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Battle bugs before they bite (or sting!) you — and check the attic for problems.

Tackling five simple tasks now gives you a head start on spring.

That leaves you plenty of worry-free time to enjoy the warmer weather.

#1 Tell Insects to Bug Off

Illustration of a hornet
Image: Mojoje/Getty

Early spring warmth awakens insects, so start to protect your home now. Seal openings in eaves, decks, and other structures to keep out carpenter bees.

Nix mosquitoes by eliminating standing water or treating it with larvicide. Call a pro to destroy wasp and yellow jacket nests, unless you’re experienced enough to engage in a bee battle.

#2 Prep Tools for Lawn Care

Lawn tools hanging in a garage

Ladies and gentlemen, start your mowers. April’s the month to get this vital piece of equipment ready to roll. An unmaintained machine can cost money, slow you down, and leave your lawn vulnerable to disease. So, before you pull the starter rope: 

  • Replace spark plugs and the air filter.
  • Change the oil and sharpen blades.
  • Fill the tank with fresh gasoline.

While you’ve got your gloves on, clean, sharpen, and repair your garden tools. When your azaleas are ready to prune, you’re not going to want to keep them waiting.

 

#3 Tune Up the Air Conditioner

Illustration of woman sweating in the summer
Image: Michele Rosenthal/Offset

With flip-flop weather comes another summer tradition: cranking up the air conditioning. Tune your AC in April, before the mercury and service rates rise.

Ask your HVAC company if they have a twice-a-year maintenance plan. Often, you can get discounted rates if you join, and you don’t have to worry about finding someone to do it each spring and fall.

Now you only have to worry about which pair of Havaianas to wear.

 

#4 Check the Attic (and Garage)

Blue and red painted detached garage

How long has it been since you looked in the attic? Yeah, us too.

April’s the time to inspect this oft-ignored space — before it gets too hot. Look for signs of animal activity (raccoons love attics), and repair or replace damaged insulation or wiring.

Ensure stored items are still secure; tighten container lids and dust covers and replace moth repellants.

While we’re talking storage, how’s the garage? If soccer balls, bikes, and luggage have taken prime parking space, regain control with a storage system. Your car (and your partner) will thank you.

 

#5 Clean Up Bird Feeders

Cat-shaped birdhouse outside a home
Image: Suck UK

Besides spreading diseases to birds, dirty bird feeders attract rodents and hurt curb appeal. Gross.

 

Give your bird feeders a deep clean — not just a rinse-out. Empty them, take them apart, and wash with a solution of one part bleach to nine parts hot water. Rinse well to remove all traces of bleach, air dry, and refill with seed.

Clean under feeders, too, because moldy or spoiled seed on the ground can make pets sick. Don’t forget the bird bath. A pretty yard that’s a healthy haven for birds makes a good impression — one that says “this is a well-cared-for home.”

 

 
Fun home wall with Lego baseplates

Image: Avocado Sweets Design Studio, design/Andrew Beasley, photo

A couple of these DIY-able projects even add precious storage.

There’s a reason one-way conversations are called “talking to a wall.” Walls rarely have anything interesting to say — even with a coat of paint on them. But your walls don’t have to be straight out of a cliche.

In the world of home improvement, walls are prime “real estate” for value-adding projects that add storage, function, and the right kind of flair to make your home more livable (and desirable).

Projects like these:

#1 A Classic Upgrade With Trim

A white living room with molding

So affordable. So classic. So DIY-able. Plus, the custom look kicks your home into the luxe category. All it takes is some simple lattice strips, MDF strips, unfinished wood frames, shiplap (you get the idea) … and Use painter’s tape to do a full mock-up first.this tip.

Painting the strips the same color as the wall creates a value-enhancing built-in look that’ll never seem outdated.

#2 Peel-and-Stick Wood

An after image a of a bright bedroom with DIY wood panel
Image: Sugar and Cloth

Peel-and-stick planks create a cozy ambiance without heavy-duty adhesives that can damage your wall.

Well-crafted wood alternatives exist, but for the most authentic effect (read: not cheap-looking), you can’t beat reclaimed wood.

You can use your baseboard to be your guide for keeping them straight — just be sure it’s straight with a level. If not, you can draw a level chalk line in the middle of your wall and line things up from there.

#3 Mini Cubbies!

A built-in cabinet with separate compartments for mugs
Image: Don Foote Contracting, design/Todd Gieg, photo

Knock out drywall between the studs and add cube shelving to create custom storage. Just be careful when opening up walls to avoid electrical wires and plumbing pipes.

#4 Wallpaper (the New Paint)

A wall in a living room covered in multi-colored wallpaper
Image: Wheel Chic Home

If painting is one degree of home improvement, wallpaper allows for 1000 degrees.

Some wallpaper is super easy to remove, too.

Bathroom with white/green wallpaper and wall-hung toilet

So you can have fun with the trendiest of trends (like the big, bold leafy print above that evokes the oh-so-trendy boho look) without risking your home’s desirability in the future.

