Tag Archives: Caring For Our Community

Is Your Home Affecting Your Health?

Your home is a safe haven. But, there are ways your home can damage your health.

A healthy home is a happy home. What do we mean? Well, did you know about these seven home hazards that could be affecting your health? Not to worry, our friends at Home Advisor tackle how to identify them as well as how to fix them.

#1 Mold, fungus and mildew

Aside from their smell and unsightly nature, mold, fungus and mildew can pose a serious threat to your health. If you notice any signs of these hazards (especially mold and mildew), have them removed immediately.

#2 Water-borne pollutants

Public water supplies are generally kept to a very high standard. But, it’s impossible to eliminate all water contaminants. If there is a failure in any part of your purification system, your water supply could contain dangerous pollutants. Replace your purification system to ensure your water is clean.

#3 Carbon monoxide

In sufficient quantities, carbon monoxide can kill. Carbon monoxide is difficult to detect because of its odorless and colorless nature. Address any carbon monoxide problems by ventilating your impacted space. For a long-term solution, consider installing a carbon monoxide detector.

#4 Lead

Lead causes memory loss, muscular issues and dementia. Make sure to check your paint and plumbing for lead if your home was built before 1975. If you find lead in your home, have it removed immediately.

#5 Home chemicals

Most of us have potentially harmful chemicals in our homes. These include:

  • Detergents
  • Cleaning agents
  • Bleach
  • Nail polish
  • Pesticides

Most of these substances can be replaced by safer, organic products. If not, keep your toxic chemicals out of reach of children and pets.

#6 Dust

Dust can irritate your respiratory tract. Clean any obvious dust using a damp cloth or an electrostatic wipe. Regularly vacuum curtains, upholstery and carpets. Make sure you use a HEPA filter in your vacuum cleaner. Less efficient filters allow too much dust to escape back into a room.

#7 Dampness and leaks

Moisture encourages the growth of molds and other harmful microorganisms. Eliminate any leaks in your plumbing or roofing to avoid mildew and mold problems.

Conclusion

If you feel unwell in your home, you may be suffering from a home hazard. Tackle any health problems in your home to stay healthy.

The Smartest Home Improvements for 2017

Why not add home improvements to your 2017 resolutions?

Here are a few tasks to kick off in 2017.

Replace Your Garage Door
Your garage door is one of the first things visitors and potential buyers will notice about your home. That’s why it’s important to ensure that yours is in great shape. Consider installing a new garage door if yours is damaged or showing its age.

Insulated garage doors will boost the energy savings of your home. Your garage is an open pocket of air attached to your home. As it gets colder outside, an uninsulated garage will trap cold air against your home, forcing you to spend more on energy bills. Insulated models will keep cold air out and help you eliminate extra spending on utilities.

Install Smart Locks
Smart locks allow you to control and monitor the security of your home through your smart phone. The price of smart locks will vary depending on the features. Most models come with Bluetooth connectivity and remote access.

Get a Nest Thermostat
Learning thermostats will improve the environment in your home and save you money. Smart thermostats learn your heating and cooling habits and automatically adjust your HVAC to meet your needs. You can install a smart thermostat yourself or with the help of a pro.

Complete a Minor Kitchen Remodel
Your kitchen is a busy place. Everyone loves to gather around food and enjoy good conversation while keeping the host or hostess company. If you’re dealing with a cramped kitchen, consider a minor kitchen remodel to help open up your space.

Worried about the cost of a remodel? A kitchen remodel will return 83 percent of its cost at the time of resale, making it one of the better ways to spend your money in 2017.

Update Your Bathroom
Your bathrooms are another great location for home improvements. You don’t have to overhaul the entire room to recoup the cost of your upgrades. Head to your local home improvement store and pick up any of the following items to boost the appearance of your bathrooms:

● New faucet and handles
● Modern mirrors
● New towel racks
● Floating shelves

Channel Your Inner Handyman
You can also tackle some home improvements yourself. It’s as simple as focusing on what’s already in your home rather than what it lacks. Go through your home and check for the following:

● Leaks in the shower
● Leaks in the sink
● Knicks in the drywall

Andrea Davis is the editor at HomeAdvisor, which connects homeowners with home improvement professionals in their area for free. Connect with Andrea on Google+

The Sweetest Way to Kick Off Valentine’s Day at Home

We found the best recipes for breakfast on Valentine’s Day

In case you haven’t noticed yet, Valentine’s Day falls on a Tuesday this year. Yuck, a Tuesday. If you are anything like me then going out for a nice dinner (or worse cooking one) after a long day at work sounds anything but romantic. That’s why this year I am flipping the script and focusing on kicking the day off with something sweet and what better way to do than with breakfast at my favorite place in the world…my home.

