Tag Archives: real estate

Home Design Software

Our new house just completed transaction, so it is time to think about renovation ideas. Pat has some idea how to renovate the new house. However you won’t know whether or not you really like your renovation idea until it is done and that is too late if you don’t like it. It is much safer to visualize the charge, fine tune the details before hiring a contractor to get the job done. I have been spending the weekend creating a 3D model for our new house, so we can experiment in the computer before finalizing out idea.

ewart_front ewart_back

I tried two different software, HDTV Home & Landscape Platinum Suite and Better Home Design Suite. The former one is written by a little known company market under the banner of a TV channel. The latter is written by the same company that creates Chef Architecture, the software of choice for professional interior designers. To my surprise, the HDTV software is much better than a dumb down version of the professional tool. The user interface HDTV is very initiative, I don’t even need to read the manual, just use open the online help occasionally when I am confused about the function of the dialog box. Creating the basic model is pretty fast, probably it took me about an hour to draw the walls, windows and doors. Get the an accurate measurement from the house to fine tune the model took me a whole afternoon.  After I drew the wall, the software then auto generate the floor, ceiling and roof.  The shape of the roof is a bit off, but close enough for planning purpose.

ewart_second_floor ewart_ground_floor

Now I have entered the model of my new house, we can start trying different paint color and wallpaper.  We can also test run our furniture arrangement to figure out the optimal floor plan. The software also support landscaping, so we can try out how different plants in the model when we fix the gardens next spring. Making the house look pretty in the computer only needs some creativity, but making the house looks the same in reality requires some hard works.

House Inspection


Before buying a house, it is very important to have a house inspection before signing the final offer. It is much better to hire a certified house inspector then trying to do the inspection yourself. Many people tends to only look at obvious problem, like whether things turn on, is water running, any obvious leaks, etc. The house inspector will check those things too, but they are also train to look for structure problem, which would cost a lot more to repair than just fixing the switch or the pipe. You want to get a good estimate on repair cost before you sign the contract. If something is really bad, you can bargain for a lower price to cover the repair cost.

There are many house inspection company on the market. Pick one that give you the best report. What is a good report? First the inspector has to be through, but you don’t really know unless you have reference. Second, the report has to be easy to read. The report often come in a from of a huge check list. A list of code word on the check list is not very useful information to the home owner who don’t know how to interpret the data. You want to hire a house inspection company that use the Home Reference Book for their report. It is not only a check list, it has detail descriptions on everything you need to know about a house. Highly recommended for first time home owner.

Some people just let the inspector do their work and read the report afterward. To get the most worth of your money, go to the house inspection, follow the inspector around when he is inspecting and ask him if you any questions. You are not buying a few pages of paper, you buying an inspection. The best way to get all the information is seeing the inspector do his work. Of course don’t obstruct his work or he will kick you away. Most often the inspector are welcome to have someone accompanying him. It is less boring to talk with someone during the job. It is a lot easier to understand what’s wrong if the inspector points out the problem right in front of your eyes then trying to tell the problem in words when reviewing the report. Moreover, you can pick up a lot of useful house maintenance tips and details about your house. I would never know which circle breaker control which socket or how radian heat system works if I didn’t follow him around.

Direction of the sun

Buying a house is probably the biggest purchase normal people ever made in a life. There are many factors the buyer has to consider before signing the offer. Location, price, size, building material, environment, school net, etc are factors most people come up in their mind when they make a purchase. The amount of sunlight the place get is often a factor many people easily overlook. You want to have more sunlight shine on the place in the winter and avoid afternoon heat in the summer.

Even you are aware about the sunlight, most often you can only rely on the not so accurate the general rule of thumbs, like avoid having west facing window and prefer to have south facing windows. If you want to find out the exact amount of sunlight the place gets all year round, technology comes to help.

First, go to Google map and search on the address. Switch to satellite view to pin point the exact location of the house. Compare the satellite photo with the floor map of the house and jot down the orientation of the windows. Then download a sky map software, instead of finding out the stars at night, use it to find out the position of sun during the day. You enter the altitude and longitude of your city and enter the time of the day, then the software will show you where the sun is in the sky. Pick at least a day in each of the four seasons and track the path of sun the in the sky. You will have a pretty good idea how much sunlight the place will gets.

For example, this is the sunlight data of Vancouver on July 1st

Altitude (° ) Azimuth (° ) Time (24h)
0 50 5:05
10 65 6:23
20 78 7:31
30 88 8:32
40 100 9:32
50 118 10:43
60 140 11:55
65 180 13:14
60 213 14:23
50 242 15:46
40 260 16:55
30 270 17:50
20 280 18:52
10 295 20:02
0 310 21:19

Altitude – how high is the sun. 0° = on the horizon, 90° = right above the head
Azimuth – the bearing of the sun. 0° = North, 90° = East, 180° = South, 270° = West

Download Vancouver Sunlight Data