Because you simply pull it down. Here today, and gone tomorrow in a snap.

#5 Versatile Corkboard

A corkboard wall in a bedroom

Your wall can be as ever-changing and customized as your Pinterest feed — it’s as easy as cork tiles.

Treat this eco-friendly material like wallpaper, and it’ll be the foundation for a room that can transform depending on what you pin to it — from children’s art to work projects — in minutes.

Add shelves, and you’ve got instant storage.

Attaching the cork is as easy as uncorking a bottle of wine. Wash the wall, cut and trim cork panels, use cork adhesive or double-sided adhesive tape, and press panels firmly. Then get pinning.

#6 LEGO Fun

Fun home wall with Lego baseplates
Image: Avocado Sweets Design Studio, design/Andrew Beasley, photo

Few things spark childhood glee in hearts of all ages like LEGOs. And putting them up on the wall means fewer underfoot. (Ever stepped on a LEGO? Agony!)

Save your feet and reclaim your floor space with a LEGO wall.

DIYers can use a high-quality utility knife to cut boards to size, then adhere with silicone glue. Or ditch the knife for LEGO-compatible self-adhesive plates (easier, but not as budget-friendly).

 

Two southeast communities conceptualized in the late ’80s and early ’90s are still turning heads 20 years later. McKenzie Lake and McKenzie Towne share a lineage and a location: they are both named after one of the first homesteaders in the area, James McKenzie, and they sit side by side on the east and west boundaries of Deerfoot Trail. But that is where the similarities end.

The eldest sibling – McKenzie Lake – features a 43-acre, manmade lake at its core, offering residents a sandy beach, a beautiful clubhouse and tennis courts, as well as a myriad of water sports in the summer, and skating and tobogganing in the winter. The lake is surrounded by an 18-acre park filled with 40-year-old trees and lovely landscaping. Multi-million-dollar homes ring the ridge overlooking the lake, and on a clear day, one can experience expansive views of the Rocky Mountains to the west.

Brimming with upscale, single-family homes, the neighbourhood draws families looking for an active lifestyle close to a variety of amenities.

Joanna Dupuis, who recently moved into the area with her husband and two preschool-age children, can’t say enough good things about the area.

“It is just so old-school, it reminds me of the neighbourhood I grew up in,” she said. “It’s really safe and it’s so pretty. Plus, we are really excited to use the lake in the summer,” she said.

McKenzie Towne, on the other hand, began as an experiment in new-urbanist design. Since its conception in the mid-1990s, it has won several design and urban planning awards, including the Urban Land Institute’s coveted title as one of the top master-planned communities in the world. It’s no wonder the City projects the population in the area to grow by 60 per cent over the next 25 years.

“Because of the design, you are always out talking to your neighbours,” said Shelley Wark-Martyn, president of the McKenzie Towne Community Association. “You get to know everyone. It is very friendly here.”

Wark-Martyn has been living in the area for 18 years and has watched it develop into a mature, established community that only reached final build-out four years ago. “My kids grew up here and now my daughter and her family have purchased a home in the area,” she said, noting that there is continuity within the community. “People stay here. They start with a starter home and move up.”

She says the amenities and the location are what attracted her to the area.

“We came to Calgary from Victoria and we really didn’t know the city,” she said. “We sat in coffee shops and pubs in several areas across the city, just chatting with the people to find out what they loved about their community. That’s how we chose McKenzie Towne. Plus, I needed to be close to the airport because I work all across North America and it’s just a quick 20-minute drive down the Deerfoot from here.”

McKenzie Towne’s new-urbanist design features a walkable, urban high street at its core, brimming with boutiques, pubs, restaurants and coffee shops, and anchored by a grocery store and gas station.

“It’s really handy,” said Wark-Martyn. “We have everything and I can walk everywhere. I never have to get in my car and go anywhere, except to the airport.”

Housing extends in a circular fashion from the urban high street. Homes are designed with front verandas and rear, alley-accessed garages, a concept that brings people to the front of the home, nudging them to interact with neighbours and the community.

“Many people call it Pleasantville,” said Wark-Martyn. “We certainly have no plans to leave.”

Statistics:

  • Quadrant: S.E.
  • Established: 1982 (McKenzie Lake), 1995 (McKenzie Towne)
  • Population: 31,722
  • Dwellings: 11,807
  • Median age: 37 (McKenzie Lake), 32 (McKenzie Towne)
  • Median pre-tax household income:
  • $114,519 (McKenzie Lake), $94,876 (McKenzie Towne)
  • Number of residential sales (YTD): 36
  • Residential average price (YTD): $389,314
    SOURCE: 2017 Calgary Civic Census, 2011 National Household Survey & CREB®
A young boy in a bath tub surrounded with bubbles & ducks

Absolutely stunning! No. 4 is a water-resisting showstopper.

We don’t ask much from bathroom surfaces.  

Just that they be beautiful and withstand every cleaning chemical invented, steamy showers, piles of damp towels, and, did we mention, tantrum-induced line-drives with bath toys?

