Thursday, April 26, 2007

Hiring A Contractor

Whether building a new home or renovating an old one, choose your contractor carefully. Start by writing your project down, including a floor-plan sketch. Ask friends, family and neighbours about good and bad contractors. Select several contractors and arrange to meet with them. During the meeting, ask each of them:- How long have they been in business- What experience have they with projects such as yours- Their registration numbers for trade associations, the Better Business Bureau, Workers' Compensation and private liability insuranceReputable contractors will gladly answer these questions. Avoid those who balk.

Have the contractor supply at least three references. Ask these former clients about their experiences and, if possible, visit their projects for a first-hand look. Ask your local Better Business Bureau if there have been complaints and how the contractor handled them.

A major project may require professionally drawn plans. Instead of hiring an expensive architect, pay one prospective contractor to draw them. Then you'll own the plans outright and can show them to other bidders. Welcome suggestions. An experienced contractor may have good ideas you never thought of.

Each estimate should state prices for labour, materials (including brand and model names where applicable), and all other expenses. It should also describe the warranty. Don't necessarily choose the lowest bid. Ensure that yours includes:- The contractor's name, address and telephone number, along with registration numbers of the firm's operating licence, memberships in trade associations or the Better Business Bureau and Workers' Compensation. Also include details of private liability insurance coverage. You could be held liable if insurance doesn't cover an injured worker. If subcontractors are involved, the contract should list similar information for them.- A detailed listing of the work to be done and all products to be used. The contract could specify either a set price, to which the contractor is committed regardless of unforeseen complications, or a cost price, which allows the contractor to charge extra for such problems.- An hourly rate for labour. This is most important in a cost-price contract, but is also necessary in a set-price contract, in case you decide to change the plan after work has begun.

- A schedule for payments. Pay only a nominal deposit before work has begun. Then, arrange for payments as work progresses. Avoid scheduling payments for predetermined calendar dates. Instead, pay as each stage is completed.

Never sign a partial or blank contract. Any later changes should be added in writing and signed by both parties. During the project, deal directly with the contractor rather than the tradespeople. Handle problems as they arise and be reasonable. Be considerate of the contractor's needs, such as parking space for work vehicles.

Published by Royal LePage

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

The Appeal Of Stainless Steel

How did a material once relegated to the cold confines of commercial kitchens become the hottest trend in kitchen decorating? By getting the word out that it is extremely durable, hygienic, and water and heat resistant. Not to mention that it possesses eye-grabbing appeal.

First introduced to the residential market ten years ago, stainless steel has gained remarkable popularity in a relatively short period of time. Rarely is a new house complete or a kitchen renovation concluded without the addition of distinctive stainless steel appliances.

The fridge, stove and dishwasher are the most traditional of stainless steel offerings, but recently the surge for steel has resulted in stainless countertops, cabinet faces and backsplashes. Although first depicted as a decorating trend, it is quickly becoming clear that stainless steel is a mainstream style that is here to stay.

Some homeowners are hesitant to decorate with the glossy steel for fear it will give off a cold feeling, not suited for a family kitchen. This is hardly the case if the material is mixed and matched with common kitchen materials. For instance, blending warm traditional kitchen finishes like maple or cherry cabinets with stainless steel will result in a fantastic, unique contrast.

Stainless is also versatile enough to be partnered in a kitchen with black, white or bisque appliances.The durability of stainless is another element of great appeal.

The material is highly resistant to rust, discolouration and corrosion, easily maintaining its professional appearance for years. Perhaps the only drawback stainless possesses is its tendency to scratch easily, although some find the occasional mark adds character and substance. It also has an inclination to attract fingerprints, which can be a concern if children roam your home.

Fortunately, stainless steel is not a difficult material to maintain. Cleaning involves a wash down with a mild detergent, a rinse and then a polish with a dry cloth.

Of course, before outfitting your kitchen with stainless steel style, be sure you have a proper bulletin board, as the non-magnetic tendencies of stainless make hanging your families' schedules on the fridge next to impossible. Depending on your perspective, this may be stainless steel's greatest quality of all!

Published by Royal LePage

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Carbon Monoxide Detectors

Dear Barry,

In a recent column, you said, "... carbon monoxide detectors are best located near the floor, because CO is heavier that air." As a former chemistry student, I must correct you in this conclusion. Carbon monoxide, with an atomic weight of 28, is just slightly lighter than air, whose mixture of nitrogen and oxygen has a weight of approximately 28.8. Please let your readers know this.

You are the second expert to point out this discrepancy, and I thank you both for this important correction. Carbon monoxide detectors, therefore, should be placed near ceilings, as is required for smoke detectors.

