Ontario Home Builder - Fall 2023

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Time to SHINE

When the lights come on, OHBA’s incoming president feels right at home

5 REASONS why your reno estimates go overboard

All the dirt on excess soil regulations Can exoskeletons help save the trades? New shingles and siding accentuate curb appeal
FALL 2023 OHBA.CA | $5.00

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P31 Bidding Adieu

Five variables guaranteed to sink your reno estimates


9 Ontario Report

Forging a united front, Provincial Policy Statement proposals, OHBA Job Ready program, and OHBA’s Annual Conference and Awards are ready for Collingwood!

17 Trending

From a tape measure to a versatile excavator, the latest gear for builders and renovators.

47 Building Buzz

A Conestoga College study examines exoskeletons and the trades, one Waterloo initiative looks to build affordable homes at half price while another will help bail out the rental market, Skilled Trades Ontario launches certificates of qualification, CHBA battling land expropriation, personnel moves and more!

57 Product Focus

From soothingly toned shingles to hyper-realistic woodgrain siding, it’s what’s on side (and on top) that counts when it comes to modern curb appeal.

62 Frame of Mind

A Seattle neighbourhood shows how nature, design and density can go hand in hand.

P22 Lights, Camera...

While Dave Depencier won’t look to steal the OHBA spotlight, expect him to glow in its glare.

P38 Here’s All the Dirt Digging into the challenges of the new excess soil regulations


Incoming OHBA Chair

Dave Depencier is a model of positivity— and happy to be alive.

ohba.ca @onhomebuilder 5 FALL 2023 | ONTARIO HOME BUILDER
(Photo: Jon Evans) BRICK BY BRICK Dave Depencier has helped build a future for his hometown of Dresden. Ontario is next.


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ADVERTISING Cindy Kaye, ext. 232 cindy@laureloak.ca

ADVERTISING & DIGITAL MARKETING Paige Buchanan, ext. 255 paige@laureloak.ca


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PRESIDENT Wayne Narciso

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ohba.ca @onhomebuilder ONTARIO HOME BUILDER | FALL 2023 6
official publication of the Ontario Home Builders’ Association
Fall 2023| Vol. 39 Issue 5
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Empowering local Chapters, OHBA executive is forging a united front

As we stand on the cusp of a new year and prepare for the Annual Meeting of Members at the OHBA Conference on September 18, the Executive Committee of the Board of Directors looks forward to the year ahead with collective determination.

Recognizing the strength that comes from unity, the executive team is committed to bolstering the relationship with all local Chapters across the province. Through enhanced collaboration and a dedicated effort to foster information sharing, OHBA aims to create a cohesive network that empowers each Chapter and its members.

One of the significant developments in the coming year is the

re-establishment of the Advocacy Coordination Table (ACT). This vital committee will play a pivotal role in guiding and shaping our ongoing advocacy efforts on public policy matters. Supported by the OHBA Builder/Developer Council and Chapter Executive Officers, this collaboration promises to amplify our voice and influence within the policy landscape, ensuring that our industry’s needs are effectively communicated and addressed.

Upholding the principle of ‘One Voice,’ OHBA will continue to speak with unwavering unity in the coming year. By presenting a united front to policymakers and industry partners, we aim to enhance our collective impact. This not only reinforces our position within the

industry but also underscores our dedication to serving you, our valued members.

OHBA is unwaveringly committed to advancing the interests of our members. Together, we are poised to navigate challenges, embrace opportunities and collectively drive the growth of the residential construction industry in Ontario.

Your 2022-2023 OHBA Board of Directors Executive Committee, Louie Zagordo, President

Bob Schickedanz, Past President

Dave Depencier, 1st VP

Mike Memme, 2nd VP

Bianca Bruzzese, Treasurer

Christina Giannone, Secretary

ohba.ca @onhomebuilder 9 FALL 2023 | ONTARIO HOME BUILDER ONTARIO REPORT ONTARIO REPORT Association news, views and events

Planning for the Future

Provincial Policy Statement updates proposed

Building the volume and variety of homes that Ontario requires begins with a solid foundation of planning and forecasting. That is why the latest consultation on changes to the Provincial Policy Statement (PPS) is crucial for new residents to our province. The stark reality is that Ontario’s population is projected to increase by 43.6%, or almost 6.6 million, over the next 24 years, from an estimated 15.1 million on July 1, 2022 to almost 21.7 million by July 1, 2046. This significant population boom is why a foundation for growth is vital to ensure that housing supply can meet anticipated demand.

Builders and buyers alike know that we need the right mix of housing types, formats and locations to ensure that Ontarians at all stages of life can find a place they can call home. Both groups should be encouraged by the proposals that have been put forth to update how Ontario plans for growth.

The consultation posed many changes to identify large and fastgrowing municipalities and to provide specific paths for growth such

as minimum density targets, while requiring intensification policies. Both the changes for municipalities to plan to a minimum 25-year horizon and maintaining the 15-year residential land supply are good indications that the province wants all communities to plan and vitally prepare for growth. Additionally, requiring municipalities to ensure there is a range of housing types and typologies means that communities will be open to more Ontarians and give additional options to both buyers and renters. These types of long-needed changes confirm that housing supply and choice is required in every corner of Ontario.

We also know that thriving communities need strong local economies. That is why employment lands are crucial to fostering multi-use spaces that meet the needs of every municipality. OHBA was very encouraged by the rescoping of the definition of “areas of employment,” which will both foster better usage of these areas and provide municipalities with more flexibility in their application. Ensuring

that employment and housing can work together to build better communities is a prudent approach that will benefit areas across Ontario.

We also know that new housing is predicated upon infrastructure capacity. Updates to require municipalities to plan for stormwater systems, water and wastewater capacity and large transportation corridors is very encouraging, as it means that communities across Ontario will have the infrastructure planned to accommodate growth. This type of change will help make new housing supply more predictable for both builders and buyers.

The changes set out to craft the new PPS are indicative that Ontario is growing and preparing for that growth in a comprehensive way. These changes send a clear signal to both industry and residents that a solid foundation is being built for future generations.

Members can visit OHBA’s website for more information and our full comments on the consultation.

ohba.ca @onhomebuilder ONTARIO HOME BUILDER | FALL 2023 10

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Retaining Workers for the Future

With a looming skilled trades shortage, the OHBA Job Ready Program is working to close the gap in Ontario’s residential construction workforce by providing the industry with well-trained entry-level workers looking for a fruitful career in home building. In addition to recruiting, training and placing tomorrow’s talent, the program emphasizes the role of retention in our industry’s long-term success.

A strong retention strategy is one of the most effective tools to strengthen the foundation of a team. When prioritizing retention, you not only save time on recruitment and onboarding, but you invest in the future of your team as well. According to LinkedIn’s 2022 Global Talent Trends Report, retention rates in the construction industry rise from 50% to 70% when employers and employees work together to achieve internal promotions and career mobility. When employers play an active role in charting a career path for their

workers, it’s more likely that employees will stay to see that path come to fruition.

To enhance retention potential, the OHBA Job Ready Program provides ongoing one-toone support individualized to the participant’s needs. Employees meet with a program advisor on a weekly basis to discuss goal setting, potential career paths and continuing their professional development. Employees can also access mental health services through the program and are given a safe space to ask questions and work through challenges. Combined with the training that OHBA Job Ready employees receive, these weekly meetings increase overall employee engagement and limit absenteeism on jobsites during their three-month work placement. OHBA Job Ready Program

employers see the most success with their new employees when they build upon the one-to-one support from the program long after the initial three-month work placement.

Take it from Brian Cook of Air Sealing Professionals, a Job Ready Employer: “As a small company, scaling is one of the things we always worry about. As you grow, you have to hand over the reins to the next generation of leaders in your organization, and we always feared we had a gap. Now we have two young leaders through the OHBA Job Ready Program. It’s helped us scale in a big way.” If you’re ready to invest in the future of your team, hire eager entry-level workers through the OHBA Job Ready Program!

Visit OHBAJobReady.ca for more details!

ohba.ca @onhomebuilder ONTARIO HOME BUILDER | FALL 2023 12 ONTARIO
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Meet us on the Mountaintop!

Experience the sights, sounds and tastes of Georgian Bay at the Opening Reception perched atop Blue Mountain. Reconnect with colleagues in this breathtaking setting, and explore the “AGORA: Path of Lights,” an interactive light walk based on the five elements (space is limited).

Educational Programming

Stay ahead of the curve with our lineup of industry experts, sure to bring you the latest and greatest from Ontario’s residential construction sector. There is something for everyone in

Come to Collingwood!

The 2023 OHBA Conference is right around the corner, from September 17-19, at Blue Mountain Resort in beautiful Collingwood.

our two streams of concurrent sessions.

Conference Lunch, Presented by EnerQuality Innovation and sustainability are front and centre during our Monday lunch with the EnerQuality Innovation Gauntlet! In this Dragons’ Denstyle competition, manufacturers will present their unique solutions to optimize the highperformance new-construction and renovation industry— and you get to vote on the most innovative new solution!

Presidents’ Gala

Don’t miss the big night on Monday, September

18, as OHBA welcomes its 2023/2024 President, Dave Depencier of Depencier Builders from Chatham-Kent HBA. We will honour OHBA leadership, thank champions of the association and celebrate the incredible accomplishments of our industry.

AoD Gala

Get ready to celebrate excellence in Ontario’s home-building industry at the highly anticipated 2023 OHBA Awards of Distinction Gala on Tuesday, September 19. Hosted by comedian, TV personality and writer Graham Chittenden, this celebration will surely be an unforgettable night!

