Category Archives: Renovations

Building Green Homes in Canada

Did you know around 20 percent of the energy consumed in Canada is used in our homes? Purchasing an energy-efficient house or turning one by energy-saving renovations into a green home can offer big savings for home owners.

CMHC has a slogan “Help the Planet, Help Your Wallet” which has added environmentally friendly features to the Mortgage Loan Insurance it offers. If you use CMHC insured financing to buy an energy-efficient home, purchase a house and make energy-saving renovations or renovate your existing home to make it more energy-efficient, there is a 10% refund on the Mortgage Loan Insurance premium, and a premium refund for a longer amortization period (if applicable) may be available to you.

This also applies to if you’re thinking of building an energy-efficient home.

How it works

Step 1: Documentation

Find out how energy-efficient your house or unit is and obtain the supporting documentation

For houses and units located in low rise residential buildings the house or unit must:

    • have been built under a CMHC-eligible energy-efficient building program; or
    • have been assessed by a Natural Resources Canada (NRCan) qualified energy adviser
    • and have an EnerGuide rating that complies with the applicable requirement stated below:
For purchases with a closing date: Energy Guide Rating Required
On or after January 1st, 2013 82
From April 1st, 2010 to December 31st, 2012 80
From July 27st, 2005 to March 31st, 2010 77

You must obtain and provide CMHC with one of the following supporting documents:

The CMHC-eligible energy-efficient building program certification; or the first page of the EnerGuide performance report showing the EnerGuide rating of the house.

To be eligible, the supporting documentation must be dated no more than five years prior to the date of the application for a partial premium refund. Where the applicable supporting documentation is older than 5 years, the borrower is required to obtain a current energy efficiency evaluation.

This credit also applies to high rise residential buildings. If you are planning on building a new home and your builder is not a member of a CMHC-eligible energy-efficient building program, you should have an energy adviser evaluate the building plans before the house is built. This can help you ensure that you will meet CMHC’s requirements once the construction of the home is complete and it is evaluated.

Step 2: If required, boost your energy efficiency

If the house you plan to buy does not meet the applicable energy-efficiency requirement, to be eligible for a refund, you will need to obtain an EnerGuide rating through an NRCan qualified energy adviser and renovate using part of the CMHC insured funds based on your energy adviser’s list of recommendations in order to increase your score by at least 5 points and to a minimum overall rating of 40.

Step 3: Discuss and arrange a CMHC-insured mortgage

Talk to your lender and ask for a CMHC insured mortgage. (The rules have just changed to prevent fraud and misuse of funds).

Step 4: Confirm the improvement

After you make the renovations recommended by your energy advisor, you will need to have a second assessment done to determine the energy-saving effectiveness of the renovations.

Step 5: Apply for Refund

Apply for your Premium Refund

The following are steps for if you own a home and are thinking of renovating to make your home more energy-efficient:

Step 1: Obtain an energy rating for your home.

To qualify for this refund, you must carry out the steps described below within a reasonable time after funding of the CMHC insured loan. Normally, the time period between the date of funding (purchase with improvements or refinance) and the date of the post-retrofit assessment should not exceed 24 months.

Contact an NRCan qualified energy adviser to obtain the current energy rating for your home. You will receive a list of straightforward recommendations to increase your energy rating.

Step 2: Discuss CMHC insured refinancing.

Talk to your lender or your financial institution about which options are available to you. (The rules have just changed to prevent fraud and misuse of funds)

Step 3: Improve your rating

Improve your rating by using your energy adviser’s recommendations, renovate or upgrade to increase your energy rating.

Step 4: Confirm

Confirm the improvement by your energy adviser coming in and they will assess your home again after the energy-saving renovations are finished. If this test shows that the house’s energy rating has improved by at least 5 points and has achieved an overall rating of at least 40, a premium refund may be available.

Step 5: Apply

Apply for your Premium Refund online or through paper.

