgage Corporation recommends allowing a manoeuvring space of 75 x 120 cm (30 x 47 in.) in front of or beside all fixtures including the bathtub, shower and storage spaces. Pocket doors save space within the bathroom. Countertops in the bathroom and kitchen should be lower than traditional at 86 cm (34 inches) to 91 cm (36 inches). Single lever taps are the easiest to use by someone in a wheelchair and anyone with arthritis.

Site Characteristics: Building on a flat lot usually costs less than building on a slope. Costs will increase if the builder needs to remove large trees or rocks before laying the foundation. Types of Plans Custom home plan This option typically requires the assistance of a licensed architect and an experienced contractor. However, your vision is essential to the process. Consider using design software to help you work out the details. It allows you to express your ideas in a format that is much clearer to the architect than handmade drawings! Ideally, purchase software that is compatible with your architect’s professional design programs.

Even with the assistance of technology, your design may require some adjustments by an architect particularly in terms of structural soundness. For example, the frame must be able to support the weight of the roof and an upper floor (if applicable) and withstand a certain level of vibration (such as in a minor earthquake). An architect may also be able to suggest cost-savings such as designing in two-foot increments to reduce lumber waste since lumber is usually sold in two-foot increments. Once the architect has completed the design, you will need to hire a building contractor who will coordinate the work of framers, electricians, plumbers and other tradespeople. Be sure to check references when selecting a contractor. Get the project scope, responsibilities, cost and timelines in writing.

Lastly, communicate with your contractor frequently and, ideally, at the worksite. Existing house plan Today, you can choose from thousands of home plans. Catalogues of plans are available for sale at most bookstores and on the internet. Once you find a home design you like, you can purchase the blueprints and other information that a contractor will require. Pre-fabricated homes This option promises to be faster and easier than starting ‘from scratch’. When you order one of the ‘pre-fab’ home plans, the manufacturer delivers the blueprints, pre-cut lumber, windows, doors needed to complete the home. Packages vary by manufacturer so carefully read the details and ask for a list of references.

Special Tips On Buying Your First Home

  • Make a list of all the features you want in your new home such as number of bedrooms, bathrooms, proximity to schools, shopping and workplace.
  • Be sure you can afford your home. Your monthly housing costs should not be more than 32% of your gross monthly income and your entire monthly debt load (which includes other debts such as car loans and credit card payments) should not be more than 40% of your gross monthly income.
  • Calculate your other monthly living expenses such as food, clothing, transportation, personals and childcare to ensure you can afford your mortgage payments.
  • Call a REALTOR in your preferred area. They are trained professionals with knowledge about local conditions and the housing market in general. Through the Multiple Listings Service they have access to virtually every property listed for sale in the province. Your REALTOR can narrow down your search and provide you with information on properties for sale and those that have recently sold. This will allow you to make informed decisions about pricing. Licensed by the province and members of local real estate boards, REALTORS must adhere to high standards of ethical behavior.
  • Obtain a pre-approved mortgage form the lender of your choice. This will help you determine the price range you should be looking in. With a pre-approved mortgage, your lender will guarantee the interest rate for up to 60 days.
  • You may wish to have an independent appraisal done of a property before you offer a price. It can keep you from paying more than the market value.
  • Ask your REALTOR for a copy of the Property Condition Disclosure Statement. This document is completed by the sellers and ensures the buyer gets complete information about the property they are about to purchase, and alerts buyers when they need to do more research on a property.
  • If buying a new or existing condo, look beyond style and amenities and investigate whether the construction is of good quality. You can ask for a copy of the minutes to Strata Council Meetings to determine what kind of problems the condominium has had in the past, and the expenses.
  • To assess potential water leakage problems, visit a condominium project immediately after a rainfall and check to see if flat areas such as roof deck and walkways have large pools of standing water on them. All building surfaces except specially designed ponds should drain freely and be immediately clear of water after a rainfall.
  • It is always a good idea to have the home inspected from a professional home inspector. An inspector’s written report should include how well-built the home is and whether any repairs are necessary and the estimated costs.
  • Don’t forget about other costs when you buy your own home such as legal fees (they will most likely be at least $500), property taxes and the GST (if purchasing a new home).

