Tips for Building a New Home

 

Construction of my home

Construction of my home

If you are in the market for a vacant lot to build your dream home or cottage, or even if you are planning renovations on your existing home, you will find building to be both exhilarating and frustrating.  Having built a new home myself, I thought I would share some of my tips:

1.  Hire professionals
2.  Participate in the design
3.  Think everything through, including the little details (as much as possible) before you begin.
4.  Be prepared to spend a lot more money than you budget for…little things add up quickly.
 5.  Think about RESALE–you may think this will be your last home “ever”, but chances are, it won’t be.  Lifestyles change in moments.
6.  Check all of the possible locations on your property to find the best building site–keep in mind sun position, wind direction, exposure, view, etc.
7.  Work with your contractor through every step–there are always some changes that need to be made
8.  Listen to your contractor
9.  Don’t let anyone talk you out of something that you really want in your home.
10.  Make sure you know where you want ALL of your electrical switches and plug outlets to go.
11.  Make sure your electrician centers your lights or puts them exactly where you want them.
12.  Make sure lines line up.  Make sure things, such as shower drains, are centered.  Once something is done it’s hard, or very expensive to undo.
13.  Test your paint colours.
14.  Enjoy the experience!

Here are some tips from the people at Houzz:

Kathy Dimaline is a Real Estate Broker for RE/MAX Grey Bruce Realty Inc.  The comments on this Blog are the opinions, only, of Kathy Dimaline and do not constitute any legal advice or legal opinion and does not represent the interests or opinions of RE/MAX Grey Bruce Realty Inc., brokerage.

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The Outdoor Shower

OutdoorShowerOne of my favourite things at the cottage, now my home, is the “Outdoor” Shower.  I use my outdoor shower all summer long rather than showering indoors.  There’s the feeling of being one with nature.  While showering, I can watch the birds in the trees, see and listen to the lake and just feel good about the day ahead.  I find it invigorating, even on colder days.

The secret to the “Outdoor” shower is to position it right.  You want to make sure you have privacy yet enjoy the scenery around you…so do some scoping out before beginning to build it.  The other very important thing is making sure you have both cold and hot water in your shower.  I’ve seen ones with just cold water but, even on those really hot days it can be a shock to the system.  So, make sure you know what you are doing when you plumb the shower, or better still, hire a plumber.

It’s great in the spring, summer and fall, but you should be sure to winterize it prior to cold weather.  All pipes need to be drained, inside taps to the outside facets should be turned off and leave the outside faucets “open”.  Here’s a great link for winterizing:  http://www.homeenergyresourcemn.org/basic_care/section_detail.aspx?itemID=2956&catID=759&SelectCatID=759&cat_1=751&cat_2=759

Like any other addition to your home an outdoor shower should be approved by the building inspector and may require special drainage.  Be sure to do it right!

Here’s a link to some great “Outdoor” shower designs: 

Kathy Dimaline is a Real Estate Broker for RE/MAX Grey Bruce Realty Inc.  The comments on this Blog are the opinions, only, of Kathy Dimaline and do not constitute any legal advice or legal opinion and does not represent the interests or opinions of RE/MAX Grey Bruce Realty Inc., brokerage.

Tax Credits for Home Owners



TaxSavingsBoth the Ontario Government and Federal Government offer incentives to Home Owners.

The Ontario Government offers a $10,000 Healthy Homes Renovation Tax Credit…click here for details:  http://www.ontario.ca/taxes-and-benefits/healthy-homes-renovation-tax-credit

Here’s the link to the Canadian Home Renovation Tax Credit:  http://www.cra-arc.gc.ca/gncy/bdgt/2009/fqhmrnvtn-eng.html#q1

Here’s the link to the Canadian First Time Home Buyer’s Credit:  http://www.cra-arc.gc.ca/gncy/bdgt/2009/fqhbtc-eng.html and an alternate link:  http://actionplan.gc.ca/en/initiative/first-time-home-buyers-tax-credit

Please check the sites to ensure these credits are still available…and check with your accountant to see if you qualify.

Good savings!

Kathy Dimaline is a Real Estate Broker for RE/MAX Grey Bruce Realty Inc.  The comments on this Blog are the opinions, only, of Kathy Dimaline and do not constitute any legal advice or legal opinion and does not represent the interests or opinions of RE/MAX Grey Bruce Realty Inc., brokerage.

Do You Need a Permit for a Dock on your Shore?


If you have a waterfront home or cottage or vacant waterfront lot and you want to install a dock so that you can keep a boat at your shore you need to do some investigation prior to construction.

