Tale as old as time…

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Parents, the younger years. Classic!

Real estate can be all about numbers, investment, return, mortgages et al, it’s also about home, family, security, community, so, in that vein, a more personal post:

Senior care: something many of us deal with, some more up close and personal than others—I’m an only child, the up close and personal has been my last decade.

The nutshell: my father passed away nearly ten years ago, my mother was 79 at the time. For years I lived in Toronto, three hours from my parents, after my dad’s death I drove the six hour round trip every few weekends to spend time. Several years later, needing more company and support, I bought a house outside Toronto and moved my mom to our place—fast forward four more years we needed to move home to Toronto. Mom always game for an adventure agreed, we’ve rented a condo in the building beside ours so I can quickly go back and forth. She loved it, enjoyed having her space again, watching Toronto life from her balcony was far more engaging than anything TV offered (except maybe Food Network).

Six months into the Toronto set up things shifted again, and quickly—my mother now requires health care support in home, several visits a day, fall alert monitoring and meal prep. If you’ve been down this road you know some seniors do not like to plan the last phase, my parents were in that camp. Yes indeed, we’ve reached this late stage and do not have a retirement home lined up but more on that another time…

The changes are many—leaving a family home can be devastating and giving up driving represents letting go of that last vestige of independence (tackled that one several years ago). Talk of in home help can rankle and while I want to respect ‘I can manage just fine!’ the proclamation does ring hollow, and risky, at a point. Talk of retirement and nursing homes? Understandably my mother has made every effort to avoid, she’s one of those almost always sunny personalities but would go silent if this, or any, talk of future cropped up.

So, what to do? I’m not saying it’s easier if you have siblings but perhaps a united front of care and concern from several holds a little more sway; from one? not so much…       And I’d be lying if I didn’t confess to more than a few sibling fantasies of “I’ve done my time, your turn.”

My mother, like most seniors, declared “I’m not going to fall, I’m always careful” and yet we’ve had three falls in the past several weeks. First on the list—look into a fall alert system. Philips LifeLine, LifeAssure (Canadian), AlarmForce are but three I looked into. There are standard response systems and upgrades to include fall alert. Be sure to ask about phone systems: my mother has a landline but it’s internet based, VOIP, some systems require use of the upgraded plans to use something other than a traditional landline.

While there are challenges with Ontario health care I know, my experience has been entirely positive: my father’s cancer diagnosis came quickly and he had a fantastic palliative care team, in my mother’s case CCAC responded quickly with case worker meeting, occupational therapist, daily nursing and specialty nurse. Her GP has been a great support, she’s fit us in at the last minute and we had ultrasounds within 1.5 weeks. Yes, you also need to be a little pushy; my parents would not advocate for their own care, my mother now lives with significant hearing loss and cannot walk—I’m ears, eyes, legs and mouthpiece.

Community Care Access Centre better known as CCAC: there are 14 of these centres in various Ontario cities, call them, they are key. You can register your senior with a name, address and health card number, a case worker will come to the home to visit, to suss out the issues, the level of support needed. The service is voluntary i.e. your senior will agree to receiving the help or not, no one is forced; in my mother’s case she’d begun to get nervous about doing some things on her own and was receptive (I did try two years ago feeling she could use a hand with bathing for one, it didn’t fly).

An occupational therapist from CCAC can assess how your senior lives and gets around the home. In my mother’s case a wheelchair was provided and her old walker will be replaced, given it’s more than five years old a provincial benefit will cover about 50% of the replacement cost. Ask about every potential benefit offered! If you’re unsure where to go and who to ask simply go to a Shopper’s Home Health Care store, they can advise on what benefits you might qualify for. For a fee Shopper’s can send someone to your senior’s home to assess the device currently in use whether old walker or old wheelchair and start the replacement process. The therapist suggested a  ‘super pole’ tension rod, a floor to ceiling support that helps with getting out of bed, in the bathroom, in my mother’s case by her living room easy chair though we had to pass on this, it can leave damage on stippled ceilings as is the case with my mother’s rental. Mobility is her primary issue: risers are making the exit from her recliner easier on her rather destroyed arthritic knees.

