THE DOWNSIZING DILEMMA

General Darick Battaglia 12 Oct

With almost 50% of homeowners ready to retire and wishing to stay in their home and 30% of those people with most of their money tied up in home equity, the downsizing dilemma is real. Can they afford to stay in their home or is downsizing the better option.

In the past, retired couples or a widow would keep their clear title home and use pension and investment income to live. They would only sell the family home and move into a retirement home when health issues forced the move or upon death of both people. Times have changed.

People are living longer and want to stay in their home. The cost of living has risen and, due to higher home values, the amount of equity in that home is greater than ever. Many home owners are being stretched with their budget and their retirement income is insufficient to maintain their lifestyle.

We have found that many retired people are unable to meet their budget each month and are using a line of credit and/or credit cards. This becomes a vicious cycle and the cost of interest pushes them to the wall and they reach their maximum limits. Then they are forced to sell their home or reduce their lifestyle to manage. Often family members are unaware till it becomes a serious matter. Planning ahead is essential to avoid this situation and lower stress levels for all family members including the aging parent.

In a recent Globe and Mail article, Scott Hannah of the Credit Counselling Society talks about the risks.

Some homeowners now recognize the need to look to their home as a source of income from home equity financing.

There are a growing number of programs designed specifically for homeowners over the age of 55. Each comes with different requirements, advantages and benefits. It is important for retiring or retired people to talk with their family and then in a group with their independent Dominion Lending Centres mortgage broker and financial planner.

For some family members, the next step is for the aging parent to downsize to a new home. For some, it is to stay in the family home and set up an equity plan to maintain a safe place and comfortable lifestyle. Consideration must be made for current income, current budget and future needs.

Courtesy Of PAULINE TONKIN – AMP – Coquitlam, BC.

HGTV’s original boss babe – Sandra Rinomato

General Darick Battaglia 18 Sep

After taking a turn as the host of Property Virgins and Buy Herself, Sandra Rinomato has come full circle putting her efforts back into Toronto area real estate.

Sandra Rinomato fell into a career in real estate almost by accident. It was the mid-90s, and the future TV star was considering opening up a coffee shop in the Toronto area. She reached out to a friend and commercial realtor for help to find a space, and he obliged. But he asked her an important question: Why did she want to work so hard?
“I said I don’t, I said I want to work smart not hard,” Rinomato recalled of the conversation 22 years later.
The friend suggested instead of selling java, she get her real estate license. And just like that, she did. She began her real estate career in a prestigious area of Etobicoke, noting she got lucky getting into the industry at a time when the market was good.
In a sink or swim industry, Rinomato quickly established herself, relying on her people skills, especially during open houses.
“It was really a great learning experience to do open houses and get face-to-face with people because let’s face it, everybody loves to talk about real estate,” she said, adding those open houses taught her the publics perception of real estate and what the masses considered a good home.
By 2006, Rinomato’s success and personality eventually led her to being cast in the popular HGTV show Property Virgins.
For seven seasons, Rinomato crisscrossed the continent coaching first-time homebuyers through the process of buying a home.
When she left the show in 2011, she starred in another HGTV show Buy Herself for one season.
The series focused on single women who were buy their first home.
Rinomato was blindsided by the success of Property Virgins, admitting when she was originally asked to take part, she wondered why anyone would want to watch a show about her day-to-day job.
“The show was watched by five-year olds and 80-year olds. That was a real trip,” she said.
While Rinomato considers her turn on TV a blessing, it was also a lot of work. By 2016, she was feeling burned out and ready to take a
step away from media. Nowadays, she’s focused on her first love:
Real estate. She’s still busy running her successful real estate brokerage Sandra Rinomato Realty Inc., But time away from the tube has allowed Toronto resident to get her life back.
“I’m just really enjoying being a realtor, and being a person,” she said, noting she even has time to meet with girl friends for a weeknight dinner, something she could never fit in around her TV schedule.
Rinomato recently took some time to chat with Our House Magazine about some of her favourite topics including real estate, the current market and women’s empowerment.

Our House:

What is it about real estate that you love?

