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Canadian real estate market outlook 2019: Stable but struggling

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The Canadian housing market had a challenging year in 2018 as it struggled to regain its footing after the bubble-like conditions of 2017. It was a year characterized by decelerating sales and pricing. And it looks like 2019 may bring more of the same.

After what appeared to be a stabilizing period over the summer of 2018, national home sales have been falling since September. Actual activity was down 19 per cent year-over-year in December, while the national average sale price dropped 4.9 per cent.

Analysts chalk up these lacklustre numbers to stricter mortgage qualification rules, which came into effect in January 2018, and steadily rising interest rates. The Bank of Canada, which takes the health of the market into consideration when choosing to hike interest rates, recently noted that it had been ‘weaker than expected’ in December. Gregory Klump, chief economist of the Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA), recently wrote that it seems likely that housing will undermine economic growth this year, as buyers struggle to afford ownership in increasingly difficult conditions.

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Real Estate

9 practical ways to save on your renovation

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Collecting your keys soon? It’s time to start planning for your renovation! Purchasing and putting together a home calls for wise decisions to be made, especially so you don’t break the bank. Together with BankBazaar, we bring you a list of tips and tricks to help you balance your budget easily.

1. PLAN YOUR BUDGET (AND STICK TO IT)

Interior Designer: VoilaPhoto: Qanvast

Decide exactly what you need for your new home and list out the cost of each purchase. With this budget in mind, stick to it as closely as possible. However, there may be certain unforeseen circumstances that may cause you to exceed your pre-planned budget due to. With that in mind, be sure to give yourself an allowance of about 20 per cent on top of that pre-planned budget so that you don’t end up with an incomplete bathroom.

2. RESEARCH

Interior Designer: Livinci InteriorPhoto: Qanvast

Experience is the best teacher – read up on what people have done and learn from their experiences. Read reviews on interior designers and look at their portfolios. It is important to note that some interior designers are more skilled in certain home types than others. Try to get at least 3 quotations for your ideal home. Compare them before deciding on a designer.

3. PLAN YOUR PURCHASES

Interior Designer: Our InteriorPhoto: Qanvast

Home fairs attract a range of merchants selling products you might need, which can be a great place to check out! Warehouse sales are also a place to get furniture at a bargain. Compare prices across different merchants before your eventual purchase.

If the purchases are not urgent, wait for discounts during occasions like the Great Singapore Sale, National Day, Black Friday, Cyber Monday or Christmas. Keep on the lookout for cyber sales throughout the year where retailers will have discounts that can save you some money.

For the true bargain hunters, head over to Johor Bahru to get lights and furniture at a fraction of the cost. Tampoi Lighting Centre is immensely popular among Singaporeans, and JC Bespoke is great for good quality teak furniture.

4. DIFFERENTIATE YOUR NEEDS AND WANTS

Interior Designer: ID SensePhoto: Qanvast

Amidst the excitement of preparing for a new home, we tend to fail to consider what we really need. Do you really need that S$800 bright red professional mixer, or does it just look great on the kitchen counter?

Pro tip: Consider if your purchase will make your home a more functional one. If not, you may want to wait till you’ve moved into your home to really know. In that way, it may be wiser to leave some of the nice-to-have purchases till after you’ve moved in.

5. DO-IT-YOURSELF

Interior Designer: EMS RenovationPhoto: Qanvast

Try assembling your own furniture instead of paying someone to do it for you. Just imagine that sense of satisfaction after you’re done! Of course, be discerning as to what you can do. As a general rule of thumb, it might be wise to leave the specialised tasks, such as installation of gas pipes, to trained professionals.

Furniture stores such as IKEA are good bets to get the furniture needed at fairly reasonable prices. Check out Youtube’s home renovation videos, Pinterest or ikeahackers.net for nifty DIY tips.

6. DRAW INSPIRATION FROM OTHERS

Interior Designer: Forefront InteriorPhoto: Qanvast

The Internet is full of inspiration, from renovation saving tips to creative, style tips! Of course, Qanvast has thousands of local home ideas that’ll pique your interest – a real treasure trove of ideas on personalizing your home!!

7. DECIDE ON A COST-SAVING THEME FOR YOUR HOME

Interior Designer: D5 Studio ImagePhoto: Qanvast

The design of your home plays a role in your renovation cost as well. A home with a minimalist theme is likely to be cheaper to renovate than an apartment that is intended to exude a sense of opulence. Having said that, it doesn’t mean you have to compromise on style: after all, simplicity is beauty.

8. DO AWAY WITH UNNECESSARY FRILLS

Interior Designer: The Makers Design StudioPhoto: Qanvast

It is important to focus on what is functional for your home. For example, it might not be very practical to get carpets if you have young children or pets at home. At the same time, wallpaper may not be the best idea in Singapore’s tropical climate as it causes the wallpaper to discolour and replacing wallpaper can be a little pricey as well.

