Alert Notice #21
Latest Industry News, Events, Issues, Products, And Resources
 July 21, 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. Green Building & Energy Efficiency
8. Building Products & Suppliers
9. Installation Procedures
10. Conferences & Shows
11. Education & Training
12. Computer, Internet & Fun
13. Industry Survey

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Cool Ol' Gramps Pushes The Panic Button

Background, Part 1: Given two years and two months of weekly visits and adventures with his wee Angel, Gramps felt confident...real confident. In his mind he had reached the stage of capable, cool-headed caregiver. He figured he was doing a great job at balancing the boundary-stretching, splorin'-with-Gramps activities that Angel enjoyed (hanging from railings, jumping in lakes, etc.) with the boundary-setting limits that Mommy had placed on both of them (nothing too dangerous, no eating dirt, etc.). Gramps held an inner sense of pride in his ability to ensure Angel had fun, while adhering to Gramps's requests. Alas, nothing lasts forever.

Background, Part 2: After two years and two months of being nothing but an Angel (at least in Gramps's see-her-only-once-a-week eyes), something strange began to happen. From somewhere within his lovely little granddaughter, a devious, Devil In Disguise started to spring forth. Mommy recently began sharing stories of Angel throwing hissy-fits and using I'll-cry-till-I-get-my-way strategies. 'Twas time for the Terrible Twos. Since Gramps had not yet experienced this devilry first-hand, he confidently envisioned being able to coolly deal with Angel's outbursts. Alas, nothing lasts forever.

Scene 1: Angel & Gramps had just spent over two hours joyfully splashing and swimming in the local pool. As he had done many times before, when ready to go, Gramps let Angel know they had two more minutes to play. Then it happened! Angel's eyes defiantly turned to Gramps, her bottom lip dropped into a big-time pout, and the crying began. It continued full-tilt all the while they climbed out of the pool, showered, dried off, and got dressed. Gramps thought he did his level best to remain cool, even as he self-consciously observed other adults gazing at him as if he was some ol' meany, or worse yet, not in control. Upon leaving the building, carrying his still-wailing Angel, Gramps assumed things would finally get a bit easier to handle when they got to his car. Not!

Scene 2: As always, Gramps opened the car doors, threw his keys on the front seat, and began buckling his Angel into her rear car seat. Her cupboard cry (Grandma's term for this type of tizzy) continued. Suddenly, Gramps realized that he was using what seemed like a tad more firmness in tightening Angel's seat belts. Hmm, was he getting just a wee bit frazzled, he thought to himself? No, couldn't be, not cool ol' Gramps. When Angel was safely buckled in, Gramps closed her door and gave a big sigh of relief. At least they were on their way home now and this uncomfortable stress would end soon. Then the big one hit!

Climax: At the precise moment Gramps tugged on his door handle...panic struck! It wouldn't open! It was locked! Now in a frenzy, no-longer-cool-ol-Gramps raced around the car grasping at every door handle, praying that just one of them would open. Not a chance. Then, for just a millisecond, he sensed relief as he recalled the spare key he now keeps in his wallet (based on similar past learning opportunities). But hope quickly vanished as he realized he'd left his wallet, spare key and all, safely secured inside the car when they went into the pool. So there he stood, despondent, outside the car, gazing in at his wee Angel whom he'd just locked inside. As one small bonus, Angel had ceased her crying spell while she inquistively stared out at Gramps, trying to understand why he was acting so weird. Meanwhile, thoughts of being charged with child negligence, or worse, began to race through ol' Gramps's now-scattered mind. But there is a God.

Resolution: Fortunately, Gramps had left his window down. But unfortunately, not down far enough that he could reach the door lock, or the keys which were sitting there, ever-so-invitingly, right on the middle of his car seat. After unsuccessful attempts to force the window down, then trying to reach the keys with desperately-torn-off tree branches, Gramps actually contemplated breaking the window. But finally, an overdue bit of composure and common sense returned to the ol' dude. He managed to acquire a coat hanger, gingerly hook onto the keys, tenderly fish them through the window opening, and with one huge sigh of relief, open his door. Then, just as Gramps gratefully plopped down into his seat, his wee Angel put an end to the episode with four wonderful words: "Gramps, I'm happy now". Little did she know how happy, and how relieved, ol' Gramps was.

Moral To This Story: Gramps, you're not always as calm, cool, and collected as you might think you are.

