Alert Notice #16
Latest Industry News, Events, Issues, Products, And Resources
 February 11, 2009


1. Industry Issues, Forecasts & Trends
2. Business Management
3. Building Design & Trends
4. Codes Standards & Regulations
5. Building Science & Technology
6. Building Performance Issues
7. Building Products & Suppliers
8. Installation
9. Information Sources
10. Conferences & Shows
11. Education & Training
12. Computer, Internet & Fun
13. Industry Survey

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When Dr. Death Comes Knockin', Call In The Prayer Posse

The odds are insurmountable. You, and every other human being are going to deal with it sooner or later. What to do when Dr. Death comes knockin' on the family door?

My kindred-spirit kid brother has just faced the daunting challenge of undergoing a quadruple bypass via open heart surgery. In anxiety-filled days leading up to the operation, our fact finding showed this is now a fairly standard process, with success resulting in 97% of cases. Sure it is a serious procedure, but over 24,000 such operations are now performed each year. And in my Bro's case the alternative of not having said surgery was a far greater risk. But like so many other learning opportunities in life, these were all just words...until the reality hit. What if he happens to land within the other 3%?

To say yours truly was worried would be one big-time understatement. This ol' dude was downright scared. I felt so helpless. It brought back vivid memories of another time I experienced similar frightening feelings - when my wife had a brain aneurysm. Like then, reality hit me like a velvet hammer. Things were entirely in the hands of doctors, and there was not one single thing that I, or others, could do to make things better. It was debilitating, and ever so humbling. But as was the case during my wife's delicate operation, the universe began to deliver it's own unique method of support.

As word of my Bro's predicament traversed the airwaves, a formerly invisible Prayer Posse quickly assembled. E-mails and phone calls started pouring in for him from an intriguing cross-section of humanity. Hockey players, party pals, past bosses & employees, current co-workers, school buds, home-towners, old roommates, family members, and a whole host of others sent him support in their own way and words. They offered "wish you the best", "you can do it", "rootin' for ya'", "our thoughts are with you", "sending you good energy", "our prayers are with you", and much more. Tears welled in an old man's eyes, and hope in his heart.

After dropping Bro off at the hospital, the next five long hours seemed surreal. My mind incessantly wandered as I bounced from one busy-work activity to another, all the while waiting for "that" phone call. When it came, I heard four of the most delightful and relieving words one can hear from a doctor: "the operation went well". I immediately rushed up to be by his bedside, only to find him on what looked to me like total life support. He had tubes going in and out of various body parts, lights and dials were flashing on at least eight different screens, he was lifeless, and worst of all not even snoring (one of his well-known traits). "It is still a very critical period", warned the nurse.

But my second visit, four hours later, delivered positive proof that all was well. He overheard my voice when I entered, and in a raspy growl (with a wee hint of brotherly love) blurted to his nurse "Don't let that guy in here". It was one of the sweetest greetings I can ever remember. As we joked and reminisced, a comforting thought kept reoccurring - he was not alone through this challenging time after all, his Prayer Posse was by his side. May you be so fortunate.

My thanks to Mark Lawton, Wilma Leung, Jeff Melvin, John Chepil, Doug Overholt, Joanne de Vries, Marita Luk, Herman Rebneris, John Vukanovich, Karen Parusel, Mark Gauvin, Mark Ashcroft, George Pinch, Gary Hamer, Doug Harrison, Dick Van Nostrand, Debbie Campbell, Graham Finch, and Ben Van Nostrand for their comments, tips, and resources. I hope you find at least a wee bit of value in this newsletter.

Have a "Top Drawer" day.

Ken Farrish

Update On The New BC Building Info Site
"Where the BC building industry finds and shares information"

We May Reach A Million This Year
It's time for just a wee bit of bragging. Although this info will not exactly have Google shaking in their boots, we are quite proud (and pleasantly surprised). In its first year, the new BC Building Info site attracted more than 53,000 visits, and had over 690,000 page views. Current stats show this year there may be over 100,000 visits and 1 million page views. My thanks to each and every one of you for your input, resources, and support.

Send Us Your Industry & Product News
These Alerts contain summaries and links to industry news, events, issues, information, products, resources, and more. If you have any new products, events, or information that you would like to have included, just e-mail me at

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    1. Industry Issues, Forecasts & Trends

    2008 Top 10 Stories, Projects, Products, Plans, Marketing Ideas & More
    Builder magazine offers their Top 10 of 2008 including Ten Coolest Projects, Readers 10 Favourite Products, Top 10 Housing Stories, Top 10 House Plans, Top 10 New-Home Marketing Ideas, 10 Things You Must Put in Your Next House, and BuildingGreen Top 10 Green Products.

