Hi everybody! 

 

I am proud to introduce you to my new Roland J. Darel Realty Maxwell Canada App! This app was designed with you, my clients in mind, its ease of use is exactly what my clients were looking for. By simply downloading you will have the power to see every listing in Canada starting with your exact location. By simply moving the map it instantly takes you to the listings in that area. 

It also includes the Maxscan which is Augmented Reality to see the listings around you! Super cool! You can also request Showings, get up-to-date market information, save favorites with just a simple couple touches. 


You no longer need to log into a website and search for an address, with my app its literally at your finger tips. 

Download it today and start searching!


Get it here: http://app.maxwellrealty.ca/vgTr

 

Cheers everybody!

 

Roland


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So, I just had to write a little blog post about my experience with a Calgary Painting company. We hired Calgary Residential Commercial Painters by Can Do More Painting to help out a client. We have used painters before for not only my clients but also for my family personally. Now, although the other companies did a great job, there was just that little extra lacking and the price always seemed to change from the initial quote. Not a huge amounts sometimes a $100.00 sometimes $75.00 but it was never what was initially quoted. So this time we decided to hire another painter and our relationship with Calgary Residential Commercial Painters by can Do More Painting was born. These guys are unbeleivable! The work they completed on the home was phenominal, extremly professional and CLEAN! 

 

The painting job was as perfect as it could get and they far exceeded our ex[pectations. Absolute perfect cut ins and the paint theu use is the absolute best. And to top it all off the bill didn't change at the end, what we were quoted is what we paid. 

 

Unbelivable service you guys! I will most definetley recommed you to everyone I know!

Call them, you'll be glad you did! 

https://www.calgaryresidentialcommercialpainters.com/

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We had another amazing home inspection for my client today completed by Hawkeye Home Inspection. I can't believe the job that Chris does. It absolutley compels me to write about and inform as many people as possible who may be interested in Calgary Real Estate or Okotoks Real Estate on what an incredible job he does. 

 

We spent aprox 4.5 hours at the home today. A single family home 2200 square feet fully finished in Okotoks. Chris started as usual on the exterior and works like a machine He took a tremendous amount of photos and even though it was -20 it's like it didnt even phase him. He did everything the same as if it was +25. He doesn't let anything stop him. 

 

Inside the home he did his usual complete inspection looking at everything you could imagine and also did his moisture readings and infared imaging as added security for our clients. He found a number of issues that if arn't taken care of could turn into real serious issues. He always finds things that us normal folks would never see! 

 

Another amazing job Chris, thank you! 

Please do not hesitate to call him for the best inspection you could ever receive. 

http://www.registeredcalgaryhomeinspector.com

403-908-0828

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Just wanted to give a HUGE Shout out to the Calgary Marketing Agency I hired to assist with my Website construction and Marketing needs. BLASTIT MARKETING they have done such an unbeleivable job for me. They took a daunting task and created a wonderful site for myself and my clients and anyone who is looking to buy or sell homes in Calgary or Okotoks. 

 

Here is just a few more works of art that BLASTIT Marketing has created. I know that they get these business's a whole lot of business! If you need help with website creation, SEO, Lead Generation or just simply need more customers then you NEED to Contact these guys!

 

Works of Art:

www.calgaryguitarshredder.com

www.maidcleaningservicescalgary.com

www.walkingthedogscalgary.com

www.regesteredcalgaryhomeinspector.com

www.calgarydrywallcontractor.com

 

Just to name a few!

 

Cheers everyone

Roland

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I'd just like to give a huge shout out to the best Calgary and Okotoks dog walkers I have ever met. So friendly, professional and reliable. Being a REALTOR® I dont have a set schedule, there for can't alawys be there for my dog when he needs his walks. I have used a few different dog walking companies and most have been "ok" but I have certainly found the one I will continue to use and recommened from here on! Walking The Dogs Calgary are the best! Please visit their site and contact them anytime.

Cheers

Rolly

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Don%27t%20panic%20for%20life%27s%20unexpected%20event(NC)-One thing in life is certain – and it is that there will always be unexpected things that pop up. They can be positive (marriage, new child, promotion, inheritance from a long-lost relative) or negative (job loss, death, divorce) and often have significant financial implications. Women are often the most impacted by life's unexpected events. According to research conducted for TD's Women Investor Strategy, nine out of 10 Canadian women will be the sole decision-maker concerning their finances at some point in their lives.
 

Although such life events may be unavoidable, there are steps women can take so they're prepared financially and more equipped to manage any surprises.
 

"While you can't predict the future, and the unexpected is – unexpected – being proactive can help you prepare yourself financially for unforeseen events," says Sandy Cimoroni, President, TD Mutual Funds and head of TD's Women Investor Strategy. "The best way to be prepared is to have a written, comprehensive financial plan that includes an emergency savings fund."
 

According to a recent poll by TD Waterhouse, more than half (53%) of Canadian women agree that there are differences in the way women and men approach investing and working with an advisor. Cimoroni provides tips for some things for women to keep in mind when thinking about their financial plan:
 

• Understand your family finances – it's essential for women, whether married, single, a parent, grandparent or otherwise, to understand their family finances (bank accounts and approximate balances, investments, financial strategy, etc.) so that if necessary, they can continue to manage, or take control, of their family's finances.
 

• Plan for the unexpected – ensure that if something happens, such as an unexpected expense (car repair, home renovation), significant illness or job loss, you have an emergency savings fund to cover your expenses (a general rule is to have the value of three to six months' of regular expenses set aside).
 

• Work with an advisor – compared to men, women often seek more education and market information when making financial decisions. Pros can help you better navigate your life and financial goals, and they should also be committed to investing time to educate you about the options available.
 

"What's most important is feeling confident that your future is financially secure," Cimoroni adds.



Courtesy of Newscanada
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(BPT) - If you shudder at the thought of shivering through another frigid winter, building industry experts say now is the time to consider winterizing your home. Several simple and cost-effective measures can yield both immediate and long-term benefits.

While instinct may prod you to increase the heat during winter and keep your home toasty all day long, that's not always cost-effective. Investing in a programmable thermostat allows you to adjust the temperature remotely, lowering the setting when the house is empty, and save money in the process. Modern thermostats let you monitor the indoor temperature of your home remotely via your smartphone or online. By keeping the temperature low when no one is home and programming the thermostat to increase the temperature when everyone arrives home, you could notice a 10 percent drop in your heating costs.

Fall is also an ideal time to ensure your furnace is functioning optimally. Schedule an appointment for a professional to inspect and clean your furnace once a year. By doing so, you'll help your furnace function more effectively and last longer.

If ice damming on the roof is an annual problem, consider taking measures to completely stop dams from forming. Major damage can result from ice damming, so it's never too early to start thinking about a long-term solution. Ice damming occurs when warm, indoor air escaping through the roof melts snow on the shingles. The water then refreezes as it runs off the roof, creating a barrier of ice at the edge. Shovelling snow or chipping ice away can threaten life, limb and roof, so it's best to consider more permanent solutions.

While caulking or weather-stripping can help address the gaps allowing the air to escape, the U.S. Department of Energy's Home Energy Saver website says that proper air sealing, insulation and attic venting are the best methods to stop ice damming from occurring. Spray foam insulation is one modern material that both insulates and seals to stop ice damming. Installed by professionals, spray foam insulation, like that available from Icynene, works well in all climates to completely seal the building, filling every gap to stop air leakage and stop ice dams from forming.

As a long-term solution, spray foam insulation helps maintain a comfortable temperature year round while helping to control monthly heating and cooling expenses. Thanks to spray foam insulation's air-sealing qualities, homeowners can reduce the size of their heating and cooling equipment since less effort is required to heat or cool the home, according to InsulationSmart.com.

While air leakage can cause energy bills to sky-rocket and ice damming to occur, a well-insulated home and economical winterizing can help you get through the cold winter months. Learn the five easy steps to choosing the right insulation by visiting icynene.com.

Courtesy of BPT
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Many people use just one word to describe lavish, luxurious homes filled with the latest interior design trends: unattainable.

These dream homes that appear on television programs and grace the pages of magazines are seen as projects that can only be executed by affluent homeowners who chase trends and change decor with every season. But, according to television design star Lisa LaPorta, with a practical approach, it's easy to stay at the forefront of hot home design trends on any budget.

"Designer homes should be sources of inspiration and motivation," LaPorta says. "When you're researching home renovation and style, you should absolutely look to the most stylish and opulent examples. Then, once you know what you want, execute those ideas on a budget that works for you." According to LaPorta, the best way to keep your home up to date with current trends is to change elements that have high impact, and are cost-effective.  

"It might seem obvious, but painting can truly transform a home from being 20 years outdated, to one on the cusp of modern decor," she says. "Keep abreast of the design trends, but don't forget to include your own personality."

LaPorta advises homeowners to be introspective and look to their own personal sense of style to identify paint colors. Your wardrobe says a lot about you and can help guide color selection for your home, she states. Be confident in your choices and run with them. But, she cautions people to never choose a final color while at the paint or hardware store.

"Too often I see people choose colors on the spot at a paint store, only to go home and realize it looks completely different on the wall," LaPorta says. "There's a reason you're allowed to take color chips home with you. You need to test them!"

She goes on to say that many people think color selection is the most important part of painting. Once they know what colors they want to use, it's as simple as grabbing a paint brush and covering the wall, right? Wrong. In reality, choosing an inferior brush can have an enormous negative impact on the final result. LaPorta recommends using high-quality painting tools such as Purdy brushes and rollers for a flawless finish.  

The appearance of a finished painting project is very much dependent on the quality of the applicators used. "When you're painting, the brush really does matter. A Purdy brush holds more paint, provides smooth, even coverage and vastly reduces brush marks on the wall."

Once you have the perfect, trendy colors on the walls, it's time to accessorize. LaPorta notes that many people have a tendency to overpopulate their rooms with too much furniture. Not only does this clutter the space, but it's quite costly, as well. Instead, she recommends putting larger furniture pieces in a rotation to cut down on clutter.

"Design is cyclical," LaPorta points out. "Eventually, the couch you bought in the '70s will be popular again. But, that doesn't mean it should be on display until that happens. Focus on a few pieces of large furniture and then chase the trends by purchasing smaller, less costly items such as throw pillows, rugs or inexpensive art and paintings. Then, as trends change and evolve, rotate the larger pieces into your decor.  You'll save money, but still feel like your home is on-trend.

A fresh coat of paint and some new accessories can create dramatic change, but LaPorta also points out that simply changing the layout of a room can also make a big difference.

"Homeowners sometimes forget that rearranging furniture can completely change the appeal and feel of a space," she says. "Step outside of the boundaries of your normal decorating style and see how you feel. Instead of having the television as the focal point of a living room, make the coffee table or fireplace the center. The best part is, it's free. And if you don't like how it looks, you can always change it back."

