home buyers guide

We have put together some tools to help make your home buying experience more enjoyable. From calculating your mortgage to moving day, we've got you covered.

Seasonal Home Maintenance  |  Fall  |  Winter  |  Spring  |  Summer

HOME MAINTENANCE SCHEDULE

Regular Maintenance Is the Key - Information provided by the Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corporation.

Inspecting your home on a regular basis and following good maintenance practices is the best way to protect your investment in your home. Whether you take care of a few tasks at a time or several all at once, it is important to get into the habit of doing them. Establish a routine for yourself and you will find the work is easy to accomplish and not very time consuming. A regular schedule of seasonal maintenance can put a stop to the most common - and costly - problems, before they occur. If necessary, use a camera to take pictures of anything you might want to share with an expert for advice or to monitor or remind you of a situation later.

By following the information noted here, you will learn about protecting your investment and how to help keep your home a safe and healthy place to live.

If you do not feel comfortable performing some of the home maintenance tasks listed below, or do not have the necessary equipment, for example a ladder, you may want to consider hiring a qualified handy person to help you.


SEASONAL HOME MAINTENANCE

Most home maintenance activities are seasonal. Fall is the time to get your home ready for the coming winter, which can be the most grueling season for your home. During winter months, it is important to follow routine maintenance procedures, by checking your home carefully for any problems arising and taking corrective action as soon as possible. Spring is the time to assess winter damage, start repairs and prepare for warmer months. Over the summer, there are a number of indoor and outdoor maintenance tasks to look after, such as repairing walkways and steps, painting and checking your chimney and roof.

While most maintenance is seasonal, there are some things you should do on a frequent basis year round:

  • Make sure air vents indoors and outdoors (intake, exhaust and forced air) are not blocked by snow or debris.
  • Check and clean range hood filters on a monthly basis.
  • Test the ground fault circuit interrupter(s) monthly by pushing the test button, which should then cause the reset button to pop up.
  • If there are young children in the house, make sure electrical outlets are equipped with safety plugs.
  • Regularly check the house for safety hazards such as a loose handrail, lifting or buckling carpet, etc.

Timing of the seasons varies not only from one area of Canada to another, but also from year to year in a given area. For this reason, we have not identified the months for each season. The maintenance schedule presented here, instead, is a general guide for you to follow.The actual timing is left for you to decide, and you may want to further divide the list of items for each season into months.

Back to Top

FALL

  • Have furnace or heating system serviced by a qualified service company every two years for a gas furnace, and every year for an oil furnace.
  • Open furnace humidifier damper on units with central air conditioning and clean humidifier.
  • Lubricate circulating pump on hot water heating system.
  • Bleed air from hot water radiators.
  • Examine the forced air furnace fan belt for wear, looseness or noise; clean fan blades of any dirt buildup (after disconnecting the electricity to the motor first).
  • Turn ON gas furnace pilot light.
  • Check and clean or replace furnace air filters each month during the heating season.Ventilation system, such as heat recovery ventilator, filters should be checked every two months.
  • Vacuum electric baseboard heaters to remove dust.
  • Remove the grilles on forced air systems and vacuum inside the ducts.
  • If the heat recovery ventilator has been shut off for the summer, clean the filters and the core, and pour water down the condensate drain to test it.
  • Clean portable humidifier, if one is used.
  • Have well water tested for quality. It is recommended that you test for bacteria every six months.
  • Check sump pump and line to ensure proper operation, and to ascertain that there are no line obstructions or visible leaks.
  • Replace window screens with storm windows.
  • Remove screens from the inside of casement windows to allow air from the heating system to keep condensation off window glass.
  • Ensure all doors to the outside shut tightly, and check other doors for ease of use. Renew door weatherstripping if required.
  • If there is a door between your house and the garage, check the adjustment of the self-closing device to ensure it closes the door completely.
  • Ensure windows and skylights close tightly.
  • Cover outside of air conditioning units.
  • Ensure that the ground around your home slopes away from the foundation wall, so that water does not drain into your basement.
  • Clean leaves from eavestroughs and roof, and test downspouts to ensure proper drainage from the roof.
  • Check chimneys for obstructions such as nests.
  • Drain and store outdoor hoses. Close valve to outdoor hose connection and drain the hose bib (exterior faucet), unless your house has frost proof hose bibs.
  • If you have a septic tank, measure the sludge and scum to determine if the tank needs to be emptied before the spring.Tanks should be pumped out at least once every three years.
  • Winterize landscaping, for example, store outdoor furniture, prepare gardens and, if necessary, protect young trees or bushes for winter.
Back to Top

