Moving With Your Pet

Moving can be a trying and stressful event, not only for you but your pets as well. One of the many considerations when planning a move is to ensure that your pets feel as comfortable as possible during the move and that they settle into your new home.


Visit your veterinarian.

A few weeks prior to moving, request a copy of your pets veterinary records, including all the animals vaccination certificates. Be sure your pets are up to date with all their shots. Your vet should have no problem releasing the records and perhaps may even be able to recommend another vet in your new location.

Keep a Routine.  Dogs and cats don’t like change; they might display behavioral changes or become ill when stressed.  A move can often be quite chaotic but try your best to keep your pets’ routines, such as feeding times and walks, as normal as possible as you prepare for the move and after you arrive at your new home. Make the time to provide them with a similar level of attention you would usually give them.

Update your tags and microchip. If you have a dog or a cat you should create new identification tags with your new address and phone number. Most pet stores or an engraving shop can offer this service. If your pet is micro-chipped be sure to update the contact information on file to your new phone number and address.

Get your pet Registered. Most municipalities require you to register your pet and some may even have restrictions or bans on certain pets or breeds. Registering a pet usually includes a fee and tagging the animal. Some municipalities require proof of sterilization and/or micro-chipping to register your pet. You may need a letter or certificate from your current vet to show as proof. Be sure to contact the municipal office prior to your move to see what the registration requirements are as well as any by-laws you may need to be aware of.

Get the Pet used to the new home and neighbourhood. It is best to start the animal off in a small area of the new home where they will feel safe. Create a secure spot and surround the pet with its bed, toys and familiar items. Show the cat where his new litter box location is.  If you own an outdoor cat you may want to leach it for the first few days it goes outdoors in your new neighborhood.

Tips for the Road

If you’re traveling by car, keep cats and dogs in carriers large enough to accommodate food and water bowls plus a small litterbox for Fluffy. Stop about every two hours to give larger pets some fresh air. Be sure to use a leash if you let your cat out. Maintain a comfortable car temperature for all pets, and don’t ever leave animals alone in a car on a hot day. Even with the windows cracked, this can be fatal. Birds and other small pets (hamsters, guinea pigs, and the like) are especially susceptible to drafts and heat. Cover cages to keep animals calm and well protected, and remove water bottles except during rest-stop water breaks.

Finishing your basement and maximizing the return on your investment

Home improvements are usually done to increase your home satisfaction, but unless you plan on living in the same house forever you should also consider how they affect your home’s overall value.

Finishing your basement can yield up to a 70% return on your investment at resale according to Remodeling Magazine’s 2013 Cost vs.Value Report.

These tips will help you plan for your basement renovation needs with a focus on resale value:

  • Increase Space – Finishing your basement is a cost-effective way to get more usable square footage without having to build an addition on your home. A finished basement utilizes a large unused space in your home.
  • Increase Functionality Determine how to finish your basement to best address your needs. This might be adding more bedrooms, bathrooms, storage area, a home theatre, or a rental. Be sure to check with your municipality to ensure what you have planned is allowed.
  • Plan Ahead – Get a few professional quotations to help you determine what is possible within your budget.  This may include an architect or draftsman to design the job and provide drawings, a contractor to build it and an interior designer to make your dreams become reality. If you are a do- it-yourselfer look online, in magazines and price out various finishes and products.
  • Start with a Solid Structure – Fix any foundation problems first and any structural issues with your home. Professional engineering help will be required for assessing load capacity, excavating and fixing foundation issues.

Comfort Control  – Address any potential dampness issues before your renovation starts. A dehumidifier or air conditioner may be required in summer months. Ensure you have proper heating and cooling distribution which may mean installing or relocating registers and/or adding cold air returns. See my blog post ‘Dealing with Dampness’.

  • Insulation – Fixing moisture issues before you begin will increase the thermal performance of your insulation. Apply waterproof paint to masonry walls and ensure exterior walls contain a proper vapour barrier. Research the various insulation types and look at upgrading existing insulation to a higher R-value before you finish the interior. Consider conducting a before and after energy audit to have to present to any future buyers to show you have made improvements to have an energy efficient home.
  • Lighting – Adding extra lighting or increasing the natural light in your basement by adding or enlarging windows is a great investment. An engineer should ensure the surrounding walls can support the increased structural load.  Recessed lighting (potlights) are a popular choice in today’s homes.
  • Flooring – Choose appropriate materials for your flooring. Carpeting, hardwood and some laminates are generally not recommended due to higher moisture in basements. Consider installing a vapour barrier and a product which acts as an insulator below the flooring. Research the product you want to use to ensure it can be used below grade.
  • Ceilings – Consider a suspended ceiling to allow easy access to the plumbing, electricity and ductwork. Drywall doesn’t offer these benefits, but is often chosen for it’s more clean and polished appearance. If drywall is chosen include access panels for water and gas shutoffs.
  • Drawings and Permits – Work with an Architect or Draftsman to draw up a plan that outlines your vision. Complete any applications for required permits and inspections. Check first with your municipality for requirements and restrictions.

