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Tips for the First-Time Home Buyer

Wed, 25 Apr by Pauline Relkey

When venturing into the world of home ownership, first-time buyers often find themselves having to make important, fast decisions in what feels like a surreal situation — after all, it might have only been a few weeks since owning a home seemed more like a far-off daydream than an immediate reality. A few common sense tips will help you navigate these unfamiliar landscapes as you move towards one of the biggest financial decisions of your life.

1. Get pre-approved
Though a pre-approval isn’t a guarantee that you’ll get a mortgage when you’re find a property, having one can give you a firm grasp on what you can afford before you start looking. A pre-approval from your bank or lender will save you time by narrowing your search to a more precise selection of homes, and this, in turn, can protect you from the all-too-common disappointment that follows setting your heart on a house you can’t afford.

2. Don’t expect your standards of living to change
It’s bound to happen: you see a house that maxes out your budget, but you imagine you can make it work by cutting out things like morning coffees, cellular data and cable TV. Remember, ‘roughing it’ for the sake of your house quickly loses its charm, and you’ll soon regret the lack of wiggle room for things like new furniture, redecorating, or unexpected repairs. Don’t regret your first home — avoid becoming ‘house poor’ by staying below the upper limit of what your bank is willing to lend you.

3. Make a list and check it as many times as it takes
Each property you consider will have its own unique combination of pros and cons, and going through them can feel a little like comparing apples to oranges. Don’t expect to stay clear-headed when the house with the poor walking score has the kitchen of your dreams; instead, stay on track by building a list of “must haves” and “nice to haves.” Though your list might evolve over time (especially if the “must haves” are rare for your price range), having a set of self-imposed guidelines can keep your search on course when you’re feeling overwhelmed by options.

4. Don’t confuse “first home” with “forever home”
Most first-time buyers start out a little starry-eyed, imagining that new home will be stylish, spacious, efficient … basically, everything they’ve been dreaming of. In reality, being able to afford a house that has everything you want is pretty rare in the first go-round, which can make you feel so discouraged you start closing yourself off to the available options. Remember, your ‘starter home’ doesn’t have to meet all the criteria of your ‘dream home,’ and the equity you’ll build for the next few years will get you closer to your goal.

With so much new information to absorb, steps to take, and decisions to make, buying a first home can feel like a rollercoaster ride. It’s important not to lose your head throughout all of it. Taking a few steps to keep your expectations rooted firmly in reality can help you glide through the process and feel confident in your final decision.

Time to Wash the Windows

Tue, 10 Apr by Pauline Relkey

I have dealt with College Window Washers for years now and am happy with their service, so I thought I would share their info with my clients.
Good day folks!
Happy Early Spring to you. I hope you are all doing well and enjoying the last few days of winter.

For this our 28th !! year, we are hoping to once again book your Spring, Summer and Fall Exterior and/or Interior window washings at your home for the upcoming season.

As always, offering FANTASTIC RATES for you, we ask that you gather a few neighbours or family and friends with our crew coming out to do them the same day to offer you an extra DISCOUNT to keep all of your windows sparkling!

New these last few years is our TOTAL HOME DETAILING Package that are very popular. Call Lee for your specific price details.

We offer a gutter cleaning, pressure washing of your home, and exterior window washing – A TRULY FULL SPRING CLEANING !

Also save 20% off your normal pricing by booking a 7 time Monthly Exterior window washing – April through October home window cleaning or 6 exterior/1 interior.

As well, we are offering our Interior window washing special pricing in March or April. This is great timing as you start thinking about spring cleaning, in addition to it being a quieter period for our crew.

Thank you for your continued support of College Window Washers, the original ones since 1990. Although our crew strives to train new students every year, trust that our veteran experienced guys are here to ensure your satisfaction each visit. Our work is ALWAYS 100% guaranteed to your satisfaction. If you are happy with the service we provide, we would appreciate if you would pass along our name to your friends, family and neighbours.

