One of the biggest challenges of a home renovation is finding the right contractor. Getting the best one for your home—the true professional who shows up and delivers quality work on time and on budget—depends on doing some serious screening before the job starts, and this is one area where many homeowners fall short.
Here are seven simple tips to help you hire the right contractor for your project.
1. Get Recommendations. 
Talk with people you know and trust. Your real estate agent is a great resource, but also talk with family, friends, neighbours, and others who have undergone projects similar to yours.
Browse professional listings to find general contractors in your area. Check out their reviews and browse photos in their portfolios to see how their work lines up with the scope of your project. You can even message them to get a conversation going.
Are there recently completed or under-construction projects in your area? Ask the owners about their contractor and the working relationship they have with him or her.
2. Determine the contractor's specialty. Interview contractors who do the type of work you need. For example, if you want a renovation, you want a renovator, rather than a new-home builder. Look for someone who focuses on homes that are the same age and style as yours. While a contractor may have more than one specialty, you want to ensure that your renovation project aligns to a contractor’s experience and expertise.

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#1 Minor Bathroom Remodel
Average return at resale: 102 percent


  • It costs about $10,500 to replace the tub, tile surround, floor, toilet, sink, vanity and fixtures. You’ll get back an average of $10,700 at resale, a recoup rate of 102 percent.
  • If you can pipe a child’s name on a birthday cake, you can re-caulk a tub. Use a softener like CAULK-BE-GONE® to get rid of the old caulk. Fill the tub with water after you’re done to stretch caulk while it dries.
  • If your old tub is too large to fit out the door, re-glaze it for a like-new finish. Cost: $300 to $400.
  • Remove dated wall coverings and apply a fresh coat of paint. For damaged walls, spray on texture provides quick coverage.
  • Old shower doors can ruin any bathroom. Removing or replacing them will add the illusion of space.


#2 Landscaping
Average return at resale: 100 percent


  • The average homeowner spends about $3,502 for landscaping and another $1,465 on a designer, according to the American Nursery and Landscape Association.
  • Not sure where to start? Local garden centers often offer free design services, or ask the neighbors what works for them.
  • Sod costs about 30 to 35 cents a square foot, so a 5,000 sq. ft. yard would cost about $1,500 to sod. Budget for a delivery fee if you buy less than 1,000 sq. ft.
  • A splash of color at the front of the house is an eye-catching plus. For maximum impact, choose one color and vary the height of plants.
  • If your doorway is overwhelmed by greenery, then get out the shears. Replace overgrown shrubbery with flowering foundation plants mixing heights and colors for dramatic effect.
  • A charming focal point like a walkway and fountain adds major value to your property. Roll a sealant on flagstones for a permanent wet look that enhances the color.

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Summer is coming. Before it gets hot, you might want to check that you and the house are ready for the summer heat.
That means you start by checking your home's heat and air-conditioning system.
To begin, change your filters in your heating/cooling system. Change them regularly - at least monthly.
Next change your thermostat over to "cool" and test the system by turning the temperature down. If the air conditioner does not turn on, first check to make sure no breakers are tripped. If you can't figure out the problem, call your heating and air-conditioning repair person. Calling early may keep you from making an "emergency" call when the temperatures are soaring and the repair people are super busy and expensive.
If your cooling system turns on, make sure it is putting out adequate cooling. If it's not, and you can't figure out the problem, call your heating and air-conditioning repair person. Set the thermostat at 78 degrees.
If your air conditioner needs replacement do it before the hot weather hits so you’re not wilting because the heating & air-conditioning repair people are very busy. And more than likely, some other things around your home might need attention as well.
Your air ducts may need testing for leaks and then sealed. Your attic insulation probably has compacted, so you need to add an additional 5 to 8 inches. Your windows and doors and other parts of the building envelope may need caulking and weather stripping. Think about solar window film to keep out the heat.
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All houses have personalities… but passive? It’s not a word that is commonly used to describe the places we call home… until now.