WINTER

  • Check and clean or replace furnace air filters each month during the heating season.Ventilation system, such as heat recovery ventilator, filters should be checked every two months.
  • After consulting your hot water tank owner's manual, drain off a dishpan full of water from the clean-out valve at the bottom of your hot water tank to control sediment and maintain efficiency.
  • Clean humidifier two or three times during the winter season.
  • Vacuum bathroom fan grille.
  • Vacuum fire and smoke detectors, as dust or spider webs can prevent them from functioning.
  • Vacuum radiator grilles on back of refrigerators and freezers, and empty and clean drip trays.
  • Check gauge on all fire extinguishers; recharge or replace if necessary.
  • Check fire escape routes, door and window locks and hardware, and lighting around outside of house; ensure family has good security habits.
  • Check the basement floor drain to ensure the trap contains water. Refill with water if necessary.
  • Monitor your home for excessive moisture levels-for example, condensation on your windows, which can cause significant damage over time and pose serious health problems-and take corrective action.
  • Check all faucets for signs of dripping and change washers as needed. Faucets requiring frequent replacement of washers may be in need of repair.
  • If you have a plumbing fixture that is not used frequently, such as a laundry tub or spare bathroom sink, tub or shower stall, run some water briefly to keep water in the trap.
  • Clean drains in dishwasher, sinks, bathtubs and shower stalls.
  • Test plumbing shut-off valves to ensure they are working and to prevent them from seizing.
  • Examine windows and doors for ice accumulation or cold air leaks. If found, make a note to repair or replace in the spring.
  • Examine attic for frost accumulation. Check roof for ice dams or icicles.
  • Check electrical cords, plugs and outlets for all indoor and outdoor seasonal lights to ensure fire safety: if worn, or if plugs or cords feel warm to the touch, replace immediately.
Back to Top

SPRING

  • After consulting your hot water tank owner's manual, carefully test the temperature and pressure relief valve to ensure it is not stuck. Caution:This test may release hot water that can cause burns.
  • Check and clean or replace furnace air filters each month during the heating season.Ventilation system, for example heat recovery ventilator, filters should be checked every two months.
  • Have fireplace or woodstove and chimney cleaned and serviced as needed.
  • Shut down and clean furnace humidifier, and close the furnace humidifier damper on units with central air conditioning.
  • Check air conditioning system and have serviced every two or three years.
  • Clean or replace air conditioning filter (if applicable).
  • Check dehumidifier and clean if necessary.
  • Turn OFF gas furnace and fireplace pilot lights where possible.
  • Have well water tested for quality. It is recommended that you test for bacteria every six months.
  • Check smoke, carbon monoxide and security alarms and replace batteries.
  • Clean windows, screens and hardware, and replace storm windows with screens. Check screens first and repair or replace if needed.
  • Open valve to outside hose connection after all danger of frost has passed.
  • Examine the foundation walls for cracks, leaks or signs of moisture, and repair as required. Repair and paint fences as necessary.
  • Ensure sump pump is operating properly before the spring thaw sets in. Ensure discharge pipe is connected and allows water to drain away from the foundation.
  • Re-level any exterior steps or decks which moved due to frost or settling.
  • Check eavestroughs and downspouts for loose joints and secure attachment to your home, clear any obstructions, and ensure water flows away from your foundation.
  • Clear all drainage ditches and culverts of debris.
  • Undertake spring landscape maintenance and, if necessary, fertilize young trees.
Back to Top

