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Selling Your Home in the Winter…

Fri, 12 Feb by aaronswitzer

Selling Your Home in the Winter…

The weather outside can be frightful; or at least, here in Prince George, it can be frigidly cold. If you have your home up for sale at this time of the year, it might seem like a difficult endeavour to entice potential buyers in viewing your home. Most people want to spend their time warm and cozy, rather than exploring open houses. Here are a few tips on making your home more appealing.
1) Clear your driveway, sidewalk and pathways. Nothing is more daunting – and dangerous – than having to traverse icy, snow-covered cement to get to an open house. Lay down salt as well to deter ice from occurring on your pathways.
2) Light it up. If you are holding your open house during the late afternoon, or evening, turn on every single light in your home. This will make your house welcoming and warm when viewed from the driveway or street.
3) A delightful fire. Ensure that your home is warm before the open house starts; a comfortable temperature of 20 C or warmer is excellent, especially as the front door will be open off and on during your open house, which can cool down your home considerably.
4) Be a generous host. Off your open house guests coffee, tea or hot chocolate, as well as snacks. Warm chocolate chip cookies are not only tasty, but also leave a mouth-watering scent of baking in the air. If you would rather not bake, you can also purchase candles with scents like cinnamon or vanilla.
5) Tidy is best. Ensure that there are places for people to leave their winter boots and/or coats; boot trays can be easily purchased at a department store. Your home should be neat as a pin, with no extra knick-knacks or such cluttering the room – your guests need to envision the home as theirs, and this will help.

Frightful Weather, Delightful Fire: Keeping That Fireplace Safe and Clean

Mon, 04 Jan by aaronswitzer

Frightful Weather, Delightful Fire: Keeping That Fireplace Safe and Clean
With Prince George’s recent dump of snow, and our cold temperatures, many of us rely on our fireplaces to keep us warm. Whether gas, wood or pellet stove, there are things to take into consideration to ensure that you operate your fireplace safety. The following are a few tips to keep in mind this winter.
Wood fireplaces
1. Before you light your fire, open the damper; do not close it until the ashes have completely cooled.
2. Use a metal container outside the house for the cooled ashes.
3. Flammable materials, such as paper and wood, should be well away from the fireplace.
4. Use a screen, whether decorative or just functional, to keep those embers contained.
5. Dry, well-seasoned wood should be used to start your fire; never use starter fluids or other fuel.
All fireplaces
1. Cleanliness is important; your chimney should be professional cleaned and serviced every year, ensuring that tar and creosote do not build up within the chimney. If you use your fireplace quite often, servicing may need to be completed more frequently. Gas fireplaces should also be serviced annually by a qualified technician.
2. Smoke and carbon monoxide detectors should be installed and running properly before you start any fire in your fireplace or woodstove.
3. Carbon monoxide is created not only from your stove, but your clothes dryers or central vacuum system as well. If you have these items running, or your kitchen range hood or bathroom vent, you should not have a fire going as well. This can overtax your venting system.
4. Look for possible equipment issues such as excessive soot, water pooling near burners or rusted vent pipes. If you see anything questionable, give your technician a call right away.
5. Gas fireplaces should always burn clear blue; if they burn yellow or orange, call a technician for service.

If a Tree Falls in Your Yard – Will it Hurt?

Wed, 09 Dec by aaronswitzer

If a Tree Falls in Your Yard – Will it Hurt?
Recently our weather has been more prone to windstorms than snowstorms; which can cause dangers in and around your home, and not just from power outages. If you have a lot of trees surrounding your home (or even just a few), you should follow these simple tips to ensuring you and your family remain safe.
1. Look. There is very little snow on the ground right now – if any – so it is the ideal time to take a wander around your property. Look for trees that have fallen onto your fences, or trees that have fallen onto other trees (these trees are aptly called widowmakers, because they can be very dangerous). Look for trees that sway a lot in the wind – or are leaning excessively in one direction.
2. Listen. It might seem strange – but take a quick walk around your property when it’s windy. Don’t get too close to the trees – but listen for a squeaky sound. This can mean that one of the trees on your properly is extremely close to falling over – if you cannot spot the problem tree right away, it’s best to wait until the wind is over to locate the tree.
3. Ask for help. It may seem like an easy job to cut apart a tree that’s fallen on the ground – and for most, this is true. But if you have a tree that is caught or snagged in another tree (the widowmaker, as above), or if you need to fall a tree a certain way, it’s always a good idea to call in an expert. Some of our local companies are absolutely superb in taking down trees – they specialize in problem falling.
During the spring, before everything starts growing again, walk around the perimeter of your property and look for fallen trees. This will ensure that your fence stays up, and give you an idea of which trees might need to be taken down.

Autumn Leaves are Falling: Leave ‘em, or Not?

Tue, 13 Oct by aaronswitzer

The beautiful vistas of Prince George’s fall leaves have literally fallen – to the ground. Those leaves can cause quite an unsightly mess on your yard; but there are pros and cons for both leaving the leaves and raking them up.

