Home Inspection Articles

The Horizon Home Warranty: $199 Coverage Option Announced

Posted by Thea Scrimger on Apr 16, 2013 4:29:00 PM

HHWP LogoUnexpected breakdowns are a fact of life. The single largest problem faced by homeowners is the high cost of repair or replacement of mechanical systems and appliances. These breakdowns are not only inconvenient; they can pose significant financial challenges, which is why Carson Dunlop launched the Horizon Home Warranty in 2012.

The Horizon Home Warranty is meant to complement our Home Inspection services, providing homeowners with an extra layer of confidence in safeguarding their investment. This unique warranty system offers three tiers of protection to choose from: the Essentials Plan, the Plus Plan, and the Premium Plan.

HHWP Pricing

Carson Dunlop is pleased to announce new reduced pricing for our Essentials and Plus Plans. Starting at $199, coverage is now more cost-effective than ever before. This new pricing allows homeowners greater flexibility in selecting an affordable plan that's right for them.

For more information on the Horizon Home Warranty or to enroll your home, please click here or call one of our Warranty Specialists at 800.268.7070.

Topics: Home Inspection, Homeowners Association, Carson Dunlop, Home Warranty

Protecting Your Home Against Termites

Posted by Thea Scrimger on Mar 18, 2013 4:15:00 PM
Untitled 1Spring's arrival brings a smile to most, but warmer weather can also bring homeowner concerns in the form of unwanted guests. With the start of the spring housing market, we reached out to our Specialty Services partner, Orkin Canada, to help educate clients about termites and why it is necessary to be aware of these damaging insects.

One of the major things termites require to thrive is warm temperatures. As the temperature rises, it is important to recognize the conditions conducive to termite infestation and how you can protect your property. Dan Dawson, National Marketing Manager at Orkin Canada explains the magnitude of the threat posed by termites: "Subterranean termites typically cause the most structural damage and are most prevalent in the southern coastal areas, the dry climate of the Okanagan areas of British Columbia, southern Ontario, southern Quebec, and the Maritime provinces."

Enjoy our interview with Dan below to learn more about termites and how to protect your home.

Carson Dunlop (CD): What are the most common neighborhoods for termites in the Greater Toronto Area?
Dan Dawson (DD): "Termites can be found throughout the GTA. Though each species of termite thrives in different climates and eats different types of food, all termites require four things to survive:

  1. Food
  2. Moisture
  3. Shelter
  4. Optimal Temperatures

These conditions can be found in all buildings, regardless of their construction type. However, older homes typically face increased termite threats as wood rot is more common in them."



CD: What simple steps can homeowners take to prevent termite infestation?
DD: "Known as the 'silent destroyer', termites can be very difficult to detect. Like other pests, the best way to prevent a termite infestation is to reduce access to food and water sources. For termites, this means eliminating moisture and removing wood sources, including wood piles and mulch close to the home. Rotted wood is by far the most common way for termites to gain entry into the home. The soft, pulpy material gives termites easy access to both food and moisture. Tips to keep in mind include: 

  • Remove all wood debris in contact with the soil, and store any firewood away from the house and off the ground
  • Fix any leaks in pipes and drains. Damp wood creates ideal conditions for a healthy, large and robust termite colony
  • Make sure the soil around the structure is sloped away from the home and drainage from the roof doesn't collect near the property
  • Dense vegetation should never grow against siding or the foundation of a home
  • High humidity in the crawl space can lead to termite problems. Insulate or put down a moisture barrier to help reduce humidity and condensation 
  • Replace mulch that is close to the home with gravel. If mulch is used around the home, make certain to keep the mulch layer as shallow as possible. Thick mulch beds create soil moisture conditions that encourage termite activity

It is highly recommended to schedule an annual inspection with a licensed pest control provider to ensure that termites don't invade your home."   

CD: What are some signs that you might have termites in your home?
DD: "Termites are very hard to detect compared to other common pests. With the exception of annual swarms, when reproductive termites move to start to new colonies, they live entirely out of sight, chewing their way silently through the home's infrastructure. However, there are some signs of termite presence that can be found in and around the home, including:

  • Hollow-sounding wood: If wood sounds hollow when tapped, it may be because termites are eating the wood from the inside out.
  • "Swarmers" (a group of winged insects) or discarded wings: Reproductive termites called swarmers take flight to create new colonies. Subterranean termites typically swarm in the spring. A swarm of insects or groups of discarded wings is typically a sign of termite presence.
  • Mud tubes on walls: Termites construct mud tubes to travel between their home in the soil and the wood that they feed on. These tubes also provide moisture while they search for food.
  • Frass: Termites produce wood-colored droppings as they eat their way through wood rot. This is another sign of their presence." 



