Posts Tagged ‘Home Renovations’

The Pros and Cons of Property Flipping: Find Out If It Is For You

Friday, December 12th, 2014

The Pros and Cons of Property Flipping: Find out if It is for You | Spruce Grove Stony Plain Parkland County Real Estate | Barry TwynamIf you’re looking to complete a property flipping project in one of Alberta’s sought-after neighbourhoods like Spruce Grove, Stony Plain, Parkland County, or the Edmonton region, you’re in for a fun and rewarding experience. Just as it is a fun hobby to some or a means of added income for others, property flipping can also be a business or main source of income for many people who are well versed with real estate and renovations. There are a variety of reasons why you might want to flip a piece of Parkland County real estate or one of the many Edmonton acreages available for purchase. Before you start, though, it’s important that you understand what you’re getting into. If you’re looking to flip a piece of Edmonton real estate, consider these advantages and disadvantages before committing to the project.

Pro: Great Financial Gain

Of course, the number one advantage of property flipping is the financial gain that so many people achieve. Many people have amassed significant wealth with a simple property purchase, renovation, and sale at the right place and the right time. A major part of their success involved having a solid understanding of the trends in the real estate market. If you can buy and sell at the right time, you could earn a lot of money simply by flipping a property.

Con: Relatively High Risk

One major disadvantage when it comes to property flipping is the relatively high risk involved. In order to profit from a property flip, you will need to buy low, invest into the property, and sell high. This means leveraging changes in the market – knowing when prices will drop and when they will rise. Either buying or selling at the wrong time will greatly reduce your property’s value – and if you happen to both buy at a poor time and sell at a poor time, you could find that your newly renovated property is worth less than it was worth when you purchased it.

Pro: A Fun Project

Many property flippers who thoroughly enjoy the project have a keen sense of interior design or a good grasp of home renovations and improvement, or both. Having a passion for design and renovation will certainly help to make property flipping a fun and rewarding experience. This is especially true for home flippers who are able to undertake certain home renovation or decorating projects themselves, without having to involve too many contractors. First and foremost, your property flip should be a labour of love.

Con: A Big Mess

For those who don’t have an understanding of home renovations, especially for those hiring contractors for the first time, it is common to find yourself in a big mess – both literally and figuratively – when it comes to renovating the home in preparation for its sale. When dealing with contractors, it’s very common for things to run behind schedule or for fees to go well above what was initially quoted. A property flip is a major project with all sorts of intricate details, and there are a thousand different things that could go very, very wrong. If you’re not prepared to take that risk and deal with the fallout, you will neither enjoy nor profit from a house flip.

If you are interested in undertaking a project with a piece of Spruce Grove real estate, Stony Plain real estate, or Parkland County acreages, you can find immediate financial benefits as well as longer term financial gains in each of these areas. Most importantly, it’s crucial to understand your own qualifications and knowledge when it comes to property flipping, and to be able to assess your ability to deal with challenges that will arise when you flip a property.

For a better understanding of what’s involved in property flipping, I’m always happy to answer your questions. Feel free to call or text me at 780-910-9669, email me at barry@barryt.ca, or contact me here.

Smartphone Apps for DIYers 2.0

Friday, December 5th, 2014

Smartphone Apps for DIYers 2.0 | Spruce Grove Stony Plain Parkland County Real Estate | Barry TwynamWay back in June 2011 I posted a blog article about smartphone apps for do-it-yourself home owners in Spruce Grove, Stony Plain, Parkland County and the Edmonton region.  Three and a half years are a lifetime in tech terms but surprisingly, most of the apps I described in the article are not only still available but are even better than before.

Everybody who has a smartphone knows there are 1000s of apps out there for every possible topic. Where to find the best ones for DIYers? Start with LifeHacker’s article How to Make Your Smartphone the Most Important Tool in Your Toolbox. Then, take a look at these great articles that review the latest and greatest apps.