These few simple design tips can help transform your home into a chic, trendy space that's the envy of the neighborhood, all at a price tag you can afford.
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(NC) Buying your first house can be exciting and nerve-wracking, especially with so many factors to consider. Even now in this low-interest rate climate, going out and buying the first place you see is very tempting. But will you end up living beyond your means? What if interest rates go up? Are you really ready to make this huge financial commitment for the next 12 to 15 years, or longer? Before you sign the dotted line, the financial experts from Desjardins Group have some tips to help get you started.
 

A huge life decision
  • Purchasing a home is very attractive if you've grown weary of renting. But when you own property, there's more to worry about than just the mortgage. For example, there's property tax, utilities, maintenance and insurance. Sometimes buying a place isn't a good idea if you like to live independently with lots of traveling and entertainment. Maybe you're actually ready to settle down. If so, have you made a budget to see if you can manage your new home? Your financial advisor will likely suggest that you borrowing less to give yourself a financial buffer. Also make sure that you speak to your financial advisor about the relationship between interest rates and current economic conditions. Repaying a mortgage loan can take 25 years or more, which is a long time during which many things can happen. So it's important to understand these financial cycles and how they could affect your cash flow.

Securing a down payment for your mortgage
 

  • Experts advise that prospective home owners should have a down payment of up to 20 per cent of the house's value. One option is to borrow against your RRSP. The allowable amount is $25,000 per person or $50,000 per couple. If you haven't enough in your account, it's possible to take a top-up RRSP loan to reach the right amount. After the purchase, you'll have 15 years to repay the amount to your RRSP. Another option is to put down 10 per cent and to accept a higher mortgage loan insurance payment. Next question: is it better to choose a fixed or variable rate? A fixed interest rate offers stability and predictability, but you lose out on lower interest rates should they become available. The payments with variable interest rates also remain constant but there is the risk that interest rates may go up. This means more goes to your interest payment and less to your principal.

For more information about buying your first home, speak to your financial advisor. Or for immediate answers and mortgage calculators, visit Desjardins Group at www.desjardins.com/co-opme.

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Forks go to the left of the dinner plate.You've spent the entire day in the kitchen cooking the perfect holiday meal. But it's an hour before your guests arrive and you find yourself standing in front of the table listening to that little nagging voice inside your head.

Do the water glasses go to the right or left? What side does the knife go on? Should you go ahead and put food on the table before guests arrive, or wait until everyone gets there?

"We hear from so many panicked people this time of year looking for a crash course in how to set the table and proper manners," says etiquette coach Jill Slatter. "Most of us are stretched so thin juggling work, school and home that we don't have time to sit down together for a proper meal except at the holidays, and then the pressure is on to be perfect."

Slatter is the etiquette expert for Replacements, Ltd., billed as the world's largest retailer of old and new china, silver, crystal and collectibles. Based on their most frequently asked questions, Slatter shares a holiday etiquette 101 crash course that's sure to help you impress your guests.

Set the perfect table

Forks to the left, knives and spoons to the right. The sharp side of the knife blade should be turned toward the dinner plate. Only include utensils in your place setting that will be used for the courses you are serving. "If you're not serving soup or salad, you certainly don't want an extra spoon or fork in your place setting," Slatter says. "Not only will those get in the way and create extra work for you, the extra utensils may confuse your guests."  

The bread plate goes on the left of the dinner plate, glasses on the right.

Wait to pour. Water glasses should be the only glasses filled before your guests arrive. Iced tea, wine and other beverages should be poured once everyone is seated. Wine glasses should be filled halfway, not to the rim.

Salad and bread should be the only food on the table when your guests arrive.

Are you the hostess with the mostest?

Remember, the hostess always sits last.

Passing isn't just in football. Always pass food around the table counter clockwise to the right and refrain from serving yourself first. Always pass the salt and pepper as a set, even if you're only asked for one.

Can your guests see each other? Sure those flowers you spent hours arranging for the centerpiece are pretty, but they will only get in the way if your guests have to crane their necks to see each other. Make sure your guests can look over any table adornments.

Be a gracious guest

"There is nothing more disruptive than a cell phone ringing at the dinner table," says Slatter. "Turn your phone on vibrate, or better yet, don't even bring it to the table. Holiday gatherings mark the time to enjoy the company of the people you are with, rather than ignore them by chatting with someone who's not even there."

Wait for the signal. Your hosts will let you know when it's okay to begin eating. They may offer a blessing or statement or perhaps start by passing a dish.

If you're not sure which utensil to use with each course, start on the outside and work in toward the dinner plate.

If you need to excuse yourself temporarily, gently place your napkin on your chair to indicate you will be coming back.

Signify you're finished with the meal by placing your napkin to the left of the dinner plate, and your fork and knife side by side diagonally across your plate with the sharp side of the knife blade facing inward and the fork tines up.

"Another big question we hear concerns what to do if you accidently break a piece of the host's dinnerware," adds Slatter. "You should certainly offer to replace the broken piece especially if it has sentimental value for the host or hostess."

Slatter says don't lose hope if your host doesn't know the name of the pattern or the manufacturer; you can always take advantage of Replacements' free pattern identification service.

If you're still in doubt about holiday etiquette 101, help is just a mouse click away. You can watch more of Slatter's tips on Replacements' YouTube channel. You can also find cheat sheets of place setting guides diagramming how to set the table for various meals at the company's website, www.replacements.com. Bon appetit!

IMAGE CAPTIONS:
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Caption 1: Forks go to the left of the dinner plate.

Caption 2: Always place liquids to the right of the dinner plate.
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How to make your holiday event stand outWhen you open your home to family and friends this holiday season, you want to give your guests the best impression possible. But, it's likely that you might not have everything that you need to accommodate your visitors.

Hosting a large gathering is not something you do every day, so many of the necessary items are not things you'll have sitting in your kitchen cabinets, garage or basement ready for use. Fortunately, you won't need to break the bank buying everything you need. If you can't find what you're looking for in your home, your local rental store will be able to help.

Here are a few things you can do to make your holiday event one to remember:

* Not enough seating? Consider renting some tables and chairs. It's better than having to haul the card table up from the basement and offering your guests a cold folding chair.

* Set your table with the latest styles of linens, china and silver. If these aren't items that you, or another family member, has at their disposal, find them at  your local rental store.

* Don't forget that elegant lighting and centerpieces will go a long way to creating the perfect look and feel for your special holiday event. Small things like this can make a huge difference in the ambiance of your gathering.

* Add some extra flair to your event and have a champagne fountain or margarita machine on hand. These types of fun rental party items make for a special surprise for your guests.

* The outside of your home is the first impression. Make sure that your outdoor decorations are just as elegant and beautiful as the ones inside.

* If you're hosting a particularly large group, it may be difficult to keep food hot when it comes time to dine. Renting food preparation items, chafing dishes or other warmers will ensure every one of your guests enjoys a delicious dining experience.

To get a better idea of what types of items you can rent for parties and to locate a store near you, visit www.rentalhq.com. Think it sounds out of your budget to create a perfect event? Not necessarily. Your local rental store has everything you need and can offer service and advice to help eliminate stress. You'll also save money on items you will be using only once.
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Calgary and Okotoks Realty Roland J. Darel. With the countdown on to check off everyone on that holiday gift list, the swelling crowds in malls may make shopping less appealing. The upside? Easy ways exist to navigate the stress of last-minute shopping.

"Canadians can satisfy all of their shopping needs with the click of a mouse when they visit airmilesshops.ca, a unique Canadian online shopping portal," says Andy Wright, president, AIR MILES Reward Program. "We've partnered with more than 100 of the top retailers in both Canada and the U.S. to offer one-stop-shopping, plus the opportunity to earn AIR MILES reward miles from the comfort of your own home."
 

As experts in online shopping, we offer these essential holiday shopping tips:
 

• Prepare a detailed list that includes everyone you need to shop for. If you have the time, create categories to make it simple to search for items all at once online.
 

• Stay tuned into social media to keep up with deals and coupons at favorite online shops and with your loyalty programs. For example, 'like' a loyalty program's Facebook page to stay on top of current promotions, and check in occasionally to their website for bonus offers and more.
 

• Set up newsletter alerts with favorite retailers and schedule a time during the week to review them for any hot deals on items from your list.
 

• Have a budget in mind and find a system that works to track all purchases. Whether the information is stored electronically, or on a notepad, making a note of spending will help to cross-reference when the credit card bill comes in.
 

• Schedule a time to shop – and stick to it. Like scheduling Saturday hockey practice or dance classes with the kids, it's important to set aside a couple of hours or more each week to finalize purchases.
 

Every organized step made toward efficient holiday shopping means more quality time spent with loved ones during this special time of year!

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From baking cookies with loved ones to caroling through the neighborhood or celebrating with family and friends, fond memories of holiday traditions abound. Each year, scents, sights and sounds promote the season's spirit - continuing long-standing traditions and creating new memories.

Here are some ideas for stimulating your senses and evoking the warmth of the holidays in your home:

Savoring seasonal scents
Home fragrances create a warm, inviting environment during the holidays and all year-round. A whiff of a familiar scent often calls to mind memories of holidays past. The scent of cinnamon and vanilla conjures thoughts of freshly baked cinnamon rolls on Christmas morning, while a blend of evergreens, cedar, and musk reminds many of Christmas tree hunting in the woods.

One of the safest ways to recreate holiday memories is with scented, wickless candles. With no wick and no flame, there's no worry or mess. After selecting a favorite seasonal fragrance, it's easy to place a cube or two of the scented wax into a decorative, ceramic candle warmer. Just one whiff and you are on your way down memory lane.

"A festive, welcoming atmosphere stimulates our senses and reminds us of holidays past as we celebrate with our family and friends," says Heidi Thompson, president and co-owner of Scentsy, a leader in home fragrance. "A home filled with classic holiday scents not only evokes  memories but inspires new seasonal traditions for young families."

Behold the sights
Twinkling lights fill the indoor and outdoor landscape during the holidays. To capture the spirit of the season and add a shimmering glow to any room, consider a simple string or two of miniature lights strung along a mantel or displaying a holiday-themed wickless candle. From snowmen to Santa, there are festive designs in all shapes and sizes to complement any decor.

Sounds of the season
The sounds of the season create happy holiday memories. Adding traditional tunes from Bing Crosby or modern interpretations from Harry Connick, Jr. can set the mood as you decorate your home, entertain dinner guests or simply escape the hustle and bustle of the season. Music creates a cheerful atmosphere and often encourages listeners to sing along.

Enjoying the scents, sights and sounds of the season is simple. To learn more about how to fill your home with festive fragrances and decorate with wickless candles, visit www.Scentsy.net.
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Calgary and Okotoks Realty Roland J. Darel. Home life is changing, so sound dampening is more important than ever. Life is getting louder inside and around the home. Televisions, home theaters, computers and video games blare from almost every room. Family cell phones ring or buzz, making life loud.
 

Your home's insulation can do more than keep you warm in the winter and cool in the summer. With the right selection, your insulation can help transform your home into a quiet retreat and sanctuary from the outside world.
 

