Why thieves love your summer vacation

With summer finally here and the kids out of school, many families will be heading on family vacations! But just as excited as you are for the holidays, so are burglars who are paying close attention to what’s being posted on social media. To help you have peace of mind while on holidays, here are some tips from insurance company Aviva Canada Inc. on some precautions to take, in particular with social media, to protect homes and belongings from theft while away from the home.

1. Keep your upcoming vacation plans off of social media and remind your kids to do the same. Ideally, hold off on posting pictures or revealing destination and duration until you get back. While you may be diligent with who can see what you post, some of your friends may not have tight privacy settings. Consider how and when you are posting to Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and any other social media platforms you may use.

2. Upgrade the locking systems on your doors and windows. Also inspect window or door frames to ensure thieves could not easily force entry. Ensure all windows and doors are locked when out of the home or overnight.

3. Make a home look occupied when you’re away. Park a car in the driveway, leave some lights and a radio on, ask a neighbour to collect mail and newspapers and have your lawn mowed.

4. Install a security device with a loud alarm or flashing lights. Some alarms contact authorities directly when they have been activated.

5. Do a home inventory with your video camera. It will take minutes but will save you the stress and heartache of listing all of your possessions.

For more tips, visit http://www.avivacanada.com/article/summer-vacation-facebookinstagram-–-here’s-why-thieves-love-them-both

Is a damp basement a deal breaker?

When you’re sizing up a potential new home to see if it meets your needs, suits your lifestyle and isn’t going to cause you unexpected costs and grief down the road, a full inspection will reveal potential concerns that could lead to disaster.

Even before the home inspection there are ways to identify if there are underlying issues that could develop into larger problems down the road. One of the biggest concerns can be the basement. If it shows signs of dampness you could be buying into trouble. A damp basement could be more than just a nuisance to homeowners, especially if you want to use it as a living space such as a family room, bedroom or home office. Any signs of moisture can lead to accumulation that can cause both cosmetic and structural damage to both the basement and the floor above.

Here is more information, courtesy of http://www.wedothehomework.ca.

What are the signs of a damp basement?

The tell tale signs that let you know there’s potential trouble are loose floor tiles, rusty baseboard and wall nails, storage elevated off the floor, damaged or water stained basement storage, dampness or water spots and/or stains on walls and floors, peeling paint, rust at column or post base, patched walls and rotting boards or wood.

There are three major causes of water in a basement:

1. Condensation: While condensation may be present in the basement, an accumulation of it can cause the floorboards above to buckle. It appears as water droplets, puddles or wet spots on floors and walls. If left, it can cause damage such as rot and invite insects to make your home, theirs.

2. A problem below the surface: Sometimes the issue can come from places you can’t even see. In some neighbourhoods, homes are sitting on high water tables which can cause ongoing issues – especially during a big storm or quick thaw. These problems aren’t permanent however if the basement is holding water even after the storm, the source of the problem could be below the surface.

Water that comes through walls or appears where the floor and wall meet is an indicator of high ground water. The cure for this can be as cheap as an absorbent clay injection to a more expensive solution such as installing a sump pump.

3. Runoff: There are several ways runoff water can enter your house and cause dampness in your basement. Rainwater and melting snow are the most common sources and for some homes it’s common to find dampness after a storm or drastic increase in temperatures that causes snow to melt quickly.

Damp basements can occur in new and older homes as heavy rainfalls and melting snow find it’s way into basements both new and old. If you notice any dampness make sure to ask questions and assess the source of the problem so you can decide whether the solution is worth your time and effort.

For more information, visit http://www.wedothehomework.ca, a website created by the Ontario Real Estate Association to educate homeowners about the buying and selling process.

Make the most of the spring real estate season

It’s no secret that the spring real estate market is a hot one. For buyers, inventory is usually higher, meaning more selection, the snow has melted and it’s easier to see decks, foundation, backyards, etc. and you can ensure that you’ll be in your new home in time for the summer months. For sellers, listing your home in the spring means more traffic, nicer curb appeal and a greater chance of getting full asking price.