    Canadian Housing Industry Update
    Canadian Home Builders Association report on the Canadian Housing Industry describes how the Canadian housing situation is not the same as the US, and summarizes industry performance and trends. (PDF)

    Top 10 Best & Worst Performing Real Estate Markets In US
    First American CoreLogic provides rankings of the top 10 best and worst performing markets in the US, where California holds the distinction of having 9 of 10 markets with the highest home price depreciation.

    Housing Crisis: New Industry Resource Site On Surviving Tough Market
    Building industry publisher Hanley Wood site offers articles, commentary and advice on how to survive and thrive in the tough housing market.

    Free Webcasts On 2009 Construction Forecast
    Reed Construction Data is offering a free Webcast Series On 2009 Construction Forecast with comprehensive economic analysis of construction market trends & indicators. Free registration required.

    Examples Of Success In Home Building
    Housing Giants magazine article gives three examples of home builders who are thriving amid an industry in crisis.

    What's In & What's Out With Home Buyers In 2009
    HGTV Pro summarizes an annual US & Canada real estate agent survey of home features and sales procedures that are in and out with home buyers in 2009.

    2. Business Management

    Podcast On Working With Your Lender In Credit Crunch
    US National Association of Home Builders Podcast covers: current environment for single-family residential construction lending; strategies, alternatives and hazards for both performing and non-performing credits; potential legal options that may be available to builders. $39 USD

    Builder's 6 Tips For Creating Successful Trade Partner Council
    Professional Builder magazine offers tips for builders who want a better working relationship with their trades, by starting a trade partner council.

    Slow Your New Home Sales Pitch
    NAHB article says prospective buyers in today’s market are often confused and fearful of making a mistake. As a new-home sales professional, your job is to help them find their comfort zone, to put them at ease with their decision to buy. To do this, you must help them take the edge off their decision-making by taking the time to understand their concerns and their dreams.

    Free Online Brochure Maker
    My Brochure Maker online tool lets you create brochures and flyers, customize them with the theme, photos, and text of your liking, and then print them, all in minutes.

    2009 Canadian Budget Actions To Stimulate Housing Construction
    Government of Canada describes their 2009 budget initiatives meant to improve housing for Canadians, stimulate the construction sector, and enhance energy efficiency.

    2009 Overview of Federal & Provincial Government Financing
    Small Business BC 2009 Overview of Government Financing lists Federal and BC Provincial government assistance programs and services for small business. (PDF)

    3. Building Design & Trends

    What Home Buyers Really Want In Their Homes
    Professional Builder magazine summarizes the annual Avid Ratings Survey that reveals what buyers really want in their homes, categorized by Must-Have, Desirable, Tradable, and Removable preferences.

    Add Some Soul To North America’s New Town Centres
    Cornell University report says that in theory, the rise of mixed-use developments called town centres or life-style centres is a promising advancement for urban locations. With their blend of public amenities and commercial and residential properties, these centres create a public space that can be enjoyable, attractive, and lucrative. In reality, the design of these “town centre” spaces seems to be stuck in a rut, as too many developments are little more than a collection of chain stores and restaurants, devoid of truly useable public spaces with any “sense of place.”

    Cohousing An Emerging Market Niche For 50+ Builders
    US National Association of Home Builders article says cohousing — a type of collaborative housing in which residents actively participate in the design and operation of their own neighbourhoods — provides an emerging niche opportunity for 50+ developers and other home builders.

    Aging-in-Place Market A Bright Spot For Renovation
    HGTV Pro article says aging-in-place renovation work is expected to provide one of the bright spots for residential construction as the recession-battered industry eventually begins gaining ground. They also point out communication with elderly home owners will be key to success in this segment of the marketplace, and that is why builders should consider teaming up with occupational therapists.

    Millennials Are Next Big Consumer Force
    US National Association of Home Builders article says a generational shift — from the baby boomers to millennials, those who were born between 1980 and 1995 — is already having an influence on some housing markets.

    Pictures Of Project Winners For 2008 Finalists Of BC Georgie Awards
    Canadian Home Builders Association of BC has online pictures of projects selected as finalists for the 2008 BC Georgie Awards for the home building industry.

    Intelligent Design Through Building Information Modeling
    Qualified Remodeler article gives a brief introduction to building information modeling, a process that covers geometry, spatial relationships, code information, product quantities and details. It offers a new way of working collaboratively using a software model created from reliable design information to facilitate faster decision making, optimize material combinations, and streamline product specification.