CD: What is the average cost and process for a termite extermination? 
DD: "Termites can cause the most structural damage of any insect and, based on the extent of damage, remediation costs can run well into the thousands of dollars. Once termites find their way into a structure, they can be very difficult to control, so preventative steps and measures are recommended. Treatment methods vary based on the species of termite, size of infestation, and other factors. The required chemicals for termite treatment are not for sale to the public and must be used under strictly controlled conditions. Your licensed pest management professional can set up the best corrective steps if you have a termite infestation."

As a professional Home Inspection consulting company, our aim is to help homeowners stay safe, warm and dry. We believe that knowledge is the best tool when it comes to protecting one of the biggest investments of your life - your home. Our recently launched Specialty Services program helps us to provide our clients and real estate partners with fast, easy and cost-effective access to qualified specialists, like Orkin Canada, all with a single call. To learn more about the Carson Dunlop Specialty Services program, please click here or call 800.268.7070.

Topics: Monthly Newsletters, Homeowners Association, Carson Dunlop, Homeowner Tips, Pest Control

Trees: A Thing of Beauty or a Liability?

Posted by Kaitlyn Yantzi on Feb 19, 2013 1:24:00 PM


describe the image

For many, especially those living in urban areas where green space is limited, having a tree in the front yard is considered a benefit - a luxury even. They provide shade in the summer and picturesque foliage in the fall. The only downside homeowners typically associate with trees is the amount of raking their leaves require. Few consider the damaging effect trees, more specifically their roots, can have on their property. As Greg Leger of Roto-Rooter Plumbing & Drains Service explains, "When we receive a call regarding a 'clogged' or 'blocked' drain line, the problem is usually caused by tree roots."



Learn more about the primary cause of drainage issues in homes, and what preventative steps homeowners can take, from our Specialty Services and Homeowners Association partner: Roto-Rooter. 

Carson Dunlop (CD): What is the most common problem your technicians encounter? 

Roto-Rooter (RR): "Tree roots are the most common problem. If a drain line is found to be collapsed, often times it is due to roots having constricted and subsequently busted the drain line. Blockages of paper often get caught on very fine roots that have grown through a small opening or a shift in the drain pipes and create a back-up."

CD: What are warning signs homeowners can look for that indicate blocked pipes? 

RR: "Some signs of blocked pipes may include but aren't limited to:

  • Basement fixtures (for example toilets, showers, laundry tubs, etc.) taking a long time to drain
  • Musty smells coming from the floor drains
  • Small pools or puddles of water around floor drains
  • Sewage or storm water in the basement
  • Roots actually coming up from the floor drain - this is more common than many might think"

describe the image

CD: What is the average cost to fix a tree root induced draining issue; is it less expensive if caught early?

RR: "If caught early enough, snaking will usually still be a viable option. In many cases, roots are not too invasive - snaking the drain line annually can help ensure it remains clear of obstructions, until the point where the roots become thicker and end up collapsing the drain. With tree roots it is always the same end result: the roots will get in and the drain line will need to be repaired. Snaking and camera inspections are typically a few hundred dollars. More in-depth remediation tactics, such as excavation, can be upwards of several thousand dollars."

CD: Who has to pay for remediation - When is it the homeowner's responsibility compared with the municipality's responsibility?

RR: "Every neighborhood and city is different. It's important to know what applies in your area. In the city of Toronto, the homeowner is responsible for all of their underground drains from the inside of their home to the city property line; look for the water shut-off, this usually offers a guide as to where the property line is. However, in Durham region, three feet past the most outward portion of the home is the city's responsibility. In Barrie, the homeowner is responsible for the entire drain line from inside their home all the way to the city connection, which is commonly found in the center of the road. Not only that, the homeowner is also responsible for the backfilling, compaction and repaving of the city roadway."

As a professional Home Inspection consulting company, our aim is to help homeowners stay safe, warm and dry. Our Specialty Services complement our Home Inspections, targeting potential areas of concern which fall outside the scope of a regular Home Inspection. This new program allows us to provide our clients and real estate partners with fast, easy and cost-effective access to qualified specialists, like Roto-Rooter, all with a single call. 

In addition, the Carson Dunlop Homeowners Association partners with companies like Roto-Rooter to help provide homeowners with the knowledge and the tools to protect their properties. As Homeowners Association members, Carson Dunlop clients receive a $50 discount towards plumbing, drain, sewer and water proofing services. To learn more about this partner, please click here. To learn more about the Carson Dunlop Homeowners Association, please click here



February Poll


Last month, 23 homeowners told us what they felt was the most common material for residential piping. The majority were correct: copper is the most common material for residential supply piping. Here are their responses:

507[1]Congratulations to last month's winner: Michael Schmidt.