Unfortunately, most homes have no carbon monoxide detectors at all, and very few municipalities even require them. Everyone reading this is strongly advised to install at least one CO detector in their home. Carbon monoxide is odorless and deadly. CO detectors save lives.

Published by Barry Stone, Inman News

Monday, April 23, 2007

One Day Prior To Moving Day

Settle any bills with local businesses.

Defrost refrigerator and freezer.

Let movers pack your belongings (unless it's a do-it-yourself move).

Disconnect and prepare major appliances for move.

Set aside anything that will travel in your car so it will not be loaded on the truck.

Pack a box of items that will be needed first at the new house. Clearly mark this box "Load Last."

Confirm arrival time of your moving van/truck/company.

If moving yourself, dismantle beds and other large furniture.

Published by Paul Bianchina Inman News

Thursday, April 19, 2007

One Week Prior To Moving Day

Drain water hoses and waterbeds.

Drain all gas/oil from your mower and other motors.

Notify friends and family of your new contact information.

Gather critical items like a cheque books, credit cards, personal phone book, ID, flashlight, keys, toiletries, tools, paper plates, cups, towels, travel alarm clock, aspirin, bandages and games for the kids.

Published by Paul Bianchina Inman News

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Two Weeks Prior To Moving Day

Arrange for disposal of anything not sold at your moving sale.

Contact your financial institution of your address change.

Service your car in preparation for the move. If you're moving from a warm climate to a cold one, check your antifreeze.

Return any borrowed items (including library books) and retrieve any loaned items.

Cancel newspaper delivery.

Notify any creditors of your move.

Transfer prescriptions and be sure you have an adequate supply of medications on hand.

Assemble a file of the information to leave for the new owner of your home.

Change your address - One week before your move, send change-of-address cards to everyone who will need to contact you.

Plan meals for the last week of the move to help empty the refrigerator.

Published by Paul Bianchina Inman News

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Three Weeks Prior To Moving Day

Prepare auto registration for transfer (if moving to another province).

If you are moving in or out of an apartment, arrange for use of the elevator.

Make child-care arrangements for moving day.

Hold your moving sale.

Decide if you are keeping your plants of giving them away.

Dispose of flammable, corrosives, and poisons.

Published by Paul Bianchina Inman News

Monday, April 16, 2007

Four Weeks Prior To Moving Day

Schedule disconnection of utility services at your old home, and connection of them at your new one. (Be sure to disconnect the day after you leave and connect the day before you arrive.)
If you are packing yourself, obtain packing materials and start packing items you won't need until after you arrive at your new house.

Repair, send out for reupholstery, or clean furniture, drapes, carpeting as necessary.

Arrange for special transportation of your pets and plants if necessary.

Check with your insurance company to see how your possessions are covered during transit.

Make any travel plans necessary for your move.

Check to see if you need any moving permits.

Collect your important records -- Gather personal and family records, including medical and dental, veterinary and school records; legal and financial documents; birth certificates, passports and insurance documents.

Arrange for short-term or long-term storage if necessary.

Published by Paul Bianchina, Inman News.

Friday, April 13, 2007

Six Weeks Prior to Moving Day

Complete Canada Post change-of-address card.

Make arrangements for storage if necessary.

Ask your doctor or health plan provider for referrals, and obtain all medical records.

Clean all closets and drawers.

Start using foods and cleaning supplies that cannot be moved.

Begin searching for good health care professionals in your new location.

Published by aeromove article library

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Eight Weeks Prior to Moving Day

Call for estimates from three professional movers or truck rental companies depending on your choice.

Draw a floor plan of your new home for furniture and appliance placement.

Make an inventory of your household goods and begin to remove clutter. Sell, give away, or discard all unnecessary belongings.

Start a file folder for all your moving paperwork (estimates, receipts, etc.).

Get school records and arrange for a transfer to a new school.

Get your new home ready - Contact painters, carpenters, plumbers, roofers etc., so your home is ready when you arrive.

Published by Aeromove Artice Library.

Remember to change the locks on all the doors in your new home.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

The Listing Agent-Marketing Your Home to Homebuyers

Open Houses

An open house when your property is first placed on the market can be very important, but not for the reasons most homeowners think. Just like with advertising, most visitors to open houses rarely buy the house they come to look at. They may not even know the price of your home when they stop by to visit – they probably just followed an "Open House" sign to your door.

An open house performs a similar function to the neighborhood announcements – it lets all of your neighbors know that your house is for sale, and it practically invites them to come "take a look." Being generally nosy, a lot of your neighbors will take advantage of the invitation.

