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August 10, 2015

Why We Love Marda Loop

Today, it’s an eclectic inner-city neighbourhood and a shopper’s paradise. Read more »

Avalon Master Builder - Why We Love Marda Loop

Marda Loop was once located on the edge of the city. Today, it’s an eclectic inner-city neighbourhood and a shopper’s paradise.

Located on 33rd and 34th avenues, Marda Loop is a thriving outdoor shopping and dining district, home to a variety of distinct stores and restaurants, all within walking distance of each other. The trendy neighbourhood gets its name from the now closed Marda Theatre, which was located on the corner of the same intersection of the “Loop” streetcar route.

Marda Loop is home to more than 100 diverse businesses including cafes, gourmet coffee shops like the ever-popular Phil & Sebastian’s, multicultural restaurants including Rasoi Kitchen for cutting-edge Indian, Globefish Sushi and Izakaya for trendy Japanese, Craft Beer, Fergus & Bix plus Original Joe’s for upscale pub. The area also includes upmarket spas, clothing and jewelry shops, a book store, scuba centre and multiple specialty pet shops for your furry friends.

Every year on the second Sunday in August, the streets of Marda Loop come alive with the New Orleans-themed Marda Gras Street Festival. With the streets decorated like Marda Gras, this is a free public event for anyone to experience the culture and cuisine of New Orleans, in downtown Calgary. The festival includes street performers and entertainment for all ages.

This collection of trendy coffee shops and eateries attract a youthful influence, while surrounding neighbourhoods like Garrison Woods and Upper Mount Royal, along with Marda Loop’s rich history, add a feeling of maturity.

With its upscale diversity, it all comes together nicely and creates a fun environment where there’s something for everyone.

Marda Loop offers so much, that the business council have put together a Business Directory website http://www.mardaloopbrz.ca/ so both locals and visitors can easily find what they’re looking for.

Avalon Master Builder

House prices are stable and if anything, they are expected to continue to go lower, which is another reason that it’s an ideal time to buy. It has been a sellers market for years; but it has now transitioned into a buyers market, making it a great time to jump in. Not only are prices relatively stable, but there are deals to be had.

It’s easy to get caught up in all of the talk about the economy and put off buying your home until next year, but there are many opportunities available. Did you know mortgage payments are often lower than those monthly rent payments you are making? Homeownership brings a sense of pride and value, so think about where your rent check is going every month and make an investment in your future.

AttainableHomes

The increase in housing prices over the years isn’t making it easy for Calgarians to purchase their dream home. The cost of rent and the day to expenses doesn’t leave much room for saving money for that hefty down payment.

Saving 5% or more for a down payment is the number one obstacle homebuyers face when looking to purchase, but there are options for those who don’t have enough money to put down. The Attainable Homes Calgary Corporation was implemented to help buyers with the initial down payment so they can invest their money and have a sense of ownership.

AHCC is a non-profit organization owned by the City of Calgary and it works to provide well-appointed, entry-level homes in order to help bridge the city’s growing affordability gap. The Attainable Home Ownership Program connects builders, developers, lenders and lawyers to bring down the upfront costs of buying a home. The program was initially created to help more Calgarians
move from rentals, to ownership.

So how does it work? The buyer contributes a $2,000 deposit and receives an equity loan to go towards the purchase price of the home. When you eventually decide to sell your home, you share a portion of the appreciation with AHCC, which is reinvested in the program to help more Calgarians purchase an affordable home. The longer you live in your home, the more of its appreciation you keep, up to a maximum of 75%. Pretty fantastic deal isn’t it?

In order to qualify to buy an Attainable Home, your annual household cannot exceed $90,000 if you have kids at home, and for those without kids, it’s a maximum of $80,000. Your assets must be less than 20% of the purchase price, with a maximum of $50,000. The home must also be your sole permanent residence.

Once you have been accepted as a client, you can choose from a variety of homes across the city. AHCC provides beautiful, spacious homes with modern appliances in great locations, such as those homes provided by Avalon Master Builder. Avalon works with AHCC by providing them with homes to implement into their programs and offer more affordable options for Calgarians. AHCC also offers condos and townhomes below market prices.

Through the program, Attainable Homes is able to deliver a variety of home ownership opportunities to Calgarians who never thought owning a home was an option for them.

