Posts Tagged ‘spruce grove home improvement’

House Painting 101

Monday, July 25th, 2011

House Painting 101 | Spruce Grove Stony Plain Parkland County Real Estate | Barry TwynamSummer in the Spruce Grove, Stony Plain, Parkland County or Edmonton areas of Alberta is a great time to tackle projects to refresh your home or acreage.  Painting is one of the best things you can do because it adds value to your home without costing much money and is relatively easy to do.  This is especially important if you are looking to sell your home.   A fresh coat of paint is one of the few renovations where you have a chance to recover all of your investment.

If you’re a beginner, where do you start?  With so many brands, types and colors of paint to choose from, and so many books, articles and internet sites giving all kinds of advice, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed.

An article that’s been sitting in my clipping file for awhile now is one of the best I’ve seen for a quick introduction to the mysteries of painting a room.  “How to paint like a pro” was published in the March 13, 2010 edition of the Edmonton JournalIf you are a novice painter, I advise you to study every word of this article before you ever start thinking about finishes and colors!    

Then you may want to learn a little more about painting:

  • One way is to check out the self-help section in a quality paint store or a large hardware store like the Home Depot.  Don’t be shy about asking the people working in these places for advice.
  • A Google search on “How to paint a room” turned up a number of YouTube videos.
  • Some other practical websites:

Bob Vila: How to Paint a Room

How to do IT: Painting a Room!

How to Paint a Room [from the series of websites]

How to Paint a Room Like a Pro – Fine Homebuilding [series of videos]

Painting & Wallpapering – for Dummies [many articles from estimating how much paint to buy, to the proper use of a paint roller, and much more]

TLC Home “How to Paint a Room: Tips and Guidelines”

  • The best way to learn to paint?  Just get in there and do it!

Comments or questions about this article, or any aspect of home buying and selling?  Call me at 780-910-9669, email me at, or contact me here

The Ick Factor

Tuesday, July 12th, 2011

The Ick Factor | Spruce Grove Stony Plain Parkland County Real Estate | Barry TwynamThink your house in Spruce Grove, Stony Plain, Parkland County or the Edmonton area is clean?  Read “The Germiest Spots in Your Home” posted at and discover some surprising places you might not have thought were dirty, as well as some cleaning tips to banish the bad bugs.  Now excuse me while I go wash my hands!

Give me a call at 780-910-9669, email me at, or contact me here for help in finding the perfect home or acreage, or selling your treasured property. 

Battery Myths

Thursday, July 7th, 2011

Battery Myths | Spruce Grove Stony Plain Parkland County Real Estate | Barry TwynamOver the years I have done my share of renovating houses.  Consequently, I have managed to amass quite a number of tools.  Where possible, I prefer to use cordless tools.  And just like people’s misconceptions about real estate, whether buying or selling homes and acreages in Spruce Grove, Stony Plain, Parkland County, the Edmonton area or elsewhere, there are misunderstandings about how one should treat rechargeable batteries.

We were led to believe that early rechargeable batteries had a “memory problem”.  You always had to draw down the battery completely.  The battery would remember the last charge and would only charge to whatever the previous charge was.  So, if you only charged your battery 10% previously but you now needed a 90% charge, the memory in the battery would only let you charge the battery 10%.

I recently found an article [quoted below] called “Battery Myths 2011” published by Makita.  It explains how you should treat the batteries for your cordless tools and it spells out that if you treat your batteries as I used to up until I read this, you will reduce both the performance and the life expectancy of your cordless batteries.

Battery Myths | Spruce Grove Stony Plain Parkland County Real Estate | Barry TwynamBattery Myths 2011

Battery Myths – Questions & Answers (from Makita)

 1.  What will cause my batteries to have a reduced life?

There are a number of situations that will reduce battery life.  Some examples are prolonged exposure to extreme temperature conditions, over discharging the battery (running them completely dead), and incomplete charging.  These are the three most common situations.

 2.  Do batteries have “memory”?

Makita brand batteries are of the highest quality and latest proven technology.  In almost all applications for cordless tools, memory or cell set will not occur.  The only possible way to create this effect in a battery is to put exactly the same load on a battery and discharge it to exactly the same point repeatedly.  This can only happen in Nickel-Cadmium and Nickel-Metal-Hydride batteries used in auto-shutoff tools in a manufacturing environment where the tool is used repeatedly in the same process.

