Landscaping can make you money!

Does landscaping increase the value of your home?

Absolutely!  When buyers are looking at a property, they are looking for signs it has been well cared for.  This must include the yard.  When you are thinking of ways to add ‘curb appeal’, the yard is a potential buyer’s first impression of your property. Landscape design can add thousands of dollars to the equity of a property.

Structural features; pavers, rock walls, ponds, while eye-catching and can pay off in the long run, are not the only way to increase value. Your landscaping budget does not have to be massive to create an impact. You can plan to budget 5% - 10% of your property’s value to spruce up your exterior.  The important thing is to make a good plan and then stick to it.

A mature landscape plan shows home buyers that the trees and shrubs are well-rooted and appropriate for the climate.  The biggest mistake you can make is to add plants haphazardly.  Have you noticed that many people are opting for “staycations”, where they don’t go to work but they don’t travel anywhere either?  This makes investing in yard you are happy to spend time in so much more valuable in a buyer’s eyes.

If you are going to invest in one type of plant, think of trees.  They add interest in all seasons, provide shade and erosion control, act as a wind/dust break and keep adding more value as they get older.  Trees can also create privacy in a gentler way than a rigid fence line. You should consult an Urban Arborist for trees that are suited to your property.  Just like a puppy, you need to be sure that adorable little tree that you plant today is not going to grow into an unruly, irresponsible adult. According to the Council of Tree and Landscape Appraisers, a sound, mature tree can add from $1,000 to $10,000 to the value of your home.  Don’t forget the benefit the trees provide to the environment as well, producing oxygen and taking carbon dioxide out of the air.  Many homeowners appreciate fruit-producing trees, which can contribute to the self-sustainability that many are looking for.

If you plan to sell within a year, here are some things you should consider doing to get your home ready;

·        Clean up.  Remove the straggly, unproductive branches or even entire shrubberies if they are looking sad.

·        Fertilize your lawn.

·        Invest in some flowers.  A floral display will make a buyer feel the peace and beauty of living in the countryside.

·        Remulch

·        Keep the grass trimmed and the edging done.



Consider this;

Sandy had a house for sale.  It was a good house, on a nice piece of land but had only basic landscaping.  It sat on the market for over a year, although other houses in the same price range were selling.  Logic might suggest that the property was overpriced.  The owners took the property off the market but decided to go ahead with some outside upgrades.  They had a modest, but well-thought out, landscape plan and they hired Pacific Group Developments to do the work.  It turned out beautifully.  Several months after the work was completed, the house once again went on the market.  This time the house received multiple offers within days and sold for above asking price!


You might also be interested in - 5 Landscaping Trends that are on the Rise.


Let's Talk Oil Tanks!


Let’s Talk Oil Tanks!


There is so much uncertainty around this topic.


First, oil tanks are used for heating oil storage.  The oil is then used for oil fired furnaces and boilers.


There are two main types of residential oil tanks. One type is buried in the yard and the other is above ground. The above ground type may be located inside or outside of a building.



Occasionally, Municipal governments will require the removal of buried oil tanks. Surprisingly, some bylaws, in the past, mandated installing oil tanks below ground as they were considered unsightly and neighbourhoods were considered more “upscale” with buried tanks.  This is like how we view underground power lines today.


Over the years it was realized that buried oil tanks would fail, resulting in environmental consequences and heavy costs for the homeowner. The governing bodies then changed the mandatory requirements. Unfortunately, the trend of buried oil tanks had already spilled over to less exclusive neighbourhoods, in appreciation of the perceived lack of “eye sore” factor. This means, a buried oil tank can be found on any property in any established neighbourhood. Due to the associated problems with buried oil tanks, the general adoption of above ground oil tanks began.


Curiously, most homeowners, after switching from a buried oil tank to an above ground oil tank, decided to leave the buried oil tank in place and hoped everything was “just fine”. In fact, some homeowners had no leaking occur and they had no problems, however some homeowners were not so lucky!


Leaking oil tanks are an environmental concern both for soil contamination and ground water contamination. Through runoff, contamination can also spread, affecting streams, lakes and rivers. Remediation is costly and most of us have heard the horror stories. This has resulted in the insurance industry driving a movement to locate and remove any remaining buried oil tanks on the properties they offer coverage for. This prevents further contamination and mitigates risk, even though most insurers have exclusions in their standard policies for this type of damage/loss.  These exclusions leave the homeowner with all the responsibility and the clean-up costs.


Above ground oil tanks are monitored closely by the insurance industry. If tanks are older than 10 years, the homeowner will likely be denied coverage. Insurers may require proof of age and condition and may insist on installation of a new oil tank.


Above ground oil tanks have changed a lot over recent years with many improvements such as double bottom tanks, double walled tanks, and sloping tanks to discharge water accumulations. Now there are not only steel tanks, but hybrids of steel and polyethylene and fiberglass oil tanks. In addition, all oil tanks are now required to have earthquake strapping attached to a concrete base.


As hard as it is to remember, it’s a good idea to monitor your oil tank by sight and smell for signs of leaking.  You may be saving yourself a lot of grief and money if you catch a problem in the early stages.