    What Are Industry Members Saying About BC Building Info?

    Graham Finch, Building Science Research Engineer, RDH Building Engineering Ltd. says: "I always appreciate some of the links and articles you dig up. Keep up the good work."

    Please feel free to let others know about BC Building Info.

    4. Codes Standards & Regulations

    New BC Code Provisions For Mid-Rise Wood Frame Buildings
    New BC Building Code provisions, which increase the maximum building height for mid-rise wood-frame residential construction from four to six storeys, will take effect on April 6. The new provisions include building height, building area, exterior cladding materials, shear walls, hold-open devices, and consideration of structural wood shrinkage.

    AIBC Submission To Government On Six-storey Wood Frame Buildings
    Architectural Institute of British Columbia December 2008 letter to the BC government conveys their conditional support for the six-storey wood frame buildings initiative, and details specific issues with potential negative impact on both the public interest as well as the profession. (PDF)

    New 2009 Canadian Electrical Code
    C22.1-2009 Canadian electrical code, part I (21st edition), safety standard for electrical installations is available for purchase on the Canadian Standards Association site.

    Fee Schedules Of BC Safety Authority Frozen At 2008 Levels
    BC Safety Authority is temporarily freezing all fees to the 2008 levels, and fee increases originally approved to begin in January of 2009 will not be implemented. These are the fee schedules for each industry sector.

    BC Home Inspectors To be Licensed
    BC will become the first province in Canada to license home inspectors. The Business Practices and Consumer Protection Authority will: assess qualifications of, and require mandatory licences for, home inspectors; receive and respond to complaints from consumers; monitor compliance through inspections and enforcement, with penalties that can range as high as $5,000.

    2009 Amendments To BC Contaminated Sites Regulation
    BC Ministry of Environment lists the Stage 6 amendments to the Contaminated Sites Regulation under the Environmental Management Act that came into effect on January 1, 2009. (PDF)

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    5. Building Science & Technology

    Thermal Metrics For High Performance Walls & Limitations Of R-Value
    Building Science research report says R-value metric is increasingly unable to measure or accurately compare actual thermal performance because system effects, sensitivity to construction defects, and airflow can play such a significant role in overall performance. It explores thermal performance of building opaque enclosures, and the need for a broader more holistic assessments than the R-value ratings of insulation products alone can provide.

    Real R-Value Of Exterior Insulated Wall Assemblies
    Morrison Hershfield offers online paper wherein the authors have undertaken analyses, using the modeling program THERM, to numerically evaluate effective thermal resistance of some typical wall assemblies used in high-rise residential buildings. They evaluated impact of slab edge detailing and a variety of secondary structural elements needed to support cladding. They developed a method of presenting information in a manner that architects can practically use to determine actual insulation thicknesses required to obtain the overall walls’ desired thermal performance. Free registration required.

    Wind Rain Relationships In Southwestern BC
    CMHC study examines the relationship between wind and rain for all seasons of the year, giving wind and rainfall data from 12 meteorological stations throughout Vancouver Island and in B.C.’s Lower Mainland. (PDF)

    Canadian Technical Reports On Systems Approach To Housing
    Canadian Institute for Research in Construction offers online publications from their Building Science Insight seminar on Improving Performance of Single & Multi-Family Houses Through a Systems Approach. Topics covered include building envelopes for arctic regions, basement systems, sound insulation, fire stops & fire blocks, infiltration, ventilation & IAQ, glazing, and more.

    Time-Based Scheduling Of Residential Ventilation
    Online slide presentation by Armin Rudd of Building Science Corporation describes purposes and practices of residential ventilation and time-based scheduling.

    Online Foundation Handbook For Builders
    A classic building text, this online Builder's Foundation Handbook contains construction details illustrating the design and installation of energy-efficient basement, crawlspace, and slab-on-grade foundations. (PDF)

    6. Building Performance Issues

    Cautions For Use Of Water Heaters In Hydronic Heating Applications
    Canadian Institute of Plumbing and Heating bulletin clarifies the use of water heaters in hydronic heating applications, due to water heaters being inappropriately installed in all jurisdictions of Canada. (PDF)

    Comparing Thermal Performance Of Wood Vs Steel
    Canadian Wood Council shows results of a study showing wood thermal performance is better than steel. (PDF)

    Assessment Of Adequacy Of Natural Ventilation For Canadian Residences
    CMHC research of homes in Ottawa, Vancouver and Saskatoon, looks at when supplemental mechanical ventilation might be needed. It confirms the need for mechanical ventilation generally, and can help builders or homeowners by showing when to activate ventilation systems. (PDF)

    BC Flooding Information For Gas & Electric Safety
    BC Safety Authority provides tips on gas and electrical safety in flood situations, and post flood protocol for re-energizing electrical & gas equipment.

