All posts by Dave Gray

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For the dogs

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For the dogs

A Danish developer is building a three-storey, 18-unit complex exclusively for tenants with canine companions. The units will feature durable, easy to clean floors and there will be a communal dog washing station.

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“There’s a real demand,” developer Niels Martin Viuff told a Danish news agency. “People are tired of the fact that there are so many places where you cannot have a dog. We’d like to welcome dog owners. Many of them feel a little lonely.”

And what about a, ahem, cathouse? “It’s on the drawing board,” says Viuff.

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Understanding Development Charges

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Understanding Development Charges

The purchase price of a new home is comprised of many components – a significant portion of which is a tax referred to as Development Charges (DCs).

According to recent Altus Group statistics prepared for the Building Industry and Land Development Association (BILD), Development Charges account for more than 20 per cent of new home prices in the GTA. The average new single-family home includes about $186,000 in DCs. These are one-time fees imposed by municipalities on land developers, homebuilders and institutions when they build within their boundaries.

The idea behind these fees is to help defray the costs to provide the additional infrastructure that is or will be needed to accommodate the increase in population from the new developments.

People typically think of infrastructure as roads and sewers, but Development Charges also go toward a variety of amenities that benefit entire communities.

Development Charges are protected by legislation. In 2016, Bill 73, the Smart Growth for Our Communities Act, came into effect to help ensure predictability and accountability of municipalities, help them fund growth, protect greenspaces and ease the planning/appeals process. These steps were taken to improve on the Development Charges Act that was implemented in Ontario in 1989.

Municipalities conduct studies to determine what services and infrastructure will be required in the future to accommodate growth. Through the mechanism of a bylaw, they have the ability to determine fees that can be used to pay for hard and/or soft services. Hard services include items such as roads, water and waste management. Examples of soft services are libraries, parks and recreation centres. A simple way to think of this system is that growth pays for growth.

The Neighbourhoods of Cardinal Point in Whitchurch-Stouffville.

A good example of how Development Charges are applied is in the growing Midhurst area in the Township of Springwater, Simcoe County, where Geranium has land holdings in the Doran Road and Carson Road communities. The DCs on new homes built here will help with the creation of a comprehensive new parks and recreation master plan offering an exciting array of facilities and amenities. These will include neighbourhood parks, ball diamonds, splash pads, trails, tennis courts, picnic pavilions, a multi-purpose recreation centre with a twin-pad arena, curling rink, community centres and potentially more. In addition, these funds will pave the way for expansion on critical services such as fire and police protection. When delivered, these substantial amenities will result in a higher quality of life for residents of the area, whether current or future.

Municipalities experiencing growth have a limited number of tools at their disposal to raise funds to support the aforementioned hard and soft services. Voters do not like it when their political representatives raise property taxes, so development charges often bear the brunt of costs associated with growth. This explains why they account for 20 per cent of the price of a home in the GTA.

Families buying a new home are often drawn to it because of the surrounding neighbourhood and the opportunities to enjoy parks and trails, recreation facilities and community centres. These amenities are provided, repaired and maintained partly as the result of Development Charges.

Shauna Dudding is senior vice-president, development for Geranium. Since 1977, the company has built more than 8,000 homes throughout Ontario. Geranium.com

RELATED READING:

In His Own Words: Paying More Than Our Fair Share

 

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rc_oct2_2018_fi

Renovators’ Remix: A playlist that pays off

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Renovators’ Remix: A playlist that pays off

We’re still accepting suggestions for our contest seeking out song titles and band names that relate to construction and homebuilding. We’ve already had some great ones including Handy by Weird Al Yankovic (thanks Anne Butler, of Master Edge Homes), Up On the Roof by the Drifters (from Blondie Neff of Sunshine Roofing – of course!), and Hard Hat and a Hammer by Alan Jackson (one of several suggestions from Jax Bailey of J. Bailey and Sons New Homes & Renovations).

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Do you have any additions to the list? Send us your contributions and we’ll compile a list in an upcoming issue of the magazine. If there’s a story behind the music, share it with us.

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Plus, we’ll randomly select three entries and send them a DeWalt ToughSystem jobsite radio and charger (DWST08810) with $299 each.

Send your playlist to allan@renocontractor.ca.

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Hurricane season has hit: How you and your clients can protect yourself

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Hurricane season has hit: How you and your clients can protect yourself

In mid-October, 1954, the remnants of tropical Hurricane Hazel settled over Toronto, dumping 3.5 inches of rain on an already soggy city. Rivers across the area flooded, knocking out bridges and more. The most devastating damage happening on a street called Raymore Dr., built on the floodplain of the Humber River. Fourteen homes were washed away, many with people trapped inside. Thirty-five people from the street died. Many lessons were learned from this disaster including, don’t build on a flood plain.

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While we typically think of hurricanes affecting the southern U.S., the largest storms often have impacts reaching Canada, particularly the Atlantic provinces. If you’re in the path of potentially devastating storm, FirstOnSite Restoration shares these 10 tips for you and your clients to protect your properties.

