How to get your dream patio for cheap

How to get your dream patio for cheap

Everyone loves the sunny weather. Even if a warm breeze is present, spirits are lifted when the sun rises and remains in a clear blue sky. We are naturally drawn to be outside and enjoy those days of warmth, but when you have nowhere to sit or hang out, enjoying these moments becomes difficult. While having a patio isn’t the most necessary feature of a home, it is definitely a bonus. And it doesn’t have to be expensive. People tend to avoid enhancing their patio because there is a misconception that it would break the bank. A little Pinterest and Houzz browsing showed me otherwise. Patio life is possible!

 

Pallets with potential

Pallets are typically easy to come by. Go to department stores or on Kijiji and it is easy to find one. These wooden frames give you so much potential to create something unique out of your yard. Whether it be a deck or creating a lounging area with outdoor pillows. Find more ideas on Pinterest and you’ll be surprised with what you can do.

 

Have a deck? Refurbish it!

If you already have a deck but you feel it’s a bit drab, think of ways you can enhance it. Maybe it’s as simple as staining it or you can paint a checkered pattern on it. Either way, you’ll land up with a new deck and great outdoor space.

 

Add some colour and greenery

Sometimes all your patio needs is a little life. Go to your local grocery store and buy some potted flowers and strategically place them around your patio. It is such an easy fix that adds so much to the vibes of your outdoor area.

 

Inspire yourself

Do you even know how often people are trying to clear up storage space by giving away bricks and sand for free on Kijiji? There is so much you can do with those materials, so find out what is out there and throw that in your Pinterest search bar. If you see red bricks for free on Kijiji, go to Pinterest and search “red brick patio furniture”. Oh look, you can make a firepit.

 

Make your own hammock

You don’t have to go buy those expensive hammocks just so you can swing in your backyard. If you’re anything like me, I love crafting, especially when I know it’s going to become something I use! There are many ways to create your own, some more intricate and difficult than others, but all doable.

 

Go make your dream patio. You know it’s possible.


How to create a rustic feel in your home

With the Calgary Stampede right around the corner, there is a rising trend for homeowners wanting a  rustic feel in their home. Since it’s one of our favourite styles, we are happy to share ways that you can create that “county” vibe in your home. Some are bigger changes than others and therefore more costly, but all achieve the same goal.

 

Before you continue!

Make sure this rustic style speaks to who you are. A home is a representation of those who live within its walls, therefore you need to make sure it suits you. Plus, if you don’t like it, changing the style of your home twice can get expensive.

Is it for you?

If you prefer warm colours that come from embracing the natural features of nature, then rustic is likely a style for you. The benefit of rustic styles is that you can mix it with a secondary style and, if done correctly, can create a beautiful and balanced atmosphere.

 

How to get the look?

White walls

Having a white accent wall is one of the easiest ways to create a rustic style in you’re home. White is a color that exudes cheerfulness and new beginnings. You can do anything with it, and if there are some rustic styling tips that you can’t do with your home, a white wall will help. Now, you can’t just have a white wall. Decorate it with rustic accessories or include the other tips from this blog.

 

Wood everywhere and anywhere

Some might say otherwise, but there is actually no limit to the amount of wood you use in a rustic home. If you have a massive appreciation for the beauty of this material, then go wild and pannel the walls with wood, lay it out on the floor, put beams in the roof and accent it with wood accessories. You can either go crazy or use it cautiously. Key is to let the wood be what it is. Appreciate the weathered and imperfect.

 

Faux animal skins

Nothing makes a room scream rustic like a faux animal rug does. It immediately creates warmth in and brings a little wild from the outside into your home.

 

Natural colors

Your colour palette should be inspired from the nature around you. Go out and look how the Earth works all those beautiful colours together. Take that visionary example and apply it to your home. It’s easy to create a rustic feel when you let the outdoors influence your design.

 

Use the Earth’s objects

If you are incorporating something you discovered in nature, try not to force it into becoming what you want it to be. Let it be imperfectly imperfect. Instead, work around the imperfections and you will create that rustic feel flawlessly.

 

Sturdy fabric

The fabric that should be found in a rustic-style home should only be that which can withstand hard times. If you’re going to have a throw blanket on the couch, make sure its made of thick cotton with simple patterns that remain classic.


Respect your neighbours!

