Posts in Home Improvement

Snow Removal Tips

January 16th, 2018 Posted by Home Improvement No Comment yet

We’ve had our fair share of snow and record-breaking cold this season and we know more snow is coming. Keep yourself prepared with these seasonal tips for snow removal and de-icing.

In addition to using the right equipment, you need to prepare yourself physically to do the work. Complete a good stretch that targets your hamstrings, back and shoulders, to prevent injuries that may occur while shovelling. Wear multiple lightweight layers that cover as much skin as possible, and can be easily removed to avoid overheating. Protect your hands with gloves or mittens, and wear boots with non-skid or non-slip rubber soles to prevent falls.

Proper equipment for snow removal is important. Ergonomically shaped shovels with a curved handle helps prevent injury, and reduce fatigue. Avoid using heavy shovels with metal blades; try lightweight shovels with plastic blades instead.

It’s all about technique when shoveling snow. Use your leg muscles as much as possible, to avoid strains and pulls. Push or walk to dump snow, rather than throwing it onto snow banks. Lifting snow properly can prevent neck and shoulder injuries.

Instead of letting snow pile up, make sure to shovel frequently. It’s easier to shovel fresh snow than when it becomes packed and dense. On a bright day, expose part of your driveway to the sun. Dark colours are less reflective than white snow, and will help melt remaining snow.

For people suffering from back and chronic issues, snow blowers are a good alternative for snow removal. Test your equipment before the start of the season, to ensure everything is in good working order. Keep a snow brush, spray de-icer and spray lubricant handy, to avoid ice and compacted snow buildup.

Salting is the most popular method of de-icing driveways and stairs, but can also be harmful to pets, soil and plants. Other natural alternatives to use include sand, bird seed, coffee grinds, and kitty litter.

Winter weather can be a challenge for snow removal, but using the right tools and preparing yourself for the task at hand is half the battle.

Should You Buy That Fixer-Upper?

July 21st, 2017 Posted by Home Buying, Home Improvement No Comment yet

Have you ever considered buying a house that is considered a “fixer-upper”? Sometimes we shy away from these because we just aren’t sure if it’s a practical move or not. We all want to buy our dream home but could it be possible that a fixer-upper is that dream house in disguise?

Check out our pros and cons below – they may just help you make your decision!

PRO – The first and most obvious reason to purchase a fixer-upper is the price. There are often significant savings over buying other homes. It’s important though to think beyond the short-term savings and consider the long-term financial burden when assessing whether this purchase is worthwhile or not. What will need to be repaired/renovated? How much will those repairs and renovations cost? How soon must those projects be completed?

PRO – There are often fewer competitors interested in purchasing a fixer-upper. This can be especially helpful in areas with low housing inventory and a high level of competition (which of course, may lead to higher prices and bidding wars).

PRO – To a degree, a fixer-upper can be somewhat of a blank slate for you to customize the way you want.

PRO – You may have the opportunity to build the equity in your home quickly depending on the types of changes you are making to your fixer-upper.

PRO – You may be eligible for certain loans or tax breaks/rebates based on the types of repairs and renovations you are making.

PRO – For someone who loves being creative and working with their hands, this could be an ideal purchase.

CON – Expect the unexpected. Even with a home inspection (and you need a home inspection), there are often surprises along the way. You will need patience and it’s advisable to have a separate budget set aside to accommodate those unplanned expenses as needed.

CON – Some of the updates that may be required won’t be terribly effective in increasing the equity in your home. Invisible repairs such as plumbing and electrical system overhauls may not raise the value of your home enough to offset the cost of those renovations. Unless you are receiving a significant discount in the initial cost of the home to accommodate these repairs, this is something you want to consider carefully.

CON – When purchasing a new home, you have some options in choosing location. With an established home, you are obviously locked into a specific location.  You always need to consider the location but with a fixer-upper, there can be another important consideration. After completing the renovations to your home, will you have raised the value of your home to a point where you have now priced yourself out of the neighbourhood? Resale can be trickier if your home is priced much higher than the rest of the homes in the area and you may have to take a loss in order to get your house sold.

CON – Sub-contractors need to be carefully chosen. We’ve all heard horror stories about home renovations gone wrong so it’s essential to find reputable contractors or you may find yourself losing money, time, and patience.

Consider these pros and cons before deciding whether purchasing a fixer-upper is the right choice for you!

How to Easily Improve Your Curb Appeal

April 4th, 2017 Posted by Home Improvement No Comment yet

How to Easily Improve Your Curb Appeal

Summer is a very popular time to sell your house. As soon as your house hits the market, potential buyers may want to swing by to check out the place in person. Even if all they can accomplish at that moment is a drive-by, you need your house ready to impress! This means curb appeal.

Curb appeal is that first impression your house gives, that first look at the outside of your house that allows buyers to begin imagining their life there. This includes everything a potential buyer can see from the street – the front (and maybe sides) of your house, your driveway and front lawn. Two big focusses for curb appeal tend to be any gardening or landscaping in the front yard as well as the front door area (porch, steps, the door itself).

While you may think there’s not much you can do to boost your curb appeal and attract potential buyers, think again! There are lots of easy steps a homeowner can take to put their house’s best foot forward. Remember: the better your curb appeal, the more boost to your selling price (and typically your house will sell faster, too)!

Step 1: Scrub Up

Before you spend a bunch of time and money trying more elaborate fixes to your curb appeal, simply washing the front of your house should be your first step. Invest in some soapy water and scrub brushes to get any build-up of dirt off the outside of your house.

Consider investing in a power washer for the day to clean up walkways (and your driveway, too!). Make sure time is spent getting those windows sparkling clean. Clean up cobwebs, eaves, downspouts, garage doors, and everything in between!

Step 2: Refresh

Now that everything is clean, you can see the bits that need a new coat of paint to refresh. When refreshing the exterior, choose a nice, average colour that will make your house gorgeous but not too “out there.”

One place you can make your house stand out is with a nice, bright front door. Choose something that will catch the eye like a fresh yellow or green and make your house seem warm and inviting but still modern. Don’t forget to refresh the trim and shutters with a fresh coat as well!

Replace old hardware – house numbers, door knocker, handle, overhead light fixtures – to give an updated, modern feel to everything.

Note: This refreshing should be done on top of any regular maintenance your house needs. Make sure your roof, in particular, is in good condition; this will not only boost curb appeal, but it’s definitely something that will be checked during a home inspection. Windows, driveway, walkways, gutters, shutters…it all needs to be maintained or repaired now to keep that selling figure high.

Step 3: Landscaping

Landscaping doesn’t have to be hard or expensive to get value for your house. Mow the lawn to well-manicured perfection, pull any weeds cropping up, and trim any shrubs or hedges.

If planting is needed, throw in some colourful but easy annuals – no point putting in perennials if you’re not going to be there to enjoy them year after year.

Short on space but want to add some colour? Planters by the front door or around the porch are a great and easy touch. Window boxes are an easy DIY that you can throw together in a weekend for more colourful options.

For an added feel of luxury and depth, bushes and trees should be surrounded with dark or reddish-brown mulch. Feed and water your lawn to keep it green and luscious.

You might also consider adding outdoor lighting around walkways and other focal points to make sure people can see that landscaping at any hour.

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