Priority tasks for your move in


Moving into a new home is an exciting time, and you’re probably daydreaming about decor and paint schemes and new furniture. But before you get into the fun stuff, there are some basics you should cover first.

Change the locks
Even if you’re promised that new locks have been installed in your home, you can never be too careful. It’s worth the money to have the peace of mind that comes with knowing that no one else has the keys to your home. Changing the locks can be a DIY project, or you can call in a locksmith for a little extra money.

Steam clean the carpets It’s good to get a fresh start with your floors before you start decorating. The previous owners may have had pets, young children, or just some plain old clumsiness. Take the time to steam clean the carpets so that your floors are free of stains and allergens. It’s pretty easy and affordable to rent a steam cleaner—your local grocery store may have them available.

Call an exterminator
Prior to move-in, you probably haven’t spent enough time in the house to get a view of any pests that may be lurking. Check in cupboards, basements, and anywhere else a pest might hide Call an exterminator to take care of any mice, insects, and other critters that may be hiding in your home.

Clean out the kitchen
If the previous occupants wanted to skip on some of their cleaning duties when they moved out, the kitchen is where they probably cut corners. Wipe down the inside of cabinets, clean out the refrigerator, clean the oven, and clean in the nooks and crannies underneath the appliances.

Let It Snow!

With winter right around the corner, snow, slush and cold temperatures will be a daily occurrence. We all dread the drive into work or the drive home when there has been a heavy snow fall or freezing rain.  If you are selling your home during the winter, here are some tips to make your home more appealing to buyers in this snowy weather:

Entry Way:

Place a boot tray or mat in your front entry way with enough room for a few spare pairs of snowy boots. Conscientious buyers and showing agents will always remove their footwear when touring your home, but it’s nice to contain any potential mess at the front door!

Shoveling & Salt:

Be sure to regularly shovel and salt your driveway and walkways to all doors of your home, especially if the home you’re selling will be vacant at the time! It’s easy to let the ice pile up at a vacant property – but slipping and falling in the driveway is a bad first impression for potential buyers, no matter how nice your home may be on the inside! If your home is vacant, or if you’ll be out of town for any length of time, consider hiring a snow removal service or neighbourhood teen to look after your driveway.



What to look for when you’re buying a robot vacuum cleaner

Technology is most helpful when it makes daily tasks easier and more efficient, and that’s most certainly the case with robot vacuum cleaners. It’s especially true if you’re in a climate that lends itself to lots of dust on your hard-surfaced floors or in your carpet.

Robot vacuum cleaners typically retail from $100 to about $700, and if you’re interested in having your home swept and vacuumed daily with little effort on your part, it’s a great investment. Here’s what to look for if you’re shopping for a robot vacuum cleaner.

Battery life
The best robot vacuums can run for two hours or longer. That’s particularly important if you have a big place—you don’t want to have to keep recharging your vacuum between cleanings. It’s especially convenient if you have a vacuum that can automatically dock and recharge between uses.

Cleaning patterns
Simpler, more inexpensive vacuums may only clean in a random or back-and-forth pattern, while more advanced vacuums can virtually map a room for more precise cleaning. It’s also better if the vacuum is capable of making multiple passes in its pattern, as it’ll lead to a more thorough cleaning job.

Size and design
Most robot vacuum cleaners are no more than four inches tall, so they can move under furniture. Still, pay attention to the height of your vacuum and the clearance of your furniture, so that you don’t end up with a vacuum that can’t get to important spots. Also, consider your floor type—some vacuums are better-suited for hardwood floors and tile, while others are better for carpeted floors.

Five lighting tips for basements

Making your basement an enjoyable place to spend time can be tricky. Without the right lighting it may feel too much like a dungeon (unless you’re into that!). Here are a few quick tips.

1. Maximize the natural lighting. Trim back shrubs and other plants that block sunlight from window wells. If the window well has a cover, keep it clean or replace a cover that blocks light with one that lets light pass through.

2. Choose light colors for walls, carpet and furniture. As much as we all miss the dark brown faux wood paneling from the ‘70s it doesn’t do much to create a bright space.

3. Accent Lighting. This will not only make the space brighter, it also makes the space feel less like a basement because lamps make the space feel decorated and lived in.

4. Light Bulbs. Depending on the types of fixtures in the basement there are various new types of lightbulbs. Consider talking to a lighting expert to find which type of bulb is going to give you the best results.

5. Create a false lighted window. This is simpler and more effective than you might think. Just frame and trim a “window” on a basement wall, and use creative lighting and decor (blinds, reflective paint, daylight spectrum bulbs) to make the light coming from the window look natural.

