Pond

Landscaping can enhance any outdoor space you have!

 

 

Planting shrubbery, creating a welcoming rock garden, and the vivid colors from a variety of annuals will make your backyard inviting and enjoyable all summer long.  With that said we looked at a few things in our yard and decided to build a pond out of some left over material we had.  We decided to use one of our tree trunks we have around to use as the focal point, creating a beautiful water feature. Here is the finished pond.  This is something that could be undertaken as a weekend project, and it will be well worth it!

 

EV – Electric Vehicle and your home

The US just announced a $1 billion dollar clean energy program!

Low emission vehicles are here to stay.  With electric vehicles(EV) hitting the market, consumers have to educate themselves when it comes to EVs and their home.  What does it really mean if you purchase an EV?  Can you just plug it in and you’re on your way to savings?  Well it’s not that simple, not yet anyway.  In fact you can plug into a regular receptacle but it could 24 hours or more to charge the vehicle.  Therefore a visit from your local electrician is in order to set up your home to receive your new addition to the family.   With the right setup you could be on the road in no time.   Below you will find the more efficient circuits your electricians would have to install:

What does this mean?

For most homes this means a 50 amp circuit will have to be installed.  A typical stove in a home is a 40Amp circuit, so you could equate this to having an extra stove in your home.  With this the vehicle would be fully charged in about 6 hours (overnight).  Your average home might not support anything higher, and anything lower will take an awfully long time to charge.

The process is simple as doing any other electrical work in your home.  You will need to have an assessment of your home done, followed by permitting (submitting for all proper permits), installation by a qualified electrician, and inspection by your municipal regulator.

On a different note, what happens when you have a party and all your friends show up with their EV and charge up on your meter?   There are systems in development that will be able charge the usage to the vehicle itself, but these are still in the works.

Inspecting Your New Home – Part 3

In  the final chapter of our series on what items a new home buyer should look for once they decide to purchase their dream home,  we will focus on inspecting the home’s exterior.  Things like caulking, brickwork, grading, all help manage water penetration and mold issues.  Let’s just dive right in!

Grading
  • The grounds should be graded with a gentle slope away from the house to direct rain and melted snow toward the municipal drainage system. The grading is approved by the municipality and cannot be altered by the homeowner. Questions with respect to grading should be directed to the municipality or your builder.
  • Some lots require shallow runoff trenches (swales) to help collect and drain water. Ensure that they are even and of a uniform slope.
Sod
  • For a variety of reasons, it is possible that sod may not be laid at the time you take occupancy of your new home. Time of year may be a factor, or local municipalities may delay this process to ensure certain subdivision requirements have been met. You should, however, make note of these items on your PDI Form. Once installed, you are required to maintain the sod.
  • Ask the builder about proper care and maintenance.
Brickwork
  • Make sure that vertical and horizontal mortar joints between the bricks are completely filled.
  • Check that weep holes at the bottom of the brick and above windows and doors are unobstructed. Weep holes are designed to allow moisture to escape from the brick wall.
Exterior Trim
  • Check that trim is securely fixed.
Caulking
  • Make sure all windows and doors are caulked around their frames where the frame meets the walls of the house.
Roof Ventilation
  • Make sure that there are sufficient air vents for adequate, unobstructed roof ventilation.

Grading

Inspecting Your New Home – Part 2

This is the second part of our series on what items a new home buyer should look for once they decide to purchase their dream home.  In this part we will focus on inspecting the home’s interior.

Plumbing Fixtures
  • Check for chips in bathtubs, toilets and sinks.
  • Ensure that all faucets work properly.
  • Check that cabinets are securely fixed to the wall.
  • Examine caulking around tub and shower enclosures and at countertop backsplashes.
Basement

