Monthly Archives: June 2015

Man Caves for Father’s Day

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In honour of Father’s Day, I thought we’d review some of the most popular Man Cave ideas for Dad. After polling my Husband, my Dad, our staff and a few good friends, we’ve discovered there seem to be 3 main favourite types of Man Cave.

The first and favorite space is always the “workshop”. This is my Dad to a tee! Shortly after Mom and Dad bought their home, many years ago, Dad built himself a workshop in the back. Complete with a furnace, for year round use, a stereo system, and every tool a man could ever want! We gave up trying to buy him tools years ago as he has them ALL!!! This is a space he goes to when he wants a break or feels like being creative. He has been retired for many years but enjoys woodworking and is excellent at his craft!  We have many beautiful pieces both at home and at the cottage courtesy of Dad’s hours in his Man Cave! On a side note, I recently staged a home in St. Clements that has the first workshop Man Cave to rival my Dads’ I have seen! Beautiful Man Cave Space complete with antique auto decals and signage from the auto industry! Also heated space and just a mechanics’ DREAM SPACE!!! I’m a lover of antique automobiles (Thanks to my Dad) so I truly appreciated all the time and work that went into creating that particular Man Cave!

My Husband, Kevin, on the other hand, has his own idea of a Man Cave! Kevin loves pool and darts. His “Games’ Room” has been his Man Cave! We are just in the process of updating it for him. It has a regulation size 6 x 12 billiard table, a dart board, stereo system and a fireplace. I’m adding a beverage/bar center complete with his own fridge, sink and microwave. We are re-finishing the fireplace and adding a TV above the fireplace mantle. Then finishing it off with some nice comfy seating for lounging and watching movies/TV. There is a nice seating area with bar stools and a table to wait your turn while playing pool or darts. He’ll be adding surround sound (which I will usually ask him to turn down lol!)!! His Man Cave is all about relaxing and enjoying the things he loves to do. Way back it also included an indoor hot tub and shower area, but I took that over for an exercise space! We hadn’t used the hot tub for years, so he didn’t mind at all! His décor is all about what he loves, our city, and some of his favorite sports team collectibles. I haven’t yet finalized where we will be putting the poker table, but plan on having one of those as well! This space is all about playing sports with TV/Music in the background.

The last Man Cave that won the most popular was the “Entertainment Man Cave”. Similar to the Games Area except it was all about watching sports! Everything was focused around a Big Screen TV. Everything was designed around watching sports and making the watching “experience” that much better! Everything from a bar or small kitchenette/bar to prepare all the necessary snacks to a fully stocked fridge and bar. A surround sound system; which MUST include all the latest electronic gadgetry! A stock of the latest video games, and of course, lots of comfy seating for lots of friends! Even multiple smaller TV screens if it’s a large space to ensure the TV game could be followed from anywhere in the room. Décor would of course be based on the favourite teams! Hockey, football, baseball, soccer and any others the home owners followed!

Finally the Number One Rule of the Man Cave: Women only allowed when asked! Yes, I know this is hard for many of us women to tolerate but we need to give our men their space. Everyone deserves a place to unwind and relax. They need a place to call their own. One that is designed around them and them alone! I know my sweet man is very thoughtful and works very hard. He is very sensitive to my likes and dislikes and what latest reno/design I want to do around the home and the cottage. He works hard to make me happy. Even surprising me with a huge new deck at the cottage for our Anniversary! He deserves a space to call his own where he can relax and kick back with some buddies! So Happy Father’s Day to all the wonderful men out there who go above and beyond for their wives, children, and even their parents! The men in our lives are very special and so much loved and appreciated! Enjoy your Special Day!

How Much is Too Much?

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Have you noticed the amount of new builds going up? They seem to be sprouting up in every corner of the city! It really makes me wonder where and when the saturation point is? How much is too much? Do we have the appropriate planning to deal with the additional traffic, requirement for services, basic infrastructure with our dated water and sewage systems; and often crumbling roads? Driving through some areas of the city is worse than 4 wheeling down a dirt road through the bush! 

There are new apartment blocks going up, countless new condo developments; and of course more new homes being built than I believe I have ever seen in my lifetime! Where will all the people come from to fill all the housing? What will happen when we simply have more inventory than we do bodies to fill that inventory? How many builders will go bankrupt? I have already heard of a few who have gone bankrupt. Is it not the government’s responsibility to ensure that they control the production and keep it in line with the demand? I understand that the lure of additional tax dollars can be appealing, but what exactly will happen when there are more available homes than people to fill them? Builders and investors can only finance things for so long before they have to take a loss. A loss means they may not be able to pay some of their sub trades, or they will have to lay off employees. This in turn trickles down through the economy until the market has the opportunity to correct itself, which as we’ve seen in the U.S, can takes years. I for one do not want to see neighborhoods in Winnipeg turn into ghost towns with foreclosures everywhere. 

It is possible that we are geared for a new influx of immigration, especially with the economic and political climate in Alberta. Alberta and Saskatchewan have already seen housing values drop by double digits. For years, we’ve seen increases in Manitoba, however, I know very well this cannot last indefinitely. I love this city and sincerely hope the powers at be are thinking long term and not just at the immediate proposed tax benefits.

