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Broccolini River & Fifth

Broccolini preparing for market return with hiring push, plans for Toronto

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Broccolini preparing for market return with hiring push, plans for Toronto

Canadian industrial, commercial and residential real estate developer Broccolini is ramping up hiring activity in anticipation of when market activity returns.

It also has plans for expansion in the Toronto residential market.

Broccolini River & Fifth
River & Fifth, at 5 Defries St., along the banks of Toronto’s Don River

The Montreal-based company, also with projects in Toronto and Ottawa, is looking to fill several positions in the coming weeks, ranging from planning to construction to property management.

“We are proud to have been able to keep our entire team employed throughout the pandemic, with the exception of the day labourers directly affected by the closure of the construction sites,” says Anthony Broccolini, chief operating officer at Broccolini. “Our exceptional positioning in the real estate market is now affording us the opportunity to further expand our team following these difficult times.”

Positions are available in Toronto, Ottawa and Montreal.

Strong growth projected

Once construction activities resume, Broccolini says its expectations for growth are excellent, thanks to a full backlog of contracted projects; a reflection of the quality, scale and prestige of the various industrial, commercial and residential projects the company has delivered over the last few years.

To carry out the projects already underway, and those that will be launching in the coming months, Broccolini is looking to hire a senior project manager, manager of real estate development, site superintendent and more.”

While we expect sales velocity to take some time to return to pre-COVID levels, the fundamental imbalance remains between supply and demand in the residential market in Toronto,” Phil Brennen, associate vice-president, real estate development, told Condo Life.

“The bottleneck that existed before the pandemic, which is essentially a function of approvals processes that have seen cycle times of three years or more, has been closed off completely as already overworked staff at the City have unable to accept new submissions. Add to that the fact that a number of projects that were slated for launch this spring and summer have been pushed back indefinitely, and you potentially have a major issue with supply. So, though demand for new units may initially be slower when activity resumes, the units available for buyers will be significantly diminished. As a result, the expectation is that while velocity will take some time to come back to normal levels, pricing will not soften.

Bullish on Toronto

“At the end of the day – particularly in times of uncertainty – residential real estate in a rapidly growing global city remains a safe and desirable investment,” Brennen says.

Broccolini has two large residential highrise projects underway in Toronto, in downtown east. River & Fifth, at 580 units and 38 storeys, was under construction until the industry-wide pause in activity.

“Once the provincial government gives the okay, excavation and shoring work will continue,” Brennen says.

The second project, at 385 units and 34 storeys, is close to the finish line for approvals, he says. The intent was to launch sales in the summer, though this will be reviewed depending on the timing of the return to the “new normal.”

Broccolini has several sites in the works, and is actively pursuing new acquisitions during the current slowdown, says Brennen.

“We believe strongly in Toronto’s high-density residential market and will continue to invest a significant portion or our resources in new deals in the months and years ahead.”

Broccolini is a single-source provider of planning, construction and property management services for industrial, commercial, institutional and residential buildings. Its real estate management subsidiary manages a portfolio of more than 50 properties, representing a total of more than 6.5 million sq. ft. of assets.

RELATED READING

Homebuyer intentions still high: HPG COVID-19 Real Estate Survey

How buyers can prepare for the busy buying season – post-COVID-19

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

 

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Tridel Ten York Innovation Suite Living room

The future of condominium living on display at Tridel’s Innovation Suite at Ten York

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The future of condominium living on display at Tridel’s Innovation Suite at Ten York

The future of condominium living, with every bell, whistle and Jetsons-like home tech gadget is on display at Tridel’s Innovation Suite, one of the Signature residences at Ten York.

Tridel Ten York Innovation Suite Living room

Expanding on the developer’s smart home integration features within Ten York, the Innovation Suite seamlessly merges technology and design, providing incredible connectivity, comfort and convenience for residents.

Luxury home experience

“The Innovation Suite at Ten York represents the incredible possibilities that occur when design and technology meet,” says Stella Salvador, principal interior designer, Tridel. “When we conceptualized this project, our vision was to create a luxury home experience unlike any other.”

The pathway to the Innovation Suite began when Tridel started exploring smart home technology, despite the lack of existing research or infrastructure within the space. The company sought to garner a deep-rooted understanding of how smart home technologies could meet to exceed the needs of future residents. The Signature Suite, as the “crown jewel” of the existing Tridel Connect smart home system, boasts additional features and amenities without compromising the elegance of the interior feel and finishes.

Immediately upon entering the suite, residents will be able to activate key features through voice control, such as centralized lighting, audio visuals and motorized blinds. The suite’s system control panel can be controlled by voice, phone or touch, and can be programmed with different scenes to customize the suite experience at key times throughout the day – opening or closing blinds, or turning lights on or off.