We all know a fall is the most common concern with seniors and the bathroom can be a minefield. We have the elevated toilet seat with support arms, the transfer bench for the tub with handheld shower (and, courtesy CCAC, bathing support help).

We were referred to a day program (ask CCAC or your doctor) that helps seniors with movement and fall prevention, this is the one thing so far with a lengthy wait list of up to six months, inquire early if it’s something you think could help. I expect my mother will not opt for the program anyway, not a fan of group activity she’s been agreeable to much, it’s important to leave some autonomy where you can.

As with all else in modern life, we have Google! While you’re googling various senior supports do also take a look at the Government of Ontario’s page offering guidance on available programs and services.

It can be a tough, tiring road, as my partner has said countless times, ‘breathe’. Not everyone will logistically be able to do this in the same way, nor would you want to necessarily and that absolutely isn’t a judgment, each situation is different, relationships can be complicated.

Truthfully, I’ve likely left too much up to my mother. Big one—we should not have purchased a condo for her after my father passed away. Leaving our family home was stressful, she’d lost her husband of 54 years, I wanted her to have a happy-in-a-different-way next phase. She could afford to buy a condo and she’d be safer but at that age you know longevity is not on your side, short term home ownership rarely works in your financial favour, a rental would’ve been smarter. And, while I’ll always be grateful for our additional time and memories some days I’m not sure I’d do the live-in again (consider a separate suite)—not an easy truth to face but it’s not an easy path. It’s been financially and emotionally challenging (make sure you have a very supportive spouse!), you find yourself 100% grateful for time together, for the greater sense of security your senior feels but it is hard. Rarely are there clear solutions in any of this…understatement.

It’s a long, complex road and, at this age, rife with rapid change. If you’ve been through something similar I’d love to hear about it, it can be a rather solitary road.

Thanks for reading and following along.

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My mother’s motto, akin to denial at times 🙂 

Less is More

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Take this as a bit of how-to inspiration (maybe? hopefully?) geared to the buyer who really wants to live in Toronto, to enjoy what urban life offers—vibrant, amenity laden neighbourhoods, easy access to everything, including transit; of course ‘vibrant’, amenities galore directly correlates to price here in the city. Detached or semi your target? If you have a healthy budget, if you’re open to exploring neighbourhoods you perhaps hadn’t thought of it’s doable. For a price. Core area the target? Condo is the affordable, and for me preferred, way.

Location, location, location (I suspect you’ve heard that one); if you’re like me, while my physical home has always mattered as well, my neighbourhood, my community, my immediate world outside my home matters big time. Every single day I am energized, I feel a sense of freedom, I’m inspired by just stepping outside my building: there’s the skyline, the Tower, everything a walk or bike away and rather than sitting in my car (though I do love to drive) I’m walking through the city, with my fellow Torontonians. Corny as it may be it’s really how I feel.

When I decided to sell a large four bedroom house (not in Toronto so no, I’m not rich) and come home to the core I wanted to do it affordably, I wanted my ‘location’ to be in the heart of it all, the solution being to adopt a condo lifestyle, a one bedroom plus den downtown.

My name is Brad, I’m now officially in the less is more camp. Starting the downsize was tough, midway was a challenge but I was feeling good about making some headway, now I embrace it. I’m surrounded only by the things I love, no filler, just what brings me joy and what I need.

If you’re going small/smaller/smallest you need to make the reduced space work for you. I’m plugging away at that—this afternoon getting a design quote on my built-ins for a den/office space—it’s worth the investment to tailor a space to your life.

Smaller condos simply do not offer closet space. A front hall closet: so much wasted space, the rod was placed at the back, the front half would have to remain open so I could get to the coats; I moved the rod forward, installed shelving up the back wall, I now have floor to ceiling storage behind the coats.

