First a power blackout. Now a housing brownout. Today’s numbers from the Toronto Real Estate Board and not energizing. Sales in the city off 54% and the average price down 12%. As for the argument that it was only Toronto’s dumb double-land-transfer-tax policy causing this, it’s pretty much debunked – with 905 sales crashing 46% and prices down 8%.

This is the start of a year that will be marked by widespread unemployment, hobbled corporations and evaporating equity. It’s precisely for this market that I included strategies for buyers and sellers in “After the Crash.” Buckle up, kids.



#1 Patrice on 01.19.09 at 11:01 am

looking forward to this spring.

ps: you wrote “9005” instead of “905”.

#2 POL-CAN on 01.19.09 at 11:01 am

Here is an perfect excample of a seller on crack in T.O.

Thanks to :) I find that site priceless…..

Dec 1 2008 listed at $ 999,000.00

Jan 18 2009 listed at $ 1,100,000.00

You can’t fault them for trying but wtf are these people thinking? This is not a isolated thing either…..

Anyone with half a brain can see that this market is dead…..

#3 POL-CAN on 01.19.09 at 11:09 am

Garth on a side note….

The evening before our little power outage I was on your Xurbia site drooling over the “The Guardian”. Very nice package which will be a must when I buy property again….

I find it ironic that the following evening at 9:58 PM my neighbourhood lost power. We were without power for 25 hours and would have been up the creek without our gas stoves. As it was we ended up leaving for the night Friday when the temp inside hit 6 C.

You know my motto: Take control. — Garth

#4 Yorkdale on 01.19.09 at 11:26 am

@POL-CAN. Wow, that house is hideous.

Cosmetics aside:

1) it’s a builder’s home
2) seller is related to the realtor
3) it’s a million bucks in the middle of Downsview

You’d think that between the two of them, they’d know what’s going on out there.

Shows how deep the denial is.

#5 Yorkdale on 01.19.09 at 11:34 am

… On the flipside, there’s this one in Rosedale going for 629K, and on the market for some time now:

I’ll admit, this one is tempting.

Is this the type of deal you’re talking about, Garth, that we should see come summer?

Looking forward to the article on “how to spot a deal” and “when it’s time to buy”.

#6 POL-CAN on 01.19.09 at 11:38 am

# 4 Yorkdale


I would not touch that place with a ten foot pole but it pays to pay attention… Here is another excample right from my hood… At least the price is down a bit but still way off IMO

June 6 2008 listed at $646,000.00

Jan 19 2008 listed at $629,000.00

Not even the 10% that the numbers have shown us so far…. Do they really want to sell?

#7 POL-CAN on 01.19.09 at 11:39 am


Jan 19 2009 listed at $629,000.00

my bad :)

#8 john on 01.19.09 at 11:39 am

The world economic situation is in my opinion like the power of gravity and its drawing down faster than our powers that be can squander our dollars trying to stop it.”like falling off a roof–the first step to get back up is to hit the ground :-)

#9 MWJ on 01.19.09 at 11:42 am

The really interesting thing about this article is that if you compare the December average GTA price of $361,415 (from the December TREB report) to the mid-January average GTA price of $332,495, prices in the GTA have DROPPED 8.5% in TWO WEEKS!


Disclaimer: This 8.5% figure is exaggerated since I am comparing a four week average to a two week average, but it’s fun anyways.

#10 double mike on 01.19.09 at 11:46 am

#2 “Anyone with half a brain can see that this market is dead…..”

Anyone with half a brain could’ve seen it coming for years as affordability went down the drain according to all imaginable indicators. But still there were bidding wars and “real estate never goes down” mantras. It seems brain amputation is a pretty popular cosmetic surgery procedure.

#11 Andrew toronto on 01.19.09 at 12:15 pm

I guess denial is ranpet everywhere .. in today’s globe and mail more of the same, by the way got your book Garth been reading it all weekend,,

U.S. deflation unlikely
David Berman, today at 11:42 AM EST

With year-over-year inflation in the United States at just 0.1 per cent as of December, deflation has become a hot topic among economists and investors. However, Yanick Desnoyers, assistant chief economist at National Bank of Canada, believes the odds of U.S. deflation are actually quite small – largely because the tremendous stimulus from the U.S. administration, along with declining energy prices and refinanced mortgages, should prevent the recession from dragging on long enough for deflation to get a toe-hold.

“According to Census Bureau data, half the mortgage loans in the United States were contracted before 2003 at a rate in excess of 6.4 per cent. Based on our calculations, households that refinance will pay $2,800 a year less in interest. In addition, they will also benefit from a decline in energy costs, which will represent 1.5 percentage points in terms of disposable personal income,” he said in a note.

“Moreover, President Obama will inject colossal sums of money into the economy in 2009, which should contribute to create employment (not early on, but later in the year).”

#12 Joren on 01.19.09 at 12:23 pm

Or perhaps the Builder is not willing to listen to reason.

It used to be back in the olden days (previous to last August) that if someone was interested, they’d throw an offer at something – even if it was priced at more than they were willing to pay.

Now, it seems like few buyers are willing to even attempt an offer.

You can tell some builders to reduce until you’re blue in the face and they’ll say “well anyone is welcome to submit an offer”. Meanwhile, the house sits and they don’t take seriously any of your other suggestions based on results from open houses, or just common sense – like why a new 1 million dollar house should have something other than plastic floor vent covers, or a proper bathtub in a home in an area that will appeal to families. I’ve found that builders often are out to lunch when it comes to what buyers want/need.

#13 Bottoms_Up on 01.19.09 at 12:27 pm

I like how she says “moderation in price growth”. King of spin! Prices are not growing, they are not even moderating. They’re PLUNGING!! If prices were up 8 and 12%, this statement could hold true for the future. I would not touch the real estate market with a 10 foot pole right now.

#14 Ski Goddess on 01.19.09 at 12:42 pm

Last night I purchased After the Crash from your Xurbia website…. I admire your entrepreneurial skills in attempting to cash in on the coming bad times!

Look forward to reading the book though. We have already started to prepare ourselves for emergency situations. We live in Whistler so at least we have gear to get around under our own steam, are no stranger to power blackouts, and have plenty of delicious wild animals running around. If you have to rent, why not rent somewhere beautiful eh?

Our plan is to rent until prices in Squamish (halfway between here & Vancouver) halve. They already have more than 70 months (!) of inventory, more than any district in the lower mainland. And it’s a fantastic place to live… can’t wait to buy our dream family home for pennies.

#15 Jusuppow on 01.19.09 at 1:04 pm

So folks, looks like the worst is behind us! The bubble in Toronto successfully deflated to a reasonable level. As ms. Maureen in her infinite wisdom cleverly left out the legendary 2006 numbers is my duty to remind all of us of those hopelessly optimistic (based on strong fundamentals, mind you) days. Yeap. The Jan average price is the same as in Jan 2006. Which is another 10% off the Dec 2008 and very much in line with our leader predictions for the entire 2009! Moreover. As garth so eloquently put it at least a few times on this blog – 2005 was balanced and sustainable market (killed by the idiotic 40yrs no money down bonanza… no worry our government dealt with that promptly)! So, do you see, we are back on track! Now stop winning around go buy some re. Right, Garth?

Ps. Excuse my overly use of the exclamation mark! I was caught by The Sudden Realization in a web if overexcitement…

#16 Patrice on 01.19.09 at 1:04 pm

Dec 1 2008 listed at $ 999,000.00
Jan 18 2009 listed at $ 1,100,000.00

How do you find out when and for how much the house was listed before?

I looked around the website but couldn’t find anything.


#17 Barry on 01.19.09 at 1:13 pm

Pol-Can, Guardian generators, made by Generac, are carried by Rona and Home Depot but they are fairly noisy. There are quieter models on the market and that will not cut out after a day or two. Guardian requires semi-annual maintenance and are normally programmed to kick in once a week to keep the battery charged and to test the system. Most home and cottage shows have several vendors displaying back up generators.