SUMMER

  • Monitor basement humidity and avoid relative humidity levels above 60 per cent. Use a dehumidifier to maintain safe relative humidity. Clean or replace air conditioning filter, and wash or replace ventilation system filters if necessary.
  • Check basement pipes for condensation or dripping, and take corrective action, for example, reduce humidity and or insulate cold water pipes.
  • Check the basement floor drain to ensure the trap contains water. Refill with water if necessary.
  • If you have a plumbing fixture that is not used frequently, for example, a laundry tub or spare bathroom sink, tub or shower stall, run some water briefly to keep water in the trap.
  • Deep clean carpets and rugs.
  • Vacuum bathroom fan grille.
  • Disconnect the duct connected to the dryer and vacuum lint from duct, the areas surrounding your clothes dryer and your dryer's vent hood outside.
  • Check security of all guardrails and handrails.
  • Check smooth functioning of all windows and lubricate as required.
  • Inspect window putty on outside of glass panes and replace if needed.
  • Lubricate door hinges and tighten screws as needed.
  • Lubricate garage door hardware and ensure it is operating properly.
  • Lubricate automatic garage door opener motor, chain, etc. and ensure that the auto-reverse mechanism is properly adjusted.
  • Check and replace damaged caulking and weatherstripping around windows and doorways, including the doorway between the garage and the house.
  • Inspect electrical service lines for secure attachment where they enter your house, and make sure there is no water leakage into the house along the electrical conduit.
  • Check exterior wood siding and trim for signs of deterioration; clean, replace or refinish as needed.
  • Check for and seal off any holes in exterior cladding that could be an entry point for small pests, such as bats and squirrels.
  • Remove any plants that contact, or roots that penetrate, the siding or brick.
  • Climb up on your roof, or use binoculars, to check its general condition, and note any sagging that could indicate structural problems requiring further investigation from inside the attic. Note the condition of all shingles for possible repair or replacement, and examine all roof flashings, such as at chimney and roof joints, for any signs of cracking or leakage.
  • Sweep chimneys connected to any woodburning appliance or fireplace, and inspect them for end-of-season problems.
  • Check the chimney cap and the caulking between the cap and the chimney.
  • Repair driveway and walkways as needed.
  • Repair any damaged steps that present a safety problem.
Back to Top

The Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corporation provides an excellent guide on purchasing homes in Canada.

"CMHC's Homebuying Step by Step guide is here to make things easier for you by providing the information you need to make a wise homebuying decision. This section provides examples and worksheets that will guide you through the entire homebuying process, from the moment you make the decision to buy your own home to the moment the movers carry the first box through the front door. It couldn't be easier!"

The full guide can be found on the CMHC website.

Moving Tips

A little planning helps lighten the load on moving day

Your offer to purchase has been finalized and now you're ready to start packing! There are a lot of things to do between now and moving day, but if you approach the job methodically, everything should go smoothly on the big day.

Leading up to moving day

  • Contact a reputable moving company and go over all details, such as costs and availability.
  • Contact your lawyer and confirm where and when your keys are being picked up.
  • Arrange insurance for your new home.
  • Take inventory of your belongings before they're packed, in the event they get lost and you need to file an insurance claim later.
  • Start using up food items so that there is less to pack and possibly spoil.
  • Register your children at their new schools and arrange for necessary day-care.
  • Locate all hospitals, police stations, veterinarian, fire stations and any other amenities in your new neighbourhood.
  • Familiarize yourself with street parking by-laws in your new neighbourhood.
  • Ensure your hydro, phone, cable and gas utilities are ordered or transferred.
  • Fill out a change of address card for the post office and let your family and friends know your new address and phone number.
  • Inform all credit card companies, newspaper and magazine deliveries of your new address.
  • Renew your driver's license and auto registration with your new address.

On moving day

  • Double-check all closets, drawers, shelves, attic and garage to ensure they are empty.
  • Carry all important documents, money and jewellery. Don't leave them to the mover.
  • Pack toys, games or special items for the kids to keep them busy during the move.
  • Pack a separate box of basics you'll need on move-in day, such as tools, paper products, household cleaners, etc.
  • Don't pack paint, bottles of bleach, gas cans or other inflammables. It is against the law for movers to transport flammable and combustible materials.
  • Use strong boxes and containers that can be secured tightly. Purchase special boxes for dishes, wardrobe and other special items.
  • Pack audio-video equipment in their original boxes if you have them. Label cables and tape all screws to the body of the equipment.
  • Avoid loading more than 50 pounds into one box.
  • Label each box and indicate the following: (a) Which room it should go in (b) Whether it is fragile (c) If it should be loaded last so it will be unloaded first.
  • Cushion contents with packing material such as bubble wrap, newspaper or tissue. Save room by using towels and blankets to wrap fragile items.
  • Pack books tightly on end in small boxes. If musty smelling, sprinkle talcum powder between the pages and wrap the book before packing. Leave stored for a couple of months to eliminate the smell.
  • Have rugs and draperies cleaned before moving and leave them in wrappings for the move.
  • Pack medicines in a leakproof container.

Answer the questions listed below. Click "Compute Payment and Balance Summery" button when you are finished.

Mortgage Term
Payment Frequency
Amortization Period
Year(s)
Mortgage Amount
Interest Rate
(e.g. 5.75)
Compute Payment and Balance Summary
Mortgage Payment
Mortgage Balance Remaining After:
  • 1 Year
  • 2 Years
  • 3 Years
  • 5 Years
  • 10 Years

Figuring Out the Benefits

You should buy a home. That's what you've been hearing from friends and family, right? So, by now you have likely already weighed the benefits and decided that home ownership was the best decision for you. That's a major hurdle now passed. You are focused and certain. Good.

