Posts Tagged ‘spruce grove homes’

Just Because You Own Your Spruce Grove House Doesn’t Mean You Can Do Whatever You Want!

Tuesday, October 7th, 2014

Just Because You Own Your Spruce Grove House Doesn’t Mean You Can Do Whatever You Want! | Spruce Grove Stony Plain Parkland County Real Estate | Barry TwynamSometimes it comes as a surprise to people living in Spruce Grove, Stony Plain, Parkland County, the city of Edmonton or any other Alberta municipality that there are strict rules as to what they can and can’t do or build on their property. This surprise can be especially rude when it comes time to sell a property and the owners discover that they were supposed to have permits for certain things.

“Why would a municipality care about what goes on inside private property? Aren’t all those permits just a cash grab?”

The City of Spruce Grove’s webpage dealing with building and development permits says this:

“Building Permits deal with structural stability of buildings and the health and safety of the building’s occupants. Development Permits deal primarily with a development’s impact on surrounding properties.”

Permits help a municipality ensure that all structures and activities within municipal limits meet the standards for health and safety of people and the environment. Yes, there is a cost for the processing of permits, but wise homeowners should see this cost as a good investment for the future and insurance that their home and property are secure.

“What sorts of things require permits?”

The City of Spruce Grove’s webpage on building permits has a long list of things requiring permits, along with the cost of the permits, for items inside your home and on the piece of land your home occupies. Some common interior items include

• developing and finishing a basement
• installing a wood-burning stove or fireplace
• installing, replacing or altering materials or equipment regulated by the Alberta Building Code (such as replacing a furnace).

Outside your home, you’ll need a permit to

• add a deck that is higher than 2 feet above the ground
• cover an existing deck
• install a hot tub or swimming pool
• construct any building on your property, such as a detached garage or shed.

These permits not only specify the safety measures to be followed but also mandate the distance structures must be from property boundaries and rights of way. Demolitions may require permits too.

If you want a firepit on your property, you’ll need a fire permit.  You may also need permits for gas installations, electrical installations, plumbing installations, and lot grading.  Please see the City’s webpage for the complete list of items requiring permits.

***If you are unsure about whether you need a permit or not, contact the City’s Planning and Development Department and ASK! Do this BEFORE you begin the work!***

“What happens if I want to sell my house and I don’t have the proper permits?”

For the answer to this question, see my blog post entitled “No Permits or RPR? How to Sell Your Spruce Grove Home When Something’s Missing”.

Questions about  building permits, RPRs, compliance, or title insurance? Call or text me at 780-910-9669, email me at, or contact me here.




The Home Rental Market in Spruce Grove and Stony Plain

Tuesday, November 8th, 2011

The Home Rental Market in Spruce Grove and Stony Plain | Spruce Grove Stony Plain Parkland County Real Estate | Barry TwynamThe reasons for renting a home, rather than buying one, are as varied as the people looking for a place to live so it’s probably no surprise that there is always a market for such properties.  People moving into an area may choose to rent while they get a feel for the local real estate market.  If you are a renter, here are a few things to know about houses for rent in Spruce Grove and Stony Plain for Fall 2011.

“What can I expect to pay for rent these days?”

At the moment, a standard 3-bedroom house in Spruce Grove or Stony Plain rents for $1300 to $2000 per month.  As with purchased real estate, factors such as location, age of the home, and features like a garage will determine price.  A newer half duplex or townhouse may rent for $1300 to $1600, while an apartment-style condo may run $1200 to $1600.  A 2 or 3 bedroom apartment may cost upwards of $950 per month, while a basement suite may run around $700 per month.  In general, rents are comparable to those in Edmonton, or possibly a little cheaper.

“What will be included in my rent?”

If you’re renting a detached house, expect to pay for all services yourself.  If you’re looking for an apartment, usually water/sewer services and heat will be included in your rent; you’ll be responsible for power, phone, TV, internet services, and the like.  This applies to condos as well, with the landlord usually picking up the tab for condo fees.  Basement suite rentals may come with some kind of shared utility arrangement.  Of course, in a rental market where there are lots of properties for rent and fewer renters, landlords may offer various incentives, such as free cable and internet.  At the present time, we are experiencing a tight rental market with plenty of competition among renters so don’t expect to find too many of these deals.  Note that no matter what you rent, your landlord will pay the property taxes and insurance on his property, but it’s a very good idea for you to have your own renter’s insurance.