Actually, Generac’s units are now exceptionally quiet – I own one, and know. Also it does not require anything more than annual maintenance, and does exercise itself once a week at a time owners can program. A standby generator must be wired through a transfer switch into a home’s panel box and circuits, which cannot be done by the homeowner, unless he/she is a licesed electrician. So, bad idea to get this at Home Depot, thinking it’s a DIY job. One more note: the last thing you want is a generator made offshore of questionable quality, since this is intended for use in emergencies when there is nothing but remorse for being cheap. — Garth

#18 Drummer on 01.19.09 at 1:27 pm

I was just driving down Bayview Ave. in Toronto up in North York (a very pricy neighbourhood) this morning.

I quickly lost count of the ‘for sale’ signs on that street.

It’s going to be a very painful spring for many, I think.

My wife and I were thinking of trading up houses last year. Now, we’ve decided to hunker down in our lovely half-paid-off house and plant our own vegetable garden instead.

Now all we need is a reliable protein source and we’re good to go.

Thanks for the good insights and articles, Garth (and everyone else here)! You saved our asses from a world of pain.

#19 dd on 01.19.09 at 1:39 pm

It will be interesting to watch the Real Estate Boards spin their “balanced market”, “the best time to buy” stories this year.

#20 Makeorbreak on 01.19.09 at 1:41 pm

Just received your book today, Garth. Look forward to reading it.

#21 JO on 01.19.09 at 1:52 pm

Wow, what a thumping ! Mark 2008 as the first year down of many more to come. We can easily see 15-18 % down by September 2009. By the summer of 2011, we can easily be down 40 % or so. So one of the many clowns that helped get us into this mess are now asking for taxpayers to provide 100 % insurance on insured mortages based on a new report today (AIG and GENWORTH are the two companies I think). Almost all government programs/attempts to distort a market’s demand, supply or prices end up hurting the very people the program was intended to help and in addition, the prudent/most productive/ frugal citizens get the worst of it all. We must stop these ideas from being implemented by Canadian politcians and their Keyensian fools: Most importantly, I ask fellow Canadians to do the following:

1) Contact your MP – advise them against all bailout and excessive stimulus spending on a huge number of infrastructure projects. We need some infrastructure spending but not 1000 projects which have been submitted to the gov’t. The focus needs to be on reforming EI to improve benefits and re-train all unemployed workers and to cut income taxes for working/middle class and businesses. Once the economy shows signs of stabilzing, we need to cut government spending and balance out the tax system by raising consumption taxes modestly while keeping income taxes low.
2) Boycott any business that recieves bailout money in any form. Yes, if GM or Chrysler get our money, don’t buy their cars.
3) Sign the Abolish the Fed (by extension the BofC) petitions sponsored by well followed and respected private analysts. Mish’s Global (Google it) is a good start. So is
4)Paydown your debt and save money. Do not become trapped by the credit/consumption system.
5)Tell as many friends and family to do the same.


#22 a renter on 01.19.09 at 2:02 pm

#5 Yorkdale, in my humble opinion the Rosedale/ Edgeworth house is still priced for a red-hot buyers market, not today’s cold, scared market.

While technically in Rosedale, its a cramped semi with a shared drive, which is so close to the tracks that the trains will shake the owners out of bed.

So $629 is still high, although no doubt a few months ago some greater fool would have happily paid that amount

#23 POL-CAN on 01.19.09 at 2:05 pm

# 16 Patrice

For a daily dose of new listings in W,C, and E go to:

Not sure why he/she/they do not report on north properties….

Now to find out the most recent price changes I simply google the address i.e. “19 Concord Ave guava”
This gives me the pricess of prior listings if any are to be found.

#24 The Tallyman on 01.19.09 at 2:10 pm

#17 Drummer said:
“My wife and I were thinking of trading up houses last year. Now, we’ve decided to hunker down in our lovely half-paid-off house and plant our own vegetable garden instead.

Now all we need is a reliable protein source and we’re good to go.

You are on the right track hunkering down and having garden space is something you can’t put a price on.
Wish I had one!

As for me and the Mrs. we are vegan (with no dairy products)
We get protein from Soy & beans.

And in lieu of no garden space…
Bought two Sprouting machines and 2 food dehydrators.
Can even take control in the worlds smallest condo!

Even an AC/DC powerpack will keep the internet and cell phone up & running.
Good to have in those outages and having a laptop will even supply a light source while you watch a DVD.

Garth is right. Take back some control

#25 blackout on 01.19.09 at 2:19 pm

#5 Yorkdale, when #22 a renter, says train tracks close, he/she means right at the backyard.

it’s not really the tracks that bother me it’s the high power hydro wires over the backyard.

this is priced this low for a reason and is by no stretch a deal.

#26 Bermygoon on 01.19.09 at 2:44 pm

I here all this talk but I really don’t see much more inventory on Is a huge springtime amount of new listings still expected with the slow down?

#27 Darryl on 01.19.09 at 2:46 pm

Just wondering Garth. If we have a massive power outage how long will nat gas stay on.I would assume that the utilities have generators for this purpose (powered by nat gas I’m sure). Petro fueled generators use up several gallons a day so most people in the burbs and city may not have a good place to store a couple hundred gallons.
There may be bylaw issues as well.

Have you looked into wood burning stove suppliers for your Xurbia site? It may be a good idea to have one in the basement and a bush cord or two of seasoned wood.

Natural gas supplies should be avalable long after the grid has failed. As for gasoline usage, that certainly depends on the size of a generator. Some will run 8 hours on two litres – which is not too consumptive. Wood stoves are great, of course, so long as you have the wood. Hard to find on Robson Street. — Garth

#28 Canned Goods and Buckshot on 01.19.09 at 2:54 pm

Xurbia steers people towards gasoline powered generators. “Noisy” depends on a lot of factors. Look at how many decibels are heard at a given distance from the generator. Not all manufacturers list this or how they arrive at the number. Another point: although more expensive diesel generators have the following advantages:
1. last a lot longer
2. avoid having to store an explosive fuel (like gasoline)
3. require a lot less maintenance
4. can run on biodiesel (according to some sources)

Xurbia suggests to use a gas fired generator because gas will be more available during a crisis. I’m not sure on what basis this claim is made. I’m sure all petrochemical fuel will be a lot harder to get. References would clarify this important point.

The site offers generators powered by natural gas or propane, gasoline or diesel. As I am most interested in helping families with preparedness, gasoline is the best option since that fuel is so much more widely available and can always be siphoned form the family minivan, even though the advantages you list are quite valid. As for maintenance, the Honda-powered generators I prefer and virtually free of it. — Garth

#29 dekethegeek on 01.19.09 at 2:54 pm

#14 Ski Goddess-
If your buying in Squamish. DONT buy down on the flats near the train tracks. Besides the fact that they had the odd derailment( nothing better than toxic chemical train cars piled up in the back yard to devaluate the property) That whole area was about 6ft under water back in the mid eighties. A friend of mine moved there about 5 years ago and i went for a walk around the new subdivision. climbed up a slight embankment and GASP ! The friggin Squamish River was almost overflowing the dyke !
Keep renting till well after the olympics.

#30 Bill-Muskoka (Not Anymore) on 01.19.09 at 2:57 pm

#27 Darryl on 01.19.09 at 2:46 pm

Pellet stoves are very easy to use, little ash waste, and the pellets are readily available in easy to manage bags.

Generac units can be had for about $2,000 for a 6500 watt unit. The automatically switch over the load to themselves when the Hydro fails. An electrician must install the switching gear however, and that may run another $1000 or so. A medium sized LP tank will run them for days.