Sandra. I love that every day is different, every client is different, every property is different, every negotiation is different, I love the people contact and I feed off their energy. And I do love being able to share my knowledge and expertise with people. Because when I go to a professional, I know I really benefit when they are knowledgeable.
What are some of the key pieces of advice you give to a client, especially a first-time homebuyer when you meet them for the first time?
The most important thing is to communicate and be honest. That includes being honest with yourself and create a little bit of a plan. Understand your plan might go off the rails at some point, but if you have a plan you can proceed toward your goal. It’s not easy buying a place, it almost doesn’t matter what your budget is, it’s not easy to find everything you want or everything you’re dreaming about. Recognize that this is a big deal. This is serious and this affects your life. If you’re not prepared for it, chances are you’re going to just give up and rent.

Q: What are the common mistakes you see from people buying a home?

A: First time buyers don’t understand the financing. They go online and do a preapproval online and think, ‘Oh, I can get this much money because I make this much money.’ That’s not a preapproval. And if you do get a preapproval from a lender, it may have conditions, so you have to pay off your credit card or your student loans… and a lot of people make the mistake of not taking that seriously and then shopping and finding out too late they have to have that stuff before they can get the mortgage. The other mistake with first-time buyers especially, they expect to get their forever home right of the gate, but you have to take one step at a time. You may not want to, but in Toronto or Vancouver, the first step is a condo. People really may want a house, and you know what, you can get there. Get the condo, get used to the culture around budgeting and being a homeowner and build equity in the condo… and then you can move up. Another mistake people make, many people, don’t know that mortgages are products and there are many products, there are many things to consider other than the interest rate. For example, don’t assume you’re going to get a 25 year amortization. Talk to your mortgage professional to see what your options are.

Q: What do you make of the real estate market right now in Canada and where do you think its heading?

A: I can tell you what’s going on in Toronto, and Toronto is a mixed bag. It has every market. Condos are outperforming every other type of real estate. They are busy, the prices have gone up significantly just in the last six months because it is the last frontier, the last affordable product people can buy. Toronto grew up and I know in Vancouver people are raising families in condos and that’s what’s happening in Toronto. There’s no negative stigma that should be attached to that. The Toronto core, we really didn’t see any hesitation at all. For some reason, the peripheral or outlying areas were hard hit, and I don’t know why. I can’t make sense of it. Many properties are not selling in multiple offers, they’re lingering on the market. I’m going on statistics, I ran the statistics for my area around the office and we’re only four per cent up from last year, but we’re not 40 per cent don like people seem to want to believe. In the last three months it’s gone up eight percent. That little blip is over and I think we’ve come through the other side unscathed. The problem here with Toronto is infrastructure, there’s land that could be developed but there isn’t any money to build the water treatment plants, so the land can’t be developed yet. Even with what’s happening in the peripheral of Toronto with the downturn in the market, that is temporary because people need a place to live and we’re growing rapidly. If you think Toronto is expensive now, just wait.

Q: Have you kept an eye on the mortgage rules that came into effect in January?

A: Yes, people qualify for less. I feel bad for people who waited to have their 20 per cent down because as I said it’s a lot of work, it’s a lot of time to save those after tax dollars and you wanted to avoid the CMHC fees for being a high ratio mortgage. Now you’re in a conventional mortgage and they slap these rules on you and it’s like ‘Wow, I can afford $150,000 less’ which puts you right out of the market. I don’t disagree they should have a stress test to make sure people can afford houses, I think Canadian banks and lenders have been typically conservative and it’s worked well for our country. I do think there should be a little bit of leeway, for people who have to renew in a couple years who may not qualify under the stress test when they have to renew their mortgage. I’m not sure what that’s going to look like. I have clients who are worried and I’m worried for them.

Q: How important is financing and budgeting when it comes to buying a home?

