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Will the Climate Change Action Plan rain on your parade? P.30 Thinking of firing someone? Not so fast! P.19

When buyers come knocking on your website, answer the door! P.59

Taking the temperature of home heating and cooling P.71 WINTER 2017 1 $5.00

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30 Change in the Weather The Climate Change Action Plan means a dicey forecast for home builders Will The climaTe change acTion plan rain on your parade? p.30 Thinking of firing someone? noT so fasT! p.19

When buyers come knocking on your WebsiTe, ansWer The door! p.59

Taking The TemperaTure of home heaTing and cooling p.71

OHB_Winter2016_COVER_05.indd 13

On the cover

Learning lessons about millennials. Photo by Margaret Mulligan WinTer 2017 1 $5.00

2016-12-20 11:08 AM

50 38 Baby Steps Experts predict marginal growth in Canada in 2017, but there’s no telling with Trump

50 Colour Your World

Who chooses the year’s hottest hues, and how do they do it?

42 The Millennial Effect

59 Is Anybody Home?

While affordability will slow the new-homes market, rental opportunities should spike

Thousand of potential customers are visiting your websites...without a reply

9 One Voice Builders might have their work cut out for them in housing millennials 11 Ontario Report Getting the message out at Queen’s Park, OHBA’s 2017 local presidents, paving the way for OMB reform, EnerQuality’s annual Housing Innovation Forum, a Statement of Intent on Affordable Housing & Inclusionary Zoning and the Suburbs on Track Housing Tour 17 Frame of Mind A visit to Nunavut reminds one of the importance of local art


19 Inside Storey Planning on axing that slacker, or wondering how to accommodate employees with disabilities? Do your homework before making any hiring and firing decisions! 23 Top Shelf Sun-Brite Drapery’s Silhouette Doulite shades, a hybrid water pump from Rheem, Amvic’s SilveRboard foam insulation, quiet comfort from AcoustiTech, DeWalt’s portable power station, DRIcore’s Subfloor R+, Vintage Flooring’s Wire Brushed collection, CertainTeed’s QuickSpan Locking Drywall and more!

65 Better Building It’s a Code Red if you haven’t prepared for OBC 2017 SB-12; DeWalt powers up with new technology and acquisitions; there’s something new on tap as an Italian faucet company comes to Canada; an environmental nod for CertainTeed; and Dow’s fire retardants go green 71 Product Focus Insulation, sustainability and ‘zoning’ are all trending when it comes to indoor climate control 78 Words to Build By Ward Campbell of Starward Homes ontario home builder Winter 2017


The official publication of the Ontario Home Builders’ Association Winter 2017 | Vol. 33 Issue 1


Ted McIntyre associate editor

Norma Kimmins, OHBA art director

Erik Mohr graphic designer

Ian Sullivan Cant copy editor

Barbara Chambers contributors

Avi Friedman, Tracy Hanes, Margaret Mulligan, Jonathan Oke, Dan O’Reilly, Mary Robertson, Michael Ryval, Joe Vaccaro advertising sales

Tricia Beaudoin ext. 223 Cindy Kaye, ext. 232 publisher

Sheryl Humphreys, ext. 245 PRESIDENT

Wayne Narciso Published by

Laurel Oak Custom Publishing 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 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 CANADIAN PUBLICATION MAIL AGREEMENT NO. 42011539 ISSN No. 1182-1345

Committed to Building Better Communities


ontario home builder Winter 2017

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One Voice

New Kids on the Block What do millennials want, and where will they live? By J o e Vacc a r o

Move over, baby boomers! Your influence as the dominant economic and social force in Canada is about to be replaced by the millennial generation. According to Stats Can’s 2015 population numbers, boomers, who were born between 1946 and 1965, and millennials, who were born between 1981 and 2000, were tied, with each group making up 27% of the population. But in terms of the 2015 labour force, millennials already make up 37% of the labour force—a number that will jump to 75% of the workforce over the next 15 years! Meanwhile, boomers clock in at 30% of today’s labour force, a number that will gradually decline as boomers retire or expire. So who are these millennials and what do they want? In our economic and housing forecast stories on pages 38 and 43, respectively, of this issue of OHB magazine, you’ll find some

“How much ‘love capital’ can they expect from the bank of mom and dad?” answers to those questions. Commentators point out that millennials love to spend money on fine dining, travel and fashion—things their parents and grandparents considered luxuries. Millennials are highly educated, they value friends and family and are prolific users of social media. We are told that they are also different when it comes to work. They are more flexible than older generations and embrace the notion that they want to ‘work to live,’ not ‘live to work.’

And speaking of living, many millennials are still residing in their parents’ basements. A 2016 Stats Canada report showed the proportion of young adults aged 20 to 29 who live with their parents jumped from 27% in 1981 to 42% in 2011. Certainly, many of those still living at home are students, but some are ‘boomerang’ kids who return home after completing their schooling or while they build their careers. Nine of out 10 of these young adults also admit they don’t help with household expenses, such as rent, taxes or utilities. Presumably, the free ride will end and eventually they will move out on their own. But to what and where? It will be an immense challenge for our industry, governments and society as a whole to respond to the lifestyle and workplace needs and desires of millennials. Will this cohort be renters or buyers? And if they become buyers how much ‘love capital’ can they expect from the ‘Bank of Mom and Dad’ to achieve the dream of homeownership? Will it be even possible for them buy a home on their own? How do we create housing choices and options to service the millennial generation who are seemingly unwilling to give up their toys and indulgences as their parents and grandparents did in order to realize the dream of home ownership? What will our cities, towns and rural communities look like over the next decade? No doubt Ontario home builders, land developers and professional renovators have their work cut out for them to meet the needs and demands of this new and very different generation, but I’m confident they will come up with creative and desirable solutions. After all, many of them are millennials themselves! OHB

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

ontario home builder Winter 2017


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Ontario Report

OHBA 1st Vice-President Pierre Dufresne with Minister of Housing, the Honourable Chris Ballard, and OHBA President Neil Rodgers.

Lines of Communication Queen’s Park Day helps OHBA Get its message across

In late November 2016, the Ontario Home Builders’ Association executive committee hosted a half-day, very focused advocacy session at Queen’s Park. The OHBA team was joined in the Legislative dining room by a few dozen MPPs and several Cabinet Ministers for a breakfast reception where OHBA was recognized during Question Period by the Ontario Housing Minister, the

2017 Ontario Home Builders’ Association Local Presidents

Honourable Chris Ballard. The OHBA executive also met with the Assistant Deputy Ministers of the Ministry of Municipal Affairs, as well as the Attorney General in discussions around the review of the Ontario Municipal Board. OHBA hosted two “lunch and learns” with the caucuses of the Progressive Conservative party and the Liberal party, and also met with the NDP caucus. OHBA’s advocacy agenda focused on key issues, including the Coordinated Review, Inclusionary Zoning, the Ontario Municipal Board, as well as Home Energy Rating and Disclosure. The day concluded with a meeting between OHBA President Neil Rodgers, BILD Chair Steve Deveaux and Simcoe County HBA President Bob Schickedanz with the Minister of Transportation, the Honourable Steven Del Duca. OHBA thanks our volunteer members from the executive committee for representing the association in a series of focused advocacy meetings with the caucuses of the three parties at Queen’s Park. In addition, OHBA is planning another Queen’s Park Day in 2017 to include local association presidents and representatives from across the province.

Bob Cox

Alison Alexander

Peter DeBoer

Greater Dufferin


St. Thomas-Elgin

Ken Russell

Trevor McKenzie

Scott Henderson

Durham Region



Dan Burrows

Yvonne Hendriks

Bob Schickedanz



Simcoe County

Darren Steedman (Chair)

Shawn Marsh

Robert Miller

Harold Holland


Guelph & District

North Bay & District

Stratford & Area

Matt Langendoen

Len Herrewynen

Bob Ridley/Josh Kardish

Louie Zagordo



Greater Ottawa

Sudbury & District

Steve Szasz

Nathan Petrini

Chuck Louttet

John Simperl


Haliburton County

Oxford County

Thunder Bay

Scott Vandersluis

Brandon Campbell

Garnet Northey

Kevin Fergin



Peterborough & The Kawarthas

Waterloo Region

Vance De Saulniers

John Henderson

Tony Engelsdorfer

Ryan Lane

Cornwall Construction Association

Kingston Frontenac


Windsor Essex

ontario home builder Winter 2017


Ontario Report

Reforming the OMB Mary Lou Tanner, Burlington’s Chief City Planner, Linda Davies, Paradigm’s realtor, and Vince Molinaro, president of The Molinaro Group, showcased the Paradigm condo project at OHBA’s recent “Suburbs on Track Housing Tour.”

Communities Getting on Track Late last year, OHBA hosted 40 delegates from across Ontario who embarked on the “Suburbs on Track Housing Tour” to see how communities may evolve along new and planned transit corridors throughout the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area. The Province of Ontario will invest $32 billion in regional transit over the next decade and the tour looked at three innovative sites along the Lakeshore West GO line: one completed, one in the works and one still in the planning phase. The day began with a walking tour of the FRAM Building Group’s Port Credit waterfront community, just a short two-minute walk from the GO Station. FRAM’s VP of Development and Construction, Fred Serrafero, was joined by John Giannone, Project Manager of Sales, Marketing and Construction, who walked participants through the firm’s recently completed community that includes mid-rise buildings, townhomes, live-work units, piazzas, commercial spaces and a newly built retirement facility. Then it was back on the GO Train to visit The Molinaro Group’s Paradigm Condo site, located just steps from the Burlington Go Station. The first of its kind in Burlington, this project supports the city’s Growth Plan targets for density and intensification. Molinaro Group President Vince Molinaro noted that the City of Burlington encourages development of more pedestrian-friendly, easily accessible, higher density projects in order to meet the growing and changing population in the region. Reaffirming this point was Burlington’s Chief City Planner, Mary Lou Tanner, who also provided insight into the planning process for developments that meet official plan density requirements, while also offering a sneak peek into some of Burlington’s plans to accommodate new growth in the future. The final destination was the West Harbour Redevelopment site on Hamilton’s waterfront, where Chris Philips, the Senior Advisor to the General Manager of Planning & Economic Development for the City Of Hamilton, explored the City’s vision for the future of this waterfront site, noting that a new GO Train station and other projects built for the Pan Am Games served as catalysts for the project. The City is working with planners and designers to develop a template for this new community hub to include low- and mid-rise residential buildings surrounded by parks, restaurants and cafes within an easy walk to downtown Hamilton and the GO Train. OHBA tour delegates had a first-hand look of how these new communities are planned, the approval process and how utilizing transit lines will allow better opportunities to grow the province. To learn more about the benefits of building complete-communities along transit corridors, you can find the report, entitled “Suburbs on Track: Building Transit-Friendly Neighbourhoods outside the Toronto Core,” on OHBA’s website: 12

ontario home builder Winter 2017

The path to reforming the Ontario Municipal Board continues, as the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and the Attorney General have been directed by Premier Kathleen Wynne to recommend reforms to improve the OMB’s role within the broader land-use planning system. Legislation is expected to be introduced by the spring of 2017. Last fall, the Province announced proposed changes to the OMB within the themes of:

• OMB’s jurisdiction and powers • Citizen participation and the local perspective

• Clear and predictable

decision-making • Modern procedures and faster decisions • Alternative dispute resolution and fewer hearings The province held town hall public meetings throughout Ontario, which were well attended by OHBA members thanks to the participation of OHBA’s network of local home builders’ associations. OHBA submitted its recommendations to the government in December 2016, supporting the role of the OMB, with recommendations to improve the OMB through greater use of mediation, enhancing the role of the citizen liaison office and providing the board with more resources to ensure a timely and efficient planning process.

Ontario Report

New. Now. Next: Making a Changing an industry

EnerQuality is hosting its annual Housing Innovation Forum and Awards February 23, 2017, and invites you to explore what’s new, what’s now and what’s next in regards to the housing industry. EQ Housing Innovation Forum is a concentrated infusion of new thinking, new products and new techniques, with the common benefits of advancing building performance. Events include a full-day conference of sessions covering a diverse range of business, with critical topics including: Best Practices in Sales and Marketing for High-Performance Homes; Innovation in Building Science; the Climate Change Policy, and more. What would the future of building be without new green products and services? The Innovation Showcase

provides an up-to-the-minute look at the latest in the industry and the many benefits the products and services offer. A full day of innovation is followed by the Awards Dinner and Gala in the evening, where a star-studded lineup of innovators, influencers and market leaders will be recognized for their contributions and advancements in the ‘green building’ industry in the year past. This year’s best will be invited to accept awards for a range of categories, from Building Innovation to Ontario Green Builder!

Date: Thursday, Feb. 23 Place: Universal Event Space, 6250 Highway 7, Vaughan

Register: Early-bird pricing until January 20 at

Ontario College of Trades Update The government introduced legislation in December to make changes to the Ontario College of Trades (OCOT). The legislative changes were the result of more than two years of consultation with stakeholders through the OCOT review led by Tony Dean and, more recently, Chris Bentley. OHBA members were active participants in both consultations and were pleased by the outreach and dialogue from both reviewers. The legislation is consistent with many of the Tony Dean recommendations for OCOT and this legislation marks the first set of major changes to OCOT since it was created in 2009. Changes include allowing employers and workers to challenge OCOT enforcement decisions at the Ontario Labour Relations Board. Currently, OCOT enforces compulsory trades ‘scope of


ontario home builder Winter 2017

practice’ to define when compulsory workers need to perform certain work. Unfortunately, the scopes of practice are outdated, broad and arbitrary, with no connection to workplace safety risks. The alterations will create a more robust trade classification process by introducing content experts if a trade makes an application for compulsory certification. A new journeyperson-to-apprentice ratio review process is anticipated to begin later next year. OHBA’s work with the Ontario Skilled Trades Alliance supports the changes, as it will create more clarity and transparency for OCOT enforcement. We believe these changes are a step in the right direction for OCOT to be better positioned in order to focus on closing the skills gap.   