To be accurate, a 7 kW standby Generac generator is about $2,400 from the manufacturer, but that is not sufficient power to light up anything other than basic circuits – lights, refrigerator, microwave, water pump for example. I would not recommend having a standby gen of less than 10 kW, and much better of 14kW. Anything smaller and you might as well get a portable unit. As for installation costs, you need a transfer switch for any standby gen to sense when the grid goes down, and to have your chosen circuits isolated on a separate panel box. Oh yeah, and buy lots of beer and popcorn because your house will be a very popular spot in the next blackout. — Garth

#31 JJK on 01.19.09 at 3:01 pm

Given the prospects of a severe worldwide recession and if you take TREB numbers, January, 2009 midmonth average of $332,495 and assume a 1% drop in average home price each month ( which is highly probable for the next 4 months given the large drop from December 15, 2008 at $360,652 – 7.8% in one month) until May, 2009 midmonth, the average will be $ $319,215. When compared to the Treb published midmonth May, 2008 average of $400,817 this represents an $81,602 drop in average price from May 15, 2008 to May, 15, 2009, or 20.4%.

#32 coll in SW Ont-for now on 01.19.09 at 3:05 pm

Just had a RE ‘broker’ in, wish the commissions were going down like the RE. No change here.
Little flexibility…negotiation-not…flat rate non-existent

#33 cms on 01.19.09 at 3:16 pm

The rationalizations made by those in the real estate industry never cease to amaze me.

#34 Gold Bug on 01.19.09 at 3:42 pm


Thank you for writing a great and a very informative book. In my own analysis, I did think of a few things myself, but I have to say that the depth of your analysis pleasantly surprised me (and scared me too). For the others who have read the book, I am sure they think the same of the “Option C”. This forum is great because a pool of common knowledge is always greater than an individual’s knowledge.

Question #1:
In your opinion, is HD7300e (diesel) generator from Wallenstein just as good as the one you recommend? I heard that diesel engines last longer, can run longer as well, and the fuel storage is safer (less explosive vapours compared to gasoline).

Question #2:
I have completed CFP educational program, passed the CFP exam by FPSC, and plan to become a financial consultant/advisor working for a mutual fund company. What is your opinion of that industry, its current/future trends, any suggestions…
I would appreciate any comments you might have.

Many thanks.

Answer 1: Yes, it`s a good machine, but built for prolonged usage, such as on construction sites, not for short-term emergency power generation. At $4,400, not all that cheap. Answer 2: If it were me, I`b be setting up shop as an indie financial advisor, not a mutual fund company rep. — Garth

#35 vtj on 01.19.09 at 3:50 pm

#27 Darryl:

This may be obvious but just in case, be sure to check with your insurance provider before installing a wood stove and proper chimney. They’re very picky about the safe installation of these things for good reason. Be sure to check your city by-laws as well.

I miss the stove which I had installed at my old place. There’s nothing like the security and peace of mind of having a good quality wood stove (of the catalytic variety to maximize efficiency and minimize soot) and several cords of nicely dried wood on hand.

#36 Nick on 01.19.09 at 3:55 pm

Well, I finished my autographed – and I suspect extremely collectible :) – copy of “After the Crash.” A great read and I have already started to take action to prepare for the future, whatever that may bring. While I won’t be able to purchase the good stuff like a gas powered or wind generator until I own my own home, there’s a ton of very practical advice in there.

I talked to my landlord and I’ll be doing a few little things, like using a small patch of land on the property to plant a vegetable garden, as well as buying a few more emergency supplies. It feels good to take a bit of control.

#37 miketheengineer on 01.19.09 at 4:21 pm

Garth et al:

Being broke right now is not helping.

I went on my search and found a cheap power pack at walmart for about 150 bucks. Enought to power the cell phones and computer for a few hours. I figure candles and flashlights can do for light. Now I have to convince the spouse to part with the cash. (not such an easy task)

Cooking. I was thinking of installing a gas range in the basement. I saw some used ones cheap on the web (some even for free). I figure this could be done for under $500.

Heat. I found a guy who was selling gas “stove” that look like wood stoves, small, and exhaust directly out of an exterior wall. They don’t need power to fire up. This is about 1500 plus taxes and up.

This assumes gas is still present during a crisis.

If you look at the “permanent” generators in you blog xurbia, you see them to be 2000 and up depending on size. Looks like it might be a better idea to install one of them if you know you are staying in the property, and would be a wash compared to the alternatives above. Otherwise the mobile type would be the type to get if you are moving or planning to move.

Wood stoves are about 300 and up, not including the chimney, so that can add up to over 2000, and you have to deal with the wood, dirt, smoke and increased cost of insurance and maintenance. You have to clean them every so often, a dirty, yucky job.

So, there you have it….the permanent generator would be o.k. if you get a small one, compared with the prices of the other options, and all your stuff works, with the least amount of disruption, if and only if you don’t move. Movement for many of us may not be an option.

Just my thoughts for today.


Two comments: I would think hard and long before buying any emergency power backup sources at Wal-Mart. You would be dismayed at the failure rate for Chinese products in this area. Second, generator installations can be uninstalled in an hour, and the units moved by two guys, because they are self-contained and may even include their own built-in base and transfer switch. — Garth

#38 Darryl on 01.19.09 at 4:29 pm

# 27 VTJ
Thanks for the advice. I hear that they need to be CSA and have a special inspectin certificate.

#39 TS on 01.19.09 at 4:32 pm

The following web link provides some updated information on the possible length and depth of the recession from a European perspective. This is falling in line with most forecasts for North America which are not calling for any turnaround until 2010.

#40 Darryl on 01.19.09 at 4:43 pm


The next time you hear a politician use the word ‘billion’ in a casual manner, think about whether you want the ‘politicians’ spending YOUR tax money.

A billion is a difficult number to comprehend, but one advertising agency did a good job of putting that figure into some perspective in one of it’s releases.

A billion seconds ago it was 1959.

A billion minutes ago Jesus was alive.

A billion hours ago our ancestors were
living in the Stone Age.

A billion days ago no-one walked on the earth on two feet.

A billion dollars ago was only 8 hours and 20 minutes, at the rate our government is spending it.

#41 Charles on 01.19.09 at 4:52 pm

Will a garden grow in a city garden or will the toxins kill everything? Does that mean covered nursery?

p.s. Does your phone require a connection to an electric outlet? Make sure you have at least one phone that doesn’t require electricity. Have one that plugs only into the telephone jack, or keep it handy so you can find it in the dark.

Phone lines carry their own power, but if you have a cordless or digital system, it could be useless. As for the garden, should be fine if you don`t pee on it. — Garth

#42 john on 01.19.09 at 5:06 pm

Something to think about? I was at a friends place in Windsor a few days ago,we were sitting looking across the Detroit river from his living room–about 1 mile away is the Detroit skyline.I was thinking to myself–one mile away you could buy the same house as this for 1/4 the price and probably have your pick—the future? i think its inevitable?

#43 questioning on 01.19.09 at 5:43 pm

Garth, don’t blame the lower quality Chinese products in Walmart, it is not fault of Chinese but Wal-mart, they create all the specifications for the supplier. The middle man did the bad things.

Virtually, almost all the commodities quality are getting lower and lower quality. After this recession, there should be a new era of manufacturing industry.

I`m not blaming anyone, just saying that if I spend money on something I will only need in an emergency, it damn well better work. — Garth

#44 john on 01.19.09 at 5:43 pm

I think our Government should be reading “after the crash”–lets think about their solutions to the mess we are in and where those billions of tax dollars (present and future) are flowing—Bank bailouts (good for the banks) where did those billions of dollars in profits go over the last few years? but really does bailing out the banks actually help the out of work taxpayer with already overextended credit–the answer is no!—Tax cuts—good for the guy with a job but no good for the guy trying to find an income! Infrastrusture Projects–good but how much of that money gets eaten up as its filtered down thru government channels and how many jobs will result in it for the unemployed (not many i bet).—-Auto plant bailouts-billions down the drain for months of temporary employment at the highest of wages. What about Government spending?–not much mention of that,how many people in partisan positions actually do anything? 17 new senators (who will all do fine without there appointments) and really aren’t necessary! I suggest the government start cleaning up the top and start facing reality.Making life better for the unconcerned doesn’t do a damn thing for the ones that actually need it.

