Energy-Saving Edmonton Home Improvements

Tue, 27 Jan by Terry Paranych

Edmonton is a winter city, and our homes are our havens from the snow, cold, and wind during the winter months. But sometimes, even though we feel warm and toasty indoors, we don’t realize how much energy is expended trying to keep the cold out. Until, that is, we take a closer look at our utility bills.

Most home improvements are done in the summer and fall, but there are some great energy-saving changes you can make in the middle of winter, and often you’ll start seeing your utility bills start shrinking right away, which shows you just how much you’ve done for your bottom line. A lot of these are easy do-it-yourself projects almost anyone can tackle on a weekend, and while they won’t make your home “look” any better (or worse, they’re all pretty much “invisible” fixes if you do them right), they’ll make your winter warmer and your utility bills smaller.

Energy-Saving Edmonton Home Improvements: Where To Start

Seal Any DraftsDraft Proof Your Home

Winter is a great time to check for drafts because you can feel them when they are there. In particular, check around your windows and doors, which are the most likely culprits when you feel a draft coming through. PVC seal, foam, and draft-sealing tape are all quick fixes for these types of problems, and rarely require any special tools or skills. Remember to take a little extra time to keep your patch neat and tidy: It helps your re-sale value if these kinds of fixes are as “invisible” as possible.

Check Your InsulationCheck Your Insulation Situation

Check your attic and wall cavities to see how the insulation is doing. You may find some of it is old, in need of replacing, or is just plain missing. While re-insulating all your walls can be a big job and might be better left for the pros (no one likes to re-do drywall) often it’s easy to get at the insulation and vapour barriers in your attic without too much mess.

Also make sure you check around hot water pipes, which can be insulated with flexible foam tubing or electric heat tape available from almost any home improvement store. You can also get an insulating jacket for your hot-water tank, which is easy to put on.

Tune Up Your FurnaceTune Up Your Furnace

Like any other part of your home, your furnace needs to be regularly maintained to keep working and keep working well. If you haven’t replaced your filter, now is a good time to do it, and as soon as you’re done add a little reminder in your calendar to check it again the same time next year. It’s a good idea to have a professional come in and do a tune up for you every year or two: They can check the piping and ventilation, clean the burners, run safety tests, and ensure your furnace is in tip-top shape. Remember, paying for a pro tune-up is better than replacing a poorly maintained furnace before its time!

Install a Smart ThermostatInstall a Smart Thermostat

If you’ve still got an old-fashioned thermostat, this should be your year to upgrade. There are a ton of thermostats on the market now that are programmable, connect to your smart phone, and can be controlled from afar via an internet connection. By spending some extra time programming your thermostat, you can save a lot in your pocketbook. Try programming it to automatically turn down over night when everyone is bundled up under blankets and sleeping, or when everyone is at work during the week day and your home is empty. These thermostats also make it easy to set the temperature way down when you’re on holiday, but program it to come up to a more comfortable temperature again just as you arrive back home.

Common Mistakes Edmonton New Build Home Buyers Make

Tue, 20 Jan by Terry Paranych

Mistakes New Build Home Buyers makeWith so many new developments and communities popping up in Edmonton (check out our two part series on the fastest growing Edmonton communities, part one here and part two here) many home buyers are spending as much time looking at show homes in these new up-and-coming communities as they are viewing pre-owned homes.

Buying a brand new home from a developer or builder is a popular choice, especially in a city like Edmonton where we are growing quickly. And there’s a lot to love about buying new: Often you can add customizations and upgrades to an existing plan because your home isn’t completed yet. Newer homes are often built to a higher energy efficiency rating than older homes on the market, come with more modern appliances, and often have lower maintenance costs in the near future.

But it’s important to keep your head and not get distracted by the “WOW” potential of a show home. Just like when you buy a pre-owned home, it’s important to understand what you’re looking at versus what you’re getting. Here are 5 mistakes many homebuyers make when buying an Edmonton new build home, and how to avoid them.

Mistake #1: Buying (and Believing) the Floor Plan

Sometimes there isn’t even a show home to walk through in the layout you are interested in, so you’re forced to buy from looking at floor plans. This can be tricky, because often the square footage is calculated for the entire space – including closets, balconies, and storage rooms – rather than the actual living space available. Also, keep an eye out for details on artist renderings that may not translate to the real thing: Door or window details sketched out by an artist for marketing purposes may not make it into the final build, or – like many things – may be upgrades and add to your bottom line. It’s a good idea if you’re buying from a floor plan to ask for more detailed breakdowns of room sizes make sure you know exactly what you’re getting.

