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Little Touches That Can Make a Big Difference

By | Buying/Selling Homes, Happy Home, Home Beautification | No Comments

You are probably already aware of the major things you need to do around your home to get it ready for sale. These include getting rid of clutter, doing minor repairs, and making everything clean and tidy so every room is as much of a showcase as possible.

But there are a myriad of little touch ups you can do that you may not have thought about before… touch ups that can make a big difference in how attractive your home looks to potential buyers.

Here are just a few:

  • Paint or replace the mailbox.
  • Add a couple of flowering plants to key areas, such as the dining room, living room, and just outside the front door.
  • Patch up any minor cracks in the driveway and walkways. (If there is a major crack, consider getting it repaired by a professional.)
  • Put out the welcome mat. Literally! If it’s not clean and completely free of stains, replace it.
  • Clean your stainless steel kitchen sink using a special stainless steel cleaner and brightener. The effect will be dramatic; the sink will look like new.
  • Use a special spot cleaner to lift any stains from carpeted areas.
  • Replace plain or out-of-style light fixtures in the main areas of your home, such as the hallway and living room. Without spending a fortune, you can make a big difference in how these areas look.
  • Consider replacing the hardware on the doors and drawers of old kitchen cabinetry. That, along with some touch-up paint or varnish on worn areas, can make your older kitchen look young again.

These simple ideas can have a big impact on first impressions, yet they don’t cost much to implement, and you can probably do most of them in less than a day.

Robin Spiers & Associates

Call/Text: 403-813-6346 | Office: 403-202-4798

www.RobinSpiers.com | Facebook | YouTube | Testimonials

5 Ways Mice Enter Your Home In the Fall

By | Healthy Home, Home Maintenance, Winterizing | No Comments

5 WAYS MICE ENTER YOUR HOME IN THE FALL

In the autumn there is no question about it, mice will find any means necessary to find shelter. This means that your home could be at risk of a mouse infestation. Mice are masters of finding any way in a building they can, this is because they are able to squeeze through holes the size of a dime! And because cracks and holes in your foundation, windows, and roof are inevitable, nearly every home is a candidate for mice infestations.

Mice are full of diseases and they can also do extensive damage to your home:

  • They can spread diseases such as hantavirus (deer mice), salmonella, and listeria through their urine, droppings, saliva and nesting materials.
  • Because mice breed year-round and able to produce five to ten litters per year, with an average of 6-8 babies per litter, you could have up to 60 mice gnawing at your furniture, rugs, and your walls (to name a few of their favourite treats).
  • They can burn your house down, literally. They love chewing on wires to keep their teeth short and to gain access to places that the wires may be blocking. Mice can chew through soft concrete, wood, drywall rubber, plastic pipes, insulation, aluminum and even gas lines. Expensive repairs!

Rodent proof your house, here are my top 4 suggestions:

1.  Caulking – Go around your house and seal off the cracks and holes

2.  Clean up debris around your house – especially dog poop

3.  Don’t leave garbage and recycling in your garage

4.  Weather-stripping, especially your garage door. Mice will stay out

Happy Fall Season!

This article was brought to you by:

Bill Martin
Martin’s Pest Control
www.martinspestcontrol.com
(403) 460-7213

How to Prep Your Home for an Inspection

By | Home Inspections, Uncategorized | No Comments

How to Prep Your Home for an Inspection

Keep in mind that often buyers attend the inspection, therefore, we recommend you treat the inspection as another showing which could make or break the sale of your home. It is always a good idea to reduce clutter and present a clean and odor free home! Be sure to leave the house too so that your buyers can feel comfortable and the inspector can complete an efficient home inspection. Here are some other ways to help prep your home for a smooth home inspection:

  • Clean toilets
  • Remove extra stored items underneath sinks
  • Remove childproofing from receptacles
  • Replace burnt out light bulbs
  • Install a new air filter in furnace
  • Have all gas, electricity & water shut offs turned on
    (Except for the exterior water during winter)
  • Put your downspouts down
  • Remove storage away from the furnace, hot water tank and electrical panel
  • Make sure the attic hatch is accessible. Cover clothes and items beneath with plastic poly if you are worried about the insulation mess
  • Remove pets from the home
  • Remove laundry and dishes from your machines as they will be tested
  • Fix any issues that you are aware of
  • Leave out invoices for important previous repair
Accurate Home Inspection Calgary

Dishwasher Cleaning & Maintenance

By | Uncategorized | No Comments

We often don’t think about cleaning the machine that cleans our dishes, though unfortunately, foot, dirt and debris can build up over time reducing the effectiveness of the dishwasher. It can be frustrating running your dishwasher to clean your dishes, only to have to re-clean them afterwards to remove hardened on flakes of food. Or should we miss inspecting glass dishes in the light, we may risk the embarrassment of serving guests drinks in a dirty glass! These concerns led me to look into how to properly clean and maintenance our dishwasher to help avoid those issues.