“What conditions can a landlord impose on the rental?”

Landlords can ask for first month’s rent up front, along with a returnable security deposit of up to one month’s rent.  They are allowed to set conditions such as no pets or no smoking inside the residence, and can designate the premises as “adults only”, or “no overnight guests”.  The landlord will likely have you sign a rental agreement outlining details about the rent and security deposit, inspections, termination notices, and other responsibilities of both parties.  This rental agreement will also specify who is legally allowed to live in the premises.  You will probably be asked to provide references and a credit report (obtainable online from agencies such as Equifax and TransUnion).  Expect to complete and sign move in/move out inspection reports.  For more information on this topic visit the following websites:

Laws for Tenants in Alberta – Laws for Landlords in Alberta

Renting in Alberta – CMHC

“How do I find out what’s available to rent in Spruce Grove and Stony Plain?”

A good place to start looking is in the Classified Ads, both print and online, found in the local newspapers, the Grove Examiner and the Stony Plain Reporter.  Both communities are also home to a number of property management companies, such as TRC Management and Gateway Property Management.  Kijiji online ads are another good source.

“Where can I get more information about the communities of Spruce Grove and Stony Plain?”

Check out the official websites for Spruce Grove  and Stony Plain.  Browse my Business Directory, Community Connections, to get a taste for what the local area has to offer.

If you’ve been renting for a while and are now ready to buy a home in Spruce Grove, Stony Plain or Parkland County, I’d be happy to help!  Call me at 780-910-9669, email me at, or contact me here

Spruce Grove’s Jubilee Park

Wednesday, August 31st, 2011

Something very special is being created on the east side of Spruce Grove.  You may not have heard about it because it’s not quite finished, and the City of Spruce Grove isn’t promoting it yet, but Jubilee Park in Spruce Grove is now open for public use and well worth a visit.

Spruce Grove's Jubilee Park | Spruce Grove Stony Plain Parkland County Real Estate | Barry TwynamIf you are a citizen of Spruce Grove, Stony Plain, or Parkland County, you know that one of the things that makes Spruce Grove so memorable and family-friendly is the large number of neighborhood parks and playgrounds, sports parks and facilities (such as the Fuhr Sports Park west of the Tri-Leisure Centre and the Henry Singer ball park south of the railroad tracks), and the gem running right through the centre of town in the form of ParticiPark, that huge stand of trees and nature trails.  But all of these are about to look almost ordinary compared to what will be officially open to the public in 2012. 

Jubilee Park is a 60-acre parcel of land located at 510 Grove Drive, east of Spruce Village.  This land is being transformed into a wonderland of urban recreational and cultural opportunities.  The City of Spruce Grove website  says that the park “will offer the community the best passive and unstructured recreational opportunities in the city.  From paved walking and bike trails, to picnic areas, an open air performance area, sliding hill and playground, Jubilee Park will provide families with a multitude of outdoor pleasures.”

Features of the park, most of which are now in place, include

  • Picnic areas
  • Picnic shelter
  • Plaza
  • Open games area
  • Fire pit
  • Multi-purpose paved walking and biking trails
  • Play structure and “tot lot”
  • Disk golf
  • Recreational skating
  • Sliding and tobogganing hill
  • Multi-purpose building
  • Amphitheatre and open air performance area
  • Formal gardens
  • Wetlands
  • Natural woodlands
  • Paved parking

See the map of the proposed development. 

The City of Spruce Grove suggests several benefits of this park:

  • Community gathering place
  • Promotes social well-being and health
  • Family-oriented spaces
  • Connects to Heritage Grove trail system
  • Natural interpretive education opportunities
  • Preserves natural woodlands

Spruce Grove has not had a place for the community to gather in large numbers for special events, especially those focused on culture.  The sports fields at Spruce Grove Composite High School have been the venue for Canada Day celebrations for a few years, but without adequate amenities such as parking, seating and the like.  Imagine the uses of this incredible new facility.  Imagine a place for open air summer concerts and other performances, winter and summer games, community picnics and celebrations, festivals to rival those of neighboring communities, family play, get-togethers and reunions, wedding photos, block parties, and just hanging out and enjoying nature with your family and neighbors…. 

