5 Reasons To Add Onto Your Home

General Kristina Crosbie 26 Mar

Storey addition, rear extension, basement underpinning…there are so many types of home additions, it’s easy to get overwhelmed! The first question you should ask yourself is this: why do you need more space? We have narrowed it down to the 5 most common reasons clients have chosen to take on a home extension project, and have suggested the best type of addition to fit that need.

1 – Another bedroom for a new bundle of joy
A big change that often brings the need for more room is the arrival of a new baby. This is popular reason for a home addition. Luckily, a newborn doesn’t have to mean a new house! If your home already has a second floor and a garage, you can simply opt for a room addition above the garage.

If your home is only one storey, consider a second storey addition. Though it is quite a large and expensive renovation, the square footage of your home would double, with will add value to it and allow you to stay in your neighbourhood long-term.

2 – The kids are growing up and you’re stepping on each other’s toes

As they grow, teens need space and privacy, and so do we! The simplest solution is to finish the basement. This allows for additional living space or even an additional bedroom, away from the rest of the house. A storey addition is also a viable option, for the same reasons listed above. To help get you some more privacy from your growing kids, a lateral or back extension can be a great way to create your dream master suite. Say goodbye to sharing the bathroom with your teenagers and guests!

3 – Aging parents move in
If the time comes for you to lend a hand to your aging parents, you may need more room to do so. In this case, a basement apartment conversion is a great option. With a separate entrance, it allows for privacy and separation, while also adding an income suite to your home, which can be a great selling feature if you sell your home in the future. A storey addition, with or without a separate entrance, is also a possibility. However, this type of income suite is rarely seen in suburban homes.

4 – Add on to stay in the city
In urban centres, duplexes and triplexes were often built narrow and long, with small, closed rooms. Instead of renovating each unit, it is possible to convert the building into a single family home. This type of conversion is a massive undertaking, with the space likely uninhabitable during the length of the renovation. During the renovation, the house will be striped to the studs, with floors reconfigured to connect to one another, making it impractical and unsafe to live in.

5 – Lack of space in common areas
Architects of older construction often did not prioritize open concept floor plans, meaning that many old homes are segmented into many small rooms. If your older kitchen is small and you don’t have a formal dining room a lateral or rear extension can be a viable solution. Lateral and rear extensions can be done on foundation, piles or slab. If you chose an addition on foundation, you can maximize your addition by also extending your basement. It’s normal to feel you are lacking in space if your home has a closed floor plan. It’s an easy fix, however, if you hire an interior designer, whose expertise can help you reconfigure it to your needs.

Steps to follow for a successful home addition project
Now that you’ve gotten a better idea of what type of home addition may fit your needs, you can start planning. The first step is to check with your municipality to ensure what types of extensions allowed, and what permits are required. Even if you think a storey addition suits you best, you may not be able to add one if your neighbourhood is uniquely single-storey homes! Secondly, you will need plans drawn up by an accredited professional, like an architect, a technologist, or a structural engineer. Once that’s done, you’ll need to find a contractor, check their license, insurance, etc. Don’t forget to think about the finances! How much will it cost? Refinancing is an option to get the much needed funds.

Read the full article by Julie Calce here.

How to Start Making Syrup on Your Own Land

General Kristina Crosbie 17 Mar

The Basics of Sugaring Syrup

If you live around Lanark County, Ontario you know the Sap will be running soon. We are the Maple Syrup capital of Ontario after all!

Anyone can start sugaring. You don’t need a forest full of mature sugar maple trees. A sugar bush can be as simple as a few trees around your house or scattered throughout a small patch of woods. 

The Sap Run
Sugaring time usually runs from early March to early April, or when the nighttime temperatures are below freezing and the daytime temperatures are above freezing.

This freeze and thaw creates pressure, which allows sap to flow.

Although the sugar maple has the highest sugar content, any maple tree will produce sap for syrup. There are also four alternative trees that you can tap: birch, walnut, sycamore and sweet gum.

It’s worth tapping a tree even if all you’re going to do is drink the sap. Sap is delicious and loaded with polyphenols, antioxidants, vitamins and minerals.

You might not have enough sap to make syrup, but during the season you’ll have really good water to drink with a tint of maple flavor.

Tap Tips

Trees facing the warm afternoon sun tend to produce sooner than trees living deeper into the forest, although it’s difficult to predict which tree will do best, no matter its location. Some trees will give one year and then not at all the next.

There’s also a debate as to whether you should tap on the south or north side of the tree. No one has come to any conclusion, so feel free to try either or both ways.

