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About The House

Finished grade level

Apr 20, 2015 / 5:00 am

Concrete foundation walls should extend higher than the finished grade level (concrete patios, sidewalks and landscaping improvements) adjacent to the foundation wall at all points. There are industry recognized preferable minimum finishing heights to be achieved in relation to framing, cladding...

Home buying seminar

Apr 13, 2015 / 5:00 am

When you buy a home, it isn’t like most things that if you don’t like it you can’t simply return it. I can tell you from experience that the vast majority of my clients have bought less than a handful of houses over their lifetime, with most being first, second or third time...

Be careful out there

Apr 6, 2015 / 6:00 am

I’ve always said that anything about a house can be fixed except for its location. Once a house is completed for occupancy, it is pretty much set for its expected lifespan. It is when we want to improve or change the purpose of the home that we need to recognize and comply with local...

The odds are stacked

Mar 30, 2015 / 5:00 am

Q. How close to the house can firewood be stored for a fireplace? A. That stack of firewood you had up against the house all winter needs to be moved. When it gets damp it will be the perfect breeding ground for a variety of insects. With the Spring rain and snow melt, wood left on the...

New home inspections

Mar 23, 2015 / 5:00 am

Q: We are buying a new home. Do we really need to pay for an inspection? A: If you are buying a new home, if you consider what could possibly go wrong, the answer is more complex than you might think. The fact is, any home, whether it is large or small, new or old, is an intricate maze...

Hugh Cairns: Mobile home CSA stickers

Mar 16, 2015 / 7:00 am

Q. Hello, if there is a silver tag on the electrical panel of mobile does that mean it's up to code? Thanks for your help - Bonnie A. The short answer is not necessarily. Your first step is to determine the type of sticker on the panel. Be careful not to confuse CSA stickers with...

Hugh Cairns: Pick a plumber

Mar 9, 2015 / 5:00 am

World Plumbing Day is on March 11. World Plumbing Day you say? If you consider it, we live in one of the best countries in the world and certainly in one of the best cities in Canada. We have the best of fresh water and state of the art sewage systems. Reports cite that there are some 2.6 billion...

Hugh Cairns: Cast iron sewage pipes

Mar 2, 2015 / 5:00 am

Cast iron sewage waste pipes have been in use for more than 100 years. In commercial and multifamily construction applications, cast iron pipes are still installed today, mostly where large diameter requirements are required. In residential construction, cast iron waste pipes were phased out in the...

Hugh Cairns: Selling your home in 2015

Feb 23, 2015 / 5:00 am

With some of the great weather we have had this winter it is not a stretch to start thinking about Spring. If you have plans to sell your home in this year’s Spring real estate season then now is the time to get started before you list. Engaging a professional realtor is sure to...

Hugh Cairns: Pack rat

Feb 2, 2015 / 6:00 am

Pack rats are nest builders. They build great nests. They use all kinds of materials ranging from branches, foliage, debris to sofa stuffing. The nest in this attic measures five feet in diameter and almost three feet high. (I gotta tell ya, that on first sight during this home inspection, I...

Hugh Cairns: Thermal imaging is key

Jan 19, 2015 / 5:00 am

Okanagan Valley homes may not be susceptible to dry rot thanks to our drier weather, but fungal rot caused by water infiltration is a different story. When out inspecting homes, inspectors in our area are sharp to seek out moisture related concerns. Excessive moisture in homes is often due to...

Hugh Cairns: Home inspection guarantee's

Jan 12, 2015 / 5:00 am

What is a home inspection? Well, that’s a great question and the answer varies greatly between inspectors and consumers. One thing we can all agree on is that home inspections are very important. The best case scenario is that the home inspection will determine that the home is performing...

Hugh Cairns: The perfect house

Dec 22, 2014 / 5:00 am

People are often curious to know what kinds of conditions are found during home inspections. In older homes, the inspection report often leads itself to deficiency recognition and how aging components are likely to last. The inspection of new homes tends to lend itself towards the proper...

Hugh Cairns: Attic frost

Dec 15, 2014 / 5:00 am

Q. How much attic frost is too much? A. After sticking my head into hundreds of attics every year, I can tell you that seeing some frost low on the underside of the roof sheathing in the dead of winter is nothing to be immediately concerned about. In fact, most people don’t even know...

Hugh Cairns: Mouse!

Dec 1, 2014 / 5:00 am

When I’m out inspecting it’s not uncommon to find evidence of rodents. Evidence can be found year round, but just like us humans, in the winter, rodents want to be safe, warm and dry. Rats and mice search out shelter and invade our homes through cracks and holes. Rats can fit through...

Hugh Cairns: It’s not going to be perfect

Nov 24, 2014 / 5:00 am

In my book, there are three primary outcomes from home inspections and they are all categorized as good. There are the inspections where a significant existing condition is communicated that the buyer may not be aware of, or where the conditions observed are anticipated and explainable (these...

Home inspection fees could soar

Nov 17, 2014 / 5:00 am

If you have had a home inspection or are about to have one, in probability it will be conducted by a member of BC’s predominant association of home inspectors, The Canadian Association of Home and Property Inspectors BC (CAHPI BC). Members of CAHPI BC perform home inspections in accordance...

Hugh Cairns: Excessive dryer lint build-up

Nov 10, 2014 / 5:00 am

A quick look at your dryer venting can be very illuminating. Up on the roof and out of the way this dryer vent is causing problems. Notwithstanding long drying times, clogged vents contribute to the danger of a fire. Considering what is at stake, dryer venting deserves more attention than it...

Hugh Cairns: Do this before winter

Nov 3, 2014 / 5:00 am

For homeowners, the end of Fall means that your home should be prepared for winter. Beyond yard cleanup and irrigation blowouts, homeowners should be completing their Fall maintenance inspections. If you’ve already done yours good for you, if you haven’t, the good news is there is some...

Hugh Cairns: Your aging hot water tank

Oct 27, 2014 / 5:00 am

How old is the hot water tank? Does it need replacing? These are some of the hot water tank questions that I am routinely asked while conducting a home inspection. They are actually simple questions with many different answers. The bottom line is that we should make calculated decisions to replace...

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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