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New-home building and renovation industry acts to protect workers, customers

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New-home building and renovation industry acts to protect workers, customers

In times like these, people’s health and well-being are of the utmost importance. This extends to workers in Ontario’s new-home building and renovation industry and to our industry’s customers. For many residents of the GTA, this is a period of heightened anxiety and concern, so I want to take the opportunity to let readers know how our industry is striving to be part of the solution.

I have been in regular contact with our members to understand what actions they are taking and to co-ordinate responses with provincial and municipal authorities. Without fail, BILD members are taking action to help meet community needs and respond to the health crisis, guided by the best information available, that is, information from the public health authorities in the municipalities and regions where they operate.

Individual company actions may vary based on their own unique situations. Companies are enabling social distancing through remote work where possible. Many are opening sales centres by appointment only, or closing them entirely for now. They are taking steps to ensure increased hygiene, sanitation and cleaning for locations that remain operational.

We all know that the current situation is not normal and that as we all work to address and overcome this global pandemic, there will be impacts. Global supply chains, movement of goods and productivity are all affected. Our industry is working diligently to ensure that we continue to fulfill our responsibilities to our customers. We also recognize that eventually the effects of the current situation will extend to the delivery of new homes and completion of renovations, as well as any warranty work that might be required under builder warranties and Ontario’s New Home Warranties program.

In this regard, Tarion, Ontario’s body for consumer protection and administration of the Ontario New Home Warranties Plan Act and regulations, has recently issued an advisory for home builders and new-home buyers on what to expect during the COVID-19 situation. This material can be accessed at tarion.com. It provides solid guidance, but should not replace direct dialogue with your builder.

The GTA’s new-home building industry, professional renovators and land developers are doing their best to continue to meet the housing needs of residents, while at the same time doing their part to reduce the spread of COVID-19. At times like these, we must all pull together by working collaboratively and taking care of each other. That is our industry’s commitment to our colleagues, our customers and each other.

Dave Wilkes is President and CEO of the Building Industry and Land Development Association (BILD).



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Humber Bay, Etobicoke

Why Canadians should think long term in real estate – especially now

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Why Canadians should think long term in real estate – especially now

Humber Bay, Etobicoke

Unprecedented doesn’t even begin to describe it. A few weeks ago, we awaited an exceptionally active spring real estate market in the GTA, buoyed by the recent easing of mortgage regulations and interest rates.

Now, however, instead of seeing a spike in buying activity, we’re hunkering down, battening down the hatches and riding out the COVID-19 crisis, all in an attempt to flatten the curve.

Historic, surreal and unbelievable might be more suitable adjectives to describe these times.

And under such circumstances, with normal life routine displaced by the daunting and unknown, people naturally tend to worry.

In real estate, if location, location, location is the No. 1 rule of thumb, thinking long term is right there along with it, as 1A.

We’ve been through similar challenging times: The 1989 recession, Y2K, 9/11, the Great Recession of 2008-09 and SARS. Now we face COVID-19.

At times of economic uncertainty and extreme stress in the marketplace, people always revert to their number one emotional and financial investment – their home. People trust real estate. Buying that first condo, a new home for their growing family, downsizing once the kids move out or renovating the place you already love.

And, so it will be again.

Long-term lift

But don’t take our word for it. Consider, for example this report from the Real Estate Investment Network (REIN), a national group of investors which bases everything it does on independent research.

According to the REIN Special Report: The Coronavirus’ Impact on Canadian Real Estate, Canadian real estate will see an immediate cool-down – but a long-term lift. We may see a temporary decrease in GDP growth, but key drivers of real estate such as population growth and increased foreign capital, demand and property values will eventually rise.

“It’s still premature to predict how the coronavirus outbreak will be resolved, but data suggests that panic will only worsen the country’s economic situation,” says Jennifer Hunt, REIN’s vice-president of research. “There is reason to be alert, but there’s absolutely no reason to further raise alarm and cause more public fear. In fact, as a Canadian real estate investor, this may represent a buying opportunity for investors, with a likely future positive lift in rental and housing markets.”

Open for business

It might be a stretch to say it’s “business as usual,” but life does have to go on, as soon and as safely as possible. New home builders and developers are open for business, are accepting presentation centre visits to by appointment only, and as much as possible are moving communications to digital.

Meanwhile, the Bank of Canada recently lowered its influential overnight rate target twice in less than two weeks – from 1.75 to 1.25 per cent on March 4, then again to 0.75 per cent on March 16. Canada’s Big Five banks are following suit by lowering mortgage rates, and they, too, are increasingly going digital to facilitate business.


All of this means the opportunities to buy are still there (though with a modified process), with less short-term competition and a more buyer-friendly mortgage and borrowing landscape.

Indeed, as challenging as these times may be, it’s even more important to focus on the long term. And on that front, new-home ownership in the GTA is still a solid investment.