Statement on Inclusionary Zoning In December the provincial government passed legislation, the Promoting Affordable Housing Act, 2016 (Bill 7), that will allow municipalities to force the inclusion of government-required affordable housing units in new residential projects. The province has also proposed a regulation under the Planning Act that would set the framework for inclusionary zoning. In advance of the legislation’s introduction, OHBA and BILD created a Statement of Intent on Affordable Housing & Inclusionary Zoning that outlines our principles for creating legislation to permit inclusionary zoning. Additional consultation on the proposed regulation is expected in 2017. The Urban Land Institute released a new study in July 2016, The Economics of Inclusionary Development, which confirmed that almost all cities in the United States offer various types of development incentives to offset the economic impacts the inclusionary policy has and that the inclusionary policies depend on market-rate development to be successful. OHBA participated in consultations during the summer of 2016 and held a number of meetings with provincial officials in the fall of 2016 in support of a partnership model for inclusionary zoning and also submitted recommendations to the Ministry of Housing. In addition, on Nov. 27, 2016, OHBA, BILD and the Niagara Home Builders’ Association all made presentations to the Standing Committee on Social Policy regarding Bill 7 and inclusionary zoning. OHB

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Frame of Mind

Walking into the Unknown Tupiq, Norton Community Park in B urlington, ON

local art scene Fostering a little creativity can provide a lot of personality to our neighbourhoods By Av i F r i e d m a n

I was foreign to the far north when I accepted an invitation to visit Iqaluit, Nunavut’s capital, in the Canadian arctic. My familiarity with the cultural and physical landscapes of the place was rudimentary. It was a sunny and chilly summer evening when I stepped out of my hotel for a stroll in the town of 6,000. Looking around, it seemed as if some giant hand had randomly strewn a bunch of rocks and pebbles across the ground. Oddly shaped buildings, set at various distances, dotted unpaved roads. I turned to Queen Elizabeth, the town’s main drag. Three- and fourstorey buildings with stores and offices on lower floors and apartments above marked Iqaluit’s hub. The street was deserted at this hour. Right behind, there were brown-painted homes with exposed crawlspaces. A skidoo and a sled were parked side by side. A boat

engine and fishing net were laid next to one another, probably belonging to a fisherman whose boat was docked nearby. Caribou hides were nailed to a board leaning against a wall for drying. I walked towards a long, narrow single-storey grey and blue building, where I saw several large, beautiful soapstone sculptures placed in no particular order to form a display. An eagle diving down to snap a fish from the sea was carved in one. A polar bear cub resting on a rock with eyes closed lay nearby. A short distance away was a full-size figure of an Inuit couple— the man with his left arm around the woman’s shoulder as if to console her. A caribou looking like a mythical creature on the run was etched on another stone. Next, there was a giant abstract face of a person smoking a traditional pipe, and another looking into the sun. The place and the art were authentic,

drawing their roots from the cultural traditions and the nature that surrounded Iqaluit. Untainted by commercialism, it was, I surmise, what every folk art display should be: organic, embedded in its place of creation. I wondered what had happened to folk art. Why is it no longer part of our residential vocabulary, much like benches or light poles, or swings in play areas? The answer is rooted, among other reasons, in our changing attitude towards art, the transitory nature of our residency and the way we choose to spend our free time. Recent years have seen a significant decline in the amount of time devoted to art education in schools. In some cases, it has vanished from the curriculum completely. School visits to museums have also declined, while galleries are no longer a popular destination for family outings. Time pressures and lifestyle choices have also taken their toll on our artistic endeavours. Canadians over the age of 12 spend some 21 hours a week watching TV. Crafting a piece in the garage and displaying it on the front lawn is no longer a favourite pastime. The creation and display of public or folk art in new developments—something that used to be budgeted for in communities—needs to be fostered again. Drawings by schoolchildren can be glazed on tiles and placed on walls in public places. Art exhibitions to the amateurs among us can be organized by a municipality in public parks. Large pieces should not only be installed in major downtown squares, or near office towers, but in neighbourhoods. City officials can, from time to time, turn a blind eye to a house painted differently and make room for the nonconformists among us. Public or folk art can help distinguish one place from another. It can provide an identity to a street or community that might otherwise be banal. Looking at or even touching a piece of local art can help soften a community’s rough edges. OHB Dr. Avi Friedman teaches architecture at McGill University. He can be reached at ontario home builder Winter 2017


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Inside Storey that. Even if there’s sufficient cause for termination, an employer should have good records and performance reviews, because there is a very high threshold to meet for a ‘termination for cause.’ We won’t counsel employers to terminate for cause unless they think they can substantiate that threshold. That’s why I counsel employers to train their HR staff or office managers to turn their attention to performancebased issues. You can’t completely avoid the possibility of litigation, but you can take the necessary steps to protect yourself, and the time to do that is as the issues occur during employment. It’s often a costly process.

the right fit Whether hiring a special needs employee or firing a slacker, it pays to do your homework! By Ted McIntyre, with Barbara Green, Partner, Robins Appleby LLP

Some battles are never easy—or comfortable—to fight, especially those that involve firing an employee. It’s an area many corporate heads find intimidating: How much cause do I need to terminate an individual? What documentation do I require before releasing them to avoid litigation—either with cause or without? How much do I owe them when I let them go? And how could problematic situations within the workplace have been avoided in the first place? Was there something I could have asked—or shouldn’t have asked—in the interview process? Barbara Green is partner at Toronto’s Robins Appleby LLP where she focuses on commercial litigation. Green represents owners of privately held businesses, employers, employees, land developers, insurance companies, condominium corporations and others with respect to employment and estates litigation, debtor-creditor matters, real

property disputes and high-profile class action litigation cases. But her true bailiwick is in the field of employment law. Green regularly counsels employers on their obligations when it comes to hiring and firing employees, as well as their responsibilities to staff during their time of employment. OHB: What do you require before firing someone due to performance? BG: I regularly counsel employers to

consistently document their files with respect to performance-based issues. They should ensure that they are providing verbal and written warnings, and documenting these. And make sure the employee signs off and won’t be surprised, for example, when he or she is terminated for absenteeism. Employers do not always appreciate that they should prepare documentation. And some companies don’t have an HR department that’s managing all

Most employers don’t realize how expensive it is to terminate. Even if you provide working notice to an employee, do you really want someone who knows they’re leaving soon to be managing your clients and having access to confidential information? What are your obligations when releasing someone without cause?

What we often talk about, which is a surprise to many employers, is that there are often obligations well beyond those minimum obligations under the Employment Standards Act. Termination pay will be paid at one week per year of employment, to a maximum of eight weeks—and there might be severance pay on top of that. Those numbers might not seem so scary, but there are sometimes also ‘common law damages’ owed to an employee who is terminated without cause. The law will take into account the employee’s age, length of service, the industry in which they work and whether they had supervisory or managerial functions. In view of those factors, especially when considering long-term, older employees, it could cost an employer as much as two years’ compensation plus benefits to terminate an employee. Sometimes even short-term employees working a year or two could be entitled to many months of compensation because they held a senior position. ontario home builder Winter 2017


Employers have a duty to accommodate an employee’s disability, but is there a certain threshold to that?

We often counsel employers to investigate whether there’s an accommodation issue that may be required, and their onus to do due diligence. An employer has a duty to accommodate to the point of “undue hardship.” In Ontario, the Human Rights Code imposes a duty to accommodate under the ground of disability. According to the Ontario Human Rights Commission’s Policy and Guidelines on Disability and the Duty to Accommodate, this requires an assessment and implementation of the “most appropriate accommodation” short of undue hardship. That’s described as “one that most respects the dignity of the individual with a disability, meets individual needs, best promotes integration and full participation, and ensures confidentiality.” It’s been further described as being “along a continuum from those ways that are most respectful of privacy, autonomy, integration and other human values, to those that are least respectful of those values.” Courts have adopted a flexible approach to applying the threshold of undue hardship. The Supreme Court of Canada has laid out some relevant factors, including: the financial cost of the method of accommodation and the prospect of substantial interference with the rights of other employees. In at least one case, the Supreme Court made it clear that an employer was not required to accommodate to an extent where “the proper operation of the business is hampered excessively or if an employee remains unable to work for the reasonably foreseeable future.” Employers should obtain legal advice. What sort of questions can’t you ask an employee?

The Ontario Human Rights Commission has prescribed guidelines on the best practices to follow during the interview and hiring process. Prohibited grounds include age, race, marital status and disability. At the same time, an employer is not precluded from asking questions where discrimination is expressly permitted by the Code. This covers situations where the employer is a religious, 20

ontario home builder Winter 2017

philanthropic, educational, fraternal or social organization. Emphasizing fair hiring, the Commission recommends that a set of questions be prepared in advance with a corresponding answer key and marking scheme. Such questions should be asked of all applicants “based on the job’s essential duties and bona fide requirements.” Objective criteria and formal assessments will go a long way in ensuring that decisions are not made subjectively in violation of the Code. so what can employers ask that might be helpful in averting a potential bad fit?

Generally, employers should ensure that questions relating to potential conflict or ‘fit’ are not based on Code-protected grounds. It is possible that bias or stereotypes exist in the employer’s assessment of an applicant’s ‘fit’ where it is made by reference to a dominant group as determined by race, age or disability. Instead, employers are encouraged to ask questions that deal with the applicant’s qualifications or ability to perform the essential job duties.

OHB ad 4.528 x 4.833 final.pdf



12:29 PM

What sort of medical questions can you ask?

Medical questions may be asked where it is relevant to the essential duties of the job. Often this will arise where an employee requires on-the-job accommodation. what of employers who decide it’s not worth the time and the effort to accommodate?



As for everyone, there is a fear of the unknown. And mental disabilities are often a lot scarier than physical disabilities. How will the employee perform? Is she or he a potential threat in the workplace? Will the employee miss too much time from work to perform his/her duties? How will it affect others in the workplace? But there’s a legal obligation to respond in terms of workplace accommodations. And an employer can’t discriminate in the hiring process, during the course of employment, nor in the termination of employment. Do we really want to be a society that doesn’t accommodate for differences? OHB







ontario home builder Winter 2017


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The new rd standag toi let A self-cleanin comes to Canada p. 26

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Cool Under Pressure The new SilveRboard Graphite XS rigid foam insulation is an expanded polystyrene (EPS) base material that incorporates a carbon graphite coating to increase the thermal performance of the EPS insulation. A cost-effective and higher-performing insulated exterior wall sheathing compared to extruded polystyrene (XPS), its graphite EPS beads reflect radiant heat energy, similar to the effect of a mirror, while increasing the material’s ability to resist the flow of heat or R-value.

Control on the Go Energy Star-certified and NetZero Home-friendly, Rheem’s Hybrid Heat Pump Water Heater provides homeowners with control from home and on-the-go, while providing alerts on mobile devices through its EcoNet-enabled app. Promising to outperform the competition and save homeowners an estimated $4,000 in energy costs over 10 years, Rheem Canada will be launching a 3.50 EF version in Q1 to complement the current 2.45EF product. 24

ontario home builder Winter 2017

Sounds Good to Us! Specially designed for vinyl flooring (planks and tiles), AcoustiTech LV increases in-room comfort by creating a muffled ambience and by absorbing noise from travelling through multi-level dwellings. Although just 2.1 mm (in sizes of 150 sq. ft. and 300 sq. ft.), it provides an acoustical performance of 59 FIIC when installed in a floating installation of vinyl flooring on a 20 cm concrete slab (without suspended ceiling).

mobile Power Station DeWalt’s new 1800 Watt Portable Power Station and Fast Charger allows for AC power in remote locations. Able to run most corded tools, it runs on four DeWalt 20V Max batteries and provides 1,800 watts (15 amps) of continuous power and 3,600 watts of peak power.

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Top Shelf Click Here CertainTeed’s innovative QuickSpan Locking Drywall Grid System is a ceiling grid system that provides the industry’s longest unsupported spans for flat drywall. Engineered and, designed to offer faster, easier installation in hallway and corridor applications, it features solid cross tees that audibly click into place for a positive lock, comprised of a heavy-duty metal material for maximum rigidity and screw grip.

From the Ground Up DRIcore’s Subfloor R+ combines highdensity oriented strand board (OSB) and the closed-cell structure of extruded polystyrene (XPS) to resist moisture and maintain an R-value of 3, raising the temperature of finished flooring by up to 5.6° C. Its air gap encourages constant air flow and evaporation/re-absorption of surface moisture emitted from concrete floors to ensure a comfortable basement for years to come.

Humidity-Proof Flooring From Vintage Flooring’s Wire Brushed collection, the White Oak Rift & Quarter Sawn can be counted on for stability, thanks to its Solid Sawn platform, which is warranted for humidity ranges of 25%-70%, meaning that it will not shrink in the winter or expand in the summer months. Available in 5” and 7” widths, it’s also warranted over radiant heat.

They’re Cleaning Up! American Standard has launched its revolutionary ActiClean Toilet in the Canadian market: a self-cleaning toilet that doesn’t compromise on style or affordability. It combines a fully integrated self-cleaning cartridge system with the power of its VorMax flushing technology, which “delivers the cleanest flush ever engineered,” says the company. Press a button, walk away, and let the ActiClean do the rest. 26

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WORLD’S FIRST BATTERY PACK THAT AUTOMATICALLY CHANGES VOLTAGE WHEN YOU CHANGE TOOLS. The FLEXVOLT™ battery's ability to automatically change between two voltages gives users a serious advantage when it comes to efficiency. It's the battery that not only powers, but improves the runtime** of our DEWALT® 20V MAX* tools, so you don't have to invest in a whole new system. It's the battery that brings the power of corded to a new lineup of 60V MAX* and 120V MAX* DEWALT® tools so you can finally work on a fully cordless jobsite. Built Guaranteed Tough®, Built by DEWALT®.

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Rain God Lenova’s sleek new Thermostatic Shower Panel is an all-inclusive shower system that offers all the bells and whistles, including a rain shower top, multiple body sprayers and a hand-held shower. Measuring 50”x 8” with a 19” showerhead depth, the single-handle design offers high-pressure resistance and dual-control over both water flow and temperature.

Get SB-12 2017 Ready! The budget-friendly Total Solutions package from eco Insulation helps address the intent of new SB-12 Compliance Packages by providing good/better/best assembly options that tackle continuous insulation, air-sealing and higher thermal values in the entire building envelope. Builders can meet and exceed the requirements for 2017 with a hybrid of batt, cellulose and spray foam, with no blower door tests required.

High-Water Mark in Alarms Hand-crafted in Kitchener, the Sentry Z Control from Tulsar alerts the homeowner of a pending problem via text or email through a wifi-enabled app if the water begins rising in a well, sump, holding tank or septic tank, or the pump stops working. It is also equipped with an audible alarm and light.

