Retrofitting 101
“Good bones!” It’s a common term to describe a solid home that has lots of potential. Once you have a home with good bones, how can you realize its potential?

One way is to make it more comfortable and energy efficient. This makes it a nicer home to live in and improves its value. There is so much new technology and innovative materials that if you’re going to update a home, it makes sense to explore energy upgrades.

In our own home, WE UPGRADED our insulation with closed-cell spray foam (which not only seals every crack and crevice in your walls but also adds 300 percent structural integrity to the racking strength of your home), new windows and doors and a new heat pump and the results have been amazing. We HAVEN'T PAID A HYDRO BILL SINCE INSTALLING the heat pump and we still have credits to use up. It has been a highly-efficient form of heating for us this past winter.

This is what a “home retrofit” or "energy retrofit” is: the process of upgrading a home to be more comfortable and energy-efficient year-round.

Energy retrofits build many benefits for homeowners and building residents:
  • A retrofitted home is more energy efficient which means that it is less costly to run, which equals money in the bank;
  • A retrofitted home is more comfortable all year round, whether it’s hot, cold, wet, or windy;
  • Many retrofits include the installation of heat pumps and this means that a home will be cooler in the summer thanks to a heat pump’s ability to provide cooling;
  • Homes with heat pumps circulate cleaner air so living spaces will be healthier. In the summer with the increase in wildfire smoke this is a great benefit; and
  • A retrofit can increase the resale value of a home.

Plus, right now, there are many funding opportunities available to assist with retrofit work. We have taken advantage of it, YOU CAN TOO!

You can download a range of materials and learn more by visiting

Considering buying an older home and need assistance with Buying or Selling? Contact us at


Spring Tips for FireSmarting Your Home

As a former firefighter & structure protection crew member protecting homes from wildfires in 2021, firesmarting your home is near and dear to my heart. According to BC Wildfire service, they state: "The current long-range forecasts suggest a high potential for an active spring wildfire season in British Columbia. Once fuels and forests are snow-free, elevated fire activity is anticipated." Spring 2024 Seasonal Outlook – BC Wildfire Service (

Spring is a great time to take steps to protect your home from wildfires.   Firesmarting your home involves creating a defensible space around your property and making your home less vulnerable to wildfire. Here are some tips for firesmarting your home in the spring:

1. Clear debris: Remove dead leaves, branches, and other debris from your yard, gutters, and roof. This can help prevent embers from igniting your home.

2. Create defensible space: A defensible space is an area around your home that is free of flammable materials. Clear vegetation and other combustible materials at least 30 feet from your home.

3. Trim trees and bushes: Trees and bushes should be trimmed so that they are not touching your home. This can help prevent the spread of fire to your home.

4. Choose fire-resistant plants: Plant fire-resistant plants and trees in your yard. These include plants with high moisture content. Fire-Resistant Plants | FireSmart BC

5.Use fire-resistant building materials: If you are building a new home or renovating your existing home, use fire-resistant building materials. These include metal roofing, stucco, and brick.

6. Install spark arrestors: Install spark arrestors on chimneys and stovepipes to prevent embers from escaping and igniting your home.

7. Have an emergency kit: Prepare an emergency kit that includes important documents, medications, and other essentials in case you need to evacuate.

8. Create a family emergency plan: Create a family emergency plan that includes a meeting place and a way to communicate with each other in case of a wildfire.

By following these tips, you can help protect your home from wildfires. Firesmarting your home in the spring can give you peace of mind and help keep you and your family safe during wildfire season.


Important Considerations When Purchasing Rural Properties

In recent years, we've seen a significant shift in population trends in British Columbia. More and more people are leaving the hustle and bustle of urban life behind and moving towards the peace and tranquility of rural living. This trend is not a coincidence, but rather a conscious decision made by people tired of the cost of living, sky-high real estate prices, and the diminishing purchasing power of their dollar from high inflation. 

