Alert Notice #22
Latest Industry News, Events, Issues, Products, And Resources
 August 24, 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. Information Sources
11. Conferences & Shows
12. Education & Training
13. Computer, Internet & Fun
14. Industry Survey

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"Hey Look, There's The Old Retard"

When he told me the story, it hit me like a ton of bricks! I bounced from shock, to disbelief, to anger, to sympathy...then through a whole pile of flashbacks down memory lane.

We met over half a century ago, in our little idyllic hometown back east. He was the only son of an established, well-to-do family, and I a newly arrived young bumpkin from an even smaller burg. But we hit it off as Buds. Although at the time we were too young to understand, or even care, we commenced an ever-changing and endearing five-decade friendship during which my ol' Buddy "G" has taught me more than he will ever know. Mostly due to, and in spite of, G's many trials and tribulations.

You see, back then, looking from the outside, G had it made. He lived uptown, in a great big house overlooking the lake. His parents were local socialites, always fashionably dressed, living what seemed to be the prim and proper lifestyle. Not all is what it seems. Later in life, during many of our heart-to-heart babbles, G would share his secret stories of a troubled home life amidst abuse and alcoholism. But G was a survivor.

From as far back as I can remember, G always had a job and was a contributor to society. Whether he worked on his own or for others, he somehow managed to create ways to make ends meet. He owned several businesses, did consulting work, and took on odd jobs at various stages of life. It was not G's nature to think the world owed him a living, nor was it his style to consider himself a victim. He accomplished all this in spite of physical limitations due to cerebral palsy, and emotional effects of a non-supportive father who constantly told him he was a failure. But G found ways to make a difference wherever he went.

For most of his life he spent as much time helping others (including yours truly) as he did looking after his own affairs. He would bring his positive attitude and incredible creativity to assist anyone, anytime, no matter what his or her challenge might be. After joining AA, he shared his heart and bared his soul for buds who were battling the bottle. To him it was no big deal to collect several shipping containers full of used bicycles and send them to poor people he had met in Jamaica. As a life-long antique collector (some might call it junk) he was always buying, trading, and giving away any old thing that might help others. But G has now fallen on hard times.

After 60-plus years, ol' G just can't do, or be, what he used to. His back and hip have deteriorated after having palsy-limped all his life, so he now stumbles when he walks. Living alone, with no family left, he has no one to care for him so he looks unkempt and dishevelled. Antiques and old artefacts that he can’t maintain anymore surround his broken-down house. And his previously ever-present positive attitude is increasingly replaced by bouts of depression.

So, perhaps I can understand why, as G tells it, that little 8-year old girl who was riding by on her bicycle with her friends, yelled out "Hey look, there's the old retard". That's what she sees. But what she can't see are the six decades of successes, contributions, and acts of random kindness that ol' G managed to perform, in spite of his many challenges. I see all of those, along with the difference G has made in his life, others, and mine. I consider myself incredibly fortunate to have such a Bud. I love you man!

My thanks to Karen Parusel, Wilma Leung, Daine Halley, Wendy McNeil, Doug Harrison, Herman Rebneris, Thomas Goodall, Jeanette Wilkinson, Loie Trill, Garry Lowney, John Vukanovich, and Greg Stolz for their comments, tips, and resources. I hope you find at least a wee bit of value somewhere in this newsletter.

Have a "Top Drawer" day.

Ken Farrish

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    1. Industry Issues, Forecasts & Trends

    New BC Harmonized Sales Tax To Be Implemented July 2010
    Province of British Columbia describes how, subject to the approval of the BC legislature and the Parliament of Canada, effective July 1, 2010, the government of British Columbia intends to harmonize its provincial sales tax with the federal Goods and Services Tax.

    Harmonized Sales Tax Looks Like Affordability Threat
    Vancouver Sun article by Peter Simpson of the Greater Vancouver home Builders Association says harmonization, in this case the blending of provincial and federal sales taxes, has the potential of becoming a wallet-draining arrangement for new-home buyers in BC.

    Harmonized Sales Tax Benefits Some In BC Construction Industry
    BC Construction Association bulletin outlines how BC sales tax harmonization will benefit certain sectors of the BC construction industry. (PDF)

    BC Construction Industry Gives HST Mixed Reviews
    Journal of Commerce article says new BC harmonized sales tax could deliver major benefits to the construction industry, but some are concerned it will have a negative impact.