Oh, and they should be easy to clean. That’s all.

So what materials can live up to the ask? We asked the experts. Here are 10 they recommend:

#1 Engineered Stone Countertop

Dying for a white marble countertop? Join the club. But get ready to seal, reseal, and reseal. Then repeat. Year after year.

Or, go for engineered stone, which can mimic marble (and other stone materials) for about the same cost, but minus the hassle. It’s non-porous so it resists bacteria, mold, stains, and water damage better than the real thing. Better! And it never needs sealing!

#2 Glazed Porcelain Tile Floor

Porcelain flooring in a bathroom that looks like woodImage: Olympia Tile

Moisture is Enemy No. 1 for bathroom floors, and glazed porcelain tile is its most-worthy adversary.

A white bathroom with tub and porcelain tilesImage: Happy Floors

It won’t hold onto water like laminate and porous materials, and porcelain tiles glazed with glass are nearly stain-proof — as are today’s high-quality epoxy and urethane grouts, which don’t require sealing.

#3 Vinyl Floor

Time to rethink vinyl. Hear us out. Luxury vinyl tiles, which mimic stone and wood, are awesome at resisting moisture.

Other affordable options like laminate just can’t keep up. Plus, vinyl sheets are so large, you can cover a small bath without a single seam or grout line, making it easy on the eye and easier to keep clean.

#4 Plywood Cabinets

Yup. We said plywood. But today’s “grade A” offering isn’t your mother’s plywood. (Or your Swedish cousin’s, which is actually particleboard.)

Composed of pressed layers of alder, birch, or cedar, “grade A” plywood (also known as furniture-grade) remains more stable in the face of moisture than solid wood, which will shrink and swell in response to bathroom humidity (causing cracks in painted surfaces and even warped panels).

As for the finish, you don’t need to spring for anything fancy: The factory finish applied to cabinetry nowadays will hold up to the moisture. Isn’t living in the future great?

#5 Tempered Glass Shower Doors

Tempered glass shower doorImage: Aha!nteriors

While you need your glass to be tempered for safety, you don’t need a special spot-resistant treatment or upgraded texture to have crystal-clear shower doors.

“Glass is easy to clean,” says Ebony Stephenson, a certified kitchen and bath designer. “I tell my clients, ‘I’ll give you a squeegee and you can save $2,000. It’s a lot of money when you can just wipe off your glass.’” So definitely get tempered glass, but skip the add-on treatments that promise no spots.

#6 Glossy or Semi-Glossy Paint

The No. 1 thing to stop mold in a bathroom is an exhaust fan. It may not be sexy, but that mildew-y smell in your bath isn’t exactly “come-hither” either.Mold and mildew are real concerns, even on the walls, thanks to bathroom humidity. So paint sheen matters.

A full-on glossy paint has a shiny, sealed surface that blocks out moisture and wipes clear of residue, say from hairspray, without leaving a mark like a matte finish will. But the sheen can be a bit overbearing on anything more than trim, and calls attention to wall flaws.

A semi-glossy finish will hold up nearly as well to cleaning and moisture, without calling quite as much attention to bumps, dents, and other imperfections.

#7 Cast Iron Tub

A white clawfoot tub in a restored tiled bathroomImage: Anderson Estates Building

A tub forged from molded liquid iron is likely going to be the toughest thing in your house — maybe even your neighborhood, depending on where you live.

You may need extra support for your floor (and your pocketbook) to bring it home, but cast iron won’t chip, scratch, or dent like fiberglass, acrylic, and even porcelain can.

This tub is your forever tub. And probably your children’s forever tub. And their kids’.

#8 Porcelain-on-Steel Tub

Don’t let its acronym, POS, misguide you: Heat-fused enamel on steel will resist corrosion, abrasion, and chipping better than synthetic materials, and it is much more affordable than cast iron.

#9 Acrylic Panel Shower Walls

White textured acrylic shower wall panelImage: Kohler Co.

Despite their lightweight, acrylic wall panels, often called shower surrounds, are not lightweights. They resist chipping, cracking, and peeling, and are much easier to maintain than stone tiles or slabs. Unlike tile, they nail directly to wall studs or glue to the wallboards, so they don’t require grout. Acrylic is tougher than fiberglass and colored all the way through — so it’s less likely to scratch, and even a deep cut won’t be as obvious. They’re also more affordable than tile and available in textured patterns, if you want to look like you splurged on a fancy design.

#10 Stainless Steel Sink

A red tiled bathroom wall with stainless sinkImage: Asa Gilmore

Stainless: not just for kitchens anymore. Corrosion- and stain-resistant, it won’t melt under a hot curling iron like acrylic can, and won’t dent or chip like porcelain if nail clippers plummet down from the medicine cabinet.

And it’s the perfect match for the industrial-chic look that doesn’t seem to be going anywhere.

Statistical highlights from CREB®s 2018 Economic Outlook and Regional Housing Market Forecast

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