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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!

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The weekend is almost here. You need to get through one more day of work to make it to two blissful days off. I normally regal you with all the fantastic things that London, Ontario has to offer. And there is plenty of stuff to get up to here. I know I am blessed to live in such a great city and can’t praise it enough.

But I have to say I am tired.

The Harvest Moon is at its peak tonight

I don’t know if it’s because I still haven’t adjusted to the back to school routine. It could be because the Harvest Moon has been shining bright this week. It might be because Fall officially arrives this weekend, so we can look forward to longer nights and shorter days, with potentially less sunshine available to perk up spirits. I know a lot of people who are hitting that nesting phase in preparation for winter, making soups, canning, baking, cleaning and organizing their lives.

I think it is my turn this weekend.

Sure, you could hit the theatre (Legally Blonde is getting great reviews at the Grand Theatre), check out the Old East Village Fall Festival, or attend one of the many sports events going on this weekend (watch the Western Mustangs, London City Soccer, or London Knights in action). I might do one or all of those things. I suspect that my weekend plans are going to be a little more low-key though. Sure it might be tempting to go apple picking, get lost in a corn maze, or just wander quietly through a forest to breathe in the Autumn air. In fact, all of those things are really tempting now that I think of it.

Then I think about the fact that maybe I could sleep in this weekend. Perhaps I could tick a few late summer projects off around the house before the cooler weather really sets in.  Once I have had my leisurely coffee over the newspaper that is. Or maybe I could make the rest of my week easier by prepping a few meals to freeze for mid-week crazy days. Yeah, how about pesto from the basil before it gets hit by frost, spaghetti sauce from your abundance of tomatoes, or a few pots of soup from all those great seasonal vegetables that are overflowing at farmers markets across Ontario. I know! Here’s a recipe that uses plenty of great Ontario veggies, from the Foodland Ontario site.

ONTARIO BORSCHT

Ingredients:

  • Borscht, a vegetable dish.

    Borscht, a vegetable dish. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

    tbsp (30 ml) butter

  • 6 Ontario Beets (peeled and shredded)
  • 4 Ontario leeks (chopped)
  • 2 cups (500 ml) Ontario mushrooms (sliced)
  • 2 Ontario Carrots (shredded)
  • 2 cloves Ontario Garlic (minced)
  • 1 Ontario Onion (chopped)
  • 1 Ontario White Turnip (peeled and shredded)
  • 1 stalk celery (chopped)
  • 1 Ontario Potato (peeled and chopped)
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 7 cups (1750 ml) beef (or vegetable broth)
  • tbsp (30 ml) tomato paste
  • 2 cups (500 ml) Ontario Cabbage (shredded)
  • 1 can white kidney beans (drained and rinsed)
  • tbsp (44 ml) red wine vinegar
  • tsp (5 ml) granulated sugar
  •  Salt and pepper
  •  Sour cream and snipped chives (or green onion tops)

Directions:

  • In large saucepan, melt butter over medium heat. Add beets, leeks, mushrooms, carrots, garlic, onion, white turnip, celery, potato and bay leaves; cook, stirring occasionally, for 20 minutes.
  • Stir in broth and tomato paste. Bring to simmer and simmer gently for 10 minutes. Stir in cabbage and beans; cook for 5 minutes.
  • Season with vinegar, sugar, and salt and pepper to taste, adding more vinegar and sugar if needed. (There should be a nice sweet and sour balance.) Discard bay leaves. Place dollop of sour cream and sprinkle of chives on each serving.

Tip: This soup freezes well, so double the batch and freeze for later use.

 

Of course, I might not get out of bed at all. What are you up to this weekend?

Guess what? It looks like our prayers for a break in the rain have been answered. The humidity levels have dropped and so has the possibility of rain! It looks like London might be able to look forward to a rain-free forecast for the weekend. If you have waited for that to head to one of our local beaches, now is the time. You just have to decide which one of the many beaches around to go to.

Top 10 Best Beaches Around London, Ontario

Ipperwash Beach

Ipperwash Beach

  • Ipperwash Beach – Located in Lambton Shores, Ipperwash Beach boasts a beautiful sand beach that is perfect for family fun. Walk the shores of Lake Huron or wade in the shallow waters, ideal for children and new swimmers. Close to Grand Bend, but without the wild parties and huge groups of people who are attracted to it, Ipperwash is the perfect beach for a family day trip.
  • Fanshawe Lake Conservation Area – You might not even know about this campground nestled within London’s borders, but there is plenty to do at Fanshawe Lake. Go canoeing, watch dragon boat racers practice, try your hand at fishing, reserve a campsite for spending the night under the stars, walk (30 km of trails) or bike (20 km of trails) some of the trails or just enjoy a step into nature in our own backyard.
  • Goderich – Canada’s prettiest town might have taken a hit when it was in the path of a tornado in 2011, but that can’t keep this vibrant community down. With three beaches to brag of, and free parking available, you can enjoy the waters of Lake Huron, plus hopefully catch sight of one of their gorgeous sunsets to boot. There is awesome fishing that abounds, playgrounds for kids, and plenty to do in town, if you venture away from the beautiful sandy beaches.
  • Grand Bend

    Grand Bend – A recipient of the coveted Blue Flag Certificate, the beach at Grand Bend has lots to brag about. Lifeguards watch on, as people frolic in the waters of Lake Huron. Washrooms  are handy, as are concession stands for beach-goers. The surrounding community of Grand Bend has plenty of shopping and dining for any patron’s needs or desires.

