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Home Renovations: The Money You Can’t Afford to Spend

All home owners will face home repairs at some point or another

Home renovations involve the act of updating, repairing, or overhauling your home. They are a task that requires time, careful consideration, decision making, patience, and money. Sometimes a lot of money, depending upon the extent of the home renovation project you undertake. It is important that you decide beforehand how much money you wish to spend, as well as how much of your home you plan to renovate. The process may only amount to a small task, or conversely turn into a huge project, but whichever direction you choose, home renovations can take a financial and emotional toll on even the most savvy home owners going.

Sadly sometimes we need to undertake home renovations, whether we plan on it beforehand or not. It could be a matter of flooding, fire, lightning strike, tree damage, vandalism, or any number of reasons why home renovations need to occur immediately. While some renovations are inexpensive, there are plenty of others that can be downright costly though. Do you have an emergency fund set up for rainy day expenses? Approximately 1/3 of Canadians have nothing left in their bank accounts after bills are paid. That means that when unexpected expenses arise, money becomes a major issue.

Some home repairs need to be taken care of sooner rather than later

There are ways to combat the cost of emergency home repairs though.

If you have a mortgage, more than likely you also have home insurance. Most banks insist upon it to protect their investment, ie. your home. Home insurance covers the building, contents, and outbuildings, with some limitations depending upon your carrier. Therefore, if a tree falls on your home and damages it, your insurance company covers the cost of your repairs, depending upon your policy’s conditions. You will have to pay a deductible (anywhere from $100-$2000 as per your insurance company’s rates), but that is a far cry from the potential thousands of dollars that some emergency home repairs cost.

For those folks that struggle day-to-day and still find themselves in a low-income state, home repairs might seem like the end of the world. That does not always need to be the case, if you know where to look for assistance though. The Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) offers an Emergency Repair Program (ERP) for eligible individuals. Emergency items such as;

    • heating systems;
    • chimneys;
    • doors and windows;
    • foundations;
    • roofs, walls, floors and ceilings;
    • vents, louvers;
    • plumbing;
    • electrical systems

are some of the items that are taken under consideration for those who qualify. While you have to be approved for the repairs before the work is done, once approval is given any funds offered do not need to be repaid.

CMHC logo

CMHC logo (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Likewise the Homeowner Residential Rehabilitation Assistance Program (Homeowner RRAP) from CMHC is another avenue to explore for low-income families that are faced with major repairs to their home. As noted on the CMHC website states;

“In general, mandatory repairs related to heating, structural, electrical, plumbing and fire safety are eligible for funding under Homeowner RRAP. The quality of the repairs should ensure the useful life of your home for at least 15 years.”

Another place to look for help is the Investment in Affordable Housing for Ontario program. It also offers funding for low-income individuals to help renovate their homes. There is paperwork to be filled out for eligible people, but with the potential to receive upwards of $25,000, it just might be worth it to get that financial assistance, as well as a new energy-efficient furnace, low-flow toilet, or window replacements.

Branding image of the Government of Ontario, s...

The Ontario government also helps seniors in need of undertaking home renovations by offering a Healthy Homes Renovation Tax Credit. Seniors aged 65 and older are eligible for a tax credit on their income taxes of up to $10,000 come tax time. While that doesn’t put money in your pocket instantly, it does help to ultimately reduce costs of necessary home improvements that increase safety and accessibility to your home. Your income doesn’t matter, and if you have a senior living with you, you are still eligible. You can receive 15% of eligible expenses back, so save your receipts!

Do you know other ways to reduce costs of home renovation projects? Are you aware of other programs or grants that help people cover the cost of unexpected home repairs in Canada? Leave me a comment, so that I can help spread the good word to those in need!

While this balmy weather is willing to stick around though, I think it would be wise to get outside and work on whatever outdoor projects you might have tacked onto your list. It is always more pleasant to work outdoors when the weather is pleasant, than to tackle outdoor work in freezing rain, snow and other inclement weather. Is it too early to put up your Christmas lights, do you think?

Outdoor Home Projects for the Fall

Dog on the roof

Dog on the roof (Photo credit: TedsBlog)

  • Roof: The average lifespan of a shingled roof is approximately 18-30 years. Wood shakes are 14-20 years, and slate, clay, tile, or steel roofs last about 50 years. When was your roof last replaced? What kind of shape is it in? Do you have loose or missing shingles? Have you noticed any leaks? You might want to consider repairing or replacing your roof now, if you have any concerns, long before Mother Nature tests it this coming Fall/Winter.
  • Eavestroughs: While you are up on your roof looking at the shape of it, get close enough to the edge to take a peek at your eavestroughs. Did you get up there last Fall and clean out your gutters? Have they filled back up again yet? Really, you should clean out your eavestroughs two or three times a year. And in case you didn’t guess, it is far easier to scoop the sludge of out congested gutters when the weather is dry and warm, than when you have to perch on a ladder in inclement weather. Grab some rubber gloves, a trowel and the hose. If this job is done regularly, it is fairly quick and painless. Make sure to tap in any loose nails while you are up there. Clean gutters ensure better drainage during rainstorms, which makes for less overall maintenance in the long run.
  • Rain -- no downspouts

