All posts by Dave Gray

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Saving money, food, and the planet

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Saving money, food, and the planet

Wasting food isn’t just bad for the family budget, it also hurts the planet. According to a national study, co-authored by food recovery program Second Harvest www.secondharvest.ca and Value Chain Management International, www.vcm-international.com, the findings suggest that the 35.5 million metric tonnes of food, which is wasted annually in Canada creates a whopping 56.5 million metric tonnes of CO2 equivalent emissions.

One way to reduce waste in the home is to invest in re-usable storage bags or containers. Etee www.shopetee.com makes reusable sheets and bags out of organic cotton muslin and non-toxic dyes, coated in organic beeswax, tree resin, non-GMO soy wax, organic jojoba, and essential oils.

Estee wraps are easy to store flat in a drawer.

I tested Etee’s bags with cheese, snacks, and nuts, and these bags can also be used for cooked (not raw) or smoked meats. They kept bagels fresh for several days, and were terrific for transporting sandwiches and fruit for work lunches. They are especially effective with fresh herbs: dill, parsley, and coriander- all stayed very green and fragrant for close to a week.

Their tackiness is activated by being rolled into a ball and kneaded for a minute. That’s what allows the sheets to form a seal. Just keep in mind that the wrap sticks to itself rather than to the bowl containing the food. They can also be frozen for up to 30 days.

After use, they should be rinsed in cool water and, if necessary, gently washed with soap that doesn’t contain alcohol — which can degrade the finish — in lukewarm (not hot) water.

Kliin cloths are machine washable; air drying will make them last longer.

Paper towels can be wasteful, so I was eager to try samples from yet another Canadian company, KLIIN, which makes cloths (starting from $5) that are a cross between conventional paper towels and wash cloths. KLIIN cloths proved to be useful for chores like wiping surfaces, doing dishes, and washing outdoor furniture. The manufacturers claim one KLIIN cloth replaces 17 rolls of paper towels. A $15 roll of thinner towels has five, nine-by-nine-and-a-half-inch sheets, and is available online at www.kliin.co or at select retailers.

Kliin towels come in happy colours and fun designs that brighten the kitchen.

Vicky Sanderson is the editor of Around the House www.aroundthehouse.ca. Follow her on Instagram @athwithvicky, on Twitter @ATHwithVicky and on FB at www.facebook.com/ATHWithVicky

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All Decked Out

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All Decked Out

Whether you’re looking to install a new deck or want to make minor improvements to your existing deck, deck building should never be rushed. There are a lot of new products on the market, so it’s important to do your homework and plan for your space to get the best possible outcome for your property.

Achieving the deck of your dreams is an investment that will undoubtedly add value to your property. A new deck becomes the outdoor hub for family and friends to enjoy well beyond the summer months. It will provide a wonderful place to entertain, grill and make cherished memories. The right deck built with quality, long-lasting materials, will endure for decades.

Inspiration
While it’s important to pay close attention to the details and planning of your deck building, the process should also be enjoyable. The first step towards creating your vision is to become inspired. You may already have an idea of what you want, but if you don’t, there are endless possibilities and options to explore. Look at different decks online, in magazines and on social media, or even just walking through your neighborhood. You never know what you might discover.

Layout
No matter your budget, the deck layout is determined by the space that’s available. If you have a smaller backyard or prefer a minimalist approach, you might consider a simple design with clean lines such as, square or rectangle. Popular dimensions for decks include 12’x12′ and 16’x20′ – both create ample space for outdoor entertaining and relaxation.

Homeowners who want a more personalized design often opt for custom shapes, sizes and styles. Multiple levels can offer space for covered sections – perfect for outdoor kitchens, grill corners, hot tubs and water features.

Subtle outdoor lighting enhances the ambience in the evening hours and is a crucial addition for most decks regardless of size.

Simplify the creation of your deck layout by using a deck design tool. Using a design tool will help you visualize your future outdoor space and help determine whether your plan meets your outdoor living needs.

