Reno Expert: It's a GREAT BIG World

Reno Expert: It’s a GREAT BIG World

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Reno Expert: It’s a GREAT BIG World


by Jim Caruk

Building techniques vary from country to country

Anyone who has done much travelling around the world knows that building practices can vary from country to country. I recall an item we ran in Renovation Contractor magazine a few years ago about lax safety standards on jobsites. It included images of guys working from ladders that were stacked on top of other ladders, scaffolds made of lumber stacked on top of oil barrels—with bricks to level things off and, my favourite, a guy with a hardhat strapped with a bungie cord to the top of his dreadlocks, a good foot away from his skull.


One of the guys I work with travelled around Southeast Asia with his wife for three months a few years back. In Bangkok, Thailand, there was a vacant lot close to the hotel they were staying in. When they returned to the city a mere six weeks later there was a fully operational eight-storey hotel on the site, complete with a bar and Internet café on the ground floor. Here, it would take that long just to get through the first round of building inspections.

Of course, it would be smug of us to think we always do better here. In Renovation Contractor, we have a regular feature called the “Recall Roundup.” In it, we highlight some of the many (many) tools, building materials, and household products that are recalled every month.


Europeans have often been way ahead of us in terms of energy efficiency and water conservation. Tankless water heaters are rare here but all across Europe people have been using the space- and energy-saving units for decades.


Then there are renewable products such as bamboo that we just can’t grow here. But in Asia, contractors use it for everything from flooring and room dividers, to durable scaffolding for working on the exterior.

Styles and material choices even vary across the country. Here in Southern Ontario, access to raw materials and manufacturing facilities to create them have made brick the dominant choice for exterior cladding. But if you go out to the east coast, Cape Cod style wood siding dominates (see A Renovator’s Prerogative). Head out west and it’s common to see homes built with log walls and cedar shakes, something generally reserved for wealthy cottagers here in Ontario.

Jim Caruk, Renovation Editor

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