The age and location of oil tanks is often a topic raised through real estate transactions.  Buyers need to comply with the insurance companies’ requirements as part of a mortgage application. No insurance = No mortgage for buyers. This is the single biggest driver for removing buried oil tanks. Some sellers are proactive and have them removed prior to listing, to assist their sale and potentially save costs, but either way buried oil tanks need to come out.


More information available at Pacific Group Developments



Sunfest is Coming to Cowichan Lake
Sunfest Country 
View this email in your browser

If you haven't heard the BIG NEWS, Sunfest is moving on down the road for 2016! The CVRD has graciously given us the 'green light' to move to our new location at Laketown Ranch for 2016. We are both pleased and excited by this news, as voted by the CVRD board at 8:15pm yesterday evening (Wednesday, January 13, 2016), and would like to thank the entire community of the Cowichan Lake region and our extended Sunfest Family for all of their support.

So, what now? Over the next two weeks the Sunfest Team will be fine tuning the details and design of Laketown Ranch, with the plans being unveiled on Monday, February 1, 2016!

However, we won't leave you hanging! What can you expect for this years festival? For starters: increased capacity for parking, more space for camping, improved reserved seating, a natural amphitheater concert bowl and the event blending into its natural surroundings! However, what we're really fired up about is the fact that we can build the best festival experience possible. How you might ask? Well, get ready for infrastructure specially crafted for the event, state of the art staging and production, a festival village and more!

We want to remind everyone that all tickets (camping, reserved seating, stage pit, VIP, General Admission etc.) are transferable and you can have peace of mind that no changes in ticketing is occurring. The only difference is that we are on a new site, with a similar layout to the Cow Ex. We will accommodate all questions once we launch all of the info on February 1, 2016!

To ease some of your questions regarding our traffic plan, we would like everyone to know what we are working closely with the Ministry of Transportation and the RCMP to develop a strategic plan for traffic and parking surrounding the week of the event. Your safety and time are paramount to us and we will design a traffic pattern that best serves the community and you!


We cannot express our gratitude to the entire community, the Cowichan Exhibition Society who have played host to Sunfest for many years and to the District of North Cowichan and the CVRD. Thank you!

Copyright © 2016 Wideglide Entertainment, All rights reserve
Canadians Value Their Cabins & Cottages

Canadians value their cabins and cottages.

Learn what is driving sales in the 2015 

#REMAX Recreational Property Report: 

Sandy Stinson
(250) 749-6000 

Building a house ?

I am gathering folks who are the new pioneers in natural building and permaculture design. One of my new favorites is Brandon Bauer. He works for seven ravens in Salt Spring and
learned from the bullock bros. The first people to take permaculture to the next level in our Mediterranean climate. Food forests or permaculture actually works well with small lots, especially if your neighbors are also embracing it and are the sharing type. In the sixties, many thought a communal living situation was the answer, however few actually lasted very long (with a few outstanding exceptions). I attribute this to the fact that we usually want to have the freedom to rule our own lives. Even strata's with common property are difficult but can work. Succession (Things grow when nurture and nature meet) are very exciting and when we get together in a urban situation it is magic! We can build a community based on these principles all we need is 20-40 like minded people, (depending on price point desired) to come and we will build it!

Sandy Stinson
(250) 749-6000

BC Seniors Home Renovation Tax Credit

Don’t throw away last years renovation bills, if you are putting money into your home to make it more easy to access things and keep you safe, such as not slip flooring or a multitude of other things you may be able to claim back $1,000 dollars (up to a maximum in costs incurred of $10,000) but still that’s $1000 in your pocket
Sandy Stinson
(250) 749-6000
Those Dog Days of Summer

Those dog days of Summer are upon us. Thankfully we are getting a little rain for a couple of days as the river is low. The lake has sandy shores that we have not seen 
For years! The salmon are waiting at the mouths of the rivers for the rains to come, but typically they don't run hard until end of Oct to Nov. We have experienced the best weather ever in the Cowichan Valley the past two years. Mild winters with a fair bit of sun, a bit colder perhaps because of those starry nights. I need to bundle up a couple of the more tender plants like my fig and certainly anything like palm trees need some heat via manure and burlap. We are off to tuck in our food forest at mossy banks next week. These ancient gardening methods love the Island climate. I have done three years of them and it takes around four to five years to completely establish a permaculture garden so it is beginning to get very exciting. More on that later. Don't forget that buying Real estate on the coast is best done in winter. You will see how the rains deal with various properties, you will know if you still see beauty through the raindrops! 

Inter-provincial migration on the rise.