#45 JET on 01.19.09 at 6:09 pm

Phone lines carry their own power, but if you have a cordless or digital system, it could be useless. As for the garden, should be fine if you don`t pee on it. — Garth

Garth, most VOIP (voice over ip) “phone lines” require a component that requires external power – not sure if the phone lines from the cable company carries their own power or not.

#46 dd on 01.19.09 at 6:19 pm

#43 questioning,

I would be spending a couple dollars more if my life depends on it.

Walmart is not know for their relayable products. Cheap yes, relayable no.

#47 Bonnie N BC on 01.19.09 at 6:22 pm

I think we need to deal with our own reality – not what we would like to do.

If you have a wood burning fireplace keep it maintained. We only use our fireplace at Christmas and when the heat needs to be boosted by the hearth in cold situations like this December. We have electric heat so this is not rocket science.

If you are in a condo situation listen to Garth – you need to have some way of providing warmth in an emergency scenario.

It’s not that hard – you just need to do some preparation and think about what keeps you connected and obviously warm.

To be honest, friends never get why I am so worried by the possibility. Think my friends in Toronto get it now…

#48 Jeff Smith on 01.19.09 at 6:50 pm


Here is an perfect excample of a seller on crack in T.O.

Thanks to :) I find that site priceless…..

Dec 1 2008 listed at $ 999,000.00

Jan 18 2009 listed at $ 1,100,000.00

You can’t fault them for trying but wtf are these people thinking? This is not a isolated thing either…..

Anyone with half a brain can see that this market is dead….


Oh my god! That house is on a street right next to the Housing Project (Metro Toronto Housing – government subsidized housing) on Flemington Road. Its the worst possible place you can live in; drugs, crime, poverty. You name it. We used to call it the Jungle. What can you expect? To qualify you have to be in poverty to begin with and the rent is like only a quarter of your income. So if you make only $800 (lets say a welfare check) a month your rent is only $200. How do I know all this? I lived in the project as a kid because my parents didn’t have jobs and were so poor they couldn’t afford to rent outside of the project. I grew up to be an ok person though, thank god for that.

#49 Cendrine on 01.19.09 at 6:53 pm

Well, I am having a showing on my “for sale” house tomorrow. Sorry Garth, I will have to hide “After the Crash” for now. The rest of you: sshhhh! Let’s not scare them off!

Wish us luck…we’re gonna need it.

#50 Darryl on 01.19.09 at 6:54 pm

#30 Bill
Pellet stoves are very efficient and I think that when you buy them new the sellers usualy include 1 to 2 thousand pounds of pellets, But I think that they require an electric hopper to fill them continuously. Not good for powr outages. Right now in my mind ,the fail safe would be one 30 to 45k BTU gas fireplace (the type that does not require 120 volts) and one wood stove .
The gas fireplace for regular outages and the wood for the worst case of a possible gas outage . This is what I would like to do but it will be pricey. Let me see now,
Gas fireplace $2500.00
Wood fireplace $2500.00
bushcord of wood $500.00
The option of sticking your tongue on any metal surface in your home ……. priceless.

#51 Sail1 on 01.19.09 at 6:57 pm


Do you like fishing? You never know you may catch a big one.

#52 Da Hk Kid on 01.19.09 at 7:10 pm

Garth, any chance you would be able to weigh in with your thoughts on a potential North American Union starting with the Amero Currency we have been hearing about for about 12 months now. Pls see link below including the Canadian politicians.

#53 Don Bool on 01.19.09 at 7:11 pm

Chinese generators=You get what you pay for. A friend on a island bought one and lasted one day.. Honda is highly regarded for portable generator. Have had one for years and never fails. Fell out of pick up,bounced down road. Never misses a beat. Keep a spare spark plug.
Stoves= A good compromise is a propane for top and electric for oven.
lights= You can get small 12 volt emergency lights and put them where you want in a house that are hooked up to a 12 volt battery that comes on automatically.

If you can afford it the Generac no B.S. is the way to go..A no brainer. Unfortunately with Harper in power i have to go with the Honda generator,candles,kerosene lamps and lots of woolies.

#54 jess on 01.19.09 at 7:20 pm

toxic drywall from china?

#55 Backbacon Crusader on 01.19.09 at 7:26 pm

FYI on phones in an emergency outage situation (I work in Telecom)

ONLY regular phones that plug directly into a standard wall line will reliably work in a complete power outage situation.

Anything VOIP (and that includes Rogers Home Phone and Shaw Digital, though for marketing reasons they refuse to use the term VOIP) relies utterly on the home phone router. Most carry an independent battery power supply in the event of a power outage, HOWEVER…the battery supply seldom lasts more than 4 hours, and should be replaced after 2 years. FEW VOIP providers will tell people about this.

In addition, ALL alarm companies advise people AGAINST obtaining a digital phone line for their alarm line. They have not been properly tested by the industry, and have a documented issue of reliability in transmitting signals. There may not be a problem…but a regular line has a history of reliability.

So in an emergency, if you have any kind of home alarm system, make sure it’s running off a regular copper line.

#56 TheFirstRick on 01.19.09 at 7:29 pm

#42 john on 01.19.09 at 5:06 pm Something to think about? I was at a friends place in Windsor a few days ago,we were sitting looking across the Detroit river from his living room–about 1 mile away is the Detroit skyline.I was thinking to myself–one mile away you could buy the same house as this for 1/4 the price and probably have your pick—the future? i think its inevitable?
BIG difference between Detroit and Windsor; with Windsor, you got out alive.

#57 Bailing in B.C. on 01.19.09 at 8:30 pm

#14 Ski Goddess

I agree with dekethegeek # 29. I live in Squamish. With economic chaos comes infrastructure problems. The first thing to go in Squamish will be the dikes.

Squamish prices are dropping like crazy. The real estate board couldn’t give any price averages in December because NOTHING SOLD. Specuvesters are everywhere and will get serverly burned. I heard that one project in town 80% over presales are looking to assign.

My house last Spring I would have priced a about $630,000. That is an absolutely rediculous price. The place is 44yrs old original kitchen and baths and as far as character goes it was built in the style that is known as Squamish box house. But last year some idiot would have paid $630,000. Now I’d list it at $530,000 and if someone bought it they would still be an idiot.

I bought the place in 2003 for $270,000 and wouldn’t be surprised if it ends up back there.

P.S. Want to buy a house?

#58 Mark on 01.19.09 at 8:34 pm

I guess a form of quasi-communism was the answer… :)

#59 Rural Rick on 01.19.09 at 8:50 pm

Seattle News guys take on Canadian politics made me laugh. You can check it out here.

#60 GrandePrairiegirl on 01.19.09 at 8:52 pm

#43 questioning.
Whatever the reason,it doesn’t matter. Made in China is Made in China.
Personally I try to avoid anything made in china.
Reason #1 – The melamine contaminants or whatever it was in the Pet Food chain.
Reason #2 – I don’t believe in ‘globalization’.
Reason #3 – More and more food products for humans are now coming from China. From companies I used to trust. Del Monte canned fruits for one.

Guess what I’m reading tonight?
Got my book today…yeah! Thanks for the autograph Garth!

#61 Barb the proofreader on 01.19.09 at 8:57 pm

#21 JO “Contact your MP”
U.S. mortgage insurers press Ottawa to fully guarantee policies
“U.S.-based mortgage insurance companies are pressing the federal government to fully guarantee their home insurance policies in the pending federal budget to expand their market and possibly help resuscitate Canada’s struggling real-estate market.”
According to people familiar with the lobbying campaign, two leading mortgage insurers, Genworth Financial and American International Group, are fighting to raise existing government guarantees of private mortgage insurance to 100 per cent…
Such a move would make the federal government ultimately liable for all of the hundreds of billions of dollars in insured mortgage debt.

