Friday, April 2, 2021

Hilltop House Construction Progress April 2021

We purchased our hilltop wooded lot over a year ago and the project was delayed so much that we didn't think it was ever going to happen for us. 

We drove by the lot during our weekly errands in early March and still, nothing. 

On March 20, 2021, out of curiosity we again drove by the lot. To our great surprise, it looked like something was happening! We had ourselves a pit!!!

Five days later on March 25, the foundation was laid. The builder surely didn't waste anytime after they secured the building permit for us. Picture below, this is the side that's going to support our garage. We love that our basement will have high ceiling (9.5 - 10 feet) just like the floors above (ground and second floors 10 feet, third floor 9 feet). 

This is from the other side where we will have a bay window above. 

Looks like we will have a few steps leading up to our front portico, according to our grading. I am guessing at least 6 steps based on the slope. 

April 2, 2021: foundation is still curing. Waterproofing membrane was installed. 

Wednesday, March 10, 2021

5 Ways to Boost the Value of Your Home

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If you are considering selling your home, you will want to increase its value to its fullest potential. There are many different ways of doing this, from larger projects to smaller changes. Here are just five ways that you can help to boost the value of your home.

     1. Repairs
      If your home has suffered any damage, for example, from mold or water, it is essential that you get it properly repaired. Your home should be safe, hospitable, and high quality, and a damage repair service can help you achieve this. Getting any damage properly repaired can also help reduce the risk of further damage and problems for yourself or future owners.

2. Curb Appeal
This is how your home looks from the outside. The exterior is often the first thing that people see of your home, so it is vital not to neglect this. First impressions are important! There are plenty of things you can do to improve your home’s curb appeal, such as making sure your front yard or porch is neat and tidy, adding plants and flowers, creating appropriate storage for waste and trash, and even just giving your front door a fresh coat of paint.

3. Redecorate
You may be so used to your home that you don’t notice dirty or damaged areas like walls or flooring. However, a potential buyer is more likely to recognize these things. Redecorating can help to improve the value of your home. Cleaning your floors and walls, revarnishing, painting, or rearranging furniture can help to make your home cleaner and more refreshed. There is a reason many people choose to paint their walls white when they are selling. The lighter colors can make rooms seem larger and airier.

4. Tidy Up Your Yard
If you have a backyard, make the most of it! Spending some time outside gardening and sprucing up your yard can make a huge difference. Do you need to replace or repaint your fence? Could your yard benefit from a water feature such as a pond or fountain? These small changes can help to increase your home’s value. You don’t have to be an expert in the garden either; just tidying up and making sure it looks neat can really help. If you have pets, make sure to clean up after them.

5. Go Green
Making your home as green and eco-friendly as possible is a big attraction for potential buyers. There are plenty of different ways you can do this. Installing double glazed windows helps keep heat in, reducing your energy bills and impact on the planet. Solar panels and other forms of renewable energy may also help to make your home more desirable. Making your home more energy efficient is a brilliant way to increase its value while reducing its impact on the environment. Energy efficiency can be very important criteria for some buyers, so it is worth looking into your options and ways to achieve this.

Creating a Beautiful Eco-friendly Garden This Summer

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As the days grow longer and warmer, leaving the chill of winter behind, looking forward to spending more time outdoors in the sunshine is something many look forward to. Early spring is a good time to start preparing your garden for the better weather, and there's always plenty to do. From clearing out debris from your flower beds, tackling the weeds, and repainting fences, the list of garden chores can stretch on forever. Perhaps this year, you want to try something different, particularly if life in lockdown has made you want to alter your domestic surroundings to make them feel brand new. If you are planning on a garden transformation this year, here are some tips on how you can not only make it beautiful but eco-friendly, too!

Wildlife Garden
If you want to help the eco-system in your garden, planting wildflowers and allowing your garden to thrive naturally is a great way to do this. While you will still need to do the occasional cull, leaving things untouched lets nature takes its course and can provide a safe environment for insects, birds, and other animals to thrive. For those who prefer more manicured looks, you could always dedicate a portion of your garden to this rather than the whole thing.