How To Clean Your Dishwasher

1. Be sure to keep up on your dishwasher’s rinse aid. Most dishwashers now have a gauge to help monitor the levels of dishwasher air left in your system, if not, as a general rule it is good to top up every couple months, depending on your usage.

2. Fill your sink up half full of water and add 2 cups of White Vinegar. This can be used to soak and clean dishwasher parts and accessories. Vinegar is a safe, natural and effective cleaning agent to remove water build up and disinfectant. Another option is a dishwasher cleaning agent, or lemon juice.

 3. Remove racks and utensil holders for cleaning and to allow yourself access to the other areas of the dishwasher. If they fit, add them into your vinegar cleaning solution or use a cloth or toothbrush with the cleaning solution from your sink to clean.

4. Clean the holes of the spinning arms. Inspect the holes in the spinning arms of your dishwasher to ensure that they are clean and clear from build up or food. These holes need to be clear in order for the dishwasher to run efficiently. To clean these holes use something fine pointed such as a toothpick, needle-nose pliers, or wire with a hook at the end – though be sure to take your time and be careful to not scratch or damage your spinning arms. Start at the holes furthest away from the center, and work your way towards to center.

5. Wipe the dishwasher’s gasket, walls and door sides. These areas do not get cleaned during a washing cycle, so to eliminate odors and build up it is helpful to regularly wipe the sides and edges of your dishwasher. You can use your sink’s solution or a mild spray cleaner to clean these areas. Remember to do the bottom of the door as it can gather debris. Be sure to take time to clean the gasket in the base of your dishwasher, scrub brushes or toothbrushes would be a useful tool in this area.

You can also get a deeper clean by removing the cover, if you do so, be sure to take pictures during disassembly to ensure proper reassembly.

 6. Last Step! Run a ‘Cleaning’ cycle. After you replace all the parts, you can finish off with running your empty dishwasher on low with 2 cups of vinegar in the bottom of the dishwasher. Halfway through, pause your cycle for 15 to 20 minutes to allow the vinegar to soak.

If you have an odor issue, you can sprinkle 0.5-1 cup of baking soda and run the dishwasher as normal.

Step #6 is great to do periodically as a mini cleaning for your dishwasher.

Please note: Refer to your dishwasher’s manual for specific instructions and information as each dishwasher is unique in some way.

Top 3 Tips to Help Your Dishwasher Run Better

  1. Scrape your dishes before. Sure you don’t want to waste the water and time rinsing your dishes before putting them in the dishwasher, though scraping the excess food is worthwhile. This goes a long way in reducing the amount of food scraps stuck on your dishes after a washing cycle, and prevents the trap from getting filled up faster.
  2. Don’t overload the dishwasher. It can be tempting to fit all your dirty dishes into the washer rather than waiting for the next load, though keep in mind it is better to wait or wash a couple items by hand rather than having to re-run the dishwasher or hand wash dishes after a washing cycle.
  3. Use the correct cycle. It can be tempting to use a shorter cycle, or an eco-wash cycle to save time, water and energy costs, though these may not be appropriate for each wash. It depends on how dirty your dishes are for that particular cycle.

 

Important Questions to Ask During Your Home Inspection

By | Healthy Home, Home Inspections, Home Maintenance, Uncategorized | No Comments

At Bocc Home Inspections we like to help educate our clients on the important items of their new home. We do this through including tips and photographs in the report, marking important shut offs with custom tags, demonstrating how and where the following items are within each home.

Here is a list of questions we suggest to ask during your home inspection:

  • Grading: Is the grade around my entire home sloped away from my foundation walls and window wells?
  • Smoke alarms: How do I test the smoke detector?
  • Ventilation: What is a ventilation switch? Should it be on or off? How does it work with the heating system?
  • Furnace: Where is the disconnect breaker or switch located for the furnace?
  • Water: Where is the main water shut off? Kitchen and bathroom sink water shut off (if present)? Toilet water shut off?
  • Electrical: Where is the electrical panel? How do I turn breakers on and off and how do I reset them?
  • Detectors: Where are the smoke detectors, carbon monoxide detectors, arc fault circuit interrupters and ground fault circuit interrupters? Where are the instruction manuals that are provided with these devices?
  • Eavestroughs: Are the eavestrough down spouts connected and directed away from my home and not towards my neighbour?

