Keep your home and outdoor items in top condition with these fall maintenance tips

While the weather is still beautiful, the nights are getting cooler and the very tops of the trees are already starting to turn colour. Fall is here and it’s time to start thinking about those outdoor chores to get your home ready for winter (gasp!)

Start by touring your home’s exterior and note any peeling paint or cracked caulking. Fall is great weather for painting and resealing to protect your home over the winter months. Check your roof for any loose or missing shingles and make sure repairs are completed before the snow starts to fall.

If you weren’t able to get to them in the spring, clean your eavestroughs now. Have a look at the weather stripping on your doors, especially the garage doors. Replace or repair where needed to keep those winter drafts outside.

If you have large trees on your property, trim any dead or dying branches, especially any close to your home. Winter winds can snap off brittle limbs easily. If the tree is close to the curb, it may belong to the city, so call first to check.

Clean out any leaves or debris from your air conditioner and cover it securely. Give your outdoor furniture a thorough cleaning and store them in a clean, dry place to ward off potential mildew.

Even if you are a year-round griller, fall is still a good time to give the BBQ a good cleaning. For winter storage, remove the propane tank and store in a safe place and cover the BBQ or move it to your shed.

Garden and lawn tools should also get a good cleaning before storage for the season. Hose down your lawnmower, shovels and other tools, removing any debris. Once dry, consider covering your tools with a light coat of linseed oil before storing them to prevent rusting.

These simple annual chores will keep your home and outdoor items in top condition, prevent winter damage and save you money!

The many benefits of replacing your windows

When it comes to buying a new home it seems everyone has two lists – the “We absolutely can’t live without it” list and the “Nice to have but we’re willing to live without it” list. However, there are some features of a home that you should really think twice about before downgrading them to the ‘nice to have’ list. Windows are a very important feature both functionally and aesthetically in a home, so when it comes to deciding on a purchase, which list will new windows fall under?

The exterior and interior of any home can change drastically with the installation of new windows. Aesthetically they give a clear view of the outside, provide natural brightness in the home and can make any space seem larger. While the physical appeal that windows can bring to a space is undoubtedly a draw, there are some other very practical and cost efficient reasons to appreciate new installations that go beyond curb appeal – especially in an older home. Here is more information, courtesy of

What are the benefits of new windows?

  • UV protection of walls, floors and furnishings
  • Increased curb appeal
  • Low maintenance
  • Reduced sound transmission
  • Improved security
  • Improved comfort

As any homeowner knows, there are many hidden costs when purchasing a home as well as regular maintenance and potential problems that can go wrong and end up being very costly such as a broken furnace, leaky roof or broken appliances just to name a few. New windows can be very costly and keeping older windows can not only devalue the home but also cost more in heating and cooling. Today’s new windows are designed to harmonize with a home’s look and personality and will save homeowners frustration, annual repair and upkeep costs and reduce energy costs by up to 35 per cent.

Not only will new windows provide energy efficiencies and reduce noise from entering or leaving the home, they also offer additional security from potential break-ins. The simple fact that most new windows are made from vinyl or fiberglass also means that you don’t have to worry about painting and cleaning is far easier.

Older windows can lead to greater costs down the road such as loss of heat and cold air and potential moisture and mould build-up that can lead to further structure damage. Loose seals can create drafty areas in the home and allow heat to escape and cold air, dust and insects to enter.

Once you weigh the pros and cons of new windows versus the original and size up the potential costs down the road, you may want to add new windows to your ‘must have’ list. The cost and frustration you save yourself can help you to truly enjoy your dream home all year round.

For more information, visit, a website created by the Ontario Real Estate Association to educate homeowners about the buying and selling process.

Preparing for closing day

You bought a home! Congratulations! Your offer was accepted, the home inspection went well and all the conditions have been met…so what’s next on your to-do list? Other than packing of course, there are a number of steps you’ll need to take in preparation of the big day:

The first is to get your lawyer involved. Your real estate professional will fax the Agreement of Purchase and Sale to your lawyer, who will then complete a variety of tasks on your behalf – checking title, preparing the land transfer, etc.

You will need to provide all necessary documents to your mortgage lender.

Arrange for homeowner’s insurance to begin the day of closing. You can often get a discount for “bundling” so check rates with your auto and/or life insurance provider first.

If you are a renter, give ample notice to your landlord.

Call the local utility companies to set up hydro, water, gas, cable, telephone, etc.

Inform all necessary parties of your upcoming change of address – credit card companies, magazine subscriptions, the Ministry of Transportation, Canada Revenue Agency, insurance company, employer, etc. You can also arrange through the post office for all of your mail to be redirected to your new address for a specified period of time.

Start saving. As tempting as it is to go out and buy furniture, décor items and more for your new house, closing day will bring with it some hefty costs, including legal fees, hook-up charges, moving costs, and more.

Arrange for a final walk-through at your new address. Your real estate professional will accompany you as you tour the home for one last time before moving day. Bring a tape measure to check room sizes!

A day or two before closing, you will meet with your lawyer to sign all necessary documents.

Finally, when the big day arrives, your lawyer will contact you when you can pick up the keys to your new home!

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–-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

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, 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.