Archive for January, 2014

Change of Address Checklist

Tuesday, January 28th, 2014

Change of Address Checklist | Spruce Grove Stony Plain Parkland County Real Estate | Barry TwynamMoving is one of those necessary and stressful life events we all experience.  If you are moving to or from Spruce Grove, Stony Plain, Parkland County or the Edmonton region, you’ll need to pass on your new address to many people, businesses, organizations, etc.  The list below will ensure you don’t forget anybody!

Government Agencies

(information courtesy of Service Canada:

☐  Canada Post (visit your local post office or change your address online)

☐  Canada Revenue Agency

☐  Alberta Motor Vehicle Registry (driver’s licence and vehicle registrations)

☐  Alberta Health Services

☐  Employment Insurance, if you are receiving benefits

☐  Canada Pension Plan / Old Age Security, if you are receiving benefits

☐  Canadian Firearms Centre, if you have a firearms licence.

☐  Any other government or local authorities for any additional licences you may have (e.g. hunting licence, business licence, etc.)

☐  Passport:  Did you know that you don’t have to inform anybody official to change the address on your passport?  Passport Canada says:  “A change of address does not invalidate a passport. Please cross out the old address on page 4 and write the new one in the space above the old address. Do not use correction fluid. If the space in the passport is insufficient, write the new information on a separate piece of paper and insert it into the passport.”

Utilities & Home Services

☐  Electric

☐  Gas

☐  Water

☐  Garbage, recycling

☐  Telephone / Mobile

☐  Cable, satellite

☐  Internet

☐  Newspaper delivery

☐  Water delivery / Water treatment

☐  Housecleaning services

☐  Lawn / Garden services

☐  Pool services

☐  Snow removal services

☐  Alarm or security company

Health Care & Personal Services

☐  Doctors / Health clinics

☐  Dentist, orthodontist, etc.

☐  Chiropractor, physical therapist, massage therapist, personal trainer, etc.

☐  Optometrist, optician, etc.

☐  Pharmacy

☐  Babysitter, day care

☐  Diaper service

☐  Barber / Hairstylist

☐  Veterinarian, pet care providers (kennels, groomers, etc.) (Tip: Get vet to check that the address attached to your pet’s microchip is up-to-date)

Financial & Legal

☐  Accountant

☐  Banks (transfer accounts to a branch near your new home, order new cheques, re-direct automatic deposits and payments)

☐  Lenders and loan companies (mortgage, auto, student loan, home equity)

☐  Credit card companies, department store credit card companies (Tip:  Put a “travel notification” on your credit cards when leaving home, especially if moving across country or out of the country.)

☐  Financial advisor, investment firms, broker

☐  Retirement plan holders

☐  Insurance companies (home, life, health, auto.  Tip: Check on your property insurance coverage for the time your possessions are on the move)

☐  Lawyer

Employment & Education

☐  Old employers

☐  New employers

☐  Alumni associations

☐  Your children’s schools, colleges, private lessons or extracurricular activities (sports, scouting, etc.)

☐  Public library, if you are a member

Clubs & Organizations

☐  Social

☐  Athletic (gym memberships)

☐  Religious (churches)

☐  Civic & political (community associations, political parties)

☐  Business & professional

Subscriptions

☐  Magazines, newspapers

☐  Mail order houses, catalogues

☐  Book, music clubs

☐  Loyalty programs (AirMiles, etc.)

☐  Charities

☐  Memberships with benefit plans (such as AMA/CAA, CARP, etc.)

☐  Museums, theaters, etc. (seasons tickets)

☐  Holders of warranties (auto, home equipment, etc.)

 

And of course, don’t forget to pass on your new address to family and friendsTip:  Give a neighbor or your landlord a printed card with your new address so they can forward information and mail on to you.

TipIn the months leading up to your move, keep track of who sends you mail regularly and collect any change of address forms that come with your subscriptions.  You can then customize your own change of address list.

Tip:  You probably know already that if you are moving to study or work, many things may be tax deductible such as:  fees for the sale of your house (real estate agents’ commissions), lawyers’ fees for the purchase of your new house, mortgage penalty fees for selling your house before the end of the mortgage term, cancellation fees for ending the lease prematurely at your rented residence, moving fees or storage fees, subsistence fees (meals and lodging) near your former or new residence, etc.  Check with your accountant or income tax preparer.