Last year, 11 Sweet Breakfast in Bed Ideas was one of our most popular posts in February so I decided to write a version 2.0. This year’s theme is all about Red Velvet and these recipes are sure to make breakfast on Valentine’s Day, or any other day for that matter, extra sweet. Enjoy!

Red Velvet Waffles | Go Eat & Repeat | Recipe Here

3 Words… Cream Cheese Glaze (mmmm)

Red Velvet French Toast | Cafe Delites | Recipe Here

What I love most about this picture is the fact that Karina added a few raspberries to the plate. In humble my opinion the fruit on this dish basically cancels out the rest of the calories.

red velvet pancakes valentines day breakfast

Red Velvet Cinnamon Rolls | No. 2 Pencil | Recipe Here

Dessert for breakfast…yes please!
red velvet breakfast cinnamon rolls

Red Velvet Crepes | Six Sister’s Stuff | Recipe Here

Close your eyes, take a bite and imagine yourself vacationing in Paris.

Red velvet crepe

Red Velvet Pancakes | DAN 330 | Recipe Here

Short stack or full…whichever you choose will  be a delight!

red velvet pancakes

Red Velvet Donuts | Homemade Hooplah | Recipe Here

While most donuts are fried these are actually baked, so don’t feel bad when you reach for seconds.

red velvet donuts

Red Velvet Nutella Hearts | I Love to Cook | Recipe Here

N U T E L L A!!! Need I say more?!

Red Velvet “Skinny” Shake | Mom on Time Out | Recipe Here

You and your honey can satisfy your sweet tooth with this recipe for 2!

A Quiet Start to the New Year

Photo

People tend to hibernate at home more at this time of year, often to recharge after a hectic end to the previous year. Aim for true peace, quiet and indoor tranquility with these noise-busting tips.

Close the door on squeaky door and cupboard hinges. Most squeaks can be quashed by spraying WD-40 onto the hinges and moving the door or cupboard door back and forth to work in the lubricant.

Silence your steps. Broke curfew? Planning a midnight fridge raid? Make like a ninja on de-squeaked wooden floors, courtesy of a good sprinkling of talcum powder or cornstarch. Force the powder into the floorboards to reduce the friction where the pieces of wood rub together.

Mute the mayhem. While today’s fans, dishwashers and other appliances are much quieter than they used to be, full at-home relaxation requires the muting of as many other sounds as possible. To this end, choose padded carpeting over bare floors, sound-blocking curtains and solid — not hollow core — doors. If replacing doors isn’t an option, at least apply weatherstripping or soundproofing tape around each indoor door to provide a sound barrier/seal. For a more major soundproofing effort, consider sound-blocking ceiling materials that help to block noise traveling from one floor to the next.

Have a silent night. A squeaky bed can keep you, your partner and — if you have someone living downstairs — other people awake with your every turn. If you have a metal bed frame, sometimes simply removing the mattress and tightening the frame’s screws and bolts will remedy the problem.

You can also take apart the bed frame and rub some candle wax or paraffin over the contact surfaces of the joints, or grease with WD-40 to get rid of the friction and help silence the squeaks. If screws are no longer a tight fit, take them out and wrap plumber’s tape around each one, and consider adding new washers too before screwing them back in.

If the squeaks are the result of the metal corners of your box spring interacting with the metal bed frame, you can try cushioning the spaces with old socks, t-shirts or towels.

After all that, if your bed continues to squeak you may want to try placing a sheet of plywood under your mattress to act as a buffer between the mattress and box spring. Plywood isn’t expensive, and most big box stores will cut the wood to the size of your box spring if you give them the dimensions, so it’s worth a try before taking on the expense of a new bed.

What’s that Noise in the Attic?

PhotoIf the weather outside is frightful, you may currently find yourself in hibernation mode. And if you’re not used to spending a lot of time indoors you may start to notice sounds you’ve never noticed before, including scurrying and scratching noises from inside your roof or walls.

The pitter-patter of little feet above your head could suggest that rodents have taken shelter inside your attic. Taking a peek inside your attic, evidence of an infestation can include chewed wiring, gnawed insulation, compromised wood, and droppings. Don’t wait another minute to call in a professional pest control expert to confirm what kind of invader you’re dealing with, keeping in mind that mice, squirrels and raccoons can make noises much greater than their size would suggest, especially when any noise is amplified by an unfinished attic space.

