Showing posts with label home-inspection. Show all posts
Showing posts with label home-inspection. Show all posts

Friday, February 17, 2012

Follow up to ADU's and Basement Apartments are now legal in Ontario due to Bill 140

This is a follow up to my previous post about basement apartments becoming legal in Ontario for any age of property. It's also called an ADU - Accessory Dwelling Unit

The City of Mississauga is planning on come on board with this, but there are public information
meetings and zoning by-laws that must be updated and changed to reflect the new law. This process requires more public meetings and then council must approve the changes, I imagine it will take a while.

I'm still waiting to hear back from someone in planning department on a couple of questions.

Here is the link to our webpage with all the information :

Link to City of Mississauga Website about ADU's

You can register at :

Register for meeting about ADU's at City of Mississauga

As I find out more information about these ADU's and basement apartments in Mississauga and Ontario I'll post it here.

Thank you,


Tuesday, January 06, 2009

How to do a final walk through before your closing date

This is a good article about what to look at just before you close on yoru purchase

You're just about to close on the purchase of a new house.

But before you do, you'd be wise to conduct a final walkthroughof the property. Here's how.

Bring your contract with you so you can reference it regarding items excluded from and included in the sale.

Assuming a home inspection was performed, these things would have been checked, but you'll want to make sure their condition hasn't since changed.

You'll also want your paperwork handy to remind you of what repairs, if any, the seller was to have made, as this is the time to confi rm they've indeed been done.

Inspect for any damage done to the house when the previous residents moved out (on fl oors and around door frames, especially), as well as damage that may have been hidden from sight by furniture, rugs or artwork during
previous visits you made to the house.

Ensure the seller hasn't left anything behind they shouldn't have, like trash or unwanted furniture. On the other hand, confi rm all items the seller agreed to include in the sale (appliances, window treatments, lighting, etc.) are still there and haven't been substituted.

Get copies of invoices and any warranties relating to the work performed.

Test appliances and heating and air-conditioning systems, if possible: flush toilets; turn taps, light fi xtures, exhaust fans and garbage disposals on and off; open and close windows and doors.

Go through the house from attic to basement, room by room.

In addition to the interior, don't forget to include the house's garage, backyard and any storage sheds that might be on the property as you conduct your fi nal walk-through.

Monday, October 27, 2008

test of the new blogger labels

this is a test of the new labels for my bloggerToronto Real Estate Board (TREB) Average Prices and Graph

For more information please contact A. Mark Argentino

A. Mark Argentino, Broker, P.Eng.,
Specializing in Residential & Investment Real Estate
RE/MAX Realty Specialists Inc., Brokerage
2691 Credit Valley Road, Suite 101, Mississauga, Ontario L5M 7A1

BUS. 905-828-3434
FAX. 905-828-2829

blogger labels to create new blogger labels for future posts

this post is necessary to create more of my new blogger labelsToronto Real Estate Board (TREB) Average Prices and Graph

For more information please contact A. Mark Argentino

A. Mark Argentino, Broker, P.Eng.,
Specializing in Residential & Investment Real Estate
RE/MAX Realty Specialists Inc., Brokerage
2691 Credit Valley Road, Suite 101, Mississauga, Ontario L5M 7A1

BUS. 905-828-3434
FAX. 905-828-2829

Monday, March 03, 2008

More Tips on Winter Saving Energy and Money at Home during the Cold months

Tips on Saving Energy and Money at Home

Did you know that the average family spends close to $1300 a year on their home's utility bills? Unfortunately, a large portion of that energy is wasted. By using a few inexpensive energy efficient measures, you can reduce your energy bills by 10% to 50% and, at the same time, help reduce air pollution.

The key to achieving these savings is a whole-house energy efficiency plan. To take a whole-house approach, view your home as an energy system with interdependent parts. For example, your heating system is not just a furnace, it's a heat delivery system that starts at the furnace and delivers heat throughout your home using a network of ducts. You may have a top-of-the-line, energy efficient furnace, but if the ducts leak and are uninsulated, and your walls, attic, windows, and doors are un-insulated, your energy bills will remain high. Taking a whole-house approach to saving energy ensures that dollars you invest in energy efficiency are wisely spent.

This information shows you how easy it is to reduce your home energy use. It is a guide to easy, practical solutions for saving energy throughout your home, from the insulating system that surrounds it to the appliances and lights inside. These valuable tips will save you energy and money and, in many cases, help the environment by reducing pollution and conserving our natural resources.

The first step to taking a whole-house energy efficiency approach is to find out which parts of your house use the most energy. A home energy audit will show you where these are and suggest the most effective measures for reducing your energy costs. You can conduct a simple home energy audit yourself, you can contact your local utility, or you can call an independent energy auditor for a more comprehensive examination.

Energy Auditing Tips

  • Check the level of insulation in your exterior and basement walls, ceilings, attic, floors, and crawl spaces.
  • Check for holes or cracks around your walls, ceilings, windows, doors, light and plumbing fixtures, switches, and electrical outlets that can leak air into or out of your home.
  • Check for open fireplace dampers.
  • Make sure your appliances and heating and cooling systems are properly maintained.
  • Study your family's lighting needs and use patterns, paying special attention to high-use areas such as the living room, kitchen, and exterior lighting. Look for ways to use daylight, reduce the time the lights are on, and replace incandescent bulbs and fixtures with compact fluorescent lamps or standard fluorescent lamps.

Formulating Your Plan

After you have identified places where your home is losing energy, assign priorities to your energy needs by asking yourself a few important questions:

How much money do you spend on energy?
Where are your greatest energy losses?
How long will it take for an investment in energy efficiency to pay for itself in energy savings?
Can you do the job yourself, or will you need to hire a contractor?
What is your budget and how much time do you have to spend on maintenance and repair?