Thanks for your continued support .. we really do appreciate it.

See you all real soon for some SPARKLING CLEAN WINDOWS !

Sincerely,
Lee Kennedy

306 585-7667 office
306 596-7896 cell
leeken@myaccess.ca
www.windowwashingregina.com
www.propertymanagementregina.com
www.facebook.com/collegewindowwashers

Spring Cleaning the Natural Way

Thu, 29 Mar by Pauline Relkey

Giving your home a spring cleaning is a great way to get rid of winter and look forward to spring. You don’t have to arm yourself with a wide array of expensive, chemical-based, store-bought cleaning supplies to get the job done. Instead, try these eco-friendly, all-natural cleansers – they’re powerful and versatile.

In many instances, you can use them on their own, mixed together (be careful) or with other products. You can find all sorts of recipes online for do-it-yourself, all-natural cleansers using these core products. Try them in inconspicuous areas first to see what works best for you and adapt as necessary.

White Vinegar
Incredibly resourceful as a cleaning ingredient, it cuts through dirt, grease, mildew and water deposits. It’s also a natural deodorizer as it absorbs odours and an effective mould killer. The acidic smell disappears when it dries. Use it to clean countertops, ceramic floors, your toilet bowl, shower walls, mirrors and windows. You can even use it as a fabric softener!

Baking Soda
This magic ingredient is useful for much more than baking yummy treats. Like vinegar, it has great smell-diffusing capabilities which is why it’s recommended to absorb odours in your fridge. It’s also a key ingredient in many toothpastes, but it can clean and whiten a whole lot more than your teeth! Use it as a scouring powder. For tougher jobs, make a paste with water and let it sit for a few minutes before scrubbing. And as it flows down drains, it keeps them clean and smelling good. 

Citrus
Use in place of, or in addition to, white vinegar. It’s powerful acidic properties not only lend itself well to cleaning, but is a great way to use up old citrus fruit you have on hand and cut down on food waste. Citrus is also effective against most household bacteria – and it smells great! 

Salt
A terrific flavour booster sprinkled on food, salt can also be used to clean stains from your coffee/tea mugs, shine metals such as copper, pewter and brass and even remove perspiration stains. No need to get fancy – just plain old table salt will do. 

Rubbing Alcohol
Use isopropyl alcohol wherever you’d use a commercial glass cleaner, including mirrors and chrome. A terrific degreaser, it’s also an excellent disinfectant. And it dries instantly! Keep in mind, though, you are cleaning with alcohol so only use in well-ventilated areas and keep far away from heat. 

Cornstarch
Whether it’s dusted over surfaces or used to make a paste, this cooking mainstay has excellent odour-absorbing and grease-lifting properties. Use it to clean windows, polish furniture and silverware, shampoo carpets and rugs. It can even be used to help remove candle wax from wood. 

Happy green spring cleaning!

8 Things to Consider Before Selling Your Home

Mon, 26 Feb by Pauline Relkey

As winter moves closer to the finish line, the annual spring real estate market heats up. There are many things to consider before you put your home on the market – here are 8 of the more critical ones.

1. Budget

Know what you can afford so that you don’t stretch yourself thin. Talk to your mortgage person.

2. Know the costs.

There are plenty of expenses when selling your home. Some are straightforward such as renovations and paying for movers. Others may not be as obvious – nor who pays for them – such as land transfer taxes (buyer pays), real estate agent commissions (seller), mortgage insurance (buyer), legal fees, bank fees and possibly capital gains taxes.

3. Find out your home’s worth.

Knowing how much you’re likely to get for your home can dictate how much you may be able to afford when buying another house. Do your research by checking what similar homes have sold for in your neighbourhood. The best way to do this is to meet with your Realtor who will be listing your house for sale.

4. Choose a real estate agent.

You can choose to sell your home yourself to save the commission fees – but you also incur all the responsibility for writing legal contracts. Of course, I suggest that you choose a trusted real estate agent who knows your area and by asking for referrals. If your Realtor helped you find your present property and has stayed in touch with you, give her/him a call.

