Category Archives: Seller Info

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.

Plant an edible perennial garden to increase the market value of your Cowichan Valley home

Easy, Edible Perennial Gardens

One of the best uses for perennials plantings is edibles, especially here in the Cowichan Valley. Perennials go dormant in the winter and return each spring. Many vegetables and herbs are perennial which means you can enjoy bigger and bigger harvests from one plant as the years go by. They’re ideal for plant-once gardening that will grow and produce for many years. You can choose perennial vegetable and herb varieties from an extensive list of these amazing plants.

Asparagus is one of the most expensive grocery store vegetables. Planting just a couple square feet of this delicacy will keep it on the menu all year. Artichokes are another pricey vegetable that are perennials. Potatoes, garlic, and onions will grow each year by themselves if given minimal care.

Herbs such as chives, shallots, thyme, fennel, and spearmint are wonderful staples for a homestead-style garden. Put them in salads of sorrel and radicchio, also perennials, for free green salads through the spring and summer months. Fruit such as rhubarb, strawberries, raspberries, blueberries (and many more types of berries) are easy to grow. With some informed pruning, they will produce baskets of sweet, organic berry treats.

Perennials may need a little help to get established. Choose the right spot for them based on their needs for light and soil. For example, full sun means six to eight hours of direct sunlight. For the first few years, make sure to monitor their progress and make adjustments, if necessary. Give them water regularly, keep weeds down, and fertilize according to best practices. You many need to wait two or three years before a perennial feels at home and begins to produce.

Perennials are low maintenance with deeper root systems resistant to drought. They may blossom for only a few weeks but make wonderful shrubs. Some may bloom again in the fall when the weather signals them to produce seeds or fruit. Perennials may come from seeds or bulbs.

The next time you’re at the plant nursery, check the labels to see if the plants you like are annuals or perennials. Consider how much time you spend in the garden and the space you have. Maybe there is room for some of these recurring wonders in your backyard and on your menu!

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

Garage organizers for Cowichan Valley homes

Organizing the Garage

Garages are usually low priority when it comes to cleaning and organizing. After all, it’s a room for the car and trash pails, isn’t it supposed to be a little bit rough? As a storage room, garages get low marks due to the humidity and dirt that can infiltrate boxes causing damage to the contents. As a car park, it’s often a crowded space with mixed priorities that can take over. If you’re ready to organize your garage of your Cowichan Valley house, read on.

Organizing is really about making decisions on what to do with stuff you haven’t used in a long time. Thankfully, there are a number of places that will take your junk, no questions asked. ReStore, created by Habitat for Humanity, is a retail outlet for recycled building materials. They will take a half-box of nails, that old brass chandelier, and whatever else you can find that tends to cause instant procrastination when you don’t know what to do with something. Value Village is another place that will take household items no matter how awful you may think they are. The only rule for donating garage junk is that it should be clean and in working order. Everything else can go to the curb for scavengers or in a dumpster.

Once you have removed the junk, the next step is to figure out where the remaining stuff will go. For this, you’ll need shelving. Ironically, the previously mentioned ReStore may have some nice used shelves. If you’re installing bracket shelves, make sure they’re wide enough for the boxes of decorations and large toys. The idea is to move everything off the floor. Build or install right up to the ceiling if you can. Closed metal cabinets are a nice safety upgrade if you store flammables in the garage. They can be locked to keep children from playing with paint remover or insecticides. You can never have too much storage space.

When hanging shelves, be sure to use the right hardware for installation. Screwing brackets directly into studs is the safest method. If you must use drywall anchors in some spots, be sure to use the correct size and style for the amount of weight the shelf must bear.

Designate areas for certain things such as the mower, recycling, kids’ toys, etc. Use big, friendly labels so everyone knows where to put things away. Making labels is a fun rainy-day activity and will solicit organizational buy-in from young artists. Sparkle letters? Why not?

When everything is up off the floor, and you’re happy with the overall effect, you might want to consider taking it to the next level. Epoxy floor paint with mica chips is every man’s dream garage floor. Easy to clean, dust-free, and professional-looking, this high impact finish can only increase the value of your home and neighbour envy.

Questions or comments? Want to talk about your next real estate transaction? Contact Lorne and Morgan, your Cowichan Valley Royal Lepage REALTORS®, today.