My thanks to Amanda McQuaig, Wilma Leung, Sano Stante, Doug Harrison, Herman Rebneris, Ken Sawatsky, John Chepil, George Pinch, Dave Fisher, John Vukanovich, and Karen Parusel for their comments, tips, and resources. I hope you find something of value in this newsletter.

Have a "Top Drawer" day.

Ken Farrish

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    1. Industry Issues, Forecasts & Trends

    BC Home Sales Climb For Fifth Consecutive Month
    British Columbia Real Estate Association reports that Multiple Listing Service residential sales in BC rose 40 per cent to 9,970 units in June 2009 compared to the same month last year. This marked the fifth consecutive month of rising sales and the highest level of activity since January 2008, on a seasonally adjusted basis. (PDF)

    Canadian Housing Industry Economic Update
    Canadian Home Builders Association July 2009 bulletin provides on overview of the Canadian housing industry and the current economic situation. (PDF)

    Housing Market Outlook Canada - Second Quarter 2009
    CMHC Canadian Housing Market Outlook provides information on housing trends and forecasts. With both a national and local perspective, this Second Quarter 2009 report provides a two-year forecast of housing starts, sales, prices and key economic indicators. (PDF)

    Online Video Of Peter Anderson's View Of Canadian Economy - June 2009
    Canadian Home Builders Association online video summarizes Peter Andersen's presentation on the Canadian economy as it relates to the home building industry, as of June 2009.

    New Free Canadian Seniors Housing Reports
    CMHC now offers free Seniors Housing Reports, a national and provincial suite of housing market publications with description and analysis of the seniors housing market across Canada and in each region, covering vacancy rates, rents, and universe data for retirement homes.

    Renovation Spending In 10 Canadian Centres Up By $1.6 Billion In 2008
    CMHC reports that close to $21.3 billion was spent on renovations in 2008 across the 10 major centres surveyed, an increase of about $1.6 billion compared to 2007.

    Millennial Buyers Will Change Home Building Industry
    Builder Magazine article describes how Millennials, individuals born between 1977 and 1994, are the largest generation since the Baby Boomers and they will have a huge social and economic impact.

    2. Business Management

    How Builders Can Profit From Effective Cash Flow Management
    US National Association of Home Builders article says cash flow forecasting is one of the key components of a home builder’s financial success. If builders don’t properly manage their cash flow — if they constantly find themselves taking cash from their current job to cover the sins of a previous job — they will never have a positive bottom line.

    Client Focus Groups
    Professional Remodeler article describes how client focus groups can be an important source of feedback, if you tap into the insight your customers have about your remodeling business.

    Robust Web Presence Can Bring New Opportunities
    US National Association of Home Builders article says a good Web site can level the playing field and enable small and large builders to compete as equals. A poor site — or worse, no Web presence — can mean missed opportunities and sales.

    13 Ways To Get Referrals
    Professional Remodeler says it's not an easy time to find new remodeling clients. But it is a good time to take a back-to-basics approach to marketing and work on mining your most lucrative lead source: past clients. Here are 13 ways to get referrals that reward.

    Free Articles On Contractor Business & Sales
    Paul Montelongo writes for a variety of trade journals throughout the United States and Canada, and offers online access to his past articles on business management topics, written specifically for the building industry.

    Builder Tips For Weathering Tough Times
    Journal of Light Construction video interviews with Alan Hanbury of House of Hanbury Builders present some strategies for staying afloat in a faltering economy.

    Estimating Framing Materials
    Journal of Light Construction field guide excerpt offers tips and formulas for accurate estimates of framing materials.

    3. Building Design & Trends

    2009 Survey Sees Smaller Homes & Greater Energy Efficiency
    American Institute of Architects first quarter 2009 survey on Housing Trends found that due to the economic recession and a renewed interest in lowering utility costs, there has been a growing demand for smaller sized homes in recent years. There has also been an adjustment in the volume of living space with a preference for lower ceilings and a diminished interest in two-story foyers.

    Tough Times Call For New Floor Plans
    US National Association of Home Builders says builders should keep in mind that the most popular homes are not just smaller, they are designed more precisely to function better by eliminating some excess traditional-use space and creating new, flexible spaces that fit the lifestyles of today’s buyer.

    2009 Winners Of Kitchen & Bath Design Competition
    National Kitchen & Bath Association displays online photographs of their 2009 National Design Competition winners.

    New Basics In Kitchen Design For Remodelers
    Qualified Remodeler magazine article describes how US remodelers and kitchen designers see more projects with simple clean lines, an understated classic contemporary style.