Carson Dunlop has recently launched a Specialty Services program. This program aims to facilitate requests or concerns which fall outside the scope of a regular Home Inspection. Now our clients are able to seamlessly book a Specialty Service with ease and save themselves the headache of trying to find a qualified provider.

The program is launching with the following services:

  • Asbestos Assessments

  • Indoor Air Quality Assessments

  • Mold Inspections

  • Pool Inspections

  • Septic Tank Evaluations

  • Sewer Camera Inspections

  • Water Quality Evaluations

  • Termite Inspections

  • Wood Energy Transfer Technology (WETT) Inspections

To learn more about our Speciality Services program, please click here or call 800.268.7070.


Topics: Home Inspection, Monthly Newsletters, Homeowners Association, Carson Dunlop, Specialty Services, Homeowner Tips

Keep Unwanted Pests Out of Your Home

Posted by Thea Scrimger on Jan 7, 2013 11:28:00 AM

At Carson Dunlop, we reached out to one of our Homeowners Association Partners, Orkin Canada, to help provide homeowners with more information and guidance on keeping their homes rodent-free this season. As Dan Dawson, National Marketing Manager at Orkin Canada explains, "Rodents like rats and mice look for warmth and shelter during the winter because they are warm-blooded animals, making them notorious home invaders during the colder months."

>> Carson Dunlop: How might rodents enter a home?

Dan Dawson: "The smallest openings, cracks and crevices in your home can serves as rodent entry points. Rats can fit through holes the size of a quarter, and mice only need a hole the size of a pencil. Common places they might find these access points include cracks and crevices in your foundation and around doors and windows."

>>CD: What preventative steps can homeowners take?

DD: "There are several steps you can take to help prevent rodents from accessing your home:

  1. Check the interior and exterior of your home for entry points, and seal any unnecessary openings with weather-resistant sealant enforced with steel or copper wool so rodents cannot gnaw through.
  2. Make sure doors or windows are flush against their frames and the floor, and use weather stripping to fill in any gaps.
  3. Trim landscaping away from your home, as shrubbery can provide harbourage for rodents.
  4. Store food in tightly sealed containers, preferably made of tin or plastic, and clean up food and water spills immediately.
  5. Vacuum, sweep and mop regularly to eliminate food and water sources that might attract rodents.
  6. Keep trash cans tightly sealed and dispose of trash regularly."

>>CD: How can you tell if there are rodents in your home?

DD:"If you suspect you might have rodents in your home, look for the following signs:

  1. Droppings - Mouse droppings are about the size of a grain of rice and rat droppings are about the size of a raisin.
  2. Gnaw marks - Rats and mice gnaw even when they're full, so look out for places in your home that appear to be chewed or gnawed, particularly around cracks and crevices.
  3. Rub markings - Rodents feel protected when they crawl along baseboards or around pipe openings."

Unwanted Guest?

>>CD: What can you do if you have rodents in your home?

DD: "If you find yourself with a mouse or rat issue, do not come into contact with the rodents and the diseases they may be carrying. Instead, contact a pest management provider immediately - they will help you to resolve the issue and set up a proactive program to keep these pests at bay year-round."

As a professional Home Inspection consulting company, our aim is to help homeowners stay safe, warm and dry. The Carson Dunlop Homeowners Association partners with companies like Orkin Canada, to help provide homeowners with the knowledge and the tools to protect their properties. As Homeowners Association members, Carson Dunlop clients receive 20% off when booking a pest control inspection with Orkin Canada. To learn more about this partner, click here. For more tips, advice and information, visit our resource center.  

December Poll

Last month, 38 homeowners told us what sized entry point mice need to get into a home. Here are their responses:





























Topics: Home Inspection, Monthly Newsletters, Homeowners Association, Specialty Services, Homeowner Tips, Pest Control

The Top Five Major Deficiencies Uncovered During a Home Inspection

Posted by Thea Scrimger on Dec 21, 2012 3:11:00 PM

Does Your Home Look Like This?At Carson Dunlop, we've been inspecting homes since 1978, which means we have seen a lot: a lot of neighbourhoods, a lot of homes, and a lot of problems. Simply put, no home is perfect. Homes, like people, have flaws - some you can live with, some you can't. However, when it comes to houses, many expect perfection and when a deficiency is uncovered we are often asked: "Is this normal?"

To help alleviate concerns and provide homeowners with some added perspective, we've compiled a list of the top five major deficiencies most commonly identified by Home Inspectors.

5. Old or Leaky Roofs
How we spot them: In addition to physically inspecting the roof for any defects, there are other indicators of a leaky or damaged roof. These include stains on the ceiling, crumbling paint and wet surfaces.
What they mean for a homeowner: Most roofs use asphalt shingles and typically last between 15 and 20 years. To help prevent and protect against any water intrusion and damage, we recommend replacing them earlier than this timeframe. 
How to fix them: Replace damaged shingles, loose flashings and torn valleys. Tree limbs overhanging and touching the roof should be cut back, and missing mortar or loose bricks on the chimneys should be repaired. A roof repair is usually a few hundred dollars. A roof replacement is usually several thousand dollars. For a more detailed breakdown of roofing costs, check out our article on Home Improvement Costs.