A: It’s crucial. It’s not just a matter of the bank saying I can have this much money. I say calculate what you spend by tracking every penny you spend for a month. Whatever your fixed expenses are, and then anything you buy, either put it on debit or credit so you get a transaction report at the end of the month. If you just look at that and say, this is what I spent, these are my fixed costs, on top of that I have to put on vacation, gifts, entertainment not incorporated in that month… and then savings. Add in 10 per cent of your income or whatever you designate as your savings, and that’s how much money you need every month to survive. When you look at that, you freak out. That’s the real number. Of course you need to know what the bank will give you, but you also need to know what your spending habits are. Don’t lie to yourself, and say you’re going to stop spending money on such and such. If that’s what makes you happy and motivates you to get out of bed, you’re not going to stop. Accept it and embrace it. And so it means I can afford this amount of mortgage. That’s what it means.

Q: How do you see the role of a mortgage broker in the transaction of a home?

A: They’re critical. I don’t have any bearing on where people go, I make my recommendations, only because I know we may need to contact someone on a Saturday night if we’re in multiple offer. We need correct information, and sometimes if you just walk into a (bank) branch you don’t necessarily get a mortgage professional, so I insist they get a mortgage professional.

Courtesy of Jeremy Deutsch – Communications Advisor

Is easy money coming to an end?

General Darick Battaglia 30 Aug

In a previous post, I discussed interest rates and their effect on real estate values. I argued that they did indeed alter buyer perceptions, and consequently value and price. But what about absolute interest rate levels? Is easy money coming to an end?

Many lack any experience of high interest rates
In a June 5, 2017 Globe and Mail article entitled Remember When: What have we learned from the 1980’s and that 21% interest rate?, author Richard Blackwell quotes CIBC World Markets deputy chief economist Benjamin Tal “We have a generation of Canadians who have never experienced high, or even rising, interest rates,”. He goes on to say “For them, those extremely low interest rates are a given.” Are interest rates likely to test those levels in the future? Likely not, for a host of reasons. First, inflationary pressures seem not to be as prevalent. Yes, you could argue there is price volatility, and a quick trip to the local gas station will confirm that opinion. However globalization seems to have had a positive impact over the past several years. The article states that “Low-priced imports from developing countries have helped keep domestic prices down, and that situation is not likely to change significantly in the next while.” Second is the shifting demographics in Canada, baby-boomers are aging and downsizing and exiting the housing markets. Demand for funds, while still robust, is tapering off.

Is easy money coming to an end?
If inflationary pressures are generally in check, and aging baby boomers are inevitably curtailing spending, are we in for an extended period of low interest rates? Not so fast. In a recent Reuters article entitled Tide about to turn for markets as easy-money decade comes to an end, authors Sujata Rao and Dhara Ranasinghe suggest that “While markets reached dizzying heights during the easy-money era, that flood will dry up the the end of the year. For the first time since 2011, the central banks are expected to suck out more cash in 2019 than they pump in.”

Implications for Property owners
If the era of low interest rates is ending, what will rising rates mean for for commercial real estate buyers? One of the most important considerations in real estate acquisition is cash flow, both current, and anticipated. The absolute level of interest rates, and consequently mortgage rates, speak directly to the performance of commercial real estate. Why? Because of the direct impact on the present value of future cash flows. Your cash flow after debt repayment is eroded by increasing interest rates, and strangled by absolute high interest rate levels. High interest rates lessen future cash flows, which lowers the value of the asset.

Historically inflation rate increases often happen in tandem with interest rate increases. Inflationary pressures seem not to be in evidence, at least not to the degree as we’ve seen previously. One interesting byproduct however, is that while property owner cash flow may erode, inflationary pressures often do increase the value of hard assets. So while increasing interest rates and inflationary pressures erode cash flows, savvy investors often turn to real estate as it has an uncanny ability to whether the storm of inflation.

Courtesy of Allan Jensen – AMP – DLC The Mortgage Source based in Ottawa, ON.

What happens when your credit card account is closed

General Darick Battaglia 29 Aug

I have been working in the mortgage industry since 2005. I have had all sorts of clients over the years. Every once in a while I get someone who has a car loan , a couple of credit cards but there’s a collection from a credit card, a dentist or some other creditor. When I ask why this has not been paid, I am told that they had a dispute with this firm and they are not going to be pushed around. The client doesn’t care if the account is sent to collection, they won’t pay it just on principle.

While I admire people who stick to their guns, they are on a slippery slope and things will not work out well for them. Sometimes they think that because the account is closed they don’t have to pay anymore. This is totally wrong.