To tap your tree, use a 5⁄16-inch bit, and drill a hole 1 1⁄2 to 2 inches deep, 36 inches above the ground (4 inches away and a few inches above any previous holes). Use one smooth, slightly upward motion to make a perfectly round taphole. (Less-than-round holes can leak.)

Use a stiff wire to fish out any sawdust lingering in the taphole. To seat the spile (also called taps or spouts) correctly,  gently tap it in with a light hammer until you hear a change in pitch.

You can place multiple spiles on trees depending on the diameter of the trunk. Do not tap trees less than 10 inches in diameter. Doing so can rob the tree of its essential carbohydrates. The ratio is as follows:

one tap for trees 10 to 17 inches in diameter
two taps for trees 18 to 24 inches in diameter
three taps for trees 25 inches and up
At the end of the season, remove the tap. Do not plug the taphole. Leave it open and let the tree heal itself.

A Sap Gathering
How you collect sap depends upon your sugar bush size. A smaller operation, with smaller volumes, piles with lids hanging below the spile would suffice.

However, larger operations typically use food-safe tubing eventually leading to a bucket. Tubing allows the sap to be collected without doing so manually.

Both systems are effective, and are typically chosen based on the size of your sugar bush. 

Making the Syrup

How you boil the sap also depends upon how much you’re collecting.

You may uses a large pot and an outdoor stove, finishing the syrup inside. Or if you have a very small amount you can do the entire process in your kitchen using a three-pan method.

Turning sap to syrup can take 12 hours to two days (depending on the amount of sap you’re boiling and your setup). You’re ready to take the pan off the heat when the syrup gets to 219 degrees.

Too many minerals in the sap, called niter or sugar sand, can cause sediment and a gritty-textured syrup. All is not lost, however. The niter will settle on the bottom and you can syphon the syrup out.

To cut down on niter, filter your sap halfway through cooking (or when the sap starts to turn amber) and then again when your syrup is finished using food-approved filters. These can be purchased through any maple syrup equipment vendor.

Keeping syrup hot as you’re filtering is a challenge because cooling syrup will clog up a filter. Keeping the syrup warm inside an insulated coffee urn will keep it at the proper temperature for filtering.

The spot is helpful for accurate pouring, as well.

Storing Your Syrup
Maple syrup keeps well. You can store it in the fridge and use it throughout the year. If any mold develops, skim it off and bring the syrup up to 190 degrees. Then pour it into a fresh bottle.

You can also bottle your syrup to make it shelf stable. Here’s how:

1. Syrup should be between 190 to 200 degrees for successful bottling.
2. Prepare your lids by soaking them in a pan of boiling water for 10 minutes.
3. Fill sanitized jars all the way to the top (no head space needed) with hot syrup.
4. Carefully remove the lids and place them on top of the jars. Secure with rings if using canning jars.
5. Lay the bottles on their sides and jars upside down in order to further sanitize the lids.
Sugaring is possibly the easiest gardening you’ll ever do. There’s no weeding, no planting if you already have trees, and the season only lasts a few weeks.

A few inexpensive supplies are all you need to get started with sugaring. But most of all, there’s something so wonderful about looking at a maple tree from your kitchen window in the deepest winter, and knowing that soon you’ll have your first taste of spring.

Read the full article by Sharon Biggs Waller here. 

Why Plant a Tree on Your Property?

General Kristina Crosbie 10 Mar

Snow may still be on the ground, but spring will soon be in the air. We are already in March, with April and May just around the corner!

When you purchase a new property or decide to get back into gardening, one of the first things you should consider doing is to plant a tree.

No matter the size of the farm or yard, a tree always has its place.

Trees provide numerous invaluable services to society, including:

Regulating our environment’s air, water and soil
– Provisioning resources such as fruits, nuts and wood
– Providing aesthetic and cultural benefits through colors, scents and sound
– Trees can provide a shady spot on a sunny day or privacy from a busy highway. Before you know it you’ll see the advantages too.

But first? You need to know the right way to plant a tree. The following infographic outlines some basic tree-planting skills.

Read the original article by Hobby Farms here.

Top Affordable Travel Destinations for Canadians in 2020

General Kristina Crosbie 25 Feb

Trying to escape the blistering cold winter is an unofficial Canadian sport. We all need a break from the wind-chill, and with March just around the corner it may still be cold for a while yet. So where are the best places for Canadians to travel? Where is still affordable?