Leave ‘em!
Leaves, when chopped by the mower, can be an excellent mulch for your lawn. It will protect the soil around your trees (where most of the leaves fall, anyway) and your garden plants as well. As long as those leaves are cut into tiny pieces, they will not suffocate your lawn – because yes, your lawn needs to breathe. According to the Scotts website, any lawn mower can do the job – you should go over it enough times so that about half an inch of lawn can be seen through the mulched leaves.

Rake those leaves
However, Prince George does get quite a bit of snow from time to time. The leaves covering your lawn in addition to the amount of snow can cause something called snow mould, a disease that can cause pink or green-coloured mould that eats your grass. Another benefit to raking your leaves is the lovely pile your kids – or you – can jump in after! Of course, a clean lawn always looks better than one strewn with leaves.
Once you rake your leaves, you can choose to compost them – just like any compost though, they do need to be turned often. You can also pick a few of the nicest leaves and use them for a Thanksgiving centrepiece – there are many great ideas out there on the Internet. Either preserve them with a craft spray, put them in between some plastic and a glass tabletop, or create a wreath… it’s all up to you!

Fall Into Autumn

Sun, 20 Sep by aaronswitzer

Fall into Autumn Preparations
It looks like Mother Nature has decided that because we had an early summer, we will have an early fall as well – the leaves are starting to turn colours already and there is a definite chill in the morning air. Now is the time to start preparing your yard and garden for the cooler temperatures – before the onset of frost surprises you.
1) Trim back hanging baskets. If you can salvage any of the plants that are in your hanging baskets, do so by clipping off all the dead and dying blooms. Once your basket looks more dead than alive, it’s time to “give up the ghost” and get rid of the plants. However, instead of ditching the whole kit and caboodle, just take out the plants and use the soil somewhere else – such as in your garden or any container boxes you may have. You can also reuse the container itself for next year.
2) Blanket your blooms. Keep an eye on the weather – if it ever looks like the temperature might drop below freezing, be sure to cover your roses with burlap, which will keep the plants from heavy frost. The extreme temperatures can do a lot of damage to your roses if you do not protect them.
3) One last mow. One last mow of your yard will not only make it look nice and neat, it may also pick up all those leaves that are starting to fall from the trees. However, if you have kids, those leaves also make excellent craft projects – for example, you can put together an educational display describing the leaves of various trees, or make a nice centrepiece for your table.
There may be some more heat before the snow flies, but the above preparations will save you time when the season does arrive.

On the Homefront: Improving Your Home’s Curb Appeal

Wed, 05 Aug by aaronswitzer

On the Homefront: Improving Your Home’s Curb Appeal
Prince George is in the midst of summer, which is an excellent time to complete some home renovations. However, not every renovation needs to be expensive and time-consuming; a fresh coat of paint and some well-placed greenery can do wonders in improving the look of your home. The following are some tips on boosting your home’s “curb appeal.”
1. Colourful Wins. Driving around the city, you might notice that some of the homes have brightly coloured doors; usually red, blue, green, or even purple. There’s a reason – a contrasting colour for your front door captures the attention and makes the home seem bright and inviting. If your home’s front door is a boring white or beige, a splash of colour is in order.
2. Flowers, flowers, flowers. Now is the time to hang some blooming baskets on your front porch, or add some shrubs to either side of your front door. When you are choosing shrubs, be sure to keep to evergreens; this way your home will have a pop of green, even in the dead of winter. Well-kept greenery will again add colour to your home, making it look attractive to passersby – and those who visit will notice, as well.
3. The Path to Home Sweet Home. If your front walk is in desperate need of attention, think about alternatives to a concrete walkway rather than replacing your flagstones. By using differently coloured stones to create patterns in the walk, it can show off your creativity and make your home stand out from the rest. River rocks can be used to line the edges of a concrete pathway as well; a quick walk along the river will provide with multicoloured stones to use, so don’t be scared to use some reds or blacks as well.

Beating The Heat…

Mon, 13 Jul by aaronswitzer

Beating the Heat – Tips and Tricks to Cool Your Home
With temperatures rising over 20 and 25 C most days here in Prince George, the heat can be something you want to escape from. If you are looking for ways to cool your home during our summer, the following may give you some ideas!
1. Open the windows – at night. Before you go to bed, open the windows in your home a few inches – this allows the hot air to escape, and the cool night air to enter. Some nights we are dipping to 8 C, which will do wonders in cooling off the rooms in your home.
2. Fans are good – when in the right place. Fans can be placed in front of an open window, or screen door, to blow the hot air out. They can also be used in combination with the above hint, by pointing the fans into the room to force the cool air inside.
3. Close the blinds. If you have curtains or blinds, close the ones that face the sun. The air in your home heats up as the sun touches it – if the air is in the shade, it won’t be as likely to heat up. Open these blinds up again at night, to allow the hot air to escape.
4. Stay down. Hot air rises – so if you have a basement, you’re sure to notice that the temperature drops by quite a few degrees the lower you go. If you can, move your sleeping area to the basement, which will allow for a much easier sleep.
5. Use the BBQ. Using the oven in your home can increase the ambient temperature by a few degrees – which can be a big difference if your home is already roasting. For those +25 C days, the BBQ – or a cold meal – are the perfect solution.