During the various lockdowns across the globe in the last 12 months, many people decided to try growing fruits, vegetables, and herbs in their gardens. This is a great way to move towards a self-sufficient lifestyle, and you won't get produce as fresh as when you've picked it from your allotment. It will take some dedication to care for your vegetables, but this shouldn't be a problem if you're a keen gardener. It's even better if you love to cook and want to wow family and friends with a delicious meal made from ingredients from your kitchen garden!

Fencing and Other Structures
Another way to make your garden eco-friendlier is by carefully considering the materials you're using for your fences and other structures like greenhouses or summerhouses. Choose a supplier that can provide green materials to use for your projects and materials that will be durable in all sorts of weather. You can find out more about these types of fencing here.

Try to Reduce the Use of Chemicals
Weed killers and pesticides can be useful for gardeners trying to preserve their plants, but these chemicals can harm the overall eco-system in your garden. Where possible, try to use natural methods rather than chemical options to reduce damaging other plants and lifeforms in your garden. Things like using water to spray off greenflies, copper slug rings, and even planting certain things together to reduce chances of disease and pests are all things you ought to try first.

You can enjoy any style of garden and still make it eco-friendly with these suggestions. It's the perfect way for you to enjoy your outdoor space and have peace of mind that you are doing your bit for the environment.

Thursday, February 25, 2021

Top Three Tips for Renovating Your Home

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Does your home’s decor look drab and outdated? Has its curb appeal lost its appeal? Do you experience ‘house envy’ every time you step foot in other properties? If your answer to all three of those questions was an unequivocal Yes!, then it sounds like your humble abode is in desperate need of a facelift!

If you want your home renovation venture to go off without a hitch, be sure to heed the three top tips listed below:

Take your time with the renovation

When you decide to spruce up your home, it’s imperative that take a careful, patient, and tactful approach to your renovation process. One wrong move in this instance could end up having an adverse effect on the aesthetic appeal of your property for years to come, which is why you must take your time with this venture.
Make use of temporary mobile self-storage

You’ll never truly have the capacity to renovate your home if it remains full to brim with all of your worldly belongings, simply because you won’t have the space that you require to unleash your full interior inspiration.
Don’t worry; you don’t necessarily have to start chucking out all of your precious items in order to make this space. There is a straightforward solution to this situation, that being for you to invest in a temporary mobile self-storage unit. This will entail you hiring a secure storage container, filling it with all of your belongings, and unpacking it again when you’re ready to add the finishing touches to your new home design.
If you want to ensure the safety of your items when you take this storage route, be sure to get in touch with a professional mobile storage company such as MI-BOX. This dedicated team of residential moving experts operate a no-tilt lifting system, which means that they will have the capacity to optimize your belongings' safety during the storage process. For more information about the quality level of service that they provide, be sure to visit
Avoid common renovation mistakes
There are a whole host of common home renovation mistakes that must avoid making. Here are three blunders that you should attempt to steer clear of at all costs:
1. Underestimating the cost of the venture — full-scale home renovations aren’t cheap, which is why you must get to grips with the financial obligations of this venture before you dive headfirst into it
2. Expecting everything to go according to plan — make no mistake about it, you will be sure to encounter a whole host of unforeseen hurdles and challenges during your renovation process
3. Not hiring a professional designer — if you want to bring your new home design to life stylishly and succinctly, you need to align yourself with a professional decor designer right from the off
Do you want to take your home’s design to the next level? If so, be sure to put the guidance and advice laid out above into practice.

Friday, February 19, 2021

Three Quick Tricks That Make A Real Difference To Your Home Style

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If you can say one thing about the last 12 months, it’s that we’ve had a lot more time to appreciate our homes. But, with more time than usual staring at the same four walls, the desire to make a few quick-fire changes is bound to be very strong.

If the spark of inspiration is still eluding you, here are a few easy ways to make your home look different without too much effort, too much expense, or without making too much of a mess.

#1 Give your walls a new look

Decorating can be very messy and inconvenient. There’s furniture to move, and a very good chance paint is going to end up getting splashed on the couch or your favorite rug. Not only that, cleanup can take ages, and washing the brushes and paint rollers out are one fo the many things that can make the kitchen sink clogged.