You may be lucky and have space between you and your neighbour’s house, but never forget that sound travels. It doesn’t matter whether you are renovating your small apartment or your mansion, whether it’s the whole house or just the guest bathroom, you want to ensure you’re respecting your neighbours. There are certain unspoken rules to being neighbourly during renovations. Too often do people forget about those around them, and neighbours can be too kind to say something.

 

Courtesy notes

Before you even begin to renovate, it’s a good idea to write a letter that lets your neighbours know about your upcoming renovation. This can prevent any noise complaints from your neighbors and avoid conflicts with them. How you address them in your letter depends on your relationship with them, whether it’s friendly or professional. Let them know how long you expect the project to take, your efforts to minimize disruption, garbage waste, etc. Include a note at the end indicating that you are open to speaking with them if they have any concerns and apologize for any inconvenience that may occur.

 

Curfew

There are different considerations to make regarding timing and renovating throughout the day. If you want to begin on your project early in the morning, make sure you keep the loud jobs for later. You don’t want to be that neighbour hammering away at seven in the morning.  Generally, renovations make a lot of noise. Be considerate about starting too early or working too late as it may cause frustration from neighbours.

 

Clean-up

If you’re naturally inclined to be clean, this will not be a problem for you. Make sure the garbage you’re removing from your house is properly stored and taken away when needed. Everyone likes a tidy neighbourhood.  In addition, if there are little kids running around and playing, as a parent you wouldn’t want rubbish and construction materials left out for them to get a hold of.

 

Parking

Sometimes parking can become an issue, particularly when you have a lot of workers coming to your house. Making it impossible for your neighbours to park near their house is a situation that you’re better off avoiding. This can be avoided by setting up a decent curfew. Even telling them to leave their number on their windshield allows neighbors to call them if they are blocked in.

 

Watch the language

It’s not uncommon for men to joke around and use language that can be offensive to others and not something children should hear. Before it becomes a problem, let your workers know that children are around and it’s important that they are mindful of their language.

 


McKenzie Lake: product picking

Product picking is personally what I think is the best stage when renovating. Or at least the most exciting stage. By picking products, you are giving others sight to what you’ve been envisioning from the beginning. If you’re like me, you’d be the type of person who could spend hours in a store looking at different colours and textures. I love determining whether a certain tile would look good with the wall paint and wooden floor. Likewise, your decisions at this stage will affect the feel of each room. It’s an exciting challenge to stay within budget while achieving your dream home.

 

 

Here is what we’ve been envisioning for our McKenzie Lake project.

 

Bathroom

Before we took a sledgehammer to the bathroom, the photo to the left is what the tub looked like. It was old-fashioned with yellow tile surrounding the tub. The bathtub area had great potential being located near the windows, so we wanted to use that advantage.

Our vision, to the right, is for the bathroom to be something clean and modern. This photo from Houzz.com gives you an idea of what we are hoping to achieve; a free-standing bathtub, surrounded by windows and preferably dark grey tile.

 

This bathroom from Houzz.com has a bit more of a country look to it, but the classic colours and free-standing tub give you a glimpse of our hopes for our bathroom.

 

 

Kitchen

As you’ve seen from before, the kitchen had some room for improvement. To refresh your memory, I’ve posted a picture to the left. Between the kitchen’s vintage cupboards and modern tile back-splash, the room needed some consistency.

 

Our inspiration for the kitchen comes from the photo on the right. Clearly, the space we have to work with is not near as large as what’s in this photo. However, the slick feel of the kitchen along with the grey and white colour combination are the qualities we hope to transfer over to McKenzie Lake.

 

Things to remember:

  • Stay within budget. Don’t purchase an expensive tile when you can find a similar one for less.
  • Some product might take time to get to you, such as carpet or countertops. Be prepared.
  • Save the excess. Keep some leftover materials, such as carpet, paint and tiles. You never know if the future may need you to fix a dent or two.
  • Don’t get decorative items such as plants or bath rugs until everything is put together.

Tips for demoing

 

Since we were able to demo our McKenzie Lake project ourselves, we gathered some tips and tricks for our followers. With trial and error, we learned how to save money and time throughout the whole demo process. Before you take on your own project, read through this blog to save yourself some headaches.

 

  1. Rent a dumpster

This will save you money in the long run, especially for those larger projects. Not only will renting a dumpster ensure your disposing of materials safely, but it will save you from making a number of trips to the dump.