According to Dr. Guido Wimmers, we are poised on the edge of a revolution that will see the number of passive houses in our neighbourhoods increase dramatically.

“Passive houses were largely developed in Germany in the early 1990s— comfortable, compact houses that are better insulated and better oriented to harness the power of the sun,” says Wimmers, who is arguably Canada’s leading passive house specialist. “Not only do they provide a healthier living environment, they operate on approximately 80 per cent less heating energy. That can translate into a 50 per cent reduction in your energy bill annually.”

There are now about 40,000 to 50,000 purpose-built passive residential, commercial and institutional buildings in Europe compared to a handful—perhaps 20 to 30—in BC to date. Wimmers started teaching passive-house-building science three years ago at UBC, SFU, and BCIT, and founded the Canadian Passive House Institute to offer training for professionals. He expects to see more passive houses popping up soon.


“Comfort and well-being are the biggest drivers when someone decides to build a passive house,” he says, “but cost efficiency is also a deciding factor. It’s the most affordable way to build today. Passive houses are better built and more durable. Yes, you have to spend more up front, which means slightly higher financing costs on a monthly mortgage. But from day one, you’re saving that or more on energy costs. Over the long run, energy prices are going to go up, so you’re better off building a passive house. Its resale value is much higher than an ordinary house.”


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New tourist attraction between Shannon Falls, Stawamus Chief on Hwy 99 offers stunning vistas of Howe Sound

“Offers spectacular views” is a phrase typically associated with over-the-top sales pitches by realtors.

But when you’re nearly 900 metres above sea level — at the crest of the new Sea to Sky Gondola, looking down on Howe Sound and the Squamish estuary below — the phrase is, well, more than appropriate.

“We’re show-ready,” is how the company’s general manager and founder, Trevor Dunn, describes southwestern British Columbia’s newest tourism attraction, which is scheduled to open May 16. “We think this will change the way people look at Squamish.”

On Tuesday, Dunn took a Vancouver Sun reporter and photographer on the eight-minute ride to the top of the $25-million gondola, five years in the making, located two kilometres south of Squamish on the Sea to Sky Highway. It offers sweeping vistas of Howe Sound and striking views of the surrounding mountains — Mount Garibaldi, Black Tusk, Sky Pilot and Cloudburst to name a few — that are unparalleled in the Sea to Sky corridor.

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Use this handy checklist to help you while starting the cleanup of your outdoor space.

  • Inspect the exterior walls of your entire home. Look for signs of winter damage such as splitting wood, peeling paint, mold, etc.
  • Got brick? It should be cleaned and checked for water damage once a year. Aside from cleaning the surface by use your hose with a spray nozzle to wash off dirt, you need to be on the lookout for mold. If there is mold, mildew, or moss, wash with a solution of 1 cup of bleach mixed with 4 L of water. Use a natural or synthetic bristle brush. Wire brushes leave traces of steel behind that will rust and discolor the bricks.
  • If you use them, remove the storm windows.
  • Clean the windows.
  • Use screens? Make sure they are dust-free and sparkling clean before putting them up.
  • Check the driveway for cracks or winter damage.
  • Clean the steps and the driveway with a spray nozzle hose. If moss is visible, pour vinegar on it and scrub.
  • Inspect the gutters around the house. Remove debris.
  • Inspect the roof, looking for damage and missing or loose shingles. Contact a roofing professional if you need a few replacements.
  • Get your deck ready for use. Clean it with oxalic acid, which will penetrate the wood and kill microorganisms. Once dry (24 hours), treat the deck with a sealant. 

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Brentwood Mall will soon undergo a major transformation in which it will be fully renovated and integrated into a master-planned, world class City Centre, set to become the social heart of Burnaby. To learn more and register for VIP access, visit!

