Page 1

What happens when builders and architects work hand in hand? P.43 c a n t h e co u r s e b e c l e a r e d fo r l a n e way p r oj e c t s ? P. 6 4

1 5 0 y e a r s o f o n ta r i o h o m e d e s i g n P. 74

framing the argument of wood vs. steel vs. concrete P.53

sound advice With music in his soul, Pierre Dufresne knows how to listen more closely than most

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Contents

34 Tuning In OHBA’s next president knows something about creating harmony

43 Design By Committee

Good working relationships pay off for builders and architects ohba.ca

53 Framing the Argument

Weighing the advantages of wood vs. concrete vs. steel

64 Changing Lanes

Want to add a unit to a laneway? Here’s what you need to to know ontario home builder Fall 2017

7


Contents

15 A Winning Combination

Hosted by the Niagara Home Builders’ Assocation, the 2017 OHBA Conference at Fallsview Casino Resort is shaping up to be a jackpot

13 One Voice Honouring Canada’s 150th birthday and welcoming OHBA’s incoming president 15 Ontario Report OHBA’s Annual Conference and Awards return to Niagara Falls, cycling across Canada to fight poverty, the fall course calendar, welcoming a new housing minister and EnerQuality training 21 Frame of Mind Designing to bring youngsters back outdoors 8

ontario home builder Fall 2017

23 Inside Storey Documenting the extraordinary house raising of Doug Tarry’s Project Hope—in print and on film 27 Top Shelf Our review of the latest in builder and renovator gear includes a tankless water heater, a radon detector, a bold, black faucet, a bright white ledgestone panel, a stylish, stackable washer and dryer, noise-dampening industrial headphones and much more

74 Where We Call Home

From Gothic Revival to Ranch Bungalow, exploring the history of home building design in Ontario

83 Better Building Charging Ontario with the task of electric vehicle infrastructure, a new sealant for windows and doors and a window you have to see—and stand on—to believe 91 Product Focus Making a splash with smarter showers and fancier faucets as we showcase the hottest products in kitchens and baths

like Music to his ears

Pierre Dufresne takes the seat as OHBA’s next president

102 Words to Build By Neil Rodgers, President, Dumara Projects Limited. ohba.ca


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The official publication of the Ontario Home Builders’ Association FALL 2017 | Vol. 33 Issue 5

editor

Ted McIntyre ted@laureloak.ca associate editor

Norma Kimmins, OHBA art director

Erik Mohr graphic designer

Ian Sullivan Cant copy editor

Barbara Chambers contributors

Rick Drennan, Avi Friedman, Tracy Hanes, Dan O’Reilly, Philip Porado, Zale Skolnik, Joe Vaccaro, Mark Wessel Cover photography

Margaret Mulligan advertising

Tricia Beaudoin, ext. 223 tricia@laureloak.ca Cindy Kaye, ext. 232 cindy@laureloak.ca publisher

Sheryl Humphreys, ext. 245 sheryl@laureloak.ca PRESIDENT

Wayne Narciso Published by

Laurel Oak Publishing laureloak.ca

ohba.ca Ontario Home Builder is published six times per year (Winter, Spring, Renovation, Summer, Fall, Awards). All rights reserved. No part of this magazine may be reproduced without the written consent of the publisher © 2017. For address corrections please email info@laureloak.ca or phone: (905) 333-9432. Single copy price is $5.00. Subscription Rates: Canada $12.95 + HST per year, USA $29.95 USD.

Order online at http://ohba.ca/subscribe-or-buy-past-issues CANADIAN PUBLICATION MAIL AGREEMENT NO. 42011539 ISSN No. 1182-1345

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One Voice

Canada turns 150 A look at our past, with a nod to the future By J o e Vacc a r o

Ontario’s housing market isn’t the only sector that has been really busy in 2017. Flag manufacturers report they are enjoying a banner year producing and selling Canadian flags, and are actually experiencing challenges keeping up with the demand. It’s something many home builders and renovators can relate to these days. And while the factors fuelling a robust and sometimes frenetic housing market are complex, it’s pretty obvious why Canadian flag sales are strong: Canadians have been unabashedly and enthusiastically celebrating the 150th birthday of the formation of Canada in 1867. And that means lots of fireworks, red and white clothing and hats and flags fluttering outside homes and businesses across the country. In celebration of Canada’s sesquicentennial, in this issue of Ontario Home Builder we take a walk down memory lane and examine how housing has changed and evolved over the past 150 years in Ontario. “Where We Call ohba.ca

it seems rather appropriate that ohba’s next president hails from our nation’s capital. Home,” found on p. 74, also explores some of the social factors that influenced advancements in housing. Another transformation in the works at OHBA is the upcoming changing of the guard, with the new president of the provincial association to be introduced along with our executive committee at our Annual Meeting of Members on Sept. 25. In light of Canada’s 150th birthday, it seems rather appropriate that OHBA’s next president hails from our nation’s capital. Pierre Dufresne comes to the role with a wealth of volunteer experience

at his local, the Greater Ottawa Home Builders’ Association, where he served as its president for a two-year term. He’s been a valued member of OHBA’s executive committee for five years and we are fortunate he will continue to serve our organization as our leader in the coming year. You can learn more about Pierre in our profile story on him on page 34. Even better, join us at OHBA’s conference from September 24-26 at the Niagara Falls Casino Resort, where you can meet and speak with Pierre in person. Pierre will take over from Neil Rodgers, who has served as OHBA president over the past year in a thoughtful, effective and unwavering manner. It has been an extremely busy year at OHBA, particularly around some key legislative and policy issues, including the Growth Plan, OMB reform, inclusionary zoning, apprenticeship reform, the Municipal Act and Ontario’s Fair Housing Plan. All of these matters have the potential to significantly impact our industry, as well as the economic and social health and development of our province. Throughout all the meetings, telephone calls and discussions around these and other issues, Neil steadfastly approached any challenge or issue, as he told OHB magazine he would do before taking the reins as OHBA president last fall: “We, as an industry, have to lead evidence-based arguments to demonstrate what is happening in the marketplace and what can happen in the future if we are not more balanced in our policy approach.” Neil adeptly walked the talk, while guiding our team in presenting evidence-based facts when explaining both our perspectives on issues and workable solutions. As a result, OHBA remains strong, effective and vital. Thank you, Neil. OHB

joe vaccaro is the CEO of the ontario home builders’ association

ontario home builder Fall 2017

13


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Ontario Report

A Taste of niagara 2017 OHBA Conference Delegates head to the falls

Hosted by the Niagara Home Builders’ Association, the 2017 OHBA Conference is shaping up to be a big jackpot at Fallsview Casino Resort from September 24-26! Here’s an in-depth look at the sessions and speakers:

Housing Goes Modern Builders are differentiating themselves in their design content and taking the leap to modernism. This trend has also hit the renovation market and renovators are being asked to tear down walls, open up old houses and let the light in. Ease your fears about modern design. Learn how current elements in custom home building are coming to the production and renovation scene. Presented by Christopher Simmonds, Christopher Simmonds Architect.

Lunch and Keynote Speaker Enjoy a lunch break sponsored by Blueprint Insurance Services Inc. and then get inspired by the keynote speaker and creator of the Six String Nation, a bold and Canadian musical project weaving in stories of diverse cultures, communities, characters and events from every province and territory of Canada into a single guitar called Voyageur. Presented by Jowi Taylor

For further information and to register, visit conference.ohba.ca

ohba.ca

The Internet and the Age of Consumer Transparency

The approach of lifestyle design

Today’s homebuyers are online and connected. They support brands that they believe are transparent and genuine. What strategies and methods should companies use to manage online reputation? What does brand transparency mean to today’s consumers? Learn how leading companies have leveraged the wired world to connect with more customers, joining the “social” conversation instead of falling prey to it.

Over the past decade, the rules of design have slowly changed. Today, the traditional rules of interior design may no longer apply, leaving design to be an open book of personal preference. Designer and educator Ramsin Khachi returns to the OHBA Conference to lend his expertise on applying design sensibility, exploring how varying lifestyles dictate our surroundings and how trends aren’t always as important as we think.

Presented by Tim Bailey, Avid Ratings.

Presented by Ramsin Khachi, Khachi Design Group.

Leveraging Climate Change and Energy Efficiency to Sell

OPENING RECEPTION

As our industry moves towards Net Zero in 2030, we are seeing greater emphasis and awareness about climate change and increased energy costs. How can we take advantage of this? An industry and builder/renovator panel featuring Jennifer Weatherston, Reid’s Heritage Homes; Subhi Alsayed, Mattamy Homes and Roy Nandrum, RND Construction, will discuss the opportunities, including incorporating sustainability into homebuilding, adjusting our mindset to see better building as an asset as energy building codes go up, and determining how to market and sell high performance homes that won’t lose value. Other presenters include: Shannon Bertuzzi, EnerQuality; Susan Cudahy, Union Gas; Bruce Manwaring, Enbridge Gas Distribution and Andrew Oding, Building Knowledge Canada.

Brought to you by Enbridge and hosted by the Niagara Home Builders’ Association, start the conference off with a splash on the Hornblower Niagara Cruises’ legendary “Falls Illumination Cruise” (ponchos included!).

PRESIDENT’S GALA Don’t miss the big night as OHBA welcomes its 2017-2018 president, Pierre Dufresne of Tartan Homes, Ottawa. The festivities are sponsored by Union Gas, Cogeco, Federated Insurance and Enercare.

AWARDS GALA The conference ends on a high note with the 2017 Awards of Distinction gala, sponsored by Rogers, CRS Contractors Rental Supply, Delta and Goemans Appliances.

ontario home builder Fall 2017

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Ontario Report

And the Finalists Are… Congratulations to all the finalists for the 2017 Awards of Distinction selected by our esteemed panel of judges. Winners will be announced on Tuesday, September 26th at the Awards Gala at the Fallsview Casino Resort in Niagara Falls. Back by popular demand, funny-man James Cunningham returns to host this exciting event that celebrates the ‘best-of-the-best’ in Ontario.

Seating is limited, so don’t delay—order your tickets and / or book your tables at Conference.ohba.ca. Here are some of this year’s finalists from the 39 categories of design, sales and marketing.

2017 Home Builder of the Year

2017 People’s Choice Award

Great Gulf BILD / Durham Region HBA Greatgulf.com

Finalists include the top finalists in Project of the Year Low-Rise, and Project of the Year High- or Mid-Rise categories:

Losani Homes BILD / Brantford / HamiltonHalton / Niagara / Waterloo Region HBA Losanihomes.com Tridel BILD Tridel.com

2017 Renovator of the Year Amsted Design Build Greater Ottawa HBA Amsted.ca

Adi Development Group Inc. Stationwest, Burlington Aspen Ridge Homes The Jack, Toronto Collecdev Westwood Gardens, Richmond Hill Doug Tarry Homes HOPE, St. Thomas Losani Homes Central Park, Hamilton

Eurodale Developments BILD Eurodale.ca

Lucchetta Homes The Residences At Hunters Pointe, Welland

OakWood Greater Ottawa HBA Oakwood.ca

Spallacci Homes 101 Locke, Hamilton

DenOuden Cycles Sea to Sea CHBA President Eric DenOuden has quite a story to tell about what he did on his summer vacation. An avid cyclist, Eric spent nine weeks this summer pedalling almost 7,000 kilometres across Canada to raise awareness and raise funds to fight poverty with Sea to Sea, a cycling project aimed at finding solutions to end local and global poverty. He and his fellow 135 riders started out in Vancouver on June 26th and finished up in Halifax on August 31st. “I feel strongly that living in one of the best countries in the world with all kinds of freedom and opportunity we are responsible to assist others, which is one of the reasons I decided to ride”, said Eric who set a goal of raising $70,000 which he happily surpassed by early August. Eric, who is a past president of both OHBA and the Quinte HBA, has been involved in numerous philanthropic causes in his local community and around the world. In 2013, when Eric served as OHBA President, he spearheaded OHBA’s “50 Good Deeds” project to honour the provincial association’s 50th Anniversary. Congratulations Eric on yet another successful community project!

Cabinet Shuffles in New Housing Minister

Peter Milczyn was appointed as Ontario’s New Minister of Housing and Minister Responsible for the Poverty Reduction Strategy in mid-summer. Milczyn is the MPP for Etobicoke-Lakeshore and from 1994-2014 he served as a Toronto city councillor, where he chaired Toronto’s Planning and Growth Committee and served as TTC Commissioner and as a member of the City of Toronto’s Executive Committee. Minister Milczyn replaced Minister Chris Ballard, who is now the Minister of the Environment and Climate Change, replacing the former minister, Glen Murray, who resigned to become the Executive Director of the

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ontario home builder Fall 2017

environmental, not-for-profit Pembina Institute. As Minister of Housing, Minister Ballard was responsible for introducing a number of legislative changes impacting our industry, including promoting the Affordable Housing Act and the Rental Fairness Act. OHBA looks forward to continuing to work with Minister Milczyn as Minister of Housing, as we look to increase the supply, choice and affordability of housing for Ontarians.

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Ontario Report

OHBA’s Fall 2017 Course Calendar OHBA and our Institute of Building Excellence (IBE) are committed to providing professional development opportunities for the residential construction industry. With a focus on updating and development of new training programs, we continue to raise the level of professionalism and set a high standard for entry into this important economic sector. The most effective way this can be done is through a certification program, providing builders and renovators with something tangible they can use to promote their business and keep a competitive edge in today’s economy.

Upcoming courses include:

Marketing and Project Sales

Location: OHBA offices, North York Date: Oct. 5, 2017 Instructor: Richard Luciani

Tarion Customer Service and Warranty*

Location: OHBA offices, North York Date: Oct. 12, 2017 Instructor: Victor Fiume

Financial Management*

Location: OHBA offices, North York Date: Oct. 19, 2017 Instructor: Jean-Pierre Seguin

Building Science for Renovators

Location: OHBA offices, North York Date: Oct. 26, 2017 Instructor: Greg Labbe

Project Management and Site Supervision*

Location: OHBA offices, North York Date: Nov. 2, 2017 Instructor: Greg Labbe *Courses approved by Tarion Warranty Corporation. These courses are required to obtain warranty coverage. Get ahead of the competition and start fulfilling your training requirements today! All course fees are $350 and enrollment is limited. Visit ohba. elearning4u-chba.com/welcome.php today for further information and to enrol.

Save The Date !

Feb. 22, 2018 is the Housing Innovation Forum & Awards at Universal EventSpace in Vaughan. With a full day of sessions, an innovation showcase and networking opportunities beyond compare, EnerQuality’s annual Housing Innovation Forum & Awards is a celebration of innovations in our industry. As always, the highly anticipated Innovation Gauntlet will allow you, the attendees, to choose which product will take the coveted Most Innovative Product trophy! The day ends with the star-studded EQ Awards, recognizing the leaders in the residential green building industry. Be part of the awards—nominate the builder or evaluator in your life (or in the mirror!) that you think has done exemplary work in the 2017 calendar year. The nomination deadline is Jan. 20, 2018, and the awards include Building Innovation (Low and Mid/High-Rise), Energy Star Builder of the Year (Small, Medium and Large), Builder Achievement, Best Green Marketing Campaign and more. Visit enerquality.ca for more information, or email Jessika@enerquality.ca.

