Saturday, January 31, 2015

Carports Vs Garages

It is cheaper to build a carport instead of a garage, and in Canada it is arguably also more practical.


Well, have you ever had to shovel snow out of a driveway just to get the garage door open?

Or is your garage so full of stuff that you park in the driveway anyway and don't actually park your car inside the garage?

That is why. Carports give you the advantage of being able to park your car in the driveway, but still have a roof over top of it so you don't have to shovel the snow so much.

Plus carports never have the problem of junk accumulating in your garage, stuff that rightfully belongs either:

In your basement.
In your attic.
In your recycling bins, because lets face it, a lot of the junk people keep in their garage is really just garbage.

Now I understand some people just love having a garage, but parking in a carport is so much easier and you get many of the benefits of having a garage, but without the cost and certain annoying factors that come with garages. Thus to me a carport makes a great deal of sense just for its convenience.

In the USA carports are more popular in the southern states and near army bases, thanks to the 1950s modernist movement which saw many residential communities built near military bases using the modernist designs, which in turn used carports as part of their designs quite often.

The designs shown above are by Mike Kopecky, who grew up near an army base in Texas and now lives in Toronto. He is the designing houses for a retro-modernist community in Leander Texas, but hopes that developers in Toronto may become inspired to try something similar here in Canada. You can read more about his development in Leander in the Globe and Mail.

Below are some different, interesting and innovative designs for carports. I especially liked the ones with the solar panels and plants.

Friday, January 30, 2015

1 Bloor nearing Completion

The photos to the right and further below are of the new building at 1 Bloor Street East. The photos were taken around 6:30 PM on January 29th.

The condo / hotel / shopping mall / movie theatre / gym / etc will have a plethora of things for people who live in the building to do, or people just visiting the building because of the entertainment venues that will also be available to the residents / hotel guests.

The structure is being built in Toronto during a bubble in condo construction, largely fueled by overseas investors and not based on locals buying the condos. This is ever so much true about 1 Bloor, which has been embroiled in scandal and fraud since its inception the property changed hands because the original developers could not commit to building.

The prices of the condos in what has been billed as the most desirable condo to live in (in Toronto, and arguably all of Canada) however have been outrageously expensive. People buying a condo there are ridiculously rich compared to the common standards of most Canadians. Think celebrities, oil tycoons, the mafia - and quite a few wealthy foreigners - all in the same building.

I think it would funny if the condo bubble in Toronto burst right around the time people finally get to move into the finished building, and condo prices fell about 30% in the space of 1 year. People who bought an expensive condo during the years prior to the bubble bursting will be crying at the potential savings they could have had, and those who bought their condos on a mortgage may run into the problem of trying to refinance their mortgage and being denied by the banks because the value of their condos has changed so dramatically.

Accompanied by the drop in prices Toronto will also experience a recession as many construction workers are laid off, which in turn will hurt other industries as the flow of cash in the city will slow dramatically and cause layoffs in those industries. The manufacturing and services sectors will be hurt the most.

The real danger of such a recession is whether Vancouver and other cities across Canada also experience a recession around the same time. If it is just localized recession the impact and dip in the economy won't be so deep, but if it effects most of Canada then it will effect many more Canadians.

At present, judging by the current slowing of the Canadian economy, combined with the finish dates for many condos in Toronto, I expect the localized recession in Toronto to happen in 2016. If the slowing of the economy hurts other real estate markets across Canada however we may experience a nation wide recession instead.

The white blurs you see in the photo below are from snowflakes zooming down past the camera lens.

Gardening, Roof Repair + Finished Basement


One of the ways to boost the value of your home is to plant a flower garden - especially roses, as roses are very easy to maintain and quite hardy. Rose bushes really just need to be trimmed once in awhile so they look good, and during the autumn you need to mound the dirt up around their bases to protect their roots more, so they can survive the winter easier. That is pretty much it. Some people also sometimes use powder pesticides on their roses to prevent insects from eating them, but it is not a huge necessity.