The above works for your physical address, but what about your online presence?

  • Change the postal code or city you’ve programmed into web-based services you subscribe to, such as weather reports, local news reports, coupon services like Groupon and the like.
  • Once you’ve settled into your new home, let your online correspondents know you’ve arrived by posting a quick Facebook or Twitter message, or sending out a short email.
  • If you’ll be changing your email address, keep track of who sends you emails so that you can pass on your new one.

Need more help with moving?  Check out my Moving Guide for a detailed checklist of everything you need to do.

I welcome your comments and questions!  Call or text me at 780-910-9669, email me at barry@barryt.ca or contact me here.

6 Steps to a Successful Reno

Wednesday, January 15th, 2014

6 Steps to a Successful Reno | Spruce Grove Stony Plain Parkland County Real Estate | Barry TwynamThe brutal winter we’ve been experiencing in Spruce Grove, Stony Plain, Parkland County, the Edmonton region and elsewhere in Canada has us pining for spring.  That may lead to thoughts of sprucing up our homes either to improve our living situation or to get our property ready to sell.

Whether your remodeling project is big or small, whether you do it yourself or hire out the work, every reno project has certain phases that must be completed in detail to ensure the job is done right.  We’ve all heard the stories about disastrous renovation projects.  Chances are good those projects failed because some vital step was missed or skipped over.

Step One:  Get Inspired

You may have been dreaming about the final result of your project for a while.  Now is the time to get those ideas out of your head and into a more concrete form.  Jot down a general outline of what the finished product will be.  Gather photos (or swatches, paint chips, etc.) from everywhere – magazines, advertising flyers and brochures, the Internet, your own photos from store displays or homes you’ve visited – that represent what you have in mind.  Pinterest is a great tool for collecting and organizing items you’ve found online.

Step Two:  Design the Details

Fill in the outline you created in Step One with every detail you can think of to turn the dream into reality.  Let’s say your project is to repaint three bedrooms in your home, replace the flooring and the baseboards.  What must be done to make this happen?  Your list might include things like which room will be tackled first, moving out all the furniture, choosing paint and flooring brand, type and color, researching costs, purchasing the paint and painting supplies, possibly researching and hiring painters, installers and so on.  Note that we are still very much in the thinking and planning stages, not doing!

Step Three:  Gather Specific Information

Now you are going to do some of the things on the list you created in Step Two.  Research products, especially quality, sources and costs, online, in stores, and by talking to people who have had experience with the project you are planning (friends, neighbors, contractors, etc.)  Write everything down!  Now is also when you will make some decisions about who will do the actual work.  If you decide the project is beyond your skill or capability, you will need to research, talk to and get estimates from reliable contractors.  Does your project require special building permits or inspections, permission from your insurance company and the like?

Step Four:  Set a Budget

With all the information you’ve obtained from your research, a fairly accurate estimate of costs is now possible, and that may lead to some hard decisions.  Have you considered needs vs. wants?  How will you pay for the project; that is, do you have the money in the bank, or can you finance the project over a period of time?  Have you compared prices and talked at length with suppliers, contractors and the like to get the very best deal?  Write down in detail the estimated costs – and then build in a cushion of 10 to 25%!

Remember that your budget should also reflect the time the project will take to complete, and build in a realistic cushion here too.  Renovations are notoriously stressful because they do take time, and they do cause disruption in a household.  Now is the time to think everything through and consider exactly how you will cope.  By the way, be sure to contact your insurance company and let them in on your plans.

Step Five:  Get ‘er Done

The person who said “measure twice, cut once” knew that careful consideration and planning, working through every detail and eventuality, preparing for every possibility should result in a great conclusion to your renovation.  Organize your information and details into a systematic step by step format of what needs to be done, when and by whom, refining the lists you’ve been creating in all the previous steps.  Work from these lists and timelines, and check things off as things are completed.  Does this mean your project will be without hiccups?  Maybe not, but you’ll have far fewer of them if you’ve worked through the first four steps above as thoroughly and carefully as possible.

Step Six:  Evaluate the Results

The reno is complete and now all you have to do is sit back and enjoy the end product.  Right?  Not quite.  Make sure you add new items in your home to your home inventory.  Take photos or videos.  Let your insurance company know what’s new in your home.  Add the records, bills, warranties and so on to your home file for things such as home appraisals, taxes, resale purposes, etc.  And finally, pat yourself on the back for a job well done!