EnerQuality Training Energy Star Parts 1 & 2

Energy Star Part 3

Advanced Building Science (Part 1) and ESNH Version 2017 (Part 2) –BILD offices, Toronto, Sept. 28-29

Sales and Marketing –Ottawa, Oct. 3 or Toronto, Oct. 5

Interested in taking the next steps to Net Zero? Achieving Net Zero Through Technology Sept. 18, Toronto

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Net Zero Builder Workshops

Net Zero Evaluator Training

Oct. 25-26 in Ottawa and Nov. 7-8 in Toronto

Nov. 23-24, Toronto

ontario home builder Fall 2017

Doug Tarry (right) looks on as Project Hope volunteers congratulate each other on a job well done.

High-Fives All Around!

Congratulations to Doug Tarry and his team of 600 “Project Hope” volunteers, who successfully built a Net Zero Ready home in just three days in mid-June. Proceeds from the sale of the St. Thomas home will be donated to the young family of 43-year Johnny Nooren, a Deputy Building Official, who died last year after battling cancer. As well, a documentary film is in the works that will tell the story of the build and how a community came together to support the family. To learn more about the logistics and challenges of Project Hope, check out “Inside Storey” on pg. 23. ohba.ca

Photo: courtesy Jeff Baker (high-five)

Now that Energy Star V17 is in effect, it’s time to train up to the new standard. Energy Star builders are required to upgrade their education to stay current, and EnerQuality is offering the following workshops to help you do just that.


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Frame of Mind

the play’s the thing Designing to engage children in the outdoors By Av i F r i e d m a n

can well-designed outdoor play spaces draw children away from computer games and TV watching? It’s certainly worth a try. In The Disappearance of Childhood, author Neil Postman notes that children’s games, once so visible on streets, are disappearing. He refers to informal activities that require no instructor, umpire or spectators. Pointing to the sharp rise in the amount of time spent by children watching TV, Postman notes that every medium of communication has contributed its share to the creation of a disconnect between children and outdoor play. Play has not only changed location and moved indoors, but has been profoundly altered in character to become passive and individual. Electronic media is rarely used for positive experiences. In fact, viewing is associated with developmental liabilities. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, by the age of 18, a ohba.ca

child has seen an estimated 360,000 ads and 200,000 violent acts on television. Many of the ads are placed by the food industry—more than any other industry except automobiles. Playgrounds in typical Canadian subdivisions often seem to be an afterthought and lack the creativity that one finds in other contemporary means of entertainment, such as computer games. So how should we plan outdoor areas to draw youngsters? The simple answer is by making them innovative. Emotional stimulation is recognized as essential to improve a child’s ability to deal with difficult or stressful situations later in life. Social stimulation helps with developing one’s own personality, as well as connecting and developing human relationships with peers. And finally, intellectual stimulation is vital to the development of intelligence by exploring, working alone, communicating, fantasizing and having new experiences.

How should outdoor play spaces look? Enter Superkilen. Located in Norrebro, one of the most culturally diverse neighbourhoods of Copenhagen, Superkilen is a 0.8 km-long park. The space is divided into three sections, each serving a different purpose featuring fun and interesting visual cues. As a response to the neighbourhood’s ethnic diversity, the designers chose to include objects found from 60 different countries from which the area’s residents emigrated. The first section of the park is the Red Square, which serves as a cultural, sporting and market destination. It’s an outdoor extension of the pre-existing sports and cultural centre. Its vast recreational area provides a place for children to meet one another through games and interaction. Its entire surface is covered in durable rubber, allowing for a safe variety of activities including a winter skating rink. It’s also a popular spot for screening open-air movies and sporting events. Facades have been incorporated to fit the theme of the area, painted red. At times, these form a curved surface with the ground to create a truly three-dimensional space. The second section, the Black Square, is meant to function as an urban-living space. Features are similar to the interior furnishings of a house, with several benches and tables—even grilling facilities. A mound in the north serves as a popular attraction point and offers a great view overlooking the square. The final section, Green Park, is a direct response to residents’ wishes for more green space. The area consists of a mostly grass-covered landscape and offers access to several sports and workout facilities. Soft hills and its location adjacent to a local school make it a popular spot for children and families. Creative open spaces can inspire curiosity and activity. In addition, new friendships might develop among children from different parts of the neighbourhood and, just maybe, between their accompanying parents. OHB Dr. Avi Friedman teaches architecture at McGill University. He can be reached at avi.friedman@mcgill.ca. ontario home builder Fall 2017

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Think spray foam insulation is more expensive? It’s worth another look. The National Energy Code, together with provincial codes and utility programs, is encouraging Canadian builders to produce more efficient homes. Icynene’s advanced insulation performance allows new homes to meet the requirements, and deliver savings through cost offsets. Visit icynene.ca for full details.

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The Evolution of Insulation


Inside Storey going. I think there were around 100 people working at 11 a.m. on Friday morning—framing, HVAC, plumbing and roofing at the same time. We fed lunch to 160 people that first day. but no major injuries?

The jobsite was incredibly safe. We had spotters along the road to guide people out of the way as soon as vehicles got moving, and a viewing stand on the other side of the street so pedestrians could watch the build safely . How did you organize all those moving parts?

Living in hope A 72-hour project to honour a late building inspector has left a lasting impression

Photo: courtesy Jeff Baker

By Ted McIntyre with doug tarry, president, doug tarry homes

when johnny nooren succumbed to T-cell lymphoma after a dignified battle last summer, it left the sort of gaping hole one would expect in a young family of four that has just lost its 43-yearold patriarch. But Nooren’s all-too-early passing was also keenly felt in the St. Thomas building community, where Nooren served as a Deputy Building Official for the Municipalities of Dutton Dunwich, Southwold and West Elgin. While at the visitation, Doug Tarry was struck with an idea that hit him like a two-by-four: “We’re builders—it’s what we do. We have to make sure that the family is taken care of,” recalls the co-owner of Doug Tarry Homes. Such was the genesis of Project Hope, which would bring together 600 volunteers in constructing a two-bedroom, 1,440 sq. ft. Net Zero Ready home in a mere three days from June 9-11. Profits from the sale of the home, the first in ohba.ca

Tarry’s new Harvest Run neighbourhood in St. Thomas, will be donated to Johnny’s wife Angela and their children. Eclipse Media is producing a documentary on the project entitled Hope: A Story That Builds More Than a New Home. The trailer for the movie will air at the premier of Eclipse’s Black Donnellys feature film (Oct. 6 in Sarnia and Oct. 20 in Toronto). Hope, itself, will premier in March 2018. (Visit Facebook.com/ProjectHopeDoc). OHB: you had 600 volunteers?! Doug Tarry: We had security, park-

ing, site logistics, food service and 200 skilled trade volunteers, and that’s not including the people in the pre-planning process. We divided them by volunteer type and gave them corresponding T-shirts. We also had First Aid, a nurse’s station, chiropractor, massage therapist and an osteopath to keep everyone

The site layout and logistics were key, because we effectively had to create a one-time factory on the adjacent lots. Everything was constructed onsite with just a few exceptions—we craned a deck in place that was built off-site. Two volunteers in particular completely amazed me. Carrie O’Brien from Doug Tarry Homes worked with all the trades to work out the full schedule, giving each team enough time to complete their task. Chad Bilbey from Home Hardware headed up the site logistics team. He had all the delivery vehicles lined up in order so that we had just-in-time delivery. A big acknowledgment also goes to my wife, Carolyne, who scheduled food and volunteers around the clock. In addition, Deborah Raycraft, Johnny Nooren’s sister, took on the thankless role of scheduling all of the non-skilled volunteers. normally FRAMING A HOUSE TAKES SIX DAYS, You did it in six hours AND GOT the roof ON the first day!

The number one thing that happens on a jobsite is nothing—idle time. So we looked for ways to eliminate nothing happening. We combined or expanded teams—instead of one framing crew, we had six. We had three areas for them to work—one crew with the roofing company; two crews on walls on a different platform, and three companies attacking the floors and the walls on the house. And we worked through the ontario home builder Fall 2017

23


night. One framer said to me afterwards, “I was putting up a wall and turned around and there was a wall behind me that wasn’t there a minute ago.” The inspectors played a huge part of it too. We had four basically embedded into the process—two from the original planning meeting, and two more during the build. We even staged the home for an open house, complete with decor, in less than two hours! WHAT LUCK TO HAVE THREE DAYS OF GOOD WEATHER!

It was like Johnny was shining down on us. The day before it started, the clouds parted and the sun came out. It rained just a little after the guys finished putting the eavestroughs on the house, but that was good because it got the dust down! Industry partners WERE quick to come aboard. Zura™

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St. Thomas Custom Drywall was first, then Ambrose Plumbing and Heating. Two building officials got on board: Leon Bach (Chief Building Official at Municipality of Central Elgin) and Jamie Yolkowskie (Building and Plumbing Inspector with the City of St. Thomas). Then the dominos started to fall: Roxul, Masco Canada, North Star Windows, GCW Custom Kitchens & Cabinetry, and so on—it’s a long list. I don’t think anyone said no. What are the challenges of building a Net Zero Ready home in Three Days?

You’re putting more insulation into a home, so you have to pre-plan. We did a pre-install blown-foam under-slab insulation, which we were pretty happy with. Timing was key—making sure the right guys were in the right spots, with folks who knew how to tape and flash, because the whole home had the Tyvek house wrap on it as well. With that level of home, there were a couple spots where the building inspectors had signed off on something where I decided to tighten it up even further. It was critical that we got that right, because we weren’t going to do a blower door test before we boarded. But we knew the house plan ohba.ca


well, so everybody knew exactly what their responsibilities were. It was kind of like the Top Gun Academy for building trades; they were the best of the best and nobody wanted to let anyone down. There were no egos on that jobsite—not one. I mean, the bricklayers were singing “Amazing Grace”! Despite the speed of the build, The finished proDuct was amazing.

This one’s a game-changer, considering that 60% of the power used for the build was solar. We had backup generators but didn’t need them. The solar panels collected electricity and at night we’d run off the batteries. The first night we actually got 30 watts of electrical charge off the solar panels from the moon! I think that was our boy smiling down on us. Mark Dupuis, CEO of Anvil Crawler Development Corp., provided three of their Power House products (a 100% scalable and portable mobile energy facility that integrates solar, batteries, inverters, chargers, generators and electrical distribution). Prior to Hydro installation in July, the home was still running on one of them—on a 30-amp service! HOW SATISFYING WAS IT TO watch IT ALL come together?

There were the doubting Thomases who said, “You can’t possibly do a quality home in three days.” But we did our blower door test to measure air leakage at the 39-hour mark, and it measured .63 air changes per hour, which is pretty much best-in-class in Ontario. The best I’ve ever had was .41! Our average is .745, which is half of R-2000! I frequently go back to the home to look at it, because I’m still so blessed and amazed it’s there. It was nine months of planning with a three-day delivery, which is a lot like having a baby. The nooren family MUST HAVE BEEN PRETTY TOUCHED.

Angela is an incredibly strong woman and the family is remarkable. The whole experience has probably been as beneficial to me personally as it has been to them—it’s been a great spiritual journey. OHB ohba.ca

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Bask in their Glow The new T180 condensing tankless water heater from Concord-based Glow Brand Manufacturing stores up to a full gallon of hot water in its heat exchanger for homeowner comfort. Fully modulating, it boasts an ultra-efficiency of 99.2% while supplying hot water. Available with two comfort modes, the T180 is equally at home supplying endless hot water and space heating water for hydronic heating system. Glowbrand.ca ohba.ca

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Garaga Shakes Things Up To complement the carriage house designs seen on many houses these days, Garaga has added the Shaker NH-LP model pattern to its Force series of garage doors, including the three-layer insulated, two-inch-thick steel TriForce. The model features a 40.5” x 15” embossment (for a single 9’ X 7’ door, there are two large embossments), with decorative hardware available. Garaga.com/designcentre

Saving Energy…and Lives Radon Environmental Management Corp.’s Radostat is an active, on-demand radon mitigation solution. Easily installed and ETL-approved, it boasts energy savings of up to 80%, while using a building’s existing HRV/ERV to keep radon levels low, activating at a peak of 150 Bq/m3 (4.0 pCi/L). Radoncorp.com

White Knight White is in and Shouldice has answered the call with Roberval, an arresting white version of its popular Estate Stone. Showing off an individuality while still complementing virtually any accent colour, Roberval powerfully exudes the contemporary popularity of white while simultaneously retaining the legacy of strength, durability and maintenance-free characteristics typically associated with traditional stone. Shouldice.ca

Black Beauty Ideal for modern living spaces and designed with the Canadian market in mind, the Tommy Collection from Delta makes a bold statement to complement any smart interior. Featuring a higharc kitchen faucet, two lavatory faucet options and a shower system, the collection is now offered in a smooth, slick onyx matte black finish. The Tommy Collection is available at plumbing showrooms across Canada. Deltafaucet.ca 28

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Top Shelf A Clean Fit Stackable or placed side by side, Fisher & Paykel’s stylish, robust, large-capacity WashSmart Washer and Condensing Dryer are easily installed and designed for modern laundry needs. The 2.4 cu. ft. washer provides 13 cycles and hands-on control for each unique load. The large 4.0 cu. ft. dryer features condensing technology (no venting required!), meaning installation is simply a matter of plugging it in. FisherPaykel.com Wolfpack The new White Wolf Series by ErthCoverings includes Large Format Strips (pictured) and 3D Panels made from superior white marble with natural grey veining. Both designer favourites, the Large Format Strips are clean and bold, with the 3D Panel showcasing a more traditional stone facade. Erthcoverings.com

A Designer’s Delight Part of Cosentino’s Bathroom Collection, Silestone and Dekton are ideal surfaces for bathroom applications and can be used for countertops, flooring and shower inlays. Both brands offer made-toorder washbasins and shower trays in varying models. The surfaces are available in large-format slabs, enabling designers to cover bathroom areas with the smallest possible number of pieces for greater continuity in design and better hygiene due to fewer joints. Dekton.ca; Silestone.com

Sealing the Deal and Covering the Code Combining superior insulation with an integrated air/weather barrier membrane, IsoClad allows builders to reach the new OBC insulation requirements by covering thermal bridges and stopping water, air and cold before it penetrates the wall, maximizing the insulating performance of above-ground walls. Easily installed and with no other membrane required, the product is also breathable and Greenguard Gold-certified. Isolofoam.com/English/isoclad 30

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Safe Choice The DuPont Tyvek Protec engineered synthetic roofing underlayments portfolio offers choices to better meet builders’ needs. With its industry-leading walkable surface, it provides a high-performance product and greater confidence on the job. Easy to chalk, wrinkle-free and durable, it not only protects the roof and roof workers, but is supported by the DuPont Tyvek Specialist Network. Construction.tyvek.ca

What Lies Beneath? Delamination, cupping and callbacks for squeaky floors can pose big headaches for builders. Stiff, flat, even and able to withstand jobsite conditions, hold heavy furniture and handle foot traffic, AdvanTech is an engineered panel subflooring designed to replace plywood and commodity OSB floor sheathing. Its advanced-resin formula better holds grip fasteners in place, leading to a sturdy, flat subfloor that keeps moisture out and nails in, mitigating squeaks in a home. Advantechperforms.com

