Let’s Talk Real Estate

Lynda Cox

Another September, another chance to start something new, to fix something old. I often look at the fall season that way. Time to begin projects, time to take stock, time to make decisions. Let’s consider your home. Is it ready for winter?

You still have time for some fall projects: painting, window repair and caulking, insulation upgrades, water-proofing, weather-stripping.

NB Proofing your home against any type of water infiltration is your best strategy and needs to be your top priority. Water or melting snow can cause the greatest damage and raise red flags to home buyers.

Let’s make a list of the most important things:

1. Check your grading: if any part of your property is tilted toward your foundation, raise it. This is probably one of the biggest culprits in water infiltration. Or if your driveway has leveled off try an asphalt lip where the laneway meets the foundation. Little is much in this area. It only takes one degree off 90 to tip the water toward the home. Raise it; you can do it!

2. Extend your eavestroughing. We have had a lot of rain this summer and more will surely come in the months ahead so it’s never too late to extend those downspouts far away from the house. Make sure they land in an area that is lower than the soil around your foundation.

3. Check and repair the parging on your foundation. That is the thin coat of stucco-like concrete smeared over your exposed foundation. If it is cracked you can be sure that water will find its way through.

4. On that note, walk around your home and look for mortar crumbling. If noted, call a masonry specialist and have it repaired. A good mason will colour-match the mortar to your existing mortar. Note: A buyer’s home inspector’s number one priority is the condition of the foundation.

Aside: Wet or damp basements are probably one of the biggest reasons that house purchases fall through. If left for too many years unattended, the cost to remediate is huge and buyers often walk away to look for a home with a solid base. When I am accompanying buyers and their inspector we always start in the basement. The “nose test” comes first. Does the basement smell musty indicating dampness or does the air seem dry and fresh? If musty then the hunt begins for signs of water infiltration past or present and the areas of entry.

5. Dehumidifiers: if you have one, is it doing the job? My suggestion is to run the hose directly into the floor drain so it never goes unattended and un-emptied.

Now let’s go from bottom to top:

6. Your roof must be in good repair. Spend a little and get a qualified roofer to check flashings and shingles. Water will find a way through the smallest opening. I’ve seen many a ceiling leak requiring messy repairs, opening up of ceilings etc. You can prevent such disasters by having a good roof with appropriate caulking. Ice damming is also a culprit. Ice forms at the edges then melting occurs sending water back up under the shingles. Suggestion: if you are ready for a new roof, make sure your ice shield is sufficient, increase your attic ventilation and top up your insulation to keep your attic space cool. A good sign of a good roof and good ventilation is no icicles.

7. Inspect your chimney inside and out. Wood-burning fires are warm and comforting but burning chimneys not so much. A chimney sweep with all the right tools can inspect and clean it so you are safely ready for those cold nights by the fire. Have you wanted to switch to gas? Now might be a good time.

Back to ground level:

8.  Plant some bulbs. Preparing for winter can’t be all dull. When the snow melts in the spring and doesn’t run into your basement, you will be happy and rewarded with a garden blooming with tulips and daffodils. That will cheer you up and add great curb appeal to your waterproofed home.

Sandy Hill update

From May 22nd  to date of writing: a very balanced market to report.

Residential Properties

17 active —$519K to $1,650K

22 Sold—$510K to $889K

Condo Properties

39 active—$269K to $739K

3 conditionally sold

39 sold­—$$226K to $453K

Any bidding wars? Yes indeed: four in the residential sector and two in the condo sector.

What an improvement! Condo sales are strengthening our market for a change. Overall sales have been more or less on par with the rate of inflation according to the Ottawa Real Estate Board. Residential properties have been selling 30% faster than in 2016. Good, steady Ottawa!

I hope this information has been helpful. Don’t forget to ask questions. I’d love to hear from you.