    BC Engineering Practice Bulletin For Mid-Rise Wood-frame Buildings
    Association of Professional Engineers and Geoscientists of BC online Technical and Practice Bulletin – Structural, Fire Protection and Building Envelope Professional Engineering Services for 5 and 6 Storey Wood-frame Residential Building Projects provides basic technical and practice guidance on structural, fire protection and building envelope professional engineering issues related to mid-rise buildings. (PDF)

    Purchasable Book On Blueprint Reading For Building Trades
    Journal of Light Construction sells Blueprint Reading For Building Trades that covers how to read and understand construction documents, blueprints, and schedules. It includes layouts of structural, mechanical, HVAC and electrical drawings; shows how to interpret sectional views, follow diagrams and schematics; and describes common problems with construction specifications. $17 USD

    Consumer Guide To Building A Timber Frame Home
    Timber Frame Business Council guide gives a basic understanding of the process of planning, designing, and building a timber frame home.

    What Are Industry Members Saying About BC Building Info?

    Adam Killam, President of Adam Killam Internet Marketing says: "I like the directory and think you've done a great job of building a useful resource for people. Keep up the good work!"

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

    4. Codes Standards & Regulations

    Resources On Six Storey Wood Frame Buildings In BC
    Wood Works resource site on Six Storey Wood Frame Buildings in BC offers information and resources on sustainability & environmental attributes, history & use in other jurisdictions, new building provisions, timeline, combustible construction, and construction issues and potential solutions.

    LEED Canada For Homes & Provincial Energy Requirements
    Canadian Home Builders Association report says after examining LEED Canada for Homes energy efficiency section, it was found that in many regions LEED-H minimum or prerequisite requirements are at, or below, current and proposed provincial code requirements. (PDF)

    Fire Safety Planning For Construction & Demolition Sites
    BC Government Emergency Management bulletin Fire Safety Planning for Construction & Demolition Sites provides the industry with an easy to follow checklist to assist them in meeting the fire safety requirements of British Columbia’s Building and Fire Codes. (PDF)

    Canadian Certification Of Pressure Treated Wood
    Building Officials Association of BC displays a bulletin describing a national program that is now in place for treatment, inspection and application of a certification mark for pressure treated wood produced to Canadian Standards Association standards, as specified in the National Building Code of Canada. (PDF)

    Online Videos Explain WHMIS
    WorkSafe BC online videos describe the WHMIS system including overview, classification, labels, material safety data sheets, and education & implementation.

    US EPA WaterSense Standards Drafted For New Homes
    US National Association of Home Builders describes the draft of US Environmental Protection Agency specifications for the new voluntary WaterSense program that would label new homes that include a variety of water-efficient products, fixtures, and practices required to earn the WaterSense label. To earn the label homes would need to include WaterSense-rated rated toilets and faucets, Energy Star-rated dishwashers and clothes washers, measures to reduce maximum water flow from fixtures, and insulated hot-water pipes.

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    5. Building Science & Technology

    Thermodynamics Is Not Rocket Science
    Building Science describes, in simple terms, the laws of thermodynamics including heat goes from warm to cold, moisture goes from warm to cold, moisture goes from more to less, air goes from a higher pressure to a lower pressure, and gravity acts down.

    The Perfect HVAC System
    Building Science article defines the characteristics of a perfect HVAC system for single-zone single-family residential, multi-zone residential, commercial, and institutional applications.

    Where Polyethylene Is Appropriate As Air & Vapour Barrier
    CMHC research illustrates where polyethylene is appropriate for air/vapour barriers and where other vapour barrier materials might be preferable. It identifies situations in which performance could be improved, and provides information on general approaches to help mitigate performance concerns. (PDF)

    Vapor Open Assemblies & Incorrect Vapour Barrier Use
    Building Science describes how vapor barriers were originally intended to prevent assemblies from getting wet, and incorrect use of vapor barriers is leading to an increase in moisture-related problems.

    Unvented Roofs
    Building Science article was written to tie together and summarize various papers on unvented conditioned cathedralized attics. It is meant to summarize the main arguments, and provide pointers to where detailed information and measured data can be found.

    6. Building Performance Issues

    Effectiveness of Dehumidifiers In Controlling Moisture In Houses
    CMHC study assessed usefulness of dehumidifiers in controlling general moisture conditions in houses in different regions of Canada. Results showed that in most regions dehumidification is beneficial during the non-heating season, while year-round operation can be beneficial for houses located in milder coastal climates. (PDF)

    Wood Durability Within Building Environments
    Building Science research report puts durability of wood in the proper context—the environmental context in which we ask it to perform, including temperature, humidity, rain and interior climate.