Annual Meeting of Members

Monday, September 18 9:00 AM – 11:00 AM

Blue Mountain Resort, Village Conference Centre Huron Grand 1/2

Learn more and register at conference. ohba.ca

ohba.ca @onhomebuilder ONTARIO HOME BUILDER | FALL 2023 14 ONTARIO REPORT

Servicing the residential building community for 40 years. Contact: Adam Zaretsky 905-761-2471


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Going Flush in a Flash

Fanciful and easy to install, the new Willow Flush Mount light fixture features a natural texture to its design with its soft, ivory shade of string, and adds a touch of luxury with its striking gold finish. EasyConnect by Canarm, meanwhile, reduces installation time by up to 75% over standard mounts—providing a soft glow of this attractive two-bulb ceiling mount at the speed of light.



Ideas for Builders & Renovators

IT’S ALL IN THE DETAILSTasco MonogramAppliances’ Designer Series ups the ante P.18

ohba.ca @onhomebuilder 17 FALL 2023 | ONTARIO HOME BUILDER

Cooking up Something Luxurious

The new Monogram Designer Collection is disrupting the luxury appliance space. Driven by acclaimed kitchen and bath designer Richard T. Anuskiewicz and inspired by fine jewellery, the collection features two artful new aesthetics to enhance customization and push the boundaries of appliance design. Custommade with leather detailing, both collections (brass and titanium) feature striking finishes with sustainably sourced and Greenguard Gold-certified hardware.


We Dig It

Let’s Bring You Up To Speed

Fast Track by Stubbe’s redefines construc tion efficiency by offering a compre hensive building package with stan dardized construc tability in mind. The Fast Track solution integrates a complete design team, from architects to struc tural, mechanical and electrical engineers— all seamlessly col laborating to incor porate predesigned residential units into an optimized precast building structure. It guarantees a faster design process, more streamlined con struction and sub stantial cost savings.


Mecalac’s award-winning new MWR Series of wheeled excavators features incredible manoeuverability in tight working conditions with its compact yet powerful trio of models. They offer the flexibility and versatility of a skid steer or compact track loader in one machine, while delivering higher speed and mobility than tracked excavators. That means added productivity and efficiency. Further, they offer a lower centre of gravity than competitive models while still maintaining a high ground clearance, ensuring exceptional stability, even off-road and on slopes.


Can’t Beat This Heat

Milwaukee Tool has introduced the highest performing cordless propane heater on the market with its new M18 70,000 BTU Forced Air Propane Heater. This 14.5 lb product offers users the fastest setup with all-day maximum heat—ideal for well-ventilated small to mid-sized spaces. A variable temperature dial for output control and a forced-air fan allow users optimal heat in cold weather conditions.


ohba.ca @onhomebuilder ONTARIO HOME BUILDER | FALL 2023 18 Trending


What is Radon? The Silent Killer.

Radon is a radioactive gas that is odourless, colourless, and tasteless. It is produced by the breakdown of uranium found in sediment (soil), rocks, and water. When radon is released into the atmosphere it gets diluted and poses negligible risk to human health. However, if radon accumulates in an enclosed space, such as a home, it can concentrate and pose a serious health risk.

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• Skilled trades not required

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THE PINK PANTHER™ & © 1964–2023 Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios Inc. All Rights Reserved. The colour PINK is a registered trademark of Owens Corning. © 2023 Owens Corning. All Rights Reserved. 1Only CCMC certified Radon Abatement System solution with XPS; CCMC Report 14349-R. 2Verify local applicable building codes. 3Compared to Radon exposure. 4NRCAN Radon Abatement Test Report No. A1-020145, October 20, 2021. Owens Corning FOAMULAR ® NGX™ CodeBord® with taped or sealed joints is 36X greater than 6 mil. polyethylene as a radon barrier material. 5Elimination of poly. 6Builder Field Test Quebec. 7FOAMULAR® NGX™ C-200 can also be used.

Getting Fit

Uponor’s new TotalFit is a pro-grade, engineered polymer, push-to-connect fitting solution that offers a roughly 30% savings over its brass counterpart, but with the same versatility and speed. Designed for use with PEX, PE-RT, CPVC and copper piping systems, TotalFit is ideal for service repairs, maintenance, remodels and retrofits for potable hot-water and coldwater distribution piping systems in singlefamily homes, townhomes, apartments and

No Need to be Russian Around

With sanctions on Russian exports, Garnica has developed a sustainably sourced alter native—a reinforced plywood that rivals Russian Baltic birch in terms of strength and durability. And with the introduc tion of its Quick Ship program, Garnica also offers the convenience of one-pack availability, transparent lead times and ready-to-ship items.


Works of Art


Designflooring’s pioneering Van Gogh range, first introduced in 2001, has added eight visuals to the collection. As with all of the company’s rigid core products, this fresh new mix of clean and neutral tones, including Hawaiian Ohana Koa (pictured) and French, distressed and refined oak hues, features the company’s proprietary 100% waterproof K-Core technology for installation over most existing hard floors, without the worry of exposing subfloor imperfections.


A Tape-Measure Home Run

DeWalt’s new ToughSeries LED, its first electronically integrated tape measure, is equipped with an LED light to offer users better visibility in low-light applications, with three hours of run time on a full charge—rechargeable with a USB cable Available in a 25-ft. length, it’s engineered with premium features for the professional user, including a durable housing that can withstand a 100-ft. drop. DEWALT.CA

ohba.ca @onhomebuilder ONTARIO HOME BUILDER | FALL 2023 20 Trending


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Lights, Camera …

Lights, Camera

aving spent his entire lifetime entrenched in and around a predominantly agricultural community of 2,400 in Southwestern Ontario, Dave Depencier is used to watching things grow. Summer jobs as a teen included bailing hay and detasselling corn. But today the 47-year-old Dresden native cultivates a much different type of crop, one for which the province has a serious appetite.

Owner and president of Depencier Builders, which specializes in the design and construction of custom homes, and partner and president of DeMall Group, which focuses on land development and the designing, building and selling of spec homes, Depencier will add Ontario Home Builders’ Association president to his Linkedin profile on Sept. 18 during the 2023 OHBA Annual Conference at Blue Mountain Resort in Collingwood.

And he will have no shortage of fans in attendance. “I was on the humanitarian build with Dave in the Dominican Republic when James Bazely was president,” recalls Marz Homes President Danny Gabriele. “There are guys who are dynamic, who are great at what they do every day, and I witnessed that in the D.R. And when the toolbelt came off, he was the sort of guy you just wanted to be around. He’s magnetic, but very genuine. And he carries a lot of weight when speaking to bureaucratic and elected officials responsible for creating policy.”

“Dave is really, really down to earth,” says Pierre Dufresne, V.P. of Land Development at Cavanagh Developments. “He comes across as a simple guy from the country but has done a really good job in his time at OHBA to appreciate the more urban issues we face with government that he doesn’t necessarily have to deal with in Chatham Region. He has shown an element of sophistication in terms of understanding policy from the provincial level and how it impacts our industry, and he has been an invaluable spokesman for that.”

“He’s smart and he’s a very good communicator,” echoes Rick Martins, V.P. of Huron Creek Developments. “I’ve seen him in the room many

At ease in the spotlight, Dave Depencier promises to be a man of action in the coming year

times and he really listens and then formulates his message afterward. And he’s very well respected in Chatham-Kent, and really gives back to his community.”

“We started dating in Grade 11,” says Depencier’s wife Kim. “He was good looking, but not typical of normal 17-year-old boys. He was very sensitive, genuine, mature, attentive, loyal, caring, trustworthy. And he’s a very, very good listener. He takes time to process things before he reacts—especially in high-stress situations. I admire that part of him a lot.”

You’re not alone if this is beginning to sound like a scene out of The Manchurian Candidate, where brainwashed former captives each reflexively and robotically refer to U.S. Army Sergeant Raymond Shaw as “the kindest, bravest, warmest, most wonderful human being I’ve ever known in my life.”

But this isn’t a movie. If it were, truth be told, Depencier would be more akin to Jimmy Stewart’s George Bailey character in It’s a Wonderful Life —a smalltown home builder who marries a girl from high school, whose father dies prematurely after a hard life, who is beloved and trusted by virtually every resident, and who never departs his hometown. Hell, there’s even that one brush with death to top it off!

“I had a blood clot a few years ago that nearly killed me,” Depencier shares. “I was at a site meeting with clients. We were doing layouts for electrical and plumbing and I started to get a pain in my side. I thought maybe I’d pulled a muscle at the gym. It started getting really bad and it got to where I could barely talk, and I said to the customer, ‘I’m really sorry, but I’ve gotta go home—there’s something wrong.’

“I was just a few lots up from my house, but I could barely get my truck home and get in the door. I had a hot bath because I was cold and shivery, and slowly started to feel okay. Then it woke me up in the middle of the night and felt like it was moving up to my chest, so I went out to my hot tub. I went to work the next day, but that next night it hit me again and I was back to the hot tub. It was 2 a.m. and I was in tears, lying on the edge of the tub, wondering, ‘What the f*#@ is wrong?’”

Depencier drove himself to the hospital, where medical staff cited his gallbladder as the primary culprit, although Kim, a registered massage therapist with a medical background, had suspected a clot from the very beginning. A follow-up visit for further tests the next morning was delayed a day when the imaging machine was out of order.

The final verdict days later was not without its own cinematic drama. “I was waiting in the

Dave Depencier

TITLE: Owner & President, Depencier Builders; Partner & President, DeMall Group

HOME: Dresden, Ontario

BORN: Dec. 8, 1975

WIFE: Kim Bedell

CHILDREN: Brynn (21), Beau (18)

DOG: Kane (8)


ohba.ca @onhomebuilder ONTARIO HOME BUILDER | FALL 2023 24

emergency room for the results of the scan and could see the doctor come in and sit down on the other side of the curtain,” Depencier relates. “He’s on the phone, going, ‘Ya, ok, ok, ya…so it’s cancer.’

“I assumed he was talking about me, and all these thoughts of my wife and kids raced through my mind. A few minutes later the doctor came into the room and said, ‘I have some good news and some bad news.’ And I’m like, ‘Just hit me with it.’ And he said, ‘You had a pulmonary embolism, and the bad news is that we don’t really know why it happened.’ And I go, ‘Am I going to die?’ And he goes, ‘What? No! You’re not going to die.’