Smart and Sleek Touted as “the lowest profile smart lock in the industry,” Weiser’s new Obsidian features a dark, sleek touchscreen that projects less than an inch off the door. Offering SecureScreen technology, it includes a host of security features and illuminates upon touch for faster code entry. It’s also available as a stand-alone smart lock, giving homeowners key-free convenience. Weiserlock.com

Quiet Time Quebec-based EERS’ revolutionary new hearing protection, communication and monitory technology—a first-place finisher at the 2017 Industrial Safety And Health News Readers’ Choice Awards offers a new level of protection against hearing loss by efficiently blocking out damaging noise while allowing workers to communicate with each other without removing their devices. The industrial headphones also have a monitoring feature that records ambient noise levels and worker exposure. Eers.ca 32

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Pierre Dufresne

Photo: Margaret Mulligan

Born: Feb. 12, 1964 Residence: Ottawa Family: Son Dylan (26); sisters Anne and Joan; father Bernard (92) Title: V.P., Land Development, Tartan Land Corporation

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Tuning In Music helped change his life. Now Pierre Dufresne knows how to listen more closely than most By Ted McIntyre

G

ood day, bad day—the routine is the same for Pierre Dufresne. “The first thing I do when I get home is flip on the tunes,” he says. “Usually I put on www.deepjams.net on my Bose, or a CD on the stereo, or if I’m in my den, my old vinyl does the trick.” “Music has charms to soothe the savage breast,” English poet and playwright William Congreve famously penned in 1697. But there’s about as much savage in Dufresne as Mahatma Gandhi. For the Ontario Home Builders Association’s incoming president, consider it a therapeutic regimen. “Some lyrics do capture me, but it’s more the music than the words,” notes the vice-president of Land Development at Tartan Land Corporation in Ottawa, who, apropos, texts that message on Friday, August 11 from the 2017 Peach Music Festival, a four-day event featuring dozens of alternative rock, jazz, blues groups at Montage Mountain in Scranton, Pennsylvania. Some people go the cottage or the Caribbean. Pierre Dufresne goes to jam band festivals. What’s a jam band, you ask? “The

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best definition I’ve ever heard was a reference to the actual listeners at those events—how much fun they’re having and how many friends they’re making,” Dufresne explains. While a smattering of jam bands, such as the Allman Brothers and the Grateful Dead, are internationally renowned, most are, shall we say, obscure to the general population. “OHBA asked me for 10 songs and 10 bands for the President’s Gala,” Dufresne notes. “I included my favourite bands, including Widespread Panic and Umphrey’s McGee. Then they called me back and said, ‘We’ve never heard of any of these bands or any of these songs.’ That’s a pretty common response, though. Whenever I’m going to one of these festivals and friends and coworkers ask, ‘What bands will be there?,’ I can list 15 or 20 and they’ll just keep staring at me.” Dufresne, who estimates he’s attended 30 such festivals, not to mention hundreds of concerts and gigs, likes to reserve the odd Friday night for the local scene, including the Rainbow Bistro, a blues and jazz bar in Ottawa’s Byward Market. “I listen to pretty much ontario home builder Fall 2017

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1.

7.

2.

6.

4.

everything,” he says, “except country and bluegrass—and very little classical.” As with many, we need only peer through Dufresne’s Facebook page to learn what else fuels his inner flame. There we discover that on May 31 he updated his profile picture, with a debonair Dufresne staring point blank back at the camera, sporting a pair of black sunglasses that look they were borrowed from Tom Cruise. In the background is a café in downtown Gothenburg, Sweden—which explains the lapel pin of crossed Canadian and Swedish flags on his grey blazer, a souvenir of this year’s OHBA International Housing Tour. His previous post shows an on-stage photo of Gregg Allman at the keyboard, the recently departed member of the Allman Brothers Band. The post before that is an old black and white shot from the long-gone Montreal pub, Taverne du Coin. Preceding that you can find a string of photos of CFL games (including his beloved Ottawa 36

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5.

Redblacks) and assorted Montreal Canadiens and Expos references. Consider the latter as part of Dufresne’s DNA, advises sister Anne: “You’ll never take the Montreal out of Pierre.” “Every time he gets a chance, there’s a Canadiens quip thrown in,” advises Josh Kardish, president of the Greater Ottawa HBA. “He’ll wear his Habs jersey at industry events in town, and I’ve seen him rush off to Montreal for a playoff game and make it back the same night.” The love affair with Les Canadiens developed organically. Dufresne was born in Ottawa on Feb. 12, 1964, but raised in the Notre-Dame-deGrâce (NDG) neighbourhood of west Montreal to a unilingual Irish mother and Francophone father, the latter of whom—currently a sprightly 92— worked in both languages as a journalist, primarily covering politics with the Canadian Press and newspapers such as the Globe & Mail, La Presse and Le Devoir. “I had Maurice Richard in my living

room once!” Dufresne declares of the Montreal hockey legend. “I was in Grade 5 and came home from school and my mom’s sitting there talking to Rocket Richard! I sat down on the couch and just stared at him. He was long retired from hockey and working as a salesman for the gas company, trying to convince my mom to change from an oil furnace to a gas furnace. But I was even more impressed when my father came home and they said ‘Hi’ like they already knew each other. I said, ‘Dad, how do you know Maurice Richard!?’ But he had covered him as a journalist when my dad first got out of school.” Aside from family, Dufresne’s undying love of the Habs may only be exceeded by his aforementioned passion for music. But that was a passion borne of trauma. “When I was 15, I was playing defensive end for my Loyola Braves high school team and went to make a tackle along the line,” Dufresne recalls. “I had tumbled into a sitting position when someone fell on top ohba.ca

Photo (Top left): SCOTT DOUBT PHOTOGRAPHY

3.


8.

9.

1. Hanging with Hamilton-born musician Tom Wilson 10.

2. Enjoying an Ottawa Redblacks CFL game 3. Three generations of Dufresnes, with son Dylan and father Bernard 4. At Boston’s Fenway Park 5. With musical hero Garland Jeffreys 6. Taking in a Blue Jays game 7. The 2016 President’s Gala 8. With Ontario PC leader Patrick Brown 9. 2017 Queen’s Park Day with Minister of Municipal Affairs Bill Mauro, Minister of the Environment and Climate Change Chris Ballard and current OHBA President Neil Rodgers 10. Toasting last year’s OHBA Conference

of me and my body folded forward and a vertebrae cracked. I eventually needed surgery on my spine just over a year later. That was the end of my football career.” Idle time meant a wandering mind for Dufresne, who would have to repeat Grade 10 after missing the majority of the school year due to his injury. “I spent four months basically lying in bed at home, bored to death,” he says. “One of the things I did that occupied my mind was listening to different types of music on the radio.” Geography certainly helped. “One of the benefits of living in NDG was that you were close enough to the antennas on Mount Royal that you didn’t need any cable to get great radio reception,” Dufresne says. “There was an amazing blues show from the Kownawaga radio station in the Kahnawake Reserve south of Montreal. And there was a jazz station in Chateauguay and several stations at night from the U.S. I gained a huge appreciation of musical genres I’d never ohba.ca

been exposed to. Then about a dozen years ago, a friend of mine bought me XM Sirius Radio. I was searching around the stations and my favourite very quickly became JamBase, a jam band music station.” Just don’t ask Pierre to play an instrument…or carry a tune, for that matter. “I sing a lot, but very badly,” he concedes. “But my son Dylan plays a great guitar.” COMMUNITY BUILDING

For a guy who claims he can’t sing, though, Dufresne is blessed with the ability to unite disparate voices with the aplomb of a choirmaster. “He has strong opinions, but is not opinionated,” explains sister Anne, Manager of Marine Conservation Policy at Fisheries and Oceans Canada. “He’s very humble that way. If he has a different opinion, he’ll present it in a way that’s not confrontational, unless there’s a reason to be confrontational.”

Jack Stirling, president of the Stirling Group, an Ottawa-based consulting and development firm, has seen Dufresne in action when Stirling served in the planning and development industry of both the public and private sectors with Genstar, Minto and the municipalities of Nepean and Ottawa, among others. “Pierre’s not one to rail against the bureaucracy and moan about things,” Stirling says. “He gives the public sector its due and appreciates what they’re up against, and then looks for solutions for both sides.” “He’s very, very fair,” echoes Kardish. “I’ve worked with him as a colleague and have also had to negotiate with him on neighbouring land deals, and he is respectful and caring and wants to make sure everyone is being treated fairly.” “He’s also an amazing father and he was always very generous as an older brother,” adds Anne. “If Pierre had anything left over from his summer jobs as a youth, he’d share his earnings ontario home builder Fall 2017

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in whatever way they needed to be used at home. It’s general qualities like that which stand out for people—his good-naturedness, generosity, humility, gratitude. He’s the guy who will bring a stranger in for Christmas dinner. He likes to include people around the dinner table, and there will always be leftovers—usually his Newfoundland/ Labrador Salt Cod soup! “He likes to build bridges and longlasting relationships,” his sister continues. “To be a leader in any business you have to be able to listen to what people are saying and find common ground and be a connector. Pierre has been doing that sort of thing since he was a kid. And he’s always been extremely loyal.” Tartan Land Corporation can attest to that. Dufresne joined the Ottawa-based developer straight out of university and hasn’t left in 26 years. “I worked a couple summer jobs at local planning departments, but we were heading into a recession and I wanted something—anything—full time,” he recalls. “But no one was hiring because all the budgets were being cut. Then I saw an ad in the paper for a planning position at Tartan Homes. They had a vice-president taking care of the planning and project management duties, but he was going on to another position. Instead of filling his role, they decided to pass some of his corporate responsibilities to our CFO Larry Bruce and hire someone young and raw who could do all the planning work. I applied without any great expectations; I just thought it would be a good experience to get interviewed by someone in the private sector.” Dufresne had secured a B.A. in Geography and Political Science at Carleton University, along with a Masters in Public Administration and Public Policy from Concordia. But he could well have earned a Masters degree in job interviews. “The president of Tartan Land Corporation, Doug Lazier, told me afterward that it was how I answered the questions that got me in front of the other candidates—showing flexibility instead of being too opinionated,” says Dufresne. “During the second interview, Wes Nicol, who was the founder and owner of Tartan Homes (and who passed away last November), came into the interview and fired off what seemed 38

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like about 20 questions. I remember thinking, ‘He is trying to f*&% with me now.’ But I thought about every question sequentially and how I would answer it, and I opened my mouth and answered the first question. Then I said, ‘To go on to your second question…’ And then Wes got up and said, ‘I’ve heard everything I need to hear,’ and left. “Although I was just starting off, the duties were substantial—I was 27 but handling the same development approvals

“I had Maurice Richard in my living room once! I was in Grade 5 and came home from school and my mom’s sitting there talking to Rocket Richard!” responsibilities as the V.P.,” Dufresne notes. “It caused some sleepless nights, but it was a very fast learning curve and a high level of expectation in terms of performance. But I learned on the job, with some help from an in-house planning and engineering consultant Lawrence Erion, who basically mentored me on how to cut to the chase on any issue.” More than a quarter-century later, the job still firmly holds Dufresne’s interest. “The best thing about it is that every day is completely different from the last. There is no routine. You’re dealing with planning, engineering, project managing

and the psychology of people, trying to overcome obstacles and leave impressions on people about what you’re trying to achieve—be it City Hall or other clients— in order to get to an end goal. I think our job as builders and developers is to take the official plan policy in a municipality and figure out a way to implement it to get to the objective. But I think that this sometimes gets lost in City Hall and with special interest groups.” COOL AND CALCULATED

An even temperament has always served as Dufresne’s conductor’s baton during those negotiations. “He’s a hard guy to fluster—he rarely loses his temper. Actually, I can’t think of him ever losing his temper,” says Stirling. “I don’t think we’ve ever argued (since he was a teenager),” notes sister Anne. “Pierre is not reactionary and always has a very thoughtful response,” echoes outgoing OHBA President Neil Rodgers. “He’s the calming influence in meetings. When he speaks, he’s measured, deliberate and really well informed.” Like a swimming duck, however, there’s sometimes a lot happening beneath the surface that belies a calm exterior. “I probably feel more emotionally volatile internally than I express on the surface, because I do realize that those emotions have to be overcome in order to provide the proper message and to get to the end goal,” Dufresne concedes. “That’s what’s so cool—and frustrating—about planning: Everybody knows what we’re supposed to be doing. We’re building housing, which is probably the most important consumer amenity next to food. It’s security, protection, financial stability and success and your retirement plan. The government wants everyone properly housed and implements policies to that effect. And then we have the municipalities saying, ‘OK, we’re going to tell you where to put housing.’ It can be so challenging to get to that place that everyone wants us to go. I can spend years on approvals processes just to get a plan registered and a single house built— and it’s the same house that everyone thought I was going to build there at the beginning of the whole process! “I’ve always thought that conflict is inherent in planning, and I used to think ohba.ca


that was a good thing, because by having it, you ended up with the best product,” says Dufresne. “But the conflict we’re now seeing can often be damaging, because it can be non-relevant or politically motivated. And I’ve seen situations where we didn’t get to the best place, where we didn’t choose the right answer, but where we should have.” Lord knows it’s not for a lack of preparation. In an industry that preaches, “Measure twice, cut once,” Dufresne might be as prepared as they come, suggest his industry associates. “He listens and he studies, so that when he walks into a situation he’s not firing blind and knows exactly what he’s talking about,” says Stirling. “With Tartan, Pierre has a broader range of understanding of planning, land development and working with the home construction side of his company. He’s extremely knowledgeable.” “One thing that will serve the industry well is that Pierre brings an outlook from beyond the GTA, but one that is also a big city/region perspective,” says Rodgers. “His knowledge of the issues facing the industry is second to none.” “He knows how to balance stakeholder issues and has a genuine concern for how the industry is performing—not just quality but reputation,” says Kardish. “He has a great attention to detail and an understanding of the files and how they’ve evolved over time. He’s very knowledgeable when it comes to the Planning Act, municipal affairs and development approvals.” PLANS FOR THE FUTURE

Dufresne will need to harness all that expertise moving forward. “It’s no secret that the home building industry is subject to many policy initiatives that were enacted by government,” he says. “I think they’re trying to create change for the consumer—the voter—and become more responsive to their needs. But by doing so, a lot of the policy initiatives, I believe, have not been properly assessed in terms of data. In some cases they’re actually going to be counterproductive to what we’re all trying to commonly achieve. “An example is rent control legislation,” Dufrense explains. “As soon as it was even whispered, I had several builders from Ottawa call me saying, ‘We already have 40

ontario home builder Fall 2017

projects on the books!’ Our condo market is flat, and some of our builder members are looking to convert condo projects into purpose-built rentals. There’s going to be quite a few projects that could come on stream in the next couple of years that may be in jeopardy because of the legislation. So what will that do? It will limit the eventual supply of rental units, which puts pressure on price. So when they do become available, they’ll be high demand and cost more, resulting in some people

“He listens and he studies, so that when he walks into a situation he’s not firing blind and knows exactly what he’s talking about.” being shut out. I understand the attempt was to protect the consumer—those young professionals in Toronto losing their apartments and moving into their parents’ basements—but I don’t think this is the answer to the overall problem. “There are some policy initiatives that are very unique to the GTA, such as the Green Belt, but there are also some common objectives we’re all trying to deal with,” Dufresne observes. “I’ve been impressed with OHBA, in that while they’ve always been involved with what some perceive to be Toronto-centric issues, they’ve emphasized that they are

a province-wide association and need to represent all the locals within Ontario, making special attempts to recognize the unique issues related to smaller locals and making sure they don’t get buried in the larger urban issues so prevalent in this government. I think one of the biggest challenges I’m starting to realize while sitting on the board for five years is to create that balance of being responsible to larger city locals, but also to the smaller locals who can at times feel alienated. One of my roles will be to visit these places and gain an appreciation so I can do as decent a job representing them as well as the folks here in Ottawa and everywhere else.” Being situated in the nation’s capital means a physical disconnect from the GTA and provincial government headquarters, but Dufresne dismisses the distance factor. “It’s not a four-hour dive; it’s a one-hour flight,” he says. “I’ve had days where I’ve sat in my office, gone to the airport, flown to Toronto, gone to Queen’s Park and been back in my office by the end of the day. And with modern technology, you’re never away from your office—you can always respond to a situation. I also have great support here at Tartan. Melissa Côté is a planner who is eager to gain more exposure to things I typically take care of, and she’s very competent and qualified, so I’m happy to give her that opportunity. And the people I work for have been very supportive. There will be hiccups here and there, and I have a great backup plan in Toronto—Neil (Rodgers) has offered to continue his involvement, and I have an executive that is willing to step in if it’s absolutely impossible for me to be in Toronto.” Dufresne also knows that in his predecessor he has a good song sheet to read from. “Neil has been a phenomenal leader and a real mentor to me in walking into this position. He has incredible passion for the industry. He has put so much effort into all the activities he’s done over the past year,” says Dufresne, who intends to take advantage of his presidential opportunity. “I’m going to give the most to it that I possibly can.” For those in the home building industry, that should be music to their ears. OHB ohba.ca


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Design By Committee Shared business goals and improved communication technologies are pushing architects and builders out of their silos By Philip Porado

Ottawa architect Jason Flynn sees a trend toward higher performance expectations and homeowners with a keen eye for design.

