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Getting Ready to Sell? Read This First

by Claire Franceschetti

For Sale (Almost)?

When it's selling time, there are a few things to keep in mind. As homeowners, we all make a lot of memories in our homes, and there's no doubt it's emotional to say goodbye to the well-loved kitchens and family rooms when they go on the market.

Unfortunately, potential buyers will not be charmed by that "lived-in look."

As a Realtor who works to get ready of selling time, here are a few simple DIY projects that will help make things look sharp. These little fixes will rejuvenate some common trouble areas and make homes more appealing to fussy buyers...

1) Cracked Tiles.

While tile holds up almost indefinitely to all kinds of wear-but sadly, tile cracks if something heavy is dropped on it. We sometimes live with cracked tiles, putting off the task of replacing them. It's relatively simple to replace broken tile: remove the grout, mask the surrounding tiles with tape, loosen the tile, chisel out the pieces, set the new tile, fill the perimeter with new grout and allow the grout to dry. Goodbye, shabby tile.

2) Scratches and dings and gouges, oh my!

 

Wall and cabinetry dings happen as a matter of living in your home. Even the best kept stairwells get beaten up over the years due to high traffic. Here's how to make things look better: Minor scratches can be wiped clean with mineral oil, lightly sanded with fine grade sandpaper and sealed with polyurethane. Scratches that penetrate the finish can be filled with a like-colored furniture repair stick. The product consists of wax and putty, and is easy to apply. Follow with a coat of polyurethane.


Not quite a gouge, but deeper than a scratch? Use wood putty in a matching color. Gouges also can be treated with wood putty. Make the repair, let it dry and apply the polyurethane.

3) Counter intelligence?

Bags of groceries, stubborn food stains and the occasional misfire with a kitchen knife are all to blame for counter surfaces looking scuffed and sad. Fortunately, there are simple solutions that won't leave your wallet empty.

Here's what to do: Laminate is a repair-friendly surface: a color-matched repair pen or paste will camouflage most scratches. Be careful not to overfill, and gently sand the excess when dry. The remnants of past meals can be removed using a paste made from baking soda and water. Leave the paste for a few hours and wipe away. No need to rub or scrub.

Minor scratches on Corian can be treated by using a mild abrasive liquid cleaner on a damp sponge, rubbing over the scratch in small, overlapping circular motions, and rinsing with clean water. Wipe the surface completely dry, and repeat if the blemish is still visible. Deeper scratches should be treated following the manufacturer's instructions. With a little elbow grease and a modest investment of time and money, you can bring the sexy back to worn surfaces.

 

Light Bulb Moment: The Scoop on LED's

by Claire Franceschetti

How many people does it take to change a light bulb?...

By now, most of us have probably replaced most of our old fashioned incandescent light bulbs with new fashioned "eco" fluorescent bulbs. Not sure if you've noticed, but I have found that these newer, energy-efficient bulbs last much longer. Now, the newest light-emitting diode (LED) lighting is the latest trend on the scene. It started being used in commercial and industrial applications, but now, LED lighting is gaining ground at home - and I've been told that there are many good reasons for that.

Energy Savings:


LED bulbs work in a unique way. Instead of emitting light and heat in all directions--which is wasteful--an LED light moves electrons through a semiconductor material, creating light that shines in a specific direction. Thus, LED bulbs create bright light while generating very little heat. Although I hate the price tag compared to the older bulbs they replace, high power LED bulbs are more than twice as efficient and I've been told that they can last as long as 20 years. 

Good Looking:


LED bulbs are now available in warmer tones that are easier on the eyes (and more flattering). Like old fashioned bulbs, there are LEDs made to fit standard light fixtures, recessed lighting fixtures, candelabra bases, dimmable fixtures, and even some landscape lighting. LED floodlights and spotlights are becoming more popular, particularly because they need replacement so infrequently.

Earth Friendly: 

Other advantages of LEDs are that they contain no mercury or other toxic materials, are very unlikely to break if dropped, and reach full brightness as soon as they are switched on. Look for Energy Star rated LED bulbs, which have been tested to meet EPA standards of color quality and consistency, energy efficiency, and stable performance--Cheap versions can perform poorly. 

By replacing the bulbs in the most-used and hard-to-reach fixtures, you can start saving energy--and money--right now. So how many people does it take to change a light bulb? Well, if it's like the toilet roll at my house, it still takes ONE MOM to change a light bulb. 