5. Decide when to sell.

Do you sell during the traditional peak markets of spring and summer or or off-season? Selling during the peak means more buyers and possible bidding wars, while selling off season means fewer homes competing with yours. As the saying goes, 6 of one and half a dozen of the other.

6. Add visual appeal.

Creating curb appeal is an obvious benefit, but don’t forget to freshen up the interior as well. Make any minor renovations, declutter and consider staging, because professionally staged homes typically sell faster and for more.

7. Get a home inspection done.

While buyers will probably get their own inspections done, having one ready says that you’re confident in your home and have nothing to hide because you have taken care of what work is needed – it provides peace of mind for everyone.

8. Coordinate closing dates.

Being able to move from one home to another on the same day can be hectic and cause you stress. Hopefully you can take possession of your new place before you have to be out of your present one. If not, you may have to either rent another home short-term, put belongings in storage and generally cause unnecessary upheaval in your life. Talk to your bank about bridge financing.

Do you know your Credit Score?

Wed, 14 Feb by Pauline Relkey

GET YOUR CREDIT REPORT
Your credit history is an important part of your future – it can open doors for you or keep them locked. Decisions including approvals for loans and mortgage or rental applications may be affected by your credit history.

Make payments on time and always pay at least the minimum amount required
Notify creditors as soon as you move to ensure bills will arrive at your new location on time
Notify creditors right away if you experience problems making a payment
Review the accuracy of your credit report by checking with one of the two largest credit reporting agencies – Equifax or TransUnion
To receive a copy of your personal credit report, please send a written request to one of the following credit reporting agencies:

EQUIFAX CANADA INC.
Consumer Relations Department
Box 190 Jean Talon Station
Montreal, QC
H1S 2Z2
Phone: 1-800-465-7166
Fax: 1-514-355-8502
www.equifax.ca to complete and mail Equifax’s Credit Report Request form.

Requirements:
Equifax requires a written credit report request including your name, address, date of birth and Social Insurance Number (optional). Please also include photocopies of two forms of identification (both sides) and remember to sign your request.

TRANSUNION OF CANADA
(For all provinces except for Quebec)
Consumer Relations Centre
P.O. Box 338, LCD 1
Hamilton, ON
L8L 7W2
Phone: 1-800-663-9980
7 a.m. until 8 p.m. ET, Monday to Friday
Visit www.tuc.ca for TransUnion’s Consumer Relations Information form

TRANSUNION (ECHO GROUP)
(For Quebec residents)
1 Place Laval
Suite 370
Laval, QC
H7N 1A1
Phone: 1-877-713-3393 or 1-514-335-0374
8:30 a.m. until 5 p.m. ET, Monday to Friday
Visit www.tuc.ca for TransUnion’s Consumer Relations Information form

Requirements:
TransUnion requires a written credit report request including your name, address, previous address (if present address is less than five years), phone number (optional), date of birth, place of employment (optional), and Social Insurance Number (optional).

Please also include photocopies of two forms of identification (both sides) from the following list:

Driver’s Licence
Passport
Certificate of Indian Status
Age of Majority/Provincial ID
Citizenship Card
Department of National Defense Card
Firearms Possession and Acquisition Licence (with photo only)
Social Insurance Number (optional)
Credit Card (primary account holder)
Or, you can include one or more of the above along with one of the following:

Credit Card (secondary account holder)
Birth Certificate
Legion Card
Hunting/Fishing Licence
T4 Slip
Student Card (only with photo, signature and currently enrolled)
Employee ID/Union Card (only with photo, signature and current employer)
If more than one member of your household is requesting their credit report, each separate request must contain all of the above information.

Saving $ while Shopping

Mon, 05 Feb by Pauline Relkey

I just learned something new this past weekend. If you go to buy something and the scanned price is higher than the shelf price, you are entitled to get a discount, either free or $10 off.