Simple Tips on Buying a New Home

Home buying is an important personal decision and a big financial investment. You want to find the home that’s right for you and the builder who provides the best value and service. Here are some tips to help make the buying process enjoyable and successful.

Do Your Research
Know what you want, what’s available and how the buying process works before you start thinking seriously about signing a contract. Browse through newspapers and magazines. Consult with family, friends and co-workers. Attend a seminar for first-time home buyers. Check the Internet. Visit model homes and talk with builders and their sales agents.

Pre-arrange your mortgage
If you are like most of us, you will borrow funds to finance your home purchase. Talk to your lender about mortgages early in the process. Knowing in advance how much you can spend comfortably and getting pre-approval for a mortgage means you can proceed from “just looking” to a signed contract with confidence.

Check the builder’s qualifications
There are many reputable builders who provide exceptional service and build great homes – both lowrise and highrise. As you talk with builders or their salespeople, ask questions: How long has the company been in business? Is it a member of the local home builders association? Will the builder give you references of previous new home projects? What after-sales service is offered? Does the builder offer an independent third-party warranty and, if so, what does it cover? “Personal fit” is also important: Does the builder or salesperson listen to you, understand your needs, and offer useful advice?

Check the home carefully
Whether a builder has a model home, a sales office or sells directly from plans, you’ll have an opportunity to look closely at the quality of the home and what’s included. The builder’s specifications list will detail the construction materials and finishing products. Ask to see a description and samples of the standard features included in the base price of the house, along with the description and cost of options the builder offers. When viewing a model home, don’t hesitate to try out windows, open drawers, look into every nook and cranny, and inspect the home’s mechanical system.

Understand the total cost of buying
Get detailed prices and estimates on everything involved in buying a home. Your builder and lender can advise you on the costs of securing a mortgage, taxes and so on. Ask your lawyer to give you a detailed breakdown of closing costs. Call movers for estimates. Determine if you need to buy new appliance, window coverings or furnishings.

Consult with a lawyer
Before you hire a lawyer, it’s a good idea to ask for a detailed estimate of fees for service.

Be realistic
Quality, solidity, good products, service – these are the things that add up to real value for the long term. Your objective is to find the home that provides the best overall value within your budget. A professional builder will work with you to find the right balance of features that will work well for you.

Simple Tips For Getting Your Home Sold Quickly

Staging your home is a critical step in getting it sold, but all the recommended updates and upgrades can get pricey. Thankfully, there are tricks you can use to make your home look bigger, better, and brighter, without spending a dime.

1. Fix up your floors

Don’t want to pay to replace or refinish your floors? No prob. Grab a brown crayon to fill in divots. A one-to-one mix of olive oil and vinegar rubbed directly on scratched areas will also help make it look new. You can also use canola if you don’t have olive, but then use a one-part vinegar, three-part oil mixture. Or, try this hack that uses walnuts to fix scratches. No, seriously.

Floors look great but don’t sound so hot? “Fix creaky wood floors with a generous dusting of baby powder,” said One Crazy House. “Work it into the cracks until the floor is no longer noisy.”

2. Make it sparkle

Presumably, you already have cleaning supplies, sponges, and paper towels in the house. Now all you need is some elbow grease to make your home look shiny and new.

When selling your home, you need to take the cleaning beyond your typical weekly run-through. Think “Spring cleaning” turned up a notch or two. Remember that potential buyers will be looking everywhere, including inside drawers and cabinets. Make sure they’re crumb-free and well organized. They may also open your refrigerator. While this can seem intrusive, you don’t want to give them a reason to walk away, so make sure to tidy up the inside, wipe up any spills, throw away rotten food, and put a nice big box of Baking Soda in there to absorb any leftover smells.