CREDIT SCORES WILL DROP
As the creditor has reported your late or missing payment, your score goes down with the credit reporting agencies every month until you get to 120 days late or the creditor closes the account. However, they may send your account to a collection agency who will add their fees to the account and threaten or harass you. While you may not owe the money to your original creditor, they have sold the debt to someone else. You still owe your original amount and probably more with interest accruing every month.

Something that most people do not realize is that this refusal to pay an account means that you won’t get a mortgage or any new credit lines until the problem is resolved. The longer you hold out, the more likely that you will need to use a B lender for your next mortgage and car loan. I have seen car loans with 26% interest and mortgage with 16% interest over the years.
My advice is don’t ignore the problem. Get it resolved as soon as possible. I know that you want to stick to your guns but it’s going to end up costing you a lot of money.

Courtesy of David Cooke – AMP – DLC Clarity Mortgages in Calgary, AB.

My First Home-Our House Magazine

General Darick Battaglia 2 Aug

We all remember our firsts. Our first day of school, our first bicycle and our first love. It’s no different for our first home. And I remember mine like it was yesterday.
I bought my first home shortly after turning 19 in the late 1980s. It was a single-family home in the River Springs neighborhood of Port Coquitlam B.C. I paid $83,600. I took advantage of a government program at the time that let me use my RRSPs to come up with part of the down payment. I also needed two roommates to help make the mortgage payments, so it ended up feeling a bit like a frat house. Being a typical starter property for the time, all the homes on the quiet cul-de-sac were like little Hobbit houses, scrunched together.
But I sure was proud of my little home. I kept my yard in great shape; the driveway was always swept, and I filled the house with plants and hosted dinner parties.
Even as a teenager, I couldn’t wait to buy my first home. Not only did I want to impress my mother, but I figured home ownership would give me a sense of independence and accomplishment.
A year later, I decided to sell. Not because I’d grown tired of the home, but prices had skyrocketed in the area. I sold the home for $113,000. Not too bad for one year. I figured the property value had risen so quickly, I was never going to make that kind of money again. The house today is probably worth 10 times what I originally paid.
I’m often asked, when is a good time to buy? We know the last few years, especially here in B.C. and in Southern Ontario, home prices have really taken off. And in recent months a cooling off period appears to have set in. Watching the markets closely can make a prospective buyer question the right time to jump into the market.
I’d say it was the best time 10 years ago, it’s the best time now and it will be the best time in 10 years from now.
I believe everyone should make an investment in their first home as soon as they possibly can.
You have to pay for shelter anyway, and home ownership is the best form of forced savings.
So if you decide to take the plunge into home ownership this year for the first time, enjoy it. I can tell you first hand, it’s something you’ll never forget.

Courtesy of Gary Mauris – Dominion Lending Centres – President and CEO – Dominion Lending Centres in Port Coquitlam, BC.

5 Reasons why every realtor needs a mortgage broker at their open houses

General Darick Battaglia 23 Jul

Realtor Safety – While we do not have the safety issues that realtors experience south of the border, there have been incidents involving female realtors being assaulted or feeling uncomfortable being alone with strangers walking around the house.

Property Safety – Did you know that when a realtor is holding an open house they are liable for any losses or damage to the property? It’s pretty easy to have one person distract the agent upstairs while their partner runs off with the flat screen TV or the silverware. Another person in the property discourages theft and can make the realtor feel safer.

Snagging new clients – sometimes people show up at open houses without any preparation. They may like a home but they have no idea whether they could afford it. Enter the mortgage broker- by being on the premises you can quickly pre-approve these prospective buyers giving the realtor an opportunity for a quick sale and to double end the deal.

Third Party Feedback – sometimes visitors are reluctant to say anything negative about a property to a realtor but are more open with their financial partner. The realtor can benefit from both the mortgage broker’s opinion and anything that they hear from visitors.

