LEED Certification

You may have seen homes, condos or commercial buildings referred to as LEED certified. You know that this means they are “green” but what does it really mean?

Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, or LEED, is a third-party certification program that rates buildings on a point system. Ratings are based on five areas: building site, water, energy, choices of materials and indoor air quality. Depending on the score from these five areas, a building can be certified as silver, gold or platinum.

Usually, LEED certification only applies to new construction, but if an existing home is gutted—the drywall or exterior siding is removed to expose the insulation – then it would be possible to participate in the program and earn LEED certification.

Like any “green” home, a LEED-certified home is less expensive to maintain since it uses less energy and less water. But LEED certification offers much more than just efficiency. Because of the choices of materials, a LEED home will have better indoor air quality and be healthier and more comfortable. For commercial buildings, a healthier indoor environment means healthier employees and less sick days and lost work. For a home, it means a healthier family.

A LEED building uses more sustainable resources and is built to generate less waste. It will continue to use less and waste less over its lifespan, and does not cost much more to build than a conventional home. Some estimates place the increase in cost at only about 3 per cent. With an energy savings of up to 35 per cent and a payback of just three years just for the certified level, it is money well spent.

LEED certification provides a specific measurement of how “green” a building is and an ability to quantify its environmental impact. For example, in order to qualify for the points available for recycled content in the LEEDS program, the building must have a minimum of 10 per cent recycled content in its building materials. That could be recycled drywall or using concrete with a high-recycled content, such as fly ash.

LEED is a voluntary program and certification costs must be taken on by the owner/builder. With LEED programs like LEED Neighbourhood Development (ND), “green” homes may even become the norm. In addition to the usual LEED ratings, neighbourhoods must also offer traffic control and walkability scores. Several LEED-ND neighbourhoods on Toronto’s waterfront have reached certification.

When it comes to choosing a “green” home, choosing LEED-certified is a healthy choice.

See what’s for sale in your neighbourhood – Do a quick search

Do a Quick Home Market Evaluation and see how much your home is worth.

Thank-you for reading our article about LEED Certification, contact us if you need anything or leave us a comment below.

Give Neutral Shades A Try

Neutral colour may seem an oxymoron but think again.

These are shades that are happy to take a back seat to a room’s contents. Neutrals do more than quietly stand in the background to let the show-offs next to them take centre stage; they anchor a room, create a mood and complement a busy pattern.

Taking their inspiration from nature, neutral colours are earth tones from the deepest browns to the palest grays, and even blues, blacks muted reds, subdued greens and soft yellows. Consider blue skies, night skies and the seas below, a mountain range, a farmer’s field or setting sun. With all of this variety, neutrals are anything but boring. It’s only when neutrals are left to stand on their own, without any complementary patterns or textures that they become dull.

Neutrals are the get-along colours, layering well together and allowing texture to fill a room and create more interest.

To create a simple peaceful home, the best bet would be to use off-white or beiges as paint colour or among dominant furniture. These give a calming effect to the room.

Or, give your home a warm comforting rustic feel by using dark neutrals, such as shades of brown, rust and black.

Colourful fabrics, area rugs, artwork, vases, lampshades and pillows should draw some of their influence from the neutral colour in the room

But be aware that neutral colours do have undertones or second shades to them. These undertones can be pink, tan, gold, yellow, blue or even peach. It’s important to know because it can make your accessories sing or turn them tone deaf.

To make it work, think in contrasts, like warm versus cool or textured versus polished or light versus dark. For example, a burlap chair will pair well with a polished steel, glass or dark wood table. Throw on a deep red or blue tablecloth and it thanks to the neutrals, they unify, instead of compete with the trio.

After all, if Mother Nature can make a bevy of neutral colours co-operate as a noticeable backdrop to some of her more spectacular displays, surely we can do the same at home.

See what’s for sale in your neighbourhood – Do a quick search

Do a Quick Home Market Evaluation and see how much your home is worth.

Thank-you for reading our article about Neutral Colours, contact us if you need anything or leave us a comment below.

Downsizing? Get Rid Of All That Stuff!

Moving into a smaller space means tackling your excesses and either finding a new home for it or ditching it for good.

Saying sayonara to your unnecessary stuff requires a ruthless attitude, steady effort in the months up to the move and a plan for which items you’ll keep to occupy your new abode.

It’s a good idea to start with the latter. Take photos of every room in your new digs, from as many angles as you can for each, and measure every bit of living space.

Lay out on paper where your existing big pieces of furniture (that take up floor space) will go: bed(s), couch, chairs, area rugs, cabinets, dressers, night tables kitchen/dining table and the like.

Now that you have a vision for your new home, you’ll have an easier time getting rid of the rest of the furniture that just won’t fit.

If you’re moving from a house to a condo, clear out the garage and shed because you won’t need a lawn mower, gardening tools, power tools or snow shovels.

Have a garage sale, contact a second hand shop, auction it or donate it.

For the little stuff: knick-knacks, small appliances, chairs, clothes, shoes and the like, put into the outgoing pile anything that you haven’t used in the last two years. For the sentimental stuff, like keepsakes, photos and kids art work some tough decisions lie ahead.

As soon as you sign the paper work that makes your move official, start thinning out your belongings. Schedule time weekly to go through junk drawers, cupboards, closets and filing cabinets.

Label four bins or heavy-duty garbage bags with ‘To Keep’, ‘To Discard’, ‘To Sell’ and ‘To Give Away’ and sort as you go. When they’re full remove to their respective destinations and start again.