4. Structural Issues
How we spot them: The size, type and frequency of cracks on foundation or masonry walls, as well as visible damage to beams and joists, are indicative of structural issues. 
What they mean for a homeowner: Most structural issues are of minor in nature. However, some are potentially huge expenses and can have implications for homeowner safety. Home Inspectors can help to identify which type you're dealing with; and for more complex issues we recommend having a specialist inspect the home.
How to fix them: These are generally a case by case basis. Minor issues can be hundreds of dollars. Major structural defects may cost tens of thousands of dollars.

3. Knob and Tube Wiring
How we spot it: Knob and tube wiring was the standard in homes built prior to 1950. The age of the property, along with a visual inspection of the wiring can help determine the presence of knob and tube wiring in a home. An easy test is to check the outlets of the bedrooms, living and dining rooms to see if they are grounded. This can be done with a low cost circuit tester, available at most hardware stores. Checking kitchens and bathrooms may not be an accurate reflection of the state of the home as these areas often get renovated first, which means their wiring gets updated. While this test will give you an idea of the presence of knob and tub wiring in your home, it is not completely exhaustive. 
What it means for a homeowner: While replacing the wiring may be a high priority for insurance purposes, that does not mean the wiring is inherently unsafe. The Carson Dunlop Homeowners Association has insurance partners who help provide coverage for older homes, with more complex issues. For more information on these insurance partners, click here.
How to fix it: Rewiring the home is most effective. We recommend doing this during renovations as it is the most cost-effective process. The cost depends on the extent to which knob and tube is present in the home. Rewiring may cost a few thousand dollars per room, and upwards of $10,000 for the average, single-family home. If the home is entirely knob and tube, it is a significant upgrade, not a repair and should be budgeted accordingly.

2. Old Furnaces and Air Conditioners
How we spot them: The data plate on the unit will display the make, model, serial number and manufacturer's date. This information, used in conjunction with our Technical Reference Guide, helps determine where the unit is in relation to its life expectancy. In addition, the physical condition of the unit will also contribute to its status.
What they mean for a homeowner: The typical life expectancy for a furnace is about 20 years. That being said, sometimes a non-functional furnace may simply need a minor repair. Regular maintenance can help to extend the life cycle of your furnace. For more information on furnace maintenance, check out our article on Simple Furnace Maintenance.
How to fix them: Furnace repairs are typically a few hundred dollars, whereas replacing a furnace can be several thousand dollars.

1. Wet Basements
How we spot them: Visible water in the basement is a good indication that there may be an issue with water intrusion. A moisture meter helps Home Inspectors identify the presence of moisture when it is less obvious. There are other factors that can cause moisture intrusion, such as improper grading and ineffective downspouts which can lead to water damage.
What they mean for a homeowner: More than 90% of basements will be subject to water intrusion at one point in time. For the most part this will be minimal, however long-term exposure to water can cause major damage and mold.
How to fix them: Fixing grading, gutters and downspouts is the easiest and most effective way to alleviate the potential for basement leakage. Correcting gutters and downspouts may cost a few hundred dollars and usually improving the slope of the ground can be achieved by a homeowner. To help protect your home, check out our article on How to Prevent Water Damage.  

As a professional Home Inspection consulting company, our aim is to help homeowners stay safe, warm and dry. For more tips, advice and information, subscribe to our blog and start following us on Twitter and like us on Facebook.

Topics: Home Inspection, Homeowners Association, Homeowner Tips

Furnace Efficiency for Homeowners: Think like Home Inspectors

Posted by Olivia Hunt on Dec 20, 2012 3:30:00 PM

Furnace StickerIn recent years there has been quite an emphasis on the benefits “going green” and being energy efficient. As a professional Home Inspection company, we often get questions on furnace efficiency, what it means, and how having an energy efficient furnace can impact one’s home. During a Home Inspection our Home Inspectors will be able to tell you the age and capacity of the furnace, but if you want to be familiar with all the “efficiency” terminology, check out the information below.  

Furnace Efficiency Measurements

There are two efficiency measurements you need to be familiar with when dealing with furnaces: steady state and seasonal.

1)   Steady State Efficiency

Steady state efficiency refers to how much usable heat is created when a furnace is running. For example: conventional gas and oil furnaces have steady state efficiencies of roughly 80%. This means that when the furnace is on, 20% of the heat that is generated goes up the chimney and outside. The remaining 80% is transferred through a component called a heat exchanger, which then travels through the ductwork and ends up coming out of the registers you have in each room.