Even though homes move quickly during the spring real estate market, sellers will still need to take measures to ensure that their home is desirable to buyers. Remember, more inventory for buyers means more competition for sellers! You will need to not just attract potential buyers, but also make them want to stay in your home – permanently. Here are some things you can do at home to make sure your home is making a great first impression during the busy spring season:

The first thing to tackle is your home’s exterior. Spruce up your curb appeal by raking your lawn, cleaning up flowerbeds, trimming bushes and trees, storing yard tools, kids’ toys, garbage bins and anything else that might be lying around. If your asphalt driveway is showing signs of wear, have it sealed. Take a look at the trim around your windows and on your front door and garage doors. Is the paint peeling and flaking off? If so, it’s a wise investment to repaint these areas. It will make your home look revitalized and buyers will see that it’s well cared for before they even step through the front door.

Inside, clean, clean, clean. Your home should be spotless before each and every showing and open house. Also be sure to pack away photos, knick-knacks and personal items, de-cluttering and de-personalizing the space. If there are numerous holes and scratches on the walls, consider a fresh paint job to really wow buyers, sticking with a neutral colour palette.

Buyers should also do their homework to make the most of the spring real estate season. Spend some time driving through neighbourhoods so you know exactly where to zero in on your home search. Review your finances, decide on a budget and get pre-approved so that you are in the best position possible when it comes time to make an offer. Finally, take advantage of your realtor’s wealth of experience and knowledge…ask lots of questions about the home itself and the process of purchasing so that there are no surprises.

A good home insurance policy is vital

A cursory overview of your home insurance policy is enough to cause your eyes to glaze over, but it is an important document to understand. Although it won’t win any rave reviews or Pulitzer Prizes, it’s imperative to read the fine print and ask questions about details you don’t understand.

Considering that your home is likely the single most expensive investment you will make, ensuring it is well protected in any event is vital.

Before you choose a policy, it is essential to establish your home’s replacement cost should disaster strike and you need to completely repair or replace your home. A local builder can provide the best estimate. The general recommendation is to buy enough insurance to cover 100 per cent of the replacement cost of your home.

If you have valuables such as jewelry or electronics or collectibles, it’s a good idea to list them all and take photos, storing all of this information in a safe place where it won’t get damaged or stolen. And make sure your insurance policy covers these items as well.

Home insurance also covers your liability for anything that occurs on your property, such as someone being injured or their belongings damaged while they’re in your home.

Most home insurance companies include a deductible, which is the amount you must pay out when making a claim. So if your deductible is $500 and your claim is $1,500 for damage or theft to or from your home, then you would pay the first $500 and your insurance company would pay the difference.

You can choose to raise or lower your deductible when you purchase your insurance policy. Generally, the higher deductible you choose, the lower your monthly premiums will be. But keep in mind that if you do file a claim you will be on the hook for more of the cost.

The cost of home insurance will vary depending on your home, your insurance company and the factors mentioned above.

And make sure you compare while you shop, remembering that the lowest price may not be the best guide to follow. Find out whether your insurer is quick to respond when claims are made, as well as the company’s financial stability.

Also, check your policy annually to ensure it continues to meet your needs.

New rebate to encourage homeowners to ‘go green’

For anyone looking to make your home more energy efficient, you’re in luck. The Government of Ontario recently announced the creation of a new program to help Ontarians improve the energy efficiency of their homes.
The province is investing $100 million from the Ontario Green Investment Fund to provide rebates for homeowners who conduct an energy audit on their property and then complete retrofits recommended by the auditor.
According to the Ontario Real Estate Association (OREA), offering rebates has been a great way to help consumers make green decisions when it comes to home retrofits or renovations. Between 2007 and 2011, the province administered the Ontario Home Energy Savings Program (HESP), which provided homeowners with up to $150 towards the cost of a pre-retrofit energy audit, and rebates of up to $5,000 for retrofits. This program helped over 428,000 homeowners complete energy audits and 380,000 to complete retrofits.
OREA has been a strong advocate for provincial funding to help homeowners improve the energy efficiency of their properties. Most recently, OREA made new rebates a central recommendation to the Standing Committee on Finance and Economic Affairs during the committee’s pre-budget consultations. The association’s two-pronged recommendation for helping homeowners reduce energy consumption also includes inserting an energy audit into a standard home inspection.
“According to our research, three quarters of home buyers make an inspection a condition of purchase,” said Ettore Cardarelli, Chair of OREA’s Government Relations Committee. “Inserting an audit into a voluntary home inspection would give buyers important information about the property along with recommendations for how the new owner can improve energy efficiency of their home.”