  • Board up your windows. Broken windows leave your property exposed to wind, rain, and flying objects. Plywood is an extremely effective and relatively inexpensive way to protect your windows against hurricane-force winds. Other options: storm shutters and impact-resistant windows.
  • Secure loose outdoor objects. Any unsecured item can become a deadly projectile in high winds – garbage bins, potted plants, lawn furniture, gardening equipment, toys. Move these indoors, or tie them down, to avoid injury to people, or damage to your property or your neighbours’.
  • Check your roof. Cracks or leaks in a roof can lead to water damage during a hurricane. Loose shingles can also become projectiles.
  • Trim your trees. Falling trees pose a risk to both your property and neighbouring properties. Reduce this risk by removing any dead trees or branches now.
  • Protect your property against flooding. If your area is vulnerable to storm surges or overflowing rivers, this step is especially important. Sandbags piled at least half a metre high form a protective barrier against floodwaters.
  • Install surge protectors. Hurricanes often cause power outages, followed by power surges when electricity is restored. Surge protectors help protect your electronic devices from voltage spikes caused by power surges.
  • Back up electronic devices. This step is critical for businesses. Data should be stored off-site, in case physical computers or devices are damaged or inaccessible due to a hurricane.
  • Create an inventory of your property. Knowing exactly what items are in your home or business is vital when filing an insurance claim. In addition to making a written list of contents, you can take photos or videos, or use an inventory app.
  • Ensure you have adequate insurance coverage. Check your policy to make sure you’re covered for damage caused by rain or wind. This generally includes damage caused by flying debris or falling branches or trees, or damage when water enters through openings caused by high winds.
  • Stay informed. When a hurricane develops, landfall can often be predicted 24–48 hours in advance – providing a window of time for last-minute preparations, and if necessary, evacuation.

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Recall Roundup: Chain Gang

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Recall Roundup: Chain Gang

Makita and Dolmar chainsaws

Models affected: Various models of 64, 73, and 79 cc units.

Potential problem: The chain brake may not properly engage in a kickback situation, potentially limbing the user instead of a tree.

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Sold: Approximately 2,500 were sold in Canada between April 2002 and June 2018.

Contact: Makita Canada, 800-263-3734 (Central and Eastern Canada); 800-663-0909 (Western Canada); Makita.ca.

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Market Report: The Dirt

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Market Report: The Dirt

Deets & Trends about the GTA New Homes and Resale Housing Market

 

INDUSTRY INSIGHT

What are the three most requested amenities in a condominium complex?

  1. Social spaces
  2. Gym/fitness facilities
  3. Pet spa

Source: Spectrum Realty Insights

We Are

  • New home sales and marketing gurus
  • Licensed realtors
  • Market nerds

SpectrumSky.com

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Tribute Communities making a Green difference

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Tribute Communities making a Green difference

Tribute Communities is a builder/developer that’s making a difference for the industry and Ontario new homebuyers through Green initiatives. Just ask Tim Clarke, a software engineering consultant who worked for a company specializing in reducing the water and wastewater demands of residential buildings.

When Clarke bought a home in Tribute’s Grandview development in Oshawa, he was interested in upgrade packages that would make the home more energy efficient – not a typical request like hardwood flooring or marble countertops.

“He wanted a better than (Ontario Building) Code home,” says Wally Kunz, options manager at Tribute’s decor centre.

Little did any of them know at the time that this request would lead to the launch of Tribute’s Innovative Performance Standard, or TIPS.

Frank MacPhee, Tribute’s vice-president of contracts and the man who gave the program the green light, had sensed a better-than-code ask was inevitable.

Clarke’s request “just pushed it quicker to the forefront of our mandate.” Clarke received the “comfort package,” consisting of a Lennox two-stage 96 AFUE furnace, a Lifebreath ERV, HVAC balancing, a drainwater recovery unit, greywater rough-in, a Green Whisper Select bath fan and Excel sheathing.

Soon after, TIPS was offered as standard fare at Tribute’s new Ajax community, Quantum Falls. Enbridge then approached Tribute to join Savings by Design, a program that provides builders with a $2,000 rebate for every home (up to a maximum of 50 houses per community) that is rated 15 per cent better than the 2017 code.

Meanwhile, with a new home rated 21 per cent better than code, Clarke is already seeing savings in his bills.

For perspective, his old house was 2,500 square feet, 1,000 square feet smaller than his new one. In the new home, monthly hydro bills have dropped from $150 to $100 and gas is down from $170 to just over $100.

MacPhee says Clarke’s home is one of more than 30,000 homes across Southern Ontario built by the 2016 Ontario Home Builders’ Association’s Homebuilder of the Year.

Through its participation in the Savings by Design program, Tribute Communities is constructing energyefficient, healthy and sustainable homes that exceed building code requirements by at least 15 per cent, as well as promoting environmental stewardship through reduced greenhouse gas emissions, conservation of natural resources, habitat remediation and environmental education.