“I asked him three times—‘You’re sure I’m OK—I don’t have cancer?’ And he says, ‘No, you don’t have cancer!’

“So now I’m on blood thinners for the rest of my life. The hematologist said, ‘You’re over 40, you’re male and you need to be on these.’ And he was right, because I tried to wean off them for a little bit and then had another attack. I got in trouble for that: ‘You idiot!’ the doctor said. ‘This will legitimately kill you!’”

In a twist of fate, Depencier had recently been recruited to raise money for the Chatham-Kent Health Alliance’s Diagnostic Imaging campaign, with his co-chairs being local radio personality Greg Hetherington and former CFL wide receiver Andy Fantuz. Unbeknownst to the organizers, both Hetherington and Depencier had experienced the same medical condition. “Here’s the really ironic part,” Depencier notes. “Part of the fundraising was for the same CT scanner that had broken down on me!”

Given how personal the cause was, he afterward decided to spur the push for the remaining funds of the $6.9 million campaign. “A good friend of mine, (ChathamKent HBA Executive Officer) Dan VanMoorsel, got me into cycling, and I said, ‘Let’s do a bike ride and raise some money.’ We raised over $100,000 with a 1,000 kilometre ride. I had a lot of help from the home builder community, who we kind of planned our trip around. We met up with past presidents like John Meinen, Doug Tarry and Vince Molinaro. We went to the OHBA office in Toronto. We raised a bunch of money outside as well, but the industry really helped us to finish things off.”

On-Air Talent

As the curtain raises on Depencier’s one-year role as OHBA president, expect him to be far more at ease in the glare of the spotlight than most. Apart from ‘howto’ videos for Home Hardware, Depencier has played the part of host and contractor on the series Reno My Reno, which aired on Netflix and Cottage Life, as well as the Discovery+ series We Bought A Funeral Home.

“That first show, Reno My Reno, means a lot to me because it kind of came through the OHBA,” he says. “Our executive officer at the time, Clare Curtis, came across an ad of a company looking for the next Bryan Beaumlertype character in the construction world. Clare said to me, ‘I think you should apply for this.’”

Depencier did apply, although it was 18 months before producers responded. “They flew me to Ottawa and drove me into Quebec to the producer’s cottage, where he was building this bunkie. And he’s like, ‘OK, we’ll give you 15

ohba.ca @onhomebuilder 25 FALL 2023 | ONTARIO HOME BUILDER
Clockwise from above: Depencier at the Industry Lea d ers’ Dinner in April; Dave and Kim at their Grade 11 prom; the family at Brynn’s graduation from Guelph; and the calming ground of their Blue Mountain retreat.

minutes while we set things up. Take a look at this space. We’ve got a couple who are coming and they’re going to pretend like they’re the clients. And then just do what you normally do—sell yourself!’”

Depencier did so—in spades. He immediately won the role, was sent photos of the spaces he’d be working on, was paired with two tradesmen he’d never met, and asked to advise on what products he’d require—all without ever seeing the place in person until he showed up and the cameras rolled. “To this day,” he says, “it was one of the best experiences of my life.”

And what of the experiences that don’t go according to plan? “I try not to look at regrets,” he says. “KIm and I believe that everything happens for a reason, and when it happens, you have to look at that experience and figure out why it happened and how you can prevent it from ever occurring again. Life’s not easy; it’s about how you handle it when things don’t go as expected. We teach our kids, ‘Learn from this and let’s figure out how you can turn it into a positive.’”

Building Good Habits

Depencier’s learning curve in the residential construction industry began with his uncle Mark Labadie, who owned a renovation company in Dresden before retiring two years ago. “My uncle has been a very important figure in my life,” he says. “I started working for him coming out of public school. He taught me about hard work.”

And what did Labadie try to impress upon Depencier as his mentor? “To be upfront with your customers and let them know what’s going on,” Labadie says. “And if a problem occurs, stop

the project right away, assure your clients that you can handle it and work things out.”

After a guilt-ridden request to his uncle, Depencier eventually left Mark Labadie Construction to join a framing crew. “I then spent 2 1/2 years just framing, framing, framing—day in and day out,” Depencier says. “We were framing for general contractors as well, and I watched how they dealt with trades, how they dealt with us, how they interacted with clients and handled different problems.”

In the interim he earned a degree in Construction Engineering at Fanshawe College and founded Depencier Builders at the tender age of 23 after securing his Ontario New Home Warranty number with financial help from his mother and stepfather.

“I remember site meetings with clients asking, ‘So is your dad coming to the meeting?’ And I was like, ‘No—it’s just me. My dad owns a trucking company,’” reflects Depencier, who

ohba.ca @onhomebuilder ONTARIO HOME BUILDER | FALL 2023 26
Trades shortages and illegal building are among the issues Depencier promises to bat tle during his term as OHBA president. Own i ng the podium at the gra n d opening of DeMall Group’s Rolling Acres subdivision in Dresden thi s past June.

built his first house for the parents of one of his closest friends. “It was a pretty complicated custom home, a 2,800 sq. ft. rancher designed after a train station, with some intricate rooflines—very unique. I remember thinking, ‘If I can do this, I can do anything.’ I built their daughter’s house right after that. It was a custom log home and I’d never built a log home before. They asked, ‘Do you build log homes?’ And I’m like, ‘Oh yeah, we build log homes.’

“I still see (those homeowners) all the time. We’re close friends, and we’re best friends with their daughter and son-in-law,” Depencier says.

That’s pretty typical, suggests VanMoorsel. “The thing about Dave that you don’t see with many other builders is that he becomes part of the homebuyers’ lives afterward. They’ll invite him over for a beer—or he and Kim for dinner— five years after he’s built their house!”

Depencier is intensely proud of his Dresden roots, living less than 20 kilometres from his birthplace in Thamesville. And he’s proud of what he’s built there. “About 13 years ago, I developed a piece of land here called Fairport Heights—19 lots. Something like that hadn’t been done in 20 years. People thought I was crazy—‘No one’s going to move to a small town,’ they said. But I said, ‘The time is right.’”

The project snowballed into another development, the 50-odd-home Leisure Lanes, where

Depencier himself calls home. The next phase, which includes semi-detached residences, has been completely gobbled up in less than a year.

Which brings us to one of Depencier’s more seminal lessons. “When I was coming up in the business years ago, Danny Gabriele said to me, ‘Dave, you’ve always got to have land. If you don’t, you’re going to be in trouble.’ That’s been an instrumental piece of advice, and I shifted some gears to also focus on land development with DeMall Group, a partnership of Kim and I along with Kerry and Krista Mall.” That, in turn, led to the birth of the 42-home Rolling Acres subdivision on the northwest corner of town, with homes starting at $500,000. “And we’ve just recently purchased another 20 acres, so it will continue on for many years,” Depencier says.

“I still love the design aspect—creating for my clients—and trying to set everyone’s house apart from one another,” he smiles.

The Depencier offspring are also distinguishing themselves. Daughter Brynn graduated from the University of Guelph in June and is attending Western’s renowned audiology program this fall. And son Beau, 18, is chasing an NCAA hockey scholarship in the U.S. while developing his own clothing line. “He also works for me in the summer doing framing and such, but he’s really taken a liking to the real estate and development side,” Depencier says. “He wants to venture out on his own in the industry at some point.”


Depencier’s own immersion into the industry began after joining OHBA in 2006. “I knew that a lot of the builders and older companies I looked up to were involved in the association,” he says. “I was probably there for three months when incoming Chatham HBA President

ohba.ca @onhomebuilder 27 FALL 2023 | ONTARIO HOME BUILDER
Depencier shone in his rehearsal—and on set—of his first reality TV show, Reno My Reno.
“People thought I was crazy— ‘No one’s going to move to a small town,’ they said. But I said, ‘The time is right.’”

Wayne Faas, a great friend and a generational builder, tapped me on the shoulder and said, ‘You’re going to be vice-president.’ And I’m like, ‘ What? I just got here!’”

When Depencier ascended to the presidential post for Chatham four years later, he went all in—the resident sponge, attending as many OHBA meetings as possible and soaking up all he could. “I learned so much from pillars of our industry,” he says, “and I brought back as much of it as I could to our own association.”

But Depencier was also fostering relationships in his own backyard. “I owe a lot to Monte and his family,” he says of Lambton-KentMiddlesex MPP Monte McNaughton, Ontario’s Minister of Labour, Immigration, Skills and Training Development. “Monte, his brother Mike and their father own the local lumber lot that I originally bought from—and still buy from.”

“I have many fond memories of working with Dave over the years at my family’s Home Hardware Building Centre in Newbury,” McNaughton recalls. “As a longtime community leader in the home building industry, Dave is a perfect choice, with the knowledge and skill to lead the Ontario Home Builders’ Association. Our government is on a mission to build 1.5 million homes by 2031 and make homeownership a reality for more families. I look forward to working with Dave in his new role as we work together to get more people into skilled trades and homes built.”

Tackling Illegal Building and Skilled Trades Challenges

Depencier knows his plate is full. “We need to build a lot of homes and we need to build them faster,” he says. “We have to keep engaging and

collaborating with all levels of government. Everyone has to chip in and to find common ground. And to make it happen, we need labour. OHBA’s Job Ready Program will consequently be one of my priorities.”

The daunting ‘to-do’ list also includes addressing illegal building, notes Midhaven Homes owner Peter Saturno. “Dave was part of the Regional Industry Advisory Council I was on,” Saturno says. “I expect his insights will be valuable when it comes to sharing solutions that will help close loopholes on illegal building, especially as he’s coming from a smaller community. Everybody’s gotta tackle a challenge as president, and that’s one I know Dave will focus on.”

“I see illegal building in a lot in smaller areas, and I can’t stand it,” Depencier says. “It’s an unfair playing ground. But you have to do it the legitimate and proper way to protect consumers and our collective industry.”