Voice-control features

Leading into the central living area, the first of four wireless charging pads throughout the suite make access to device power consistent and easily accessible. All features of the Innovation Suite are seamlessly tied into the overall concept and design of the space and most are synchronized with the assistance of smart home assistants such as Amazon’s Alexa.

In the kitchen, meal preparation is made easy thanks to smart home appliances, controlled through the associated mobile app. Plumbing fixtures such as the kitchen faucet can also be controlled to helpfully complete tasks on request, such as pouring a specific amount of water for a recipe, making everyday living easier than ever before. The powder room features a smart toilet with built-in speakers to play music, as well as a heated seat and foot warmer.

Smart shower

The smart home features are at their peak in the master bedroom, where a glass partition goes from opaque to transparent with the touch of a button, offering opportunities to enjoy natural light or disconnect in privacy. An entertainment wall provides a smart TV system along with an electric fireplace, which uses mist and special lighting to create realistic looking flames. The ensuite bathroom creates an indulgent setting, with heated floors, a smart mirror with voice-controllable lighting adjustment, a smart shower with voice-controllable water temperature and flow rate, and an AV-connected vibracoustic bath which can use sound to vibrate the water in the tub.

“As our lives get busier and more hectic, we’re all looking for ways to simplify the everyday and find more time to pursue leisure or spend time with loved ones,” says Adrian Wang, director of innovation and sustainability, Tridel. “We’re using smart technologies to find modern conveniences and enjoy new luxuries, while also introducing new opportunities to build community and connection with the rest of the building’s residents and amenities.”

Technology is even integrated into the flooring, with the warm wooden herringbone floors throughout the suite coated in titanium oxide that is activated by light and motion, filtering and cleaning the air in the suite regularly. Large windows mean an abundance of natural light and a connection to the outside world, while the balcony features stunning views of Toronto’s Centre Island.

tridel.com

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BILD February new home stats

GTA new home sales strong in February

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GTA new home sales strong in February

In what might be the last surge for a while, GTA new home sales were exceptionally strong in February, according to the Building Industry and Land Development Association (BILD).

BILD February new home stats

There were 4,665 total new home sales in February 2020, which was up 211 per cent from February 2019 and 57 per cent above the 10-year average, according to Altus Group, BILD’s official source for new home market intelligence. It was the highest number of new homes sold in February since 2002 and the third highest in the past 40 years.

Single-family surge

It was also the strongest February since 2004 for sales of new single-family homes, including detached, linked and semi-detached houses and townhouses (excluding stacked townhouses). With 2,247 new single-family homes sold, sales were up 228 per cent from last February and 44 per cent above the 10-year average.

Sales of new condominium apartments, including units in low-, medium- and highrise buildings, stacked townhouses and loft units, at 2,418 units sold, were up 197 per cent from February 2019 and 48 per cent above the 10-year average. It was the second strongest February of the past 40 years for new condominium apartment sales, after the record high of February 2017.

February new home sales by municipality

February 2020

Condominium units

Single-family homes

Total

Region

2020

2019

2018

2020

2019

2018

2020

2019

2018

Durham

89

21

4

489

97

49

578

118

53

Halton

227

22

46

380

275

113

607

297

159

Peel

545

127

103

289

193

35

834

320

138

Toronto

1,300

587

1,050

10

4

6

1,310

591

1,056

York

257

57

641

1,079

117

55

1,336

174

696

GTA

2,418

814

1,844

2,247

686

258

4,665

1,500

2,102

 Source: Altus Group

“Following on a month of strong new home sales in February, our industry and our customers are facing a time of challenges and uncertainty due to COVID-19,” says David Wilkes, BILD president and CEO. “We are working diligently to coordinate responses with provincial and municipal authorities, protect workers and customers and ensure that we continue to fulfil our responsibilities to new-home buyers. One of those responsibilities is building enough homes to top up depleted inventory and ensure our region’s new home supply keeps up with demand.”

Pent-up demand

“Prior to the uncertainty due to the COVID-19 situation, the new-home sector in the GTA was on track for a strong sales performance in 2020,” adds Patricia Arsenault, Altus Group’s executive vice-president, Data Solutions. “Low mortgage rates were triggering the release of pent-up demand that had been building on the back of strong employment and population growth, which helped boost February sales.”

In February, the benchmark price for new condo units was $961,268, which was up 21.3 per cent over the last 12 months, and the benchmark price for new single-family homes was $1.09 million, down 2.2 per cent over the last 12 months.

RELATED READING

GTA resale sales see drastic drop in March due to COVID-19

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

Get ready for a hot market in the GTA this spring

 

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Moving into a home the smart way

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Moving into a home the smart way

Whether you are a first-time homebuyer, a professional couple, a growing family or an empty-nester, if you are considering the purchase of a new or resale condominium suite or lowrise home with a condo component, it is best to be aware and prepared. The following are a few tips to get yourself organized so you come up with the best choice.