Seal the Deal Owens Corning’s innovative Foamular CodeBord Air Barrier System offers a total heat, air and moisture management system for high-performance envelopes. Reducing both condensation and thermal bridging, there’s no need to seal the polyethylene on the inside, as the air barrier is moved to the exterior side.of the wall assembly, eliminating the need for an additional exterior weather barrier.


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thE Air What does the Climate Change Action Plan mean for Ontario’s builders and renovators? By Te d M cI nt yr e


limate change is real. There are inexplicable pockets of detractors, but the temperatures over land and sea are steadily increasing, the arctic icepack and glaciers are melting away, sea levels are rising… you know the story. “Climate change is a fact in our daily lives, raising the cost of our food, causing extreme weather that damages property and infrastructure, threatening outdoor activities we love and melting winter roads that provide critical seasonal access to remote northern Indigenous communities,” notes Ontario’s Minister of the Environment and Climate Change, the Honourable Glen R. Murray. “It affects every aspect of our lives, so it is our collective responsibility to fight climate change together to ensure our children benefit from a cleaner planet.” In an attempt to stem the environmental destruction, countries around the globe are taking measures to modify the way they live and do business. For its part, the Ontario provincial government introduced the Climate Change Action Plan in June. The 85-page document outlines the government’s ambitious plan to spend up to $8.3 billion over the next five years, including a projected $1.9 billion in its first year, to encourage individuals, municipalities and the business world to reduce their carbon footprint, while also creating new jobs and opportunities in this new low-carbon economy. Dedicated to the program’s initiatives, most of the “Green Bank” funds will be generated by cap-and-trade penalties for large commercial polluters in Ontario. The plan commits to lowering greenhouse gas emissions by 15% by 2020, 37% by 2030 and 80% by 2050, with a Net Zero building code in place “no later than 2030.” One of its key inclusions is the Home Energy Rating and Disclosure (HERD)—something actively supported by OHBA. Free to homeowners, these audits will be required before a new or existing single-family home can be put up for sale, with the energy rating included in the real estate listing. Also part of the package are incentives for high-performance purchases, including rebates to individuals who buy or build their own Near Net Zero carbon emission homes, as well as for homeowners who purchase and install low-carbon energy technologies such as geothermal or air-source heat pumps, and solar thermal and solar energy generation systems. ontario home builder Winter 2017


With the Province setting a target for 12% of all new vehicle sales to be electric by 2025, builders will also be required to ensure all new homes are Electric-Vehicle-Ready, meaning all homes with garages must be constructed with a 50-amp, 240-volt receptacle. Not that Ontario builders haven’t been making huge strides on their own in recent years. With the 2017 Ontario Building Code now in effect, new homes will consume only 50% of the energy they would have in 2005. Of course, the OBC primarily deals with new construction, which comprises only 1% of the overall building stock on an annual basis. The fact that the Action Plan also appears to be prioritizing new-home upgrades as it fasttracks the Code to a Net Zero status, as opposed to focusing on the existing housing stock, seems misguided to some. “Over the past decade Ontario’s home builders have made a quantum leap and they deserve a lot more credit for it,” says EnerQuality President Corey McBurney. “The fact is that Ontario is the North American leader in energy efficiency in new-home construction. If I had one wish it would be that the public sees the progress that is being made and how we made it.

Action Plan in a Nutshell The Province will spend up to $8.3 billion on a range of programs to encourage people and companies to switch to more energy-efficient vehicles, heating systems, etc. The Action Plan has adopted a cap-andtrade system—joining California and Quebec in the Western Climate Initiative. An estimated $1.9 billion will be raised in the first year alone, primarily from large industrial polluters, through this cap-and-trade system and placed in a Green Bank, the funds of which will be dedicated to program initiatives. The Action Plan commits to lowering Ontario greenhouse gas emissions by 15% by 2020, 37% by 2030 and 80% by 2050. The OBC will be updated to include long-term energy efficiency targets for Near Net Zero carbon emission small buildings by 2030. T here will be mandatory energy audits for all homes prior to listing for sale (Home Energy Rating & Disclosure, or HERD). All new homes and townhomes with garages will require the inclusion of a 50-amp, 240-volt receptacle in the garage for the purpose of charging an electric vehicle. Rebates will be available to those who purchase or build Near Net Zero homes and who retrofit existing homes with significant energy-efficient upgrades. The Province intends to “accelerate deployment of the Regional Express Rail system,” noting that the expansion of the GO infrastructure will encourage more people to use transit.


ontario home builder Winter 2017

(So) if we’re serious about reducing housing’s carbon footprint, it’s high time we looked beyond the relatively small carbon emissions from new homes and aggressively retrofit older homes to bring them up to 2012 standards, let alone 2017 or 2030 codes!” “Existing homes, which make up 99% of the housing stock, are a far greater problem,” echoes Doug Tarry, Director of Marketing and Lead Designer for Doug Tarry Homes. “Go back and make all those existing homes 20% to 25% more efficient from where their baseline is right now and you’ll move the meter way further than if you go after the 1% of new homes that get 5% or 15% better. Whereas new homes might have R-60 insulation in the attic, R-40 in the walls, R-35 in the basement walls, R-10 under the basement slab and triple-glazed windows, some of those existing homes may have R-10 in the walls and R-20 in the attic and are really leaky. So there are things that are not that difficult or expensive that can be done to existing homes to significantly improve their efficiencies. But we have bureaucrats making decisions who don’t know this.”

Fossil Fuel Fallout The pursuit of zero carbon emissions entails the curtailing of natural gas use—no mean feat given that the fuel is currently the primary heating source in 76% of Ontario homes. Jennifer Weatherston, director of Innovation & Estimating with Cambridge-based Reid’s Heritage Homes, believes there should be room for both electricity and natural gas. “We are continuing to apply features incorporating natural gas to our homes,” Weatherston notes. “We feel it offers options to homebuyers in a market where utility rates continue to rise. Let the buyer choose their dominant fuel-based system and how much they are paying and to who. In our analysis of Net Zero Ready / Net Zero homes, there is an 87% reduction in greenhouse gas over code-built homes. This is based on incorporating a hybrid system of electric and natural gas. By offering a hybrid approach, buyers can take advantage of electric air-sourced heat pumps or cost-effective gas back-up furnaces. The Climate Change Action Plan chooses for the buyer; it does not currently suggest that buyers have an option. Homeowners will have to use electricity and to keep paying continuously increasing energy costs. Even as people continue to try and conserve, the rates will rise. Why could we not offer homebuyers the option to choose a more economical energy source, while still drastically improving our environmental impact by just building more energy-efficient dwellings?” Given the mounting costs of electricity, Tarry says consumers should be better educated about the most energy-efficient appliances possible, including their air conditioner. “The days of the 13 SEER air conditioner need to end soon, because people won’t be able to afford to cool their homes in the summer,” Tarry notes. “We’re hearing it more and more—people having to make choices of when they do the laundry and run the dishwasher, and deciding how hot and humid it needs to be before they turn their air conditioner on.” Tarry also worries about the efficiency of heating purely with electricity. “If you’ve got a furnace that’s properly sized for the home and that is running at 96% efficiency, when you replace it with electricity, there’s the question of where that

electricity is being generated from. What happens when the sun isn’t shining and the wind isn’t blowing? And regardless, you’re looking at an approximately 40% line loss from where electricity is created to where it’s delivered.” Like Reid’s Weatherston, there needs to be flexibility, Tarry says. “You don’t want to end up oversizing your equipment, even if it’s fully modulating,” he notes. “Our company’s homes use high-performance electrical air-source heat pumps in the shoulder season and natural gas for the winter days when it gets really cold. You don’t want to try to take the air-source heat pump all the way down to those -30C days, because then it has to be sized so that it can handle the entire home at that load, so it would probably have to be a bigger, more expensive system than you necessarily need.” The Province, however, is trying to ease the transition, notes Meredith Renwick, a spokesman for the Ministry of Energy. “Natural gas will continue to play a critical role in the energy mix in Ontario, even as our Climate Change Action Plan (CCAP) supports people and businesses in shifting away from conventional fuels by undertaking initiatives that include investing cap-and-trade auction proceeds into next-generation clean technologies,” Renwick says. “The CCAP will encourage the use of cleaner, renewable natural gas in industrial, transportation and buildings sectors, the province’s biggest sources of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. The province’s investment will help reduce GHG emissions and help offset the cost to

“Over the past decade Ontario’s home builders have made a quantum leap and they deserve a lot more credit” consumers of introducing renewable natural gas. For example, the CCAP announced $100 million in funding over four years to support a new Renewable Natural Gas initiative.” Bruce Manwaring, manager at Enbridge Gas Solution, stresses the need to keep the fossil fuel a vital part of the future energy supply, while evolving its carbon content. “We believe that greening the natural gas grid is a more costeffective, resilient and responsible pathway to meet home energy needs,” says Manwaring. “This is the approach of leading jurisdictions such as British Columbia, California and Germany. The 76% of Ontarians who use natural gas for home

Comparative index of electricity Prices

residential customers — consumption: 1,000 kWh/month 100

Montréal, QC Winnipeg, MB Edmonton, AB Calgary, AB Vancouver, BC Houston, TX Miami, FL St. John’s, NL Moncton, NB Seattle, WA Portland, OR Nashville, TN Regina, SK Chicago, IL Halifax, NS Charlottetown, PE Ottawa, ON Toronto, ON Detroit, MI Boston, MA New York, NY San Francisco, CA

143 144 148 156 161 166 173 188 193 198 203 210 220 222 224 246 280 383

409 430 0

Hydro-Québec = 100 Monthly bill (excluding tax) Rated in effect April 1, 2016







ontario home builder Winter 2017


heating will have to bear conversion and ongoing energy costs. Converting a home from natural gas to electricity would cost about $4,500, and the heating costs would triple—increasing by roughly $2,000 each year. “We believe that Ontario’s natural gas system can continue to be a solution well beyond 2030,” says Manwaring. “It’s the most reliable, affordable and abundant energy source for consumers, and if it is used responsibly as part of an overall strategy, it can benefit Ontarians economically and environmentally.”

Building the Infrastructure Another pressing question surrounds the degree to which the provincial electrical network needs to evolve in order to accommodate the grid that will be required by the Action Plan. “We’re lucky as it is if we can get Hydro One to have some of these Net Zero projects be able to use the grid for their battery when they come on line,” says Tarry. “One of the things we’re all looking at right now is the link between homes and the power grid,” notes McBurney. “When we start putting PV (photovoltaic) panels on roofs, how would they connect? How would the metering system work? There are lots of players involved: there’s Ontario Power Generation, Bruce Power and others who produce the power; there’s Hydro One responsible for transmission; and then there are the about 70 local distribution companies like Ottawa Hydro who connect to commercial and residential customers. This whole system is managed by the Independent Electricity System Operator and regulated by the Ontario Energy Board. And, as far as I know, how to connect individual homes as power generators to the grid is still being figured out, let alone what a decentralized grid with theoretically millions of power generators will look like.” The Ontario government accepts that there are hurdles to

Shocking Rates Ontario’s Hydro bills are legendary. According to a survey conducted by Hydro-Québec (see chart, p. 33), the highest average monthly bill on April 1, 2016 in Canada for residents using 1,000 kWh went to Toronto at $178.08. The next highest among major cities in the country was Ottawa, at $160.17. While that’s more than twice the price paid that month by Winnipeggers ($84.29), and more than $105 higher than Montrealers (whose hydro benefits greatly from dam generation), it’s actually a far cry from many major U.S. cities. San Franciscans, for example, had to shell out $310.48 for the month in electrical bills—a whopping $132.40 (or 74%) more than Toronto residents. Rates should not increase further, however, the provincial government assures. Its Climate Change Action Plan promises to use cap and trade proceeds to offset the cost of greenhouse gas pollution-reduction initiatives that are currently funded by residential and industrial consumers through their bills.


ontario home builder Winter 2017

“Everybody and every sector in Canada— indeed, the world—is going to have to come to grips with the costs and changes required to mitigate climate change.” cross. “At the regional level, the integration of Electric Vehicles and electrification of mass public transit, and other forms of fuel switching, such as shifting from natural gas to electricpower heat pumps, could increase peak demand requirements and have an impact on the adequacy and reliability of the regional transmission and distribution systems—especially in urban centres,” notes the Ministry of Energy’s Renwick. “In addition, electrification can alter the profile of the demand and could impact the needs and solutions at the distribution and regional level. Transmitters, the Independent Electricity System Operator and local distribution companies are looking at ways to help manage and address these potential implications.”

Two-Way Traffic While there will be huge electrical energy draws in the near future that must be provided for—Go Transit electric train conversion, the Eglinton Crosstown LRT project in Toronto and managing the growth of personal EVs, to name a few—the possibility of tens of thousands of Ontario homes generating their own electricity creates new issues entirely. “The increased penetration of distributed energy resources (DERs) could have an impact on the distribution and transmission systems,” Renwick explains. “Traditionally, distribution and transmission systems have been designed to deliver power one way to loads. Increasing levels of distributed energy resources can lead to bi-directional power flows that the electricity system was not initially designed to accommodate. This can lead to operating and safety concerns. The total amount of DERs that can be integrated into the distribution system can depend on technical constraints on the transmission and distribution equipment.” Expect significant investment from the Province to accommodate the required alterations and expansion. And that’s something that will likely “come at a cost to the public—meaning more increases to the average family,” predicts Weatherston. “To date, it has been a challenge in many areas to be able to offer a full off-grid application confidently to buyers

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with existing restraints on the grid. Given the timelines of the proposed changes, perhaps more developers will start looking at district energy or other forms of energy production to provide to their communities in an attempt to avoid the frustrating processes currently in place.”

