Babyproofing Your Home

Babyproofing Your Home, Wiarton Real Estate, South Bruce Peninsula Real Estate

Having a baby is one of the most wonderful experiences in life. At the same time, it’s important to keep your baby safe in the home. We’ve compiled a few checklists to help you prepare your home, so it’s safe for your new baby.

The Kitchen

Between the ages of 12 months and three years old, children want to taste, touch and chew everything. Here are some kitchen-specific tips:

  • Place hot food and liquids away from the edges of counters or tables, and beyond your baby’s reach
  • Use non-slip placemats and tablecloths on the table
  • Lock medications, vitamins, cleaners, detergents and other poisonous products in high cabinets. If you are using these products and you have to answer the phone or door, take the items with you
  • Use magnetic cabinet and drawer locks for harmful products 
  • Put on stove-knob covers to prevent your baby from turning on the burners once she’s standing
  • Keep cleaning supplies high-up and out of reach. 
  • Don’t transfer cleaning products into other containers that aren’t properly labelled,
  • Avoid a glass top table since they can be less stable than wood or metal ones 
  • No rug under the table you most commonly eat at
  • If you have rugs, use nonskid pads underneath

Babyproofing Your Home, Wiarton Real Estate, South Bruce Peninsula Real Estate

Bathroom and Laundry Rooms

Tap water that is too hot is can easily burn or scald your baby. Here’s what to do in the bathroom and laundry rooms:

  • Turn down the temperature of your hot water tank
  • If you live in an apartment or condominium and share hot water, attach an anti-scald valve to your tap. This valve shuts off the water flow if it reaches 49˚Celsius, which is the safest maximum temperature 
  • Keep medications and cleaning supplies out of reach in high cabinets
  • Install latches for the medicine cabinet
  • Use a toilet lock
  • Use a thermometer to ensure bathwater is a safe temperature

Living Room

Falls are the biggest reason children need to visit the hospital. Babies and toddlers can fall and bump their heads on sharp corners, knock over furniture, or fall on the floor. Here are some tips to prevent injury in the living room:

  • Secure heavy or unstable pieces of furniture to the wall
  • Pad the edges and corners of coffee tables, fireplace hearths and other sharp surfaces, or remove your coffee table until your toddler can walk. 
  • Buy your child a good pair of rubber-soled slippers
  • If your house was built before 1978, check if you have lead paint on the interior windowsills, door frames, and other areas. If so, hire a lead-safe contractor  to renovate or repair lead-based surfaces
  • Choose furniture that comes with anti-tip kits, higher safety standards, and use fewer chemicals in production. Rounded coffee tables or soft ottomans that can be used as a table are good options
  • Check the cleaning codes for couch and chair fabrics, and look for upholstery that is high performance or use slipcovers that can be washed and dried in your own machine
  • Install childproof covers for electrical outlets or GFIs near the ground
  • Use cordless blinds or shades on windows

Babyproofing Your Home, Wiarton Real Estate, South Bruce Peninsula Real Estate

The Nursery or Your Child’s Bedroom

There are a number of safety considerations for the nursery:

  • Always lock windows so that they can’t open more than 10 cm (four inches) wide
  • Keep dangling items, like window blind cords, out of reach. Cut or untie loops in the cords 
  • Place your baby’s crib, toddler bed and other furniture away from the window to prevent climbing
  • Avoid hanging anything directly over the crib and change table 
  • Place a thick piece of carpet or a rug to cushion falls
  • Use an open bin as a toy box 
  • Install UL-listed night-lights and replacement bulbs
  • Use finger-pinch guards for hinges on doors

Plants and Other Poison Dangers

Plants are a common cause of poisoning in young children. Certain plants (such as English Ivy or Philodendron) are very poisonous. Contact the Ontario Poison Centre by calling 1-800-268-9017 (toll-free) or visiting to find out whether any of your house plants are poisonous, then remove them from your home.