  1. Ask yourself, what are your personal and family needs? My advice is to make a list of priorities. Are you buying for the first time? Upsizing? Downsizing? Are you looking for more space, less space, or if you’re living in your parents’ basement, will any space at all do? Do you like the idea of having a backyard in a townhome, or does the idea of having beautiful condo amenities under your roof appeal? If children are involved, do you require proximity to a school? Realize that size is relative – you will find condo suites that are larger than some townhomes, and vice versa. Keep layout at the top of your interior priorities. Think about how you like to live and determine which plans accommodate those needs.
  2. Once you want to start looking around, hire a good realtor. The marketplace is packed with choices (including condominiums and lowrise homes with a condo component) in Toronto and the GTA. There are realtors who are familiar with the area you select, and they will guide your search. Remember that purchasing a condominium is different from freehold lowrise; it is wise to work with a realtor who can help you understand all of the nuances.
  3. Consider pre-construction for a variety of reasons. Resale is fine for some shoppers, but in many ways, it is like wildly looking in the dark. Buying early in the selling cycle of a new mid- or highrise condominium usually allows you a two-to-five year window until move-in, which means you can save more for your down payment, and you will likely earn equity before you even take possession. Many condo purchasers nowadays earn 20 to 40 per cent in equity prior to closing. This is huge for anyone, but especially young first-time buyers.
  4. Next, get your finances in order. Find out what you can afford, and buy as much as that allows for – as long as you’re comfortable with it. You know what debts you have to pay off and how much disposable income you need each month to keep up your current lifestyle. If you are downsizing from a large lowrise home, you have to decide how much money to take out of the home, how much to invest, and whether to use a condo as your main residence or a second property.

There are condominiums popping up in Regions of Peel, Halton, York and Durham, where prices are more attainable than Toronto. From Mississauga to Pickering and beyond, you will discover a plethora of choices with differing architecture, amenities, views, layouts, sizes and prices. The goal is to find the right one for you, and a realtor can help you along the way to your best decision.

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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Examining the GTA affordable homeownership crisis

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Examining the GTA affordable homeownership crisis

A definitive new book providing a deeper insight and understanding

A book titled “The GTA Affordable Home Ownership Crisis: A Deeper Understanding and the Pathway to the Solution” has just been released and is available to download online at affordablehomeownership.ca.

It is no secret that the problem of affordable homeownership in the GTA is out of control, and is especially a concern for the millennial population. A recent OREA/Nanos survey found that 58.7 per cent of nonmillennial Ontarians agree or somewhat agree that homeownership is unaffordable in their neighbourhood, while 41 per cent listed saving enough for a down payment as the most important barrier to owning a home.

With average new GTA condo prices at $500,000, average new GTA house prices at $1 million and resale at about $800,000, generally speaking, the next generation has little chance at homeownership without a significant financial contribution from their parents.

The book’s aim is to bring an understanding of the relevance and implications by exposing the drivers behind the problems and pointing towards a pathway to the solutions so that our children, and their generation, will not have to face a future without affordable homeownership.

The majority of GTA residents count their home as their largest asset. A future without affordable homeownership could hollow out the wealth of the middle class and have a catastrophic effect on the economy, for a generation.

The book identifies drivers of the crisis, such as excessive taxes on new homes and condos, excessive mortgage regulation, and the imbalance between supply and demand, but also offers creative solutions that can be applied in order to address the crisis in a responsible and timely way.

Written by R. Scott Davie, a leader in the sales and marketing of GTA new homes and condos for decades, and a trusted advisor to many of the GTA’s top developers, this book is rich with ideas and breaks down the elements of the crisis in an interesting way.

“The solution of the GTA homeownership crisis will only grow through understanding, resonating from professionals in the development Industry to the public, and it is only through public awareness that government and non-governmental organizations will have the motivation, and the ability, to make the needed changes,” says Davie.

“I wrote this book to make a relevant personal contribution towards solving the serious crisis of affordable homeownership by bringing awareness to the public, developers, their employees and consultants, and politicians. The hope would also be to generate a potential spark for additional creative solutions, not to make a profit of any kind,” he adds.

Recognizing that we live in an age that we are inundated with information, the book takes a concise and approachable magazine style format with pictures and infographics and is about a 30-minute read.

Written by R. Scott Davie, a leader in the sales and marketing of GTA new homes and condos for decades, for a limited time you can download a free copy at affordablehomeownership.ca.

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Groundbreaking at Kingdom Developments' KSquare Condos in Scarborough

Kingdom Developments breaks ground at KSquare Condos in Scarborough

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Kingdom Developments breaks ground at KSquare Condos in Scarborough

Kingdom Developments Inc. has broken ground at its Canadian flagship, mixed-use condominium development, KSquare Condos, just a month after launching sales for the project.