Defining Search Parameters

Almost 80% of all home searches today begin on the Internet. With just a few clicks of the mouse, home buyers can search through hundreds of online listings, view virtual tours, and sort through dozens of photographs and aerial shots of neighborhoods and homes. You've probably defined your goals and have a pretty good idea of the type of home and neighborhood you want. By the time you reach your real estate agent's office, you are halfway to home ownership.

How Long Should It Take to Find What You Want?

In seller's markets, often I show only one home. After all, how many homes does one family need? A few buyers will look for years, but buyers who do that aren't motivated. A motivated buyer will find a home within two weeks. Most of my buyers find a home within two days.

Good real estate agents will listen to your wants and needs and arrange to show only those homes that fit your particular parameters. Your agent should preview homes before showing them to you as well.

How Many Homes Will You See?

Studies show that the your memory dramatically improves after consumption of carbs and slows upon consuming sugar. So, layoff the soft drinks and have a hearty meal of carbs before venturing out to tour homes. The average number of homes that I show to a buyer in one day is seven. Any more than that, and the brain is on overload. Therefore, don't expect to see 20 or 30 homes; although it's physically possible to do so, you probably will not remember specific details about any of them.

The "Red Shoes" Experience

Women will relate to this. Say, you need a new pair of red shoes. You go to the mall. At the first shoe store, you find a fabulous pair of red shoes. You try them on. They fit perfectly. They are glamorous. Priced right, too. Do you buy them? Of course not! You go to every other store in the mall trying on red shoes until you are ready to drop from exhaustion. Then you return to the first store and buy those red shoes. Do not shop for a home this way. When you find the perfect home, buy it.

How to Rate Inventory

  • Bring a digital camera and begin each series of photos with a close-up of the house number to identify where each group of home photos start and end.
  • Take copious notes of unusual features, colors and design elements. Pay attention to the home's surroundings. What is next door? Do 2-story homes tower over your single story?
  • Do you like the location? Is it near a park or a power plant? Immediately after leaving, rate each home on a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 being the highest.

View Top Choices a Second Time

After touring homes for a few days, you will probably instinctively know which one or two homes you would like to buy. Ask to see them again. You will see them with different eyes and notice elements that were overlooked the first go-around.

At this point, your agent should call the listing agents to find out more about the sellers' motivation and to double-check that an offer hasn't come in, making sure these homes are still available to purchase.

Making the Selection

I'll let you in on a little secret. I generally know which home a buyer is going to choose, and I suspect most other agents operate the same way. It's an intuition. But I make it a practice not to steer buyers, and I insist that buyers choose the home without interference from me. It's not my choice to make.

Real estate agents are required, however, to point out defects and should help buyers feel confident that the home selected meets the buyer's search parameters.

FAQ

What you need to know about newly built Ballymore Homes

Whether you are a first-time homebuyer or already own a home, buying a new home can be a stressful and confusing time. At Ballymore Homes, we believe in ongoing communication with the buyer - from initial contact with our seasoned and professional sales and décor staff, throughout construction, and well beyond closing with our dedicated Customer Care Team. With that in mind, we have noted some of the questions that we get asked and have provided some answers for you.

Q: Can I get pre-approved for a mortgage?

A: Yes, Ballymore Homes has mortgage specialists at each of our sales centres that are available to answer any of your mortgage-related concerns.


Q: Do all lots have a sidewalk?

A: Generally, placement of sidewalks varies from site to site depending on the development parameters, approvals and the Municipal policies. The Ballymore Homes sales representatives at our sales centres will usually have specific answers for you based on final approvals by the municipality.


Q: How close are the schools?

A: The Ballymore Homes sales representatives will have information available for you regarding local schools, and the local school boards will have the most up to date information as the subdivision homes are occupied and school requirements are known.


Q: When do I get to choose my colours and décor upgrades?

A: You will get an invitation from our Décor Studio within a few months of making your purchase to come to a Décor Seminar where you will receive information on how to prepare for your colour appointment and what upgrades and extras are available to you. Subsequently, you will be able to browse through the Ballymore Homes Décor Studio in preparation for your colour appointment.


Q: Will there be any new releases in the projects?

A: You will be able to obtain information for any new releases if you click on the Ballymore community you desire on our web site. This will guarantee that you receive information on any new lot releases or Grand Openings.


Q: Where do we get mail?