Young children can easily fall down the stairs in your home. Here are some tips to prevent this from happening:

  • Install a stairway gate, anchored to studs in the wall. Screws on both sides prevent your child from pushing it loose. 
  • Only use pressure gates (installed without screws) for rooms on one level
  • Don’t use accordion-style or plastic mesh safety gates with large holes, which children can easily climb
  • Choose a gate at least 71 cm (28 inches) high, but don’t use it after your child is two years of age or if her chin reaches the top of the gate

Babyproofing Your Home, Wiarton Real Estate, South Bruce Peninsula Real Estate

Other Considerations

Here are a few last tips to make your house babyproof:

  • Check your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors
  • Place safety gates at the entrance or exit to any room that’s off-limits to baby
  • Clean and vacuum regularly to remove loose change, paper clips, and other small choking hazards
  • Place locks on liquor cabinets (alcohol can be poisonous to young children)
  • Cover radiators and heating vents to prevent burns
  • Check your doorstops for removable caps that pose a choking hazard
  • Keep batteries stored in a safe place (they can leak acid, causing serious burns)
  • Clear cosmetics and shampoos off the sink and tub ledges (poison risk)

The Purpose of a Home Inspection when Buying

The Purpose of a Home Inspection when Buying, South Bruce Peninsula Real Estate

Before you buy a home, it’s common to have it checked out by a professional home inspector. In this post, we’ll explain the purpose of a home inspection and whether it’s worth the investment.

The Home Inspection as a Contingency

A home inspection provides an opportunity to discover any problems with a house you would like to buy. For this reason, it can be used as a contingency in your contract with the seller. If a home inspection reveals significant defects, the contingency allows you to back out of your purchase offer, free of penalty, usually within seven days. 

Realtors sometimes include home inspection clauses in contracts for a newly built house. These kinds of inspections generally cover foundations (checking before the concrete is poured), pre-drywall (checking the structure and mechanics before the drywall is installed), and a full inspection of the completed home.

What does a Home Inspection Cover?

While inspectors vary in experience, ability, and thoroughness, any good inspector will check certain home components and create a report of their findings for you. Inspections typically last two to three hours, and you should be present so you can ask questions and go over the findings in person. 

The general tasks an inspector will perform are determining the following:

  • If each problem is a safety issue, major defect, or minor defect
  • Which items need to be replaced, repaired or serviced
  • Items that are suitable for now but should be closely monitored

The Purpose of a Home Inspection when Buying, South Bruce Peninsula Real Estate

The specific parts of the house the inspector will report on are:

  • Exterior — outside of the structure, including any crawlspaces under the home, and the roof 
  • Exterior walls — damaged or missing siding, cracks, and whether the soil is too close to the bottom of the house 
  • Foundation — indirect evidence of foundation issues like cracks or settling
  • Grading — whether the grading slopes away from the house 
  • Garage or Carport — garage door, garage framing, and proper ventilation (to prevent carbon monoxide poisoning) 
  • Roof — roof damage and poor installation like loose, missing, or improperly secured shingles and cracked or damaged mastic around vents; the condition of the gutters
  • Interior Inspection — everything inside the house from the ceiling to the cabinets under the sink
  • Plumbing — faucets and showers, visible leaks, water pressure, kind of pipes, the main water shutoff valve
  • Electrical — kind of wiring; the outlets; functional ground fault circuit interrupters installed in bathrooms, kitchen, garage and outdoors; electrical panel for any safety issues; electrical outlets to ensure they are not a fire hazard
  • Heating, Ventilation, and Air Conditioning (HVAC) — estimate the age of the furnace and air conditioner, determine if they function properly, age of the home’s ducting, duct leaks, sufficient insulation, and whether there is any asbestos insulation
  • Water Heater — age of the heater, if it’s properly installed and secured, condition, and general idea of how many years it has left
  • Laundry Room — properly vented
  • Fire Safety — any attached garage wall has the proper fire rating and hasn’t been damaged, test the home’s smoke detectors
  • Bathrooms — visible leaks, properly secured toilets, adequate ventilation

A really good inspector will even explain routine maintenance, which is especially helpful to a first-time homebuyer. 

The Purpose of a Home Inspection when Buying, South Bruce Peninsula Real Estate

What Should You Ask During a Home Inspection?

Ask the inspector what they will look for and what isn’t covered. Talk about anything you are worried about, such as a sagging roof, old electrical, or slow-flowing water out of the taps. If there are any functions of the home that you are not familiar with (like a fireplace or an oil burner), your home inspector should be able to explain them to you.

How Long After a Home Inspection Does a Buyer Have to Back Out?

Many home inspection contingencies are for seven days. After you sign the purchase agreement and the inspection occurs, you have seven days to back out of the deal.

The Purpose of a Home Inspection when Buying, South Bruce Peninsula Real Estate

Is it Worth the Investment?

The cost of a home inspection varies depending on the size of the home and the region and can range between $300 to $500.

Keep in mind that an inspection will always find a problem with a home. Even new home constructions will have minor issues that need to be addressed.

A home inspection will cost you some money, but it can reveal problems that you may be able to get the current owners to fix before moving in. For new home construction, an inspection is a crucial part of the home buying process.