“We’re thrilled with the opportunity to start construction just one month after our sales launch,” says Eric Jensen, Kingdom Developments’ vice-president, projects. “This speaks volumes to the success of KSquare Condos and the significant demand the project commands from both end-users and investors who recognize the incredible value and ownership opportunity that KSquare presents.”

KSquare Condos is located in the heart of central Scarborough at Kennedy Rd. and Sheppard Ave. E., an area currently experiencing a major transformation in new city planning and rapid development growth.

Major transformation

“As one of the first major developments in the city’s most dynamic neighbourhood, KSquare Condos is an exciting addition to Scarborough, an area that’s naturally poised for a residential density boost,” says Ward 22 Scarborough-Agincourt Councillor, Jim Karygiannis.

With more than 485,000 sq. ft. of planned development comprising of retail, office and mixed-use residential, KSquare presents a strong investment and ownership opportunity, the company says. Over the next decade, KSquare Condos is expected to kick-start rapid growth in population density and spur new job opportunities in this already fast-growing neighbourhood.

Groundbreaking at Kingdom Developments' KSquare Condos in Scarborough
Groundbreaking at Kingdom Developments’ KSquare Condos in Scarborough. Left to right, Raymond Chau, sales and marketing manager, Kingdom Developments; Danny Tito, executive vice-president, Skygrid; Jacob Ma, president, Kingdom Developments; Jim Karygiannis, councillor, City of Toronto; Jason Heidman president, Skygrid; Gary Chen, senior project manager, Kingdom Developments. Photo: AGI Studio

Across the rail corridor from KSquare, the City’s ambitious plans for Agincourt Mall will create retail and office jobs in a dynamic community of new shops, restaurants, cafes, offices, parks and a public square. With 10 million sq. ft. of office space, Scarborough has seen impressive job growth over the last decade, and is home to the head offices of top Fortune 500 companies including Toyota, IBM, Compaq, BMO, HSBC, Sony, Volvo and Lenovo.

‘Kennedy Central’

Dubbed “Kennedy Central,” this area between Kennedy Rd. and Hwy. 401, will soon benefit from improved planned transit service with the proposed $5-billion plan to build a three-stop subway extension in Scarborough with stops at Lawrence East, Scarborough Town Centre and McCowan Rd.

With the existing Agincourt GO station to the north and projected SmartTrack and Sheppard East LRT stations nearby, residents will be able to connect to downtown in minutes. Drivers will also appreciate easy access across the GTA via Hwy. 401, which is directly to the south of KSquare Condos.

Designed by IBI Group with interiors by Tomas Pearce Interior Design, KSquare Condos features two sleek, elegant glass towers rising 36 and 39 storeys above a shared seven-storey podium.

Eric Jensen, vice-president, projects, Kingdom Canada
Eric Jensen, vice-president, projects, Kingdom Canada

KSquare features a wide range of suite types and sizes including one-, two- and three-bedroom layouts. Prices start from $372,900 and early buyers can also take advantage of a free parking space included in their purchase price.

“We have a really diverse group of condo units and sizes,” Jensen told Condo Life. “On the one end, we’ve got the students at (University of Toronto Scarborough) that are looking for a small one-bedroom, but at the other end of the spectrum, we’ve got a number of three-bedroom plus den corner units for full families.”

Signature amenities

KSquare will not only be home to Toronto’s largest private condo library and study area, residents will also have access to amenities such as two private music rehearsal rooms, state-of-the-art gym, pet grooming spa, kids zone, 24-hour concierge, an expansive party room with two dining areas and a rooftop terrace offering panoramic neighbourhood views.

“The real highlights are… the seventh-floor outdoor terrace is spectacular, it’s really like having a taste of a forest or High Park that you can just step out into,” Jensen says. “The private library is probably the crown jewel of them all. The versatility that this type of space offers… you can go there to study, there are breakout rooms, quiet spaces… it all ties into the library, and we’ve got moveable panels to open up spaces.”

Construction now underway at Kingdom Developments' KSquare Condos in Scarborough
Construction now underway at Kingdom Developments’ KSquare Condos in Scarborough

“The lobby itself is very unique, if for no other reason than its size,” Brian Woodrow, senior designer, Tomas Pearce, told Condo Life. “It’s almost a full double height, has a fireplace lounge, a business/tech lounge, so its broken into two areas and its meant to draw people together in a work, live and communicative environment.”

Kingdom Developments gave Tomas Pearce the freedom to execute its ideas, Woodrow says. “They came to us with these ideas… I wouldn’t call them prerequisites because they gave us a free hand, which is very unusual, and allowed us to develop these thoughts and notions from our design standard point of view.”