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T

he Cornell Markham project was an architect’s dream—a new-urbanism, rear-laneway community featuring homes with large front verandas and no driveways or garages to interrupt the streetscape. Municipal authorities championing the project stressed a desire for the homes to be affordable. And that’s where the gears ground. Laneways chew up a lot of land, since you’re building two streets for every home. Plus, the individual home lots were large. “We saw this difficulty in terms of affordability,” says Frances Martin-DiGiuseppe, principal at Q4 Architects in Toronto. “We wanted to figure out a way that people could afford these large lots, and expensive homes, so we looked at the space above the garages.” Q4 proposed the creation of laneway suites that would generate rental income for homeowners and help offset their mortgages. “When we first pitched it to the town, they asked if it would be a nanny suite or a grandparent suite, or a work studio,” Martin-DiGiuseppe says. The builder, Mattamy Homes, got its market research team to do some testing. Feedback from potential buyers found they liked the idea of grandparent suites well enough, but preferred the rental option as a way to make the larger lots more affordable. The municipality agreed and the project moved forward. “The end product was very desirable,” says MartinDiGiuseppe. “There are eyes on the laneway, there are lights, people coming and going. It does all the things a laneway should do. It’s a big success story.” Such collaborations are hallmarks of the evolving relationship between builders and architects. “In the early years of my career, builders often questioned everything that wasn’t status quo,” says Jason Flynn, principal at Flynn Architect in Ottawa. “I’ve found in the last few years there’s less concern for why something is designed a certain way and more focus on how we are going to build it. I’m seeing a shift in attitude; and for the client, that’s good news. “We are heading into a new realm of home building,” Flynn notes. “We are seeing a trend towards higher performance expectations and more homeowners with a keen eye for design.” Further, improvements in communications, even things as simple as the prevalence of smartphones and tablets, is 4 4

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making it easier for architects and builders to collaborate on those high-performing, detail-rich homes, says David Small, principal of David Small Designs in Mississauga. “If there’s an issue on site, we’ll do a quick sketch, take a photograph and send it right to the builder by email,” he says. “We’ll do a three-dimensional isometric, where that beam and those joists and that post come together right at the sill of the window, to help them understand how we’re trying to deliver that clean exterior elevation.”

Talk to me

A silo mentality ruins everything. The best results happen when a builder or developer include the marketing, sales and construction teams in its initial meetings with the architects, advises Carlo Odorico, a senior associate at Giannone Petricone Associates Inc. Architects in Toronto. “It’s the clients/builders that bring in their construction (groups) fairly early that can best guide the process in terms of their budgets and construction,” Odorico says. “They’re going to tell us, ‘You’d better start thinking about a different material,’ or ‘We’re going to hit some budget constraints,’ or ‘some construction or timing constraints.’” When different parts of the developer’s team work in isolation, communication breaks down, says Odorico. “If we’re dealing primarily with the marketing group and all of a sudden it gets handed off to the construction group and it’s been in these silos, that gets messy.” Architects also need to avoid hoping a builder will get on board with design ideas regardless of cost, says David Butterworth, a design partner at Kirkor Architects & Planners in Toronto. The process is seldom linear, but since architects receive input from all the stakeholders—including planning and design requirements from municipal staff, economic concerns from the developer and opinions from people who will live near, or possibly in, the building—they’re in a unique position to understand a project’s impact. “We are the bridge,” Butterworth says “The best value we bring to the table is that we become the harmonizing string between each of the consultants, the city and the developer.” What’s more, architects need to understand the builderdeveloper’s endgame. Butterworth worked on a project in Erin Mills that changed initial design three times—from a ohba.ca


Dropping Anchor

box form, to a skyscraper and then to a 19-storey mid-rise with a lot of curvature. Only after the general form was established did the architects move on to develop the facade and other details. “We’re comfortable looking at our own design, critiquing it and saying, ‘Yes, there are changes that need to be made based upon what we’ve produced at the schematic stage,’ and we all agree there are shifts that occur to make the building better,” he says. “If you’re flexible as an architect—not rigid—then you will work better with a builder.”

Don’t fear change

Multi-family buildings account for the majority of Q4 Architects’ projects, and those structures are predominantly built with wood-frame construction. Which means things got interesting in 2014, when Ontario moved forward to permit six-storey wood-frame construction beginning in 2015. “Ontario approved six storeys and it was an exciting shift for us,” MartinDiGiuseppe says. “When we did our first six-storey condo (Cornell Centre in Markham with Mattamy Homes), we made certain that we were familiar with the new regulations, as they were quite different going from four-storey to six-storey buildings.” Q4 prepared information packages outlining the changes for its builder 46

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Concerns about building functionality shouldn’t cause panic. Instead, they should be viewed as opportunities to find creative solutions. Carlo Odorico, a senior associate at Giannone Petricone Associates Inc. Architects in Toronto, is working on a large downtown condo project that has reached the stage at which teams are working out details, such as the attachment of safety anchors to be used by window washers and maintenance crews who will eventually need to replace caulk and windows. “The safety anchor designers have come up with a series of different solutions where some minor design tweaks have saved, or potentially can save, $750,000 for the project,” Odorico says. “Being able to talk with the subcontractors about how these things affect their installation, and what needs to be installed, is important.” The meetings led to changes to the top of the mechanical penthouses and the top of the roof—including relocation of some of the parapets—which permit the use of slightly different, money-saving systems. “We enjoy working with people to do this because it’s a learning experience,” Odorico says.

When conflicts do arise, they typically revolve around new techniques or materials specified for performance upgrades, suggests Ottawa architect Jason Flynn.

partners—which addressed structural, fire and sound issues—and detailing how the design side had been preparing for the new codes. “Right away we said, ‘We’ve already done the education. We knew six-storey wood-frame construction was coming. We’ve got this.’ It was just a matter of outlining the changes for them very quickly and saying, ‘Together we can do this.’” In addition to expecting builders to accept change, architects must embrace it themselves, says Butterworth. As part of an application for a project in Vaughan, his firm produced an initial design it felt would be palatable to the general public. A municipal design review panel turned it down, sparking Butterworth to ask the developer for permission to cut loose. “We came back with a different aesthetic and went slightly higher than we’d originally shown—from two six-storey buildings to one five and one nine. The panel’s response was that we had come back and changed the whole direction of the site and produced something they could all buy into. “I sketch a lot. I think it’s the best communication tool for everyone.”

Time on site

Water and fire drive Odorico’s site visits. “We don’t want buildings leaking,” he says, “and we want to make sure everyone is safe.” So any time that crews are conducting waterproofing—the ground-floor slab over parking, roof slab and meetings of masonry with window wall or curtain wall—or dealing with fire-rating issues in terms of drywall and fire-stopping, visits are mandatory. ohba.ca


“After they complete the excavation and they’re starting to do the exterior walls, we want to go out to make sure everyone is on the same page in terms of the quality expectations for that construction,” Odorico says. “We want to make sure water isn’t getting into that building envelope in any spot, whether it’s horizontally or vertically.” That can include doing mock-ups of how the various materials will come together so that foremen and subcontractors on site understand the architect’s expectations in terms of finish and work quality. Small says he’s always on call, should a builder need him. “The reality of how things come together in three dimensions isn’t always easily understood on two-dimensional drawings,” he says. “Usually, clean, organized results are based on a lot of complex planning. Things that look neat and tidy on the drawings often are not in terms of boots-on-the-ground execution mode.” Martin-DiGiuseppe likes to visit sites at the framing stage. “You can really visualize things and see what’s going to happen at a very early stage,” she says. Small’s structural engineer also goes on site for a variety of regulatorymandated inspections, such as placement of rebar prior to pouring concrete slabs. “You get to see it one time,” he says, “and it has catastrophic ramifications if it’s wrong.”

David Small Design Technician Corey TalleviKeller checks out a project in Collingwood. Conflict invariably rises when builders make client changes without informing the architect, says Small, but finger pointing must be avoided at all cost.

Sparking conflict

When heads butt on design issues, it’s often the result of client change requests. Small indicates that homeowners visiting building sites will sometimes request alterations without understanding potential consequences— everything from zoning and regulatory issues to how a change might impact structure or internal systems. And, or course, the homeowner speaks only to the builder, because that’s who’s standing in front of them on the site. “All of a sudden something’s not working, and it’s because you made this change and we didn’t know about it. When these things come up, there’s never any finger pointing. That’s cancer to any project,” Small says. “Client first. Let’s lay out the situation and work 48

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Tale of the Tape When he’s working with clients during the design phase, Ottawa architect Jason Flynn consistently touts the performance benefits of upgraded air-sealing tapes, which limit air leakage and reduce utility costs for homeowners. He considers the marginal initial cost for the upgrade to be more than offset by the long-term energy savings. “I had one case where a builder was unwilling to use anything but the standard tapes and this caused some serious strain on the builder/client relationship,” Flynn says. “Although the performance targets were well understood by everyone involved, it took some convincing to get the builder on board.” To prove his point, during a meeting at the home site, Flynn used the tape he was recommending to seal a garden hose that was connected to a hose bib. By happenstance, the hose had been hooked up with a missing washer, which caused water to spray everywhere. But the tape held. “The builder was truly astonished and didn’t hesitate to order the upgraded tapes,” Flynn adds. “Frankly, I don’t expect he would ever have been convinced by statistics, data sheets or performance specifications.”

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together. We understand the builder knows how to build and we respect his abilities, and we don’t want to be micromanaging or getting in the way of him doing his thing.” If compromise is called for, Small observes, clients are in the driver’s seat, since it’s up to them to determine whether the budget or schedule takes precedence. “If you told us you don’t want to paint your house for 20 years and it needs to be maintenance-free, you might have to back off on that if the budget is firm. Or, if you pick a lesser material, you might all of a sudden find that lesser material doesn’t do the job,” Small says. “If the homeowner realizes [a must-have feature] is going to take a little more time or money, they’re probably going to step up to the plate to not throw their dream under the bus.”

Material issues

Builder pushback at architects can often be traced to the use of new materials, or ones with which the builder doesn’t have much experience. “Conflicts rarely arise, however when they do, more often than not they revolve around new techniques and/or new materials designed and specified mostly for performance upgrades,” says Flynn. “Generally there is a small but necessary education session that needs to happen so that everyone involved understands the reasons behind the decision. “In today’s market, builders must continue to educate themselves to reduce fear and reluctance to change, particularly regarding new building performance products.” At the same time, note Butterworth and Odorico, materials choices are a huge driver of budget issues, and stress it’s important for architects to understand they’re ultimately part of a profit-making enterprise. “If you propose something that is so extravagant, then you’re deluding yourself as an architect in the business world,” says Butterworth. “As a creative architecture firm, we need to ensure the building conforms to a lot of factors and criteria. We all want to 50

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Q4 Architects has teamed up with Mattamy for Cornell Centre in Markham, including Q4’s first six-storey wood-frame condo. When the Province gave the go-ahead for six-storey wood designs in 2015, Q4 prepared information packages outlining the changes for its builder partners and noting how Q4 had prepared for the new codes.

dream as architects. But we don’t hold all the purse strings.” And sometimes budgets and schedules collide. “There are times when they can’t get a material that we’ve asked for, or looked for or specified,” Odorico says. “Then there’s that scramble when someone says. ‘Our bricklayer is showing up on site in three weeks,’ and I can’t get brick. “For the most part, everyone’s upfront on that stuff. But sometimes it gets hidden away in the closet because they’re looking to make a budget change and they want a cheaper brick or haven’t

worked to get what they need on time.” When that happens, Odorico looks for a compromise, such as a different material that will do the job. “If you’d come to us and said, ‘I can’t cut that brick,’ then we want to be involved on the other end when you select something or make those revisions. Invest a couple hours with us and maybe we can come up with a solution we’re all happy with. That ensures that the design ideas come through, your budget is appreciated and the work is simplified so that someone can complete it in a timely fashion.” OHB ohba.ca


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Framing the Argument Wood is a powerful player in the residential and mid-size building sector. But what do steel and concrete have to offer? By R ick D r e n nan

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A 3,200 sq. ft. home from Bone Structure in the Laurentians, Quebec. Its patented process involves the assembly of precisioncut, net-zero-ready steel structures with high-performance thermal envelopes and floor-to-ceiling windows.

ccording to folklore, when lumberjack Paul Bunyan went for a walk, the whole valley shook. The same might be said of the wood sector in Ontario. It is big and powerful and has been a mover and shaker in the residential and mid-size building sector in Ontario long before we were called Upper Canada. If you’re reading this, there’s a good chance the home you grew up in or the one you’re currently residing in was built primarily of wood. Wood’s strength is based on our history and its sheer availability. According to Green Blizzard Inc., at last count Canada had 318 billion trees. That’s 8,953 trees per person—the best per-person rate in the world. It’s not a stretch to say that Canadian business was built on beaver pelts and 2-by-4s. Ontario’s wood fibre stock provides a diverse abundance. It’s organic, versatile, malleable and can be easily cut down to size. Wood-frame construction (especially at the residential build level) can incorporate dimensional lumber, engineered wood products and structural wood panel sheathing into wall, floor and roof assemblies that are robust, economical and quick to build. That said, current wood-frame technology is also the result of years of development and research. But will it stay dominant for the foreseeable future? While Mother Nature kindly provides us with this remarkable and 54