Mistake #2: Upgraded Show Homes That Dazzle

Most of the time when you’re actually looking at a new build home, you’re looking at a show home or show suite. It’s important to remember that these show homes are designed to impress, and have been extensively upgraded beyond the base price in order to do so. Those stainless steel appliances in the kitchen? Upgrade. The granite countertops? Upgrade. When you’re walking through the show home take a brochure (or a great Edmonton REALTOR) with you to help you spot these “hidden” upgrades that often come with a bigger price tag, so you don’t fall in love with them and then get sticker shock when you see the real price of the home.

Mistake #3: Skipping the Inspection

Just because a home is brand new doesn’t mean you should skip an inspection! Make sure you go with your builder (and take a pro with you) to your pre-delivery inspection, which is mandatory for all new homes under a warranty. And then again, a few months before your warranty expires, hire a professional home inspection to do another round to make sure anything major that may have been missed gets fixed while you’re home is still under warranty protection.

Mistake #4: You’re Moving Into a Construction Zone

This is particularly important when you’re buying a townhouse or condo unit, but can also have a big impact if you’re buying one of the first homes in a new neighbourhood. If you buy into a new development early, you could be signing on to live in a construction zone, possible for a period of a few years depending on what stage the project is in when you take possession. Living in a construction area includes dust, noise, inconvenience when certain entry points are closed off or blocked, parking disruption, etc.

Mistake #5: Taking it Slow on Warranty Claims

If you spot something that needs to be fixed and is under warranty, go after it immediately, and press hard if you get delays or excuses. Builders and developers may try and stretch it out (and sometimes they may have legitimate reasons to do so) which could put your fixes in jeopardy if your warranty expiry date is coming quick. And, if left un-fixed, many things will quickly get worse – especially in Edmonton, where the cold winters and hot summers take their toll on foundations, brick, and landscaping.

Thinking about buying a new build home in Edmonton and want expert advice? Contact The Paranych Team to assist you with buying a brand new home, condo, or townhouse in one of Edmonton’s new and growing communities!

Edmonton Winter Festivals in 2015

Tue, 13 Jan by Terry Paranych

Edmonton is well known throughout the Province and country as a “Festival City”: During the summer there’s a festival going on pretty much every week! But less well known are Edmonton’s great Winter Festivals, and in the last few years Edmontonians have really been embracing our identity as a “Winter City” as well. It’s so easy to spend the long, cold winter locked up at home, but it’s important to remember you can have just as much fun in January and February as you can in July and August!

So pull on your long johns, your warm jacket, and your favourite toque, then get out and visit one of these great Edmonton winter festivals below!

Ice on Whyte 2013, by Mack Male

Ice on Whyte Snow Slide from 2013,
Photo by Mack Male

Ice On Whyte: The Carving Festival: January 23 – February 1

10 days of outdoor art, music, food and fun! Watch the ATCO Gas International Ice Carving Competition, with artists from around the world including Latvia, Lithuania, New Zealand, the Netherlands, Russia, Malaysia, and from right here at home. In addition to magnificent ice sculptures, you can enjoy movie nights, lots of children-friendly fun, showshoeing, skating, and other great events. Don’t miss the 1st Annual Old Strathcona Farmers’ Market Stew Off on January 31 or the Fire & Ice Extravaganza on February 1. Learn More!

Winter Cities Shake-Up 2015: January 28 – January 30

Designers, urban planners, entrepreneurs, artists, cultural and community organizers are coming together in Edmonton to discuss how to embrace the identity of being a winter city. If conferences aren’t your think, do check out some of their great open-to-the-public events surrounding the conference, including a Bison Tour at Elk Island National Park, the Wacky Winter Challenge at Miquelon Lake, and the Snow Sculpting and Winterscaping workshop. Learn More!

Green & Glow Winterfest: January 29 – January 31

A spectacle of light, fire and snow! With indoor and outdoor events great for the whole family, the University of Alberta is putting on a great winter festival on campus. They’re bringing together talented artists, great performers, and cool exhibits. Most events are free, and all will be fun! Learn More!