The KSquare community will be surrounded by nature and greenspace. Bordering the building, South Linear Park boasts over half an acre of parkland and trails and the building’s grounds will also feature lush landscaping that will weave into a central courtyard to the east of the main entrance.

Register at ksquarecondos.com or visit the Presentation Gallery located at 2035 Kennedy Rd., open Monday to Thursday noon to 7 p.m., Saturday and Sunday 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., closed Fridays.

RELATED READING

KSquare Condos is the flagship of Kingdom Canada coming to Agincourt

Luxury condos coming to Scarborough with KSquare Condos

 

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The Humber Condos offer riverside living at Lawrence & Weston in Toronto

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The Humber Condos offer riverside living at Lawrence & Weston in Toronto

Living in Toronto is too often a story of compromises: To enjoy the urban vibrancy of the city, you often have to forgo expanses of nature; in order to afford homeownership, you have to move to the suburbs. With The Humber, an upcoming condo community at Lawrence Ave. W and Weston Rd. in Weston Village, it’s possible to have it all.

Nestled on the banks of the Humber River, a lush ribbon of water, parks and trails that bisects the concrete jungle, The Humber is situated next to a river oasis with sweeping southwest views that will never be obstructed. Meanwhile, city life is never far away. Located a mere three-minute walk from the Weston UP Express stop, it’s only a quick 15-minute zip to Union Station or 12 minutes to Pearson. Whether you’re up for a night on the town or looking to take flight, it’s all within easy reach.

With The Humber, which is developed by Options for Homes, home ownership within the city is also within reach. Operating for over 25 years, Options for Homes is Canada’s largest developer working exclusively on making home ownership more affordable. It’s something that Options has been doing for 25 years – including the first three buildings in The Distillery District and a development in The Junction.

With Options you only need 5% total down payment to buy a condo, and its unique Down Payment Boost offers anyone – not just first-time home buyers – 10% to 15% of the home’s purchase price as a shared-equity down payment loan. The Down Payment Loan helps lower the mortgage required and thereby lowers monthly mortgage payments. That said, first-timers could be eligible for up to a 24% boost! The loan comes with no monthly payments and is due back only when a purchaser sells their home or moves out.

Here’s how that looks. For a home costing $500,000, a purchaser would put $25,000 down and Options would offer a 10% down payment boost, so $50,000, and then owns 10% of the home. If the condo then appreciates to $600,000 in a few years and the owner wants to sell, they would owe Options 10% of the sale price, or $60,000. Both the homeowner and Options benefit from the home’s increase and value, and the homeowner is able to build equity through home ownership.

Options also keeps prices as low as possible by forgoing costly amenities like pools, while investing in beautiful common spaces and environmental features such as solar panels, all in a high-quality building built by Deltera (part of the Tridel Group of Companies), meaning affordability comes without compromise. This results in low and stable maintenance fees, which are a city-low of $0.49 per square foot. The Humber is also pet-friendly, as homeowners are able to own up to two pets, and its Smoke Less policy – which permits only vaping of tobacco or cannabis in the building, including private homes – mitigates the negative impacts of smoking for all of The Humber’s residents.

As a mission-based social enterprise, Options makes a policy of not selling to investors. This ensures that housing affordability is available to middle income Torontonians looking to home ownership for stability and as a means of building equity for their family’s future.

All of this means The Humber, with a large percentage of 2- and 3-bedroom suites, is ideally suited for families and those who value community, something that Options for Homes is known for over its 13 completed developments.

Sheena McDonald, who along with her husband purchased a 3-bedroom suite at The Humber, says this focus on building community was an important factor in their decision to buy. “I feel like it’s rare. We have a number of friends who live at Heintzman (in The Junction) and I’ve learned through them that sense of community actually does exist in Options developments,” she says. “It seems like it’s not your typical condo situation in Toronto.”

While Weston Village is a lesser known corner of Toronto, it already boasts renowned and beloved community events such as the Weston Farmers’ Market (the city’s oldest), its own Santa Claus parade, and Weston Lions Park and arena. And it’s getting a huge cultural boost with the Artscape Weston Commons, which is home to artist housing, Urban Arts and Shakespeare in Action, along with the farmers’ market.

Quality, community and unparalleled natural beauty are hallmarks of The Humber. With excellent transit options, a rejuvenating neighbourhood, and down payment support that makes home ownership possible, The Humber is a perfect place to call home.

Visit thehumber.ca for more information.

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Do YOU know what Kind of Condo You’re Buying?

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Do YOU know what Kind of Condo You’re Buying?

Condominiums can come in all shapes and sizes. You could, for example, purchase a condominium townhouse, or perhaps a one bedroom unit in a highrise. They are both classified as “condominiums” because you own your unit while at the same time sharing access (and the associated fees) for facilities ranging from pools and parking garages to elevators and driveways (otherwise known as common elements). However, just because the townhouse and highrise unit are both condos does not necessarily mean that they are defined the same way when it comes to warranty coverage.