GLAS_LR_Corner

Avalon Master Builder is a leader in green building and is committed to building homes with the highest standards in energy efficiency and sustainable building practices. This makes building with insulated concrete forms (ICF) an excellent option, and it was (and still is) the best option to build with in our new GLAS townhomes. But really, what does ICF mean to you, and why should you care?

If the walls of GLAS could talk, they would sell themselves. ICF homes really have quite a few advantages for you, the homeowner, so let’s take a look at each one individually, shall we?

Lots of Insulation

ICF walls allow for up to R-28. This is 40% better insulated than your typical home and it means less money out of your pocket to heat your townhome when living in GLAS.

They Don’t Blow

ICF homes are poured as a single large block, similar to a concrete basement wall. Using this technique means ICF structures are not affected by insulation gaps and thermal bridging (like a wood-frame structure would be), which means they have less chance for air to move through cracks. It makes your home much more comfortable – Just think of ICF as a warm blanket wrapped around your new GLAS home.

Shhhh!

These walls have insulation on both sides of the concrete, which means they reduce noise by up to 30%. Could there be a better option for the inner city? Your neighbours can party all they want and your home will still be your little haven.

Bring it On, Mother Nature!

ICF buildings are extremely resilient to, floods, earthquakes and severe storms. They have withstood winds of up to 200-300 mph. They won’t rot or mould, and are not affected by insects like a home with a wood-frame structure would be. The building will be around for a very long time and require much less upkeep than a wood frame house. Your investment in a home built like GLAS will be sound.

It Won’t Burn Down

ICFs are extremely resilient to fires and have a 4-hour fire rating (in general, the wall will hold strong and resist extreme temperature transfer for approximately four hours). Should something happen you and your belongings are protected – This will give you peace of mind.

All in all, ICF’s create superior, energy efficient walls that provide long-term, energy cost savings. ICFs will ensure your home is safe, while adding great resale value to the building on top of all the aforementioned benefits. This is why Avalon has chosen to build GLAS out of ICF and why you should consider GLAS for your new home.

Brown Bagging for Calgary Kids

Brown Bagging for Calgary Kids works with Calgary schools to identify kids who are hungry, and finds a way to feed them. They deliver free healthy lunches to students that may otherwise go hungry.

The organization began as Brown Bagging for Calgary’s Street Kids in 1990, with the focus of providing lunches for homeless children. The program continued and evolved through the 1990’s, and in 2002 became an official charity. After learning in 2005 that hunger in schools was a big problem, BB4CK shifted it’s focus, and dropped the word “street” from the name, focusing on all hungry children in Calgary.

With the help of volunteers, BB4CK provides about 2,000 lunches each day for children. The lunches are prepared in either the main kitchen or other locations provided by community groups in the city. When an individual or corporation makes a donation of any size, the effect is immediate. It costs about $1 to feed a child, so the impact of any donation is easy to calculate.

Avalon employees in Calgary regularly donate time to BB4CK. Not only is it a great form of team building for employees, it creates a sense of fulfillment as well. It’s important to spend time bonding with your coworkers outside of an office setting, so why not dedicate that time to helping your community? BB4CK’s downtown kitchen is an awesome place to plan your next team building activity. They invite groups of up to 12 people to work shifts starting at 8 a.m. and ending between 11 a.m. and noon. If you would like more information on booking a time for your group, check out the website: http://bb4ck.org/get-involved/volunteer-teams/. Individuals are also encouraged to volunteer.

As of 2013, BB4CK feeds students in about 100 of Calgary’s 300 schools. They hope to eventually work with every school in the city, so help them spread the word. Brown Bagging for Calgary’s Kids has one goal: no hungry kids in Calgary. Do your part in making that happen!

oil extraction

Albertans are a nervous bunch. Bummed about bad news regarding the Alberta economy? Hearing the dreaded “R” word again?

Unless you have been living under a rock you’ve heard that the global price of oil (the black stuff, not cooking oil) has plummeted by more than half since last June and depending on who or what you are listening to, could drop to under $40 US a barrel before rebounding.

So why is this happening? It’s complicated. But it boils down to the simple economics of supply and demand (refer to your Econ text book if you are rusty on this point). Bottom line? If supply is greater than demand, the price drops. There’s currently a Mexican standoff between the major oil producing countries and no one is blinking.