  • Check for signs of water penetration in the basement walls.
  • Ensure that the basement floor slopes toward the floor drain.
  • See that floor joists are made from sound lumber. Joists spanning more than 2.1 metres should have bridging and/or strapping installed unless an engineered flooring system has been used.
  • Check for insulation and vapour barrier in the joist spaces.
Doors
  • See that doors are well-fitted and operate as intended.
  • Check that locks are well installed and do not rattle when the door is closed.
  • Check that the exterior doors have been sealed with weather-stripping.
Windows
  • Operate windows to ensure they open and close properly.
  • Make sure there are no cracked panes and that all appropriate screens are in place.
Kitchen
  • Check for damage to countertops, cupboard doors, sinks and appliances.
  • Ensure that cabinet doors are properly aligned.
  • Check spaces for standard appliances unless specific measurements were given to your builder. The space allotted for your appliances should be correct.
  • Test the range hood fan and light.
  • Make sure there are electrical outlets above the counter.
Interior Finishes
  • Inspect the wall finishes for uneven paint coverage.
  • Check handrails on stairs to ensure they are securely fastened and smooth to the touch with no rough edges, chips or gouges.
Closets
  • Make sure that doors are secure and that they open and close easily.
Floors
  • Walk across all floors. You should hear only a minimum of squeaks and notice a minimum of spring when walking on the floor. Due to the nature of wood, a wood floor system will have a certain amount of unevenness.
  • See that floor coverings have a relatively flat surface.
  • Examine seams in carpets and vinyl to ensure they are tight.
  • Inspect ceramic tiles for surface cracks. Joints between ceramic tiles should be well-filled with grout.
  • Inspect flooring for damage.
  • Examine carpeting for stains or shade variations.
Upgrades and options
  • Make sure that all pre-selected upgrades and options have been installed.

Inspecting Your New Home – Part 1

In the next three articles we will try to outline items a new home buyer should look for once they decided to purchase their dream house.  In this part we will focus on your home’s systems.

Heating
  • Check the furnace and hot water heater.
  • Ask about the capacity, shut-off mechanisms and the type of filtering systems installed.
  • Review the operation of your heating system.
  • Locate the furnace filters and ask about their care and maintenance.
  • Ensure that heat registers are not located below a thermostat.
  • Check the location and number of cold air returns and make sure they are unobstructed.
  • Learn the location of any fuel lines (gas, propane or oil) and understand how to operate any shut-off devices on these lines.
Mechanical Ventilation
  • Locate the switches for ventilation and circulation fans (normally placed near the thermostat).
  • Locate supplemental fans and switches in each bathroom and in the kitchen and ensure they are operating. Make sure you understand how to achieve proper ventilation in order to avoid condensation problems which may not be covered under the warranty.
Electrical System
  • Locate the main electrical panel and review the function of each circuit breaker and fuse.
  • Your new home must be equipped with ground fault and arc fault circuit interrupters (GFCI and AFCI). GFCIs protect bathroom and exterior receptacle circuits, while AFCIs protect bedroom receptacle circuits. Ask your builder how to test these devices.
Plumbing System
  • Locate the shut-off valves for the main water supply and the location of other shut-off valves throughout your home. It is your responsibility to shut off the water supply to all exterior hose bibs to protect them from freezing in winter weather.
  • If your home has a septic system, ask your builder to provide you with information on its use and maintenance.

What throne!

In the past we have installed some fancy poop disposal units (PDU,  a.k.a toilets).  But Koehler’s latest “CAN” takes the cake! (Pun intended). So here is the “SCOOP” LOL.

The Numi does it all and looks like a fancy waste bin, unassuming at first.  When you step up to it the magic happens! What’s so special you ask, well here we go:

  • Numi comes with built-in speakers allowing you to play FM radio or connect your MP3 player.
  • To quote Kohler, “ambient lighting illuminates your space with a soft, inviting glow”
  • Warm air floor-level vents heats the floor surface and warms your feet;  yes it warms the seat
  • It is a deodorizer
  • It has an integrated bidet functionality
  • Built in air dryer
  • Front sensors react to your movement when you enter the room for hands-free opening and closing of the cover
  • Automatically raise and lower the seat

Tank less hot water heater

With cost of utilities set to increase this year again, being efficient with energy use is always top of mind.   One of the ways you could save on your energy bills is by going the tank less hot water heater route.  Just to clarify, the traditional way to supply hot water is by using a tank type system, where the water (40 gallons and up) is heated in a reserve tank that is available anytime.  A tank less system on the other hand heats up water on demand (there are some hybrid models as well).

