Category Archives: Buyer Info

Smart home technology in new Cowichan Valley homes for sale

Join the Smart Home Revolution

Smart home is a catchphrase for a household that features labour-saving devices connected to and supported by a cloud infrastructure for data processing. Each device connects to the cloud via your home or office WI-FI router. This makes it simple to connect to the device with your phone or tablet, even if you’re not actually at home. Many new homes in the Cowichan Valley have smart technologies built into them. Let us know if this is a priority for you.

The central device in a smart home is usually a voice-activated helper, such as Alexa, Echo, or Siri. Using a ‘wake word’, these devices can answer basic questions about math or weather, order things directly from Amazon or local restaurants, read ebooks, play music, and much more. These handy machines can be programmed to help with household routines but scheduling lights-off time, lock doors, and activate the coffee pot timer for the morning. Of course, all the ancillary devices need to be ‘smart’ and connected through WI-FI.

Smart plugs and a smart thermostat can be controlled with your phone from anywhere. Instead of coming home to a dark and cold space on a winter evening, smart controllers can turn on some lights and adjust the heat automatically or at your command. Want to hear Bach playing when you unlock the door? Just set-up a routine for the assistant to monitor the lock and begin your favourite playlist.

Smart home security systems are designed to monitor the perimeter of your property and contact authorities if there is a break-in. Forgetting to turn-on the alarm is a common mistake. A smart security system is always on. It can tell you when a child arrives home from school, or when a window has been left open, and then text or email an alert to the owner. First responders are contacted immediately when a break-in or fire has been detected. They can be controlled remotely so you can check a video to see if the garage door has been left open or lock doors with just a tap.

All this may seem magical but don’t let that lull you into a sense of false security. In fact, security should be a primary concern for residents of smart homes. As with any device, some expertise is required to install and operate it properly. Always change the default password that comes with the device. Use something that is very long but easy to remember such as lyrics to a song. Aim for 15 or more characters. These types of passwords can be just as effective as randomized alphanumeric ones. Without a strong password, you risk losing control to hackers.

If you want to experiment with a smart home device but aren’t ready to use a voice assistant, consider a robot vacuum. They work on a schedule that you set to vacuum the whole house, even under furniture. They’re ideal to take care of dust bunnies on laminate and tile floors but work pretty well on carpeted areas, too. Look for one with a HEPA filter to keep dust and allergens down.

Questions or comments? Want to talk about your next real estate transaction? Contact Lorne Gait and Morgan Fisher today.

Cowichan Valley homes with natural gas barbeque connections

Summer Grilling: Gas or Coals?

Known for imparting a smoky richness that pairs perfectly with charred fat and meat, barbeque is one of the most popular cooking techniques. Summer is barbeque season and with its arrival the debate over charcoal or gas is revisited by friends and neighbours across Canada. One great feature of gas grills is the option to use natural gas from the house and forget about running out of propane. Many newer homes in the NAME OF area feature natural gas connections for a grill. Let us know if this is a priority for you when looking for a new home in the Cowichan Valley.

But which fuel produces the best cooking results? The answer is this: it depends on what you’re cooking. Both fuels provide an even, dry heat that is ideal for grilling. Do you want to easily sear a protective layer to retain juices? Are you cooking large cuts or a whole chicken? Perhaps you are slow roasting and want a heavy smoke taste? Both types of barbeques will produce smoke which is mostly caused by fat dripping on the element cover or the charcoal.

The speed at which you intend to cook is an important factor. Quick meals such as hot dogs or burgers are done before smoke can penetrate the meat. A gas grill is perfect for quick meals that require only a short time on a hot grill. They heat up quickly and, when you’re done, shut off completely. That’s exactly what the chef needs when steaks or burgers are the main course. They’re also good for grilling vegetables and pizzas because the cooking surface can be easily adjusted with dual gas controls. Simple, quick, and easy with good smokiness when required. That is what you get with a quality gas grill.