3. Let the light in

Everyone is looking for “natural light,” so show off what you’ve got by opening up those blinds and drapes. Did you just reveal a bunch of dirty windows and sills? Ewww. Grab that cleaning spray and make them shine. An old toothbrush is a great way to get gunk out of corners and in window tracks.

If your place isn’t light and bright, even with all the blinds and drapes drawn, you’ll need to depend on artificial lighting. This is no time to have lightbulbs out. Go hit that stash in your laundry room cabinet and switch out for fresh bulbs.

4. Declutter

Home stagers will tell you there is no more important step when preparing your home for sale. “If you are serious about staging your home, all clutter must go, end of story,” said Houzz. “It’s not easy, and it may even require utilizing offsite storage (or a nice relative’s garage) temporarily, but it is well worth the trouble.”

Do a walk-through with an outsider’s eye, or ask a friend or family member to help since they’ll be more objective. Anything that isn’t used regularly or is taking away from the open feel of the house can be packed away. Small appliances and anything else hanging out on countertops can be put in a cabinet if you’re not ready to stick it in a box. You want people to see the bones of the house, not your blender.

5. Depersonalize

While, you’re decluttering, keep personalization in mind. Buyers want to be able to picture themselves living in the home, and they might not be able to do so if they can’t take their eyes off your wall of taxidermy.

6. Create closet space

Even if you have the world’s largest walk-in closet in the master bedroom, you can give buyers the impression that there isn’t enough space by overfilling it. Stagers recommend taking half of your clothes and shoes out and packing them away to create some airiness. Does the idea of packing up your stuff freak you out? You’re going to have to do it when you move, anyway. This is just giving you a head start.

7. Remove the stink

Does your home greet guests with a big whiff of cat box? Potential home buyers might just turn right back around and get in the car. You also want to make sure your animals aren’t irritating those who are touring or impeding them from entering certain rooms. Don’t want to board them? Surely you have a friend or family member who’d love to watch your pets during showings, right?

8. Pull those weeds

You really can’t overestimate the importance of curb appeal today. Even if you don’t want to spring for a few bags of mulch and some colorful flowers to frame your door, there are easy and free steps you can take to give buyers a great first impression. Dispose of any visible weeds, leaves, and other unwanted stuff hanging out in the yard. Give your bushes a trim and mow the yard. If you can’t power wash your home, at least wash the outside of the exterior windows that are within eye level.

And don’t forget about the area closest to your front door. Sweep that stoop and make sure your welcome mat is actually welcoming, instead of dusty and dirty.

9. Address your furniture

Some of the most common problems in homes when it comes to furniture: 1) It’s ugly; 2) It’s old; There’s too much of it; The arrangement is uninviting. Ugly and old might be hard to overcome when you’re trying not to spend money, but the rest you can do something about.

“Sometimes when sellers are trying to make a small room seem like it’s more spacious, they have a tendency to push all of their furniture against the walls to leave a big open space in the middle. This type of arrangement may leave a lot of open space, but ultimately leaves the interior design looking unfinished — a big turn off for buyers. In this situation, it’s better to create furniture groupings. First, envision the way the space should be used,” said Freshome. “Do you have a huge flatscreen TV that requires a lot of seating? Is there a corner in your living room that would serve perfectly as a reading nook? Group the furniture in ways that would make sense for the intended use. Then, make sure that there are clean and direct pathways through the room. You want potential buyers to be able to envision themselves living in your home and one of the quickest ways to do that is by creating a cozy seating area that’s fit for conversation.”

If the problem is that you’ve created a crowded space by using too much furniture, ditch a few pieces in a friend’s garage for the time being (or, even better, donate them!) to create an intimate seating area. You can always bring those pieces back into your new home.