Interview a few contractors, ensuring they are licensed and insured. Ask for past references and examples of work they have previously done.  Compare quotes and pick someone that you feel comfortable dealing with. Your completed basement renovation will not only increase the resale of your home but will add new useable space for you to enjoy.

If you are interested in more home improvements to increase you home value you can request my Free “Room by Room Review” booklet which includes ‘101 Quick & Easy Ways to Make Your Home Show like A Model Home’

Dealing With Dampness in Your Home

As we approach the spring many homes experience dampness from the excess water caused by a combination of greater rain fall and the melted snow. When dampness is present in your home it can cause a musty undesirable smell.

If dampness is not taken care of it also produces mold on hard surfaces, mildew on soft surfaces, and can lead to health issues. The best way to tackle any problems with dampness is to detect  it, deal with it, and avoid it in the future.

Identifying the dampness

The climate where we live is a predictor for dampness in our homes. The Ottawa valley has high humidity and increased rainfall during this time of  year. That coupled with the melting snow and ice often causes an influx of water from the outside coming in.

Even in ideal climates you can also experience dampness from increased humidity from showering, drying clothes, and cooking. It may not always be obvious where to locate the source of dampness issues. When water is entering your home from the outside, you may be able to determine where by looking for water stains on painted walls or white salt deposits (called efflorescence) that show up on brick.

Dealing with dampness

When your home is showing signs of dampness, it is important to deal these issues quickly so they don’t lead to increased damage or personal health issues. The first thing to do is locate the source of the problem. Look at the most common problems such as blocked eaves-troughs  missing shingles, objects stacked against exterior walls, leaking water pipes, or damage to your roof or foundation.

If you cannot find the source of the issue hire an expert to help. Depending on the complexity and severity of the problem, there may be some solutions you can take care of yourself (e.g. caulking around windows to keep moisture out, cleaning the gutters), whereas others may be better suited for a professional (e.g. fixing leaky water pipes or fixing foundation problems).

Avoiding dampness

Prevention is the key to keeping a damp free home. Here are some tips you can take to keep dampness away from your home:

  • Keeping windows and doors closed during humid weather prevents moisture in the home.
  • Use climate control devices such as an air conditioner and or a dehumidifier to keep humidity below 60%.
  • Use exhaust fans in the kitchen and bathrooms to control humidity.
  • Ensure all kitchen and bathroom exhaust fans are clear and connected directly outdoors and not into the attic.
  • When possible, consider limiting the boiling time of water, covering your saucepans when cooking.
  • Position the downspout runoff of the eaves-troughs so they are directed away from the foundation of your home.
  • Make sure the yard has proper slope which directs water away from the home and that the foundation has a proper drainage system in place.
  • Increasing or improving the insulation of your home and around pipes.
  • Make sure that the home has a proper vapor barrier present.
  • Limit the amount of indoor plants you have in the home and store firewood outside or in the garage.

Move-up purchasers set to increase their stake in homeownership

“Move-up purchasers set to increase their stake in homeownership in 2013, despite overall trend toward moderation, says RE/MAX”


Against a backdrop of strong equity gains and lower interest rates, move-up buyers are once again set to ramp up their role in major Canadian housing markets.

That’s the key finding of the RE/MAX Move-Up Buyers Report 2013, which examined sales and trends at trade-up price points in 16 major centres throughout the country.

 Serious average price appreciation over the past 10 years has been the primary catalyst, with compound annual growth led by Regina (11.57 per cent), Saskatoon (10.25 per cent), Winnipeg (10.03 per cent) and St. John’s (9.56 per cent). 

 Five-year appreciation was much more muted, with compounded rates of return hovering near five per cent in most centres.  Regina and Winnipeg once again bucked the trend, posting increases of 12.7 and 8.39 per cent, while St. John’s posted a four-year compound annual gain of 11 per cent.