Charcoal grills are a different way of cooking that is similar to smoking. They’re ideal for a slow barbeque style such as a whole ‘beer can’ chicken or thick steaks that need more time to cook. Charcoal is made from hardwood that is burned in an oxygen-free environment which produces carbonized wood. Because the briquettes are made from wood, the resulting burn will taste and smell a little like the tree the charcoal was made from. Some chefs will supplement the natural taste with a little wood of their own, perhaps from an apple branch or some driftwood. An electric charcoal starter helps to light the briquettes. Once the coals are an evenly lit, you can begin grilling.

If you have a charcoal grill, you might want to experiment with wood or wood pellets. Both will produce a wonderfully flavoured smoke. Plus, the fuel is basically free if you live anywhere near a forest or wood lot. Experiment with different types of wood, by itself or with charcoal, and see which species impart a flavour that you think makes perfect barbeque.

Questions or comments? Want to talk about your next real estate transaction? Contact a Ladysmith REALTOR® today.

Soundproofing solutions for your Cowichan Valley condominium

Soundproofing for Cowichan Valley Condos

It’s important to note that noise is a two-way annoyance: If you can hear your neighbours talk on the phone or watch a movie that means they can hear you too. In this context, soundproofing could also be considered privacy-proofing your conversations from adjoining units. Soundproofing is a valuable upgrade to your Cowichan Valley condo unit.

There are two concepts for soundproofing that fit almost all circumstances: mass and air gap. Ideally, they work together in a system that stops a wide range of frequencies. There are two basic ways to soundproof a wall that is between two dwellings. The first is reconstruction of the wall with a system to reduce noise. This option can be expensive depending on the length of the wall and how much soundproofing is desired. The other way is to use some clever materials and strategies that will dampen noise. This is helpful if you’re a renter or need sound suppression for a condo.

Let’s start with the free solutions and work toward the more premium fixes. Common sense would dictate that quiet stuff shouldn’t be placed near a shared wall. Your reading chair might look better on the other side of the room anyway. Do you own an armoire or wardrobe? Put that on the shared wall so it will absorb some sound.

The next step is to use a curtain effect to block sound. This might be a piece of art, a large mirror, or a rug purchased specifically to use as a wall hanging. IKEA makes inexpensive area rugs with beautiful designs and low pile that are perfect for this application. Mass loaded vinyl is a heavy (2lb/sqft) sheet product that is intended for floors and walls. It can be cut to size for extra weight behind a wall hanging. Condos usually have steel studs so, unless you’re using a self-tapping screw, attach sound curtains with the proper size and type of drywall anchors.

Moving beyond decorating with soundproofing, we arrive at reconstruction approaches. Simply adding another layer of gypsum to the wall help because its mass stops sound waves. This requires adjusting (and soundproofing) the receptacles and possibly the baseboard trim. Newer gypsum designed for this has a layer of lead on one side. Another alternative is to use mass loaded vinyl between the gypsum sheets. This is a job for a professional unless you’re comfortable with drywall installation.

If you have plaster walls, then replacing them with drywall and installing a sound control system at the same time may be practical. Depending on where the wall is, you may want to install a second set of staggered studs. This eliminates direct transmission of sound by vibration by creating an air gap. Spray foam insulation has a very good sound rating and can fill the void completely. Finish the wall with double drywall and acoustic sealant along the edges. Again, this is a job for qualified trades, but the result will reflect the effort put into it.

Sound control, soundproofing, privacy-proofing are part of a healthy home environment. Having control of our space and a quiet space to relax and work contributes to a sense of well-being. It also increases your property value. You might be able to tolerate the sound of your neighbour’s home theatre system or snoring but imagine how much more comfortable you and your family will be with the sound of silence.

Questions or comments about soundproofing your condo? Want to talk about your next real estate transaction? Contact Lorne Gait and Morgan Fisher today for a personal appointment.

Cowichan Valley homes for sale

Most Desired Home Features

A home is defined by how we use it which means it needs to fit our lifestyle and our expectations. We need them to be trouble-free, efficient, and comfortable. Modern houses are evolving from mere dwellings to spaces that fit like a tailored garment or a fine pair of shoes. According to, these features are in high demand for 2021. See if any of them belong on your Cowichan Valley home shopping list.