Programs that can help sell a home – some municipalities offer subsidized down payments for first time home buyers, others offer tax incentives . If a prospective buyer comments on the worn carpeting or the lack of a garage, it’s a good time for the mortgage broker to mention Purchase Plus Improvements programs available. The realtor may be aware of the programs but unaware of the program rules. The realtor will be really happy to have a mortgage broker find a solution to one sales objection and help them sell the house.

Courtesy of David Cooke – AMP – DLC Clarity Mortgages in Calgary, AB.

0 SECRET “To-Do’s” After you file Consumer Proposal or Bankruptcy

General Darick Battaglia 13 Jul

Many people go through challenges in life that affect their finances. Divorce, job loss, health issues top the most common reasons. I commend you on getting your finances sorted out and back on track. The moment you FILE that consumer proposal or bankruptcy is the time to start rebuilding your credit history. YES, there are companies that can help with that. Too often I see people waiting YEARS to pay off their debt program before getting credit again, which sets you back two years.

Mortgage Lenders/Banks view Bankruptcy, Consumer Proposal and Debt Programs all the same…bad credit management.

When will it come off my Credit Bureau?

Consumer Proposal Programs:
Transunion and Equifax state that it will take three years for a consumer proposal to fall off your credit score after it has been completed. So if your proposal takes you four years to pay, then your score will be damaged for seven years in total. If you are able to pay off your proposal quicker than your credit rating after a consumer proposal will get better faster. The key is that it will stay on your credit bureau for three years from completion.

Bankruptcy

A first bankruptcy for six years from the date of your discharge
A second bankruptcy for 15 years

TEN SECRET “To-Do’s” you must adhere too:
A mortgage is something most people will have for a very long time. The rules for mortgages have tightened up in the past few years. A LOT.
Once you have filed a debt program…you MUST adhere to these 10 rules.
Excuses don’t fly with Lenders.
You need to prove to THEM you are financially capable.
They owe you nothing.

1.If you go bankrupt or file a consumer proposal while you have a mortgage, the Lender will see this when they review for your renewal and could deny your renewal and you will need to prepare to look for another lender/bank or they charge super high renewal rates. If you are considering either option or are currently in a proposal, please contact me to review your options far in advance of your renewal.
2. No NSF charges on your bank accounts. Get yourself an overdraft to protect yourself.
3. No missed mortgage payments – EVER
4. No late payments on anything that reports to your Credit Bureau; credit cards, car loans, student loans or cell phone bills.
5. No collections for any reason. Pay that issue and sort it out later.
6. Double Bankruptcies or one Consumer Proposal and a Bankruptcy will make it difficult to get a mortgage. You can’t get around this anymore. It would be mortgage fraud. Lenders can look this up easily via the Bankruptcy Records Search.
7. If you have a Bankruptcy that has property included, it will be VERY difficult for you to get a mortgage without at least 25% down payment (for a purchase) or equity (refinance). On top, you will likely be in an Alternative mortgage for a very long time with higher rates and fees.
8. Get two tradelines. Credit Card, Car Loan or Line of Credit. You need to have two years of history and two of them with spending limits of at least $2,500.
9. Don’t spend to the limits. Only use a max 50% of available credit. Use a Mortgage Broker who specializes in Credit Repair; who can review your file with you on a semi-annual basis to keep you on track as mortgage rules change.
10. You need to look “squeaky clean” until your Bankruptcy or Consumer Proposal is removed from your credit bureau.

Courtesy of Kiki Berg, A.M.P – DLC Hilltop Financial based in Langley, BC.

Delivering Fashion-Our House Magazine

General Darick Battaglia 12 Jul

We all know food trucks are now a staple in the diet of any big city. They’ve revolutionized how many of us eat and they’ve put brick and mortar restaurants on notice. So, could the business model work for another favourite pastime: shopping?

Ashley Mitobe is the owner and operator of Fashiontruck Canada, one of the country’s first mobile boutique shopping trucks located in the Greater Toronto Area. A stylist by trade, she teamed up with her friend Emily in 2014 to create and eventually start up their fashion truck. The vehicle, a 2010 Budget delivery van nicknamed Eve, is 270-square feet of mobile fashion eye candy. It’s filled with the latest designs and biggest names in women’s fashion from Canada and around the world.