A less cluttered abode makes it easier to clean, move around and treasure the things that really matter to you. And once you’ve moved, make sure you abide by the one-in, one-out rule — when you buy something, you have to get rid of something you already have. It’ll keep you from overcrowding your new small space.

See what’s for sale in your neighbourhood – Do a quick search

Do a Quick Home Market Evaluation and see how much your home is worth.

Thank-you for reading our article about downsizing, contact us if you need anything or leave us a comment below.

Help Your Lawn Survive The Winter With These Tips

Chances are the hot days of summer have taken a toll on your lawn as drought, insects and weeds have turned it from lush green to thin, patchy and brown.

To help it return it to its healthy state next spring and protect it from further damage over the winter months, there are a few things you can do from mid-August to mid-September. First, fertilize with a nitrogen/potash mixture. If the damage is extensive, aerate first by plunging a pitchfork about three inches down into the ground and wiggling it back and forth. Do this in rows about four inches apart. The holes allows grass to breathe better and absorb nutrients and water.

The next thing to do is overseed. Try perennial ryegrass, an all-purpose seed. You will need two to four kilograms of seed per 100 square metres of lawn to do the job well. Fine fescue seed works best in shady areas. You’ll need one to three kg of fine fescue seed to adequately cover 100 square metres. Tall fescue is an excellent, drought-tolerant seed. Disperse two to three kg of this seed over 100 square metres for best results.

Be sure to water well afterward to ensure germination.

Where there are weeds, use a weeding tool to dig down deep enough to uproot the pesky invaders. Do not compost weeds.

Rake fallen leaves and dead grass and then bag it all. When leaves are left to rot on the lawn, they prevent light from shining on the grass blades.

Raise the blades on your mower in the fall so that the grass on the lawn isn’t cut as short. This allows roots to grow deeper to make them stronger through winter. That’s not to say you should let your grass grow too long because it may encourage destructive mould growth.

In mid-to-late October, apply a second nitrogen/potash mix fertilizer application to ensure better winter survival and greener grass in early spring.

See what’s for sale in your neighbourhood – Do a quick search

Do a Quick Home Market Evaluation and see how much your home is worth.

Thank-you for reading our article about lawn care, contact us if you need anything or leave us a comment below.

Going Organic In The Garden

Organic Lawn

When chemical pesticide and herbicide use was banned in 2009, many people have wondered how to keep their lawns and gardens looking great by going organic.

Although the term” organic” seems a bit intimidating, organic gardening is really just what our grandparents were doing without the fancy title.

Lawns can be tricky to maintain in their carpet-looking perfection without chemical help. However, using simple steps, you can keep that green carpet looking great.

Just as you are already used to, use a fertilizer in spring and fall. Instead of choosing a petrochemical cocktail, choose one that is organic. They will be slower releasing and won’t burn your grass. Make sure you rake all the thatch out before fertilizing so the roots have air. Once a year, in the fall or spring, overseed your lawn with a drought tolerant grass seed, such as fescue. Cut your lawn fairly frequently with a good, sharp mulching mower, but not too short – that way, it won’t need such frequent watering. If weeds creep in, pull them out manually, or spot-kill them with plain household vinegar, or even boiling water.

Flower and vegetable gardens love compost. If you don’t already have a backyard composter, consider investing in some free fertilizer for your plants. There is nothing quite as good as this rich, dark soil for making flowers and veggies happy. If you add 4–6 inches of mulch, it will prevent any weeds from germinating. As a bonus, it will also cut down on your watering. If weeds still insist on invading your gardens, an old-fashioned hoe will take care of them if pulling isn’t an option. And weeds between paving stones quickly die with an application of white vinegar or boiling water as well. Make sure you choose a calm day or the wind will blow the vinegar into the garden and wilt your flowers.

From smelling only flowers and not pesticides and eating only your own fresh vegetables and no chemicals is the best reward for going organic in the garden.

See what’s for sale in your neighbourhood – Do a quick search

Do a Quick Home Market Evaluation and see how much your home is worth.

Thank-you for reading our article about going organic in the garden, contact us if you need anything or leave us a comment below.

Curb Appeal Is Key To Getting Buyers To Your Front Door

Freshening up the exterior of your home is critical if you want to get those all-important buyers to your front door. Here are some tips to update your outdoor living spaces that are sure to help you close that sale:

Colour code
Add a bit of drama to your front and rear yards by creating a theme or using a consistent colour scheme. Add splashes of vibrant colour like lime or teal in planters and on throw pillows for the chairs on your front porch. Be sure to update outdoor furniture with wrought iron or trendy wicker. You don’t have to be an entire set, even updating one main piece will do.

Re-arrange it
Literally, re-arrange it. A swapping of plant material and a little top-up of fresh mulch in your garden beds will reinvigorate your front and back yards.

Trim
A good prune and shearing of shrubs and hedges is a must. A good rake helps wipe out even more garden debris.

Year-round blooms
Choose flowering shrubs and perennials that bloom throughout the varying seasons. Yews, false cypress and Alberta spruce can all be potted to give your home an instant formal entrance. A long border of mums in a bright colour scheme is eye-catching. Hanging baskets of Boston Ivy and miniature hostas can change the look of any deck or patio.

Clean up walkways
Even stone walkways and driveways need a good cleaning. The easiest tool to use to get the job done is a power washer. After power washing, it is a good idea to remove any grass or weeds growing out of cracks with a hook knife and spade – this will show how well the property has been lovingly maintained.

See what’s for sale in your neighbourhood – Do a quick search

Do a Quick Home Market Evaluation and see how much your home is worth.

Thank-you for reading our article about improving curb appeal, contact us if you need anything or leave us a comment below.