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Renovate safely during COVID-19 with a RenoMark Renovator

Renovate safely during COVID-19 with a RenoMark Renovator

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Renovate safely during COVID-19 with a RenoMark Renovator

Photos by Eurodale Design + Build

New renovation projects were allowed to start this past May when the provincial government expanded the list of allowable construction activities under its COVID-19 emergency orders. Previously, only renovation projects that had already been underway were permitted.

The health and safety of homeowners and workers is the industry's number one priority.
The health and safety of homeowners and workers is the industry’s number one priority.

To help guide renovators and protect homeowners, our partners at the Ontario Home Builders’ Association (OHBA) developed a Health and Safety Guide that outlines best practices for renovators under COVID-19.

The health and safety of homeowners and workers is the industry’s number one priority. RenoMark renovators are industry professionals who only work with contracts, carry all the necessary insurance and permits, provide a warranty on their work and abide by the RenoMark Code of Conduct. When it comes to COVID-19, RenoMark members have all the necessary protective equipment and processes in place to complete the job safely and to the standards that homeowners expect.

During COVID-19, sanitation and cleanliness on the job site are paramount. For projects lasting longer than two days, portable toilets and designated wash stations will be made available or a washroom designated by the client will be used as an alternative. Daily cleaning requirements are to be documented in a cleaning log. Communal areas are to be cleaned regularly and logged daily. On weekends, the homeowner will be responsible for cleaning communal spaces. Workers will wash their hands frequently, sanitize and use proper hygiene protocol as outlined by the chief medical officer of health.

RenoMark renovators understand that communication with customers is now more important than ever. Renovators will ask that clients communicate directly with the site supervisor while practicing physical distancing. All site access will be scheduled by appointment only, and clients will be asked to sign in when entering the work zone.

To ensure that no worker shows up unexpectedly, RenoMark renovators will provide schedules of when trades will be in the home. OHBA guidelines require that renovators stagger on-site trades’ schedules to limit the number of people in the home. They also require the renovator to screen the health of tradespeople accessing a site every day.

These are some of the protocols that RenoMark renovators are putting in place to protect the health and safety of homeowners and their families. In return, renovators will ask clients to avoid entering the work site when work is being performed and to notify the site supervisor of any illness, wear a face covering when entering work areas and practice physical distancing.

Our industry is ensuring that work is carried out in compliance with the Ministry of Labour’s Guidelines for Construction Site Health and Safety during COVID-19. Our entire industry also supports closing any site that doesn’t meet requirements and welcomes increased inspection levels by the Ministry of Labour.

To find a RenoMark professional renovator for your next project, visit renomark.ca.

Dave Wilkes is President and CEO of the Building Industry and Land Development Association (BILD), the voice of the home building, land development and professional renovation industry in the GTA.

For the latest industry news and new home data, follow BILD on Twitter, @bildgta, or visit the website.


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GTA new home market sees increased activity in June

GTA new home market sees increased activity in June

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GTA new home market sees increased activity in June

The GTA new home market began to see more activity in June, following two months of historically slow sales due to the pandemic, according to the Building Industry and Land Development Association (BILD).

Plane flys over the city (Building signs are removed)
Plane flys over the city (Building signs are removed)

Sales of new single-family homes, accounting for 1,160 of the total of 1,904 new homes sold, were the highest for June since 2016, though still 12 per cent below the 10-year average, according to Altus Group, BILD’s official source for new home market intelligence. Single-family homes include detached, linked, and semi-detached houses and townhouses (excluding stacked townhouses).

Sales numbers for new condominium units, including units in low-, mid- and highrise buildings, stacked townhouses and lofts, at 744 units sold, were up compared to April and May, but still down 73 per cent from June 2019 and 70 per cent below the 10-year average.

“The June new home sales numbers are encouraging, though much remains to be seen as the GTA re-opens and begins recovery,” says David Wilkes, BILD president and CEO. “Now is the time to implement what we learned about facilitating the delivery of housing during the pandemic, to address our long-standing housing supply and affordability challenge while stimulating the local economy. Our industry is working with all three levels of government to help achieve these goals.”