Lingering Questions “A concern shared by many in the industry comes back to affordability of new homes in the marketplace,” says Weatherston. One of those added building expenses involves a mandatory electric vehicle garage charger. “To rough in a 240V, which is the same sort of outlet as for an oven or dryer to a garage, is one thing. But to require installation of a charger—and the homeowner might not even have an electric car—is different,” McBurney notes. “There are still lots of questions.” Among those questions is whether the manpower will exist to support many of the Action Plan initiatives. “Building more efficient homes needs to take place, but it needs to be done in a manner that allows the industry time to understand how to build the homes and educate the trade force building them on the best practices,” says Weatherston. “A fundamental piece that the government needs to address is training and the declining trade base. We can inject large amounts of money into the housing market—new or retrofit—but if you do not have qualified Energy Advisors, certified technicians and trades to perform the work, we risk unintended consequences.” OHBA hopes to supply continuing input with respect to the rebate program for high-performance homes, as well as the building code changes en route to Net Zero small buildings by 2030, notes Stephen Hamilton, OHBA Manager of Government Relations. “That’s where most of the question marks remain, as we work through the traditional building code process while making sure there’s some flexibility in terms of how you meet those objectives,” says Hamilton. “It relies on very technical details to be ironed out in terms of how the building is constructed.” There is, however, a concession that home builders, like others around the globe, will have to bite the bullet, given the bigger picture. “Everybody and every sector in Canada—indeed, the world—is going to have to come to grips with the costs and changes required to mitigate climate change,” says EnerQuality’s McBurney. “I would never tell builders, ‘Hey, it won’t cost that much.’ Who am I to say that? Who is the government to draw that conclusion? There are real costs to doing things differently—in our case, building higher-performance homes—but the climate change train has left the station and we’re not going back. So now it’s a case of determining the best mix of policies, programs and regulations that are going to get us there.” Reid’s Weatherston accepts the challenge, but also cites cautionary ground moving forward. “I do get the sense that most progressive builders understand that as an industry we need to change and evolve,” she says. “We need to address the impact of climate change, to look at our building practices and find the cost-effective solutions that improve the quality of our homes. My concerns relate to builders that are reluctant to change and will take short cuts to meet code changes, or that we lack a trade force that is trained to address concerns early on and fix them. It would be great to build high-performance homes for all buyers; to give them the very best in comfort and efficiency. But there are a great deal of 36

ontario home builder Winter 2017

Opportunities for Renovators While builders will face some added expenses in construction costs as a result of the Climate Change Action Plan, the news is good for renovators. The Ontario government is providing $100 million for home energy audits and retrofits over three years through the Green Investment Fund—a $325-million down payment on Ontario’s cap and trade program to create jobs, strengthen the economy and fight climate change. Homeowners who heat their homes with natural gas, oil, propane and wood will be able to qualify for rebates through Union Gas and Enbridge Gas towards energy audits and home energy efficiency retrofits, such as replacing furnaces and water heaters and upgrading insulation that will conserve energy, reduce energy bills and cut greenhouse gas emissions. These enhanced home energy audits and retrofit programs are expected to reduce GHGs by 1.6 million tons over the lifespan of the renovations.

external factors that need to catch up and help the industry—i.e. financial institutions, appraisers and real estate. If the savings of buying these homes are not recognized, then we are just building homes that buyers cannot afford to buy, because the value is not being recognized by the other institutions to help the transition.” OHBA’s Hamilton also recognizes the importance of educating consumers and other stakeholders at a time when home prices continue to escalate. “I believe there are real opportunities in terms of consumer disclosure and transparency that will change the way homebuyers consider their housing choices,” Hamilton says. “There are 4.8 million existing homes built in Ontario in a period where there was little or no consideration about a home’s energy performance. A large percentage of these houses still have no insulation and poor performing old heating systems. In today’s market, many buyers may not be completely aware that their purchase decision could leave them with unaffordable monthly heating and electricity bills and a less comfortable home. Having a mandatory standardized rating system is a game-changer that equips homebuyers with the tools to make more informed decisions.” In the interim, the Province reminds residents and industry of the bigger picture. “Ontario introduced the Climate Change Action Plan because we know that we can’t afford to wait any longer to take action,” says Renwick. “But fighting climate change also presents a major economic opportunity. According to the U.S. State Department, expansion of the global green economy is forecast to be six times greater than the technology boom of the 1990s—which saw the growth of the internet, the first smartphones and other breakthroughs. And as researchers, entrepreneurs and start-ups rise to the challenge, Ontario will be well-positioned to export low-carbon goods and services to markets around the world.” OHB

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ontario home builder Winter 2017

omic OOK Economy settles in for marginal growth after a volatile 2016 by M i c h ael Ry VA L

As 2016 comes to a close, it’s apparent that it was not “business as normal,” but a year in which the Canadian economy was fraught with challenges, primarily in the form of weak commodity prices and fires that ravaged Fort McMurray, Alberta and the oil industry infrastructure. But 2017 is shaping up to be a better year, as commodity prices stabilize, interest rates remain low and buyer appetite for new housing holds steady, aided by high prices in the resale market. “2016 was very fragmented across Canada, with pretty much a bit of everything,” says Robert Hogue, Toronto-based senior economist at RBC Royal Bank. “British Columbia and Ontario have shown some pretty robust growth numbers. But, at the same time, you had provincial economies that continued to be in recession: Alberta, Saskatchewan and Newfoundland and Labrador. These oil-producing provinces are showing signs that they are continuing to contract. In between, we have provinces continuing to grow, albeit at a fairly modest rate—anywhere from 0.5% to 1.5%. It’s been a mixed bag.” “The year got off on the wrong foot with the oil price crashing and that brought the Canadian dollar down with it, too,” observes Royce Mendes, senior economist at Toronto-based CIBC Capital Markets. “Then we got the next knock with the Alberta wild fires. The first half of the year was much weaker than we would have expected. But we are getting back on track.” Mendes expects Canada will grow by 3.5% in the third quarter, but the annual growth rate for 2016 will still only be 1.2% due to the damage done in the first half of the year. For his part, Hogue expects that the national growth rate for 2016 will clock in fractionally higher—at 1.3%—only slightly better than 2015 when the economy grew at 1.1%. “But quarter-to-quarter performance was quite volatile. There was a fairly strong first quarter followed by a weak second quarter mainly due to the fires in Alberta,” echoes Hogue, who also expects third-quarter growth at around 3.5%, but 2% in the fourth quarter. Looking ahead, Hogue expects some improvement in 2017. “Certainly, knock on wood, we won’t have another Fort McMurray fire that will disrupt oil production,” Hogue says. “It will be ‘back to normal, plus.’ Because capacity has increased over the years, and not withstanding a decline in capital spending, it will put the overall Canadian economy back in a stronger position. I’m expecting a national growth rate of 1.8% in 2017. That’s slightly below potential growth. Nonetheless, it’s an improvement over 2016. And we do expect a more uniform growth pattern across the provinces.” Mendes, who also believes that Canada’s economy will accelerate over the next two years, maintains the pace has generally slowed since the 2008 global financial crisis. This is attributable to an aging demographic and a continuing transition of labour and capital moving away from commodityfocused regions towards industrialized provinces. “This has brought the potential growth rate lower. It’s likely that even next year we will not reach 2% growth, but probably about ontario home builder Winter 2017


Mendes, adding that, at a national level, the average ratio of 1.8% in 2017 and 1.9% the next year. But that’s enough to debt to disposable income is 165%. make progress on closing the output gap that has opened over One potential fly in the ointment was the interest rate hike the last few years.” by the Federal Reserve in December, as it looked to respond to Alberta and Saskatchewan will emerge from recession, Hogue an uptick in inflation and a strengthening U.S. economy. That forecasts. “Things will stabilize and confidence will improve a boosted the so-called overnight rate by one-quarter percentage bit. I’m expecting that B.C., whose housing market has been point to a range of 0.50 to 0.75%. And, said Fed Chair Janet very hot, will cool. And Ontario will lead all provinces with a Yellen, there are potentially three more rate hikes to come in 2.4% growth rate (in 2017). By past standards, that may look 2017. But the Bank of Canada is likely to stand pat until 2018, lacklustre. But by today’s standards, that’s pretty robust,” says “unless downside risks materialize,” says Mendes, adding that Hogue, who believes that the weak Canadian dollar (currently a decline in Canada’s growth rate could prompt a rate cut. U.S. $0.75) has restored the competitiveness for Canada’s “Our base case scenario is that the Bank of Canada holds rates industrial heartland that is heavily export-oriented. where they are.” Mendes argues that it will take some time for the rotation As for the home-building industry, Mendes acknowledges that out of commodities to take effect. One reason, he notes, is growth has been strong but he expects it will slow in coming that Canada is not alone in trying to benefit from a drop in its years. In 2015, Ontario saw 70,200 housing starts. Mendes currency. “We are competing with Mexico for a share of the anticipates 75,000 starts when all the U.S. import market. In fact, we have to numbers are crunched for 2016, but for compete against a bunch of countries,” 2017 to see a decline to 68,000 starts. says Mendes, noting that our dollar is “This year, we have seen increasing down about 13% against the U.S. dollar “British demand for housing, especially in the since the start of 2015, but the Mexican Greater Toronto Area (GTA). Home peso is down more than 20%. “The Columbia prices have risen at significant rates and weaker peso makes Mexican exports and Ontario demand has translated into acceleration attractive. So, it’s not as simple as in housing starts,” says Mendes. “But competing against U.S. manufacturers. have shown there will be some cooling in 2017. The We have to compete with a host of some pretty industry won’t see such a hot pace. And countries. This means the depreciation certainly the recent changes brought in in the loonie will take longer to have a robust growth by the federal government (including desired effect on the domestic economy.” tightening the rules regarding mortgage Given that the U.S. is our largest numbers. But, eligibility) will help to cool the market trading partner, how will it perform in at the same slightly,” 2017? Mendes predicts an accelerated RBC’s Hogue has a more conservative growth rate south of the border. “We are time, you had view of 2016, expecting 73,600 housing expecting a nice rebound over the next six provincial starts by year’s end. “One of the big to eight quarters. In 2016, we’re looking challenges in Southern Ontario is strong for 1.5% growth. Next year, we expect it economies that demand but not enough supply in the will accelerate to 2.1%. re-sale market,” Hogue says. “Builders are “Similar to Canada, the U.S. had a continued to be responding to very strong demand and bit of hiccup in the first half of 2016, in recession” have initiated a lot of new construction.” although for different reasons,” says Like Mendes, Hogue expects that in Mendes, adding that a weaker than 2017 Ontario’s housing starts will slip expected inventory build dragged the to 67,300, or about 8.5% lower than second quarter down. Continuing 2016. The weaker number is attributable to cooling in the resale strength in job creation, modest wage gains and low market and the completion of many condominium units in the unemployment are among the factors driving U.S. growth. coming year. “This will relieve some of the pressure to build more Mendes believes that 2016 will prove to have been a decent units,” says Hogue, adding that there should be similar increases year for Ontario, with a 2.5% growth rate. “The weak dollar is in completions in the single-family home market. helping Ontario’s exporters. Home-building and residential real The decline in housing starts is not merely a case of correcting estate activity has also helped,” says Mendes, who notes that the excesses. “There was a very forceful builder response to very sector accounted for 20% of Ontario’s growth in 2015. “Growth strong demand and a tight market. There was a clear need will be driven by positive trends in the employment market and for more units, and more are on the way,” says Hogue, noting inter-provincial migration.” that builders ramped up starts in 2016. “We will see more Looking ahead, however, Mendes anticipates the province’s completions flowing into the resale market, which should growth in 2017 to slow slightly to 2.2%, a bit lower than Hogue’s 2.4% prediction. “We expect slower residential activity. address this under-supply of units. But there will be less need Housing starts will decelerate a bit, as will consumer spending. to maintain this high level of construction. We expect home ownership demand to cool for a number of reasons, including Household debt relative to income is at elevated levels. There affordability, which has deteriorated in the GTA.” OHB is only so much support that the consumer can provide,” says 40

ontario home builder Winter 2017

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fter 2016’s record-setting sales and resale home prices, and an almost decade-high record for new housing starts, Ontario’s red-hot real estate market will begin to cool in 2017. Slow job growth, deteriorating affordability and fewer households being formed are among the influencing factors, not to mention new government rules that tighten criteria for borrowers of insured mortgages. But the news is not all negative. While home prices won’t increase at the same rate they have been, they aren’t expected to drop and will continue to grow marginally in many Ontario markets. Ted Tsiakopoulos, Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp. regional economist for Ontario, forecasts housing starts in the province will taper off over the next two years. “When we look ahead, we are obviously talking about moderation,” Tsiakopoulos cautions. Single-detached starts will slow in 2017 and drop further in 2018. But multi-unit starts should increase slightly next year. On the existing home front, independent housing analyst Will Dunning expects sales of resale homes and new houses to drop. He foresees a slight drop in low-rise new home starts and a jump in the number of GTA condo starts. Pricewise? In 2016, the average MLS price in Ontario was expected to range between $420,000 and $466,000. That range is expected to move slightly higher in 2017.