Material: Wood or Composite
Wood has long been considered the go-to material for decking, but composite products are gaining in popularity. Composites are developed from a mix of recycled plastic and wood fibres and offer the luxury of low-maintenance and increased durability. Not to mention, there are a variety of unique finishes available, plus new technology geared to circumvent expansion and contraction issues and withstand common water challenges like rot, wear and warping.

Deckorators offers some of the industry’s best warranties, such as a 25-year Structural, a 25-year Stain & Fade, and a 25-year Removal & Replacement warranty to help you feel confident in your decision. Deckorators also has designated Certified Pro contractors available to help you each step of the way.

Decking Patterns and Colour
Adding a pattern to your deck design can provide a unique style that is sure to stand out. While the shape of your deck is one consideration, the colour options, styles and finishes enable you to customize your outdoor space. Consider incorporating a multi-colour pattern such as: herringbone, hexagonal, V-shaped, sunburst or picture-framed boarder. Even a standard-shaped deck can be made to look like one-of-a-kind, creating an extension to your home while adding some personality.

Playing with colour will also help you find the tone that’s right for your property and surrounding space. To get familiar with what’s available, check out new PANTONEVIEW home + interiors 2019 to identify trends, proven colour combinations as well as timeless shades that will stand the test of time.

Find a Builder
When you’ve completed your research and have an idea of what your dream deck looks like, it’s time to contact a local contractor who will implement your plans and achieve the outdoor space you want. Industry leaders, like Deckorators, understand the importance of finding a certified deck builder that can work with your product of choice. Additionally, the established Certified Pro program trains local contractors to work with Deckorators’ products and meet a variety of client needs.

Jase DeBoer blogs about deck ideas on the Deckorators On Deck Blog. He also hosts the bi-weekly Deckorators Facebook Live program “On Deck,” which offers homeowners insight on tips, trends, and products to take their deck beyond ordinary. As senior category marketing manager for Deckorators, DeBoer has extensive knowledge of how deck design elements can work together to create a personalized outdoor oasis brimming with style.

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Why wait to enjoy your backyard?

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Why wait to enjoy your backyard?

As temperatures slowly start to warm up here in Ontario, it’s easy to imagine spending more time outdoors. I’m here to give you a few simple tips on how you can create your very own luxurious backyard retreat — no passport or suitcase required. Now is the time to get those projects finished so that you can get the most out of your backyard this season. Are you ready to own a little piece of paradise? If so, keep reading.

CURATED ZONES
By creating distinct zones in your outdoor living space, you create several customized, livable areas. This not only makes your yard more functional, but also more luxurious because you are optimizing the space for maximum enjoyment. Think of resorts where there’s the pool area, the cabana, the outdoor bar, barbecue, the yoga area, the tennis courts… okay, you might not be adding a tennis court but you get the idea. Try using large area rugs to ground these spaces. They will help distinguish one area from another, and make each space feel more pulled together. Lighting can also help with this. Hanging light pendants from above will create a more intimate atmosphere, while placing lights on the ground offer an open and airy environment. While area rugs and lighting are important considerations when creating the type of retreat you want, the most important question to ask yourself is: How will you be using your space?

BODACIOUS PLANTS
Try to incorporate a good balance of hardscape and softscape in your outdoor retreat. Think about those luxurious walkways at resorts that guide you to the pool area. Not only are they colourful, they are also calming and restorative. The stone-work surface surrounded by the lush greenery feels so indulgent. Look to replicate this vibe. By adding plants of varying heights and an eclectic mix of planters, you can create a space that feels beautifully curated. When it comes to plants, the more the merrier. Just ask your local greenhouse which plants require less maintenance, that is, if you don’t have a green thumb.

COOL GADGETS
Of course, nothing says luxury more than cool gadgets that get the conversation started. This summer, I recommend trying out the brand new Space Grill. It’s the world’s very first, full-sized, three-burner, fold-down, gas grill. The space-saving design allows you to mount it on an outside wall, or hang it on a stand so that it takes up as little space as possible. It also looks so stylish. Watch THIS video to see what I’m talking about. It’s available at all three Barbecue World locations.

