Spring time is arriving soon!

With Daylight Savings and now St. Patrick’s Day approaching, our thoughts turn to Spring! 

Spring is a time where many of us think about what needs to be done outside – from those activities we give up because of the colder weather or because we are tired with look of our yard.  I know for me, this is a time that I start to create the new arrangements in existing gardens and the ones I want to create.  For me, I try to plot out the colours and array of blooms I want to create.  For instance, this year I would like to create an oasis of plants that are native to my region.  Having a special area in my yard that I can plan and imagine the warm weather making these plants grow and encourage local insects to help assist in this.  I know, that I am blessed with a larger than normal yard; but the “normal” yards of today, can have the same feel.  

Always start with knowing how the sun affects your yard! I know this sounds simple, but you be surprised how this will affect your garden.  I have an area, where I grow plants that thrive in  shade and greens are wonderful to look at.  Even planting a herb garden in the area works wonders!  Just because the yard is small doesn’t mean you can’t produce fresh herbs/vegetables!  Potted tomatoes, or peppers add a wonderful aroma to your patio.  Plus nothing tastes better than garden fresh vegies!  If you are looking for fresh fruit, why not plant a fruit tree? You get the benefits of shade and tree ripened fruit!  Growing up with fruit trees, there was nothing better than be able to grab a new juicy pear or apple off the tree.  It is more work, but the benefits out weigh the labour! 

If you are starting with clean palette, build your flower gardens with perennials.  The cost, if you don’t know someone that is thinning out plants can be costly, but will save money in long run.  Build it with height, know how high your plants are to be; and let your creativity grow! Nice part of all- if you don’t like the outcome you can always change it! Your canvas takes on a life of its own each year and will excite you with the colours, fragrance and its depth.  This also helps with the resale value of your home.  The more curb appeal  a home has the better chance it has to entice buyers to dream about their out door living area.    

Also, creating unique sitting areas, gives the feel of a “hide away” within city limits, somewhere you forget the stresses of the day and enjoy the quietness.  These places can be dressed up any way you desire don’t be afraid to live outside!

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When to Add on and When to Move on

Deciding whether to add on to an existing home or to purchase a new one can be a complex decision. There are a few factors to consider, including cost, individual needs, and what will add value down the road. It is also important to consider your emotional attachment to the existing home. As designer and builder Philip S. Wenz, the author of Adding to a House: Planning, Design & Construction, notes, an addition is much cheaper than building a new home and can offer a “new” home without the heartache of moving.

Other considerations:
* Can you finance the home improvement with your own cash or will you need a loan?

* How much equity is in the property? A fair amount will make it that much easier to get a loan for home improvements.

* Is it feasible to expand the current space for an addition?

* What is permissible under local zoning and building codes? Despite your deep yearning for a new sunroom or garage, you will need to know if your town or city will allow such improvements.

* Are there affordable properties for sale that would satisfy your changing housing needs?

Explore your options. Make sure your decision is one you can live with-either under the same roof or under a different one.

Should I Buy First or Sell First?

Deciding to sell your home first or waiting until you have bought another home can be a tough decision. Your personal situation as well as the condition of the local housing market will determine which option is best for you.

If you put your home on the market first, you may have to scramble to find another one before the closing date, which could rush you into buying a home that does not meet all your requirements. Also, if you cannot find another home, you may need to move twice, temporarily staying with relatives or in a hotel.

The advantage of selling your existing home first is that it maximizes your negotiating position because you are under no pressure to sell quickly. It also eliminates the need to carry two mortgages at once.

On the other hand, if you make an offer to buy another home before you sell your existing one, you may be tempted to sell quickly, even at a lower price.

The advantage of buying first is you can shop carefully for the right home and feel comfortable with your decision before putting the existing home on the market.

You should discuss the pros and cons of each with your agent and determine whether certain contingencies written into the contract can ease some of the pressures.

Repairing a Fixer-Upper: How to Find a Contractor

Chances are you will need plenty of help making major repairs and additions to a fixer-upper home. But the last thing you will need is someone who fails to complete the job or who does a poor job. Finding good, responsible help is imperative.

A few things you can do include:

* Avoid the Yellow Pages. Check with family, friends, neighbors and co-workers for recommendations.

* Deal only with licensed contractors. The  local Better Business Bureau also can tell you if there are any outstanding complaints against the license holder.

* Interview each contractor, request free estimates if possible, and ask for recent references.

* Ask for proof of workers’ compensation insurance and get policy and insurance company phone numbers so you can verify the information. If the contractor is not covered, you could be liable for any work-related injury that takes place during the project. Also check to make sure the contractor has an umbrella general liability policy.

* Never hand over a deposit at the first meeting – you could end up losing your money.