I have one good-sized walk-in closet in the bedroom, offers surprisingly decent storage but now it’s much better with a second row of shelving higher up for those items I don’t often need, I LOVE this improvement. I’m also shopping for a platform bed frame with drawers beneath, every little bit. Admittedly I have a weakness when it comes to clothes, shoes, bedding….but I now have that upper shelving! 🙂

Kitchen: this is a place to make efficient use of your space, chances are it’s much smaller, mine certainly is. I ordered my custom island/breakfast bar (and stools) from DesignRepublic in Toronto, a great outlet to source interesting pieces in the city, I wanted hidden storage beneath for small appliances, platters, no clutter in a small kitchen.

Cabinetry: I found after two months my pantry wasn’t cutting it, all those items that live at the back die at the back. Gliding Shelf Solutions to the rescue, Canadian made pull out pantry shelving available in plastic and wood, I chose wood, sturdy, quiet, smooth, supports up to 100lbs per shelf, that should do it. Smart Shelving is an authorized dealer for the product, they did a clean efficient installation. This was well, well worth the investment, my pantry is as organized as it’s ever been (or will be…).

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Three shelves become four: slide out pantry shelving courtesy Gliding Shelf Solutions. Lifesaver!

Bathroom: of course small but I’m fine with that, I have a deep soaker tub, that’s the must-have for me. While I like the fixtures chosen by the builder there wasn’t enough thought to how people live so after contacting customer care to find out the brand name of the fixtures I ordered up additional. There is a small vanity but there was no medicine cabinet, not nearly enough storage—there are times to spend to really make your home your own but in this case I managed a budget friendly find for the bathroom: a high lacquer contemporary cabinet from IKEA, looks great, offers more than enough storage, $110. While we’re in the bathroom…when you’re buying new push for any changes to the unit you feel you want—minor disappointment for me: I wanted a different bathroom floor tile, it was already in place, we were getting other upgrades so that one did not go our way. Small bathroom, not a great expense to change, and it will be changed.

I’ve just had the whole unit painted (no builder basic white for me, and the quality of builder paint is terrible), my TV mounted, all unsightly wires hidden in the wall, it will soon be time to dress that balcony for spring, my balcony with the perfect view: my downtown Toronto skyline and that Tower.

A downtown life can be done affordably, for me it’s the perfect way to live. If it’s what you’re looking for please feel free to reach out anytime for pointers, I’m a condo convert, a downtown Torontonian at heart, I’m more than happy to connect.

For instance, currently you’d find a 1+1 bedroom condo at Distillery District, with a storage locker (must-have for me) listed at $420,000. Food for thought…. 🙂

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LOVE at Distillery District, right next door to my home…happiness

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I spy…2017

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What does the future hold? Well, I certainly don’t know, mine nor yours. What does the future hold for Toronto real estate in 2017? I have a better idea there…

No need to recount the heat of the market, we all know, those of you buying who’ve missed out in bidding wars know all too well, including clients of mine though we won in the end!

Some of you might find this a bit dry but it’s the kind of information we like clients to be aware of, to seek out, to consider. Real estate can be emotional, in Toronto absolutely, it’s also a numbers game; as we say, knowledge is power, it can help with the emotional rollercoaster.

If you really want to dig in, if you’re feeling studious, take a look at the Royal LePage report providing insight into various markets across Canada—the last quarter of 2016 was particularly strong in Toronto, the GTA and the GTHA (Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area); we anticipate the same carrying into 2017.

In Toronto we’re seeing homes early in January selling 14%, 16%+ over asking. Condos in Toronto are expected to make a price leap too: with the desire to live downtown, the urban lifestyle, key of course is the greater affordability of condos and the new mortgage rules last fall impacted some Toronto buyer situations.

If a condo is on your radar:

—last fall there was a 22% increase in condo sales

—prices up 10% over the previous year

—80% of pre-construction condos across the GTA were pre-sold by the end of the third quarter last fall.

I made the downtown condo move myself in 2016—I love it, absolutely, whole heartedly, 100%, can’t say enough about it.