A walk-in closet is predicted to be the most sought-after feature in a new home. Although some critics say these hidden retreats of calm are more than people need, the benefits seem to outweigh the criticism. If you love clothes and have a shoe collection, a walk-in closet is a necessity. They’re more than a big closet, they’re a dressing room with flattering lighting and mirrors for checking your look.

Energy efficiency is the sexy new feature this year. Ultra high-performance windows, LED lighting, and heat pumps put the swagger in a home buyer’s step. Going green is more than saving money. It’s a middle-class status symbol that says you’re hip with a sophisticated understanding of value for money. What could be better than near perfect climate control all year for pennies a day?

In the spirit of hygge and fika and appreciating all the good things in life, the laundry room has finally made its debut. This previously unmentionable room has come of age and now beckons the homeowner to sit, stay, and contemplate the meaning of clean laundry. Ample cupboard space, a place to iron, and intelligent appliances are accessorized with a desk and soft lamp light. Combine with a mud room and it becomes almost like a second kitchen perhaps with enough space for a gathering table.

Kitchen designers have settled on stainless and granite as the two main features of a proper kitchen. Interestingly, also reports that medium brown cabinets are preferred by first-time buyers—perhaps because they seem more luxurious—while repeat buyers tend to prefer white cabinetry. A classic white kitchen is hard to ignore. They’re easy to clean and white goes with everything. Pair them with white appliances if you like the look and plant to stay or stainless steel if the home is going on the market.

Architectural style is still trending to a fusion of traditional and contemporary minimalism, as seen in these examples. The Southern California-inspired philosophy of indoor/outdoor living continues to grow in popularity. The naturalistic environment of a joined living space and outdoor space is fundamental to the idea being connected with nature.

One way to achieve a sense of verdure that is an unmistakeable characteristic of indoor/outdoor design is to mirror the patio space and the living space. Choose sliding doors without a track in the floor. If the living space has a tile floor, continue the tiles outside to the patio for a seamless look. Use trees inside to harmonize the transition between the house and the yard. And, for colour inspiration, look to backyard plants and skyscapes. The goal with this method is to blur the boundaries between the house and the yard.

Questions or comments? Want to talk about your next real estate transaction? Contact Lorne Gait and Morgan Fisher today to learn more about new home construction trends.

Modular homes for sale in Cowichan Valley, BC

Modular Homes in the Cowichan Valley

In the early 1900’s, a small mail-ordered house was a practical alternative to a custom designed and site-built dwelling. Homeowners could order the entire structure, pre-cut and ready to assemble. A kit house saved the buyers money on labour and materials because everything was ready to be put together. They were so popular that almost 3% of all homes in the US at the time were built from kits! Kit homes are still sold for the cottage market.

Today, we’re seeing a trend in the Cowichan Valley that is moving away from traditional home-building and toward assembly-line construction in a factory. Homes are built in sections that fit on a trailer and then joined on the job site. A modular home can be a ‘single-wide’ but more common are the double-width or staggered tile designs. There is no limit to the combinations and size of a modular structure. You just keep adding modules and floors until the house is just right for you.

A modular home is different from a manufactured home. Modular homes are designed to be just like a real house that goes on a concrete foundation. Designs have changed in recent years and more of them are appearing as ‘in-fill’ housing. In-fill refers to homes that are intended for vacant lots in between houses in an existing neighbourhood. Residents expect a new home’s design to fit in to the existing scheme so designers have created modular homes that look site-built. They can go on practically any city lot because they are defined as a house, not a mobile or a manufactured home that you might find in a trailer park.

Modular homes have a number of advantages over traditional site construction. The main benefit is speed. It arrives at the building lot complete with appliances and requires only some drywall patching and paint. A modular home can be placed and connected to utilities in a couple of days. That can save owner-builders a lot of money in financing and other costs.