TRENDY ACCESSORIES
When it comes to accessories, I’d encourage sticking to tone-on-tone neutrals. Think black, white, taupe and navy, as these colours work well together and tend to give a lavish feel to your space. By adding pops of bright colour, you tend to make the space feel more casual. Think of the really high-end resorts – you’d usually find white-canopied beds, black loungers, white towels … you get the picture, right? To create the same luxurious feel in your own backyard, stick with a similar palette. In fact, Airmiles has a brand new rewards catalogue with 200 additions. I used my miles to get the Napoleon Healthy Choice Starter Kit – the perfect accessory for grilling this season. Collectors from coast to coast can select from a variety of barbecues, patio furniture and accessories.

LOW-LYING FURNITURE
In 2019, low-lying outdoor furniture is trending. This comfortable yet stylish look tends to give off a luxe vibe. The good news is, there are some fantastic options that can give you this look without breaking the bank. My favourite this season is Hampton Bay Park Heights this collection set from The Home Depot.

WRAP-UP
So there you have it. A few simple tips on how you can create a luxurious retreat in your own backyard. Now let’s hope we get some warm weather sooner rather than later.

Jaclyn Harper is a TV host, interior stylist and new mom living in Burlington, Ontario. You may recognize her from shows like Tiny Talent Time, Morning Live First Edition and The Shopping Channel. She has also worked behind the scenes for the Property Brothers’ Show, Buying And Selling. When Jaclyn’s not on TV or creating beautiful designs, you’ll find her latest projects on her blog jaclynharperdesigns.com. From DIYs, design projects to life as a new mom, her lifestyle blog and YouTube channel give her fans a peek into her family life.

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Renovation Contractor – Jun/Jul2019

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Renovation Contractor – Jun/Jul2019

Renovation Contractor is a trusted trade publication written by and for Canada’s small to medium-sized home renovators.

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TCS Marketing Systems

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TCS Marketing Systems

With decades of experience, the people behind this company provide keen insights

In the fast-changing Toronto area real estate market, the team at TCS Marketing Systems always has their fingers on the pulse. The people behind this innovative sales and marketing consulting agency excel at anticipating coming trends, due to their three decades of experience, keen insight and extensive market data.

TCS Marketing Systems has been involved in numerous projects across the GTA and Ontario, including mid- and high-rise condos, townhomes, single-detached homes and master-planned communities. The company has a single guiding principle – integrity – and has set itself apart by being the first consultants in and last out on every project.

Mark Cohen (centre back row) and his TCS Marketing Systems management team.

Wealth of experience

Managing partner of TCSMS is Mark Cohen, a highly respected and well known expert in the industry. His wealth of experience includes key roles with powerhouse developers, including Bramalea Ltd., Menkes Developments, Concord Adex and Tribute Communities. Throughout his career, Cohen has pioneered many of the sales and marketing strategies that are now common in today’s marketplace and is always on the lookout for the next breakthrough.

“When Mark is in the room with the architects, he thinks about what people do after they come home and throw their keys on the table,” says Onkar Dhillon, vice-president of operations and one of The Condo Store’s founding members. “He thinks about how they live. We are designing with consumers in mind. For example, Amazon delivery is the way people get parcels, so we’re adding automated parcel delivery rooms. That’s the kind of thoughtfulness required in design.”

Dhillon has been working with Cohen for 20 years, since they met when Cohen was vice-president of sales and marketing for Concord Adex’s Cityplace, the largest residential highrise development in Toronto history.

Better projects, better designs

Condos used to be subordinate to lowrise homes, Dhillon says, but condos are a lifestyle choice and the challenge is to create better projects and design better spaces to serve consumers.

“Our philosophy is there is a condo for every person, and there’s a purchaser for every condo,” says Glen Buttigieg, vice-president of sales. “We make a case for every condo, whether it’s to take in the morning sun, to see the lake, or the advantage of being near the rooftop terrace. We painstakingly comb over every suite, trying to find the advantage and tailor it for each buyer. Our agents are listening to buyers and determining what suite would serve them best.”

