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About The House

Hugh Cairns: At the altar

Apr 14, 2014 / 5:00 am

Here’s a little story that I offer up from time to time about the home inspection and home buying process. In the pews are the buyers’ family and the sellers’ family. Nestled among them are the buyers’ agent and the sellers’ agent a couple of lawyers, some appraisers,...

Hugh Cairns: Pool openings

Apr 7, 2014 / 5:00 am

If you are the DIY’er type like me, pool openings are kind of a revelation. Is the water going to be clear? Or is it going to be one of those green pea soup years? Over time, clearly, I had more success with early pool openings. I think that’s because algae growth likes warmer water...

Hugh Cairns: Make up air vents

Mar 31, 2014 / 5:00 am

Furnaces and hot water tanks are generally the largest sources of CO in the home because of the amount of fuel they consume. The amount of CO in combustion gas depends on the cleanliness and tuning of the burners, on the quality and quantity of combustion make-up air, and other factors. In the case...

Hugh Cairns: Termite time

Mar 24, 2014 / 5:00 am

When on the job, your home inspector focuses on the construction of a home and the permanently installed components. We don't inspect specifically for Wood Destroying Organisms (WDO) because it’s a field that requires a trained specialist. WDO’s are a nasty bunch. Termites and...

Prepare for the inspection of your home

Mar 17, 2014 / 5:00 am

It’s Spring and that means it’s the beginning of real estate season. For many it’s time to move on, while at the same time it’s a fresh beginning for others. If you’re selling, be assured that today’s buyer wants to know everything about your home. The vast...

Hot tub maintenance saves money

Mar 3, 2014 / 5:00 am

It may not be pool season, but it certainly is still hot tub season. A hot tub offers a chance to get away from it all and usually only steps from the inside of your home. Hot tubs can be a great source of fun, relaxation and a place where family and friends can come together. With all that...

Hugh Cairns: Pet urine in heat ducts

Feb 17, 2014 / 5:00 am

Now, I’m not an expert on pets and their owners, and certainly want to steer away from commenting on human and pet relations, but I can tell you that there are pet owners that live in homes where they can no longer, or turn a blind eye to the odors being created by their pet. Not too long...

Hugh Cairns: Asbestos in popcorn ceilings

Feb 3, 2014 / 5:00 am

Q. We are planning on removing the popcorn ceiling on the main floor and would like to know if it may contain asbestos. Also in your opinion is it better to remove it or cover it with new drywall. Thank again, Kelly and Debbie. A. There were many products used in construction that contained...

Removing wood chip insulation

Jan 27, 2014 / 5:00 am

Q. I have wood chip insulation in the attic and walls of older home that needs upgrading, at the same time I wish to replace the wiring. To remove the chips in the walls, do we go from the inside wood wall or the outer wood wall? - Marilyn A. I highly recommend that you include an energy...

Hugh Cairns: Choosing a bathroom fan

Jan 20, 2014 / 5:00 am

Bathroom exhaust fans are an important part of a home’s ventilation system. They eliminate odors, improve indoor air quality, and remove moisture and humidity that can lead to structural damage or mildew and mold growth. Unless a bathroom is properly ventilated, the moisture from a shower has...

Hugh Cairns: Proper bathroom ventilation

Jan 13, 2014 / 5:00 am

The mechanical ventilation of bathrooms is an important part of your home’s ventilation system. Your bathroom fan improves your indoor air quality by extracting humidity and odours. Unless your bathroom is adequately power ventilated, the moisture generated from your shower and bathing...

Hugh Cairns: Home inspections improved

Dec 16, 2013 / 5:00 am

It is a given that inspecting a home is a complex task that requires a unique blend of training and experience, and as a response, it was only some four-and-a-half-years ago that British Columbia was the first province to license and regulate home inspectors. The Canadian Association of Home and...

Hugh Cairns: Pre-sell inspections

Dec 2, 2013 / 5:00 am

It’s rare when home sellers have a before-the-sale (pre-sell home inspection), but I’d love to see more. I asked several home inspectors at our national convention in Ottawa last week how many pre-sell home inspections that they have done for homeowners in the past year and the answer...

Hugh Cairns: Is this house okay?

Nov 25, 2013 / 5:00 am

If you’re buying a home it’s now a common practice to include an inspection clause. Not having an inspection conducted can lead a buyer down a very bumpy road. Often, the purchasers of a home are expected to bear the burden of repairs that become necessary, those repairs that are...

Hugh Cairns: Home inspection survival

Nov 4, 2013 / 6:00 am

Having your home inspected is likely to be one more stressful event on top of a long list of things you need to go through to sell your home. That triggering event, from that point in time that you decide to sell your home, after the repairs and efforts towards achieving curb appeal, after all the...

Hugh Cairns: Hot water tank failure

Oct 28, 2013 / 5:00 am

My clients always ask how long a hot water tank is expected to last. Since the tank is sealed and there are no mechanical parts to inspect it’s often hard to tell. Perhaps the best way to estimate its life expectancy is simply to determine its in-service age. Depending on the internal quality...

Hugh Cairns: Making hot water

Oct 21, 2013 / 5:00 am

Of all the heating appliances in your home, hot water heaters probably work the hardest. Your heater makes cold water into hot water twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week. Most of us have always had a generous supply of hot water our whole lives. We just turn on the faucet, wait a bit and...

Hugh Cairns: Furnace service costs

Oct 7, 2013 / 5:00 am

Furnace service cost Having your furnace serviced is an opportunity to get to know your furnace technician and your furnace. A good technician will give you the low down on the state of affairs with your equipment. There really is little cost to furnace maintenance; it’s more of an...

Hugh Cairns: Furnace service

Sep 30, 2013 / 5:00 am

Welcome to heating season! That means it’s time to make sure your equipment is working to its maximum potential. For the most part, natural gas fuel furnaces are a reliable heat source. Regular maintenance of a gas fuel furnace is a function of efficiency no matter what its age. A properly...

Hugh Cairns: Household humidity

Sep 23, 2013 / 5:00 am

As the summer months leave so does their warm moist air. In our area the cool air of the winter months results in lower humidity. The construction of your home influences how much humidity is present. Tightly constructed homes with properly installed vapour barriers and tight fitting doors and...

About the Author

When you need advice or guidance with for DIY home improvement and repairs, Hugh Cairns can help you with the answers.

Home improvements can be rewarding and turn your home a nicer comfortable place to live and increase its value. Whether you are renovating your kitchen, converting a loft, giving a room a lick of paint or making improvements to your home’s energy efficiency this column is here to guide you with some useful information and key things to remember.

Do you have a renovation question or concern? Please feel free to send Hugh your questions. Contact him through


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.

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