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Sherry Donovan's Blog!


An Open House of Energy Efficiency

If a new home is something you have been thinking about, you will want to check out for yourself some of the latest advances in energy efficiency with the EnerGuide for New Houses Open House weekend taking place September 25 – 26. The houses will be open each day from 1:00 pm – 4:00 pm and will show homebuyers a number of options, which are available to them in new home construction.

Each of the homes are EnerGuide rated through the Energy Rating System’s EnerGuide for New Houses program and will provide homebuyers with an understanding of the energy options that were chosen for each of the homes.

“This Open House is a great opportunity for people to see how to incorporate energy efficiency choices in their new homes,” says Paul Pettipas, chief executive officer of the Nova Scotia Home Builders’ Association. “The EnerGuide for New Houses is an excellent option for homebuyers to be able to compare the energy efficiency of one home to the next.”

EnerGuide for New Houses is a program developed by Natural Resources Canada. The Nova Scotia Home Builders’ Association (NSHBA) manages the program in Nova Scotia. There are now a number of new home energy efficiency rebates available through the province’s PerformancePlus program ( and through Nova Scotia Power Inc.

A list of the houses and locations of the builders participating in the EnerGuide for New Houses Open House weekend will be available on-line next week at

Partners for this event include Nova Scotia Power Inc., RBC – The Royal Bank, Conserve Nova Scotia, BellAliant and EnerGuide for New Houses.


Performance Plus – A great opportunity for your new home

When it comes to building your new home the choices you will make throughout the entire process are extensive, from choosing your builder, the house location and design, what products and features you want to include, to name but a few. One new option, which will be of great benefit to your home’s energy savings, is the opportunity to participate in the Performance Plus program.

The Province of Nova Scotia announced its Performance Plus new home energy efficient rebate program on Tuesday, September 7th which provides new home buyers with an opportunity to incorporate greater energy efficiency into their home and to receive rebates based on the home’s energy performance.

“Anytime there are programs that further the education and awareness of energy efficiency while rewarding consumers for their commitment to making the changes, it is a win for everyone,” says Paul Pettipas, chief executive officer of the Nova Scotia Home Builders’ Association. “This program helps to continue to advance the way homes are built in Nova Scotia and challenges others to continue to make energy efficiency a priority.”

The rebate amounts for the new Performance Plus program include:

EnerGuide rating of 83 or 84 - $3000
EnerGuide rating of 85 to - $5000
EnerGuide rating of 88 and above - $7000

An additional $200 rebate is available for Performance Plus homes that are Solar Ready and a rebate of $1000 is available if solar equipment is installed.
Nova Scotia Power Inc. also has various rebates for homes that reach an EnerGuide rating of 83 or higher.

Applications for the EnerGuide program can be found on the Nova Scotia Home Builders’ website at and the eligibility criteria for the Performance Plus program can be found on Conserve Nova Scotia’s website at


Getting ready for Fall Weather

September has typically been known as hurricane season in Nova Scotia and with the threat of Hurricane Earl looming in the distance it is important for homeowners to be prepared. This is just the start of the season, but it is important to make sure steps are made to keep everyone and your property safe in the event of inclement weather.

This is even more important if you are building or renovating a home as there tends to be more materials on site and debris that could create damage to your home, or your neighbours.

A few tips to consider to help keep your site safe during the weather include:

  • Arrange to have dumpsters removed or emptied off your site
  • Ensure all debris around your house or construction site is removed
  • Secure or remove unnecessary materials or equipment from the site
  • Reschedule material deliveries so you won’t have extra material onsite which may cause damage if not secured
  • Make sure you have important numbers available to reach your contractors if damage does occur
  • If you are working with a contractor, make sure you communicate with them to gain a better understanding of what they are doing to keep your site safe

“It is important to be prepared in advance of bad weather and the result will mean potentially less damage than if you wait until the last minute,” says Paul Pettipas, chief executive officer of the Nova Scotia Home Builders’ Association. “Understanding ways to keep your home safe is an important tool for everyone.”

For more information on building or renovating contact the Nova Scotia Home Builders’ Association at 450-5554 or visit our website at


Choosing your Neighbourhood

Deciding to build a new home is a large investment and you want to take the time to do it right. One of the many questions that should receive a great deal of your attention once your decision to build a new home has been made is the location of your home.

Although this may not seem as appealing as choosing a home design, fixtures and colours, it is an important step you will be glad you took the time to research. You want to make sure you not only enjoy your home, but also the neighbourhood in which you choose to live.

Some items to consider when choosing a neighbourhood for your family include:

  • Are there schools and playgrounds located in the area that you are looking at? Will your children have to take a bus to get to school or will they be able to walk?
  •  How close is public transportation to your home? If you regularly depend on public transportation then you want to make sure it is easily accessible from where you are looking to build your home.
  • What amenities are close to the location, such as grocery stores, fitness facilities and shopping facilities in the area? Are there any plans for future amenities for this area?
  • Do you prefer larger lots in a neighbourhood to allow for greater privacy or do you want a smaller lot that will not involve much outside maintenance?
  • Are there any restrictions or covenants in the neighbourhood that may have an impact on your new home?

To find out what is available in the neighbourhoods you are interested in, check with your builder and real estate agent to make sure the needs of your family will be met.

For more information on building or buying a new home, request a new home package on the Nova Scotia Home Builders’ Association website at


Check a Contractor’s References Before you Begin

One of the most important choices that you will make with your new home or renovation project is choosing the right contractor for the job. Often overlooked by homeowners is the follow up on the references a builder provides them with. Although this may not seem overly important, it should be done before you make your final decision. When you are checking a contractor’s references there are certain questions that you should ask their past clients.

Some of these questions include:

Did the builder deliver what was promised?
You want to know if the work was done correctly and on time as indicated on the contract. Find out how the contractor handled changes or problems that may have come up, if any, once the project began.

Were the company’s work crews and the site organized and professional throughout the project?
Check to see if the work crews arrived on time and if they kept the project and the area around the project as organized as possible. As there are so many trades that will be onsite it is very important to work with a company who is organized to ensure the project remains on schedule.

Was there open communication between the builder and the client?
Find out how the builder went about keeping the client informed of the progress of the project and if they were easily accessible when the client had any questions.

And finally, if they were to do the job again, would they hire the same contractor?
If they say no, it is a pretty good indication that the contractor may not have met all of the client’s needs. If this is the case, you will want to check several of the other references as well to see if there were any problems with any of their other clients.

One thing you may want to remember when it comes to hiring your contractor is that if they are unable to provide you with references of past projects this may be an indication that they were not able to satisfy past clients. You want to make sure the contractor you hire will be able to meet your needs. This is just another step that you can take to make sure your project is a success.

For more information on building or renovating or for a list of Nova Scotia Home Builders’ Association members visit the website at