Home Improvement

Better Homes & Gardens: Don’t DIY Without These 9 Apps
Bob Vila: 5 Top Tool Apps for Your iPhone
Popular Mechanics: The 10 Best Apps for DIYers
Tom’s Guide: 10 Best Home Improvement and DIY Apps
Top 13 Best Android Apps for DIY Projects and Home Remodel Repair

Home Décor

Chatelaine: Six Must-have Smartphone Apps for Home Decorating and Renos
Huffington Post: 21 iPhone, iPad and Android Apps for Decorating, Home Repair, DIY and Crafts
Remodelista: The 12 Best Apps for Remodelers

Gardening and Landscaping

Best Android Apps for Gardening and Landscaping
Best Landscape Design Apps – iPad, iPhone & Android
The Dirt Farmer: 20 Smartphone Apps for the Plant Lover
NY Times: 20 Smartphone Apps for the Home and Garden
Top 5 Gardening and Landscaping iPhone Apps

Let me know what you think of these apps. Better yet, let me know if you find a great app that isn’t on any of these lists and I’ll happily share it with everybody else! Call or text me at 780-910-9669, email me at barry@barryt.ca, or contact me here.

Five Tips to Keep in Mind when Replacing the Windows on Your Edmonton-Area House or Condo

Friday, July 25th, 2014

Five Tips to Keep in Mind When Replacing the Windows | Spruce Grove Stony Plain Parkland County Real Estate | Barry TwynamAfter the purchase of a house in Spruce Grove, Parkland County, Stony Plain and the entire Edmonton region, there could be, for one reason or the other, the need to replace its windows. It is always advisable to keep in mind the tips below when replacing windows.

Decide Whether Or Not the Process Will Be Done By a Professional

The success of any window replacement project depends on the type of window chosen and the quality of workmanship used during the replacement. A buyer can use metallic or wooden windows for replacement. Using a reputable installation company gives the owner an assurance of getting quality services. It is advisable to use a company that offers a warranty on parts and labour in addition to the products themselves. If you as a homeowner plan to replace the window yourself, be absolutely sure that you’re capable of the task before attempting it.

Consider the Amount of Time That The New Windows Should Serve

Where a replacement is meant to increase the house value during resale, the priorities may be different than for those who simply want to fix cracked or chipped glass. Energy saving, ease of maintenance and beauty are the most common upgrade considerations. With vinyl windows, homeowners can get back about 71 percent of their investment. Where this replacement is for the owner’s benefit, it’s important to consider warranties and repairs, quality and durability, design and appearance, ordering and installation, price, and energy efficiency. In short: the price of the window itself isn’t the total cost.

Narrow Your Options on Warranties

Whether the warranty covers broken seals and air leaks, or labour and glass breakage, it is advisable to determine how long this coverage will last. Get these warranties from a reputable company and determine the course of action should this company go out of business. The company has to carry liability insurance and must be licensed to work within the locality of the house. Most importantly, ascertain whether or not these warranties are transferable to the next homeowner.

Carry Out Proper Prior Preparation

It is important to prepare before the replacement process begins. Apart from being sure of the cost, it’s advisable that homeowners remove blinds and curtains from these windows. They should also alert their alarm company and create enough working space around the windows to ensure that the process is done efficiently and fast.

Try To Make the Entire Process Fun

The project will only be fun if the result will bring comfort, a sense of security and beauty. Decisions about the price and energy efficiency should be made with everyone’s comfort in mind.

These tips will also be applicable to anyone with Parkland County acreages, as well as Edmonton acreages. Several years after construction, there may be a need to replace windows; hopefully, the above tips are useful.

Comments or questions are always welcome.  Call or text me at 780-910-9669, email me at barry@barryt.ca, or contact me here.

 

Three Home Automation Technologies That Will Increase the Resale Value of Your Edmonton Area House

Friday, June 20th, 2014

Three Home Automation Technologies That Will Increase the Resale Value of Your Edmonton Area House | Spruce Grove Stony Plain Parkland County Real Estate | Barry TwynamIf you’re in the process of listing your Spruce Grove real estate, Parkland County real estate, Stony Plain real estate or other Edmonton real estate for sale, it is important to make property improvements that buyers are looking for and that will increase resale value. There is nothing worse than making a home modification or a property upgrade that will not offer you any return on your investment in the form of a larger offer. Some of the more popular upgrades to consider when you want a return involve modern home automation. Here are three home automation technologies that will bring your home into the 21st century while attracting buyers.