On behalf of Canadian retailers, RCC manages the Scanner Price Accuracy Code.
To file a complaint under the Scanner Price Accuracy Code, please contact: 1-866-499-4599.

The Scanner Price Accuracy Voluntary Code (“the Code”) evolved from the collaborative efforts of Retail Council of Canada (RCC), the Neighbourhood Pharmacy Association of Canada and the Canadian Federation of Independent Grocers (CFIG). These associations are composed of national, regional and local retailers selling a wide assortment of general merchandise, as well as pharmaceutical and food products.
This diversity in the Canadian retail environment underscores the advisability of a voluntary code that can be widely used.
The Scanner Price Accuracy Voluntary Code has been endorsed by the Competition Bureau.

PURPOSE
The purpose of the Code is to:
1. Visibly demonstrate retailer commitment to scanner price accuracy;
2. Provide retailers with a consistent national framework for dealing with scanner price accuracy issues; and
3. Provide the retail industry with a mechanism for consumer redress in scanner price accuracy cases, to be managed by the industry through an industry committee.

SCOPE
The Code applies to all scanned Universal Product Code (UPC), bar coded, and/or Price Look Up (PLU) merchandise sold in stores, with the exception of goods not easily accessible to the public (e.g. prescription drugs and behind-the-counter cosmetics), and individually price-ticketed items.
The Code does not apply in provinces or territories where existing legislation or regulation covers these concerns.
A retailer adopting the Code must abide by the policies outlined below.