2)   Seasonal Efficiency

Seasonal efficiency is a bit more complex but refers to the off-cycle losses in addition to the steady state losses. You can think of it as an overall efficiency measurement.  Furnaces are not on all the time – not even in the dead of winter. They cycle on as the thermostat calls for heat, and cycle off again when the thermostat is satisfied. During the start-up and cool down, the furnace doesn’t operate as efficiently thus contributing to off-cycle losses.

In addition, when the furnace isn’t on, the heat from your house escapes up the chimney flue the same way that heat would escape from an unused fireplace, if the damper was left open. This  is also considered an off-cycle loss. If you add these off-cycle losses to the steady state losses you end up with the seasonal efficiency. Seasonal efficiencies for conventional gas and oil furnaces are about 60-65%.


What is the Difference Between Mid & High Efficiency Furnaces?

Mid Efficiency Furnace vs High Efficiency Furnace

  • Seasonal efficiency of about 80%
  • Achieved by minimizing off-cycle losses
  • Mid efficiency gas furnaces don’t have a continuously running pilot – it’s shut off when the furnace is idle
  • Some manufacturers install a motorized damper in the exhaust flue to close it during idle periods to prevent heat escaping up the chimney
  • Can be up to 95% efficient
  • Employs similar techniques to reduce off-cycle losses
  • Improves steady state efficiency – instead of having 1 heat exchanger, most have 2 or 3 that extract more heat from the burning fuel
  • More complex, and thus more expensive


Is a High Efficiency Furnace Right for You?

High efficiency furnaces are complex, and as a result they are often more expensive than conventional furnaces. High efficiency furnaces on average cost about $1000-$1500 more than a conventional furnace. That being said, if you were to spend $1000 heating your house with a conventional furnace, you can save close to $350 with a high efficiency furnace. Over time, these savings will pay for the system itself.

If you’re considering a high efficiency system on a retrofit basis, or as an option in a new home, it is best to speak to a reliable heating contractor to discuss the pros and cons of various models and the estimated increase in furnace maintenance costs. From there you will be able to determine what furnace is best for you.

Carson Dunlop clients are automatically enrolled in our not-for-profit Homeowners Association with access to group savings and discounts. Our Home Inspectors are available for consultation and provide technical advice for as long as the client owns their home. The Carson Dunlop Homeowners Association has a special relationship with Canadian Tire Home Services and AtlasCare to help clients save money and ensure they have the necessary heating system advice. The CDHA can save clients up to $1000 through our specialized relationships and partnerships. 

Topics: Home Inspection, Homeowners Association, Homeowner Tips

Are You Covered for Water Damage in Your Basement?

Posted by Olivia Hunt on Nov 21, 2012 3:39:00 PM

floodedbasement resized 600Home Inspectors seem to talk about water all the time, and with good reason - water is the biggest enemy of houses. As we've previously discussed, more than 90% of homes will leak at some point. You need all the help you can get to protect yourself against water damage. While preventative measures and maintenance including eavestrough placement and proper grading are important, they may not be enough.

Think about your basement. An unfinished basement is very different than a basement with expensive finishes and furnishings. That being said, very few basements are empty – even if your basement is unfurnished, it’s likely that you’re using it for some capacity of storage. Whatever the state of your basement, when it comes to the potential of water intrusion and damage, its contents are at risk. You should consider how vulnerable your home is:

  • Is the home older or in an older part of the city where sewers carry both storm water and sanitary sewage? New communities have separate storm and sewer systems; a better arrangement. 
  • Is your basement deeper than normal? Where basement floors have been lowered, the home may be more susceptible. 
  • Is it in a low-lying area? Does your area have a history of sewer back-ups? Where sewer back ups are common, many homeowners install backwater valves to prevent water or sewage flowing back into the home through the main drain.

Did you know that many home insurance policies exclude water damage that results from sewer backup or sump pump failure? These are fairly common events, and can result in considerable damage and expense.

Most insurance companies offer this coverage as an endorsement or rider to the main policy. It's often not included or even mentioned when you buy a policy, especially in a competitive situation. Home insurance has become somewhat of a commodity, and people generally shop by price alone. Since endorsements add costs to home insurance, many homes are insured without this important coverage. Worse still, many homeowners are not even aware of this gap in their coverage, or the option of adding the endorsement.

Many policies exclude losses "caused directly or indirectly by any of the following . . . water which backs up through sewers or drains or which overflows from a sump." If your policy has this clause, you are not protected unless you have an endorsement, which typically adds protection against sewer back-ups from municipal systems or septic tanks, water from eavestroughs and downspouts and sump pump failures.