    Designing Roofs To Prevent Moisture Infiltration
    Engineered Wood Association online booklet has descriptions and good drawings of each type of roof, along with proper design guidelines. Free registration required.

    Tree Roots & Foundation Cracks
    Journal of Light Construction Q & A says roots of a tree actually dry out the soil beneath a foundation enough to cause the concrete to crack.

    Condominium Owner Manual For Managing Major Repairs
    BC Homeowner Protection Office online manual explains how to manage the process and how to work with the participants during a major condominium repair project. The procedure outlined can be applied to most major repairs undertaken by a strata corporation. It focuses, however, on the most frequent cause of damage: water penetration of the walls.

    Window & Balcony Safety: A Canadian Safety Program
    Partners Promoting Window and Balcony Safety, a Canadian program to raise awareness about risks associated with windows, balconies, and decks, provides information and education for safe use of these areas of a home.

    7. Green Building & Energy Efficiency

    New Canadian Specifications For Energy Star Windows
    Canadian Window & Door Manufacturers Association bulletin from Natural Resources Canada says effective June 1, 2010 all Energy Star window qualification levels become more stringent. Window models must meet a minimum ER requirement on the U-factor compliance path; there is a new separate qualification table for doors; full structural testing is a requirement for windows, sliding glass doors and skylights; insulating glass units are certified for durability; and mandatory labelling will be required. (PDF)

    Energy Use & Greenhouse Gas Emission Performance In Canadian Homes
    Canadian Home Builders Association 2009 update report on the energy use and greenhouse gas emissions performance of the residential sector shows housing is leading the way when it comes to addressing energy efficiency and climate change. (PDF)

    Online Solar Assessment Tool
    Solar Rating OnLine determines the suitability of a home to solar technology used either to heat water or to generate electricity.

    Monitoring Results Of PV Generation On EQuilibrium Housing
    CMHC EQuilibrium demonstration houses generate energy from photovoltaic panels on their roofs. These displays show PV generation from each house that is hooked up to the electrical grid and being monitored. You can change the display to show hourly output of the PV system, electricity generated each day of the week, and monthly or yearly data to look at long term trends.

    Monitoring Results Of Canadian Factor 9 Home
    CMHC report describes how the Factor 9 Home home was monitored to verify whether it met its ambitious goals for energy usage. It did. (PDF)

    Getting More Efficient But Using More Energy
    Green Building Advisor article explains how the rebound effect undermines energy conservation as homes and appliances are increasingly efficient, but our homes use more electricity every year.

    Is Certification Of Building Materials Important Or Not?
    Dovetail report says it is time for those involved in the green building movement to seriously consider whether the elements of responsible production are important or not. If so, then it is time to ask why such assurances of responsible production, and everything that responsible production has come to mean, are not expected for building materials in general, and not just certain products such as wood.

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    8. Building Products & Suppliers

    Top 100 Building Products Of Spring 2009
    Building Products Magazine shows the Spring 2009 top 100 products that have generated the most interest from their readers.

    Innovative Tools & Building Products Of 2009
    Journal of Light Construction staff members combed the aisles of the JLC Live show and recommend these for the industry's best new products of 2009.

    Articles On Paints & Preparation
    Fine Homebuilding magazine online articles cover tips and advice from pros on paints and preparation for a quality paint job.

    Resource Site On Porous & Permeable Concrete
    Pervious Pavement offers information on the ins and out of pervious concrete including mix design, typical applications, maintenance, and more.

    Online Guide To Dimensioning & Estimating Brick Masonry
    Brick Industry Association online guide presents information for determining basic layout of brick masonry walls including both structural and veneer applications. Guidelines are presented to aid the designer in estimating the amount of materials needed for brick masonry. (PDF)

    Spray Polyurethane Foam Meets Code Requirement For Vapour Barrier
    Canadian Urethane Foam Contractors Association research demonstrated ability of typical framed walls using spray polyurethane foam insulation, with and without additional vapor barrier layers, to meet National Building Code of Canada requirements. (PDF)

    Is It Worth It To Use Knock-off Products?
    Mechanical Contractors Association of BC says while savings associated with knock-off products appear attractive they may end up costing you more in the long run. Knock-off products (products that are copies, imitations, nonconforming, counterfeit, etc,) may not fit right, be improperly built or tested, and therefore may not work properly or fail completely causing a loss.

    9. Installation Procedures

    Air Sealing Using Air Tight Drywall Approach
    Building Science describes the purpose of air sealing, and offers detail drawings for air sealing different parts of a house using the ADA approach.