Sound dampening is becoming a requirement for modern families, so if you have the opportunity to re-insulate your home, sound-proofing insulation is an excellent choice to escape the everyday hustle and bustle. Stone wool insulation, for example, is a top choice for professional recording studios. This material is an excellent acoustic barrier that actually absorbs the sound. For homeowners, retailers point to a performance tested product called, Roxul Safe 'n' Sound mineral wool insulation. It provides higher sound absorption against low frequency (bass) ranges that other types of insulation struggle to block.
 

For the best soundproofing results, install the mineral wool insulation in your home theater, basements, home office, laundry room, furnace room and even the washrooms. Installing mineral wool insulation on the interior walls will control sound, delivering peace and quiet.



Courtesy of Newscanada
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(NC)-Taking holiday decorating to extremes is fun. But accidents can happen, especially when using a lot of electronic decorations on the outside of the house.

Follow these safety precautions for outdoor decorating from CSA Group, a leader in electronic product testing and certification, to help make sure your house gets noticed for the right reasons:

• Put your faith in the magic of the holidays but don't fall for fakes: Whether it's a waving Santa, rocking sleigh, or light-up Rudolph, avoid counterfeit electronic decorations that haven't been certified for safe use. Look for the mark from an accredited certification organization like CSA Group on light strings, extension cords, and animated displays. Make sure they are marked for outdoor use and follow the manufacturer's instructions.

• Keep old holiday traditions, not old holiday lights: Carefully inspect light strings each year. Discard any with frayed cords, cracked lamp holders or loose connections.

• Sparkle without the spark: Turn off the electricity to the supply outlet before working with outdoor wiring. Unplug light strings before replacing bulbs and check to ensure replacement bulbs match the voltage and wattage of the original. To avoid a shock from damaged wire, use insulated fasteners rather than metal nails or tacks to hold light strings in place.

• Stay dry: Keep electrical connectors for outdoor lights above ground, out of water, and away from metal eaves troughs. Connect outdoor lighting into receptacles protected by weatherproof ground fault circuit interrupters (GFCI). These can provide protection from electric shock by sensing ground leakage and cutting electrical power.

• Don't be silly with strings: Make decorating a family activity by planning out this year's theme with the kids, but don't let children or pets play with light strings.

• Don't overextend yourself: Use heavy duty extension cords for high wattage decorations and large electronically-animated displays and don't overload extension cords.

• It's more than a faux-pas to keep lights up all year: Outdoor holiday lights are made for seasonal use only; extended exposure can lead to damage. After the holiday season, take down decorations and store them in their original packaging to keep the proper use instructions for next year.

You can find more safety tips at www.csaholiday.com.



Courtesy of Newscanada
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Sometimes the best way to find that perfect holiday gift is to search and shop online; it's quick, easy and convenient. And more and more people are doing it: It's anticipated that sales for November and December will grow to $54.5 billion this year, according to eMarketer.

As you venture into unknown online territory in your quest for that perfect gift, it's important to shop with a heightened sense of security. There are undoubtedly countless honest and hardworking sellers who peddle goods over the Internet, but there are also scammers looking to take advantage of unwitting victims.

Help protect yourself from scammers by following three simple rules:

1. Never use a money transfer service to pay for something online.

'Money transfer services are convenient and simple ways to send cash to people you personally know, but you're better off paying by credit card or using an escrow service when you're buying goods online from someone you don't know or you haven't met in-person,' says Shelley Bernhardt, director of consumer protection at Western Union.

Western Union is not an escrow service provider and does not guarantee the delivery or suitability of goods or services. Once you send a money transfer, it can be paid out to the receiver within a short time. After the money is paid, it's gone and the odds of getting it back if the gift you thought you purchased never finds your doorstep are slim.

If an individual seller or online retail website only accepts money transfers as payment, be wary and look elsewhere. And don't be fooled, even if the seller appears friendly and offers a reasonable explanation as to why he or she only accepts money transfers - fraudsters are well-trained in gaining your trust.

2. Never email any financial information.

It's a red flag if a seller asks you to email a credit card number or checking account number.  If you're paying for something online, use a secure money exchange service like Paypal or use the secure payment portal on the seller's website.

3. Read product descriptions carefully, including the fine print, and determine exchange and return policies before you purchase.

If the seller or website you bought from doesn't have an exchange policy and the product you buy ends up being something different than what you expected, you're likely out of luck if you try to return it.

You can shop online safely and securely during the holidays or anytime of the year. But make sure you're a savvy shopper and protect yourself from scammers by approaching your purchases with the required amount of scrutiny.

For more information on avoiding common scams, visit www.westernunion.com/stopfraud or www.ftc.gov/moneymatters and click on 'Scam Watch.'

Courtesy of BPT
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If you've ever had to listen to children, pets or household members making a lot of noise when all you wanted was peace and quiet, you already know the importance of soundproofing floors. If you have an older home, you probably deal with this regularly. In years past, people weren't as concerned with soundproofing as they are now. Lucky for today's homeowners, there are now many different options and methods for soundproofing floors.

Changing the Flooring Itself

It's no secret that carpet is much quieter than tile or hardwood. However, since hardwood floors are the most infamous floors for causing annoying echoes and heavy footsteps, here we'll focus on hardwood floors.

Installing a new hardwood floor is the best time to think about soundproofing floors. Ask your retailer or contractor about the sound ratings of different species of wood and different manufactured wood flooring materials. Soundproofing floors is much easier if you take it into consideration from the very beginning.

Blocking the Noise

Soundproofing floors is not a complicated idea. You just need something between the hard flooring and the rest of the house to absorb noise. There are many different options for materials to place between the floor and the sub-floor to accomplish this.

Cork is very good at absorbing noise, and it's being looked at with new interest lately as a more environmentally friendly form of soundproofing your office and home floors. You'll only need a very thin layer, since cork is a very dense substance. This thin layer will be laid first, and then you will install the sub-floor and finally the hardwood.

If you've ever been in a school, office building or hospital, you're already familiar with acoustic tiles. These panels were designed to dull echoes, and this is why they're popular in large, open spaces. However, they also make an excellent for soundproofing floors! Simply install them as you would cork, making allowances for the differences in thickness.

You may have noticed, in real life or on television, the odd-looking panels which line the walls of professional recording studios. Generally known as sound-deadening panels, these panels do just that...deaden almost all noise. For this reason, they are very adaptable for soundproof flooring. They are generally thicker then acoustic tiles, but if you plan accordingly, you can create an almost entirely soundproofed floor with minimal effort.

When New Floors Aren't an Option

If you rent and can't redo your floors, or if it's just not an option for you financially, there are still steps you can take for soundproofing your floors. If you value quiet over the look of hardwood, consider putting down carpet. Many families have a "no shoes" policy in their homes. Area rugs offer the same sound-deadening benefits of carpet with the added bonus of being moveable.

There are many different options for soundproofing floors, with something for every taste and budget. Do your research, and decide which options is right for you. Once the work is done, you'll get to enjoy a beautiful floor without the constant annoyance of excess noise.
 
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(NC)-To most homeowners, hydronic, under-floor heating is still considered a luxury. However the advantages of wall-mounted and under-floor hydronic heating go beyond esthetics and design.

Hydronic heating systems use water, a much more effective heat-transfer medium than forced air, to distribute warmth throughout your home, so the comfort of toasty toes this winter can come with cost savings.

In addition to lightening the load on your wallet, hydronic heating has benefits when it comes to the environment and your health. According to the Canadian Institute of Plumbing & Heating, a not-for-profit trade association representing Canada's manufacturers and wholesaler-distributers of plumbing and hydronic heating products, here are five reasons hydronic heat may be right for your home:

• Using water as the heat-transfer medium reduces the need to move around air with its dirt, dust, pollutants and allergens it carries, improving indoor air quality when the windows are closed;

• Floor and wall radiant heating delivers consistent and even warming over a greater surface area. This is known as the radiant effect and it allows you to heat your home at a lower thermostat setting, requiring less energy for lower bills;

• The main heating conduit is pipe, which means less duct work. Hydronic heat can be installed almost anywhere, including lower levels, basements, and garages. It can be used in a whole home or simply a new addition;

• Hydronic heating allows you to use your whole living space without the worry of obstructing vents and intakes. And with fewer unsightly grills, hydronic heating contributes to the esthetic appeal of your house;

• Hydronic heating is easy to install and not expensive. More information is available online at www.ciph.com.



Courtesy of Newscanada
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(NC)-Young children are fascinated by money. What can I get with this nickel? What's a loonie? Teaching your children the value of money is part of your job as a parent, but knowing where to start can be intimidating.

"Financial literacy is an essential life skill that children need to learn to be successful adults," says Raymond Chun, a senior vice president at TD Canada Trust. "It is never too early for your kids to start learning the value of a dollar."

Chun offers his advice on how to teach young children the value of a loonie:

• What is it? Start by introducing your children to all the coins, including their names, colors and values. Once they master the basics, you can help your child understand the monetary system and practice their math by counting out how many pennies or dimes are in a loonie.

• What can you buy for it? Set up a play grocery store with their toys or take your child to the store to show them what they can buy with one, five and 10 loonies to give them a visual understanding of its value. Depending on their age, you could also use this as an opportunity to explain how a bag of rice can feed a small family for a week, yet it costs the same as a bag of candy.

• How do you get more Loonies? It's important children learn from a young age that money comes from hard work and saving. Consider linking their allowance to age-appropriate chores, like making their bed or putting away their toys, and help them choose a treat that they can start saving for.



Courtesy of Newscanada
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Has online social networking replaced your holiday letter to friends and loved ones? Be careful what you share.

You probably don't want everyone to know that you're going away for the holidays, or for how long. But by posting such information online, you may be doing just that – and putting your property at risk.

Here are some tips to make sure you share with care:

• Limit the personal information you share online to only what's necessary. Be careful using your last name, contact information, home address, phone numbers, email address, last names of friends or relatives, age, birth date, or other personal information.

• Check out the privacy and security settings of your social network and use them to control who sees what. Most have default settings which likely provide more access than you'd like. You can adjust settings to the highest possible level to protect your information and control who can see personal details (rather than "everyone" or "friends of friends").

• Be cautious about details in photographs that you post or share. Photographs can reveal a lot of personal information when there are clearly identifiable details such as street signs, licence plates on cars, or the name of a school on clothing.

Protect while you connect. More information is available online at GetCyberSafe.ca.



Courtesy of Newscanada
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Do you wish you had a bigger bathroom? If so, you're not alone.

In fact, in a recent survey conducted by Moen, almost half the respondents wished they could make their bathroom larger. But, a complete bathroom overhaul isn't in the cards for most homeowners. And when your bath is too small, it can quickly go from being a retreat from the outside world to a stress-inducing, cluttered place.

Whether you're hoping to update the guest bath or the master suite, you can create a larger-looking bath without actually expanding your space. With a thorough cleaning and some space-expanding illusions, you'll be relaxed and rejuvenated in your new bigger bath in no time.

Blend in, but make a statement

Using an intense color palette is not always the best technique when it comes to a tiny bathroom. Bold, dark colors can weigh a room down, making it look even smaller. Instead, use pale and cool colors, like soft whites, pastels and neutral tones to add size and depth. Continue the color scheme to the woodwork, trim, vanity and door to create a disappearing look that will lengthen the walls. By eliminating the hard edges created by drastic changes in color, your eye will flow smoothly across the room.

