T H E G U I D E T O Y O U R H O M E OCTOBER, 2009
Abbey Master Homes
› Choosing a new
› CMHC breaking new ground › Winterizing your home › Tips on noisy neighbours
2 Wed, Oct. 21, 2009
Choosing a New Home Builder
f you find yourself in the market for a new home, your timing couldn’t be better. Rock-bottom interest rates, soft prices and intense competition among builders have combined to create a robust buyers’ market for Calgary home purchasers. But if you’re intent on starting from the blueprint stage, there’s more to consider than economics: there’s plenty more to learn about choosing the right contractor to create your dream home. You should begin with the clear understanding that nothing replaces patience, energetic legwork and intelligent research. Now is not the time to turn into an impulse shopper. “If people are going to make the largest investment they’re ever going to make, it pays for them to do a little homework. Find out all you can about a prospective builder,” suggests Duncan Hill, manager of Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation’s Sustainable Housing Policy and Research group. “You need to find a builder who reflects your philosophy, your budget and your preferences. Different builders cater to different housing needs and styles. You want to make sure that you and your builder are on the same page,” Hill adds. Planning ahead is likely to pay dividends. Start by making a priority list of your specific wants and needs. “As an example, CMHC is working with 15 leading-edge Canadian builders who have taken it on themselves to advance a vision for healthy, sustainable housing via our EQuilibrium™ Sustainable Housing Demonstration Initiative” says Hill. “So, if you were interested in building a green home that reflects your desire to significantly reduce your environmental impact, these are the sort of people you’d want to talk to. “On the other hand, you may be a first time homebuyer looking for an affordable production home. In this case you may want to work with builders who specialize in housing that can meet your budget.” Once you’ve taken these steps, while also acquiring your pre-approval for a home mortgage, it’s time to start scouring brochures, newspaper special sections and local magazines to get a feel for the products and prices offered by the builders in your area. Visit trade shows and show homes
and talk to sales reps. Be sure to take notes - and never underestimate the value of the grapevine. Talk to family and friends who have travelled down the same road ahead of you. The Internet is another terrific research tool, says Hill. “What really impresses me about many of today’s builders is the high quality of information you find on their Internet sites. They can really provide an excellent introduction to what builders have to offer, their business philosophy and what distinguishes one builder from another.” he adds. It’s also important to determine whether a builder holds membership in local home builders’ associations and is recognized by provincial new home warranty programs. You’ll also want to find out how long the builder has been in business as well as the depth and breadth of his/ her experience and commitment to after-sale customer service. In many cases, your first contact with a builder will be with the sales reps you’ll meet at the trade show or the show home. These people represent the forward face of the company and should be able to provide you with detailed information about the homes built by the company. It’s important to spend a lot of time in show homes and talking to builders, to help ensure you understand the home you are thinking of buying and the building and delivery process. Make sure to ask questions, questions, questions. And before you sign on the bottom line, be sure your builder is fully aware of your expectations and these are reflected as much as possible in the purchase agreement. It’s all about keeping the lines of communication open. Both parties should be aware of all contractual obligations including how after-sale service will be handled. “A builder who’s in tune with the details of what the potential homebuyer is looking for will be able to do a better job of providing it, or at least advising what is possible or not,” Hill points out. “And read the small print. It’s important for consumers to understand the purchase agreement as it typically contains details regarding the construction schedule, payments, warranties and substitutions.” Throughout the process, your personal mantra should be “Take your time and do your homework.” Don’t
Make sure to find a builder who can meet your specific needs. Different builders cater to different housing needs and styles. let the homebuying process turn into a rush, warns Hill. “By thinking things through in the beginning and working constructively with your homebuilder, you’ll be able to reduce potential grief later.” Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation is an excellent source of
information about purchasing a new home. Please visit this website: http:// www.cmhc.ca and do a keyword search on “new home builder” to learn more or call 1-800-668-2642 to order a free copy of the About Your House fact sheet called Selecting a New Home Builder.