At Bocc Home Inspections we like to answer these questions and provide tips on these extra things to help ensure our clients can have a healthy and sound home, Because Our Company Cares For first time home buyers we also include a home maintenance manual as an extra resource for their journey of homeownership.

Easy Guide to Staining Your Deck and Fence

By | Home Beautification, Home Maintenance | No Comments

Easy Guide to Staining your Deck and Fence

Applying a wood treatment such as a stain or paint help prolong the life of your exterior wood by protecting it from the sun’s rays and moisture. Skipping maintenance on your exterior wood you risk having the wood dry, crack, split, warp, turn grey and rot.

PREPPING TO STAIN

Sand
Adam’s favorite thing to do! Not… Sanding is never a good time, though it is very important to sand to avoid splinters if you have splitting and cracks in your deck. For a semi-transparent stain it is important to sand in the same direction of the wood’s grain to avoid the scratches & resulting staining lines caused from sanding against the grain. Therefore, a sanding puck or a belt sander would work better than an orbital sander. We rented a handheld belt sander from Home Depot for $16/4hrs or $23/24hrs and a 2-pack of belts for $15.

Clean
Whether your deck has been stained before or not it is important to clean the wood with a deck cleaner before staining. It took me awhile to wrap my head around this, as I was looking to save time by skipping this step as our deck hasn’t been stained before so I thought it would be considered cleaned. However, it helps open the pours, removes BBQ grease, dirt, and bits of grass or whatever may be in your deck or fence. With your fence it may be more difficult to spread the cleaner on, so I was told that you COULD wash the fence with your garden hose (NOT A PRESSURE WASHER – this will damage the fibres of the wood) if it hasn’t been treated before. Though it is always best to use a wood cleaner on all exterior wood before painting/staining, nonetheless.

Tips for Applying a Wood Cleaner:
1. Spray the wood with your garden hose first
2. Apply the cleaner however you feel is best – could use a painting roller or pump sprayer. We chose to use a painting roller.
3. Scrub the cleaner on wood using a push broom.
4. Let sit for 15 Minutes.
5. Rinse off with garden hose.
6. Let it properly dry for 2 days before staining.

APPLY WOOD STAIN

Selecting Wood Paint/Treatment
You can go with a transparent, semi-transparent or solid color. If you prefer to see a wood grain you need to select a transparent or semi-transparent stain (this is what we chose!). For Alberta’s climate it is important to find a stain with good sunscreen properties and UV protection in order to extend the lifespan of your exterior wood. Having some waterproofing properties is important as well, though in Alberta we don’t get tons of rain so I was told this is less of a priority. When you have higher water-resistant stain you will likely have a glossier and more smooth of a coating on top which will make your deck more slippery, especially when there is snow on top of it. With us having kiddos we are going to choose one that is less glossy in order to prevent falls and accidents.

Stain/Paint
For solid stains or paints you could use a roller to apply, with following up with a brush to get the stain into the cracks and seams. With a semi-transparent stain you will want to use a brush to apply the stain on the wood. It is best to complete a piece of wood then move onto the next in order to have the stain blend nicely in. Be cautious around siding when applying the paint, you may like to use green painters tape to prevent paint and splashes from getting on your siding. Be sure to apply 2 coats, this helps your color and wood protection to last longer. It should be able to last 1-3 years.

After all that hard work, be sure to pour yourself a cold one and enjoy your beautiful deck/fence!

 

 

Make Sure Home Improvement Projects are Up to Code Before Selling

By | Home Inspections, Home Maintenance | No Comments

Make sure home improvement projects are up to code before selling!

Make Sure Your Home Improvement/Maintenance Projects are Up to Code Before Selling

It’s almost always a good idea to boost the appeal of your property prior to listing a home for sale. But there are right ways and wrong ways to do it. If you’re handy and creative, there is no reason not to tackle some of the routine maintenance and upkeep items yourself. But, depending on the scope and size of the improvements, you might be required to seek permission and approval of your local government officials.

Knowing when to do so is key to your success. Neglecting prior approval and final inspection may potentially negate all your good intentions, cost you additional money and, perhaps, even make your property unsalable.

Building Codes

Most governmental jurisdictions and some neighbourhood associations require that homeowners submit plans and seek approval for major projects. Additions, structural alterations, plumbing and electrical improvements, and various other home projects are likely to require permits and inspections. Your city might require a permit to build a fence or a wall, to pour concrete for a driveway, to have a new roof installed, or to change out the windows for more energy-efficient models. Always check with the authorities before beginning any work.