These endorsements may be called Sewer Back Up Coverage, Water Damage Extension or Sewer Back-up/Water Endorsement. Coverage may be subject to a limit, restricting the coverage to a few thousand dollars.

How important is the coverage? According to David Slack from David Slack Insurance Ltd, the average cost of water damage in your basement as a result of sewer backup or sump pump failure is around $25,000 indicating additional coverage may be something worth taking a second look at.

Carson Dunlop clients are automatically enrolled in our not-for-profit Homeowners Association that includes helpful information, free technical advice for as long as you own your home and access to group savings and discounts. The Carson Dunlop Homeowners Association has a special group insurance relationship with David Slack Insurance Brokers Ltd to help clients save money and ensure they have the necessary coverage for their home.

Topics: Homeowners Association, Carson Dunlop, Homeowner Tips

Winterizing Your Home Can Help Avoid Cold Weather Woes

Posted by Kaitlyn Yantzi on Nov 16, 2012 11:01:00 AM
describe the image

 One of the great joys of living in Canada is the change of seasons. Autumn's colours and crispness will soon give way to winter's first snowfall. While people react differently to seasonal changes, all homes react much the same way: climate change is hard on homes and the freeze/thaw cycles can cause damage.

At Carson Dunlop we believe prevention is the key to a safe and comfortable season. Here are our areas of focus and suggestions to get you through the winter months:

>>  Roof - We are big believers in annual roof tune-ups, and fallis the perfect time for your roofer to address any small issues before they become big ones. The roof suffers the brunt of winter weather abuse. Correcting damaged shingles, loose flashings and torn valleys can prevent water damage from leaks and avoid expensive repairs. Tree limbs overhanging and touching the roof should be cut back, and missing mortar or loose bricks on chimneys should be repaired.

>>  Eavestroughs - We can't overstate the importance of having free-flowing, leak-free gutters and downspouts to get roof water away from the house and keep it out of the basement. If eavestroughs can't control the rain or melting snow, or if downspouts don't carry water at least six feet away from the home, the ground next to your home will get soaked. Saturated ground usually means a leaky basement. Poor grading is another common and easily-corrected cause of basement leakage. For more information on how to address this issue, check out our article on How Proper Grading Can Prevent Water Damage.

>>  Catch Basins - Make sure any catch basins in your driveway, garage and yard are clear. It's also a great idea to clear any storm grates in the street in front of your house so all that rain and melting snow can get into the storm sewers.

>>  Windows, Doors and Walls - Check your windows and doors for any wood in need of paint, and any joints that need re-caulking. The corners of sills are a common weak point. Check the caulking at pipes, vents and other wall penetrations as part of regular maintenance.

>>  Furnace - Taking care of your furnace is very important, especially in the winter. We recommend annual service plans for heating and cooling systems. If you haven't yet, schedule a heating system maintenance call, even if your system is relatively new. For more information on easy steps you can take to extend the life of your furnace, check out our article on Furnace Maintenance. 

November Poll

Last month 30 homeowners told us what area of the home they believed suffered the brunt of winter weather abuse. Here are their responses:

October Graph

The Carson Dunlop Homeowners Association

At Carson Dunlop we want to provide homeowners with the knowledge and the tools to protect their properties, which is why we created the Carson Dunlop Homeowners Association. This not-for-profit program gives clients access to discounts on a variety of products and services. Association partners like Canadian Tire help members maintain and upgrade their homes. Canadian Tire Home Services is pleased to offer Carson Dunlop customers a 5% Canadian Tire 'Money' On The Card bonus when using their Canadian Tire Options MasterCard for the purchase of any heating and/or cooling system from Canadian Tire Home Services. To learn more visit canadiantire.ca/homeservices. Attractive financing options available. 
For more information on the Carson Dunlop Homeowners Association and its partners click here or call 800.268.7070. 

We've Gone Social


Carson Dunlop Homeowners Association

Canadian Tire
The Carson Dunlop Homeowners Association saves you time & money through our strategic partners, like Canadian Tire. Click here for more information.

Horizon Home Protection Plan

describe the image

Avoid the high costs of breakdowns with the Horizon Home Protection Plan. Click here to learn more.











Topics: Homeowners, Monthly Newsletters, Homeowners Association, Carson Dunlop, Homeowner Tips, Newsletter

Home Improvement Costs

Posted by Thea Scrimger on Nov 14, 2012 1:07:00 PM

Often times a home will be sold “as is” or marketed as a “fixer-upper”. While these terms do provide an indication of the current state of the home, they can lead to a misunderstanding when it comes to overall expense. Minor repair fees can easily accumulate, resulting in a drastic disparity between the agreed upon asking price of a home and what it ultimately costs. 