“Single-family demand recovered more quickly as buyers returned and new supply started to come back into the market,” adds Matthew Boukall, Altus Group’s vice-president, Data Solutions. “Given the challenges around COVID-19 restrictions, we’ve seen developers adopt new strategies to reach consumers and have seen success in the lower density segments.”

The benchmark prices for both new condominium units and new single-family homes increased in June compared to the previous month. New condos rose to $999,228, up 24.2 per cent over the last 12 months. New single-family homes, meanwhile, increased in price 3.9 per cent over the last 12 months to $1.14 million.


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Delayed construction projects in the GTA will hurt government revenues

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Delayed construction projects in the GTA will hurt government revenues

The residential construction industry was granted essential workplace status under Ontario’s emergency orders during the COVID-19 pandemic. The industry was able to finish homes that were near completion and work on important infrastructure projects such as hospitals. Nevertheless, overall development and building projects across the GTA were delayed. This will have farreaching impacts on housing supply in an already tight market, as well as negative financial impacts on government coffers.

You may be thinking: If the industry was permitted to work, why are there delays? The response is a little complicated. Some municipalities had to adjust to working remotely, which slowed or stopped processing of planning and building applications that stalled developments and construction projects. Worksites had to adjust to COVID-19 protocols as social distancing rules negatively impacted productivity.

To get a better understanding of how the pandemic affected the building industry, BILD surveyed is members to understand how they were impacted. The survey found that there were 498 active projects in the GTA, representing 156,000 units at various stages of the development process. In Toronto alone, 276 projects were affected. The survey found that 65 per cent of active pre-construction projects reported delays of three to six months, and 32 per cent were greater than six months. Eighty-three per cent of not yet above grade projects reported delays of three to six months, and 11 per cent are greater than six months. Eighty-five per cent of projects under construction permitted for above grade reported a delay of three to six months, and five per cent are greater than six months.

The Altus Group examined this survey data and concluded that these delays will result in the loss of about 9,000 housing starts over the course of the next 18 months. This will delay occupancy of more than 8,000 units by the end of 2021, potentially exacerbating an already existing shortage of housing in the city of Toronto, reduce construction activity and see the loss of 10,000 jobs per year.

Federal, provincial and municipal government revenues will be detrimentally impacted by the loss of housing starts throughout 2020 and 2021. Lost revenues include $340 million in lost development charges, $13.5 million in lost education development charges (TCDSB), $26 million in property taxes, $364 million in HST, $53.8 million in provincial land transfer tax and $52.5 million in lost municipal land transfer tax.

Now more than ever, all levels of government must work together to make sure that proper measures are in place to remove barriers that will unlock consumer and industry construction investments to help kick-start the economy.

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

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New home sales

GTA new home market quiet in May

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GTA new home market quiet in May

The GTA new home market saw another slow month in May, thanks largely to the impact of the pandemic, according to the Building Industry and Land Development Association (BILD).

New home sales

With 866 new homes sold, it was the lowest May for total new home sales since Altus Group, BILD’s official source for new home market intelligence, began tracking in 2000. May’s total new home sales were down 81 per cent from May 2019, and 76 per cent below the 10-year average.

Single-family homes, including detached, linked and semi-detached houses and townhouses (excluding stacked townhouses), accounted for 438 new home sales, down 55 per cent from last May and 68 per cent below the 10-year average. Sales of new condominium units, including units in low-, medium- and highrise buildings, stacked townhouses and loft units, at 428 units sold, were down 88 per cent from May 2019 and 80 per cent below the 10-year average.

“The fact that we have not seen much new supply brought to market in the last few months is not surprising, but it is concerning, given our region’s ongoing housing shortage,” says David Wilkes, BILD president and CEO. “An economic impact report we released with Altus (recently) shows that construction delays due to the pandemic won’t just affect housing supply but will also have fiscal implications, including a loss or delay of some $850 million in government revenues. All levels of government must work together to remove barriers to the renewal of construction activity that will help kick-start our economy.”