    Rain — no downspouts (Photo credit: s58y)

    Downspouts: Clean eavestroughs are one thing, but your downspouts are a big part of the equation too. The downspout directs the water that comes off your roof, away from your house. If your downspout is clogged, loose, broken, or missing altogether, then you will see issues with your eavestroughs and potentially the foundation of your home. Take the time before issues arise to make sure that your downspouts point away from your foundation (no need to deal with flooding in your basement), and that they flow freely.

  • Bricks: If you have a house made of brick, maintenance is usually fairly minimal. They are generally fairly energy efficient, and always architecturally in style. Bricks do need some basic maintenance though. Start by looking at the brickwork on your chimney, but make a point of inspecting the whole house to see what shape the bricks are in. Do you have any loose or missing mortar between the joints? Are your bricks flaking or falling out altogether? Is there dirt, mold or moss growing on them? Grab the hose and give your bricks a good soaking. If you have mold, mildew or moss, a simple bleach and water solution will help to eliminate the issue with the help of a natural bristle brush. If you need to point your bricks, now is the perfect time to hire a contractor to rectify any imperfections that might lead to bigger problems down the road.
  • Crack in a Foundation Wall

    Foundation: Have you noticed we are moving from the top down? As any good plumber will tell you, gravity is what it’s all about. If you have any issues with the upper parts of your home, they will often trickle down. The foundation of your home is where the strength of your home lies, so do not forget it when you do your Fall inspections. Look for cracks and crevices that may let in water and caulk any holes that you find. Significant gaps may require the help of a professional, and now is the time to get them in, before the wet weather arrives.

  • Pool: While you might be diving into your pool this week, it is just about time to say goodbye to outdoor pools for the season. If you hire a professional company to close your pool, make your phone call quick before they get booked up too soon. If you close your pool yourself, make sure that your pool cover is in good shape with no holes, rips or tears in it. You will want your pool to be as clean as possible when the warm weather returns again next spring.
  • Time to turn off irrigation systems

    Irrigation Systems: We might not have had much rain in the last few weeks, but it’s coming. The season is almost over for active growth in your yard. It is time to think about draining hoses, and turning off inground irrigation systems. Again, if you use a professional company for this service, now is the time to book your appointment for them to come out before you have to deal with frost in the ground.

 

There is still plenty of time for some of the other outdoor projects you will need to tackle this fall, like raking leaves, putting away your garden tools and machines, and storing your patio furniture for the year, but this is a start on your list. Heck, it’s too HOT to do much more than this right now! Enjoy our blast of summer weather while it lasts!

Did you feel that? I think oxygen returned to the air when the humidity broke. We might just be able to go back outside to enjoy the patio again!

What? Your porch is in shambles? Your patio is a pass? With the cooler temperatures that have moved into Southwestern Ontario and swept away the heat wave that gripped much of the Eastern US and Canada last week, we can all look forward to breathing a little easier again. Perhaps it’s high-time that you get a little work done outside the house now.

Porch Problems 

A porch is only as good as its support system

If you have stayed away from the porch due to rotten boards, peeling paint or just a general state of ill-repair, take the bull by the horns and move this outdoor project to the top of the list. Take a good hard look at what you’ve got and assess whether this is a job for Superman You or whether you need to call in a professional. If construction is more than you can normally shake a stick at, then don’t add to your pocket book’s woes by taking on a project that might cost you far more when a contractor has to come dig you out of a mess farther down the road. Look at the extent of your project and estimate what it would cost to tackle the job yourself. Is it just a matter of slapping on a fresh coat of paint or stain? Then go for it! Does it look like you might have to rebuild stairs, railings or support structures? Perhaps an estimate from the pros might be in order.

Wondering what to look for? Check for loose or punky boards. Watch out for nails that are ready to cause a trip hazard. Assess the shape of your surface (is it peeling, fading, streaked, rough?). How solid is your porch as a whole (are you in need of new support columns to keep it level)? Is mold, rot or animal infestation an issue? Is it too hot to sit on (solution – thinks shades or umbrellas)? Are your railings to code (you need a guard railing if your deck is 60 cm or 24″ above the ground and they should be a maximum of 100 mm or 4″ apart)? Is this all more than you can wrap your head around? Call in the professionals when in doubt. If you are feeling brave, ask the folks at your local hardware store for some pointers. And remember that the internet is a great place for how-to articles and videos to make any DIY project a breeze.

Party on the Patio?