Ready to put your freshly renovated home on the market?  Call or text me at 780-910-9669, email me at barry@barryt.ca, or contact me here.

Should I Buy a Generator?

Wednesday, January 8th, 2014
Should I Buy a Generator? | Spruce Grove Stony Plain Parkland County Real Estate | Barry Twynam

CC Photo supplied by Falls Avenue Vintage Fashion

Residents of Spruce Grove, Stony Plain, Parkland County and the Edmonton area shuddered in horror during the last two weeks of December 2013 as ice storms in eastern Canada caused power outages that left people shivering in the dark, not for hours, but for days.  No power meant no heat, no lights, no way to keep food from spoiling, in many cases no water and no way to cook food.  Many of us started thinking about our own dependence on the electric power grid and what we could do if faced with such a disaster.

One solution might be a backup generator run by diesel, gasoline, propane or natural gas that could at least provide power to essential appliances such as furnace, refrigerator, stove or microwave, and the like.  What do you need to know before you purchase one and attempt to install it on your property?

What size do I need?

When it comes to generators, especially those that can run multiple appliances, bigger is better.  Experts suggest anything smaller than 4500 to 6000 watts just won’t get the job done.

First, determine what items you want to run.  Be aware that a generator is not intended to run every electrical appliance in your home and certainly not at the same time, so some choices will need to be made.  Most people would put things like the furnace, fridge, freezer and stove at the top of their lists.  Add your hot water tank if it is electric, and anything else that would cause undue hardship if you had to live without it for a few days.

You need to know how many watts of power are required to run your chosen items, but even more important is the “start-up wattage” – how much power is required when the item is turned on.  For example, a refrigerator might need 800 watts to run, but 2500 watts to start.  A good chart listing the wattages for selected home appliances is published by Plano Power Equipment.  Many appliances in your home should also have this information printed on them.

Add up the amount of wattage needed for all the items you want to run (don’t forget the lights!), and add 25% more to account for error and also to keep the generator running below its maximum capacity.

Remember too that most of these machines, like your vehicle or lawnmower, run on fuel in tanks that have to be re-filled!  Average continuous running time is about 5 to 7 hours.

How do I manage the power?

One thing to remember:  Turn something OFF before you turn something else ON!

A very good article called “Power On” published by GulfCoastNews.com has some great tips for choosing, operating and installing a portable generator.

The author of this article recommends turning on the refrigerator and freezer first, then a few lights and other low-wattage appliances.  Once everything in the freezer is frozen, unplugging it for a while won’t hurt the contents and you can then run other appliances and equipment.

So, can I just plug in the generator?

Uh, no.  What you’re going to need is a “transfer switch”.  The “Power On” article defines a transfer switch as “a manual three-position switching device that allows power to be channeled to the home’s electrical system either from the utility company power lines or from the generator – not both”.   Why is this important?  “Plugging a generator directly into a wall socket instead of utilizing a transfer switch sets up several potentially deadly scenarios: a short-circuit and electrical fire in the home’s wiring when power is restored; a system short-circuit in the generator causing it to catch fire or explode when power is restored; and the possible electrocution of linemen working to restore power in your area.”  Yikes!

Here’s a good idea, from the same article:  “If you are building a new home [or renovating], consider having the contractor install a sub-panel that is already set up for stand-by power. This saves you money because there’s usually no additional installation labor costs and the generator-ready panel eliminates the need for an additional transfer switch box.”

See also “Portable Generator Safety” from FortisAlberta.

How do I go about installing my portable or stand-by generator?

Take a look at this video called “How to Install a Stand-by Generator” from ThisOldHouse.com.  A little more complicated than buying the thing, bringing it home and turning it on, but chances are, if you ever have to deal with what the poor folks in eastern Canada did, you’ll be very glad you made the effort!

OK, I’m sold!  What do I buy and how much will it cost?

Home Depot has a good article on generators on their website, along with links to information on the generators they sell.     Check out also this page from ConsumerReports.org.   If you are a subscriber, you will be able to access the Consumer Reports ratings on generators.