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CMHC Breaking New Ground Construction Begins on Four New EQuilibrium™ Sustainable Housing Demonstration Homes Rising energy costs and the increasing impact of global climate change have led many Canadians to re-think the choices we make in our daily lives -- from the types of cars we drive to the places we call home. To help create a new vision for Canadian housing, Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation’s (CMHC) EQuilibrium™ Sustainable Housing Demonstration Initiative is spearheading the creation of 15 energy-efficient and low environmental impact demonstration homes across the country. Launched by CMHC in May 2006, the EQuilibriumTM Housing initiative balances housing needs with those of the natural environment by bringing together, under one roof, the principles of occupant health and comfort, energy efficiency, renewable energy production, resource conservation, reduced environmental impact and affordability. The objectives of the initiative in56 5 56 56 56 PAYMENTS PA P AYM Y EN NT TS S PAYMENTS 56 56 56 56 IIN NTERE TE ERE RES ST T INTEREST INTEREST
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clude the demonstration of homes designed to offer: Lower monthly utility bills; A clean supply of renewable energy in every season; Healthier, more comfortable living environments for occupants; Reduced waste, greenhouse gas emissions and energy consumption; and A resource-efficient alternative that protects and preserves the environment for future generations. Six of these homes have already opened their doors to the public. Now, four new demonstration homes have officially broken ground, and are getting ready to turn their builders’ visions into reality: The Green Dream Home (Kamloops, B.C.) – a solar-powered two-storey home designed by the Canadian Home Builders’ Association Central Interior (CHBA CI) and students from Thompson Rivers University to conserve resources, and take advantage of one of Canada’s sunniest cities;
The Moncton VISION Home (Moncton, N.B.) –a highly efficient and functional home designed by AlternaHome Solutions Inc. and VISION Land Developments Ltd. as the centrepiece of the new “VISION Lands” community in the heart of downtown Moncton, featuring best practices for sustainable development; and Harmony House (Burnaby, B.C.) – a single-family home plus in-law suite designed by Habitat Design + Consulting Ltd. and built by Insightful Healthy Homes Inc. to conserve energy and resources, while minimizing emissions of pollutants. The design of Harmony House is also tailored to the unique climate of B.C.’s Lower Mainland. Urban Ecology (Winnipeg, Manitoba) - a new, two-storey duplex located on an infill site in an established downtown area, this home, will be built by Winnipeg Housing Rehabilitation Corporation (WHRC), a non-profit developer and manager of affordable housing in Winnipeg. This home will provide an example of affordable housing that also consumes near net zero energy annually. For more information on the CMHC EQuilibriumTM Sustainable Housing Demonstration Initiative or to find a demonstration home near you, visit our Web site at www.cmhc.ca and type in the search keyword “EQuilibrium” or call CMHC at 1-800-668-2642. For more
than 60 years, Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) has been Canada’s national housing agency and a source of objective, reliable housing information.
Rising energy costs and the increasing impact of global climate change have led many Canadians to re-think the choices we make in our daily lives. To help create a new vision for Canadian housing, Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation’s (CMHC) EQuilibrium™ Sustainable Housing Demonstration Initiative is spearheading the creation of 15 energy-efficient and low environmental impact demonstration homes across the country.