3.  Should I run my batteries completely out (i.e. “dead”) before charging them?

No!  This is one of the worst things you can do to a battery.  It is a common misconception that you do this to eliminate “memory” in a battery.  This is referred to as “Over Discharging”.

 4.  How does Over Discharging harm a battery?

Over discharging a battery occurs when a battery is used after reaching its predefined limit of low capacity.  This may result in a cell reversal which occurs when one of the cells in sequence discharges ahead of the rest.  This causes a reverse current to be applied to the discharged cell and the polarity of the battery to invert, resulting in a shortened battery life.

 5.  When is the best time to recharge a battery?

When you notice that your tools begin to slow down or labour, it is time to charge your battery.  Ideally you should allow your battery to cool down for 5-10 minutes before you begin charging.  You must allow the charger to fully charge the battery before removing it from the charger.

6.  How does Over Charging harm a battery?

Overcharging a battery happens when a battery is charged longer than is required, resulting in heat buildup that can damage the battery cells, resulting in a shortened battery life.

7.  Will it harm my battery if I remove it from the charger before the charge is complete?

Yes, this will greatly reduce the life of any battery.

8.  Does storing batteries in a cold environment (e.g. refrigerator or freezer) extend the battery life?

No!  This will increase the rate of discharge in the battery and in the long run will damage the cells inside the battery pack.  Batteries perform better in a warm environment.  The optimum temperature range for using and storing batteries is between 10 and 40 degrees Celsius.

 9.  I just bought a new battery and it is dead.  Why?

Batteries that have been idle for a period of time will lose their charge.  If you have a new battery that does not perform well (i.e. it doesn’t hold a charge), it has been idle for a long period of time.  This does not mean that the battery is defective.  Batteries will self discharge while idle.  To bring the battery back to its normal state, you may have to charge and discharge the battery a number of times (up to 8 charge cycles).  You must run the battery down to the point where you notice your tool begin to labour and then fully charge the battery.  After repeatedly charging the battery, it should return to a normal state.

 10.   What is the ideal situation for operating battery powered (cordless) tools?

Have a spare (or several spare) battery available.  Alternating batteries will reduce each battery’s work load and will increase operational efficiency.  The ideal scenario for battery use is to have four or more batteries being run through a sequence.  Battery 1 is being used in the tool.  Battery 2 is cooling down after use and is awaiting charging.  Battery 3 is charging.  Battery 4 has been charged and is awaiting use in the tool.  When Battery 1 begins to slow down, the cycle is initiated and that battery moves to the charger.  This way, none of the batteries in the series are being over discharged or experience heat buildup due to constant use and charging.

The Makita article quoted above is included as a leaflet with the purchase of a Makita cordless tool.  It does not appear to be online.  If any of my readers, or maybe a representative of Makita, could give me a more complete citation for this article so that I can credit it properly, I would appreciate it.  Please call me at 780-910-9669, email me at, or contact me here.

Smartphone Apps for Do-It-Yourselfers

Thursday, June 2nd, 2011

If you’re a smartphone user in Stony Plain, Spruce Grove, Parkland County or the Edmonton area, you know how handy these gadgets can be.  Add some of the apps below for even greater usefulness as you go about creating your perfect living environment.  Check your apps store to see about availability for your device.  (See also the blog article entitled “Smartphone Apps for Home Buyers”).

Smartphone Apps for Do-It-Yourselfers | Spruce Grove Stony Plain Parkland County Real Estate | Barry TwynamHOME IMPROVEMENT

Dream Home  [iPhone & iPad; 99¢]   Interior decorating app with lots to offer:  large photo collection of “amazing rooms from stunning looking houses”, every type of room and style imaginable, plenty of hints, tips and ideas, information on the latest design trends and fads, all to inspire you to create similar effects in your own home.

Home Interior Layout Designer – Mark On Call  [iPhone & iPad; $2.99].    Helps plan a space and determine if furnishings will fit.

Houzz  [iPhone & iPad; free]   More than 110,000 photos in 21 categories of “ideabooks” from both professional and amateur designers.