There are several types of condos but the most common are “standard condominiums” and “common elements condominiums.” The determination of how a condominium project will be designated happens during the planning stage when the builder proposes the project and the municipality approves it.

When it comes time to buy, you need to know how your condo is classified because it affects the warranty coverage under the Ontario New Home Warranties Plan Act. Standard condominiums have warranty coverage for units and common elements, but common elements condominiums only have unit coverage.

9th & Main Condos + Towns
Pemberton Group’s 9th & Main Condos + Towns in Stouffville.

So what would this mean to you as an owner? Let’s say you’ve bought a townhouse that is part of a complex that has underground parking. If there’s a problem in the parking garage – maybe leaks, drainage issues or a faulty door – the condo designation will determine whether there’s warranty coverage. If your unit is a standard condominium development, then the common elements warranty will apply. If it’s a common element condominium development, then repairs might have to be covered by the condo corporation’s insurance, which could impact your condo fees, or it could require a special assessment on all the owners.

How your condo is designated also matters when it comes to how Tarion can help. If a builder is not taking steps to resolve common element issues, we can only assist in situations where there is warranty coverage.

For the sake of both your peace of mind and your wallet, you should have a real estate lawyer review the Declaration and Description attached to your purchase agreement to be sure that you know the designation and boundaries of the unit you’re looking to purchase. And if you have questions about the types of condos and their coverage, our customer service team can help. Contact us at customerservice@tarion.com or call 1.877.9TARION.

Howard Bogach

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. Tarion.com

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How to create a stunning, guest-friendly condo

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How to create a stunning, guest-friendly condo

• Photography By Colin Perry

Choosing your finishes is a joyful rite of passage when buying a new condo – the first step in putting a personal stamp on a new home. But what if the finishes have been chosen for you? Or worse, were chosen by the builder 25 years ago?

guest bedroom decor
With the warm hues of its brass-toned bedside table and straw-coloured accent pillows, the guest bedroom is a cheery retreat on Vancouver’s gloomier days.

When this homeowner finally found the perfect condo – after months of hunting for a three-bedroom, two-bath place, as elusive as a four-leaf clover in Vancouver’s frenzied market – she was faced with positively uninspiring decor. The finishes were bland, the bathrooms were dated, and the galley kitchen was “claustrophobic.”

plush living room
Wrapped in a moody navy wallpaper with a plush, muted yellow rug underfoot, the TV room is a snug antidote to the brighter, more spacious rooms. Gold sconces and side tables balance the blue and elevate the look.

A GUIDING LIGHT

While she was downsizing from a much larger home, she was intent on embracing a new esthetic in her new nest. So when she tapped seasoned Vancouver designer Negar Reihani to help take the 1,100-sq.-ft. Yaletown apartment from drab to dazzling, the dossier was slim, and there was no existing furniture to work with. “She gave me very little. She showed me some pictures, and that was it,” Reihani recalls. “She said, ‘Imagine this is your own home; treat it and design it the way you would do for yourself.’ She gave me carte blanche, then left the country for six months.” Every designer’s dream client, right? Not entirely. “It’s a major responsibility and comes with a lot of stress.”

dining room
Pale wood floors set a Nordic tone in the dining room, especially when paired with gallery-white walls, but an interplay of materials and textures–from lush Bianco Carrara marble to silky charcoal velvet to artwork in the rich golds of a Klimt masterpiece-build a rich, complex look. The demure pedestal table and gently curving chairs have simple but sophisticated lines.

The goals for the condo were two-fold: imbue it with a bright, welcoming transitional style, and make it work for the homeowner’s frequent entertaining and overnight guests. “When family visits from Iran, she can host them here,” she says. “And with her background, you usually have more people when you entertain.” The designer deftly skirted the form-versus-function dichotomy by building in piles of storage while maintaining the innate airiness of the surprisingly ample rooms and brightening them up with fresh finishes and furniture.

CHARACTER BUILDER

“She was coming from a large, single-family home on two acres of land in Iran where she raised her children,” Reihani says. “Her old home was very classic, with lots of antiques and rugs. But a house is a lot of maintenance, and at her age, it becomes more difficult. So, here in Vancouver, she wanted her home to be modern and elegant with none of the care and upkeep she worried about before.”

The quietly luxe galley kitchen is a lesson in artfully reimagining this drab condo stalwart. New MDF cabinet doors are budget-friendly, but look elegant painted out in “a colour between moss and warm taupe.” An undermounted sink and integrated stovetop are suitably low-key.