Learning about the issues your home has and addressing them early can save you tens of thousands of dollars down the road.

Key takeaways

  • A home inspection contingency allows you to discover the major and minor issues with a home before buying it
  • Home inspections can uncover potentially life-threatening problems like mould or faulty wiring that could cause a significant fire
  • Home inspectors look at the exterior and interior parts of the home, including electrical, plumbing, roofing, HVAC, and foundations
  • A thorough inspection is a critical step in purchasing a home and taking care of it
  • Most potential buyers have seven days after a home inspection to walk away from the purchase
  • Many lenders won’t offer financing on a home without an inspection

Comparing 5 Types of Wells

If you own a cottage or a house that is not connected to a municipal water system, your water likely comes from a well or cistern. This blog post summarizes five types of wells to help you keep your water system in good condition. For more information, read the related article “Water Supply & Wells”

What are drilled wells?

Your best well option is a drilled well, dug by percussion or rotary drilling machines to a depth of possibly thousands of feet deep. These wells are superior to other types because they have a lower risk of contamination by drawing water further away from the surface and are cased throughout. 

What are dug wells?

Also known as bored wells, these wells are dug by shovel or backhoe and partly cased with stones, brick, tile, etc., to prevent collapse. They have a large diameter and are approximately 10 to 30 feet deep.

What are driven point wells?

Also known as a sand point well, this small diameter well is built by attaching lengths of 1-1/4” or 2” diameter steel pipe together with threaded couplings. At the end of the last pipe, a drive-point well screen is threaded on, and it is usually 2 to 3 feet long with a hardened steel tip or drive-point at the bottom. The screen allows groundwater to flow into the well but keeps sand out.

Driven Well, South Bruce Peninsula Real Estate

What are shore wells?

If you own a cottage near a river or lake, your water source may be a shore well. These kinds of wells can be installed by digging with a backhoe or larger equipment, or by blasting with explosives.

These kinds of wells require a water quality test and a certification of the flow rate. Water levels, especially on the Great Lakes, can vary considerably with the seasons, so it’s best to have a deep shore well. If you dig a new one, do it in the late fall when water levels are lower.

There is a possibility that your well could be contaminated lake or river water. If this is the case, use sterilizing equipment like a chlorinator or ultraviolet light to remove bacteria.

What are cisterns?

If your cottage or rural home does not have access to a well, you may need to use a cistern. A cistern is a large holding tank that can be filled periodically by a water supply company or rainfall. Before using the water held in a cistern, it should go through a water purification system installed in your home.

Cisterns can be made from concrete, concrete block, brick, or steel fibreglass. They are commonly buried underground and can last about 20 years (longer for prefabricated cisterns). A cistern should be cleaned annually by a commercial cleaner checked for cracks or erosion. 

Cistern, South Bruce Peninsula Real Estate

Keeping Your Pets Safe at Home

Pet fire safety, Tobermory Real Estate

Over the last year as the world has dealt with the COVID-19 pandemic and the accompanying restrictions, many people have adopted or fostered pets. The comfort and companionship our pets offer have made this difficult time a little bit easier.

New pet owners may not be aware of some common safety precautions they should take in their homes. Even longtime pet owners can benefit from the following tips to keep you and your pet safe in your home.

How can I prevent fires in my home?

The National Fire Protection Association estimates that about 1000 fires are started each year by pets. Here are the best ways to prevent these fires:

  • Keep cords out of sight so pets don’t trip or chew them
  • Train dogs and cats not to jump or walk on counters or the stovetop where they could get burned or turn knobs
  • Don’t leave open flames (like candles) unattended where pets might knock them down
  • Install smoke detectors on each level of your house and test them weekly. Smoke detectors need to be replaced after 10 years, so check the manufactured date to make sure they’re no older than that.

Pet fire safety, Wiarton Real Estate

How can I be prepared for emergencies?

We can’t prevent every fire, so be prepared to get out of the house quickly with your pet in the event of an emergency.

  • Include pets in your family’s evacuation plan. Think about their hiding and napping spots, and choose a family member to account for each pet.
  • The sounds of smoke and carbon monoxide alarms can be frightening to pets and they may try to hide. Work with a professional pet trainer to help your pets learn how to respond.
  • Practice your escape routes with your pets, especially with dogs who can be trained to follow certain paths.
  • Keep leashes and any emergency supplies your pet might need near the door so you can easily grab them on your way out.
  • First responders need to quickly assess the number of pets in a home. Attach a removable decal to a window close to the front door with the number of pets inside.
  • Don’t lock your pets in a room or crate far from the entrance of your home when you leave the house. In a fire, emergency crews might have a harder time finding them.
  • Keep contact information for your veterinarian in an easily accessible place.
  • Keep your pet’s microchip information current in case you become separated.