Once you assign priorities to your energy needs, you can form a whole-house efficiency plan. Your plan will provide you with a strategy for making smart purchases and home improvements that maximize energy efficiency and save the most money.

Another option is to get the advice of a professional. Many utilities conduct energy audits for free or for a nominal charge. For a fee, a professional contractor will analyze how your home's energy systems work together as a system and compare the analysis against your utility bills. He or she will use a variety of equipment such as blower doors, infrared cameras, and surface thermometers to find inefficiencies that cannot be detected by a visual inspection. Finally, they will give you a list of recommendations for cost effective energy improvements and enhanced comfort and safety.


Checking your home's insulating system is one of the fastest and most cost efficient ways to use a whole-house approach to reduce energy waste and maximize your energy dollars. A good insulating system includes a combination of products and construction techniques that provide a home with thermal performance, protect it against air infiltration, and control moisture. You can increase the comfort of your home while reducing your heating and cooling needs by up to 30% by investing just a few hundred dollars in proper insulation and weatherization products.

Insulation Tips

  • Consider factors such as your climate, building design, and budget when selecting insulation R-value for your home.
  • Use higher density insulation, such as rigid foam boards, in cathedral ceilings and on exterior walls.
  • Ventilation plays a large role in providing moisture control and reducing summer cooling bills. Install attic vents to help make sure that there is one inch of ventilation space between the insulation and roof shingles. Attic vents can be installed along the entire ceiling cavity to help ensure proper airflow from the soffit to the attic, helping to make a home more comfortable and energy efficient.
  • Do not block vents with insulation, and keep insulation at least 3 inches away from recessed lighting fixtures or other heat producing equipment unless it is marked "I.C." - designed for direct insulation contact.
  • The easiest and most cost effective way to insulate your home is to add insulation in the attic. To find out if you have enough attic insulation, measure the thickness of insulation. If there is less than R-19 (6 inches of fiber glass or rock wool or 5 inches of cellulose) you could probably benefit by adding more. Most homes should have between R-19 and R-49 insulation in the attic.
  • If your attic has ample insulation and your home still feels drafty and cold in the winter or too warm in the summer, chances are you need to add insulation to the exterior walls as well. This is a more expensive measure that usually requires a contractor, but it may be worth the cost if you live in a very hot or cold climate.


Warm air leaking into your home during the summer and out of your home during the winter can waste a substantial portion of your energy dollars. One of the quickest dollar-saving tasks you can do is caulk, seal, and weather strip all seams, cracks, and openings to the outside. You can save 10% or more on your energy bill by reducing the air leaks in your home.

Sources of Air Leaks in Your Home

1. Dropped Ceiling9. Chimney penetration
2. Recessed light10. Warm air register
3. Attic entrance11. Window sashes & frames
4. Electric wires & box12. Baseboards, coves, interior trim
5. Plumbing utilities & penetration 13. Plumbing access panel
6. Water & furnace flues14. Electrical outlets & switches
7. All ducts15. Light fixtures
8. Door sashes & frames

Heating and Cooling

Heating and cooling your home uses more energy and drains more energy dollars than any other system in your home. No matter what kind of heating, ventilation, and air conditioning system you have in your house, you can save money and increase comfort by properly maintaining and upgrading your equipment. By combining proper equipment maintenance and upgrades with appropriate insulation, weatherization, and thermostat settings, you can cut your energy bills and your pollution output in half.

Heating Tips

  • Set your thermostat as low as is comfortable.
  • Clean or replace filters on furnaces once a month or as needed.
  • Clean warm air registers, baseboard heaters, and radiators as needed; make sure they're not blocked by furniture, carpeting, or drapes.
  • Bleed trapped air from hot water radiators once or twice a season; if in doubt about how to perform this task, call a professional.
  • Place heat resistant radiator reflectors between exterior walls and the radiators.
  • Use kitchen, bath, and other ventilating fans wisely; in just 1 hour, these fans can pull out a houseful of warmed or cooled air. Turn fans off as soon as they have done the job.
  • Keep draperies and shades open on south facing windows during the heating season to allow sunlight to enter your home; close them at night to reduce the chill you may feel from cold windows.
  • Close an unoccupied room that is isolated from the rest of the house, such as in a corner, and turn down the thermostat or turn off the heating for that room or zone. However, do not turn the heating off if it adversely affects the rest of your system. For example, if you heat your house with a heat pump, do not close the vents - closing the vents could harm the heat pump.
  • Select energy efficient equipment when you buy new heating equipment. Your contractor should be able to give you energy fact sheets for different types, models, and designs to help you compare energy usage.

Heat Pumps

Heat pumps are the most efficient form of electric heating in moderate climates, providing three times more heating than the equivalent amount of energy they consume in electricity. There are three types of heat pumps: air-to-air, water source, and ground source. They collect heat from the air, water, or ground outside your home and concentrate it for use inside. Heat pumps do double duty as a central air conditioner. They can also cool your home by collecting the heat inside your house and effectively pumping it outside. A heat pump can trim the amount of electricity you use for heating as much as 30% to 40%.

Heat Pump Tips
  • Do not set back the heat pump's thermostat manually if it causes the electric resistance heating to come on. This type of heating, which is often used as a backup to the heat pump, is more expensive.
  • Clean or change filters once a month or as needed, and maintain the system according to manufacturer's instructions.

Solar Heating

Using the sun to heat your home through passive solar design can be both environmentally friendly and cost effective. In many cases, you can cut your heating costs by more than 50% compared to the cost of heating the same house that does not include passive solar design. Passive solar design techniques include placing larger, insulated windows on south facing walls and locating thermal mass, such as a concrete slab floor or a heat absorbing wall, close to the windows. However, a passive solar house requires careful design, best done by an architect for new construction or major remodeling.