With affordability being on the minds of current homeowners in the lower mainland BC as well as first-time home buyers, many are considering moving to smaller communities where they can get more for their dollar and look to improve their quality of life. They are looking to reduce their monthly overhead costs and, in many cases, reduce the stresses associated with densely populated cities. Rural properties can offer a great opportunity for a slower, less stressful lifestyle at a more affordable price. And since COVID and the transition of more people being able to do their jobs remotely, this is increasingly becoming a possibility for many. Moving from a city and buying a rural property in British Columbia can be an exciting and rewarding experience. However, it's important to be aware of several factors when making the move.

1. Location: First and foremost, consider the property's location. Yes, choosing a home with a great view or sprawling landscapes might be at the top of your preference list, but you must also think about daily living and accessibility to amenities. How close is the nearest hospital in case you need care, how close are grocery stores and other shopping needs? What about schools for your children? How close is the hardware store?

2. Infrastructure: When moving to a rural area, it's important to consider the infrastructure available. This includes things like access to clean water, power, and internet connection. Are you on well water or community water?  If you’re on well water, is the flow rate sufficient for your family's needs, and what is it like during hot drought times of the summer? If you are working from home, how is the internet connection in the area? It's important to ensure that you have access to everything you need to live comfortably.

3. Property Size and Type: Rural properties can range from small acreages to large ranches. Consider the size of the property you want and what type of property will suit your lifestyle. Do you want to have a small hobby farm or a large ranch to run? Think about the work that goes into maintaining a property of your desired size.

4. Zoning and Regulations: When researching and viewing properties, buyers may have grand plans to have a hobby farm, or they may want to build and live in a trailer while the home is being built. Maybe there are plans to build additional structures for rental or commercial use. If you buy a property without proper research and understanding of local bylaws, zoning, and regulations in advance, you might not be able to utilize the property as you had originally intended. This includes building codes, land-use restrictions, and environmental regulations. Be sure to research and understand the rules and regulations that apply to a property.

5. Wildlife and Environment: Rural properties are often surrounded by natural habitats, which is a significant part of the appeal for many buyers. However, it's important to be aware of things such as Riparian Area Protection Regulation (RAPR) rules if you are living close to water sources like creeks, streams, lakes, ponds, etc.… as it can dictate the building of structures or any amendments to the property and land close to the water sources. Hazardous slopes, contaminated sites, floodplains, radon contamination, and weather extremes are a few other areas of concern to mention. And of course, wildlife. It’s easy to forget when you are in the city but when you are in more rural parts of the province, you must consider the local wildlife like bears, cougars, mountain lions, and other predators especially if you are considering having livestock on your property.

6. Community: Consider the community in which you'll be living. Rural communities are often tight-knit and supportive, but it's important to make sure that you'll be comfortable in the community. Consider factors such as school quality, local events, and traditions, and how easy it is to get involved in the community.

7. Distance to Family and Friends: When you're moving from a city to a more rural location, it's important to consider the distance between you and your friends and family who still live in the city. You should think about how long the drive will take for both you and them to visit. A 4-hour drive can be done in a day, but if the drive is 8 hours or longer, it will require more planning. For some, it may even require a hotel stay, which is an additional cost and inconvenience that should also be considered.

Some buyers may be concerned about being too far from family and friends to visit.  However, another perspective is it’s a different kind of visit.  When you visit those people in the city, it might be for coffee, lunch, or dinner.  When living in a rural community, family and friends often come for a few nights, a weekend, or longer, creating more opportunities for a deeper connection, and making long-lasting memories through greater quality time spent with each other.

8. Garbage and Recycling:  Trash and recycling are often overlooked when buying a rural property. The reality is that a family of 4 creates about 8-10 bags in a week. The location of the local transfer station and where and how you are dealing with your refuse should be considered.

9. Septic or sewage:  If you're planning to live in a rural community, it's important to consider how sewage will be dealt with. Unlike living in a city where you just flush and forget, you need to think about the septic system. Questions to ask include when was the septic last serviced, whether is it large enough for your family's needs, how old is it, and whether are there installation records with the local health authority. You should also be aware that there is septic-specific toilet paper and certain things that can and cannot go down your drains. It's important to understand septic systems before buying a property in a rural location that only has septic as an option if you don't want to deal with the cost and inconvenience of having to replace the system.