Appeal to a Buyer’s Desire for Safety with a Home Automation Security System

Home buyers who are looking to buy highly valued Parkland County acreages or other Edmonton acreages want to know that they will be safe and secure on their property. When you are selling a property, it is all about appealing to the buyer’s emotions, and all buyers want comfort and safety. The first home automation system all sellers should consider installing in their home is a security system. With the right home automation monitoring equipment, including alarms and security cameras, you can give all buyers setting foot on the property a feeling of relief as you show them how you can control, arm, disarm and view the property from a remote device installed with the home automation app.

More Dramatic and Efficient Lighting Systems

Selling your home or your acreage is all about making that first impression. Not only does your property need curb appeal, it needs to appeal to the growing market of energy efficient buyers that exists today. Home automation lighting systems are becoming the new craze, and these systems will offer you a return in two very different ways. The dramatic lighting dimming effects that you can dress your home with will set a mood to capture attention, and the energy efficient qualities of the system will reinforce just how great the home automation technology is.

Decluttering The Property With Whole Home Entertainment

More and more households are ditching the wires and the clutter of electronics and remote controls that once lined cabinets and cluttered tabletops. Cables have become eyesores and speakers needed in every room have become an unnecessary expense. If you are targeting a tech-savvy buyer who wants a whole-home automation entertainment system that allows them to ditch the wires and all of those remotes, this is a technology to add to your home. The speakers will be hidden in your ceiling, screens will be cleverly mounted, and buyers will pay attention to your tech-savvy listing.

Every seller wants to set a sales record and get the best offer on their home. To make this happen, you need to choose to invest in upgrades and updates that will bring your dated property into the 21st century while still ensuring it has character.

If you need help deciding which updates are best, I am always willing to help answer any home-related questions that you might have.  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.

Your Pet-Friendly Home

Friday, July 19th, 2013

Your Pet-Friendly Home | Spruce Grove Stony Plain Parkland County Real Estate | Barry TwynamIs there a dog or cat living in your Spruce Grove, Stony Plain, Parkland County or Edmonton area home?  According to a 2008 Ipsos-Reid survey as reported in the Canadian Veterinary Journal, roughly 56% of Canadian households have a dog or a cat as a pet.

Animals make their presence known in your home, and not in a good way, through scratches on walls, floors and furniture, stains on carpets, dander and allergens in the air, and various unsavory odors.  But there are ways to keep your house in good shape and all residents happy with a few smart and relatively inexpensive adjustments.  The most important advice is to choose the right materials and work with your animal’s natural instincts and needs.

Keep it clean!  Home and pet, that is.

  • First, vacuum often.  It’s a basic fact of life that dogs and cats shed.  Invest in a decent vacuum cleaner, preferably with HEPA filter, and plan on going over carpets and upholstery about twice a week or more.
  • Reduce the amount of clutter in your rooms.  Each object you remove from a room means one less object that gets covered in dust, dander and pet hair.
  • An item that is well worth the cost is a HEPA furnace filter which removes huge quantities of dust, dander and allergens from the air.
  • Use enzyme cleaners such as Nature’s Miracle Stain and Odour Remover when dealing with pet messes.
  • You might also want to purchase some special furniture covers designed with pets in mind.  (See these Pet Protector Covers available from Sears Canada).  Easier to wash these than to shampoo the furniture.
  • Keep your pet clean and well-groomed.  This means regular brushing, nail-clipping, bathing and the like.  If you can remove some of the hair and the oil and dirt it holds before it ends up on your floors and furniture, your house will be cleaner.  Trimmed nails are less likely to scratch floors or snag upholstery. 

It’s the nature of the beast!  Work with your pets’ natural inclinations to mold their behavior to what’s acceptable.  Your dog, for example, wants to please you so will tell you when he wants out and will also adapt readily to his own bed or crate.  Supply a clean litter box and a scratching post for your cat and watch her take to them.  If you find your animal jumping on the couch to look out the window, consider moving that couch away from the window and possibly installing a platform that bolts to the window sill to accommodate your pet’s preference.

Choose the right fabrics.  If you have pets, you already know to stay away from silk and velvet.  If you’re shopping for new furniture, consider something like Crypton or UltraSuede, which are wonderfully stain-resistant and durable.  Leather will scratch, but it is easy to clean and long-lasting.  Forget the dry-clean-only bedding and opt for washable everything because you know your pet will end up on your bed at some point.