But matters of importance will begin much closer to home—framed by Depencier’s health scare and other reminders of mortality. “Since Covid, we lost Dave’s dad and my stepdad— both 72 years old—within two weeks,” Kim says. “Then my grandmother passed away. Then last year Dave’s grandmother died. And his stepdad is not well and is only 71 years old with advanced Alzheimers. That has all really helped to shape our outlook on life. We’re extremely close with our two kids and just relish family activities more than anything.”

And when family relationships go astray, well, as Labadie advocates, “Work things out.”

“My parents divorced when I was in high school,” shares Depencier, whose mother worked for a construction company throughout her working life, running the office and managing buildings for the firm. “My father battled heart attacks over the years, and we drifted apart for a long time after the divorce.”

Depencier, however, made the effort to reconnect—a fulfilling decision in light of his father’s passing two years ago. And so it is with a happy heart and a penchant for perfectionism that he prepares to assume his OHBA presidential post.

“Dave won’t be happy with mediocrity,” Kim assures. “He will want to do things differently than others have in the past, to set new expectations and be able to say that he gave his all while he was in that role.”

“I have such a passion for the industry,” says Depencier, who stresses that he’s a team player as far as OHBA mandates go. “The pandemic flatlined us. But we’ve turned the page and I want to build the excitement—to make people want to engage and be active parts of our industry again. I want to leave with people saying, ‘That guy has been an unreal president! He changed the game for us!’ That’s my mission.” OHB

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The cause was close to Depencier’s heart— literally—as he suited up with Chatham-Kent HBA Executive Officer Dan VanMoorsel and Doug Tarry Homes President Doug Tarry during a cycling marathon to raise funds for a ChathamKent Health Alliance campaign.
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Five variables that can sink your reno estimate

Recently, Bricen Sears’ contracting company in Trenton was hired to carry out a seemingly simple kitchen renovation for a client. The work required removing old cabinetry, and as they began the tear-out, a double brick wall behind the cupboards started to crumble.

“The only thing holding the brick in place, unbeknownst to us at the time, was a layer of lath and plaster, and one-quarter-inch panelling,” says Sears, president of Warren & Co. Contracting.

The wall was quickly shored up and Sears called in an engineer to suggest a way forward. The homeowners’ original quote for the reno was $29,000, but repairing and stabilizing the crumbling wall added another $7,200 to the bill—plus caused a delay in the schedule.

Unseen surprises, such as those lurking behind walls, is just one of the factors that can make renovation pricing unpredictable. This and other issues can make a reno quote a moving target and a headache for renovators hired to do the work.

What are the key challenges and how can a renovator handle them? Here are some of the most common culprits contributing to reno pricing unpredictability and how to deal with them, according to OHBA Renovators’ Council Chair Garnet Northey (president of Spotlight Home & Lifestyle in Peterborough) and two other experienced Ontario renovators.

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“While the ‘before’ photo depicts what looks like a nice kitchen, the floors were uneven and sloped due to the poor DIY work of previous homeowners,” says Garnet Northey of Spotlight Home & Lifestyle. “This added extra time and cost to what was already a large reno job, as the floors had to be levelled. What also added costs was active water flowing into the crawlspace beneath the house, which had to be remedied before the work could proceed. In the end, the small, U-shaped kitchen was transformed into a huge open-concept kitchen/dining/family room… with completely level floors.”

1Client Changes

“I’ve never seen so many client changes as we’re seeing now,” says Northey. He cites the influence of home design-related TV shows or advice from family and friends that, while well-intentioned, may not be the best solutions or suit the homeowners’ needs. He says another problem is the endless choice of features and finishes available and “once people get started on a reno, the budget is forgotten. Psychologically, they forget about the money. They’ll say, ‘Let’s replace all of the windows, not just two.’”

Northey says since Covid—and more than ever before—people are looking at their first home as their forever home. Due to the price of houses and the overall cost of moving, they are deciding to remain where they are and renovate.

“They’ll say, ‘Let’s stay and pour money into this house,’” says Northey. “They may have planned to get a new kitchen, but then they’ll say, ‘We’re going to be here forever, so let’s tear down walls, replace the flooring and lighting.’”

If there’s one thing Sears dreads hearing from a client is “while you’re here…” when a job is already in progress. He says a revised quote is often not an issue and most clients understand the additional costs associated with making changes, but it can lead to disagreements.

“We had a customer recently who, after approving our quote, began adding stuff to the list before we started the project,” says Sears. “To try to stay ahead, we kept revising the quote. The client was upset with the updated price increases, ‘as we would be there anyway.’”

Sears explained the changes would add time and materials to the project and that the job would consequently cost more. After the customer delayed the job start several times and the quote had been revised multiples times, the project was cancelled, as it was no longer feasible with the budget the client had in mind.

2Lacking X-ray Vision

Some clients may consider their contractors to be superheroes, but unfortunately x-ray vision is not yet a thing in the renovation business. “Until we start demolition, we don’t know what we don’t know,” says Northey.

“Often we encounter issues we had not anticipated and unfortunately they are not included in our costing,” says Sears, who cites this as his No. 1 issue in reno pricing unpredictability. “A few examples would be buried structural issues, electrical nightmares and shoddy workmanship covered up by previous homeowners and/or their contractors.”

That’s also at the top of Kitchener-based Pioneer Craftsmen Ltd. President Jamie

ohba.ca @onhomebuilder ONTARIO HOME BUILDER | FALL 2023 32
Garnet Northey OHBA Renovators’ Council Chair and president of Spotlight Home & Lifestyle.


Adam’s list. “It’s usually previous renovations, and so many times they have been done by unwitting homeowners, and with no permits. These issues don’t rear their heads until the demolition, and it’s hard for a client to understand these may require additional framing and reworking of plumbing, electrical and HVAC systems because of them.”

Adam cites one job where a homeowner

decided to get a start on a kitchen renovation ahead of the crew’s arrival. The client removed part of a load-bearing wall himself, which then required reinforcement to deal with the load no longer supported by the wall. Adam says that added an extra $8,000 to $10,000 to the job’s original price of $220,000, which wasn’t a huge increase but was an unnecessary expense that could have been avoided had the homeowner not taken matters into his own hands.

Northey’s company was hired to build an addition to a house. When the client started taking finishes out of his basement, it was discovered that the foundation at the back half of the house had dropped two inches. The existing home’s whole foundation had to be changed to accommodate the addition. Then when Northey’s crew started digging for the addition, piles of old construction debris that had been buried there had to be removed and disposed of—yet another unforeseen cost.

A year ago, Sears’ company was hired for what seemed like a simple job: replace columns for a carport. The original quote was to replace 6”x6” posts, add temporary supports to hold the roof up, and remove and replace the top course of the concrete block foundation. Sears had an engineer inspect prior to beginning work and it seemed the job would proceed as anticipated. But as the work commenced, the entire foundation was lost due to water damage and poor workmanship by its original builders. That required a redesign and permit changes. Excavation found a further pitfall—a serious shoring issue with the existing backfill under the carport asphalt.

“The project began to snowball into a headache job far over the budget and timelines,” says Sears. The homeowners understood the problems and were okay with the higher price, but questioned Sears as to why he hadn’t foreseen the issues.

Another surprise no renovator wants to find when demolition begins is asbestos, notes

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Jamie Adam President of Pioneer Craftsmen Ltd. While the finished product belies its hurdles, this Pioneer Craftsmen kitchen in Waterloo was filled with hidden defects behind walls, rotten framing and unlevel floors.

Sears, which can be present in insulation, plaster and flooring. “We try to mitigate this expense by testing whatever we can before starting jobs. We have written in our contract, as most contractors should, that should asbestos be present during the renovation, it must be tested and removed by an approved abatement team at the client’s expense.”

3 Client Expectations vs. Actual Cost

“HGTV has done a gross disservice to our industry,” says Northey. Sears agrees, and lists client expectations as his No. 2 issue when it comes to pricing unpredictability.

“Sometimes it’s very hard to match expectations to reality, and what might be done on a TV renovation show may not be realistic for a contractor not sponsored by multiple suppliers,” Sears notes.

The costs flashed on screen are often ridiculously out of whack with the actual price it costs to do those kinds of renovations, especially in Canada, says Northey. “They are watching shows that are from the U.S., where people may be paid $4 an hour. Materials, by the sheer volume purchased, are so much cheaper there.”

Those TV-fuelled expectations are extremely challenging to deal with, Northey says. “None of us are hitting budgets anymore, and part of that is driven by design and trying to manage people’s expectations.”

The disconnect between customer-perceived cost and actual cost “is getting bigger and bigger and it is not unique to the housing industry,” says Adam. “A trip to the grocery store now costs a lot more than I thought it would.”

While TV and online reno programs are fuelling unrealistic client expectations, Adam says big box stores are also a culprit. A homeowner may see bathroom tile, for example, listed for a price much lower than what the renovator is quoting. But what they don’t realize, Adam says, is the products he supplies are chosen to be durable, to stand up over time and will be warranteed.

The client may also not realize that tile is only a small part of what it takes to build a new shower, and there’s also the waterproof board needed behind the tile, along with pressure gauges, etc.

“Or they may have had new doors installed in an addition and decide they want the doors in the rest of the house changed,” says Adam. “That $100 door at the big box store still needs hinges, trim, a jamb and hardware, and all of a sudden that $100 door costs $500.”



Material and labour prices skyrocketed during the pandemic, and while inflation has eased since 2022, that doesn’t mean prices have gone back to 2019 levels, as many consumers believe, says Northey. That’s partly due to the media not always understanding the big picture and not reflecting the reality.

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What began as a routine carport reno snowballed for Warren & Co. after the foundation ha d to be replaced due to water damage and poor workmanship by its original builders. Bricen Sears President of Warren & Co. Contracting

For example, prices in the U.S. went up 27% during the pandemic, and while they’ve only risen 2% in the past year, “that 2% is on top of 27%, so prices are 29% higher than in 2019,” Northey says.