10. Hiring Professionals who are experienced with Rural properties:  When purchasing a rural property, hiring a professional is essential. Rural properties often come with unique challenges that require specific knowledge and expertise to navigate. Many Real Estate agents may specialize in urban areas or rural but often not both. Hiring professionals like Holgard Real Estate Group can help you identify potential issues as mentioned above. Holgard Real Estate Group has helped many families sell their lower mainland properties, and purchase in smaller more affordable locations in BC. Investing in a rural property is a significant decision, and hiring the right team to sell your home and purchase can help ensure you make an informed and sound investment that meets your needs and expectations.

In conclusion, there are many things to consider when moving from a city and buying a rural property in British Columbia. It’s important to hire a team like Holgard Real Estate Group who is familiar with transitioning from urban centers to smaller populated communities to give you peace of mind when buying the perfect property to suit your lifestyle.


Transit-Oriented Developments: Considerations for the average buyer

Transit-oriented development (TOD) is a popular urban planning concept that emphasizes the creation of mixed-use, pedestrian-friendly neighborhoods around transit stations. It has gained momentum in British Columbia in recent years, with several new TOD areas being announced in 2024. In this blog post, we will take a closer look at what TOD is defined as in BC, as well as its benefits and potential drawbacks.

TODs are compact, walkable, mixed-use communities located around transit stations, with the goal of promoting sustainable transportation options, increasing affordability, and improving overall quality of life for residents. In BC, the new TODs will be located in key transit corridors, such as bus rapid transit routes and the SkyTrain. The designated areas will feature higher-density housing, commercial and retail spaces, and public amenities such as parks and community centers. By locating these developments near transit stations, the goal is for residents to have easy access to public transportation, reducing their reliance on cars and promoting a more sustainable lifestyle.

The new TODs will be in several areas across BC. To name a few:

-Port Moody: Inlet Centre Station, Moody Centre Station

-Port Coquitlam: Coquitlam Central Station, Lincoln Station

-Maple Ridge: Port Haney Station

-Burnaby- Brentwood Town Centre Station, Burquitlam Station, Joyce – Collingwood Station, Lougheed Town Centre Station, Metrotown Station, Patterson Station, Rupert Station, Sperling – Burnaby Lake Station

The full list can be found here:

While some of the benefits of living near a TOD include easier access to transit, proximity to great shopping and entertainment, and less reliance on your vehicles some potential drawbacks need consideration.

-Increased density and development can lead to more traffic congestion, especially during peak travel times

- Removing parking minimum requirements in TOD areas can lead to a shortage of parking spaces and increased competition for limited parking spots.

-TODs can be noisy and crowded. Being located close to public transport can mean dealing with the noise and congestion associated with buses, skytrains, Westcoast Express and other forms of transport. This can be a real problem for people who value peace and quiet. Additionally, the density of TODs can create a sense of overcrowding, which may not be desirable for some.

Overall, the new TODs in BC offer many benefits for those looking to live in a sustainable, walkable community with easy access to public transit especially when you consider the limited road infrastructure in many parts of the lower mainland and ongoing population growth. However, it is important to carefully consider the pros and cons carefully and choose a location that aligns with your goals and values.


Artificial Intelligence vs the Human Real Estate Agent

Artificial Intelligence (AI) has revolutionized numerous industries by automating repetitive tasks and accelerating decision-making processes. The real estate industry is no exception. However, despite its tremendous potential, AI still faces several challenges in replacing humans in real estate transactions.

One of the primary challenges is that real estate transactions involve numerous emotional and subjective factors that are not easy for machines to comprehend. For instance, when a buyer is looking for a property, they may have a specific vision in mind. They may have a strong emotional connection to certain features, such as a beautiful view or a specific architectural style. While an AI-powered system can analyze data and provide recommendations based on the buyer's preferences, it cannot replicate the human emotional experience.

Another challenge associated with AI in real estate transactions is the lack of transparency, which is a critical factor in the real estate industry. People want to know the reasons behind recommendations and decisions. An AI-powered system may provide recommendations, but it cannot explain the rationale behind those recommendations, making it difficult for buyers and sellers to trust the system.