This story is from an article appearing in Better Builder magazine by Toronto-based writer Rob Blackstien.

ENBRIDGE For more on Savings By Design, visit SavingsByDesign.ca

TRIBUTE For more on Tribute Communities developments, visit TributeCommunities.com

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Sneak peek: Pickup Trucks

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Sneak peek: Pickup Trucks

Here’s an excerpt from Herb Ellis’ review of the 2019 pickup trucks running in our Oct/Nov issue.

 Ford F-150

After big changes in 2018, the 2019 Ford F-150 offers add-ons that make your job easier. The F-150 has a pickup bed with available features including flexible, configurable BoxLink system, stowable loading ramps, tailgate step with lift assist, and a remote tailgate release that lets you lock, unlock, and lower the tailgate.

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The BoxLInk system is worth a mention. It comes with four lockable cleats that plug into ports – two on each side of the box. They will let you use a wide range of aftermarket accessories such as cargo dividers and stowable loading ramps.

Box side steps are available on all cab configurations.

Backing up a trailer involves navigating two vehicles at the same time – the truck often going one way and the trailer going in the opposite direction. The available Pro Trailer Backup Assist makes this often-tricky manoeuvre as easy as turning a knob. Simply rotate the knob left or right in the direction you want the trailer to go.

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F-150 offers standard trailer sway control, part of AdvanceTrac with Roll Stability Control.

 

BASE MSRP
$31,349

 

MAXIMUM TOWING CAPACITY
13,200 lbs.

BOX SIZES
5.5’/6.5’/8’

ENGINES (TRANSMISSIONS)
2.7L V6 (10AT)
3.3L V6 (10AT)
3.5L V6 (10AT)
5.0L V8 (10AT)
3.0L V8 (10AT)

FUEL CONSUMPTION

(CITY/HIGHWAY)
14.2L/10.8L/100 km

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Home Realty: Toronto Housing Market Can’t Be Stopped

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Home Realty: Toronto Housing Market Can’t Be Stopped

Strong fundamentals mean it’s headed upwards

The construction consulting firm Rider Levett Bucknall recently released its RLB Crane Index for the third quarter of 2018, which is a report on the number of construction cranes in major American and Canadian cities during the most recent quarter.

Guess which city topped the list? For the third time in a row, it was Toronto, which nabbed the No. 1 spot with 97 cranes (that’s up from 88 in January, and 72 a year ago). Interestingly, 85 of those cranes are being used on residential projects. In case you’re wondering, Seattle was a distant second on the list, with 65 cranes, followed by Chicago (40) and Los Angeles (36).

All those construction cranes in Toronto can only mean one thing: the city’s condo market is thriving. And with strong fundamentals underpinning its growth, the market is headed nowhere but up, despite what naysayers may say.

The market is being driven by ongoing migration to the GTA, which sees 100,000 new arrivals each year on average. All those people will need to live somewhere.

The Toronto market is also being fuelled by low mortgage interest rates; yes, they’ve been hiked in recent months, but they’re still quite low compared to historic rates (recall mortgage rates topped out at a whopping 18.45 per cent in the early 1980s).

Then there’s the fact that the lowrise housing market continues to face serious supply challenges, with far more people looking for detached homes that simply aren’t available, or are far too expensive for the average buyer to afford.

This has shifted momentum to the condominium market, which had its best year in 2017, with more than 36,000 new condo sales, according to the Altus Group. Hence the reason why we’re seeing so many construction cranes dotting the skyline.

The Toronto condo market’s momentum is being propelled by investors looking to snap up units to rent out to desperate apartment hunters in a city where vacancy hovers around 1 per cent, and by first-time buyers, who have all but given up on the dream of owning a single-family home. Plus many boomers are now moving out of larger homes and want to live in condos for their convenience and central locations.

Yet affordability continues to be significant problem with pent-up demand for lowrise homes, which, owing to a chronic shortage of developable residential land, can’t be built in large enough quantity to supply the market.

Toronto’s housing market is perennially one of the world’s top performers, and it shows no sign of slowing down anytime soon.

Some observers persist on maintaining that we’re due for a severe correction, that the market can’t possibly remain this strong for this long — surely the boom will soon turn into a bust, they say.

But critics have been trying to count out the GTA housing market for years, and yet Toronto continues to defy the naysayers, its condo sector especially.

All those construction cranes dotting the sky are testament to the vigour of Toronto’s housing market, which actually can’t produce units quickly enough to meet demand. This is a city that is attracting people from around world in droves, whether it be for job opportunities or simply to live in a place that is peaceful, safe and culturally diverse.

Doomsayers might be disappointed, but the GTA’s red-hot real estate market refuses to cool off.

Debbie Cosic, CEO and founder of In2ition Realty, has worked in all facets of the real estate industry for over 25 years. In2ition.ca

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Video: World’s worst roofing job?!?

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Video: World’s worst roofing job?!?

There’s shoddy work, and then there’s this. Luckily the homeowner’s spidey senses were tingling and he decided to call these guys in for an inspection.

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