Gardening

With spring being the beginning of your gardening season. Figuring out which flowers to plant around your new home can be a tough decision. You could start with something larger and add smaller plants in and around them. Hydrangeas or hostas are both plants that will flourish quickly. Or you could start small and develop a landscaping plan to slowly add to over the years. Some plants take longer to bloom and others will bloom very quickly.

If you’re unsure of where to start, have a landscape company come in, they will give you some ideas and give you a quote on the work to be done. This will save you a lot of headache down the road when trying to find that perfect plant to fill a space. You probably have ideas of what to plant and which plants you like, but, it’s always nice to have a second opinion.

Thinking outside of the box is essential to creating an outdoor space just for you. Adding a few décor items like bird baths or bird feeders will attract wildlife to your home and benefit the overall look of your charming new garden. Incorporating garden stones or a seating area against a backdrop of colorful flowers and green bushes giving yourself and your guests a place to sit and enjoy the beauty.

You could be thinking ‘I do not have a green thumb, what can I do to my garden that has low maintenance but still looks beautiful?’ You could stick with solely perennials. There are many types of plants that come back every year with little to no maintenance required. Hostas, rhododendron, hydrangeas, trillium, and peonies are all gorgeous full blooming plants that will spruce up any garden.

If you’re a vegetable garden guru, then you know exactly what herbs to plant. Planting flowers like, camomile, cilantro, and sweet alyssum will benefit your vegetable garden. Because they are annual flowers, you are able to re arrange them every year to correspond with different crops you’re growing. Beneficial insects will also follow with certain types of plants.

Happy Planting!

Decorating Your New Home

You have gone through the building process with your contractor, you have built your dream home, and you have possession of your newly cut keys. Your next step is to decorate and furnish your beautiful new home. You have gone through every home décor store imaginable (probably more than once), over the past few months and you are ready to discover your perfect style.

Next, you need to know how you want your décor to portray who you are. Are you a colorful and vibrant type? Rustic and antiques? Modern or traditional? Or are you more of a neutral and earthy person? Once you have determined which style you prefer, you can start to design your home and choose your paint colors.

Paint colors are important, choose wisely to avoid having to repaint every couple of years. By going with a neutral color, you can choose more vibrant items or patterns to accent with, such as; rugs, curtains, throw pillows, or accessories. If you decide you’re a colorful vibrant type, you may prefer plainer décor items. Don’t be afraid to mix colors or patterns together, this will help with contrast.

Get to that same décor store you have visited on multiple occasions, and purchase that favorite item you have been eyeing. You fell in love with it the moment you saw it, but you weren’t sure if it would work in your brand new home. There is always that one piece you see and try to convince yourself not to buy. Now, you need it to complete the look you’re going for in your home. Use it as your color pallet, and go crazy!

Textures are a great way to turn a room into a cozy, welcoming, and inviting space. Wallpaper is a great option for adding texture and creating accent walls to set different moods throughout your home. Use faux fur, knit, or velvet textured items to add layers. Make sure to add a throw blanket or two onto your couch to add a feeling of warmth. If you need that extra piece of furniture to complete a room, keep your eye open for an accent chair with a pattern to add that extra touch of character to a space.

Add accessories to fill a space without adding too much clutter. Use books on a shelf with a small plant to keep it simple, but classic. These little touches are the ones that will help the room come together in the end. Add a splash of yourself. Add family photos, artwork, or ornaments that coincide with your style. This is your home after all, these small additions will have you falling in love with it again and again, each time you walk through the door.

Moving in- what to expect

So the big day has finally arrived!  You have watched your napkin sketches evolve into a foundation, a shell, and now the home that you have been waiting for.  As you complete that final walk-through, before you obtain the keys to your new castle, there are some important things to keep in mind to help you prepare for the walk through, and the first year in your new home. 

  • Open doors, drawers, run water and toilets.  It may seem like an obvious point, but at that final walk through stage, any deficiencies recorded warrant a speedier fix in the future. 

  • Ensure you know where all of the important manuals are.  Heat pumps, HVACs, range hoods, and other appliances, all have manuals which you will need to review once you move into your new home.  Knowing where they are will allow you access for quick reference as you get to know your new home. 

