Courtesy of CREB

If you thought the in-laws were bad house guests, what about a cancer-causing gas?

Radon is a radioactive gas that is formed when naturally occurring uranium deposits in soil and rock decay. It is invisible, odourless and tasteless, and can accumulate inside homes – sometimes reaching dangerous levels.

Radon moves from the soil into homes through cracks in the foundation or gaps where the foundation meets the wall. Negative air pressure causes the home to make up the difference by drawing in soil gas.

Although radon accumulation in homes is not a new phenomenon, our modern lifestyle may put us at a higher risk than ever before.

“We spend more time inside now,” said Colin Dumais, building science and technical director for Radon West Ltd. and director of the Canadian National Radon Training Centre. “When I was growing up, parents used to say, ‘Go outside and don’t come back until dinner,’ but now they’re calling kids inside because they can’t watch them otherwise.”

“Radon in the home is entirely preventable. Knowing your home’s radon level is the first step in determining if you are at risk.” – Dr. Aaron Goodarzi, Canada Research Chair in Radiation Exposure Disease

Today, radon is the second leading cause of lung cancer. However, there’s good news for anyone who is worried about radon in their own home.

“Radon in the home is entirely preventable,” said Dr. Aaron Goodarzi, the Canada Research Chair in Radiation Exposure Disease and an assistant professor at the University of Calgary. “Knowing your home’s radon level is the first step in determining if you are at risk.”

Through several studies, Dr. Goodarzi and his colleagues are working to increase awareness of radon gas and encourage people to test their homes. They are also examining radon levels across the country and reviewing a variety of home metrics to help understand what is unique about houses with high radon levels.

“We recently published findings that demonstrate the inaccuracy of short-term radon testing compared to long-term testing,” said Dr. Goodarzi. “Short-term testing is a common practice during a real estate purchase. Because of the inaccuracy, we are educating REALTORS® to not perform a short-term test at this time.”

Fortunately, testing your home for radon is easy, effective and inexpensive. Through Evict Radon, a non-profit organization led by Dr. Goodarzi, homeowners can purchase a radon testing device for $51.99, follow the instructions over 90 days and ship the device to a lab for the results.

Addressing the problem, however, is a bit more costly.

“Fixing a radon issue is usually around $2500, but it can be more,” said Dumais. “It’s a matter of altering the pressure beneath the house, so radon goes from your home to the ground, rather than vice versa.”

For Realtors and home sellers, it’s important to note that a home mitigated for radon has the healthiest possible air and, as a result, is very desirable.

“High radon does not devalue real estate,” said Dr. Goodarzi.

Also, unlike the in-laws, once you rid your home of radon, it should be gone for good.

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Courtesy of CREB

Proximity to Calgary, affordable home prices and a variety of nearby amenities are making two towns in Mountain View County enticing options for house hunters willing to commute.

At about 40 minutes and 30 minutes from Calgary, respectively, Didsbury and Carstairs have helped some homebuyers balance a job in the city with the benefits of rural life.

“There are a lot of commuters (in Didsbury),” said Gord Leeson, an associate with Royal LePage Wildrose. “At 6 a.m., if you park by the main drag out of town, you’ll see car after car heading out, going to Calgary.”

“Under $300,000, you can find a very nice, three-bedroom, 1,200-square-foot home.” – Gord Leeson, Royal LePage Wildrose

Calgarians looking for more affordable homes are one of the key buyer demographics in these towns, he adds.

Year to date, both Didsbury and Carstairs have recorded an increase in year-over-year overall residential sales, according to CREB®.

Sales in Carstairs rallied 34 per cent from the same time in 2018, while transactions in Didsbury grew by 1.5 per cent. Both towns offer strong value, says Leeson.

“Under $300,000, you can find a very nice, three-bedroom, 1,200-square-foot home,” he said.

CREB® says the year-to-date benchmark price across all home types in Carstairs is $317,967, which is down 5.5 per cent year over year. In comparison, Calgary’s year-to-date benchmark price is $423,478.

“Now would be the time, if you wanted to buy,” said Leeson.

Carstairs and Didsbury, located about 10 minutes apart, have all the elements people look for in a community.

Leeson calls Didsbury the “best-kept secret,” adding “it has all the amenities.”

On this point, he singles out Didsbury District Health Services hospital, as well as the Didsbury Aquatic Centre, as important features in town.

“The schools are all here, all the shopping is here,” said Leeson. “You may not have the selection, but … from Carstairs, CrossIron Mills isn’t that far, (and) from Didsbury, Olds isn’t that far.

“You don’t have to worry about getting what you want and very seldom have to go into the city.”

If you have been thinking about getting out of the rat race of the city to a small community and have question, please give me a call.  (403) 253-7326

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Courtesy of CREB - By Geoff Geddes

Despite the Edmonton-Calgary rivalry, there’s at least one import from our northern neighbour that appears to be a welcome addition to the local real estate market: backyard suites.

“We are originally from Edmonton, but we were receiving inquiries from Calgary and finally decided that the time was right to expand,” said Ashley Salvador, president & co-founder of Calgary Backyard Suites.

The non-profit organization promotes the development of backyard suites through educational workshops, where people learn the rules, regulations, financing options and design considerations for these suites.

“It’s a great place to get all the resources you need to proceed with building your own suite,” said Salvador. “We even hold tours, so people can get a firsthand look at what a backyard suite is all about and start to imagine what theirs will look like.”

The organization also does some advocacy work, promoting policies that will aid backyard suite construction and reduce barriers to their creation.

“Connecting with a builder is critical, as there are intricacies around things like hookups and utilities that are specific to backyard suites.” – Ashley Salvador, Calgary Backyard Suites

For those new to the phenomenon, a backyard suite is a house of approximately 500 square feet located in the backyard. They are typically placed above the garage, but some suites are built as standalone structures.

“These suites play an important role in helping cities add density to existing neighbourhoods and build up their communities,” said Salvador.

“They can provide affordable rental housing in areas where the cost of buying a home is prohibitive. From a fiscal perspective, backyard suites are beneficial for cities, given the high cost of expanding outwards and serving far-off neighbourhoods with roads, sewers and such.”

Though backyard suites are relatively small, interested homeowners should keep in mind that they still represent a significant investment.

“The suites start at around $160,000, so be sure you have the capacity to finance them and speak to an experienced mortgage broker up front,” said Salvador. “As well, understand the constraints of your property. Can it accommodate a backyard suite? What design is most appropriate for your situation?”

A good first step is attending a Calgary Backyard Suites workshop, where representatives from the City of Calgary talk about the rules and regulations that apply to this unique housing option. The organization also brings in current suite owners who have been through the process and can offer advice.

“Another excellent opportunity for new buyers is our builder and designer showcase,” said Salvador.

“Connecting with a builder is critical, as there are intricacies around things like hookups and utilities that are specific to backyard suites. Talking to an expert who knows about these aspects can help you stay within budget and get exactly what you’re looking for.”

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