The Brentwood redevelopment plan envisions a signature destination with an urban feel that will support sustainable lifestyles where people can shop, work, live and play. It will house 1.3 million square feet of enclosed and open air shops as well as office towers and residential high rises. As a mixed-use, transit-oriented city core, the new Brentwood will be a preferred shopping, leisure and entertainment destination for the region, and an attractive home for residents and businesses.

In addition to a premium brand retail offering of global shops and exclusive boutiques, Brentwood will include renowned restaurants and impressive public spaces. One of the signature elements of this community will be the remarkable experience when arriving by SkyTrain. The station platform will open directly into the heart of the development, a one acre public plaza lined with multi-level buildings filled with shops, restaurant patios and rooftop gardens. This plaza will become an amphitheatre of activity and an outdoor "living room" for the two spectacular residential towers flanking the plaza. Parking is proposed to be underground, with above ground public spaces fully landscaped to create a walkable community. 


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Ombré Easter Eggs

You can create this dramatic display with just two 0.25-ounce vials of blue dye you may already have in the kitchen. Set out six 12-ounce glasses, labeled A through F. Add one cup of boiling water and two teaspoons of white vinegar to each and stir, using a separate spoon for each glass. Then, mix in the color as follows: A, two drops; B, six drops; C, 10 drops; D, 20 drops; E, 45 drops; F, 60 drops. Submerge a hard-boiled egg in each glass. Steep for five minutes, or until you're happy with the hue, then remove and place in an empty egg carton to dry. Repeat with additional eggs (up to three dozen).


A 2-Minute DIY Candy Jar

All it takes is a dab of epoxy glue to turn a small jar and understated wooden candlestick into an ador-able place to stash Easter treats. So hop to it! (Jars, from $13.55 for six; from 3¼"W x 2¾"H; Candlesticks, from left: $1.75; 2¼"H;; $2; 2"H;

Get Creative with Easter Eggs

Who knew that silk fabric transfers onto eggshells as easily as the dye in a decorating kit? Regular old vinegar plus hot water does the trick.

Step 1: For each egg, cut out a 5-inch square of patterned 100 percent silk. (We limited ourselves to black-and-white prints to achieve the effect above; colored patterns yield more vibrant results.) Lightly dampen the fabric, then lay it flat, right side up, and place your egg in the center. Gather the fabric tightly around the egg, like a beggar's purse, and secure with a rubber band. Repeat this step for the same egg, using a same-size square of plain white cotton and a second rubber band. Note: Use blown eggs if you'd like to keep your handiwork longer.


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Taking Care of Stainless Steel

To keep your stainless steel bright and clean, Adam Kamens of Amuneal Manufacturing Corp. suggests using a light mist of wax-based aerosol spray once or twice a week. Don't put on too much — you don't want to soak the surface and make it greasy. Wipe the mist with a clean, lint-free cloth, and never use oils to keep away fingerprints — lint will stick to the oil. Also, don't use cleaners with bleach after you've put on the waxy layer, or it will dry out and lose some of the luster. And finally, don't use anything abrasive, not even mild products like Soft Scrub or Scotch-Brite pads. You don't want to scratch or ruin the surface. 

Organizing Closets

Organizing your closet is the first step to organizing the rest of your home. Get rid of unused clothes and accessories, and organize the rest by how you get dressed in the morning and by color. Your closet will look appealing, and your everyday routine will be easier. 

Removing Stains and Odors

Ruth Travis, president of the Institute of Inspection, Cleaning and Restoration Certification, says that to remove stains and odors, blot up as much of the smelly mess as you can right away. While you're blotting the upholstery, put a plastic liner or a garbage bag between the cushion and the fabric so you don't push the contaminant into the cushion. Then flush with cold water as best you can. Blot and flush again. Cold water doesn't set stains as much as hot water. You can also use a portable spot cleaner or wet/dry vac. If there's still a residual odor, use a half-vinegar, half-water solution and rinse again. If that doesn't work, call in the professionals. 
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If you’ve found a home you plan to buy, your REALTOR® will go over closing costs, including the Property Transfer Tax (PTT).