Remodelista  [iPhone & iPad; $2.99]   Online sourcebook of decorating ideas, updated daily, includes inspiring architecture, stylish DIY projects, 10 Easy Pieces product roundups, and Steal This Look.

Paint matching apps [iPhone & iPad; free]:  Benjamin Moore Color Capture  from Benjamin Moore and ColorSnap  from Sherwin-Williams both allow you to take a photo with your phone and then use the app to analyze the color to provide the closest matches within the company’s paint palette.  ColorSnap (available too for Blackberry) also displays secondary and complementary colors.

iHandy Carpenter  [iPhone & iPad; $1.99]    Turns your iPhone into a ruler, protractor, bubble level, surface level or plumb bob, making hanging pictures or mirrors a breeze.  If you need just a level, pick up the free app for both iPhone  and Android.

HandyMan Sidekick  [iPhone & iPad; $1.99]    Calculate exactly how much material you need for any project.  Input a room’s dimensions, including how many windows and doors, and this app will tell you how many gallons of paint or rolls of wallpaper you need.  Similar calculations can be done for flooring or gardening projects.  Bonus:  a feature that displays a bright fluorescent bulb on your phone’s screen to use as a flashlight!

App Box Pro [iPhone, iPod, iPad; $1.99]   Two dozen tools in one app!  Even if you don’t use all of them, it’s still a bargain.  Tools include:  Secure Wallet, Alarm Clock with Music Play, Currency, Event Diary, Flashlight, Holidays, Mirror, Ruler, Translator, Unit Convertor, Battery Life Indicator, Date Calculator, Surface Level, Bubble Level, Loan Calculator, Price Grab, Sale Price Calculator, Tip Calculator, and more.

StudFinder Professional  [iPhone; $3.99]    Uses the iPhone’s magnetometer to find studs by locating the magnetic fields emitted by metal screws and nails.  If you are an Android user, get their Magnetic Stud Finder  free.

HomeSizer  [iPhone; $2.99]  Lets you map out square footage and construction costs.  The app also breaks down mortgage costs so you can make size adjustments, along with changes to your loan term in line with your budget.

@Home app from Good Housekeeping magazine [iPhone; free]   Provides stain removal and cleaning advice, as well as decorating ideas and a searchable list of the 5,000-plus products that have earned a Good Housekeeping seal.

Smartphone Apps for Do-It-Yourselfers | Spruce Grove Stony Plain Parkland County Real Estate | Barry TwynamGARDENING

Landscaper’s Companion [iPhone; $4.99]   Reference guide to trees, shrubs, annuals, perennials; contains information on over 5000 plants with 6000 pictures.  Great resource for anyone from the casual gardener to professional landscapers, allowing you to search based on your garden’s sun exposure and garden zone.

Garden Buddy  [iPhone; $2.99]   With Google Local Search and your phone’s GPS, find local suppliers for your gardening needs after you’ve used this app to calculate how much mulch, topsoil and sod to use, what types of fertilizers to add, what to plant where, and how long before you can harvest your garden bounty.

Garden Insects  [iPhone; 99¢]   Identify common garden pests and learn environmentally friendly ways to control them.

Have you found a great app that should be added to this list?  I’d love to hear from you.  Call me at 780-910-9669, email me at, or contact me here.

Spring Cleaning the Natural Way

Monday, April 11th, 2011

Spring Cleaning the Natural Way |Spruce Grove Stony Plain Parkland County Real Estate | Barry TwynamAfter the long hard winter we’ve had, most of us can’t wait to open all the windows in our Spruce Grove, Stony Plain, Parkland County and Edmonton area homes and acreages to let in that great spring air and clean out the mustiness of winter.  But before you rush off to the store to stock up on the latest expensive chemical cleaners that promise to make your home cleaner and fresher than last year’s products, consider going green this spring, just in time for Earth Day on April 22.

Long before commercial cleaning products were available, people cleaned their homes with a few simple but effective ingredients.  These products are readily available, much less toxic to people and the environment, and easy on the wallet too!  A little caution though:  These products may be (mostly) “natural” but that doesn’t mean you can go nuts with them!  Vinegar and lemon juice, for example, being acidic, will not be kind to marble; use plain water instead.