  • New homes are dusty.  For the first little while, you will be dusting, sweeping, and vacuuming frequently, because of the excess dust that is a consequence of new construction.  However, this usually does not last beyond the first 6-9 months, so remember there is an end in sight!

  • Nail pops are normal.  The bumpy little beauties that pop up all over a new house as it settles, is often a source of woe for new home owners.  However, they are normal, and luckily can be easily fixed by your builder at the one year mark (an item that is often covered by the new home Atlantic Home Warranty).

  • Enjoy your home.  You’ve worked hard to get here, so now it's time to enjoy your hard work…you deserve it!

 

Interior finishes- making those key decisions before they're due

Time is money, and making decisions before their deadline is important.  Your builder has a set schedule that he or she follows, and is the basis for the timeline provided to you when you signed the contract.  While most of the project’s progress is up to the builder, some of the key decisions are up to you, and if decisions are not made in a timely fashion, your home construction can be subject to delays and potentially more costs.  The following tips can help to ensure that you make your decisions efficiently and effectively to minimize delays and frustration:

  • Understand your allowance budget from the beginning.  If you have in your mind that you want hardwood and tile, but your allowances allow for laminate and carpet, then you may have a problem.  Getting to know the cost of things like flooring is useful and necessary so that you can manage your own expectations, and choose products that will work with your budget and for you. 

  • Avoid ordering special order items close to your deadline.  It seems like a no brainer, but when you see that hardwood made especially in Timbuctoo, and you have to have your flooring chosen in two weeks, it may not be wise to choose that particular product.  The sales person may ‘guarantee’ delivery by a particular date, but many factors can throw that date off kilter and then your project could face a potential delay.  This doesn’t mean that you should avoid ordering a product you’ve fallen in love with, but rather further validates the need to make your decisions early on, so that there is plenty of time to order and install.

  • Get to know the project timeline.  Nobody likes to feel rushed, so a great way to avoid it is to be proactive.  If you know your cabinets have to be chosen in a month, you should begin speaking with the cabinetry company right away to understand their pricing and options.  If your builder has not provided you with this timeline, ask, it is something they would be working from already and should be easy to relay the key dates to you.

  • Familiarize yourself with your builder’s suppliers.  Whether it’s a big box store, or a local company, getting to know what choices your builder’s preferred supplier has to offer you is important.  Doing this early on in the build, allows you the time to digest the choices and understand their strengths and weaknesses.  Sometimes if a supplier is unable to provide you with the products you want, your builder can suggest another supplier, but always keep in mind budget and the special relationships the builder may have had with the first supplier that could provide you with a better overall value. 

Selecting the builder that works best for you

Once you’ve picked out the perfect house plan and lot, it’s then time to decide who will make your dream home a reality.  Depending on where you’ve decided to build your home, you may have the ability to choose your own builder, or may be tied to a particular stock of builders who build in a particular community.  It is important to ensure that your builder is right for you, and that he or she understands your current and future plans, and can incorporate them in the construction efficiently and effectively.  Below are some things to consider when choosing your builder, and starting those introductory conversations:

  1. Review your quote extensively.  Ensure that the quote you receive from the builder incorporates everything you had discussed, and that your allowances are sufficient for what you would like to see.  Your flooring allowance has to cover the product, install and any additional materials required, so if you want hardwood and tile, for example, you will need to make sure that the allowance will be sufficient to cover it. 

  2. Cheaper is not always better.  Affordability is always key, and building a home has to make sense for your pocketbook, but once more review your quote to ensure that everything is covered, and that necessities and elements you are expecting to see aren’t considered extras outside of the quoted amount.  A quote that comes in more expensive than others, may be providing you with benefits that are not apparent in the other ones.  Energy efficiency, upgraded finishes and a higher ‘brand standard’ comes at a price, and you should always allow a builder to present his or her ‘value proposition’ so that you can do a fair comparison and understand any additional value you may be getting in a quote that comes back a little higher. 

  3. History and qualifications are important.  Whether the builder is a new builder or a seasoned veteran of 30 years, you have to feel comfortable that they provide a good quality product and have the experience and know how to do it right.  Ask for previous client references or do a quick internet check on the builder and his affiliates is a good start, and will allow you to see customer reviews, other products he or she has built, etc.   The internet is a great resource, but you often have to take what you find with a grain of salt.  If you find something negative, don’t be afraid to ask questions, and make sure that you’re comfortable with all of the answers given before you make your final decision. 