Generally, no permit is needed to replace kitchen appliances or plumbing fixtures, to repaint interior walls or replace flooring, or to add decorative lighting and landscaping elements. But, if your home is located in a gated community or a subdivision that has strict association requirements, you might need committee approval for exterior alterations.

While most of the requirements detailed in the National Building Code of Canada address safety, design and construction of new commercial buildings, the code also governs demolition, use changes and alterations to existing buildings. A significant portion of the code addresses housing and small buildings. Recent code changes deal with stairways and ramps, railings and guardrails, among other updates. Associated standards deal with fire safety, electrical standards, plumbing requirements and energy. Individual provinces and jurisdictions may impose additional or slightly different requirements.

Know the Requirements

National and local standards are enforced by local building inspectors. Although existing homes may not be in compliance with current codes, it is important to remember that buyers are looking for safety and value. It can be financially advantageous to make changes that modernize your property on top of the usual upgrades you may be thinking of.

Always check with local authorities regarding current code requirements for insulation, electrical standards, plumbing, heating and air conditioning systems, ventilation and vent pipes, fans and toxic substance detectors, in addition to standards for stairs and railings, and for driveways and walkways. Whether you do the work yourself or hire a contractor, ask about permits and fees, and whether or not inspections are required.

Document the Changes

Most buyers will respond favourably to evidence of updates that reduce energy costs, increase home safety, or add to a home’s usability and appearance. Keep detailed records of costs and dates, permits and inspections, whether you replace an old water heater, install new attic insulation, or repair an ailing fence. Take before and after pictures if it’s appropriate. If you complete an addition, relocate the electrical panel, or add a sliding glass door, note when the work was completed, the names of architects and contractors, and the date of final inspection, issuance of a certificate of occupancy or project approval. Also keep a copy of the approved plans and any materials specifications or product warranties.

Your home projects, no matter how large or small, should result in a faster sale and a higher price. If you have questions about the value of planned improvements, you might want to check with a certified home inspector or your real estate agent.

Barbecue Cleaning Tips

By | Home Beautification, Home Maintenance, Uncategorized | No Comments

How to Clean & Maintenance your BBQ

Last summer we had an incident where the grease in our tray caught fire in our BBQ, requiring us to use our fire extinguisher to put out the fire before it spread.  Grease fires can be extra dangerous as often someone’s first instinct is to throw water on it, which only causes it to spread! We hope everyone has a fire extinguisher in their home for the unexpected times such as this.

With the arrival of barbequing season we wanted to share some tips on how to prevent fires such as this through proper cleaning & maintenance on your BBQ.

How to Clean a Gas BBQ Grill

  1. Turn off and disconnect the gas bottle(propane tank).
  2. Clean your BBQ grill while still warm.  Use steam cleaning trick (below) to keep it warm while eating.
  3. Brush and/or scrape your grill grates and hot plates to remove burned on food.
  4. Use your dishwasher to clean your grates and hot plates.
  5. Clean inside of grill with warm soapy water and a stiff brush.
  6. Rinse off Teflon grill sheets.
  7. Clean the drip tray by discarding foil and absorbent material.
  8. Clean outside if grill with warm soapy water and a soft sponge.
  9. Re-assemble grill grates and hot plates.
  10. Replace drip tray foil and refill with BBQ grease absorbent mix or kitty litter.
  11. Re-position Teflon grill sheets.
  12. Reconnect your gas bottle and check connections for leaks with soapy water.
  13. Run the BBQ grill on high for 15 minutes to burn off any remaining soap or water.
  14. Apply cooking oil to grates and hot plates to re-season.

Remember to be careful with painted and stainless steel surfaces.

Use non-scratch scrubbers, always test on a small area and follow the grain on any stainless steel.