If you aren’t married to Toronto, if a detached home is what you’re after and Toronto’s $1.3mil average price is out of reach (up a staggering 25+% year over year) you’re likely already aware of the shift to Hamilton. Prices, on average, rose 14.5% last year, with that price standing at $445,000 you can see the appeal and with the increase continuing apace you can see the appreciation too (if it’s a consideration, I have a trusted partner in Hamilton, just ask)

What’s in store for 2017? Selling? You’re in a great position. And with an attentive, dedicated realtor, strong marketing, an even better great position 🙂

Buying? You need to be ready. Have your financing in place, know your non-negotiables i.e. your must-haves in a home or condo and find a realtor you’re comfortable with, who knows the areas, one who really wants to support you in your home buy—that relationship can be key.

 

 

Happy Holidays!

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The holiday season: a time for family, friends, reflection.

I love Christmas, sure there can be frenzied schedules, it’s always a challenge to fit everyone in, but the pace of days slows, the world seems to take a deep pause December 25th (I love that!), there’s food, drink, merriment and time for gratitude. Many of us have so much to be thankful for, particularly in Canada.

The first image here is my living room of the past few years, a holiday picture perfect house, with real fire, in Dundas Valley/Hamilton. My return home to Toronto presents a different way to enjoy the holiday, out in my city, with my fellow urban dwellers, like visits to my neighbourhood Toronto Christmas Market at Distillery.

It’s what I love about big city living, the energy of diverse groups coming together, and, my space being a fraction of what it once was, we’re enjoying a mini-me Christmas at home and a bigger celebration on the streets of Toronto  🙂

Happy Holidays and all the best for 2017

 

brad

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

November: Scorpio or Sagittarius? More to the Point…Buyer or Seller?

November sales stats are in—November ’16 as compared to November ’15

We’re looking at the 416 and 905 regions per the Toronto Real Estate Board.

To break it down further:

Detached homes: Sales +13.4%, Prices +27.6% Average Price $1.058million
Semi-detached: Sales +6.3%, Prices +19.8% Average Price $720,815
Townhouse: Sales +15.2%, Prices +23.7% Average Price $598,432
Condo: Sales +25.8%, Prices +15.1% Average Price $443,586

As has been the case we’re still seeing a shortage of listings, the demand in the GTA is outstripping supply. For example, if you live in the City of Toronto, as I do, you know we have a lot of neighbourhoods chock full of semi-detached homes, still costly yes but less so than a detached home. In the 416 we saw a decline in the number of semi sales (-3.1%) and an increase in semis in the 905 (+12.2%), this decrease in sales for semis in the 416 speaks to the inventory/listing shortage, we just didn’t have ’em.

In short, the region is hot, still, people want in whether 416 or 905, buyers are looking.
If you’re considering selling you’re definitely in a good place (though yes you need to move somewhere, core team is in both Toronto and Hamilton hmmmm) and likely looking at a tidy profit and fast sale: average days on market are down 34% from 26 days on market in 2015 to 17 days on market 2016.

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Need more explanation, want more detail?

Need a guiding hand Toronto or Hamilton?

We’re in each! Feel free to reach out 🙂

Seriously Speaking…

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Let’s talk about that elephant now exposed in the real estate room: you may have seen CBC’s Marketplace Friday evening, the show did an expose on realtors and ‘double ending’, no doubt this raised some concerns—

A listing will offer a commission, this commission is split between a listing, aka seller, agent and a buyer agent, double ending means one agent has negotiated a deal representing both sides, she/he is being paid the full commission. Let’s say we have a seller, we then find a buyer who is not yet using an agent, that buyer would like us to negotiate an offer with our client, the seller—that’s double ending. You’ll also hear this described as multiple representation and it is but multiple representation also refers to agents within the same brokerage representing a buyer and a seller, a different situation but one that also requires full and clear disclosure.

Yes logically this seems a conflict of interest and technically it is, we agree. Have we done this? Yes we have, the thing is a realtor must disclose this double ending/multiple representation situation and ensure both parties understand what it means, all parties must sign off on that understanding at the earliest opportunity.