Get rid of fabric altogether, where you can.  Replace draperies with wood blinds, for example.

Choose the right flooring.  Carpet and pets are a bad combination.  Carpet soaks up “accidents”, absorbs odors, and traps hair and dander – yuck!  If possible, consider replacing wall-to-wall carpeting in your home with any of the variety of hard-surface flooring on the market today, and bonus! these choices are very fashionable at the moment.  The best option for a pet-proof home is ceramic tile because it’s pretty much impervious to anything your pet can do!  Other easy to clean and durable alternatives include painted concrete, brick, high-end linoleum, or hardwood (but be aware that big dogs can scratch wood).

Neutrals work best.  Dramatic color schemes will show dirt, hair, and wear and tear more than colors such as gray, taupe and cream.  Luckily, neutrals are in style now for everything from paint on the walls to furniture, carpets and counter tops.  If you’re planning to re-paint, remember to choose a washable satin finish, and look for low or no-VOC (volatile organic compounds) paints.  Both you and your pet will benefit from not breathing toxic fumes.

Consider some of these specialty products and home renovations:

  • Disguised litter box, partially covered and resembling furniture.  Keep the odor down by placing in a well-ventilated area if you can, and by cleaning it frequently.  The litter box might even be located in a separate room, such as a garage or utility space, with access through a secret cat door hidden inside a cabinet.
  • Built-in bench with removable cover next to an outside door:  Provides convenient seating for people to put on and remove shoes, and the inside provides storage for pet toys, balls, leashes, etc.
  • Indoor pet retreat or special mudroom could be a corner or even a whole room located by an outside back door.  Automatic feeders and drinking fountains and even doggy showers are often features of these spaces.  Some have lockable exterior access doors designed for your pet to go inside and out.  Most have specialty storage for all pet-related items such as food, chew toys, towels, etc.
  • Heated floors.  Good for animals and people!
  • Cat ramps are a series of shelves resembling stairs running up a wall to just below the ceiling where they meet a longer shelf where cats can run or recline.
  • Portable pet stairs to help small animals access furniture.
  • A doggy overlook is a square opening on the second floor allowing your dog to stick his head through to keep watch on his owners below.
  • Outdoor dog and cat runs.
  • For more ideas like these, see my Pinterest board “Pets and Your Home”.

What special things do you do in your home to accommodate your pets while keeping your home clean and stylish?  I’d love to hear from you.  Call or text me at 780-910-9669, email me at barry@barryt.ca, or contact me here.

 

Aging in Place

Thursday, April 25th, 2013

If the phrase “aging in place” is new to you, it probably won’t be for long!  I predict in the next few years, we’ll be hearing this phrase a lot.  How does it apply to those of us living in the Spruce Grove, Stony Plain, Parkland County and Edmonton areas of Alberta?   

Aging in place means stayinAging in Place | Spruce Grove Stony Plain Parkland County Real Estate | Barry Twynamg in our homes as we get older, and adapting the home to meet our needs as we age.  For most of us, aging will bring about certain predictable physical changes, such as diminished eyesight and hearing or decreased mobility.  Some people will elect to move to accommodate these changes, whether to a one-level apartment-style condo or to some kind of retirement lodging.  But most of us want to stay in the familiar surroundings of our well-loved homes as long as we possibly can.  And that may mean renovating our homes to make them as functional as possible.  Other terms often used for homes that have been modified to accommodate special needs are “universal design” and “barrier-free  homes”. 

Many of the features of a typical modern home (such as an open floor plan, especially one where the main living areas – kitchen, living room, master suite, laundry room – are on the main floor) work well with the concept of aging in place.  Other features, such as hardwood flooring instead of wall-to-wall carpeting, and venetian blinds instead of draperies, are less successful.  Those hard surfaces often don’t help a home’s acoustics, and a hard and slippery floor can be treacherous for people who are unsteady on their feet. 

When we think about accommodations for seniors, things such as grab bars in the bathroom, walk-in bathtubs, stair lifts or even elevators may come to mind.  But there are many other simpler and cheaper changes that can have a huge effect on our comfort and safety.    