It's important to look at the small details, like faucets and accessories, to create a statement. Choosing a sophisticated design, such as the Moen Weymouth faucet in Chrome, LifeShine Brushed Nickel, Oil Rubbed Bronze or the new LifeShine Polished Nickel finish, can provide a beautiful focal point in your bath. Available in single-handle, widespread and wall-mount styles, faucets in the Weymouth collection feature traditional detailing, like porcelain inlays and a generously sized spout. The unique collection additionally offers matching faucets for the shower or tub, and a complete selection of accessories to provide the perfect eye-catching detail.

Take a look in the mirror

A mirror in the bathroom can do more than just show your reflection - it can stretch the space by reproducing it. Additionally, mirrors reflect both natural and artificial light, making a smaller room look bigger and brighter by bouncing illumination throughout.

Don't think that mirrors need to only be above the sink. A great trick for improving your room's reflective qualities is to hang a large, horizontal mirror along the longest wall of the bath. However, if a large mirror is out of your budget, or not practical for your space, the same effect can be created by grouping an arrangement of smaller mirrors. Unique mirrors can often be found at flea markets in different shapes and sizes. Simply paint each frame in complementary colors and group them along the longest wall. This allows for the room to stretch, while also providing a design element that's uniquely yours.

Another easy, dramatic way to use mirrors is to turn the fronts of vanity cabinets into your canvas. Use glue to attach large, square mirrors, or tiny mirror tiles - either square or round - to the outside of cabinets and drawers. For a never-ending room, position two mirrors on opposite walls to create the perfect illusion. Whatever technique you choose, mirrors are great decor pieces that won't muddle a small bath.

Say no to big and bulky

Traditional, large vanities with cabinet drawers can make an already petite-looking bath appear even smaller. In order to avoid this common misstep, there are two paths to follow: either install a vanity with open storage areas; or try suspending shelving for a contemporary feel. This will create a more spacious look - without losing precious storage - by giving the shelving a light and airy appearance. Open shelving is perfect for towels and linens, plus items like tissues and cotton balls, which can be stored in decorative jars or containers. Avoid a cluttered look by placing large wicker baskets on the bottom shelf of the vanity for large everyday items, such as brushes, toiletries and makeup.

You can create a beautiful bath - regardless of the square footage - that will become a place of relaxation and worthy of attention. Use these tips to turn a compressed and uncomfortable space to one that feels spacious and soothing - without a major remodel. For more information about Moen products, visit www.moen.com.

Courtesy of BPT
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Keep%20your%20haunted%20home%20safeEerie sounds, spooky lights and jack-o'-lanterns aglow-extra efforts at Halloween will keep visitors coming back for both tricks and treats. To keep the fun going, however, it's important to plan your home's scary set-up with safety in mind.

Decorations for special events, most often involving candles, such as those found in jack-o'-lanterns, account for an average of 800 home fires in North America, causing nearly $4 million in direct property damage every year.

To keep your house from being haunted with potential insurance woes, Wayne Ross, insurance and claims expert for Aviva Canada, offers some Halloween preparation tips for preventing fires and other insurance claims.
 

• Practice fire safety: When setting up spooky electrical decorations and lighting, ensure that electrical outlets are not overloaded. Consider battery or solar powered jack-o'-lanterns.
 

• Make sure your walkways are safe: Although darkness may set the Halloween mood, keep walkways well lit and obstruction free to reduce the risk of injury and allow many guests to walk through simultaneously.
 

* Check your insurance coverage: While homeowner policies will generally cover you and your property during Halloween, it is a good idea to contact your insurance broker to ensure you have the right amount of coverage-especially with hundreds of visitors to your home.
 

"It is the responsibility of homeowners to make sure their property is safe for visitors during the Halloween festivities," Ross explained. "By taking some precautions, homeowners can join in the Halloween celebrations and enjoy a safe night of festive fun with their families."
 

Additional information can be found at www.avivacanada.com.



Courtesy of Newscanada
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buying a home

Preparing to buy a home requires more than just a down payment. Before you purchase property, take time to understand your available mortgage options and balance your debt load. Thorough planning and smart budgeting now can help you avoid running into high debt or repayment problems down the road.
 

Farhaneh Haque, director of mortgage advice at TD Canada Trust, says that first time home buyers should answer three important questions before they start hitting any open houses this season.
 

• Do I understand the process? It never hurts to meet with a mortgage specialist to learn more about the home buying process and the different mortgage options available, such as fixed versus variable rate mortgages, flexible repayment schedules, and even mortgages that offer cash back. Before falling in love with a home, consider getting pre-approved so you know what you may be able to afford and avoid getting disappointed by falling in love with a home that is outside your price range.
 

• What is my personal debt load? If you have other obligations like a car payment or student loan, ensure you are taking on a mortgage that you can manage within your total budget. Try using an online debt management calculator to help determine how much debt you can reasonably take on based on your income, current debt payments and expenses.
 

• Can I afford my mortgage and save for the future? Sometimes home buyers take on more debt than they can manage and quickly find themselves "house poor" – with no money left for future savings or a rainy day. Before you take the leap into homeownership, crunch the numbers to ensure your budget reflects the lifestyle you want after you move into your new home, and you are clear on what sacrifices you may need to make to continue to live comfortably and save for your future.



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(BPT) - It's the cycle of fashion - trends are always recycling, returning and changing. Save time and money by transforming your existing wardrobe into stylish, on-trend pieces with a few simple tricks.

Do-over your denim

Shorts are a fashionable warm weather staple - and a great way to show off your tan. Make a personalized pair by repurposing old jeans - just trim them at your desired length for a cool, casual pair of cutoffs. Or, embrace the bright color trend by transforming colored khakis or denim into capri pants or Bermuda shorts. Add a bit of pop to your jeans by adding fabric panels at the sides - open the side seams and sew in some fabric all the way down. For a simpler touch, add lace or ribbon down the side seams for a chic effect, or cover the back pockets in a unique design.

Transform a T-shirt

The classic summer tee is the perfect medium for some do-it-yourself fashion flair. Give new life to a favorite T-shirt by transforming it into a halter top. Start with a crew neck T-shirt, remove the sleeves, cut a v-shape in the front and back, then trim straight across the back at the bottom of the v-shape to create straps. To embrace another fun trend, add some fringe to the bottom of a t-shirt. For best results, start with a T-shirt that's a bit longer. Mark where you want the fringe to start; next, use a ruler to measure even strips. Then, snip, snip.

Stick to it

Father's favorite fix-all isn't just for home repairs anymore - duct tape clothing and accessories are everywhere. A recent episode of the popular fashion design program "Project Runway" even featured an Unconventional Materials Challenge asking the designers to create dresses using Duck Tape brand duct tape.

"What is great about making a dress out of Duck Tape is that you can always change as you go - the -dress is never set in stone, because it's tape," says Michelle Lesniak Franklin, winner of the Duck Tape Unconventional Materials Challenge and Season 11 of "Project Runway."

Flexible and fun, Duck Tape can be used to create entire garments or to simply add a bit of color and pattern to existing clothing and accessories. For instance, cut out a personalized monogram using Duck Tape Sheets to add some style to a handbag or backpack, make a funky flower ring or create colorful waterproof flips flops using a few of the hundreds of colors and prints available.

Embellish away

Stenciling or painting on fabric is another easy way to turn basic clothing into sophisticated styles. Create your own customized stencils using contact paper, or find plenty of options at your local craft store or on websites like Etsy. Just pick up some fabric paint, lay out your stencil and get to work. For a super simple - but definitely eye-catching - transformation, try replacing the buttons on a favorite sweater or jacket with new buttons in an unexpected color, fabric or texture. Adding beads, ribbon or lace are additional options for making your clothing your own.

Not ready to make over your favorite existing pieces? Experiment with finds from a local consignment store, Goodwill or Salvation Army shop - you'll often discover gently used or like-new clothing for just a few dollars, and you won't have to worry if your design goes awry. For more fun fashion do-it-yourself ideas, check out Pinterest, crafting websites like Craftster, or try to recreate styles from the pages of your favorite fashion magazine.
 

Courtesy of BPT
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Technological advances are making our homes more efficient, but when it comes to technology, one area is often overlooked: the bathroom.

"People often don't think of the bathroom as a space where you can incorporate technology because so much of what we do there is routine," says tech expert, Marc Saltzman. "But advances in technology touch every part of our lives, every member of the household, and every room in the home - the bathroom included. Indeed, new products with smart solutions make bathroom activities more efficient, accessible, and even less costly, such as technology that can greatly reduce the amount of water used at the sink."

Consider these time-saving tools and tips to help you make the most of your bathroom time:

Grooming tools

• A hands-free faucet not only saves water, it can also save time and reduce bathroom mess. Imagine your morning without having to struggle to turn on the water while your hands were covered in shaving cream? At deltafaucet.ca, take a look at the new Addison lavatory faucet as one example. It functions with an advanced, hands-free feature called, Touch2O.xt.

• Electronic toothbrushes have come a long way in recent years. Today's models feature added technology and timers that let you know when it's time to change sides, ensuring your teeth are minty fresh and clean.

• Self-cleaning electric razors save you time and mess and make the chore of shaving that much easier.

Appliances

• A high-tech shower system with customized user-settings can help you achieve the perfect shower conditions with the press of a button – and nothing is better than that on a Monday morning.

• Bathroom fan timer switches make you conscious of time spent in the shower and can help you save water and time every morning.



Courtesy of Newscanada
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(NC)-Although most Canadians-save for those heading south for golf vacations-pack their clubs into storage at this time of year, many experts suggest that winter is actually the ideal time to refine your game.

"In the spring and summer, given the option to practise or play, most people will want to play," explains Andre Cuerrier, the director of academies and services at Golf Town, the largest golf retail chain in Canada. "But in fall or winter, you really have an opportunity to tune things up so that you'll get even more out of your game next year."
 

Cuerrier has seen the fruits of such labour firsthand. "We have a lot of testimonials from people that have seen improvement from winter lessons," he says. "Last winter, we had a gentleman who only played occasional corporate golf and said he had never broken 100. This summer, following some winter lessons, he came to the store and told us he not only broke 100, he broke 90."Cuerrier points out that Golf Town administers an estimated 40,000 lessons through its fleet of PGA of Canada instructors.
 

"Moving the game indoors, without the distraction of fair weather, can make for a more efficient learning environment," says Glenn Cundari, the technical director at the PGA of Canada.

"Taking winter instruction allows you to do the same thing as the top players in the world," he explains. "You hone your craft and by the time summer rolls around you can simply focus on playing the game much improved."
 

Understanding and refining that swing motion has become vastly easier in recent years. Sophisticated computer-swing and ball-flight analysis software and hardware enables instructors and club fitters to capture a vast array of swing data. Cuerrier says that Golf Town's new winter programs take advantage of that data to establish a benchmark of players' current abilities.
 