GTA home price growth to hit 10 per cent this year: TRREB

Outlook 2020 – 5 things you need to know about real estate this year

Get ready for a hot market in the GTA this spring




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EDITOR'S CHOICE: Podium Developments

New home buying opportunities abound in Oshawa and Durham Region

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New home buying opportunities abound in Oshawa and Durham Region

EDITOR'S CHOICE: Podium Developments
Ironwood Towns in North Oshawa by Podium Developments and Urban Capital

Despite the bad news this week that General Motors Canada plans to close assembly operations in Oshawa, there are some good new home buying opportunities in the city and elsewhere in Durham Region.

As various levels of government and the Unifor trade union vow to somehow keep the plant open or otherwise deal with the fallout of the decision, the housing sector in Oshawa is expected to shift into a buyers’ market.

That could mean deals for buyers in a market where home prices have already been under pressure.


Also read: What the GM plant closure means for Oshawa economy and housing

Also read: Oshawa housing to move into buyers’ market thanks to GM closure


For those looking to buy a new home, know that there are still plenty of good opportunities in Oshawa and surrounding area.

First, let’s look at recent new home buying activity in the area, courtesy of statistics from Altus Group, theofficial source for market intelligence for the Building Industry and Land Development Association (BILD).


Total new home sales, units

Oshawa Durham Region
2013          682       2,376
2014       1,108       3,130
2015          971       3,433
2016       1,149       5,344
2017          490       2,385
2017          483       2,262
2018            83       1,065
Source:  Altus Group


Naturally, the GM news is a sensitive topic to an industry such as home building, where companies dedicate years to planning and construction development projects. So don’t expect a comment any time soon from BILD, the voice of home builders in the GTA, or individual companies.

Might developers at some point offer deals – be they discounts or upgrades – in order to move an unsold inventory in a market not feeling the strongest at the moment?

It never hurts to ask.


A selection of new home and condo inventory

Ironwood in North Oshawa, Building Capital and Podium Developments, contemporary freehold townhomes

Harmony Creek, Conservatory Group, townhomes and detached homes

Brook Phase 2, Delpark Homes, detached homes

Fields of Harmony Phase IV, Greycrest Homes, detached homes

Kingsview Ridge, Treasure Hill, 30-, 36- and 40-ft. singles

Park Ridge, Tribute Communities, detached homes from the low $900’s

U.C. Towns 2, Tribute Communities, townhomes form the low $600’s

Top of Townline, Woodland Homes, detached homes

For more new home buying opportunities, visit MyHomePage.ca

With files from Natalie Sicilia, New Home Research Manager & Map Editor


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Consumer Protection

Consumer Protection: Invaluable Feedback From Customer Service Survey

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Consumer Protection: Invaluable Feedback From Customer Service Survey

Buying a new condominium is a big investment – perhaps the largest you will ever make. That’s why choosing the right builder is a critical decision too.

The good news is that you can make that decision with valuable information from consumers who have already gone through the homebuying process.

Every year, Tarion asks buyers of new homes or condominiums about their experience with their builder. We send these Customer Service Surveys out each fall to more than 50,000 consumers who have moved into a new home or condo in the previous year.

This year is no exception. Consumers who bought homes between October 1, 2017 and September 30, 2018 will soon receive the questionnaire to fill out.

The survey asks questions about your builder’s customer service before and after you moved into your new condo. You can rate how well they kept you informed throughout the entire home-buying process. Did they do a good job of explaining things like the Homeowner Information Package and the new home warranty coverage that every Ontario builder has to provide to purchasers of new condos?

The survey also asks new owners if they dealt with Tarion and how satisfied they were with our customer service.

The survey results are useful to new home and condo buyers in two key ways.

First, it helps us gauge your experience with Tarion. Once you become a new condo owner, Tarion’s job is to help you understand your warranty coverage and how to make claims. Feedback from our annual surveys tells us how well we are doing in educating new home and condo owners and helps us find areas where we can improve our customer service.

Second, your responses determine which builders will receive Tarion’s Homeowners’ Choice Awards. Builders who are finalists or recipients of these awards have this information added to their record in the Ontario Builder Directory on Tarion.com. This is a terrific resource for consumers when they are doing their research to find a builder.

So, if you have taken possession of a new condominium in the past year, look for your Tarion survey in your email or post mail this fall and please take the time to complete it.

Your responses will help improve customer service for new home and condo owners across Ontario and will provide future buyers with critical information when looking for a builder they can trust.

HOWARD BOGACH is president and CEO of Tarion Warranty Corp., a private corporation established to protect the rights of new homebuyers and to regulate new home builders.



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Design/Build Expert: Custom Home Collaborations

Design/Build Expert: Custom Home Collaborations

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Design/Build Expert: Custom Home Collaborations

by Brendan Charters
photography: Valerie Wilcox (exteriors), Peter Sellar (interiors)

An architect, designer and builder outline how to create project synergies

Embarking on the design and development of a new home is a big decision. It requires a clear outline of goals, the assembly of specialists, the management of egos, budgets and a pinch of added stress. Some experience greater success at it than others. To help guide those looking to undertake a custom home project of their own, we talked with the architect, Brad Abbott, Abbott Design Ltd, designer, Meghan Carter, Meghan Carter Design, and the project manager, Jim Cunningham, Eurodale Developments on a recent project we collaborated with. By connecting, we gain insight on how they help guide their clients to create both a beautiful finished project, and a smooth process, all while working together. Sounds impossible, right? It’s really not.