Eyesight and Lighting.  Adding more lamps and upping the wattage of light bulbs throughout one’s home can make a big difference in improving visual perception.  The most important areas needing better lighting are hallways and stairs.  Consider also changing the contrast between light and dark areas in a room in order to make things easier to see.  A monochromatic bathroom may be artistically beautiful, but if there isn’t a clear demarcation between the white tub and the light-colored floor, someone might have trouble judging where one ends and the other begins, resulting in a nasty fall.   

Furniture.  Consider replacing hard-edged glass coffee tables with dual-purpose softer-edged ottomans.  Consider also replacing squishy upholstered pieces with those that provide more support, making them easier to get into and out of.  Rearrange furniture so that there is plenty of room to maneuver around individual pieces (especially if wheelchairs and walkers will be used), but also place furniture in such a way that people will be sitting closer together and/or directly facing each other to aid hearing. 

FlooringCarpet is easy to walk on and safer if falling may be an issue.  But carpet may not be the best choice if walkers or wheelchairs will be used.  The best multi-purpose flooring may be non-slip tile throughout the home.  If tripping isn’t a concern, area rugs can add soft support as well as visual interest and contrast between dark and light.  Just be sure that the edges are well taped down. 

Monitoring and Assistance.  If you live alone, you probably have a support network of people to call in an emergency and you no doubt have a telephone or cell phone in easy reach at all times.  You may have an arrangement with family, friends or neighbors to check on you each day.  Perhaps you’ve considered a service such as Lifeline that connects you to 24-hour emergency monitoring via a bracelet or necklace style communicator.  While none of these things relate directly to home modifications, all of them contribute to keeping you in your home. 

The website SeniorResource.com contains a wealth of information about aging in place.  Particularly helpful is a Home Assessment chart that matches home modifications with a specific physical infirmity.  Most of the suggestions below are from that chart: 

Limited vision:

  • Edge of counters a different color than the top
  • Edge of each step is a color that stands out
  • Contrast colors between floor and walls
  • Stairs are well-lit
  • Increased wattage of light bulbs
  • Lights in all closets
  • Outside walkways and entrances are all well-lit
  • Stove controls clearly marked and easy to see
  • Stove has big numbers that can be seen from across the room
  • Stove uses different colors to tell which parts are hot
  • Under-cabinet lighting over kitchen counter

Hearing impairment:

  • Increased volume on phones
  • Smoke detectors have strobe lights
  • Furniture arranged to facilitate hearing
  • Soft surfaces to improve acoustics
  • Ultra-quiet dishwasher to reduce background noise

Balance and coordination problems:

  • Bath seat in tub or shower, or walk-in shower with pull-down seat
  • Bath tub with transfer bench
  • Temperature controlled shower and tub fixtures
  • Rounded counter edges
  • Grab bars near bath and toilet
  • Handrails extend beyond top and bottom of stairs
  • Stairway handrails on both sides
  • No stairs to bedroom or bathroom
  • Phone in bathroom

Limited reach:

  • Hand-held shower in bathroom
  • Electrical outlets are 27” above floor
  • Light switches at 42” instead of 48”
  • Cabinet shelves no more than 10” deep
  • Closet organizer or Lazy Susan to reach belongings
  • Closet rods pull down to comfortable level
  • Kitchen and closets have pull-down or pull-out shelving
  • Upper kitchen cabinets 48” from floor
  • Cook top has easy-to-reach controls at front
  • Microwave oven no higher than 48” above floor
  • Oven doors swing to the side
  • Side-by-side refrigerator
  • Lowered kitchen counter tops
  • Sink controls on the side
  • Front-loading washer and dryer

Poor hand and arm strength:

  • Automatic garage door opener
  • Easy to open and lock doors and screens
  • Cabinets and drawers have D-shape handles
  • Doors have lever handles
  • Counter tops smooth so heavy pans can slide across them
  • Heat resistant counter near microwave oven
  • Push button controls on appliances
  • Garbage disposal or trash compactor to reduce trash
  • Rocker light switches
  • Sinks with lever faucet handles
  • Special hardware to make drawers slide easily
  • Spray hose to fill pots on the stove
  • Dishwasher 8” from floor

Trouble bending:

  • Elevated toilet or toilet seat
  • Lower kitchen cabinets 6” above floor
  • Sink no more than 6” deep
  • Carpet is low pile and firm pad
  • Clutter and electric cords are out of pathways
  • Counter top that can be used while sitting
  • Doors are wide enough for a walker to get through

Trouble walking and climbing stairs:

  • Driveway smooth but not slippery
  • Floors are smooth and slip-resistant
  • Knee space under sinks; can sit while washing
  • Knee space under stove; can sit while cooking
  • No area rugs
  • Ramp to front door with handrails on both sides
  • Stairs have slip-resistant surface
  • Thresholds on entry doors no higher than ¼ inch.