A: You will need to register at the local post office prior to taking possession. Just take two pieces of identification and a copy of your Certificate of Completion and Possession with you. The Ballymore Homes Pre-Delivery Orientation Specialist will provide you with information on the location of the designated post office. You will pick up your mail at the local post office until the Canada Post Community Mail Boxes are permanently installed in your subdivision.


Q: Is there public transportation near by?

A: Most Ballymore Homes communities have local or regional transit service nearby, as well as easy access to GO bus or train service. Your Ballymore Homes sales representative will have more information specific to your community, or you can visit the municipal web site or gotransit.com


Q: Can I visit my house while under construction?

A: We understand that you will be curious about the progress of your new home as it is under construction, but we discourage you from entering any of our construction sites for safety reasons.


Q: Can I make changes to my colour choices or extras?

A: Once you have had your appointment with our Décor Consultant and signed for your upgrades and colours, Ballymore Homes will be scheduling the construction and immediately placing the order with our suppliers, any changes subsequent to that could cause a delay in your closing and as a result are not permitted.


Q: If I am unable to close on the deal, do I get my deposit back?

A: Ballymore Homes provides each purchaser with a conditional period to review the agreement with a lawyer and to obtain financing approval. Once the deal has firmed up, no deposits are refunded. Your Ballymore Homes sales representative will review the agreement terms with you in detail and answer any questions prior to signing.


Q: When will I get my driveway paved and sod layed?

A: In Ballymore Homes’ experience, we have found that driveways need to settle properly before any asphalt is installed, so our policy is to install a base coat of asphalt approximately 1 year after occupancy, once curbs & sidewalks have been completed. Subsequently, sod can be installed starting in the spring through to the fall.


Q: When does fencing get installed?

A: Ballymore Homes does not install community fencing as part of the purchase price, unless it is required by the subdivision agreement with the municipality for corner lots or lots adjacent to the Community Mail Boxes. Your Ballymore Homes Sales Representative will be able to provide you site-specific information when you visit any of our Sales Centres.

Home Owners Education

Seasonal Home Maintenance  |  Fall  |  Winter  |  Spring  |  Summer

HOME MAINTENANCE SCHEDULE

Regular Maintenance Is the Key - Information provided by the Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corporation.

Inspecting your home on a regular basis and following good maintenance practices is the best way to protect your investment in your home. Whether you take care of a few tasks at a time or several all at once, it is important to get into the habit of doing them. Establish a routine for yourself and you will find the work is easy to accomplish and not very time consuming. A regular schedule of seasonal maintenance can put a stop to the most common - and costly - problems, before they occur. If necessary, use a camera to take pictures of anything you might want to share with an expert for advice or to monitor or remind you of a situation later.

By following the information noted here, you will learn about protecting your investment and how to help keep your home a safe and healthy place to live.

If you do not feel comfortable performing some of the home maintenance tasks listed below, or do not have the necessary equipment, for example a ladder, you may want to consider hiring a qualified handy person to help you.


SEASONAL HOME MAINTENANCE

Most home maintenance activities are seasonal. Fall is the time to get your home ready for the coming winter, which can be the most grueling season for your home. During winter months, it is important to follow routine maintenance procedures, by checking your home carefully for any problems arising and taking corrective action as soon as possible. Spring is the time to assess winter damage, start repairs and prepare for warmer months. Over the summer, there are a number of indoor and outdoor maintenance tasks to look after, such as repairing walkways and steps, painting and checking your chimney and roof.

While most maintenance is seasonal, there are some things you should do on a frequent basis year round:

  • Make sure air vents indoors and outdoors (intake, exhaust and forced air) are not blocked by snow or debris.
  • Check and clean range hood filters on a monthly basis.
  • Test the ground fault circuit interrupter(s) monthly by pushing the test button, which should then cause the reset button to pop up.
  • If there are young children in the house, make sure electrical outlets are equipped with safety plugs.
  • Regularly check the house for safety hazards such as a loose handrail, lifting or buckling carpet, etc.

Timing of the seasons varies not only from one area of Canada to another, but also from year to year in a given area. For this reason, we have not identified the months for each season. The maintenance schedule presented here, instead, is a general guide for you to follow.The actual timing is left for you to decide, and you may want to further divide the list of items for each season into months.