Have a look at some videos on modular homes being placed on their foundations. Note the sizes and variety of styles. Some have attached garages and decks that were built after the home was delivered.

Another benefit is the efficiency of construction. Because they’re assembled in a factory by full-time trades, there is very little waste in materials or time. Materials are stored in a climate-controlled environment. Everything is carefully measured and fitted to exacting standards. Nothing is wasted on the factory floor which helps keep costs low.

A modular home is built to standards that exceed traditional site-built housing because of the stress it will encounter on the journey to the site. There is extra bracing and heavier materials used. A modular home is designed and constructed to last a long time.

Modular homes are the trend of the future because they fit the idea of lower cost and higher quality that we demand in everyday products. Instead of major renovations, we might see a time when a module home can be picked up and taken to a recycler as a whole unit. A new unit could be placed on the same foundation.

Interested in land for sale to site your new modular home? Want to talk about your next real estate transaction? Contact Lorne and Morgan today for information on buying a modular home in the Cowichan Valley.

Cowichan Valley homes for sale with open concept

Construction Trends in the Cowichan Valley

Each generation of design takes cues from the past and incorporates them into visions for the present. Sometimes the result is brilliant. Other times it can be a mashup of incompatible theories. Today, the trend for new homes in the Cowichan Valley is reverting back to traditional with contemporary influences. People are looking for liveable spaces designed for real life families. Sustainable materials, flex-spaces, and eco-friendly elements are in vogue.

Kitchens that double as entertainment spaces have evolved from the family room-kitchen combo. The space is becoming more formal, less playroom. The bathroom is becoming a spa and a retreat for rejuvenation. Look for quirky features like a “king’s attic,” a room only accessible through the master bathroom closet. A true hideout for tired parents.

Technology is now omni-present in our lives, and it has begun to permeate the home, as well. Voice-activated helpers turn on lights, order pizza, and help us manage schedules. We can expect to see more connections between devices with the coming wave of “Internet of Things.” Your fridge will be able to order directly from the grocery store when supplies are low. When a storm knocks out the power, your car will reverse the flow of electrons from its charger to keep everything running. An electronic cocoon is the next big trend.

Decor will continue to evolve with more white decor. It never goes out of style and works with every decor. Pure, soft, cool, and warm are a few ways paint makers describe their favourite blends. There is a tone of white that is perfect for your walls. A white canvas allows the homeowner to decorate with colour accessories. White walls are a potential gallery for your inner art curator.

White-on-white is also synonymous with minimalistic spaces. It might inspire some to shed unused belongings, a trend that picked up speed in the 2010s. The catchphrases are living with less, less is more, and minimalist lifestyles for a better focus on appreciation. In these types of spaces, lighting is the main feature. Create shadows and pools of gathering light to separate spaces and give the illusion of rooms within rooms. LED lights make it possible to keep one or two on all the time for plants or safe navigation at night. Brighten a dark foyer to encourage good feng shui energy to enter the home. Consider small helper lights for dark corners and halls such as a salt lamp or an LED string in a plant.

Another welcome trend is quietude, a trend that points to sensible priorities. Separation of space begins with the visual and is complete with control of the audible environment. Wall units against common walls are helpful. Some print on demand art websites will include a sound-proof dampener. Mass loaded vinyl under an extra layer of drywall will silence a bedroom for sleep. Although this is a slightly more expensive option, it works well and when professionally done, will increase the value of your condo or townhouse.

Questions about new home construction in the Cowichan Valley? Want to talk about your next real estate transaction? Contact Lorne Gait and Morgan Fisher today to receive the newest listings by email.

Down payment assistance homes for sale in the Cowichan Valley

Down Payment Options

This is a question first-time buyers ask themselves when they find the perfect starter home in the Cowichan Valley. It’s in the right neighbourhood, at the right price, and it shows pride of ownership. All the things a first-time buyer wants in a house or a condo. They can afford the payments but haven’t been able to save a down payment. Luckily, Canadian homeowners have a number of options available to them.

