Monthly Archives: February 2017

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.