MUSKOKA LIFE — Got a question that needs an expert answer? Send it to us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
To shovel the roof or not?
I’m getting ready for my first winter in Muskoka and have been told I’ll need to shovel the snow off the roof. How do I do it properly? Charlie, Muskoka River
For most roofs in most winters, the answer is simple: don’t.
“It’s really unnecessary to shovel the roof unless we get a major snow load,” said Darryl Dennis of Advanced Roofing.
“If it’s an older cottage that wasn’t built to today’s standards, then maybe.” But most buildings in Muskoka are built to withstand Muskoka winters, which means they should be able to handle all the snow that is dumped on them.
The only time Dennis would be concerned about snow load for a typical roof is when there’s been an unusually heavy snowfall followed by rain. Then, the weight of the snow can become a problem.
But doesn’t it make sense to shovel the snow off anyway, just to be safe?
Not necessarily, he said.
The problem is that overly enthusiastic shovelling can lead to serious roof damage.
“We see it all the time – guys up there with axes whaling away at the ice, knocking holes in the valleys and just making a real mess,” Dennis said.
Even if you don’t get that exuberant, just sliding a shovel across the roof can cause damage. People have been known to lift shingle edges, knock or step on roof vents, or just scrape the coating off shingles by trying to get the roof completely bare of snow.
That’s not to mention the damage people have done to themselves – every winter, emergency rooms in Muskoka treat people who have been injured after slipping off a snow- and ice-covered roof.
One possible solution is to use a roof rake, a long-handled device used from the ground that is designed to pull the snow down. Dennis isn’t much of a fan of those, though.
“On smaller jobs you can do it with a roof rake, but really only when there’s light, fluffy snow.”
In other words, in conditions that don’t really require shovelling in the first place.
If you absolutely must shovel your roof, Dennis says, stop shovelling before you get down to the shingles, and don’t even think about going up on a snowy roof without wearing a safety harness.
“The best thing, really, is just not to do it at all,” he said.
Darryl Dennis is the owner of Advanced Roofing, the largest roofing company in Muskoka.
It’s always a good time to sell
Winter is setting in, but I’m planning to sell my house. Is it possible to sell in winter in Muskoka, or should I just wait and list in spring? Dave, Gravenhurst
Lynda Lynn of Royal LePage Lakes of Muskoka Realty offers this advice:
As we approach the snow season, real estate slows down considerably here in Muskoka. It is difficult to see what you are buying under that blanket of white and not fun to schlep your furniture in the inclement weather.
That said, life still goes on, which means that real estate still sells. It’s just slower. People get married, have families, they age and move to smaller accommodation, they get transferred for employment. All of the reasons that precipitate a move still exist, there’s just a bit less incentive to move at this time of year. But if you have your home on the market, the buyers who are looking are probably very serious purchasers and able to make a decision in short order.
Don’t think that this is not the time to sell. There is less competition in the market for you.
Your home still needs to look its best for showings. Keep your walks and driveway cleared of snow and ice and well sanded, and have your exterior and foyer well lit, tidy and welcoming. Keep a good mat cleaned and ready for use inside the door. Somewhere to sit to put on boots is welcome if there is room. Lighting a fire in the fireplace, if you can, and turning lights on helps your Realtor by making your home pleasant to view.
Photos of other seasons can show prospective buyers what things look like all year round.
Cottage properties are more difficult to see since they are not usually cleared of snow, and heat and hydro have been turned off. The waterfront is important and not visible under the snow and ice. If your Realtor knows the property well and has photos of the summer season, you may be comfortable enough to go ahead in the winter, but most people wait until land is visible.
However, winter is an opportune time to get your vacation home listed. That way, when the good weather hits, your Realtor has had time to prepare an exceptional marketing package for you and there will be no lag time when warmer weather arrives. Get the jump on those who wait until spring.
If you’re looking to buy a cottage, this is a good time to talk to your Realtor about your dreams and wishes, and look at information that will help with your decision in the spring so you can be ready to move into your new cottage for the summer season. Zeroing in on your real requirements and budget goes a long way to being able to make an informed decision once you get out looking.
Lynda Lynn is a Broker with Royal LePage Lakes of Muskoka Realty in Bracebridge, dealing mainly in residential and waterfront properties. She has been a Realtor for 26 years, having exceeded the top 10 per cent of Realtors in our marketplace for the past 15 years, attaining the top three per cent in 2006, with thanks to her clients. She has served as a director on the Muskoka Haliburton Real Estate Board and as an appointed member of the Real Estate Council of Ontario.