Posts in Kijiji for the Home

DIY Home Repairs: Replacing an Overhead Fixture

Many home repairs can seem like too big of a DIY project to take on, but this isn’t always the case. While you probably shouldn’t climb up on your roof today to fix those loose shingles by yourself or attempt to re-tile one of the rooms in your home, one common home repair you can handle without calling in a professional is re-wiring a ceiling light. There are thousands of interesting light fixtures at great prices on Kijiji, and switching your overhead light is an easy and fast way to make a big impact on a room. The right lighting can really take your interior design to the next level!

Let there be light: how to change a light fixture

1. Get A Partner!

You’ll want someone there to hold onto the screws and bolts, hand you parts you need, and as a general safety precaution, just someone to help make sure you’re following the steps and everything’s going smoothly. Chances are you’ll be up on a ladder, and having a buddy there to spot you is always a good idea when working on something up high.

2. Speaking of Safety…

The first step is to turn off the source that powers this lighting circuit – working on live wires with power still surging through them is a bad idea. Just the light switch is not enough – go to the fuse box and turn off the entire room or floor (make sure you have a flashlight handy). Obviously, if you have a natural light source, doing this during daylight hours is preferable to night time. Once the power is off, take off the cover of the light and remove the light bulb.

3. Take It Apart

Once the cover of the light is off, you’ll see the screws or nuts that connect the fixture to the gang box on the ceiling. At this point, loosen the screws while keeping a hand on the base (so it doesn’t fall off) so you can get a better look at the wires.

4. Evaluate

Look closely at the wires. You don’t want your wires to be frayed or to be loose from its insulation. If you see either of these issues, you know it’s time for re-wiring. If the insulation itself on the wire still looks good and there is no visible breakage in the wiring, then proceed to the next step.

If the wires themselves don’t look salvageable, it may take more than re-wiring to fix your light fixture. At this point, it might be a good idea to consult an expert.

5. The Next Step

If the wiring was still intact and it’s just a simple re-wiring that’s needed, all you have to do it clean up the ends of the wire making sure there isn’t any leftover insulation or tape.

6. Match Everything Up

Connect the wires according to colour. There are only 3 wires you need to worry about: a coloured wire that’s usually black, a white wire, and a green ground wire. All that’s needed for this step is to connect the wires to their matching colour with wire nuts. It’s a good idea to secure it with electrical tape for some added stability.

After this, put in the new bulb or bulbs, place the cover back on, turn on the power source and hopefully…let there be light!

The Ecological Impact of Buying Used Appliances vs. New

It would be great – for us and our budgets – if refrigerators, dishwashers, washers and dryers, and other high-end appliances never broke down. Unfortunately, that’s not the case – a fact that leads to plenty of questions for environmentally conscious homeowners. In many cases, going for used items is the best choice for the environment, but the very nature of appliances makes them a bit of a game-changer when it comes to going green. So when you’re faced with the task of replacing an appliance and want to make the most environmentally friendly choice possible, should you buy used or new?

Benefits of Buying New

Newer appliances offer certain environmental benefits that many older appliances cannot. For example, new refrigerators consume 75 percent less energy than those manufactured in the late 1970s. If you look for an Energy Star label, you’ll use even less energy as the refrigerator will offer better insulation, precise temperature control, more efficient compressors, and other features that help lighten its ecological footprint.

A new Energy Star dishwasher uses only about three-quarters of the energy used by those manufactured in the early 1990s and earlier. Because newer dishwashers are better at getting dishes clean, you won’t have to “wash them before you wash them,” meaning you’ll also conserve water.
A water heater is yet another example of an appliance with newer versions that are kinder to our planet. Because heating water accounts for around 14 percent of a typical home’s energy expenses, replacing an aging water heater can make a big difference – especially because when you consider that as water heaters age they function less and less efficiently.

Benefits of Buying Used

While new appliances typically tend to be more energy efficient than used ones, there are still many situations where buying used might be the better choice for both the environment and your wallet. For starters, used appliances are often also “new” – at least, in terms of the technology that’s been used to produce them. If you can find an appliance that’s no more than a few years old, in good condition, and with the Energy Star label, you can reap the same benefits of purchasing a brand new Energy Star model. The only added carbon footprint is the CO2 emitted in transporting the appliance to its new home.

An important point to consider is that every purchase of a used appliance reaps three major benefits.