Once you confirm critters are inside your attic as opposed to on the outside of your house — perhaps using your roof as a super highway — you’ll want the pest control people to trap and remove them before they have a chance to do real damage. What you definitely don’t want to do is put poison out, as if an animal dies up in your attic you’ll find yourself dealing with a situation that literally stinks.

Protect Your Home This Winter!

PhotoWinter is officially here, and ideally you’ll be warm and dry this season by staying one step ahead of snow and water damage. If your home needs repairs, however, where will the money come from? Let’s talk about your household emergency fund today!

It happens every year, yet some people continue to be surprised — and unprepared — for the arrival of winter. Whether it’s torrents of rain or mountains of snow that defines winter in your area, it’s not too late to prime your home for it.

The cost of a replacement furnace, a new roof, basement waterproofing or attic insulation can throw a wrench into any household budget. You may not think of calling your mortgage broker for this type of funding but you’ll be interested to know you may be able to find the answer to your financing requirements right here! Call now to find out how to secure the right financing — at the right rate and terms — for your particular needs.

Please call today if you, your family or friends have questions about budgeting for your home or anything in it. There’s never any cost or obligation, only the potential to make you even more proficient in managing your household finances.

Create a Merry Morning Basket

PhotoControl some of the chaos of your family’s gift opening frenzy by assembling a basket full of supplies you might need, including a garbage bag, scissors, a tool to open clam shell packaging, and batteries for any toys you know the children will be receiving. Include a pad of paper and a pen in the basket to keep track of what came from whom, and throw your camera or fully-charged cell phone into the basket too, to ensure you don’t miss even one smile!

Thrifty Gift Wrapping Gifts

Photo‘Tis the season for gift giving. Wrap up your gift wrapping duties with these tips for an organized and cost-effective assembly.

  • Save time by creating a dedicated gift-wrapping station with all your supplies. Even a folding card table in the corner of a room does the trick. Equip it with scissors, tape, a glue stick, gift wrap, gift bags, tissue paper, ribbons, gift tags and pens, all together in one spot.
  • Save on gift wrap: use rolls of brown kraft paper, newspaper comics, magazine pages, leftover fabric and wallpaper scraps, or even an old road map for a fun gift wrap alternative.
  • Make the wrapping a part of the gift by utilizing colorful scarves, tea towels, even tablecloths or towels as giftwrap. Secure the ends with knots or safety pins, or tie up with ribbon, yarn or twine.
  • Look around for bow alternatives. Candy is always dandy, while sprigs of holly, twigs and seasonal greenery add natural charm to your gift.
  • Instead of non-biodegradable foam chips, create your own, colorful packing material by running used giftwrap or colorful magazine pages through a shredder.
  • Don’t discard extra bits of wrapping paper or even old cards; cut them down for use as gift tags.
  • Decorate brown paper lunch bags instead of using more expensive gift bags. Insert the gift, then fold the bag over, punch holes through the fold, lace yarn or festive ribbons through the holes then finish with a green sprig from the outdoors.

Sleep On It

PhotoThe upcoming holidays signify some of the busiest long-distance travel periods of the year, and much of that travel involves visits to out-of-town relatives. If you’re expecting company but don’t have a dedicated guest room to put them in, you’ll want to try and make them as comfortable as possible with these suggestions:

  • When setting up your home, and assuming you don’t already have a dedicated guest room, consider buying a futon or daybed for your den or living room instead of a couch (unless it’s a pullout couch). That way you’re always ready for overnight company. Having a decent air mattress on hand is a good backup plan too.
  • If your guest is being placed in the living room or a common area, invest in an inexpensive, portable folding screen to provide a bit of privacy, from both sides of the screen.
  • Offer to store your guest’s luggage out of his or her way, and assign a clear area behind the screen for them to place their clothes and other personal effects.
  • Have available some amenities appropriate to someone sleeping in a strange — and perhaps somewhat exposed — place. Earplugs to block out noise and a sleep mask to block light can make the difference between a restless night and a good sleep. Also lay out towels, extra pillows and blankets so your guest doesn’t have to seek them out.

Those homeowners who do have an extra bedroom and who survived the holidays relatively unscathed may start to toy with the idea of renting out a bedroom to generate a little extra income. If that’s you, first be sure to check your local regulations to confirm what is considered a bedroom.