The PTT is a provincial tax of 1% on the first $200,000 and 2% on the remainder of your home price. For example, the PTT on a $600,000 home is $10,000.

When you register your property title you must pay the PTT, unless you qualify for the First Time Home Buyers’ Exemption.

Financing the PTT

A buyer with a conventional mortgage (more than 20% down payment) may be able to take the PTT out of their equity. If you have less than a 20% down payment you will likely be unable to do this due to lender requirements.

The PTT is a closing cost and closing costs can’t be financed as part of a mortgage. Mortgage insurance providers such as CMHC stipulate that applicants must be able to cover closing costs.

Lenders, however, look at each situation on a case-by-case basis. If a buyer has good credit and the ability to pay monthly costs, a lender may provide a line of credit or a loan to finance the PTT.


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A developer with a long history of major projects in Coquitlam has bought a significant chunk of provincial land on Burke Mountain, setting the stage for the next phase of building in the city’s rapidly developing northeast corner.

Wesbild has announced the acquisition of 370 of the 584 acres, north of Coast Meridian Road, put up for sale by the government in January as part of Victoria’s ongoing efforts to dispose of Crown assets and balance its books.

The company has also committed to setting aside two potential sites for future elementary schools, with prices frozen at 2014 levels for the next 10 years.

School District 43 cannot confirm the locations or more details about the deal, however, until it receives more details from the provincial government.

“We need to hear back from the province in terms of the agreement that has been made with Wesbild,” said Ivano Ceccini, principal of facility initiatives for SD43.

He confirmed that the properties are for future needs while the district continues to negotiate with landholders for a site on which to build Smiling Creek elementary school, which will be built first.

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With so many people working from home these days, a home office has become an essential space in many homes. It's a growing trend where many Canadians are now choosing to work from home. A home office provides flexibility and saves time where people don't need to go on long commutes. A truly productive home office requires more than a phone, fax and computer. It is important to keep in mind your specific needs and remember, your space not only needs to be functional, but it also needs to be aesthetically pleasing. So, whether you're contemplating making the move or just want a handy place to work in your house, it's time to create a comfortable office space that's right for you.

Define Your Space
If you're lucky to have a separate room for your home office, this will be ideal and the task won't be so hard. A guest room or underused bedroom can serve the purpose. If not, make use of whatever space you have, whether it's a stair landing, a small closet, or an unused corner of the living room. It is important that this space is defined as yours and not shared with others in your household. You will be more efficient if you find a space that can be dedicated to a home office area.

Designing a Layout
Calling in a professional to help you design your space is a good idea. If that isn't an option for you, then do your homework. Although, it might be tempting to just move furniture and accessories around until the space works, if you spend some time measuring your space, creating a floor plan, measuring your furniture, and thinking it through, the final result will be more satisfactory. Most people require two different work stations: one for administrative duties, such as billing, faxing, phone calls and computer work; and another that is project related, such as a meeting, or drafting. Remember to dedicate space for both stations.


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Premier Christy Clark was in Port Moody this morning along with the Transportation Minister and Federal Industry Minister to christen the tunnel boring machine and give an update on the project’s progress.

The 11 kilometre Skytrain expansion will link Coquitlam to the Millennium Line and is set to open in 2016.

It was announced today that the tunnel boring machine has been named “Alice,” after Alice Wilson, the first female geologist in Canada.

The 2 kilometre tunnel portion will run from east of the Barnet Highway in Port Moody to south of Kemsley Avenue in Coquitlam.

Once complete, the Evergreen Line will be the longest rapid transit system in Canada.

It will take 13 minutes to travel between Lougheed Town Centre and Coquitlam Centre on the Evergreen Line, and 40 minutes from Coquitlam Centre to downtown Vancouver.


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While previous generations may have been content to live in drafty houses, most people now want comfortable warm houses. A healthy house today is well sealed, well insulated and properly ventilated.