NRCan has developed an energy assessment and labeling system to help homeowners make energy-saving choices when buying a home or renovating. For a fee, an NRCan qualified energy adviser will evaluate the house to determine its energy efficiency rating on a scale of 0 – 100.

For more detailed information and specifics of these sorts of programs, please visit the NRCan web Site.
and if you are looking for a green home please feel free to get in touch with me.

Cheers!

Nilay Ertemur

References: http://www.cmhc-schl.gc.ca/en/co/moloin/moloin_008.cfm

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Forecasting 2015 Housing Market in Ottawa

As we all know predictions are not easy, especially for the future, but we can certainly go through some stats to find out how the market has been doing in the near past, to figure out how this year might turn out for Ottawa.

Mortgage and interest rate cut

Let’s look at the mortgage picture first, the average five-year mortgage rate in Canada is at a record-low 4.79%, according to central-bank data (Source: Financial Post ). Lower rates can be obtained from banks and other private lenders, such as Mortgage Brokers Ottawa, the mortgage rate on their site states 2.89 for a 5 year fixed (26 Jan 2015).
On 21 Jan 2015, Bank of Canada has lowered its interest rate to 0.75, it dropped the lending rate by a quarter of a percentage point. What that means is the cut will result in lower interest rates for variable rate mortgages, lines of credit and other loans that float with prime rates. They have called that fixed rates would be lowered also, and Royal Bank offered a five-year fixed rate of 2.84% on Jan. 24. (Source: Financial Post)

Prices of Houses and Comparisons

If we compare 2013 to 2014 market prices, we see some increases.

Month Average Home Sale Price Result
January 2014 $346,744 increase of 1.0% over January 2013
February 2014 $353,407 ncrease of 2.0% over February 2013
March 2014 $359,051 increase of 0.3% over March 2013
April 2014 $374,015 increase of 0.8% over April 2013
May 2014 $381,172 increase of 3.2% over May 2013

Ottawa is a healthy market that prices don’t go up and down like they do in some other Canadian cities, where there could be a very large influx of price ups and downs such as in Alberta… Prices of houses are still slowly going up here in Ottawa, with some minor adjustments in various neighbourhoods. 2014 was a year that average days on the market for a property increased significantly from the previous years and that was certainly not usual. Properties considered as luxurious in remote areas and the ones far from Ottawa core got hit first when it came to price reductions, however many city properties still held their value and on average saw a price increase by around 1 % in 2014.

And last but not least, this chart is key for us to understand what the economy has been doing in the near past and what the expected figures are for the coming years.

2012 2013 2014 2015 2016
Total Employment (000s) 697.6 687.4 696.5 706.0 715.5
% change 2.4 -1.5 1.3 1.4 1.3
Unemployment Rate 6.4 6.3 6.5 6.0 5.9
MLS® Res. Sales 17,184 16,539 16,472 16,750 17,400
% change 0.2 -3.8 -0.4 1.7 3.9
MLS® Res. Avg. Price 327,656 334,320 339,785 344,000 350,000
% change 2.4 2.0 1.6 1.2 1.7
Residential Permits (Units) 8,211 6,643 8,950 7,800 8,000
% change 2.7 -19.1 34.7 -12.8 2.6

Source (Ontario Chamber Commerce)

Conclusion

As we can see the prediction of 2015 would be business might proceed as usual, some adjustments are in effect but there are still increases in price for some areas in Ottawa. If you are planning for your new purchase or selling your existing house, or investment contact me and I will be able to provide you a FREE CMA (Comparative Market Analysis) report of your house value, or for the area you are looking for.

Here are some stats you can tweet:

ottawa2015

Ottawa 2015 prediction

Disclaimer: As this article has been published by the author, mortgage rates might have been changed again in the last couple of days, therefore it is recommended to talk to a mortgage broker about the latest rates and mortgage rules and regulations.