But, like any new idea, getting this mobile business up and running wasn’t without its challenges. Originally, the pair assumed the perfect place for their fashion truck would be the myriad music and food festivals in the Toronto area. But they quickly discovered that wasn’t the case. People who were coming out for music or food weren’t prepared to drop cash on clothes shopping. Meanwhile, the best parking spots in Toronto were either too expensive or simply not available.

“It was really hard to find a place to make a business like this work,” Mitobe told Our House Magazine.

By 2016, her business partner had split, and the fashion truck was struggling. That was until a client of Mitobe’s asked if she’d ever consider bringing the truck to her house to have of group of girls come over and drink wine and shop. That was the light-bulb moment Mitobe needed.

“This is where this business is going to succeed,” she said.

Since she changed focus, about 80 per cent of her business comes from private shopping parties. From April to November, Fashiontruck Canada is booked five-to-seven nights a week. And Mitobe is willing to accommodate an eager clientele by taking the truck around the region including bookings in Ottawa and Montreal. She doesn’t charge to show up, suggesting a charge could be a barrier for anyone thinking about trying something new – but she also gets very few cancellations.

Clients can book the truck to come to their home in three to four-hour blocks. Mitobe explained during a typical outing, the host will provide some food and drinks, while friends come and go from the truck to shop.

“It’s a real intimate space, so it’s great for groups of girlfriends to come in and laugh and have some fun,” she said, noting a mobile shopping option is perfect for busy moms who can’t find the time to shop. “If you’re a mom, you’re always looking for a night out or an excuse to take a break and go out and relax and laugh with your friends.”

While Mitobe believes there are some advantages to being a mobile business, it’s not as easy as it may look. The truck operates off a generator that can occasionally give out, and she’s had to learn how to change her own oil. There was also the initial cost of tens of thousands of dollars to get the truck stocked and running.

Despite the grind, when the truck shows up at a doorstep, Mitobe said the women are prepared to shop and drop some serious money. To learn more about the fashion truck, go to fashiontruckcanada.com.

Courtesy of Jeremy Deutsch, Communications Advisor

GRIDIRON STAR TACKLES THE RENOVATION WORLD

General Darick Battaglia 8 Jun

The following is an excerpt from the July issue of Our House Magazine.

Chatting with Sebastian Clovis about home renovations, it’s impossible to miss his enthusiasm. He’s splitting a downtown Toronto single-family home into a duplex. It may not sound like the most stimulating project, but for Clovis this is his element. He quickly rattles off all the neat parts of the project, from separating the HVAC system to soundproofing a building that’s now in two.

“It’s a really exciting project,” he told Our House Magazine in a recent interview.

It’s probably a good thing Clovis is passionate about his work, because his time in front of the camera as an HGTV star has made him a target of fans who want his advice, whether it’s at the gym or the grocery store.

“I’m known for getting into conversations that are way too long,” he said. “I would say I’m one of the contractors who’s given out the most amount of renovation advice in the steam room in the gym.”

With all jokes aside, Clovis maintains he’s blessed for the opportunities he had since he made a turn to do television. And he has no problems dispensing valuable advice on the subject of renovations.

Patience is everything in a home

It’s easy to spot the imperfections as soon as you move into a new place. While Clovis points out people have a natural inclination to change and customize their home as soon as they move in, he sees it differently. He recommends people start by tackling the items suggested in a home inspection, like the roof, windows, and siding.

“Do the things that are going to protect your home in the long-term first,” he said.

Clovis believes those improvements will give you the opportunity to spend a little time in the home. That’s time to see how the flow works with your family, how the sunlight comes through the windows and to figure out how to make efficient changes.

He said a lot of people want an ultra-modern kitchen after watching TV shows and seeing them in magazines, but they may not be a fit for the character of your home.

“You don’t want to spend $60,000 on a kitchen and two years later you’re frustrated with yourself because you put the wrong kitchen in there,” he said.

While people always like to get their hands a little dirty around the home, when asked whether people should DIY, Clovis is cautious in his response. The man who hosted his own DIY show said he’s all for people building benches, chairs, and tables, but bigger projects that touch on the envelope of the building should be left to the pros.