“the policy is a massive liability – “maybe the largest liability the government of Canada would ever have”


HELP ! You should re-post your astute observations about what Harper did in October.

I hope the word gets to all Canadians that these are the same guys who thrust their 40 year, zero down mortgages that Harper allowed. So now of course they hired the Conservatives lobby arm, their public relations wing, Hill & Knowlton, to make it happen.

Help save Canada people, spread the word and don’t let this get into the January budget. This is a well-planned Con tactic, and the lobbying is just pretend.. this is a done deal, if we base it on all their past tactics to force through whatever they want.

#62 Rich in Calgary on 01.19.09 at 9:08 pm

Reading everyone’s comments about “After the Crash” has me believing this has been the longest week of my life. Garth mailed my book more than a week ago, but still nothing… Damn you, Canada Post!

#63 Arlene on 01.19.09 at 9:09 pm

Another good emergency and convenient energy option are direct vent wood pellet stoves. They are cleaner than wood, but do use a small amount of electricity to run the feed hopper. Marry the pellet stove with a backup power source and you’re good to go. It’s lower insurance than wood stoves here, and up here in N. Ontario they are everywhere.

#64 Jmack on 01.19.09 at 9:32 pm

They’re lining up overnight in Richmond BC for 1 bedrooms listed at 300. What a deal……..

#65 North Vancouver Citizen on 01.19.09 at 9:48 pm

Here’s why Vancouver will become an even more elite city….

“”Kenny Banyon said:Jan. 19, 10:01 AM

1. 40% of all workers in L. A. County ( L. A. County has 10.2 million people)are working for cash and not paying taxes. This is because they are predominantly illegal immigrants working without a green card.

2. 95% of warrants for murder in Los Angeles are for illegal aliens.

3. 75% of people on the most wanted list in Los Angeles are illegal aliens.

4.Over 2/3 of all births in Los Angeles County are to illegal alien Mexicans on Medi-Cal , whose births were paid for by taxpayers.

5. Nearly 35% of all inmates in California detention centers are Mexican nationals here illegally

6. Over 300,000 illegal aliens in Los Angeles County are living in garages.

7. The FBI reports half of all gang members in Los Angeles are most likely illegal aliens from south of the border.

8. Nearly 60% of all occupants of HUD properties are illegal.

9. 21 radio stations in L. A. are Spanish speaking.

10. In L. A. County 5.1 million people speak English, 3.9 million speak Spanish.�
(There are 10.2 million people in L. A. County )

(All 10 of the above are from the Los Angeles Times)

Less than 2% of illegal aliens are picking our crops, but 29% are on welfare. Over 70% of the United States ‘ annual population growth (and over 90% of California , Florida , and New York ) results from immigration 29% of inmates in federal prisons are illegal aliens.

We are a bunch of fools for letting this continue. “”

#66 wayupnorth on 01.19.09 at 9:58 pm

One common thread in many replies here is the word quality. The government could save a ton of my money if they just started an ad campaign promoting buying once, buying quality. If a company is not wlling to unconditionaly back a frying pan for 20 years with regular use or a car for 15 etc. etc. etc. then why do we make this junk? We need to rebuild a manfacturing industry in this country and one way to do it would be a heavy tax on poor quality which brings the price closer to a good quality same product, thus making manufacturing in Canada possible again. This tax could offset an equel drop in income tax to help stimulate the economy.

Not to mention it takes the same energy to make crap as a quality item and our landfills are growing fast with tonnes of toxic products that were essentially a waste of the earths resources in the first place.

#67 Jimster on 01.19.09 at 10:36 pm

For those generator DIY’ers, I have recently installed and had inspected/approved a Reliance Controls , ProTran transfer pannel. Cheap and not that hard to do for any one with high school electrical. (

Another prep I also suggest you stock up on is a few ‘bars’ of hand Laundry Soap(No Frills). Using Tide to do your laundry by hand will leave your hands chapped and bleeding within a day or two.

#68 rural route on 01.19.09 at 11:01 pm

Got your book today – I was going to read it tonight, but couldn’t resist. I thought I’d just read a few pages this afternoon. Next thing I knew it was dark outside. Supper turned into scavenging leftovers from the back of the fridge. Your ideas ring true.

Thanks for mailing so fast – halfway accross Canada in less than a week! And thanks for sticking your neck out. I’m trying to talk with friends about all this. It’s not easy. Most people don’t think it’s so bad.

#69 MBS-guru on 01.19.09 at 11:06 pm

Richmond BC – People lining up to buy condos on Jan 19th, 2009. Garth, can you explain why this is happening???. Are these people greater fools??? … unbelievable. Btw, it’s $300,000 for a 1 bdrm.

#70 TheFirstRick on 01.19.09 at 11:10 pm

#59 Rural Rick on 01.19.09 at 8:50 pm Seattle News guys take on Canadian politics made me laugh. You can check it out here.
Forget the inaccuracies, this guys writing is on par with that of a grade 6 student.

#71 Extso on 01.19.09 at 11:23 pm

Do you remember the Aaron Russo’s movie “Trading Places”?
I give away an idea for Obama’s tomorrow’s inauguration cartoon:
While Obama is giving the presidential oath two man standing aside.
One of them giving $1 bill to another and saying, “You win!”
You would guess who they are after watching Aaron Russo’s “America, from freedom to fascism”.
And ask yourself’ “Where money come from?” Then watch 3.5 hours documentary “The Money Masters”. You can find it on Google Video.
Then search Wikipedia for “Fractional Reserve Banking” and “Money Supply”.
Also search You Tube for “Money as Debt” and “Schiff”.

Then read A. Suttons books (and other his books):
“Wall Street and Bolshevik revolution”’
“Wall Street and FDR”,
“Wall Street and rise of Hitler”.

Thank you Garth for your website. I started following your site since March 2008.
Also I am very grateful to the gentleman who posted link to the website where I started my own research (also bought the book “The Web of Debt”) and it is getting more and more interesting.

#72 ThumbsUp on 01.19.09 at 11:25 pm


Just finished “After the Crash” over the weekend, very nice dose of vitamin for the brain, now I think I’m mentally prepared, next step would be action based on the possibility.

“Talk to your spouse” as you pointed out, so I tried and found out that she was not convinced that things are that bad (she has a ‘recession proof job’ I’d admit) until she came back today learning one of her co-worker’s husband just lost his job.

Well, you can tell what a good job our Canadian media is doing. Fed by the daily dose of ‘Wheel of fortune’, you can bet our economy is still in good shape.

Re. Real Estate, Stock Market (aggressive/growth category), appreciate the different options you listed and the way you approached them, I’ll lean towards the bear side for the next decades or two.

Oh, you know Garth, you might have contributed significantly to a ‘book bubble’ lately

Thanks again Garth for the book and autograph and see you in the Obama era.

#73 Dawn in Calgary on 01.19.09 at 11:27 pm

#62 Rich in Calgary on 01.19.09 at 9:08 pm Reading everyone’s comments about “After the Crash” has me believing this has been the longest week of my life. Garth mailed my book more than a week ago, but still nothing… Damn you, Canada Post!


Don’t feel bad — I ordered mine about an hour after Garth announced they were available on his Xurbia site, and I haven’t received mine yet either. Hope to get it tomorrow to take with me on a business trip. Great reading on the plane!

#74 Investx on 01.19.09 at 11:28 pm

#65 North Vancouver Citizen: Here’s why Vancouver will become an even more elite city….

You are real annoying for an adult. Why are you so insecure and need to believe Vancouver will be number 1? This blog isn’t about that.
BTW, why the name change, “Real Estate Expert”?

#75 MIDAS on 01.19.09 at 11:55 pm

#62 Rich in Calgary:

I live in Markham and my book took over a week to arrive, so patience is the watchword.

I think RE listings across Canada but in particularly Vancouver, Toronto , Calgary and Edmonton will explode beginning mid Feb. # of houses on the market will set all kinds of records and prices will drop more than anyone expects. The insanity of it all boggles my mind; how did we average folk making 75K start believing that 600K for a fixer upper in Marpole or in Leaside was a bargain?