  4. Trust your instincts.  If something feels right, then it probably is.  If something feels wrong, then it very well could be.  The important thing is to make an informed decision before you embark on this new journey, but always remember that building a home is an exciting time, and your builder should do whatever he or she can to make it a positive experience for you.

Which building lot is the right lot for you?

So you’ve decided to do it, you’ve decided to build your dream home.  You’ve been watching your local market like a hawk, you’ve watched 101 episodes of your favorite home improvement show and you’ve scanned about 500 house plans; now you know that you’re making the right choice.  Now the live decision making process begins, and you’re met with a new set of things that you must consider throughout the journey of deciding on that special style of home and when you can finally put your key in the lock.  The first step in the process is critical to the success of the build, the resale potential and your overall happiness in your dream home.  This step is choosing your building lot, and what should you consider while making this important decision.

Choose your community and building lot based on more than price.  Yes affordability is important, extremely important, but there are other factors associated with where you decide to build your home than you may initially think of.  Some things to consider are:

  • Is the lot a city lot on city services (and therefore subject to additional city taxes)?  Or is it a suburban or country lot that requires well and septic (and the subsequent maintenance)? 
  • How long is the commute to work?
  • Is the community sustainable, with good infrastructure, amenities and potential for further growth?
  • Is the lot on a private laneway with two other homes [which may require you to also foot the bill for snow clearing and ice control and could affect resale]?
  • If the lot is larger, have you factored in the additional maintenance associated with the upkeep of a larger lot?  Or if you’ve chosen a smaller one, will it fit future plans to put in a pool, garage or other item that may be required as you grow with the home?
  • Do you have trees?  Do you want trees?  What are the requirements regarding clearing the lot for your home?
  • What are the building requirements, and are there architectural guidelines? 
  • Will the lot fit your home style, or will you have to make concessions on the style or size?

 It can seem overwhelming, but it’s important to look at the current home building lot stock and view it in as many angles as possible before you decide if it’s right for you.  If it feels right, then it’s right, and if you can see yourself happy there, the decision has been made. 

Choosing the right house plan

When we begin to think of building a home, we begin to dream.  We scour the internet for house plans.  We become addicted to home improvement shows.  We find ourselves drawing rough floorplan sketches on napkins and pieces of scrap paper, as we attempt to explain to whomever will listen what the ‘perfect’ house plan would entail.  During this exciting stage, it’s important to remember some of the basics that can get missed while we plan and dream.  The following are things to consider before deciding on that final house plan:

  • What is your next life stage?  Whether you’re a first time home buyer who is looking to start a family someday, a family of three who may add one more or an empty nester on the cusp of retirement, each has different elements to consider, and can dictate things in your home that you may not have considered.  If you are thinking of a baby someday, ensuring that your home has the components in place early on for baby proofing can save you a lot of hassle, for example having door knobs installed instead of levers is a must.  If you’re an empty nester looking to build your retirement home, having additional aging in place measures implemented can make it easier for you to live comfortably in your home in the future.  If you are building a two storey, ensuring that you have closets built on each floor over one another, allows for an easier installation of an elevator someday, if need be.   

  • How much space do you really need?  Bigger isn’t always better, and implementing useful space instead of generalized space is important, particularly when keeping costs down.  Using attic space for storage, and finishing basement space instead of building an extra floor are two ways to maximize your space.  Larger spaces also require more heating, maintenance and property taxes which should also be considered.  Reviewing how much space you will need now and possibly in the future is key and should be one of the first things you consider when you begin the initial planning. 

  • Will your home plan be easy to sell in the future?  So you decided to build your dream home, a six bathroom, 2 bedroom home with a volleyball court, no dining room and six levels of stairs.  While this home may fit you in every way, how easy will it be for you to sell in the future?  Ensuring that your home has elements desirable to more than just you demonstrares that the home isn’t just a home but also a wise investment decision. 

  • Does your home style fit in the neighbourhood, are there Architectural Guidelines?  You may have not chosen a place to live yet, but knowing the versatility of your plan is important.  More and more communities are governing the allowable home styles, and if you find a community that fits you perfectly, you may have to sacrifice that exterior façade to comply.  Luckily, many home plans can be modified so that they can work in any community.