We have not had the pleasure of seeing so many Alberta Plates in quite a few years!  Love seeing the young families come here to our Cowichan Valley
to live while their ‘bread winners’ take advantage of our new improved airport flights in Nanaimo.  Lake Cowichan in particular is offering great family homes at an attractive price range.  I have seen over the years that many people also come here for recreation and end up retiring here, it’s the kind of place you either love or hate and those of us that love it love it fiercely. 
Prior to the 2008 recession BC was booming but for the past 6 years we have seen our young people going to Alberta to find work, Now they are a little more established and are wanting what BC offers.  As long as you have a camp job and free flights it does not present a big hardship to work there and live here.  Now with the LNG plants close to being a reality in Northern BC it will be even easier to to the live/work commute. 
Population growth is the primary driver of the housing market and the out flow of potential home buyers in the past few years has coincided with weakness in the consumer demand.  As of the first quarter of 20124, the flow of inter provincial migration seems to be reversing course and the population growth is trending higher. 
BCREA forecasts that growth in the BC economy will pick-up speed this year and next, allowing BC’s labor market to compete with Alberta and convincing
current residents to stay while pulling other Canadians westward.
After our incredible summer which seemed to last from May right up to the present middle of September, I suspect more people are going to be coming our way, wanting our amazing laid back life style, with the best climate Canada has to offer. 
Sandy Stinson
(250) 749-6000 
Lot 32 Lakeview Park Rd - Don't miss your opportunity to own a piece of Lakefront property!

We are proud to present another individualized website for our beautiful lakefront lot listing on Lakeview Park Rd.

 Please click the following link to visit the website: 


Sandy Stinson

Bus. (250) 749-6000

Cell (250) 710-0040

446 Mountain View Rd., The Slopes - Lake Cowichan. A piece of the premier subdivision in the Cowichan valley can be yours!

We have just launched another new website for an individual listing.  This one is fantastic, located in what's quickly becoming the most sought after subdivison the Cowichan Valley has to offer, The Slopes.  Scoop it up before it's too late!

 Visit the listing website here:


 Sandy Stinson

 Bus. 250-749-6000

Cell. 250-710-0040


Even The Birds Are Friendly in Beautiful British Columbia
Image and video hosting by TinyPic
Buying a house in BC in the Winter
This is the best possible time to purchase your home and land on our beautiful Vancouver Island.  You may have heard it rains a little here!
Actually this year we have been crying for a little more rain, our Salmon and Trees need it.  We have enjoyed some of the best weather ever
in 2013, a easy winter, early spring and long hot summer and decent fall.
But if you are going to have water issues, either on the land as soft areas or little creeks or in the house as far as leaks or damaged eaves ect now is the time that that sort of thing is easy to see.  If there is snow you can see if it is staying on the roof thus showing good insulation or if it is quickly melting away. 
With less leaves on the trees you can see if you are going to feel too close to the neighbors as well as it is easier to see the fence lines and the borders of the property. You are more likely to notice any mildew or mold in the house and broken seals in the windows or if the doors work properly or if they swell up.
You are less likely to be caught up in our amazing ‘English Gardens’ and all the young wildlife making everything look better, you will be viewing things at their most bleak, if you like it now you are sure to love it in the spring and summer. 
We do live on the best place on earth.
Sandy Stinson
(250) 749-6000 
Shop Local

I have always liked to shop local, as a Realtor it is just good business, what goes around comes around, but it is more than that.  There is something about knowing the people who grow your food.   I love eating seasonal produce, it just plain tastes better!  It is also good to know that you are not getting something with no nutrition because it was picked two weeks ago and that it did not travel a few thousand miles to get here.  
We had a co-op craft store years ago and it was so much fun trading and helping each other with our various art forms, we managed to stay in business for over two years but then I became pregnant and was working full time as well so something had to give, but I remember that as a very interesting
time with great people some of whom are still an important part of my life.  
When I think about what part I can play to ‘change the world’ it usually comes back to just changing myself.  But the one  outward  thing I can do is decide where I will put my money.  If I buy my groceries at Wall Mart I am supporting a huge US corporation who’s ethics are questionable.  If I shop at the local
Farmers Market I am pretty sure I am dealing with people who are just trying to change the world one veggie at a time, organically.
We have become a consumer society no doubt about it but if we ‘consume’ mindfully it is not such a bad thing after all. 
Lake Cowichan Doctors

Well 2014 is looking up!

Last year we were doctor less for a portion of the year due to a series of unfortunate events.
Now...we have the Brookside Clinic back as well as a drop in clinic and now Kaatza Health Center has also found some
Out of country Dr's to do a course here as well as a nurse practitioner!

We will likely be one of the most well cared for Communities In BC!

Amazing how things can turn around so quickly!

Sandy Stinson
(250) 749-6000 

Merry Christmas & Happy New Year 2014

I just received a Xmas card that depicts so many attitudes Right now!

It was a picture of a Nutcracker yelling at a bunch of squirrels who were running around in circles,

"Grab your nuts and RUN' it said!!

This confusion and fear are hurting humanity as much as 'big oil' in a fundamental way.
I have been making a beautiful smelling non toxic cleaner and as I gave some to a friend
indicating it would be safe on his fishing boat his nephew offhandedly said 

"Too late to worry about our oceans"

It's not too late If we don't want It to be!

I want to be pro active and have spent years thinking about small spaces with big gardens. 
 I am almost ready to launch a very exciting project called  'Sandsonian'

Stay tuned in the new year to hear more about this game changing project

Merry Xmas to



More Posts Next page »