One Good Earth Blog

Mold Loves Humidity

Mold Loves Humidity

In general, mold loves humidity! Humidity levels in your home should be between 40 to 60%.  More specifically, between 20 and 40% during the winter months and less than 60% during the rest of the year. This percentage reflects the amount of moisture in the air. However, checking your humidistat level is not enough in maintaining a healthy indoor environment.

Humidifiers contain water and as such, are a potential place for microbial growth.   Many homes have a humidifier attached to their furnace which releases humidity during the heating season.  There is a waterline that feeds the humidifier when the water level drops.  When the pan is full the floater shuts the water off.  Basically works like the water tank of a toilet.  A drum wrapped in pads absorbs the water from the pan as it rotates and forced air from the furnace fan travels through the wet pads sending humidity into the heating system to be delivered throughout the house.  Next to the humidifier is a humidity thermostat that controls the humidifier.

If not maintained properly, the potential for mold growth increases.  People who are sensitive to air quality issues will suffer as a consequence.  

In addition, if your ductwork is dirty, it becomes a suitable place for mold growth.  But I digress, the humidifier which is connected to your furnace must be maintained regularly.  That is, the pads should be changed monthly, the water reservoir drained and cleaned of lime and other residue deposits.   Whether there is a high or low level of humidity, mold cannot grow in air. Rather, it is the level of continued humidity found on surfaces that determines the potential for mold growth.  The relative humidity in your home may be 60% or less, but that does not eliminate the possibility of mold growth.  There could be areas of the house where humidity levels on substrates are above 70%.  Inspectors are equipped to check for areas of high humidity and potential locations for mold and or mold growth.

One of the most important components of a forced air furnace is the air filter.  A clogged filter will cause the furnace to run harder and longer.  If using disposable filters, change monthly.  If the system uses an electronic filter, have it maintained by a qualified technician as there are deadly high voltage conditions present.  Electronic filters are usually maintained seasonally.  Always turn off the electrical supply before servicing.

In a previous article I mentioned how a house works as a system.  The same applies here.  Let’s say that the furnace humidifier is properly maintained and every precaution followed.  If your ductwork is dirty, humidity gets trapped in the dust buildup and over time develops into the growth of mold.  Have the ductwork of your house checked to see if it requires cleaning.  There are companies that specialize in ductwork cleaning.  

I personally am not a fan of furnace installed humidifiers.  Most of these units that I come across are lacking in one thing or the other. Whether it be poor maintenance or poor functionality.  For those that are in good working order, are usually lacking proper regular maintenance.  That is, these are maintained seasonally by the technician when he comes to check on the furnace, and assume he checks the humidifier, and not regularly/monthly maintenance by the home owner.  It’s one of those things that are out of sight out of mind to the home owner.

There are other sources of humidity released into the house during the winter months such as from taking showers, cooking and house plants.  This activity in my view is more than enough to supply the house with ample humidity.  Furthermore, not using the furnace humidifier reduces the potential of unhealthy air.  

Remember, even if the relative humidity is within the acceptable parameters, keep in mind surfaces that are constantly damp to the touch.  Also, dampness may be found behind a wall or a ceiling or under or behind objects.  Inspectors have tools to detect potential issues that the naked eye cannot.  Another sign of high levels of humidity and thus potential mold growth, is a musty like smell in the air.  Not all molds are dangerous.  However,  if mold is discovered, it should be tested by a specialist to determine the type and level of toxicity.

Geoffrey Darwent CPI

Condominium Management & Residential Home Inspector, CPI

Gestion de condominium & Inspecteur des immeubles résidentiels, IPC

Assuré / Insured

Member InterNACHI

Membre InterNACHI-Québec                                                                                                                                             gd.darwent@gmail.com

 

 

Feature photo by Pietro de Grandi

 

Montreal Real Estate Prices

Montreal Real Estate Prices

Montreal real estate prices vary across the many different neighborhoods in the Greater Montreal area. The sales data and market place can vary as greatly as an areas style of architecture. Within Montreal, there exists many micro neighborhoods and markets.  Although our general market reports cover the overall sales in the GMA, the devil is always in the details. Housing styles and prices are unique to each region and cannot be compared. For example, single family homes in the urban Le Plateau are entirely different and not comparable to the suburban town of Hampstead. Condos in Old Montreal are not comparable to the Griffintown market.