"We run players through a battery of tests in a simulator-a 30 to 45-minute assessment of their short and medium putts, chipping, pitching, short and long irons and drivers-to create a report card that shows where you should focus your energies," he explained. "The launch monitor data is not merely the way of the future, but it is the present of golf instruction, understanding your ball flight and launch conditions helps every player improve faster, but it also makes club fitting a more effective and efficient process since a player's swing becomes more refined and repeatable. But most importantly, when next spring rolls around, you'll enjoy playing golf more than ever."


Find out more about the array of cost effective lesson packages and coaching programs by visiting your local Golf Town or golftown.com



Courtesy of Newscanada
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Light blocking curtains, sometimes known as blackout curtains or lined blackout curtains, can be a very appealing and functional interior design touch. Once you understand the main elements involved in choosing your light blocking curtains, you'll be able to  successfully install and utilize them to their maximum effectiveness.

Take Measurements

Blackout curtain drapes or blackout window curtains come from the factory in many different sizes, shapes and styles. Since the main purpose of these curtains is to perform the function of blocking out daylight, it's essential to take accurate measurements around all of the windows and glass doors in which you intend to hang them. You need to always measure a little wider and lower so that the drapes extend past the corners, bottoms, and sides of the glass where all possible outdoor light can come in.

Are they Dark Enough?

Blackout curtains come in several colors. But they're all usually dark enough to serve the purpose of blocking the light out of your home, apartment or condominium. If you're buying them because you want to be able to sleep comfortably during the day when the sun's bright, then you should carefully choose the darkest color you can find, as this will successfully block out more sunlight than lighter versions. But if all you want to do is block out the often blinding glare of the sun that's coming into your living room, you can go with a lighter color to match your interior decor.

Materials and Textures

Many of these lined blackout curtains are made of heavy-duty thermal material since thermal textures are more efficient at blocking out the strong, harsh rays of the sun. You have to understand that when this type of material gets dirty from dust and other airborne pollutants, you'll have to eventually clean them. This will often mean removing them and taking them over to the dry cleaner, as household steam cleaners usually aren't effective enough for a thorough cleaning and a full disinfecting procedure.

But the many benefits of these heavy, rugged textures also include keeping out the intense heat of the sun in summer time, saving on your air conditioning energy consumption costs, and helping prevent the sun from color fading of your carpets and furniture, especially the leather, velour and suede variety.

Price

You can find these blackout curtains selling for a wide variety of prices depending on which brand you buy and from which online or physical retail location you choose to purchase at. Wider, longer and heavier ones will always cost more. So will ones with custom designs and weaved patterns on them. These are the upscale, high end brands. Many homeowners are content to buy the least expensive, simplest designs and just color coordinate the curtains with their carpet, hardwood floors, wall coverings, and sofas. Well priced light blocking curtains are also going to be incredibly durable. They won't fade due to the strong sun hitting into them all day long, so they make an excellent household investment.

Versatility

Because light blocking curtains can be used in so many home window applications, they have become very popular over the years since they first came out. Blackout window curtains can be used instead of ordinary blinds to block out much more sunlight. They're certainly ten times better than even the darkest standard curtains. And these light blocking curtains can be installed over either windows that rise vertically or over ones that roll inward towards the room. They can also be used on sliding glass doors that lead to patios, porches and decks.

By: Alfred Oliver
http://www.articlecity.com/articles/home_improvement/article_7244.shtml
 
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The purchase or repair of a furnace, boiler, central air conditioner or ventilation system is a major investment and, because of the direct impact on our daily comfort, this type of home upgrade or maintenance deserves careful consideration, research and expertise. More often than not, homeowners do not distinguish one contractor from another on anything but price. Due to safety concerns, as well as the increased costs of heating or cooling a home without the proper equipment, the lowest price is not always the best value.

To maximize your comfort, safety and peace of mind, and to minimize your operating costs down the road, be sure to deal only with qualified, professional contractors.

So how can you be sure a contractor is reputable and qualified?

There are some obvious red flags to look for when shopping for a contractor. Reputable contractors, for example:

• will not quote prices over the phone without first assessing your job on-site;

• will not request large cash advances prior to the delivery of any equipment or materials'

• will readily provide a full business address as well as a telephone number where the company can be reached;

• will be happy to offer the names and addresses of customers they have done work for in your area.

Your own due diligence is important to locating a reputable contractor. Prior to calling for a quote, research the contractors in your area by:

• using the contractor locator on www.hrai.ca (or contact the call centre at 1-877-467-4724). Member contractors will display the HRAI logo;

• visiting each contractor's website for a review of their services and the equipment they offer;

• making sure the contractors you deal with are properly licensed and insured to do the work that they do;

• speaking with the contractor's previous clients.

The Heating, Refrigeration and Air Conditioning Institute of Canada (HRAI) requires its contractor members to carry relevant trade, fuel safety and applicable licenses as well as worker's compensation and liability insurance. You may be surprised to learn that many contractors simply don't bother with licensing or insurance. They may pass on lower costs to you up front, but you could end up paying much more over time, not only financially, but in terms of your family's comfort, health, safety and peace of mind.

A contractor's membership in HRAI does not guarantee a quality installation or service, but it will provide you with some assurance that they are properly qualified and insured to do the job right.



Courtesy of Newscanada
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Have you ever stopped to consider how much thought and effort went into the design of the spaces you visit every day? You may not realize it, but your favorite restaurants, neighborhood grocery store and go-to movie theater follow some very specific design principles in order to create a unique space that is both visually appealing and user-friendly.

Much like home designers, commercial architects and interior designers think of spaces in their totality. To a commercial designer, every area - from the entryway to the public bathrooms to the behind-the-scenes storage areas - must be considered when working on a new project. One way commercial designers help create a unique look and feel throughout public spaces is through the use of repetition. Repeating a pattern, color or texture in more than one area of a space lends a feeling of continuity. 

According to Judd Lord, director of industrial design at Delta Faucet Company, this attention to detail makes commercial environments a great place to look for design inspiration.

'Highly-designed commercial spaces allow people to get a sense of what their own home may feel like in terms of color palette, textures, combination of materials and accents prior to actually committing to a design,' Lord says. 'For example, visiting high-end hotels can provide a great way to 'live' in a particular design aesthetic to see if it suits you.'

The next time you stay at a hotel, look for hints of repetition. You may find that the orange sofas in the lobby, for instance, carry through to your guest room pillows or decorative accents. Or, perhaps the wrought iron door handles match the window hardware perfectly. The small touches that regularly go unnoticed help to create a distinct sense of place in commercial spaces. When deciding what design elements to incorporate into a commercial building, designers consider not only how certain aspects can enhance overall design aesthetic, but also how they can be used to promote functionality in the space. For example, when designing an entryway, commercial designers must think about who will be using the space and for what purpose. While a banquet hall designer may prefer curving staircases to help create the feeling of grand luxury suitable for weddings and debutante balls, it is likely that they will also incorporate an elevator to ensure the space is accessible to all guests.

The important role functionality plays in commercial buildings is perhaps demonstrated most readily when taking the public bathroom into consideration. For instance, a single-room bathroom with a plush sitting area and vanity mirror may enhance the shopping experience for customers at a high-end boutique, while busy shoppers at large malls may prefer multiple stalls to help avoid long bathroom lines. For both of these spaces, innovative products can help enhance the bathroom experience through increased functionality. For instance, on Delta faucets that feature Proximity Sensing Technology, the entire faucet acts as a sensor, activating the flow of water instantly and effortlessly when it detects the presence of your hands. Faucets that employ this type of technology are more dependable than traditional infrared sensors - which can be unreliable in low-light or when wearing dark clothing and are more susceptible to vandalism that can impair the functionality of the faucet and make the bathroom experience a little easier for consumers in public spaces.

Building materials must also support the overall purpose of a space. Residential building materials are often chosen solely to help portray a specific design aesthetic, while materials used in commercial developments must be chosen with both durability and esthetics in mind. Everything, from the floorboards to the light switches, must be able to withstand the wear and tear of repeated use as these spaces may be visited by thousands of people per day. While a small amount of wear in a private home may make the environment feel more welcoming and warm, the public tends to regard the same amount of wear in a commercial space as being aged and out of date.

The next time you are out shopping at the grocery store, try to appreciate the smallest design details, such as the layout of shopping aisles that make it easier for you to navigate the store and return home more quickly. Attention to these details not only helps a business operate efficiently, but also creates a better experience for you, the consumer.

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Decorating any room can be very time consuming and demanding, as you want to get everything just right if you are to enjoy the finished project and achieve the look you want. The bathroom, although generally one of the smallest rooms in the house, is just as important as any other and should be allocated as much thought and time.

Lighting can be highly effective and instantly transform a room giving it that wow factor so many people want to achieve. Chandeliers, pendant lights, wall mounted spotlights and mirror lights come in all shapes and sizes and chosen carefully will make your bathroom one that you can enjoy spending time in.

If you need some inspiration then there are lots of places to find it, home decorating magazines and books can provide up-to-date ideas and designs, visit high street lighting stores or showrooms, or look online for lighting supplies.

When you think of the bathroom don't just see it as a place where you get clean, it can be much more than that. Many see it as a refuge where they can attend to their ablutions in privacy or chill out in a hot bath for a while with the door locked away from the hassles of the family, so comfort and lighting is essential if this is to be achieved.

Bathroom lighting can come from various sources and how you choose your fixtures will depend on your taste, the decor, and your budget. Economical and attractive ceiling lights come in a range of styles, from the simple flush light and semi-flush light styles to glitzy chandeliers. Using wall lights or spotlights in the bathroom gives you the ability to adjust them, direct them to highlight a certain area or particular feature you admire. Place a spotlight over a piece of art to draw attention to it, or over the mirror for extra light can be effective particularly for those bathrooms with no natural light.

Lighting around the mirror has to be quite bright as you need to see what you are doing, particularly when it comes to applying make-up and shaving, Led bulbs and halogen lamps are generally used in lighting fixtures for these purposes as they are bright but not glaring. Bathroom shower downlights are perfect for using in moist locations as they are manufactured to safety standards, choose from a range of polished stylish chrome or brass, or classic white with clear glass upper body for a sophisticated addition to your bathroom.

Illuminated shelf lights are a nice touch in the bathroom and come in a choice of colors and sizes, using the latest led technology they use minimum energy too. The glass is toughened for safety and slots into the aluminum back ballast, complete with a built in LED driver and LED strip they require no additional wiring. They can create a truly unique contemporary effect and enhance the environment with a soft glow.

A bathroom is also a place to escape to for some peace and quiet, where it's ok to lock the door on your other half and children. If your plan is to take long hot baths in the evening then soft and atmospheric lighting is going to be an important factor. If you have the space you could have a small table top lamp next to the bath or on a shelf to use as a softer lighting option instead of the brighter overhead light. You could even invite your partner into the bath with you and have a romantic evening together!

Never rush into choosing your lighting solutions, consider how the area can be seen to its best advantage through the use of different lighting effects. Online companies can give information and you'll get a good discount.