1. THE ITEM FREE SCANNER POLICY
Retailers will implement an Item Free Scanner Policy as follows:
1.1 On a claim being presented by the customer, where the scanned price of a product at checkout is higher than the price displayed in the store or than advertised by the store, the lower price will be honoured; and
(a) if the correct price of the product is $10 or less, the retailer will give the product to the customer free of charge; or
(b) if the correct price of the product is higher than $10, the retailer will give the customer a discount of $10 off the correct price.
1.2 Where the same error recurs in scanning multiple units of a given product during a given transaction, the retailer will correct the scanning error in respect of each unit of the given product purchased, but is obliged to apply the policy set out in 1.1 (a) and (b) in respect of only one of the units.
1.3 Paragraph 1.1 only applies after the final sale price of the purchased item has been displayed at the checkout, including relevant rebate, discount or promotional coupons.
1.4 To be eligible for the Item Free Scanner Policy, the product must match the product description on the corresponding shelf tag.
1.5 The Item Free Scanner Policy does not apply if the barcode or shelf label for a given product has been tampered with.
1.6 The Item Free Scanner Policy does not apply to a product where, in respect of that product, the law:
(a) establishes a minimum price (or specified price); or
(b) does not permit the retailer to offer a discount or a rebate.
1.7 The Item Free Scanner Policy does not apply to a product that government legislation or regulation does not permit to be provided free or below a minimum price.
2.0 CORRECTION OF ERRORS
2.1 Once a scanner pricing error is brought to the attention of the retailer, appropriate steps should be taken as quickly as possible to correct the source of the error.
2.2 When a retailer cannot immediately correct a scanning error in respect of a product, it will post a correction notice in a conspicuous place. Once such a notice has been posted, the Item Free Scanner Policy is no longer in effect in respect of the relevant product.
3.0 RETAILERS’ RESPONSIBILITIES
3.1 All retailers will apply the Code, consistent with the philosophy and intent. In situations where retailers believe that customers’ requests are beyond the Code’s intent, these situations will be discussed with sponsoring Associations to ensure consistent application and remedies.
3.2 Retailers will establish appropriate internal policies and procedures for maintaining a high level of scanner price accuracy.
3.3 Retailers will display the sign attached hereto as Attachment 1 at all store entrances or in a conspicuous location near the store entrances. Retailers will display the sign attached hereto as Attachment 2 at each checkout station within their stores.
3.4 Retailers will train staff on the Code generally and the Item Free Scanner Policy in particular.
3.5 Retailers will have copies of their current advertising material (e.g. flyers, etc.) available and readily accessible for customer reference.
4.0 SHELF LABELS
4.1 For those products that are not individually price-ticketed, a clear and legible label must be affixed to the shelf next to the product.
4.2 The shelf label (peg label, basket label) must contain an accurate description of the item and shall include the price of the item or, where the item is sold at a price based on a unit of measurement, the price per unit of measurement.
4.3 The price on the shelf label must be in at least 28-point bold type print, and product description in at least 10-point type print.
4.4 A sign for a given product within the retailer’s premises which is not displayed with that product (i.e., is displayed elsewhere within the retailer’s premises), shall comply with the minimum requirements described above and be at least 38.71 sq. cm in size.
5.0 CUSTOMER RECEIPTS
5.1 The cash register receipt provided to the customer for a transaction must contain, at a minimum, the following information:
the retailer’s name;
the date of the transaction;
the nature of each item purchased and/or any distinguishing mark (subject to the system’s limitations); and
the price and description of each purchased item.
6.0 CODE MAINTENANCE AND ADMINISTRATION
6.1 A Scanner Price Accuracy Committee (“the Committee”) will be created to review the Code on an annual basis and to recommend required amendments. The Committee should be composed of representatives of the Neighbourhood Pharmacy Association of Canada, CFIG, RCC and the Consumers’ Association of Canada (CAC).
6.2 The Committee should be responsible for keeping the Code up to date.
6.3 The Committee should meet at least twice a year in order to supervise national implementation of the Code and consider any recommended changes to it.
6.4 The Committee should create sector specific panels (i.e. Grocery, Drug or General Merchandise). Each panel should:
(a) be composed of representatives of the respective trade associations and the CAC;
(b) review any outstanding complaints arising from the Item Free Scanner Policy; and
(c) recommend ways of resolving the complaint and provide relevant direction to the appropriate contact person.
6.5 The Committee shall prepare an annual report for the Competition Bureau concerning the number of complaints received and their resolution.
7.0 CONSUMER COMPLAINT PROCESS
7.1 When a scanner price error occurs, the cashier will be authorized to implement the Item Free Scanner Policy.
7.2 A customer dissatisfied with the cashier’s decision will be directed to the store manager or supervisor.
7.3 If the store manager or supervisor cannot resolve the dispute, the customer should be directed to a designated company representative.
7.4 The time period for considering a particular complaint should be left to the discretion of the retailer. However, generally complaints should be resolved as expeditiously as possible and, in any event, no later than one month after the error is alleged to have occurred.
7.5 In the event that the dispute between the retailer and the consumer cannot be resolved:
(a) either party may refer the complaint to the Scanner Price Accuracy Committee; and
(b) if the dispute remains unresolved it may, at the request of either party, be referred to a designated arbitrator on a cost recovery basis.

Neighbourhood Pharmacy Association of Canada Supporting Companies:
Shoppers Drug Mart
The Groupe Jean Coutu (NB and ON only)
Lawton Drug Stores
London Drugs
Lovell Drugs
Pharmasave BC
RCC Supporting Companies:
Costco Wholesale Canada Ltd.
The Home Depot Canada
Canadian Tire Corporation Ltd.
Toys r Us
Rona
Wal*Mart Canada Corp.
Giant Tiger Stores Ltd.
The North West Company
Best Buy
2 Home Hardware franchisees
Canada Safeway Limited
The Great Atlantic and Pacific Tea Company of Canada Limited
Loblaw Companies Limited
Sobeys Inc.
Metro Inc.
Thrifty Foods
Co-op Atlantic

CFIG Supporting Companies:
Thrifty Foods
Overwaitea Food Group
The Harry Watson Group
Longos Brothers Fruit Markets
Federated Co-operatives Limited
+ 1374 independent locations

What Home Inspectors Want Buyers and Sellers to Know

Fri, 08 Dec by Pauline Relkey

The home inspection process can be terrifying to go through, whether you are the seller or buyer.