1. Gives the used appliance new life
2. Keeps one more appliance from being adding to the pile at the landfill
3. Keeps a new appliance from being manufactured

This last point is especially important because the process of manufacturing a new appliance uses tremendous amounts of energy.

The environmental burden of buying used is limited to the cost of (and energy used by) transporting the item. Just be sure to buy a ‘newer’ used appliance. If the appliance is old enough to be an extremely poor steward of energy, these benefits may not be enough to offset the environmental benefits offered by energy-efficient new appliances.

Get the Most Environmentally Friendly Bang for Your Buck

Whether you decide buy new or used appliances, there are things you can do to ensure you cause the least amount of harm to the environment as possible.

• Look for the Energy Star label. Many new and used appliances alike bear this label, which means they are more ecologically sound than those without the Energy Star rating. They use less energy and water, and they emit fewer greenhouse gases.
• Buy the right size. Buying a bigger water heater, air conditioner, or refrigerator than you need is a waste of both energy and money.
• If possible, choose natural gas appliances over electric. It’s more energy efficient to burn natural gas in your home than for power plants to burn it, convert it to electricity, and send it to you.

Conclusion

There are a lot of factors that play into deciding whether to purchase new or used appliances. One of the biggest points to keep in mind is that even if you decide not to purchase new, ‘newer’ used appliances are still better, especially if they come with an Energy Star label attached. This holds true whether you are purchasing a refrigerator, air conditioner, washing machine, or any other high-end appliance.

Sources:

http://www.energystar.gov/about/

http://www.nrdc.org/air/energy/fappl.asp

Teak Furniture Care: A Brief How-To

Teak furniture has long held the reputation of being a strong, long-lasting investment, however, cost and care are often the biggest factors for people who are hesitant.

What is it?

Teak itself is a type of wood from trees grown in South Asia. The material itself is dense and strong, with high oil content, which lends to its durability. It’s often used as outdoor furniture because it shields itself so well against natural elements such as insects or rain.

If kept well, teak furniture can last upwards of 80 years. This makes the initial investment worth it and it’s all about how you take care of it after you take it home.

Care Tip 1:

Teak greys over the course of several months as the natural oils evaporate. This is perfectly normal, and for some, the silvery-grey look works for them. However, for those who prefer the honey-brown colour, bringing teak back to that shade requires some work. Although it feels like common sense, do not oil your outdoor greying teak furniture. This can lead to mildew issues and gradual discolouration the longer you have it. The oil in commercial teak oil is not the same oil that’s found naturally in the teak itself. Although it will temporarily bring your teak back to its former glory, it can decrease its overall lifespan and oiling your teak once will result in having to oil it every few months, which can become tedious.

Oiling indoor teak furniture is a great way to keep it looking like new.

Care Tip 2:

If you’re looking for a DIY cleaning option, a steel wool or a soft-bristle brush combined with warm water and gentle detergent can help remove the build-up that’s causing the greying. It’s important that after you scrub the piece down, you give it ample time to dry before applying a teak sealer. There are also commercial teak cleaners on the market as well if DIY isn’t your style.

Care Tip 3:

Teak sealer is the preferred method of maintaining the look of your teak furniture. Unlike teak oils, sealer is applied after a thorough cleaning and drying of your piece. It acts as a layer of UV protection against the sun and it also contains ingredients that work against mildew and oxidization. It also needs to be applied much less than teak oil. Once a year is all you’ll need to dedicate to maintaining your teak furniture.

Care Tip 4:

Even with cleaning, oiling, or sealing, much of how well your teak furniture withstands nature and time is where you place it. Direct sunlight will speed up the wearing process whereas partly shaded or fully shaded areas keep it in its healthiest state longer. For added protection, you may also consider a breathable cover for the piece.

Categories:Kijiji for the Home

5 Tips for the First Time Home Buyer

With mortgage rates possibly headed even lower and property values skyrocketing in some parts of the country, many are considering if now the time to take the plunge into home ownership is now.

1st Time Home Buyers

Think with your head, not your heart. Buying a home is emotional, we get it – but, ideally, you should treat it like you would any other investment to get the most out of the transaction. It is easy to get wrapped up in the excitement and be so afraid of losing out that you are willing to overlook certain things, or skip certain steps such as the home inspection (don’t let anyone pressure you into buying without a home inspection clause, and don’t use the inspector recommended by the selling agent).