Inventory supplies are significantly lower compared to last year across most of Montreal’s popular quartiers. When looking at a particular region, it’s important to consider the whole picture such as the average days on market, average sales price, inventory supply, etc.

Here’s a quick snapshot of the average selling prices from January – April 2018, in several Montreal areas.Montreal Real Estate PricesData Source Via QFREB

For more detailed information on the market performance in your neighborhood, feel free to contact me. I’d love to hear from you!

 

 

Trust Is Gold

Trust Is Gold

Whenever I find myself in doubt, I hear my father’s booming voice, “Honesty is the best policy”.     

Like in most fields and or specialties, what we knew when we started and what we know now is a reflection on the things we learn along the way.  

We learn from the continuing education in our related fields of expertise and we also learn from the ongoing hands on work experience.  This invaluable combination hones our skills enabling us to provide a valuable service to our clients.

As an inspector, we are trained to detect things that are not right and or require further evaluation by a specialist in said field.  I guess that metaphorically speaking we can think of an inspector to be like your family doctor.  Your doctor checks your physical condition and identifies irregularities with you, if any, and recommends a specialist such as a nose ear and throat specialist or provides advice on other issues that can easily be handled by the client and or negotiated with the seller.

You want to believe that you can trust your family doctor and the recommendations based on the findings he or she provides to you.  Honesty, in this case, is the best policy and it is the way to go when inspecting and providing the report to the client. 

This, in my view is powerful because it does two things.  First, the client will no doubt appreciate the inspectors transparency.  Second, the client will value the agent who brought said inspector to inspect their potential purchase.  Regardless of the clients’ final decision on wether they buy the house or not, their decision is based on a report by the inspector that provides information with the clients’ best interest in mind and an agent who wants the very best for their client.  Purchasing a new home can be trying at the best of times and that is why trust between all concerned is gold and the long term benefit for the client, agent and inspector, is a positive experience.

Speaking of positive, there are homes that show wall receptacle covers showing a grounded outlet which in fact are not grounded at all.  There was a time when homes were built without grounds and at the time it was acceptable. That is, these were two pronged receptacles.  These are still found in many homes today.  It was a matter of time that the Building Code required that the wiring include a ground.  That meant that this was required with all new construction and, if you were going to upgrade your electrical system it would also have to include proper grounding.  During the inspection, testing the receptacle will confirm whether the electrical configuration is in order or not or at the very least reveal an irregularity such as a false positive.  As long as no upgrade and or renovation is done to the system in the older home, it is not required to bring it up to present code.  However, if it is decided to renovate the system, then it is.  Consulting with a licensed electrician to understand what is involved, including cost, would be the next step.

When an inspector recommends further evaluation by a licensed electrician, it is with the client’s best interest in mind. 

Geoffrey Darwent CPI

Condominium Management & Residential Home Inspector, CPI

Gestion de condominium & Inspecteur des immeubles résidentiels, IPC

Assuré / Insured

Member InterNACHI

Membre InterNACHI-Québec                                                                                                                                             gd.darwent@gmail.com

Inspecting A Home As A System

Inspecting A Home As A System

When inspecting a home as a system, we need to understand that these components are part of a system.  Plumbing components for example, could affect the roof negatively if the vent stacks for plumbing that travel through the ceiling, into the attic and out through the roof, are not sealed and or insulated properly.  

Let’s say we are in the middle of winter and heat is escaping into the attic through an improperly sealed venting stack.  The warm air comes in contact with the cold attic air and forms condensation.  The condensation will accumulate into ice buildup since the temperature in the attic is below freezing.  Water damage will ensue once the temperatures in the attic start to rise and the ice turns into liquid.  Pool (s) of water are formed and the beginning of water infiltration becomes inevitable.

In conclusion, both individual systems are performing in the way that these are supposed to .  However, the roofing system is affected where it meets with the plumbing system.

This principle helps us understand how inspecting one area of a house can affect another area.  Inspectors are trained to identify these signs regardless of what section of the house are being checked.   So even though the plumbing and roof systems are being inspected, the interactions of these are being observed for deficiencies as well.