The Flying Canoe Adventure/L’aventure du canoë volant: February 6 – February 7

A truly unique outdoor event that brings together French-Canadian and First-Nations legends told by various “lost canoeists” along the Mill Creek Ravine. Take a horse-drawn carriage ride, experience a “winter rodeo”, and enjoy live musical performances at La Cité en Lumières at La Cité Francophone. Learn More!

Edmonton Resilience Festival: February 7 – February 8

Located at the Boyle Street Plaza, this event features a list of great workshops. Try out cheese-making, yoga, canning, and cider-making, learn about bee-keeping, become a better gardner, learn how to maintain your bike, and a huge list of other great hands-on workshops while connecting with other Edmontonians at this community-driven festival. Learn More!

Horses at Silver Skate Festival 2013, by Alberta Clipper

Horses at Silver Skate Festival, 2013,
Photo by Alberta Clipper

Silver Skate Festival: February 13 – February 22

This family-focused 10 day festival takes place in Edmonton’s beautiful river valley, and combines skating, other winter sports, art, culture, and recreation. The Silver Skate Festival is Edmonton’s longest running winter festival and is celebrating 25 years this Feburary. Every year it transforms Hawrelak Park into a family-friendly winter wonderland, with snow sculptures, horse-drawn sleigh rides, pond hockey, bannock-making, and live music and theatrical performances. Learn More!

Winefest Edmonton: February 13 – February 14

Wine lovers will love this festival! An all-inclusive event that gives you the opportunity to sample many different types and flavours of wine, learn more about the art and science of tasting wine, and vote in the People’s Choice Awards. An indoor event that is sure to warm you up inside. Learn More!

Top Ten Fastest Growing Edmonton Communities, Part 2

Tue, 06 Jan by Terry Paranych

Edmonton's river valley and downtown skylineLast week, we looked at the first five of our Top Ten Fastest Growing Edmonton Communities list, and this week we’re going to keep counting up to the #1 spot. This list is based off the 2014 City of Edmonton census data, released last summer.

After looking at the #10 – #6, we noticed the communities on the first half of our list were all newer communities, all close to the Anthony Henday ring road, and all had access to important amenities. Let’s see if the trend holds as we count up to the #1 fastest growing community in Edmonton.

#5 – Laurel

2009 Population: 0
2014 Population: 4,098
Increase since 2009: 4,098

Another almost brand-new community Laurel is located in southeast Edmonton, just north of the Anthony Henday. It’s bordered to the west by 34th Street and to the north by 23rd avenue. When completed, this are of the city will be fantastically family-friendly, including lots of pedestrian walking trails and local park spaces.

Only a few minutes drive away is the brand new Meadows Community Centre, featuring an aquatic and fitness centre, two ice arenas, and a public library branch. New schools are planned for this area, making this an attractive community for young families looking to make their home near where their kids can go to school in a few years. And for those already with grade-school children at home, there are schools in neighbouring communities ready for attendance. Rio-Can Meadows and Millwoods Town Centre shopping centres are both close by.

#4 – Walker

2009 Population: 0
2014 Population: 4,424
Increase since 2009: 4,424

Walker is located in southeast Edmonton, south of Ellerslie Road, east of 66th Street, and west of 50th Street. This area of Edmonton is brand new and still under development, so look at this community to continue growing for a while yet! It’s only a short drive away from the commercial shopping area at Parsons Road and Ellerslie, and in the other direction is the brand new Ivor Dent Sports Park and the Pioneer Meadows Golf Course.

This is an up-and-coming community to watch: The addition of the developing Charlesworth/Harvest Pointe commercial centre along Ellerslie Road and 50th Street will add even more value to this already awesome family-centric community.

#3 – Windermere

2009 Population: 322
2014 Population: 5,339
Increase since 2009: 5,017

Windermere is located in Edmonton’s southwest, and borders the North Saskatchewan River Valley to the west. It sits just north of the Anthony Henday and west of 170th Street. Windermere’s location can’t be beat: It’s got access to main arterial roads and a huge selection of amenities, shops, and services right nearby, including groceries, a movie theatre, restaurants, big box stores, and more. And it was recently announced there are new schools planned for Windermere, which will only increase the neighbourhood’s popularity.

It’s position high up and overlooking the river valley give many residents fantastic views looking down into Edmonton, and the nearby River Ridge and Windermere Golf clubs make this a favourite home base for Edmontonians who love to spend a lot of time on the green. There’s an interesting and wide mix of homes in Windermere, which includes everything from large-lot estate-style homes to urban-styled condos.