In the demand to capitalize on the building boom, there are certainly issues with quality control in the build process. I’ve spent the last 20 years in homes all over the city and dealt with houses built in the 1800’s and homes built this year. When building homes becomes a production line to maximize revenue instead of a dedication to a craft as old as time, quality slips. Some of the things we’ve seen in new homes (less than 5 years old) include severe stress cracks caused by ground settling around man-made lakes. Fill and soil are trucked in to build these areas but it takes time to settle; if piles are driven into an area that has not completely settled, according to the Structural Engineer my client hired, pockets of air can cause these areas to settle and effect the supports of the new homes being built. There’s no way you will know whether there will be a problem until one occurs. Try selling a home with structural issues when buyers have so many other homes to choose from. The only one to lose is the Home Owner. 

Earlier this spring, we went into a new build to stage for an out of town investor. We always bring a steamer along for linens and drapery so we had to turn the water on. When I turned the main water valve on in the basement, I always check all plumbing throughout the home, habit after my years in property management. Well this one home had multiple plumbing leaks! One toilet feed line was leaking with a steady stream, I turned off the shut off valve to the feed line and mopped up the water quickly! Another toilet was running constantly! In addition, there was leak in the kitchen sink drain! OMG! Unbelievable!!! All I could do was inform the owner – there was no way they could show the home for sale in that condition.

While we were on location staging another home, cement trucks kept backing onto the corner of the yard and washing out the remains of their cement from their shuts and dumping the cement remnants all over the home owners’ yard. It was a corner lot with forest behind, and the property markers with flags were clearly visible! The truck drivers were well beyond the property markers and clearly on private property! We counted 5 trucks the day we were there! Maybe I’m old school, but I was taught to respect other people’s property, whether they were around or not! Remember the good old golden rule, do unto others as you would have them do unto you. I wonder how happy these guys would be if someone dumped concrete remains all over their back yard? Why in the world was the Development Corp responsible for the area even allowing this? Just speechless! Yes, I took a picture and sent it to the home owner. They had a right to know.

Last week I was asked to provide an estimate for staging a home that was a show home when it was bought a few years back. There is beautiful flooring in the kitchen, unfortunately it has a section where it has all separated and it has gaps no less than ¼ of an inch around each section of laminate!! This was a high quality floor! The only way this could happen was a structural issue or incorrect installation. I expect this from cheap $0.79/laminate not from high end flooring in a new home! We’ve had other cases where clients have wanted to replace carpeting in newer builds and when we pull up the carpet we find all sorts of garage under the carpet or underlay, anything from food wrappers to cigarette butts to just building debris! Really?! No one can take the time to clean before you install the carpet? Speechless!!!! In another case, the stucco is cracking and falling off the rear of another “show home” in a different part of town. The same home has an issue with frost building up inside the bedroom of the lower level. Seems there is an issue with a gap between the top of the foundation and the plate that supports your wood frame construction and attaches it to the concrete foundation. The fully finished space has to be taken apart to the cement to correct the problem….

Building was once a time honored craft. It was done with care, attention to detail and pride. There are many builders who run their businesses on these sound principles and deserve our thanks and your business. However, there are many who are in for the short term because they see the potential to make a buck while the market is hot. Then there are those in between, with good intentions, but not always there to see when someone makes a mistake or cuts corners. If you are dealing with someone who really cares, they will inspect and correct the problem when they determine it was their responsibility. However, I have heard of well-known custom builders who will brush off home owners’ concerns as something minor or somehow “caused by the home owner” until the 1 year warranty period is up, then once the home owner turns to the New Home Warranty Program for assistance, their hands are tied because it is beyond the 1 year warranty period! Strange thing is – it’s always the same builders who do this! I guess it’s part of their customer service “business plan”. This happened with another client of ours, a super nice guy, kept having problems and without seeing it, the builder kept telling him to “try this” then “that” etc. This went on for years until our patient client began to lose patience as he was still having problems. After waiting months for the builder to send someone to inspect a problem, he contacted the New Home Warranty Program a few weeks after his 5 year warranty had expired. Although, it was an issue that would have been covered, they could not help him as the warranty expired. The builder then demanded a retainer of a few thousand dollars for them to send someone out to even inspect the problem. 

My advice to buyers, if possible, pay attention to what’s going on in the development before you buy. Ask to walk through the site on a regular basis if you are custom building or looking for a home in a certain development. Know your warranty expiration dates, and if you are not getting an adequate response to your written concerns with the builder, contact the New Home Warranty Program without delay. A Builder’s responsibility does not stop when you move in, it continues until all terms of the contract have been met and extends throughout the warranty period.

Finally, how much is too much? I already see houses sitting for sale for months and months before a desperate home owner will ask us to stage to help it sell! If we are already seeing people who are feeling desperate with carrying the cost of vacant new builds that are not selling now, what will happen to the market when we add thousands more new vacant homes? When do the planners at the City/Province step in to responsibly allow for moderate growth without saturating a market and sending us into an abyss of vacant unwanted homes?