That makes Albertans skittish about the economy.

While it may take a little wind out of our sails temporarily, there is an upside. Really.

The good news story is it creates opportunities.

Lower oil prices mean it’s cheaper for people to live (think about your savings at the gas pump) and reduced operating costs for complementary industries to do business.

The overall economic benefits are significant but good news doesn’t sell newspapers so here it is:

  • The U.S. economy is predicted to grow more that 2.5% in 2015. That’s huge and great news for us Albertans because the U.S. is our biggest market. Expansion in the U.S. housing market supports the potential for further opportunities for Alberta construction, forestry and transportation businesses. Positive movement in these sectors will help support job creation, particularly among small businesses, and will help to diversify Alberta’s export portfolio.
  • With the current drop in oil prices and a lower Canadian dollar, oil exports to the U.S. will be partially offset with greater volumes. A 3 per cent increase in oil exports from Alberta is forecast for 2015.
  • The 14 per cent slide in pump prices since the end of September (and steeper in some regions) means Canadians are collectively saving about $165.2 million dollars. Every. Single. Week. This could create a $20 Billion cash pile in people’s pockets that they can spend elsewhere.
  • This will all trickle down to mostly the little guy. The best news is these benefits will accrue primarily low to middle income households because fuel costs eat up a larger share of limited income.
  • After significant price run ups the past few years, Calgary housing prices are predicted to increase by about 3.0% for single-family homes and about of 2.5% for condos. Sales are expected to be roughly the same as 2014.
  • Housing supply levels are expected to rise. Given previously tight market conditions, rising supply will simply push the market toward more balanced conditions, supporting price stability.
  • The Bank rate recently dropped by .25 points and is expected to remain historically low into 2016. This will trickle down to mortgage rates as well with banks competing for mortgage business.

This good news story supports investing in a large purchase such as a new home sooner rather than later – unless of course you want to pay more. Lending rates have never been better, lower upward pressure on housing prices, more inventory to choose from, and a continuing tight rental market.

Now that’s good news!

How will the Alberta New Home Warranty provide you security when you purchase your multi-family home?

As of February 1, 2014 every new home built in Alberta is protected under warranty.

Alberta’s New Home Buyer Protection Act encourages even higher quality standards from builders and reflects the Government’s desire to ensure all new homebuyers receive even more protection for the single most expensive purchase they may ever make. This act gives buyers a clear idea of what to expect when buying a home, as well as protect them when things do not go as planned. The warranty is an assurance from a builder that the new home is reliable, and that the builder will repair or replace any defects that arise within a given period and under specified conditions. The Government says the act is the strongest consumer home warranty protection plan in Canada.

How does the coverage work?

The warranty covers one year for labour and materials, two years for delivery and distribution systems, five years for building protection and ten years for major structural components.

• The first year includes items such as flooring and fixtures, starting on the warranty commencement date.
• The first two years covers defects in labour and materials related to heating, plumbing and electrical systems.
• The first five years covers the exterior shell of the home, including the roof and walls. It’s possible to purchase two additional years of coverage in this area.
• The first ten years covers the key structural components of your home, including its frame and foundation.

What is your role in the new warranty process?

Before purchasing a multi-family home with a builder, do your research. You want to find out how long your builder has been in business and what others have to say about the builder. Research the warranty provider as well and make sure you know key warranty dates and what process to go through if you do need to make a claim.

Remember that once your home has been built, you are responsible for the basic maintenance and upkeep.

What does this mean for you?

The Alberta New Home Warranty Program establishes a consistent approach to new home warranty, providing common understandings between all builders and buyers. The legislation is all about providing clear information and consistent protection, allowing builders to establish their reputation by fulfilling their promises. Overall, this warranty will give you peace of mind if something does go wrong in your home.

We believe in the work we do which is why we’re more than happy to stand by it while providing our homeowners with peace of mind. For more information visit http://www.anhwp.com/.

Baking Christmas gingerbread. Shallow depth of field.We all want to spend time with friends and family, but it can be difficult to think of a reason to have everyone over. Here are a few suggestions to get the ideas flowing:

1. Host a White Elephant Gift Exchange.

Party games are a great way to bring people together that may not know each other and break the ice. Ask each guest to bring a wrapped gift within a specific price range ($25 is a good limit). Put all the gifts in the center of the circle and have each guest draw number to determine which order the gifts will be selected. When it’s your turn, you can either open a new gift or steal a gift from somebody else. This game is fun and can get very competitive, plus you go home with a gift!