    Effects Of Harmonized Sales Tax On Real Estate Sales
    Real Estate Institute of BC reports the HST impacts the sector by increasing taxes on home purchase costs and associated professional services. New homes will be subject to the increased 12% HST rate, replacing the 5% GST now charged, and realtor commissions, appraisals and other services that are currently exempt from PST will be subject to a 12% HST. (PDF)

    BC Housing Market Exhibits Balanced Conditions In July
    BC Real Estate Association reports that Multiple Listing Service residential sales in the province climbed 53 per cent to 10,051 units in July 2009 compared to the same month last year. After six consecutive months of rising home sales and declining inventories, the province moved into balanced conditions in July, the first time since April 2008. (PDF)

    Provincial Outlook Economic Forecast: Summer 2009
    Conference Board Of Canada Provincial Outlook Summer 2009 quarterly economic forecast provides highlights of short-term outlook for Canada's provinces. It says the swift correction in the housing markets in Alberta and British Columbia is gradually fading and both provinces will see real GDP growth above 3 per cent in 2010.

    Some Canadian Construction Material Costs Rising
    Based on Industrial Product Price Index information from Statistics Canada, Reed Construction Data-CanaData says material cost changes may still be sleeping lightly, but there are signs that they are starting to stir. The chart shows percent price changes of various materials over 1, 3, and 6 months and years.

    US Builder Confidence Rises To Highest Level In More Than A Year
    US National Association of Home Builders says builder confidence in the market for newly built, single-family homes rose one point in August to its highest level in more than a year, according to the latest reading of the National Association of Home Builders/Wells Fargo Housing Market Index (HMI), released today. Building on a two-point gain in July, the HMI reached 18 this month, its highest point since June of 2008.

    2. Business Management

    How to Use Social Networking When Marketing New Homes
    US National Association of Home Builders says for new home builders who are considering joining this trend, social media is simply using Internet-based networking tools to engage with online communities in order to generate exposure and sales opportunities.

    Buyers Like What They See In Virtual World
    Professional Builder article describes how virtual tours paint a realistic picture of homes and communities before they're built.

    Tips & Samples For Neighbour Letter
    Journal of Light Construction forum gives some tips and examples for letters to inform neighbours prior to starting a renovation.

    2009 Custom Home Pacesetter Business Awards
    Custom Home Magazine describes their 2009 Custom Home Pacesetter Award winners for marketing, innovation, customer service, management, community service, and design.

    Contracts With Trades Should Include Six Key Clauses
    US National Association of Home Builders article says according to the National Housing Quality program, there are six key clauses that should be included in a trade's contract in order to deliver a quality home.

    Tips For Estimating Roofing Materials
    Journal of Light Construction offers estimating tips for various types of roofing materials.

    Free Graphic Safety Posters For Construction
    WorkSafe BC offers 12 graphic posters on a range of high risk construction safety issues, using images instead of words to identify hazards and illustrate safe work practices. Each poster conveys a specific safety message---at a glance---to workers of all ages, particularly those whose first language is not English. These posters can be used as part of a worker orientation session, toolbox talk, or safety meeting; or they can be posted in a prominent place on your construction site to communicate safe work practices.

    3. Building Design & Trends

    2009 Custom Home Design Award Winners
    Custom Home Magazine provides online slide shows and descriptions of their 2009 Custom Home Design Award winners.

    2009 Awards Recognizing Systems Built Marketing & Design
    US National Association of Home Builders Business Systems Councils (BSC) announced winners of its annual Excellence in Marketing & Home Design Awards, honouring builders and manufacturers responsible for the finest marketing materials and home designs in the concrete, log, modular and panelized home building industry.

    Many Faces Of Prefab
    Fine Homebuilding article describes types of modular homes and styles that today differ greatly than their Eisenhower counterparts.

    Flex Housing Adapts To Changing Family Needs
    CMHC provides information on Flex Housing, a practical approach to designing and building housing that allows residents to convert space to meet their changing needs.