When was the last time you rode the rails?

If you’ve never had the opportunity to experience this unique Dufferin County adventure, here’s your chance!

A ride on the Credit Valley Explorer is the perfect way to acquaint yourself with the landscape, enjoy some splendid scenery and spend a relaxing afternoon or date night. This classic 1950’s railcar experience winds through miles of rolling hills and lush valleys as passengers revel in the breathtaking scenery aboard a luxury train. Following a trail route established over 130 years ago, the Explorer travels along 74 kilometres of track, allowing passengers to discover the natural wonders of the Hills of Headwater and the magnificent landscape of the Niagara Escarpment from an excellent vantage point.

The Credit Valley explorer will host a number of sightseeing tours during the next few months – be sure to book early as tours sell out quickly! These mid-day sightseeing tours take passengers through the Credit Valley and Forks of the Credit from Orangeville to Snelgrove and return, with a rest stop in the village of Inglewood. Tour includes complimentary refreshments and light lunch served at your seat by friendly onboard attendants.

Sightseeing Tours are scheduled for:

  • April 23 at 11:30 a.m.
  • June 4 at 11:30 a.m.
  • June 19 at 11:30 a.m.

Enjoy a snowy day in beautiful Orangeville

No matter what the season, there’s plenty to do and see in Orangeville. Come wintertime, residents can enjoy ice skating, snowy hikes, sledding, skiing and much more!

Orangeville arenas offer public skating, adult skates, parent/preschool skates and active 55+ skates, plus adult and youth shinny at various times Monday through Sunday. The two local arenas are Tony Rose Memorial Centre and the Alder Street Recreation Centre. For those who love to glide across the ice under a bright blue winter sky, Orangeville’s four outdoor ice rinks are great for hours of family fun. Check the city website at http://www.orangeville.ca to find out when the rinks at Idyllwilde Park, Princess of Wales Park, Tony Rose Memorial Sports Centre and Orangeville Lions Club Sports Park are open.

If you’re looking for a quiet way to spend the day, ice fishing is quickly becoming a favourite winter pastime for many Orangeville residents. Fishing rods are available for rent at Island Lake Conservation Area, so bundle up, pack a thermos of hot coffee and get set for hours of quiet enjoyment with plenty of fresh air.

For years local thrill seekers have flocked to Hockley Valley Resort come wintertime. With snow covered hills as far as the eye can see, Hockley Valley offers 15 runs of varying difficulty and an amazing terrain park, all in the beautifully sculpted Hills of Headwater. Visit http://www.hockley.com to find out about their lessons, rentals, camps and hotel rates.

For cross country skiing enthusiasts, Mono Nordic Ski Club, located north of Orangeville just off Highway 10, is a non-profit community based facility offering 20 kilometres of trails, two with night lighting. Visit http://www.mononordic.com for rental information.

And for those frosty Saturday mornings when the weather outside is frightful, head to Town Hall for the winter edition of the Orangeville Farmers’ Market. Occupying the main floor atrium and upper floor mezzanine, patrons can purchase local meats, baked goods, unique arts and crafts and much more!

Winter fun in Dufferin County

What gorgeous weather we had during the month of November! It was the perfect time of year to get outside and enjoy all the region has to offer. Now that December has arrived, it’s probably safe to say that the frosty weather is on its way. Lucky for residents of Orangeville and surrounding area, it doesn’t matter what the season is – there’s always plenty of options for outdoor fun!

If you’ve always wanted to take up a new winter sport, why not try snowshoeing? An excellent way to stay fit during the chilly months, the sport can be tailored to every level of fitness. Island Lake Conservation Area is one local spot that offers snowshoe rentals, giving you the opportunity to try it out before you purchase your own. Enthusiasts love the freedom snowshoeing offers, allowing participants to venture off the beaten path and explore. If you don’t want to try it on your own, the Dufferin Hi-Land Bruce Trail Club offers many activities, including moonlight snowshoe hikes! Visit dufferinbrucetrailclub.org for more information.