Back to Top

FALL

  • Have furnace or heating system serviced by a qualified service company every two years for a gas furnace, and every year for an oil furnace.
  • Open furnace humidifier damper on units with central air conditioning and clean humidifier.
  • Lubricate circulating pump on hot water heating system.
  • Bleed air from hot water radiators.
  • Examine the forced air furnace fan belt for wear, looseness or noise; clean fan blades of any dirt buildup (after disconnecting the electricity to the motor first).
  • Turn ON gas furnace pilot light.
  • Check and clean or replace furnace air filters each month during the heating season.Ventilation system, such as heat recovery ventilator, filters should be checked every two months.
  • Vacuum electric baseboard heaters to remove dust.
  • Remove the grilles on forced air systems and vacuum inside the ducts.
  • If the heat recovery ventilator has been shut off for the summer, clean the filters and the core, and pour water down the condensate drain to test it.
  • Clean portable humidifier, if one is used.
  • Have well water tested for quality. It is recommended that you test for bacteria every six months.
  • Check sump pump and line to ensure proper operation, and to ascertain that there are no line obstructions or visible leaks.
  • Replace window screens with storm windows.
  • Remove screens from the inside of casement windows to allow air from the heating system to keep condensation off window glass.
  • Ensure all doors to the outside shut tightly, and check other doors for ease of use. Renew door weatherstripping if required.
  • If there is a door between your house and the garage, check the adjustment of the self-closing device to ensure it closes the door completely.
  • Ensure windows and skylights close tightly.
  • Cover outside of air conditioning units.
  • Ensure that the ground around your home slopes away from the foundation wall, so that water does not drain into your basement.
  • Clean leaves from eavestroughs and roof, and test downspouts to ensure proper drainage from the roof.
  • Check chimneys for obstructions such as nests.
  • Drain and store outdoor hoses. Close valve to outdoor hose connection and drain the hose bib (exterior faucet), unless your house has frost proof hose bibs.
  • If you have a septic tank, measure the sludge and scum to determine if the tank needs to be emptied before the spring.Tanks should be pumped out at least once every three years.
  • Winterize landscaping, for example, store outdoor furniture, prepare gardens and, if necessary, protect young trees or bushes for winter.
Back to Top

WINTER

  • Check and clean or replace furnace air filters each month during the heating season.Ventilation system, such as heat recovery ventilator, filters should be checked every two months.
  • After consulting your hot water tank owner's manual, drain off a dishpan full of water from the clean-out valve at the bottom of your hot water tank to control sediment and maintain efficiency.
  • Clean humidifier two or three times during the winter season.
  • Vacuum bathroom fan grille.
  • Vacuum fire and smoke detectors, as dust or spider webs can prevent them from functioning.
  • Vacuum radiator grilles on back of refrigerators and freezers, and empty and clean drip trays.
  • Check gauge on all fire extinguishers; recharge or replace if necessary.
  • Check fire escape routes, door and window locks and hardware, and lighting around outside of house; ensure family has good security habits.
  • Check the basement floor drain to ensure the trap contains water. Refill with water if necessary.
  • Monitor your home for excessive moisture levels-for example, condensation on your windows, which can cause significant damage over time and pose serious health problems-and take corrective action.
  • Check all faucets for signs of dripping and change washers as needed. Faucets requiring frequent replacement of washers may be in need of repair.
  • If you have a plumbing fixture that is not used frequently, such as a laundry tub or spare bathroom sink, tub or shower stall, run some water briefly to keep water in the trap.
  • Clean drains in dishwasher, sinks, bathtubs and shower stalls.
  • Test plumbing shut-off valves to ensure they are working and to prevent them from seizing.
  • Examine windows and doors for ice accumulation or cold air leaks. If found, make a note to repair or replace in the spring.
  • Examine attic for frost accumulation. Check roof for ice dams or icicles.
  • Check electrical cords, plugs and outlets for all indoor and outdoor seasonal lights to ensure fire safety: if worn, or if plugs or cords feel warm to the touch, replace immediately.
Back to Top

SPRING

  • After consulting your hot water tank owner's manual, carefully test the temperature and pressure relief valve to ensure it is not stuck. Caution:This test may release hot water that can cause burns.
  • Check and clean or replace furnace air filters each month during the heating season.Ventilation system, for example heat recovery ventilator, filters should be checked every two months.
  • Have fireplace or woodstove and chimney cleaned and serviced as needed.
  • Shut down and clean furnace humidifier, and close the furnace humidifier damper on units with central air conditioning.
  • Check air conditioning system and have serviced every two or three years.
  • Clean or replace air conditioning filter (if applicable).
  • Check dehumidifier and clean if necessary.
  • Turn OFF gas furnace and fireplace pilot lights where possible.
  • Have well water tested for quality. It is recommended that you test for bacteria every six months.
  • Check smoke, carbon monoxide and security alarms and replace batteries.
  • Clean windows, screens and hardware, and replace storm windows with screens. Check screens first and repair or replace if needed.
  • Open valve to outside hose connection after all danger of frost has passed.
  • Examine the foundation walls for cracks, leaks or signs of moisture, and repair as required. Repair and paint fences as necessary.
  • Ensure sump pump is operating properly before the spring thaw sets in. Ensure discharge pipe is connected and allows water to drain away from the foundation.
  • Re-level any exterior steps or decks which moved due to frost or settling.
  • Check eavestroughs and downspouts for loose joints and secure attachment to your home, clear any obstructions, and ensure water flows away from your foundation.
  • Clear all drainage ditches and culverts of debris.
  • Undertake spring landscape maintenance and, if necessary, fertilize young trees.
Back to Top