Uses wheelchair:

  • Peep hole at low  height
  • Lower window sills especially for windows on the street
  • Hallways, doorways and closets wide enough for wheelchair.  Doorways 36″ wide with off-set hinges on doors
  • Appliances have controls at the front
  • Can use counters, sinks, stove top while sitting
  • Can wheel from car to front door and then inside; no steps
  • Ramp to front door with landings at top and bottom
  • Can wheel to bedroom, bathroom, kitchen
  • Pathways clutter-free
  • Enough floor space near doors to move wheelchair
  • Roll-in shower with multiple showerheads and/or way to transfer to tub
  • Space to transfer from wheelchair to toilet
  • See all above sections 

If you decide to remodel your current home, remember that you probably won’t have to make all of the modifications listed here.  Instead, focus on those of most benefit to your individual situation and make other changes as the need arises.  

Other resources:

See also this article by Mike Holmes:  “Renovate now so that you can live well later“.

Are you looking for a “universal design” home that will allow you to age in place?  I would be happy to help you find such a home!  Call or text me at 780-910-9669, email me at barry@barryt.ca, or contact me here.

 

 

Carpet or Hardwood?

Monday, April 8th, 2013

Carpet or Hardwood? | Spruce Grove Stony Plain Parkland County Real Estate | Barry TwynamIf you are thinking of replacing the flooring in your Spruce Grove, Stony Plain, Parkland County or Edmonton area home, you’re not alone!  Should you make the leap from your old wall-to-wall broadloom to the currently popular hardwood?  Should you replace all the carpeting or keep some in selected areas of your home?  Here are some points that might help you decide.

 

Carpet Pros

  • Warm, comfortable and insulating
  • Sound-absorbing (might therefore be a better choice in high-density living situations such as condos and the like)
  • Easier on the feet
  • Often less expensive to purchase, and easier, faster and cheaper to install
  • Can be installed anywhere in the home.
  • Many choices in colors, textures, fabrics

 Carpet Cons

  • Feels “dated” to many people.  Home buyers today are looking for modern finishing.
  • Carpet is seen as negative to indoor air quality.  Even frequent vacuuming doesn’t remove dust, dander, allergens. 
  • Professional carpet cleaning and shampooing can be expensive and disruptive.
  • Standard life is about 12 years before replacement needed.
  • Generally less accessible for wheelchairs and walkers, if aging in place or disabled family members are a consideration.

Hardwood Pros

  • Hard-surface flooring is currently popular and trendy.  Current thinking is that hardwood adds character and value to a home.  Seen as better for re-sale. 
  • Good for the planet:  wood is natural, sustainable, renewable.
  • When properly chosen, installed and maintained, will last a lifetime
  • Easily cleaned and maintained with vacuum and dust mop.  With felt protectors on the bottom of furniture pieces, easy for one person to move furniture for cleaning.
  • Excellent for those with allergies
  • Versatile decorative option; goes with everything.
  • Can be used “as is” or with an area rug on top to change the decorating or to add warmth and sound-absorption
  • Future flexibility: easy to install carpet or tile on top of hardwood (although why on earth would you?!)

Hardwood Cons

  • Noisy; not sound-deadening like carpet so sounds may echo.
  • Chilly on the feet, especially in winter.
  • New finishes do make hardwood more resistant to damage but not indestructible.  Care will still be required to prevent damage from dropped and dragged items, as well as from spilled liquids.  Most hardwoods can be re-finished and cost is comparable to replacing a carpet, but re-finishing usually takes longer than a carpet replacement.
  • Humidity levels need to be closely monitored.  In high humidity, improperly installed wood can expand and buckle.  Low humidity can result in splintering and breakage.
  • Can be expensive to purchase and install, especially if sub-floor required.
  • Can be slippery and therefore less safe for small children and seniors
  • Shows dirt readily.  Needs to be cleaned (vacuumed or swept and mopped) more often than carpet; at least every other day in high-use areas
  • May not be suitable for below-grade installation

A good article that compares the characteristics of carpet and hardwood is “Carpet vs. Hardwood – The Great Showdown”. 