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renewable resource, man’s inventiveness has unearthed all kinds of other building materials. Two are concrete and steel, and proponents say it’s time builders and developers embraced their usage, too. Meet Tony DiGiovanni, national director of business development at Bailey Metal Products Limited. DiGiovanni is pumped. He is always pumped—especially now that his Concord-based firm, which has served Canada’s commercial and residential construction markets since 1950, has dipped a notso-tentative toe in the mid-size building market. DiGiovanni is a huge advocate for the use of cold-form steel, especially at the mid-rise level, either commercial or residential. That includes anything from retirement homes, to student residents, to six-storey condo structures. DiGiovanni says cold-form steel is thin, strong, versatile, easy to handle and comes with a galvanized coating. Compared to wood, it doesn’t rot, shrink, attract hungry termites and is really hard to burn. It doesn’t age either, and it’s fully recyclable. Steel brings with it a permanence that is attractive to owners looking to extend a building’s lifespan. And here’s the added kicker: it is now built in formed sheets, like wood, and that speeds up the building process. The C-stud 6-inch panel is to the steel industry what the 2-by-4 once was to the wood business, DiGiovanni says. DiGiovanni is busy educating builders on what he thinks is a paradigm shift in the industry, and thinks it will be “the” product ohba.ca


of choice in the residential and mid-size build market in the future. But he is also a realist, and can see the forest for the trees. “Hey, we’re a big country with lots of trees,” he says. “I get it. It’s a huge industry. But so is steel.” There’s no less enthusiasm with Murray Snider, who, like a downed power line, crackles with energy. Snider is the president and CEO of Nudura, the largest supplier of insulated concrete forms (ICF) in the world. Coincidence or not, Nudura’s head office is in Barrie, and the Ontario market is considered the highest concentration of ICF construction in North America. The ICF system of formwork for reinforced concrete is made with a rigid thermal insulation that stays in place as a permanent interior and exterior substrate for walls, floors and, yes, even roofs. The forms are interlocking modular units that are dry-stacked (without mortar) and then filled with concrete. The units lock together somewhat like Lego bricks and create a form for the structural walls or floors of a building. ICF is a unique Canadian invention, and construction has become more commonplace for both low-rise commercial and high-performance residential construction. It is energy efficient and also resistant to natural disasters. Snider bristles at the idea that concrete and steel are niche players in

residential construction. He points to his company’s long list of projects around the world as a testimonial to the strengths and permanence of an ICF build. But hey, not so fast. The Canadian wood industry has its own commanding spokesperson, and he is world-famous. Meet the Vancouver-based founder of Michael Green Architecture (MGA). Green was keynote speaker at the Ontario Tall Wood Symposium, held in Woodbridge earlier this year. Green is aptly named. He’s a huge advocate for a greener world, and his firm is a champion of a building material that is one of the world’s most organic and renewal resources—wood. Green has turned his love of wood products into a huge business, and MGA has become one of the world’s top designers of wood structures. His 2013

TED Talk has more than one million views. Perhaps the subject matter is what drew so much interest: Why are buildings made of wood only a few stories high when trees found in nature are remarkable for their height? To that end, MGA has designed everything from the Ronald McDonald House in Vancouver, to the Wood Innovation and Design Centre in downtown Prince George, B.C., to the seven-storey office building in Minneapolis’ North Loop neighbourhood—the largest mass timber building in the United States. While Green has worked on some of the world’s largest concrete and steel and glass structures in his past, he’s been an advocate for wood ever since his grandfather, a woodworker, taught him to honour a tree’s life by making a building as beautiful as

“Hey, we’re a big country with lots of trees. I get it. It’s a huge industry. But so is steel.”

The frame of a Bone Structure home in Kamloops, B.C. Regardless of the material used, most experts agree that future homes will be ‘assembled,’ as opposed to ‘built,’ with pre-fabricated sections shipped to the site. It may actually usher in an era of hybrid construction.

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you possibly can. Green likes to say Mother Nature has her fingerprints on all his buildings. Green would like his building material of choice to evolve from its traditional place as a residential and mid-size powerhouse to also include tall buildings, even skyscrapers. And he’s far from alone. Steven Street, technical manager of Wood Works!/Canada Wood Council, one of the organizers of the Tall Wood Symposium, agrees. Born in London, England, Street has noted in the past that the biggest advantage wood has over steel and concrete is that it can lower the cost of a project by 20%. And as Green notes, steel and concrete simply can’t match the light weight that wood provides. Street also feels that the use of CLT (cross-laminated timber) has upped the ante for wood builders in larger projects across Europe, and that has spilled into North America. MGA’s design in Minneapolis is just one example. In fact, Street thinks the ability of wood products to be pre-processed in factories, cut to size using computer software and then assembled on build sites, will change the way buildings are erected in the future, from residential to high-rise. While wood reaches for the sky, concrete and steel are looking to find some street cred in the residential and mid-size markets. The debate about which products are best is

passionate, and the conclusion is clear: There are now multiple options for developers and customers.

Concretus Maximus While Canada was blessed with an abundance of wood for building, in other places around the world, it was a different story. In Africa, wood was scarce and usage limited. The go-to product for Egyptians was stone, and their glorious pyramids are a testament to the power of the interlocking process. One of the most creative citizens in Rome decided to mix lime with volcanic rock and invent something called concretus. It was refined in the 1800s in England, and today, it has become a mainstay of the building industry, both in Europe and here. Concrete projects such as the Parthenon in Greece and Colosseum in Rome, the Hoover Dam, CN Tower and even the 407 ETR toll highway north of Toronto are examples of its permanence and its many usages. But concrete struggles to capture a bigger portion of the residential and mid-size markets in Ontario for one reason: wood. Snider wants to change that. He seems a curious choice to be championing the concrete industry, given that he is a selfconfessed “wood guy.” A carpenter by trade, Snider started up his own business at age 19 in Kingston. Over his more than 15-year career as a

A Concrete Solution Humans are inventive mammals. Perhaps the most inventive of them all was Thomas Edison, The Wizard of Menlo Park. Edison recorded 1,093 patents during his amazing life, including his most famous, the light bulb. One of his lesser-known interests was concrete houses. He envisioned homes with concrete furniture, concrete refrigerators—even concrete pianos. Edison experimented with the concept by casting a garage and a gardener’s cottage in concrete at his mansion in New Jersey. It wasn’t one of his most successful undertakings. But he was definitely ahead of his time. Concrete homes have become more popular, circa. 2017. Tiltwall Ontario Inc. in Woodstock sells tilt-up construction. It’s a building method developed more than 100 years ago in which walls or building elements are cast on site. They are lifted (tilted) into place and braced until permanent structural connections are completed. Tilt-up walls can be insulated and/or load bearing, with a wide variety of finishes. Projects include the award-winning threestorey Humber College in northwest Toronto.

ICF construction, as in this Nudura home, offers thermal mass and continuous insulation inside and outside of the walls. 58

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builder/contractor, Snider claims approximately 350+ custom-built, high-end homes—most made of wood. His switchover to concrete came when Snider was hired to build two homes and had to subcontract one to an ICF builder. That’s when he first saw the possibilities of concrete. Snider and Partners founded Nudura in 2001. Since then, the company has flourished, scoring high double-digit growth. The product’s energy-saving and environmental attributes have had a lot to do with it. “The ICF walls have two main benefits over conventional wood and steel frame walls: thermal mass and continuous insulation inside and outside of the wall,” Snider says. “Heat always moves to cold, whether you’re heating or cooling. It is either a gain condition or a loss condition, depending on the climate or season. Because of the thermal mass of an ICF wall, the heat flow through the wall travels at a significantly slower pace than it does through a cavity-frame wall. Unlike frame walls, the thermal bridging and air leakage is almost non-existent. Therefore, using an ICF will ensure that you will pay far less to maintain the desired temperatures within your living space. “On the environmental side, wood- and steel-cavity walls are prone to air leakage, and unless there is extreme care taken during construction, those leaks not only let air infiltrate your building but it also allows water vapour to become trapped within the wall,” Snider says. “If this occurs, the cavities become a prime spot for mould to grow and can cause significant structural damage if not found soon enough. Because the ICF walls are so airtight, the air leakage is almost nonexistent. Concrete and EPS do not support mould growth, and even if water manages to find its way through the exterior finish, it will not affect the structural component of the ICF wall. With the lower carbon footprint of concrete and the fact that most ICF’s are made from 50% recycled material and the waste is 100% recyclable, again it comes out a winner.

Man of Steel For his part, before he became a devotee of steel, DiGiovanni was a gypsum and insulation guy. He, like Snider, understands the Ontario market and realizes the wood industry is huge. But that hasn’t stopped either from singling out the attributes of their products, and asking builders and contractors to give them a look-see. Still, as Ottawa’s VERT plan.design.build notes, there’s still a practical and emotional 60

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We’re Greener Than You Are With today’s mandate of building tighter, more energy-efficient and environmentally friendly homes, proponents of each of the big three building materials suggest they’re number one. “Wood use is definitely increasing in the province and around the world, and not just because codes now permit its use in a wider range of buildings,” says Marianne Berube, executive director of the Ontario Wood WORKS! Program. “Wood has significant environmental advantages over competing materials and, with construction professionals and designers seeking lower carbon building alternatives and renewable materials, they are increasingly motivated to build with wood.” Its organic properties make it a friend to the planet, says Michael Green, founder of Vancouver-based MGA Architecture, who adds that by building with wood, “we can sequester carbon dioxide.” When it comes to steel, look no further than Bone Structure, a home design firm that uses an integrated process inspired by the aerospace industry. The company has been around since 2005 and builds what it calls, “high performance” homes, and its assembly makes it possible to custom build on hard-to-reach or challenging sites. The patented process involves the assembly of precision-cut, net-zeroready steel structures with high-performance thermal envelopes, floor-to-ceiling windows and custom ceiling heights with bright interior spaces. Having become aware of the shortcomings of conventional building techniques, Bone Structure founder and president Marc A. Bovet, using the experience acquired in upper management at Bombardier, set about assembling a team of engineers, architects, industrial designers and interior designers to develop the steel construction system. Included in its large portfolio are commercial buildings and custom cottage homes built in some of the most beautiful settings in Ontario. On the concrete side of things, the Insulating Concrete Forms Manufacturers Association (ICFMA) recently conducted third-party testing from CLEB Laboratories that highlights the energy savings of ICF when compared to conventional wood framing. The thermal study proves an ICF wall can achieve up to 60% energy savings and 58% greater R-value for home and building owners. The test compared a 2” x 6” traditional insulated wood-frame cavity wall to a standard 6” (150mm) core ICF wall. While several studies have been conducted in the past by the Portland Cement Association, the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation and the Department of Housing and Urban Development, all of which were either based on limited field comparisons or thermographic computer modelling, CLEB’s investigation was the first time an SCC- and ISO-accredited and internationally recognized testing facility had been commissioned to evaluate a realistic side-by-side comparison of the two types of wall assemblies within a single study, ICFMA notes. What does this mean for consumers? Consider two typical homes, ICFMA suggests—each with 2,000 square feet of wall area: one constructed in wood framing to permitted code, the other constructed using ICF technology. Subjecting both to the same test condition, when incorporating the average kWH value for all North America, this study indicates that in many climate zones, during the most extreme cold conditions an ICF wall can save between $140 and $190 per month in equivalent electrical consumption when compared to a traditionally constructed wood-frame wall.

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attachment to wood in the building trades, and using any other material “could be considered a form of industrial-cultural sacrilege.” Green thinks history and the future is on the side of wood. As he pointed out in his TED Talk, 3% of the planet’s energy goes into the making of steel and 5% goes into the making of concrete. That makes the building industry the top offender of CO2 emissions, Green suggests. Builders are practical, and they have a nose for what a customer wants. If price, quality, speed of build and above-grade construction are equal or better by using concrete or steel, that’s where they’ll put their money. It’s up to people like Snider and DiGiovanni to convince them. As spokespersons for each sector, they are basing their pitches on years in the business. So far, their gains have been impressive. Nudura’s growth has Snider convinced that ICF is the building product of the future—at all build levels. He points out that the most energy-efficient schools in the U.S. are ICF (Some of Nudura’s more than 130 schools south of the border are net-zero projects). And other projects, like the high-rise market in Kitchener, are testimonials to the company’s products. At the residential level, Snider will be satisfied—for now—if ICF is used in basements. But he hopes, one day, entire tracts of suburban housing will embrace the product—right to the roof. Other projects in Ontario using Nudura’s ICF products include the Canada Summit Centre (Huntsville) built for the 2010 G8 Summit, now a recreational and leisure facility, as well as office buildings, 62

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Clockwise from top left: a foundation pour by Nudura Integrated Building Technology; Ottawa’s Vert plan.design.build believes there is both an emotional and practical attachment to wood; and Bailey Metal’s award-winning Watermark condo in Toronto.

apartments, condos and residential homes throughout the province. Ontario projects using Bailey steel include a trio of Toronto condos—The Bean, Sweet Life and Beech House—and the five-storey Seasons Retirement Residence in St. Thomas. Are Ontario builders and contractors willing to re-think the process and give materials like concrete and steel a fighting chance against wood? Markets shift and new products come to market, reminds Snider, who recalls his first ICF build in Napanee, a 2,500 square-foot

bungalow with a walkout basement. It went from hole in the ground to roofready for mechanicals in two weeks. That helped convince him that ICF was a product whose time had come. DiGiovanni says the wood industry has enjoyed an extended honeymoon in the market, but thinks “wood construction is not optimal. A six-storey building made of wood? Come on!” Green, meanwhile, says forget six storeys—he wants to go even higher. And he has designed buildings that do just that. Green says developers should get their ohba.ca


OHB Ad Half Page.qxp_Layout 1 2017-08-18 3:07 PM Page 1

heads around the idea that the way we’ve built all structures over the years has to change. If building higher can be made safe (noting that the risk of fire can be minimized), why not use wood to reach to the sky—particularly when Mother Nature can keep replenishing the supply?