A well-insulated house is a bit like dressing for the weather. A wool sweater will keep you warm if the wind is not blowing and it is not raining. On a windy, rainy day, wearing a nylon shell over your wool sweater helps keep you reasonably dry and warm. A house is similar. On the outside, underneath the brick or siding, there is an air barrier that does the same thing as the nylon — it keeps the wind from blowing through. Then there is the insulation (like your sweater) and a vapour barrier, which helps keep moisture away from the house structure where it can do damage.

Signs of Insulation Problems

In the winter

  • walls cold to touch
  • cold floors
  • high heating costs
  • uneven heating levels within building
  • mold growing on walls

In the summer

  • uncomfortably hot inside air
  • high cooling costs
  • ineffectiveness of air conditioning system
  • mold growing in basement

Insulation Effectiveness

R values and their metric equivalent, RSI values, are a way of labelling the effectiveness of insulating materials. The higher the R value or RSI value, the more resistance the material has to the movement of heat. Insulation products sold in Canada are labelled with R and RSI values. Provincial building codes specify minimum R (or RSI) values for new construction, with different values for different applications. It is important to know what your local building code requires when planning new construction.

Note: The way the insulation is installed plays a large role in its effectiveness. Compressing the insulation, leaving air spaces around the insulation and allowing air movement in the insulation all reduce the actual R value of the insulation.


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Festival du Bois, the largest francophone festival on Canada’s West Coast, is celebrating its 25th Anniversary!

Rendez-vous à Mackin Park on Saturday & Sunday March 1 and 2, 2014 pour un weekend de folie as we commemorate the Festival’s first quarter century with great music, amazing artists, outstanding performers, entertaining activities and authentic food.

There is a long French-Canadian pioneering heritage and logging-based history in Maillardville (bois means “wood”), reflected in the culture and strength of the community today – a vibrant and cosmopolitan centre with connections across Canada and beyond. This year’s programming reflects it all and the festival is pleased to present an eclectic gathering of the finest Québécois, francophone, folk, world and roots artists performing today.

If you’re new to our Festival or haven’t been for a few years, we’ve created a little guide to enjoying Festival du Bois.

The festival kicks off on Friday February 28 at Place des Arts with a concert featuring the award-winning Alexis Normand.

Over the weekend, audiences can expect to learn more about Maillardville and its village, participate in fun activities, bring back some souvenirs and maple syrup, and indulge the taste buds with delicious tourtière, maple taffy on snow, homemade poutine and other tasty francophone and world fare. Or you can just relax with a beverage and enjoy some great tunes!


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You’re looking to buy a strata condo unit close to an elevator with a parking spot and storage locker also close to an elevator.

You locate a unit you want to buy.  What documents do you have to check to make sure the parking spot and storage locker come with the apartment you plan to buy?

Information Certificate (Form B)

This is an important document to review with your REALTOR®.

As of January 14, 2014, because of changes to the Strata Property Act, strata corporations must identify parking spaces and storage lockers associated with units on the Form B. As a potential buyer, you can see this document.

Also ask your REALTOR® to review the development’s strata plan to determine whether parking and storage areas are designated as:
  • a separate strata lot or part of a strata lot;
  • limited common property; or
  • common property.

The specific rights of strata owners to use parking stalls and storage lockers varies depending on how the use of these areas has been allocated in the development.


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The Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver (REBGV) reports that residential property sales in Greater Vancouver reached 1,760 on the Multiple Listing Service® (MLS®) in January 2014. This represents a 30.3 per cent increase compared to the 1,351 sales recorded in January 2013, and a 9.9 per cent decline compared to the 1,953 sales in December 2013.

Last month’s sales were 7.2 per cent above the 10-year sales average for the month.

