A Deep Quote

"Virtue is more to be feared than vice, because its excesses are not subject to the regulation of conscience. "

Adam Smith (1723-1790)


A Good Real Estate Indicator

I just read some great news at Canada Mortgage Trends.

ResMor Trust is offering prime rate on their 4 year variable mortgages which is currently the lowest available rate in the market.

Borrowers are happy but it is more than that. ResMor has eliminated the risk premium on their home loans which indicates they believe the Canadian real estate market is stable.

Couple this with the increased volume of home sales in cities like Calgary, shows our economy is improving. Home Renovators, Builders, Realtors and Home Inspectors should have more work in the last quarter. Maybe it is time to buy Home Depot stock?

National Certificate Accreditation

Some Calgary Home Inspectors have met all the requirements of the national certificate program and are designated as a National Certificate Holder.

This program is the result of a collaborative effort between CMHC, Human Resources and Social Development Canada, Construction Sector Council and CAPHI.

The program was set up to ensure competency and professionalism of all Home and Property Inspectors on a national level.

Certification by the National Certification Authority is one of many Home Inspector Certifications available in Canada. ASHI, CAPHI and InterNachi are three other associations that offer certification to their members.

CMHC suggests consumers choose a Home Inspector who is a member, in good standing, of an association.

More Tax Credits Please

The Conservative government is warning a fall election would kill a tax credit that allows Canadians to recoup some of the money they spend on home renovations.

Prime Minister Harper commented,

"This government remains committed to that tax credit. It's a good idea. I would encourage all political parties to support it, and those that supported it in the past to continue to support it,"

Essentially suggesting that the Liberal Party wishes to eliminate the tax credit for home renovations.

A spokesperson for Mr. Ignatieff replied, "Canadians have no reason to worry."

This is not a political blog. I'm not on any "Team". I vote on the issues.

That said, I must say I am am happy the Conservative Party introduced tax credits for home renovations. What qualifies for credit has been fairly liberal. However, I would like to see more credits for energy efficient innovations and products for the home.

I am unhappy with the Conservatives using scare tactics to disorientate Canadians. Revoking tax credits for home renovations would be suicide and no party would entertain the thought.

Suggesting otherwise is scare mongering and uncivilized.


Go Team Canada

The 40th World Skills Competition in Calgary, Alberta, showcases the best young talent from around the world in the trades, technologies and service industries.

From September 1 to 7, 2009, 900 participants representing more than 50 countries/regions will compete in 45 skilled trades and technology categories ranging from welding to cooking, auto body repair to landscape gardening, and plumbing to Web design.

Team Canada's 38 members will be competing in 35 contest areas.

And, from Mike Holmes,

I'm proud of these young people, and their passion and commitment to 'make it right.' I look forward to seeing how well they all do in the World Skills Competition this year."

I'm proud of Calgary for hosting this event. I also think our Government is doing the right thing by giving a $,2,000 grant to students who successfully complete their apprenticeship training and become certified journey persons in a designated Red Seal trade.

I wonder if Home and Property Inspection will ever be a Red Seal trade? Should it be?


Help a Charity

I just donated 20 dollars to Make a Wish charity by simply mentioning Hotels Combined on my little blog. What a great idea. Thanks for the email Chloe.

"Mention Hotels Combined and our spread the word for charity program on your website and we will send $20 to a supported charity of your choice!

Calgary bloggers, Home Inspection bloggers...all bloggers. Take a moment and help a charity. Contact Hotels Combined

Urban Photo - Calgary

I love Urban Photo. They have over 500 pictures of Calgary and tonnes of urban pics from around the world.. Trouble is, I can't show you the ones I love, they are all "space balled" via Flicker.

If you appreciate urban photograph and well written posts, check out Urban Photo

Eco Friendly Building Products

I was researching approved eco-building products at the Built Green website. I came across a heat recovery ventilator that has been on the market for some time. Which really is, a stamp of approval. There are 18 authorized dealers in Calgary

If you are upgrading your HVAC system or building a new home, you should familiarize yourself with LifeBreath products.


The migration habits of Snowbirds

There is a new trend in the Snowbird community. Semi retired and retired Calgarians are scooping up homes down in the States for bargain based prices.

Columnist, Ellen Roseman recently wrote an article in The discussing some "traps" to avoid when buying property in Florida. She does mention being wary of homes with drywall imported from China, but does not suggest hiring the services of a Home Inspector - probably an oversight.