    AIBC & APEG-BC Practice Guidelines For Building Envelope Services
    Architectural Institute of BC and the Association of Professional Engineers and Geoscientists of BC bulletin covers their understandings and agreements concerning terminology; respective roles; scope & application of Enhanced Building Envelope Services; and Joint Building Envelope Practice Points of Principle. (PDF)

    Free Software For Assembling Climate Information
    Green Building Advisor describes how free software, Climate Consultant, takes weather data files packed with temperature, humidity, and wind information and serves it up in 17 different charts, all of which are clear and compelling visual expressions of the data.

    What Are Industry Members Saying About BC Building Info?

    Renee Auer, Director of Membership Services, Greater Vancouver Home Builders Association says:
    "I always learn something from BC Building Info. Keep up the good work!"

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

    4. Codes Standards & Regulations

    Ask A Question About BC Building Code
    Staff at the BC Building and Safety Policy Branch are available to answer your technical questions regarding the BC Building Code. Enter your question in the online form, and they usually respond in three business days or less.

    Inviting Comments On Proposed Changes To BC Building Code
    Building and Safety Policy Branch is inviting comments on proposed changes to the BC Building Code including solar hot water ready, letters of assurance, and high-efficiency toilets. Deadline for comments is September 14th.

    Progress On 2010 Canadian National Construction Code Activities
    Canadian Institute for Research in Construction summarizes main issues on 2010 national construction code update activities. (PDF)

    Online CSA Standards Referenced In OHS Regulations
    WorkSafe BC and its partners in the regulation of workplace health and safety across Canada have teamed up with the Canadian Standards Association to fund a two year pilot project to give you online access to CSA standards referenced in OHS legislation. Free registration required.

    Q & A On Canadian Labour Mobility Act
    On March 9, 2009, British Columbia became the first Canadian province to introduce mobility to all trades and professions with Bill 9, the Labour Mobility Act. This document answers some of the common questions about the act. (PDF)

    Industry Comments On Fire Sprinkler Codes
    This Fine Homebuilding article is followed up by a wide range of industry comments about fire sprinklers being mandated in building codes.

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    5. Building Science & Technology

    BC Employer Survey On Masters Degree In Building Science
    BCIT is developing a Masters Degree program in Building Science. To assess the feasibility of delivering the proposed degree program, the School of Construction and the Environment is currently conducting a survey and would like your input.

    Groundwater Control For Foundations
    Building Science describes water managed foundation systems that prevent build-up of water against foundation walls, thereby eliminating hydrostatic pressure. Water managed foundation systems are different from waterproofing systems. Waterproofing relies on creating a watertight barrier without holes. It can’t be done.

    Foundation Waterproofing & Foundation Drainage
    Concrete Network describes how to waterproof foundations and keep interior spaces dry. They include information about moving water away from the foundation, preventing moisture from moving through walls, and ground surface treatments to direct water away.

    Assessment Of Ecologically Engineered Stormwater Management
    CMHC study evaluated how five engineered wetland installations and stream restoration projects in British Columbia affected stormwater quality. Projects varied in age and size, but all were built to reduce the negative effects of stormwater on local streams. The study concluded that such ecological solutions can be as or more effective than traditional best management practices for managing and treating stormwater, and should be considered for inclusion in new and existing developments. (PDF)

    Technical Papers On Building Procedures & Issues
    Morrison Hershfield provides technical articles on various topics including green building, building envelopes, fire, mould, concrete, and more.

    6. Building Performance Issues

    Ground Source Heat Pumps Don’t Save Energy
    Green Building Advisor article suggests ground-source heat pumps aren’t necessarily more energy efficient than traditional home heating systems.

    Adhered Brick Veneers & Inward Vapor Drives
    Building Science research report says adhered veneers, in which masonry units are directly attached to a substrate via mortar and ties without a drainage or ventilation gap, have become a very popular finish in residential and light commercial construction. Typical applications apply masonry over a bed of lath-reinforced mortar over a drainage plane (often of building paper or felt). When used over wood- or steel-framed walls, numerous reports of moisture problems and failures have been received.

    Understanding Indoor Air Quality - People, Pollutant, Path, Pressure
    Green Building Advisor article by Dr. Joe Lstiburek explains his preferred method of evaluating indoor air quality and why it works. He also points out that air contaminants are usually a symptom of the breakdown of building materials by water, heat, ultraviolet light, and ozone.