The other benefits of roses is that you have a constant supply of flowers to decorate your home with... which means prospective buyers coming to your home may see a vase of roses on the kitchen table, immediately bolstering their opinion of the place subconsciously.

 And because Valentines is almost two weeks away I thought I should include some tips about roses / vases...

Tips to Keep Your Roses Fresh in the Vase Longer

Many people love to give roses and get roses but after a couple of day the roses start to droop or dry out.  Shortly after that they wither and die and you have to throw them away.  It is such a waste and a sad way for you roses to go.  You try everything you can but you just cannot keep your roses as fresh as possible for as long as possible.  There are some old wives tales that say use sugar in the vase water, clip the ends every couple of days but do these tips really work?  Below are a few tips that may help you keep the roses from your lover a little while longer. (Or prepare a vase for prospective buyers viewing your house.)

#1. Sugar in the vase water really does help.

Sugar can help to keep your roses longer after all.  The theory is that sugar simulates the photosynthesis process and makes the flower rejuvenated.  You can use regular sugar (for a regular sized vase use about 1 teaspoon).  Or you can use leftover soda pop to produce the same effect.  Use the clear soda (Sprite or 7 Up) if you have a clear vase.

#2. Hairspray?

Yes, this works. The hairspray locks the moisture in.  All you have to do is get your hairspray bottle from your bathroom, grab your bouquet of flowers, hold the hairspray about a few inches away from the flowers and spray them well (make sure you get every section of the flower, but do not saturate them). Don't worry about the stems in the water.

#3. A Little Bit of Vodka Never Hurt Anyone

This works similarly to the sugar.  The vodka is meant to prohibit the growth of bacteria which could prematurely weaken the roses.  It may be a good idea to use in conjunction with sugar as sugar can cause bacteria to grow.  You only need a few drops so do not worry there will be plenty left for you to drink later. In theory anti-bacterial mouth wash would also work.

#4. Roofing Tar?

Wait, what? Roofing tar???

This sounds just as crazy as the hairspray idea, but if you want to keep your roses forever, this may be a great choice for you.  The roofing tar coats the entire rose and preserves it forever. A million years from now it will be a fossilized rose.

What happened was local Torontonian Rob Campbell decided to do an experiment when he decided to make black roses by dipping red roses in ToughRoof flat roofing tar. Basically all you would have to do is head to your local roofing guy who deals in flat roofing tar and ask him if he can dip your roses into the leftover roofing tar.  Within 3 minutes you should have a fresh set of a dozen roses that will never parish.  What a great way to celebrate Valentines with your loved one. (Especially if they are a goth and love black roses...)

See also
Valentines Day Black Roses made from roofing tar
How to make Black Roses using Roofing Tar

I am not sure if this would help sell your house, but hey you never know.

Roof Repair

To continue on the vein of the repairing the roof, this is another excellent way of boosting the value of your home. Having a new roof installed (after ripping out the old one), repairing the old roof by adding either new shingles or aluminum can dramatically change the look of your home and give it a fresh look - effectively a face lift for your house.

Check the before and after photos below showing what a great difference having your roof repaired makes on the appearance. To say nothing of better insulation and preventing leaks.

Or in the case of the photo at the top here, getting rid of a serious mold infestation by simply cleaning the roof.

Below - New roof plus solar panels.

Below - A lot less drab looking on the new roof.

The big thing these days is to install roofs that are plastic or aluminum and shaped like tiles or shingles.

Finished Basement

The last thing I want to discuss is the concept of making a finished basement. Not just to prevent flooding by having some basement waterproofing done (see the City of page about how to prevent basement flooding or visit a website like Royal Basement Waterproofing), but also because when trying to sell your home whether you have a finished basement can be a big selling point. See the before and after photos below to see what I mean.

Having a finished basement means you can have a living room or recreational room down there. Some people even make their own private bar, or put in a swimming pool, lots of options. Like the basement swimming pool below.

At which point you have to say, who wouldn't want a swimming pool in their basement?

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