Thursday, November 21, 2013

After the Move: Handling Warranty Issues during the First Year

From those first tentative steps towards purchasing a new home in Ottawa, you’ve come a long way! As you unpack your boxes, position your furniture and hang your artwork, you can feel this home becoming your own. You’re probably a little tired – but the exhilaration is enough to keep you going.

Ideally, this feeling is strengthened with the confidence that your Ottawa home has been built to meet both building codes and your own exacting specifications. In most cases, when you’ve chosen your home builder after proper research, and completed a thorough pre-delivery inspection (PDI) as I discussed in my previous blogs, you can rest easy that things are as they should be.

Sometimes, however, items are missed during that initial inspection. When this happens, it’s important for you to understand the proper course of action to take. Ontario’s Tarion Warranty Program is structured to deal with Ottawa homeowner complaints in a very specific manner; in order to take advantage of the program, it’s necessary that you fill out the appropriate forms and meet set deadlines.

Details of the process are outlined in A Guide to Your New Home Warranty, provided by Tarion to all new home buyers. As much as I urge my clients to become familiar with this guide, the truth is that amid the flurry of your Ottawa home search, purchase and move, it can be a lot of information to digest. Here are some major points to remember:

There are one year, two year and seven year warranties that apply to various aspects of your home.

If you discover a problem with your home within the first year of living there, you have two opportunities to file a warranty form. The 30-Day Form must be filed within 30 days of taking possession, while the Year-End Form must be filed within the last 30 days of the first year.

Naturally, it’s in your best interest to submit a report sooner rather than later, so I recommend paying particular attention to construction details during your first couple of weeks of occupancy. As well, some Ottawa homeowners who missed the chance to hire a home inspector during the PDI may choose to do so prior to the end of the year for an added sense of security.

New home ownership isn’t without its responsibilities; but attention to detail now will pay off in the long run. Here’s to a wonderful first year!
Visit for all your real estate needs.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Investing your capital in the Capital: Home ownership in Ottawa

Ottawa-Gatineau has earned the first-place ranking for best Canadian city as ranked by MoneySense magazine for 2011 and 2012, in fact, Ottawa has taken it a total of five times in the past six years. As far as cities go, we’re the one to beat.

For the 2013 results click here.

What is it that makes Ottawa-Gatineau so appealing? The MoneySense study ranks 180 Canadian cities, taking into account such diverse factors as arts and culture, crime rate, household income, medical doctors per capita, rates of employment and air quality. We had consistently good scores in nearly every category – including, believe it or not, better-than-average marks for weather!

Now, I know that not many of us have the luxury of choosing the city in which we live strictly according to the appeal of its image. (Hello, Honolulu!) Most of us have to work our jobs, families and pocketbooks into the equation. On top of that, a lot of us feel deep emotional connections to the places we live, and no study is going to determine whether we stay or go. We Ottowans already know firsthand what we love about our Ottawa Home.

However, if you’re toying with the idea of home ownership in Ottawa, it’s great to know that you’re about to buy in one of the most desirable markets in the country. It’s often been said that your Ottawa home is probably the biggest financial investment you’ll ever make – and you’ll want to make that investment in a place that will hold its value over time. 

While Ottawa home prices here are higher than many in smaller communities, they compare favourably with other large cities in Canada. According to MoneySense, this region has an average home price of $352,020. Given the enviable average household income in Ottawa ($98,980), this is pretty affordable. Contrast these prices with Vancouver, where it will take you $882,000 to net you an “average” home!

Here’s what I take away from the MoneySense study: whether you’re Ottawa-born and bred or a relative newcomer, you can feel confident about purchasing a home in Ottawa, the city you already call home.
Visit for all your real estate needs.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Compatibility Testing: Finding the Builder who Rings your Bell

You probably already suspect this, but random guesswork really isn’t the best method of choosing a Ottawa builder. (Just remember how long it’s taken you to find the right hairdresser.) So, how can you go about ensuring that you’re putting your eggs in the right basket?

First of all, you can narrow down your options fairly quickly by looking at your list of must-haves. Blogs and the Bennett Property Shop website are terrific for zeroing in on possible builders according to neighbourhood, housing type and budget. Some Ottawa builders specialize in features you may be looking for, such as wide lots, green technology or R-2000 construction. The Internet is another excellent tool for locating builders who meet your requirements.

But making the shortlist is the easy part. When it comes to actual research, the most important piece of advice I give my clients is this: don’t be afraid to be nosy!

In your day-to-day conversations with friends, acquaintances and co-workers, dig around. You may not realize it, but you have a network of important contacts at your disposal – even if no one in your immediate circle has had recent experience with a builder, they all know someone who does.

When you speak with a Ottawa builder’s sales representative, work from a list of prepared questions: for instance, how open is the builder to adapting their plans to suit your personal needs? What is the builder’s rating for after-sales service with the Tarion Warranty Program? Ask for references from previous clients.

When you tour a model home, inspect every nook and cranny: if the model can’t withstand the closest scrutiny, you can be fairly sure that your home won’t, either. If there are no models, request a tour of a customer’s home. As wonderful as the plans may look on paper, you need solid evidence of good workmanship.

Talk to people in your prospective Ottawa neighbourhood. If you’re too shy to knock on doors, stop and chat with people on the street. You’ll find that most are glad to share their stories, whether they love their builder to bits or encountered issues. Be sure to speak with more than one Ottawa home owner.

And remember: whatever may have happened to the cat, there are some situations where curiosity pays!

Visit for all your real estate needs.

Monday, November 4, 2013

In-law suites: Purchasing a new home with rental potential

I’ve always found the rise and fall of housing trends inOttawa incredibly interesting. Of course, staying on top of these patterns is also a vital aspect of our career. One surging trend in the Ottawa housing market is the in-law suite – and I believe this one has real staying power

“In-law suite” is the name most commonly given to self-contained apartments within a larger home, whether or not the occupants happen to be in-laws. Family custom is, however, one of the main reasons for the growing popularity of these secondary suites. While there have always been Ottawans who value multi-generational living, their number is steadily increasing as Ottawa continues to receive the most family-related immigration in Canada. For many of our newcomers, living in close proximity to grandparents or extended family is the cultural norm.

The other significant group interested in secondary suites are those who have realized the terrific income potential of such spaces. With its many contract workers and post-secondary students, Ottawa has no shortage of renters. While zoning by-laws make secondary suites a no-no in some jurisdictions, the City of Ottawa (excepting the former Village of Rockcliffe Park) has no such restrictions, as long as by-law conditions are followed.

More often than not, in-law suites are basement apartments, although they’re occasionally located on the second or third floors. They possess private entrances, bathrooms, kitchens and sometimes laundry facilities.

Renovating an existing Ottawa home to accommodate a separate suite can be expensive, and unforeseen complications may arise. The beautiful thing about including a secondary suite when purchasing a new home is that you can have everything built to your specifications, rather than being limited by the existing structure. Some builders make a specialty of in-law suite homes, with a portfolio of available plans, but others are happy to alter standard plans for a fee.
A few things to consider:

             Basement apartments aren’t noted for their great natural light. Invest in great lighting, making good use of pot lights. Where possible, install larger-than-typical windows.
             Include a bathtub in the bathroom to appeal to as many tenants as possible.
             Features such as a double driveway, soundproofing panels and separate gas and electrical meters can make everyone’s lives easier.

With a thoughtfully designed suite, the income – or the in-laws – will be sure to roll in to your Ottawa Home!

Visit for all your real estate needs.