    Adapting A Home To Living With Dementia
    CMHC study provides information about dementia, its symptoms, and common problems that impact every day activities of people with dementia and their caregivers. It also suggests strategies that can help people with dementia to continue to live safely in their home for as long as possible. (PDF)

    Research Into Defining Performance Of Water Resistive Barriers
    BC Homeowner Protection Office interim research paper on Defining Performance of Water Resistive Barriers examines various aspects of sheathing membrane performance including measuring drainage and moisture retention capability, permeance of weathered materials, and long term performance in context of chemical leaching from stucco or wood-based products. (PDF)

    7. Green Building & Energy Efficiency

    BC Sustainable Building Advisor Program
    Light House Sustainable Building Centre of Vancouver offers the Sustainable Building Advisor Program designed for working professionals who want intensive and wide ranging instruction on green building practices. Students attend one two-day (Friday/Saturday) session per month for nine months. Graduating students will be able to use the designation SBA, Sustainable Building Advisor. Those who elect to take a national exam and pass will be able to use CSBA, Certified Sustainable Building Advisor.

    LEED For Homes Courses Across Canada In 2009
    Canada Green Building Council is presenting LEED Canada for Homes workshops across Canada in the fall of 2009. The workshops provide an overview of the LEED for Homes rating system that evaluates performance on a range of ecological and human health issues from a whole home perspective, providing a benchmark for what constitutes a green home.

    New BC Hydro Construction Program For Commercial & Multi Family
    BC Hydro Power Smart new construction program provides financial incentives, resources and technical assistance to help developers of new commercial, multi-unit residential, and industrial projects.

    LiveSmart BC Ended Incentives August 15, 2009
    BC Ministry of Energy, Mines and Petroleum Resources says the LiveSmart BC Efficiency Incentive Program has reached its three-year target of 40,000 initial home energy assessments in only 15 months. The $60-million program is now fully committed and as such, will no longer provide incentives to new participants, effective end of business Aug. 15, 2009.

    Case Studies Of High R-Value Enclosure Types
    BSC has undertaken a study for the US DOE Building America research program to identify and evaluate residential enclosure assemblies that cost effectively provide 50 percent improvement in thermal resistance. Details regarding water management, air management, vapor management and thermal management are described here.

    Directory Of Eco Labelling Programs
    Eco Labelling site goals are to gather all ecolabels in the world onto one common platform, provide standard data and analysis on those ecolabels, and help companies buy and sell ecolabelled products and services. They describe over 270 labels, each with a detailed description and link to its Web site.

    Purchasable Books On Residential Energy Efficiency
    Saturn Resource Management sells a wide range of books on energy efficiency, many targeted to the building industry and trades.

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    8. Building Products & Suppliers

    Free Canadian Magazine On Construction Equipment & Rentals
    Contractors Magazine is a free publication subscribed to by Canadian owners, managers and operators in light construction, plus rental centres across the country. Editorial covers new equipment and tools, selection, operation, maintenance, safety, productivity and renting. Products range from compact excavators to hand and power tools. Job stories examine the equipment used by contractors for jobs and how it helped them.

    How to Build High Quality Slabs On Grade
    Concrete Network describes reasons for building a slab on grade, tips for proper subgrade compaction, types of foundations, curing info, and more.

    Online Resource Guide On Timber Frame
    Timber Frame Business Council online Timber Frame Resource Guide is designed to help both timber frame industry professionals and clients building timber frame homes who are looking for sources of materials and services.

    Desiccant-Evaporative Cooling System For Residential Buildings
    Canadian Institute for Research in Construction simulation study found that, compared to a conventional system, the desiccant evaporative cooling system can lead to significant electricity consumption reductions and also reduce the number of hours when conditions inside the space are uncomfortable.

    Online Video Review Of 16-Ga Finish Nailers
    Fine Homebuilding online video summarizes reviews of the top features of more than a dozen 16-ga. finish nailers.

    New Lightweight Air Compressors
    Tools Of The Trade describes new commercial-grade compressors that are light enough to carry, yet powerful enough to get the job done right.