For sellers, it’s like having your annual physical and you are being reprimanded by your doctor for not eating right and not exercising, etc.

For the buyers, it can be like finding your soulmate then discovering they are already married.

Don’t let the inspection stress you out. That’s not what your inspector wants either. All he wants is to do his job and provide you with an inspection report so that you are a happy customer.

Work with your home inspector to make the process easier and more effective. Knowledge is key! Here are 7 essential things you should keep in mind.

For sellers

1. Move your pets
We know your puppy/cat/snake is adorable and totally considered a family member, but even if your home inspector loves dogs or cats, pets on the loose while the inspection is happening makes the job much more difficult. For example, inspections require opening exterior doors, offering pets far too many opportunities to run out the door. Or the home inspector is afraid of your pet. When you leave the premises for the inspection—and many inspectors and agents ask sellers to do so – please take your pets with you.

2. Don’t forget to clean
Whether you plan on being there for the inspection or not, make sure to clean up beforehand. No, you don’t need to turn your house into an isolation ward by cleaning like a mad person — an inspector won’t ding you because your fridge has fingerprints on the door. But all that clutter? Yeah, that’s all got to go. It makes a huge difference when the inspector walks into a property where everything is put away.

For buyers

1. Any property will have issues/problems
Your home inspector will likely come up with a seemingly endless list of problems after the walk-through. Don’t panic! The inspector has been hired by you to do his job and report on what he discovers.  Put it all in perspective.  If you have never owned property, you might be overwhelmed, but speak to a home owner and they will totally understand. Every property including the realtor’s and the inspector’s, have problems and/or maintenance things. You are not alone. But there are times when you should worry, as in a major, costly fix (foundation, roof, etc). But not every issue is critical. Your inspector will explain which problems you should tackle first and even give you an idea of the approximate cost.

2. Almost anything can be fixed
There are a few scary home inspection terms that seem to be in everyone’s vocabulary: mold, basement walls and asbestos. Yes, they are scary, but no scarier than a roof that needs replacing. Don’t worry so much about mold and radon! Everything is upgradable, fixable, or replaceable. You just need to have a list of what those things are and decide how you want to address them. That’s another of the many reasons you should have a realtor on your side helping you. We will explain all your options at that point.

3. One thing you should worry about is water
Here is one issue that you might want to stress out about (just a little) – water. No, it’s not a deal breaker. Remember that part where I said almost anything can be fixed? But it’s important to address any water-related issues before the deal closes—or at least immediately afterward. Make note of issues such as water marks, mold and leaky ceilings. And give special attention to the basement. Addressing water problems in the basement can be an expensive and difficult proposition.

4. Home inspectors can’t predict the future
You might want to know how many more years the roof will hold up—and while your inspector might be able to give you a rough estimate, he can’t give you a precise timeline. Inspectors don’t have X-ray vision to see through walls or examine the motherboard in that funky new fridge that talks to you. He can’t tell you how long some things will last, but he can comment on the shape it is in, but remember that is relevant to the age of what he is talking about. Yes a furnace might be old but if it’s working fine and doesn’t need major repairs yet, then keep using it until you are ready to buy a new one.

5. Find the balance between your emotions and facts
I see this happen a lot with buying couples. One buyer is emotional at the beginning and the other is practical. Then after the purchase, they  reverse roles and the emotional one becomes practical and the practical buyer becomes emotional. It’s easy to forget your love for the home when you’re counting the dollar signs and hours you might have to spend on repairs. Just remember to take a deep breath, think rationally, and consider whether it’s a smart investment in your future. The justification can sometimes be a horrible process, because our brains are all about money and time and thinking about ‘What kind of mistake am I making?”