For TCSMS’s developer clients, Cohen and company get in early, sitting in on all of a project’s marketing and design meetings and then create a rationale. They continue working with the same care and commitment until the last unit is sold, understanding the importance of making the projects profitable for their clients.

“What I influence is the design, marketing, sales and customer relationships for different projects,” says Cohen. “Instead of working on 12 projects for one person like I used to, I work on 12 for 12 different builders.”

Bungalow on Mercer Street in downtown Toronto.

TCSMS is equally well-versed in selling and marketing high-, mid-, and lowrise developments. Buyers’ expectations are changing. Due to constraints on land available for building and affordability, people are realizing they don’t have to aspire to 4,500-sq.-ft. houses in rural settings and can live well in smaller homes.

“The market doesn’t want space for space’s sake,” adds Serena Quaglia, vice-president of marketing. “People want common space, a study nook… that’s the challenge for the lowrise market. It’s not going anywhere, but the designs are not what they used to be.”

Quaglia brings more than a decade’s experience in the design, marketing and sales of master-planned communities and believes today’s buyers are more sophisticated and knowledgeable when it comes to evaluating properties. “The most important role we play when working with developers is our ability to accurately represent the needs and desires of each and every buyer. And that starts with being great listeners.”

Altered approach

For example, Bungalow is an ultraluxury condo project by Kalovida Canada Inc. in the heart of the Entertainment and Financial Districts, with just 13 units, just one per floor. Cohen recognized that buyers spending $2.5 million for a suite – hedge fund managers, athletes, entertainment industry types – would likely not be using them as primary residences, but as places to entertain and relax when they were in town. This type of clientele wants a certain type of wine cellar, concierge and modest, rather than overthe- top luxury.

In another example, construction is starting soon at 293 The Kingsway, a luxury condominium by the Benvenuto Group. The Kingsway is a classic Toronto neighbourhood with lush, green streets and good schools, and 293 reflects the prestigious area, with large units, a park-like setting and stylish contemporary design.

And for Wycliffe Homes’ Promenade luxury townhouse development in Thornhill, TCSMS largely focused marketing around the developer, wellknown for its white-glove treatment, first-class finishes, exceptional locations and the opportunity it gives buyers to customize. Staying true to the prestigious Thornhill neighbourhood, Promenade’s townhomes are classy and tasteful, with top-notch features and finishes.

Whether it’s dealing with super luxury projects or condos geared to first-time buyers or investors, TCS Marketing Systems brings the same level of dedication to each one and works until the last unit is sold.

“Real estate is one service that hasn’t been greatly altered by technology,” says Cohen. “Homes are still sold by people, not machines. The quality of renderings is better, the ways to communicate more extensive, but at the end of the day, whether you are selling something to a client or to a customer or pushing a consultant to do something, most of it involves eye-to-eye contact. People move people to move mountains, and that hasn’t changed.”

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Indigo launches Indigobaby Registry with top baby brands and must-haves for parents

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Indigo launches Indigobaby Registry with top baby brands and must-haves for parents

Indigo is a haven for baby gifts – everything from picture books to plush, stuffed animals and cute onesies, it never disappoints. This is largely because the retail chain has implemented a deliberate diversification strategy, essential in the age of Amazon.

The company’s latest innovation is its baby gift registry. Indigobaby Registry is easy to navigate and beautifully designed, and is now available in-store, online and through the Indigo mobile app.

Kirsten Chapman, president at Indigo, describes the company’s motivation. “Our customer research indicated that expectant parents are looking for support on what they truly need to prepare for a new baby. Understanding this, we set out to design a solution that would make registering an easy, streamlined – and fun – experience.”

The registry features a wide assortment of more than 6,000 baby products available online, including strollers, swaddles, car seats and carriers. Gift-givers will feel confident in the products they purchase, as Indigo carries the most coveted baby brands – Baby Björn, Skip Hop, Happiest Baby, Stokke and Medela. While browsing the collection, one eye-catcher is Pehr’s handcrafted baby mobile with dangling sheep, and the double-sided play mat by The Pieces. Both would make gorgeous gifts.