How to avoid vacation rental scams

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Home sharing websites like AirBnB are great for getting the most out of your vacation. Home sharing often saves a lot of money compared to similar lodging arrangements at hotels, and it gives you an opportunity to be part of a new neighborhood during your stay.

The downside is that there’s a bigger chance of encountering a scam. No one wants to have their vacation ruined by a fake rental listing, so here are a few easy tips to avoid scams.

Be skeptical of photos: If a property’s photos look a little too good, ask for additional photos. Photoshop and photography expertise can hide a lot of warts.

Only book with a credit card: Scammers prefer to operate with cash. You have a better chance of recovering your money if you only book with credit cards through trusted sites like

Read the reviews: Sites like AirBNB and VRBO have customer reviews for each property. Read them to ensure that the rental is as good it seems—or that it even exists in the first place.

If you’re selling, improving your curb appeal can make a huge difference!



Curb appeal is a big factor for home buyers. The exterior of your home is the first thing buyers will see when they come to a showing or open house, and you want to make a great first impression. And even if you’re not selling your home, these are low-cost, low-time investment fixes that can make a big difference.

Fix landscaping eyesores
A brown, dead lawn—or an overgrown one—isn’t the best way to welcome buyers to your home. If your lawn is in need of repair, consider watering it regularly. If your grass is healthy, keep the lawn freshly mowed. An appealing lawn can be worth more than $1,500 in the final price of your home.

Shutters and siding
It’s easy to let your exterior walls fall into disrepair, or even to let them get a little dirty. A good scrubbing or power washing can make your siding look brand new, and you can touch up any major issues with some paint. The same goes for your shutters.

Add some living accents
So far we’ve covered fixing what’s broken. Next, it’s time to add a little personality. Planting flowers will add some much-needed color to an otherwise ordinary outdoor space. Potted plants will do the trick too, especially if you have a deck or patio that needs a little decorating.

Work on your walkway
The path to your front door should be inviting. A stone walkway from the driveway instantly upgrades your curb appeal. And if you’ve already taken care of that part, tidy up by removing weeds and debris, and then line the walkway with some subtle lighting. It’ll make your home look cozy and appealing, day or night.

Five tips for first-time buyers



No matter how much time you spend on researching and educating yourself about your home purchase, it’s hard to cover every detail. Here are a few tips for avoiding rookie mistakes with your first home purchase.

1. Save as early as you can: Even if you think you’re years away from buying your first home, try to start saving for your down payment. It makes a huge difference in your monthly payments, and helps avoid paying CMHC mortgage insurance.

2. Be thorough with mortgage shopping: There are countless resources out there that can help you get the best terms for your mortgage. It may seem like a lot of work to shave less than a point off your mortgage rate, but it’ll save you thousands in the long run.

3. Consult a skeptic: You’re likely to fall in love with a home, and that can make it difficult to take problems seriously. Bring along a skeptical friend or family member who can give you an honest opinion.

4. Be patient with getting settled: You’ll be anxious to make your new home your own, but take some time to see how your budget truly shakes out. In other words, hold off on big furniture purchases and remodeling projects.

5. Make sure you’re happy with the neighborhood: The house may be perfect, but don’t discount the surroundings. You don’t want to end up in the suburbs if you’re going to miss walking to your favorite coffee shop, and you don’t want to settle for the city if you’re looking forward to some peace and quiet.

How to keep your home safe while traveling

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If you’re taking a bit of time away from Ottawa’s frequently-nasty winters, you might be concerned about the safety of your home while you’re enjoying the sun. Here are some tips to help you ensure that your home and valuables are safe while you’re away! A little bit of preparation can go a long way toward your peace of mind.


  1. Watch what you post on social media

    Consider keeping the details of your vacation to a minimum when you’re online, especially if your posts are visible to those other than your friends and family.

  2. Find a house sitter

    A simple way to ensure your home’s safety is to find someone – whether it be a friend, a neighbour, or a professional house sitter – to watch over your home while you’re away. Ask a friend to drive by once a day or so and check on things. Give this person a key so that they can check your mail, feed your cat, water your plants, and check for anything going wrong like frozen pipes. This friend should also have your contact information and your itinerary in case of emergencies.

    A word of warning – if you have more than one person watching your home, be sure to let them know about each other! You don’t want a neighbour calling the police on the friend you asked to stop by and check things, after all.

  3. Stop your mail

    You can request Canada Post to hold your mail while you’re away. They’ll hold all mail for you until you return, and even stop the delivery of fliers while you’re gone, as well.

  4. Don’t leave your trash bins out

    If you’re the only one on the street with your trash bins out all week, it’s obvious to potential intruders that you aren’t there.

