Before You Get Started – Renovation Tips From The Trades

By | Feature, Steve Seaborn

Not all renovations to a home are improvements but all of them can cost you grief and headaches without taking the time to consider a few points BEFORE starting.

Don’t over do it
Many think that spending a lot of money on high-end finishes or taking on the large project increases the value of the home, when, in fact, it may decrease it. Is turning the 1950’s kitchen into a 2018 wise if the rest of the home is still 1950’s? Thats not to say “don’t update it”, but consider the rest of the home and keep with the style. The quartz countertop with the waterfall edge and the stainless steel appliances are all nice, but opening the extra money on the higher-end finishes may not be money well-invested.
Windows, insulation, paint, a modest bathroom or kitchen renovation, furnace change, etc. These all improve the comfort and value of a home and can see a great ROI.
Not over-doing it also means to not over-extend the capital. If you have to borrow to do the work, consider the cost of that loan and the time to repay it. If it’s going to take longer to repay it than the work is “staying new”, or if the work is being done to sell the home, it may not be a good idea.
Set a realistic budget.
In the same way that borrowing the money may not be a good idea, Having the wrong budget can be as bad. Not having enough money to complete the work and having to not finish, cut corners at the end, or not finishing the work is all bad news and will cost more than money in the end. It used to be that a 10%-15% allowance was recommended for “cost overruns”, but it seems that with today’s unforeseen problems in older homes, new building codes, and the variables of finishes, that number seems too have crept up to 20% or more. Setting the budget is fine, but if the design isn’t pre-set, then no number is valid, so set the design to fit with the budget and vice versa.
Take advantage of grants, incentives, rebates. Check with the civic government, as well as provincial and manufacturers.
Be aware of the TV shows fiction. Not only will location affect the prices of materials and trades, but production companies may be getting great deals from suppliers, in exchange for their advertising.
If you’re hiring someone to do the work, it’s imperative to get multiple quotes, at least three, and on the same materials/finishes/fixtures. If the bidders aren’t pricing the same work, the bottom line is going to be different and difficult to decipher what you’re actually getting.
Not all projects are as efficient and streamline as the ones you see on the TV. There are supplier and trade delays, weather problems, actual construction takes more than the 20 minutes on the show, paint takes time to dry and not all trades can be on the site at the same time. Like budgeting allowances, leave buffer room for time. Rushing through a project only makes for either sloppy work or mistakes. If you’re doing the work yourself, consider that you may not be as fast as a professional and your time may only be available for a few hours in the evening or on the weekends, in between kids’ activities. If your project requires a permit, the wait times for a permit and for inspections all add to the timetable. Be realistic and honest with yourself about your abilities and expectations. Handing the work off to a pro may actually save you money in the long run. Conversely, if you want to rip out that carpet on Sunday afternoon so the hardwood installer can start right away on Monday morning, that will save you some cash.
Final thought;
Painting is 90% preparation and 10% work. So is the most effective project. Take the time to plan the work beforehand. Its a lot easier to fix mistakes on paper rather than cutting a new board. Be honest with your expectations, abilities, and investment.
Steve Seaborn
Pulse Mornings Contributor


By | Community, Environment Canada, Feature, Ian Power, News

(photo courtesy BC Wildfire Service)

Hong Kong, Beijing, Delhi, Los Angeles, Surrey and sadly there are way too many others. All polluted cities where the air is so thick normally healthy people are being advised to limit their activity and exposure. We’re choking South of the Fraser. BC is on fire and while the forests burn we can hardly catch our breath,

Today the provincial government stepped up efforts to support the response by declaring a provincial state of emergency. The state of emergency is initially in effect for 14 days, once issued, and may be extended or rescinded as necessary.

Props to firefighters and support personal.

Currently, more than 3,372 firefighters and contractors are actively engaged in fighting fires in all fire regions of the province. This includes 1,427 BC contract personnel, as well as 436 out-of-province personnel from Alberta, New Brunswick, Northwest Territories, Quebec, Saskatchewan, Parks Canada, Australia, Mexico and New Zealand.

Hot and dry conditions are expected to persist. The toll will be massive. However, the most important thing is taking measures to mitigate any risk to people. Meanwhile, check in on elderly relatives and neighbours, take care of kids and other vulnerable people who may be adversely affected.

Meanwhile, if you have a question about your health while the air advisory is up consult with a health care professional. You may also want to call HealthLink BC at 8-1-1 (toll free).

Ian Power



Say It Isn’t Over

By | Community, Environment Canada, Events, Feature, Ian Power, News

I turned the fans off, pulled out my argyle sweater and checked the Starbucks website to confirm when the Pumpkin Spice latte will return. There is a chill in the air. Is it fall already?