    Wind-RCI Free Online Wind Load Calculator For Roofs
    IRC Wind-RCI (Wind-Roof Calculator on Internet) is a web-based roof wind design calculator developed to improve the design of roofs by calculating wind loads. It calculates wind uplift design loads as a function of various parameters such as roof type, slope, wind speed, building height, roof area, building terrain, building type and openings.

    Free Conference Calls On Healthy Homes Issues
    National Center for Healthy Housing and Affordable Comfort are co-hosting monthly conference calls designed for health and housing professionals interested in getting the latest word on intriguing healthy homes research and participating in a discussion on its implications and applications. Past calls and presentations are also archived here.

    7. Building Products & Suppliers

    Ground Source Heat Pumps For Residential Heating & Cooling
    Building Science digest on ground source heat pumps provides some basic information and definitions, offers advice on how to compare the carbon emissions, and defines the climate regions and operating conditions for which GSHP systems are best suited.

    Search For Canadian Heat Pump Products & Ratings
    Natural Resources Canada provides online search for different heat pump brands including their energy efficiency ratings.

    Online Calculator For Sizing Tankless Water Heaters
    Consumer Reports online calculator lets you quickly calculate average gallons per minute needed for a tankless water heater.

    LED Lighting May Replace Incandescent Bulb
    Builder Magazine article says new light-emitting diode (or LED) lighting is emerging and manufacturers say it offers more promise than CFLs.

    Multi Room Audio & Video Is On Home Buyer Radar
    NAHB article says home buyers don’t just want music in their living rooms, great rooms or bedrooms; they want music in their home offices, on their decks, by their pools, even in their showers. And builders and remodelers are in position to meet this demand because of the latest advances in audio components and structured wiring.

    Panelizing Of ICFs
    ICF Builder magazine article describes how panelizing of ICFs can save time, materials, and hassle.

    BC Manufacturer Offers New ICF Monopour Footing System
    Fab-Form, a BC manufacturer of fabric forming systems for concrete, has developed the Fastfoot MP System. This ICF monopour system provides complete protection of the footing against ground moisture, with no stakes, no forming lumber, and no stripping.

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    8. Installation

    Sizing HVAC Ducts, Trunks, & Runouts
    Building Science provides a design process for sizing cooling and heating system capacity for energy efficient housing; for specifying the airflow and duct sizes to each conditioned space; and for specifying the free area needed to transfer air supplied to closed rooms back to the central return.

    Online Videos On Stair Building & More
    JLC TV online videos describe differences between manufactured and job-site built stairs, their codes, and tips for taking measurements, plus how to sketch out installation and layout and cut stringers.

    Considerations When Replacing Your Furnace
    CMHC provides information for consumers who are replacing their existing furnace including fuel choice, furnace selection, & sizing and more.

    PVC Is Durable Trim For Coastal Construction
    Journal of Light Construction article by coastal builder Jim Blahut describes how he uses cellular PVC trim to create good-looking, long-lasting exterior trim details.

    Purchasable Guide To Repair & Restoration Of Wood Windows
    Author Terry Meany describes operation, care, and repair of double-hung wood windows, casement and awning windows, fixed windows, and other more unusual windows like pivoting and leaded glass windows, along with chapters on weather stripping, repainting, refinishing, and working with different kinds of window moldings.

    9. Information Sources

    Newsletter Covering BC Heating Industry Issues & Activities
    BC Thermal Environmental Comfort Association newsletter is published three times a year. The January issue covers association reports, TECA training, articles, and news relevant to the residential heating, ventilating and cooling industry in BC.

    Resource Site On Interior Finishing
    Homestead Finishing site has excellent technical articles, an active user forum, and a large selection of supplies and equipment.

    Pressure Treated Wood Overview & Resources
    Canadian Wood Council offers information and resources on pressure treated wood including overview, tips, fasteners, codes & standards, performance data, treatability, and Canadian preservation industry.

    Purchasable Guide to Production Carpentry
    Journal of Light Construction sells the Guide to Production Carpentry that describes how to plan and complete your custom projects using high-volume production carpentry techniques and tools. It covers Framing Layout Rules of Thumb, Gang-Cutting Rafters, Assembling Truss Roofs on the Ground, Fast Framing with Panelized Walls, Fast-Tracking a Second-Story Addition, Custom Porches, Finish Carpentry, Fast, Accurate Interior Trim, Installing Framed Cabinets, Installing Manufactured Stairs, Prefinished Hardwood Flooring, and much more. $40 USD

    Animated Demonstration Of How To Use HPO BC Public Registry Of New Homes
    BC Homeowner Protection Office offers this online animated demonstration of how to use the new homes registry system for checking if a home is registered and covered by warranty.