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Tips for winterizing your home (NC)–Canadian winters can be cold and unpredictable so there’s every reason to winterize your home before the cold season starts. With the long periods of time that you and your family will be spending indoors, it’s important that your home is both warm and comfortable throughout the season. Here are five ways to help create a home that will keep your family warm and cozy this winter, as well as help save on winter’s rising energy costs: Use your fireplace. Warm up cold rooms quickly by preparing to use your fireplace this winter. Warming up rooms using your fireplace means less work for your heater to warm the space. Insulate floors over cold spaces. Having cold feet? There may not be enough insulation under your home’s floors above cold spaces. Consider installing insulation in floors over un-insulated areas. PINK
FIBERGLAS insulation provides excellent thermal performance and can also be used to insulate the walls of other cold rooms such as the basement, crawlspace and garage. Replace old furnaces with more efficient models. Not only will newer models operate more efficiently to help heat your home quickly, think about the impact this can make on your energy bills. Seal air leaks. Cold air can enter through the exterior of your house. So it’s important to caulk, seal and weather-strip around all seams, cracks and openings. You can also reduce drafts from the inside by caulking, sealing and weather-stripping around windows and door frames, and near electrical boxes and plumbing penetrations. Re-insulate your attic. Top up the amount of insulation you have in your attic to at least
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15 inches – or R-50 – and help slow the amount of heat rising and escaping from the top of your home. All you need is one weekend to lay down enough PINK FIBERGLAS batts and you can begin to see up to 28 per cent in savings on your heating costs* the next month. And, even the government is willing to pitch in when you re-insulate your attic. Until February 1, 2010 you can qualify for the Home Renovation Tax Credit (HRTC), a nonrefundable tax credit of up to $1,350 or 15 per cent of your renovation costs. The ecoENERGY Retrofit program also offers up to $750 in grants and provincial matching programs are also available in select provinces. For more information on the ecoENERGY Retrofit program visit www.oee.nrcan. gc.ca and for step-by-step instructions on how to re-insulate your attic to help winterize your home this winter, visit www.insulationtaxcredit.ca.
* Savings vary depending on the original amount of insulation in your home, climate, house size, air leaks, and personal energy use and liv-
ing habits. The colour PINK is a registered trademark of Owens Corning © 2009 Owens Corning. All Rights Reserved. - News Canada
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Your attic can play an important role reducing energy costs in the home • An attic insulated to R-50 can help save a half-ton of greenhouse gas emissions annually**. • Re-insulating the attic is a project that qualifies under the Home Renovation Tax Credit (HRTC) program, which offers a non-refundable tax credit of up to $1,350 or 15 per cent of your total renovation costs. Visit www.actionplan.gc.ca for more information. • Up to $750 in government grants can be provided under the ecoENERGY Retrofit program when you insulate the attic for energy efficiency, in addition to other provincial matching grant programs in select provinces. Visit www.oee.nrcan.gc.ca for program details. Learn more about how to re-insulate your attic to help improve the energy efficiency of your home by visiting www.insulationtaxcredit.ca. * Savings vary depending on the original amount of insulation in your home, climate, house size, air leaks, and personal energy use and living habits. ** Based on an average attic size of 1700 SF with existing R19 insulation, averaged over seven cities in Canada The colour PINK is a registered trademark of Owens Corning © 2009 Owens Corning. All Rights Reserved. - News Canada
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(NC)–Many homeowners can speak about how they have helped save energy in their home by installing a programmable themostat or by switching to low-energy lightbulbs. But when asked about the amount of insulation they have in their home, chances are, they may not have much to say. But understanding insulation is important because it can significantly contribute to a home’s energy efficiency, depending on how much insulation is installed. According to Michael Macey, Insulation Expert at Owens Corning, the attic is one area in particular that plays an important role in helping to save energy. Here are a few facts that may help improve your understanding of how attics contribute to a home’s energy savings, as well as how homeowners can reap the many benefits that come along with re-insulating the attic: Did you know? • A 15 inch layer of PINK FIBERGLAS batt insulation on your attic floor is equal to an R-value of R-50. R-value is the measurement of a material’s thermal resistance, so the higher the R-value, the better the insulating power. • An attic insulated to the recommendated insulating standard of R-50 can help save homeowners up to 28 per cent on their energy costs* every year, year after year.