2. Organize a baking swap.

Invite a group of friends over and have each person bring a plate of their favourite holiday baking, as well as a copy of the recipe for everyone. At the party, sample the treats, then trade and package them up in little containers for everyone to bring home. It’s a nice idea because everyone leaves with some treats and a bunch of new recipes to try.

3. Invite friends over for a sit down dinner.

Determine a date, location and a menu. Invite your friends! Make sure you are preparing for the dinner a full week in advance. On Monday decide which day you are going to get groceries and which day you will clean. Make sure to set the table a day in advance; this will reduce the stress day of. Remember to relax and have fun with it, the most important thing is to enjoy the company of people you are with.

4. Put together a Christmas Craft.

Find a fun holiday craft to do with a group of friends and buy all of the supplies. Invite everyone over and enjoy creating something together. Ask everyone to bring baking and make an afternoon of it. Don’t forget to put on some great holiday tunes.

Do you have any unique holiday traditions with your friends and family? Please share them!

ZEN_Quartz

Quartz has many outstanding attributes that make it a great choice for your countertops. At Avalon, we strive to bring you the best product choices, and quartz countertops are one of those. Here are 4 top reasons to love your quartz!

  1. Quartz countertops are an attractive and rich looking product available in a wide variety of colors and mixes, from more traditional to ultra modern. Because quartz countertops are a manufactured product, quality and regularity in color is easy to achieve.

  2. Quartz countertops are very durable – as much as granite – but are less likely to chip or scratch. This is because quartz countertops are a man made engineered stone product. The mined quartz, which is one of the hardest minerals in the world, is mixed with 7% resin and colorants, and then fused at a very high temperature. The end result is a very hard and reliable surface.

  3. Quartz countertops are non-porous; they do not have to be sealed like granite and are stain resistant. You can entertain with ease, and when your tipsy friend spills a glass of red wine, it won’t leave a mark. The non-porous surface also makes the product highly sanitary, as quartz countertops do not harbour bacteria or viruses.

  4. It’s green too! Mining the quartz mineral is said to have only a light to moderate impact and it is the 2nd most abundant material in the earth’s crust. Quartz countertops are also a low emission product.

Beautiful, durable and functional, there are so many reasons to choose quartz countertops. Avalon is pleased to offer quartz countertop options in a wide variety of colors. Your beautiful and stylish home is our passion. Each day we want you to love coming home to your Avalon home.

5 Easy and Essential Fall Maintenance Tips for Your Homed

HRVFilter

As the autumn weather begins it’s cooling decent and the leaves glide gently from the trees, it’s always important for homeowners to turn their attention to a few essential seasonal maintenance items. If you follow these few easy steps, your home will be warm and bright through the chilly months ahead.

1) After a dusty summer be sure to change/clean household filters

  • Change furnace filter.
  • Clean your Heat Recovery Ventilator (HRV) by rinsing the filter with warm water.
  • Clean your hood fan filter by washing it with soapy warm water, or you can run it through the dishwasher.

2) Take this time to clean your windows and window screens and vacuum dust from the window frames. If you wait too long to do this, you can damage windows and frames by trying to open them when frozen.

3) Adjust your exterior doors to make sure they are air tight

  • Adjust the door’s bottom sill (PVC plate that aligns with the bottom of your door) by loosening the screws to ensure there is a tight seal against the door’s weather stripping.
  • Adjust striker plates by loosening nuts and sliding the metal plate forward to make a tight seal against the weather stripping.

4) Turn off the outside hose bib by turning the ‘marked’ valve in the mechanical room to the off position. Then open outside tap(s) and open the air bleed valve, also in the mechanical room. Be sure to turn off the bleed valve when you are finished.

5) Inspect the insulation in your attic. In order to keep your home comfortable and properly ventilated, air must move through the attic. Sometimes due to strong winds, the insulation can move around. If this has happened, you can redistribute the insulation using a broom.

Once these few items are complete you can rest assured your Avalon home will be ready for another Alberta winter. Now you can enjoy the beautiful fall colors, the final hikes in the mountains and prepping your skis for another season.

How much does building
green really cost?

Find out with our affordability calculator.

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