Search online and you'll find a huge choice of safety rated waterproof and showerproof lighting available and suitable for the bathroom as they have IP65 safety rating against moisture intrusion and dust ingression. Look for products that offer low voltage and mains voltage options, as well as the fire rated safety option.

by: Kathryn Dawson

http://www.articlecity.com/articles/home_improvement/article_5527.shtml
 
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DIY%20home%20improvement%20fixes%20You might not be aware that your home may pose some hidden risks for you and your family. But you don't need a fat budget to give your home a safer and healthier boost. After all, there is nothing more important than keeping your family safe.

Hazards may be lurking in your home, and for $100 or less, you can make the home improvement precautions needed to protect your family from common household dangers. Danny Lipford, home improvement expert and host of the nationally syndicated show "Today's Homeowner," recommends these budget-friendly DIY projects for a safer and healthier home:

* Mount smoke detectors: There should be a smoke detector on each floor and in or near every bedroom in the home. Installing them is as simple as mounting them 4 inches from the wall on the ceiling. Smoke rises, so opt to place the detector at the highest point of the ceiling if you have an angled ceiling.

Estimated cost: $30

* Install a water filter: If you're concerned about lead, VOCs, microbial cysts and pharmaceuticals in your tap water, or even if you just don't like the taste or smell of it, install a DIY water filtration system such as the High Performance Drinking Water System that comes with a dedicated faucet and will provide your family with cleaner, better tasting water.

Estimated cost: $100

* Secure heavy furniture and appliances: Children are susceptible to bookshelves, televisions or other furniture falling over and causing harm. Use furniture brackets or straps to secure dressers, the stove, audio equipment and more to the wall to ensure passersby are safe from falling and tipping items.

Estimated cost: $10 or more, depending on number needed

* Install carbon monoxide alarms: Carbon monoxide, an odorless, colorless, poisonous gas, is a result of improperly vented or defective home systems such as heaters, furnaces and fireplaces. Carbon monoxide does not rise to the ceiling like smoke, so the alarms can be mounted anywhere, such as plugged into wall outlets or affixed to walls and powered by batteries.

Estimated cost: $50

* Install a bathroom vent fan: Poor ventilation in the bathroom can lead to a buildup of excess moisture, which is a breeding ground for mold and mildew. Install a bathroom vent fan to push the moist air outside the home to avoid creating unhealthy conditions in the room, as well as fogged-up windows, steamy mirrors, and eventually ruined walls and ceilings.

Estimated cost: $100

For more information and other tips, visit FiltreteWater.com.

Courtesy of BPT
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How%20to%20stay%20naturally%20cool%20this%20summerIt's easy to overexert yourself during the inevitable summertime heat wave. Any common outdoor activity - such as gardening, sports, entertaining or vacationing - can quickly turn you into a sweaty mess when temperatures soar. Keeping cool isn't simply a matter of comfort, either; it's also a matter of safety.

Simple precautions can help you deal with heat and humidity. The key is to not interfere with the body's natural ability to keep cool:
 
* Wear white or light-colored fabrics to reflect radiant heat.
 
* Choose open-weave, loose-fitting cotton or linen clothing to allow airflow and evaporation.
 
* Shade your head, neck and face with a comfortable, wide-brimmed hat.
 
* Take breaks to rest, and avoid prolonged exertion.
 
* Regularly drink plenty of cool, non-alcoholic, caffeine-free beverages, plus the occasional sports drink to maintain electrolyte balance.
 
If you do become over-heated and are feeling the ill effects of high temperatures, take quick action to cool the body and rehydrate:
 
* Cease strenuous activity and get out of the sun.
 
* Drink fluids.
 
* Sit in front of a fan or in an air-conditioned room.
 
* Apply a cooling mist to exposed skin.
 
* Immerse yourself in a cool bath, or stand in a cool shower.
 
* Apply a cool compress to your head, face and neck.
 
Tom Havran, product specialist with Aura Cacia (www.auracacia.com), offers some recipes using essential oils to naturally enhance your efforts to keep cool in hot weather: 
 
Cool and Fresh Eucalyptus Body Mist
 
Ingredients:
4 ounces water
1 teaspoon plain vinegar or herb-infused vinegar (lavender, rose, peppermint, etc.)
12 drops eucalyptus essential oil
9 drops lavender essential oil
3 drops peppermint essential oil
 
Directions:
Combine all the ingredients in a spray mister bottle. Shake vigorously and mist the skin. 
Always shake well before use. Avoid eyes and sensitive areas. Store the bottle in the fridge or ice chest to heighten the cooling sensation.
 
Refreshing Peppermint Bath
 
Ingredients:1 tablespoon sea salt
1 tablespoon Epsom salt
1 tablespoon baking soda
5 drops peppermint essential oil
4 drops lavender essential oil
 
Directions:
Combine salts and baking soda in a small bowl. Sprinkle oils on salt mixture, and stir well. Dissolve into lukewarm bath. 
 
If you don't have time for a full bath, use this mix for a cool foot soak.
Cooling Lavender Compress
Ingredients:
Basin of cool water (approximately 4 cups)
12 drops lavender essential oil
9 drops peppermint essential oil
3 drops grapefruit essential oil
Soft facial cloth
 
Directions: 
Combine water and oils in a basin or bowl. Swish with cloth, wring out excess, and alternate placement on neck and forehead. Refresh the cloth often, and add a few ice cubes to the water to boost the cooling effect. Avoid getting in your eyes.
Visit www.auracacia.com for more essential oil solutions you can make yourself. Remember, essential oils are highly concentrated and should be kept out of reach of children and used only according to directions.


Courtesy of BPT
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A recent survey conducted by Desjardins Group as part of its Personal Finance Index found that most Canadian consumers know very little about insurance products. To measure their general understanding of these products, eight personal money management questions were added to this year's survey. The results indicated that:

• Only 44% knew that not all insurance policies come with surrender value

• 30% did not know whether their credit card comes with travel insurance, whereas 32% knew that it does but knew little about the coverage itself. 
 

In terms of other types of insurance, a third of respondents have refused a mortgage insurance product offered by a lending institution, without first assessing their financial situation or comparing costs with other mortgage insurance products available on the market. And less than half of the respondents showed a real understanding of how they were protected by their home insurance.

These results indicate that there remains a gap in the public's understanding of personal finance.

We asked Reh Bhanji, an insurance expert from Desjardins Financial Security for his assessment. "Clearly, there is still much we can do as financial advisors to help Canadians improve their financial knowledge," said Bhanji. "Of course, some people are uncomfortable to talk about money, but it actually can be fun. We have tools that help illustrate different scenarios which can help re-ignite a person's enthusiasm towards their finances and insurance coverage. And it's actually very important because it allows you to better manage life changes like a new addition to the family, a new home, a new job, etc."
 

What's the best way to start improving personal financial habits and to learn more about insurance?

One way is to sit down with a financial adviser or an insurance representative to discuss your current life, health and disability insurance needs. A properly trained representative will then suggest a suitable product that offers the best protection. You may be interested in trying the online self-evaluation tool available on the Desjardins Group's Co-opme Program website at www.desjardins.com/co-opme.

And here are two brief descriptions of some life insurance products to help get you started:
 

Permanent life insurance can be adapted to long-term goals and premiums can be paid as fixed amounts for the entire coverage period, in installments or in full in a certain number of years.
 

Universal life insurance is very flexible and totally conforms to your needs because you can add or remove features and increase or decrease premiums at any time. The savings component can be accessed anytime, barring any restrictions attached to the investment type, making this an ideal emergency or retirement fund.


For more information about these and other insurance products, visit the insurance product section of the Desjardins Financial Security website at www.desjardinslifeinsurance.com.



Courtesy of Newscanada
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Nowadays, many are choosing to live in their homes longer.  As a result, a growing number of homeowners are investing in home improvements they can enjoy themselves.  

One of the best home improvements homeowners can make is replacing  tired, old, faded siding.  According to the National Association of Realtors, replacing your siding offers an 80 percent payback or return on your investment.

One reason that new siding is such a solid home improvement investment is it instantly enhances the curb appeal of your home. There's nothing quite like the warm feeling of driving up to your home every day and admiring its beauty.  

Siding also is a critical link to the well-being of your home. Siding is the first layer of defense against the elements, protecting the walls and interior of your home from moisture, heat and cold.

From wood clapboard and brick used widely to side homes decades ago to today's innovative materials, such as patented Ultrex pultruded fiberglass used in APEX siding and trim, siding materials have evolved to deliver higher performance, more cost efficiency and enhanced aesthetics.  With so many choices available to homeowners today, it's important for homeowners to do their homework when shopping for home siding.  Here are seven tips to consider when shopping for home siding:

1. Do your homework. Not all siding options are created equal. There's a huge difference between lower cost vinyl siding products and high-performance fiberglass siding. Lower priced options often come with tradeoffs, such as a higher risk of damage in a severe storm from hail or wind, faster color fading, or lots of maintenance (repainting, caulking, etc.). Premium siding products may cost more initially, but may be far less expensive and hassle-free over the course of homeownership.

2. Have a plan. Now is the time to coordinate other exterior elements with your new siding and trim to give your home a more contemporary, updated look and feel. Consider new energy-saving windows, such as Integrity windows, a new garage door, new roof shingles and enhance your landscaping through the use of pavers, wall systems and perennial plants and shrubs.

3. Get referrals. Ask your neighbors, co-workers and friends for referrals of remodelers who specialize in replacing siding.  Interview several remodelers and always get detailed estimates before committing to any remodeler.

4. Visit homes. Replacing siding isn't like replacing an appliance. You may only do this once or twice in your lifetime. To make sure you get exactly what you want, make sure to visit homes that have recently been resided by your contractor or remodeler. This will help you compare how different types of house siding actually look on a home.

5. Take your siding green. When replacing your siding, use siding material that is made from sustainable materials, such as sand, which will reduce the use of harmful chemicals and paints needed to manufacture and maintain it.

6. Select your colors. Choosing a color for your new siding may be the most difficult decision you'll have to make. The good news is that today's top-of-the-line siding offers a wide variety of bold colors from which to select. In contrast to traditional wood and fiber cement siding that requires painting and caulking every few years, new pultruded fiberglass siding offers an acrylic finish that is thicker and more durable than paint, and it resists chipping and fading. This allows homeowners to enjoy the satisfaction of their new siding with virtually zero maintenance.

7. Better moisture management. The number one thing you should expect of your new siding is it should protect your home from the elements, especially moisture. Unfortunately, some types of siding, such as fiber cement, wood and stucco, are more prone to moisture because they trap or absorb moisture behind the siding material. Instead, look to a siding that is inherently resistant to water.  Then, look to how that siding will manage moisture - behind the siding, when it's up against the wall of your home. A siding system that provides a continuous, natural drainage plane (moisture drains harmlessly away), and allows air to circulate to provide natural evaporation is critical to decreasing trapped moisture, which creates rot and mold.
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(NC)-As the daily grind gets busier, many of us yearn for a space where we can rest and relax without interruption. Yet, with the neighbor's lawnmower buzzing, aircraft flying overhead, cars and trucks whooshing past plus other noises, it can be increasingly hard to find a quiet place to chill out from the hustle and bustle of life.