A few other things to consider:

  • Many people are mixing up their flooring choices:  tile in kitchens and bathrooms for durability and ease of cleaning, hardwood in main-floor living areas for beauty, carpet in bedrooms for comfort.
  • Think about your lifestyle and how you use the spaces in your home.  Are shoes removed at the door, food consumed only in non-carpeted areas, pets house-trained?  If no, then carpets, which tend to get dirty faster and hold on to the dirt, might not be the best option for you.  Highly visible, high-traffic areas benefit from flooring that is durable and easy to clean and maintain.
  • Consider the kind of feel you want underfoot:  firm, glossy, sophisticated, or cozy, casual, barefoot-friendly.
  • When you replace the flooring, do it for your own use and pleasure but keep in mind that eventually you will leave your home.  Be aware that every change you make to your home will have an impact on its ultimate resale value and ease of selling, even if that sale is years in the future.

Let me help!  Call or text me at 780-910-9669, email me at barry@barryt.ca, or contact me here.

 

 

10 Things I Hate About Your House!

Thursday, September 20th, 2012

A guest blog article from one of my clients who refers to herself as Ms. Cranky Pants:

10 Things I Hate About Your House! | Spruce Grove Stony Plain Parkland County Real Estate | Barry TwynamSo, Barry took me to see your house in the region of Spruce Grove, Stony Plain, Parkland County, and Edmonton, and I just wanted to mention the things that made me go Ewww.

Odors

I know you think all those little room deodorizer thingies will hide the fact that you’re a smoker, but you can’t fool me.  I wish I didn’t know that you had fried fish with onions and garlic for dinner.  And seriously people, do you ever clean that stinky litter box?  Open a window, for crying out loud!

Dirt

Disgusting grime in the tub, sticky spots on the kitchen counter, dirty dishes in the sink, mystery stains on the carpet, something brown and nasty in the corners…  Yuck!  I’d hate to have the CSI folks go through here with their ultra-violet lights.  I’m not a clean freak but no way do I want to wallow in anybody else’s crud, thank you.  Soap and water and elbow grease are cheap – get busy!

Stuff everywhere

When I view homes, I try to imagine living in the rooms with all my belongings in place.  Kind of hard to do when your junk is clogging up the space, making the place feel smaller than it really is.  Plus, it’s a real turn-off to see personal things like your toothbrush, razor and soggy towels cluttering up the bathroom, for example.  You need to get rid of at least half the stuff in your house — and I don’t mean hide it in the closets or the garage because I’m looking in there!  Here’s a tip:  Visualize a nice hotel room before you move in and unpack – sparkly clean, neat and tidy, room to move around.  That’s what your home should look like for showings.

Damp basement and water stains

Oh boy, is this one a red flag.  If I can see the results of water leakage, I just know I’d be buying a boatload of trouble to take on this baby.  Maybe you’ve got a bad foundation, but it’s more likely that water from spring runoff or summer rains is getting in because 1) your landscaping and grading isn’t sloped adequately away from the house; 2) your eavestroughing needs some work, with rain gutters cleaned out and downspouts aimed well away from the house; 3) your underground drains are clogged; or 4) your sump pump, if you have one, isn’t working properly.

Evident lack of maintenance or upgrading, or unfinished or poorly done reno projects

Yeah, I know your house isn’t brand new so you don’t have all the latest fixtures and decorative doo-dads.  I don’t mind a house that’s used.  What I object to is a house that’s used up.  If you’ve lived in your house for longer than 10 years, then it’s time to fix it up.  That could mean repairing broken windows, tightening loose hinges, or replacing cabinet handles, switches and plug-ins, faucets and shower heads.  It might also mean fresh paint inside and outside (neutral colors, please!).  Maybe what’s needed is a new roof, new furnace and hot water heater, new flooring or new appliances.  It could even mean a professional renovation of kitchen and bathrooms.  Notice I said professional renovation.  Do it yourself only if you have the skills and tools to do it right.  Oh, and don’t wait till just before it’s time to sell to do those things.  Maintain and renovate on a yearly basis so you get to enjoy your investment.