Downhill skiing is another exhilarating option for outdoor winter fun and Hockley Valley Resort is just the place to do it. Located just outside of Orangeville, this massive facility has everything your family could possibly want in a winter resort, including a small skating rink and an 8,000 square foot spa! Ski, trek or board around all day before enjoying lunch or dinner at the Cabin Restaurant, one of three eateries at Hockley Valley Resort. This magical destination for people of all ages can really create memories of a lifetime. Picturesque scenery allows you to really appreciate the beauty of Dufferin County.

For those who have been waiting all year to strap on a pair of skates, there are a number of outdoor spots in the area to enjoy Canada’s favourite winter pastime. There’s Idyllwilde Park at Fourth Street and Second Avenue, Princess of Wales Park at Saxon Street and Alder Street, Tony Rose Memorial Sports Centre at 6 Northmen and the Orangeville Lions Club Sports Park at 120 Diane Drive.

Whatever you are in the mood for, Orangeville and surrounding area has many options for winter activities!

White named colour of the year for 2016

Benjamin Moore, the paint, color, and coatings brand, announced its highly anticipated colour trends for the upcoming year and white made the top of the list!

In the home, white is a timeless and versatile design statement, says Ellen O’Neill, Benjamin Moore’s creative director.

“The colour white is transcendent, powerful, and polarizing – it is either taken for granted or obsessed over. White is not just a design trend, it is a design essential. The popularity of white, the necessity of white, the mystique of white, is quantifiable in our industry. Of the top 10 bestselling Benjamin Moore colours, variants of white occupy five spots. It was inevitable that we would ultimately recognize white as our colour of the year.”

The Benjamin Moore Color Studio forecasts colour trends after a year of research attending major industry shows around the world, while also taking cues from standouts in architecture, fashion, textiles, home furnishings, and the arts.

White transcends style, and is seen in traditional, transitional, and modern interiors. Here are some tips when decorating with white:

1. White is forgiving. If you are unsure of your colour choice, white is always a good place to start. It’s a blank canvas – begin with white and decorate with bold. You’ll be amazed at how such a light colour can transform your space with little effort.

2. There isn’t only one shade of white. There are many undertones to the shades so choose carefully – some are blue, pink and green. Many times the sample you think is white in the store actually has an undertone of blue when you get home. And check your sample at different times of the day – the light will change the colour.

3. White is always in style. Even if you don’t have an interior decorator’s eye, using white in your decor or walls instantly adds elegance, creates an airy space, and the illusion of tidiness – even if there’s clutter!

4. White can create dramatic impact whether on the wall or in your furniture choices – think ceiling to floor draping white thick curtains, the gorgeous white sofa that’s a statement piece, or creating a grand entrance by painting your foyer white, especially if you’ve got ample natural light and high ceilings. Understated, elegant, classic and modern all at once.

Harvest season in the Hills of Headwater

When it comes to the harvest season, many Dufferin County and Peel Region locals head to Dixie Orchards. This family owned apple farm offers more than just fruit when they open their doors from September until the end of October. A corn maze, straw jump and farm animals attract family members of all ages. Don’t miss the weekend barbeque at Dixie Orchards after you pick your own pumpkin. Start a new annual tradition with your family this fall at Dixie Orchards in southern Caledon!

Another spectacular Caledon and surrounding area favourite is Downey Farm Market. Open daily from 9 a.m. – 5 p.m., this large family destination has much to offer all age groups and members of the family. A market, bakery, corn maze, Christmas trees, birthday parties, wine and a Pumpkinfest all happen at this popular farm! Visit Downey Farm Market any time between September 26 and October 31, until 4 p.m. daily and discover horses, puppet shows, wagon rides, pedal carts, a goat slide, duck races and more!

Pumpkinfest is a great event in the Hills of Headwaters, which also honours the season with its very own Taste of Harvest happening at multiple venues across Peel and Halton Region, Wellington and Dufferin County! Warm up to some hot cider, take part in a cooking course or tip toe through a haunted forest at this year’s event. From historic downtown Orangeville’s Farmers’ Market to the Brampton Flight Centre, Taste of Harvest is in full swing. You’re bound to find some exclusive finds along your travels while making it a season to remember! Visit http://thehillsofheadwaters.com for more information!

Fall in the Hills of Headwaters truly is a magical time of the year. Be sure to take the long route and enjoy the autumn colours on your way to choosing this year’s pumpkin!