From a real estate perspective, this park is very good news for current and future residents of the nearby neighborhoods of Spruce Village and Grove Meadows.  Green space of any type tends to increase the desirability and perhaps value of properties located in the vicinity.  Expect only positive outcomes from this wonderful new facility!

Your comments and questions are always welcome!  Call me at 780-910-9669, email me at, or contact me here. 


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

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.

Lost and Alone in Spruce Grove

Monday, June 20th, 2011

Finding homes in Spruce Grove, Stony Plain, Parkland County and the Edmonton area is what I do for a living, and I think of myself as pretty good at it, but I learned a few new things about the process recently.  The being in need of a home was not a person, but a cat who decided my home was a good place to live!

Lost and Alone in Spruce Grove | Spruce Grove Stony Plain Parkland County Real Estate | Barry TwynamI like cats, and dogs too, but because both my wife and daughter have severe allergies, we’ve never been able to keep a pet.   This sweet little cat arrived at our door and showed no signs of leaving, especially after we fed her, and it seemed as though we’d have to keep her, even though my wife Paulette was covered with hives.  What to do?

After the cat had been hanging around our house for a few days, becoming more skittish and scruffy-looking, I asked my cat-loving assistant if she wanted to adopt another cat.  Regrettably, no, but she had a few suggestions.  The cat has to belong to someone in your neighborhood, she said, so why not put a sign on the mailbox at the end of the street?  Ring doorbells up and down the street and ask if anyone’s lost a cat.  Put an ad in the local paper.  Contact local vets or the local pet store to see if anyone’s reported a missing cat.  Contact Parkland County Animal Control to report finding a cat.  When I told her Paulette and our daughter Devan were on their way to deliver the cat to the Edmonton Humane Society, she was horrified.  I was under the impression that the Humane Society tries to find new homes for cats.  That’s true, she said, but many don’t find homes and are euthanized. I immediately phoned Paulette to get her to change her plans.

If the old legend of cats having nine lives is true, then this cat had at least one of her lives saved that day!   Paulette had decided to take the cat to one of the veterinarians in town to see if they could help.  The vet checked the cat and discovered that it had been tattooed.  What’s more, the vet was able to match the tattoo information with the name and address of the cat’s owner.  It turned out that the owner of the cat had recently moved to our neighborhood so the cat had not yet gotten used to its new surroundings.  Lots of happiness all around when the cat was reunited with her family.

 So, what did I learn from this experience? 

  • If you are a pet owner, don’t let your pet outside without supervision.  This is especially true if you are new to your neighborhood.  Cats in particular may act independent but they still need to be looked after.  They should not be allowed to run free because there are many dangers to pets on their own:  vehicles, toxic substances, other animals, people who don’t like animals.
  • Get your pets tattooed or microchipped.  If your pet should become separated from you, this increases the likelihood of it being returned to you.  Because dogs are licensed, they usually wear collars, often with contact information, but many cats don’t so some other identification method is very important.  Check out PetWatch’s website to learn about microchipping.  You can also read the Wikipedia article about microchip implanting.
  • The Edmonton Humane Society does incredible work in rescuing lost, abandoned or homeless animals but sometimes they have a hard time keeping up with the demand.  In May 2011, there was a 25% increase in admissions to the humane society compared to spring 2010.  Between 40 and 50 animals, three-quarters of them cats, arrive daily at the shelter, with homes being found for 20 to 25 animals each day.  Last September, the shelter was caring for about 500 cats, and that is a situation that strains all the resources.  If you are looking to adopt a pet, the Edmonton Humane Society is a good place to start.  Visit their online adoption centre.  Check out also the Parkland County Animal Shelter’s Gallery of Found & Adoptable Pets.
  • If you find a lost animal, it probably has not strayed far from its home.  Do what you can to make the animal comfortable and then be prepared to knock on doors in your neighborhood.  Taking it to a shelter really should be a last resort.

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

Top 10 Reasons to Grow a Garden This Year

Wednesday, May 25th, 2011

Top 10 Reasons to Grow a Garden This Year | Spruce Grove Stony Plain Parkland County Real Estate | Barry TwynamNever grown a vegetable garden in the back yard of your Stony Plain or Spruce Grove home?  This article, reprinted in its entirety with the permission of the fine folks at the Brazeau 100 km Kitchen Party, may make you decide this is the year to do it!  The article was found on page 26 of the publication Eat Local Goodness 2011.