Sources:
Financial Post
CBC News

Author: Nilay Ertemur

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Tips on Increasing the Value of Your Home

Here are some tips to increase your home’s value, even if you are not planning to sell your house, it would be a worthwhile investment for you and your home.

1. Declutter to increase space and clean!

This is my personal favorite. We tend to keep buying and storing stuff in our houses, especially people living in North America, they tend to use their garage as storage for stuff rather than putting their cars in. Getting rid of stuff that you don’t need is the very first thing that one can do to increase the space of a house. 80 s and 90 s style of ornaments are not as attractive anymore. An organized basement is always good. Cleaning is the cheapest and often most effective upgrade! The more space you have the better it looks.

2. Remodel the kitchen

The kitchen is the heart of a home, by re-modelling; updating the kitchen cabinets, countertops, it brings in a new look to your house, and you could probably recoup 80% of the cost if you are planning to sell it afterwards. Don’t forget to upgrade the faucets and sink, you don’t want to put a dated faucet back next to your new countertop.

3. Buy new energy efficient appliance

People love stainless steel appliances, and most appliances sold today are energy efficient. Having an energy-efficient appliance will save you money now, and is a more valuable and marketable feature when the time comes to sell.

4. Upgrade the bathroom

If you are upgrading only the kitchen and the floors of the bathroom and the rest of the house is still vinyl or carpet, you may not get the value of the upgrade. The bathrooms are also important, replace the faucet, sink and get low flush toilets. Create a unified look for the bathroom sink and shower.

5. Be energy efficient

Get an energy audit and improve the attic insulation. You don’t have to necessarily go get a brand new furnace since it will not pay off as an upgrade to sell, but if you are planning to live in the place for another 6 years, perhaps getting the high efficient furnace makes sense financially for you.

6. Paint the house

A freshly painted house, room can make your house look clean and updated. Choose neutral or brighter colours to create a nice effect. Flowing colours are the best strategy when painting a house with various colours.

7. Update your curb appeal

A quick and easy way to appeal to more buyers into your house is to spruce up the landscaping. Replace that old mailbox and front door, cut those tree branches and clean up those leaves, mow the lawn, dig those weeds/dandelions out. The more maintained the outside of the house look, the greater the value it appears to potential buyers. First impression happens within seconds and that is why curb appeal is crucial in value increasing.

8. Updated floors

The look of clean and completed floors definitely increase the value of your home, replace those old carpets with new ones, or better replace them with hardwood or laminate flooring. In these days people with allergies tend to like non carpet areas, but don’t leave areas half and half. A non finished hardwood or laminate floor is worst than a steam cleaned carpet.

If you found this post helpful, please feel free to share it.

Author: Nilay Ertemur

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There is a draft whenever you go upstairs or you feel it in your bedroom. You might look into replacing your windows and think it will save you your energy bill and make the home warmer. Good energy efficient windows do stop the draft, and if they are properly sealed/caulked around, but as you know replacing those windows would/can cost quite a handsome amount and your house might still remain drafty.

What many of us don’t know is the fact that most of your energy is not lost from the windows, it is actually your attic that is loosing the heat mostly (heat travels upward), and insulating your attic would save you (estimated) 10 to 50% off your energy/heating bill.

A DIY insulation is not as hard as one would think, one would definitely need 2 people to do the job, but firstly, one has to measure how much “R-value” there is in the attic. Go to a Home Depot or any other home hardware store and ask the associate for a paper measure which shows the R-Value of your attic, they are free, and one can get them from the rental center. The current standard of attic insulation is R-50, which is about 16″ of blown-in mineral fiber. If your attic has 10″ of insulation or less, adding more insulation should be considered.

Before you climb up to the attic, wear a mask and gloves, the insulation and dust can be allergic to some people and it is not one of the best place to work without protection. Be careful about vermiculate insulation. Once you have climbed into your attic with the help of a ladder, find a joist to stand on and from the bottom of the drywall in attic, measure where the pink insulation raises to. Determine how many inches you need to reach to the certain limit, the paper measure you got from Home Depot will help, also measure how big your attic is, then multiple length with the width in feet.