10. Borrow stuff

If, at the end of the day, your home still isn’t looking show-ready, maybe it’s time to raid a friend’s house. Have a loved one who has an extra couch that’s more neutral than yours or a couple of great accessories? It’s time to test their love for you.

Know More About Home Ability

For any of us, a flight of stairs or a high shelf may someday seem like an insurmountable hurdle. Almost all of us, at some point in our lives will face a temporary or permanent loss resulting in reduced muscle strength, impaired vision, or reliance on a wheelchair. In some cases, people are forced to leave a home in which they have invested years of hard work and memories.

Another reality is an aging population with a desire to remain active and independent. Statistics show that by 2031, the number of Canadians over the age of 75 will have increased from 1.3 million today to over 4.4 million. Aging baby boomers who have enjoyed active lifestyles and travelling may well be reluctant to give up their independence to enter a care facility. Having a home that can age with them and accommodate a physical impairment would a great benefit.

Fortunately, building a home that will be barrier-free for a lifetime need not be a radical departure from standard home designs. If you are planning to build a new home or renovate your existing home, the following are some ideas and subtle modifications that can ensure freedom of mobility for yourself and your family.

In General

  • Select door and drawer handles that open with little resistance and can be operated with a closed fist. Lever handles are best for faucets and doors. Loop handles are best for drawers.
  • Doorways should be a minimum of 82cm (32 inches) wide and all entries should have a flat threshold. Allow a minimum width of 92cm (36 inches) for walkways.
  • Avoid sunken rooms. If you are renovating a home that has one room lower than an adjoining room, install a gentle slope to join the rooms rather than a step.

Kitchen

  • A side-by-side refrigerator is recommended as it reduces the need to back up when opening the refrigerator.
  • Sliding cabinet doors work best for people in a wheelchair.
  • Consider adjusting work surfaces to a 76cm (30-inch) height rather than the standard 92cm (36-inch) height. This will aid a person who is seated or a child who may want to help out in the kitchen. It is also good for those who suffer from back problems or have limited reach.
  • Countertops with rounded edges can reduce injury if someone should happen to fall or bump into them.
  • Open floor space should be 1.525 metres by 1.525 metres (5 feet by 5 feet) to allow a wheelchair to easily turn 360 degrees.
  • Choose lever door handles instead of knobs that must be pulled or turned.
  • Leave knee space beneath counters.
  • Choose stoves with control knobs in front for easy access.

Bathroom

  • Mirrors should be long enough that standing persons can see themselves as well as someone in a wheelchair.
  • Choose a washbasin that is fairly low, approximately 76cm (30 inches), and one that has knee room beneath the basin.
  • Long lever handles are best for faucets.
  • Today there is a wide selection of bathtubs, particularly soaker and Jacuzzi tubs that have built-in grips to prevent a fall.
  • Select shower stalls with a low threshold. The design trend is toward solid plastic shower stalls and many of those are available with low thresholds.
  • Showers should ideally also include a shower seat, grab bars at back and sides, a hand-held showerhead and non-slip flooring.

Lighting

  • Motion sensors and timers, which turn lights on and off, are especially useful for those with difficulties reaching. Motion sensor lights can also be a valuable safety feature in any home.
  • Position dimmers, switches, and thermostats at approximately 110cm (44 inches) above the floor. Small children can also benefit from this design modification.

Outdoors

Enjoyment of the outdoors doesn’t disappear with impaired mobility. If there is a difference in height between your home and backyard, consider a gently sloping walkway at least 92 cm (36 inches) wide. It can be a decorative part of your garden and even a key design feature. You may need to use from a wheelchair or walker in which case, it is simply a meandering path, an ornamental entrance to your garden.

Fortunately, the awareness of accessibility issues means there have been many advances in home design. There are also more “barrier-free” products available today than ever before. By incorporating some of these into your home design you can safeguard the enjoyment of your home and freedom for years to come.