Of course, helping to build baby’s first library is an affordable option for gift-givers, and Indigo has no shortage of choices. Why not gift an expectant mother with a Heather’s Pick – a copy of The Happiest Baby on the Block, by Harvey Karp, MD, or with a classic copy of What to Expect the First Year, by Heidi Murkoff?

True to its customer-centred philosophy, Indigo goes the extra mile for expectant mothers. Those who register receive an Indigobaby Memory Book, perfect for documenting their baby’s first year. Indigo is also offering registrants a 20-per-cent discount on all items remaining on their registries and hassle-free returns and exchanges within 90 days. As well, a user-friendly mobile app allows users to create and update their registries anywhere, anytime.

The Indigobaby Registry will also be a valuable resource for expectant parents, with advice and tips from parenting experts and authors. Any mother-to-be will appreciate the insider tips and tricks, such as inspiration on how to design a soothing nursery and blog posts such as “Dr. Karp’s five Ss to get fussy babies to sleep.”

“We know that being an expectant parent is an incredibly joyful time, but it can also be overwhelming,” says Chapman.

Indigo’s curated collection and convenient features aims to make shopping a breeze, and may eliminate some of the stress for expectant parents.

For more information, visit indigo.ca

Shawna Wynne is a GTA-based freelance writer and recent graduate of Humber College’s Professional Writing and Communications Graduate Certificate program.

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Homeowners’ Choice Award winners

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Homeowners’ Choice Award winners

Anyone buying a new home wants to make sure they’re choosing a great builder; one with experience, integrity, commitment and professionalism. One of the best ways to find that builder is by checking their references. If you hear great things from homebuyers who’ve had a terrific experience with a particular builder, then it’s reasonable to expect you’ll also have a positive experience.

The Homeowners Choice Awards are the ultimate reference check. They’re based on feedback from thousands of new-home buyers in Ontario who shared details of their customer service experience during the homebuying process on everything from signing the Agreement of Purchase and Sale through construction to after-sales service.

This year more than 54,500 newhome owners, who took possession between Oct. 1, 2017 and Sept. 30, 2018, were invited to participate. The third-party research firm that manages the survey and tabulation process received more than 11,300 responses.

The survey results determined the 2019 Homeowners’ Choice Award winners, who are recognized for outstanding customer service in four builder categories: Small, Medium, Large Volume and Highrise.

There has to be enough data available to provide a full picture of a builder’s success in providing top-notch customer service. Builders need at least five new home possessions during the survey timeframe and they must be named in a minimum number of completed surveys in order to qualify for consideration.

When all the surveys were tabulated and the numbers crunched, there were 24 finalists for the four awards. Each of the 24 builders were cited for their responsive, positive approach to customer service. However, the award winners in each category were the builders, large and small, who were identified as consistently striving to create a positive, memorable home buying experience.

Let me tell you about our winners: The Small Volume category covers builders with between five and 20 possessions per year. This year’s winner is Chris King & Sons Construction of Kingsville.

Timberland Homes in Lasalle was named the winner in the Medium Volume category, which includes builders with 21 to 100 possessions per year.

In the Large Volume category (100- plus possessions each year) the winner is Hayhoe Homes in St. Thomas.

Finally, the winner of the Highrise category (100-plus possessions each year) is Brookfield Residential in Markham.

I’d like to thank the many thousands of new-home owners who took the time to tell us about their customer experience with Ontario’s builders.

In the best cases, buyers and builders have forged positive, enduring relationships through the buying, building and after-care process. And just as you’re happy to share a good experience when a friend asks for advice, more than 11,300 homeowners have been kind enough to share their good experience with you.

We’re grateful for their advice. This year, Tarion’s Board of Directors also chose a winner for the Ernest Assaly Award. This prestigious award, which a builder can only receive once in their career, is named after the first Chair of Tarion’s Board of Directors.