Get Growing and Reap the Rewards

Here are the top 10 reasons to grow a garden this year: 

  1.  Save money.  The average family can save an average of $500 per year on groceries by planting and maintaining an average garden.  Preserve some of the produce and watch your grocery bills plummet, even in the middle of winter!
  2. Fresh produce tastes better Ever notice the difference in taste between a fresh home-grown tomato and a tomato bought at the supermarket?
  3. Stay fit All the bending and lifting involved in maintaining a garden, from planting seeds to pulling weeds to harvesting fresh produce can really have an impact on overall health.
  4. Get more nutrients.  From the time produce is picked off the plant to the time it is eaten, nutrients are lost.  The fresher fruits or vegetables are, the more nutrients they provide.
  5. Save time A few minutes a day can go a long way toward producing an amazing amount of fruits and vegetables.  Compare a few minutes a day to the time it would take to get in the car, go to the supermarket, select produce, pay for it, and bring it home, and you’ll see you’ll actually save time by growing a garden.
  6. Teach children with the garden.  Children love to know where things come from, especially food.  What easier way to show a child where green beans come from than to show them the plant the green beans are growing on?
  7. Keep children healthy.  Children are more apt to eat something when they are given the opportunity to prepare the food.  Preparing food from seed is about as close as you can get to the basic fundamentals of food.  Encourage children to come outside and help in the garden and they will  not only be spending time outdoors and learning where their food comes from, but also helping you to save some time in the garden by pulling weeds, planting seeds, and harvesting produce.
  8. Help save the environment.  Most produce found in a supermarket is not naturally grown and many chemicals, including pesticides, are used to help the food grow.  Semi trucks are used to transport the food from the farm to the grocery store.  Most people drive a car to the grocery store to pick up the food.  Now picture how much better for the environment it would be to walk outside the back door into the naturally-grown garden and pick some fruit or vegetables for the family.
  9. Increase your home’s value.  Certain well-established perennials can actually increase the value of a home.  Blueberry bushes and grape vines are excellent examples of edible perennials that actually add value to the home.
  10. It’s easy.  Growing a garden is not as difficult as some might lead you to believe.  With proper planning, an amazingly productive garden can sustain a family with very little actual work done.  Gardening is not back-breaking labour, but instead a fun activity the whole family can enjoy!


Comments or questions about this article, or anything connected with real estate?  I would love to hear from you.  Phone me at 780-910-9669, email me at, or contact me here.

Salt Water Reef Aquarium: A Special Kind of Real Estate!

Monday, July 26th, 2010

Standard homes in the Spruce Grove, Stony Plain, Parkland County and Edmonton region are not the only real estate I deal with!  Here are a few of the inhabitants of my salt water reef aquarium.

 Salt Water Reef Aquarium:  A Special Kind of Real Estate! |Spruce Grove Stony Plain Parkland County Real Estate | Barry Twynam

The deep blue fish on the left is known as the Achilles Tang Hybrid, a rare and special fish.  “It is a quark [sic] of nature where an Achilles Tang and a Goldrim Tang have merged together during conception. It is one of the few reef fishes in Hawaiian waters known to hybridize.”   (from the website   The long nosed fish on the right is a Copperband Butterfly fish.  I bought this fish because it has a highly specialized diet; it loves eating an aquarium pest known as Aiptaisa Anemones.  These pesky sea anemones are known to take over a saltwater aquarium.  The problem with Copperbands is that once they have eaten all the Aiptaisa, they will sometimes starve to death because they are such finicky eaters.  I have managed to get my Copperband to eat frozen brine shrimp (which I feed to all my fish).  Occasionally I find a rock with Aiptaisa growing on it in my quarantine tank.  Once I move the rock to my main tank, my Copperband will hunt down all the Aiptaisa and make a meal of it in very short order.

Salt Water Reef Aquarium:  A Special Kind of Real Estate! |Spruce Grove Stony Plain Parkland County Real Estate | Barry Twynam

This is a photo of my starfish.  It is currently wrapped around my blasto coral from Australia.  It always amazes me how gentle this creature is.  It never damages or knocks over any of the corals.  My wife Paulette calls him Gumby.