Now that you have an estimate, take it back to the home hardware store and the associates would be able to help you to find out how many bags of insulation (pink stuff) one will need, and if one gets 10 bags of it, the machine to blow the insulation might be free. This is where one will need the other person to load the machine while one is blowing the insulation into the attic. Make sure you choose a warm and dry day to do the job.

There is also a video that is posted on youtube on how to use the attic cat machine that Home Depot provides. Happy insulation!

Sources: http://ontariorealestateinspections.ca/energy-efficiency/reduce-your-heating-costs-insulate-your-attic/

Nilay Ertemur
Authors: Nilay Ertemur, Taswar Bhatti

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When it comes to renovations, the biggest fear is going over your budget…

Here are 10 first hand tips from our personal experiences on how to save and be frugal on your renovations:

1. Declutter your house. Sell things on kijiji and similar places
Before any renovation task that you want to do in kitchen, bathroom, basement etc, the very first thing you wish to do is declutter things that you may not need anymore. Is that treadmill/xtrainer just collecting dust? Sell it at a decent price. Research how much things are going for first for similar items and sell it 10-20 dollars less than the average price you find. This will bring you additional dollars for your projects.

2. Go to a local hardware store’s discount aisle
Run through the aisle in your hardware store and check the clearance items before you buy regular priced products. You may find things at a fraction of the price. Lowes and Home Depot sell items on display also at a discount. Lets say you need a new vanity light and there is only one left which is the display model, you can request the associate to buy the item on display while giving you a discount on it since it may be a discontinued product.

3. Visit discount stores like Habitat For Humanity Restore
Restore carries a lot of donation items from home owners to retail stores. Its more like Value Village of home renovations with some new products as well old ones!
Each store has different items (There are two in Ottawa). Its more of a treasure hunt. Restore also carries paints that are brand new.

4. Get mistint paint from Home Depot or Lowes
Mistints are colours that did not mix like the same colour as the customer wanted. Home Depot and Lowes (or some others) sell those cans at a fraction of the price. You may actually find colours that you want in the mistint colour section, ask the associate where they place their mistint colours, sometimes they have a load of them usually in summer time when people heavily paint.

5. Do your own demolition
If you are replacing a counter top, by removing it yourself you will save up to 500 dollars of the cost. If it is in good condition, you may even have Habitat For Humanity to come and pick it up for you after you remove it, eliminating the need for finding a dumpster bin and paying extra for it.

6. Partner up with a contractor
Some contractors do allow one to partner up with them so that you are helping them or they are coaching you how to do certain things, this will eliminate some of the costs associated with doing renovations. Note: Some contractors do not do this since there is a liability issues.

7. Schedule your renovation during a downtime
In summer it is peak time for renovations, you could get a good discount by scheduling them in early spring or in winter when there isn’t much work to be done.

8. Make decisions early
Last minutes changes cost everyone, planning the colour of the hardwood floor or tile way ahead is better than planning it in the midst of the job and/or requesting for a change. The hardwood or tile can be sold out or might not be in stock for over a month, which will cost more delays and more money. Making decisions ahead of time saves you a lot!

9. Have family and friends who can help
It is always easier to do house renovations with the support of trusted people, sometimes underestimating the stress, time and effort that renovations will cause, one can find themselves in difficult situations.

10. Attend home hardware store trainings on various home improvement topics 
This will save you time, encourage and motivate you to start your projects. There are also good books on the shelves in home hardware stores where you can take a good look and get inspired.

Health tip: In older homes, pay attention to toxic material, and don’t get exposed to these while renovating, if in doubt, ask a consultant or a health inspector! And please always recycle, recycle, and recycle, even while renovating… 

Nilay Ertemur
Authors: Nilay Ertemur-Taswar Bhatti

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