Which Better? Real or Personal Property

The last thing you need on moving day is a battle over that wonderful antique mirror in the master bathroom! Yet most buyers take very little time to look at the “extras” in a home before they make an offer. As a result, they may discover that the beautiful fixtures or high-tech stove they thought came with the house have been loaded on the moving van heading to a new home.

Both buyers and sellers should make a detailed list of items to be included in the sale of the property and reach an agreement on disputed items before closing. The most difficult part of a sale, however, can be reaching an agreement on the definition of property. Everyone has a slightly different concept of what should or should not be included. Many items can fall into dispute particularly if they were specially ordered, custom-made, expensive or have some personal significance.

To avoid confusion, general rules of real vs. personal property have been established. Real property refers to all the items which are part of the property and cannot be removed without causing damage, anything which is immovable by law, or anything which is incidental or appurtenant to the land. Personal property is simply anything which belongs to, and leaves with, the homeowner such as tables or sofas.

Legally, the intention inherent in the manner in which an article, fixture, or piece of equipment is attached to the property is used to determine if the item is real or personal property. (You may be familiar with rule of thumb that anything screwed in can be removed but items which are nailed in place cannot.) Since the intention of the owner at the time of installation is almost impossible to determine, it is important that everything is in writing. The easiest way to avoid misunderstandings is for the seller to make a list of their personal property.
Once you have completed the checklist and decided which items will stay and which will go these should be noted in sale documents. Give a list of all personal property items which will remain in the home such as chandeliers, built-in bookshelf, or appliances to the closing agent. The Bill of Sale will then be signed at close of escrow by the seller to avoid confusion.

It’s also a good idea for the buyer to make his or her own checklist. House hunters can save time by taking inventory of fixtures and all property which might fall into dispute on second viewing of a home or even at open houses.

Remember that both buyers and sellers can negotiate on property transfer. A seller may be happy to leave an ornate light fixture if the style is unsuitable for their new home. Buyers who have their heart set on item are free to try to work in into the asking price or condition or sale. Now who wants the Elvis lawn ornaments?

Tips To Planning a Move

It can take years to accumulate a home full of treasured belongings but only a matter of days to pack it all into boxes for a move. Packing up and moving require organization and planning. In fact, it can be the greatest test for a procrastinator – what seems like few belongings can take far longer and use more boxes than expected. The following tips can help keep your breakables intact, your pets safe, and make the whole process as efficient as possible.

Most people have at least a month’s notice before a move. During that time, there are a number of preparations that will make the move easier including the following:

  • If you have a pet and plan to take a flight to your new home, be sure to contact the airline early for information about vaccination requirements, tranquilizers and acceptable cages. Airlines have strict rules regarding pets and it is essential to be prepared in order to avoid delays.
  • Reserve a rental truck or make arrangements with a professional moving company. Remember to check out the company with the Better Business Bureau and get all quotes in writing.
  • Check your homeowner’s or renter’s insurance policy to ensure your belongings are covered during the move.
  • If applicable, make travel arrangements with airlines, bus companies or car rental agencies.
  • Have a yard sale or give unneeded items to charity. Some charities will pick-up bagged or boxed items and may issue a donation receipt for tax purposes.
  • Ask your doctor and dentist for records, x-rays and prescription histories. Also be sure to get your prescriptions refilled before moving day.
  • Make a list of the companies that send you mail on a regular basis and provide them with a change of address. Arrange with the post office to have mail forwarded to your new address.
  • Take inventory of your belongings before they’re packed in the event you need to file an insurance claim later. Take pictures or videotape your belongings. Record the serial numbers of electronics and cameras.
  • Cut back on grocery shopping and start using up food items you already have so there will be less to pack.
  • Notify your cable, telephone, power and water companies of your move. They can arrange to have your final bill prorated to the end of the month in order to close or transfer your account.
  • Update the address on your magazine subscriptions with your new address.
  • Start collecting boxes from grocery stores early – at the end of the month stores are usually flooded with requests for boxes.
  • If you are moving into an apartment building, be sure to reserve the elevator a few weeks in advance. The building manager will arrange a time with you when one elevator will be locked off for your use.
  • And the number one rule is…start packing early! Assign one room or corner of a room as the spot to pile boxes. Pack one or two boxes a day and pile them in the designated spot to avoid clutter and simplify moving day.