    10. Conferences & Shows

    2009 British Columbia Directory Of Trade Shows
    Small Business BC 2009 BC Trade Show Directory lists dates and contact information for more than 200 trade shows being held in and around B.C. this year. (PDF)

    Buildex Vancouver: BC Building Industry Trade Show
    Buildex, the BC real estate & construction show, held February 11-12 at Vancouver Convention Centre, features products, services, information, and education related to the management, design & renovation of commercial buildings, single family, multi-family, condominium, & community developments.

    BC Real Estate Convention
    BC Real Estate Convention in Vancouver, February 26 & 27 at the Vancouver Convention Centre, offers free admission to its showcasings of the BC real estate market and industry, suppliers of products and services, seminar speakers, and opportunities in the real estate market.

    2009 Canadian Home Builders Conference In Quebec
    Canadian Home Builders Association annual national conference in Quebec City, February 27 - March 1, includes a number of speakers and sessions on business and industry issues, awards presentation, product displays, and social and networking events.

    Annual Wood Solutions Fair In Vancouver
    On March 18th Canadian Wood Council presents the annual Vancouver Wood Solutions Fair, a one-day trade show and educational event on wood products and construction.

    11. Education & Training

    Vancouver Seminar On Trends In +50's Housing
    Seniors Housing seminar in Vancouver, on February 26th, offers detailed analysis of 50 sub-trends in +50’s independent housing, as well as the sub-trends in semi-dependant housing and the future of skilled nursing – socio-economic trends, social impacts, financing techniques and an overview of best practice developers, funders, managers and operators as well as a review of design, architecture and construction. Click on Seminars, Canada on left panel.

    BC Seminar On Structural Engineering Services For Part 9 Buildings
    Association of Professional Engineers and Geoscientists of BC March 12th seminar on Professional Structural Engineering Services for Part 9 Buildings covers various roles engineers play in the structural design of Part 9 buildings and their associated responsibilities.

    Free Online Webinars To Help Builders Improve Their Business
    Builder Partnerships and Builder magazine are sponsoring four upcoming Webinars geared to helping builders improve their businesses, including information that will enable companies to weather the difficult conditions prevailing in today’s marketplace.

    BC Certified Heating & Geothermal Technician
    Certified Heating Technician (CHT) and Certified Geothermal Technician (CGT) programs are the result of the collaborative effort of the Thermal Environmental Comfort Association BC (TECA BC) and GeoExchange BC.

    New BC Online eLearning Site For Continuing Education
    Canadian Home Builders Association of BC has launched a new Continuing Education portal, with a custom Learning Management System that manages the registration process, tracks student progress, keeps a history of students for certification purposes, and provides other administrative support.

    BC Virtual Business Hub Offers Webinars On Business Topics
    BC Institute of Technology hosts Virtual Business Hub that provides BC businesses with online industry training workshops. With only a computer you can access industry leaders and cutting edge business practices that will benefit any business who is looking to upgrade their business skills.

    12. Computer, Internet & Fun

    Free Online PDF Editor
    PDF Hammer lets you edit PDF files online with no installation. Upload PDF files from your Web browser, perform your edits, and then download back to your computer. The visual editor lets you see the pages of the PDFs as you edit them.

    Free Internet Bandwidth Speed Test
    Aeronet provides free Internet bandwidth speed test that displays your current download speed, upload speed, and latency.

    How Many Bricks Can This Guy Carry On His Head?
    WCB had better not see this happening on your job site. The dude in this movie definitely takes the prize for the most bricks carried on one's head.

    13. Industry Survey

    Today's Survey:   

    Is the Housing Market Downturn Worse Than You Expected?

    Recent statistics show that our housing market is experiencing a significant downturn. Is the decrease in activity worse than you were expecting?

    Yes, it is worse than I thought it would be
    No, I expected it to be like this
    Don't know yet, because I'm still not sure how low it will go

    Last Survey: Is There A Significant Risk Of Green Buildings Not Performing As Promised?

    • 86% Said: Yes
    • 14% Said: No

    Thanks for your participation

    Dittie For Today: On Peace

    For peace of mind...resign as general manager of the universe. - Larry Eisenberg

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    © Copyright 2009               Ken Farrish               All Rights Reserved

    ISSN: 1703-5597 - National Library of Canada