It’s intended to honour builders who stand head and shoulders above the crowd; those with a long record of accomplishment in customer service, social responsibility, workmanship, innovation and employee development.

Expectations are so high, in fact, that only a handful of builders are even considered for the award. I’d like to think that Ernest Assaly would be proud to know that this year’s winner of the award named for him is The Daniels Corporation.

In a world of Pinterest boards and online communities, it can sometimes be difficult to get the kind of dependable advice we all want when we’re making one of the biggest purchases of our life. The Homeowners’ Choice Awards represent a solid source of advice from the real experts: Ontario’s new homeowners.

Congratulations to all of our winners!

Howard Bogach is president and CEO of the Tarion Warranty Corp. tarion.com Facebook.com/TarionWarrantyCorp

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Find your perfect match with HomeStars’ newest offering

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Find your perfect match with HomeStars’ newest offering

Finding a verified home service professional has never been faster or easier, with the latest offering from HomeStars. The company is continuing to redefine the way homeowners connect with home service professionals and this latest advancement uses matching technology to further simplify the process.

The matching process is simple and found on the HomeStars homepage using the Get a Quote search function. To use the service, some basic information is required, such as postal code, category of job and job urgency which is used to match up to three top-ranked service providers in the area. With an average response time of 30 minutes or less, homeowners can quickly compare quotes and hire immediately, or use the website to further investigate and explore these companies as well as other larger home projects. HomeStars is a free service for homeowners.

HomeStars receives more than 8,000 reviews each month from homeowners and the online marketplace has more than 300,000 home service providers across the country. Established in Toronto in 2006, the company was acquired by Denver-based HomeAdvisor in 2017.

HomeAdvisor is part of IAC, which owns more than 100 brands in 150 countries, including match.com, Plenty of Fish and Tinder, to name a few.

A proprietary algorithm developed in collaboration with HomeAdvisor is what allows HomeStars to instantly match homeowners with service pros. The innovation has made it easier than ever before to connect with trusted professionals for anything from fence repair to basement waterproofing and everything in between.

“We have been helping homeowners find top-rated and reputable pros for over a decade, and now our matching technology delivers much faster results,” says Nancy Peterson, founder and CEO of HomeStars. “HomeStars has more than 1.1 million registered users and, so far, we’ve already had over 500,000 requests using the matching technology, which offers on-demand service in an underserved category.”

HomeStars is the only Canadian company in the home services space to offer this sophisticated matching technology. While all different jobs can be quoted, the most popular categories are carpenters, roofing, handyman services, appliance repair and house and apartment cleaning.

In September 2017, HomeAdvisor merged with Angie’s List to form ANGI Homeservices Inc. ANGI Homeservices is the world’s leader in digital home services marketplaces, with Angie’s List, HomeAdvisor and Handy in the U.S., HomeStars in Canada, Instapro in Italy, MyBuilder in the U.K., MyHammer in Germany, Travaux in France, Werkspot in The Netherlands, and CraftJack and mHelpDesk for the trades.

For more information, visit @HomeStars on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram.

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Planning a renovation?

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Planning a renovation?

Like thousands of people in the GTA every year, I just had a major renovation completed on my home. It was a great way to make sure that my home meets the changing needs of my family and also updating features and designs to meet our current tastes. In doing so, I experienced first hand the benefits of using a professional renovation contractor and of practising what the Building Industry and Land Development Association (BILD) and its RenoMark renovators recommend to all their clients.

By following our own recommendations, I didn’t experience any nightmare scenarios that unfortunately are more common than anyone would like. And the end result was fabulous, the project was finished on time and on budget, and while most renovations often have some bumps in the road the process went relatively smoothly.

HERE ARE SOME OF OUR TOP TIPS:

1. Spend the time upfront to have a very clear picture of what you want to achieve. Understand your budget and have a list of must-haves and nice-tohaves. Chances are as you proceed with your renovation you will likely have to make some trade-offs between what you want and what you can afford.

