Friday, October 25, 2013

Seriously Rewarding: The Pre-Delivery Inspection

Seriously Rewarding: The Pre-Delivery Inspection

Without a doubt, it’s one of the most thrilling parts of the new home in Ottawa purchasing process – touring your beautiful, newly finished home shortly before you take possession. This is when the space you’ve been dreaming about so long is crystallized into reality.

All of the finishes and features you’ve chosen with so much care are assembled together: for the first time, you’re able to see the way the way the drawer pulls on the kitchen cabinetry complement the lighting fixture, or the way the coffered ceiling and gleaming hardwood floors create the most glamorous dining room you could have imagined.

That’s the fun part. But there’s a serious purpose to the pre-delivery inspection (PDI), which is a necessary step for Ottawa new home buyers enrolled in Ontario’s compulsory Tarion Warranty Program. This is your opportunity to go over your new home with a fine-toothed comb, the builder at your side.

This is the time to speak up if you see incomplete items, workmanship that doesn’t meet your expectations, or if one of your finishes has been substituted without your authorization. (I always remind my clients to read their purchase agreements carefully, as such substitutions may be perfectly legal once you’ve signed the dotted line.)

Tarion provides builders with a standard PDI Form that lists all the items contained in a home, from faucets to furnaces to flooring. Outdoor elements such as landscaping and driveways are all included. As you inspect the home together, the builder is responsible for noting any unsatisfactory items on the form, while you are responsible for signing each item indicated. This document stands as proof of your home’s condition before you’ve moved in, so there can be no question about responsibility.

The inspecting process differs somewhat for Ottawa new home condominiums, depending on which elements are considered “common” to the building owners. Items such as furnaces and air conditioning systems are sometimes inspected by the condominium Board of Directors rather than the individual purchaser.

If you feel hesitant about your ability to recognize properly installed work or systems, I’d strongly encourage you to hire an independent building professional to come along. Missing a deficient item isn’t the end of the world – there are other opportunities to notify Tarion. But, by my calculations, paying a little bit more for a lot more certainty is always a good investment.
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Thursday, October 10, 2013

Glass Act: Making the best of a less-than-heavenly view

If every window revealed a view of stunning beauty, it would make my job so much easier. But here on earth, some vistas leave something to be desired. The good news is that I’ve been seeing more ways than ever before to address these problems.

Scenario 1: You feel as though you’re living in a fishbowl.

Scenario 2: You have a marvelous view – of a brick wall, or the legs of passersby.

For both daytime privacy and obscuring undesirable views, light-filtering blinds are an increasingly popular option. This is in large part because they don’t block out natural light. A similar – though more romantic – effect can be achieved by using sheers. Both can be paired with lined curtains for nighttime privacy.

If you’ve got panoramic windows, treatments like these can cost a pretty penny. Here’s an Ottawa Real Estate industry secret: you may be able to negotiate with your builder at the time of purchase for blinds to be included in the purchase price.

Half-height plantation shutters work beautifully with tall, narrow windows, lending historical character to a room. For a smaller window, you might consider a hanging stained glass panel; even a small panel will act as a focal point, drawing attention away from an unbeautiful view.

Your local hardware store carries two inexpensive alternatives: privacy window film and acrylic wall glaze. Both of these give the illusion of frosted glass, and both are easily applied and removed. In many cases, applying these treatments to only the lower pane of glass will give you the privacy you require.

Scenario 2: Your windows are too small, or too few.

Small windows can be made to look larger by artfully installing blinds and curtain rods higher than necessary, with curtains extended on either side. On a blank wall that cries out for a window, try hanging a large piece of landscape art; installing a picture light above will give your evenings a lovely ambience. Have as many different sources of light as possible coming from different points in a room. This gives you options for different effects at various times of day. And large mirrors are wonderful for reflecting light from both windows and lamps.

As a glass half-full kind of gal, I’ll close with this: your imperfect views are the perfect opportunity to make a terrific design statement.
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Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Don’t curb the curb appeal!

The importance of landscaping your new home

The first time you pull up in front of your newly completed home in Ottawa, you should be dazzled. Here it is – your carefully selected architectural model, brick, trim colours, front porch – exactly as you wanted. Welcome home, indeed!

The good news is that your home’s curb appeal is only going to get better. How? Well, the one aspect that usually remains to be completed is the landscaping. (The exception here is for condominium properties, which tend to include full landscaping and lawn maintenance.) Most of you will be met with a nice green lawn and, often, the single planted tree that many builders include among their standard features. That’s a great start – but it’s only a start!

Now, I’m not recommending that you go over-the-top in terms of money or style. Gazebos and waterfalls are lovely, but simple gardens can be just as beautiful. Trees in particular are one of the best investments you can make: they increase in value every year until they reach maturity. Trees add beauty, shade and a sense of neighbourliness to your Ottawa home and the whole community – just think how dramatically a streetscape is changed when a big oak or maple is struck down by lightning. As an added benefit, large shady trees can decrease both your air-conditioning costs in summer and, acting as a windbreak, your heating costs in winter.

When selecting a tree, talk to an expert at your local nursery. They’ll help you decide on the right tree and the proper location, taking into account such variables as your home’s exposure to sun and wind, the size of a tree’s root system and the amount of upkeep necessary.

Keep in mind, you don’t need to have a green thumb to have gorgeous gardens. Again, rely on your nursery experts to help you choose low-maintenance plants. Planting perennials (plants that return each year) is one way to reduce labour. If you time it right, you can often pick up incredible flowers, shrubs and ornamental grasses for half-price towards the end of summer.

The love you give your lawn will not only increase your enjoyment of your home, it will also pay off years down the road when you put your home in Ottawa on the market. Take it from me: great landscaping can dramatically increase interest from buyers, and can definitely boost your asking price. So get out there and get your hands dirty!
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