Tuesday, April 22nd4.4°C

Why test your indoor air quality?

Without a doubt, the quality of air indoors is worse than outdoors. Sick Building Syndrome (SBS) is a term used to describe situations where the occupants experience acute health and comfort effects that appear to be linked to the time spent in the building, but no specific illness or cause can be readily identified. A 1984 World Health Organization Committee report suggested that up to 30% of new and remodeled buildings worldwide may be the subject of excessive complaints related to Indoor Air Quality (IAQ). Cited causes, or contributing factors, of SBS include inadequate ventilation, chemical contaminants from indoor and outdoor sources, as well as, biological contaminants.


IAQ Health Signs & Symptoms

You may be surprised to learn that there are a number of health related issues associated with SBS and Indoor Air Quality (IAQ). Some often mimic common cold and flu symptoms making recognition difficult. They include: rhinitis, nasal congestion, epostaxis, pharyngitis, cough, wheezing, worsening asthma, severe lung disease, dyspnea, conjuctival irritation, headaches or dizziness, lethargy, fatigue, malaise, nausea, vomiting, anorexia, cognitive impairment, personality change, rashes, fever, chills, tachycardia, retinal hemorrhage, myalgia, hearing loss.


Contaminants & Where They Come From

Biological Pollutants:

  1. Mould / mildew / fungus -- 85% of all homes have mould and 10% to 35% have serious mould contamination. Prolonged exposure can cause anyone to develop an allergy. Sources may include dead plant material, animals, humans, soil, air, dung, and, food.
  2. Dust Mites -- live in mattresses, pillows, carpets, fabric-covered furniture, bed covers, clothes, and, stuffed toys.
  3. Pests -- droppings or body parts of pests such as cockroaches or rodents can be asthma triggers.
  4. Pollen -- a fine, powder-like material consisting of pollen grains that is produced by the anthers of seed plants.
  5. Animals -- dander, minute scales from hair, feathers, skin flakes, urine and saliva.
  6. Infectious agents (bacteria or viruses).


Chemical Contaminants:

  1. Carbon Monoxide (CO) -- where ever fossil fuels are burnt such as chimneys and furnaces, back-rafting from furnaces, gas water heaters, wood stoves and fireplaces, gas stoves, automobile exhaust from attached garages, environmental tobacco smoke.
  2. Carbon Dioxide (CO2) -- In occupied areas, the concentration of carbon dioxide (CO2), a product of human respiration, is used as an indicator of inadequate ventilation. If levels are high, constant irritability and complaints from building occupants is expected.
  3. Nitrogen Dioxide (NO2) -- kerosene heaters, unvented gas stoves & heaters, combustion sources, environmental tobacco smoke.
  4. Sulphur Dioxide (SO2) -- combustion sources (such as coal, petroleum, kerosene, propane and oil).
  5. Formaldehyde (HCHO) -- pressed wood products (hardwood paneling, particle board, fibreboard) and furniture made with these pressed wood products, Urea Formaldehyde Foam Insulation (UFFI), combustion sources, environmental tobacco smoke, durable press drapes, other textiles, coated paper products, cosmetics, and glues.
  6. Radon (Rn) -- Sources include the earth and rock beneath a building, well water, building materials. Symptoms are not readily apparent with short-term exposure.
  7. Volatile Organic Compounds (VOC's) -- includes paints, paint strippers, other solvents, wood preservatives, aerosol sprays, cleaners, disinfectants, moth repellents, air fresheners, stored fuels, automotive products, hobby supplies, dry-cleaned clothes.
  8. Pesticides -- insecticides, termiticides, disinfectants, lawn and garden products

For further information call 250 862 1806 and we will put you in touch with Pillar to Post Home Inspectors or email [email protected].


CMHC to increase insurance premiums

After the annual review of insurance products and capital requirements, CMHC made the decision to raise the mortgage loan insurance premiums for homeowner and 1-4 unit rental properties effective May 1 , 2014. This increase will apply to mortgage loan insurance premiums for owner occupied, self-employed and 1-4 unit rental properties, including low-ratio refinance premiums.  This increase will not affect mortgages currently insured by CMHC.

CMHC’s Capital management framework is aligned with international practices and Canadian guideline of mortgage insurers.  The increase in premiums will make the financial system more stable and resilient and is in line with Canadian and international industry trends.  The higher premiums reflect CMHC’s higher capital targets said Steven Mennill, Vice president of CMHC’s Insurance Operations.  CMHC’s capital holdings reduce the exposure of taxpayers to the housing market and contribute to the long term stability of the financial system.  The higher premium will result in an increase of approximately $5 per month for the average home buyer requiring CMHC insurance on their mortgage.