Solar Tips
  • Keep all south facing glass clean.
  • Make sure that objects do not block the sunlight shining on concrete slab floors or heat-absorbing walls.
  • Consider using insulating curtains to reduce excessive heat loss from large windows at night.


When you cozy up next to a crackling fire on a cold winter day, you probably don't realize that your fireplace is one of the most inefficient heat sources you can possibly use. It literally sends your energy dollars right up the chimney along with volumes of warm air. A roaring fire can exhaust as much as 24,000 cubic feet of air per hour to the outside, which must be replaced by cold air coming into the house from the outside. Your heating system must warm up this air, which is then exhausted through your chimney. If you use your conventional fireplace while your central heating system is on, these tips can help reduce energy losses.

Fireplace Tips
  • If you never use your fireplace, plug and seal the chimney flue.
  • Keep your fireplace damper closed unless a fire is going. Keeping the damper open is like keeping a 48-inch window wide open during the winter; it allows warm air to go right up the chimney.
  • When you use the fireplace, reduce heat loss by opening dampers in the bottom of the firebox (if provided) or open the nearest window slightly, approximately 1 inch, and close doors leading into the room. Lower the thermostat setting to between 50 and 55F.
  • Install tempered glass doors and a heat air exchange system that blows warmed air back into the room.
  • Check the seal on the flue damper and make it as snug as possible.
  • Add caulking around the fireplace hearth.
  • Use grates made of C-shaped metal tubes to draw cool room air into the fireplace and circulate warm air back into the room.

Air Conditioners

It might surprise you to know that buying a bigger room air conditioning unit won't necessarily make you feel more comfortable during the hot summer months. In fact, a room air conditioner that's too big for the area it is supposed to cool will perform less efficiently and less effectively than a smaller, properly sized unit. This is because room units work better if they run for relatively long periods of time than if they are continually, switching off and on. Longer run times allow air conditioners to maintain a more constant room temperature. Running longer also allows them to remove a larger amount of moisture from the air, which lowers humidity and, more importantly, makes you feel more comfortable.

Sizing is equally important for central air conditioning systems, which need to be sized by professionals. If you have a central air system in your home, set the fan to shut off at the same time as the cooling unit (compressor). In other words, don't use the system's central fan to provide circulation, but instead use circulating fans in individual rooms.

Cooling Tips

  • Whole-house fans help cool your home by pulling cool air through the house and exhausting warm air through the attic. They are effective when operated at night and when the outside air is cooler than the inside.
  • Set your thermostat as high as comfortably possible in the summer. The less difference between the indoor and outdoor temperatures, the lower your overall cooling bill will be.
  • Don't set your thermostat at a colder setting than normal when you turn on your air conditioner. It will not cool your home any faster and could result in excessive cooling and, therefore, unnecessary expense.
  • Set the fan speed on high except in very humid weather. When it's humid, set the fan speed on low. You'll get better cooling, and slower air movement through the cooling equipment allows it to remove more moisture from the air, resulting in greater comfort.
  • Consider using an interior fan in conjunction with your window air conditioner to spread the cooled air more effectively through your home without greatly increasing your power use.
  • Don't place lamps or TV sets near your air-conditioning thermostat. The thermostat senses heat from these appliances, which can cause the air conditioner to run longer than necessary.
  • Plant trees or shrubs to shade air conditioning units but not to block the airflow. A unit operating in the shade uses as much as 10% less electricity than the same one operating in the sun.

Programmable Thermostats

You can save as much as 10% a year on your heating and cooling bills by simply turning your thermostat back 10% to 15% for 8 hours. You can do this automatically without sacrificing comfort by installing an automatic setback or programmable thermostat.

Using a programmable thermostat, you can adjust the times you turn on the heating or air-conditioning according to a pre-set schedule. As a result, you don't operate the equipment as much when you are asleep or when the house or part of the house is not occupied. (These thermostats are not meant to be used with heat pumps.) Programmable thermostats can store and repeat multiple daily settings (six or more temperature settings a day) that you can manually override without affecting the rest of the daily or weekly program


Your home's duct system is one of the most important systems in your home, and may be wasting a lot of your energy dollars. It is a branching network of tubes in the walls, floors, and ceilings, carries the air from your home's furnace and central air conditioner to each room.

Unfortunately, many duct systems are poorly insulated or not insulated properly. Ducts that leak heated air into unheated spaces can add hundreds of dollars a year to your heating and cooling bills. Insulating ducts that are in unconditioned spaces is usually very cost effective. If you are buying a new duct system, consider one that comes with insulation already installed.

Sealing your ducts to prevent leaks is even more important if the ducts are located in an unconditioned area such as an attic or vented crawl space. If the supply ducts are leaking, heated or cooled air can be forced out unsealed joints and lost.

Although minor duct repairs are easy to accomplish, ducts in unconditioned spaces should be sealed and insulated by qualified professionals using the appropriate sealing materials. Here are a few simple tips to help with minor duct repairs.

Duct Tips
  • Check your ducts for air leaks. First look for sections that should be joined but have separated and then look for obvious holes.
  • If you use duct tape to repair and seal your ducts, look for tape with the Underwriters Laboratories (UL) logo to avoid tape that degrades, cracks, and loses its bond with age.
  • Remember that insulating ducts in the basement will make the basement colder. If both the ducts and the basement walls are un-insulated, consider insulating the basement walls and the ducts.
  • If your basement has been converted to a living area, install both supply and return registers in the basement rooms.
  • Be sure a well-sealed vapor barrier exists on the outside of the insulation on cooling ducts to prevent moisture build up.
  • Get a professional to help you insulate and repair all ducts.

Water Heating

Water heating is the third largest energy expense in your home. It typically accounts for about 14% of your utility bill.