 Salt Water Reef Aquarium:  A Special Kind of Real Estate! |Spruce Grove Stony Plain Parkland County Real Estate | Barry Twynam

These are some of my favorite corals, the Australian Acans.  These corals are fully extended out with their feeder tentacles exposed.  This is the sign of a happy and healthy Acan.

Salt Water Reef Aquarium:  A Special Kind of Real Estate! |Spruce Grove Stony Plain Parkland County Real Estate | Barry Twynam

This is a photo of my main tank which I started in the fall of 2008.  It is now fully matured (this can take 6 plus months).  The photo shows most of the fish in my tank, along with my black and white clown fish.  Just below them is a living giant clam, which my clown fish have decided to “host”.  Clown fish, also known as anemonefish, usually host an anemone in the wild.  I can only describe this as a love affair between these two creatures.  Because having a poisonous anemone can be extremely detrimental to a reef tank, I choose not to have one.  So my clown fish have taken to hosting my giant clam, claiming it and defending it as their territory.  They are never very far away from this clam.  They nudge it in the morning to wake it up, sleep on it at night and do not like anything coming close to their clam, including my hand when I try to clean the inside glass.

Salt Water Reef Aquarium:  A Special Kind of Real Estate! |Spruce Grove Stony Plain Parkland County Real Estate | Barry Twynam

Another picture from my main tank.  Pretty much everything you can see in this aquarium is alive:  the corals and fish, of course, but there is even life in the sand and rocks.  The rock, referred to as “live rock”, serves many purposes, and is probably the most popular material used for natural biological filtration in saltwater aquariums.  What surprises most people is how alive the corals are.  They expand and contract, react to touch, light and food.  What people may not know is that many corals are carnivorous, and many have long stinging tentacles used to protect their territory.  The winner of any coral conflict is usually determined by which coral produces the strongest poison.  Fortunately for us, human skin is too thick for most corals to penetrate. Although there is a lot going on in a reef aquarium during the day, plenty of interesting things happen after the lights are turned out at night.  A flashlight will expose the many night creatures and add a whole new dimension to a reef system.

Are you looking for a special kind of real estate?  I’d love to help you find your dream home.  Phone me at 780-910-9669, email me at, or contact me here.

Hobbies and Your Home

Thursday, July 22nd, 2010

Hobbies and Your Home |Spruce Grove Stony Plain Parkland County Real Estate | Barry TwynamWherever we live, Spruce Grove, Stony Plain, Parkland County or elsewhere, most of us have things we collect or activities we like to do in our leisure time.  These collections and activities often spill over into our homes, even if they are usually done elsewhere.  Without proper planning, this can sometimes be disastrous.  Think, for example, of current popular television programs on hoarding and decluttering.

If you have any sort of hobby, and you are in the market for a new home, it’s a good idea to give some thought about how that hobby will fit into the physical confines of the houses you look at, and what modifications you might have to make to a house in order to accommodate your hobby.

Let’s say you enjoy hiking and camping, or similar sports or activities that you normally practice away from home.  Where and how are you going to store the gear needed for these activities?

Maybe you are a serious collector of… well, almost anything!  Books, coins, model cars, sports memorabilia, dolls, antique furniture, teapots, clocks, insects….   More than three objects in any of these categories could rightly be called a collection.  The question for your home is where and how are you going to store and display your collection?

Or, maybe your hobby is some activity or craft you do, which may or may not result in a physical endproduct.  Some hobbies are fairly easy to fit into everyday life.  Gourmet cooking?  Your kitchen may be a little better equipped than the average but usually no major changes need to be made.  Enjoy reading, doing crossword puzzles, blogging, or watching vintage movies?  Again, easy to do at home without disrupting daily life.  Scrapbooking or sewing?  A table and a few storage containers in the corner of a guest bedroom will often be enough.

But suppose your hobby requires

  • a great deal of space (think model trains or weaving or woodworking or restoring old vehicles)
  • the use of toxic chemicals (oil painting or furniture refinishing)
  • structural changes to your home (pottery making with a home kiln, perhaps, where special wiring might be needed, or collecting wine, where special lighting and temperature controls may be required)

Can hobbies of this type be accommodated in your home?  Yes, with a little forethought and planning.  A good rule to follow is to do what you must but always keep the end in mind.  That is, consider what you will need to do to return your home to its original condition should you give up the hobby or when it is time to sell your home.