A couple of dirty little secrets about cleaning that the makers of chemical cleaning products don’t want you to know:

  1. There is no magic formula or product that will make things clean.  Most cleaning comes from friction; that is, the application of good old elbow grease.
  2. If you clean as you go, wiping up spills as they occur, washing off grime before it has a chance to build up, you can leave those expensive and toxic chemical cleaners on the store shelves.

Here is what you’ll need to clean green:

Baking Soda

White Vinegar



Lemon Juice

Club soda

Olive oil


Rubbing (isopropyl) alcohol

Castile Soap [a plant-based soap, containing olive, palm and/or coconut oils; available from natural foods stores.  Look for Dr. Bronner’s brand.]

Microfiber cleaning cloths, sponges, lint-free rags

Glass and mirrors:

  • Slightly dampened microfiber cloths work better than the blue stuff!
  • Or, mix equal parts water and vinegar in a spray bottle.  Wipe with clean, lint-free rag.  (Some eco-cleaners suggest using newspaper for wiping but our experience says this just makes a mess!)
  • Or, spray windows with club soda; wipe with clean, lint-free rag.

All-purpose cleaning:

  • Mix vinegar with salt; scrub with sponge
  • Or, pour some baking soda and vinegar on a damp sponge to clean and deodorize kitchen and bathroom surfaces.
  • Plain full-strength vinegar is a great defense against mildew and its odors.  Works well on grease too.
  • Another recipe:  Combine ½ cup of pure soap, such as Castile, with one gallon of hot water and ¼  cup of lemon juice
  • Or try this:  Combine 1 tbsp Borax, 2 tbsp lemon juice and 1 cup hot water in a spray bottle to clean bathroom and kitchen surfaces.

Furniture polish:

Combine ½ cup olive oil, ¼ cup vinegar and 2 tsp lemon juice in a spray bottle.  Spray liberally on wood surfaces and wipe dry with a soft cloth.

Sinks and bathtubs, including tile:

  • Combine equal amounts of salt and baking soda; scrub with sponge.
  • Rust and other stains on porcelain can be handled by rubbing with a mixture of lemon juice and salt.
  • Spray vinegar full strength on soap scum and crusted scale from hard water.  Let soak and scrub off.


  • Clean with toothpaste and an old toothbrush.  Rinse and wipe dry.
  • Or, spray with full-strength vinegar to remove soap scum and hard water stains.

Drain cleaning:

Pour ¼ cup baking soda down the drain, followed by ½ cup vinegar.  Cover immediately, or close drain, and let sit 15 minutes.  Flush with hot water.

Toilet bowl cleaner:

  • Pour 1 cup vinegar into the toilet bowl; let stand for 30 minutes.  Sprinkle baking soda onto toilet brush and scour.  Flush.
  • To keep the bowl fresh, pour 1 cup of vinegar (or 1 cup of Borax) into the toilet bowl once or twice a month and let stand overnight.

Floors of all types:

Add ½ cup vinegar to a gallon of hot water.  Dirty floors may need to be scrubbed with a brush; most will only need to be mopped or wiped with a rag dampened in the mixture.  If cleaning hardwood or laminate floors, make sure your mop or rag is only slightly damp, as these types of floors don’t love excess moisture.

Hardwood floor cleaner:

Mix ½ cup lemon juice, ½ cup rubbing alcohol and ½ cup olive oil into a gallon of warm water; wipe with slightly dampened mop or rag.  This mixture also works great on wood furniture and kitchen cabinets.

Laminate floor cleaner:

Combine 1 cup vinegar, ½ cup lemon juice, 1 tbsp. mild dishwashing liquid and 1 gallon hot water; wipe with slightly dampened mop or rag.