Affordability, possible trade issues will slow the market in 2017, but rentals and other opportunities lie in wait By Tracy Hanes

Factors affecting the market Ontario is Canada’s export leader and trade accounts for a significant portion of the province’s Gross Domestic Product. If the Canadian dollar climbs higher (making Ontario goods less attractive to our trade partners) and oil prices increase, the province’s growth may slow. And when the economy slows, that affects another factor influencing the housing market: job growth, says Tsiakopoulos. Job growth in Ontario is forecast to increase by a modest 1.2% in 2017 and 1.0% in 2018, Tsiakopoulos says, down from 1.3% in 2016 and down from an annual average of 1.7% during the pre-recession period (before 2008). Affordability is a third factor that could impact the market, says Tsiakopoulos. It’s eroding and, coupled with the new mortgage rules, that’s going to affect first-time buyers’ ability to afford a home. Fewer households are also being formed. The annual household formation count in Ontario has averaged 67,000 households a year in the past three census periods (2001 to 2011). CMHC estimates that an average of 65,000 households a year have formed from 2011 to 2016. “The reason (for fewer households) is that the economy is not generating as many jobs,” says Tsiakopoulos. “People are putting off the decision to start a household and the gap between housing starts and formation has widened. Housing starts need to gravitate closer to household formation numbers.” Invariably, many young adults who are potential first-time buyers are opting to continue living with parents or sharing accommodation with others. ontario home builder Winter 2017


New mortgage rules The federal government’s new rules governing insured mortgage lending will also make it more difficult for first-time buyers to get into the housing market. Don Campbell, senior economist for the Real Estate Investment Network, gives this example of a family with a household income of $100,000 and a down payment of $40,000. Under the old rules, they’d have qualified to buy a $665,000 home. Now, they can qualify to buy one worth $505,000—in a market where prices are accelerating. “People will stay renters for much longer,” says Campbell. “It will put the brakes on some people moving into the market.” The rules have created a financial dam, explains Campbell, with a huge cohort of millennials (27% of the national population) who were getting close to homeownership now behind that dam. “The new rules are just moving the upward pressure a couple of years down the road, and it’s a big problem,” says Campbell. “They haven’t changed basic human nature— these people will eventually have to have a house.” “My gut and analysis tells me that the mortgage-change rules will have a bigger and more serious impact than most people are expecting,” says Dunning. “The common view is that market activity will be reduced by 8%, and that’s bearable and not bad in a hot market, but the risk is that there could be spinoffs that cause damage.” Dunning says the substantial condo investment sector in the GTA could be the big story. “It likely will be reduced. There is a lot of housing under construction and we will continue to see new rental condos for a while (those condos bought by investors for the purpose of renting out). But by 2019, it will fall off and it’s going to be harder to get financing. If the market is negatively affected, investors will be more cautious about buying something. “The changes in mortgage insurance rules are not friendly for buyers of individual units,” Dunning adds, “whether they are investors or homeowners.” Tsiakopoulos says as the policy is new, it’s difficult to evaluate its impact on the housing market. Buyers who don’t pass the new stress test could come up with a higher down payment by borrowing from alternative sources, such as family, settle for lower-priced homes or delay buying altogether. “It may not be a bad thing, though,” Tsiakopoulos says. “It’s to ensure Canadians don’t bite off more than they can chew and are making rational decisions.”

meaning house prices remain higher than the level of personal disposable income, population growth and other fundamentals would support. This overvaluation, coupled with evidence of overbuilding in some centres, means that growth in house prices will slow, while housing starts are expected to moderate in 2017 and 2018.” CMHC identified Hamilton and Toronto as two markets with strong evidence of problematic conditions and overvaluation, and price acceleration is spreading to neighbouring communities. Dunning says overbuilding is not a problem in Toronto, however. In fact, it’s the opposite problem. The GTA will continue to suffer from lack of supply, and inventory as of early November 2016 was less than 2,000 units, according to Dunning, with provincial policies limiting the supply of serviced land for development. “The Toronto area has a longstanding problem with not enough housing supply and not everyone has been able to buy,” Dunning says. “We need to build a lot of housing—100,000 units more than we actually have today—and the demand is continuing to grow.” Immigration continues to be a key driver of that increasing Ontario population and accompanying demand. About 300,000 immigrants arrived in Canada in 2016, with most settling in Ontario—mainly in the Toronto area. According to CMHC’s fourth quarter Housing Market Outlook report, net migration to Ontario will rise to more than 118,600 people by 2018, up from 96,000 in 2015. CMHC’s Toronto area analyst Dana Senagama points out that Toronto is a two-tiered market (detached and condos) and there is a supply issue. She says the slowdown is going to take longer in Toronto. “Prices will still be high, but the rate of growth will slow in 2017 and 2018.” Tsiakopoulos agrees there will be a dampening of sales activity, but prices won’t decline. The only way that would happen is the evolution of a buyers’ market happens, and that doesn’t appear likely for some time. Based on the level of sales and listings in Ontario in the third quarter of 2016, “you would need a 50% correction in sales, and that would need a significant trigger, such as a financial shock or economic downturn along with a shock to interest rates,” says Tsiakopoulos. “I think interest rates will stay stable, though. The cost of funding will increase for some lenders, but interest rates will likely remain at their current levels.”

Warning signs In late October, CMHC issued its first-ever red warning for the Canadian housing market. “We now see strong evidence of problematic conditions overall nationally,” advised Bob Dugan, CMHC chief economist. “This is fuelled by overvaluation,

Geography By 2018, the GTA market will start cooling off more than other parts of the province, suggests Tsiakopoulos. “You will see communities bordering the GTA holding up better.” Tsiakopoulos believes Hamilton will continue to be a hot

“The Toronto area has a longstanding problem with not enough housing supply and not everyone has been able to buy.”

4 4

ontario home builder Winter 2017

Ontario Region Housing Forecast

Housing-Starts 2015 2016(F) 2017(F) 2018(F) (L) (H) (L) (H) (L) (H) Single-Detached 695 550 600 700 800 750 900 Barrie Multiples 321 900 1,000 650 750 500 750 Starts-Total 1,016 1,450 1,600 1,350 1,550 1,250 1,650

New Construction

Single-Detached 265 230 280 220 275 190 265 Brantford Multiples 524 135 165 150 205 160 245 Starts - Total 789 365 445 370 480 350 510

The forecasts (F) included in this document are based on information available as of Sept. 30, 2016. (L)=Low end of range. (H)=High end of range.

Single-Detached 152 150 170 135 175 120 180 Greater Multiples 95 105 115 130 150 150 170 Sudbury Starts - Total 247 255 285 265 325 270 350

It is possible that the low end (L) and the high end (H) of forecast ranges for residential housing starts for singles and multiples jointly may not add up to the total. This is caused by rounding as well as the volatility of the data.

Single-Detached 275 200 250 250 270 250 300 Kingston Multiples 380 380 400 460 510 470 515 Starts - Total 655 580 650 710 780 720 815

Source: CMHC (Starts and Completions Survey and Market Absorption Survey). CMHC Forecast (2016-2018).

Single-Detached 343 225 275 250 350 225 375 Guelph Multiples 798 775 825 650 750 625 775 Starts - Total 1,141 1,000 1,100 900 1,100 850 1,150 Single-Detached 1,122 920 1,000 885 1,020 880 1,050 Hamilton Multiples 932 1,780 2,000 1,515 1,880 1,620 2,050 Starts - Total 2,054 2,700 3,000 2,400 2,900 2,500 3,100

Single-Detached 995 1,150 1,250 1,000 1,200 850 1,150 Kitchener Multiples 2,217 1,850 2,050 1,650 1,950 1,550 1,950 Cambridge Starts - Total 3,212 3,000 3,300 2,650 3,150 2,400 3,100 Single-Detached 1,046 1,300 1,400 1,250 1,450 1,100 1,350 London Multiples 1,058 1,300 1,450 1,100 1,400 1,000 1,400 Starts - Total 2,104 2,600 2,900 2,300 2,800 2,050 2,700 Single-Detached 1,418 1,200 1,300 1,300 1,600 1,150 1,500 Oshawa Multiples 1,169 1,300 1,450 1,150 1,400 1,000 1,250 Starts - Total 2,587 2,500 2,750 2,500 2,800 2,250 2,600 Single-Detached 296 235 280 210 265 210 280 Peterborough Multiples 69 160 185 170 200 150 190 Starts - Total 365 395 465 380 465 360 470 Single-Detached 1,002 1,300 1,400 1,200 1,400 1,100 1,300 St. Catharines Multiples 735 500 600 500 600 400 600 Niagara Starts - Total 1,737 1,800 2,000 1,700 2,000 1,500 1,900 Single-Detached 164 150 160 140 160 125 165 Thunder Bay Multiples 78 55 65 70 90 55 85 Starts - Total 242 210 220 220 240 200 230 Toronto

Single-Detached 10,223 11,000 11,500 8,500 9,500 6,000 7,000 Multiples 32,064 30,000 32,500 29,500 33,000 29,000 35,500 Starts - Total 42,287 41,000 44,000 38,000 43,000 36,000 42,000

Single-Detached 709 850 925 750 900 650 900 Windsor Multiples 301 375 475 300 450 250 500 Starts - Total 1,010 1,250 1,400 1,100 1,400 900 1,400

45 ontario home builder Winter 2017 ontario home builder Winter 2017


Forecast Summary Ontario 2013 2014 2015 2016(F) 2017(F) 2018(F) (L) (H) (L) (H) (L) (H) New Home Market Starts Single-Detached 23,270 23,691 24,953 27,500 29,300 19,800 23,700 13,900 18,100 Multiples 37,815 35,443 45,203 44,000 46,500 43,500 48,000 46,000 51,000 Starts — Total 61,085 59,134 70,156 72,300 74,200 64,900 69,800 60,800 69,000 Resale Market MLS® Sales 196,394 204,189 223,794 234,000 243,000 214,200 235,400 208,000 233,000 MLS® Average Price ($) 403,788 432,079 465,551 515,300 526,200 540,500 564,900 548,400 586,200 Economic Overview Mortgage Rate (5-year) (%) 5.24 4.88 4.67 4.50 4.90 4.40 5.20 4.50 5.70 2013 2014 2015 2016(F) Rental Market October Vacancy Rate (%) 2.4 2.1 2.3 2.3 Two-bedroom Average Rent (October) ($) 1,088 1,116 1,151 1,180 Economic Overview Population 13,603,613 13,730,137 13,850,090 13,957,130 Annual Employment Level 6,823,400 6,877,900 6,923,200 7,012,500 Net Migration 89,878 76,156 95,699 139,386 Average Weekly Earnings ($) 895 907 938 963

2017(F) 2.3 1,207 14,125,070 7,095,100 116,000 982

2018(F) 2.2 1,234 14,274,224 7,164,900 118,600 1,003

Multiple Listing Service (MLS) is a registered trademark of the Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA).

available as of 30th September 2016. (L)=Low end of Range.(H)=High end of range.

Rental Market: Corresponds to universe of privately initiated rental apartment structures of three units and over. Historical and forecast values are an aggregate roll-up of the Census Metropolitan Area (CMA) historical data and forecasts from each province.

It is possible that the low end (L) and the high end (H) of forecast ranges for residential housing starts for singles and multiples jointly may not add up

The forecasts (F) included in this document are based on information

market along with Kitchener-Waterloo, as those areas are attracting buyers who have been priced out of the GTA market. St. Catharines and Niagara will continue to outperform, and Guelph is one is of the hottest up-and-coming markets, he notes. Eastern and northern Ontario, meanwhile, “will be the middle of the pack.” Don Campbell, a founder and senior analyst for the Real Estate Investment Network, sees areas outside the GTA that have attractive lifestyles as doing well. Brantford (between the hot markets of Hamilton and the Kitchener-WaterlooCambridge technology triangle), Barrie and Orillia (where Hydro One has acquired Orillia Power Distribution Corp. and will construct new facilities) are good bets. And the extension of Highway 407 has been “a game-changer” for Durham Region, Campbell says, since it reduces commuting times to Toronto and other areas of the GTA. 46

ontario home builder Winter 2017

to the total. This is caused by rounding as well as the volatility of the data. Source: CMHC (Starts and Completions Survey and Market Absorption Survey). Statistics Canada. CREA(MLS®). CMHC Forecast (2016-2018).

Opportunities While factors such as new mortgage rules and housing supply issues may be putting a damper on the new housing market, there’s still opportunity. The three Rs that were solid performers in 2016—resale, renovation and rental—continue to offer promise in 2017, along with an M, for mortgage lending. Tsiakopoulos expects the resale market to hold up well in 2017, given that new housing starts are easing and resale homes are more affordable. Renovation spending will continue to grow. In 2015, it was a $25-billion industry in the province, and CMHC expects reno spending to advance to between $25 billion and $27 billion in each of the next two years. Renovations will be especially popular among homeowners in the 55- to 64-year-old age bracket, he says. “They are not in a position to downsize yet and most want to age in place,” Tsiakopoulos says. “They are not as mobile as they

But many in this 19- to 34-year-old age group aren’t in any rush to buy a home, due to affordability and lifestyle factors. And their priorities and values are much different than their elders’. While their parents, many of them immigrants who came to Canada seeking a better life, believed that hard work, endurance and getting ahead was important, their kids have a different mindset, says James McKellar, professor of real estate and infrastructure at the Schulich School of Business at York University. Many millennials are well educated and will enjoy good employment prospects and they’ll gravitate to Toronto or other large urban centres where the majority of knowledge-based jobs are. They value being able to work and play close to where they live and realize they will likely change jobs several times during their working life. “Millennials are very shrewd and want to be where the jobs are and don’t want to have to change their lifestyle or their residence if they change jobs,” says McKellar. “They realize upward mobility or success often comes with changing jobs quite often.” The car holds little fascination for this group, who would rather use public transit than deal with traffic congestion. And they are well attuned to the shared economy (where services such as Uber have become popular), says McKellar. They don’t see a need to own a car and they don’t want the expense. That’s why urban locations or close to transit lines are their resounding choice. And they’ll gravitate towards condos or rentals because of affordability, walkability and the proximity to transit. “Location is a prime issue,” says McKellar. “They want to walk to work or be on a subway line. They are looking for a situation where they

work until 6, have dinner and can go back to work (if need be).” That’s why most will choose to buy a downtown condo or rent an apartment—at least once they move out from under mom and dad’s roof. According to Don Campbell, senior analyst for the Rein Estate Investment Network, 52% of people aged 20 to 29 in Canada are still living at home with their parents. Young single women are more inclined to move into a place of their own than young men, says McKellar, and they like downtown condo living for proximity to their jobs and friends and the safety a building with security offers. Urban neighbourhoods are also popular because millennials value face-to-face contact—that’s why coffee shops have become so popular. They also value experiences such as shopping at local markets, says McKellar. But will they eventually give up their downtown lives for low-rise living in the suburbs? McKellar cautions about assuming that most millennials, like their predecessors, will couple up and have children. “There is no evidence all of them will have kids and the reverse is likely true. They may have a child, but the divorce rate is high and you have a lot of single parents. It’s a whole different ball game.” If they are going to buy property outside of the urban centre, it will be on a transit line, in places such as Vaughan (where a new subway link will open soon), or Kitchener or Guelph, where GO service will be extended, says Campbell, or in Durham Region, where the 407 extension has made commuting easier. But millennials will stay renters much longer than the previous generation, says Campbell, and the new mortgage rules will further delay any buying plans they have. Many will stay in the city. McKellar says condos are still relatively affordable and in good supply (the

average Toronto area condo price was $415,643 in September 2016, according to Toronto Real Estate Board stats). “Once you live downtown, the appeal of going out to the grassy fields is no longer there,” says McKellar. “It’s an ‘alienation’ lifestyle to them. Where do you walk, where do you bike? They are not going to add 18 kilometres to their commute to have a house with a lawn. If they buy a low-rise house, it will be downtown, where they are creating the demand in old city neighbourhoods.” Many millennials will remain renters. McKellar notes the resurgence of new purposebuilt rental buildings, many offering the same type of amenities as condominiums. And those sorts of attributes are critical, says Campbell, as millennials have far more discriminating tastes than their parents. They want a high standard of finishes, nice amenities and high-speed internet and wireless networks. Millennials make their spending decisions based on what they see online or through social media and their use of YouTube, Instagram, Twitter and Snapchat is growing. These types of millennials are what McKellar calls the “haves”. There is a divide between those who are well educated and those who are not, who tend to fill low-paying service jobs. “The unfortunate part of the story is that people without education struggle in this new environment and can’t afford to live downtown,” he says. “They live further away where rents are more affordable, buy an old car and have long commutes. If the city and province don’t wake up to this fact, we’re not going to have a city. “We have to find ways to house the people we depend on,” McKellar observes. “There’s a growing disparity and it’s going to be hard to find good workers.” —Tracy Hanes

ontario home builder Winter 2017


Toronto Indicators

2016 2017 forecast forecast

Job Growth (Toronto CMA)



