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A Beautiful Eco-Friendly Kitchen

It’s wrong to say that aesthetics and durability don’t go hand in hand. On the contrary! A green kitchen exudes warmth and cheerfulness, otherwise difficult to obtain. Here is an example.

Imagine a large floor made of natural linoleum, ceramic, wood, concrete or natural stone, like slate or terracotta. Just above are the cabinets made of solid wood, bamboo or wheat board panels. And plenty of natural sunlight is streaming through the windows.

Did you wince when reading the words linoleum and bamboo? You see, times have changed. Today’s linoleum is sold in many different colours and contemporary designs and bamboo comes in many various shades. Take some time to shop around.

The sink is in natural stone or stainless steel. The base of the kitchen island is made of wood, while the countertops of ceramic, waxed concrete, stainless steel or any other material imitating stone. On the wall, copper pans are hanging.

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Note that all the surfaces in the kitchen are made of durable, hygienic and easy to maintain materials. Three of the criteria that largely exemplify a green kitchen. Continue reading

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Installing Moldings

You’re on a tight budget and changing your home decor is not a possibility right now. Did you think about molding? It’s cheap, easy to install and it can transform the entire appearance of a room. Here are a few tips.

  • There is a variety of decorative moldings out there, not to mention various types of wood. Take the time to research: ask vendors, search the Internet or look through books at your local library.
  • To install baseboard molding, take the time to find all the studs behind the wall and mark them as you please. That’s where you’ll nail the baseboard and the moldings will fit snugly together.
  • Do you have to remove old molding? With a flat tool, pry the molding away from the wall by sliding the tool between the stud and the molding.
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  • Identify the areas where the floor is uneven before you install the moldings to avoid unpleasant surprises along the way.

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The list price is right — but have you factored in these 8 extra costs?

Review this checklist so the home you buy doesn’t break the bank.

Consider these 8 home-related expenses:

  1. Home inspection fee: Before closing, it’s customary for the buyer to hire a home inspector to confirm the home meets building standards and is “up to code” for that city. The inspection cost is based on the size and complexity of the home’s systems, but on average the fee should be between $375 and $500, according to our BMO Home Buyer’s Guide. You are responsible for paying this to the inspector. It’s a good idea to make your offer conditional, based on a successful home inspection. Sure, the house might look beautiful, but your inspector may detect structural or other problems that you can then negotiate with the seller to either fix or deduct the repair cost from the agreed-upon price.
  1. Appraisal fee: Your mortgage lender will require an appraisal (for example, the current market value of the home) before they’ll finalize your loan. Appraisals generally cost between $250 and $500, according to the Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC), and you may have the option to roll it into your closing costs.
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  1. Utility bills: Unlike renters — who may have utilities built into their monthly rent payment — homeowners are responsible for all bills, such as water, gas, electric, home phone, cable and Internet. And this can add up faster than you may think. For example, keeping a home warm in the winter and cool in the summer can be pricey, depending on where you live. In fact, heating accounts for a significant part of the total expenses of Canadian households, according to Statistics Canada. Its Survey of Household Spending found Canadians spend an average of $1,895 on electricity, natural gas and other heating and cooking fuel a year. Need help planning? Use Natural Resources Canada’s home energy calculator to estimate how alternative energy sources and energy system replacements could potentially affect your energy bills.

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A Guide to Group Buying

Has the thought of buying a property with someone else or with a few people ever crossed your mind? It’s actually possible, but the experience requires discipline.

Buying a property collectively with a relative, either a friend or a family member, is often the ideal solution, especially since access to a property appears to be getting sparse these days. The constraints are numerous: a tightening of mortgage rules, a record high in household debts and difficulties in establishing a budget.

It’s a simple matter of mathematics. The more people are paying for a property, the lesser the amount each one has to pay for it. However, as any other joint enterprise, there are risks. Several things must be taken care of, such as contribution amounts, task distribution as well as the temperament of each and every one.

Hence, the importance of sticking to a protocol, not only to achieve the ultimate goal, which is buying a property, but also to prevent the relationships between the co-owners from going sour.

Erica Nielson, from the RBC Bank, offers advice to help you make your group purchase a success and not a source of problems.

Here is precisely her advice: Continue reading