While it may sound a little confusing, (after all, isn’t a room with a bed in it considered a bedroom?), the requirements to meet the legal definition of a bedroom could include specific points such as:

  • Putting safety first, a legal bedroom in some definitions must have two means of egress (exit) — one being a door that leads into the home, and the second in the form of either another door, or a window that opens to the outside. The window should be large enough for a fully equipped firefighter to get in and out of. An interior room cannot be called a bedroom as it lacks both windows and outside egress. A room that can only be accessed through another room — a “walk-through” room — is also not considered a bedroom in the legal sense.
  • Minimum size requirements usually mean the room cannot be less than seven feet in any horizontal direction, and seven feet high.
  • Depending on local regulations and perhaps how old the home is, having a closet in the bedroom, while expected, is not necessarily a requirement.
  • Remember that the price for a home is influenced by the number of bedrooms on the main floor. Check with your real estate representative for clarification on what constitutes a bedroom in your municipality.

Home buyers optimistic about GTA real estate market, research finds

A recent poll for the Ontario Real Estate Association shows that half of buyers expect to purchase a detached home.

Home buyers remain optimistic despite the average price for a detached home climbing to $1.3 million in Toronto this fall.

TORSTAR NEWS SERVICE

Home buyers remain optimistic despite the average price for a detached home climbing to $1.3 million in Toronto this fall.

High prices and tighter lending conditions aren’t dampening consumers’ optimism and enthusiasm for real estate in the Toronto region, where half of homebuyers still expect to purchase that most expensive and elusive asset, a detached home.

Even as the price of the average Toronto area detached home climbed to about $1 million this fall ($1.3 million in Toronto), half of buyers in the region say that’s the kind of house they expect to purchase, according to the Ontario Real Estate Association (OREA) Ontario Home Ownership Index being released Tuesday.

“People are optimistic about the housing market in 2017. We actually see an increase in people who are looking to buy and an increase in the number looking to sell a home,” said OREA CEO Tim Hudak.

The index is based on research conducted twice a year by Ipsos Reid to gauge Ontarian’s perceptions of the real estate market and the economy. Overall, the index rose two points to 131.

It shows that 49 per cent of Toronto area residents expect their city’s real estate market will be stronger in the coming year, compared to 46 per cent this year.

Twenty-two per cent of survey respondents said they expected to buy a semi-detached home and 19 per cent were in the market for a condo, a drop from last year when 26 per cent identified that housing choice.

“It’s part of life that we, as human beings like to have a little bit of space when you’re raising a family … You’re really seeing the increase in prices are among the detached and semi-detached homes because people at some time in their lives, they often want a little bit of space for their garden or to kick the soccer ball around with their daughter,” Hudak said.

But changes from government are impacting some buyer attitudes.

“There is a sentiment too among first-time home buyers that some will be forced to put off a decision or look at a smaller-valued home because of the recent changes on mortgage insurance and the stress test,” he said.

Hudak, former leader of the Ontario Progressive Conservative Party, praised the Liberal government for doubling the first-time buyer rebate on the provincial land transfer tax to $4,000 on homes up to $300,000.

That’s the range most buyers outside of Toronto are considering and it’s still helpful for Toronto consumers too, he said.

“We’re hopeful the city will match that instead of clawing it back. I remain optimistic about that,” said Hudak, referring to a recent city manager’s report that suggested Toronto could raise some badly needed revenue by harmonizing its land transfer charge — the only such municipal tax — with the province.

As vigorous as the market has been in 2016, with prices up about 20 per cent year-over-year, half of Toronto area residents say they expect it will be even stronger next year, according to the Ipsos data.

In the City of Toronto, 52 per cent of respondents said the current residential real estate market is favourable. That was up 10 index points from last year’s survey. Residents in the 905-area communities were even more favourably disposed to their real estate picture, at 57 per cent. That was down, however, seven points from last year.

More than half of survey respondents saw real estate conditions as favourable.

The online Ipsos survey of 1,003 Ontario residents for OREA was conducted between Oct. 27 and 31. It is considered accurate within 3.5 per cent 19 times out of 20.

Buyer and seller perceptions

18%

Toronto area residents who said they planned to purchase a home in the next two years — up from 15% last year. That compares to 14% of Ontarians who said they would likely buy in the next two years — a seven index point increase over last year.

19%

Toronto area respondents who plan to sell a home in the next two years, up from 14% last year.

82%

Likely home buyers in Ontario who believe their local economy is good. 76% of those likely to sell their homes say the same.

45%

Ontario first-time buyers who say they will need to keep saving for a 20% down payment to meet the government’s more rigorous mortgage requirements.

20%

First-time buyers who say they have to postpone their purchase because of the new lending rules.

34%

First-time buyers who will look for a less expensive home in the same city.

 

Ipsos for the Ontario Real Estate Association Ontario Home Ownership Index