Barring any major renovations needed—such as a new roof or mold removal—your inspector’s visit will simply provide a to-do list. But not everything needs fixing immediately, so don’t let a long list dampen your love for the home. Just take things one at a time.

Regina Home Sales Down, Listings at an all time high

Tue, 28 Nov by Pauline Relkey

My summary – even though the above title is true, sellers aren’t budging much when it comes to price.

Listings in Regina reached a record high for October with 1,444 homes for sale.

Sales numbers in and around the city dropped to their lowest level since 2008.

Average time to sell was 61 days which is the longest average listing to sale time in the last decade. The average sale price for October dropped by 1%.

Causes are overbuilding and lack of pressure on both buyers and sellers.

Diversified economy means people still have jobs and thusly sellers don’t feel pressured to sell at lower prices. Sluggish provincial economy causes buyer uncertainty. Buyers feel that prices might soon decrease. Regina has not seen big changes in prices as in other major cities.

Mortgage rules are tighter which reduces buying power.

The complete article is here.

City of Regina Infill Report

Fri, 13 Oct by Pauline Relkey

If you are interested in hearing what is happening in Regina with infill properties (building on vacant land or adding onto an existing building or tearing down a building and building new on the same lot) here is all the info that the City of Regina is looking at for guidelines.

This applies to houses, duplexes, triplexes,

Click on this link for the whole scoop.  103 pages but you can fly through the fluff.

Questions to Consider Before Meeting With a Home Designer

Wed, 13 Sep by Pauline Relkey

Designers typically charge an hourly rate for design services, so clients should do their homework before meeting with one. Think about what you want, what you NEED and what you can afford. If you think about these things before you meet with your designer, it can save you time and money.

To create a home that best serves you and your family, designers need to know your lifestyle, how you use your space, who uses the space and more. In other words, a designer needs to get inside your head. To help you prepare, here are things you should be able to answer about your space before meeting with your designer.

1. Who uses the space, and what activities will take place there? Having a list of all the uses for the space will help your designer get a feeling for the overall function. Is the room a personal space, like an office or a bedroom? If so, s/he might need to focus on creating an inspiring or a calming atmosphere.

Or maybe it’s a family room that is used by the entire family and needs to be a multifunctional place where teens do homework and everyone watches tv and plays games. Answering those questions will allow your designer to hone in on the function of the space, who uses it and why.

Also look at how big the space is. Does it allow for segregated areas or do we need to use a table as a multipurpose piece for both dining and homework?

Furniture that has multiple functions is a big space saver. A coffee table with a top surface for playing games and for extra seating, as well as a storage area below for books and toys, provides versatility.

2. Does the traffic pattern work in the space, or does the space feel cramped or underutilized? A major walkway should be at least 40 inches wide and the larger the walkway, the better. If you report that you often feel as though it’s a tight squeeze when multiple people are using a space, then a designer may remove the furniture and reconfigure it to accommodate a better flow.

For a kitchen usually islands are preferred over peninsulas if possible. An island opens up the space from every direction of the kitchen, whereas a peninsula allows for only one walkway. Again, it depends on the space, and your designer will be able to help you configure the best traffic flow. Sitting down and thinking about those times you’ve bumped into a family member as you’re cooking will give us clues to the right solution for you.

3. What kind of tasks do you need lighting for? Do you read a lot? Crochet? Or do you watch movies in the dark? The right lighting scheme will make your space more functional for all your tasks. If you tell your designer what you intend to do in your space, s/he can formulate the best lighting approach using task, pendant, undercabinet, recessed, ambient or natural light (via light tubes, skylights or a window), along with wall sconces and uplights.

For recessed lighting, use dimmer switches, which are great for low light while watching movies and giving off a soft ambient glow for entertaining. A table light or floor lamp is good for tasks or reading. Uplights are accent lights that can highlight artwork and collectibles.