“If you’re not a professional builder, you don’t have too much business messing with the structure of the home,” Clovis said.

While some projects may look easy on TV, the handyman believes even laying flooring should be left to professionals. If anything, it might save money in the long run. He noted with the ever increasing costs of materials, wasting material on a failed installation attempt will burn through a budget. If you’re going to splurge on beautiful floors or tiles, spend the money to get them installed properly, he said.

And if you’re thinking about a budget, Clovis said he follows the golden rule of a 20 per cent contingency above and beyond the quote. That contingency is critical because you don’t know what’s going to happen once the walls are opened up.

He also suggested a contingency is important to accommodate for evolving design plans, adding often by the time a project is half way through, people start thinking about changes. And when it comes to his clients, he sets up a payment schedule with benchmarks in place to make sure payment is made when a certain amount of work is complete.

“It’s great to know when payments are going to be due and what they’ll be,” he said. “It makes everyone more comfortable when you have that in place.”

Courtesy of Jeremy Deutsch, Lead Writer, Dominion Lending Centres

GRIDIRON STAR TACKLES THE RENOVATION WORLD

General Darick Battaglia 7 Jun

The following is an excerpt from the July issue of Our House Magazine.

Chatting with Sebastian Clovis about home renovations, it’s impossible to miss his enthusiasm. He’s splitting a downtown Toronto single-family home into a duplex. It may not sound like the most stimulating project, but for Clovis this is his element. He quickly rattles off all the neat parts of the project, from separating the HVAC system to soundproofing a building that’s now in two.

“It’s a really exciting project,” he told Our House Magazine in a recent interview.

It’s probably a good thing Clovis is passionate about his work, because his time in front of the camera as an HGTV star has made him a target of fans who want his advice, whether it’s at the gym or the grocery store.

“I’m known for getting into conversations that are way too long,” he said. “I would say I’m one of the contractors who’s given out the most amount of renovation advice in the steam room in the gym.”

With all jokes aside, Clovis maintains he’s blessed for the opportunities he had since he made a turn to do television. And he has no problems dispensing valuable advice on the subject of renovations.

Patience is everything in a home

It’s easy to spot the imperfections as soon as you move into a new place. While Clovis points out people have a natural inclination to change and customize their home as soon as they move in, he sees it differently. He recommends people start by tackling the items suggested in a home inspection, like the roof, windows, and siding.

“Do the things that are going to protect your home in the long-term first,” he said.

Clovis believes those improvements will give you the opportunity to spend a little time in the home. That’s time to see how the flow works with your family, how the sunlight comes through the windows and to figure out how to make efficient changes.

He said a lot of people want an ultra-modern kitchen after watching TV shows and seeing them in magazines, but they may not be a fit for the character of your home.

“You don’t want to spend $60,000 on a kitchen and two years later you’re frustrated with yourself because you put the wrong kitchen in there,” he said.

While people always like to get their hands a little dirty around the home, when asked whether people should DIY, Clovis is cautious in his response. The man who hosted his own DIY show said he’s all for people building benches, chairs, and tables, but bigger projects that touch on the envelope of the building should be left to the pros.

“If you’re not a professional builder, you don’t have too much business messing with the structure of the home,” Clovis said.

While some projects may look easy on TV, the handyman believes even laying flooring should be left to professionals. If anything, it might save money in the long run. He noted with the ever increasing costs of materials, wasting material on a failed installation attempt will burn through a budget. If you’re going to splurge on beautiful floors or tiles, spend the money to get them installed properly, he said.

And if you’re thinking about a budget, Clovis said he follows the golden rule of a 20 per cent contingency above and beyond the quote. That contingency is critical because you don’t know what’s going to happen once the walls are opened up.

He also suggested a contingency is important to accommodate for evolving design plans, adding often by the time a project is half way through, people start thinking about changes. And when it comes to his clients, he sets up a payment schedule with benchmarks in place to make sure payment is made when a certain amount of work is complete.

“It’s great to know when payments are going to be due and what they’ll be,” he said. “It makes everyone more comfortable when you have that in place.”

Courtesy of Jeremy Deutsch, Lead Writer – Dominion Lending Centres