Property of the Month

Pool Time in Toronto!

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It’s summertime in Toronto and pool season is open! There’s nothing like a crystal pool of clear and refreshing water to take the edge off those 30-degree days. Whether you want to simply soak for a bit, party, play or exercise, pools are the ultimate backyard boost for those water-babies who love the aqua.

When it comes to choosing the kind of pool to install in your backyard, there are several things to consider – do you want an above-ground or inground version? Will it be vinyl, concrete, gunite or fiberglass? Will it be have a graded depth? Will it be chlorinated or salinated? What will be the surrounding surface? Although your pool company will definitely be able to help you make the best decision for your property, your needs and, above all, your budget, it is good to have an idea of what is available.

Cost
Above-ground pools are are the most affordable of the options listed running anywhere between four to seven thousand dollars while a realistic budget for in-ground pools will be between thirty to seventy thousand. Don’t believe too-good-to-be-true deals for in-ground pools listing them at below fifteen thousand dollars – that price certainly doesn’t include the installation, the liner, the surrounding surface, the landscaping or the accessories such as heaters, covers, etc…

Materials & Longevity
Vinyl refers to the liners used in both above-ground and in-ground pools. In an above-ground pool they usually have to be replaced in about 5 years while they have a slightly longer life in in-ground pools with an average replacement rate after 6 years. Concrete pools are very sturdy and last the longest but will need to be resurfaced every 9-13 years. Gunite is a form of concrete that is also very popular for pools and also lasts a very long time. Fiberglass pools will last around 20 years or longer depending on use and how well it is maintained.

Chlorine or Salt?
Many people are opting for salt instead of chlorine pools now-a-days. Although the salt is actually a naturally chlorine producing variant, it is not as harsh on eyes and skin as regular chlorine. It is also easier to store than chlorine but can damage plumbing and fixtures if not maintained properly.

Surround
The surface surrounding your pool will depend on your overall landscape design. Typically people choose stone or concrete patios for in-ground pools and wood decks for above-ground pools. However, the choice you make will be in-line with your home’s aesthetics and also your budget.

Lighting Up Your Life

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Lights can add atmosphere, create a mood and really get a party going – they can also soothe a child to sleep and help drain the stress from your body. Finding the perfect lighting for your Toronto home takes just a little effort. However, once you find that perfect mix of atmospheric and functional lighting, your home will go from blah to brilliant with the simple flick of a switch. Before going out and buying any old light fixture you have to determine the lighting needs of each room and then work out a lighting design that will provide the optimal illumination for each potential scenario.

Principal Areas
A good rule of thumb in principal areas is to have both functional and mood lighting present. The functional lighting can be for everyday uses while the mood lighting would be used for entertaining purposes. Pot lighting is an expensive but very attractive form of lighting that is ideal for functional uses. It sheds a softer glow than other forms of lighting, but they are not as striking or statement-making as a pendant light or chandelier.

In the living room wall sconces, table and/or floor lamps and chandeliers are all good suggestions while in the dining room a pendant light hanging low over the table is derigeur along with either pot lighting or wall sconces.

The kitchen is the one area in the home that requires good functional lighting – especially over work spaces. If you have a centre island then pendant lighting or another form of mood lighting is often used and in a breakfast area people opt for a mix of both functional and atmospheric options. Ensuites and bathrooms are another place for functional lighting is preferred over mood.

Private Areas
The private areas of the home including bedrooms, family room and recreation areas can be a lot freer-flowing with lighting. Although it is good to provide some strong lighting for desks and other areas where any kind of work might be done, these rooms are best served with mood lighting. If you have a home gym, then strong, bright lights are the best option.

Choosing your lights
Once you have determined the kind of lighting required by each room in your home, it is then time to find the fixtures that best suit your style and the lighting requirements. There are a number of retailers that offer a wide selection of great choices. The more adventurous among you can even shop online or through the better known auction sites where you can find high-end merchandise at sometimes a third of the cost.

Regardless of where you find your lights – be sure to have them installed by an electrician and try to opt for energy-saving bulbs if possible.

Wonderful Windows for your Toronto Home

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Choosing windows for your Toronto home is something that shouldn’t be taken lightly as windows can completely alter the look of your residence. Whether you want to keep it simple or spice it up, windows can be the perfect accent for your style. Given the number of choices when it comes to materials finding something in your price range is also do-able, although quality and performance do have to be taken into consideration, as good windows will help to reduce your energy consumption, will be easier to clean and simpler to maintain.

Materials
Window frames come in a variety of materials including wood, vinyl, fiberglass, aluminum and hybrid versions.