Tips for appliances:

  • Run an empty dishwasher with a cup of white vinegar to remove food residue, limescale, built up detergent and grease.
  • Equal parts water and white vinegar boiled in a kettle or run through a coffee maker will remove limescale build-up.  Run another cycle using plain water to remove any trace of the vinegar.
  • Burned on food, whether on pots and pans or on the floor of an oven, can be removed with baking soda.  Make a paste of baking soda and water, spread it liberally over the area to be cleaned, let sit for at least 30 minutes.  Scour and rinse.  Or, try mixing 1 part cinnamon with 6 parts salt; pour on oven spill as soon as it occurs.  Wipe clean when oven is cool.
  • Oven cleaningMix together 2 tsp. Borax, 4 tbsp. white vinegar, 2 cups water and 2 tbsp. castile soap in a spray bottle.  Spray all over the oven walls and floor.  Cover the wet surface with baking soda.  Follow with a second layer of your homemade cleaner.  Let sit overnight and wipe clean in the morning.
  • Spills on glass stove-tops can be scoured off using baking soda and a slightly dampened sponge or non-scratching plastic scouring pad.
  • Clean your microwave by combining 2 tbsp baking soda or lemon juice or vinegar with a cup of water in a bowl.  Microwave for 5 minutes or until mixture boils and condensation builds up onside the microwave.  Wipe down.
  • Freshen the inside of your refrigerator by wiping it down with a mixture of equal parts vinegar and warm water.

Comments or questions about this article?  Please phone me at 780-910-9669, email me at or contact me here.

Should You Renovate Before You Sell?

Tuesday, April 20th, 2010

Learn Which Home Renovations Give You the Best Return

It’s time to sell, and you want to get as much value from your Spruce Grove, Stony Plain, Parkland County or Edmonton area home as possible. What home improvements will make that happen?

Should You Renovate Before You Sell?  |Spruce Grove Stony Plain Parkland County Real Estate | Barry TwynamMost people buying a home want to move into a property that looks new. If you’ve been thinking of selling your home, you’ve probably heard the following advice. Before you put your home on the real estate market, make all necessary minor repairs. Fix that dripping faucet, oil that creaky kitchen cupboard hinge, tack down that loose carpet edge. Give your home a thorough cleaning inside and out. Wash the floors and walls (including the insides of all cupboards and closets), get the carpets cleaned, shine all the windows and mirrors, and, above all, get rid of clutter so that your home looks as spacious and welcoming as possible.

But these are mostly cosmetic touches, much like a woman’s eye shadow and lipstick when she goes out for the evening. What if your property needs the real estate equivalent of Botox injections or, worse, open heart surgery to bring it back to its brand new appearance and structure? If you invest the money to do major repairs, such as reshingling the roof, or to do major updates, like remodeling that ugly old bathroom, will you get your money back through a higher selling price?

The truth is – maybe, but more likely not. Renovating just before you sell is a risky proposition. Any improvements you make to your property may make it more attractive to buyers which may result in a faster sale – or even determine whether it sells at all. You may get a higher selling price than you would have before the renovations. But it turns out that most renovations will not increase the value of the property by 100% of the retail cost of professionally done renovations, with a couple of exceptions.

Ergil & Jackson Appraisals Ltd. (formerly Henderson & Butt) in their Home Renovation Guide include an extensive list of renovations together with the approximate cost, and the possible returns on investment in both percentages and dollar amounts. Their calculations are based on a hypothetical 1200 square foot bungalow located in the city of Edmonton and hiring out the work.

According to this guide, most renovation projects, small or large, will net you a return of only 50 to 75% of your investment.

New cedar shake shingles for your roof? Expect to lay out between $10,400 and $18,200. The return? Anywhere from 50 to 70%, or $5,200 to $12,740. Depending on the condition of the roof, it might be better to simply disclose to prospective buyers that the roof needs repair.

You’ve probably heard that kitchens and bathrooms sell homes. A bathroom remodel, using standard quality new fixtures, flooring and ceramic tile, might set you back between $10,000 and $16,000. But you’ll get that back when you sell, won’t you? Not according to the guide, which says this type of renovation will bring you a return of just 60 to 80%, or between $6,000 and $12,800. Doesn’t seem worth it, does it?

And it gets worse, with some renovations giving you as low as a 0 to 10% return (adding a skylight, installing an alarm system, putting in a garburator or air conditioning). Some renovations, such as adding a sauna or an outdoor hot tub or swimming pool, might even make your property harder to sell!