Packing Made Simple

  • It seems that no matter how hard we may try to pack them neatly, clothes always come out of boxes wrinkled. This can be a liberating phenomenon for most of us! If however, you strive for wrinkle-free clothing, try layering several items then gently roll up the pile. Rolling the clothes means there are fewer straight edges and wrinkles.
  • The best way to move computers, televisions, DVD players and other electronics is in the original boxes and packing material. The foam and plastic that came in the boxes are specifically shaped to protect items from impact.
  • When possible, pack heavy items in smaller boxes for easier carrying.
  • Use colour-coded labels to denote the contents e.g. red labels for kitchen items, blue for bathroom supplies etc. Use a permanent marker to write the contents of the box on the label.
  • Have the following items on hand: a roll of packing tape, a pair of scissors, and a permanent marker for every person participating in the move. Also have more boxes than you anticipate needing in a variety of sizes.
  • Carry all valuables with you.
  • Instead of newspaper, use clothing, towels or bedding to wrap up breakables. This way you won’t waste energy and money transporting newspaper.
  • Use strong boxes such as those from the liquor store to pack dishes and pans.
  • Empty drawers in dressers and tape the drawers closed.
  • Professional moving companies can usually supply wide plastic wrap for couches and chairs prior to the move. Another alternative is to use old sheets taped in place.
  • Label boxes as fragile on all sides of the box and indicate which side is up.

Moving Day

Hopefully, if all has gone according to plan, you’ve completed and checked off all the items from the previous list. Theoretically, moving day should not be a packing day but it’s a good idea to have an extra box handy along with tape and scissors. The following are a few other important tips:

  • If you are using professional movers, be there to watch the loading and unloading. If anything does get dropped or knocked you will know which items to inspect.
  • Examine furniture and loose items carefully before paying for the move.
  • Return keys to the landlord or arrange to provide the keys to the new owner.
  • Find out what type of payment is acceptable to the movers i.e. cash, credit or cheques.
  • Bottles of juice and water along with packaged snack foods can keep energy levels high.

More Information About Customized Closets to the Rescue

Buried beneath stacks of shoes, languishing in a cluttered corner, or tucked deep within a rack of hanging clothes—your wardrobe is not going to be easy to find on a Monday morning!  Has your closet space magically shrunk over time?  Customized closets along with storage savvy create the perfect solutions.

The three main types of closets are walk-in, reach-in and freestanding.  If you have an existing walk-in closet or the space to build one, your home is sure to be the envy of the neighbourhood.  A reach-in closet is the most common type, especially where real estate is at a premium.  A freestanding closet can be made to fit almost any space and offers sophisticated style with minimal renovations.  Fortunately, whichever type of closet you have, it is possible to customize it to your needs.

Walk-in Closets

When money (or space) is no object, a walk-in closet can truly be a thing of beauty.  Imagine a long wall of gleaming hardwood drawers and shelves, slide-out hampers, twirling tie holders, shoe racks and neat rows of hangers.  In the centre of the spacious closet are two comfortable chairs and a sleek coffee table flanking a floor length mirror.  Achieving this handsome wall-to-wall fit will require the skills of a carpenter or a visit from a company that specializes in custom closet designs.  When money is an object, there are other options.

‘Do-it-yourselfers’ will find an increasingly attractive range of closet units at home renovation and home décor stores.  Coated wire racks and laminated pressboard drawers and shelves are basic, affordable and functional.  From this starting point, you may find higher end finishes and options.  Before you buy, think about how you plan to use your closet.  For example, consider how much space you need for shoes, hanging clothing, etc.  If you have many dresses and long jackets, allow for a lengthy space where those items can hang without folding.  Knowing the measurements of your closet space and your requirements, you can arrange ready-made elements into a suitable unit.