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Future Changes What all of our experts agree upon is that the method of construction is changing, and that the next great revolution in the building industry will be a move from “building” to “assembling.” That means materials will be built-to-fit in factories in climate-controlled conditions and then shipped to project sites for assembly. It will save time and money, they note. In a way, every home or midsize structure will be custom built. Wood, concrete and steel have all embraced the concept. It means future projects will have fully integrated design teams that monitor the process. In fact, it may usher in an era of hybrid buildings made of all three products. “There will be more innovative skillsets in the future,” says Street. That means more front-end work being done on materials. It also means an emphasis on the supply chain so that products can be sent to projects for quick and timely assembly. If Green has his way, wood will remain the dominant material. Its organic composition is one of its most sellable attributes in these environmentally sensitive times, but performance, solidity, ease of use, aesthetics and, of course, price will all remain considerations when builders and contractors choose a material for construction, he says. DiGiovanni, meanwhile, says he’s busy getting the word out that his company is eager to supply new and innovative materials. It has even hired engineers to offer complete design assistance. “Coldform steel is just a great way to build,” he says. “We want more builders to know that it is cost-effective and that it lasts.” Snider quips in providing the last word on concrete. “With all that we know today about the proven performance of ICF,” he writes, “for anyone deciding to go with conventional wood-frame, it begs the question: ‘Why wood you?’” But then all three sides are pretty good at framing their arguments. OHB ohba.ca

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Is there room to manoeuvre for builders and residents seeking to add second units to existing laneway projects? By M a r k W e s s e l

L

aneway housing is not consistent with Toronto’s Official Plan, or good planning in general. It compromises safety, garbage and recycling collection, emergency access, snow clearing and privacy. And overall, it’s just too expensive and difficult to implement. And with that 2006 assessment from the city’s Technical Services department, laneway housing in GTA was placed in suspended animation, with no immediate prospect of revival for years to come, despite the efforts of Ontario home builders, residents and other housing advocates in favour of such accommodations. More than anything, what killed laneway housing in Toronto, recalls Leith Moore, president of Waverly Inc., a long-time advocate of laneway construction, was the concept of building a second home on an existing lot. The main reason Toronto City Council dismissed laneway housing, he says, was the fact that the department report “focused on the difficulty and cost of servicing a second home.” But 11 years later, efforts are afoot to revive the concept—this time under the guise of a potentially more acceptable model: laneway suites. Thanks to the findings of a report entitled Laneways Suites: A New Housing Typology for Toronto, combined with the advocacy efforts of OHBA and BILD and the unwavering support of city councillors Ana Bailao and 64

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Mary-Margaret McMahon, the Toronto and East York Community Council agreed in June to re-examine the viability of laneway housing. As outlined in the report, jointly prepared by Lanescape (a group of planning, design and development professionals) and Evergreen City Works (a charity dedicated to making cities flourish), the game-changing approach this time around is to promote laneway suites versus laneway homes. The concept of laneway suites is that the current landowner would be allowed to build a secondary building that backs on to the laneway and use this new dwelling only for personal use (e.g. for extended family) or as a rental property. Essential services such as water, gas and electricity would simply be tied in to the services of the primary residence. This, in theory, would make the approval process for laneway construction far less onerous for city officials than having to contend with approvals for a laneway home, where the property is subdivided, sold to new owners and would likely require putting in dedicated new services. It’s an approach that, in the opinion of Moore, is “more of a community building exercise that puts homeowners in the driver’s seat.” Based on this new interpretation, Toronto’s planning department has been asked to review and enhance the Laneway Suites proposal after reaching out to residential stakeholders and then report back to council in the first quarter of 2018, with recommendations that could conceivably fast-track broader adoption of laneway homes as an accepted housing solution. This, in turn, could dramatically transform the residential landscape not only of Toronto but other established communities in Ontario where laneway housing may be viable but has yet to gain acceptance. Considering Toronto alone boasts 300 kilometres of laneway streets, it’s not too much of a stretch to see how laneway home construction could add up to tens of millions—perhaps 100s of millions—of dollars in new business opportunities for Ontario home builders in the years to come.

Backwards Forwards Of course, a number of factors have conspired over the past 11 years to bring about Toronto City Council’s 180-degree change in perspective. They range from the city’s increased emphasis on intensification to the model established by major cities such as Vancouver and Portland to actively embrace laneway housing in response to the perceived need for more affordable housing. Another key motivator was the change in Ontario’s Planning Act in 2011, which requires cities to accommodate secondary units, including laneway housing. Since Vancouver implemented a laneway strategy in 2009, the city has built 2,329 laneway homes (as of ohba.ca

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Quality workmanship and intelligent design have propelled the success of Vancouver-based Smallworks (previous page and above), which specializes in laneway projects.

2016), with Calgary a distant second with 458 secondary suites built, according to U of T’s Kelsey Carriere, who just this past April published a 35-page report entitled Backwards: Way Forward – Assessing the Potential for Secondary Suites in Toronto. Carriere says the key to the success, not only in Vancouver but other cities in Canada and the U.S. that she examined in her report, has been to approach laneway housing “as part of a smart growth policy that addresses the lack of rental and affordable housing.” For example, in support of laneway construction, Vancouver has established guidelines with respect to such details as height restrictions, setback requirements and even solar orientation to avoid shadowing. These guidelines, in turn, help to fast-track the approval process. Carriere contrasts this approach with Toronto’s process for obtaining building permits for laneway construction and renovations in general, which she describes as “arduous and unpredictable.” Says Carriere: “People can invest in drawings that could easily cost $10,000, and then go to the committee of adjustments and at the end 66

ontario home builder Fall 2017

“People can invest in drawings that could easily cost $10,000, and then go to the committee of adjustments and at the end of day not get their permit.”

of day not get their permit.” Paul Rayment, executive vice-president of Foremost Financial, a Toronto-based firm that has financed dozens of builder infill and laneway projects over the past decade, characterizes the long-running battle between planners, architects and builders with the city’s planning department as an adventure into the unknown. “With most of these laneway projects, it has always been the uncertainty of not knowing what the city is looking for, because they’re one-offs with no real standards to go by,” says Rayment. “So it’s typically quite a time-consuming and costly process that our builder clients have to go through.” Unlike Vancouver, Toronto’s lack of a standardized approach when dealing with laneway housing has resulted in an average approval process of 12-18 months, a period of time that Rayment estimates could be cut in half with proper guidelines in place. As a way of accelerating the approval process, Jo Flatt, senior manager for Evergreen, a Canadian organization that seeks to increase the range and mix of housing options available to individuals and families, says the GTA and other Ontario cities should consider replicating specific rules and policies that have been put in place in municipalities such as Vancouver. In the Evergreen/Lanescape report, an ‘as-ofright’ approach to laneway suites is recommended. ohba.ca


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This handsome creation in “The Pocket” neighbourhood south of Danforth from architects Craig Race and Alex Sharpe inspired the duo to form Lanescape, a Toronto laneway housing building initiative.

“Just like a basement apartment, the city would produce a set of performance standards that must be followed. The average homeowner would apply for a permit, submit their drawings and, once they receive approval, build the suite,” observes Flatt. “So there would be no need for a rezoning application or committee of adjustment.” But even with the as-of-right approach, Flatt admits there are still technical considerations that cities must contend with, from height restrictions and waste collection (ensuring garbage comes from the main house), to sorting out water usage and determining whether you can or can’t have two connections running from the same line to serve two different units. Flatt says this approach and the positioning of laneway homes as suites is very much a workaround for city officials. “You have to change the language, because when you say you’re building a house, the city gets scared. That’s a level of complication and work they don’t want to take on.” But then again, there are industry players that are willing to take on these complications until the process becomes more streamlined due to the fact that in 68

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“Just like a basement apartment, the city would produce a set of performance standards that must be followed.”

cities such as Toronto, there’s a strong demand for homes on lots that can be subdivided. “There are still parcels of land, including laneway properties, that are being underutilized where, instead of one home, it could accommodate two, three, even four homes,” says Foremost’s Rayment. “It’s just a matter of finding those lots where there could be a garage and multiple parking spots with enough land to build additional units.” Rayment says these types of projects are profitable for builders. But they also make a neighbourhood more accessible for potential homeowners who wouldn’t otherwise be able to buy into a community where the primary residences might start at $2.5 million. Bob De Wit, CEO of the Greater Vancouver Home Builders’ Association, is an advocate of maintaining the option of subdividing or stratification. The way it is now (in Vancouver), you’re allowed to build laneway homes with certain constraints: You can’t sell it; you can only rent it. But if you could subdivide and sell the property, that’s huge.” De Wit says other communities, such as Kitsilano, have allowed the stratification of property between such elements as the basement and upper floors or the main house, as well as the garage and main house. So there are potentially as many as four units on one property. Having seen how dramatically homes have appreciated in Vancouver, with Toronto following suit, De Wit believes “the part about laneway homes making ohba.ca


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living in Vancouver more affordable is becoming less applicable. Encouraging more laneway housing is still a great policy for homeowners in expensive areas to add density. But because prices (for home ownership and renting) in Vancouver have moved up so rapidly, laneway apartments or suites don’t necessarily make it easier for renters to live in nicer neighbourhoods.” When you contrast the views of industry players such as De Wit and Rayment, both of whom are clearly in favour of stratification, with those of Moore and other builders, who are strongly in favour of the laneway suite versus home approach, the reality is there is a demand for multiple forms of laneway housing as well as an appetite for a variety of other infill projects in cities such as Toronto. It’s a demand that’s driven by a combination of consumers wanting to live in the downtown core, city councils interested in pursuing ‘gentle intensification’ and builders and supporting professions seeking to tap into this business opportunity.

One Step, Two Step But the other, inescapable reality with respect to laneway housing, observes Michelle Senayah, co-founder and director 70

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“I think it’s smart to start with laneway suites versus laneway lots. It’s a way of upping the city’s level of comfort with laneway development.”

A new laneway home in Leslieville. Such projects can inject life and vitality into forgotten urban areas throughout Ontario.

of the Laneway Project, is that if you want to get Toronto’s City Council on board with the notion of accelerating laneway construction, the ‘suites versus second home’ approach is the path of least resistance. “I think it’s smart to start with laneway suites versus laneway lots,” says Senayah. “It’s a way of upping the city’s level of comfort with laneway development. And then the next step would be to increase severability.” As its name suggests, the Laneway Project takes a much more holistic approach to Toronto’s hundreds of kilometres of laneways, driven by the perception that “laneways have the potential to be vibrant community spaces that support healthy neighbourhoods.” “More and more people want to move to the lowrise area of mid-town and downtown,” says Senayah. “People also tend to live in smaller households, and what we’re starting to see is multiple generations of family that want to be in close proximity to one another, but not necessarily in the same unit.” Depending on the neighbourhood, laneway suites could also make the prospect of living downtown more affordable for families that opt to use these suites as a secondary source of income. “It’s an innovative solution on a small scale that gives younger families that might not normally be able to afford to live downtown the opportunity to be on the ground, versus a shoebox in the sky,” observes Mike Collins-Williams, OHBA’s Director of Policy and co-author of the joint OHBAPembina Institute Make Way for Laneway report released in 2015. “If you own a house and build a laneway rental suite, it’s a way to generate additional income to help cover your mortgage costs.” At the same ohba.ca

Photo: Michael Collins-Williams (Leslieville laneway home)

A dated semi-detached unit at Dundas St. and Palmerston Rd. was turned into a 3,796 sq. ft. residential condo with three units, two of which front onto a laneway. Foremost Financial covered 100% of the hard construction costs and service interest throughout the term of the mortgage to help make the project viable for the builder.


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Laneway house What are the Barriers?

• Municipal zoning bylaws that forbid detached dwellings that are separate from the primary residence on a single lot • Case-by-case approach vs broader public policies • Privacy for neighbours • Service connections (gas / water / hydro) • Building code & fire department access Garden suite or granny at

Garage suite

• Municipal services (waste collection / snow clearing) Courtesy: “Make Way for Laneway” – a joint report from the Pembina Institute and OHBA

time, Collins-Williams says this kind of housing promotes the multiple benefits of greater transit use, less dependence on cars and more support for local retail— all of which contributes to a healthier community. Recognizing all of the benefits of laneway development for cities with established downtown cores, be it Toronto, Hamilton, Kitchener-Waterloo or elsewhere, what policies must be implemented to make laneway housing an easier pill to swallow for city councils? And equally important for homeowners and builders alike, what can be done to fast-track the approval process? Apart from the current recommendation before Toronto council of allowing a second dwelling on a lot an ‘as of right,’ McCartney of the Ryerson City Building Institute offers a laundry list of recommendations that include, among other things: allowing services from the main house to piggyback on the laneway second dwelling; removing parking requirements for these second dwellings; and coming up with an emergency access strategy for these spaces. “The main thing is to develop an easy-to-access as-of-right policy so that people who wish to construct units can do so with a building permit process, rather than a variance or subdivision process,” says 72

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“It’s not the fact that it’s a small home, but that it’s a well-designed home that happens to be smaller in size.”

McCartney. She also recommends that homeowners engage neighbours in the process so that it becomes “a community building rather than a community dividing experience, and that the spaces of the lanes themselves need to be considered as public spaces.” Developer Andrew Sorbara offers a unique perspective on what it will take to successfully implement a laneway strategy. He not only has the advantage of living in a laneway home, but is co-founder of Lanescape, with plans to tap into the laneway market as a builder. “We’re going to introduce a series of modular designs for laneway properties that minimize customization,” Sorbara notes. “So not necessarily prefab, but designs and a construction process that limits the construction time.” But before he even goes down that path, Sorbara and Lanescape are working with the city to create performance standards that can be applied across Toronto. “We need design concepts that create a minimum overlook and maintain privacy, as opposed to three-storey rectangular laneway homes.” There’s a general consensus among proponents of laneway development to minimize disruption within laneway neighbourhoods in order to gain greater acceptance among both community members and council representatives. That translates to less invasive designs, finding ways to fast-track both the approval and construction process and tapping into existing servicing instead of having to introduce new servicing. In Vancouver, where these policies are already in place and laneway housing is widely accepted, few builders in Canada have done a better job of parlaying the demand for these dwellings into a healthy business model than Smallworks, which has built 150 laneway homes to date and has an annual target of 36-40 homes. Partner Jake Fry says the key to success is volume and quality. “There are lots of guys—probably 100 in Vancouver alone—who are what I would describe as ‘pickup truck builders,’ who literally operate out of a pickup truck and tackle jobs such as laneway construction without a lot of experience or up-front planning. Smallworks, though, specializes in small home and laneway home construction, and the way we differentiate ourselves is to build quality homes that add value for families.” The company’s website showcases dozens of laneway homes, ranging from traditional and contemporary to cottage and west coast plans, all tied to a philosophy of creating a ‘laneway culture,’ as well as design concepts that promote privacy, light optimization and flexible, adaptable plans. “It’s not the fact that it’s a small home,” says Fry, “but that it’s a well-designed home that happens to be smaller in size—but one that still gives you all of the assets to make it a comfortable living area.” It’s a plan many Ontario builders may want to emulate if the path to laneway housing can be properly paved. OHB ohba.ca


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e r e Wh l l a c we e m ho The evolution of home building in Ontario through the years By T r ac y H a n e s

Gothic Revival, Italianate, Picturesque and Renaissance Revival, Second Empire, Queen Anne Revival

1860

74

1870

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1880

Tudor Revival, Edwardian, Georgian Revival, Beaux Arts, Arts and Crafts

1890

1900

1910

1920

1930

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0

W

hile there are many examples of grand houses built in Ontario at the time of Confederation, most of our forefathers lived simply, typically in modest wooden homes with gables. Large, expensive residences followed, with fashionable style and Victorian influences the norm. Back then, anyone could call themselves an architect and there were only a handful of professionally trained designers. Many of Ontario’s houses pre-1900—and for a time after the turn of the century—were built from pattern books, which featured predominantly Victorian-style designs. Those not wealthy enough to afford builders or skilled tradesmen put in much of their own sweat equity. According to the Canadian Museum of History, during the 1910s and 1920s, homes could be ordered from mail-order catalogues. Among the companies selling such houses was Eaton’s, although it only sold in western Canada. The largest company in the mail-order house business was the Canadian Aladdin Co. Ltd., in Toronto, a branch of the American Aladdin Company of Michigan. Its houses were precut at the factory and shipped, along with blueprints and a construction manual, by rail to the station closest to the customer. Aladdin claimed anyone who could swing a hammer could build one of its homes. In the 1940s, a lack of housing in the centres where wartime manufacturing plants were located spurred the creation of the Central Mortgage and Housing Corp. to build subsidized rental homes. The Victory House was a modest

Art Moderne

1940

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but functional temporary such residence. After the war, many tenants wanted to keep the homes and had the option to buy them. You’ll find Ontario’s largest Victory House collection in Ajax. In the 1950s and ’60s, Don Mills created the blueprint for suburban development in the province. The master-planned community, set on former farmland, had four quadrants— each with a school, a church and a park—centred around the Don Mills shopping centre. The architectural design, colours and materials were strictly controlled and homes were set on square lots with long street frontages. Ontario’s Building Code Act was proclaimed in 1974 and the first Building Code regulation took effect in 1975. Since then, it’s been updated approximately every five years and is largely harmonized with national construction codes. In the decades since, Ontario home building has experienced dramatic changes: the growth of the suburban 905 and the rise of garage-centric, cookie-cutter tract developments that have given way to thoughtfully designed communities with architectural controls and pleasing streetscapes. Ontario’s condo market has grown to become one of the biggest in the world and has constantly raised the bar for architecture and suite design. According to CMHC, at the end of 2015, there were nearly 65,000 housing units under construction in the Toronto CMA; about 43,000 units of which were condo apartments. We’ve also seen the emergence of new low-rise housing forms, such as back-to-back and stacked townhouses, to address the issue of housing affordability.