  5. Landscaping

    If you have landscaping or hedges around your home, and especially near your window, keep it trimmed back. That way, thieves won’t have a place to hide.

  6. Lighting

    Good lighting is an important factor in keeping your home safe! Every outdoor entrance should have lighting to prevent someone breaking in to a door under cover of darkness. Consider having your outdoor lighting on a motion sensor to deter intruders.

    Consider your indoor lighting as well. If you were to leave lights on the entire time you’re gone, it is another red flag to intruders that you aren’t there. Instead, consider a timer for certain lights in your home. An automatic timer will give the illusion of your home being occupied; also, it will ensure that you don’t come back to a hefty hydro bill!

What you need to know about Remembrance Day in Ottawa

Ottawa is home to the national Remembrance Day ceremony every year, to honour Canadian veterans and those currently serving.

The ceremony will begin at the National Military Cemetery on Beechwood at 10:55 AM and then continues at the National War Memorial.

Be advised that the ceremony will mean that some roads downtown will be closed! From 7:30am to 1:00pm, the following roads will be closed:

  • Rideau/Wellington St. from Sussex/Colonel By Drive to Bank St.

  • Colonel By southbound from Rideau to Daly

  • Daly eastbound from Colonel By to Nicholas Street.

  • Nicholas northbound from Daly to Besserer Street.

  • Queen Street from Metcalfe to Elgin streets.

  • Elgin from Wellington to Albert.

  • MacKenzie Avenue from Murray to Rideau streets.

  • Metcalfe from Wellington to Albert.

  • O’Connor from Wellington to Queen.

Most businesses downtown will be closed until 12:30pm, including the businesses in the Byward Market, Rideau Centre, and Sparks Street Mall.

Businesses that are exceptions to the bylaw include:

  • Food/grocery, tobacco, antique and handcraft stores with less than 2,400 square feet used for serving or selling to the public.

  • Pharmacies with less than 7,500 square feet in total area used for serving/selling to the public (those in larger stores must close).

  • Book/newspaper dealers with less than 2,400 square feet used for serving/selling to the public.

  • Convenience stores.

  • Nurseries, gardening supply stores, florists.

  • Gas stations or businesses selling propane, diesel, natural gas and other fuel products.

  • Vehicle/boat rental and repair businesses, including those as part of a larger store (Canadian Tire).

Businesses that are not affected by the bylaw include:

  • Hotels/motels.

  • Restaurants.

  • Recreational facilities including fitness centres

  • Doctor/dentist/optometrist offices and medical centres.

  • Funeral homes.

  • Hair salons and spas.

  • Pet groomers.

  • Repair services for computers, furnaces, air conditioners, pools.

  • Pay-day loan services.

  • Realtors.

  • Dry cleaners.

  • Vendors at outdoor markets.

For more information, visit 

Where to Donate Clothing and Household Items in Ottawa


If you’re preparing to move, or if your kids have outgrown their clothes and toys, or if you’re just thinking of decluttering, it’s a good idea to go through  your home room by room and identify items you’d like to keep, and items that you’re ready to say goodbye to. There are lots of worthwhile charities in Ottawa that are in need of your donations!

  1. The Ottawa Mission: The Ottawa Mission serves hundreds of men every day by providing nutritious meals, a place to sleep, and a change of clothing. They take donations of bath towels, men’s clothing and shoes, men’s coats, and men’s toiletries. They do not accept donations of household items such as appliances or furniture.

  2. Harmony House: Harmony House provides support for women leaving violent or abusive relationships to find the resources they need to ensure financial, legal and emotional security. Because many clients come to Harmony House with few, if any, possessions, Harmony House accepts household items such as baking tins, pots and pans, cutlery, dishes, clothes hangers, and cleaning products.

  3. Clothesline Drop Boxes: Benefiting the Canadian Diabetes Association, Clothesline drop boxes are located all around the city. They accept gently used clothing, bedding, yarn, pillows, footwear, and small household items and electronics. Home pick-ups of donations can also be scheduled.

  4. Ontario Federation for Cerebral Palsy: The OFCP collects clothes, shoes, coats, bedding, and linens, as well as some toys, games, small appliances, books, electronics, and housewares.

  5. Dress For Success Ottawa: PREMIER is a proud sponsor of Dress For Success Ottawa. Dress For Success provides economically disadvantaged but employment-ready women with interview-appropriate suits and accessories. Modern, up-to-date women’s suitwear and professional accessories are accepted.

  6. Animal Shelters: Animal shelters frequently take donations of old towels and unopened or disinfectable pet supplies. Check the Ottawa Humane Society’s site to see what they currently need.

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