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Building Community Connections

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

Get Connected in Your Neighborhood

Many of our readers recently moved into a new home leaving behind friends & neighbors. Staying indoors during the winter months can lead to boredom and the winter blues. Here are some ways to build connections, make friends and get involved in your community:

  • Introduce yourself to your neighbors.
  • Exchange phone numbers & follow on social media (let’s be honest, online community is getting more valuable these days)
  • Invite neighbors over for coffee, tea or dinner
  • Host a shin dig (Keep it simple, do a potluck)
  • Join your local neighborhood FB page (or start one!)
  • Volunteer at the local school
  • Get outside (bundle up and/or take advantage of the warmer days!)
  • Build a lending library (Check them out on our Pintrest board)
  • Give a warm welcome to new neighbors
  • Ask a neighbor for a cup of sugar! (Been there, done that!)
  • Offer a helping hand (lend a tool, helping move heavy items, shovel a sidewalk…)
  • Organize a community clean up!

We hope that our clients who have recently moved into new communities are finding their tribe and getting settled — as friendships and connections makes life so much sweeter!

Interesting Related Articles:
5 Ways to Cultivate Connection in Your Neighborhood
10 Ways to Build Community
Community Building 101
How Housing Impacts Adult Friendship

Home Inspection Warranties – The Fine Print

By | Buying/Selling Homes, Home Inspections | No Comments

Some inspection companies offer a 90 Day Warranty on their home inspection services. We had done this too at some point, though looking further into the details and small print we feel the need to bring some of these details to light to help consumers make an educated decision. Interestingly, when searching through inspector websites that offer these warranties we were unable to find any information regarding their terms and conditions. However, after searching more we eventually uncovered the terms of the 90 Day Warranty, which we will highlight below:

 

90 Day Warranty Fine Print

What Does the Warranty Cover?

Inclusions

Items reported to be in good working order at the time of inspection, limited to:

Mechanical Coverage:

  • Electrical: Main service panel, secondary service panel, and wiring
  • Plumbing: Water lines, faucets, water heaters, drain lines, gas lines
  • Appliances: Kitchen Appliances including and limited to oven, range, dishwasher, built-in microwave, trash compactor, and garbage disposal
  • Heating/Air (HVAC): Furnace, Air Conditioner, and Thermostats.

Structural Coverage

  • Poured Concrete & Block wall foundations.
  • Floor joists, bottom & top plates, and wall members.
  • Roof leak repair (does not include replacement of bad shingles), load bearing walls, attached garage doors

And now for the exclusions…

Exclusions

  • Secondary or consequential damages
  • Anything reported in to be in less than good working order
  • Water damage
  • Cosmetic repairs
  • Items that are inaccessible without the removal of drywall, concrete, or any other permanently installed covering
  • Refrigerators
  • Appliances, climate controls or fixtures older than 10 years
  • Plumbing stoppages, regardless of reason
  • Well or septic systems or any related components
  • Upgrading failed systems to meet current codes or local ordinances
  • Chimneys, fireplaces, or brick failures of any kind
  • Cracking or scaling concrete
  • Pest damage, including that caused by any and all wood destroying insects and pests
  • Damage caused by any peril is not covered by this contract, which includes but is not limited to; war, riot, civil commotion, earthquake, hurricane, any and all acts of god, or any other outside cause or neglect.

Warranty Limits

  • Mechanical Coverage is limited to an aggregate maximum of$500
  • Structural Coverage is limited to an aggregate maximum of $2000.

90 Days?

The warranty is limited to 90 days from the date of the inspection, or 22 days from closing whichever is greater. Most often a buyer takes possession of a home 30-60 days from the date of the inspection, leaving 30-60 days remaining of this warranty rather than 90 days from possession which was our first assumption when hearing of this warranty.

Becoming A Landlord

By | Buying/Selling Homes, Home Inspections | No Comments

Brought to you by Tara Molina – Realtor for Airdrie & Calgary Real Estate

As an Airdrie REALTOR ® and a landlord myself, I can tell you being a landlord isn’t always a walk in the park. You’re always on call, your tenants and the home are your complete responsibility. However, if you’re well prepared for becoming a landlord it will be a rewarding and positive experience! Purchasing an investment property is an activity that I encourage, as Mark Twain said:

“Buy Land They Aren’t Making Anymore!” 

Let’s dive into the 6 major factors that I have learned in my experience to not just becoming a landlord, but also to be successful at it!

Live Nearby

As the owner of the home, you will need to care for all the yard work, the plumbing, any mishaps, etc. When your tenants are locked out, you will need to head over and let them in. Living in close proximity to your rental property will ease a lot of these nuisances. You’ll be able to whip over and complete whatever it is your tenant needs. It’s also possible to hire a property manager to care for the property if you’re not able to be on call. Living close to the property also means that you can check on it from time to time to ensure everything is in order.

Know the Laws

It’s incredibly important to know tenant-landlord laws. From provincial security deposit laws to federal anti-discriminatory laws, you should know them all. As a landlord, you need to know how much notice is needed for tenants to move out, for you to show the property, etc. These laws are great general knowledge, and they’re quite straight forward. If you have questions please contact me so I can advise you!

Read Up On The Laws

Enforce Rent to be Paid on Time

This seems an obvious step, but it’s important not to get too friendly with your tenants. If you do, you might just let a late payment slide which can turn into another, and then before you know it you’re a full month’s rent behind. Being too friendly isn’t a great idea, but you should still have a solid relationship with your tenant built on respect. You are trusting someone to live in your property, therefore you should trust them to get the rent paid on time. The next tip ties into this one…

Screen Potential Tenants

When choosing someone to become your tenant, you MUST choose someone you are comfortable with. It’s standard for a potential tenant to apply for the property by answering personal questions. These questions will ask about the applicant’s employment, yearly salary, pets, relationship status etc. It’s also common to perform a background or credit check. When showing the property, ask the potential tenant questions and get to know them a little bit. You will feel much better about a stranger moving into your property if you can have a pleasant conversation with them.

Customize Your Lease

Your lease should be customized to fit your unique requirements. These requirements will include details such as if you allow pets and how many. Other aspects include details on the utilities, for example if the tenant will have to pay any of them separately. A common utility for the tenant to pay in Airdrie is electricity. Another example of something to specify is repairs. If a window breaks, what is the process of getting it fixed? As a landlord it’s important to ensure your tenant knows all the details of living there, so customize the lease with everything you think is relevant.

Inspect the Property Regularily

A huge part of being a landlord is trusting your tenants. However, this doesn’t mean you can’t inspect the property from time to time. It can be daunting having someone else live in your property – especially in the first few months. Do a drive-by to make yourself feel better. Remember though that you can’t just show up unannounced and waltz into someone else’s home. Because yes, your property is now someone’s home – remember that!

Did you know Bocc Home Inspections offers rental property walkthroughs/inspections?

Who better to check on your home than a licensed home inspector who can monitor your home for leaks and important home maintenance while ensuring your tenants are upholding to the lease arrangement. We offer home rental assistance services to help you maintain the value of your investment property.

Tara Molina

Tara Molina

Realtor for Airdrie & Calgary Real Estate

Let my knowledge and experience help guide you on your home selling or home buying journey! I’ll take the time to actually listen to your needs, answer your questions and respond quickly to you so you aren’t left in the dark. My focus is on understanding your real estate goals and working hard to create solutions that make sense for you.

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.