Weird decorating

I counted 5 different wallpaper patterns and 4 different types of carpet and lino just on the main level, but the real clincher was the purple living room, black bedroom and the mustard yellow dining room with its psychedelic wall mural!  This may be what you like to live with, but I want my house to be a frame for my life, not a Halloween horror show.

Lack of light

Hard to see if there are great features in this house because it’s like a cave in here.  I respect people trying to save money and energy, but up the wattage on the light bulbs so prospective buyers can actually see what you’re selling.  Open those drapes and blinds.  Trim the shrubbery from in front of the windows.  Clean those dirty, foggy windows.

Poor curb appeal and unattractive yard

I don’t know about you but I make a little effort when I show my face in public.  Same thing applies to houses.  Like it or not, first impressions count.  If your front door is askew and the paint’s peeling, if your driveway and sidewalks are cracked, plants overgrown, lawn brown and patchy, and there’s trash everywhere, this tells me you don’t care.  So why should I even bother to enter the front door if what I’ll see on the inside is more of the same?  Show a little pride, folks!

Pets on the loose

Hey, I love animals but your big snarly pooch scared the whatsits out of me.  I came to see your house, not get mauled by Cujo.

Price too high

Of course I’d like a bargain, but I’m willing to pay what’s fair for a decent house.  If your house needs a little work… well, I can forgive quite a lot if the price is right.  But there’s plenty I won’t pay for.  I don’t care that you spent $20,000 on a fancy new hot tub and deck, or that you owe too much on your mortgage to reduce the price to what’s reasonable, or that you have to have a certain amount so you can move into a bigger and more expensive house.  Price your house right based on factors such as its location, age, condition, size and what similar homes in your area have sold for, and I just might make you an offer.

Barry has some great articles in this blog on home staging and getting your house ready to sell.  Take a look at these:

Be Your Own Home Stager

Thinking of Selling Your Home in Spruce Grove, Stony Plain or Parkland County? 

Home Staging Starts With De-cluttering

Barry can help you find a great house, or sell your current one.  Call or text him at 780-910-9669, email him at barry@barryt.ca, or contact him here

How Not to Get Ripped Off When You Renovate Your Home

Monday, August 20th, 2012

How Not to Get Ripped Off When You Renovate Your Home | Spruce Grove Stony Plain Parkland County Real Estate | Barry TwynamLooking for a contractor to tackle the renovation of your Spruce Grove, Stony Plain, Parkland County or Edmonton area home?  We often hear news reports of consumers who have been ripped off by unethical contractors, or left with a huge mess by incompetent and unlicensed workers.  How do you go about finding somebody who will do a great job for a reasonable price?

My assistant recently had two bathrooms in her home upgraded by a contractor.  “We put off the work for far too long because we didn’t know who could do the job for us and were afraid to just pick somebody at random.  Luckily, a friend of mine who is very particular about how her home looks had just had her bathroom renovated.  She recommended we try the fellow she’d used, and we were thrilled with the results.”  Getting a recommendation from someone you know, and seeing the contractor’s work first-hand is by far the best way to hire a contractor for similar work.  But what if you don’t know anyone who has had recent work done?

Two excellent sources of advice for finding a contractor, dealing with the contract, estimates, permits, overseeing the work, payment and everything else that goes with a renovation are the following:

Get written estimates

Check references

Warning flags

Hire qualified tradespeople

Signing the contract

Working with prepaid contractors

Also included is a section explaining what to do if you run into problems, along with a handy contract checklist, and where to find more information.

  • Hiring a Contractor – Fact sheet from Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC).  Topics include:

Who do you hire?

Finding and choosing a contractor [excellent list of questions to ask]

Getting estimates or proposals

Get it in writing

The contract

Completion certificate

Holdbacks

Working with your contractor

Consumer protection laws

About insurance

Checklist – Hiring a contractor

Scroll down to the bottom of the webpage for even more resources, including a Sample Renovation Contract and a video on Hiring a Contractor.

The Better Business Bureau is also a good source of information.  Take a look at their article “Quick Tips for Hiring a Home Contractor – Do You Know the Red Flags?” and use their database to check out contractors.

Comments or questions about this article?  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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