#76 nonplused on 01.19.09 at 11:59 pm

Here is a hack that I definitely do not recommend anybody ever try under any circumstances for routing power from a portable generator into your house:

– Make an extension cord with two male ends (replace the female end). It should be a 20 amp rated cord with ground. Make sure and observe polarity when attaching the second male plug.
– Make sure the main power breakers are off! (Very important). You’ll cook your generator when the power comes back if you don’t, plus it’ll have to juice up the whole neighborhood.
– Plug one end of your custom extension cord into the generator and the other end into the house.
– Make sure the kids can’t get at the extension cord because the second male end will be “live” and contact with the copper parts can be nasty or fatal.
– Unplug or turn off all non-essentials to get under your generator’s continuous power rating (or it will trip).
– Fire up the generator.

About half your house will now have power (whichever side of the panel you plugged into). If you have a big generator and 2 cords you can get the whole house lit by plugging into the other phase (if you don’t know what this means don’t try it! Don’t try any of it any way though, but it does work.) 220 appliances can not be powered this way because the whole house will be on the same phase, so turn all the 220 breakers off.

A safer hack is to have the furnace equipped with a plug so if the power goes out you can unplug the furnace from the house and just plug it into an extension cord running out to the generator. Size the extension cord appropriately (a big contractor style 15 amp rated or better cord).

Always run generators outdoors and lock em’ up with a good chain! The neighbors will hear it running.

Why not just douse the ground floor in flammable liquid? That’s quicker. — Garth

#77 nonplused on 01.20.09 at 12:03 am

#55 Backbacon Crusader

My router is plugged into a UPS system good for about 48 hours as long as the computer isn’t on. Does this solve the VOIP problem?

#78 JET on 01.20.09 at 12:13 am

Seems fewer GTA buyers walked away from firm transactions in December (fewer speculators perhaps?):

#79 ddawson on 01.20.09 at 12:20 am

“Owners of capital will stimulate working class to buy more and more
of expensive goods, houses and technology, pushing them to take more
and more expensive credits, until their debt becomes unbearable.
The unpaid debt will lead to bankruptcy of banks, which will have to be
nationalized, and State will have to take the road which will
eventually lead to communism.”

Karl Marx, 1867

no comments …

#80 Gord In Vancouver on 01.20.09 at 12:22 am

#65 North Vancouver Citizen

Here’s why Vancouver will become an even more elite city….

#81 Dee on 01.20.09 at 12:49 am

Hope none of you out there are holding any bank stock.

Anyone catch what RBS trading @ yesterday? Some of you guys gave me a warning about staying away from the bank stocks. Thank you so much. Learn lots from all the masters, tin foil hats included.

#82 john on 01.20.09 at 1:03 am

Barb the proofreader #61Garth,

HELP ! You should re-post your astute observations about what Harper did in October.

I hope the word gets to all Canadians that these are the same guys who thrust their 40 year, zero down mortgages that Harper allowed. So now of course they hired the Conservatives lobby arm, their public relations wing, Hill & Knowlton, to make it happen.

Help save Canada people, spread the word and don’t let this get into the January budget. This is a well-planned Con tactic, and the lobbying is just pretend.. this is a done deal, if we base it on all their past tactics to force through whatever they want.
>> and guess who now works for “Hills and Knowlton” why non other than Ian Brodie Harper’s former chief of staff—-it just must be a coincidence eh………

#83 CZ on 01.20.09 at 1:39 am

Hey, luck number 888, and it is exactly half of the sale of 2008 Jan 1776 – 50% down.

#84 islander on 01.20.09 at 2:05 am

Victoria Real Estate Board
Market Statistics as at Monday, January 19th 8:00am:

Net Unconditional Sales: 107
New Listings: 561
Total Active Listing Count: 3,503

#85 just sayin' on 01.20.09 at 2:22 am

might want to read up a little before you spread that

don’t forget what happened last time around

#86 North Vancouver Citizen on 01.20.09 at 3:17 am

Drug Making’s Move Abroad Stirs Concerns

WASHINGTON — In 2004, when Bristol-Myers Squibb said it would close its factory in East Syracuse, N.Y. — the last plant in the United States to manufacture the key ingredients for crucial antibiotics like penicillin —

#87 Future Expatriate on 01.20.09 at 3:58 am

#65- Don’t count on it. Illegal aliens are going back south by the millions. Call it economic attrition and the result of being foreclosed out of millions of homes.

#88 Mini-Garth on 01.20.09 at 4:49 am

I wonder if North Van Citizen is the ghost of Doug Collins…

#89 Tom on 01.20.09 at 5:15 am

#65 Three points: First, Canada is not the US. Second, Vancouver is not LA. Third, immigrants to Canada contribute an enormous amount to the country and are far from being a drain on our economy.

For example, last I looked I didn’t see any non-English speakers begging for my cash on the street – almost all white Canadians (no doubt from your POV pushed out of jobs by those dastardly immigrants). And oh look who’s working in the soup kitchens? Many immigrants doing volunteer work to help them integrate into the community and increase their chances of finding work conducive to their qualifications.

Try getting out of the white enclave that is North Van now and then.

#90 TomOfMilton on 01.20.09 at 5:17 am

#48 housing projects
Oh dear. How do I say this that provokes thought…
I think it might be better to say that the poor have less power to protect themselves and therfore make easier victims and therefore a housing project is a less risky place for a criminal to do business. It sounds better than the implication that those in need of afordable housing are mostly criminals.
And I know that this will likely raise more comments about abuse of welfare and affordable housing but aren’t we quick to point the finger at the odd incident of such thanks to media, while the scams of truely horrible proportions by the wealthy go unnoticed.
I’m just hoping people will question when they hear “abuse” stories…when the real abuse in billions goes by hardly commented on.

#91 TomOfMilton on 01.20.09 at 5:33 am

#55 “Anything VOIP (and that includes Rogers Home Phone and Shaw Digital, though for marketing reasons they refuse to use the term VOIP)…”
I thank you for the information on these types of phones…it’s helpful.
I think that they are correct in NOT calling them VOIP (Voice Over IP) because they don’t use bandwidth from internet IP protocal to package each sound bite in tcp/ip protocol. However, my neighbours do run into a lot of reliability problems with these type
of phones and your advice and experience sounds spot on. Thanks.

#92 Lana on 01.20.09 at 8:04 am

#70 TheFirstRick on 01.19.09 at 11:10 pm

#59 Rural Rick on 01.19.09 at 8:50 pm Seattle News guys take on Canadian politics made me laugh. You can check it out here.

I think it is very educational to see how others see us. I agree with some of the points made in this article. We could use an “Obama” in Canada–someone who is willing to put politics aside for the good of the country. I hope our leaders use him as a role model. There is a lot to be said for enthusiasm and trust in your government.

#93 vtj on 01.20.09 at 8:40 am

One of the earlier posts mentioned relying on a fireplace for heat. For the record, a fireplace is a terrible source of heat for prolonged use. Many people found this out the hard way during the ’98 ice storm in Quebec.

A typical fireplace does not have a large thermal mass associated with it as does a stove and worse, the large opening sucks most of the heated air in the house outdoors through the chimney. For those of you with fireplaces who want to rely on the thing to heat your place, you need to get a proper chimney insert installed (very likely necessary) as well as a stove designed to fit inside the old fireplace opening. Works rather well but installation can be expensive.

#94 Marlene on 01.20.09 at 9:04 am

#41 Charles

You can do raised organic beds in the city and the soil becomes irrelevant with a mix of:

1. peat moss
2. compost
3. vermiculite

Take 4x4x10 spruce lumber and cut it into 4×4 or 4×6 boxes. Join them to make a sandbox type of box and fill it with the mix above…

You can have the beds over any type of soil!