So which renovations are the best compromise between making your home look its best and giving you a high return on your investment? Improvements that give you a return of at least 70% include:

  •  Exterior siding of artificial masonry brick: 70 to 100%
  • New roof shingles (asphalt, rubber or metal): 70 to 90%
  • Average quality kitchen remodel: 70 to 85%
  • New furnace: 75 to 90%
  • In-suite laundry added to condominium: 95 to 100%
  • Electrical service upgrade: at least 90%
  • Garage: 70 to 100%

Saving the best for last:
There is one renovation that will give you your money back, and then some. Good old-fashioned paint, one of the easiest and cheapest renovation projects, especially if you do it yourself, could give you back up to 110% of your investment. Watch for painting instructions and tips in future blog entries.

Check out Ergil & Jackson’s other suggestions and advice.

***A word of caution about renovations in general: Remember that, whether you hire someone or do it yourself, the finished product must always look as though a professional did the work. If you are thinking about renovating before you sell, talk to your realtor about the kind of return you can expect for all your hard work.

For more tips on selling your home, visit the Sellers Guide section of my website.

Comments or questions are always welcome! Email me at, call me at 780-910-9669 or contact me here.

Updating Your Spruce Grove Home

Monday, December 14th, 2009

Updating Your Spruce Grove Home |Spruce Grove Stony Plain Parkland County Real Estate | Barry TwynamWith the popularity of all sorts of home renovation shows, people in Spruce Grove, Stony Plain, Parkland County, the Edmonton region and elsewhere are experimenting with home decorating home improvement, and home flipping at unprecedented levels.

I have to admit I watch a lot of these programs myself. We humans are drawn to watching other people work. It is amazing how easy some professionals make things like framing, dry walling, painting, decorating, etc, look. The key word here is professional. I often say to people you can do any improvement yourself and save the labour cost (about 60% of the cost of the improvement); however, the end result has to look like a professional did the job.

I understand the motivation to want to do the work yourself. First off it doesn’t look that hard to do. Second you don’t have the extra money to hire someone to do the work, we have all been there. But one day (statistically within 5 years) you will be trying to sell your home and the improvements in it to someone else. Even unsophisticated buyers, people who have never owned their own home, recognize poor or amateurish work. If a home has a number of areas where a home owner has done home improvements poorly, a potential buyer may perceive negatively.

Updating Your Spruce Grove Home |Spruce Grove Stony Plain Parkland County Real Estate | Barry TwynamHere’s how perception works

Perception is a buyer’s belief system.  Whether right or wrong, what buyers perceive they believe. A buyer’s perception can extend beyond any poor work done by you or someone else.  It could be perceived that most of the improvements in your home were done amateurishly or cheaply. I cannot overemphasize the importance of making your home improvement projects look like they were done by a professional. Here are a few hints:

  1. Do some research before you take on a project. The internet is a great source. Be careful to select the right tools for the job. For instance when painting, not all brushes, rollers or paint are the same. They are all designed for different purposes and applications. Also if painting, make sure you learn to cut in properly. Roller hit marks on the ceiling are a trademark sign of a home improvement project gone bad.
  2. Sign up for home improvement seminars at your local building supply centre, Home Depot, Rona, etc.
  3. Find someone who is handy at doing their own home improvements and offer free labour to help them take on a home improvement that you feel most comfortable with.
  4. Start in an area that is less visible, like a bedroom (preferably down stairs), closet, or storage room.
  5. Be prepared to invest time. It will probably take you 2 to 3 times longer the first time you tackle a renovation, compared to someone experienced at it. If it doesn’t go right the first time you do it, be prepared to re-do it. Remember that by learning to do it right you are accumulating cumulative knowledge that will come in handy the next time you need to use it.

Although you feel you are doing the improvement for yourself, remember that when you decide to put your house up for sale, you are now trying to sell the improvement to someone else.

If you do decide to do home improvements on your own, either by necessity or desire, take it slow. Do the research, take your time, make sure you select universally appealing colours, and do the job well. It can be rewarding, both financially and emotionally. But remember:  whatever improvements you do to your home should look like a professional did it. Enjoy the savings and the added value of your home.

Looking for more information about Spruce Grove real estate?  Call me at 780-910-9669, email me at, 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
© Copyright 2011, Real Estate Websites by Redman Technologies Inc. | Privacy Policy | Sitemap
The data included on this website is deemed to be reliable, but is not guaranteed to be accurate by the REALTORS® Association of Edmonton
Trademarks used under license from CREA