There are four ways to cut your water heating bills: use less hot water, turn down the thermostat on your water heater, insulate your water heater, and buy a new, more efficient water heater. A family of four, each showering for 5 minutes a day, uses 700 gallons of water a week; this is enough for a 3-year supply of drinking water for one person. You can cut that amount in half simply by using low-flow showerheads and faucets.

Water Heating Tips
  • Repair leaky faucets promptly; a leaky faucet wastes gallons of water in a short period.
  • Insulate your electric hot water storage tank and pipes, but be careful not to cover the thermostat.
  • Insulate your gas or oil hot water storage tank and pipes, but be careful not to cover the water heater's floor, top, thermostat, or burner compartment; when in doubt, get professional help.
  • Install aerators in faucets and low flow showerheads.
  • Buy a new water heater with a thick, insulating shell; while it may cost more initially than one without insulation, the energy savings will continue during the lifetime of the appliance.
  • Although most water heaters last 10-15 years, it's best to start shopping for a new one if yours is more than 7 years old. Doing some research before your heater fails will enable you to select one that most appropriately meets your needs.
  • Lower the thermostat on your water heater; water heaters at a setting of 115°F provide comfortable hot water for most uses.

Water Heater

  • Insulate your water heater to save energy and money.
  • Drain a quart of water from your water tank every 3 months to remove sediment that impedes heat transfer and lowers the efficiency of your heater.
  • Take more showers than baths. Bathing uses the most hot water in the average household. You use 15­25 gallons of hot water for a bath, but less than 10 gallons during a 5-minute shower.
  • If you heat with electricity and live in a warm and sunny climate, consider installing a solar water heater. The solar units are environmentally friendly and can now be installed on your roof to blend with the architecture of your house.
Solar Water Heaters

If you heat with electricity and you have an non-shaded, south-facing location (such as a roof) on your property, consider installing a solar water heater. Solar water heating systems are also good for the environment. Solar water heaters avoid the harmful greenhouse gas emissions associated with electricity production. During a 20 year period, one solar water heater can avoid over 50 tons of carbon dioxide emissions.


Windows can be one of your home's most attractive features. Windows provide views, daylight, ventilation, and solar heating in the winter. Unfortunately, they can also account for 10% to 25% of your heating bill. During the summer, sunny windows make your air conditioner work two to three times harder. If you live in the Sun Belt, look into new solar control spectrally selective windows, which can cut the cooling load by more than half.

If your home has single pane windows, as almost half of homes do, consider replacing them. New double pane windows with high performance glass (e.g., low-e or spectrally selective) are available on the market. In colder climates, select windows that are gas filled with low emissivity ( low-e) coatings on the glass to reduce heat loss. In warmer climates, select windows with spectrally selective coatings to reduce heat gain. If you are building a new home, you can offset some of the cost of installing more efficient windows because doing so allows you to buy smaller, less expensive heating and cooling equipment.

Cold-Climate Window Tips
  • Install exterior or interior storm windows; storm windows can reduce your heat loss through the windows by 25% to 50%. Storm windows should have weather stripping at all moveable joints; be made of strong, durable materials; and have interlocking or overlapping joints. Low-e storm windows save even more energy.
  • Install tight fitting, insulating window shades on windows that feel drafty after weatherizing.
  • Close your curtains and shades at night; open them during the day.
  • Keep windows on the south side of your house clean to maximize solar gain.
Warm-Climate Window Tips
  • Install white window shades, drapes, or blinds to reflect heat away from the house.
  • Close curtains on south and west facing windows.
  • Install awnings on south and west facing windows.
  • Apply sun control or other reflective films on south-facing windows to reduce solar gain.


Landscaping is a natural and beautiful way to keep your home more comfortable and reduce your energy bills. In addition to adding aesthetic value and environmental quality to your home, a well placed tree, shrub, or vine can deliver effective shade, act as a windbreak, and reduce overall energy bills.

Carefully positioned trees can save up to 25% of a typical household's energy for heating and cooling. Properly placed trees around the house, can save an average household between $100 and $250 in heating and cooling energy costs annually.

During the summer months, the most effective way to keep your home cool is to prevent the heat from building up in the first place. A primary source of heat buildup is sunlight absorbed by your home's roof, walls, and windows. Dark colored home exteriors absorb 70% to 90% of the radiant energy from the sun that strikes the home's surfaces. Some of this absorbed energy is then transferred into your home by way of conduction, resulting in heat gain inside the house. In contrast, light colored surfaces effectively reflect most of the heat away from your home. Landscaping can also help block and absorb the sun's energy to help decrease heat build up in your home by providing shade and evaporative cooling.


Increasing your lighting efficiency is one of the fastest ways to decrease your energy bills. If you replace 25% of your lights in high use areas with fluorescents, you can save about 50% of your lighting energy bill.

Indoor Lighting

Use linear fluorescent and energy efficient compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs) in fixtures throughout your home to provide high quality and high efficiency lighting. Fluorescent lamps are much more efficient than incandescent bulbs and last 6 to 10 times longer.

Indoor Lighting Tips
  • Turn off the lights in any room you're not using, or consider installing timers, photo cells, or occupancy sensors to reduce the amount of time your lights are on.
  • Use task lighting; instead of brightly lighting an entire room, focus the light where you need it. For example, use fluorescent under cabinet lighting for kitchen sinks and countertops under cabinets.
  • Consider three way lamps; they make it easier to keep lighting levels low when brighter light is not necessary.
  • Use 4-foot fluorescent fixtures with reflective backing and electronic ballasts for your workroom, garage, and laundry areas.
  • Consider using 4 watt mini fluorescent or electro luminescent night lights. Both lights are much more efficient than their incandescent counterparts. The luminescent lights are cool to the touch.
  • Use CFLs in all the portable table and floor lamps in your home.
  • For spot lighting, consider CFLs with reflectors. The lamps range in wattage from 13 watt to 32 watt and provide a very directed light using a reflector and lens system.
  • Take advantage of daylight by using light colored, loose weave curtains on your windows to allow daylight to penetrate the room while preserving privacy. Also, decorate with lighter colors that reflect daylight.