“Two months into the COVID-19 crisis, we are continuing to see the impact on available new home inventory numbers, with the number of new units brought to market in April and May reaching unprecedented low levels,” adds Matthew Boukall, Altus Group’s vice-president, Data Solutions. “Looking back at the market activity following the SARS outbreak in 2003, the industry will likely experience more months of disruptions to available inventory and sales.”

The benchmark price for new condo apartments in May was $985,436, up 26.4 per cent over the last 12 months; the benchmark price for new single-family homes was $1.1 million, which was even over the last 12 months.


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BILD construction survey

Survey shows almost 500 projects delayed due to COVID-19

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Survey shows almost 500 projects delayed due to COVID-19

A majority of residential construction projects in the GTA have been delayed due the COVID-19 Pandemic, according to a survey from The Building Industry and Land Development Association (BILD).

BILD construction survey

The survey covered 498 active projects (276 in Toronto) representing 156,000 units at various stages of construction. These interruptions will have far reaching impacts on housing supply in an already tight market and will have negative financial impacts on government coffers.

The residential construction industry was granted essential workplace status under Ontario’s emergency orders during the COVID-19 pandemic. However, the industry was only able to complete homes that were near completion. Nevertheless, overall development and building projects across the region were delayed.

Slowed processing

“One might ask, if the building industry was granted essential workplace status, why are there new housing slowdowns,” says BILD President and CEO Dave Wilkes. “The response is a bit complicated. Disruptions to the supply chain negatively impacted the ability of the industry to secure vital building materials. Worksites had to appropriately adjust to COVID-19 protocols, as social distancing rules negatively impacted productivity and some municipalities had to adjust to working remotely. This slowed processing of planning and building applications and stalled developments and construction projects.”

The survey found that 65 per cent of projects in Toronto reported interruptions of three to six months, and 32 per cent were greater than six months. Eighty-three per cent of not yet above grade projects reported delays of three to six months, and 11 per cent are greater than six months. Eighty-five per cent of projects under construction permitted for above grade reported a delay of three to six months, and five per cent are greater than six months.

Significant losses

Altus Group estimates that these holdups will result in the loss of about 9,000 housing starts over the course of the next 18 months. This will set back occupancy of more than 8,000 units by the end of 2021, potentially exacerbating an already existing shortage of housing in Toronto, reduce construction activity and see the loss of 10,000 jobs per year.

“Now more than ever, all levels of government must work together to make sure that proper measures are in place to remove barriers that will unlock consumer and industry construction investments to help kick-start the economy,” adds Wilkes.


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Construction industry to lead post-COVID-19 economic recovery

Construction industry to lead post-COVID-19 economic recovery

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Construction industry to lead post-COVID-19 economic recovery

The new home construction industry is well-positioned to play a significant role in the post-COVID-19 recovery in the GTA, Ontario and Canada, according to the Building Industry and Land Development Association (BILD).

“Working with our colleagues at the Ontario and Canadian Home Builders’ Associations, we have put together a roadmap for simple changes that will have a great impact to the economy,” says David Wilkes, president and CEO of BILD.

The CHBA, OHBA and BILD submitted a 20-point plan to the Ontario Jobs and Recovery Committee to help kick-start the Canadian economy post pandemic.

COVID-19 has had a devastating impact on Canada, Ontario, and the GTA, the groups say. Millions of people lost their jobs and the economy has all but ground to a halt. As governments at all levels start to look at recovery, they will need to focus on the GTA, as the region is the engine of Canada’s economy, accounting for 20 per cent of Canada’s and 50 per cent of Ontario’s GDP.

The residential and commercial building and development industry, and the professional renovations industry, are major contributors to economic activity in the region. Collectively, they employ more than 360,000 people in the GTA, paying $22 billion in wages and generating $42 billion in investment value annually.

Unlock investments

“With all levels of government facing financial challenges and funding requests, we are providing ideas that will unlock consumer and industry construction investments that will kick-start the economy,” says Joe Vaccaro, CEO of the OHBA.