Labour has similarly followed suit, and with a severe shortage of trades, those workers can command and receive a lot more money for their skills. That’s why Adam notes that it’s more important than ever to maintain good relationships with reliable subcontractors so that they will continue to work with you.

5 Product Availability

Adam says when he’s looking at a job six months out, he likes to place material orders as early as possible to avoid price escalation, where possible. For work that’s not happening for a year, products may not only cost more

down the road but not be available at all.

“If we wait six months and place an order and find a product’s been discontinued, that can create a lot of rework and redesign,” Adam says.


Dealing with Unpredictability

All three contractors agree that it’s important to start with very detailed contracts with a clear change order process in place. The CHBA has basic templates and samples of contracts that are easy for renovators to access online, Northey notes. He also does a pre-screen of clients to make sure they are going to be a good fit for his company.

Variables have to be addressed and explained in very clear language, he says. For example, the quote should be based on what the contractor can see, not what may be uncovered during demolition, as well as changes in material and labour costs.

Adam says “communication and more communication” is paramount, as well as building good relationships with clients. His company has a lead carpenter and project manager, and when a client wants a change or an issue arises that is going to affect pricing, they will make detailed notes listing all that’s involved.

“You have to list all the details so that the client understands how complex the tasks are,” says Adam. “When you have a good relationship and they understand what they are looking at, 95% of the time they’ll end up proceeding.”

Northey says you should also be prepared to walk away early if the fit isn’t right or if the client’s budget isn’t going to match the scope of the work. “I’m upfront with clients about what the costs are. We do this for a living, and yet even we are surprised at the costs sometimes. We also have a clause about the design process. It makes it clear that you have to have a design first (as opposed to designing as the work is underway), then price it. That’s the only way you get accurate pricing.” OHB

ohba.ca @onhomebuilder ONTARIO HOME BUILDER | FALL 2023 36
After removing the cupboards during this kitchen reno, Warren & Co. encountered a crumbling double-brick wall. It had only been suppored by lath, plaster and quarter-inch panelling.

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Here’s All The Dirt

Digging into the challenges and execution of new excess soil regulations

t was a bill he hadn’t expected. Richard Tang, WP Development’s project manager for The Wilmot, an eight-storey, 380-suite condo development in uptown Oakville, had just learned that his excavated soil would have to be sampled and characterized before it could be moved. He’d have to lodge his development on a new online registry. The soil’s movement would have to be tracked.

On his previous job, a 95-home subdivision in Clarington, excess soil had been split between a willing farmer and a nearby development. This was all new, unscheduled and unbudgeted.

“It’s not a big number, but in terms of cash flow, just out of the blue coming up with $50,000—yes, it was a shock to us,” Tang admits.

Tang can be forgiven. It was November 2022, and builders across the province recognized his uncertainty. Ontario’s new On-Site and Excess Soil Management Regulation (Ontario Regulation 406/19) had been on hold since April. The government promised it would be reviewed and clarified before being enforced once more beginning on January 1, 2023. Builders and contractors who had scrambled to purchase or update software to track soil movement, or who had invested in sampling and soil characterization, were left to wonder if the rules shifted would it even be needed anymore? Speculation was that the regulation was in for some serious changes. This situation raised questions on how to comply with a regulation when its heaviest burdens may soon be entirely different than before.

That’s a fair question, says Sarah Sipak, Team Lead of Environment & Construction at Palmer Environmental Consulting Group and Qualified Person (QP) at The Wilmot. It’s a question that many QPs wrestled with during the regulation’s pause. But Palmer had already completed Phase 1 and 2 site assessments and identified a few areas of potential environmental concern (APEC). The soil would be moved after January 1 and would have to comply with the regulation’s terms, whatever they might be. A more thorough study seemed wise if only to satisfy the needs of potential receiving sites, any of which might insist on rigorous sampling.

Today, every developer in Ontario whose project involves leaning a shovel into the ground must ask and answer an important question: Does O. Reg. 406/19 apply to me?

The initial answer to that question will be yes if more than 2,000m3 of soil will be exported from the site. There are other triggers—high-risk sites, for instance—and several workarounds and exemptions, the most important of which exempts parkland and residential, institutional or agricultural sites. However, if the answer is yes and none of the exemptions apply, the project must be registered on the Excess Soil Registry, triggering the need for soil sampling, documentation, record-keeping and reporting.

It’s a matter for the developer because the regulation creates a new role within the construction hierarchy, the Project Leader. And the Ministry of Environment, Conservation and Parks’ view is that the Project Leader is typically the owner or the developer, notes Jennifer Fairfax, an environmental lawyer and partner at Osler, Hoskin & Harcourt LLP. That doesn’t mean tasks can’t be


delegated. But ultimately, the Project Leader’s neck will be on the line even though the burden for fulfilling the regulation’s requirements will typically be borne on the shoulders of a QP.

“People know what QPs are now,” quips Suvish Melanta, an associate at Grounded Engineering. On residential projects, seldom were QPs involved in the movement of soil prior to 406/19. If it didn’t affect the Record of Site Condition, she rarely got involved. Now, Melanta says, QPs are at the centre of most construction projects.

Sipak had been brought in early as part of the land development approval process. Overseeing the management of excess soil would not typically have been within her scope. A conversation with a client about an unexpected expense can be a challenge, she says, and she sought creative ways to lighten the load on the project’s budget. That included working closely with Tang’s construction team. “We were able to establish a relationship with all the different parties that had been added to the project from a residential perspective, and then identify a plan where we could use those resources to execute the work. Establishing a strong relationship with the contractor is very benefical to all parties.”

The intent of the regulation is to treat soil as a resource, putting an end to the ‘dig and dump’ practice that has often governed the movement of excess soil in Ontario, filled landfills and sometimes seen soil dumped in environmentally sensitive areas or on the land of unaware recipients. Industry guidelines intended to ensure that only clean soil was reused by willing receiving sites were often ignored.

“Even if you think you know where your soil is going, we would send a technician out and follow a truck every now and then if we were worried about it,” says Melanta’s colleague, Senior Project Engineer Freesia Waxman.

The regulation amplifies the former guideline and gives it teeth. Now, soil from any site not deemed “low-risk” may not be moved until it is characterized, and then only to a willing receiving site.

“That has really changed everything,” says Stacy Meek, Team Lead for Geo-Environmental & Soil Management at EXP Services’ Markham office. “Before, it was almost a buyer beware situation.”

A strong working relationship with the contractor and other project parties can make moving mountains of soil a much more efficient process, advises Palmer QP Sarah Sipak.
ohba.ca @onhomebuilder ONTARIO HOME BUILDER | FALL 2023 40
“Even if you think you know where your soil is going, we would send a technician out and follow a truck every now and then if we were worried about it.”

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But now the receiving site holds all the cards. That’s why a good relationship and solid communication between the QP and the contractor is vital, says Sipak. Typically, the contractor will identify receiving sites, but the project’s QP can then determine if those receiving sites are suitable based on the source site’s analytical data and discussions with the receiving site’s QP. A misalignment could easily result in trucks being turned back from the receiving site’s gate. Even without misalignment, though, things can go sideways. A receiving site may turn away perfectly suitable soil if, for instance, it finds that its soil needs have already been met. It’s not uncommon. “It’s really important for the consultant to have that backup plan in place,” Sipak urges.


It’s expected that as the industry adapts, precious landfill space will be preserved and ancillary environmental and social benefits will accrue. By trucking soil to nearby receiving sites instead of distant landfills, emissions will be reduced, roads will suffer less wear and tear, traffic congestion will ease and construction costs will potentially fall if additional sampling costs are more than offset by lower disposal costs. But it will be years before that cost-benefit equation can be resolved. For now, the principal consequences are higher costs for developers—and more work for QPs. Melanta says she’s much more involved now in the construction process, and even in project design. For example, the regulation provides an exemption for soil that is reused onsite. She’s working on two projects where the design of the community is being influenced by the developer’s desire to reduce the amount of soil leaving the site.

But the cost of environmental approvals has nearly doubled, Melanta concedes. “For a midrise project, you can expect upwards of $50,000 of excess-soil-related consulting costs.” That sum may be a blip when weighed against total project cost, but for the first two quarters of 2023, it has been an unbudgeted blip.

With the QP doing the work, and the Project Leader bearing ultimate responsibility for compliance, the relationship between the two is critical, explains Waxman. “We’re their experts. They’re relying on us to provide information on what they actually have to do. It’s not straightforward, even if you think it is.”

For builders, this is concerning because there is uneven expertise among Ontario QPs when it comes to Regulation 406/19. “I’d say right now, 10% to 20% of my projects are takeovers,” says Waxman, where she has been called in at the 11th hour to rescue a project when the QP has not complied with the regulation.

The penalty can be costly. Based on a handful of residential projects, Grounded Engineering has recently been informed that each day of delay can cost developers between $25,000 and $30,000, versus having a $100,000 characterization program that’s up to snuff.

A developer’s risk tolerance also plays a big role. Generally, the bigger the developer, the lower the risk tolerance, says Melanta. It’s a gamble Tang was unwilling to take at The Wilmot. He asked how much sampling was needed and if it could be reduced. But he also knew that if he cut corners, his soil might not be accepted at the receiving site, leading to delays and possibly more sampling. “Looking at the proposed budget, it wasn’t big enough for me to take the risk.”

Fairfax and colleague Andrew Wong, a construction lawyer

Each soil core, obtained through drilling, is measured to determine the sample’s depth. Here a Grounded Engineering technician takes chemistry samples from a sample at a GTA project.

ohba.ca @onhomebuilder ONTARIO HOME BUILDER | FALL 2023 42
Although complex, QPs want developers who appreciate the new regulation, hire them early and regularly check in, but to otherwise let them do their work, suggests WP Development.