Home water filtration systems in the Cowichan Valley

Water is a Cooking Ingredient

Water absorbs tastes from the pipes and conduits in the water system. Additives like chlorine can also affect the taste of this most basic of all ingredients. You wouldn’t use flour or milk that smelled like copper or chlorine so why use less than pristine water in your cooking? Cooking with filtered water can make everything from coffee to pasta taste better not to mention reconstituted juice and homemade pop. Purified water is better for people, makes better infant formula, and is healthier for pets, too. Use in fish tanks, to water plants, and to make cleaning solutions that won’t leave mineral deposits.

Here in the Cowichan Valley, we are blessed with an abundant supply of clean, fresh water. However, that water must pass through miles of pipes, new and old, before it reaches your home or business.

A water filter removes lead and other heavy metals that may be present from pipes. In apartment blocks, water can become stagnant when fewer people are drawing it from taps. If it’s a large building, the water may have been in the internal plumbing for a day or two. Modern conduits are made of plastic which can leach chemicals into the water, and even if harmless, can affect the taste. A good quality water filter is your defence against water contaminants.

Until recently, water purification options were fairly limited. Bottled water and jug-size filters were the two main choices. As purified water has become more popular, filter makers have responded with a range of under-counter appliances that will cleanse thousands of litres of water before a filter replacement is necessary. The result is tap water that has no contaminants, necessary for good health.

You can take the taste test before purchasing a filter. Buy a bottle of good quality water. Brew two cups of tea, coffee, or cocoa. Use bottled water for one and tap water for the other. Which tastes better? It’s almost certain that the drink made with purified water will taste fresher and more satisfying. You can try the same experiment with any food that has water added for a better tasting meal.

Adding an under-the-counter filter will make such a difference you’ll wonder how you lived without it.

Questions or comments? Want to talk about your next real estate transaction? Contact Lorne Gait and Morgan Fisher today to learn more about increasing your property value with a purified water system

Free home staging consultation when you list your home for sale in the Cowichan Valley

Kitchen Makeovers to Beat the February Blahs

Are you bored with your kitchen? Is a renovation out of the question? Did you know that a mini makeover can increase the value of your Cowichan Valley home? With some careful upgrades to the most touched pieces, and a colour shift with accessories, a makeover can be affordable and fun. The first step is to establish the scope of your project by considering ambition, time, and money.

New cabinets from IKEA are not expensive, especially if you can install them yourself. With a modest budget and some labour, you can transform the layout of your kitchen to something much more efficient. At the other end of the spectrum, a deep cleaning and new paint on the backsplash costs very little. Or you might find that re-grouting the tile floor and painting the ceiling are all you need to do.

A February kitchen makeover may be planned over four weekends. Here is a sample schedule to give you some ideas:

Week 1

Paint is one of the easiest ways to improve the look of a room. Clean the walls thoroughly with trisodium phosphate (TSP) to remove cooking oils and prep the surface for paint. Traditional colours for kitchens are whites, greens, light blues, and soft greys. Mix and match them to create your own style. Creamy white walls with a pale blue ceiling will expand the space and allow light to bounce around. No time to paint? Simply washing the walls with TSP will brighten them and give the space a fresh look.

Week 2

Replace the faucet with a new one. There is a faucet style for every taste and budget. Most will have a pull out or down spray tool for rinsing beyond the normal reach of a spigot. Newer ones have a touch-less feature that is convenient when your hands are covered in food. If you like your existing faucet, consider a moveable spigot head from the dollar store. It will be a small but welcome improvement.

Week 3

Cabinet pulls and knobs are a terrific way to introduce a new look to your kitchen. They’re easy to install with just a screwdriver. Unless you’re replacing the whole cabinet, try to replace like-with-like. That is, choose simple replacement hardware that doesn’t require any drilling or other modifications. If new knobs aren’t in the budget, remove the old ones and let them soak in a detergent solution overnight. You might be surprised at the difference a deep cleaning will make to their appearance.

Week 4

Window coverings can be changed with the season. In the summer, a translucent venetian blind will keep things light and, in the winter, an insulated roman blind can add a cozy feel while saving energy. The best part is you can leave both up all year round and switch between them. Avoid curtains in the cooking area to reduce the risk of fires.

Want to talk about your next real estate transaction? Need some advice on pre-listing renovations and home staging? 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.