Friday, March 26, 2010

Tips for Bathroom Renovations

                                              1. Built in Accessories: built-ins such as recessed soap dishes, medicine cabinets and even toilet roll holders can save space and streamline the look of the bathroom.

                                              2. Colour: To make a small bathroom look bigger, choose white-to-cream colour spectrum.

                                              3. Fixtures and Colour: Use white or cream coloured fixtures (i.e. toilet and bathtub)

                                              4. Dim Lighting for Mood: A dimmer switch can add mood to your bathroom

                                              5. Lighting: Enhance overhead lighting by adding Sconces around the mirror.

                                              6. Extra Pieces: If space permits, many home decorators recommend having one freestanding piece such as a decorative chair or cupboard as a design element. This "decorative" piece can serve a practical use as a place to store towels, soaps, or other small items.

                                              7. Hooks: Hooks are the easiest way to add "surface area" to a bathroom without actually adding real countertop surface area. Hooks can be used for everything from clothes to bathrobes to towels.

                                              8. Mirrors: Mirrors in bathrooms (not just above the sink) are a design element which expand the room visually and add light to the room.

                                              9. Accessorize: Candles, colour coordinated towels and bath mat, a new shower curtain and towel holders and faucets can transform a bathroom makeover.

                                              10. Declutter: Remove clutter from counters. Store in wicker baskets or install a shelf above the toilet.

                                              Tuesday, March 23, 2010

                                              Earth Hour March 27th 8:30 - 9:30pm

                                              March 23, 2010 -- On March 27 the world will be celebrating Earth Hour by turning off the lights from 8:30 – 9:30pm local time. The Toronto Real Estate Board building will be dimmed during this time and the TREB Green Taskforce is encouraging EVERYONE to do the same. From its humble beginnings a few years ago, Earth Hour has grown into an event that is supported by millions of people worldwide. For more information on this initiative please visit

                                              Wednesday, March 17, 2010

                                              March MLS Mid-Month Report

                                              TORONTO, ONTARIO -- 03/17/10 -- Greater Toronto REALTORS® reported 4,353 sales through the Multiple Listing Service® (MLS®) during the first two weeks of March.
                                              This represented a 70 per cent increase compared to the 2,562 sales recorded during the same period in 2009 when resale transactions had dipped markedly due to the recession. The mid-month sales total was also 16 per cent higher than the previous March mid- month high reached in 2006.
                                              "The spring-like weather in the first half of March brought the first green sprouts of the recurring spring market. Every year, monthly sales climb steadily through May," said Toronto Real Estate Board President Tom Lebour. "People are buying homes because they are confident in the current economic recovery and mortgage payments on the average priced home remain affordable."
                                              The average price for March mid-month transactions was $440,153 - a 20 per cent increase over 2009. New listings within the Toronto Real Estate Board boundaries were up 34 per cent to 8,540.
                                              "Look for double-digit annual price increases to cease later in 2010, as new listings rebound from the low levels experienced in 2009," said Jason Mercer, TREB's Senior Manager of Market Analysis. "Increased listings will give buyers more choice, resulting in less upward pressure on home prices."

                                              Tuesday, March 9, 2010

                                              Understanding Aluminum Wiring

                                              Arshad Khan, Certified Home Inspector - Qualityspec Inc.

                                              Understanding Aluminum Wiring.
                                              Houses with aluminum wiring are generally safe and do not cause concern even on the insurance level. Most of the Insurance companies identified that your homes electrical panel is your main concern. If your home still has an older fuse type panel, it could be a major insurance, and safety risk. Fuse panels can be upgraded to breaker panels quite easily, and at a lower cost than rewiring an entire home. The main areas of concern with aluminum wiring are your homes connectors and receptacles. When aluminum wiring was first being installed, the same receptacles and connectors were used as for copper wire, but this does not work. The connections can become loose and overheat, possibly causing a fire. According to the mostly certified Licenced electricians that receptacles can be retied with copper tails, which is roughly a 1-2 day task to refit an entire home. This increases your homes safety and brings it up to today's code standards.

                                              (Aluminum Wiring Panel box)

                                              (There has been a fire in this junction box. Note the melted wire nut and tape and bottom right. This was a junction box where copper conductors have been connected to the original Aluminum branch circuit wiring in homes can be very hazardous and requires special connectors installed by specialized contractors)

                                              Recommendations to address existing problems with aluminum wiring installations

                                              Where an existing building has the older aluminum wire installed this does not mean that it has to be removed or disconnected. There are corrective actions that can take place to make sure that the installation is safe.A construction electrician with experience in older aluminum wire installations should inspect the entire electrical system and do any of the corrective work using one of the following methods.If the aluminum wire is terminated on devices (including breakers or fuse terminations in the panel) that are approved to accommodate aluminum wire (such as dual rated items marked as listed above and marked by CSA or equivalent as shown below) then all that needs to be done is for the electrician to possibly apply some anti oxident and tighten all the connections. The connections may be required to be tightened again. Continual maintenance may be required and therefore this is considered a temporary solution.If the aluminum wire is not terminated on properly approved connectors then one of two procedures can occur:First, all of the devices can be replaced with properly approved devices to accommodate aluminum wire. This could be costly and therefore is to be considered a last alternative.Second, is to have the electrician pig tail a small piece of copper wire to the aluminum wire and terminate the copper wire portion of the cable to the device. In order to pig tail the two different wires together you have to use an appropriate connector (dual rated) and it must be approved for use in Canada.