Did you know that the minimum down payment is only 5% of the purchase price? That means a $350,000 home requires only $17,500 to qualify for an insured mortgage. Based on the affordability calculator, you would need an income of $55,000 to afford the mortgage on this example.

The Government of Canada offers an incentive for first-time buyers. A buyer can receive 5% of the purchase price for a resale property or 10% of the price for a new home. This can significantly reduce payments by reducing the mortgage needed to purchase. The incentive is an equity-sharing arrangement, which means the government has an interest in the property and the loan must be repaid when it is sold.

Through the Home Buyer Plan, regular deposits to an RRSP are a terrific way to save money and taxes, too. Your contributions are deductible from your taxable income so you’re able to save and receive a refund at the end of the year. Saving $300 per month for three years and depositing the tax refund to the RRSP at the end of each year would add up to a down payment for a $350,000 home.

Gifts from parents or relatives can be a helpful way to get started. It’s also possible to borrow the down payment from sources other than the mortgage provider. A personal line of credit can be useful in these types of circumstances if the overall debt service ratio is within allowed limits.

If you’re thinking of buying a home, it’s a good idea to defer large purchases that will affect your credit and debt servicing ratios. For example, buying a car before a purchase – even if you’re in escrow – can affect your debt ratio and cause the lender to withdraw the mortgage offer. The best approach is to wait until you have moved into your new home before shopping for big ticket items or using your credit cards for travel, etc.

With some planning and foresight, a new home might be within your reach already!

Are you a first time buyer? Want to talk about your next real estate transaction? Contact Lorne Gait and Morgan Fisher today.

Cowichan Valley eco-friendly home maintenance

Create an Eco-Friendly Zone at Home

January is a good month to look at your home environment for opportunities to detox, go green, and get eco-friendly. Making do, making your own, and doing good are what it’s all about. Here in the Cowichan Valley, we have a special pride in our environment and it shows!

Plants purify the air that we breathe and some species will actually remove toxins such as benzene and formaldehyde. As plants respirate, or breathe, they’re taking in carbon dioxide and releasing pure oxygen. That’s why a room with lots of plants encourages a deep breath. It’s because the extra oxygen feels good. Choose plants that are suitable for your space and ability. In the kitchen, food herbs are very easy to grow and make a nice addition to the menu.

Chemical cleaners can add to the overall toxin load in your home. Consider making your own for windows, bathroom disinfection, and kitchen sanitizing. Bleach is one of the most eco-friendly and safe cleaners available. It decomposes back to the principal ingredient, salt, within a few hours. Ammonia, vinegar, lemon juice, and green tea are a few ingredients in homemade cleaning solutions that are inexpensive and all natural. Recipes are available online for easy reference.

Water is the most important element for good health. Older pipes and apartment plumbing can leave a bad taste. While this is off-putting, poor water quality could also be a sign of contaminants like excessive copper, sulphur, and lead. Contaminated water can have direct, negative health effects such as developmental problems in children and cognitive disorders in adults. The good news is that your tap water can be purified using an under the sink reverse osmosis filter system. Water is also an ingredient in cooking so when you use filtered water, you’ll naturally improve the taste of coffee, tea, pasta, and other dishes that rely on it.

Look around your home for ways to remove plastic from the waste stream. Fabric grocery bags or totes are a little more work to manage but they save trees and keep plastic out of the environment. If you still prefer plastic, bring your own bags to the grocery store. They tuck into a pocket or purse easily and you’ll save a nickel on each one. Sturdy plastic bags can be recycled into kitchen-catcher garbage bags. The handy loops can be tied into knot to keep everything neat.

For a wood and paper alternative, consider bamboo. It’s one of the fastest growing species of plants in the world. It can be used to make paper, furniture, hardwood flooring, and even fabric! When cellulose is extracted from bamboo it can be spun into a luxurious silky textile that is perfect for sheets and garments in place of linen. It’s a wonder plant that we’ll see a lot more of in the future.

Questions or comments? Want to talk about your next real estate transaction? Contact Lorne Gait and Morgan Fisher today for information about buying or selling a home in the Cowichan Valley.