Having an aesthetically pleasing home takes more than just a couple of interior upgrades and replacing the storm drains. These all mean nothing if you have a yard and it looks like it hasn’t been tended to in years. Landscaping your front yard is just as important as the rest of your remodeling projects, and according to the American Society of Landscape Architects, you should be putting at least 10 percent of your home’s total value into the landscaping upgrades and maintenance.

In turn, when it comes time to selling your home, improving the landscape alone could increase the total value of your home by 20 percent.

So, once you’ve decided to remodel your front yard, unless you’re an experienced landscaper who has the means to do this kind of project, you’re going to need some help from professionals.

Working together with the team of professionals, you’ll be able to make your yard dreams come to life in ways you never thought possible. It’s always nice to have an idea in mind of what you want, no matter how small the detail.

Here are a few things to consider when planning out your dream yard.

  • The size of your yard. Are you able to achieve the upgrades that you want without making it look cluttered and messy?
  • Your lifestyle. Do you have children who love using the space for activities? Are you able to provide the necessary maintenance once the upgrades are installed?
  • The climate. Some plants will not thrive in certain conditions, so if you’re planning on sprucing up your yard with some greenery, research plants that do well in your community and choose those over the ones that will only last for a week or two at best.

To help you get started, here are a few ideas to incorporate into your design:

  • Walkways
  • Trees to provide shade
  • Planters
  • Shrubbery
  • Ponds/Fountains
  • Outdoor lighting
  • Vegetable garden

You’re not limited to these options of course. A reputable landscaper and designer will have many more suggestions based on your budget, lifestyle, and the overall size of your yard.

The home buying journey can be a long and drawn out process, especially if you’re looking for something specific. Once you find that perfect house that fits all the requirements, you may be eager to sign the papers right then and there. But be warned. Just because something looks perfect, doesn’t mean that it will stay that way. Your perfect home could turn into your worst nightmare if you don’t look carefully enough and check for things that may end up costing you hundreds of thousands of dollars in the future. Here are the top 5 things to look for before signing off on your dream house.

1. Roof Damage

You may not spend a lot of time on the roof, if at all, but it is one of the most important structures of your home. The condition of the roof will determine whether that chef’s kitchen you’ve been fawning over will be flooded during the next heavy rain or snowfall. Replacing a shingle roof can cost upwards of $8000, which is not an amount that you want to be shelling out as soon as you move in. Roofs are typically replaced every 20-25 years so be sure to ask the agent in charge of selling the property the current condition of the roof and when it was last serviced so you can be informed and plan ahead.

2. Foundation Damage

You’ve heard it applied to unstable relationships that if there’s cracks in the foundation, then the less likely it is to survive. The exact same philosophy can be applied to your home. The foundation of your home determines whether or not it remains standing or has the possibility of collapsing. Check the foundation of the home and look for uneven areas, cracks, or humps, as these indicate that the ground may have shifted and therefore pose a threat to the stability of your home.

3. Natural Disaster Risks

You may be dreaming of that beautiful waterfront home and sipping your favourite drink while looking out onto the water from the comforts of your porch, but while that sounds wonderful during peaceful times, you’ll want to weight the risk factors of what will happen to your home in the event of a natural disaster. Those close to water have a high risk of flooding, especially if there are no barriers in place to prevent such a thing. For those in places where earthquakes can be common, having a home on a rock face or close to one may have devastating consequences. Research your area and carefully consider every possibility before settling down in a potentially dangerous area.

4. Mold and Water Damage

Not only does water damage and mold look unattractive, but the latter can also lead to health problems down the road. Especially on the roof, too much build up can result in an eventual cave in, costing thousands of dollars in repairs. If small, it’s best to have that taken care of as soon as possible, but avoid houses with excessive mold and water damage as it’s just not worth the time and investment.

5. Insulation

This mainly applies to older houses as they weren’t build with insulation as their top priority. Ask the seller’s agent what year the home was built in and if it has gone through any insulation upgrades. A well insulated house will determine the amount of money that you’ll have to dish out to keep your house’s temperature regulated during the hot summer months and bitterly cold winters.

Unless you can afford to pay two mortgages or plan on renting out your old home before you make the move to Squamish, selling your home seems like the logical choice. However, a lot more goes into selling your home than just calling up a real estate agent and having them show your home to prospective families. Especially in today’s housing market, people are looking for homes that show a lot of promise, and are more drawn to a home that is welcoming, inviting, and has been through recent upgrades, especially highly sought after ones like stainless steel appliances and marble countertops. So before you put your house on the market, consider investing in it one final time to make sure that you get the most bang for your buck. Here are a few upgrades, both big and small, that will help to increase the value of your home.

Important note: before you do any major renovations, consult with an expert to make sure that that wall you want to knock down won’t damage the structural integrity of your home. This includes knocking down beams and walls that may support the whole house, in which their removal could cause disastrous results.

The Kitchen

As one of the busiest parts of the home, a tight walkway and limited counter space is a turn-off for many people, especially those who like to cook or entertain guests. There are ways to work around this, however, and tricks like replacing the lighting or installing windows in appropriate areas to open up the room and give the illusion that it’s bigger.

Small Upgrades:

  • Replace the sinks and faucets
  • Upgrade the lighting
  • A fresh coat of paint

Larger Upgrades:

  • Upgrade appliances to energy-efficient and stainless steel
  • Upgrade the cabinets, drawers, and countertops
  • Remove walls to create an open concept space
  • If space allows, install an island for more counter space and seating opportunities

The Bathroom/Powder Room:

The bathroom is another one of your home’s most visited spaces and can be especially busy in the morning while everyone is competing for the same space and facilities. Larger upgrades may be more desirable if you’re working with a tiny space and wanting to expand, but even small upgrades in a small space can make a large impact on the selling price of your home.

Small Upgrades:

  • Paint the walls
  • Upgrade or remove shower doors
  • Replace faucets and shower heads
  • Upgrade the sink
  • Upgrade the countertops
  • New lighting

Larger Upgrades:

  • Expand the bathroom ro make more space
  • Replace the bathtub/shower
  • Replace/upgrade the flooring
  • Add heated flooring

The Bedroom

You can never have enough space when it comes to the bedroom. Considered a sanctuary for most people after a busy day, you want the space to be warm and welcoming.

Small Upgrades:

  • Fresh coat of paint
  • Seal any drafts from the windows
  • Fill small holes in the walls left behind by picture frames and decor

Large Upgrades:

  • Replace the carpet
  • Install hardwood floors
  • Replace the windows

There are many other upgrades that are available to do around the home, but these are the most common. Keep in mind that you don’t have to do everything on this list in order for the house to sell. Trust your instincts and do what is best for your home and your wallet.