Have you looked at the effective ways to soundproof your home?

Heavy soundproofing drapes and double-glazed windows are a good start to minimizing external noises, but they are often only effective for certain rooms. A far more versatile option that will noticeably minimize unwanted noise is the handy and increasingly popular spray foam insulation.

Applied throughout a home's wall and ceiling cavities, spray foam insulation (like that available from Icynene) addresses common airborne and flanking noises in places such as home theaters, workshops, garages and even from outside. The whole house can benefit with its sound dampening qualities and it works in harmony with other sound dampening materials such as double-glazed windows.

Spray foam insulation seals gaps and holes through which airborne sound moves within a home, adding value and comfort to create a quiet, peaceful environment. More information can be found online at www.icynene.com.



Courtesy of Newscanada
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(BPT) - Indoors or outdoors, your home decor needs some TLC to look its best. Replacing worn or dated furniture or flooring inside your home is considered fairly easy. But when outdoor spaces start to appear shabby, do you decide to live with the tired look because you think freshening the space will be too time-consuming or costly?

A few budget-friendly improvements and decorating touches can revitalize worn outdoor spaces and help them look new and inviting again. Here are some common challenges, and tips for overcoming them:

Worn decks, patios or porches

Decks, patios and porches are popular spots for home improvements - ones that create a staging place for outdoor entertaining or just relaxing and enjoying nature. When a wood deck becomes old and worn, or concrete patios crack, you may think the only solution is to replace them. But before you take that costly step, consider alternatives that can revitalize the existing surface without the need to replace it.

According to Scott Richards, senior vice president of marketing at Behr Paints, BEHR DECKOVER Solid Color Coating is a smooth finish resurfacing product that brings old, weathered wood or concrete surfaces back to life with a unique solution that hasn't existed before, and it's a budget-friendly alternative to replacing deck boards, railings, porches, boat docks, pool decking or patios.

"BEHR DECKOVER protects against the elements, while refreshing the appearance of wood and concrete," says Richards. "With just two coats and no primer needed, the thick coating covers splinters and fills cracks up to a quarter of an inch, spreading as easily as paint. We've created a way to achieve a low maintenance deck that resists the elements, repels water and creates a smooth, slip-resistant finish that is comfortable for bare feet." It's available at The Home Depot stores nationwide and comes in 54 colors. Visit www.behr.com to learn more.

Adding accents like decorative railings or lighted post caps can also revive the look of older decks. Deck manufacturers offer a variety of options for railings, from carved wood to metal and even glass. In most cases, you can add these railings to your existing deck boards, allowing you to replace just part of the deck and achieve a brand-new, designer look.

Tired furniture

Replacing sun-faded, weather-damaged cushions on outdoor furniture is a good start, and easy enough to do. But what do you do when the furniture frame has seen better days? Depending on the type of construction, you have several options including painting and reupholstering.

Landscaping and lighting

Modern outdoor settings allow nature and technology to meet. Give your exterior living space a new modern look by upgrading both landscaping and lighting. Improving your landscaping can be as easy as planting a few container gardens around your deck or patio and filling them with flowers that will bloom throughout the season. Nothing looks fresher and livelier than flowers.

Next, look at how your outdoor space is lit. Adding lighting allows you to enjoy the space safely after the sun goes down, but dated lighting can make your deck or patio look dull. Plus, older lights are often not as energy-efficient as newer options. Upgrade lighting by replacing old fixtures with newer options, such as solar-powered lights or ones that use energy-sipping CFLs or LEDs.

Making your old outdoor space look like it belongs beside a new showcase home doesn't have to be difficult or costly. With a few budget-minded tips and tools, it's possible for any do-it-yourselfer to make everything old new again.
 

Courtesy of BPT
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CALGARY — A dwindling supply of single-family homes for sale in Calgary has contributed to a spike in MLS sales in Okotoks and Cochrane in the first quarter of this year.

The Calgary Real Estate Board, in a report released Tuesday, said tightening market conditions in the city are supporting sales growth in both those communities, where property inventory levels remain relatively healthy.

“Relatively strong demand has reduced the amount of time properties are on the market,” said Becky Walters, CREB’s president. “However, overall inventory levels remain healthy, contributing to balanced conditions for buyers and sellers.”

CREB said many homebuyers have turned to communities surrounding Calgary “as consumers seek affordable options.”

During the first quarter of this year, Okotoks has seen MLS sales increase by 17.92 per cent from a year ago to 125 transactions. The average sale price for a single-family home is up 2.58 per cent to $401,410 while the single-family benchmark price, which represents the typical property sale, is up 6.47 per cent to $374,967.

Cochrane has experienced a 6.45 per cent rise in MLS sales in the first quarter to 99 transactions with the single-family average price rising by 12.58 per cent to $463,068 while the benchmark price rose by 10.85 per cent to $396,400.

However, MLS sales in Airdrie in the first quarter were down 12 per cent to 264 transactions. The average price for a single-family home increased by 0.15 per cent to $367,164 while the benchmark price was up 4.82 per cent to $343,767.

“The activity in Calgary’s economy and housing market has spread to some of the surrounding centres outside of city limits,” said Richard Cho, senior market analyst in Calgary for Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp. “With listings down in Calgary and average prices higher, some buyers have looked to some of the smaller centres that are a short drive away.”

In the city, single-family MLS sales of 3,565 in the first quarter are down 1.49 per cent from the same period last year. But the average sale price for a single-family home in Calgary has risen by 10.36 per cent to $513,109.

“The improvement in sales activity in Okotoks is due to inventory levels being slightly elevated, unlike some of the other surrounding areas,” said Ann-Marie Lurie, CREB’s chief economist. “This provides consumers with choice even though there has been a 15 per cent decline in new listings.

“If dwindling supplies for single-family homes persist within Calgary city limits, it should support growth in outer lying communities. However, as resale listings fall, consumers may turn to new homes, and such a move could limit sales growth for resale products.”

 

mtoneguzzi@calgaryherald.com

Twitter.com/MTone123

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CALGARY — Calgary is one of only a handful of markets across Canada that has seen seven per cent and more year-over-year price growth for residential real estate, according to the Conference Board of Canada.

In a resale housing survey of markets across the country for February, released Thursday, the board said the city, along with Regina, Saskatoon, Thunder Bay, Halifax and Newfoundland, experienced year-over-year price growth of seven per cent or more for the latest three months.

On a seasonally-adjusted annual rate, sales in Calgary of 25,416 are up 2.0 per cent in February from last year while listings have dropped by 5.1 per cent to 40,308.

The average sale price in Calgary was $438,412, up 6.1 per cent from February 2012.

 

mtoneguzzi@calgaryherald.com

Twitter.com/MTone123

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CALGARY — A major twin tower residential condo project is planned for the west end of Calgary’s downtown.

Grosvenor and Cressey Development Group are proposing to build 24-storey and 18-storey towers, comprising 319 units, at the corner of 5th Avenue and 10th Street S.W.

Michael Ward, vice-president of Grosvenor in Calgary, said sales for the project will be launched in the coming weeks for the Avenue development.

The developers are hoping to start construction either late this year or in early 2014 with possible first occupancy in 2016.

“In developing one of the final parcels of land in this established downtown Calgary neighbourhood we set out to create a best in class development,” said Ward. “Grosvenor and Cressey’s proven track record of superior design and long-standing history of building quality homes will bring a truly unique product to the area.”

Ward said he is seeing a strong demand for the condo market.

Grosvenor is also building the Drake tower in the Beltline neighbourhood, at 15th Avenue and 7th Street S.W. Drake is 17 storeys and 135 units. Construction will be completed there in October.

“Watching Drake and watching the sales there it’s been quite good,” said Ward. “This past weekend alone on Drake on Saturday and Sunday we sold five units which is a great weekend. That project is almost sold out now and that sort of gave us the confidence to move with the next project which is Avenue.”

The Avenue partnership between Grosvenor, a privately-owned property investment and development group and Cressey, a residential and commercial development company, will redevelop the corner of 5th Avenue and 10th Street S.W. into what it calls a “landmark development” that will add two contemporary towers to the downtown skyline.

It is designed by architect James Cheng.

Ward said the development will be located on one of the few remaining parcels of land in Calgary’s west end.

Drake has also started plans on Smith, a new multi-family project located adjacent to Drake.

On Tuesday, Qualex Landmark, the developers of MARK on 10th, held a ground breaking ceremony for the new project.

MARK on 10th will be a 35-storey building at 10th Avenue and 8th Street S.W.

 

mtoneguzzi@calgaryherald.com

Twitter.com/MTone123

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CALGARY — Calgary led the country in February with the best annual price growth in the MLS Home Price Index released by the Canadian Real Estate Association on Friday.

But the Calgary market followed a national trend of declining MLS sales in February.

However it was at a much lower pace. Nationally, sales were off nearly 16 per cent from a year ago but they were down only two per cent in Calgary.

The association also on Friday released an updated forecast in which both sales in Canada and Alberta were revised downward for this year from its previous forecast of December 2012.

CREA said price growth in Calgary was 8.0 per cent year-over-year “marking some of the strongest price growth that city has seen since the spring of 2010.”

In the seven markets surveyed for the HPI, the national aggregate was 2.69 per cent year-over-year price growth. Regina was second to Calgary at 5.93 per cent.

Real estate boards believe the HPI provides a more accurate measurement of pricing trends by comparing the price of properties with similar attributes while averages can distort price changes as sales volumes vary in different price categories.

Ann-Marie Lurie, chief economist with the Calgary Real Estate Board, said Calgary’s housing prices have been supported by improved economic conditions and a tighter market with less listings than a year ago.

“Particularly in the single-family market. Because it’s much tighter, that’s supporting some of these price gains that we’ve seen,” said Lurie. “And a lot of those price gains have been occurring in the single-family sector. We’re just starting to see a pickup in the condos as well.”

CREA reported that MLS sales in Calgary of 2,071 for February were down 2.0 per cent from a year ago while sales across Canada dipped by 15.8 per cent to 31,123.

Lurie said it’s important to keep in mind that last year was a leap year, with one extra day, and if that day was taken out of the comparison single-family sales were the same this year as last year and condo sales were actually higher.

She said very strong migration, a low unemployment rate combined with continued job creation, and a tight rental market have buoyed house sales in the city.

Diana Petramala, economist with TD Economics, said it is becoming clearer that the Canadian housing market has hit a soft landing with existing home sales continuing a downward trek that began in April 2012.

“Much of the weakness seen over the last eight months can be chalked up to the change in mortgage insurance rules implemented on July 9, 2012, which had the same impact on housing affordability as a one per cent increase in interest rates,” she said. “Changes to mortgage insurance rules tend to weigh on growth in home sales for up to three-quarters, and as such, the impact is expected to wane in the coming months.