Sure you can find insanely cheap flights to exotic places like Bermuda or the Turks and Caicos Islands, but even the cheapest hotels there can easily run you $400+ a night, not to mention absurdly priced food.

So much of the travel advice out there is tailor made for Americans and their US dollar… until now! It’s our turn! 🇨🇦
If you just want to take a vacation without emptying your bank account and without enduring 36 hours in airports, we’ve got you covered. We’ve found the top affordable places for Canadians to travel in 2020 so you can have a dream getaway this year.

1. Mazatlán, Mexico
Mazatlán is only a 4.5 hour direct flight from many Canadian airports, has perfect weather in winter (less humid and cooler nights) and has beautiful sunny beaches.

2. Myrtle Beach, USA
Take a ride on the sky wheel, stroll down the boardwalk or hit up the wax museum. There are tons of attractions like Ripley’s, a hands on science exhibit and even a live alligator show. Myrtle Beach is also home to the most lazy rivers in the US, so spend some time floating the day away.

3. Curacao
Curacao is a tiny Dutch island in the Caribbean that should be on every Canadians list. Turquoise water, white sandy beaches and beautiful weather.
Curacao has an incredibly diverse history because its been ruled at different times by many empires. You’ll fall in love with the mixture of cultures, each lending inspiration in the local foods, languages and flavors.

4. Cartagena, Colombia
each lovers can take a stroll down Bocagrande in search of fresh ceviche, or enjoy the Caribbean breeze under an umbrella. History buffs can tour castle ruins, old cathedrals, or the local gold museum. You’ll really immerse yourself in the 4 C’s here, being: culture, colours, castles and cafes.

5. Merida, Mexico
Walk down it’s pastel colored streets, have a cafe outside a grand cathedral, and head to the plaza to salsa dance the evening away. No, Merida isn’t a beach destination, but with so much to do, you won’t even notice! Merida is the perfect jumping off point for exploring the diverse beauty of the Yucatan peninsula. Within a 2 hour drive you can visit over a dozen ancient Mayan ruins, underground caves and cenotes and cultural attractions.

6. Las Vegas, USA
Love it or hate it, Vegas is one of the cheapest and fastest getaways for Canadians. In the fall, when the snow starts coming down, you can easily escape to 25+ temps in under 3 hours.
The hotels are insanely cheap because they’re really hoping you’ll use your savings at the casino. If you can limit your gambling, you’ll come out a winner with those rock bottom accommodation prices.

7. Liberia, Costa Rica
Flying into Liberia is your gateway to vacationing in lush jungle or beautiful sandy beaches. Explore the culture of the small city for a few days and then head out to the sandy coast, only a 30 minute drive from town. Tamarindo, Samara, Playas Del Coco, Playa Conchal and Playa Flamingo are some of the most popular beach towns in Costa Rica that are perfect for a warm getaway.

8. Havana, Cuba
Havana is an incredible budget pick for Canadians looking for a memorable vacation. Walking through centro will have you feeling like you’ve just stepped onto a movie set! Colorful classic cars drive down colonials streets while intoxicating Latin music starts up on every corner. It’s truly a magical place! If you want to escape the bustling city there are even beautiful beaches just 20km out of town.

9. Orlando, USA

While Orlando might not have the cheapest hotels on the planet, it’s an incredibly easy destination for Canadians. You can fly direct to Orlando from 5 Canadian airports, with additional cities rumored to be added soon, making it super convenient. There are countless things to do in Orlando (hello Disney and Universal Studios!).

Read the full article by Kashlee Kucheran here.

Benefits of Leasing Your Land

General Kristina Crosbie 18 Feb

You own land that spans far and wide with thick green forests that surrounds the interior pasture. You try to spend as much time as possible on the land, but life gets in the way and you’re lucky to get a weekend a month there, if that.

At this point in your life, have you considered leasing the farm for hunting or farming rights? What about both? The benefits of leasing your land can help increase its value by guaranteeing that someone, especially the farmer, will maintain it all while adding a little extra income to your pockets.

Leasing Your Land for Hunting
Leasing your land for hunting is a good idea if your land offers the amenities hunters desire. This decision should be made after careful consideration of the tradeoffs. Opening your land property to strangers has its ups and downs. It’s important to draft a lease for your hunters to sign that’s very clear on terms and conditions. Interview the prospective people to make sure they fall in line with your attitude towards hunting and conservation.

Income Benefits
The obvious benefit is the extra income that fills your wallet. Property taxes are only continuing to rise and the money from having your land leased can help pay them and any yearly management fees.