9. REFURBISH OR REUSE WHEN POSSIBLE

Interior Designer: Luova Project ServicesPhoto: Qanvast

If you are moving into a second-hand home, consider what can be kept, such as structural elements or pieces of furniture. Refurbish them if they are still functional and in relatively good condition. If you have current furniture, consider what can be reused and brought to your new home.

For first-time homeowners, it is important to note that while you may want to have custom carpentry throughout the house, you won’t be able to bring these pieces to your next house if you plan on moving again.

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Tips for Successful and Stress Free Home Renovation Projects

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Tackling a renovation project can be both rewarding and challenging. Unlike building a home from scratch, you’re never starting with a clean slate. Renovations are often complicated, as you need to correct the mistakes of the previous owners, as well as to deal with unforeseen issues and costs. While being prepared is essential, before you take on your own renovation, make sure you’ve run through the rest of these tips.  

Plan everything carefully

When you’re about to spend some serious dollars, your better make a plan of what goes where before you hit the ground. Failing to do so can result in unnecessary post-reparations which cost even more. Don’t forget to establish a timescale of renovations, to make sure any changes to the structure and finish go before replacing fittings and fixtures, which in their turn go before painting, window upgrades, and lighting.

Document everything

You need a budget sheet that outlines every detail of furniture, finishes, and fittings. This is an essential part of any interior design project, as it includes details such as door hardware, paint, lights, locations, prices, the lead time, and other specific requirements. When you see how your costs are spreading throughout the project, it’ll be easier for you to foresee items that may lean heavily on the budget, and replace them with cost-effective alternatives without compromising the result.

Choose materials wisely

Even the most contemporary minimalistic spaces can be made much cosier with the right choice of materials. While striking a balance between functionality and aesthetic can be challenging, carpets in bedroom and natural stone in common rooms can make a nice combination. While a lot of homeowners avoid natural stone because they think it shows wear quickly, the latest sealants and protective coats can make a stone floor impervious to normal wear and tear, as well as resistant to spills and dirt.

Customise storage to your needs

While seeing storage options on a home improvement TV program is one thing, make the changes to match your style of living is another. Kid’s wardrobes, for example, can fit more shelves per unit, since their clothes are much smaller, while you should design the kitchen storage that matches your appliances and utensils. In both cases, built-in solutions offer the less cluttered look, with great backdrops. You can even hide your cables by wiring the appliances into custom-made cabinets.  

Have someone evaluate your budget

For most people, coming up with a budget is like making a shopping list and adding a proverbial 20% margin. However, if you enlist licensed quantity surveyors from the early start, they can get you more accurate estimates on every aspect of the job, even saving you some money in the process. Have a certified quantity surveyor inspect, assess, and record the value of items you’re planning to dispense with. Things like old window furnishes, floor coverings, and many other items have a residual value that can be written off and claimed as a tax deduction. Such scrapping costs can literally earn you some money, especially if the property isn’t too old.

Design a floorplan with future in mind

While the final floor layout is as much of a personal thing as anything else, keep in mind that every change might affect the ventilation scheme, traffic flow, and lighting fixtures. If you’ve decided to relocate doors or windows, make sure you have enough wall space, as well as floor space to accommodate all your furniture. Feng shui or not, it’s always better to have a clear path through your rooms. If you’re not sure what to do with the floorplan arrangement, take a walk through empty rooms and see what would be the most natural way of moving from one to the next.  

Give bathroom to the experts

While moving plumbing pipes and fixtures is generally not recommended unless absolutely necessary, if you decide to do it, bring along an interior designer to make sure your plumber has the correct inputs. Keep in mind that re-routing even a single fixture costs a lot, and once concrete slabs have been poured, plumbing and wires laid in, going back and undoing mistakes isn’t easy at all. A friendly renovator’s tip: make sure the toilet is away from view and make the centerpiece, which is usually the vanity, the first thing a visitor sees when stepping through the door.  

Small details, big impact

After you’ve gone through heavy-duty renovation phases, details like power points, switches, and fans might seem insignificant. However, in order to prevent them from appearing all of a sudden in the wrong spot, you need to work out their position, as well. Make sure your new home layout isn’t missing on power points, and try to keep as much of wiring hidden in the floors, walls, or ceiling as possible – which is especially tricky in open-plan spaces.

No two home renovations turn out the same, however, you should still follow certain guidelines to avoid unnecessary work and retracing your steps.

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Real Estate

10 Home Theater Design Ideas That’ll Make Movie Night So Much Better

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The only thing better than going to the movies is enjoying one from the comfort of your very own home theater. If you’re ready to commit or just starting to research the process, these ten home theater design ideas, renovation tips, and decorating examples will help you create the cinematic viewing space of your dreams. Now sit back, relax, and enjoy the feature presentation of home theaters that rival the real thing below. 1 Free Up Your Basement PHOTO: Dustin Askland; DESIGN: Elizabeth Roberts

A basement is the perfect location to design a home theater since it’s isolated and dark. This will make sound performance and lighting easier to control.