The above mentioned issues are easily resolved and are by no means a deal breaker.  Having a home inspected whether selling or buying is a good thing because it provides awareness of issues that if not corrected can end up being costlier over time.  So basically, an inspectors priority is to recognize major defects that would raise concern for the buyer.  However, throughout the inspection smaller items of concern are reported as well as part of the complete inspection report.

The purpose of the inspection report is to provide valuable information that allows the buyer to make an informed decision, prepare and plan for the necessary repairs and or maintenances for the newly purchased home.

When an offer to purchase a house/condo is made, conditional to a home inspection, it is evident that the client has their heart set on the home in question.  The last thing the inspector wants to do is to take that away from the potential buyer.  However, the inspector also has a legal responsibility to address any relevant deficiencies, not including hidden defects, and report these to the client as per standards of practice.

How the inspector communicates these deficiencies to the client is important.  For example, let’s say that in the bathroom there is no GFI (Ground Fault Interrupter) receptacle present.  If the inspector informs the client that a person can be electrocuted at any time and you must bring in an electrician to rectify the issue immediately and don’t use the bathroom until corrected and so forth and continues with this type of alarmist communication throughout the inspection, the client will no doubt be overwhelmed with unnecessary concern.  I am exaggerating somewhat with the above mentioned example to get the message across but you get the idea.

Proper communication to the client on observed issues discovered by the inspector provides information  that educates the client as opposed to alarming the client.  It’s not to say that the client will not be concerned over a certain issue presented by the inspector but, it should be a concern within the context of the situation at hand.

Whether it’s an old house full of character or a new house with all the trimmings, in the client’s eyes, it’s home.

Geoffrey Darwent CPI                                                                                                                                                                           Montreal Residential Home Building Inspector|Internachi                                                                             gd.darwent@gmail.com

 

Feature photo by Daniel Von Appen

Montreal Real Estate Sales Up 10%

Montreal Real Estate Sales Up 10%

Montreal real estate sales were up 10%.  The most recent statistics record 5,432 residential sales in April 2018, which is 10% higher than April of last year. This is the best April since 2010, and Montreal’s 38th consecutive monthly increase in sales. The South Shore led the way at 15%, followed by 13% in Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu and 12% in Laval with sales on the Island of Montreal showing an increased of 6%.

While both plexes and single family homes enjoyed a sales increase of 6%, it was condominium sales that performed the best in April, with an 18% increase in transactions year over year. From 2017 to 2018, single family homes had a price appreciation of 6% while condominiums had a price increase of 2%.

What’s most noticeable is the decline in inventories in certain markets in Montreal.  According to Paul Cardinal of the Quebec Federation of Real Estate Boards, the growth in the real estate market is being driven by the stronger local economy.

“We’ve had in Montreal a spectacular improvement in our employment market over the last two years,” he said.

There’s also been an increase in net-migration to Montreal and consumer confidence is at the highest level in 15 years, Cardinal said.

“You combine that with low interest rates and you have a strong demand for housing,” he said.

Despite increasing sales and declining inventory, Montreal doesn’t appear to be heading toward the type of runaway price growth that was seen in Toronto and Vancouver.

Cardinal said the number of months of inventory — the ratio of active listings to sales — is close six for single-family houses and plexes in Montreal. It’s 8.5 for condos. In the Toronto area, the supply of inventory is three months for single-family houses and four months for condos.

 

 

 

 

 

Sustainable Homes on the Desert Mesa of New Mexico

Sustainable Homes on the Desert Mesa of New Mexico

Sustainable homes on the desert mesa of New Mexico takes a peek at an alternative way of living.  In the desert of New Mexico, a group of homes jut out from the landscape, resembling something from a science fiction novel.  These unusual but interesting constructions referred to as “Earthships” are passive solar houses, and are the brainchild of architect Mike Reynolds. Devised originally in the 1970s, they are designed to be almost completely self-sufficient not relying on the use of any electrical grid, water lines, or municipal sewage system.  Instead, these home collect rainwater, and use the plants in the indoor greenhouse to filter the greywater and even processes their own sewage.  Made of sand, adobe, earth and recycled trash, they’re an incredible example of how to repurpose locally sourced, and reclaimable waste materials like rubber tires cans, and bottles.