Animal Management
Do you have issues with coyotes preying on your wildlife or deer eating your crops? Hunting is the most effective way to control wild animal populations as fencing can become costly. Most predator and deer hunters will be happy to pay the fee to help you out on your farm.

Leasing Your Land for Farming
Most crop prices are steady right now and land is a commodity that won’t go out of style any time soon. There could be many reasons you would want to lease farmland, such as allowing someone to raise their sheep or plant their own gardens. A farming lease can be a tad more lucrative than the aforementioned hunter’s rent.

Get Paid By Letting Someone Else Grow
That’s right, you get paid money by letting someone else grow corn, cotton, soybeans, whatever they want. If there’s hay, the farmer can cut for quarters, meaning he’ll pay you seventy-five cents on the dollar for what the final count of bales would be worth, or what they’d sell for. If he doesn’t want to sell, he’s getting hay at a discounted price. It doesn’t sound much better than that.

Leasing Contract and Asking Prices
The most important aspect of leasing your land is drafting a leasing contract. This will prevent misunderstandings and potential lawsuits. What goes in the contract is up to you and what you want out of it. This can include how much time you want them to spend on your land and what the boundaries are if there are any. If you want to limit the time spent on your land, you can lease it out only during hunting seasons or on weekends.

There are many ways to find out how much you should lease your land for. There are online tools that will tell you exactly how much your land is worth per acre. Some also provide valuation, soil survey and crop history reports for individual fields of farmland. If one of your neighbors have rented their property before, go ask them what they charged people. Ask to walk their property and see how it compares to yours so you can get an idea of what you will be charging.

Read the full article here.

Bathroom Renovation Costs in 2020

General Kristina Crosbie 6 Feb

Bathroom Renovation Costs in 2020

Bathrooms tend to be one of the most commonly renovated rooms in the home due to their functionality and frequency of use. They will also be one of the most expensive rooms to renovate on a square-foot basis.

Are you looking to gut the entire bathroom, replace all the tiling and fixtures, and potentially move plumbing to create better space? Or, are you simply wanting to replace the vanity, upgrade a few fixtures, re-paint and fix a few loose tiles? Either way, consider the potential return-on-investment.

Also consider where the money is going to come from. Do you have money saved up? If not, refinancing your home is an option to get the funds you need to make improvements. Talk to your mortgage broker today about refinancing as an option.

We have broken down the costs associated with remodeling your bathroom, so you can see exactly where your money will need to go, and approximately how much every aspect can cost.

A complete gut-out with a wall removal should be handled by a pro, for no other reason than the risk of water damage. You can expect to pay on average around $1,500 for the complete demolition and clean-up of your bathroom.

Plumbing & Electrical work
This work requires licensed trades everywhere in Canada, which is what makes them so expensive ($70-$120 per hour). When hiring a contractor to look after the project, they will usually include the cost of sub-trades in their overall quote. Though, be sure to clarify that this is the case when signing any agreement.

Tiling costs can vary significantly depending on the quality and style, they can range anywhere from $5 – $100/sq. ft. Installation costs tend to be between $5 and $15/sq. ft. depending on the complexity of the pattern.

There are a variety of materials available for counter tops; such as natural stone, engineered stone, or even wood. Depending on the material and the grade you choose, expect to pay anywhere from $30 to $200/sq. ft. including installation.

Your vanity will set the look and feel of your bathroom. There are several stock options available that can vary anywhere from $500 to $1,500, with an additional cost of somewhere between $300 and $600 for installation. Getting a custom vanity made is also an option, but keep in mind that it will greatly increase the price.

Labour Costs
General labour costs to cover the small things such as painting have to be calculated into your budget. For a mid-size bathroom, allow an additional $1,000 to $2,000 to cover these costs. However, make sure to check with the contractor that they’re specified as part of the initial quote. Also, labour pricing can vary considerably from contractor to contractor so it’s advisable to shop around and get comparative quotes, but also be sure to consider their experience level.

This post has been edited and revised from the original post by Lucis Di Sclafani, read the full post here.

The Top 10 Canadian Cities to Live

General Kristina Crosbie 30 Jan

These were the top 10 Canadian cities to live in 2018.
Who knew that Kingston and Ottawa are some of the top cities? In Smiths Falls, we are just right down the road!

Would you like to live in one of these cities? Maybe somewhere a bit warmer? We would love to help you get a mortgage to live in the location of your dreams, just give us a call.

CMI: Canadian Mortgages Inc.