Resales (units)



Ch. in Avg. Resale Price



GTA New Home Sales

Low-Rise 17,300 16,700

High-Rise 23,900 17,800

Total 41,200 34,500

Housing Starts (Toronto CMA)

Low-Rise Ownership



Condo Apartment



Rentals 3,250 2,500 Total 37,900 40,600

Apartment Vacancy Rate


Source: forecasts by Will Dunning Inc. (Oct 22/16)


ontario home builder Winter 2017


were and are looking to make changes to make their homes more user-friendly. They have a lot of equity, and are not as sensitive to changing interest rates, and are not carrying the same kind of debt as younger households.” Many prefer to renovate their current home to suit their needs, rather than pay a realtor, legal fees and land transfer taxes to purchase a different home, he says. According to historical data, more than 80% of homeowners 55 or older choose to age in place. Hot Reno and Rental Markets According to CMHC’s Renovation Report of September 2016, southwestern Ontario (areas such as Windsor) will have the biggest potential for renovation spending, while the GTA, where there will be modest job growth, lesser affordability and a younger population than the provincial median age, will have the least potential. Rental demand will also continue to grow, predicts Tsiakopoulos, particularly among 25- to 44-year-olds, who will find it increasingly challenging to buy a home. “This bodes well for new investment in that sector, as the pool of potential renters is growing and there is not the same stigma about renting that there used to be a generation ago,” he says. Opportunity exists both in new condo units offered as rentals by small investor buyers as well as new purpose-built rental apartment buildings. There were more than 6,000 rental housing starts in 2016, a level that hadn’t been seen the 1990s, says Tsiakopoulos. “We are seeing organizations that haven’t been in that space historically, such as pension funds and institutions, partnering with builders.” Immigration is also driving the rental market, as twothirds of all immigrants coming to Canada—including international students—move into rental immediately. But the vacancy rate is low and will continue to trend downward, says Tsiakopoulos. “Ownership affordability is being stretched and people have to live somewhere.” But the new government mortgage rules and affordability challenge might actually present another opportunity for builders: as lenders. “Baby boomers have a lot of capital and are looking for alternative investments, such as secured lending or mortgages,” says Campbell, who believes builders could consider offering second mortgages with small payments to buyers who have a down payment, but no longer qualify under the new rules to buy the home they wanted.” There’s little doubt that new home builders will feel the pain as sales slow in 2017 and housing supply continues to be a problem. But there is still ample opportunity in the three Rs or for builders willing to be creative. That could mean getting into the financing business, as Campbell suggests, or offering lower-priced products to firsttime buyers who now qualify for smaller mortgages. “People will start scrambling over the dam,” says Campbell. “There will be pent-up demand and builders have to start thinking about how to attract millennials. They want nice finishes, they want fibre optics and they are going to want to grow food on their deck or balcony.” OHB

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ontario home builder Winter 2017




Who decides what next year’s hottest colours will be, and how, pray tell, did they come up with them in the first place? By J o n at h a n o k e

49% - neutrals (includes whites/off-whites)

CIL’s Colour of the Year is a subtle, serene purple called Antique Violet, a sophisticated and muted midtone shade of purple that leans heavily towards blue-grey.

1% - violets 2% - reds 4% - oranges 6% - yellows

20% - greens

18% - blues

PPG North American Paint sales since Jan. 1, 2015 50

ontario home builder Winter 2017


here are 50 shades of grey, and then some, in the colourful world of paint companies, each sounding infinitely more engaging and alluring than the movie was. They have names like Stone Harbour, Morning Shale, Cumulous Cloud, Down Pipe, Magnetic Grey, Distant Thunder and Anonymous. Who wouldn’t want the warm, inviting tones of CIL’s Sutton Place or Behr’s Evening Hush coating their bedroom walls? Such calming hues never go out of style. Beige will always be the new black. Neutrals (which include white and off-white) dominated last year in Canadian residential paint sales, as they always do, accounting for just under half of all sales for PPG, the umbrella company for the PPG brand itself, as well as Canadian companies CIL, Dulux and Sico. (In 2013, neutrals accounted for 65% of CIL’s Canadian sales.) But some home decorating colours do trend from year to year, their inspiration derived from such diverse industries as automobile manufacturing and fashion. In identifying those hot hues, virtually every paint company annually designates a Colour of the Year—something to pique interest and hopefully drive new sales. Sometimes those tones are vibrant. Sometimes not. Last year Benjamin Moore selected “Simply White.” According to physics, a colour is visible light with a specific wavelength, so since white does not have specific wavelength, Benjamin Moore’s Colour of the Year technically wasn’t even a colour. But it was popular. And let’s not get technical. After all, these companies take their predictions very seriously—none more so than PPG. The company contracts an estimated 25 experts in varying industries worldwide—including aerospace, automotive, industrial, consumer electronics and architectural businesses— to help it identify upcoming colour trends for homes, not to

mention electronic devices and automobiles. “What’s really interesting is that the automotive industry works five years in advance, so that gives us a peek into what’s coming a long way from now,” explains PPG Architectural Coatings Colour Marketing Manager Misty Yeomans. “Then we fold in our key learnings from the various other segments of our business, research and colour data. These automotive colours won’t necessarily end up on your walls, but it does give us an idea of where consumer preference is going in relation to colour, from interiors and exteriors to cell phones.” PPG’s annual forecast meeting gathers its international contributors for a three-day information-sharing workshop. “We look at demographics, lifestyle/interests, societal influencers, fashion runways, textiles markets, as well as what’s coming in home decor, tile, granite and wood,” notes Yeomans, whose company, like many, offers yearly trend reports by commercial segment, including new home construction. “For example, 2017 colour trends reflect blending, as opposed to traditional ways of living and seeing things. Boundaries are falling down between male and female stereotypes, young and old, interior and exterior. The boundary between inside and outside with nature is blurring. This translates into blended colours—colours that have more than one colour in them, like our 2017 Colour of the Year,

Colours of Your Love:

PPG Paint’s Colours the Year 2012

Earl Grey (a rich, muddy taupe)


Caribbean Holiday (a seawater blue)


Turning Oakleaf (a buttery yellow)


Blue Paisley (an energetic, bohemian blue)


Paradise Found (an aloe green)


Violet Verbena (a greyed off-violet)

ontario home builder Winter 2017


Violet Verbena, which blends grey and violet with a bit of blue.” How quickly do these trends shift? Last year, violet tones represented a mere 1% of PPG paint sales. For its part, Sherwin-Williams’ Global Forecast Group is made up of seven colour specialists representing multiple countries and disciplines, including experts in architectural paint, product finishes and colour marketing. Their selection for 2017 also makes life easy for home decorators. “While travelling to design and industry shows throughout 2016, we noticed—over and over again—design and accessory manufacturers, as well as furniture and home decor companies, were featuring warm neutrals for the first time in years,” says Sue Wadden, Director of Colour Marketing for Sherwin Williams. “Taupe was a thread that tied many shows together, so we decided that Poised Taupe was the colour we wanted to focus our attention on in 2017.“ While Sico is on board with its parent company’s purple theme—selecting Mozart (a blue-grey violet tone) as the brand’s 2017 Colour of the Year—the Canadian company sees some cracks forming in the traditional play-it-safe approach to home paint. “Next year’s colour palette is more complex than we’ve seen in the last few years, with a mix of both charged and subdued tones, building on consumers’ growing willingness to try new things,” suggests Sico brand manager Geneviève Paiement. “Energetic brights sit next to muted midtones; classic reds and blues bump into mixed blue-greens and green-yellows; and

Playing it Safe Canadians prefer neutral colours for home decor, according to a survey of more than 1,500 consumers coast to coast by CIL. According to the survey results, which were announced in late July, 51% of Canadians equate white, grey and beige with a beautiful and livable colour palette for the home, while 36% think pastel colours such as yellow, blue or green are the better choice. Only 13% of respondents put rich colours such as red, black or purple in this category. Tastes appear to be a little bolder in Ontario, however, with 47% favouring neutrals and 40% preferring pastels, according to Alison Goldman, brand manager for CIL paint. “It’s no secret that in spite of more saturated colours trending in home decor, people still prefer to play it safe with neutrals,” Goldman explained. “What was most eye-opening about this study, however, is the growth in acceptance of pastel tones as a beautiful choice for home decor.” Goldman said that CIL paint is seeing the same pattern in consumers’ buying habits in store. She cited the brand’s top-selling paints over the last six months as neutrals Marshmallow White, Scroll Beige and Pebble Grey, as well as pastels Candlelight Yellow and Clear Blue Sky.

clean colours join greyed ones.” Even the old colour standbys are getting a constant makeover, says PPG’s Yeomans. “Black and white are always part of our trend forecasts, but it’s not always the same whites and blacks. Now it’s more of the cleaner and greyer whites over a yellow-based white, and blacks are truer blacks and grey blacks versus colour blacks. And farmhouse colours are very popular now. You never need to worry about colours found in nature going out of fashion—they’re perennial favourites.” Linda Mazur of Linda Mazur Design Group in Newmarket sees clients’ increasing focus on the environment reflected in their furniture and home decor finishes and accessories. “Warm wood, metal, clay and marble are strongly prevalent in design, offering an organic influence to our spaces,” Mazur says. “Soft neutrals and botanicals complement this direction and are highlighting our desire to bring the outdoors in.” Jane Lockhart, principal with Jane Lockhart Interior Design and one of Canada’s leading experts in the world of design and colour, similarly sees the industry moving to “more naturallooking wood materials for exteriors to complement modern design. And darker cabinetry, or at least the addition of black mixed in—not pure black cabinets.” Even garage doors are trending in that direction, notes Travis Reynolds of SteelCraft Door Products Ltd. “We have experienced a transition in demand for nontraditional colours,” Reynolds says. “Over the past couple of years, colours in garage doors have been moving towards more



Shadow, Benjamin Moore’s 2017 Colour of the Year, is a collection of bold, saturated tones that brings spaces to life, illuminating a home with pure, extraordinary colour.

Down-to-earth hues from CIL this year add depth to open spaces and coziness to smaller rooms. Pictured here is Stone Harbor Greige, a beachy driftwood neutral that promotes a sense of tranquility.


ontario home builder Winter 2017

Innovation Corner

DULUX EFFECT FINISHES Developed using innovative technology that enables users to infuse walls with visual depth and sophistication to match their personal taste, Dulux’s new Venetian Silk is part of a new line called Dulux Effect Finishes that’s geared towards paint professionals, designers and doit-yourselfers alike. The paint produces a sensuous, silky, layered effect of Venetian plaster, yet is easy to apply and smooth to the touch. Available in 40 light-animating colours, it creates a distinctive multi-toned and luminous finish that adds great depth to walls. Applied in two steps, Dulux Venetian Silk products require a coat of specially selected base colour to be painted before two thin topcoats of Dulux Venetian Silk paint are applied creatively, in different directions, using an applicator or plastic trowel. Another eye-catching part of the new line is Dulux Liquid Metal, which, along with a required base coat, adds a lustrous shimmer to walls, trim and furniture. Available in 32 light-reflecting colours infused with gold, silver, copper or bronze undertones, the finish takes on a smooth or mottled look depending on the application tool used. or



Calling it one of the most significant technological breakthroughs in its nearly 150-year history, Sherwin-Williams’ Paint Shield doesn’t just inhibit the growth of common microbes, it actually has the power to kill infectious bacteria, including Staph (Staphylococcus aureus), MRSA and E. coli. While that will appeal significantly to healthcare facilities, its bacteria prevention characteristics will also be attractive to home builders entering the nursing home business. Paint Shield EPA-test protocol showed that once it is applied, its effectiveness lasts up to four years, as long as the integrity of the surface is maintained.

Sherwin-Williams’ new SnapDry is a new waterbased door and trim paint that dries in just one hour, enabling you to close doors and windows sooner after a job, without worrying about sticking. The hardworking, water-based formula cleans up easily and is also extremely durable, ensuring that the colour and finish last. Formulated for brush, roller or spray application, this interior and exterior acrylic latex paint is resistant to dirt, fingerprints, UV rays and weathering. It is available in semi-gloss and a wide variety of colours.

Dulux’s Venetian Silk line, such as Jetsetter, an adaptable teal blue energized with a satiny-blue topping, play with light to add personality to a room.



Cosmic-like purples such as Starry Sky, Dulux Paints’ Colour of the Year, possess a chameleonlike effect, appearing greyer when partnered with dark neutrals and bluish next to white.

PPG Paints’ Colour of the Year is a soft, muted purple with grey-blue undertones called Violet Verbena.


ontario home builder Winter 2017

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woodgrain and contemporary options. Our Deep Matte Charcoal, Walnut and Cedar colours have experienced a sharp increase. And we see this trend continuing in 2017.”