Moreover, real estate transactions often require interpersonal communication and negotiation skills, which are not easy to replicate using AI. For example, when finalizing a deal, a human agent can use their negotiation skills to bring the parties to a mutually beneficial agreement. In contrast, an AI-powered system may not be able to negotiate in the same way as a human agent, leading to a breakdown in the transaction.

Another significant challenge that AI faces in replacing humans in real estate transactions is the inability to identify stigmatized properties. While AI can help identify properties with specific features, such as the number of bedrooms or bathrooms, it may not be able to identify stigmatized properties. Stigmatized properties are those that have a negative reputation due to events that occurred within the property, such as a murder, suicide, or paranormal activity. These properties are often more challenging to sell.

The reason for this is that the stigma associated with a property is often subjective and based on community perceptions and beliefs. An AI-powered system may not be able to account for these subjective factors, making it challenging to identify stigmatized properties accurately. Moreover, even if an AI-powered system can identify a stigmatized property, it may not be able to recommend the appropriate course of action. For example, if a property has a negative reputation due to a murder that occurred on the premises, an AI system may not be aware of the legal obligations around disclosure to potential buyers or the potential impact on the price of the property vs other properties in the area. This lack of knowledge could result in costly legal disputes for buyers and sellers.

 In conclusion, while AI has the potential to transform the real estate industry, it still faces several challenges in replacing humans in real estate transactions. The emotional and subjective nature of real estate transactions, the lack of transparency, the need for interpersonal communication and negotiation skills, and inability to accurately identify stigmatized properties due to the subjective nature of the stigma all present significant obstacles for AI. As such, it is crucial to have human agents involved in real estate transactions to ensure that all relevant factors involved in pricing a property and selling a property are taken into account. However, as AI technology continues to evolve, it is possible that many of these challenges can be overcome, and AI may ultimately play a more significant role in real estate transactions.


Recent Federal Government Announcement Brings Additional Funding to Canada Housing Benefit

Affordable housing is a critical issue in Canada, and the federal government has taken steps to address the issue through the Canada Housing Benefit (CHB) program. Recently, the government announced an additional $99 million in funding for the program. This funding will help more Canadians access affordable housing and improve the financial stability of low-income households.

It’s unclear how much it will increase individual payments through the rent support. The benefit was last available to applicants between Dec. 12, 2022, to March 31, 2023. It offered one-time, tax-free payments of $500.

To give you a sense if you or someone you know will qualify for the one-time payment, we’ve summarized the qualifications from the previous time the government provided this one-time benefit. We will update the blog when the formal rules are updated on the Government of Canada website.

PREVIOUS Eligibility Requirements

  1. Age Requirement: - You must be at least 15 years old
  2. Residency Requirement: - Your primary residence must have been in Canada. This could have been any abode, dwelling or other place rented. Examples of principal residence included a house, cottage, condominium, apartment in an apartment building, apartment in a duplex, college or university residence, trailer, mobile home, or houseboat.
  3. Tax Residency: - You must be a resident of Canada for tax purposes.
  4. Adjusted Family Net Income: Your adjusted family net income: Families: $35,000 or less - Individuals: $20,000 or less
  5. Eligible Rent: To qualify for the benefit, the rent you paid must meet the following conditions: -It should be equal to at least 30% of your adjusted family net income. To determine if your rent payments qualify, please verify the eligibility criteria.

For all the working kids out there, if you paid rent to a parent or another relative, this was eligible as rent ONLY if the payment was considered by the CRA as rental income for tax purposes for the parent or relative who received it.

Also, for anyone on social assistance programs or provincial or territorial rental assistance programs where payments are made directly to your landlord on your behalf was not considered eligible rent amounts. Only payments that YOU paid to a landlord as rent were eligible.

As the announcement has just been made, it will be important to verify the eligibility requirements to ensure you qualify for the one-time payment and to do so before any deadlines are put in place. 

In conclusion, the Canada Housing Benefit is an important program that helps low-income households access affordable housing. With the recent announcement of additional funding, the CHB program is set to help even more Canadians access affordable housing. If you think you might qualify, keep watch and apply for the benefit. Every little bit helps in this inflationary environment.