Investigate Conditions

Investigate Conditions
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On smaller inland lakes, having a dock at your shore is a common occurrence.  However, on the larger Great Lakes, I strongly suggest analysing water conditions, shoals and prevailing winds. There are many days where the lake is very calm and it looks like you can put a dock out, but there are just as many days where the lake is extremely rough due to wave action or winds.  This wave action can do major damage to your dock and your boat.  Pull out charts or talk to neighbours who are familiar with the area to check for shoals and other water hazards.  It is most likely you will have to be in a protected harbour that offers access to the open lake.  FYI, these types of properties tend to have higher real estate value.

Example of a Boat Slip

Example of a Boat Slip

Once you determine that you can have a dock, you want to then determine what type of dock.  The main types of docks are:  boat slips, often carved out of rock at the shore; crib docks which have large areas in the water that are netted and filled with stones, rock or concrete; pole docks, which are becoming more and more popular because you can pull them in for winter protection; cantilevered docks that protrude out from a raise shore, usually on a rock formation; and floating docks, which usual extend off of any of the above mentioned choices.

Example of Crib Dock in Progress

Example of Crib Dock
Under Construction
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The Ministry of Natural Resources control any work that may affect water vegetation or fish habitats.  Anything that involves dredging in the water or any large construction on the shore or bottom of the lake…whether you are adding to the shore (ie adding sand) or removing rock or sand from the shore.

As far as a dock is concerned, you need to apply for a work permit if you are creating a boat slip or channel involving dredging or if you are creating a dock with cribs or a boathouse that is placed on the lake bottom that is more than 15 square meters.

Example of a Pole Dock

Example of a Pole Dock

Generally, you DO NOT need a permit for cantilevered docks, floating or pole docks and any other dock with a total surface of less than 15 square meters on the lake bed.   However, I recommend, if you plan to install a dock at your property you should contact your local Ministry of Natural Resources office for confirmation of their rules and regulations.

You can find further information on this website:  http://www.mnr.gov.on.ca/en/Business/CrownLand/2ColumnSubPage/STEL02_165788.html

Happy Boating!

Kathy Dimaline is a Real Estate Broker for RE/MAX Grey Bruce Realty Inc.  The comments on this Blog are the opinions, only, of Kathy Dimaline and do not constitute any legal advice or legal opinion and does not represent the interests or opinions of RE/MAX Grey Bruce Realty Inc., brokerage.

“0” Tax on Your Property

Ontario’s Conservation Land Tax Incentive Program

BP20If you own a piece of property that can be deemed as “provincially significant” you can apply for a Land Tax Incentive.  This program, if approved on your land, will exempt you from property taxes on that portion of your land deemed significant.  This is where we often get lands for sale with “0” or very little taxes.  To qualify you must agree to maintain your property as conservation Land and not carry out activities that would degrade, destroy or result in the loss of the natural values of the site.  Properties must be a minimum of 1/2 an acre.

The program runs on a year to year basis.  Once qualified, you will receive a notice each year asking if you want to continue your eligibility for the following year.  You must certify that the information that you provide is accurate, that you intend to maintain the property as Conservation Land and you authorize a representative of the Ministry of Natural Resources to enter your property, from time to time, to confirm.

If you have been receiving a tax exemption and the MNR discover that you are not maintaining as Conservation Land, you lose your exemption and the municipality can recover up to 5 years of taxes that were not paid.

BP1Only lands considered highly significant by the Ministry of Natural Resources qualify.  Lands that are eligible are:  provincially significant wetlands (often identified on your property with EH zoning),; provincially significant areas of natural and scientific interest (identified on your property as ANSI); habitat of endangered species (could be flora or fauna); and lands that come under the Niagara Escarpment Commission (identified on your property as Development Control).

I have this exemption on a piece of property and it’s nice not to have to pay taxes on it.  You can still use the land, you just have to agree to protect the designated natural heritage value of your property.

For more information click here:  www.ontario.ca/CLTIP

Kathy Dimaline is a Real Estate Broker for RE/MAX Grey Bruce Realty Inc.  The comments on this Blog are the opinions, only, of Kathy Dimaline and do not constitute any legal advice or legal opinion and does not represent the interests or opinions of RE/MAX Grey Bruce Realty Inc., brokerage.

Land Transfer Tax


LandTransferTax

 

If you are buying a home, cottage, vacant lot, commercial property or farm, you will be paying the Ministry of Finance a Land Transfer tax.  This is a graduated percentage of the property you are buying.