Watch your step on this weedy patio

Watch your step on this weedy patio

If you can’t remember the last time you partied on your patio, why is that? Is there insufficient seating? Are you lacking in lighting? Does your patio’s surface look like Great Aunt Elsa’s spider veins? It’s time to tackle the patio repairs.

Patios may equate to more or less effort in the home repair department. If you don’t go out to your patio due to overbearing sun, than a simple umbrella might be the solution to your woes. Of course an awning, pergola, or some sort of permanent roof structure would offer shade on a larger scale too. Seating is often as simple as picking up chairs at a local department store, but have you thought of built-in benches, or adding a swing to the mix? You could light the night with anything from citronella candles, to solar lights, to custom lanterns that offer a cozy glow after dark. The choice is yours! Maybe you crave some heat after dark. Does a fire pit fill you with wonder or would a gas heater in the corner do? Sadly, the patio’s actual surface is often the biggest culprit to a lack of time spent on it. Patio bricks are only as good as the prep work done before they are installed. Sinking stones make for an uneven surface and trip hazard. Weeds, molds, or moss make for an unattractive finish. Can you fix that yourself, or is it worth the money to call in contractor?

If you aren’t using your patio, isn’t it worth it to add the extra space to your real estate?

Rain one day, fleeting sunshine the next; that is how the autumn is going this year. We need the rain for drought-starved trees, rivers and more, but it certainly makes fall cleanup a little more difficult. After all, who likes to rake soggy leaves? Not my wife! It has to get done though (I keep telling her).

So the kids end up heading out to tackle the task.

Joking! But seriously, there are plenty of tasks to accomplish around the house before winter sets in. Odds are that the kids will want to help with some of them too (by jumping in the leaf piles you rake up). Whether you like it or not, that snow is just around the corner, so get on that to-do list soon people!

FALL HOME MAINTENANCE PROJECTS

  • Grab a stack of yard waste bags and dig into that pile of leaves in the backyard. It’s time to rake!
  • Keep watering trees right up until the ground freezes
  • Raise the blade on your mower for one last pass on your lawn, then say goodbye to cutting the grass for a season. Make sure to sharpen the blade on your lawn mower and pull the battery out of your riding lawn tractor, if you’ve got one. Don’t forget to pour in that engine stabilizer while you are at it!
  • Drain your outdoor hoses and turn the water off to the outdoor faucets
  • Clean, sharpen and oil as necessary all your yard tools
  • If you haven’t already, put a cover on your a/c unit to keep the leaves out of it and protect it from winter damage
  • Climb up on your roof to inspect shingles and fix as necessary. While you are up there, scoop any leaves or other debris out of your eaves troughs and gutters as necessary. Finish it off with a few taps to any loose nails holding the eaves troughs on, for added protection once ice and snow are a reality
  • Inspect and clean your chimney, to prevent any potential chimney fires. Birds, squirrels and raccoons might just think that Santa has something on them heading down the chimney, so inspect it before that first fire of the season
  • If you are really on the ball, you could even think about putting up your Christmas decorations. It’ll be November next week and the warmer temperatures won’t last forever! Just a thought

When you come in from all that outdoor work, enjoy the aroma of your delicious Autumn Vegetable Beef Stew simmering in the crock pot. The newest addition to Crock Pot Corner comes from Southern Food and is perfect after a day spent outside in the crisp Autumn weather. Mmm, mmm, mmm. Bon appetit!

AUTUMN VEGETABLE BEEF STEW

Ingredients:

  • 1 to 1 1/2 pounds lean stewing beef, cut in 1-inch cubes
  • 1 slice bacon, diced
  • 1 cup chopped onions
  • 2 cups beef broth
  • 1 cup apple cider
  • 1 1/2 pounds potatoes (about 5 or 6 medium potatoes), diced
  • 2 medium carrots, peeled, thinly sliced
  • 2 ribs celery, thinly sliced
  • 1 1/2 cups diced rutabaga
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried rosemary, crumbled
  • 1/8 teaspoon black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • 2 tablespoons cold water
  • 1 tablespoon fresh chopped parsley or 1 teaspoon dried parsley flakes

Directions:

Cook bacon, beef, and onions in a large skillet over medium heat until the beef is browned and the bacon is cooked. Put the beef and onions in the slow cooker with the bacon, beef broth, apple cider, potatoes, carrots, celery, rutabaga, bay leaf, rosemary and pepper. Cover and cook for 7 to 9 hours. Combine flour with cold water to form a smooth mixture. Stir into the beef mixture, turn to HIGH, and continue cooking for 15 minutes longer.

Welcome to In Your Neighbourhood!

Allow me to introduce myself. The name is Jim. You want to know more? Well, check out my "About Me" page! Don't forget to take a peek at my "Local London Listings" while you are here too! I update it regularly. Enjoy your visit and drop me a line to let me know you were in the neighbourhood!

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