In the above scenario we are legally and ethically obligated to fully represent our seller, that is we act in the best interests of our client. We are obligated to be fair and honest with and to provide information to our now buyer client, our full disclosure certainly extends to making sure the multiple representation situation is understood but we do not, cannot, will not ‘make a deal’ with the buyer. There is no ‘well, I think the seller would agree at $625,000, we had an offer near that already’ or any of those scenarios exposed on the show, nope, not ever. Our job is to work with this buyer on an offer they feel comfortable with, we review comparable sales, come up with a price they want to offer, conditions they want in the offer, we do not encourage, cajole, reveal or jerry-rig to finalize that deal; we are eventually paid on successful transactions negotiated fairly and honestly.

We do what we do because we love real estate, we enjoy working in relationship with our clients, every deal is something new, each property is different. We know there are agents who are less than upfront, just like other professions, like a car mechanic I had years ago, there is good, and not good, everywhere. Our intention always is that our clients are happy, that they have a positive, proper real estate experience; we firmly believe in integrity in our work as do many other realtors, it’s the only way.

The solution? In Alberta a realtor cannot negotiate for both sides in a transaction, BC is considering ending the practice of double ending and maybe that is the answer. Truthfully we too see the illogical nature of representing both parties but it is done, it is legal and it can be done fairly with both sides getting what they want. Your realtor needs to be clear and you should ask as many questions as you need, make sure you’re comfortable with the process.

Marketplace has successfully exposed countless situations contrary to fair consumer treatment, this show presented worst case scenarios, I don’t dispute at all that this happens, but there is another side: those of us who are serious about our careers, our ongoing education, our reputations and doing good work. This story angers consumers, it angers us, of course it’s wrong to make your living off someone else’ naivete or worse, lying to hustle together a deal and for us it leaves our profession in an unfavourable light we don’t appreciate.

Is there room for improvement? Yes. Clearly. Our profession matters to us, we are at your service, home buying and selling is a very big deal for all of us, ask questions, find a realtor you are comfortable with and know your rights.

 

The PDI

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Many of us have done the pre-delivery inspection for a new home or condo construction and many have not. Your new construction home is covered by a warranty administered by Tarion, you want to be sure to take full advantage of this protection, Step One: the PDI.

I thought I’d revisit this since I’m about to do mine, tomorrow. I’m in downsize mode having just sold a lovely spacious four bedroom home outside the city and, finally, returning to my downtown roots. I’m about to inspect what I purchased, from a model suite, in the core several months ago.

First off, delivery date: We did not buy pre-construction, we’re at Canary District, the Pan Am site, the buildings were up but the upgrades, finishings, amenities were not in place. Our possession date is coming up—a few weeks ago this was bumped by up to 10 weeks due to a trades strike but then we got back on track for end of July—if you’re buying truly pre-construction that delivery date is often flexible, very, meaning not in your favour so don’t be surprised if you go late.

Unlike closing on your house keep in mind if you’re buying a new condo your possession date is your interim occupancy date, you don’t obtain title to your unit until it’s registered (the registration can be weeks or months, in my case I had to supply five months of postdated cheques for the builder though five months is rather long for this process, one hopes!), your interim occupancy payments will be like rent, you’ll pay a combination of your mortgage interest, approximate condo fees and taxes, this goes to the builder. This amount you’re paying does not accrue to your mortgage, you don’t have a mortgage as you don’t actually own the condo yet.

Wall by wall, room by room you inspect everything: walls and trim for paint coverage, any nicks or scratches or scuffs, are lights working, any screws missing from the light fixtures (or anywhere for that matter), are appliances working and connected properly, where’s your water shut off for both laundry and your water supply, where’s your panel, do your windows open, how does your HVAC work, if the inside of your entry door is damaged they’ll take care of, if it’s the outside, it’s not yours, the builder will do those last minute repairs in common areas (ditto your balcony, whatever is outside the balcony door is not covered in your PDI).