The decorating, too, would be a departure. “She wanted light blues and greens, colours that make you happy in Vancouver’s grey weather. A mix of modern, with some classic touches – pretty simple, pretty modern.” To keep the look from feeling one-dimensional, Reihani incorporated elements – like the brushed-brass accents and moodier artwork—that reference older, more traditional or more opulent styles. Pale-wood flooring installed throughout the home updates the look.

Kitchen
Brains and beauty: with the fridge and oven relocated to the adjacent hallway clearing up much neede prep space, the new finishes add elegance, while maintaining the home’s understated esthetic.

WHAT’S COOKING

Opening up the tiny, closed-in kitchen – the project’s biggest challenge – meant refinishing it with a light, elegant touch. Now fully visible from the dining room and den, the overhauled space had to be stylish. “The trick was to keep things sleek,” Reihani says. She replaced aged cabinet doors with simple MDF ones painted in mossy taupe. Laminate counters were swapped out in favour of stretches of cool Bianco Carrara marble. On the rear wall, upper cabinets fronted in back-painted glass are lushly framed in a crisp box of marble. “The marble box creates visual interest and movement, and the glass panelling has sparkle, so it makes the kitchen look more spacious.” Reihani also panelled the inside surfaces of the pillar and thin bulkhead (essential for the plumbing and structural support) in mirror, so they all but disappear.

living room
The living room has an ethereal quality, with white walls (subtly downlit by recessed lights set into “light boxes”) and textiles in muted pinks, blues and whites. A clever window seat stretches the width of the room designed to seat a crowd during the homeowner’s requent parties; an open base keeps the look light and the drawers below amp up storage space.

Of course, looks weren’t everything: the space had to have brains, too. “She’s an older lady and she likes to cook,” she says. To boost cooking space and function, Reihani pulled the fridge and stove out of the tiny galley space, packing those plus a full-height pantry cupboard and more storage into repurposed closets along the adjacent hallway, and freeing up space for cooking and storage in the kitchen.

BUDGET-FRIENDLY CUSTOM TOUCHES

To keep the reno budget manageable, Reihani didn’t radically alter the structural elements. She left the narrow column in place for support, and it also houses the kitchen’s pipes and drains. “I didn’t touch the plumbing,” she says. She hid the outer support wall inside the cabinet. “By extending the materials from the cabinets, I made it look more custom.”

guest bathroom
In the guest bath, the vanity is framed in a tidy white box of stone. The granite composite surface amps up the light around the mirror for applying makeup or shaving. Expanses of storage make it easy for the owner to keep living spaces clear of clutter.

Reihani had equal aplomb when tackling the dull-as-dishwater bathrooms. In the master bath, she focused her redesign on a long, lean display shelf that runs the length of the room, right into the glass-walled shower, for a look that’s crisp and architectural. The guest bath riffs on the kitchen design, with its vanity area boxed in in sheets of quartz composite.

The reimagined bathroom design hinges on a striking but simple display shelf that’s stretched all the way along on wall – right into the shower. Effectively a decorative move, it looks integral and architectural, giving the space a thoroughly custom esthetic.

When she started thinking about the condo as she would her own, Reihani developed a long list of alterations for the home. But, of course, all good things must come to an end. “I would have done wallpaper in the master bedroom to give it that extra layer, and upgraded the closet doors in the bedrooms. But you have to spend your budget where it’s most visible and always keep resale in mind as well,” Reihani says. “You have to create changes that will stay relevant. By that token, the bedrooms are usually last.”

master bedroom
The master bedroom is a serene retreat rendered in a tranquil palette of off-whites and blues. To boost ambience throughout the condo, Negar brought in layers of light, including innovative “light boxes” she fitted with recessed lights on dimmers along the edges of the ceiling.

In the end, the homeowner never got to choose her own finishes – that pleasure went to the designer. Nonetheless, she has gained a bright and charming new home base that’s a perfect launchpad for the next phase of her life. And as for the personal stamp… she’ll have to make that mark through memories she creates hosting guests overnight, and throwing parties for her friends, children and grandchildren.