                                              Tip: *Many insurers will not provide or renew insurance coverage on properties with Knob & Tube or Aluminum Wiring; however, there are quiet a few insurance companies, who provide the coverage on such homes. You just have to shop around. They would require the wiring to be inspected and repaired or replaced as necessary, and this work is inspected by ESA and a copy of the certificate of inspection is provided to the insurer.

                                              Understanding Knob & Tube

                                              Arshad Khan, Certified Home Inspector - Qualityspec Inc.
                                              Knob & Tube wiring is a type of wiring which was in common use until the 1940's. More than 1.5 million homes across Canada were built with knob and tube wiring. It was an early form of electrical wiring that was used up to 1945. So, many homes still have it but is now considered too risky and dangerous to be insurable, and for your own safety, and home resale value it should be replaced with copper wiring. Knob & tube wiring is comprised of insulated wires clamped on two-piece porcelain knobs; positive and negative are carried separately. Hollow porcelain tubes carry the wires, through beams and other combustible materials. Modern electrical codes do not permit this type of wiring. It can present a hazard if tampered with, particularly at unenclosed, soldered-and-taped junctions. The unsheathed insulation is subject to deterioration, particularly where it is exposed, that is, not enclosed in a wall or ceiling. Worn insulation, of course, presents a shock hazard The ESA's (Electrical Safety Authority) recommendation to insurance companies on knob and tube wiring is that they ask for inspections to make sure the wiring is safe. It does not recommend denying someone insurance simply because they have some knob and tube wiring, although individual insurance firms can refuse coverage for homes with knob and tube wiring as they see fit.

                                              (This is an electrical panel using Knob and Tube wiring as well as fuses. The incoming service wires are knob and tube connected directly to the utility service wires that continue directly to the Meter. All circuit wires to lights, plugs, and switches in this home were still using the original Knob and Tube Wires)

                                              What You Can Do
                                              The first thing to determine is the safety of your system. Even if your system is determined safe, consider upgrading at least parts of it. The areas of a knob and tube installation that are most vulnerable to mechanical damage and trouble are also those areas that are exposed and easiest to change. An electrician can advise you on various upgrade options but don't attempt an upgrade yourself.

                                              Careful Renos Can Increase Home Value

                                              March 5, 2010. Toronto Star Article --Tom Lebour, President, Toronto Real Estate Board-- The Greater Toronto Area’s spring real estate market is just weeks away and many analysts anticipate that it will be a busy one. It is expected that the number of properties available for sale will increase as homeowners react favourably to recent months’ activity. It’s also likely that the market will have more homebuyers, prompted to make a purchase before the added costs of the Harmonized Sales Tax take effect on July 1st.If you’re planning on making a foray into the market this year, now could be the time to undertake improvements, which if carefully planned, can increase the value of your home considerably.Most of us know that kitchens, bathrooms and a fresh coat of paint inside and out, offer the best return on investment. According to the Appraisal Institute of Canada, you can expect to get back 75 to 100 per cent of what you put into kitchens and bathrooms. Painting can return 50 to 100 per cent of your investment.While these are typically low risk investments, a number of factors can influence the gains you achieve with other types of renovations. Location is one such consideration. The completion of a basement recreation room for example, can generally return 50 to 75 per cent of expenses, depending on the preferences of future buyers in your area. In a predominantly seniors community its value could be considerably limited.It’s also important to consider your home’s most crucial needs. Window and door replacement may offer a return of 50 to 75 per cent, but if your existing units are broken, this home improvement should take priority on your project list. Where glaring needs are concerned, the value associated with your home’s overall impression outweighs specific project returns.When deciding whether to proceed with functional renovations though, it’s also important to consider that significant government rebates are available for many energy efficiency improvements. There are some improvements that we undertake simply for our own enjoyment, like a swimming pool, from which you can get back up to 40 per cent of your investment or landscaping, which is likely to offer a 25 to 50 per cent return. Despite the limited gains they may offer individually, these types of improvements can also make an important contribution to your property’s overall image. Consider as well that not all of your renovations need to be sizable. Even minor improvements like new light fixtures, cabinet hardware or faucets can give your home a contemporary look.
                                              For more information give me a call!