“Reynolds calls this practice “Earthship Biotecture”. He cites as an epiphany the moment he realized that any object could be utilized—an old tire could become a powerful and durable thermal mass when it was filled with soil, or a pop bottle could be used for insulation. He has written five books on the subject.”

Earthship Homes | Michael Reynolds – Arch2O.com

Earthship Homes by Michael Reynolds – Genius Specimens of Indigenous Shelters: The three step solution ‘reduce – reuse – recycle’ has been rhetorically exploited by anyone and everyone, who’s genuinely concerned or even vaguely aware about the global issue of environmental degradation. Down the line, waste management becomes critical.

Bring Me

These Sustainable Homes Are Made From Trash, But They’re Absolutely Stunning

Earthship Underground House Tour- Sustainable and Net Zero Living…

“Towards Sustainable and Net Zero Living” Derek “Deek” Diedricksen visits an Earthship (the architectural brainchild of Michael Reynolds) in Taos, New Mexico. The particular model, like many others, features earth berm air intakes, a water recycling system for its grey water, and the luxury of two bedrooms, two bathrooms, and even a two car garage!

Feature photo by earthshipglobal.com

Read my article, 6 Criteria Upon Which To Measure Your Green Home

Montreal Public Transit Guide Bus And Train Info

Montreal Public Transit Guide Bus And Train Info

Montreal public transit guide – bus and train info will help you find the nearest train station to your destination or which bus station is closest to home. You’ll also be able to see which alternative lines can also get you to your destination or how far the walking distance is. From when does the last train of the day depart to when the first bus line starts operating. When thinking of purchasing a property, check in real time, the public transport options.

Get all the info you need in advance.

 

Interesting facts about Montreal transit by Moovit:

“In Montreal, the average amount of time people spend riding public transit is 87 min. Over 88% of those riders spend more than 2 hours on public transportation every day.”

“Did you know that in Montreal, the average distance people walk to work or home is 0.81 km? Approximately, 27% walk more than 1 km to reach their destination.”

“The average distance people ride in a single trip within Montreal is 7.7 km. 51% of riders travel over 12 km in a single direction.

“The percentage of public transit riders who transfer lines at least once in Montreal is 71%. On average, 26% of riders transfer at least twice during a single trip.”

 

Visit the list of wonderful Montreal neighborhoods

How’s The Montreal Real Estate Market First Quarter 2018

How’s The Montreal Real Estate Market First Quarter 2018

How’s the Montreal real estate market first quarter 2018, shows residential sales were up seven percent in Montreal compared to 2017. Inventory was down sixteen per cent and prices were up five per cent for homes and three percent for condos.  Among the different types of properties, condominium sales took the lead registering a jump of seventeen percent creating a new first quarter sales record. Sales of single family homes increased by two percent, and plexes by five percent.

In Montreal, the median family home price was $310k and condominiums $245k. Of course there is a huge difference in price which varies from neighborhood to neighborhood.  The strenght of the market is dependant on supply and demand and this first quarter in the Montreal market showed a decrease of supply of condominiums by seventeen percent, single family homes by sixteen percent.

Read the full report:

View the latest Video stats for April 2018

According to Bloomberg,

Montreal Is Canada’s Next Hot Housing Market

Read the article:

Montreal Is Canada’s Next Hot Housing Market

Montreal’s housing market is finally getting on the map. An economic revival in Canada’s second-biggest city is fueling a real-estate renaissance, speeding up sales, shrinking inventories, and luring foreign buyers. More stringent lending rules have curbed transactions and slowed price growth in Toronto but have had little effect on Montreal, where buyers are flocking to new condos and sellers are gaining the upper hand.

 

Latent Defects: What You Need To Know Before Purchasing Your Home

Latent Defects: What you need to know before purchasing your new home

 

Purchasing a new home is a big step, whether it’s your first home or your tenth, and being aware of latent defects and how to prevent any unwanted surprises from them is an important step to protecting yourself and your investment.

 

What is a latent defect?

 

A defect is defined as “a flaw in the quality of a building”.  To be a latent, or otherwise known as a ‘hidden’ defect, the flaw has to meet three requirements:

 

  1. It is not obvious, just by a simple look you can’t see the problem,
  2. The Buyer had was unaware that the flaw exists,
  3. The flaw has been there since the time of purchase.