 

  1. Be careful removing baseboards

Ripping out baseboards and window casings may be a lot of fun, but be careful not to create more damage than necessary. The more you damage the dry wall, the more time and money it will take to patch those holes up.

 

  1. Use the right gear!

The proper tools when demoing will make tasks so much easier and reduce the likelihood of causing damage to your home. Another important reminder is making sure everyone on your crew has eye protection! Ripping materials out of walls will means nails and wood dust will be everywhere.

 

  1. Plan for a couple hours

Depending on how big your job is, the demo could take more than one day. To provide context, consider our McKenzie Lake project. Demoing this house took about 25 hours with a three-person crew. In our case, there was a lot to be taken out; flooring, baseboards, doors, switch/plug covers, casings around windows/doors, appliances, tiles in all rooms, cabinets, cupboards and countertops. Hopefully this gives you an idea of timing needed for your own project.

 

  1. Things to keep

If your renovation involves taking out countertops in the kitchen, keep the sink. You will need it for water! If you’re one of the lucky ones who gets a new fridge, don’t throw the old one out! You can put it up for resale on Kijiji or your website of choice. Whatever you think will sell, post it. However, don’t get too hung up about getting the best deal for each item. There is a lot on the go with renovating as is, so don’t add more stress by trying to make money off items you were going to throw out.

 

  1. Clean up behind you

This may come as a no brainer to some, but others have tendencies to finish a task in one room and go on to the next without taking out the garbage left behind. In the long run, this creates more work for you and others. Our advice is to take out all the garbage to your dumpster before you move on to the next task.

 

P.S. Happy Valentine’s Day Charmers!

 

 

 

 


Before we renovate…

When you get your hands on a new project, it can be hard to hold yourself back from knocking cupboards down and ripping out baseboards. That’s how we felt with the McKenzie Lake home. It’s our first project of the year and we wanted to get started! Instead, we had to make sure we went through the 10 stages of pre-renovation. To show the importance of going through these steps, we will show you what we did with the McKenzie Lake home.

 

Get to know the house

For those who followed us through our blogs about pre-renovation, we stressed the point of getting to know your home and what needed to be done. Therefore, it should come as no surprise that we did the same. To know how much it would cost and how long it would take, we walked through the house to determine what needed to be done. Through this process, we created a budget for ourselves. We saw jobs which we knew how to do ourselves, and we saw where we needed to bring professionals in. In addition, we determined what areas we would be willing to give up working on if things got too expensive.

 

 

Take pictures!

This is not necessarily a step that is a must, but it’s one that will be satisfying in the long run. Take pictures of the before, the during and the after. You could even do a panorama of the room. Being able to see the change all your hard work accomplished will be incredibly satisfying. A tip to keep in mind though: make sure you remember the position and angle you took the original photo. By doing this, you’ll truly see the difference your efforts made.

 

 

Get estimates

At this stage, we needed to get contractors in. We knew what needed to be done and it was time to find out how much it cost. It’s very important to stay within our financial plan. To do so, we told the contractors what our rough budget was before they walked through the house. As our Transformation Director, Karen Ingram-Johnson, said, “You get a different result if you say, ‘how much will it cost’ vs. ‘this is what we have to spend’”. After receiving various quotes from contractors, we picked the one the fit best with our plans and budget.

 

Adjustments to plans 

For the McKenzie Lake project, there was not a lot of structural change that needed to be done. Instead, we wanted to focus on redoing the kitchen and the bathrooms. We also hope to remove the arched doorways as they are an outdated style. Basically, we want to clean up the home and give it a fresh look. During our first walkthrough, we wanted to knock down a wall between the kitchen and the dining room, but after the contractors came in we discovered the wall had water pipes and air ducts inside. The cost to make that change was higher than our budget, so we needed to adjust our plan for the kitchen.

 

Create a demo list

To help save costs, it’s useful to start demoing before the contractors come in. It will do two things; save them work and save your money. We suggest making a list of what you can take down and get rid of yourself.

 

Now we are off to demoing! Follow our renovation process on our Instagram where you’ll get more pictures and videos to follow along with.

 


Introducing McKenzie Lake

Starting a new project is always exciting for us. We believe to do well requires understanding and knowledge of the community we are working in. The first project we have for 2018 is in McKenzie Lake, a suburban neighborhood in southeast Calgary. Before we provide updates on our McKenzie Lake project, we wanted to provide some background information on the community.