#2 – The Hamptons

2009 Population: 5,642
2014 Population: 10,799
Increase since 2009: 5,157

The Hamptons neighbourhood is located on the western edge of Edmonton, just west of the Anthony Henday and south of 62nd Avenue. Quick access to the Anthony Henday makes The Hamptons an easy commute for most residents, even for those who work across the city. Access to arterial roads, the amenities along 62 Avenue, and a family-focused atmosphere all contribute to The Hampton’s success.

The community is primarily low density residential with single-detached homes, but there is a mixture of medium density as well, including duplex/triplex units and townhouse-style homes. In recent years two new schools have opened to serve The Hamptons area: Sister Annata Brockman Catholic School and Bessie Nichols Public School, both of which provide kindergarden to grade 9 education.

Want to learn more about The Hamptons? Read our full profile of The Hamptons community.

#1 – Summerside

Summerside From Above
2009 Population: 4,807
2014 Population: 11,314
Increase since 2009: 6,507

Summerside is located in southeast Edmonton, south of Ellerslie Road, west of 66th Street, and east of the QE2 highway, and it’s well know for it’s 13 hectare recreational Summerside Lake, built as Edmonton’s first all-purpose man-made lake, and provides Summerside residents an exclusive place to swim, fish, and use non-motorized boats.

While the community is largely single-family style homes, there are also apartment-style condos and row housing as well, which means this area has every type of home you could want throughout your life, from small starter-house to large homes on luxury lots with private lake access. Michael Strembitsky School is located within the neighbourhood, and there are major amenities along the 91 Street corridor, including groceries, restaurants, and a fitness centre. It’s also mere minutes away from the South Edmonton Common power shopping area, where you can find literally anything you might need!

Want to learn more about Summerside? Read our full profile of Summerside community.

Edmonton’s Fastest Growing Communities: The Common Themes

South Edmonton is Booming

There’s a lot of interest and growth in Edmonton’s southern regions: Only 1 of the top ten was outside of the far south areas of the city. Given that the far south of Edmonton is where our borders are expanding, this makes a lot of sense, and there are already strong commercial zones and amenities already built up around the Calgary Trail and Ellerslie Road corridors, so new neighbourhoods have quick access to important amenities even if they aren’t within their boundaries. Don’t expect growth in the south to slow down anytime soon!

Want to learn more about what makes South Edmonton so special? Read our feature blog post on South Edmonton.

We Love the Anthony Henday

Anthony Henday Drive in Edmonton

The Anthony Henday in Edmonton, photo by Thankyoubaby

It’s no coincidence that the fastest growing Edmonton communities are all bordering the Anthony Henday. The addition of — and coming completion of — this important ring road has opened up a lot of options for Edmonton commuters. You no longer have to live in the same region of Edmonton that you work in: It’s fast and easy to get to almost any part of the city, and once the Henday is complete it will be even easier!

Young Families Setting the Trend

All of these communities either have new schools within them, new schools nearby, or new schools on the books, making them attractive to young families with growing children that need a great education. Combine that with access to great brand-new recreational facilities, shopping amenities, and park areas, and you have a burst of interest from new families looking to set down roots in a community they can grow in. If you drill down and look at the demographic mix of these communities, you’ll find the data shows these communities are trending younger.

Top Ten Fastest Growing Edmonton Communities, Part 1

Tue, 30 Dec by Terry Paranych

Edmonton's Fastest Growing CommunitiesThe City of Edmonton conducted a city-wide census in 2014 and released the results late last summer. We’ve dug through the data to find out which areas of the Edmonton real estate market are on fire, which are losing steam, and what the fastest growing Edmonton communities are.

In this two-part blog series, we’ll count up the Top Ten Fastest Growing Edmonton Communities, tell you a little bit about them, and try to figure out why these areas of our great city are experiencing so much growth.

What’s the connecting theme? What are Edmontonians looking for in a real estate investment that makes these communities so attractive to buyers?

Let’s get started!

#10 – Charlesworth

2009 Population: 1,394
2014 Population: 4,169
Increase since 2009: 2,775

Charlesworth is located in southeast Edmonton, just north of Ellerslie Road and south of the Anthony Henday. It’s bordered on the west by 66th Street and on the east by 50th Street. At its centre is a large park area with a small lake feature. Here you’ll find Ellerslie Campus Junior High School, providing education from kindergarden to grade nine levels.