Check out Mel Bartholomew’s site. He shows you how to do it.

#95 Marty McFly x realtor on 01.20.09 at 9:25 am

Ok Islander #83. Can you tell us what the year end numbers for Victoria where for Dec. 31 2008? 19 days in January will not tell you much of what lies ahead. We need to see total firm sales, total listings for the 12 month period.

#96 vtj on 01.20.09 at 9:39 am

#94 Marlene:

Great site – thanks for sharing.

#97 Telecom tips on 01.20.09 at 10:39 am

#77 nonplused:

Don’t count on your VoIP working in an emergency, even if you have a UPS. It may, it may not.

VoIP will *not* have the longevity or the safety of a regular phone line. This includes Rogers Home Phone (or any other cable service provider).

Some important notes about VoIP, Skype, Yak, Comwave, Rogers, Cogeco, and other alternatives to Bell and Telus:

1) If you dial 911, they may not know where you’re physically located. That’s bad in an emergency, and even worse if you can’t speak (severely injured, stroke, heart attack).

2) The 911 call-centre they send you to on you VoIP line may not be the right one for your area, adding extra time while your call is routed properly.

3) If you’re in a multiple dwelling unit, there’s a pretty good chance that they’ll be able to figure your building, but may not know your unit number. In a real emergency, that is not good.

4) If you want to have a backup, you can get away with not spending the fifty bucks a month. Just plug a big red emergency phone that doesn’t require external power into the regular phone jack (provided your house hasn’t been wired to the VoIP, of course). Even though you can’t dial anything else, you can still dial 911 (I’m 90% sure that’s across Canada, but I strongly suggest that you double-check in your area.). Just remember that in an emergency, you’ll have to remember to pick up *that* phone to call 911 — not the one you usually use to call your friends and family. Ask yourself, if you’re in an emergency, will you, your kids, your spouse remember which phone to use?

5) If not, get a phone line with Bell or Telus – no one else. While it is the most costly, it really is the safest and most reliable option.

6) If you have a mobile phone that has GPS capabilities in it, turn it on. Again, it’ll be make it easier for them to find you in an emergency, but it’s *not* foolproof. If you’re in a 50 floor office tower or apartment building, they’ll have a much tougher time pinpointing your location.

More info for the curious and the nerdly can be found here:

Garth, I hope you’ll consider putting this info up on your Xurbia site.

#98 go green on 01.20.09 at 11:20 am

93 vtj on 01.20.09 at 8:40 am One of the earlier posts mentioned relying on a fireplace for heat. For the record, a fireplace is a terrible source of heat for prolonged use. Many people found this out the hard way during the ‘98 ice storm in Quebec.


Several years ago, when my husband redid part of our main level, we had a Selkirk ‘closed-combustion’ fireplace put in. We used it in the evenings to take the chill off and for its ambiance. I had always wanted a fireplace. Since retiring, we mostly use our wood stove downstairs to supplement our electric heat and cut down on our electricity bills. Yes, its messy, but we don’t use the family room downstairs anyway. My husband removes and cleans the stove pipes (?) every few weeks to remove any creosote build up & each year replaces the pipes & cleans the chimney. He stores about a full cord in the back basement workshop, with about 3 cords stored under a tempo with both ends open. Its really cut down on our electrical bill. Was just checking my notes. In 2000 we paid $145 for a full cord and last spring the price jumped to $205. The chap who delivers it stacks it in his truck – enough to hold a full cord. Someone mentioned a ‘bush cord’. Not sure what that is.

BTW, just received ‘After the Crash’. Thanks Garth.

#99 Cora on 01.20.09 at 11:35 am

Questions for condo dwellers regarding Battery Generators.

I assume when you get one home you plug it in the wall, charge it up over a few hours, and put it way until needed. Will it hold the power and slowly charge down the way small rechargeable “AA” type batteries do? In a power outage I would then carry the powerpack to my car and plug it in the cigarette lighter and “top it up” or fully charge it as needed? Could this kill or drain my car battery if I do this too often? A fully charged powerpack would last how long, for example the 1500w one?

Using power from the sun through the folding panels or portal solar panels, will they charge up in the windows of a sunroom/den to charge up for people with no balconies or must the panels be exposed to the actual sun outside? I assume you charge them up and then plug them into your battery generator via the 12V to top it up when the power is low if you don’t want to carry the actual powerpack to the car to top it up by the car battery.

I don’t understand how the Xantrex “inverter” types (1800w and 100w) are different from the Powerpacks. They can both be charged up by car battery or by a folding solar panel it seems. Why are they “special”?

Sorry for the low brow questions, I only discovered wind up flashlights a month ago.

Powerpacks can be left plugged in to an AC outlet, where they will charge automatically. The largesr unit (Xpower 1500) can also be charged from a solar panel plugged directly into it, making it renewable and fuel-less in the case of a protracted power outage. The rate of charging depends on the size and output of the solar panel. Yes, you can also charge up almost any powerpack from a 12 volt car battery and so long as the car is running (and the alternator waorking) it will not discharge the vehicle battery. Many powerpacks also have a built-in compressor to inflate tires, and jumper cables to start a car battery killed off by cold weather – as well as a flashlight and often a radio. A charged powerpack like the1500 will power a refrigerator for several days, a laptop for about 30 hours and lights or a microwave, depending on the usage – certainly adequate for most apartment requirements for a couple of days. An inverter like the 1800 takes a stream of DC power comng from a renewable source (wind, solar) via a battery bank and converts it into AC power, kicking out more watts and including an integrated transfer switch for greater flexibility. The powerpacks are self-contained units built for powering by AC while the inverter is built for converting renewable into household current. — Garth

#100 vtj on 01.20.09 at 12:29 pm

#98 go green:

Thanks for jogging my memory – the proper term for the fireplace upgrade that I was referring to in my post is indeed “closed combustion fireplace”. They work superbly well in contrast to the classic open fireplace.

By the way, for anyone not familiar with these, it’s vitally important that you have the proper chimney in place since the operating temperature is much greater than in an open fireplace. Go green mentions “Selkirk” which is an excellent manufacturer of the inserts in question. I believe the insert needs to be rated for 2100F flue gas temperatures and have a minimum of 2″ of insulation (local building codes should be checked for more accurate info). A reputable stove retailer should be able to provide you with all the necessary information but do cross reference with your building codes to avoid any possible regrets later.

The CMHC has good information on its site regarding heating with wood stoves:

I came across a very good manual some years ago which describes proper installation considerations as well. I’m sure it can be found online with a bit of research.

#101 Future Expatriate on 01.20.09 at 12:31 pm

#16 Patrice- If the address is a fairly unique one, just typing it into google with quotes should get you at least a couple of years’ worth of previous listings. Realtors like to put listings on as many websites as possible, but are nowhere near as diligent at removing them once the listing has run its course and the property is unsold.

#102 Another Albertan on 01.20.09 at 12:34 pm

The interconnection of a genset to a household distribution panel is more than a hack. There are flaws in that description that could prove to be outright deadly. Hacks in the hands of individuals not competent in this area can get you very injured or dead.

As a Professional Engineer, I am obliged to comment in the defense of public safety.

#103 Bill-Muskoka (N.A.M.) on 01.20.09 at 2:09 pm

#102 Another Albertan on 01.20.09 at 12:34 pm

Absolutely, I see a lot of guys out there going ‘Hey, Vern! What’s this wire for? ZZZZZzzzzzzzzzzzzt’

The Electrical Code was not written as an exercise in futility, but by the collective experience of how to maintain safety. It definitely helps to prevent having a ‘revolting’ experience.

and Garth,

I agree a larger capacity generac is the way to go, but the price goes up fairly rapidily as the KW’s increase.

As to the beer and popcorn, that is why you should also have a roll of tickets for admission. LOL

#104 Bill-Muskoka (N.A.M.) on 01.20.09 at 2:14 pm

BTW, in most jurisdiction you MUST have a licensed electrician due the work. If you do it yourself your insurance may be made null and void in the event of a problem, like your house burning down.