History

McKenzie Lake was not always a community with a lake. In fact, the original community was called McKenzie in 1984. As Calgary grew in the 1990s, the city was inspired by the success of Lake Bonavista. As the neighboring community to McKenzie, Lake Bonavista had a lake at the heart of its community, making it attractive to live there. With this knowledge, Calgary built a lake for the community of McKenzie, changing its name to McKenzie Lake. Following this expansion, the neighborhood became much more charming.

Activities

McKenzie Lake has grown into an active area that values the ability to be connected. The McKenzie Lake Community Association (MLCA) encourages homeowners to become members and work together to keep the community at its greatest potential. The MLCA offers everything from before and after school care to yoga and basketball classes. A second organization, McKenzie Lake Residents Association (MLRA), also tries to improve the community by giving Pilates, Zumba and sport-ball programs. To keep the community connected, the MLRA hosts safe and fun events, such as the Father’s Day Fishing Derby and their Family Fun Day.

Culture

Most buildings in the McKenzie Lake community are single-family homes. The community aims to provide activities for its residents, so it’s no surprise that McKenzie Lake is the spot for raising a family. With its strong effort to build a sense of community, McKenzie Lake has also become a popular spot for immigrants to live. Priding itself on being a welcoming community, it makes it easy for new families to settle in. However, there isn’t a high turnover rate for houses in McKenzie Lake. Those that move there tends to stay there. It is a family community, one that brings connection and security to those that live there.

 


Pare down and pack up!

The last step before you can go through with your home makeover is to pare down and pack up. This means going through all your belongings and putting away everything other than your essentials. If you’re choosing to live in your home while work is being done on it, I highly recommend you follow through with this step to help maintain your sanity. If not, the chaos felt from the renovation will be overwhelming as your stuff lays around, waiting to get damaged or dirty.

 

Clean out your closet

Whether you like it or not, you probably have some items throughout your house that you’ve been holding on to when you should have thrown them away years ago. If you’re going to pack everything up to create more space during your renovation, you might as well filter through the belongings and discard unused and disliked items. This will help when the renovation is complete.

 

Have a system

When you’re going through each cupboard and closet, have both clear bins and cardboard boxes nearby. Items which you frequently use should be placed in the clear containers, making them easier to find when they’re needed. Other items that you know you want to keep but won’t need over the next few months can be placed in the cardboard box. Even consider packing into containers that have wheels, as you will need to move boxes around throughout your renovation.

 

Move out or stay in

While you might want to stay home and be present for any possible issue that comes up, another option would be to rent or stay at a friend’s place. This would be an added cost, but it might help maintain some of your sanity and organization. If you choose to stay in, make plans for where you will continue daily routines. For example, if you’re renovating your master bathroom, don’t renovate the guest bathroom at the same time, as you need that space in the meantime. If you’re renovating your kitchen, designate a room as a make shift kitchen, complete with a microwave, table and chairs.

 

Little ones and your pets

As much as you love them, pets and children can make a project all the more difficult. You have to watch them, feed them and entertain them all at the same time as managing your renovation. Ask a family member or a friend if they would help with babysitting your children or housing your pet for a couple weeks. This will help ease your mind and ensure your renovation is being done properly. Soon enough, the whole family will be back together again, enjoying your new home.


Time is money

Renovating a house is a project therefore it will take a bit of time to complete. We’ve already warned you to expect the transformation of your home to take longer than what contractors say, however there are other factors you should consider in regards to time. You’d be surprised how many things could affect the time frame of your renovation, which ultimately effects your wallet.

 

Live in the house first

 

The best advice for new home owners that I’d ever heard of was to live in the house before you plan your renovation. You may know that no matter what you’ll be renovating, but the key is to know what it is about your house that needs the renovating. Get to know your house and how you and your family use it every day. What you once thought was the most important change needed may fall down the list when you discover which rooms you use more. Likewise, as the seasons change you may realize you use the house differently. What you originally thought would be a good plan in the winter might turn out to not be a poor idea for the summer. Don’t rush into the renovation, make sure you know what it is that you need.

 

All at once or one at a time? 

Once you’ve made that priority list we suggested you make in step one, think about doing it room by room or all at once. Get advice from your contractor as well. There may be smaller renovations you can do in the slow winter months that will be more cost effective to you and reduce the chaos that comes with doing it all at once.