Victory Houses, Mid-Century Modern

1950

1960

Sidesplit, Ranch Bungalow

1970

1980

1990

2000

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1860s1880s

 Gothic Revival

• Gothic Revival • Italianate • Picturesque and Renaissance Revival • Second Empire • Queen Anne Revival

ONTARIO’S FIRST CONDOMINIUMS

 Second Empire

 Italianate These square homes, popular at the time of Confederation, often have square towers or projecting front pieces and low-pitched hip hooves. Look for decorative brackets under eaves, verandahs and round-headed windows. The Bigelow house in Port Perry, built in 1876, is a fine example of Italianate architecture.

A mansard roof is the distinguishing feature of these homes, which may have centre towers or oneand two-storey bay windows.

Bramalea Consolidated Developments built Ontario’s first condominium, Peel Condominium 1, consisting of 37 two-storey townhouses. They were were registered on Dec. 27, 1967, with the first owners moving in a month later. Monthly maintenance fees were $27. The Rockport Group built Toronto’s first condo, York Condominium 1, in 1968 then went on to build the city’s next four condo projects as well. The townhouses in York Condominium 1 were 1,200 sq. ft., three-bedroom units that sold for $21,000 to $22,000.

AVERAGE HOME PRICES 1915: A Toronto semi-detached home near Woodbine Beach could be purchased for $3,450. 1971: The average Toronto house price is $30,426.

1985: The average Toronto house price hits $109,094.

 Picturesque & Renaissance Revival

 Queen Anne Revival

Quite small, these blocky houses with shaped gables reflected the builders’ or owners’ tastes with decorative features such as pointed arch windows, lacy trim on verandahs and eaves.

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Large with two storeys or more, these grand homes boast steep hip roofs, tall chimneys and usually a tower and verandah and double-hung windows. 1890

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2017: The average price in Toronto jumps to $921,000.

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Photo: courtesy Shannon Kyles, ontarioarchitecture.com (Queen Anne revival and picturesque & renaissance revival)

These ornate homes are highly decorative, with features such as steeply pitched gables, pointed-arch openings and lavish gingerbread trim, intricate bargeboard and verandah lattice.

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Tudor Revival 

• Tudor Revival • Edwardian • Georgian Revival • Beaux Arts • Arts and Crafts

Designed to resemble English cottages, these houses were a reaction to fussier Victorian-style homes. They are distinguished by half-timbered wood with stone or brick foundations, casement windows and steeply pitched roofs. They were inspired by late 1400s style in the Henry VII era. This 1928 Oshawa home is a fine example.

 Beaux Arts Union Station and the Hockey Hall of Fame in Toronto are examples of this architectural style. It’s also found in lavish residential buildings, such as Parkwood Estate in Oshawa, built between 1915 and 1917 for General Motors of Canada president Sam McLaughlin and his wife Adelaide. Beaux Arts style is distinguished by classical details, including columns, balconies, balustrades, etc., and favours a symmetrical facade with doors and windows with arches. Typically these buildings are made of stone.

 Georgian Revival This style is all about symmetry and was the architectural style favoured by the middle and upper classes. It emulates Georgian English architecture from 1715 to 1830 and made a comeback in the early 20th century. Look for brick, stone or clapboard facades, a centred front door and shutters.

 Edwardian By 1900, most architecture was reflecting a revival of some sort from pre-Victorian times. Edwardian Classicism provided simple, balanced designs, straight rooflines, uncomplicated ornamentation and relatively maintenance-free detailing. The exteriors are modest compared to the extravagant styles of the lateVictorian era. The Edwardian style has influenced suburban design, where houses are characterized by a gable front, three or four upstairs bedrooms and a generous front porch. These buildings generally have a smooth brick surface and many windows.

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 Arts and Crafts Toronto architect Eden Smith championed the Arts and Crafts movement in Ontario and designed his own home in this style. Simple and functional, these homes were planned from the inside out and had large main rooms, often with exposed beams and rafters. The rustic facades may have natural elements such as wood or slate shingles.

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It seemed like a good idea at the time Mention of these building materials can trigger fear into the heart of homeowners now, but at one time all were commonly used in construction of Ontario homes.

• Art Moderne

Lead paint  Art Moderne This style signalled a new era and was a departure from other styles that had been revivals of architecture of the past. It was not ornate or decorative and featured simple geometric lines.

1950s1960s • Victory Houses • Mid-Century Modern

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Homes built before 1960 likely contain lead paint inside or out. Homes built between 1960 and 1990 may have been painted with lead-based exterior paint, according to the Government of Canada website (see under Health). Removing, repairing or disturbing this paint poses serious health risks, such as lead poisoning and brain and nervous system damage. The risk is greater for children because they absorb lead easily. Houses built in 1990 or later are far healthier, as paints produced in Canada were pretty much lead-free by then. In homes containing lead paint, measures can be taken to mitigate the risk or to remove the paint.

 Victory houses

Knob and tube wiring

These cheap and cheerful prefabricated houses were designed for temporary use during wartime manufacturing. But many are still with us, including in Ajax where you’ll find the largest collection of these in the GTA. They are generally one-and-a-half storeys, but can be bungalow or two storey or two-storey semis. Facades were wood or brick, with both front and side entrances.

This wiring, recognizable by white insulator knobs and white ceramic tubes that thread through floor joists, was commonly used for 60-amp service in pre-1960s houses. It’s a safety concern because it has no ground wire. It poses a fire hazard if the hot black and neutral white wires make contact. Insulation around the wiring can break down over time and the insulation around the wires is highly flammable. Many insurance companies won’t insure homes with knob and tube wiring. In the 1960s and 1970s, homes and offices were often wired with aluminum instead of copper because it was cheaper and lighter. It also poses a fire hazard.

Urea formaldehyde foam insulation

 Mid-century modern Typical characteristics included a lowpitched, A-frame roof, divided window walls with large expanses of glass and low-lying eaves. Many featured an asymmetrical design and a breezeway.

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While the U.S. and Europe have made selling UFFI legal again, the ban imposed in Canada in the early ’80s still stands. UFFI was used to insulate and seal houses in the mid-1970s and some homeowners reported health issues. Formaldehyde gas in high dosages was found to cause cancer in rats and mice, and as a precaution, Health Canada and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) set maximum acceptable levels for formaldehyde in homes and, as a precautionary measure, banned UFFI.

Asbestos Asbestos seemed to be a miracle construction material at the end of the 19th century. It was an excellent insulator—soundproof, fireproof and durable. By the 1950s, it was used extensively in insulation, drywall, flooring, roofing, lawn furniture, concrete, bricks and pipes. Since then, it’s been proven that asbestos poses serious health risks after prolonged inhalation and causes lung cancer and mesothelioma. If left undisturbed, the risk is minimized, but try convincing a homebuyer to purchase a home with asbestos! The Liberal government plans a total ban on asbestos and asbestoscontaining products by 2018.

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HOUSING FORMS 1950-2017 1950s Single-family homes were the most popular housing form, accounting for 60% of new construction from 1957 to 1959. In 1954, the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation introduced mortgage loan insurance, making single home ownership easier, fuelling demand for new suburbs.

• Sidesplit • Ranch Bungalow

1960s In a dramatic shift from the previous decade, 60% of building permits issued from 1962 to 1973 were for multi-family buildings, due to population growth of baby boomers (born from the late 1940s to the mid-1960s) and two waves of immigrants: Europeans, who came in the 1950s, and those who arrived after the Economic Point System (under which potential immigrants were evaluated based upon their probable economic contribution) was introduced in 1967. Apartments presented an affordable option to single-family houses.

1970s The recession of the mid-1970s caused construction of multi-family units to decline faster than singlefamily dwellings. In 1974, the number of new multi-family units fell 40% to 91,989 units, from a peak of 154,123 units in 1973. From 1974 to 1982, single-family and multi-family dwellings accounted for an equal proportion of new units.

1980s As population growth slowed, so did single-family home building from 1983 to 2006. High mortgage rates in 1981-1982 during the recession put the brakes on home building. While single-home construction recovered quickly after the recession, multi-unit construction continued to fall; in 1984 there were fewer of these projects built than at any time in the previous two decades. In late 1982, mortgage rates began to fall, enabling more people to afford single-family houses.

1990s Another recession in 1990-91 slowed residential construction and the recovery was prolonged, taking 15 years for both types of dwellings to bounce back to the pre-recession peak of the late 1980s.

The New Millennium Apartment condominiums have become the dominant type of condo construction in Canada in the 2000s, accounting for 88% of such projects in 2014, compared to 62% in 2000. (Note that a condominium is an ownership system, not a building type; townhomes, semis and singles can also be condominiums.) Apartment-style condos tend to be concentrated in major metropolitan areas such as Toronto, where there is limited land available and where most immigrants tend to settle. Affordability has made them popular with first-time buyers. And mature adults looking to downsize and seeking homes with less upkeep have also embraced condo life. Multi-family-dwelling construction has continued to outpace single-family homes since the 2008-2009 recession. Over the past four decades, apartments and single-family homes have averaged 85% of new construction in Canada, whereas townhouses and semis have accounted for about 15%. According to CMHC, at the end of 2015, there were nearly 65,000 housing units under construction in the Toronto CMA; nearly 70% (about 43,000 units) were condominium apartments.

According to CMHC, construction starts ranged between 39,500 to 43,500 units in 2016 across the country and are predicted to run between 35,000 and 41,000 in 2017. —Primary source from Statistics Canada’s Evolution of Housing in Canada, 1957 to 2014

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These multi-level houses made the garage an integral part of the home and allowed for a heated space to park the car and access from the inside of the house to the garage. Most had three bedrooms on the upper level.

 Ranch bungalow

2015-2017

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 Sidesplit

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This popular style brought a touch of Southern California north of the border, with its large living room picture window, expansive bedroom windows and sliding doors. A garage was a must-have to house its car-owning middle class residents.

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Power to the People

Charging Ontario with the task of incentivizing electric vehicle infrastructure By Z a l e S ko l n i k

The new Tesla Model 3 is different. Marketed as Tesla’s car for the masses, there are reportedly over 500,000 existing reservations to purchase the Model 3. People are onboard with energy efficiency and emissions control and popularity is on the rise for electric vehicles in general. With Volvo’s recent announcement that all car models launched after 2019 will be either ohba.ca

electric or hybrid and France stating it is targeting ending diesel- and gasoline-powered vehicles by 2040, electric vehicles are here to stay. But for Ontario’s ever-growing number of condominium residents, they may want to think twice before putting deposits down on a Tesla. The existing legal framework provides little in the way of options  for condominium

owners looking to install electric vehicle charging stations in their condo parking garage. At present, in order to retrofit older buildings with charging stations, the building’s transformer’s electrical capacity must, in many instances, be increased in order to supply the greater demand for electricity. Additionally, an electrical infrastructure must be created to connect charging stations to electrical panels in order to distribute electricity, and submeters need to be installed (and submetering agreements entered into) so that condominium owners pay for the electricity, associated monitoring, repair and insurance that they consume. Finally, charging stations must then be installed into specific parking spaces. Of these steps, the prohibitive expense is incurred in the installation of the electrical infrastructure, which often involves wiring many levels of parking through concrete walls and ceilings. The further the wiring needs to travel, the more expensive this process becomes, as wiring should be trenched or buried in walls to avoid unnecessary liability and preserve aesthetics. Many condominium boards are unwilling to entertain such costly measures for the benefit of only a select few electric vehicle owners. Coupled with the financial and logistical difficulties noted above, perhaps the largest obstacle to overcome is a political one. In most scenarios, an overhaul of the electrical infrastructure is likely to invoke discussions of the condominium board and, in certain cases, a majority vote of the condominium owners. At present, while condominium boards are aware that change will eventually come, few boards have been convinced to effect any such change and have elected instead to defer any decision-making until the benefit extends to more owners. Ultimately, there are great obstacles to installing charging stations post-construction and it is not enough for developers to think that boards have the power to effect any such change after turnover. Many developers marketing ‘lifestyle’ ontario home builder Fall 2017

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condominium developments have already taken note of the trend towards electric cars. Electric vehicles lend themselves to the urban driving patterns and lifestyles of urban condo dwellers and the marketability afforded to a development by including electric vehicle compatibility, and obtaining LEED certification (three additional LEED points are awarded to new buildings that install charging stations) is a selling feature. In this respect, many developers are now characterizing charging stations as highend amenities along with indoor pools and fitness facilities. From both the attraction and retention perspectives, developers should be aware of the current needs of their prospective purchasers both now and into the future. This awareness is important, as installing the electrical infrastructure during the construction phase of a development avoids all of the financial, logistical and political issues arising from installing charging stations retroactively. But developers need to get creative—shared charging stations are not ideal and there is no mould for what percentage of spaces require electric vehicle parking, nor is there any way to predict who specifically will require an electric vehicle parking space. The best a developer can do is to provide owners with the option of easily installing a charging station in the future by providing the electrical infrastructure at the outset. Problematically, however, purchasers are unwilling to pay for electric vehicle upgrades. Currently, the existing Electric Vehicle Incentive Program only incentivizes electric vehicle owners with a rebate for the purchase and subsequent installation of a charging station in their home. The rebates are administered though the electric car purchase incentive and any rebate for installation of a charging station flows through to the owner of the car—not the developer that installed the charging station. The provincial government is incentivizing electric vehicle ownership without incentivizing the construction of support for the electric vehicles. The Province’s seeming misunderstanding of the issues at play have led to a ohba.ca


self-fulfilling prophecy whereby people want to buy electric cars because of incentives, but are reluctant to do so because there is no guaranteed infrastructure. It would appear obvious that owner incentives are just one half of the solution and that developer incentive programs should be initiated so as to provide developers with a reason to create the infrastructure and thereby ease prospective electric vehicle purchasers’ anxiety about not having a place to charge. There are currently advocacy groups such as Plug’n Drive, which are lobbying the Province for change. However, a lot of this change remains ownerfocused with electric vehicle owner rebate programs. Plug’n Drive has focused on various tenets of Ontario’s Climate Change Action Plan, which is a five-year plan stating specific electric vehicle targets for 2020. Among such tenets are the stated goals of ensuring charging infrastructure is widely available and requiring all new homes with garages to be constructed with plugs capable of charging electric vehicles in the garages. For the time being, the plan is fairly general and does not offer any concrete discussion in respect of how electric vehicle charging stations will be incorporated into multi-residential developments. However, there has been speculation that updates to the Ontario Building Code and the impending revised Condominium Act will address the need for newly built condominiums to provide for charging station potential. As architects of our future communities, developers are among the people best equipped to enable the increased use of electric vehicles by creating the infrastructure necessary to allow for the installation of charging stations. But to think that developers will create said infrastructure in the face of purchasers unwilling to pay for it is misinformed. With consumer demand evident and legislative changes on the horizon, hopefully the Province takes this opportunity to incentivize infrastructure construction. Until those legislative changes become public, though, the horizon remains cloudy and emissions continue to pile up. —Zale Skolnik is an associate at Robins Appleby Barristers + Solicitors

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Sealing is Believing Dow Building & Construction has introduced a new formulation of Great Stuff Pro Window & Door Insulating Foam Sealant in Canada. The newly enhanced, low-pressure-build air sealing solution delivers a higher yield per ounce of foam for window and door installation. Designed to ensure an airtight seal around windows and doors to help keep air, pests and moisture out, it will improve home comfort and energy efficiency. The 20-ounce gun-applied formula, which will air-seal 16-18 average-sized windows, with its pliability allowing the user to mould the sealant back into the gap if slightly overfilled, eliminating the work of cutting and trimming. To the benefit of those working in a variety of climates, the foam won’t delaminate or break the air seal when properly applied in temperatures from 5-37°C. It is also not prone to shrinking throughout the curing process and won’t bow window or door frames.