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and also a partner at Osler, urge developers to insulate themselves from liability as much as possible through contracts. The regulation leaves open a defence of due diligence in the event of non-compliance. That defence will be supported by clear contractual terms that spell out who does what. For instance, pre-406/19, a contract might have required an excavation contractor to comply with all environmental laws. That’s probably not good enough anymore, says Fairfax.

Wong says developers also need to document steps they’re taking to ensure everyone is fulfilling their responsibilities. That may include withholding payment until all terms have been met.

Given the newness of the regulation, developers would also be wise to verify qualifications and experience of the QPs they retain. Wong recommends that this be done as part of the procurement process.

“Have that QP on board from the start,” advises Sipak. Some of the excess soil work can be done alongside early drilling or ‘test pitting,’ she says. “I think it’s really important to have the QP involved during the tendering phase,” she continues, to ensure that construction tenders include all the additional work related to excess soil management.


Typically, Ontario’s Ministry of the Environment, Conservation and Parks will cut industry some slack as it adapts to a new regulation, stressing education over enforcement. But Ontario’s grace period may be drawing to a close. A year ago, there was a blitz on haulers, says Waxman. This spring, she noticed a few random inspections. But as of late July, the ministry had issued no tickets or penalties, according to spokesperson Gary Wheeler.   Companies like SoilFLO may serve as a barometer of the industry’s response. SoilFLO sells soil tracking software,

and its principal, Jeff Goldman, says business is booming. Hauling is a tradition-bound industry that resists change, he says. “We have to be shown that there’s an advantage to doing things in a different way.” He believes the message is getting through. “People are starting to get their heads around the fact that soil is a resource.”

Nobody wants to see soil landfilled that can be beneficially used elsewhere, says Meek. But to ensure that as much soil as possible is beneficially reused, she echoes many of her peers: The government must address a misalignment between the Excess Soil Regulation and the Brownfields Regulation (O. Reg. 153/04). Each has its own table of soil standards, and they don’t always agree. As a result, says Meek, more soil may be going to landfill than before. She cites a recent example of a condo development on a site not considered contaminated under the Brownfields Regulation. But because it contains low levels of volatile organic compounds, every shovelful of dirt excavated from the site is considered unsuitable for reuse under the Excess Soil Regulation. With the former system, there were reuse options. The options now? Export the soil to a Class 1 site for treatment, or truck it to a landfill.

The impact of this discrepancy will grow as January 1, 2025 nears, when the landfilling of all soil will be banned except for use as cover or for ancillary work.

The regulation is detailed and complex, and a developer can get tangled in the weeds. QPs are happiest working with developers who know the importance of the new regulation, hire them early, check in on them regularly, but let them do their work. During excavation for The Wilmot, Tang knew when soil was being moved, where it was being moved and how much it was costing him.

“I know the excavation team. I know how they operate,” he says, and he had documentation of work being done by the book. His advice to his peers? Talk to your consultants and establish a relationship of trust so that they are comfortable coming to you with issues ahead of time. That’s because, as Melanta warns, “You can’t solve the excess soil problem a month before construction starts. It’s much cheaper to do it right than to fix it later.”

ohba.ca @onhomebuilder ONTARIO HOME BUILDER | FALL 2023 44
EXP Services Inc., the soils consultant for this Queensville residential development project, notes that the new soil rule has completely shifted the responsibility for soil quality and has ended the former “buyer beware” environment for soil transport in Ontario.








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News and moves from the industry

overhead work, as well as improving metabolic efficiency.

While exoskeletons show promise in reducing injury risk, they have not been readily adopted by construction firms. In response, CISWP researchers, funded by federal and provincial research granting agencies, have focused on improving the adoption and implementation of exoskeleton technologies in the skilled trades.

Unfortunately, the current body of literature has not focused on investigating the effects of exoskeletons with actual construction workers as participants and at worksites/environments representative of actual working conditions.

Safer, Stronger, More Inclusive

Conestoga investigates exoskeleton technology in the construction sector

CONSTRUCTION WORKERS are at high risk of workplace injuries, particularly musculoskeletal disorders (MSD). MSDs include low-back injuries, rotator cuff injuries, tendinitis and carpal tunnel syndrome, and often result from repetitive and/ or forceful movements and awkward and static postures. According to workplace insurance board statistics, MSD accounts for 38% of all lost time claims, costing businesses billions of dollars due to worker absence, lost productivity and other indirect costs. Early exits from the labour market, due to workplace injuries, have contributed to the looming workforce shortage in the construction industry. Are wearable exoskeletons a potential solution? Researchers at the Canadian Institute for Safety, Wellness & Performance (CISWP)

have focused on creating evidenceinformed strategies to improve and sustain the health and safety of workers and address workforce retention challenges. Wearable passive exoskeletons are gaining popularity as a potential solution to augment, enable, assist and/or enhance a worker’s physical capacity. Passive exoskeletons may play a role in reducing the risk of MSD, as they are designed to redistribute load, absorb shocks and absorb a portion of the effective weight to minimize the problematic high forceful exertions.

In recent years, there has been a surge in laboratory-based studies contributing to the growing body of literature on the subject. These studies show initial benefit for workers through a reduction in muscle activity during dynamic lifting and

CISWP researchers, however, are bridging the gap between fundamental research and the needs of industry. In collaboration with several organizations and stakeholders in residential construction, as well as technology leaders and manufacturers such as Hilti Canada, CISWP is investigating the effects of exoskeletons on skilled trade workers, including women and other underrepresented groups. The ongoing research evaluates the day-long and multiday effects of exoskeleton usage on worker fatigue, productivity and performance, and injury symptoms.

Initial findings suggest the potential to reduce MSD pain symptoms at multiple body regions. Upon the conclusion of the research project, CISWP will take research findings to develop decision-making tools for construction businesses to better plan for the effective adoption and use of exoskeleton technologies.

CISWP continues to seek partners interested in participating in its field study. If your company would like to contribute to this research initiative, contact ciswp@conestogac.on.ca.

ohba.ca @onhomebuilder 47 FALL 2023 | ONTARIO HOME BUILDER

and a major proponent of the Build Now initiative.

10,000 Affordable Homes for Waterloo

Habitat for Humanity Waterloo Region, in collaboration with local developers and a wide range of community partners, has launched Build Now: Waterloo Region. A first-of-itskind community-led partnership, Build Now will create 10,000 new affordable and attainable homes for Waterloo Region individuals and families. The partnership is looking to work together with all four orders of government to ensure these homes are built by 2030.

The partnership utilizes the experience and insight of regional notfor-profits, charitable organizations, home builders, construction association members, the business community and academic institutions to plan and build housing that will be placed on the market for approximately half-price. Working together with all orders of government, the group is aiming to provide a local stock of 7,000 attainable homes for purchase, and 3,000 attainable homes for rent by 2030.

Drawing on Habitat for Humanity’s expertise in screening and placing deserving families in attainable housing, every one of these homes will go to a buyer or renter who needs a place to live—and none will be available as investment properties.

“Waterloo Region has always been home to innovators and leaders. That is what I love about this community—we nurture the brilliance of minds that dare to dream big,” said Scott Higgins, president of OHBA member HIP Developments

The Build Now design will remove cost drivers not directly tied to the material and labour necessary to build new homes. Under the stewardship of Habitat for Humanity Waterloo Region, partners will transfer undeveloped land for housing construction, development charges will be waived through Bill 23, and home builders will eliminate pricing mark-ups beyond that which allows them to build new housing at cost. Additionally, there is hope that there will be private transfers of underdeveloped land at free or nominal costs. Based on Habitat for Humanity’s analysis, these three factors alone account for approximately 50% of the price of a new home.

For more information, visit BUILDNOWWR.CA

QUICK FIX: Prica Helps Bail Out Rental Market

any building, let alone projects that can be completed efficiently, is the time spent collaborating with and coordinating multiple construction teams,” says Bruno Pinto, Project Manager at Prica Group Construction Management. “Through our use of the most modern cloud technologies, integrating BIM (building information management) designs with construction teams occurred daily and in real time. It made for faster and more effective construction for all, as did sourcing more local Canadian materials, rather than relying on overseas distributors that might take far longer to deliver.”

Both developments will relieve significant pressure on the overheated Waterloo rental market, which the Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corporation reported to be at record low vacancy rates in early 2023.

Prica’s 308 King St. N. is comprised of 340 rental units and 14 commercial rental spaces. Construction began in January 2022, with occupancy beginning this past July. While the average construction time for a building of this size is approximately two to 3.5 years, it was completed in just 20 months. Lower levels of the building were finished and furnished first, with attention then moving upwards toward completing higher storeys.

Waterloo-based developer and property manager Prica Global Enterprises is nearing the completion of two unique rental developments in Waterloo. Both were constructed in well below the average time for buildings of their size due to a unique phased approach to their construction and furnishing. The accelerated timeline was aided by the use of advanced cloud technology in integrating construction partners and teams throughout the process.

“The challenge in constructing

The building, with a rooftop amenity space and a park and garden on its east podium, is unique in that it is designed to resemble a tree in the midst of an urban landscape. Its orientation, windows and building envelope are based on the principles of phototropism, the way in which living things respond to light.

Prica’s 298 Hemlock St. project is a six-storey building comprising 92 rental units with office space on the ground level. It was constructed in just 10 months, roughly half the average construction time for a building of this scale. Its design and orientation are centered on the Danish concept of hygge, which uses space and one’s surroundings to establish feelings of joy, vitality and coziness.

ohba.ca @onhomebuilder ONTARIO HOME BUILDER | FALL 2023 48 Building Buzz AFFORDABILITY
ohba.ca @onhomebuilder 49 FALL 2023 | ONTARIO HOME BUILDER

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Province Launches Trades Qualification Certificates

Skilled Trades Ontario has begun issuing over 17,500 certificates of qualification and more than 200,000 wallet cards to apprentices and certified skilled trades workers across the province.