  • Long Point – Not far from London is another beach that stretches forever along Lake Erie. How does 40 km of sandspit sound to swimmers and sand castle makers alike? Anyone that has ever ridden a motorcycle has probably seen the beach, at least some of it on Friday the 13th for an annual trip to Port Dover. With plenty of bird watching, hiking trails and campsites available, there is more to this fantastic beach than a bike stand though.
Pinery Provincial Park - Dunes Beach

Pinery Provincial Park – Dunes Beach

  • Pinery Provincial Park – Can you beat 10 km of beach on Lake Huron, surrounded by dunes, hiking trails, opportunities for camping, canoeing , kayaking and more? Not by a long shot, and that is why Pinery Provincial Park has been so popular for so long.
Port Burwell Provincial Park

Port Burwell Provincial Park

  • Port Burwell – Not to be outdone by other area beaches, Port Burwell has a sandy beach that is nothing to sniff at. Located on Lake Erie, the Provincial Park here has some of the best and most private campsites of any Provincial Park around. Enjoy swimming, hiking, fishing, camping and maybe even take the time to explore Canada’s oldest wooden lighthouse.
  • Port Stanley – Only a half hour drive away, you will be enjoying the warm waters of Lake Erie before you know it, when you make the trip to Port Stanley. Grab some fries from Mackies, play beach volleyball at GT’s, ride the rails of the Port Stanley Terminal Rail, or build the biggest sand castles you can as you soak up the sun on one of Port Stanley’s popular beaches. Main beach has lifeguards on duty, plus has been awarded a prized Blue Flag Certificate.
  • Rondeau Provincial Park – Whether you want to soak up the sun, splash in Lake Erie’s warm waters or bird watch on one of Ontario’s best bird migration routes, Rondeau is a great place to escape from the city. There are hiking trails aplenty, camping available and memories to be made at this beach.

Sauble Beach

  • Sauble Beach – Over 10 km of soft, white sand to enjoy on the shores of Lake Huron, Sauble Beach has also been awarded a Blue Flag Certification. With a bevy of restaurants and vendors in walking distance on the main strip, you just might want to stop at a real estate agency to see what’s available in the community. One visit to this active beach town, and you will understand why.

Cottage country almost floated away in Spring flooding. The streets of Calgary filled to over-saturation from huge amounts of rainfall. Trains underwater in Toronto with desperate passengers evacuated via inflatable boats, due to a massive deluge in the span of a few hours. Farmers desperately praying for a break in the rains, so that sensitive crops are not ruined by the incessant moisture that has inundated Ontario.

Toronto Flooding July 2013

Torrential downpours leave passengers stranded on a Toronto Go Train

We need water to survive, but when it comes in such monstrous quantities another issue arises, that of safety to people and our possessions. In Toronto, 126 mm of water fell in a matter of hours on July 8th, 2013. The flooding that devastated Calgary in June 2013 saw houses, bridges and more swept away due to rain and rising rivers fueled by winter melt off from the nearby Rocky Mountains. Many communities in Central Ontario also felt the ravages from spring runoff, as the worst flooding in approximately 100 years swept through Cottage Country. No lives were lost in Toronto, but the same cannot be said of the flooding that overwhelmed Calgary. Damages to infrastructure have been extensive in all these communities though, and that equates to huge cleanup bills and massive rebuilding.

Local fields struggling to overcome this month’s extensive rains

But what of our area farmers with their eyes to the skies? It would seem that those that bought crop insurance this year were wise folks indeed. Rainfall here and there is necessary, but we have had far more than our local average of 82 mm. High heat and humidity, mixed with rain, rain and more rain have made crop failure a very drastic reality for farmers staring at their waterlogged fields. When the water table gets saturated, the rain has no place to go, therefore sits on the ground. That leads to issues like Sclerotinia, or stem rot, for plants such as canola, wheat, and soybeans. Other crops like tomatoes, corn and sugar beets are also affected by the wide-spread moisture, literally starving to death from lack of oxygen in the water-saturated soil. At the end of the day, we are all faced with decreased food availability and increased prices for what little we have.

More rain in the forecast

The bad news is that it is not over yet. There is even more rain in the forecast, meaning that already drenched areas that are suffering through high heat and humidity won’t be drying out any time soon. Authorities in Toronto will be watching their stormwater systems to ensure they are functioning as best they can. Resident farmers will be praying for sunshine to come quick to dry out their soggy fields. And if you are worried about flooding in your own backyard, why not make sure your eavestroughs are empty, your sump pump is in working order, and there are no blockages at the sewer on your street. Other issues you might want to address before the rains come again are cracks in your foundation, a lot that is graded towards the house instead of away (if the land on your lot slopes towards the house, rainwater will head in that direction potentially overloading your drainage system) and the effectiveness of your weeping tiles. No one likes a wet basement (think mold, respiratory illnesses and loss of valuables). If Mother Nature won’t give us a break in the rain, then at the very least, make sure that you are protected against what she is throwing at us.

Don’t forget your umbrellas!

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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