 

Here’s the schedule for that graduated tax:

  • 0.5% of the value of the consideration up to and including $55,000,
  • 1% of the value of the consideration which exceeds $55,000 up to and including $250,000, and
  • 1.5% of the value of the consideration which exceeds $250,000, and
  • 2% of the amount by which the value of the consideration exceeds $400,000 for land that contains at least one and not more than two single family residences.

I find it much easier to calculate using a Land Transfer Tax Calculator…click on the image above or click here for a link to a calculator:  http://www.macnaughtonlaw.com/landtax.htm

Some Municipalities, such as Toronto charge an additional Land Transfer Tax when you buy…but there is no such extra tax on the Bruce Peninsula.

You pay this tax on closing and it is usually taken care of by your lawyer.

This is an additional cost to your purchase and should be taken into consideration when planning your finances.

For more information you can go to the Ministry of Finance website at:  http://www.fin.gov.on.ca/en/tax/ltt/

Kathy Dimaline is a Real Estate Broker for RE/MAX Grey Bruce Realty Inc.  The comments on this Blog are the opinions, only, of Kathy Dimaline and do not constitute any legal advice or legal opinion and does not represent the interests or opinions of RE/MAX Grey Bruce Realty Inc., brokerage.

Drinking Water Safety

DrinkingWater
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Only 4% of the earth’s water is Fresh, of that, 95% is ground water, and 5% is considered Surface water and NOT safe for drinking.  Ground water is surface water that has been naturally filtered through the ground, making it safe to drink.  Everyone deserves and wants safe drinking water at their residence.
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On the Bruce Peninsula only Wiarton, Sauble and Lions Head have Municipal Water systems.  Wiarton charges $25.00 per month plus $1.45 per cubic meter.  Sauble charges $20.00 per month plus $1.32 per cubic meter plus an annual fee of $85.00.   Lions Head charges $525/yr plus $2.25 per cubic meter.  These numbers are based on 2013 rates.
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All other residences and cottages have private wells.  It is the owners responsibility to ensure they have safe drinking water for their families, guests (including renters) and potential buyers.  A buyer may accept a property with less than satisfactory water quality but any potential mortgage holder will NOT.  A buyer may accept a property with less than satisfactory water quality provided they have been so informed and are aware of any risks.  Problems with a well, septic, or water quality and quantity should always be disclosed.  Such disclosure will help to protect a seller from future repercussions.
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The Grey Bruce Public Health Department only tests private well water for “bacterial contamination”.  We are in a low risk area for “chemical” contamination, however, if you are selling or buying a gas station or a service station or a home or cottage near this type of business, it is wise to test for chemicals as well.  Public Health does not offer this service.  Wellaware.ca has information on how to obtain private testing for “non-biological” parameters.
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WatertestA bacteriological analysis tests for Coliform and E. Coli.  The Health Department recommends that you test your well 3 times per year and generally speaking you want a reading of “0” Coliform and “0” E. Coli.  Don’t assume that your water is biologically safe…the tests are free and worth your health.   Click here for Test Result Outcomes
In this area, Coliform is usually bacteria built up in the pipes servicing your home.  This bacteria can be built up through lack of use, ie:  if you come to your cottage only a few times a year, or from contaminated surface water that is seeping into your well.  E. Coli is the bad stuff which is usually human or animal waste.  These contaminants are not likely to be transported to your well through the water table or aquifer through natural flow, but likely conveyed through improperly sealed wells, unused wells, poor septic systems, or nearby farms leaching into the ground water.
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It has been my experience, that most wells in this area test well.  However, it is important to maintain your well and your septic system to eliminate possible contamination.  Wells need to be 50’ from any septic system.  Receipt of  a test with E. Coli should indicate to you a problem with your system or a neighbours and this should be investigated further.  I would like to point, however, that you can easily contaminate a water sample by simple improper handling of the bottle.  That’s why the Health Department wants 3 tests to determine stability of the system.  Click here for directions on taking a water sample.
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BleachThe Health Department recommends “shocking” or “disinfecting” your well any time a water system has been opened for repairs or if your first sample test has a Coliform reading.  “Shocking” the well simply means introducing chlorine (bleach) to the system to kill bacteria in the lines.  Click here for instructions on disinfecting your well.  If “shocking” the well does not result in a negative reading, ie “0” Coliform…don’t continue to “shock”…it’s time for a professional.  Call a plumber.   You may need a water treatment devise.  There are a number of treatment options depending on your water quality; filters, chlorine pumps, ultraviolet irradiation, ozone, etc.  Most common problems can be solved easily and inexpensively and will give you peace of mind in the future.
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You can find further information on safe drinking water by clicking on this link.
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Safe water is a privilege and a right.  Be safe, be healthy.
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FACT:  The average Canadian household uses 350 litres of water per day, that’s twice as much as the average European household.*  Perhaps it’s because we have access to such an abundance of fresh water!
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FACT:  The sale of bottle water is NOT regulated in Canada.  Bottled water may contain naturally occurring bacteria which, under improper and/or prolonged storage conditions, could increase in numbers to levels that may be harmful to health.*
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* Public Health Department Safe Water booklet
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Kathy Dimaline is a Real Estate Broker for RE/MAX Grey Bruce Realty Inc.  The comments on this Blog are the opinions, only, of Kathy Dimaline and do not constitute any legal advice or legal opinion and does not represent the interests or opinions of RE/MAX Grey Bruce Realty Inc., brokerage.