2. Choose your renovator contractor carefully. Interview at least three. If you don’t know where to start, you can find a list of RenoMark renovators on the RenoMark.ca website with renovators in your city from coast to coast. The benefit of using a RenoMark member is that they are professionals, they carry all the applicable licenses and insurance coverages (including WSIB), they will always provide a written contract, provide a two-year warranty on their work and continually upgrade their skills with ongoing education provided by the local home builder’s associations (HBA).

3. When interviewing your renovation contractor, make sure they understand your vision for the renovation and are able to work with you to fine-tune your project. Ask for references of previous clients and check them! Don’t just be satisfied with pretty pictures and a snazzy brochure. If they are not a RenoMark renovator, ask them to provide evidence of insurance and workers compensation coverage, ask about their warranty coverage and ask if they are members of the local HBA. Insurance and WSIB is important because if the renovator does not have coverage, you as the homeowner could be liable in the event of an accident on the job site.

4. Make sure you have a robust written contract with the renovator. This will make sure you get the renovation you want and protects you in the event something goes wrong. Check our website at renomark.ca for tips that outline some of the most common features you will want to make sure are included in a contract.

5. As the renovation progresses, make sure to stay in regular contact with your contractor. Book regular progress meetings. Changes are bound to occur with the project as you are working with an existing and sometimes older structure or home. When you do make changes, be sure to document them with your contractor in a change order.

My overall experience was a very positive one. I worked with a professional and was very happy with the end results. Remember, you wouldn’t hire someone off the street to repair your car; you would go to a licensed mechanic. Why would you risk the biggest investment of your life, your home, to a non-professional just to save a few dollars?

Dave Wilkes is president and CEO of BILD (Building Industry and Land Development Association), and can be found on:

Twitter.com/BILDGTA

Facebook.com/BILDGTA

YouTube.com/BILDGTA

and BILD’s official online blog: BILDBlogs.ca

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Stress test should be reviewed

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Stress test should be reviewed

Greater Toronto Area realtors reported 7,187 residential sales through TREB’s MLS System in March 2019. This result was inline with 7,188 sales reported in March 2018. For the first quarter of 2019, sales were down by one per cent compared to Q1 2018.

While March and Q1 sales remained relatively flat compared to last year, new listings have declined moreso than sales. March new listings were down by 5.1 per cent year-over-year and Q1 new listings were down by 1.5 per cent.

The OSFI stress test continues to impact home buyers’ ability to qualify for a mortgage. TREB is still arguing that the stress test provisions and mortgage lending guidelines generally, including allowable amortization periods for insured mortgages, should be reviewed. The supply of listings in the GTA also remains a problem. Bringing a greater diversity of ownership and rental housing online, including “missing middle” home types, should be a priority of all levels of government.

I asked TREB’s CEO John DiMichele to share his thoughts regarding the City’s Action Plan.

“While the City of Toronto’s recently announced Housing TO – 2020- 2030 Action Plan is exciting and commendable, and we look forward to contributing solutions as a member of the External Advisory Committee, the recently proposed increase to the Municipal Land Transfer Tax on higher priced properties is problematic. As the recent city budget process showed, the MLTT is not a sustainable revenue source from which to fund municipal programs. On top of this, additional MLTT on higher priced homes could have a trickle-down effect on the supply of homes throughout the housing price continuum,” said DiMichele.

As for the MLS Home Price Index Composite Benchmark, it was up by 2.6 per cent year-over-year in March, while the average price for March sales was up by a lesser annual rate of 0.5 per cent to $788,335. The average selling price for Q1 2019 was up by 1.1 per cent yearover- year.

To summarize, market conditions have remained tight enough to support a moderate pace of price growth. Despite sales being markedly lower than the record levels of 2016 and early 2017, the supply of listings has also receded. You can stay up to date on the GTA real estate market by following us on social media, or visit trebhome.com for GTA listings updated in real time.

Garry Bhaura is president of the Toronto Real Estate Board. You can contact him at TREBpres@trebnet.com. For updates on the real estate market, visit trebhome.com. If commercial property is what interests you, contact a TREB realtor by visiting trebcommercial.com.

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