Effective May 1, 2014 CMHC will increase the premiums  for purchases on owner occupied (1-4  units) by approximately 15% on average for all loan to value ratios:

Loan-to-Value Ratio

Standard Premium


Standard Premium

(Effective May 1st, 2014)

Up to and including 65%



Up to and including 75%



Up to and including 80%



Up to and including 85%



Up to and including 90%



Up to and including 95%



90.01% to 95% – Non-Traditional Down Payment



CMHC reviews premiums on an annual basis and will now be doing this during the first quarter of the year.  The homeowner premium increase follows changes that CMHC made to its portfolio insurance product earlier this year.  As Canada’s national housing agency, CMHC has 65 years of experience in helping house Canadians by providing a variety of quality, environmentally sustainable and affordable housing solutions to create healthy communities and cities across our country.


For additional information please call 250 862 1806 or email [email protected].

How to save money with the way you pay

How will you pay for this today? Maybe it’s time to change the way you answer this common checkout question.

With more payment options than ever, consumers can find easy ways to save money, simply by using a different payment method.

Consider cash

Some merchants will provide discounts for cash purchases of goods or services. Using cash can also make it easier to stick to your budget. But watch how you access your cash. Use an automated bank machine (ABM) owned by your financial institution – withdrawing from a different institution’s ABM could cost more than $8.00 per transaction. Avoid taking a cash advance on your credit card since interest will be charged on those funds right away.

Debit cards can carry costs

Debit can be a good option, as long as you are not paying extra fees per transaction.  Check how many free debit transactions are included with your bank account package.

Make your credit card work for you

Credit cards can be a convenient and safe way to pay for purchases and services. Some also offer benefits and rewards. But they can encourage “buy now, pay later” spending habits that may lead to financial trouble. “Carrying a balance on a credit card increases the cost of everything you purchase with the card due to the amount of interest you pay,” says Ursula Menke, commissioner of the Financial Consumer Agency of Canada (FCAC). Aim to pay off your balance in full every month to avoid interest charges that mean you actually pay more than the price tag.
If you would like more information on saving money especially on your mortgage, please call me today 250-862-1806 or email [email protected].


Good news for small mortgage lenders

The budget  should allow more competition from smaller lenders which will keep banks competitive and make dealing with a mortgage broker even more important.  "The government has promised that the smaller banks will have easier access to funding from CMHC.  The corporation's new allocation methodologies will undergo restructuring to increase the access smaller lenders have to portfolio insurance and securitization programs."  The finance Minister, Jim Flaherty has taken steps to arm "smaller banks" with the tools to better compete with the banks and this is a win for the consumer.

The 2014 Federal Budget will make it easier for new banks to enter the mortgage market and improve access to Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) programs for small mortgage lenders, according to the Financial Post.

The budget, which was released on Tuesday by Mr Flaherty, promises to "improve the ability of new entrants and smaller banks to compete" while preserving the strength of the sector.  In addition the Office of the Superintendent of Financial Institutions (OSFI) has appointed a new representative to contact the small banks and handle some to the issues that they currently face when in competition with the Big Five banks.

The government has promised the smaller banks easier access to funding from CMHC so they are more competitive.  The corporation new allocation methodologies with be restructured to increase the access smaller lenders have to portfolio insurance and securitization programs. "I sure hope (there's more competition),: Gregory Thomas, executive of the Canadian Taxpayers Federation told the Financial Post.  "Canada could use one or two strong  national credit unions."

If you would like to know more about small bank loans please call me at 250 862 1806 or email me [email protected].

Read more Home Finance articles

About the author...

Laurie Baird is a Mortgage Broker with Verico Complete Mortgage Services. She has been in the mortgage business for 17 years starting as a lender with Royal Trust. She later worked at the Royal Bank as a Mortgage Consultant and 11 years ago became a Mortgage Broker. As a Mortgage Broker she is able to match her clients' needs with a lender who will provide them with competitive rates and products. Laurie has a Bachelor of Education degree from UBC.

Contact her at 250-862-1806 or by fax 712-0209 or visit:

Visit Laurie's blog at: http://www.okanaganmortgages.com/blog.html


The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet presents its columns "as is" and does not warrant the contents.

Previous Stories

RSS this page.
(Click for RSS instructions.)