Outdoor Lighting

Many homeowners use outdoor lighting for decoration and security. When shopping for outdoor lights, you will find a variety of products, from low-voltage pathway lighting to high sodium motion detector floodlights. Some stores also carry lights powered by small photovoltaic (PV) modules that convert sunlight directly into electricity; consider PV-powered lights for areas that are not close to an existing power supply line.

Outdoor Lighting Tips
  • Use outdoor lights with a photocell unit or a timer so they will turn off during the day.
  • Turn off decorative outdoor gas lamps; just eight gas lamps burning year round use as much natural gas as it takes to heat an average size home during an entire winter.
  • Exterior lighting is one of the best places to use CFLs because of their long life. If you live in a cold climate, be sure to buy a lamp with a cold-weather ballast.


Appliances account for about 20% of your household's energy consumption, with refrigerators and clothes dryers at the top of the consumption list.

When you're shopping for appliances, you can think of two price tags. The first one covers the purchase price - think of it as a down payment. The second price tag is the cost of operating the appliance during its lifetime. You'll be paying on that second price tag every month with your utility bill for the next 10 to 20 years, depending on the appliance. Refrigerators last an average of 20 years; room air conditioners and dishwashers, about 10 years each; clothes washers, about 14 years.


Most of the energy used by a dishwasher is for water heating. The Energy Guide label estimates how much power is needed per year to run the appliance and to heat the water based on the yearly cost of gas and electric water heating.

Dishwasher Tips
  • Check the manual that came with your dishwasher for the manufacturer's recommendations on water temperature; many have internal heating elements that allow you to set the water heater to a lower temperature.
  • Scrape, don't rinse, off large food pieces and bones. Soaking or prewashing is generally only recommended in cases of burned on or dried on food.
  • Be sure your dishwasher is full, but not overloaded.
  • Don't use the "rinse hold" on your machine for just a few soiled dishes. It uses 3 to 7 gallons of hot water each time you use it.
  • Let your dishes air dry; if you don't have an automatic air dry switch, turn off the control knob after the final rinse and prop the door open a little so the dishes will dry faster.
  • Remember that dishwashers use less water than washing dishes by hand, about 6 gallons less per load; dishwashers also use hotter water than you would use if you were washing the dishes by hand, so they can do a better job of killing germs.


Refrigerator Choices

Refrigerators with the freezer on top are more efficient than those with freezers on the side.

The Energy Guide label on new refrigerators will tell you how much electricity in kilowatt hours (kWh) a particular model uses in one year. The smaller the number, the less energy the refrigerator uses and the less it will cost you to operate.

Refrigerator/Freezer Energy Tips
  • Look for a refrigerator with automatic moisture control. Models with this feature have been engineered to prevent moisture accumulation on the cabinet exterior without the addition of a heater. This is not the same thing as an "anti sweat" heater. Models with an anti-sweat heater will consume 5% to 10% more energy than models without this feature.
  • Don't keep your refrigerator or freezer too cold. Recommended temperatures are 37° to 40°F for the fresh food compartment of the refrigerator and 5°F for the freezer section. If you have a separate freezer for long term storage, it should be kept at 0°F.
  • To check refrigerator temperature, place an appliance thermometer in a glass of water in the center of the refrigerator. Read it after 24 hours. To check the freezer temperature, place a thermometer between frozen packages. Read it after 24 hours.
  • Regularly defrost manual defrost refrigerators and freezers; frost buildup increases the amount of energy needed to keep the motor running. Don't allow frost to build up more than one quarter of an inch.
  • Make sure your refrigerator door seals are airtight. Test them by closing the door over a piece of paper or a dollar bill so it is half in and half out of the refrigerator. If you can pull the paper or bill out easily, the latch may need adjustment or the seal may need replacing.
  • Cover liquids and wrap foods stored in the refrigerator. Uncovered foods release moisture and make the compressor work harder.
  • Move your refrigerator out from the wall and vacuum its condenser coils once a year unless you have a no clean condenser model. Your refrigerator will run for shorter periods with clean coils.

Other Energy-Saving Kitchen Tips

  • Be sure to place the faucet lever on the kitchen sink in the cold position when using small amounts of water; placing the lever in the hot position uses energy to heat the water even though it never reaches the faucet.
  • If you need to purchase a gas oven or range, look for one with an automatic, electric ignition system. An electric ignition saves gas - typically 41% in the oven and 53% on the top burners - because a pilot light is not burning continuously.
  • In gas appliances, look for blue flames; yellow flames indicate the gas is burning inefficiently and an adjustment may be needed.
  • Keep range top burners and reflectors clean; they will reflect the heat better, and you will save energy.
  • Use a covered kettle or pan to boil water; it's faster and it uses less energy.
  • Match the size of the pan to the heating element.
  • If you cook with electricity, turn the stovetop burners off several minutes before the allotted cooking time. The heating element will stay hot long enough to finish the cooking without using more electricity. The same principle applies to oven cooking.
  • Use small electric pans or toaster ovens for small meals rather than your large stove or oven. A toaster oven uses a third to half as much energy as a full-sized oven.
  • Use pressure cookers and microwave ovens whenever it is convenient to do so. They can save energy by significantly reducing cooking time.


About 80% to 85% of the energy used for washing clothes is for heating the water. There are two ways to reduce the amount of energy used for washing clothes - use less water and use cooler water. Unless you're dealing with oily stains, the warm or cold water setting on your machine will generally do a good job of cleaning your clothes. Switching your temperature setting from hot to warm can cut a load's energy use in half.