4. What items are kept in this room? Let’s say you have one bathroom that’s shared by several family members, and you’re looking to remodel it. When you describe all the things that are stored in the space, the number of people who use it and so on, a designer will help you come up with the right storage solutions while keeping style in mind. For example, open shelving with baskets would give each family member his or her own basket, and would look great. Shallow wall built-ins, such as a medicine cabinet, would provide storage for shampoos, creams and toiletries.

A good designer can help solve storage issues but needs to know what issues should be addressed.

Here’s another example. If your counters are full of mail, keys, homework, magazines, electronic devices and so on, then maybe a main station is for you. A piece of furniture that has numerous compartments or drawers can help store those miscellaneous items.

If clutter collects in your family room, you might consider side tables with drawers or open side tables with a large basket or wooden crate for magazines, books and knitting supplies. Or maybe an ottoman that allows for storing items inside, such as blankets, pillows and things that are used sparingly.

Or maybe the solution is to add a functional piece of furniture storage in one room to help clear out space in another room, like a large armoire in your dining room that can store infrequently used dishware to free up space in your kitchen.

Think of how you do laundry. Do you need one hamper or four? Maybe you prefer to hang clothing rather than fold items after they come out of the dryer. Do you like to stand and fold clothes, or do you put them in a basket and fold them in another room? Do you need a place to iron or just the storage space to keep the iron and ironing board? Again, these are things that will help a designer quickly come up with the right design for you.

5. What look or feel do you want the space to have? Think of what you like in terms of colors, style and overall feel. If you’re looking for a calming environment in the bedroom, then maybe white walls, bedding and furniture are a good approach.

Ii’s recommended that clients create their own ideabook for each space and add comments on each photograph. Think about what it is in each photograph that inspires you, such as the color on the walls, the artwork, a piece of furniture or the overall feeling. Include information and pictures of appliances, plumbing fixtures, lighting fixtures, cabinet and door hardware, and flooring materials if these will be elements in your project.

Consider what speaks to you. Is there anything you personally cherish, example a colorful silk scarf that you love. This could set the tone for your family room. Paint the walls white to provide a neutral backdrop that allows you to add color throughout. Then add a tan sofa with colorful pillows and an accent piece of furniture painted a color taken from the vibrant scarf. A neutral rug can ground the space, and you can bring the scarf colors into other areas of your home through art and accessories, making it a cohesive home.

Don’t box yourself in with one design style, either. Be open to hearing a designer’s pitch on a combination of styles that might surprise you and also save time and money. For example, they might consider looking in other rooms of your home to swap out furnishings that will refresh and bring a new feeling to a room rather than buying all-new pieces. That old vintage chair in the basement could be just the piece you were searching for to break up a modern room.

6. What do you like about the space, and what do you most want to change and why? Not every room needs a total overhaul. In one room you may like a few things, such as the furniture and size of the room, but not the wall colors and rug. Sometimes just adding a few pillows and accessories is all a room needs.

You may like the overall feel of a space, but it may feel cramped with too much furniture. Designers can put together a floor plan for the best use of your space while considering focal points, large windows, art and so on. They know the space requirements for furniture and can map out the best traffic path.

A good designer will work with your list, making it a space that is right for your lifestyle while keeping the things you like and removing the things you don’t. Don’t be shy. Make clear what your likes and dislikes are. This is your space, after all.

7. How much money do you want to devote to your project? Setting budget expectations is important to the success of any remodeling or new construction project. Be realistic. A total average kitchen remodel can run as much as $80,000 and up. A basic kitchen remodel, keeping existing cabinets and floors, can cost about $16,000, depending on a variety of factors. If you’re on a strict budget, consider changes you need to have and which would be nice to have.

Share your budget right away with your designer, as this will set the tone of the makeover and will eliminate unnecessary backtracking later.

8. How much do you want to be involved in your project? Do you want a designer who will work with you, or do you want the designer to take charge and provide you with options? Clarifying your expectations will help you and the designer communicate well and ensure the result you want.

In the end, doing your homework will save you money that you can then put back into your project.

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