Basement Windows : What you need to know!

Are you thinking of renovating your basement?

Before you start, you should be aware of all of Alberta’s safety code requirements.  You will require a Building Permit if your alterations are more extensive than cosmetic upgrades. A Development Permit may be required if your proposed renovations do not meet Land Use Bylaws requirements.

There have recently been building code changes to basement window wells. A window well is a space maintained partially or fully below the adjacent soil for a window – also known as below grade.

Basement windows can come in many shapes and sizes. If you are developing a recreation rooms, games room or office, the size of the window is not a matter of building code concern. However, if you decide to develop a bedroom, the size of the window is very important!

The Alberta Building Code requires that bedroom windows have at least 0.35 m2 (3.8 sq ft) of clear opening that a person could crawl through, with no dimension less that 380mm (15 inches). This requirement ensure that there is an alternative way to escape in case of fire or emergency.

Where basement windows are located partially or fully below grade, a window well is also required. These requirements have been in place for many years. In the 2014 Alberta Building Code, which became mandatory last November, the clearance in front of the bedroom windows increased from 550mm to 760mm. This requires a larger window well. These clearance also applies to any obstructions around the window, like overhead hazards that prevent a safe exit.

Any time code changes, it can present new challenges for the home building industry.  So I recommend that you used a trained professional for your installation and to ensure you are meeting these codes.  Check out 5.0 Stucco for your window and exterior needs.

Excerpt from Home and Renovations – April 2016 (By Vanessa Gash)


Hidden Beds

An Old Trick Made New Again!

By: Christina Guerrero

Whether you live in a small apartment of you want to make the guest room into something you can use more than on special occasions, a wall bed just might be what you are looking for to transform that area in a multi -use space.

“Traditional beds can occupy a large percentage of the available pace in a bedroom,” says Martin Tardif, vice-president of sales for Bestar, a wall bed supplier for Costco. ” A  wall bed allows someone to fold the bed out of the way when it’s not being used to reclaim the space for other purposes”

Wall Bed Origins

Known as Murphy beds, closet beds, disappearing beds, fold-down beds and pull-down beds, wall beds, which fold up into a wall or a cupboard, were traditional furniture pieces sold through department store catalogues in the early 1900s.

Wall Bed Appeal

Wall beds appeal to people who live in small apartments and need to use their traditional bedroom for several purposes. They likewise have fans among owners of larger homes who want to turn an extra bedroom into an office or an exercise, sewing, music of craft room. People are also using wall beds in vacation properties to maximize the number of beds, while not restricting the living space.  Also, families with multi-level houses where none of the bedrooms are on the first floor are using wall beds for family members who can’t go up and down stairs easily.

Old Idea, Modern Features

While the functional and space-saving benefits of wall beds have remained constant, the materials, ease of assembly and safety features have improved. This all aids in raising and lowering of the bed, as well as preventing the bed from springing close. And along with opening in the traditional orientation, many wall beds are now build with attached storage, desks and entertainment centres and in a sideway-oriented design, which reduces the bed’s height so that it can be used in rooms with a restricted ceiling height.

Property Brothers : 10 Must Haves

Based on their experiences with clients on their hit TV show Property Brothers, here are the Scott brothers’ top 10 dream home must-haves:

  1. Open living plan with clear sight lines
  2. Ample kitchen counter space
  3. Separate pantry
  4. Kitchen island
  5. Mega-storage everywhere
  6. Master suite with master bath and walk-in closets
  7. Deck or patio for outside entertaining
  8. Energy-efficient fixtures and appliances
  9. Two-car (minimum) garage
  10. Low maintenance landscaping

Excerpted from Dream Home: The Property Brothers’ Ultimate Guide to Finding & Fixing Your Perfect House

Home Improvement : Wi-Fi

We are all connected… all the time! And getting the most out of your smart-phone, tablet, e-book, laptop and smart-tv requires optimal performance from your home Wi-Fi.  Here are some tips from Mark Saltzman to facilitate the greatest connection:

  1. Put your router in the optimal spot in your home. For example, never put it in your basement, because it will be tough for devices elsewhere in your home to communicate with it.
  2.  If you live in a larger home, you might consider an inexpensive wireless extender (often, referred to as a “repeater”) and place it in the area of your home where the Wi-Fi reception is poor.
  3. If it’s been a few years since you upgraded your router, consider picking up a new one with 802.11ac speeds instead of the older 802.11n protocal. It’s faster, covers a wider area and supports more simultaneous users (and now dozens of devices).
  4. Newer routers also offer both a 2.4GHz connection and 5 GHz. This is ideal, as it could minimize interference among devices. When joining your devices to your router, you can choose which frequency you prefer.
  5. While optional, it’s strongly recommended that you have a password on your wireless network to ensure your neighbours aren’t steeling your Wi-Fi!  On a related note, many routers let you set up a guest network for visiting friends.

Sellers Continue to Adjust Pricing Expectations

Market imbalance in Calgary’s residential resale housing market continued to weigh on citywide prices in April.

Much like the previous month, year-over-year sales fell while new listings increased, resulting in inventory gains across all sectors of the market.

As a result, benchmark prices in the city declined by 0.4 per cent from last month, and 3.4 per cent from last year, to $441,000.

For sellers, the reality of seven consecutive months of price declines has started to sink in, said CREB® president Cliff Stevenson.

“From re-considering the listing of their home to lowering expectations on price, sellers are beginning to adjust to the current market reality,” he said. “However, some buyers in the market are still not willing to pull the trigger because they expect even bigger discounts. And so that gap between buyers’ and sellers’ expectations still persists across many product types and locations.”

Despite this, the detached sector fared better relative to the other sectors of the market. While detached sales activity has fallen by over four per cent so far in 2016 compared to last year, the sales to new listings ratio improved in April. This prevented sharper inventory gains and caused months of supply to move toward more balanced levels.

The same cannot be said of other market sectors. Year-to-date apartment and attached sales declined by a respective 19 and 13 per cent compared to last year. Slower sales, combined with rising inventories, ensured that market conditions continued to favour buyers in these segments.

“While the weak economic climate is influencing demand, the apartment and attached sectors are further impacted by increased supply in the competing new home sector and rental markets,” said CREB® chief economist Ann-Marie Lurie. “This is one of the contributing factors to the steeper price declines recorded in the apartment sector.”

Since the start of the price declines, monthly unadjusted benchmark apartment prices have declined by 7.6 per cent, while semi, row and detached have declined by a respective 5.9, 4.6 and 4.1 per cent.