When shopping for a new washer, look for a front loading (horizontal-axis) machine. This machine may cost more to buy but uses about a third of the energy and less water than a top loading machine. With a front loader, you'll also save more on clothes drying, because they remove more water from your clothes during the spin cycle.

When shopping for a new clothes dryer, look for one with a moisture sensor that automatically shuts off the machine when your clothes are dry. Not only will this save energy, it will save wear and tear on your clothes caused by over drying. Keep in mind that gas dryers are less expensive to operate than electric dryers. The cost of drying a typical load of laundry in an electric dryer is 30 to 40 cents compared to 15 to 25 cents in a gas dryer.

Laundry Tips

  • Wash your clothes in cold water using cold water detergents whenever possible.
  • Wash and dry full loads. If you are washing a small load, use the appropriate water-level setting.
  • Dry towels and heavier cottons in a separate load from lighter weight clothes.
  • Don't over dry your clothes. If your machine has a moisture sensor, use it.
  • Clean the lint filter in the dryer after every load to improve air circulation.
  • Use the cool down cycle to allow the clothes to finish drying with the residual heat in the dryer

Read more energy tips at my site,

Search the MLS or read more about Interest Rates, Power of Sale Properties, Price Trends and more at my website. Homes for Sale

Thank you for reading my blog and if there is anything else I can help you with please don't hesitate to contact me,


A. Mark Argentino
P. Eng. Broker
Specializing in Residential & Investment Real Estate

Thinking of Selling? Best Mortgage Rates Current Home Prices Search MLS
RE/MAX Realty Specialists Inc.

Providing Full-Time Professional Real Estate Services since 1987

( BUS 905-828-3434
FAX 905-828-2829 ÈCELL 416-520-1577
8 Website :

Saturday, February 16, 2008

This is from our OREA Newsltter: Buyers should have asked about mice

The Buyers should have asked about mice

The buyers viewed a home for sale with a REALTOR® and while other potential purchasers were present, they did not observe any evidence of mice. They acted relatively promptly and bought the home very soon after they saw it. They did not give the house a close inspection nor did they have the house inspected by an independent inspector. They made no inquiries of whether there were or were not mice in the house. They did not look in cupboards or closets and there was no apparent concern about mice at the time. The sellers made no reference to the presence of mice in the house.

There was in fact a serious mouse problem but, absent any warranty or fraudulent representation, the buyers' claim would fail based on the doctrine of Caveat Emptor. The seller testified that there were no mice and any droppings that did show up after vacating the home were caused by her pet hamster that was allowed to run free throughout the house. However prior to the acceptance of the offer a report indicated that virtually the entire house was treated with Blox in closed bait stations with open bait stations under the sink, in the kitchen, along with bait stations under the fridge. The report indicated that the seller had removed the poison.

The judge said that a hamster could not have left the droppings. But, was the failure to disclose the presence of mice a positive misrepresentation that warranted a finding of fraudulent misrepresentation? Was there a misrepresentation in the Manitoba Seller's Property Condition Statement when the seller answered 'no' to the Question: "To your knowledge, during your ownership of the property, has there ever been any damage to the buildings due to wind, fire, water, moisture, insects or rodents?" The evidence did not disclose any structural damage as that expression is commonly understood. The judge also referred to the lengthy warning contained in the SPCS. The buyers lost.

Interesting article from the OREA bulletin that is circulated to us real estate agents that are members of OREA

Read more about home inspections

Read more about:Homes for Sale

Thank you for reading my blog and if there is anything else I can help you with please don't hesitate to contact me,


A. Mark Argentino
P. Eng. Broker
Specializing in Residential & Investment Real Estate

Thinking of Selling? Best Mortgage Rates Current Home Prices Search MLS
RE/MAX Realty Specialists Inc.

Providing Full-Time Professional Real Estate Services since 1987

( BUS 905-828-3434
8 Website :

Homes for Sale

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Safe Kids Canada's water safety advice for parents

Safe Kids Canada's water safety advice for parents: "Layers of protection are the best way to prevent your children from drowning"
(NC)-Each year, an estimated 58 children under the age of 14 will drown and another 140 children will be hospitalized as a result of a near-drowning incident. Safe Kids Canada strongly recommends parents use all of these "layers of protection" to keep their children safe when in, on or around water.

1. Actively Supervise: 42 per cent of all children under the age of 14 who drowned in the past 10 years did not have an adult watching them. Whether it's a bathtub, a home pool, a lake or a river make sure you stay within sight and reach of children at all times. Avoid talking on the phone or reading a book when your children are in, on or around water. Even children who can swim need adult supervision. Children can drown quickly and silently in inches of water and in just a few seconds.

2. Get Trained: Know how to react in an emergency situation. Learn to swim or have an experienced adult swimmer supervise children in, on or around water. Weak swimmers should take swimming lessons, and caregivers should learn First Aid and CPR before assuming the role of supervisor.

3. Create Barriers: Children should not be able to get to the pool directly from the house. Using a four-sided pool fence with a self-closing, self-latching gate can prevent up to seven out of 10 drownings in children under the age of five. Installing a 1.2 m (4 ft) high four-sided fence with self-closing, self-latching gate around the pool can keep young children safely away from the pool. If a property has natural water hazards (lakes, ponds, streams, rivers etc.) or even decorative water features, a separate play space for children should be fenced off to keep them safely away from the water.

4. Use Lifejackets: Put young children and weak swimmers in lifejackets when in, on or around water. Children should never be left without adult supervision even if they are wearing a lifejacket.

5. Teach Kids To Swim: Parent and tot swimming classes are fun for the family, and they help educate parents on how to keep toddlers safe around water. By age five, children are ready to be enrolled in swimming lessons. But remember, swimming lessons alone are not enough. You need to put in place all of these layers of protection to keep your child safe in, on or around water.