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A Window that’s Also a Balcony? While there may be a few construction regulations to address here and there, the Bloomframe—an innovative window that unfolds magically into a balcony at the touch of a button—offers the aesthetics of clean lines and unobscured views in conjunction with the functionality of a working balcony. ohba.ca


Having moved beyond the prototype phase, the revolutionary and multi-award-winning design is now in production, with the first models destined for an apartment building in Amsterdam. The product’s creators, the Amsterdam-based architecture firm HofmanDujardin, explain the Bloomframe window could soon become a familiar element of the modern cityscape as more architects, developers and builders realize its considerable benefits. An insulated picture window one minute and a fresh, open balcony the next, the design adds vital space to compact interiors and brings the outdoors in. The product consists of tough allweather materials and is controlled by a smooth electronic system. Its dimensions, colour and materials are all fully adaptable and can be custom-designed to complement the facade of new and existing buildings.

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Build or renovate for fire safety? While the building community has been focusing on high-rise fire safety in recent months, given international breaking news surrounding London’s Grenfell Tower and Dubai’s Torch Tower facade fires, the reality is that in Ontario and throughout Canada, low-rise residential fires account for the vast majority of fire loss incidents where a casualty or dollar loss was reported. When it comes to building and renovating, there are many ways to construct ohba.ca

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safe homes that reduce risk and increase the chance of survival during a residential fire. While active measures such as fire alarms or smoke detectors are critical, passive fire protection that’s built into the structure of a home can reduce loss, while providing extra time for occupants to safely exit and for first responders to arrive. One of the simplest solutions is through careful selection of building materials, especially insulation. Installing the right kind can help achieve effective compartmentalization, slowing the progression of fire from room to room. Non-combustible insulation made of inorganic materials, like stone wool, is a safe choice. Roxul Comfortbatt and Safe ‘n’ Sound, for example, are non-combustible up to 1,177˚C—a melting point higher than the temperature of a typical house fire. Not only does it resist ignition, but it won’t produce toxic smoke or gases when exposed to fire. This is vital since smoke inhalation is the leading cause of all fire-related deaths. As the recent Ontario building code changes come into effect and continuous insulation becomes a requirement on the exterior of homes, it is especially important to consider non-combustible products in this application. Roxul Comfortboard 80 was designed specifically for exterior continuous insulation application where fire safety is paramount. Consider installing noncombustible stone wool insulation in walls, floors and as continuous exterior insulation to maximize protection and escape time. For more information, contact Roxul at roxul.com/about/fire-resilience, or (800) 265-6878. OHB ohba.ca


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Product Focus I de a s for B u i l de r s & R e n ovat or s

an A Cle t Star

er s h s how hi-t ec A meric a n from a rd, Moen Sta nd d Delta an

Apart from several “smart” features, Kohler’s wall-hung Veil toilet saves homeowners eight inches of linear space and makes it easier to clean the floor.

Making a Splash Exploring what’s new in kitchen and bath design Da n O ’ R e i l ly

As builders and renovators gear up for the fall construction season, they might take note of several trends in kitchen and bathroom design and products. In its 2017 Kitchen & Bath Design Trends Report, the National Kitchen & Bath Association notes that contemporary-style kitchens and bathrooms have overtaken traditional ones in popularity. The findings are based on 562 responses in the 2016 online ohba.ca

survey of the NKBA’s members. “Looking ahead toward 2018, the NKBA expects the trend towards cleaner lines in kitchens to continue, as more homeowners embrace contemporary or transitional styling,” says Ontario chapter president Denise Turner. Neutral tones will also continue to be popular, especially white and grays, with many designers specifying mixed colour palettes and mixing materials,

especially for countertops. While wood cabinets dominate, metal—currently a small segment of the cabinet market— appears to be emerging, says Turner. Commenting on other trends, Turner says the kitchen is the number-one room for technology integration. About one-third of NKBA members specified some type of technology solution in their kitchen and bath projects last year. “Smart appliances are going to be ontario home builder Fall 2017

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Product Focus

“Smart appliances are going to be even greater and more prevalent in the coming years.” even greater and more prevalent in the coming years,” Turner observes. “There will be more impressive home technology than ever before.” What new products can builders expect to see in the coming year? Turner cites larger customized kitchen sinks and faucets, linear drains, luxury showers and smart toilets. To that end, Kohler has taken its Veil intelligent toilet series (initially rolled out in 2015) one step further with the creation of a “distinct and sophisticated” wall-hung unit. Known as the K-5402-0, it has all of the features of the original, such as a heated seat, stainless steel cleansing wand, LED nightlight and lid that opens when someone approaches it. It also saves homeowners eight inches of linear space and makes it easier to clean the floor, says senior product manager Seth Megahan. “Wall hung is a fast-growing sector and we were receiving feedback from designers and showrooms that they wanted more options for our toilets in regards to design,” says Megahan in explaining the business case for the new model. 92

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Push-button control allows American Standard’s Spectra shower to assist those with mobility issues.

Empowering Showering

To be released in Canada this November, the Spectra Shower collection from American Standard is an example of how manufacturers are addressing mobility issues. Users can simply touch the outer showerhead to change spray patterns or use an e-Touch remote that activates the showerhead with a click of a button. “A typical showerhead is installed approximately seven-feet high,” notes Michael Del Guidice, Marketing Director with American Standard Brands Canada. “For users with height restrictions or mobility issues, reaching or turning a showerhead to change the spray can be an insurmountable task.” “With more and more Canadians aging in place, there’s an ever-growing appetite for universal design,” adds Marnee Colman, Senior Product Manager for Masco Canada. “This is about products and environments that can be used by as many people as possible regardless of age, size or physical ability.” That goal can be achieved without sacrificing aesthetics, says Colman, citing the use of touchactivated faucets, corner shelves and tissue holders that “stylishly incorporate assist bars.” There are a number of small, inexpensive procedures that builders can undertake to help avoid renovations in the future, says the National Kitchen & Bath Association’s Chief Executive Officer, Bill Darcy. These include lip-free showers and installing electrical outlets behind toilets in case they need to be changed to self-cleaning ones. For more information, check out the association’s Bathroom Planning Guidelines with Access Standards at Nkba.org/Guidelines.aspx.

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Product Focus Fisher & Paykel’s Induction Cooktops, including the new 24”, 4-Zone model, produce an electromagnetic field that induces a pot or pan to generate its own heat. The results are shorter heat-up times, greater precision and a safer cooking surface.

The U by Moen Shower can be activated and adjusted via a smartphone app.

The product management team at Fisher & Paykel Appliances concur that technology will play an increasing role in kitchens and bathrooms. In October 2016, the manufacturer introduced its 24-inch, four-zone Induction Cooktop and a 12-inch twozone version, both with SmartZone, which enables homeowners to bridge cooking zones for ultimate flexibility. “On the 24-inch model, a larger oblong pan could fit across both burners and evenly cook everything,” says Fisher & Paykel Product Manager for 94

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North America, Amanda Glover. Technology is also at the heart of Moen’s recently launched U by Moen Shower, which the company describes as “the first Wi-Fi/cloud-based, appdriven digital shower on the market.” Using an easily downloadable smartphone app, homeowners can activate the shower even before they get out of bed. They can turn it on, change temperature and even turn outlets on or off with a touch of a button. The model features a digital valve that offers precise, thermostatic temperature control

Kitchen Evolution

The kitchen has never been a static place and will continue to become more flexible, especially with the integration of technology, participants at a special seminar this past summer in Toronto were told. Held in the showroom office of Consentino and attended by more than 50 members of the architecture and design professions, the seminar touched on some of the key points of the Global Kitchen Report. Conducted for the Consentino Group by the Silestone Institute, the report notes that energy efficiency, flexibility and sustainability of materials will all be considered, without compromising their durability, safety and hygiene. Countertops of the future will allow us to cook directly on their surfaces, incorporate connectivity and serve as a control panel. These countertops will also manage tasks like weighing and calculating the nutritional value of food, absorbing liquids and cleaning. The report also forecasts that in 25 years, the kitchen will be a social and health-focused space, spurred by the spread of healthier cooking methods and home-grown or zeromile produce. Its connection to the internet and devices (from mobiles to smart appliances) stands out as one of the major tech developments in the medium to short-term future, ahead of sustainable solutions in water and energy conservation and waste management. It will not only make shopping, cooking and laundry easier, but also the relationship with our surroundings, enabling us to use the countertop to cook, make phone calls and even watch TV. Such a transformation will require input from architecture and interior design experts, sociologists, nutritionists and environmental and energy efficiency specialists.

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Product Focus

Grohe’s Rainshower SmartControl delivers water at the appropriate temperature in a fraction of a second.

Delta’s stylish Kami Single Handle Lavatory Faucet is ready for future upgrades.

“We know homeowners have the desire to have a connected home, and we were determined to find a way to improve consumers’ experiences with water by adding the benefit of smart technology to their everyday routines.”

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between 15ºC and 49ºC and enables users to connect to four showerheads. A major safety device is a screen that changes colours as the system is warming up or cooling down. For parents with teenagers who linger and waste too much water, there is also a timer function. “We know homeowners have the desire to have a connected home, and we were determined to find a way to improve consumers’ experiences with water by adding the benefit of smart technology to their everyday routines,” says Garry Scott, Vice-President of Marketing and eCommerce for Moen Canada. While consumers will appreciate the shower’s benefits, so will installers. With a 30-foot-long data cable between the valve and the control panel, the valve can be placed wherever is most convenient for the plumber and homeowner, advises Scott. Similarly, Grohe Canada says its Rainshower SmartControl system gives homeowners more control, choice and protection. “For decades, exposed thermostatic systems have done very well in Europe. In recent years, North America has

gravitated towards them as well,” says Grohe Canada Marketing and Training Director Maria Bosco. Building on technology developed by parent corporation Lixil, Grohe was able to integrate individual volume controls into an innovative smart control panel that allows users to have multiple outlets on at one time and regulates temperature and water flow based on individual preference. “Simply push to turn on and off, and turn to adjust water flow and temperature,” says Bosco. “Switching between the head and hand shower is just as simple by pushing the respective button, marked with self-explanatory symbols for intuitive operation.” Water is delivered at the desired temperature within a fraction of a second, and keeps it consistent for the duration of your shower. That means less water waste and provides safety from scalding, says Bosco. Another new product, although one that’s not technology driven, is Masco Canada’s Delta Kami Collection of faucets, which debuted earlier this year. “We took inspiration from some of our international collections that have ohba.ca


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Product Focus

Maax’s Ariosa oval-style freestanding tub is easy to install and features a recessed deck and a raised backrest.

a more European style and made necessary modifications to ensure the finished product met Canadian requirements for the final look and functionality, as well as product standards,” says Senior Product Manager Marnee Colman. In anticipation of possible future changes, the faucets are equipped with the Delta MultiChoice Universal rough-in, which allows for upgrades in style and functionality without having to alter plumbing behind the wall, Colman notes.

CLEAN LINES Another trend identified in the NKBA report is a partial eclipse of the more traditional tub surround. More than half of NKBA members surveyed said they eliminated a tub or whirlpool in a bathroom remodel over the course of the past year. “In the bathing space, more minimalist designs with smoother edges are gaining popularity and freestanding bathtubs continue to be very popular choice among consumers,” notes MAAX Bath Product Manager Zanka Gancheva. To serve that market demand, the manufacturer has created the Ariosa 98

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Blanco Canada’s R15 Quatrus laundry sink includes an undermount installation and an Urbena faucet in a stainless steel finish.

freestanding bathtub. Available in two sizes, 60” x 32” and 66” x 36”, and six different colours, the easy-to-install oval-style tub has a unique recessed deck that can be used for faucet installation or as a storage space, as well as a raised back-rest for optimal comfort. In keeping with the minimalist look,

an optional linear overflow is available, advises Gancheva. Minimalism combined with a desire for creatively designed range hoods that don’t obstruct views and/or maintain open kitchen layouts was the catalyst for the Lux by Zephyr. Equipped with a wireless remote control, the ohba.ca


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sleek hood is mounted flush to the ceiling, with the motor installed in between the studs. There are several blower options and the framing can be rotated to accommodate which side builders want to duct located, says Jeannie Sasaki, Marketing Director for Distinctive Appliances, the Ontario distributor. While builders and renovators look for ways to adapt to new technologies and keep abreast of kitchen and

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2016-02-25 11:12 AM

bathroom trends, they shouldn’t forget about one busy room, cautions Blanco Canada Marketing Director Edyta Drutis. “Smart design is starting to permeate every corner of Canadian households and the laundry room is no exception,” says Drutis, whose company unveiled two new sinks this past spring that will help homeowners make a statement about this “often forgotten” area: the Quatrus R15 laundry sink in stainless steel and the Liven laundry. Featuring a 12”-deep bowl, the Quatrus is perfect for laundry/utility applications and features 15-mm radius corners, making laundry cleanup efficient and easy. Fabricated from Silgranit, a scratch-, stain-, acid- and heat-resistant surface, the Liven is available in seven different colours and features a 12” depth and wide radius corners. Just two more prducts that should help builders clean up in laundry room design in the coming year. OHB ohba.ca


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Words to Build By

“Every member of your company brings their own unique ideas and talents to the table. But it’s their dedication to work toward a unified goal that really makes the magic. That’s when you know you have a true team.” Neil Rodgers President, Dumara Projects Ltd.

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Ontario Home Builder - Fall 2017  

Meet OHBA's new president, Relationships between architects and builders, the advantages of wood vs. concrete vs. steel, Laneway housing

Ontario Home Builder - Fall 2017  

Meet OHBA's new president, Relationships between architects and builders, the advantages of wood vs. concrete vs. steel, Laneway housing

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