The Look and Feel of 2017 “Another great trend this year will be texture,” advises Mazur. “Be it great lush fabrics like velvets and natural linens or rough-hewn barn board, faux furs and metals. Rich jewel tones are still trending, but are now warmer and more muted, adding a richness and luxury to our designs. As popular as the deep, rich muted tones are, we are also seeing softer, more romantic palettes that add a hint of colour to an easy neutral environment. I’m particularly fond of Benjamin Moore’s Colour of the Year selection of Shadow 2117-30, a rich royal amethyst colour that is adaptable to many environments and design styles.” Lockhart also sees jewel tones in a big way for her 2017 collection—some of her inspiration derived from recent travels. “The most striking, memorable site has been modern furniture in jewel tones juxtaposed against crumbling, centuries-old brick walls,” Lockhart wrote from southern Spain. We can consequently expect jewel-toned colours (rich reds, deep greens, golden yellows) to frequent Lockhart’s collections of furniture and client work in the coming year. As for Mazur, “This year ahead is not about perfect, shiny finishes,” she stresses. “In fact, it’s quite the opposite. Warm matte black—including in kitchens—continues its popularity, beautiful polished concrete that exudes texture and warmth is notable, and great coloured metals are being seen in an abundance of applications. You’ll be seeing a lot of colours this coming year that are inspired by metallics.” Lockhart concurs. “We’re going to see a lot more gold in antique matte finishes. Pinks mixed with gold will reflect a more feminine side in decor. Rose is back in a big way and we’re seeing the ’80s returning with matte gold finishes instead of polished brass. Sparkle will still have its place, but mixed metal tones will be everywhere. My personal colour prediction is that we’ll see a deep, indigo blue become a new neutral. You can add lots of colour and metallic accessories to this denim-like blue, and it’s easy to live with.” Sherwin-Williams’ Wadden echoes the sentiment. “While the

typical models of faux finishing have been trending down over the last several years, we do see continued interest in metallic finishes,” Wadden says. “More important, it seems that consumers are looking for high-end paint products that deliver technology and innovation. For instance, our Paint Shield product is a revolutionary coating (that actually has the power to kill infectious bacteria). Another product that I love is our Snap Dry, a quick-dry, high-quality paint recommended for front doors (see sidebar). Mazur agrees that colour isn’t everything for buyers. “People are generally looking for a durable paint that is washable, able to withstand sticky fingers and the hardships of day-to-day living. As a designer, I prefer matte finishes for the paints I use, as I find it can absorb light beautifully without causing any reflectiveness. Environmental concerns and sustainability also continue their importance, with people seeking out VOC-free or low-VOC paints in their homes.”

Predicting the Future If you’re trying to guess where colour preferences are going to go, but lack an international team of experts, just look to the economy, suggests Lockhart. “It is a great predictor of both style and colour,” she says. “It comes from people’s perception of their own economic condition. Are they feeling wealthy or not? Depending on that collective perception, spending increases to support that positive attitude, often through purchasing home and decor items. Colour is an aspect of that. But it’s also affected by a consumer’s age. As millennials continue to have more influence in the market, we’ll see more colour because they embrace it, while older generations generally prefer a more relaxed, muted palette. We’re seeing younger baby boomers looking to stay relevant and hip and they want the freedom to have colour in their homes, and are no longer worried about what will help sell a home.” And what’s with those crazy paint names? “That task usually falls on the marketing teams who are trying to create an image for a colour,” Lockhart explains. “Like ‘Picket Fence.’ It’s one of the main reasons people buy certain paint colours—because it conjures up the image they want to identify with.” Which means Canadians probably won’t be seeing a Benjamin-Moore Trump Orange anytime soon. OHB



A combination of warm brown and cool grey, Sherwin-Williams’ Colour of the Year is Poised Taupe, a beautifully balanced neutral inspired by organic materials, weathered and worn finishes.

Sico’s Colour of the Year, the rich, calming Mozart purple, is versatile enough to infuse a living area with a luxurious feel or a bedroom with a soothing vibe.


ontario home builder Winter 2017

ontario home builder Winter 2017


Be ready for 2017 building code changes. In 2017, the Ontario Building Code (OBC) will be increasing required energy performance above the current OBC for residential and commercial buildings. The Enbridge Gas Distribution Savings by Design Program can help. Through its structured approach to enhance design, you can achieve higher levels of energy and environmental performance – for a low carbon future. Plus, you could qualify for financial incentives.

To learn more or to apply, visit 58

ontario home builder Winter 2017

Is Anybody Home? When customers visit Ontario home builder web addresses, most companies don’t answer the door. By Mary Rob e rtson

ontario home builder Winter 2017



6 = 4 = 6 = 4 = 1 = 1 = 30 =

Method of response Email

1 hr 1– 3 hr

4– 24 hr

= 21 Phone



So you’ve spent all this time and money on a lovely website— pretty pictures and piles of information about your latest developments, perhaps even a video or two. And you’re understandably mighty proud of the quality of the new community or condominium project you’re currently marketing. Your work has paid off with thousands of online search hits and dozens of inquiries to your website. And those questions from potential customers are being swiftly met with all the pertinent details they require. Or are they? Do you really know how efficient or effective your responses are to online inquiries? Would you be surprised to find out that some builders take days or even weeks to get back to that curious customer whose family is relocating? And what if more than half never replied at all? We conducted a survey of 51 OHBA member companies, running the gamut from small single-family custom builders to production builders and condominium developers, where I posed as a mystery shopper seeking to relocate along with my husband. Just 22 builders actually responded—via email or phone call—to my website contact page inquiry. A handful of those non-replies included automated responses promising to get back to me shortly, but were never followed up. A few contact pages were finicky or not working at all, or required repeated attempts. Depending on the site, I provided something as simple as a name and email address to more extensive personal info, including asking builders what properties might they have 60

ontario home builder Winter 2017

available with a 6- to 12-month window for closing. Once satisfied that a company had responded with the appropriate material, I severed ties verbally or through an email that my moving plans had been put on hold. The conclusion? Although many companies might be good at tracking Facebook and Twitter posts, there are clearly many not tending to their websites. While most builders left me languishing, though, some were outstanding in the speed, personal care and wealth of information in their replies. The winners and standouts? Legacy Fine Homes in Kingston responded with a personal call five minutes after I pressed “submit”. They were courteous, asking for price range, square footage and style, and promptly followed up by emailing details. GTA-based Serenity Homes also hit the five-minute mark with their email follow-up. Trinistar in Vaughan, which specializes in commercial, industrial, retail and office space, was just 60 seconds behind, clocking in at six minutes. Welland-based Lucchetta Homes emailed back a mere 12 minutes after being contacted, and followed up later with links to two suitable homes that were closing within a year. Guelphbased Timberworx Custom Homes took just 13 minutes for their emailed reply, although in one of their follow-ups the agent asked whether resale was an option. Graystone Development Group in London was another to email within the hour. But sometimes it’s just the sheer quality of the response that leaves a lasting impression. Although Hamilton’s Multi-Area

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2016-12-06 1:18 PM ontario home builder Winter 2017 61


Publication: OHB Magazine

Agency: ON Communication Inc

32% of responding builders whose follow-up did not address the original inquiry Developments’ website promised a response within 24 hours and they actually responded two-and-a-half days after my electronic inquiry, their customer care was exemplary. While other builders suggested I visit a sales centre, I received a personalized email from Multi-Area with an invitation to “show me in person” a home that fit my timeline and budget. I loved the personal attention and it would have gone a long way to closing the deal had I actually been in the market. It’s nice to feel wanted, after all. In fact, in many cases, it’s almost demanded. According to a study by customer experience management company Satmetrix, when trying to connect to businesses through online tools, 47% of customers expect a response within 24 hours of initial contact. Sixteen of the 22 builders (73%) that responded managed to actually beat that time limit. But there was also much left wanting in the follow-up department. Of the builders to respond, roughly one-third (7) responded with information that has little or nothing to do with my original inquiry, such as the greeting I received from one builder inviting me to visit their sales office to see a model home in Hamilton, even though I had never mentioned anything about Hamilton, and they’d not yet asked what location I was interested in. This Ontario survey borrowed its format from a more extensive version that has taken place south of the border the past five years—one that has also revealed a lacking in the 62

ontario home builder Winter 2017

DON’T EXPECT —INSPECT! Has this article piqued your interest as to how your company responds to website inquiries? Do you ever wonder what happens to sales leads that come in via your company website? One easy way of finding out is to become your own secret shopper. Use a personal email address and fill in your company’s contact/inquiry page. Then sit back and wait. You may be pleased— or disappointed—but regardless, you’ll discover whether or not you have an area that needs some improvement.

attention to web page contacts. Partnered by Do You Convert and prospect management company Lasso CRM, the survey showed that between 2012 to 2015, 40% of individuals who filled out a request for information on a builder’s website received no reply, while more than 70% never got a phone call. Most surprising was that a paltry 3% of the 800+ online inquiries conducted over that time resulted in more than one phone call and two emails over a 30-day period. “We study builder follow-up with sales prospects who have requested additional information on the builder’s website, and each year’s data has shown that our industry has yet to understand the potential revenue from those searching for a home online,” writes Mike Lyon in Professional Builder magazine’s May 2016 edition. That would certainly be the case for the 29 companies that never got back to me at all. Of course, as Kate Zabriskie, founder of International Partner Business Training Works, has observed, “Although your customers won’t love you if you give bad service, your competitors will.” The good news, though, is that most of the competition is similarly missing the boat. Thousands of possible internet leads are being ignored every year in Ontario. But that means there’s an opportunity for builders to truly distinguish themselves in this category, so that the next time a customer comes knocking on your web address, there’ll actually be someone home to answer. OHB



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Better Building I de a s for B u i l ders & R e n ovat ors place energy efficiency in the top three most-wanted items in their new home—the market is speaking!

Other Changes included in the New SB-12 • SB-12 now offers credits for reducing

Code Red OBC 2017 SB-12 is here! Have you prepared for it? •

As of January 1, there is a new sheriff in town. The new Ontario Building Code kicked in and builders need to prepare. Well, except Energy Star builders—they can go back to bed because they’re already prepared. One of the portions seeing major changes is SB-12—the one dealing with energy efficiency—also known by the long and hard-to-remember SB-12, Energy Efficiency for Housing of the Ontario Building Code along with Part 12, Resource Conservation and Environmental Integrity. For years, Ontario’s building code focused on traditional performancebased paths, while the new SB-12 has taken the revolutionary step

of allowing for both performance and prescriptive paths to Code compliance. The new prescriptive compliance packages provide a minimum 15% energy efficiency improvement over existing packages. What does that mean to you if you are an Energy Star builder? Absolutely nothing. Energy Star for New Homes’ Standard was already 15%-20% above Code, so you can put your feet up and relax since you’re already building better than the new code mandates. If you’re not an Energy Star builder, it’s definitely time to consider becoming one. Skip the every-five-year up-training to the new code while future-proofing your business. More than 75% of respondents

air leakage in the home as a means to encourage better energy conservation. Builders can substitute certain requirements in packages if they meet specific airtightness targets. Under prescriptive paths, drainwater heat-recovery units are now mandatory. Builders can meet code requirements using either nominal or effective thermal values of building components. For example, a builder can construct the envelope exactly as the Code prescribes (e.g. wall with R22 insulation) or in any method that achieves an equivalent effective thermal value (e.g. walls built to a minimum effective R17.03 or a maximum U-value of 0.059, regardless of what type of insulation is installed). Heat or energy recovery ventilators have been added as a mandatory requirement in all packages in order to protect indoor air quality as homes get increasingly airtight.

Training available Many groups are offering SB-12 training around Ontario. EnerQuality has been holding workshops from Ottawa to Niagara, delivering a curriculum developed and endorsed by OHBA and Ontario Building Officials’ Association, and taught by Gord Cooke and Andy Oding of Building Knowledge, Doug Tarry of Doug Tarry Homes and Ross Elliott of Homesol Building Solutions. ontario home builder Winter 2017


“These sessions are part of our commitment to ensure Ontario home builders have the best training and information. Any EnerQualityregistered builders taking the course have future-proofed their business by ensuring they are compliant with the new SB-12 Code changes and technical advances,” observes Corey McBurney, president of EnerQuality. It is expected that SB-12 and the benefits and challenges will be one focus of conversation at the EQ Housing Innovation Forum & Awards, taking place Feb. 23, 2017 in Vaughan. For more information about the Housing Innovation Forum or to register for an SB-12 training session, visit

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Acquisitions and new technology could be game-changers for tool companies If there’s a little more energy than normal in the Stanley Black & Decker and DeWalt office the past few months, it’s understandable. New technology, coupled with two big corporate acquisitions have the companies poised for a bright future. The groundbreaking new FlexVolt system from DeWalt, one of the manufacturers under Stanley Black &

Decker’s umbrella, features the world’s first battery that automatically changes voltage when the user changes tools. The battery powers a new lineup of brushless 60V Max and 120V Max FlexVolt tools, but its patent-pending technology also allows it to be backwards-compatible with most existing DeWalt 20V Max tools and chargers, where it provides up to 4X runtime. In addition, the battery provides more than 3X battery power versus DeWalt 18V NiCad. The new technology means that high-power tool applications that previously could only be accomplished by corded tools, can now be performed with the DeWalt FlexVolt system of cordless tools. “The impact of the FlexVolt system will be felt throughout the construction industry on each and every jobsite,” says Frank Mannarino, president of DeWalt’s Professional Products Group. “This new platform packs the power required for heavy-duty applications, makes it easy to exchange corded tools for cordless and ensures that our existing 20V Max users get the benefit of added runtime without making the 20V Max system obsolete.” On the corporate front, DeWalt’s parent company, Stanley Black & Decker, is also celebrating the recent acquisition of the tools business of Newell Brands, which includes the attractive industrial cutting, hand tool and power tool accessory brands of Irwin and Lenox, for $1.95 billion. The transaction, which should close in the first half of this year, is expected to result in annual cost synergies of approximately $80 million to $90 million by year three for Stanley Black & Decker. environment

C e r ta i n t e e d gets green c e r t i f i c at i o n CertainTeed’s thumbprint has gotten a little greener. The company’s Sustainable Insulation products have been awarded EPD verification, which indicates conformance with stringent

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type III environmental declarations set by UL Environment and the International Standards Organization. CertainTeed fibreglass insulation products are engineered, produced and shipped with a commitment to minimizing environmental impact and improving energy savings. The CertainTeed Unfaced Sustainable Insulation batt product line, for example, is an insulation material made of fibreglass that consists of rapidly renewable content, a high percentage of recycled glass and a new plant-based binder that has no formaldehyde, harsh acrylics, dyes or unnecessary fire retardants added. Batt sizes from R-10 to R-40 are included in this EPD. Made in Canada, fire-retardant and high-temperature-resistant, CertainTeed insulation products are GreenCircle-certified for their recycled contents and GreenGuardCertified for their facilitation of a healthy indoor environment.