“This is an exciting milestone for thousands of skilled trades professionals,” said Melissa Young, CEO for Skilled Trades Ontario, an agency of the Ministry of Labour, Immigration, Training and Skills Development.

Over the coming months, skilled trades professionals in compulsory and non-compulsory trades who received their certification after January 1, 2022, will begin receiving their certificates of qualification in the mail. The certificate is an official document that proves that a person is qualified to work in a particular skilled trade in Ontario. To obtain a certificate of qualification, individuals are required to have passed their certification exam and met all requirements to practise their trade here.

“Our government has invested $1.5 billion in the skilled trades to make life-changing careers more accessible to jobseekers and launched Skilled Trades Ontario to bring our province’s system into the 21st century,” said Monte McNaughton, Minister of Labour, Immigration, Training and Skills Development. “Apprenticeship registrations have increased by 24%.”

Introducing a dynamic brick that delivers a new level of distinction for brick homes. Featuring a curated collection of designer colours and a linear format, District Series is perfect for modern home designs. Available in six fabulous tones in Metric Norman size.

Beginning this fall, wallet cards will be issued to apprentices and certified compulsory and non-compulsory skilled trades professionals. Wallet cards can be easily carried while working on the job, in the event they are requested by inspectors or clients.

Since launching last year, Skilled Trades Ontario has provided online verification of the status and licence details of compulsory apprentices and journeypersons on its online public register. This service will continue to be publicly available and updated.

ohba.ca @onhomebuilder ONTARIO HOME BUILDER | FALL 2023 50
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CHBA Battling Land Expropriation in Court

Challenges for developers with de facto land expropriation by governments are a major issue for industry, but significant progress is being made by CHBA through engagement with cases in the Supreme Court of Canada. Last fall, CHBA was a successful intervenor in a Supreme Court precedent-setting case out of Halifax, where the successful ruling now makes it easier for developers and property owners to be compensated for government action that removes all reasonable uses of their lands. This was a major victory for the development community. Recently, CHBA has become an intervenor in a new case before the Supreme Court in St. John’s, again dealing with fairness in compensation in expropriation cases.

A Manitoba judge recently awarded a Winnipeg developer $5 million after ruling that two city planners deliberately stymied development of lands—again building the judicial precedents needed to support similar cases across the country (and hopefully avoid such government action in the first place).

Alterra Promotes Wilson to President

Alterra Group of Companies, a leading integrated Ontario developer and builder, has appointed Stuart Wilson as the company’s new president.

Wilson brings a wealth of expertise to his new role, most recently as Alterra’s COO, where he has consistently demonstrated his financial acumen and played a pivotal role in the company’s growth.

The company’s current CEO, Robert Cooper, remains deeply entrenched in the progression of Alterra, supporting Wilson in his role as well as the property acquisition team of which Cooper is very involved. Cooper is set to remain CEO of Alterra for the foreseeable future.

ohba.ca @onhomebuilder 51 FALL 2023 | ONTARIO HOME BUILDER LAW


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Cooper Equipment Rentals Appoints Spilak as COO

OHBA member Cooper Equipment Rentals Ltd. recently promoted Brian Spilak to the position of Chief Operating Officer.

Since joining Cooper in 2016, Spilak has played a central role in the Mississauga-headquartered company’s growth and development, becoming a key part of Canada’s largest independent construction equipment rental company. With nearly 30 years of experience in the industry, he has held various leadership roles encompassing operations, fleet management, customer relationship management and technology.

As COO, Spilak will continue to spearhead initiatives aimed at driving growth and expansion into new markets and the implementation of optimized technology solutions across 65 locations nationwide.


SvN Architects Adds New Partner

SvN Architects + Planners (SvN) has expanded its leadership team with its newest partner, Pino Di Mascio. Di Mascio brings extensive expertise in developing planning solutions to challenges such as sustainability, affordable housing and social inclusion. His new role will focus on strategically identifying and achieving enhanced environmental and social outcomes in the development process across SvN’s existing and future projects.

This announcement follows recent SvN moves earlier this summer, including the promotion of Aaron

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Budd, who leads the regenerative practice, to Partner, as well as the addition of Minsu Kim as Design Lead in the growing Vancouver office.

Before joining SvN, Di Mascio was head of Impact Strategy and Delivery at Dream. During his tenure, he played a critical role in the bid for two major developments: LeBreton Flats in Ottawa and Quayside in Toronto.


Guelph & District HBA Appoints Jonker CEO

The Guelph & District HBA board of directors recently appointed Melissa Jonker as Chief Executive Officer. Jonker has served as Executive Officer of the GDHBA since 2017, overseeing the operations and advocating for the association and Guelph community among industry leaders from coast to coast.

“We believe this strategic title change better reflects our vision to advocate for measures that help homeowners and homebuyers, and works to keep the local building industry healthy and strong,” said GDHBA President Spencer Reid. “With Melissa’s continued leadership, this title change will ensure the GDHBA is better positioned to work with local municipalities and all levels of government to strengthen housing attainability in Guelph and beyond.”

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In addition to her leadership role with the GDHBA, Jonker is current Chair of the CHBA Executive Officers’ Council Management Committee, a position that includes a seat on the CHBA Board of Directors. Additionally, she participates on OHBA’s Executive Officers’ Council.

DESIGN Made (Greener) in Japan

A popular, centuries-old and environmentally friendly building material in Asia has been brought to Canada by Toronto-based Living Green Homes.

Shikkui is an all-natural lime plaster used to coat interior and exterior walls. Similar to traditional plaster, it has the versatility to achieve various finishes, from marble-like smoothness to matte and textured designs.

But it’s the health benefits that have made Shikkui a coating of choice in Japan. Due to its highly porous makeup, it actively improves indoor air quality by absorbing and trapping CO2, VOCs and odours, the manufacturer notes, and its high-alkali property make it anti-bacterial, antiviral and antifungal. It’s also non-toxic, having been composed from allnatural materials, including up to 50% upcycled eggshell aggregate and plant fibres. Further, its highly absorbent surface reportedly provides it with the ability to regulate humidity, thereby reducing the work of HVAC systems.

Those various attributes make it an attractive alternative to more traditional plaster or wall coatings such as paint or wallpaper, but it’s also builderfriendly in its ability to help achieve environmental certifications, contributing to 11 LEED credits.

It is recommended that the product be installed by Shikkui-trained professionals or by trades/subtrades trained by Living Green Homes.

ohba.ca @onhomebuilder ONTARIO HOME BUILDER | FALL 2023 54
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What do July’s CMHC Housing Starts Mean?

The national housing starts trendline increased for the second consecutive month in July, reports the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC). The total of 242,525 units was up 2.8% from June’s 235,819 units. The trend measure is a six-month moving average of the monthly seasonally adjusted annual rate (SAAR) of total housing starts for all areas in Canada.

The stand-alone monthly SAAR of total housing starts for all areas in Canada, however, decreased 10% in July (254,966 units) compared to June (283,498 units), which was the strongest month so far this year.

“Despite a decrease in the SAAR of housing starts relative to last month, July saw a healthy number of actual housings starts from a historical perspective (7.4% above the 5-year average),” noted Bob Dugan, CMHC’s Chief Economist “Market intelligence suggests multi-unit projects started in June and July were likely financed a few months prior, so the effect of the most recent interest rate hikes on housing starts remains to be seen.”

The monthly SAAR of total urban starts (populations of 10,000 and over) decreased by 11%, with 234,857 units recorded in July. Multi-unit urban starts decreased 12% to 193,446 units, while single-detached urban starts decreased 4% to 41,411 units.

The Vancouver and Toronto CMAs saw decreases in total SAAR housing starts in July, with Vancouver down 23%, and Toronto down 29%. That said, both cities have been performing well this year compared to last. Actual 2023 year-to-date housing starts were 35% and 49% higher than the same period in 2022 in Toronto and Vancouver, respectively.

CMHC uses the trend measure as a complement to the monthly SAAR of housing starts to account for considerable swings in monthly estimates, obtaining a clearer picture of upcoming new housing supply. Analyzing only SAAR data can sometimes be misleading, as the multi-unit segment largely drives the market and can vary significantly from one month to the next. OHB

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It’s What’s Outside that Counts

New sidings and shingles shades up the ante on first impressions

THERE IS NO SHORTAGE of documentation regarding the importance of curb appeal in selling a home. The old axiom of “It’s what’s inside that counts” is only half-correct— and sometimes less than that if the exterior has failed to do its job in capturing a prospective buyer’s imagination.

But a very large component of a home’s exterior is often disregarded—what’s on top.

“A roof makes up half of a home’s exterior, so it’s wise to invest in shingles that provide the best aesthetic and functionality for the long term,” suggests Nathalie Lambert, Marketing Director of BP Canada.

To that end, roofing expert BP Canada has launched a first-of-its kind multi-toned grey shingle to meet changing market demand. Part of the brand’s Mystique Collection, BP’s new Morning Mist is the first

shingle colour of its kind, consisting of a mix of grey, white and brown that reflects the move toward more saturated, earthy tones that are less uniform than traditional monochromatic colour schemes. The new line provides a harmonious complement to most exterior siding, while adding a warm and timeless look.

“Black roofing shingles have always been seen as a safe choice for consumers, but now people are starting to realize that softer neutral shades like grey”—or ‘greige,’ as BP describes Morning Mist—”can actually add more wow-factor to a home’s exterior,” Lambert says.

“Coming out of the pandemic, consumers’ tastes are changing as they look for finishes that exude a sense of coziness, calm and security,” explains Lambert, adding that people are craving balance in all aspects of life, including their exterior design choices.

ohba.ca @onhomebuilder 57 FALL 2023 | ONTARIO HOME BUILDER
News and moves from the industry Cedar Renditions (Timberline tone pictured) from Westlake Royal Building Products combines beauty with durability.