Proposed measures include transferring mortgage tenancy to the date of occupancy for new condominiums, eliminating security deposits for Ontario Land Transfer Tax on affiliated transfers and freezing municipal increases to Property Tax Reassessment and development charges.

Another proposed recommendation is to free up monies that would otherwise be stuck in such things as municipal agreements (refundable deposits paid by developers) and replace them with surety bonds, freeing up billions in potential investments that otherwise would have been parked.

Stimulate growth

“To help stimulate economic growth and keep Canadians properly housed, we will need to foster housing supply while also ensuring demand-side measures are adjusted to reflect the times,” says Kevin Lee, CEO, CHBA. “Accordingly, we recommend 30-year amortizations for insured mortgages, and adjusting the mortgage stress test for both insured and uninsured mortgages. Removing the GST on new homes purchased for 2020 and 2021 would also be a timely catalyst for new home construction.”

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GTA homebuilders upbeat about post-COVID-19 recovery

Municipalities and building industry working together now to ensure housing essential after COVID-19

 

 

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Municipalities and building industry working together now to ensure housing essential after COVID-19

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Municipalities and building industry working together now to ensure housing essential after COVID-19

In response to the outbreak of COVID-19, the government of Ontario had earlier decided to include construction sites as essential workplaces, permitting our industry to continue working on homes that were close to completion, while practicing social distancing. And on May 19, all construction was allowed to resume.

The earlier reduction of construction activity, particularly where it is seasonally dependant, could negatively impact housing supply in an already tight market. All municipal governments must continue to put the proper processes in place now, so that the industry can hit the ground running to meet the region’s pressing housing needs when things return to “normal.”

BILD is working closely with GTA municipal governments throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. Industry representatives are engaged in regular calls with GTA city officials, and we have seen success in unlocking doors that were initially closed to the industry. This is imperative progress towards ensuring that we can meet the demand of new homes once normalcy returns.

Many, but not all GTA municipalities, have adopted exceptional best practices, or have enhanced existing ones, and have created new protocols to allow for online building permit application submissions, virtual inspections and construction permit issuance. Some municipalities have facilitated vital communication between the public, the industry and city committees and councils to promote important stakeholder consultations. It’s not business as usual, but this type of virtual public and industry consultation has allowed the approval process to continue keep the industry moving.

Most municipalities had the technical capacity prior to COVID-19 and have been in a position to easily enhance these capabilities to best adapt to changing priorities. For example, city council meetings are live-streamed on city websites or available on YouTube, keeping the public and industry engaged. Residents and industry groups have been encouraged to email submissions and make deputations at virtual town halls. Larger delegations have participated via telephone or by virtual conferencing.

Zoom meetings have moved out of the boardroom and onto construction sites, as homebuilders are working with municipalities to schedule remote video inspections to ensure that newhome buyers can take possession of their homes as soon as possible while protecting workers and the public. It is this type of resourcefulness that will allow the building industry and the economy to bounce back more quickly.

Unfortunately, this type of proactive engagement is not universal to all municipalities, and housing supply and affordability will suffer in some of the GTA’s cities as a result.

The innovative measures taken by some municipal governments to continue with construction has been encouraging and we applaud and appreciate their efforts. However, as we get closer to opening the economy there are processes that can be put into place now. All municipal governments must provide a form of an online permit portal, continue with the approval processes as requests come in and continue with inspections so that the building industry can continue to make significant contributions to building communities and help rebuilding the economy.

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

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GTA new home market understandably slow in April

GTA new home market understandably slow in April

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GTA new home market understandably slow in April

The GTA new home market saw record low new home sales numbers in April, according to the Building Industry and Land Development Association (BILD).

It was the lowest April for total new home sales, as well as single-family and condominium unit sales, since Altus Group, BILD’s official source for new home market intelligence, started tracking in 2000.

“As we expected, the April new home sales numbers reflect the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the GTA economy,” says David Wilkes, BILD president and CEO. “The good news is, the residential and commercial building and development industry, along with the professional renovations industry, is positioned to play a significant role in the recovery of our region and Ontario. In the coming weeks, we’ll be putting forward recommendations for all three levels of government that can accelerate the healing of our economy.”