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Something New on Tap for Canadians Sleek Italian-designed kitchen and bathroom faucets company Fortis has made its way to Canada. “Fortis is bringing a whole new level of sophistication, innovation and beauty to Canadian wholesale and consumer showrooms,” says Adam Findlay, senior marketing manager with Spectrum Brands. The company, renowned for its unique looking, meticulously crafted faucets, has become a global leader in the decorative plumbing industry. Existing under the Spectrum Brands 68

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banner along with brands like Pfister, the introduction of Fortis means the arrival of lines ranging from the elegant San Marco Collection to the sleek, modern styling of the Scala Collection. Fortis began in 1954 as a small artisan company with roots in Pogno, Italy, taking design inspiration from the nearby fashion capital of Europe, Milan.

Quality Reliability Va lue FIND OUT MORE


Dow ’ s Fi r e R e ta r d a n t s Go Green Dow Building Solutions has announced it is now producing all Styrofoam Brand Extruded Polystyrene (XPS) Insulation sold in Canada with Bluedge Polymeric Flame Retardant technology, a nextgeneration sustainable flame retardant solution. The technology was invented by Dow in 2004 as a challenge to find a more sustainable flame-retardant solution for polystyrene foam. It is a drop-in technology to replace hexabromocyclododecane (HBCD), a common flame retardant with a less favourable environmental profile. Dow had already successfully converted its Styrofoam brand XPS foam plants in Japan in 2014 and Europe in 2015 to Bluedge. The phased approach allows for a controlled conversion process that meets the business’s quality requirements in every region and, at the same time, ensures product availability meeting market demands across regions. OHB

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ontario home builder Winter 2017




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

warAm -t b gph Cu oru Th eal p olution The e vin u esTin HE nBtEST INt in g o c T HEm Y e he a in g hoINDUSTR l o o c d an

TRENDS Builders might want to turn their attention to a new two-tier home energy certification program developed by Owens Corning Canada with feedback from major players in the home building industry. Depending on the criteria met, homes will receive one of two Owens Corning Comfort Certified

Gauging the Temperature of the Market

labels. One is for houses that achieve a 25% reduction in heating and cooling compared to code-built homes; the second for Net Zero Energy Ready houses achieving a 50% energy reduction. Minimum performance targets will have to be verified through third-party modelling and onsite blower door testing before the labels are presented to the owners. “Not one label will leave our office without that verification,” assures Owens Corning marketing manager Christine Sampson in stressing the strict program guidelines.

The hottest (and coolest) products for indoor climate control in 2017 By Da n O ’ R e i l ly

After suffering through long, often brutal winters, Canadians have only a brief respite in an all too fleeting spring before being faced with another hot, humid summer. For heating and cooling product manufacturers and, by extension, home builders who purchase their products, that dual climate poses several challenges in the area of product development, design and manufacturing. How are manufacturers addressing those challenges and what is “hot, new and next” in heating and cooling initiatives? Follow closely!

Although builders approached them about the concept, Owens Corning “had been thinking about this for some time,” says Sampson. About two years ago, the company hosted a meeting with Canadian builders at its world headquarters in Toledo, Ohio, where the details were sketched out. A similar program is being implemented in the U.S., but this one has been specifically tailored for Canada. The program’s catalyst was a 26 Net Zero home demonstration project in four provinces sponsored by Natural Resources Canada, Owens Corning and five project home builders, including ontario home builder Winter 2017



Product Focus Roxul ComfortBoard 80 was installed as continuous exterior insulation on this North York home, increasing energy efficiency and reducing thermal bridging.

Mattamy, Minto Homes and Reid’s Heritage Homes. The two-tier standard was adopted, “because not all builders can make the leap to Net Zero,” Sampson says. At least one specialty builder believes an energy rating system will soon be the norm. “What has happened in the auto industry in the past 30 years, in terms of embracing technological advancements and energy efficiency, is coming to the housing industry,” says Mike Manning, president of Greenbilt Homes. The Oakville-based firm is now constructing 88 Risebrough, a 3,300 sq. ft. house in North York that includes a host of sustainable features including an airtight envelope, passive heating, natural ventilation and free cooling, as well as high-performance triple-glazed fibreglass windows. Heralded as “forward thinking” by its designer, Sustainable.TO Architecture and Building, the house also has continuous exterior insulation. Two three-inch-thick layers of Roxul Comfortboard 80 (a rigid stone wool insulation sheathing board) have been adhered over a Blueskin air barrier. “Incrementally, the government is moving the home building industry in the directions of higher insulation levels and airtightness,” says Manning, referring to provisions in the new Ontario Building Code that came into effect Jan. 1, 2017. Those

Holding the (Power) Line

Icynene believes UL Greenguard certification might lead to earlier access by trades after spray foam insulation.

provisions account for one reason why Comfortboard 80 is gaining traction among builders, says Roxul’s Residential Segment Manager, David Smith. South of the border, it was a feature on the New Jersey-based Stevens Institute of Technology Sure House, which won the 2015 U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathalon. “Codes are changing,” says Smith, explaining that the trend is being driven by more stringent R-value standards and the move towards effective R-values. “Builders have to look at the whole assembly (of the house) and not just the R-value of a certain product.” Smith concedes it has been a challenge to convince builders of the need

How much tighter are today’s homes? Energy efficiency in the housing sector improved by 45% in the period from 1990 to 2013, says Natural Resources Canada in its Energy Trends Report for that period. That amounted to a $12 billion savings. Even though there was a 40% rise—that’s 3.9 million—in the number of households during that period, there was only a 6.5% increase in overall residential consumption, thanks to energy efficiency improvements across the nation. Without those improvements that figure would have reached a whopping 51%, says the federal department. Further, the rise in the number of households, which NRCanada attributes to population growth and simply fewer people per household, combined with a high penetration rate of appliances and more square footage (the average living space per household in 2013 was 17% higher than in 1990) also contributed to that 6.5% increase. As examples of technological improvements, the report cites the replacement of less efficient systems with medium- and high-efficiency ones. For example, the installation of high-efficiency gas furnaces climbed from 3% in 1990 to 29% of the whole heating system market in 2013. In the early1990s, medium-efficiency oil heating systems “were rarely installed in the residential sector” and represented only 2% of the market. But by 2013, almost all oil-heating systems installed (98%) were medium-efficiency. The mix of energy sources has also changed slightly. “Specifically, natural gas and electricity became even more dominant, while wood and heating oil use declined,” the report notes. The report also provides a window into changing lifestyles choices. Not only are residents using more devices than they did in 1990, more and more Canadians are choosing to cool their houses in the summer due to warmer weather and increased income. All of thoe choices contributed to increased energy consumption, it says. All of which makes that mere 6.5% increase in overall residential energy consumption even more impressive.

ontario home builder Winter 2017


Product Focus Builders and renovators have a resource in affordable building and energy-efficiency experts Sustainable.TO.

automatically turns fans on to clean homes when those levels are high, says Ozzie Buckler, the company’s advertising and promotions manager. The culmination of two years of design and engineering, the iComfort has been well received by builders, says Buckler.


for continuous exterior insulation, due to the added expense, but those attitudes are changing, he says. In another area of insulation enhancement, the high-performance, closed-cell foam insulation Icynene ProSeal was awarded UL Greenguard certification by UL Environment in 2015 and is also picking up momentum. “There is a concern about VOCs and we want to take a leadership position,” says Paul Duffy, Icynene’s V.P. of Engineering. “The importance of this certification cannot be understated,” says Duffy, suggesting using the product can contribute to achieving LEED points. While building code standards mandate 24 hours after foam insulation has been sprayed before a home can be occupied, Duffy believes the period will be shortened as a result of the certification. And that means other trades can start working in the house sooner.

FOCUS ON SUSTAINABILITY In another sector, energy modelling is now making inroads into some lowrise projects, says Michael Donaldson, principal, Design Workshop Archi 74

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tects. Long employed in commercial projects and multi-use housing, energy modelling can be used as a tool to balance the need for ‘active’ measures, such as mechanical equipment and ‘passive’ ones, such as insulation and window overhangs. “That balance could include adding more insulation, leading to lower heating costs, and being able to measure where the benefit is no longer worth the costs,” says Donaldson, who believes an increased focus on sustainability is being propelled, in part, by purchasers. “I think consumers want a home that is responsible from an energy-use/efficiency point of view.” The Lennox iComfort S30 Smart Thermostat should help meet those objectives. Its Smart Away Mode works with an application on mobile telephones to create a schedule that automatically detects when occupants are leaving and then puts the heating/ cooling system into an energy-saving mode. When they return, it returns the heating system to a normal schedule. Among its many features is an Allergen Defender, which monitors air quality and pollen levels and

Builders have also provided critical input into the evolution and enhancement in other products in the heating, ventilating and air conditioning side of the home comfort business. Take, for example, Trane’s collaboration with 12 contractors across the country in creating its recently unveiled 34”-high S-Series gas furnace. The product is so new it hadn’t been installed in any homes as of late October. Features include an industry-first integrated furnace control board that allows faster set-ups and more intuitive diagnostics, a Vortica ll blower that quietly delivers improved airflow, as well as stainless steel primary and secondary heat exchangers that are more durable and corrosive-resistant than aluminized steel, says the company. Size matters too. “Contractor feedback indicated that a smaller size was important for installation into a wide variety of applications. So a key change was to reduce furnace size,” says Goodman communications manager Beth Stevens in highlighting the advantages of the company’s 34.5”-high by 17.5”-wide 34GMVM97 Modulating Gas Furnace. “Builders have made it clear that the available space for HVAC equipment within a dwelling is shrinking,” echoes Chris Jakobson, product manager for RedZone Products, which released its HVS air handler in September after two years of design. Similar to its DHS air hander, the lightweight and compact HVS unit can be connected to virtually any hot water heater and can be optimized to work with a tankless water heater. While it meets the industry standard of 400 cubic feet per ton, what makes this unit different is its ability to also work with conventional residential splittype air conditioners.

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Product Focus

Trane S-Series

“It’s an all-in package, but we haven’t made a final commitment,” says Averton Homes V.P. of Construction Tiziano Mastrangelo, whose firm was considering installing the air handlers in its 184-unit townhouse and stacked townhouse Main Street Seaton development in Pickering. When analyzing HVAC requirements for its houses, Mastrangelo says Averton looks for products that are “compact, efficient and easily serviceable.” Those are the standards that manufacturers strive for, says Warren Heeley, president of the Heating, Refrigeration and Air Conditioning Institute of Canada. But they’re goals with more than a few goalposts. Determining the optimal size for units is one of those challenges. “Designers are still trying to get up to speed (with the still-new CSA F-2802012 Standard that determines the capacity of residential space heating and cooling appliances),” says Heeley. But now that furnaces and air conditioners are achieving energy-efficiency rates in the high 90s, “there’s not a lot of room for improvement on the energy front.”

ZONING APPROVAL Instead, there is a transition from an “appliance approach” to a system approach, such as considering duct sizes, as well as a more concentrated focus of providing enhanced services such as “zoning,” which allows homeowners to control and select heating and cooling for different parts of the house, Heeley notes. Asked about a 76

ontario home builder Winter 2017

Lennox IComfort S30

trend where contractors are extending rental programs beyond water heaters to include furnaces and air conditioners, Heeley says this segment of the industry is minutely increasing, but that accounts for, at best, 5%. Most small independent contractors can’t afford the carrying costs of purchasing units and then renting them to homeowners, he explains. Taking a long-term view into the future, Heeley says provincial climate control strategies, especially as they related to carbon emissions from combustible fuels, may ultimately affect product design. “That is something our industry will have to keep an eye on.” The move to zoning has certainly been embraced by Dunpar Homes, a Toronto developer of luxury three-storey townhomes. A few years ago, Dunpar began installing a dual-zone climate control system comprised of two different pipes and two thermostats. One controls heating/cooling the main and ground floors, while the second in the master bedroom loft regulates temperature in that room and the bedroom floor below. On the exterior of that loft, meanwhile, white shingles on the slightly pitched flat roofs on Dunpar’s townhouses help reflect heat to keep the home comfortable in the summer months.

FIREPLACES ARE HEATING UP With the arrival of winter, sitting beside a stove or an electric, gas or wood-burning fireplace is a favourite pastime for Canadians, and Napoleon is happy to fan the flames. Equipped with a range of features, including remote or touch-control-panel

Goodman Upflow

activation, Napoleon’s new electric Allure Phantom Series fireplace is available in three sizes and can be fully recessed into the wall. The driving force behind its creation was the continuing focus on cutting emissions in the gas sector, says Kim Hammill, Director, Electric Fireplaces with Napoleon. While homeowners are leaning to electric fireplaces for their ease of use, builders are increasing choosing them because of the ease of installation and subsequent cost savings, says Hammill. Napoleon’s new electric Allure Phantom Series fireplace.

For the high-end custom market, premium wood-burning fireplaces such as Kachelofen stoves are popular, advises Design Workshop Architects’ Michael Donaldson. “These are expensive installations and it’s not so much a sustainability issue, but rather more of an off-the-grid design approach. The advantage, of course, is that you can run this stove without power or other fuel, provided you have firewood.” As far as the heating market has come, there is sometimes no substitute for the smell and feel of a real fire. OHB

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Words to Build By

“Don’t be afraid to hire people smarter than you. It should be your goal. Hire the best people you can afford and don’t be afraid to hire people who want your job. Hire them and let them flourish.” Ward CampbelL cEO, Starward Homes


ontario home builder Winter 2017

Ontario Provincial District Council


ONTARIO "Well Trained. Highly Skilled Labour. Simply the Best, since 1903". When a community is built from the ground up, there is no labour force on the planet, better skilled to get the job done right the first time. LiUNA members and retirees made a commitment to their careers, which means a commitment to our communities. A commitment to build the BEST schools, airports, hospitals, office buildings, tunnels, power plants, roads, bridges, low rise and high rise housing in the country. When the work is done, LiUNA members and retirees continue to live, play and grow in their communities, with the guarantee of a pension that is also....simply the BEST! Jack Oliveira

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We’re here to serve you better. Enercare’s commitment is to offer you the best advice and solutions for your water heating and HVAC needs. Service & Value: Experienced account managers offer you the best solutions for your needs.

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Innovative Products: Extensive energy-efficient water heating and HVAC equipment, as well as air handlers, propane & electric water heaters and HRVs.

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Experience & Support: Over 700 licensed, highly-trained technicians and a dedicated builder support phone line.

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Available to rental water heater customers whose equipment is not operational (i.e. no hot water). On average we attend to water heater non-operational calls 90% of the time the same day.

Enercare and the design are trademarks of Enercare Inc., used under license.

Ontario Home Builder - Winter 2017  
Ontario Home Builder - Winter 2017