“Nonetheless, the Canadian housing market appears to have gone through what many having been calling a soft landing. The good news is that sales are now at levels that we feel are well supported by underlying employment and population growth. In turn, existing home sales are likely to stabilize in the coming months. Prices are expected to continue to weaken as demand for Canadian housing remains modest.”

She said the Calgary housing market already went through its correction in 2009 and firmer prices and sales are likely to be supported by an above average labour market performance and strong in migration flows.

According to CREA, the average sale price in Calgary in February jumped by 8.2 per cent to $438,755 but across the country it fell by 1.0 per cent to $368,895.

Alberta was the only province in the country to experience year-over-year sales growth as there were 4,512 MLS transactions during the month, up 0.8 per cent from last year. The average sale price rose by 5.3 per cent to $378,685.

Also on Friday CREA released a forecast for the next two years and it predicted Alberta would have the best annual price growth in Canada in 2013 and 2014.

Average sale prices are expected to rise 3.6 per cent this year to $376,400 and by 3.9 per cent next year to $390,900 in the province.

In Canada, the forecast is for a 0.2 per cent drop this year to $362,600 but an increase of 1.7 per cent next year to $368,700.

As for sales in Alberta, CREA predicted an increase of 0.4 per cent this year to 60,600 units and another hike of 3.5 per cent in 2014 to 62,700 transactions in the province.

In Canada, the forecast is for sales to decline by 2.9 per cent this year to 441,500 but rebound with a rise of 4.5 per cent in 2014 to 461,200.

“Mortgage rules are expected to remain as they are, so sales should be less volatile than they have been in recent years,” said Gregory Klump, CREA’s chief economist. “Interest rates are also expected to remain low as the economy grows and adds jobs, which is supportive for the resale housing market.”

 

mtoneguzzi@calgaryherald.com

Twitter.com/MTone123

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CALGARY — Almost half of Albertans would choose a fixed-rate mortgage over a variable rate, according to a new survey released Thursday by CIBC.

The poll, conducted by Harris/Decima, said 47 per cent of people in this province would select a fixed-rate mortgage if they were to acquire, refinance or renew a mortgage today with 26 per cent favouring a variable rate.

Nationally, 45 per cent of Canadians favour a fixed-rate mortgage and 26 per cent would prefer a variable rate.

The poll also revealed that 47 per cent of Albertans believe mortgage rates will be the same 12 months from now while 46 per cent of Canadians felt that way.

“Deciding between a fixed or variable rate mortgage is one of the most important decisions in finding a mortgage that is right for you,” said Colette Delaney, Executive Vice President of Mortgage, Lending, Insurance and Deposit Products, CIBC.

“Our poll suggests that some Canadians are growing accustomed to the low rates we are experiencing, however it’s important to take a long-term view when deciding which mortgage is right for you. You need to plan ahead for your next mortgage term and consider the impact to your budget if you renew at higher rates a few years down the road.”

 

mtoneguzzi@calgaryherald.com

Twitter.com/MTone123

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CALGARY — New home prices in the Calgary region were on the rise in January.

Statistics Canada reported Thursday that its New Housing Price Index for the Calgary census metropolitan area was up 3.3 per cent from a year ago and it had also increased by 0.5 per cent from December.

Nationally, the NHPI rose by 2.2 per cent on an annual basis and by 0.1 per cent month-over-month.

“The combined metropolitan region of Toronto and Oshawa, as well as the region of Calgary, were the top contributors to the advance. Builders indicated that market conditions were the primary reason for higher prices in Toronto and Oshawa, while increased material and labour costs contributed to higher prices in Calgary,” said the federal agency.

The largest monthly price advance in January occurred in Charlottetown at one per cent.

In Winnipeg, where the pace of the annual increases has been accelerating over the last several months, year-over-year prices were up 5.9 per cent in January, which was the biggest increase in the country, said Statistics Canada.

 

mtoneguzzi@calgaryherald.com

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Man alive am I ever seeing a massive amount of action below the $375,000.00 range. Houses are up and then pending sometimes in mere hours. As well as condos, my listing in McKenzie Towne has a non stop stream of showings. Two offers coming in tonight on it. Spring market is here early although today's weather would state otherwise!

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I would like to take a moment here on my blog to thank all of my clients, each and every one of you. I have been fortunate and blessed to earn a new award for for my Real Estate services in 2012. 

Having the honour that you have contacted myself to assist you with your new home purchase and or sale of your existing home in the first place speaks immense volumes to me, that in return is truly reward enough! Knowing that you have put your trust and confidence in me is...  well...  quite humbling and I thank you.

 

I LOVE my career and take it very seriously, I spend hours and sometimes day's working and fighting to get the best deal for you. When I go "into battle" for you, sometimes I come out bloodied and not so liked from the other side and whether we win or lose that particular battle I want you to know that I'm fighting for you and I would gladly do it over and over again because you hired and put your trust into me, I am dedicated to you.

 

The greatest reward is knowing that I have given you everything I possibly can to make sure your happy and when I get a call from your family and friends that you have referred my services to them well that is one of the greatest gifts I could ever receive. 

 

Thank you everyone,

All my love and gratitude.

 

Roland "Rolly" Darel

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CALGARY — The value of building permits in the Calgary region neared $400 million in January, according to Statistics Canada.

The federal agency reported Thursday that permits in the Calgary census metropolitan area reached $392.3 million for the month, down 0.4 per cent from December but an increase of 29.4 per cent from January 2012.

In Alberta, total building permits of $1.2 billion were down 5.5 per cent on a monthly basis but up 24.3 per cent year over year.

The residential sector in the province saw building permits reach $713.8 million which was an increase of 6.7 per cent from the previous month and a hike of 20.4 per cent from last year.

The non-residential sector in the province saw building permits reach $458.1 million, down 19.7 per cent from December but up 30.9 per cent from January 2012.

Statistics Canada said municipalities across the country issued building permits worth $5.8 billion in January, up 1.7 per cent from December. But year-over-year it was down 4.3 per cent.

In the residential sector, the value of permits increased 17.6 per cent to $3.8 billion in January, following six consecutive months of decline. However, that sector was off 8.9 per cent compared with a year ago.

Construction intentions in the non-residential sector fell 19.2 per cent to $2 billion. Year-over-year, it increased by 5.9 per cent.

 

mtoneguzzi@calgaryherald.com

Twitter.com/MTone123

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CALGARY — Calgary’s housing market is experiencing positive momentum and is a “lone shining star” in the Western Canadian real estate market, according to a report by TD Economics.

In the first edition of its Metro Beat, reviewing economic trends on a quarterly basis, TD called Calgary’s situation ideal in comparison to what’s happening in Vancouver with the resale housing market seeing sales decrease there by 26 per cent in 2012.

“(Calgary) was the only one among its peers to register positive sales growth in 2012 at 14.3 per cent,” said the report. “Calgary is also benefiting from a double digit increase in new housing starts (38.2 per cent), a sharp rebound from 2011. Residential building permits were up as well in the region, signalling more projects to come over the near term.”

TD said average home prices will rise from $411,927 in 2012 to $423,400 this year and then to $431,400 next year. Those include all residential homes in Calgary and surrounding region.

Last year there were 27,212 total MLS residential sales under the Calgary Real Estate Board’s jurisdiction — a hike of 18.84 per cent from the year before. TD said sales this year will rise to 27,700 followed by a slight dip to 27,500 in 2014.

Sonya Gulati, senior economist with TD Economics, said the economic growth overall in Calgary is quite strong.

“We’re seeing that in the housing figures. We’re seeing that in the employment figures,” said Gulati. “And that’s partly because the province is doing quite well from an economic point of view and Calgary tends to get the spillover there.”

Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp. is forecasting MLS sales in the Calgary CMA to grow by 1.37 per cent this year followed by another 2.59 per cent in 2014.

The average sale price is expected to rise by 2.59 per cent this year to $423,000 and by another 2.6 per cent in 2014 to $434,000.

 

mtoneguzzi@calgaryherald.com

Twitter: MTone123

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CALGARY — Calgary experienced a housing market renaissance in 2012, reaping the benefits of strong provincial GDP and in-migration, which propelled home resales in the area, says a report released Monday by RBC Economics Research.

The latest Housing Trends and Affordability Report listed Calgary as one of the more affordable housing markets in Canada.

“Calgary-area buyers enjoyed significantly lower home ownership costs as a share of income than they faced at the market peak in early 2007 and the bar fell even further in 2012,” said Craig Wright, senior vice-president and chief economist of RBC. “In fact, it is the only major city in Canada where RBC measures are lower than their historical averages, suggesting that Calgary is one of the more affordable markets in the country.”

Thanks to improvements in previous quarters, all RBC measures stood below their previous-year levels in the fourth quarter. There was some minor deterioration in the latest period, however, with the measure for detached bungalows rising by 0.2 percentage points. But the measure for two-storey homes remained flat, and that for condominium apartments fell by 0.1 percentage points.

The RBC housing affordability measures capture the pre-tax household income needed to service the costs of owning a home at market values.

In Calgary, the average price of a detached bungalow in the fourth quarter of 2012 was $440,600 and the affordability measure was 38.1 per cent. The average price for a standard two-storey home was $434,700 with a measure of 38.6 per cent and for a standard condominium the average price was $250,100 with a measure of 22.2 per cent.

“It’s an exciting time for buyers, borrowing is very affordable right now. I’m seeing this affect the first-time homebuyer and investor market the most lately,” said Shayna Nackoney-Skauge, realtor with RE/MAX Rocky View Real Estate.

“Last week we listed a house that is in relatively original condition in the Varsity area. Within the first eight hours we had 15 showings and two offers. Buyers are flocking to scoop up new competitively-priced listings and investors are quick to pick up well-priced homes for their lot value in high-demand inner-city areas. It’s definitely keeping us on our toes to keep up with what is coming on and off the market on a daily basis.”

RBC said Alberta’s housing market remained vibrant in the final quarter of last year, buoyed by attractive affordability levels, accelerating population growth, a healthy labour market and a strong provincial economy. Although the pace of home resales slowed in the closing months of 2012, the housing market tightened up as fewer properties were listed for sale, it said.

“While homes are not particularly cheap in the province, Albertans boast the highest household incomes in Canada, which helps ensure that the share of their budget taken up by home ownership costs is easily manageable,” said Wright. “Barring an unexpected shock to the economy, housing market conditions in Alberta should remain positive in 2013.”

The RBC housing affordability measures for the province fell across all three housing types tracked by RBC. RBC’s measures for the benchmark detached bungalow and the standard two-storey fell by 0.2 percentage points to 32.1 per cent and 34.7 per cent, respectively. The measure for condominium apartments fell by 0.1 percentage points to 19.7 per cent. Average prices were: bungalow, $357,900; two-storey, $378,800; and condo, $213,300.

Nationally, affordability measures dropped by 0.2 percentage points for both bungalows (42.1 per cent) and condos (28.0 per cent) and by 0.3 percentage points for two-storey homes (47.8 per cent). Average prices in Canada in the fourth quarter of 2012 were: bungalow, $363,400; two-storey, $410,600; and condos, $237,600.

 

mtoneguzzi@calgaryherald.com

Twitter: MTone123

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