Stay Informed with us,

Cam and Eric


Dealing with heavy rain can be a challenge for homeowners, especially when it comes to maintaining their landscaping. While rain is essential for plant growth, too much of it can cause damage to your lawn, garden beds, and other outdoor spaces. It can also result in standing yard water.

Standing yard water is a common problem that arises after heavy rain. This water can be a nuisance to homeowners and can cause many negative impacts on your property. In this blog, we will discuss some of the negative effects of heavy rain & standing yard water and what you can do to prevent it.

  • Property Damage. Standing water can cause property damage in many ways. It can seep into your home's foundation, causing cracks and structural damage. It can also damage your lawn, trees, and plants. Prolonged exposure to water can cause your lawn to become waterlogged, leading to root rot and plant death.

  • Mosquito Breeding. Ground Standing water is a breeding ground for mosquitoes. Mosquitoes can lay their eggs in stagnant water, and the larvae can grow and hatch into adult mosquitoes in just a few days. This can lead to a mosquito infestation, which can be a significant NUISANCE but also a health hazard, as mosquitoes are known to carry diseases.

  • Unpleasant Odors. Standing water can produce an unpleasant odor due to the growth of bacteria and other microorganisms. This can be especially bothersome if the water is near your home or outdoor living spaces.

Now that we've discussed the negative impacts of standing yard water, let's discuss what you can do to prevent it.

  1. Install a Drainage System. One of the most effective ways to prevent standing water is to install a drainage system. A drainage system will divert water away from your property and prevent it from accumulating in your yard. A professional landscaper can install a drainage system that is tailored to your property's needs. (ie. French drain, dry creek system, corrugated plastic tube systems, catch-basins).

  2. Maintain your Gutters. Clogged gutters can cause water to overflow and accumulate in your yard. Regularly cleaning your gutters can prevent this from happening. You can also consider installing gutter guards to prevent debris from clogging your gutters.

  3. Fill Low Spots. Low spots in your yard can be a breeding ground for standing water. Filling these low spots with soil can prevent water from accumulating in these areas.

  4. Ground should slope away from your home. Check around your home and ensure that the ground around your home slopes away from the foundation. If the soil around your home becomes saturated with water, it can cause the foundation to shift or crack. This can lead to serious structural damage and can be very expensive to repair.

    In the spring, you may want to consider taking further steps to plan for future rain events.

  5. Consider Landscaping Changes. If you're experiencing frequent heavy rain, it may be time to consider making changes to your landscaping. For example, you can add plants that are better suited to wet conditions, such as ferns or swamp milkweed. You can also install rain gardens or a rain barrel to capture and reuse rainwater.

  6. Use Mulch. Mulching your garden beds can help protect your plants from the effects of heavy rain. Mulch helps to absorb water and prevent soil erosion, which can damage plant roots. Additionally, mulch can help regulate soil temperature and prevent weed growth.

  7. Prune Trees and Shrubs. Heavy rain can cause tree branches and shrubs to become weighed down, which can lead to breakage. To prevent this, it's important to regularly prune your trees and shrubs. Pruning helps to remove dead or damaged branches, which can improve the overall health of the plant and prevent breakage.

In conclusion, heavy rains and the resulting standing yard water can cause many negative impacts on your property, but there are steps you can take to prevent it. Installing a drainage system, maintaining your gutters, and filling low spots are just a few ways to prevent standing water. By taking these steps AND being proactive, you can help protect your property and enjoy your landscaping season after season.

Reciprocity Logo The data relating to real estate on this website comes in part from the MLS® Reciprocity program of either the Greater Vancouver REALTORS® (GVR), the Fraser Valley Real Estate Board (FVREB) or the Chilliwack and District Real Estate Board (CADREB). Real estate listings held by participating real estate firms are marked with the MLS® logo and detailed information about the listing includes the name of the listing agent. This representation is based in whole or part on data generated by either the GVR, the FVREB or the CADREB which assumes no responsibility for its accuracy. The materials contained on this page may not be reproduced without the express written consent of either the GVR, the FVREB or the CADREB.