Looking back on the last year, technology, monetizing your home and climate change were major themes in what was newsworthy for homeowners. From laneway housing to flood insurance, here are our top five for 2015:
#1. Smart Homes:
The ability to control your home from turning on lights to modifying the thermostat from your smartphone or tablet has become mainstream (and affordable!) with products like the Nest Learning Thermostat.
Expanded product offerings including security cameras and smoke alarms, will work automatically together and can be controlled from one app. They reduce energy use and allow remote access to your home no matter where you are in the world.
#2. Energy Rebate Programs:
Global warming remains a current issue, and government rebate programs continue to attract homeowners to move towards eco-friendly appliances that use less energy and conserve water.
Many programs now include full audits that also reward homeowners who replace windows and increase insulation. It’s a win-win as it puts money back in your pocket and you can feel good about helping the environment.
#3. Flood Insurance:
On the topic of climate change, rising sea levels are leaving many coastal homes vulnerable to flooding. By 2050, up to 28,000 dwellings in Canada could have serious water issues, either temporarily due to storm surges, or permanently because of rising sea-levels.
Many homeowners think that their property insurance covers coastal flooding, but usually, it doesn’t unless it is the direct result of a sewer back-up. There’s a complete site about flood insurance here and we had a great Q&A with Square One’s own Daniel Mirkovic here.
If you are living in an area that may be susceptible to flooding, take a look at your policy and confirm you have the right coverage in place. In some cities, Flood audits are also available and can suggest inexpensive retrofits to help avoid costly repairs. Here’s an article we created on Flood insurance.
#4. Laneway Housing:
Laneway housing has been the answer to increasing density at an affordable price for property-rich cities like Vancouver and Toronto. It is an attractive way to profit from land by either subdividing and selling off the property or renting it for rental income without compromising the primary residence.
In other cases, it has been a great way for parents to help their kids enter the property market with co-ownership of a laneway house on the existing property. Think of it as a way to keep your kids close to home without sharing a roof.
#5. The Sharing Economy:
From cars to homes, sharing between individuals via a technology platform is on the rise. For homeowners, Airbnb.com is designed to help monetize their extra space, be it a room or a whole house.
Airbnb home insurance here and get a quick overview of how Canadians are engaged with Airbnb here.
Before you join one of 2,000,000 plus listings worldwide, homeowners need to consider the risks of renting such as ensuring your home insurance policy covers rental activity and possible tax implications on the rental income.