A to Z of home ownership and the spring home show

Consider a water feature, like this one by The Pond Clinic, which is opening the Aquatopia Conservatory this spring.
Consider a water feature, like this one by The Pond Clinic, which is opening the Aquatopia Conservatory this spring.

Karma Creative Solutions / Ottawa Citizen

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Home ownership involves a lot more than just meeting those monthly mortgage payments. Fire protection, troublesome trees, elegant bathroom upgrading: they’re all part of being king or queen of your castle.

The upcoming Ottawa Home & Garden Show is one way to meet the professionals who can help you and your home with everything from eavestroughing to gardening. There’s also scads of online resources to help, whether you’re trying to hire the best renovator or stay on top of your insurance coverage. And you can do your own seasonal checkup to make sure your home stays in tip-top condition.

Our A to Z of home ownership will help with all this and more.

Antlers on the wall is a trendy decor misstep unless you’re redoing your hunting cabin, says interior decorator Lee-Ann Lecroix. Her seminar at the home show will help you separate the timeless from the merely trendy. “I’ll talk about wallpaper, fabrics, paint colours. It’s about how to spend wisely,” she says.

Birds, rodents and attics don’t mix, so check animal barriers spring and fall. Also check your attic for water leaks caused by ice buildup (stained roof sheathing or wet insulation are giveaways). Call a roofer if in doubt.

Make sure chipmunks and other critters can’t get into your attic.
Make sure chipmunks and other critters can’t get into your attic.

Central air conditioner: A spring cleaning and tune-up will cost you roughly $125 to $150 but can also save you money thanks to better efficiency and fewer repairs.

Decks: Stone Deck Landscapes, exhibiting at the home show, uses stone instead of maintenance-needy wood for new and reno projects. Renos costs about $12 to $15 per square foot; new construction costs vary depending on size, number of footings and other factors.

This Pennsylvania project uses real travertine but in Ottawa's harsh weather Stone Deck Landscapes owner Greg Borger says he would only use it on covered decks. For others, he uses a manufactured travertine stone.
This Pennsylvania project uses real travertine but in Ottawa’s harsh weather Stone Deck Landscapes owner Greg Borger says he would only use it on covered decks. For others, he uses a manufactured travertine stone.

Stone Deck Landscapes / Ottawa Citizen

Extinguishing fires is tricky if your equipment isn’t easily accessible, has low pressure or is damaged. Get information on fire extinguishers here.

Fires involving clothes dryers top 15,000 per year, according to the U.S. National Fire Protection Association. Most result from lint build up. Get dryer fire prevention tips here.

Gutters and downspouts: Have snow and ice loosened or damaged them? Are they debris-free? Do they carry water well away from your home? If needed, call in a pro.

Check your eavestrough for debris and winter damage.
Check your eavestrough for debris and winter damage.

Hot water heaters need periodic cleaning for maximum efficiency and long life. It’s as easy as shutting off the circuit breaker and draining the gunk with a garden hose. Citizen columnist Steve Maxwell explains how.

Insurance: Is your home and contents coverage up to date? What about your inventory of belongings? Is your cottage fully covered? Visit the Insurance Bureau of Canada for tips.

Just a few minutes — that’s all it takes to clean/vacuum refrigerator coils. The fridge will run more efficiently and use less electricity.

Kitchens: Sure, renovate yours but not at the expense of general home maintenance like window and door caulking and upkeep of your HVAC filter. Tarion.com has a monthly checklist to help prevent pricey repairs.

Welwyn Wong redesigned the landscape around an existing pool to create a resort feel that accommodates several activities —socializing, lounging, dining or swimming.
Welwyn Wong redesigned the landscape around an existing pool to create a resort feel that accommodates several activities —socializing, lounging, dining or swimming.

Mike Bonomo / Ottawa Citizen

Landscape designer Welwyn Wong presents a home show seminar on creating a resort-like backyard with water features and even a shaded daybed. “It’s going to remind people of their little winter getaway to Cancun or the Mediterranean,” she says.

Moisture levels rise in the spring so maintain your sump pump (allstate.com shows how).

Native plants, why you need them in your garden and where to find them: just one of the many subjects on the Nature Conservancy of Canada’s guide to spring gardening tasks.

Check out the Nature Conservatory of Canada’s spring guide at natureconservancy.ca.
Check out the Nature Conservatory of Canada’s spring guide at natureconservancy.ca.

Outdoor electrical fixtures: Check for rust, debris, insects. Ensure all exterior outlets have an operational ground fault circuit interrupter (GFCI), and test them and inside GFCIs regularly. Call an electrician if in doubt.

Pre-fab homes: Bonneville Homes brings its Exalt bungalow to the home show. Its glass-walled terrace with whirlpool and fireplace converts for indoor or outdoor use.

Bonneville Homes brings its Exalt bungalow to the home show. Its glass-walled terrace with whirlpool and fireplace converts for indoor or outdoor use.
Bonneville Homes brings its Exalt bungalow to the home show. Its glass-walled terrace with whirlpool and fireplace converts for indoor or outdoor use.

Quicksand: That can be the sensation as you sink into the nightmare of hiring an unscrupulous or incompetent renovator. The Canadian Home Builders’ Association has good advice and worksheets for hiring a renovator.

Roof: Every spring and fall, inspect for loose, buckling or missing shingles, inadequate caulking and faulty flashings. Excessive shingle granules in the drainpipe mean an aging roof: Call a roofer.

Smoke detectors: Change the batteries twice annually and check your carbon monoxide detector. The Ontario Building Code now requires all home smoke alarms to have a visual component like a flashing light.

Trees: Have you inspected them for winter damage and pruning needs? Are you planting new trees this year? Sites like treeottawa.org and services like Davey Tree Expert (at this year’s home show) can help.

Layout, colour palette and cabinetry create a timeless appeal in this kitchen, says decorator Lee-Ann Lacroix, while accessories can be used to accent current trends.
Layout, colour palette and cabinetry create a timeless appeal in this kitchen, says decorator Lee-Ann Lacroix, while accessories can be used to accent current trends.

Ashley Fraser / Ottawa Citizen

Ultra energy efficiency defines Edelweiss Lakes, a new Gatineau Hills community with homes by Raya EcoHomes that claim an annual heating cost of as little as $350. “We’ve come to realize people are pretty green about green,” says Edelweiss Lakes president Luc Belisle. “But it’s not that complicated: passive solar design and a good envelope goes a long way.” Edelweiss Lakes is at the home show.

Ventilation: To maintain effectiveness, clean your kitchen hood ventilation system and bathroom fan at least once a year (doityourself.com tells how).

Water features soothe the ear and please the eye. Aquatopia, the expansive new home of The Pond Clinic Water Garden Centre opening on March Road in May, offers everything from fountains and ponds to nursery stock.

X and Y, as in Generations X (aged mid-30s to late-40s) and Y (late teens to early 30s), may be overly optimistic about the probability of owning a home, according to a recently released survey by the Bank of Montreal Wealth Institute. Higher costs for almost everything mean it’s time to get real about owning a home, paying for their childrens’ post-secondary education and enjoying early retirement, according to BMO.

Woody Properties is a popular real estate website that includes surveys, trends and creative ideas. According to a Zillow survey, bad-boy Justin Beiber was the least desirable celebrity neighbour in 2014.

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