Kitchen cabinet doors and drawers, are they aligned and do they close properly; my fridge is an integrated unit (it matches the look and depth of my kitchen cabinets, great option for a condo making the kitchen appear clean and visually larger, my dishwasher is integrated as well) and the door was not sealing properly. Check your flooring too, my hardwood was fine but there was a scuff on the bathroom ceramic floor, done. The inspector will turn on taps, run laundry (my washing machine wasn’t connected), be sure to check grout and your tub surround, my tile surround grout was a bit messy in one corner, it’s on the list.

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After your inspection your walls, cabinets, appliances may be covered in tape and stickies flagging issues to be addressed before you move in. Mine had more than two…

Make sure you understand how your ventilation works, my inspector noted given the construction happening they’d put a clean filter in before we take possession. Do keep in mind you have a one year Tarion warranty (it’s recommended before that year is up to take an inspector through your home looking for any deficiencies) and to maintain that warranty don’t do major work in that first year. I love my new downtown Toronto neighbourhood, love my building, my amenities (not done yet) but I was disappointed to see a popcorn ceiling and will have that changed, it’s one of my bugaboos in a home, it’s entirely superficial I know but I don’t like it. I will however not get into having ceilings sanded, potential floor damage etc before that warranty and inspection in a year.

That first viewing is very exciting, a couple of hours inspecting your new home! Feel free to ask as many questions as you want. I was flagging every paint flaw and scrape, why not, I’ll add colour at some point, every home needs a personality, but when first moving in (and no doubt downsizing further) I’ll be busy—I just need fresh near perfect white walls, and that downtown skyline view I’ve been missing 🙂

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A few months ago eager to get to my new home I wandered the beautiful award-winning park Corktown Common outside my building. That view!

 

“Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful.”

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Ah the wise words of William Morris, the famed English textile designer and writer. I’m very much keeping those words in my frontal lobe these days (frontal lobe…is that where I want these words? Maybe that explains the challenge…).

It’s been a whirlwind, every day we’re moving stuff from room to room for the painters and workers, every day we’re touching this stuff trying to decide ‘Is it useful?  How many of these do we have?! Is this valuable? Do I love this?’ — that beauty Morris refers to. It’s been tiring but it’s a great exercise and reaffirms what we all know: we have too much damn stuff.

Donating to various charities, always a good idea: we’ve made numerous trips to Goodwill, we’ve had the Canadian Diabetes Association pick up bags of clothing from our front porch (so helpful when you’re busy renovating), we’ve taken books to our local used bookstore for credit and had them donate those they can’t use to other charities.

We had our first ever garage sale! We did well selling off items that we don’t need, won’t have room for, things like a ukulele I got at age six from my dad’s company Christmas party (feel free to wonder why I still have it…), a bb gun my grandmother gave me at 10 (I debated adding this to the sale, somehow it felt wrong but it’d been living in my parents house for decades, now here for a few more years, and it was an adult making the call to buy it so…). I sold some tables to a lovely woman who was buying household items to help furnish apartments for Syrian refugees—I’m a realtor, I tend to talk a lot and dig a little—we will no doubt have more furniture and housewares before our big move, another donation I’m happy to make. Thus far we’ve not discovered inadvertently selling off any beloved items though as an only child an endless array of family keepsakes tends to come my way, it’s tricky letting go of some of these.

What have I found in the early days of a premature downsizing? As the cliche goes: eye on the prize, we’re downsizing to return to a major city where space is at a premium, for us life will be about living in the city as well as in our small urban home. I’m trying to assess what I really need and want not just the wants because I live in a large four bedroom house with a basement….you know what ‘basement’ means. I don’t know about you but I’m inspired by articles offering pointers and lists, it helps me shape my approach (or it just offers that shred of hope when I need it), check Style at Home for thoughts on downsizing and for other home design and decor ideas.

A touchstone for me when I need motivation—I’ve got my copy of The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up  living on my night table; it’s not just the advice it’s the tone, the author’s voice, dipping in for even one page end of day gives me hope 🙂

 

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You can’t purge it all…this hat box was my father’s from his show horse days, it held his formal Biltmore show hat, mid 1960s, it stays 🙂

 

 

 

 

Does Size Matter?