And they may tell their friends about your house, creating more "word of mouth" advertising.
Of course, there are other reasons for holding open houses, too. Listing agents who "farm" a particular neighborhood use them as an opportunity to meet with other local homeowners who will someday be selling their home. Your agent may hope to list their homes in the future.

Open houses held after your home has been on the market awhile do not usually serve a useful purpose in selling your home. Most of the neighbors already know your house is for sale and open house visitors rarely buy the homes they visit.

However, if you really want more open houses, your listing agent may allow other agents to hold it open. Open houses attract prospective homebuyers and agents hope to convince some of those homebuyers to become their clients.

copyright by Terry Light and RealEstate ABC

Thursday, April 5, 2007

Showing the House

Your house should always be available for show, even though it may occasionally be inconvenient for you. Let your listing agent put a lock box in a convenient place to make it easy for other agents to show your home to homebuyers. Otherwise, agents will have to schedule appointments, which is an inconvenience. Most will just skip your home to show the house of someone else who is more cooperative.

Most agents will call and give you at least a couple of hours notice before showing your property. If you refuse to let them show it at that time, they will just skip your house. Even if they come back another time, it will probably be with different buyers and you may have just lost a chance to sell your home.

Try Not to be Home

Homebuyers will feel like intruders if you are home when they visit, and they might not be as receptive toward viewing your home. Visit the local coffee house, yogurt shop, or take the kids to the local park. If you absolutely cannot leave, try to remain in an out of they way area of the house and do not move from room to room. Do not volunteer any information, but answer any questions the agent may ask.


When you know someone is coming by to tour your home, turn on all the indoor and outdoor lights – even during the day. At night, a lit house gives a "homey" impression when viewed from the street. During the daytime, turning on the lights prevents harsh shadows from sunlight and it brightens up any dim areas. Your house looks more homey and cheerful with the lights on.


Do not use scented sprays to prepare for visitors. It is too obvious and many people find the smells of those sprays offensive, not to mention that some may be allergic. If you want to have a pleasant aroma in your house, have a potpourri pot or something natural. Or turn on a stove burner (or the oven) for a moment and put a drop of vanilla extract on it. It will smell like you have been cooking.

Pet Control

If you have pets, make sure your listing agent puts a notice with your listing in the multiple listing service. The last thing you want is to have your pet running out the front door and getting lost. If you know someone is coming, it would be best to try to take the pets with you while the homebuyers tour your home. If you cannot do that, It is best to keep dogs in a penned area in the back yard. Try to keep indoor cats in a specific room when you expect visitors, and put a sign on the door. Most of the time, an indoor cat will hide when buyers come to view your property, but they may panic and try to escape.

The Kitchen Trash

Especially if your kitchen trash can does not have a lid, make sure you empty it every time someone comes to look at your home – even if your trash can is kept under the kitchen sink. Remember that you want to send a positive image about every aspect of your home. Kitchen trash does not send a positive message. You may go through more plastic bags than usual, but it will be worth it.

Keep the House Tidy

Not everyone makes his or her bed every day, but when selling a home it is recommended that you develop the habit. Pick up papers, do not leave empty glasses in the family room, keep everything freshly dusted and vacuumed. Try your best to have it look like a model home – a home with furniture but nobody really lives there.
copyright Terry Light & RealEstate ABC

Monday, April 2, 2007

The Listing Agent Marketing Your Home to Other Agents

Office Flyers

Your agent will undoubtedly prepare flyers about your property so that prospective homebuyers can be informed about the attractive features of your house. These flyers (or similar ones) should also be sent to all the local real estate offices, too. Most areas have a weekly flyer service that delivers advertisements to all of the local offices. Since agents get these flyers every week, they do not always look at them. However, a large percentage of them do. Some agents will keep the flyer and bring buyers to your house.

The flyer should be done professionally and photocopy well. Ask your agent to show you copies of office flyers they have done in the past.

Association Marketing Sessions

Your agent probably belongs to a local association of Realtors and they often have meetings once a month. At these meetings there is often a "marketing session" where some agents stand up and tell about their listings and other agents stand up and tell about their buyers. Your listing agent has an opportunity to "pitch" your house at these marketing sessions.

At the same time, these sessions may not be as effective as they were in the past. One reason is that they are often more social occasions than serious business meetings. Another reason is that, as technology has expanded, local associations have tended to merge and create larger Multiple Listing Services and Associations. Local meetings have become poorly attended gatherings. Often the most professional agents do not even attend.
copyright by Terry Light and RealEstate ABC