I recently developed the basement of our Spruce Grove home.  I thought this would be a good opportunity to incorporate a salt water aquarium into our home.  There is just something about the choice of fish and corals and all the colours available in a salt water reef system.  A fragile system that does not forgive neglect or ignorance, it has very specific needs that include water temperature, lighting, chemical control (e.g. calcium, PH balance, ammonia, nitrates, magnesium, etc.), water flow, salinity, and more.  There can be costly lessons during the learning curve.  But if one is passionate about a hobby, the work and expense are eventually well worth it.

Hobbies and Your Home |Spruce Grove Stony Plain Parkland County Real Estate | Barry TwynamI brought in someone who is an expert in salt water systems and had him advise me on what was needed.  He suggested we add two dedicated electrical circuits to accommodate all the equipment, and a sink with hot and cold running water.  We built the tank into the wall so that it can be viewed from the family room.  All the equipment is located behind the main tank in an oversized closet just off the exercise room.  The system was installed so that it could easily be converted back to what the average home buyer would expect to find.  All that we need to do is remove the equipment, frame the opening where the display tank is, mount and finish some drywall, and no one would ever know there ever was an aquarium there. Except for maybe plumbing in the wall and a humidistat hooked up to an exhaust fan.

Hobbies and Your Home |Spruce Grove Stony Plain Parkland County Real Estate | Barry Twynam

 It is worth remembering that when you modify your home to accommodate your hobby or business, you may have to remove all evidence of it ever having been there as it may be viewed as a deterrent or expense to prospective buyers.   

For most people, hobbies and interests are a special but integral part of their lives and need to be considered when shopping for a new home.

Comments or questions about this article or about Spruce Grove Real Estate?  Email me at, phone me at 780-910-9669, or contact me here.

What is a Market Evaluation?

Monday, June 21st, 2010

What is a Market Evaluation? |Spruce Grove Stony Plain Parkland County Real Estate | Barry Twynam

A Market Evaluation is a comparison of your home, whether in Spruce Grove, Stony Plain, Parkland County acreage properties, the Edmonton area or elsewhere, with homes that are currently on the market or were recently on the market. They include “Active Listings”, “Expired Listings” and properties that have recently “Sold”.

 “Active Listings” are homes currently on the market that are similar to yours and are considered to be your competition.

“Expired Listings” are properties that were on the market but didn’t sell.  There can be a number of reasons for a property not selling:  poor marketing, bad location, a house that needs extensive work…   But the main reason that a house doesn’t sell is the price was too high.  There are generally buyers for most segments of the housing market, if the price is right.  There are also strategic ways of adjusting the price of a listed property, usually downwards, while it is on the market.

Recently “Sold” properties that compare closely to your house probably tell the most about how much your house is worth.  These are properties that buyers felt were the best value for them, given the choices available to them at the time. Now if one of those houses that “Sold” were next door to your home, sold yesterday, was built in the same year, same square footage, identical lot, same development and layout, same parking amenities, same number of bathrooms and bedrooms, same basement development, same condition… and was exposed to the market for all to see and then sold, then you would have a really good idea of what your home should sell for.

However, it is never that simple.  So we compare similar homes (“Active”, “Expired” or “Sold”) and we make adjustments to the probable value of your home, either up or down), to compensate for the differences.  The more homes we compare yours with, the better idea we have of the true value of your home.  Some examples would be: busy street versus a quiet cul de sac, larger home compared to a smaller home, large to small lot, extensively renovated compared to everything being original, in let’s say a 20 year old home.  And if you are fair and honest in these comparisons, adding value or subtracting value, one can start to visualize how much your home is worth.

Usually when I do a market evaluation I bring along all the relevant comparisons, full highlight sheets of “Active Listings”, “Expired Listings” and recently “Sold Listings”.  Although I could select a few properties that closely compare and then have a computer program break down averages (days on the market, square footage, number of bedrooms, etc), I find it more informative to show my clients everything I see and explain to them how I analyzed the information to come up with what I think their home is worth.  It is surprising how people will comprehend a seemingly complex calculation when given all the information, and a slight tutorial on how to analyze the information at hand.

See also the article on entitled “What is Fair Market Value?”

If you are thinking of selling your home in Spruce Grove, Stony Plain, Parkland County or the Edmonton area, I would be pleased to do a Market Evaluation for you.  Please call me at 780-910-9669, or email me at

Not intended to solicit properties currently listed.

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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