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And so it begins…

Bit of a blog break here, I’ve been rather occupied with a life challenge—I’ve been through the downsizing of elderly parents but I’m tackling my own, twenty-five years early.

Four years ago we sold our small, rather typical, but fabulous, Toronto semi in the east end (always an east ender here) to shuffle off to lovely Dundas Valley, and a much bigger house, for elder care—four years later we are trading in the four bedroom home with yard, large cedar deck, wood burning fireplace and so much more for a Toronto condo. Dundas truly is a gem but I’m a Torontonian at heart, have been for decades, I love the energy and all that comes with big city living, I’ve missed it dearly. And…I’ve decided to do something I’ve not done—live in a small space surrounded only by the things I really love ’cause that’s all I’ll have room for.

We’re going for the full urban experience, high walkability, Distillery District virtually at our door, a new streetcar line, our bikes (and bodies) will get a regular workout, we’ll drop to a one car household and with a gym in the building is there ever an excuse?

We’re downsizing ourselves, and a senior parent living in my house, we have to prep our lovely Dundas home, sell said home and set up life in the new Canary District Toronto!

Follow, post, suggest, share, it’s gonna be a ride 🙂

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Late night sorting…

 

 

 

 

 

Spring Looms Large

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Yes, I know here in this part of Ontario we’ve skipped through winter with nary a frigid temperature and very little snow but still, it’s Ontario, spring always looms large. Personally I have projects and purging inside that I’ve managed to avoid, but any day now we’ll be outside looking at gardens, yards and exteriors—what’s on your hit list? Here are five tips to get you in the mood—’in the mood’ wrong expression perhaps, does anyone’s mood take them to spring maintenance? we’ll just say tips to get you started 🙂

Your roof: take a look, did you lose shingles over the winter, given our extremes of temperature in Ontario what state are the shingles in, do you see cracking, buckling, are shingles losing their granules? I had several shingles blow off, my roofer replaced for free ’cause I will need a new roof in the next few years and he wants to quote on the job; if your shingles are looking a little long in the tooth you might want to start budgeting for replacement. And don’t forget the flashing around the chimney, any vents, if it appears to be failing have a pro take a look, faulty flashing will allow moisture to penetrate.

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Your concrete/foundation: Winter can be brutal, that old freeze/thaw cycle, a very small crack will let moisture in and then…a bigger crack. My home is concrete block foundation and is solid, two years ago I had a new sidewalk installed and though our winter here wasn’t terrible I have a crack to deal with. The sidewalk of course is obvious, do take a walk around your home to inspect the foundation, if you have a concrete porch take a look at the slab, I have a small repair to do on a corner of mine.

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Gutters: Ideally you cleaned them after all the leaves fell last fall but take a look to see if they’re clear before we get those April showers, or downpours. Beyond being clean though check to see if securely attached, any corrosion, if you had snow where you are any build up of ice dams may have loosened your trough.

sagging-rain-gutter

Damage possibly due to clogged gutter/trapped water/freeze/thaw cycle or ice damming

Central air unit: Conventional wisdom was to cover over the unit for the winter but that’s no longer recommended. If you do, and I still do, cover the unit early winter and remove late winter/earliest spring, like now. The unit benefits from airflow, you don’t want to trap all that moisture inside. I use the cover that came with my new unit several years ago, it still allows some airflow; sealing the unit, wrapping it in heavy plastic is not recommended. As you do your furnace, have your A/C unit inspected in spring, if your unit is newer your warranty will likely depend on an annual inspection as mine does.

Windows: Yes they likely all need a good cleaning, inside and out. Also, check your screen situation (DIY screen replacement is really quite easy), any caulking needed?  And if, like me, you know you have some outdoor painting around windows on your to-do list this spring your walk around will give you a good idea of just how much time you might be investing…

 

Happy Spring from core!