Alas, it’s not. But the weather today could very well confirm otherwise.

There’s something about the first dreary day after an intense period of sun and heat that brings you back to the pumpkin patch and kids jumping into piles of crisp, fallen leaves.

There’s around three weeks until school starts up again—and I don’t know about you—I still have a lot of summer left in me. So don’t let the cooler weather stop you this weekend from enjoying the beaches, parks and trails or from watching the salmon run.

I’ll keep my rubber boots on the shelf for now… but if someone were to make me pumpkin pie, I wouldn’t say no! 😄

Ian Power


Meet Me in the Garden

By | Community, Environment Canada, Feature, Ian Power, News

There’s so much to talk about this summer. Some of it is pretty intense. Newly proposed ICBC Rates put an increased emphasis on drivers, heat this summer, forest fires and the list goes on. There is a way to catch a break and it’s right here in the garden.

Egan Davis is a Red Seal Horticulturist and Chief Instructor at the UBC Botanical Garden Horticulture Training Program. Yup, he’s the real deal and a real nice guy. So, when he agreed to join me and Vanessa on Pulse Mornings we were legitimately stoked.

Being in the garden, I have discovered, is one easy way of slowing things down in this speedy, chaotic, uncertain world we live. And, that’s a good thing, if only for a short reprieve.

Egan has often said on a variety of radio shows I’ve hosted, when it comes right to it gardening is kind of funny or odd in that there is only one spring and only one summer per year. Odds are by then we’ll all be much older from the time we started. It’s nature’s way, if we’re lucky. Besides he assures anyone who will listen it’s not anything anyone can’t learn quickly if only we try. Meet you in the garden.

Listen to our Pulse Mornings interview with Egan Davis here.

(photo of Egan Davis courtesy of Coast Reporter)

Ian Power



Movies Under The Stars

By | Community, Events, Feature, Ian Power, News
It is not until the sun goes down when the credits roll up! Movies Under the Stars returns for its 14th year.
Join this FREE family-friendly event every Saturday evening in August at Holland Park. Come to one or to all the movies, everyone is is welcome! Thousands of people attend each movie to experience this summertime favourite.
On Pulse Mornings we spoke to Bonnie Burnside, Manager of the Downtown Surrey BIA. She explained the process by which the movies are selected, least of whom was her niece and the results of surveys of students and other young people.
The first movie “Ferdinand” plays Saturday, August 4th. It’s the story of a bull named Ferdinand who refuses to participate in bullfighting, but is forced back into the arena where his beliefs are challenged.
Playing next August 11th is “Coco” and Academy award winner for “Best Animated Feature”.
Next up on August 18th don’t miss the continuing adventures of “Paddington 2”.
Julia Roberts and Owen Wilson star in “Wonder”, a movie about a child with a disability trying to fit in at school — a must see August 25th.
Entertainment begins at 5:00 p.m. before the movie starts screening at dusk. The event is FREE for all ages; all you need to bring are your lawn chairs and blankets to cozy up while watching the film.
Listen to the Pulse Mornings interview here.
Ian Power

Help Keep Drivers Driving

By | Community, Events, Feature, Ian Power, News

My dad was an avid fan of listening to the radio. He was especially fond of re-discovering songs he hadn’t heard in awhile. Stories in the news and invstigative reporting always grabbed his attention. And, if it was local …. just hold that thought Sonny! It is about the time I discovered the intrepid reporter George Garrett.

George Garrett is a selfless individual who has given so much to the community and in particular Surrey where he resides. He is a mutiple award winner and just about as humble as any man can be. So, when the call came I just knew we had to answer.

Among other things Garrett is the Vice President of  Volunteer Cancer Drivers Society. It is exactly as advertised. Drivers pick up cancer patients, take them to their treatment appointments, wait while they under go said treatments and then drive them back home. Many cancer patients have to travel great distances just to get help. And, the problem is that drivers are paid something like 43 or 44 cents per kilometer, hardly enough to even cover gas! Often times, drivers donate that money back to the charity.

Chances are you know someone who has been touched by cancer or has used these services. This is an open call to help these great men and woman who drive patients to appointments, often the unsung heroes,  by making a contribution to Volunteer Cancer Drivers. With the high cost of gas they’re running short of funds to maintain this important service. Please help with however much you can, everything helps. Tax receipts will be issued immediately online. Learn more and donate here. Thank you!

Listen to our George Garrett interview on Pulse Mornings.