Also, if you are a renter, your landlord isn’t going to take too kindly to you repainting your rooms without their permission. There are other alternatives like wall art (bought cheaply on internet auction sites or from thrift stores) which can change the look of your walls and can be moved around again next time you want a change.

While you are there, you could pick up some mirrors that will also transform your living space and reflect light back into your rooms.

#2 Colorful crockery
You might not have the budget to redecorate your kitchen or be able to change too much if you are a tenant, but what you can do is fill the space with colorful crockery. Mismatched, bright pieces can give your meal preparation and dining areas plenty of retro character, and if you source them from thrift stores or end of lines sales online, you can achieve this look on a very small budget.

You could also extend this to your plant pots which you can make colorful as well and extend that bright kitchen vibe around the rest of the house.

#3 Light it up
We all know how different our rooms look in a different light. Another thrift store purchase could be some lighter, brighter curtains which let more light in and make the rest of the room seem brighter. If that’s not for you, spending every evening by candlelight can give your living space a warmer, cozier, calmer, and more romantic feel.

To add to the overall chilled-out feeling, some of those candles could be scented with fragrances that make the place seem fresher or create a mood for a time of year, like spices, pumpkin, and nutmeg in the holiday season.

If you are on a low budget, or if you are a tenant, then changing the look of your living space can be hard. However, with a few left-field ideas and studious use of the internet to spot bargains (and a few trips to the thrift store), that fresh look might not be as out of reach as you might have thought.

Sunday, January 31, 2021

Interior Design Mistakes to Avoid Part II

This is the Kitchen edition, and I do have a lot to write about. 

Picture below: kitchen inspiration I saved to my Pinterest board again and again, the Orléans Townhouses designed by Merrylees Architecture. The alignment between the island and the range is similar to our Hilltop House kitchen layout. 

1. If you are building it from ground up, hide all the wall outlets. 

I don't know about you, but I really dislike how the kitchen wall outlets break up the backsplash. So for the Hilltop House, I will be moving all the wall outlets into the undercabinet valance. The picture below is an example of hiding the outlets in a power strip underneath the valance. Our builder has a different approach by building a "closed valance" for both the undercabinet lighting and outlets. 

Either way, you will have more options when it comes to backsplash without the outlets in the way. Imagine how painful it would make you feel to cut out a perfect piece of marble for the outlets. You get the idea. 

Hiding this wall outlets this way also elevates the look of your kitchen: it's clean and minimalist, and well-thought-out. 

2. Kitchen flooring 

Stone or ceramic tiles are still the best and most resilient choice of kitchen flooring. Spill and leaking accidents happen so you don't want to be on the constant lookout for your hardwood flooring. 

If you really like the look of wood flooring or a continuous look of wood flooring from your living space into the kitchen, the good news is that these days there are unlimited options of ceramic, porcelain or vinyl tiles in various wood colours and textures you can choose from. 

No matter what you choose, just make sure you will love it for a long time because it'd be near impossible to change the kitchen flooring once you move in. We've been living in our current house for almost 12 years and to-date I still haven't worked up the courage to gut this kitchen. It's too disruptive to the daily routine. 

3. If you get to plan your kitchen cabinet layout, opt for straight lines and avoid building any corner cabinets

Below is the sketch of our Hilltop House kitchen. As you could see, all straight lines and no corner cabinets! Not only are the corner cabinets so yesteryear, they are also not functional - who can say they've used their corner cabinets to their full potential? 

Linear layout of a kitchen brings visual calm and balance. You can also divide them into multiple zones such as the separate Servery/Butler's Pantry and the Bar areas we have. 

4. Drawers over cabinets

In the lower section of your kitchen, always choose drawers over cabinet doors to maximize the interior storage and for ease of organization. Visualize all the struggle you've had to pull a pan out of a stack in a cabinet, versus slide them out of their own slots like below. 

Thursday, January 28, 2021

3 Ways A Real Estate Agency Can Help Sell Your Home

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In a study run by a major real estate agent, the prime time to put your home on the market is in between the 1st and the 15th of May. Houses in this period, on average, sell for 0.7% more than average prices and generally sell six days faster. 