To help select the style and colours that best complement your client’s home and personal style, BP Canada offers a free, simple-to-use visualizer tool at bpcan.com/visualizer. “No matter what style you prefer,” Lambert notes, “it’s important to choose a roof that’s made to stand the test of time.”


And it needs to stand the test of Mother Nature as well. BP’s Manoir line is reportedly able to withstand hail the size of golf or billiard balls, as well as Category 4 hurricane winds. Re-creating the sophisticated look of natural stone and slate roofs of ancient castles without the weight and maintenance drawbacks, Manoir features a dotted Hurricane Band as the product’s primary wind protection component. Placed at the edge of the exposure, it ensures the shingle remains in place over its lifetime. Its solid Weather Tite Band, meanwhile, is a second sealant strip that prevents water infiltration caused by wind-driven rain, in addition to providing another level of protection against wind blowoffs. All told, Manoir’s standard wind warranty is

for 220 km/h. It also features an extensive dual-layer construction, while a polymer-modified asphalt formulation provides added flexibility, long-term granule retention and meets Class 3 requirements for impact resistance according to the FM 4473 standard.

As for aesthetics, Manoir is offered in five colourways. It is the first line of shingles to come out of BP Canada’s recently created Chroma Colour Lab, where advanced granule application technology and expert colour design come together to create natural blends that complement today’s upscale exterior finishes.


But when the roof doesn’t top the list for curb appeal, it’s usually what’s ‘on’ side that counts. In that regard, Maibec has witnessed a renaissance of one of its portfolio. The Lévis, Quebecbased leader in integrated building siding systems is seeing homeowners increasingly combining two or three types of siding on their homes.

“Our CanExel line, which is relatively new to Maibec but not new to the market, has seen a rebirth in Ontario since it was added to our

lineup,” says Adam Deacon, Maibec’s Regional Sales Manager for Ontario and Western Canada. “It’s a superdurable HDF (high-density fibreboard) siding that caters to the growing segment of homeowners who prefer a more uniform, durable look, and who are looking for an option that is a little easier on the budget.”

The company is also featuring a new stone line this year called Maibec Acenta, “a mechanically fastened real stone product that can be installed easily with a level and a drill—basically, masonry without the mason,” Deacon says.

Yet another recent addition for Maibec is its Dizal product line, which primarily caters to the commercial and large-scale segment of the market but has residential applications as well. The high-end extruded aluminum siding uses a graphic printing process to produce an incredibly realistic, wood-toned siding with a metal base. This technology also allows for the creation of highly personalized projects that leave room for creativity, as Maibec can virtually print anything on these aluminum planks, from turquoise wood to a reproduction of the Mona Lisa

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Cedar Renditions siding from Westlake Royal Building Products is also making builders, renovators and their clients stand up and take notice. What Royal is calling “an exterior-transforming, contemporary accent,” Cedar Renditions is an innovation in both adaptability and durability. The look of real woodgrain, offered in multiple colours, is generated in a very lowmaintenance, recyclable aluminum. It is water-resistant, non-flammable, impervious to cold, insect-proof and extremely durable. Better yet, it’s easy to install, Royal assures, and is supported by a 25-year prorated limited warranty.

Board and batten siding was added to the lineup earlier this year, and Royal had continued to pile on new, more premium colours to keep up with trends.

“A key value proposition is getting that great woodgrain look with no maintenance required, and which will continue to look as good as the first day it was installed,” says product manager David Unzek, who helped develop the product and who also installed an early edition of Cedar Renditions on his own Toronto home in 2016. “In the end, it is a cheaper product because of that maintenance advantage. We also offer a trim option in the same woodgrain appearance, which allows you work around windows, doors, beams and any architecture volume—something you either couldn’t do or that would be more expensive to do with natural wood, which is more expensive to begin with than our aluminum.”

“Installation is also made easier thanks to the roll-formed aluminum makeup—sturdy but easily cut with a pair of snips on the jobsite,” Unzek says. “So you’re able to mould it to whatever’s required without having to use specialized equipment like a saw machine.

The 6” siding panels take seams out of the picture to achieve longer lengths, with factory-made notches on either end allowing for overlapping when working in either direction.


Popularity is growing, says Unzek, with Royal penetrating more markets, including south of the border. “People like the fact that we have different price points for different budgets. I can’t stress the no-maintenance aspect enough—but also that it’s super-easy to install, especially with the shortage of masons. A person who installs vinyl siding can install our aluminum, and vice versa.

“Homeowners are looking to enhance their facades—maybe a woodgrain-like facade with a product that has a substrate of plastic or a

cellular PVC or a metal,” Unzek says. “They increasingly like the idea of combining materials such as stucco, brick or stone with a woodgrain to add warmth to the overall look—all with the durability of thicker gauge aluminum siding.

Curb appeal never loses its lustre, Unzek notes. “We’ve seen examples in the reno market where people want to remodel a home whose exterior hasn’t kept up with current styles. But it’s easy to make it current with Cedar Renditions. I love looking at it on my house. It has aged quite well over the past seven years.” OHB

ohba.ca @onhomebuilder ONTARIO HOME BUILDER | FALL 2023 60 Product Focus
BP Canada’s Manoir Carcassonne shingle (above) was inspired by the historic castles of Europe. Their extensive dual-layer construction, elastomeric asphalt formulation and improved sealant ensure longerlasting protection. Below, Morning Mist from BP’s Mystique Collection is a mix of grey, white and brown that provides consumers with an alternative to the traditional solid grey options currently on the market.
ohba.ca @onhomebuilder 61 FALL 2023 | ONTARIO HOME BUILDER Y E ARS Longevity builds trust, choose Pollard Some of the best builders choose Pollard Windows & Doors. Exceptional service and installation and an industry-leading warranty, that’s why Pollard is the right choice for new home and multi-level construction. Now celebrating 75 years as a Canadian-owned manufacturer of quality products, Pollard is a name you can trust. For a free estimate today, call 1.800.263.6616 or visit pollardwindows.com I’m known for making smart investments which is why I chose Pollard for my home. SCOTT M c GILLIVRAY HGTV HOST & REAL ESTATE EXPERT 1_Pollard_OHB_Ad_Fall_HP_2023_R1.qxp_1 2023-08-23 9:57 AM Page 1 Oct 03, 2022 A WIDE SELECTION OF NATURAL STONE AND PRECAST CONCRETE PRODUCTS www.beavervalleystone.com Main Office & Yard: 8081 Woodbine Ave. SE Corner Woodbine/407 Office & Yard: 125 Langstaff Rd E., SE Corner Yonge/Hwy 7-407 Product Showcase A WIDE SELECTION OF NATURAL STONE AND PRECAST CONCRETE PRODUCTS www.beavervalleystone.com t: 905-886-5787 or t: 416-222-2424 Main Office & Yard: 8081 Woodbine Ave. SE Corner Woodbine/407 Office & Yard: 125 Langstaff Rd E., SE Corner Yonge/Hwy 7-407 Manufacturing Plant: 12350 Keele St., Maple We Deliver! Follow us on @BVSLimited Follow us on beavervalleystone

Green Incorporated

A Seattle neighbourhood shows how nature and density can co-exist

COVID 19 reminded builders how important greenspaces are to residents’ physical and mental health. And with a shift toward urban density, these spaces are more essential neighbourhood elements than ever.

Green areas improve a community’s sustainability in many ways. For one, they mitigate the urban heat island effect that contributes to summer peak energy demands, air conditioning costs, air pollution, greenhouse gas emissions, heat-related illness and water quality. They also encourage an active lifestyle. Wellplanned neighbourhoods with high pedestrian activity and bike riding reduce automobile usage.

A continuous landscape of greenery also helps preserve the biodiversity of an area, allowing various species to survive and circulate much as they do in wilder spaces. Continuity of such open space can be difficult to accomplish in high-density developments, but is achievable if corridors of greenery are combined with walkways to link urban green patches to big parks outside the community.

Still, the planning and provision of

open spaces in areas with greater densities requires much care and thought. Private outdoor space, whether in the form of front or back yards, patios, decks, balconies or roof terraces, must be provided along with public outdoor space, which can be implemented in a variety of spatial patterns.

Built in an already-established neighbourhood of Seattle, Bryant Heights combines different housing and program types with a focus on greenery to merge higher density living with the mid-density residential district.

Designed by Johnston Architects, Bryant Heights takes up a street block previously occupied by a hospital campus; its development reintegrating the site back into the urban fabric. To the north, east and west are residential blocks. To the south lies a busy commercial street.

To blend with the neighbourhood dynamic, the architects proposed a gradient of density, with commercial space, live/work and condominiums in the south, and single-family homes to the north.

Topographical changes were incorporated to break up the large

scale, also resulting in an engaging pedestrian experience. Townhouses connect up to three units, economizing space while giving most units the privacy of a semi-detached home. Further, all townhouse blocks were designed with different facades to avoid visual monotony, while adding a more bespoke character.

Single-family units neighbouring the streets are equipped with large front yards, often with retained trees, offering more privacy. Townhomes also have large front yards, providing homeowners with their own garden, while contributing to the development’s overall greenscape. The preservation of existing trees also provides a sense of permanence to the homes, while maintaining biodiversity on the site. Two large oaks define the central path that connects the townhouses. Combined with other pedestrian paths, they blend the different density zones into one cohesive community.

Native plants were grown as part of the landscape, reducing maintenance costs and minimizing disturbance to the environment.

Bryant Heights serves as a model of how the design of open spaces can contribute to denser single-family homes, while also being planetfriendly. OHB

ohba.ca @onhomebuilder ONTARIO HOME BUILDER | FALL 2023 62 Frame of Mind

Raising expectations since 1954.

At Tasco, nothing motivates us more than “hard-to-please”. So go ahead, sweat the small stuff. Nit-pick every product. Drill us on the details. It’s what we’re made for. We ask the right questions to get to know

our partners like the back of our hand – whether it’s your brand preferences, project timelines or unique specifications. So come to Tasco to get the high-end treatment you deserve.


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