Firstly, what makes the perfect custom home client for you? (i.e. style preference, personal character type, or other significant detail)

Architect Brad: A variety of tastes and styles is fine. Ideally the client has trust in the ideas and expertise of the architect and and allows freedom of creativity.

Designer Meghan: Our ideal client seeks to follow the design intent for creating a seamless esthetic, versus a choppy and piecemeal one often found through design on-the-fly type projects.

Builder Jim: The client is someone that understands challenges arise during any project. Nothing is seamless, you need to break an egg to make an omelette…so to speak. There has to be trust as you are working on their behalf at all times. Most importantly, respect and value for our role in the process.

Do you prefer to have the architect, designer and builder involved along all steps of the process, or just in their defined segment?

Architect Brad: The architect is integral to the overall design of the space, including the interior, such as: trim and door packages, post and beams and the overall structure. Continuity between the exterior and the interior can be critical. Involving the interior designer and builder early ensures a shared vision, as well as cost implications for the owners to use in their approval of the design direction. If possible, involve all parties at key design and budgeting milestones in advance of the build.

Designer Meghan: The clients need to understand the roles of each party and use them accordingly to obtain ultimate value. With increased collaboration throughout come the best ideas and the smoothest process from design to execution. If the architect is not doing the interiors, the interior designer should be involved at the first design stage to ensure details (such as window placements) work with furniture placement and flow on the inside.

Builder Jim: The involvement of all three is key when something is identified, which will not allow for the execution of the original design intent. While we do not require our hands held, we understand our role in the process is to execute the vision, and if it’s not possible, we are not tasked to design the solution—though we surely will make suggestions, the architect or designer will need to be the one to recommend and design the ultimate change for the homeowner to approve.

Introducing each other – when is it appropriate?

Architect Brad: If retained first, we prefer to do high-level budgets upon creation of floorplans and elevations. We recommend contacting two to three design-build firms for a meet-and-greet and reputation review. This review includes historically guided budgets, not trade/ supplier firmed pricing. It can help guide final designs and set the relationship path.

Designer Meghan: In years past, people would hire the builder first, then reach for the designer. This has now flipped, for the better. Once floorplans are about 85 per cent complete, a lighting plan and scopedocument has been created, we then look for one to two contractors to ballpark. They can then scale back, if needed, while it is still relatively cheap to design.

Builder Jim: As early in the process as possible, so that everyone can understand the goal from a space, style and budget perspective, as well as help the owners create a list of their priorities, which will govern how we allocate their budget throughout the project. It also helps build the team relationship approach if everyone starts from the first phase.

What to do when issues arise vs. that which is planned for?

Architect Brad: Don’t cut the architect and/or designer out of the conversation, just because they aren’t on site that day. A misguided or misdirected solution to a perceived problem can horribly impact the overall design. Keeping all involved can avoid diluted projects and relationships.

Designer Meghan: Start the build off with a project walk with all team members to try and flush these out at the get-go. Failing that, continue that method in the spirit of collaboration to ensure continuity of ideas and process for the benefit of the homeowner and the project!

Builder Jim: I would personally call the architect and ask them how they would like to handle the situation. Sometimes this can be flushed out by phone. Failing that, I would call an on-site meeting. If the client is unable to attend, I would brief them on the meeting and get their final approval on decisions before making the change, and document it.

Architect Brad, you work about 50 per cent in the city and 50 per cent in cottage country in Collingwood— what are the differences for you?

AB: In the country, clients tend to be slightly older, more experienced and are often moving out of the city. Typically, my country clients are better heeled and are more relaxed, having undertaken a few renos in the past. City homes offer unique challenges, such as this site with tight confines, whereas more rural settings provide ample views, along with more siting process to capitalize on topography, prevailing winds and lake views.

Designer Meghan, you acted as designer here, but you also undertake permit drawings and some project management duties for clients—how does this process differ for you?

DM: We know to enter with a low ego when working in collaboration as everyone at the table is skilled at what they do, hence their reputation and why they were retained. When we run from start to finish for the client, the project has more of a singular vision—our vision— which can make things easier but can also be limiting. When working as a group versus working independently, a clear outline of roles, responsibilities and deliverables of each member is a necessity to avoid overlap or conflict between professionals, which confuse clients.

Builder Jim, you acted as the project manager on this build, but your firm also undertakes an in-house Design-Build approach to projects—how does this process differ for you?

BJ: Our design process is more function-based in nature. Working with an architect and interior designer provides another level of design, which raises the profile of the project. It also tends to remove some of the copycat DIY design direction that is so prevalent in the industry. It’s not the right solution for everyone, however, and the Design-Build method works very well to help people undertake their dreams of expanding, updating or recreating their space to suit their tastes or needs. About 75 per cent of what we build is designed in-house, but we love building interesting and challenging projects designed by other professionals, too.

Brendan Charters is Partner at Toronto Design-Build Firm Eurodale Developments Inc. – 2017 OHBA Renovator of the Year.



(416) 782-5690


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