If you’re thinking of jumping on that, and you live in, for example, Ontario, Canada - you might be wondering: ‘how much is my home worth - Orange, Cal, Shel?’ The best way to answer that is to get the help of a real estate agency. They can help with an awful lot of things when it comes to pricing and how your house should look, as well as a non-biased opinion on how well your property will sell on the market.

You need this kind of honesty when you’re buying and selling your property, even if you think the house isn’t being sold at its best price. You know and love the house dearly, so of course, you’d want the very best for it. But a house's price can depend on many things, such as how it's laid out and the certain season in which you’re putting it up for sale.

It’s things like this that realtors know, and can help you get the best price for your property. 

#1 Pricing
Another thing real estate agents do is calculate your square footage cost accurately. This is how much each square foot of your plot is worth, and gives buyers an accurate idea of what they are getting for their money. It’s an honest way of pricing your home and can make the price far more credible to potential buyers.

#2 Real estate agents know the peak market times
As was mentioned before, May is a great time to put a house on the market. But they will also know the best selling times for your local area, especially if you get the right realtor. One expert observer said: “Selling in May can get you $60,000 more than if you were to sell in January."

This kind of experience and advice is utterly invaluable. Working with a realtor helps you gain access to knowledge about your general area and major selling points of homes, such as what is on trend, as well as how to go about selling in the best way possible.

#3 They know the best way to make your home presentable
The main advice here is, keep your house neutral and clean. You want a place that buyers can imagine themselves living in, and not imagine you living in.

It might be an idea to hire a storage facility to put all of your clutter in, as well as anything you don’t immediately need for your day to day life.

The house isn’t going to be yours for much longer, and the closer it’s transitioned into being someone else's, the faster it’s probably going to sell.

Sunday, January 24, 2021

Interior Design Mistakes to Avoid Part I

Not to start off the new year with a negative note talking about design mistakes, but as we are building yet another house, aka, our dream house, I felt the need to share and document them so history doesn't repeat itself at our Hilltop House. Also, I wouldn't necessarily call these "mistakes" because, did they and do they still look eye-pleasing? Yes. But were they practical or could they stand the test of time? Not really.

Looking back at the design choices I've made over the years, "redundant" and "trendy" are the two words often popped up. A question I often ask myself today when making design choices is, would I really enjoy it or do I simply like the idea of it? 

Picture below: my home dining room after many iterations

I will probably turn this into a series as ideas come to me over time. This post is the 

Part I: Bathroom Edition

1. Choose larger shower tiles to minimize grout lines

What didn't work for us: small tiles (worse yet mosaic) with too many grout lines, white or lighter-coloured grout. 

Why: over time water sat in grout lines, mold grew and scum accumulated. It was a cleaning nightmare waiting to happen. 

What works: large tiles to minimize grout lines, darker grout to hide scum.

2. Single-handle sink faucet

What didn't work: two-handle faucets. They look more luxurious but so much harder to keep clean. Cost of ownership is also higher because if one of the two mixing valves breaks, you will have to replace the entire faucet. We all know a two-handle set costs a lot more.  

What works: single-handle faucet. I like the minimalist and clean look of this Hansgrohe 32082001 single-hole faucet. Thankfully our Hilltop House builder also uses Hansgrohe as their plumbing standard. 

3. A separate closet for the toilet

What didn't work: when we renovated our master bathroom in the current house, we had every opportunity to carve out a corner as a toilet closet. I didn't know any better so instead, we left toilet where the builder built it which is right in the centre of our bathroom. It's so unsightly. 

What works: if your floor plan would allow it and if you have the space, create a separate room/closet with a door for the toilet. Otherwise a half-wall frosted glass partition would work too. Trust me, your bathroom would look so much more well-thought-out. 

Picture below: our Hilltop House master bathroom plan. Thankfully our builder already created a separate room for the toilet. The floor plan however is nowhere near perfect. For example, you will notice there's little to no wall space near the shower stall for us to install a wall towel warmer unit. We will also change that makeup table into a bank of drawers for more storage. And I still don't understand why we would need a double entrance doors into the ensuite. I would opt for a single door but a longer vanity in a heart beat. Given our vanity is already 12-foot long, I guess I will leave the double doors alone. 

I will be back to write about other design mistakes to avoid. 

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