If you wish to get out the saw and screwdriver, you can combine ready-made elements with supports cut exactly to fit your closet.  For example, you can cut a wall-to-wall shelf and below it install ready-made drawers.  Another option is to bring in furniture.  An old dresser painted to match the rest of your unit will instantly add storage space and character.

Don’t forget the lighting!  Walk-in closets should have their own lighting and more than one fixture.  Small recessed lights at the top of shelves are as stylish as they are useful.  Wall sconces and a soft overhead light gently illuminate the entire space.

Reach-in Closets

Typically, at a depth of just over half a metre and no longer than two outstretched arms, reach-in closets test the organizational abilities of any homeowner.  Short on space, this closet benefits most from customization.  Maximize the vertical dimensions with drawers, shelves and racks from floor to ceiling.  Consider your unique requirements (e.g., lots of shoes or dresses) and make adjustments accordingly.  Just as with walk-in closets, you can opt for a professional customization or do it yourself with the help of some store-bought closet inserts.

Freestanding Closets

Imagine a sophisticated built-in unit running from wall-to-wall and finished with crown molding.  Freestanding closets can be entirely open, concealed by doors or have a combination of open shelving and discreet drawers or cupboards.  Keep in mind that a freestanding closet is in the midst of the room, so a closet in disarray is, well, on display.  In terms of location, an ideal spot is along a wall that is ‘bookended’ by other walls; this simplifies finishing the sides.  A skilled carpenter can bring your ideas to life and create a piece that complements your room.

Of course, bedrooms aren’t the only place with closets.  Any room has the potential for new storage solutions.  Hallways, laundry rooms, wine cellars, kitchens and garages…the opportunities to bring order to your home are endless.

Storage Tips

• De-clutter: If you haven’t used or worn something in a year, chances are you don’t need it.  Sort through your belongings and decide what you need and what can be sold or donated.

• Sort by season: As the seasons change, so should your closets and dressers.  Sort through your belongings and move last season’s items to the basement, storage locker or other convenient location.

• Coordinate: Group clothing by colour to make it easier to find what you need.

• Compartmentalize: Drawer separators for small items such as lingerie and scarves easily bring order to chaos!  Baskets and bins conceal clutter on shelves.  A row of hooks in the closet can hold belts, ties or jewellery making it easy to put together a smashing outfit.

Know More About Costs and Value Benefits of Owning a Home

There is no doubt that one of the more pleasant and exciting times for most people is when they have decided to buy a home. This excitement exists whether or not you are buying for the first time or the fourteenth time.

There is no doubt that the experienced home buyer has a relatively good idea as to what it costs to buy a home today. However if it has been a long time since you last bought a home, you may have forgotten or not be aware of the associated costs involved

A lot of people think of the basic costs as legal fees, property tax adjustments, GST in some cases, the cost of movers, the set-up fees for utilities, new window coverings, etc. First timers should also consider home maintenance costs, like tools, a lawn mower, etc. Beyond the basic costs, are major cost factors like replacing flooring and roofs, or making additions. These costs may be necessary to give you everything you want from your new home.

On the opposite side, some buyers may gain a cost benefit from buying a new home. You could buy in a development that has a fitness centre, or a swimming pool. This means no more fitness club dues or transportation worries. Some developments offer more luxurious features like golf privileges or skiing benefits.

Just as the above features offer you a financial and non-financial benefit; there are non-financial costs to look at when buying your house.

A feature you must consider seriously when buying a home is its location. Look at location from many view points and perceptions. A suggested question would be:
where am I going to live relative to …………?

The relative to “what” includes work (my work, my spouses work), established leisure activities (golf membership, hiking trails, night school courses, children’s ballet or music classes), children school or daycare, proximity to family, best friends or the old neighbourhood.