SUMMER

  • Monitor basement humidity and avoid relative humidity levels above 60 per cent. Use a dehumidifier to maintain safe relative humidity. Clean or replace air conditioning filter, and wash or replace ventilation system filters if necessary.
  • Check basement pipes for condensation or dripping, and take corrective action, for example, reduce humidity and or insulate cold water pipes.
  • Check the basement floor drain to ensure the trap contains water. Refill with water if necessary.
  • If you have a plumbing fixture that is not used frequently, for example, a laundry tub or spare bathroom sink, tub or shower stall, run some water briefly to keep water in the trap.
  • Deep clean carpets and rugs.
  • Vacuum bathroom fan grille.
  • Disconnect the duct connected to the dryer and vacuum lint from duct, the areas surrounding your clothes dryer and your dryer's vent hood outside.
  • Check security of all guardrails and handrails.
  • Check smooth functioning of all windows and lubricate as required.
  • Inspect window putty on outside of glass panes and replace if needed.
  • Lubricate door hinges and tighten screws as needed.
  • Lubricate garage door hardware and ensure it is operating properly.
  • Lubricate automatic garage door opener motor, chain, etc. and ensure that the auto-reverse mechanism is properly adjusted.
  • Check and replace damaged caulking and weatherstripping around windows and doorways, including the doorway between the garage and the house.
  • Inspect electrical service lines for secure attachment where they enter your house, and make sure there is no water leakage into the house along the electrical conduit.
  • Check exterior wood siding and trim for signs of deterioration; clean, replace or refinish as needed.
  • Check for and seal off any holes in exterior cladding that could be an entry point for small pests, such as bats and squirrels.
  • Remove any plants that contact, or roots that penetrate, the siding or brick.
  • Climb up on your roof, or use binoculars, to check its general condition, and note any sagging that could indicate structural problems requiring further investigation from inside the attic. Note the condition of all shingles for possible repair or replacement, and examine all roof flashings, such as at chimney and roof joints, for any signs of cracking or leakage.
  • Sweep chimneys connected to any woodburning appliance or fireplace, and inspect them for end-of-season problems.
  • Check the chimney cap and the caulking between the cap and the chimney.
  • Repair driveway and walkways as needed.
  • Repair any damaged steps that present a safety problem.
Back to Top

The Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corporation provides an excellent guide on purchasing homes in Canada.

"CMHC's Homebuying Step by Step guide is here to make things easier for you by providing the information you need to make a wise homebuying decision. This section provides examples and worksheets that will guide you through the entire homebuying process, from the moment you make the decision to buy your own home to the moment the movers carry the first box through the front door. It couldn't be easier!"

The full guide can be found on the CMHC website.

First Time Buyers

Figuring Out the Benefits

You should buy a home. That's what you've been hearing from friends and family, right? So, by now you have likely already weighed the benefits and decided that home ownership was the best decision for you. That's a major hurdle now passed. You are focused and certain. Good.

Defining Search Parameters

Almost 80% of all home searches today begin on the Internet. With just a few clicks of the mouse, home buyers can search through hundreds of online listings, view virtual tours, and sort through dozens of photographs and aerial shots of neighborhoods and homes. You've probably defined your goals and have a pretty good idea of the type of home and neighborhood you want. By the time you reach your real estate agent's office, you are halfway to home ownership.

How Long Should It Take to Find What You Want?

In seller's markets, often I show only one home. After all, how many homes does one family need? A few buyers will look for years, but buyers who do that aren't motivated. A motivated buyer will find a home within two weeks. Most of my buyers find a home within two days.

Good real estate agents will listen to your wants and needs and arrange to show only those homes that fit your particular parameters. Your agent should preview homes before showing them to you as well.

How Many Homes Will You See?

Studies show that the your memory dramatically improves after consumption of carbs and slows upon consuming sugar. So, layoff the soft drinks and have a hearty meal of carbs before venturing out to tour homes. The average number of homes that I show to a buyer in one day is seven. Any more than that, and the brain is on overload. Therefore, don't expect to see 20 or 30 homes; although it's physically possible to do so, you probably will not remember specific details about any of them.