                                              Tuesday, March 2, 2010

                                              Housing Activity Stronger in 2010

                                              CMHC News Release, OTTAWA, March 2, 2010 — Housing starts rebounded in the second half of 2009 and will strengthen in 2010, according to Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation’s first quarter Housing Market Outlook, Canada Edition*.
                                              Following a total of 149,081 units in 2009, housing starts are expected to be in the range of 152,000 to 189,300 units in 2010, with a point forecast of 171,250 units. In 2011, housing starts will be in the range of 156,400 to 205,600 units, with a point forecast of 175,150 units.
                                              “Canadian housing markets will benefit from improving economic conditions and low mortgage rates,” said Bob Dugan, Chief Economist for CMHC. “As well, measures recently announced by the Government of Canada to support the long-term stability of Canada's housing market will help moderate housing activity as some potential buyers will have to save a larger down payment or consider a less expensive home.”
                                              Mr. Dugan also noted that the existing home market has shifted from a buyers’ market, at the beginning of 2009, to a sellers’ market. The relative lack of new listings for existing homes has pushed some of the demand into the new home market, which helps explain the forecast for higher housing starts activity in 2010.
                                              The strong pace of MLS®1 sales seen in the second to fourth quarters of 2009 reflects, in part, activity that was delayed in the previous two quarters. The pace is not likely to be sustained as pent-up demand is exhausted and financing costs increase with anticipated higher interest rates later in 2010. As a result, existing home sales will be in the range of 455,350 to 509,900 units in 2010, with a point forecast of 486,700 units, and then move slightly lower in 2011 to be in the range of 426,300 to 494,600 units, with a point forecast of 469,950 units.
                                              With an improved balance between demand and supply, the average MLS® price is expected to remain close to the average in the last quarter of 2009, for most of 2010, and then rise modestly in 2011.
                                              As Canada's national housing agency, CMHC draws on more than 60 years of experience to help Canadians access a variety of quality, environmentally sustainable and affordable homes. CMHC also provides reliable, impartial and up-to-date housing market reports, analysis and knowledge to support and assist consumers and the housing industry in making vital decisions.
                                              * The forecasts included in the Housing Market Outlook are based on information available as of February 16, 2010. Where applicable, forecast ranges are also presented in order to reflect economic uncertainty.

                                              Some Simple Steps to Energy Efficiency

                                              February 26, 2010 -- Tom Lebour,President of the Toronto Real Estate Board--Toronto Star---
                                              When it comes to character, you just can’t beat the charm of an older home. Newly constructed homes however, come with their own unique assets, one of the most noteworthy of which is energy efficiency.From the roof to the foundation, a number of innovative building practices often go into constructing today’s greenest homes.Roof shingles for example, are now available in recycled materials. Environmentally friendly spray foam insulation, which can help prevent dampness, keep out pollutants and contribute to structural strength, is even partially made with recycled materials.Roofs, walls and floors can be insulated as well with special structural panels that consist of two layers of board with insulating foam in between them. The forms that are used to mould a home’s poured concrete foundation can now also be found with insulating ability, and barriers that prevent dampness from rising into the foundation can be used at this stage of construction as well. Even exterior cladding is now insulated to offer greater energy efficiency.If you prefer an older home though, there are many simple ways to make it more energy efficient and environmentally friendly. Start with an Energy Star programmable thermostat that will save on heating and cooling costs when you’re not home. You can take this approach a step further by investing in a new high efficiency furnace or air conditioner. Adding insulation to the attic of your home will offer reduced energy costs for years to come as well. A tank-less water heater will also save on energy costs by providing only the amount of heated water that you need rather than maintaining it in a cylinder.Even making minor changes can have an impact, like choosing energy efficient light bulbs - Compact Fluorescent Lamps (CFLs) are good and Light Emitting Diodes (LEDs) are even better.If you’re planning to make cosmetic changes to your home you can do your part for the environment by choosing wood flooring, and even carpet, made with recycled content. Look for low VOC paints and stains as well, which reduce the number of unstable, carbon-containing compounds that enter the air and react with other elements.In the bathroom, you can keep more money in your pocket by installing low-flow faucets, showerheads and toilets. Replacing old windows with low-E argon-filled units that have the Energy Star symbol can make a dramatic difference to your home’s energy efficiency as well.Changing your old appliances with new Energy Star machines is also a great way to reduce energy consumption while enhancing the overall appeal of your home.Beyond enjoying the aesthetics, cost savings and fulfillment associated with helping the environment, you can also consider getting an energy audit to take full advantage of a number of government rebates for energy-saving home improvements. Please visit to learn more about them.Regardless of the approach you choose, remember that nothing can substitute for good-old fashioned conservation. Remember that the energy you save today may well be the energy that is needed tomorrow.

                                              Nothing To Do But Move In!

                                              23 Hollywood Avenue #1607
                                              This One Has It All! 2 + 1 Bedrooms, 2 Baths, Upgraded Engineered HardWood Flooring, Open Concept, Granite Kitchen Countertops with Undermount Sink & New Designer Faucet. 3 Entrances To Oversized Balcony, World Class Facilities, TTC, Theatres, Fine Dining and all That Downtown North York Has To Offer. Call Jason To View!