Creepy Crawly Caterpillars… They’re back!

Tue, 09 Jun by aaronswitzer

They’re Back! Creepy Crawly Caterpillars
With the warm sun and the new leaves on the trees, the caterpillars of Prince George have invaded once again. However, it seems that although the caterpillars that do exist are in decent health (many of last year’s caterpillars were quite scrawny) there doesn’t seem to be as much of them as in previous years. No matter how many of them there are, they seem to still be feasting on our plants, leaves and trees – here are some great ideas on how to get rid of these unwanted guests.
1) Chemical means. There are a few different options out there to chemically get rid of your caterpillars – some of the more popular options include BTK, which is a biological insecticide that you mix with water and spray on the affected leaves. Caterpillars will die as they touch the leaves. Some swear by the use of dishwasher detergent and water; or if you have other insects around (such as ants), it might be worthwhile to call in the local pest control, which can spray the perimeter of your home. The caterpillars will die once they touch the barrier of the spray.
2) Non-chemical means. There are caterpillar traps – called lock down pads — available at your local garden store; or you could use double-sided tape. The lock down pads go around the bottom of your trees, and the sticky part of the pad traps the caterpillars. There is also insecticide that you can place around the width of your tree — when used in combination with a double-sided tape, this solution works quite well.
Most of our caterpillars are tent caterpillars, and will turn into moths later in the season. These moths will soon be seen flying into the lights of the parking lot in College Heights, or in the porch light of your home. If you want to save certain trees in your yard (or the nooks and crannies of your home from nesting caterpillars) the above are some great ideas.

Boosting your Home’s Value!

Tue, 12 May by aaronswitzer

Boost Your Home’s Value … Without Emptying Your Pocketbook
Spring has definitely sprung here in Prince George, with the grass finally becoming greener and the trees starting to show their leaves. It’s that time of the year again when thoughts turn to purchasing your new home – and selling your old one. Here are some inexpensive ways to boost your home’s value.
1. Paint it. A fresh coat of paint will do wonders in improving the look of your home, and can very well add some value as well. Choose natural colors that co-ordinate well. Although “builder’s beige” is one of the most popular colors for new homes, lighter tones can be used as well, such as ivory or cream.
2. Clean it. A professional cleaner can spruce up your home from top to bottom; cleaning windows, blinds, walls, floors … a clean home will definitely capture a higher price than one that is dusty or dirty. Once cleaned, all you have to do to maintain that cleanliness is to ensure that none of that Prince George mud is tracked in, and to swipe a dusty cloth and run the vacuum every once in a while.
3. Change it. There are many small changes you can make to your home to improve its value, and speed up the sale. These include changing out blinds and/or window coverings, moving around furniture to open up a room, and of course decluttering. Putting away knick-knacks and the like allows the buyer to imagine themselves in your home.
The above ideas – painting, cleaning and changing – are excellent ways to add more value to your home and to make your home sell all the faster. Making your home buyer ready doesn’t necessarily have to be expensive or time-consuming; even the smallest adjustments can make a big difference.

Using Your Green Thumb!

Mon, 20 Apr by aaronswitzer

Using Your Green Thumb: Improving Your Home Value with a Garden
The warmer temperatures have finally arrived here in Prince George – we have +10 C most days, although the thermometer is at times dropping below zero at night. The sunshine has finally brought about spring! The trees are starting to bud, and grass is at last growing. Now is the perfect time to think on adding some greenery to your home!
1. Preparation is key. Depending on what type of plant you wish to have popping up in your garden, now may be the time to begin seeding. Either way, preparing your garden – or creating a new one – can be done at any time in the spring. This includes clearing the area of any weeds, and tilling the soil to make it nice and soft.
2. How does your garden grow? Or in this case – what does your garden grow. Do you want your garden to include herbs? Vegetables? Flowers? If you plan on putting your home up for market in the summertime, flowers are key. They will provide a riot of colour, as an excellent backdrop for your home. If you know what you want to include in your garden, then you can determine where that garden is to go – some plants love shade, some love sun, and some can take a mix of both.
3. Roses are red … You can grow roses in Prince George. In fact, many of the rose bushes sold in local gardening stores are specifically chosen for our climate – and they do quite well. So add some reds, yellows and pinks to your garden – they make for a beautiful showpiece, and provide gorgeous buds for indoor decorating as well.
You do not need to have a green thumb to grow wonderful flowers and plants here in Prince George – many local gardening centres offer tutorials, and all are very knowledgeable for answering questions.

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