Welcome to my blog on housing, culture, and design! I’m Steve Fudge and I’m celebrating my 31st year as a realtor and property consultant in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.
Although Spring keeps approaching to knock at our doorsteps, it retreats and leaves us with the harshest – and wildest – of Winter weather. The kind that snarls urban living into a knot of panicky people and dangerous driving conditions: heavy snow, winds, and even the appearance of the rare weather phenomenon ‘thundersnow’ during a recent storm.
I’ll admit the views from my window with thundersnow in full effect felt rather apocalyptic, but it was more of a spectacle on this occasion compared to the increasingly severe weather events we’ve been experiencing over the past year. Climate change is happening in real-time, with a ferocity that impacts how we live, impacting expanses of geographical locations – and of course, the built environments within them. In fact, our PEI design incubator called The Black House (which I occasionally write posts about in our blog category The Tales Of Upper Hillsborough) was rattled in September 2022 when Hurricane Fiona roared through the Maritimes. We fared quite well, especially compared to our neighbour who had every tree surrounding their property crash onto the dwelling trapping them inside. However, the power was out 9 days in Charlottetown and for weeks in more rural areas. From CBC here’s –> A Photographic Look At Damage From Hurricane Fiona On P.E.I.
Considering the relationship between climate change, weather events, and strategic homeownership, paying attention to whether the property you’re occupying or considering purchasing is vulnerable to an atmospheric river, a forest fire, a tornado, or a hurricane, for example. is not only an important task of due diligence for dwellhunters, but it should probably take priority over the designer fixtures and fittings, right?
Fortunately, helpful tools are emerging to help homeowners gauge the risk in order to inform their future decisions.
Last Summer, I reported on the emergence of a new tool that homebuyers could use to assess potential climate risk with a particular property. Developed by Climate Check, this tool assigns a metric, similar to the way a property receives a walk, transit, or bike score. Here is my post about it called –> Climate Risk Assessment And Real Estate Values.
Climate Check Runs Data On 5 Hazards: Heat, Storm, Fire, Drought & Flood
The climate risk assessment tool looks at the likelihood of a property sustaining damage from a weather event, like fire, hurricane, flood, or drought, by looking back at weather logs over the past century to predict the probabilities of events re-occurring. When this tool initially came out, it was for homebuyers in the U.S. but it’s now available in Canada through a partnership with Montreal-based Local Logic.
Of course, geography plays a role in the calculus of this risk. It likely comes as no surprise for example, that a home sitting on the shores of the ocean is at greater risk for wind or flood damage from a hurricane. But what this tool does is it lets homebuyers weigh out the risks and see if the pros outweigh the cons for their property purchase, as they align with their own housing matrix of priorities.
It’s all about making an informed purchase, much in the same way that a dwell hunter is advised to conduct a property inspection as part of their due diligence prior to purchasing a home. In fact, we believe a presale inspection report is an essential document for both the Buying & Selling process as we shared in –> Dear Urbaneer: What Are The Benefits Of A Presale Inspection Report For Property Sellers & Buyers?.
In our experience as realtors, it’s important our Sellers understand what issues and deficiencies are identified during a presale inspection of their property so they can make the decision whether to leave them or attend to them in advance of any Buyers submitting an Offer. If they elect not to make any fixes, then we arrange for some quotes from qualified trades that we include with the inspection report and we make the package available to prospective purchasers upon request. We’ve learned that if you proactively disclose the deficiencies of a property and you provide documentation that offers a solution and cost, this information isn’t necessarily going to kill a deal, and it allows the Buyers to reconcile these issues and their costs in advance of making an Offer. This is much better than having a property inspection done after a property is sold conditionally because the Buyers may want to renegotiate the Agreement of Purchase & Sale. This effectively puts all parties under stress as they undertake a second attempt to create a meeting of the minds and it isn’t necessary if executed properly.
It’s much the same format with respect to a Climate Check. If the Sellers and Buyers are both provided the document in advance of the Buyers submitting an Offer To Purchase, as this Toronto Star article states, the intention of sharing this information is not about trying to drive homebuyers toward certain areas that are less prone to weather events either. Instead, the goal of Climate Check – and the reason for bringing this type of information to light – is to give homeowners and potential purchasers the opportunity to weigh risk against reward. (For example, you adore the manse at the base of a muddy hill. Luxe life? Hell, yes. Landslide’s likely? Also Yes.)