The "Red Shoes" Experience

Women will relate to this. Say, you need a new pair of red shoes. You go to the mall. At the first shoe store, you find a fabulous pair of red shoes. You try them on. They fit perfectly. They are glamorous. Priced right, too. Do you buy them? Of course not! You go to every other store in the mall trying on red shoes until you are ready to drop from exhaustion. Then you return to the first store and buy those red shoes. Do not shop for a home this way. When you find the perfect home, buy it.

How to Rate Inventory

  • Bring a digital camera and begin each series of photos with a close-up of the house number to identify where each group of home photos start and end.
  • Take copious notes of unusual features, colors and design elements. Pay attention to the home's surroundings. What is next door? Do 2-story homes tower over your single story?
  • Do you like the location? Is it near a park or a power plant? Immediately after leaving, rate each home on a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 being the highest.

View Top Choices a Second Time

After touring homes for a few days, you will probably instinctively know which one or two homes you would like to buy. Ask to see them again. You will see them with different eyes and notice elements that were overlooked the first go-around.

At this point, your agent should call the listing agents to find out more about the sellers' motivation and to double-check that an offer hasn't come in, making sure these homes are still available to purchase.

Making the Selection

I'll let you in on a little secret. I generally know which home a buyer is going to choose, and I suspect most other agents operate the same way. It's an intuition. But I make it a practice not to steer buyers, and I insist that buyers choose the home without interference from me. It's not my choice to make.

Real estate agents are required, however, to point out defects and should help buyers feel confident that the home selected meets the buyer's search parameters.

Moving Tips

A little planning helps lighten the load on moving day

Your offer to purchase has been finalized and now you're ready to start packing! There are a lot of things to do between now and moving day, but if you approach the job methodically, everything should go smoothly on the big day.

Leading up to moving day

  • Contact a reputable moving company and go over all details, such as costs and availability.
  • Contact your lawyer and confirm where and when your keys are being picked up.
  • Arrange insurance for your new home.
  • Take inventory of your belongings before they're packed, in the event they get lost and you need to file an insurance claim later.
  • Start using up food items so that there is less to pack and possibly spoil.
  • Register your children at their new schools and arrange for necessary day-care.
  • Locate all hospitals, police stations, veterinarian, fire stations and any other amenities in your new neighbourhood.
  • Familiarize yourself with street parking by-laws in your new neighbourhood.
  • Ensure your hydro, phone, cable and gas utilities are ordered or transferred.
  • Fill out a change of address card for the post office and let your family and friends know your new address and phone number.
  • Inform all credit card companies, newspaper and magazine deliveries of your new address.
  • Renew your driver's license and auto registration with your new address.

On moving day

  • Double-check all closets, drawers, shelves, attic and garage to ensure they are empty.
  • Carry all important documents, money and jewellery. Don't leave them to the mover.
  • Pack toys, games or special items for the kids to keep them busy during the move.
  • Pack a separate box of basics you'll need on move-in day, such as tools, paper products, household cleaners, etc.
  • Don't pack paint, bottles of bleach, gas cans or other inflammables. It is against the law for movers to transport flammable and combustible materials.
  • Use strong boxes and containers that can be secured tightly. Purchase special boxes for dishes, wardrobe and other special items.
  • Pack audio-video equipment in their original boxes if you have them. Label cables and tape all screws to the body of the equipment.
  • Avoid loading more than 50 pounds into one box.
  • Label each box and indicate the following: (a) Which room it should go in (b) Whether it is fragile (c) If it should be loaded last so it will be unloaded first.
  • Cushion contents with packing material such as bubble wrap, newspaper or tissue. Save room by using towels and blankets to wrap fragile items.
  • Pack books tightly on end in small boxes. If musty smelling, sprinkle talcum powder between the pages and wrap the book before packing. Leave stored for a couple of months to eliminate the smell.
  • Have rugs and draperies cleaned before moving and leave them in wrappings for the move.
  • Pack medicines in a leakproof container.

Mortgage Calculator

Answer the questions listed below. Click "Compute Payment and Balance Summery" button when you are finished.

Mortgage Term
Payment Frequency
Amortization Period
Year(s)
Mortgage Amount
Interest Rate
(e.g. 5.75)
Compute Payment and Balance Summary
Mortgage Payment
Mortgage Balance Remaining After:
  • 1 Year
  • 2 Years
  • 3 Years
  • 5 Years
  • 10 Years