 There’s no question that the equity position of Canadians has been remarkable.  Yet, gains remain well outside of bubble territory, particularly in the often-cited markets of Vancouver and Toronto.  And while Regina, Saskatoon and St. John’s have proven more robust, house prices are still playing catch up, given a stronger economic status and following years of steady, but modest growth.  Overall, healthy fundamentals remain in place, as enthusiasm climbs among experienced home purchasers.

 In fact, the report also noted that the time between moves has actually decreased among move-up buyers, with most now prepared to move within four to seven years of their original purchase.  Why such confidence?  The move simply makes sense.  With today’s rock bottom mortgage rates, many are able to secure a larger home and/or better neighbourhood, while taking on carrying costs just slightly higher than their original payment. 

 Inventory has played a role drawing out buyers in centres such as Vancouer, Victoria, Kelowna and Saint John, where buyer’s market conditions and—in some cases—softer pricing have created ideal opportunities.  Tight inventory levels, meanwhile, are hampering activity to some extent in Edmonton, Calgary, Regina, Saskatoon, Winnipeg, Toronto proper, Hamilton-Burlington and pockets of St. John’s.  Unless conditions improve, continued upward pressure on pricing is expected in the months ahead, but even that is prompting some to act sooner rather than later. 

 The supply crunch has created a bit of a catch-22 in some markets, as homeowners hold off listing their current home, concerned they won’t find an ideal home to trade up to, ultimately exacerbating the inventory issue.

 Yet, on the whole, the outlook remains positive, with Kelowna, Edmonton, Calgary, Winnipeg, Toronto, Hamilton-Burlington, and London-St. Thomas demonstrating solid move-up activity out of the gate in 2013.

 Move-up buyers remain firm in their belief that homeownership is a sound investment.  Most realize that very few financial vehicles provide the security and dual purpose that homeownership affords.  They also realize that opportunity is not finite—one reason that move-up markets remain well-positioned for the year ahead

Renovating your bathroom can increase your home’s resale potential

If you are a homeowner planning renovations to your home you should consider upgrades that will increase your home’s resale potential.  A renovation to a bathroom generally provides a solid return on your investment. A recent House Staging Report found that 73 per cent of potential buyers would be willing to pay a premium for a home that featured a renovated bathroom.

Start by measuring the space and sketching out a layout for your new bathroom. Remember that the layout of the new bathroom doesn’t necessarily have to be the same as the old one. A new approach is to not make the toilet a focal point. A partial wall will give a sense of privacy and block the eye, without chopping up the space the way a full wall might.

When it comes to lighting, think versatility. You will want brilliant illumination by the mirror and the option of more subdued ambience when soaking in the tub.

If you have an old linen closet, consider converting the façade to resemble a cabinet and perhaps take it right to the ceiling.

Bathrooms are heavy traffic areas, so remember to choose tough, easy to clean surfaces, moisture-resistant paint and non-slip flooring. Ensure you have a bathroom fan that meets your humility requirements. If you install a whirlpool tub for example you may need to upgrade to a more powerful fan to expel the extra steam and moisture.

Take design cues from your fixtures. The soft lines of oval shapes and the curves of pedestal sinks will feel very different from the artsy, ultra-modern look created by angular choices.

Before you buy a bathtub, try it out by sitting in it. Based on your height and the space available, you may want a longer or deeper tub than is standard. Or you may decide that you’ll do without one entirely, in favor of a large open shower space.

Keep in mind your budget when doing any renovations.  A concern when upgrading rooms to increase your home’s resale value is not to overspend.  There is a ceiling to how much your home can be worth. If you live in a $200,000 townhome for example and you install a $10,000 shower and granite counter tops your home is now worth the cost of an executive detached home and there is no buyer out there who will pay that much for a town home.

Choose your own personal styles and preferences but keep in mind the market you are likely to attract when you sell your home; 1st time homebuyers, families, singles or couple with no kids.  Choose fixtures and finishes that would be attractive to that potential buyer.

Are you dreaming of a new bathroom, but don’t have the time, money or space for radical changes? Don’t underestimate your current bathroom’s potential for improvements. A wall-to-wall scrubbing, including a clearing out of old and used items can be rejuvenating, as can a fresh coat of paint. Add some new towels and a shower curtain, a basket or two for storage, a change in wall décor, a plant (it will love the humidity!) and possibly an upgrade to your mirror, lighting, fan cover or faucets, and you can create a beautiful new space for a fraction of the cost.


Prior to becoming a real estate agent, Chantal Nephin graduated with an interior design degree and worked for various interior design firms in Ottawa. If you have any design questions please call her at 613-371-6024.