Crunch the numbers (independently). So you are pre-approved for a mortgage? Great – that is a good way to show sellers you are serious, and to get an idea of what the bank will give you. Don’t make the mistake of trusting what the bank says you can afford. Remember, selling mortgages is big business for them, and they are trying to sell you on using their products. They will likely pre-approve you for an amount higher than what you can actually afford, as they don’t take into account your daycare costs, the price of your daily commute, what it will cost to make home repairs, and all those other day to day living expenses. Make sure the amount of mortgage you are signing on for is something you can realistically carry, and do some additional calculations for in case interest rates go up. You don’t want to be forced to sell if interest rates rise. Don’t forget to consider different payment schedules and amortization periods. A shorter amortization period or accelerated biweekly payments rather than monthly could save you thousands of dollars in the long run. See how much you could save by using the federal government’s home buyers plan (up to $25000 for an individual, or $50000 for a couple can be borrowed from RRSPs). Does it make sense to use for you?

Remember the invisible costs. Closing costs, land transfer taxes, moving, home repair and renovation costs, and real estate lawyer fees all need to be factored in to the total cost of owning a home. Make sure you have plenty of room in your budget.

Buy at the right time for you and your family, not for interest rates. It is tempting to rush to take advantage of a great rate, but if you end up buying before you can afford it, you might not be as happy in your house as you are imagining yourself to be. Being house poor is no fun, so make sure you have a good down payment and you are comfortable taking on the extra commute, payments, or responsibility of making all the fixes yourself at this point in your life. Do you know your credit score? If it is low, you would save money by improving your credit worthiness before buying a home, and rushing might not make sense.

Don’t furnish your home on credit. Once you move into a big house, after spending all your extra cash on closing fees and moving, it can be tempting to furnish your house with a “buy now, pay later” arrangement. Don’t do it – wait until you have the money for the furniture you want, and save money by buying used furniture on your local Kijiji.

Selling Your Home By Owner: Is it a Smart Choice?

Thinking about selling your house? Looking at the commissions that real estate agents charge on every sale makes selling your home by owner look like a great option, but is it right for you? A lot of what traditional real estate agents do is invisible. Selling your home by owner might be a great way to save yourself major cash – or it might be a gigantic headache and far more trouble than the savings on commission is worth. Whether or not it is a good idea depends on whether you are equipped to do the work. Not everyone is, and some give up midway through the process and hire a real estate agent anyway. For those who are able to pull off the process well, it is a great way to save some of the huge costs associated with moving. How do you know if selling your home yourself is a good idea for you?

house for sale by owner

You are comfortable negotiating. Buying or selling a house is the biggest transaction of a lifetime for most people, and the negotiations can drag on and get pretty complex. Buyers might have all sorts of strange demands, and if you go into the transaction alone, you will need to be educated on what demands are standard, and what are unreasonable. They will also be looking to save money on the list price, so if you are selling your home by owner, make sure you are comfortable haggling and don’t take low offers personally. If you are not comfortable negotiating prices, it will be worth it to pay a professional to do so on your behalf. If you don’t negotiate often, but want to sell your home by owner anyway, practise often with smaller items before listing your home. Learn how to negotiate without causing offense.

You are comfortable touring strangers through your house. Not everyone is, and that is ok. Buyers might criticize your décor choices, talk about things they would change, walls they would knock down, and do things like test your taps, inspect your back basement, or flush your toilets. You’ll have to act professional and like none of those things get under your skin so as not to scare off the buyers or sour the transaction before it starts.

You have the time and a flexible schedule. Prospective buyers are going to want to tour the home before making any offers, and their schedule might be wildly different from yours. You can reduce the time commitment if you are able to schedule house tours in groups of prospective buyers, but you will have to be prepared to let a significant number of people into your home, which could end up being weeks or months of moving around your schedule to accommodate them.

You can think about your home’s value objectively. It can be difficult to determine the worth of your own possessions. People tend to value their own things higher than they might value the same thing if it did not belong to them. If you are someone who tends to price items you have owned for the same price as you paid for them or more, you might want to think about enlisting professional help to assess the value of your home. If you prefer to set the price on your own, check out what comparable properties have sold for in your neighbourhood or town to get an indication of a good starting point.

You can say no to people. If you handle the sale yourself, you will have to turn down low ball offers, and likely also ward off agents trying to get your business. If you have a hard time saying no firmly and politely, selling your home yourself might balloon into a giant headache for you.

Selling your home by owner has the potential to be a great way to save money, or a total waste of your time and resources. Being honest with yourself about what you are willing to put into the process, and your chances of success will be much higher.