Washington State Adopts Home Inspection Licencing

Calgary Home Inspectors are not required to be licenced by the province. I suspect that will change. In Canada, British Columbia is the only province that requires licencing.

In America, thirty-five States require Home Inspectors to be licenced. Washington is the most recent State to add legislation. Arguably, it has the "toughest" pre-licencing requirements of any jurisdiction in North America.

This is not to say Calgary Home Inspectors are not certified. There are a number of Home and Property Inspection Associations in Alberta that offer certification. ASHI, Caphi and InterNACHI to name a few.

The Canadian National Certification Program is not an association per se. It's function is to certify Home Inspectors on the national level. The certification process is the most stringent in Canada and is recognized by the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC).


Atco, making the world smaller.

Once in Shanghai, I met a medical exchange student from Ghana. He asked where I was from, I replied, "Calgary". He smiled and asked, "Do you know Mr. Atco? He is a great man".

I smiled knowingly. I spent four summers during University living and working in Atco trailers.

My Ghanaian friend went on to tell me the hospital and school in his village were both Atco structures. For a time he thought "Atco" was the English word for house or building. One day his teacher informed him "Atco" was the name of the owner of the company that built "traveling" homes. Further, Mr. Atco came from Calgary, the same city the missionary teacher was from.

I explained to my new friend, there had been a misunderstanding. Mr. Southern and his family were the primary owners of Atco Group and the original name was Alberta Trailer Company. And, I did not know the guy.

For those that don't know, Atco Group started in Calgary during the late 1940's and evolved into a globally diversified and well respected company. The Southern family also built Spruce Meadows, an international equestrian facility. Go Calgary.

Get a grip. Prevent a slip. Install hand rails.

Every summer, Calgary DYI types are building home decks. Depending on design and location, it is not rocket science. There are resources available on the web.

Hand rails on the steps are often overlooked and are later noted by a potential buyer's Home Inspector.

Some general guidelines below. Please check building codes specific to your location.

  • No handrail required for deck stairs with 3 risers or less
  • One handrail, if stairs are less than 43” wide
  • Two handrails if stairs are 43” or wider
  • Hand rail must have a graspable profile,
  • 2X2 or a 2X4 sitting on edge, are not graspable
  • Hand rails should be 32-36" above the stairs
  • Baluster spacing should be 4 inches.

Home safe--not just for baseball.

Home Electrical Concerns?

Daniel Friedman's Inspectapedia is a great resourse for Calgary home owners, Inspectors, general contractors and curious people. From the electrical section,
  • Federal Pioneer (Canadian) Electrical Panels & Circuit Breaker Hazards Federal Pioneer Electric Panel Recall
  • How to identify Federal Pacific Electric FPE Stab-Lok electrical panels and circuit breakers
  • Recalled Square-D Circuit GFCI Breakers and Counterfeit Square-D Breakers.
  • What are the hazards of Zinsco or Zinsco-Sylvania electric panels?
  • Kearney electrical panel identification.

Check out Inspectapedia. As always, leave electric repairs to qualified Electrical Contractors.

"As soon as you see a mistake and don't report it, it becomes your mistake".

A.D (Famous Home Inspector)

Grey Water Recycling in the Home

If I built a new home in Calgary I would insist a Brac Greywater Recycling System be incorporated into the design. Research suggests, it will save 30% of the 335 litres used daily per person on average in a home. While knocking 35% off the water bill. Installation would also score points towards Leed or Built Green certification.

Simple sustainable innovations like this, will one day be mandatory in all new home construction in Canada.

Aluminum Wire

Back in the late 60's and early 70's when the price of copper exploded some Electricians used aluminum wire in Calgary homes. During inspections, Home Inspectors make a note of this. Research suggests aluminum wire manufactured before 1972 was 55 times more likely to have one or more connections reach fire hazard conditions. Please read more at The Aluminum Wiring Information Website.

If concerned you should consult with an Electrical Contractor. While in your home, ask to have your GFCI and AFCI circuit breakers checked as well.

"It's a very sobering feeling to be up in space and realize that one's safety factor was determined by the lowest bidder on a government contract. "
Alan Shepard

320 Square Foot Home

A family of five live in this 320 square foot home in Japan. Clearly, it is possible to live with less - of everything. It is easy to forget, in our daily lives.

Sitting in traffic, on their way to their suburban homes, I suspect some Calgarians think about downtown condos and wonder - how small is too small?