Personal opinion?  If you’re going to do this, go for the best.  For example, Honda’s Premium series of generators (5000 to 6000 watts) cost in the range of $3000.  (View the spec sheets from Scona Cycle.)  Add in roughly another $750 for installing the transfer switch and incidentals and you will be good to go even if the Edmonton area gets hit with a 2-week-long power outage like Ontario’s.

Comments or questions about this article?  Call or text me at 780-910-9669, email me at barry@barryt.ca, or contact me here.

Shedding a Different Light

Friday, January 3rd, 2014

Shedding a Different Light | Spruce Grove Stony Plain Parkland County Real Estate | Barry TwynamHow many incandescent light bulbs are in your home in Spruce Grove, Stony Plain, Parkland County or the Edmonton area?  This isn’t an idle question, or the beginning of a dumb joke, although the ban on incandescent bulbs that went into effect in Canada on January 1, 2014 may seem like a bad joke to some.

In case you missed it, as of January 1, old-fashioned light bulbs in their 75- and 100-watt formats are history in Canada.  You can still buy them until the old stock runs out but no more will be manufactured.  By the end of 2014 the ban will be extended to include the 40- and 60-watt versions.

There are plenty of people who are unhappy about this.  They point out that the incandescent bulb provides a soft warm dimmable light that alternatives such as compact fluorescent lights (CFLs) and LEDs can’t match.  They also note that CFLs and especially LEDs are much more expensive to buy.  And CFLs, because they contain mercury, must be disposed of in special facilities, a fact that many people using them may not be aware of.  In addition, CFLs may not work in temperatures less than minus 10 degrees Celsius.  Their lifespan can be significantly reduced if they are turned on and off rapidly, and they have a rare but nasty habit of catching on fire or smoking.

So why the ban on incandescent bulbs?  It’s all about saving the environment.  “In Canada alone, the federal government estimates that CFLs can reduce greenhouse gas emissions by more than six million tonnes a year, or the equivalent of retiring 1.4 million vehicles. In Germany, the switch to energy-efficient bulbs will save the equivalent capacity of three nuclear reactors.”  (From an article in The Globe and Mail, Dec 27, 2012, entitled “The death of the incandescent light bulb”)

***Check out this great chart comparing the costs, energy efficiencies, environmental impact, advantages and disadvantages of incandescent bulbs vs. CFLs vs. LEDs. ***

More light facts:

  • Roughly 90% of the energy used to operate an incandescent bulb dissipates as heat rather than being used to provide light.  (Chicken farmers note that this is actually an advantage in the spring when they are raising baby chicks in a chilly chicken coop!)
  • The average life of an incandescent bulb is about 750 to 1000 hours, compared to 6,000 to 15,000 hours for a CFL (“Incandescent light bulb ban starts Jan. 1”)
  • Cost to buy:  incandescent bulbs 60 to 80 cents apiece; halogen bulbs around $2 each; CFLs $2.50 to $4; LEDs about $20 per bulb.  (The possibility exists that prices for the newer bulbs, especially LEDs, will decrease once incandescent bulbs are no longer being manufactured.)
  • Some incandescent bulbs will be exempt from the ban.  These include lights such as those in ovens and refrigerators that can’t be replaced with alternatives.
  • Manufacturers are working on improving the quality of the light in energy-efficient  bulbs.  “Light-emitting diodes, or LEDs, are the next big thing; global lighting company Osram Sylvania, for one, believes it has a winner with its “Ultra LED,” an omnidirectional mercury-free bulb that aims to give all the warmth of a 100-watt incandescent bulb while using just 20 watts of electricity.”  (“The death of the incandescent light bulb”, The Globe and Mail)

Maybe you’ve already made a trip to your local hardware store to buy up remaining stocks of incandescent bulbs, or maybe you’ve decided to give in to the inevitable.  At least we can still buy candles if we want soft warm light with a bit of heat!

What do you think of the ban on incandescent bulbs?  Have you already replaced all your bulbs with the energy-efficient ones?  Your comments and questions are always welcome.  Call or text me at 780-910-9669, email me at barry@barryt.ca, or contact me here.

 

Barry Twynam, Realty Executives Leading
#1 14 McLeod Avenue, Spruce Grove, Alberta, T7X 3X3
Tel: 780-962-9696 Cell: 780-910-9669 Fax: 780-962-9699
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