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How to reduce unwanted noise in your building
People who o live in apartments generally acce ept a certain level of noise from their neighbours and from outside a as part of their urban living experie ence. But there are limits to the a amount of noise anyone can toleratte. When that threshold is passed, your once peaceful and tranquil h home can suddenly become a sourc ce of stress and anxiety. Your toleran nce for noise will depend on a num mber of factors ranging from yourr building’s soundproofing, the ty ype and level of noise and even the tiime of day it is generated. Canada M Mortgage and Housing Corporatio on (CMHC) offers the following tips o on how to reduce excessive or unw wanted noise in your building: Get to know w noisy neighbours, and make them m aware of how their activitie es are affecting others . Speak with other neighbours to see if the noise o is bothering anyone n else, and consider ad dopting a joint strategy. g Discuss ways to re educe objectionable noise, o such as laying d own o carpets, movin ng stereo equipment aw way from shared w alls and agreeing on n reasonable hours fo or noisy activities. If alll else fails, consult with your building w management or condo m board. If your building’s elevators, refuse ch hutes, garage door o peners, air conditioning i units or other mechanical devices m are r the problem, ask t he h management to investigate n the proble em. Solutions may in nclude ensuring that motors are mounted m on springs or pads to re educe vibrations, air
conditioning compressors are located away from operable windows, or restricting the hours of the day or days of the week when noisier devices operate. Better isolating those devices from occupants by insulating and air sealing walls may help as well. To reduce noise coming in through openings or gaps in your walls, place gaskets behind electrical outlet cover plates. Check to see if electrical switches and outlets in common walls are offset from those on the other side of the wall so noise can pass directly through them from one side to the other. Carefully caulk the joint under your baseboards. If noise associated with people speaking frequently comes in from outside the building, ask management to take measures to discourage loitering and other after-hours activities. For other exterior noise sources, contact a bylaw officer to inform you on noise regulations in your area. Inside your apartment, consider adding more or heavier fabrics and upholstery to absorb more sound. If the windows in your building are to be replaced, encourage management to install windows with a high Sound Transmission Class (STC) performance rating and make sure they open away from any sources of noise. If serious noise problems in your building persist, ask management to retain an acoustical consultant to study the problem and recommend solutions. For more information or a free copy of the “About Your Apartment” fact sheet Reducing Noise in Your Apartment, or other fact sheets on owning, maintaining or renovating your home, visit our Web site at www.cmhc.ca or call CMHC at 1-800-668-2642. For more than 60 years, Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) has been Canada’s national housing agency, and a source of objective, reliable housing expertise.
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New standard for gas furnaces NC)–The Heating, Refrigeration, and Air Conditioning Institute of Canada (HRAI) reports that a new national minimum energy performance standard for residential gas furnaces will go into effect on December 31, 2009. This standard will apply to virtually all gas furnaces sold in Canada and will require a minimum fuel efficiency level of 90%. This level of efficiency is achieved by using well-established “condensing technology”, where the products of combustion are vented through a plastic pipe, most commonly routed through a side wall. The implementation of this standard is part of Canada’s ongoing efforts to address climate change and improve the environment. Energy efficient furnaces are also cost-effective for consumers. The installation of a condensing gas furnace (minimum 90% efficiency) will result in a fuel consumption and cost reduction of about 12% when compared to furnaces at the current standard. The dollar amount will depend on the house size and heat loss. In addition to these savings, the installation may be eligible for an ecoEnergy Retrofit grant from the federal government and complementary provincial programs in some parts of the country. Additional financial as-
sistance may be available through the home renovation tax credit that was introduced in the federal budget early in 2009. The first-time installation of a high efficiency gas furnace typically requires changes to the venting system. In some cases, hot water heater venting alterations may be necessary as well. Depending on the home, the additional costs will almost always be offset by future efficiency gains and operating cost savings. There may be some situations, however, where through-wall venting can be more complex. Examples include narrow, attached houses with front and rear obstructions, closely spaced doorways and large windows or full-width porches and/or decks. If your house is narrow and attached to neighbouring dwellings (on both sides), and your current gas furnace is more than 15 years old, you should consider consulting with a licensed heating, ventilating and air conditioning (HVAC) professional who will assess your specific situation and recommend solutions for your home. A listing of qualified professionals can be found on www.hrai.ca. - News Canada
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