And it’s not just for Buyers who are weighing the pros and cons of purchasing a particular property; the information provided by Climate Check allows existing Homeowners to fortify their homes proactively to protect themselves from likely climate events. For example, this might include installing additional structural safeguards that deter fire or flood.
Furthermore, with this awareness comes the ability for whole communities to adopt these approaches when this measurable risk comes to light, which could reduce damage – and the overall price tag of repair and rescue – down the road. This higher-level focus is probably partly what motivated the federal government to table a requirement to disclose the potential climate risk for a given property as part of their 2022 budget. The requirement will begin in 2024.
The emergence of this tool in Canada lays the framework for that to happen. Here is the press release about this tool’s release in Canada.
It’s a good idea to adopt this lens of proactive prevention, whether you are a dwell hunter or a homeowner trying to grow the value of your property investment – and keep your family safe from harm at home.
In addition to having an emergency kit on hand (I wrote about emergency preparedness for your home in this past post: Dear Urbaneer: How Can I Prepare My Home For Emergencies?), take time to do some items that will help mitigate risk, like making sure your insurance policies are up-to-date and cover your needs adequately.
Furthermore, it would serve you to do some preventative maintenance and proactive upgrades, if possible, to mitigate against the risk of a severe climate event such as:
- When the forecast looks threatening, make sure that vehicles are parked indoors, if possible. Install a sump pump in your basement, and make sure that items are not stored directly on the ground in the basement. Have electrical sockets above usual flood levels on lower floors
- Make sure rain gutters are wide enough and flow away from the home and the foundation. Fortify windows, by inspecting for damage regularly and repairing or replacing them.
- Make sure your home is well-insulated, which can help to prevent burst pipes in the event of extreme cold.
- Secure any outdoor furniture, toys, or BBQs to protect them from the wind. Inspect your roof regularly for loose tiles.
- Maintain any tree branches or landscaping that could pose a threat to your home in a wind storm or snow storm. Keeping your home free of plant material directly around it (i.e., leaves, pine needles, etc.) can help slow the spread in the event of a fire.
(And because we are consummate Canadians, we have a great post about How To Prep Your Property For The Winter Season).
With decades of experience helping hundreds of Sellers garner top dollar and Buyers secure the right property purchase – and an incredible resource on all matters of real estate, housing & home – the Urbaneer Team welcomes offering you our insight and guidance. And if we serve you well, perhaps you might consider us as your realtors of choice!
The pleasure would be ours.
If you found this post helpful and informative, consider checking out these other Healthy Home articles by Urbaneer.com:
Knob And Tube Wiring Is Still Common In Canada
Dear Urbaneer: How Can I Escape Electrosmog For An EMF-Free Housing Community In The Countryside?
What Are The Real Financial, Emotional And Health Costs Of Commuting?
Healthy Home: A Guide to Radon Exposure
Healthy Home: What You Need To Know About Household Mold
Healthy Home: What You Need To Know About Asbestos
Healthy Home: What You Need To Know About Buried Oil Tanks
How To Use Biophilia In Your Home’s Design
What You Should Know About Light Pollution
Healthy Home: What You Need To Know About The Health Hazards Of Living Near Power Lines
Hello Toronto, Ontario, Canada! Make Your Home A ‘Net Zero’ Hero
How To Ensure Your Basement Is Not Only Comfortable But Safe
How To Make Your Outdoor Space More Eco-Friendly
Beware Of Sick Building Syndrome
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Serving first and second-time buyers, relocations, renovators, and those building their long-term property portfolios, my mandate is to help clients choose the property which will realize the highest future return on their investment while ensuring the property best serves their practical needs and their dream of “Home” during their ownership. At Urbaneer, my team and I identify a property’s best qualities, features, and insouciant charm in the context of your wishes and wants, plus your future target market. Although searching for the right property can be an intense and sometimes lengthy process it is, without fail, rewarding both to our clients and the Urbaneer team. Now in our 30th year, we are grateful to be the realtor of choice for both established Torontonians, and the newly arrived.
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Thanks for reading!
-The Urbaneer Teas
Steven Fudge, Sales Representative
& The Innovative Urbaneer Team
Bosley Real Estate Ltd., Brokerage – (416) 322-800
– we’re here to earn your trust, then your business –
Celebrating Thirty-One Years As A Top-Producing Toronto Realtor
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* [ Title image with Climate Check logo is property and courtesy of Climate Check Facebook Page, with thanks. We hold no rights to these. ]