There are multiple factors to look at when deciding on this upgrade.  We will discuss the two crucial ones below:

  • Flow GPM(gallons per minute)

What is this? This is the amount of water that is being used.  To calculate how much water a fixture is using, take a measuring cup and measure how much water you have filled up in one minute.  This will translate in the desired GPM (Gallons per minute).  The following is typical usage per application:

Typical shower:  1.5 to 2.0 GPM
Typical bath faucet:  2.0 to 3.0 GPM
Bathroom vanity sink faucet:  0.5 to 1.5 GPM
Kitchen sink faucet;  1.0 to 2.2 GPM
Clothes washer:  1.5 to 3.0 GPM

For a comparison basis, a with a typical shower of 2.0 GPM, a 40 gallon tank from a tank type system will have water available for 20 minutes ( a very long shower). Given that most households have dishwashers, laundry, and multiple bathrooms, at least a 3.5 GPM or higher heater would be recommended.

  • Temperature Rise (TR)

What is this? This is the difference between the temperature of the water coming into the house (supplied by the city) and the temperature of the hot water required.

Why is this important? The flow rate of tank less water heater systems depend on temperature rise.  All manufacturers will supply this information.

For example (and the eyes are starting to glaze over) :  Given the desired temperature is 110 degrees Fahrenheit in a case where the water temperature from the city is 75 degrees, the temperature rise is 35 degrees.  Let’s say at this temperature rise a given tank less system delivers 7 GPM.  If the water temperature from the city is 35 degrees Fahrenheit, the temperature rise will be 75.  At this rise, the same system might only deliver 4 GPM.  This is a very important concept when choosing a system.

As with anything that will save money, the upfront costs are higher (why should the homeowner pocket the savings instead of the manufacturer).  But the fact remains, energy prices are going to increase over time and investing in an energy efficient system should reduce the operating cost of the home.

There are multiple factors to look at when deciding on this upgrade. We will discuss the two crucial ones below:

Q&A Time – How much does it cost to renovate?

Q: How much does it cost to renovate?

I recently purchased a 2,200sqft home as an investment,  but now I have decided to use the home as my main residence.  I have a very high end taste and the home is worthy of high end furnishings.  I have $300k set a side for renovation, and furnishings, how much will it cost me to furnish the home?

A:

I get this question all the time and there is no fast, quick, and magic number per square foot. It all comes down to the extent of your renovation project coupled with the finishes you prefer. Labour costs will vary according to where you are located.

Currently our costs in Canada are higher than what would be found in the US. The best advice I could give you, is start with a budget and a list of the things that you need to have done and what you could put off later (define your scope). Having said that, the more renovation projects you have done at the same time the more savings’ you could realize.
In any event good luck and have fun with it!

Q&A Time

Q:Hardwood transitions

I have Brazillian cherry hardwood floors in my entry and kitchen. It is a open layout with a 8′ opening into the living and dining room. I am taking down a wall to a bedroom to make a bigger living room so i need new flooring 500 sf.

The carpet didn’t hold up good with little kids and animals so i want to go hardwood but i cant afford brazillian cherry. $3500 or $5500 for an exact match. I have 4″ wide and the only where i can find that has a 1000sf min order. I only have a 1,500 budget installing my self

Will laminate look tacky next to the hardwood. Should i rip out 200sf of the hardwood and put in all laminate. Its only 4 years old and in good shape but i did get it basicly for free from someone

What is your opinion? thanks

A:

It’s not so much that the transition will look tacky; instead it will look and feel odd. The difference in the thickness of the materials will cause this. This could happen even if we are talking about a ceramic and hardwood transition. It will look `nice` if the transition is smooth. My advice when someone asks me this question is to use a uniform thickness when deciding to use different materials for floor finishing’s.

Given the budget constraint take a look where the transition will occur. In a doorway for example you might leave it. On the other hand if the transition occurs in the middle of the room definitely rip out the 200 sqfoot old floor and replace the whole thing with a uniform floor.

In your case I would recommend maybe saving a little more money and finishing it with the Brazilian hardwood (if you can match it) because the difference between a natural material and the man made product ( i.e. paper and glue) is more than 5x the price difference.