“The Greater Vancouver housing market has been in a balanced market for nearly a year. This has meant steady home sale and listing activity accompanied by stable home prices,” Sandra Wyant, REBGV president said.
New listings for detached, attached and apartment properties in Greater Vancouver totalled 5,345 in January. This represents a 4.2 per cent increase compared to the 5,128 new listings reported in January 2013.

Last month’s new listing count was 17.7 per cent higher than the region’s 10-year new listing average for the month.

The total number of properties currently listed for sale on the Greater Vancouver MLS® is 12,602, a 4.9 per cent decline compared to January 2013 and a nine per cent increase compared to December 2013.

The MLS® Home Price Index composite benchmark price for all residential properties in Metro Vancouver is currently $606,800. This represents a 3.2 per cent increase compared to January 2013.


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Depreciation reports are mandatory as of December 14, 2013 for all strata corporations.

Depreciation reports must be prepared by a qualified person and updated every three years, unless the strata has:
• four or fewer units; or
• five or more units where the strata exempts itself through an annual 3/4 vote.

Strata corporations formed after December 14, 2011, must file a depreciation report within six months of their second AGM.

What is a depreciation report?

 “The depreciation report identifies future costs from the buyers’ perspective that can’t be discovered in a typical building inspection,” explains Tony Gioventu, Executive Director, Condominium Home Owners Association of B.C.

Here are two sources of detailed information about strata depreciation reports:

1. What to Know About Depreciation Reports by the Condominium Home Owners Association of B.C. Available at
2. Guide 12: Depreciation Reports. Available at:


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You’ve made the decision. It’s time to put your home on the market. You’re ready to sign the listing agreement, but that’s only the beginning. Of course you want to maximize your selling price and your profit. And you don’t want to invest a fortune in the process. Here are ten simple, cost-effective steps you can take immediately to show off your home at its very best. 

  1. Visualize. Look at your home as though you were seeing it for the first time. Better still, look at it like a prospective buyer would. What do you see? As a buyer, what would you like to see? Start making a checklist outside first, then move inside, and then look at structural issues. We’ll cover each of these areas in more detail below. Just remember that throughout the selling process, you need to forget it’s YOUR house and instead visualize what the buyer wants.
  2. Compare. Look around your neighborhood. How does your home stack up with others in the immediate vicinity? Are there other homes for sale? If so, how do you look next to the competition? You need to compete on price, of course, but you also need to compete with appearance. That means doing something creative to set yourself apart. Do all the front doors look ho-hum? Paint yours red. Make sure your home’s most appealing features are clearly visible. (And work to camouflage those that aren’t so appealing.)
  3. Repair. Starting at the front of the house, look for cracks in the sidewalk and driveway. Check the foundation, the patio, and the stairs. If it’s loose, tighten it. If it’s sagging, prop it up. If it’s broken, fix it. Squeaky screens and doors are not welcoming—a quick spritz of WD-40 can fix that right up. Make sure your garage door and any sliding glass doors open and close easily and with a minimum of noise.
  4. Wash. Before you invest a lot of money in an outside paint job, do a power wash. Just getting rid of the accumulation of dust and dirt will give your home a face lift. Hose down the roof and clean the gutters too. And then clean your windows, inside and out, until they sparkle.
  5. Plant. Depending on the season, add flowers or seasonal color to your landscape. Of course you’ll keep your lawn mowed and edged and your shrubbery trimmed. Even if you’re short on yard space, you can put some colorful pots by the front door and around the deck or patio.

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The data relating to real estate on this website comes in part from the MLS® Reciprocity program of either the Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver (REBGV), the Fraser Valley Real Estate Board (FVREB) or the Chilliwack and District Real Estate Board (CADREB). Real estate listings held by participating real estate firms are marked with the MLS® logo and detailed information about the listing includes the name of the listing agent. This representation is based in whole or part on data generated by either the REBGV, the FVREB or the CADREB which assumes no responsibility for its accuracy. The materials contained on this page may not be reproduced without the express written consent of either the REBGV, the FVREB or the CADREB.