Ian Power


Secret Messages

By | Community, Feature, Ian Power, News

Imagine: the electronic version of writing messages with disappearing ink. It’s happening when people use digital tools that can make texts and email vanish. Some of those who support open governents say some public servants are using such tools — are are skirting transperncy laws. The head of one of the groups that back open government says that’s dangerous. He says private messaging apps and similar programs can undermine open government laws. But some government officials and lawmakers believe public employees should be free to communicate on private, non-govemental cell phones and social media platforms – without triggering transperancy or FOI requests.

Ian Power

With files from AP


101 on H2O

By | Community, Events, Ian Power, News, Steve Seaborn

We all take that clear fluid flowing from the faucet for granted but did you know that 70% of the Earth is water and only 1% is safe for human consumption? It seems that every year we’re told about watering restrictions because the reservoirs are low and its a drier season ahead. Our growth population is putting more demand on the lakes, aquifers, and rivers each year that by it’s expected to climb 50% by 2025, from what it was less than a decade ago. Reducing our use, as well as looking to ways of capturing useable water is only going to be more important as the years go on. Toilets use 24% of the water in our homes, with showers and faucets tied at 20%. Washing clothes takes 16%, while leaky pipes eat another 13%. (MetroVan) Lessening that can be done with a few tips:

Toilets – We’ve all joked about the adage “if it’s yellow….”, but there is some practicality to it – maybe not specifically, but the toilet is one of the biggest water-wasters in the home. Some cities (Richmond does. City of Surrey doesn’t at this point) offer a rebate to change the higher volume toilets to the low-flush ones. If your city doesn’t have an active program, you can still lower the toilet’s volume by either adjusting the level of water in the tank, or place a brick or bottle of sand in the tank. BE careful that there is still enough water to complete he flushing action though.

Teeth brushing – I have to admit that I am doing better on this one. Dentists tell us that we should brush our teeth for a full two minutes, or visualize singing Mary Had A Little Lamb, I think. Rather than running the water for those two minutes, turn it off and save up to 700 litres per year. Shaving will do the same thing – put the stopper in and rinse rather than running the water. 

Washing – The average person washes their hands 9 times per day.Following Food Safe Guidelines, the scrubbing is at least 20 seconds. Turing the water off during that time is a savings of at least 20 litres. Summertime has us all in the shower a few extra times per week, so cut the actual time down and save the loss. A typical bath will use up to 120 litres of water, whereas a 5 minute shower will use 30-100 litres of water, depending on the showered. 

Kitchen – Eventhough Mom always condemned that dishwasher because it didn’t do as good of a job as we were supposed to do by hand, the modern dishwashers are, in fact, more efficient than hand-washers. They use as little as 12 litres per cycle, versus the almost 75 by hand – the biggest fault being that of the faucet constantly running for the rinsing. 

While at the kitchen sink, change the aerator in the faucet to a low-flow one. Incentives are available for these, as well as low-flow shower heads through BC Hydro. 

Defrost food in the fridge, rather than using water. 

Use just enough water to cover the food when boiling them, and it retains the nutrients and flavour. When finished, dump the water into the flowers instead of down the drain. 

Put a jug of water in the fridge for drinking, rather than running the water until it gets cold. Hit the floor with an ice cube instead of the lemonade? Don’t throw it in the sink, put it in a plant. 

Lawncare – We’re already given our restrictions of when and how long we can water our lawns and gardens, but add a timer to the irrigation system if there already isn’t one. A smart controller will even allow you to adjust or stop the pre-program, should you forget to turn it off during a rain spell or if you want to control it while you’re on holiday. 

When planning for the landscaping, use drought-tolerant plants and grasses. 

Let the lawn go brown.

Let the car get a little dirty, or if you have to clean it, use a bucket and water rather than a hose, and use a nozzle that’s auto-shut off when you do. 

In fact, limit the outdoor washing of the house or driveway. Use a broom to clear off the sidewalks and driveway. 

Avoid topping up the pool from the evaporation. 

FIX / REPLACE – a faucet that drips a drop every seconds, it would only take 4 1/2 hours to fill a 3.78 litre milk jug, and waste 20 litres per day, over 7000 litres per year. If that’s HOT water, you’re also wasting the energy thats used to heat it. Simple solution is to replace the washer or the whole faucet. 

Replacing a hot water tank with an on-damand system, when it’s time to do it, will save wasting water while the hot gets up to the fixture. 

When replacing a washing machine, look for water-saving ones.

Put in a rain barrel to capture the roof water for watering plants.

