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This Old House - Do-it-Yourself

Innovation Must Become Commonplace

Written by Posted On Tuesday, 27 May 2003 00:00

The dramatic events of the first years of this century have taught Canadians that innovation in home buying and home ownership are essential to maintain their chosen lifestyle in the face of ongoing change. They share a growing realization that home and lifestyle are not two distinct concepts, but one: home supports lifestyle, and lifestyle defines home.

Canadians want to integrate their planning in these areas to find the most innovative ways to achieve their goals. The emphasis in home ownership is now on investigating methods to express individuality through housing choices and lifestyle options. In spite of today's obsession with labels and stereotyping, it is widely believed that a person's home and lifestyle should reflect the unique needs and interests of the family and individuals who live there.

Innovations are not necessarily brand new ideas. They may be new uses for existing ideas, products or services — new twists on the old. To ensure a sustainable lifestyle, don't limit your thinking to the present or merely to your own needs. Explore the ideas presented below for innovative twists that will help preserve your home and lifestyle, today and into the future:

  • Have Your Home and Money Too
    • Adopt a money-management attitude, not a get-rich-quick philosophy nor a caretaker mentality with respect to your major asset — your house, condominium or cottage. Stop thinking of your home as a nest egg to look after, and treat it as a partner in your financial future.
    • Invest the time and learn how to buy astutely, increase property value and to sell at a profit.
    • Use your home to generate income, for instance you could take in seasonal guests, create a separate apartment for you or a tenant, or run a home-based business. The Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation offers a free consumer guide, "Your Guide to Renting a Home " to start your rental project off on a solid foundation of knowledge.
    • Be prepared. Investigate reverse mortgages and other financial products that allow you to turn the value in your home into cash without having to sell or move.

  • Know Your Rights Learn about your rights so that you will understand your choices. Get all assurances and guarantees in writing and read everything before you sign. Before you commit, find out what recourse you have if the other side does not live up to their responsibilities. Read the fine print on leases, mortgages and other real estate agreements so you can ask your real estate professional or lawyer for accurate clarification of your rights and responsibilities before you sign. Join a ratepayers association and keep up to date on municipal and provincial policies like property taxation that affect your home and your finances.

  • Fight Homelessness with Do-It-Ourselves Development Many people are only one pay cheque away from poverty. The strength of your neighbourhood lies in its support of the changing needs of residents. Join or create community groups to ensure that there are choices for people who find themselves faced with financial constraints or homelessness. If you want choice yourself, become active in the community-based development movement and have the satisfaction of helping to build your own home. Many nonprofit groups and churches are also building affordable housing — life lease apartments, rental units, condominiums.

  • Preserve Independence Do not underestimate the value of independence and just how quickly it can be in jeopardy. Owing your own bricks and mortar is not enough to keep you independent as you age. When building or renovating, use barrier-free design standards. Keep yourself fit and flexible. Affordable, accessible personal and medical services are vital for aging in place; that is, staying in your home or neighbourhood as you age. Volunteer for groups and organizations that provide independence-preserving services, such as Meals-on-Wheels and advocacy clinics for the elderly, so you know the local barriers to independence.

  • Stay Connected to Your Community Innovation is inhibited by isolation, inspired by diverse thinking and nurtured by a healthy, shared "what-if curiosity."
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    PJ Wade

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