WOOD
Wood is by far the most expensive option when it comes to window frames and comes in many hardwood varieties. It can come in solid and composite forms. Some people opt to have wood frames on the inside but another material on the outside that will better stand resist the elements. For customers who want wood but easier cleaning and maintenance (less painting) the wood can be clad in vinyl, aluminum or fiberglass.

VINYL
Vinyl is usually the least expensive option when it comes to window frames and requires very little maintenance. However, because it can’t be painted there are fewer colour options to choose from. Depending on the quality of the vinyl used, it can also yellow over time. However, when it comes to keeping the elements out, there is no difference between wood and vinyl.

ALUMINUM
Aluminum window frames are more expensive than vinyl but less so than wood. They are a very durable choice that doesn’t tend to discolour and as it can be painted, there is more variety than with vinyl.

FIBERGLASS
Fiberglass is a relatively new material in window frame construction and its cost is significantly more than that of vinyl, however, it is a very strong material that requires no maintenance. They are very resistant to temperature extremes and moisture, making them good for cold climates and they also don’t rust or splinter. Despite the pros of fiberglass, it remains a little used choice.

Window Style
After you have chosen the material for your window frames, choosing the style of window will also impact your lifestyle and the window’s energy efficiency. Remember that windows panes have a higher energy efficiency than the frames so the larger the number of breaks in the window pane, the lower the window’s efficiency. So casement windows will have a better energy rating than single/double hung windows.

There are a good overview of the different window styles over here //bit.ly/1cxBRL7.

Energy Efficiency

Energy efficiency is another factor to take into consideration when purchasing windows for your Toronto home. The higher the efficiency of your windows, the higher the savings you will see on your energy bill every month. The government of Ontario website has an excellent review of energy efficiency and what it means.

Conclusion
Window shopping is more than just finding the right fit for you house – it is finding the right fit for your dwelling, your wallet, your style and your energy consciousness.

Renewable Energy for your Toronto Home

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There is no question that energy costs in Ontario are high. There is also no question that renewable energy sources are gaining in momentum and that larger numbers of people are interested in finding out more about them. Although most folk are not ready to overhaul their existing power source structure, it is worth knowing that there are some very viable alternatives on the market and that they are becoming more accessible every day.

Forms of renewable energy

There are four basic forms of renewable energy:

Solar (photovoltaic)
Wind
Hydro power
Bio-energy

Harnessing the Sun
The most popular form of renewable energy is that of solar power. Given the sun’s immense potential it makes sense to harness its energy. There are three types of solar power technologies available. Here they are as described on the Microfit Power Authority website:

Solar PV using crystalline technology
Solar PV panels using crystalline technology generate electricity by converting the sun’s rays into direct current electricity using a crystalline semiconducting material made of silicon. Generally, these systems use panels made up of a number of individually manufactured photovoltaic cells that are assembled together in panels. The panels are then strung together to form the arrays of a solar PV system to provide higher voltages and more power. These systems tend to make use of either monocrystalline or polycrystalline cells/panels. Monocrystalline panels are more expensive, but are also more efficient, and so produce more wattage that a similarly sized “polycrystalline” panel.

Solar PV using thin-film technology
Solar PV uses thin-film technology in which the cell and module are manufactured in the same production line, created by depositing one or more layers of photovoltaic material on top of a semiconductor material in a single process. These modules are much thinner and lighter than crystalline solar PV modules; however, they have lower efficiencies and therefore often require more panels for a given area than crystalline panels.

Solar PV using concentrated technology
Concentrated Solar PV concentrates the sun’s rays through a lens, or by using a mirror, onto highly efficient solar cells, increasing the power output of the system. These solar panels are generally mounted using a tracking system in order to use the sun’s rays more efficiently by increasing the amount of time the solar cell is exposed to direct sunlight.

Water (Hydro) and Wind

Water and wind power are also both very effective and clean forms of renewable energy although not quite as popular as solar as they require a large space and access to a windy spot and/or a constant water supply such as a stream or river.

Bioenergy

Bioenergy is produced through the natural decaying process of residual waste products from a number of sources including agricultural by-products, forestry operations, livestock activities and food processing operations.

Renewable Energy and the Government

The Ontario government actually has a very attractive program to help subsidize those who are interested in switching to renewable energy sources. Through the Microfit program, you can have your renewable energy source hooked back up to your electrical grid so that any excess energy you produce will go back to the grid and you get paid for it. The full details of this program can be found over here //microfit.powerauthority.on.ca/.