 

Regularly check in on the project 

During the process of your renovation, don’t feel afraid to check in on the contractor’s work. Miscommunication is a natural thing for humans. What one may envision in their head and described so clearly by them may be interpreted completely different by the other. Before a contractor makes a mistake that becomes expensive to fix, catch it before it goes any further. Not only will it cost money to be adjusted, but it will also extend the time it takes for your renovation to be complete.

 

Be prepared

In addition to mistakes being made in how you wanted something done, also be prepared for parts to take time to arrive. For example, the specific tiles you wanted for your kitchen may get back ordered and take a couple weeks to come in, therefore putting your contractors back. Or the custom sink you got doesn’t fit for some reason so you need to figure out an alternative plan. These are things that will cost you time and money, and if you’re not prepared for it: your sanity. Anything can happen during the renovation process, so do your best to be ready for it.

 

 Economy

Finally, the last thing you should consider is the economy. How is it effecting you and is it the best time to start a renovation? Granted, you can’t control what the economy does, but it’s something good to consider before you take on a huge project.


Is this a Good Time to Buy in the Calgary Market?

Is this a good time to buy a house in Calgary?  You want to buy a home. Eventually. But timing matters when it comes to such an enormous and potentially life-changing purchase. With uncertainty about Calgary’s economy and real estate market fluctuations, that can be a difficult question to answer. It is, however, the right time to buy a home in any economy when you buy wisely.

Some things to consider:

1. Purchase for less than your mortgage pre-approval.
Purchase within 80-90% of your mortgage pre-approval so you aren’t at the upper limit of your monthly cash-flow.  Plus adding some extra principal payments will reduce your mortgage term and save you thousands in interest.

2. Save for six months of bills.
Having six months of bill-paying power, including your full mortgage payment, taxes and insurance will see you through any lean economic times or surprises. It will also reduce the stress of living month to month to cover your living expenses.

3. Put down a large downpayment.
Making a large down payment doesn’t just increase the chances of getting your offer accepted but also reduces the size of the mortgage payment. For most conventional loans, you’ll need 20% of a home’s price, or $60,000 on a $300,000 home.   Adding an extra 5% can make a big difference in your monthly cash flow.

4. Never buy the best or the worst home on the block.
The best home will always be subject to other properties holding back the house value – if your home is the highest standard by which all homes are compared, your value will increase much less than others. Buying the worst home (unless you can afford to renovate) will mean the property is the least desirable if you intend to sell within a few years.

5. Research the neighbourhoods.
Choosing to live in the most exclusive or popular neighbourhood may mean inflated home prices.  Also be aware of that “good deal” in a less desirable  neighbourhood – you can fix up a house, but you can’t fix a neighbourhood.  Look at neighborhoods where property values are going up, where there are good schools, easy access to amenities and a strong community focus.

6. Check out the inventory in your area.
Supply and demand – the more supply is available, the lower the price is for buyers because there is less competition. As demand goes up and supply goes down, competition among buyers increases, which means prices also increase. So the best time to buy is when many houses are on the market and not many people are buying. You will have more room to negotiate and are likely to get a better price.

You can identify a buyer’s market by looking at how many homes are on the market and how long they have been up for sale. If most have been for sale for more than six months, demand is likely low. However, if they are being bought within a few weeks or months, it’s likely the market is leaning in favor of the seller.

According to Kerri Markle, REALTOR with RE/MAX Landan, it’s a balanced market for single family homes in Calgary with some popular communities leaning towards a seller market. This means that for homes that are priced right, they are selling quickly with some receiving multiple offers. It’s a buyers market for condos so if you are looking to get into the real estate market for the long-term,  this may be a good option.

7. Interest rates
Interest rates on home loans also fluctuate depending on market conditions. Currently interest rates are fairly low but have been inching up fast, which has many thinking of buying a home before the rates rise even higher.

8. Time of year
Buying during the peak seasons of spring and summer may result in more property listings available but it can also translate into more competition and potentially higher prices. However, buying in fall and winter also has its advantages. Buying off-season usually gives buyers more negotiating power for  because sellers are often more motivated to sell.

Predictions from the Calgary’s Real Estate Board CREB® July 2017 Market Forecast indicate  signs of economic recovery and stabilization of the housing market.  Good news for the real estate market and for the city!