Our experience has shown that actual contractor quotations can vary by as much as 300%. Naturally, the quality of workmanship and materials are reflected in a contractor’s fee. As well, the complexity of the job, accessibility and even economic conditions can also alter actual costs. As such, the following prices are intended as estimates for repairs or improvements to a typical three-bedroom home:


Install conventional asphalt shingles over existing shingles $2.00 - $4.00 per sq. ft.
Strip and reshingle with convention asphalt shingles $2.75 - $5.50 per sq.ft.
Strip and reshingle with premium quality asphalt shingles $5.00 - $10.00 per sq. ft.
Strip and re-roof with cedar shingles  $9.00 - $18.00 per sq. ft. 
Strip and replace built-up tar and gravel roof  $10.00 - $20.00 per sq. ft. (min. $1,000.00)  
Strip and replace single-ply membrane  $10.00 - $20.00 per sq. ft. (min. $1,000.00) 
Reflash typical skylight or chimney  $500.00 - $1,000.000  
Rebuild typical chimney above roof line  $25.00 - $50.00 per row of bricks (min. $400.00) 
Rebuild typical single flue chimney aove roof line  $200.00 - $400.00 per lin. ft. (min. $1,000.00)  


Install galvanized or aluminum gutters and downspouts $5.00 - $10.00 per lin. ft. (min. $500.00)
Install aluminium soffits and fascia $8.00 - $16.00 per lin. ft. 
Install aluminium or vinyl siding $6.00 - $12.00 per sq. ft.
Repoint exterior wall (soft mortar) $3.00 - $6.00 per sq. ft. (min. $500.00)
Repoint exterior wall (hard mortar) $5.00 - $10.00 per sq. ft. (min $500.00)
Parge foundation walls $3.00 - $6.00 per sq. ft.
Dampproof foundation walls and install weeping tile $150.00 - $300.00 per lin. ft. (min. $3,000.00)
Install a deck $25.00 - $50.00 per sq. ft. (min. $1,000.00)
Resurface existing asphalt driveway $2.00 - $4.00 per sq. ft.
Install interlocking brick driveway $8.00 - $16.00 per sq. ft.
Rebuild exterior basement stairwell $5,000.00 and up
Build detached garage $70.00 - $140.00 per sq. ft.
Build retaining wall (wood) $20.00 - $40.00 per sq. ft.
Build retaining wall (concrete) $30.00 - $60.00 per sq. ft. (min. $500.00)
Painting (trim only) $2,000.00 - $4,000.00 and up
Painting (trim and wall surfaces) $5,000.00 and up


Underpin one corner of house $5,000.00 and up
Underpin or add foundations $300.00 and up per lin. ft. (min. $3,000.00)
Lower basement floor by underpining and/or bench footings $50.00 - $300.00 per lin. ft. (min. $5,000.00)
Replace deteriorating sill beam with concrete $60.00 and up per lin. ft. (min. $2,000.00)
Install basement support post with proper foundation $800.00 - $1,600.00
Perform chemical treatment for termites $2,000.00 and up
Repair minor crack in poured concrete foundation $400.00 - $800.00 


Upgrade electrical service to 100 amps (including new pannel) $1,200.00 - $3,000.00
Upgrade electrical service to 100 amps (if suitably sized panel already exists) $800.00 - $1,600.00
Upgrade electrical service to 200 amps $1,700.00 - $3,500.00
Install new circuit break panel $700.00 - $1,400.00
Replace circuit breaker (20 amp or less) $100.00 - $200.00
Add 120 volt circuit (microwave, freezer, etc.) $150.00 - $300.00
Add 240 volt circuit (dryer, stove, etc.) $300.00 - $600.00
Add conventional receptacle $200.00 - $400.00
Replace conventional receptacle with ground fault circuit receptacle $70.00 - $140.00
Replace conventional receptacle with aluminium compatible type (CO/ALR) (assuming several are required) $60.00 - $120.00 each
Upgrade entire house with aluminium compatible receptacles, connectors, etc. $1,000.00 - $2,000.00
Rewire electrical outlet with reversed polarity (assuming electrician already out there) $5.00 - $10.00 each
Replace know & tube wiring with conventional wiring (per room) $1,000.00 - $2,000.00


Install mid-efficiency forced-air furnace $2,500.00 - $5,000.00
Install high-efficiency forced-air furnace $3,500.00 - $7,000.00
Install humidifier $300.00 - $600.00
Install electronic air filter $800.00 - $1,600.00
Install mid-efficiency boiler $3,500.00 - $7,000.00
Install high-efficiency boiler $6,000.00 - $120,000.00
Install circulating pump $400.00 - $600.00
Install chimney liner for gas appliance $500.00 - $1,000.00
Install chimney liner for oil appliance $700.00 - $1,800.00
Install programmable thermostat $200.00 - $400.00
Replace indoor oil tank $1,200.00 - $2,500.00
Remove oil tank from basement $600.00 and up
Remove abandoned underground oil tank $10,000.00 and up
Replace radiator valve $300.00 - $600.00
Add electric baseboard heater $250.00 - $500.00
Convert from hot water heating to forced-air (bungalow) $10,000.00 - $20,000.00
Convert from hot water heating to forced-air (two storey) $15,000.00 - $30,000.00
Clean ductwork $300.00 - $600.00