The Design Tip: Try painting your walls a dark color and install an extra-large flat screen, as seen in this home theater designed by Elizabeth Roberts Architecture & Design. Then bring in seating reminiscent of classic plush movie theater seats but with a modern spin and the ability to work in a variety of environments. 2 Scout Out Alternate Locations Studio DB

If you don’t have a basement or large enough space, there are plenty of other ways to make a home theater work. Transform a spare bedroom or a walk-in closet, where the enclosed nature minimizes natural light. Other options include converting a garden shed, pool house, and even an unused garage.

The Design Tip: If you can’t design an entire room to feel like a blackbox theater, opt for built-in seating for a bite-sized version of the experience, as seen in this nook designed by Studio DB. 3 Consider Insulating Your Space

Movie screening room in modern house

Astronaut ImagesGetty Images

Once you’ve selected the room you want to use for a home theater, you’ll want to map out your renovation needs. Do you just want to decorate a media room that draws inspiration from a movie theater, or do you want to go all out? If it’s the latter, you may want to insulate your walls with drywall to create a sound barrier.

The Design Tip: Make it ultra-push. Big suede love seats are perfect for romantic nights and those lacquered tables between them are the perfect resting spot for your bowl of popcorn. Advertisement – Continue Reading Below

4 Optimize Your Wiring PHOTO: Dustin Askland; DESIGN: Elizabeth Roberts

Another important step is getting your wiring in check. You’ll need the right wiring for lighting, sound, and your projector and/or screen. This is also a good time to mention that you’ll want to keep equipment out of sight and hide your wires with discreet tubing.

The Design Tip: If your home theater doesn’t have room for cinema-style stadium seating, try a conversation pit. Designed by Elizabeth Roberts, this space feels like a private haven fit for big viewing parties thanks to the full carpeting and depressed flooring. 5 Review Sound Options

Home theater

Astronaut ImagesGetty Images

There’s a lot to think about when designing your sound system, from how many speakers you’ll need and whether or not to install surround sound. Some design choices will also impact the sound quality. For example, a carpet helps contain the noise and prevent echo.

The Design Tip: Plush carpet, low to the ground seating, and sophisticated marble coffee tables make this home theater perfect for both viewing and entertaining. A large sectional can fit more family and friends and the moody color story makes it feel like a subterranean lounge. 6 Choose Your Screen Studio Lifestyle

There are a ton of options and things to consider when picking your screen. Most importantly, the room’s dimensions. If it’s shallow, you won’t want to choose a screen that’s too large. Whichever you choose, make sure it’s equipped with a blu-ray player, satellite feed, and game console.

The Design Tip: You can still create a media room that feels like a home theater even if you don’t have the perfect basement space to do so (blackout curtains to the rescue). Take note from this cozy media room decorated by Studio Lifestyle. Advertisement – Continue Reading Below

7 Set Up Control Systems Catherine Kwong Design

Consider setting up a control system like a universal remote, iPad, iPhone, or a whole-home automation system. This will help you control lighting, sound, and everything else you need in one place.

The Design Tip: This media room from Catherine Kwong is perfect for cozy family movie nights, but its also the perfect backdrop for entertaining, afternoon naps, and casual get togethers. 8 Think About Bells and Whistles PHOTO: Kenya Bravo for Homepolish; DESIGN: Paula Guzman for Homepolish

Do you want 3-D capability? Professional-level audio performance and high resolution picture? A hidden projector that drops down from the ceiling? There are plenty of little add-ons that will make your home theater a truly immersive experience.

The Design Tip: If you have plain white walls, a projector is going to be your best friend. You’ll be able to watch your favorite movies on a big “screen” without actually having to install one on your living room walls, as seen in this apartment designed by Paula Guzman of Homepolish. 9 Think About Layout Studio Ashby

And now for the fun part… Once you’ve worked out all the technical elements, you can think about layout. Go for cinema-style stadium seating with reclining loungers or love seats, or keep things one level with a sectional.

The Design Tip: The layout of this home theater designed by Studio Ashby is a nod to the real cinematic experience, but with a sophisticated spin. The Art Deco sconces tiered seating evoke the Hollywood golden age while the olive green seats and ottomans are fresh and contemporary. Advertisement – Continue Reading Below

10 Have Fun With Design

 home theater photos gallery

Regan Baker Design

And last but not least, you can start decorating your home theater. Choose a theme and run with it, whether you want to channel the setting of your favorite film, make it sophisticated, or feature a repeating motif.

The Design Tip: If your media room is also a play room, choose a dark wallpaper that will absorb light during viewing parties but also speak to the space’s other uses with a whimsical print. Adding floor cushions is also a good call, as seen in this media room by Regan Baker Design.

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