A total of 771 new homes was sold in April, down 80 per cent from April 2019 and 78 per cent below the 10-year average. Single-family homes, including detached, linked and semi-detached houses and townhouses (excluding stacked townhouses), accounted for 301 new home sales, down 62 per cent from last April and 79 per cent below the 10-year average.

Sales of new condominium suites, including units in low-, medium- and highrise buildings, stacked townhouses and loft units, at 470 units sold, were down 85 per cent from April 2019 and 78 per cent below the 10-year average.

“The plunge in new home sales in April came as both builders and potential buyers stepped back from the heated activity of the first quarter, adjusting to the new reality ushered in by COVID-19,” says Patricia Arsenault, Altus Group’s executive vice-president, Data Solutions. “Most planned new project launches were put on hold, sales programs for existing projects moved to virtual or by-appointment-only models, and short-term homebuying plans were disrupted by employment uncertainty, as well as the challenges of stay-at-home routines.”

Benchmark prices for both new condominium apartments and new single-family homes increased slightly in April, compared to the previous month. The benchmark price for new condo units was $984,369, up 29.8 per cent over the last 12 months. The benchmark price for new single-family homes was $1.11 million, down 0.2 per cent over the last 12 months.


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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).

bild.ca

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Successful renovation

At the crest of the busy renovation season, here is a guide to planning a successful one

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At the crest of the busy renovation season, here is a guide to planning a successful one

Photography: Courtesy of Alair Homes

Spring is a great time to turn your attention to begin that renovation you’ve been putting off. If you are planning an upgrade or renovation, you are in good company. Based on Statistics Canada’s Canadian Housing Survey (2018), over one million Canadian homes are in need of major repair.

Renovations and repairs may include a smaller job, like a bathroom refresh or finishing a basement, to meet changing life needs, or maybe it’s something more substantial. Regardless of the project, understanding the process and planning is a key factor in achieving the results you want.

Articulate your wish list

Your first step should be to develop a very clear vision of what is required. Take time to articulate what goals you want to achieve with your renovation and develop a clear description of what you want to change. Write down your priorities and items that you’d like to have if your budget allows. Make sure everyone in your home participates in the discussion so you have a complete picture of what is needed.

Pick a pro

Then it’s time to find a professional renovator that will guide you through the process. The good ones get booked up months in advance, so it is in your best interest to start this process early. You will be putting a lot of trust in this person, so look for a renovator that is a member of BILD’s RenoMark program. This means that they have committed to the RenoMark code of conduct and BILD’s code of ethics. To find a RenoMark renovator, visit the website.

For most people price is an important consideration when choosing a renovator, but it’s important to note that you often get what you pay for. Make sure to consider the renovator’s experience, construction schedule and references. You should verify that the renovator has the appropriate licences, WSIB coverage and insurance. Take the time to check three references to get a good understanding of how the company operates.

Outline budget & potential permits required

Once you have selected your professional renovator, he or she may bring in a designer or architect, and together you will work through your project outline and create plans and specifications. This will help determine the budget estimate and any building permits and approvals you will need. In some municipalities, obtaining building permits and approvals can take many weeks and even months. This is another reason to start the process early.

Get it in writing

When you are comfortable with the preliminary design, budget and timetable, you’re ready to draw up a written contract with your renovator. The contract sets out the precise scope of the work, the price, a schedule of payments, a reasonable timetable for completing the work, product-specific details and a warranty clause. The contract should be reviewed by a lawyer. A RenoMark renovator will provide a contract for all projects. Remember good contracts provide protection to both parties in the event of a dispute or problem.

For more information about the nuances of planning a renovation, BILD has recently compiled a new Reno Guide to assist homeowners through the process. The Reno Guide is published with the support of the City of Toronto Environment & Energy Division and can be found on the BetterHomesTo website.

Dave Wilkes is President and CEO of the Building Industry and Land Development Association (BILD), the voice of the home building, land development and professional renovation industry in the GTA.

For the latest industry news and new home data, follow BILD on Twitter, @bildgta, or visit bildgta.ca.


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