  • Steve Seaborn

Tips To Make Your Home Sell In Today’s Market

By | Community, Feature, Steve Seaborn
As heard on Pulse Mornings with Ian and Vanessa selling your house/condo/apartment is more than just selling the piece of real estate, it’s selling your home. Having a potential buyer see it as a home, their home, rather than a used piece of real estate is key in making that deal quickly, and for the best deal. A potential buyer is already at your door because they like the neighbourhood, or price, or it’s close to shopping or work. Keeping their interest is simply a matter of avoiding a few common pitfalls and capitalizing on the warmth of the home. It’s more than having the smell of the fresh-bakes muffins.
This is probably the most important of any aspect selling a home. A messy (or “lived-in”) home can quickly scare off a potential buyer.
Depersonalize the home – take away the family portraits and anything that will stop the buyer from seeing themselves in the home.
Put away the snow globe collection and mountain of kid’s toys. While they both stand for “home”, it speaks more about being lived in and, again, feels like someone else’s home.
Clear out the garage, storage shed, backyard of anything unneeded – garbage or otherwise. Stash it in a storage locker or if necessary, very neatly tucked away so it doesn’t look like a scrap yard.
Take your time to do it so as to not be overwhelmed. Tackle each room, then outdoor spaces.
Make a list of “Keep”, “Donate”, “Recycle”, and “Garbage”. Maybe even have boxes with those labels on them so you handle things once.
Avoid nostalgia and getting hung up on memories and fears of moving on.
This is something that I hear a lot about: “I want to do (this or that) to get ready to sell my home”. Trying to predict what someone else may want is futile and can cause unnecessary grief and even scare away a potential buyer. While some buyers will look at a home and think about the changes that they want to make for their own needs, others may get completely turned off by that brand new carpet that you just put in.
FIX the things that will be immediately noticeable and give the buyer a reason not to buy: A front door is the very first impression of the home. Fix a sticky door and loose hardware. Maybe replace it altogether.
PAINT the dingy, must, basement bathroom – the upstairs bathroom with the paint peeling from the ceiling. Paint is cheap and goes a long way to freshen things up . Keep the palette neutral though, so as to keep it bright.
LIGHT it up. Clean the dirty light fixtures and even change the bulbs to LED
CLEAN the home. Even if you keep a spotless home, hire a professional service for the day. They’ll take care of those blinds and the places that you skim over each week. The oven. The microwave. The hood fan….. Remove the cat box. Tackle to the outside. Trim overgrown hedges, cut the grass, and maybe put a fresh coat of stain on the fence or house trim . Clean the windows. The curb appeal is second to the front door for importance.
Potential buyer’s first few minutes in the home will make the decision to continue on with the look around, or to to just walk out. Keeping them in the home is more likely if the home is inviting. If decluttering and depersonalizing the home still has it looking too lived in, or empty if everything is gone to storage, try staging the home. Professionals will bring furniture, rugs, pictures, flowers, dinnerware, and anything else thats needed to make a blank space more of a show home and inviting to the potential buyer. Staging can amplify the home’s features, while downplaying the weaker points. It’s been proven to increase the value of the home, and can even garner more interest and a higher selling price. If a buyer can actually see some furniture in place, rather than imagining the sofa or dresser in place, the concentration moves from guessing to visualizing themselves living in the home. What’s it cost? There has to be a value to go though this work, and yes, there is a cost. Some can be done for as little as $500, or as much as $4000, with the average homeowner investing $1800, depending on the services needed. Considering the cost as buying an insurance policy to help with selling the home.
– Steve Seaborn

Uncomfortably Numb

By | Community, Feature, Ian Power, News

So much of what we do is in a vacumn. Even vacumning is in a vacumn. Bear with me, but who if anyone ever notices when you cut the lawn, or do the dishes, or get through the day to day? There is a disconnect and the wind is blowing in from the south.

The President of the United States has decided that now is a good time to take his protectionist trade offense to a new level. And, belive me the bar has been set pretty low. He suggested that we as Canadians go to the US simply to buy goods and to escape paying “tarrifs”. He even went so far as to suggest that if we bought shoes state-side we’d scuff them up to disguise the new purchase. Makes no sense to me whatsoever. In fact, when we return to Canada we may or may not be required to pay a duty (different than a tarrif). The point here is that when we shop in the states the economic winner is the USA. For the record, I am just as happy in most cases to shop wherever it supports the local economy.

Let’s not discount our friends and family whom we visit from time to time.

Next comes abhorrent treatment of refugees crossing the US border to the South. American authorities rounding up children and puting them into essentially chicken wire cages. So much for woman and children first. It’s not how we receive imigrants runing scared across our Canadian border. For many, it’s not that they wanted to leave everything behind, but they had to. Rest assured we have a comprehensive screening process and thankfully from time to time it works.

The President has always been the master of diversion. Look over there! Where? Today, he did a 360 and signed an Executive Order suspending the segregation of parents and children. I’ll take it, but don’t get too comfortable or complecant. Let’s push through the numbness. Everyone wins!

Ian Power