Buying an Old Home in Vaughan: Buyer Beware!

by Claire Franceschetti

Who can resist the charm and character of an older home?

 

Before you buy, here are some common issues that may prevent you from securing insurance.
 

 

Wiring:

Knob and tube wiring, may be considered a fire risk. If a home inspector finds this wiring, the insurance company may require updating the electrical system.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Galvanized or Lead Pipes:

These older pipes are more susceptible to rust build-up and blockages. Because of the risk of flooding from bursting pipes, you may need to upgrade to modern copper or plastic pipes.
   

Heat source: Details will be required about age, location and condition of oil tanks, often used in older homes for heating
   

Wood Stoves: Often the source of house fires and carbon monoxide poisoning, wood stoves will most likely need to be inspected before an insurance policy will be confirmed.

Improve Your Home's Air Quality

by Claire Franceschetti


It might surprise you to hear that the air inside your home is often dirtier than the air outside. That’s because indoor air is made up of outdoor air plus all the pollutants and allergens generated from cleaning products, pets, dust, smoke, and so on. Fortunately, you can improve indoor air quality in ways that do not cost a small fortune.

 



Get the Dust Out


Dust – a major irritant – includes lint, bacteria, pollen, plant and mold spores, pet dander, etc. You can reduce dust particles in the air in a number of ways. Here are three:

1. Clean or replace the furnace filter every three months.  Most homeowners do not keep up with this task. Thick-media filters, such as the five- and six-inch pleated type, last longer than regular filters and filter better too. Of course they are more expensive.

2. We all create an invisible dust cloud just walking through our homes. While a high quality furnace filter will reduce dust, frequent cleaning and vacuuming is also necessary, but only if your vacuum cleaner is up to the task.

3. A poor-quality vacuum cleaner can also create dust clouds. Before you give up on vacuuming, however, two solutions can address this problem: either install a central vacuum system with the canister-air discharge piped outside the house, or purchase a high-quality, portable vacuum cleaner with a HEPA filtration system. HEPA stands for High Efficiency Particulate Air filter. Whichever solution you choose, both will effectively decrease the amount of dust that spews into the air when you vacuum.

Control of Humidity


High humidity levels in your home can significantly contribute to mold and dust mite growth. Dust mites, however, are a fact of life; you cannot eliminate them entirely. But you can decrease their numbers. Dust mites thrive in humidity levels above 50%. Ensuring the humidity in your home is not higher than 50% will diminish dust mite growth. Here are a few ways to address humidity.

1. Buy an inexpensive hygrometer to measure the indoor humidity

2. Ensure that your clothes dryer vents to the outside

3. Bathroom and kitchen fans should direct shower, bath and cooking moisture outside

4. Fix basement leaks and deal with condensation issues

5. Air conditioning systems and dehumidifiers can also remove moisture from the air. Keep in mind that dehumidifiers use a great deal of electricity and don’t provide any cooling. Make sure you deal with obvious sources of moisture first.

More Efficient Air Exchange


Some homes just need more ventilation. Heat-recovery ventilators, or energy-recovery ventilators are both effective ventilation devices. Some do-it-yourself systems exist out there but we strongly suggest an expert consultation. Choosing the right system involves careful consideration of your home and your specific situation. Lifebreath has a good website that can provide more information on a variety of systems: http://www.lifebreath.com/category.php?category_id=5

Improving air quality in the home is a goal that is easily attainable. Start with the little fixes and then undertake the more complex remedies as needed. You don’t have to spend a lot of money to improve the air you breathe.

Winter is coming to Vaughan. Is your home ready?

by Claire Franceschetti

One of the great joys of living in Canada is the change of seasons. Autumn's colors and crispness will soon give way to winter's first snowfall. While people react differently to seasonal changes, all homes react much the same way: climate change is hard on homes and the freeze/thaw cycles can cause damage.
 
I believe prevention is the key to a safe and comfortable season. Here are the top areas of focus and suggestions to get you through the winter months:


 
Roof - Just like your car, an annual roof tune-ups is really important. Fall is the perfect time for your roofer to address any small issues before they become big ones. The roof suffers the brunt of winter weather abuse. Correcting damaged shingles, loose flashings and torn valleys can prevent water damage from leaks and avoid expensive repairs. Tree limbs overhanging and touching the roof should be cut back, and missing mortar or loose bricks on chimneys should be repaired.