Katie Hayden
Katie Hayden

SOURCES

INTERIOR DESIGN by Negar Reihani, CONSTRUCTION, FLORAL ARRANGEMENTS, Space Harmony; WOOD FLOORING, Floor House; PAINT, Pure White by Sherwin-Williams. LIVING ROOM: CUSTOM SOFA, Space Harmony; SIDEBOARD, Nuevo Living; SIDE TABLE, Suquet; POUFS, HomeSense; COFFEE TABLE, Jonathan Adler; BENCH FABRICS, Brentano. DINING ROOM: TABLE, Suquet; CHAIRS, CHANDELIER, LH Imports; ARTWORK (behind dining table) by Caro (caro-paint. com). KITCHEN: CABINETRY COMPANY, BACK-PAINTED GLASS, Modaa Kitchen; COUNTERTOPS, MARBLE BACKSPLASHES, Alpine Countertops; DRAWER PULLS, Atlas Homewear. DEN: WALLPAPER, Hygge & West; CUSTOM SOFA, Space Harmony; TABLES, West Elm; RUG, Surya (surya.com); MIRROR, The Home Depot; WALL SCONCE, Aerin; large PLANT in basket, HomeSense. MASTER BEDROOM: BED, COVERLET, West Elm; BEDDING, HomeSense; WALL SCONCES, Aerin; SIDE TABLE, CB2; ARTWORK by Negar Reihani, Space Harmony. ENSUITE BATHROOM: MARBLE FOR WALLS, FLOOR TILE, Creekside Tile; GLASS FOR SHOWER WALLS, Universal Supply; CABINETRY MANUFACTURER, Modaa Kitchen; TOILET, SINK, FAUCETS, TAPS, SHOWER HEAD, Universal Supply; DRAWER PULLS, Atlas; COUNTERTOP, Alpine Countertop. GUEST BEDROOM: BED, SIDE TABLE, BEDSPREAD, West Elm; WALL SCONCE, Aerin; PLANTS (on bedside table), HomeSense. GUEST BATHROOM: MARBLE FOR WALLS, FLOOR TILE, Creekside Tile; GLASS FOR SHOWER WALLS, Universal Supply; CABINETRY MANUFACTURER, Modaa Kitchen; TOILET, SINK, FAUCETS, TAPS, SHOWER HEAD, Universal Supply; DRAWER PULLS, Atlas; COUNTERTOP, Alpine Countertop.

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30 year old condo gets the ultimate facelift

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30 year old condo gets the ultimate facelift

Photography by Gillian Jackson Photography

Updating and renovating any home is a daunting task. My clients loved the size of their condo, but after 30 years, it was showing its age. They liked the two bedroom layout, but the kitchen was looking shabby with it’s original cabinets and appliances. Not only was it windowless and closed off from the living area, but the fluorescent, Florida ceiling cast a gloomy light. Together we transformed the entire suite from dated to daring.

Luxury is all about adding small details that collectively amplify the feeling of glamour and sophistication. – Jane Lockhart

ALL IN ONE GO

If there’s one thing that I’ve learned about renovating an apartment condo, is that it’s best to treat it like a bandaid and take it off all at once. When you’re dealing with noise, demolition, elevator disruptions and deliveries, it just makes sense to do it all at the same time.

We asked for, and received, all the appropriate permissions. Then, we began the months-long renovation process. Once we took the walls, floors and drop ceiling back to the concrete, we were able to get a good look at what we could (and couldn’t) do.

BEFORE

A GRAND ENTRANCE

Because you can’t install lighting into concrete ceilings, we strategically added coffered ceilings to house new LED recessed lighting. In the now-open-concept kitchen and entryway, instead of trying to blend the ceilings, we added trim to make it a feature. Now, the entry virtually sparkles with a full mirrored wall, sconces and a delicate chandelier.

Multi-patterned tiles in travertine and onyx added a reflective quality. We added crisp trim moulding to the flat panelled entry door and painted it a dramatic black.

THE SKY’S THE LIMIT

With the kitchen now open to the living room, it was important to create a cohesive living space with complementary surfaces and materials. Hardwood flooring was installed in a diagonal pattern to add visual interest in the living room, kitchen and bedrooms.

We opted to forgo upper cabinets in the kitchen. Instead, we used glass tile in a stacked form, and had the stainless steel range hood custom designed as a sculptural element. The art deco insert on the apron sink is a wonderful feature, as is the horizontal detailing on the glossy, Macassar wood cabinetry. A white stone counter tops off the island, and black is used on the perimeter counter. For dining, we chose a warm, wood finish for the table and rich, velvet fabric for the counterheight chairs.

OUT IN THE OPEN

High-gloss black barn doors house dishware and collectables. And guests now dine in comfort without being in a closed in room.

The living room features an electric fireplace in a book-matched, chevron-patterned tile. With black as the accent colour, we added lush textiles. Here, black is mirrored in the edges of the sofa, and the black cabinets are accented with a touch of the kitchen cabinetry wood. The look is carried throughout to add an element of drama, and as a backdrop to decorative pieces. Silk pillows and the plush velvet chairs add texture and shine, as well as the shimmery band around the border of the custom-made rug.

IT’S ALL IN THE DETAILS

Moulded trim was added to the walls to create balance, and to add symmetry with the artwork. A silver coffee table added just the right amount of splash, along with other mixed metals. Luxury is all about adding small details that collectively amplify the feeling of glamour and sophistication. You don’t need to renovate to achieve this, so start with adding some luxurious elements into your own home.

Jane Lockhart, B.A.A.I.D., is a multi-award winning designer, author and television personality. Jane Lockhart Interior Design janelockhart.com

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