In the southeast corner of Charlesworth where 50th Street and Ellerslie Road meet you’ll find the up-and-coming Charlesworth/Harvest Pointe commercial centre, which will bring a wealth of new amenities and services to Charlesworth and the surrounding area. Expect this community to get even more popular as it continues to grow and develop!

#9 – Tamarack

2009 Population: 743
2014 Population: 3,538
Increase since 2009: 2,795

The Tamarack community is located in Edmonton’s southeast, just west of the Anthony Henday and south of Whitemud Drive, stretching south along the east side of 17th Street to 23rd Ave. This is a very new community currently undergoing a lot of new development, but there is already a school within the neighbourhood, and a park-and-ride transit centre which makes this a great access point for downtown commuters who don’t want to drive.

Tamarack is a great location: Very close to RioCan Meadows shopping centre, and with access to both the Anthony Henday ring road and the Whitemud, this is an ideal commuter home-base: It’s easy to get just about anywhere in Edmonton efficiently. The new Meadows Community Recreation Centre and Library is nearby, and the community will have a wide mixture of housing styles, sizes, and types, including single-family homes, attached homes, townhouses, and low-rise condominiums.

#8 – Ambleside

2009 Population: 248
2014 Population: 3,492
Increase since 2009: 3,244

The community of Ambleside is located in southwest Edmonton, south of the Anthony Henday, east of 170th Street, and north of Ellerslie Road. The community includes the large “Currents of Windermere” commercial area along Windermere Boulevard which includes several large big-box stores, groceries, restaurants, a movie theatre, and coffee shops. For such a new community, Ambleside is well-equipped and has a ton of great amenities, and this year it was announced there’s a new school planned for the area.

Designed to be family and pedestrian-friendly, Ambleside already has the beginnings of a fantastic pathway and trail system to ensure each individual neighbourhood has walkable access to the key amenities of the area. This area of Edmonton is still under development: Expect more good things for Ambleside in coming years!

Want to learn more about Ambleside? Read our full profile on the Ambleside community.

#7 – South Terwillegar

2009 Population: 5,098
2014 Population: 8,980
Increase since 2009: 3,882

Terwillegar South is located in southwest Edmonton, just north of the Anthony Henday. It’s bordered to the east by Rabbit Hill Road, and to the west by Terwillegar Drive. The community has a mixture of home styles, including both single-family houses and condos, most of which have been built since 2005. The nearby Terwillegar Towne area provides a ton of great amenities, including the world-class Terwillegar Community Rec Centre.

Terwillegar is a young community, and the demographics are evidence of it’s family-friendly atmosphere. There are lot of young children around, and 4 local schools providing education across all grades, making this a great place to grow up. And residents love having access to the natural greenspace of the Whitemud Creek area, a ravine space that connects the communities of Edmonton’s southwest.

#6 – Rutherford

2009 Population: 6,521
2014 Population: 10,437
Increase since 2009: 3,916

The community of Rutherford is located in southwest Edmonton, south of Ellerslie Road, west of James Mowatt Trail, and east of 127th Street. It’s just a short drive from the QE2 highway leading to Calgary and the Edmonton International Airport, and even closer to the Anthony Henday. It has access to the commercial corridor along Ellerslie Road, where residents will find key services and amenities, including groceries, restaurants, coffee shops, and more. There are two schools within Rutherford already, making it an excellent choice for families with young children.

Even though Rutherford is a newer community, it already has an extensive pedestrian pathway network connecting all areas of the community, and the area contains a mixture of single-family homes, including styles and sizes for all price points and family needs, and condo developments along the arterial roads.

Want to learn more about Rutherford? Read our full profile on the Rutherford community.

There you have it, the first of our Top Ten Fastest Growing Edmonton Communities. So far, we’re already seeing some similarities between these communities: they’re all well connected the the Anthony Henday ring road, all newer communities that either have a good selection of local amenities already or are developing areas very close to existing commercial hot spots in Edmonton.

Stay tuned next week when we finish the count down and provide an analysis of the entire top ten!

The data included on this website is deemed to be reliable, but is not guaranteed to be accurate by the REALTORS® Association of Edmonton. The trademarks REALTOR®, REALTORS® and the REALTOR® logo are controlled by The Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA) and identify real estate professionals who are members of CREA. Used under license.