One of my favorite roofers is Boston Roofing: http://www.bostonroofing.ca/

 

 
 

Eavestroughs - Free-flowing, leak-free gutters and downspouts help to get roof water away from the house and keep it out of the basement. If eavestroughs can't control the rain or melting snow, or if downspouts don't carry water at least six feet away from the home, the ground next to your home will get soaked. Saturated ground usually means a leaky basement.
 

 

 

Catch Basins - I had water in my basement about a year ago because of this very issue. The catch basin at the bottom of my basement walk out was clogged, and we had a heavy rain that couldn't drain away. Since that "swimming pool in the basement issue" I make sure that the catch basin is clear. If you have them, keep the catch basins clear on your driveway, garage and yard. If you want to go the extra mile, it's also a great idea to clear any storm grates in the street in front of your house so all that rain and melting snow can get into the storm sewers.

Windows, Doors and Walls - Check your windows and doors for any wood in need of paint, and any joints that need re-caulking. The corners of sills are a common weak point. Check the caulking at pipes, vents and other wall penetrations as part of regular maintenance.
 
Furnace- One of the most over-looked and taken for granted systems in our homes is the furnace. But just one episode of a furnace break-down in winter will emphasize the importance of taking care of your furnace, especially in the winter. I would suggest an annual  If you haven't yet, schedule a heating system maintenance call, even if your system is relatively new.

Will Hurricane Sandy Soak Your Home?

by Claire Franceschetti

Every news station is covering it: Hurricane Sandy is a force to be reckoned with. New York has closed its subway, bridges and even the stock exchange!

 

Hurricane Sandy

While we might not have to deal with the brunt of the storm like our neighbors to the south, residents of Southern Ontario should prepare for record rainfall this week. With such high levels of precipitation, homeowners can help prevent water damage to their homes. 

 

Here are a few simple precautions to focus on:


Gutters - Ensure all gutters and downspouts are in good condition and discharge rain water at least six feet away from the house. Gutters are prone to leakage of the joints and seams. Missing end caps and poor connections to downspouts are other common sources of leakage. Homeowners should ensure that both gutters and downspouts are clear of debris especially with all the leaves that have fallen in recent weeks. For more information click here.

 

Grading - Remember, no foundation wall system is completely waterproof. Ensure all grading is sloped to direct water away from the house and foundation. Also, weeping tiles should be in place to funnel the water away from the house.

 

 

 


 
Window Wells - If you have window wells make sure they are clear of debris and in good condition. They are a common source of basement water leakage.

 
 

 

Sump Pumps-Check your pump motor with every change of season. Inspect the power source for wiring condition, and test the on/off mechanism to ensure that it clicks on when the float is elevated.

 

Sources indicate that more than 90% of homes will leak at some point - Make sure it's not your house this week!

Shedding Light On Windows

by Claire Franceschetti

Want to cut your heating costs? Take a close look at your windows! With heating and cooling costs continuing to rise, it makes sense to look at one of the leading causes of energy inefficiency in the home. Installing energy-efficient windows can mean increased comfort as well as savings on utility bills in any climate.

The transmission of air and light is generally the most important function of windows. However, this can mean heat loss in the winter, overheating in the summer, and higher energy bills. A typical home may lose up to 30% of its heat or cooling through windows. Properly installed energy-efficient windows can go a long way toward improving this situation.

The experts say that there are many factors that affect a window's energy efficiency. Whether they are single or multiple-paned, gas-filled, Low-Emittance (Low-E) coated, and even the material of the window frame all contribute to a window's performance.

One excellent resource is www.efficientwindows.org, which provides detailed information on these specifications and how to select windows appropriate for various climates. An experienced window contractor can also be a good source of information and recommendations.

And don't forget, you should check with your local utility to find out about possible rebates and other incentives for the purchase of new, energy-efficient windows.

Of course, replacing windows is not always a viable option. However, there are steps you can take to improve their energy savings without replacing windows such as making sure windows are properly caulked, keeping weather stripping in good repair, and using storm windows will help. Putting window coverings is another good way to reduce heat loss in winter and avoid overheating during summer.

Improving energy efficiency throughout the home means cost savings to the homeowner. Energy-efficient windows are a significant step toward that goal.

Displaying blog entries 1-7 of 7

Contact Information

Photo of Claire Franceschetti Real Estate
Claire Franceschetti
Right At Home Realty Inc.
190 Marycroft Ave.
Vaughan ON L4L5Y2
Direct: 416-918-6325
Office: 416-391-3232
Fax: Fax: 416-987-8001