SOURCE: Elgas.com

15 Tips for a Speedy Home Sale

By | Home Beautification, Uncategorized | No Comments

15 Tips for a Speedy Home Sale

  1. Sell your home first, then buy.
  2. Know your hidden monsters.
    – Have a pre-listing home inspection
    – Have answers and information for any areas that may be of concern (Ex: quotes)
  3. Obtain a new Real Property Report if there has been any changes to the exterior structure of your home (Ex: Deck, a RPR costs roughly ~$900)
  4. Get permits for any work that has been done to your home.
  5. Paint! Painting is one of the few renovations that you earn a positive return from.
    – Have a paint consult to ensure an appealing color is chosen.
  6. Sell the potential
    – Purchase plus improvements can often be built into mortgages for your buyers
  7. Look organized.
    – Collect warranty information, manuals, label keys etc…
  8. De-clutter. Soon this home will no longer be yours.
    – Closets and cupboards too.
    – Purchase new display towels for bathrooms.
  9. De-personalize
    – Remove photos.
    – Have fresh and appealing bedding.
  10. Creep on show homes for staging ideas.
  11. Pay attention to curb appeal.
    – Make the pathway inviting
    –  Flowers
    – Clean up leaves, snow & dog feces.
    – Clean oil/vehicle spills off driveway.
  12. Use special feature signage around home.
  13. Leave during showings.
    – Bring your pets too.
  14. Get professional photos taken of your home for your MLS listing.
  15. Beware of overpricing. Be competitive

We work with a large number of realtors every month, if you are looking for a referral to a top-notch realtor – Just Ask! We would love to learn exactly what type of realtor you are looking for and help pair you up with the right one!

Contact Us

Recycling

By | Happy Home, Healthy Home, Uncategorized | No Comments

Reduce, Reuse & Recycle

We are all well versed in the 3 R’s, though it is important to keep in mind that there is an order of importance in the 3 R’s: it is best to look to reduce, reuse or repurpose and then recycle what we can. With the recent changes to waste management in Airdrie we have been reviewing how our household manages waste, and needless to say there is quite a bit of room for improvement.  Sure, we were recycling bottles, plastics, cardboard and paper, but found that there were many more simple changes we could implement to cut down our waste, such as extra recycling bins throughout the house, a compost bin under our kitchen sink, re-purposing old items and donating items to be reused.

Cities are helping us make recycling more convenient through recycling and compost pick ups right from our door.  Are you looking for way to cut down what your household sends to the landfill, but are looking for more information and support to do so? It leads us to question, what items are recyclable or compostable? Which items needs to go to the landfill? I was surprised to find out that fast food packaging can go into compost, as well as meats. Take a look at these images to help guide you along your way to reducing the items your household sends to the landfill:

Upcoming Changes For Airdrie City Residents

Clear bags voted out

On March 20, 2017 City Council voted to remove clear bags from the Waste Management Bylaw.

Starting the week of April 3, you will be allowed one bag of garbage per week (can be any colour of bag). Bag tags for excess garbage bags can be purchased for $3/tag. A total of four bags can be placed out for collection each week (one bag included in your fees plus up to three tagged bags).

Care and Compassion Provision
Council also approved care and compassion provisions that include:

Diaper Exemption
Residents who apply for the diaper exemption will receive excess waste tags for one extra garbage bag each week for six months. The household must have two or more children under the age of four and this exemption must be re-applied for every six months. The application form will be available shortly.

Medical exemption

Residents who apply for the medical exemption will receive excess waste tags for one extra garbage bag each week for six months. This exemption must be re-applied for every six months. The application form will be available shortly.

Waste Audits
Council directed staff to determine levels of contamination by looking for organics and recyclable materials in residential garbage bags over the next year. The results of the waste audits will be presented to Council in 2018.

Reduced fees
Due to successful contract negotiations, the estimated costs for waste management programs came in lower than estimated. The increase from resident’s current utility bill will be $3.92 where the estimated cost was $6.44. This takes into account the savings from the closure of Westside Recycle Depot, the reduction of one bag per of garbage per week, and the decrease in staffing at the Eastside Recycle Depot. It also takes into account the added cost of curbside recycling collection and the reduced commodity revenue from the Eastside Recycle Depot.

Curbside Recycling
Starting the week of April 3, single family homes in Airdrie will start receiving curbside recycling collection. Along with the addition of a blue cart program, changes to garbage collection will be implemented including a reduction to one bag per week of garbage.

SOURCE: City of Airdrie Website – Waste & Recycling,  http://www.airdrie.ca/index.cfm?serviceID=29

For More Information, Check out These Links:

Which Bin? Search Tool to Determine Where to Put an Item (Airdrie): http://www.airdrie.ca/index.cfm?serviceID=1045

What Goes Where? (Calgary): http://www.calgary.ca/UEP/WRS/Pages/What-goes-where/Default.aspx

Details on City of Airdrie Waste & Recycling: http://www.airdrie.ca/index.cfm?serviceID=29

Items that Cannot Be Recycled (Calgary): http://www.calgary.ca/UEP/WRS/Pages/Recycling-information/Residential-services/Blue-cart-recycling/What-Cant-Be-Recycled.aspx

Collection Schedule (Airdrie): http://www.airdrie.ca/index.cfm?serviceID=1094