    Air Sealing Windows
    Building Science describes how, as a component of the air barrier system, the connection between windows and other air barrier components is critical to the overall air barrier performance.

    Building Truss Roofs
    Journal of Light Construction article describes how to save time and decrease risk by assembling truss roof components on the ground.

    Apply Tar Paper Easily With Spindle Applicator
    US National Association of Home Builders offers tip describing how to apply tar paper easily with a spindle applicator.

    Straightening Out-Of-Level Foundations
    Journal of Light Construction gives description on how to straighten an out-of-level foundation before installing mudsills.

    Different Types Of Floor Tile Installation
    Tile Doctor site offers detailed overview on different types of floor tile installation including sections on methods & preparation, sorting tile, ramps & thresholds, mixing & applying, setting, and grouting.

    10. Conferences & Shows

    Healthy Buildings 2009
    Healthy Buildings International Conference & Exhibition, an event of the International Society of Indoor Air Quality and Climate, will be held in Syracuse from September 13-17. It attracts thousands of researchers and other professionals from fields of indoor air quality, built environments, HVAC, health sciences, public health policy, urban planning, mechanical engineering, architecture, building design, and management.

    Interior Design Show West
    Interior Design Show West, held in Vancouver Sept 17-20, is the West Coast consumer and trade show for contemporary residential design. It showcases local, Canadian and international furnishings, fixtures, and accessories for the design of a home.

    Western Canadian Horticultural Trade Show
    CanWest Horticultural Show in Vancouver, September 23 & 24, is the meeting place for buyers and sellers of BC's nursery, floriculture, and landscape industry. It is Western Canada's largest horticultural trade show with over 3,500 industry professionals visiting 425+ booths over a 2-day period.

    Vancouver Construction Meetup Group
    Vancouver Construction Meetup Group holds regular meetings where construction industry people can connect and share experiences, stories, and best practices to help each other succeed in today's challenging environment. All industry professionals are welcome from architects and designers, to contractors and developers, to finance and insurers.

    11. Education & Training

    Vancouver Old School Courses For Building Conservation
    Vancouver Heritage Foundation offers Old School: Courses for Building Conservation, a unique educational program, open to the public. It qualifies for certification and Professional Development Credits, and will benefit those who already work with existing buildings or would like to increase their knowledge about heritage conservation.

    Vancouver Seminars On Stone
    Terrazzo, Tile and Marble Association of Canada presents Stoneologys, a one-day seminar on October 7th for sales personnel, architects, designers, and specification writers. Sessions include: Stone 101 - Stone Quarrying, Selection, Selling, and Proper Application; Stone 201 - Stone Testing, Specifying, Fabrication, and Install Recommendations; Care and Maintenance of Stone; and Green Issues of Natural Stone. (PDF)

    BC Construction Courses & Events
    Independent Contractors and Businesses Association of BC offers a range of course for companies in the construction and building industry.

    Online Courses On Building Technology & Products
    CertainTeed offers free online multimedia courses aimed at teaching the building science principles that make their product lines work. The courses are accredited by the AIA, AIBD, ASHI, NACHI, and NARI, among other professional organizations that require certified members to regularly accrue continuing education credits.

    12. Computer, Internet & Fun

    Online Dictionary Of Computer Technical Terms
    Tech Terms is an online dictionary of computer terms that offers both simple definitions as well as detailed explanations.

    Free Excel & Word Business Forms & Templates
    Business Forms has over 400 free Excel and Word business forms and business templates, evaluation forms, tracking templates, management forms, HR templates, legal forms, business set-up templates, and more.

    Tools Explained...In A Way You Can Probably Relate To
    Here is a handy little list of tools, with descriptions that most of us can really understand based on personal experience.

    13. Industry Survey

    Today's Survey:   

    There's been a lot of media coverage lately about imported Chinese drywall causing health problems in recently-built US homes. Are you aware of any Chinese drywall that was being sold here in BC?

    Are You Aware Of Any Chinese Drywall Being Used In BC?

    Yes, I do know some of it was sold here
    No, I do not know of any

    Last Survey: Has the market downturn bottomed out?

    • 33% Said: Yes
    • 40% Said: No
    • 27% Said: I'm as busy as ever

    Thanks for your participation

    Dittie For Today: On Wisdom

    Every man is a damn fool for at least five minutes every day; wisdom consists in not exceeding the limit. - Elton Hubbard

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    ISSN: 1703-5597 - National Library of Canada