 

In practice, here’s how a latent defect can affect you:

 

As an example, you have just purchased a beautiful new home, to discover soon thereafter or while while doing renovations that there is mould growing in your living room walls.  The mould behind the walls is definitely a latent defect.

 

However, latent defects do not always have to be inside your home.  They can also be found in the swimming pool, the deck, the shed, the chimney, etc.

 

How can you protect yourself when buying a new home?

 

Even though there is no legal requirement to have a building inspection done, in order to protect yourself from a latent defect, it is strongly recommended that you have a building inspection done before purchasing.  This way you have a professional inspect the home to look for potential defects that you may not have noticed when examining the building yourself.

 

Sellers are expected by law to tell the buyer about any defects that they know about.  They cannot lie about the existence of the defect, exaggerate to get a better price or omit important information to add to the chance of a sale.

 

What are the remedies after finding a latent defect in your home?

Legal remedies against latent defects do not cover apparent defects, which are those that can be seen by simple examinations, making having a building inspection that much more important.

 

Although each situation is different, the law offers a few remedies in the case of a latent defect detected after the purchase.

 

  • The first thing to do is advise the vendor and give them the opportunity to repair the defect.

 

  • The most serious remedy is the entire cancellation of the sale, being the property goes back into the possession of the seller and the buyer receives a full refund of the purchase price that they paid for the property.

 

  • The most common remedy is a decrease in the purchase price and reimbursement for repairs required as a result of the latent defect. If the latent defect has caused harm, the buyer can claim and receive a reimbursement to repair the defect and for the harm suffered.

 

  • In each of these cases it is important to document everything related to the latent defect to make your claim credible. You can do this by taking pictures or videos of the damage from the latent defect, having an expert come in to assess the latent defect.  Always be sure to maintain a record of any expenses made due to repairs, damages, examinations, etc.  The more evidence you have available, the easier your claim will be to pursue.

 

If you believe you have a latent defect in your home and a claim against the seller, contact a legal professional to assist you with the matter.

 

 

 

Montreal Real Estate Stories April 25th 2018

Feature photo ©Bonnie Meisels

Montreal Real Estate Stories April 25th 2018

Montreal real estate stories April 25th 2018 begins with the STM, Société de transport de Montréal which announced it’s plans to construct a nearly 300-unit housing project near the Frontenac metro station.

This is the first time the STM will be providing housing for Montrealers, and not just transportation services. The project is “a first step toward the development of its real-estate holdings,” said chairman Philippe Schnobb.

“The complex, consisting of four buildings ranging from two to 12 storeys, will be built on a 54,200-square-foot parking lot owned by the STM. It will include 60 subsidized units for low-income residents, 109 affordable condos, 129 market-price condos and a two-storey office building for the STM.

About 45 per cent of the units will have two bedrooms, about 35 per cent will have one bedroom, and between 12 and 22 per cent will have three. It will include 213 underground parking spots.”

The project will be managed by STM subsidiary, Transgesco. It is being considered an example of transit-oriented development (TOD) — projects built to encourage the use of public transportation.

Construction will start in the summer of 2019 and be completed in 24 months, said STM spokesperson Amélie Régis.

Read the full article below:

STM launches real-estate project near Frontenac métro station

Montreal’s transit corporation is branching out from transporting Montrealers to giving them a place to call home. The city and the Société de transport de Montréal announced Wednesday a plan to construct a nearly 300-unit housing project near the Frontenac métro station.

http://accescondos.org/en/a-new-acces-condos-accredited-project-close-to-the-frontenac-metro-station-in-2021/

Many reports were released in April, from the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC), Royal Bank, Crea, and Cushman and Wakefield to name just a few. All put together, this will provide a comprehensive snapshot of where our real estate market and economics are at both locally and nation wide.  We’ll start with the CMHC’s quarterly report.

 

Montreal’s CMHC Housing Market Assessment – First Quarter 2018

The (CMHC) Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation  just released its first quarter assessment for 2018. The CMHC evaluates real estate vulnerability, prices and construction at both the national and provincial levels.

When prices are overvalued, homeowners and mortgage lenders are at risk of a housing bubble. Tighter inventory supplies have kept the montreal real estate market strong and a sellers market in certain neighborhoods. Although the market is healthy, there’s little evidence of overheat. There is weak evidence of price acceleration and the agency believes most of the market’s price movement is based on fundamentals at this time.