These tips are part of the 2007 Safe Kids Week campaign - Splash into Safety - running from May 28 - June 3 and sponsored by Johnson & Johnson. To learn more about drowning prevention, call Safe Kids Canada at 1-888-SAFE-TIPS (723-3847) or visit


Read more about home inspection issues around your house

Toronto Real Estate Board (TREB) Average Prices and Graph

For more information please contact A. Mark Argentino

A. Mark Argentino, Broker, P.Eng.,
Specializing in Residential & Investment Real Estate
RE/MAX Realty Specialists Inc., Brokerage
2691 Credit Valley Road, Suite 101, Mississauga, Ontario L5M 7A1

BUS. 905-828-3434
FAX. 905-828-2829

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

MARKETING TIPS For a Newly Listed Home

MARKETING TIPS For a Newly Listed Home

Every home seller can benefit from some simple tips before putting his residence on the market. For example, a pre-listing inspection could help identify the components of the house that are most in need of repair — which will make the home unattractive to potential b u ye r s. Homeowners who hire a qualified inspector will find it well worth their investment. Here are the common problem areas that are typically identified by home inspectors. Early correction of these problems will increase the house’s marketability (and its selling price!).

1. CHECK THE MAJOR SYSTEMS. After size, style, and location, nothing will sell a house quicker than the good condition of the home’s basic structure and major mechanical systems. A pre-listing inspection of visible and accessible home components can reveal problems in the structure and systems, and an inspector will recommend the necessary repairs. The most important components to consider are the roof structure and covering; the foundation, basement or crawl spaces; the central heating and air-conditioning systems; the electrical and plumbing systems.

2. MAKE MAINTENANCE IMPROVEMENTS. These basic, simple, and usually inexpensive improvements will make the home more appealing to buyers. After all, first impressions count, so make the home “drive-by perfect” by trimming trees and shrubs, applying new caulking or weather-stripping as necessary, cleaning gutters of leaves and debris, and making sure all windows are free of cracks. Inside, the homeowner should replace bathroom caulk or grouting, ventilate closed basements and crawl spaces, re-grade the soil around the foundation to keep water away from the house, replace dirty filters in the climate control systems and have the systems professionally serviced, and maintain chimneys, having them professionally cleaned and installing hoods or caps as needed.

3. PAY ATTENTION TO DETAILS. Fixing minor problems as they occur will indicate “loving care” to the potential buyer. The homeowner should repair leaky faucets, tighten loose doorknobs, replace damaged screens and windows, repair driveways, repaint walls and ceilings, and make sure all railings are secure. These simple steps will make sure the buyer doesn’t leave with a bad impression.

4. TAKE SAFETY PRECAUTIONS. Inspectors pay attention to the items in the home that will help protect the dwelling and its occupants. Homeowners should install a smoke detector on each level of the home, keep flammable products away from water heaters, general heaters and fireplaces, and install Ground Fault Circuit Interrupters in wet areas, such as the kitchen counter tops and bathrooms.

5. MAKE COSMETIC IMPROVEMENTS. In the world of real estate, looks do count, so homeowners should do all they can to assure their home is neat and attractive. Make sure the lawn is mown regularly, exterior walls and trim are clean, and the house is neat. Open windows and shades to let in light (which will give the home a bright appearance) and make sure those “hot spots” that buyers inspect closely — like kitchens and bath-rooms — are up to the “white glove” test. The homeowner should have house records on hand to answer questions easily and confidently. Appliance receipts, service records, and warranties should be easily accessible, as should information about all major components (heating, air-conditioning, carpeting, etc.). Also have copies of the latest bills on hand to give prospective buyers an idea of their cost.

Energy Systems

It is important for the homeowner to be knowledgeable about his energy systems. For example, he should not give the “go ahead” to landscaping without checking the placement of the plants in regards to his outside air conditioning unit. Manufacturers agree that plant life should not be any closer than 18" from the unit in order to allow the air conditioner to take in and let out air efficiently. If the air does not circulate properly, the unit could build up heat and require professional service. It is not necessary to cover an outside unit. Sometimes rain on a unit is beneficial, as it helps to keep the unit clean. Heat pumps, which run all year long, should never be covered. All A/C and heating equipment is rated as to efficiency. The higher the rating, the more energy efficient the model is. For a cooling system, the rating is a Seasonal Energy Efficiency Rating (SEER). The heat pump rating is Heating Seasonal Performance Factor (HSPF) and gas furnaces are rated with Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency (AFUE). Sometimes humidity in an area is a bigger problem than heat. The best way to control excessive humidity is to purchase a system that runs longer at lower speeds. Variable speed air handling equipment keeps the air circulating against the cooling coil. This removes much more moisture than conventional systems, and it’s more efficient, too, because at lower speeds, the variable speed motor uses much less electricity than conventional motors.

Article courtesy of Door2Door Homes Inspections Siraj (AJ) Andani 416-728-9110
Toronto Real Estate Board (TREB) Average Prices and Graph

More information on Home Inspections

For more information please contact A. Mark Argentino

A. Mark Argentino, Broker, P.Eng.,
Specializing in Residential & Investment Real Estate
RE/MAX Realty Specialists Inc., Brokerage
2691 Credit Valley Road, Suite 101, Mississauga, Ontario L5M 7A1

BUS. 905-828-3434
FAX. 905-828-2829

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Making the switch from "heat" to "cool"

Making the switch from "heat" to "cool"
(NC)-With the dog days of summer almost here, be sure to perform the following before switching your thermostat from "heat" to "cool":

. Clean or replace the furnace filter. The air conditioner needs the furnace to circulate the air. A dirty filter circulates dust and other particles throughout the house and it also cuts down on a furnace's efficiency.