Home Depot does sell a condensed version of the Electrical Code for homeowners. It is $13.95 + Tax. I recommend it as a good reference for anyone who plans even minor repairs like light switches, outlets, etc. Beyond that hire a licensed electrician to protect yourself and your investment.

Safety First eliminates the need for Grief After!

#105 Van MD on 01.20.09 at 2:40 pm

I have been renting in the Flo condo complex for a couple months (yes, the one built by Onni, going on sale). Many of the units, especially ones in the Phase 3 (latest to be built) are still unoccupied. Even on my floor (Phase 2), i think the occupancy rate is 50% or less.

I was quite amused in the last 2 nights after work, peering down I could see lots of condo-shoppers congregating at the side walk. I could also see lots of people led by realtors checking out the empty apartments in the tower opposite to mine.

I’m paying $1200 for a 700 sq ft 1BR, and will need to move to a 2BR soon, which goes for approx $1550-1700 in this complex. I would bet that in a few months I will see the rental rates of highrise condos drop $50-$100 due to oversupply.

Lastly, I had to agree that the build quality of this condo complex is mediocre at best. Sound insulation is very poor (gotta hate those college students/dropouts next door pumping up their woofers on those house parties they throw), even the weed they smoke go through behind the wall (there’s shared ‘behind the wall’ water pipe space) and seep into my closet/bedroom. The one thing I love about these new condos however, is the pre-wired telus fiber-optic 25mbps internet, but that’s just about it. The view of the moutains in the north is nice, but airplane take-off noise does make afternoon cat-naps very difficult.

#106 Jimster on 01.20.09 at 4:49 pm


Bush Cord (or Full Cord) = 3 Face cords (Regular cords)

Plan on at least 2-3 Bush Cords for a 1800 sq ft house, moderatly insulated in the Huntsville area. It is highly dependent on the quality of the wood. Expect less heat from old moldy or fresher greenish wood. Good wood will heat twice as well in my experience and start so fast you will not have to stand around shivering waiting for heat.

Prices range from $45 (or less if you know someone) a face cord in you pick it up, up to $90 delivered and stacked. Again, quality matters.

#107 Alberta Boy on 01.20.09 at 5:45 pm

Anybody care to give a landlord some feedback? I charge below-market-rate for rents and my four low-cost houses are well-capitalized.
My tenants would love to stay because the price is very reasonable.
Should I sell before the crash – and put my tenants on the street – or will renters be able to keep paying their rent?
Will the bank be willing to re-negotiate the mortgage/payment terms if the tenants can’t pay their rent?
Any comments are welcomed by Alberta Boy.

#108 coll in SW Ont on 01.20.09 at 5:57 pm

# 104-Bill – Muskoka (N-A-W), re: do-it yourself/ hire electrician
Even if attempting minor things such as, you would think, switches and outlets, after referring to book, proceed with caution, or better yet get licensed electrician.

Just had one in and he changed outlets and switch in kitchen, and I’d had no idea @ differences with wiring on kitchen counter…
plus, with light fixtures, almost every one had different wiring within, that to him made perfect sense, but for me info. was no where to be found -ie: do-it yourself manual or instructions with light fixture, or workshop at Big Box store.
Plus,… even programmable thermostat…no idea the potential complications r/t furnace…just when taking old one off.
So thankful I had him do the work, quickly done, reasonable price, peace of mind with insurance let alone own safety.

#109 Cora on 01.20.09 at 6:32 pm

Thank you Garth for the info about the Powerpacks. Is it possible to “charge up” a folding solar panel by leaving it in a window or does it need to be outside in direct sunlight?

Inside is fine. Even in cloudy weather. — Garth

#110 nonplused on 01.20.09 at 7:43 pm

Why not just douse the ground floor in flammable liquid? That’s quicker. — Garth

It’s not that dangerous. Other than the live male end of the extension cord it is no more dangerous than any other electric system.

And having the furnace powered through a plug is as safe as anything. Lots of houses used to come wired this way.

#111 nonplused on 01.20.09 at 8:00 pm

#102 Another Albertan

That’s why I said no one should ever do this. But if it’s minus 30 and the power has been out for many hours you gotta start making some choices.

Far better to have a cutover switch installed ahead of time.

And putting a plug on the furnace is plenty safe. They used to install them this way.

#112 Another Albertan on 01.20.09 at 11:26 pm

Sorry nonplused, but posting a series of generic instructions is irresponsible. Anyone concerned and sophisticated enough to buy a genset capable of sourcing current at a continuous level that could trip a branch breaker is also capable of getting a sane and safe custom interconnection built. Even a set of extension cords running to various spots in the house and a power distribution bar fed from the genset, while wholly clunky and unsightly, is decidedly safer. It at least forces the end-user into explicitly choosing what devices will get power and then makes the individual remove the plug from the wall receptacle. This keeps people in an area that they know and understand. The only interaction with a load centre the average person should ever have is to flip a breaker switch.

If you want to have an alternate method of spinning a furnace fan, I will concede there is nothing wrong with having a proper retrofit performed.

While I do not disagree with the purpose of the desired end-result, the devil is in the details – in this case, the method of procedure.

I’ve done enough continuity planning for corporate, oil & gas, and utility clients to know that if a single household waits until extremes to take action, it is already way too late in the game.

#113 nonplused on 01.20.09 at 11:40 pm

I suppose if nobody likes my McGuiver posts I shouldn’t tell them about the time when I was young that my stupid ass $500 car wouldn’t start in – 30 weather and I slide a Hibachi under the motor for an hour. Started right up! Precaution: wait until the charcoals are ready to cook. No standing flames! And hopefully your engine isn’t too greasy or you’ll loose the $500 dollar car.

Or the time that same stupid car froze up miles from home and I had no Hibachi. Only this time it was a good Samaritan McGuiver who after boosting unsuccessfully suggested pushing me down the road. Crazy nut didn’t back off until (date stamp) 30 miles an hour! I dropped the clutch in second, and it still wasn’t running when I downshifted to first, but by the time I put in the clutch and stopped it was shaking away. I thanked him and let him go, and 15 minutes later it was running fine.

Or my brother’s chemical free way to get rid of those pesky wasps that have made a nest behind a hole in your house’s exterior: Shop vac. Strap the hose up to the hole after dark and turn the thing on at dawn or whenever they become active (I used a timer). Slurp! I’ve tried this myself and it works pretty well. There were a few wasps still clinging to life when I opened it but none that could crawl or fly (most had no wings). The only drawback is that depending on the development of the grubs you might get a hatch of mini wasps a few days later and have to repeat the application. It is also surprising how many of those little buggers there are in a nest, when you actually get to see them all.

If they make a nest in a long crack, a shop vac doesn’t work (they go around). Solution? Packing tape. Put it right over the crack like you are attempting to seal them in (again, at night). Their little wings get stuck right to it. Don’t use duct tape or anything you can’t see through because you want to make sure they are all dead before you remove the tape (again, at night, in case there are more that didn’t get stuck).

#114 Bill Muskoka (N.A.M.) on 01.21.09 at 12:16 am

#107 Alberta Boy on 01.20.09 at 5:45 pm

You already know, and are using, the proper answer. Keep your heart ahead of your wallet. It a trait of being a human being. The payback is far greater!

#115 Bill Muskoka (N.A.M.) on 01.21.09 at 12:19 am

#108 coll in SW Ont on 01.20.09 at 5:57 pm

The greatest hazard is developing a cross phase ground. That will cause an over-current situation. A definite No-No!

#116 Tevan on 01.21.09 at 1:53 am

#107 Alberta Boy

You ask “Should I sell before the crash”

Here in Alberta – we are In The Crash. Good luck trying to sell.

And why on earth would any bank care whether tenants can pay rent? The question is whether the Landlord can pay the mortgage.

Yep…it’s a Renter’s Market now….or will be soon enough.