Pet fire safety, South Bruce Peninsula Real Estate

How can I keep my pets safe from carbon monoxide poisoning?

Pets are susceptible to carbon monoxide poisoning just like the rest of the family and may be more because they are smaller take in more breaths per minute. You may not know the signs of carbon monoxide poisoning in pets. The symptoms include:

  • Difficulty breathing
  • Sleepiness or lethargy
  • Uncoordinated movement
  • Nausea
  • Dizziness
  • Coughing
  • Vomiting
  • Seizures
  • Deafness
  • Blindness
  • Coma

Carbon monoxide detectors should be replaced every 7-10 years, depending on the model. Install at least one on every level of your home and test them weekly.

For more information on keeping your pets safe, visit fire safety company Kidde’s pet safety webpage.

2 Checklists for Your Fall Home Maintenance Routine

10 Steps to Buying Your First Home, Wiarton Real Estate, South Bruce Peninsula Real Estate

Do you know what to do to maintain your home in autumn?

When the cooler temperatures of fall arrive, it’s time for another round of home maintenance. The tasks at this time of year might be the most important because the cold and wet weather can cause a lot of damage to our houses. Use the following two checklists to make sure your home is ready for our Canadian winters!

Fall Home Maintenance Checklist: Interior

  • Have the furnace professionally inspected and replace the filter
  • Clear forced air vents of any obstructions
  • Check for air gaps around windows and caulk/seal as needed
  • Inspect the weather stripping around doors and replace as needed
  • Have the chimney professionally cleaned and inspected
  • Replace batteries in smoke and carbon monoxide detectors
  • Check water pipes and faucets for any leaks

Sealing Windows for Winter, South Bruce Peninsula Real Estate

Fall Home Maintenance Checklist: Exterior

  • Clean eavestroughs and downspouts of leaves and debris
  • Ensure the eavestroughs and downspouts are aligned properly 
  • Keep downspouts pointing away from the house or inserted into a rain barrel
  • Clear your roof of tree branches/debris and look for damage, leaks, missing shingles, etc. 
  • Trim trees and keep branches two feet away from your house and air conditioner
  • Rake leaves and clean up the yard 
  • Make sure the yard grading slopes away from the house
  • Examine the foundation for cracks and repair as needed
  • Inspect under the siding for holes where pests might get in
  • Check exterior lighting, replacing bulbs and resetting timers as needed
  • Fix any cracks in concrete steps or driveway, etc.
  • Drain outdoor faucets, hoses and sprinkler systems

Fall leaves in eavestroughs, Northern Bruce Peninsula Real Estate

2 Checklists for Your Spring Home Maintenance Routine

Spring Maintenance Checklist and Tips, W Real Estate

Do you know what to do to maintain your home in the spring?

Here in Canada, winter can be tough on our houses. When the warm weather of spring finally arrives (hurray!), there are a few easy tasks you can work on to keep your home in great condition. Here are two checklists to keep handy for your annual spring maintenance routine:

Spring Home Maintenance Checklist: Interior

  • Check the basement for water damage, foundation cracks, and evidence of pests 
  • Clean the air filters and vents
  • Replace the furnace filter
  • Vacuum the fridge coils
  • Clean out the dryer vent and behind the dryer
  • Clean behind the washing machine and check the fill hose for cracks 
  • Check the dishwasher fill hose for cracks
  • Test ground fault circuit interrupters in bathroom, kitchen, and outside electrical outlets and on the electrical panel
  • Inspect the caulking around doors and windows and add more if needed
  • Inspect window screens and repair if necessary
  • Inspect the attic for critters and mould

Spring house maintenance, Lion's Head Real Estate

Spring Home Maintenance Checklist: Exterior

  • Check for loose or damaged roof shingles and repair if necessary
  • Inspect the chimney for any damage (joints between bricks and stones)
  • Clean out the eavestroughs 
  • Keep downspouts pointing away from the house or inserted into a rain barrel
  • Inspect your siding and make any repairs or repainting 
  • Keep tree branches two feet away from your house and air conditioner
  • Examine your home’s foundation for cracks
  • Check water valves and spouts for leaks
  • Clean your driveway, deck, porch, etc., and fix any damage

Cleaning eavestroughs, Wiarton Real Estate

4 Easy Ways to Add Character to Your Cottage

Whether you want to make your cottage feel more like home or renting out a vacation property, there are a few easy ways to add some unique charm. Being creative with your own personal touches, adding some cozy comforts, and using fun accents will help create a home-away-from-home that you’ll be tempted to live in year-round!