Now to create a more interesting but realistic scenario, take all of the above factors and try to determine the likely disruptions to a perfect schedule.

How often do you or your spouse have to work late or work unusual hours? Does this mean that the public transit you plan to take at commuter time, is only viable 50% of the time? Does this mean that little Mary or John may have to miss a lot of soccer practices, or other activities that they enjoy?

Is the commuting experience likely to leave you too tired (physically or emotionally), when you get home?

How important is the ease of transportation for you, to be able to leave work to pick-up your sick child at school or at daycare?

If grandma or grandpa is in weak health; is being close by a true comfort?

Will you need to make new friends because you will only see our old ones at holiday occasions?

In summary; when buying a home, consider the value of your purchase in relation to the emotional costs imbedded in that purchase. Does a house 25 miles away from where you spend most of your waking hours (at work and with friends) have a non-financial cost? Is being anywhere from 45 to 75 minutes away (depending upon traffic volumes) from a valued and trusted daycare for your child a reasonable cost for you to deal with?

Information About Costs and Considerations when Buying a Home

“Home is an invention on which no one has yet improved.”
– Ann Douglas

In the excitement of beginning a search for a home, many people jump right in without considering all of the elements that make a home truly right for them. It is a complicated and personal process. An unsuitable choice can be costly in many ways – you could lose money, waste time and effort relocating, or even put your family’s health in danger. The following are some things to consider when identifying your ideal home and planning a successful purchase.

Choosing a Neighbourhood
Remember that you can renovate a house but neighbourhoods take years to change and there’s no guarantee they’ll change for the better! On the other hand, if you really love a certain part of town but it’s out of your price range you may want to consider buying a less-than-perfect home then doing renovations. They can be quite expensive so try to make improvements that will be reflected in the value when you sell. These renovations have been found to have the greatest payback: kitchen 70%, bathroom 68%, interior painting 65%, exterior painting 62%.

Tips on choosing a suitable neighbourhood:

  • When you find a locale you like, walk around it. See what it’s like from street level.
  • Are the people friendly?
  • Are there stores and recreation facilities nearby?
  • Contact the local school board if you have children. Do local schools provide good education opportunities? If applicable are there private/religious schools?

Figure out what you can afford:
Consider how much you currently need to live on and how much you actually have leftover every month. People have a tendency to create budgets that look nothing like reality – when we should have $400 left over, for some reason we only have half that.

Consider these basic costs of buying a new home:

  • Most homes require a down payment of several thousand dollars.

  • Monthly mortgage payments can be 1/3 of the average person’s annual net income.
  • You may want to pay for a home inspection. Consider more than just the structure. Ask the inspector to check for asbestos, radon, animal infestation and lead.
  • Moving costs can be from a couple hundred to several thousand dollars depending on the distance of your move and the quantity of belongings.

Financing
The sort of home you can afford depends on several things:

  • How much you have saved

  • How much you earn

  • Past earnings
  • Your credit rating

The past has a way of haunting new homebuyers. If you are concerned about your credit rating you can usually get a free copy of your rating report from your local credit bureau. Normally all that’s required is a couple pieces of photo identification. Remember, a few late payments or disputed bills can besmirch your record. Try to pay everything on time and don’t have more than two credit cards. A bad rating can spell trouble getting a mortgage or you end up paying more for your mortgage as a form of insurance to the lender.

Pre-Qualification
This refers to documents from a bank or other lender indicating that you have the financing to back up your offer on a house. Pre-qualification is free and most lenders are happy to sit down with prospective buyers and figure how much they can afford. Having an accurate idea of price range will save time in the bidding process. If there are several people making offers on your dream home, being pre-qualified can make your offer more attractive since financing is not in question. It is important to note, however, that lending institutions will base their final decision about a mortgage on ability of the buyer to service the debt as well as the property. Most lenders state that the two components go hand in hand – the buyer with the ability to repay a mortgage and the property as security in the event of default on payment.