For an indepth account of a homeowner who took the plunge and installed solar panels to his home, go over here //www.yourturn.ca/solar/. The informative site answers all the questions you might have on solar technology including the installation process for the entire system, the cost and how much you can expect to get back from the Microfit program.

Renewable energy systems are still in their infancy, but have since immense leaps recently. Moving forward expect to see more new construction projects offering these clean and green technologies as alternatives to existing technologies.

It’s Earth Month – A Look at Green Initiatives

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April is earth month! The eco-home movement is growing steadily and greater numbers of homeowners are curious about what “green” means, how they can lower their home’s footprint and how they can start down a green path in a manner that will not significantly impact their daily lives.

What does “Green” mean?

The term “green” is typically used to encompass any initiative aimed at reducing waste of any kind and to lowering one’s footprint. Whether it is a reduction in consumer waste, energy expenditure or the use of toxic products in your daily routine, green covers it all.

Where to start

If you aren’t already immersed in green living, from the outside looking in it can seem daunting. A newbie to the eco-movement might wonder where to start when it comes to reducing their waste and energy consumption and to ridding their home of toxic chemicals. Baby steps is really the best way to start. If you begin by changing small things in your routine, then it will be easier to slowly move to the larger items.

The three Rs – Reduce, Reuse, Recycle

The old adage every schoolchild is taught is entirely applicable in this context. Begin your green home makeover by reducing your consumption, reusing what you do have for as long as possible and recycling all the items that can be recycled.

To Reduce Consumption

One of the best ways to reduce your consumption footprint is to buy in bulk or to buy products that are unbundled, thereby reducing the amount of packaging going into your recycling bin or garbage. Making large quantity purchases also cuts down on the number of times you have to drive to the store, further reducing your emissions footprint.

Reuse

The word is really self-explanatory – reuse everything that can be reused. From clothing, to shoes, to plastic bags, to water – if you can reuse then do so! Here are some ideas:

Use rain barrels to capture rainwater to use when watering the garden or your house plants
Wash, dry and reuse plastic baggies for lunches, snacks or storing items. Better yet, use glass, tin or plastic containers instead.
Buy classic cuts of clothing that won’t go out of style and wear them out – then turn them into something else or give them to the thrift store so that they go on to live some more!

Recycle

Again here, the sky’s the limit with what you can do to recycle items. Old tires can be turned into attractive flower containers, tin cans make great bird feeders and empty laundry detergent bottles can be turned in sturdy scoopers to use in the garden. Do a simple internet search for “recycling ideas” and you’ll get a plethora of easy and awesome ideas to follow.

On a simpler note, merely getting a large recycling bin and putting all recyclable materials into it for city pick up is the easiest way to recycle. Composting kitchen waste is another great recycling idea.

Energy Efficiency

Ensuring that your home is energy efficient is another way to make a big eco-impact. Here are some ideas for reducing your energy consumption.

– Install programmable thermostats
– Cut down on dishwasher and dryer use by letting dishes and clothes air dry
– Turn lights and small appliances off when not in use
– Shower instead of soaking in a tub
– Stop any leaks around windows and doors – changing them if necessary
– Increase the insulation in your attic
– Open blinds in the winter to warm up your home passively and close blinds in the summer to cool your home passively

Reduce Your Toxic Footprint

Reducing the number of toxins in your home can be as simple as replacing all of your cleaning products with natural products that are chemical free. In fact, making your own using simple vinegar and baking soda is the easiest way to go!

Being green doesn’t mean having to install solar panels on your roof or switching to an electric car – although you can certainly do that as well! As long as you take small steps in the right direction, you will be able to make a positive reduction in your home’s eco-footprint.

To read more about the incentives offered by the Ontario Ministry of Energy click here

157 Grand Vellore Crescent

1024 683 Chris

 

A modern château found in one of the city’s most sought-after neighbourhoods. Featuring exquisitely finished principal rooms as well as four, large and beautifully appointed bedrooms each with its own ensuite, the home is a luxurious residence designed for a lifestyle of easy affluence. The exterior of the home marries an attractive natural stone and stucco façade with inlaid pot lights on the front and rear soffits giving the home a grand appeal. The four garages sport colonial style doors while the covered front porch boasts a vaulted ceiling with a drop chandelier – all of which is fronted by a handsomely landscaped stone driveway and walkway. The interior of the home is a rich medley of high-end materials that have been combined to great effect. It boasts extra high baseboards, doors and ceilings throughout along with custom panel mouldings on all door jambs, and a large cold room on the lower level along with two, French door walkouts to the lower patio. Backing onto a conservation area offering terrific natural views, this extraordinary residence is to what you have been aspiring.

View all photos of this beautiful property here.