What theme do you like?

There are probably some specific activities your family enjoys doing while at the cottage. Use these as inspiration for a decorating theme. If fishing is a favourite pastime, you can feature used fishing rods and nets, hang pictures of fish, or display lovely coffee table books about angling. If boating is your passion, you can decorate with old paddles or put up beautiful photos of the lake.

Fishing and boating accents, Tobermory Real Estate

What inspires you in nature?

Because a cottage is a place to escape modern life for the great outdoors, use natural elements to remind you why you’re there! Showcase the connection to the trees and woods with rustic wood feature walls, natural ceiling beams, and a pile of firewood for the fireplace. Enjoy the natural beauty of rocks with stone fireplaces and accents.

Stone feature and wood pile, Wiarton Real Estate

Can you showcase something local?

Your cottage is located in a very specific place, and you can use your location for inspiration to make your home even more unique. Create a callout in an outdoor sign or indoor piece of wall art, display handiwork by local craftspeople, hang maps of the local geography or lake, or feature something unique to the area. Show your local pride by paying homage to the people and places that make the area special to you.

Local Sign, Sauble Beach Real Estate

Can you make everyone feel at home?

A few small touches can make a big difference in making people feel comfortable and at home at the cottage. At one cottage where pets were an important part of the family, the homeowners built a replica dog house to match the cottage! Another cottage owner transformed a small gazebo into a zen yoga retreat to create a quiet space for relaxation. What’s important to your family or friends? Use their interests to create something that makes them feel special and reminds them of home.

Yoga Studio at Cottage, Southampton Real Estate

How to Maintain Your Vacation Property

Vacation Home, Wiarton Real Estate

Owning a vacation property comes with some of the same responsibilities as a primary residence, but because it is a seasonal dwelling in a different location, there are some unique considerations.

The same maintenance and safety tasks apply, but you should know your vacation house well so you can deal with problems. If your vacation home is a remote area you may need to deal with critical issues personally if emergency services can’t get to your property quickly.

Here are some quick tips to maintain your vacation property. 

What emergency equipment do I need at my vacation property?

It’s very important to have working smoke and carbon monoxide detectors installed on every level in your property and placed just outside of sleeping areas. Test the batteries once a month and replace them once or twice a year. If you use smoke and monoxide detectors that plug into wall outlets, be sure that they have a battery-powered backup.

A fire extinguisher is another necessary piece of equipment you should have on every floor. If your property is particularly large, you can have two on each level. The best locations to store them are in or near the kitchen, by a wood-burning fireplace or stove, near other sources of heat, and near bedrooms.  

What routine maintenance should I perform at my vacation property?

If you live far away from your vacation property or can’t be on-site very much, consider hiring someone local to check on the property. This person could be a handyman or groundskeeper or simply someone you can trust to make sure everything is in order. Besides inspecting the property for any problems, this person could also cut the grass, remove snow, bring in mail, or do anything else so the property looks its best.

Maintain a list of local repair companies for when pipes burst or electrical issues arise and keep it in an easy-to-find spot.

If you have a septic tank, arrange for a licenced contractor to inspect the system every two years and pump out the solids whenever necessary. 

If you have a well, take a water sample from a tap and send it to a qualified testing lab. Check with your local health unit regarding the type and frequency of testing specific to your area. 

Every spring and fall, these are some general maintenance tasks that will keep your property in good shape:

  • Trim tree branches to keep them at least two feet away from the house
  • Inspect the condition of the roof
  • Remove leaves and debris from eavestroughs and downspouts
  • Pressure-wash siding (if recommended) to prevent mould, etc.
  • Check window and door sills for leaks and caulk where necessary
  • Check the foundation for cracks
  • Clean furnace ducts and replace filters
  • Check the attic and basement for signs of moisture
  • Inspect the entire house for any signs of pests

Vacation Home Windows, Sauble Beach Real Estate

What are some smart investments for my vacation property?

Secure windows and doors are a good choice to keep the elements out and safeguard your belongings. At the same time, keep your valuables out of sight and when the property is empty, close the blinds and curtains so people can’t see inside.

A remote access home monitoring system is another great asset. A keyless entry system will make access easier in the case of an emergency or for anyone using the property. Many of these “smart” locks allow you to create multiple pin codes, emergency overrides, and use other options.