. Check that the set-point on the thermostat is below the room temperature. Do not set the thermostat for cooling below 68 degrees. This can cause a multitude of problems with your air-conditioner, including freezing up. Ideally, set the thermostat to 25.5º Celsius when at home; 29º when away.

. Turn the humidifier off during the summer cooling season. Leaving the humidifier on will only increase the cooling load and force the air conditioner to work harder.

. Close your drapes or shades and ensure all windows in the house are closed

. Close off vents in any unused rooms.

. If you have any ceiling fans, turn them on to circulate the air.

. Place a maintenance call to a qualified contractor to ensure the air conditioning system is operating safely and efficiently. To locate an air conditioning contractor u call a toll-free at 1-877-411-HRAC (4722).

Some government agencies and utilities have recognized the importance of maintaining equipment for better energy efficiency and offer incentives and rebates for homeowners to maintain or replace their air conditioning units.

To see if any such programs are available in your area log onto under information library, click onto rebates and incentives.


More energy saving tips at my site

Toronto Real Estate Board (TREB) Average Prices and Graph

For more information please contact A. Mark Argentino

A. Mark Argentino, Broker, P.Eng.,
Specializing in Residential & Investment Real Estate
RE/MAX Realty Specialists Inc., Brokerage
2691 Credit Valley Road, Suite 101, Mississauga, Ontario L5M 7A1

BUS. 905-828-3434
FAX. 905-828-2829

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Basement Apartment requirements and considerations

Basic requirement for legal basement apartment in Toronto

There is no single government authority, which provides written certification that any given basement apartment is legal. Smart real estate agents never list a house as having a legal basement apartment since they do not want to guarantee that the basement apartment complies fully with all the applicable fire codes, building codes, Electrical Safety Authority regulations and zoning and housing standards by-laws.

The Ontario Building Code which prescribes minimum requirements for the construction of buildings is a code that applies only when the house was built. The building code changes over the time but for the most part, it does not apply retroactively.

The fire code which prescribes construction and safety issues as they relate to how the building is required to perform should it catch fire, can apply retroactively.

Here are few basic requirements for a legal basement apartment in Toronto :

(1) The detached or semi detached house must be at least 5 years old.

(2) The front of the house cannot be significantly altered to change its appearance from that of a one unit building.

(3) Basement unit must be smaller than the other units.

(4) Minimum ceiling height is 6'5". Ceiling must be continuous. Suspended (T-bar type) ceilings and exposed joists are not acceptable. Furnace room ceiling must be dry walled or plastered too.

(5) Doors must be solid wood or metal and minimum thickness is 1.75". Exterior door must be at least 32"x78". The smallest dimension of the window is 18" and the opening must be at least 600sq in. Windows must be within 3' of ground, and if there is window well it must extend 3' from the house wall to allow room to crawl out.

(6) Bathrooms have to have either a window or fan

(7) In most areas an additional parking space is required for new apartments.

(8) New apartments require building permits before construction begins.

(9) The property owner is responsible to make sure that smoke alarms are installed and maintained.
Carbon Monoxide alarms are required under many Municipal By-laws. They are to be provided in each dwelling unit in a building containing a fuel fired appliance or an attached garage. Even if they are not required by legislation they make good sense with to-day's design methods providing for air-tight construction of dwelling units.
Smoke alarms must be installed in each dwelling unit on every floor including those containing a bedroom or sleeping area. The alarm must be audible in bedrooms when the bedroom doors are closed. The smoke alarm may be battery operated or connected to an electrical circuit with no disconnect switch between the over current device and the smoke alarm. Interconnected smoke alarms may be required if:
· 15 min. Fire Resistance Rating is used between dwelling units
· one dwelling unit must exit through another dwelling unit
If required, interconnected smoke alarms must be installed in every storey above and below grade in each dwelling unit, and in every shared means of escape where applicable. These alarms must be audible in bedrooms when the intervening doors are closed.

(10) An electrical inspection by Electrical Safety Authority and all the deficiencies identified during the inspection must be addressed. Owners should retain the letter of compliance received from the Electrical Safety Authority for future reference purposes. This letter must be made available to the Chief Fire Official upon request.
(11) A continuous separation with a 30 min. Fire Resistance Rating is required between dwelling units and between dwelling units and other areas. This may be provided by existing membrane of lath and plaster or gypsum board.
Openings in Fire Separation shall be protected with rated doors installed in hollow metal or solid wood frames and equipped with self closing devices
Lesser degrees of Fire Resistance Rating may be acceptable with the provision of interconnected Smoke Alarms or Sprinkler Protection. The containment features are intended to provide protection for the occupants living in a dwelling unit from a fire occurring in another portion of the building, outside of their control.

(12) A single means of egress - provision for the escape of persons from each dwelling unit in the event of fire - may be acceptable if the following conditions are met:
· It is properly separated with a 30 min. Fire Resistance Rating
· The flame spread rating of means of escape does not exceed 150 (wood paneling is unacceptable)
· The means of escape does not involve entering another dwelling unit or other occupancy and leads directly to the outside at ground level.
Two means of escape are required if one means of escape is through another dwelling unit. An existing means of egress may be acceptable if the building is sprinklered.
By Nalliah Thayabharan
Registered Home Inspector. Member of OAHI & CAHPI-Ontario
ASHI certified Inspector.
Expert Building Inspections Ltd
905 940 0811

You may wish to read more about basement apartments in Mississauga

For more information please contact A. Mark Argentino

A. Mark Argentino, Broker, P.Eng.,
Specializing in Residential & Investment Real Estate
RE/MAX Realty Specialists Inc., Brokerage
2691 Credit Valley Road, Suite 101, Mississauga, Ontario L5M 7A1

BUS. 905-828-3434
FAX. 905-828-2829