How to Downsize/Declutter

I pulled this up from the Houzz site.  Great suggestions on how to Downsize and Declutter your home.  Great ideas weather you are buying or selling.

Beware the New Northern Bruce Peninsula Comprehensive Zoning By-Law

NBPLogo

First of all, I have to tell you that because of the huge outcry from residents about these New “Proposed” By-law changes that were recommended for approval, the Northern Bruce Peninsula Council has agreed to postpone the passing of these By-laws, “until further notice”.  However, it is my opinion that these will come up again in future and everyone should be aware and be prepared.

Having said that, I had the link from the Municipality to share with you so that you could review the changes yourselves, but found out that shortly after the meeting all documents regarding the New Comprehensive Zoning By-laws have been removed from both the Municipal site as well as from the Planning Department’s site.  Which I find surprising!  Unfortunately I didn’t save the files because they were too large.

I called the Municipality and was told “We don’t think you need to worry about that” and “There is no impact on anything at the present time.”  However, if you want to do anything to your property now, they are verbally quoting from the New Comprehensive Zoning By-Law…and…Here’s an excerpt from a recent letter from the Planning Department regarding an issue with one of my client’s properties:

“Staff have proposed to change the zoning of the lands from C4 to R2 (or an analogous LR Lake Residential*) zone as part of a recommended new comprehensive zoning by-law for the Municipality of Northern Bruce Peninsula that would replace by-law 2002-54. The Municipality has deferred passage of this by-law in order to address other matters with the by-law that are unrelated to your property. At present there appear to be two options:
1. Allow the zoning to be addressed through a comprehensive zoning by-law review/ change as is currently underway, noting that the timeline for this by-law is unclear”

*this is a new zoning category in the New Comprehensive Zoning By-law

When the County and Province are recommending sweeping changes to our properties and have spent a huge amount of money and time into preparing a document for New Comprehensive Zoning By-laws in this area, I have a hard time believing that we won’t be seeing this again.

I will point out that major changes were to EH (more of it identified especially in the Tobermory area) and a new EH-a (Provincially Significant Wetlands), which has significant impact on many properties due to the 120 metre set back.  When I reviewed the EH-a, I discovered there is a huge area in Stokes Bay, Little Pine Tree Harbour/Pleasant Harbour and Dorcas Bay where an “Environmental Impact Study” may need to be completed before building or altering your properties.

Also, most of Lions Head and Isthmus Bay would be impacted with a similar “may” need an “Environmental Impact Study” for what is called “Intake Protection Zones”.

I did save the maps for these and have highlighted the areas affected, for your review.  Here’s the link:

http://www.davismclay.com/ComprehensiveZoning.pdf

I did not have enough time to review all changes before the links were removed, sorry!

The changes were made “public” by placing an ad in the Tobermory Press.  It took some time for residents to digest this and begin the outcry.  I am sure that many people are still in the dark.  I found it interesting in the report (link below) that they decided not to mail this out to all residents because they wanted to “save costs” (page 2 under Notice of Public Hearing).

I am attaching the link for the Minutes of the Council meeting (which I attended) as well as the link for the full report from the Planning Department and letters to the Planning Department from residents.  Hopefully these links will still be available (if not, I have saved both on my computer).  This will give you a very good idea of the sweeping proposed changes.

Report on new by-laws:

https://northernbrucepeninsula.civicweb.net/Documents/DocumentDisplay.aspx?Id=21132

Minutes of Council meeting:

https://northernbrucepeninsula.civicweb.net/Documents/DocumentDisplay.aspx?Id=21424

If you have any questions, feel free to call me, I’ll share what I know, but I can no longer review the zoning maps (because they too have been removed) to tell you how this may have impacted your property.

I will inform you of any new developments should this become active again.

BEWARE AND BE PREPARED!