Here are some interesting stats from the CMHC comparing Montreal market sales numbers from 2017 to 2018, along with the monthly unemployment rates, salaries and mortgage rates as they’ve changed.

 

 

Check out the CMHC map of comparison of housing starts:

 

 

While Montreal’s market has enjoyed strong sales in the first few months of 2018 with low vulnerability, the same can’t be said for some of the other Canadian provinces. High vulnerability was found in several provinces.

Chart source via CMHC

CMHC-Canadian-Real-Estate-Is-At-A-22High22-Degree-of-Vulnerability-Right-Now-Chart

 

Chart comparison of sales across the provinces from 2017, along with forcasts for 2018 and 2019

Chart source via CREA

Crea Canadian Sales And Forcasts Charts 2017 - 2019

Crea’s National Price Map

Mortgage Rate Update for April

The bank of Canada decided to hold it’s key interest rate at 1.25% for now, but further rate hikes are still in the picture. Growth slowed down to 1.3 per cent in the first three months of the year. The impact of new federal mortgage rules and other housing policies succeeded in cooling off the real estate market in the first three months of 2018. The next rate hike is expected in July.

 

“The bank, for 2018, is now predicting two per cent growth, as measured by real gross domestic product, compared to its 2.2 per cent prediction in January. The bank raised its growth projection for 2019 to 2.1 per cent, up from its previous prediction of 1.6 per cent, before easing to 1.8 per cent in 2020. It noted that these readings would still be slightly above Canada’s estimated potential output for the next three years.”

RBC Poll: Canadians Reveal Highest Home Purchase Intent in Eight Years

In summary, the recently released RBC poll shared these findings:

  • Annual RBC Home Ownership Poll* reveals 32 per cent of Canadians are likely to buy a home in the next two years, up seven percentage points over last year
  • More millennials (ages 18-34) are intending to become homeowners as employment anxiety eases and are expressing the strongest of those homebuying intentions (50 per cent)
  • Home owners spent five weeks searching online for their current home
  • One in five Canadians received financial assistance from their family to help with their down payment
RBC Royal Bank-Confidence Boost- Canadians Reveal Highest Home P
One third of Canadians say they are likely to purchase a home in the next two years: RBC Poll (CNW Group/RBC Royal Bank)

“Four-in-10 (39 per cent) Canadians are aware of the latest Stress Test Guidelines issued by the Office of the Superintendant of Financial Institutions (OSFI) for uninsured mortgages, and over half (55 per cent) indicate that the guidelines are impacting their purchase decisions. This includes making higher down payments (25 per cent), delaying home purchases (19 per cent) or buying a less expensive, smaller home or a less expensive one in a different location (18 per cent respectively). As intention to buy continues to climb in Canada, just over one one-third (35 per cent) of Canadians indicated they had received/would be receiving financial assistance from their family for a down payment, while almost an equal number (36 per cent) plan to do it on their own with a dedicated savings account.”

In conclusion, despite all the new Government changes and regulations, Canadians are still feeling optimistic about getting into the housing market. They are just getting more prepared and informed. In fact, the top two homebuying challenges buyers face are: choosing the right property (32 per cent) and deciding how much they can afford (21 per cent). Nearly one-in-10 Millennials said they would purchase a home without ever physically seeing it. Overall, Canadians value being able to “visit” virtually, with almost half (49 per cent) saying they looked at photos/videos of prospective homes online. Finally, to help determine costs and affordability, 39 per cent of home owners took valuations of neighbouring homes into account, and 36 per cent used affordability calculators. Millennials believe that a home purchase is a good investment – in fact, 84 per cent responded it’s a “very good or good investment” and are reporting an increased likelihood (11 per cent) of buying a home within the next two years.

Over half (61 per cent) of Canadians are very or somewhat concerned about interest rate increases – a jump of almost 10 per cent from last year. Over one-third (35 per cent) are thinking about buying a home sooner because of current low interest rates, while another one-third (32 per cent) were also thinking of doing so because of a potential increase in interest rates.

**These were the findings of the annual RBC Home Ownership Poll conducted by Ipsos from January 9 – January 24, 2018 on behalf of Royal Bank of Canada  Access the full report