Cooling/Heat Pumps

Add central air conditioning on existing forced-air system $3,000.00 and up
Add heat pump to forced-air system $4,000.00 - $8,000.00
Replace heat pump or air conditioning condenser $1,200.00 - $2,500.00
Install independent air conditioning system $10,000.00 - $20,000.00
Install ductless air conditioning system $3,000.00 - $7,000.00


Insulate open attic to modern standards $0.80 - $1.60 per sq. ft.
Blow insulation into flat roof, cathedral ceiling or wall cavity $2.00 - $4.00 per sq. ft.
Improve attic ventilation $30.00 - $60.00 per vent


Replace galvanized piping with copper (two storey with one bathroom) $2,500.00 - $5,000.00
Replace water line to house $2,00.00 and up
Replace toilet $500.00 and up
Replace basin, including faucets $750.00 and up
Replace bathtub, including ceramic tile and facuets $2,500.00 and up
Install whirlpool bath, including faucets $3,500.00 and up
Retile bathtub enclosure $1,000.00 - $2,000.00
Replace leaking shower stall pan $1,000.00 - $2,000.00
Rebuild tile shower stall $2,500.00 - $5,000.00
Replace laundry tubs $400.00 - $800.00
Remodel four-piece bathroom completely $6,000.00 - $50,000.00
Connect waste plumbing system to municipal sewers  $5,000.00 and up
Install submersible pump $1,000.00 and up
Install suction or jet pump $700.00 and up
Install modest basement bathroom $6,000.00 and up


Add drywall over plaster $4.00 - $8.00 per sq. ft.
Sand and refinish hardwood floors $2.00 - $4.00 per sq. ft.
Install replacement windows $40.00 - $120.00 per sq. ft.
Install storm window $200.00 - $400.00
Install masonry fireplace (if flue already roughed-in) $3,000.00 and up
Install zero-clearance fireplace (including chimney) $3,500.00 and up
Install glass doors on fireplace $300.00 and up


These estimates aren't meant to deter you from purchasing, or selling, a home that needs a bit of TLC, but rather to help you make an informed decision when it comes to your property. If you want to learn more about your home and enjoyed these tips, order a copy of the Home Reference Book, or start following us on Twitter, or like us on Facebook.
Cick here to download a PDF version of this article.  

Topics: Home Reference Book, Homeowners, Home Inspection, Homeowners Association, Carson Dunlop, Homeowner Tips

Checking your Downspouts Can Save You Money & Frustration

Posted by Olivia Hunt on Aug 29, 2012 9:08:00 AM

How to Take Care of Your Gutters and Downspouts to Prevent Water Damage


A typical two-storey house has three to four downspouts that help with discharging water away from your home. Water penetration is the number one issue consumers face with their home which is why we place so much emphasis on educating homeowners on this item. For a small investment of $50 or less, downspouts can help to protect your home by keeping water away from the foundation thus avoiding the potential for costly repairs.

 The most common problem with gutters is leakage. Leakage will occur with galvanized gutters as they rust through. Holes can develop in copper gutters as well. All gutters are prone to leakage of the joints and seams. Missing end caps and poor connections to downspouts are other common sources of leakage.

Homeowners should ensure that both gutters and downspouts are clear of debris. Deflector screens are sometimes installed to prevent leaves and twigs from getting into the troughs, but these rarely work well. Too often they become loose and fall out, and can sometimes make cleaning those troughs more difficult.

Downspouts collect water from the gutters and discharge it into drains or onto the ground. Underground drains become clogged or break below grade. If an underground downspout malfunctions, water problems will likely develop in that part of the basement. There are two options in this scenario:

  1. Exterior digging and repairs
  2. Disconnecting the downspout and redirecting it to discharge away from the house. This is much faster, cheaper and easier to monitor

Downspouts should discharge above grade onto the ground at least six feet from the home, click here to see a proper downspout installation. The slope of the ground in this area should be away from the house, to direct water away from the basement.

Helpful tips such as these are provided through Carson Dunlop’s Homeowners Association. Carson Dunlop is committed to helping our clients make good decisions on their homes. We understand that a great Home Inspection is just the beginning, which is why we provide the tools and resources to help our clients maintain, repair or renovate their home. To learn more about Carson Dunlop’s Homeowners Association, please click here.

Topics: Home Reference Book, Home Inspection, Homeowners Association, Homeowner Tips