    Terasen Gas Rebate On Energy Star Furnace & Boiler Upgrade
    Terasen Gas offers a $250 credit on your bill when you upgrade your natural gas furnace or boiler to an Energy Star natural gas heating system before December 31, 2009.

    9. Installation Procedures

    Common Advanced Framing Details
    Building Science explains essential basis for advanced framing and some of the more common advanced framing details.

    Online Video Tips On Framing
    Fine Homebuilding magazine offers online videos covering a wide range of framing topics.

    6 Tips For Specifying & Installing Windows & Doors
    Professional Remodeler site offers online tips to prevent improper or insufficient design details and shoddy installation of windows or doors that can lead to air infiltration, moisture intrusion and poor overall performance.

    Online Videos On Prepping Openings For Windows & Doors
    Green Building Advisor online videos show how to detail rough openings to reduce chances of leaks at windows and doors and allow them to drain if they do.

    Hanging New Door In Old Opening
    Journal of Light Construction forum discusses how an old timer has the fastest and most accurate way to hang a new door in an old opening.

    10. Information Sources

    RSS Feeds Of New CMHC Technical & Socio-Economic Research Highlights
    CMHC offers RSS feeds of their Research Highlights on both technical and socio-economic topics, so you will be notified of new Highlights as soon as they become available.

    Search Publications Of Canadian Institute For Research In Construction
    Canadian Institute for Research in Construction allows you to search by subject for their many research and technical publications relating to housing and construction.

    Canadian National Housing Research Committee
    Canadian National Housing Research Committee website is a resource for all members of Canada's housing research community — the people and organizations that use, sponsor or conduct research. It provides an overview of who's involved, where research is being conducted and where research outputs can be found — and includes a specialized search of Theses Canada abstracts to locate student work. Housing Research Central connects you directly to the NHRC's activities through discussions, video webcasts and presentations. You can also join the Canadian Housing Research Network and dialogue with the community.

    Resource Site On Concrete Repair
    Concrete Network provides an overview of repairing concrete including evaluating the problem, cause of damage, repair materials, surface repairs, crack repairs, structural repairs, and more.

    Free Canadian Industry Magazine On Health & Safety
    Canadian Occupational Safety is a free industry magazine for health and safety professionals. They also offer a free monthly e-mail newsletter.

    11. Conferences & Shows

    BC Building Envelope One-Day Conference In Vancouver
    BC Building Envelope Council one-day conference in Vancouver on September 22nd will look at new technologies and research. Experts and researchers will share latest methods and trends from green buildings to mechanical system strategies to test hut research results.

    2009 Remodeling Show In Indianapolis
    US National Association of Home Builders annual Remodelers Show co-located with DeckExpo will take place October 27-30, in Indianapolis. It offers education sessions, networking opportunities, trade show, and more.

    Plumbing & HVAC Trade Show In Vancouver
    Canadian Institute of Plumbing & Heating presents CIPHEX Roadshow in Vancouver on November 5th. It is a Western Canadian travelling trade show for plumbing, hydronics, HVACR and water treatment.

    Custom Builder Symposium & Design Institute In San Diego
    US National Association of Home Builders annual Custom Builder Symposium & Design Institute will be held in San Diego, November 6-8, 2009. It includes education sessions, keynote & general session speakers and resources that will enable participants to improve their businesses and enhance their networking opportunities.

    Canadian Window & Door Industry Trade Show In Toronto
    Canadian Window & Door Manufacturers Association presents Win-door North America, the annual trade show for the fenestration and door industry, in Toronto Nov. 17-19.

    12. Education & Training

    1-Day BC Conference On Electrical Safety & Energy Efficiency
    BC Electrical Association offers a one-day Safety, Energy, Efficiency Conference in Surrey on October 7th which will cover 2009 CE Code changes, Z462 safety standards, what's new in lighting, and lighting control systems.

    Canadian Seminars On Energy Efficiency In Buildings
    Canadian Institute for Research in Construction presents Building Science Insight seminars to construction professionals across Canada. The 2009/10 series Energy Efficiency in Buildings: New Tools and Technologies covers: overview of national & provincial energy codes, dimmable lighting energy savings & occupant satisfaction; energy ratings of window & wall assemblies; making buildings responsive to peak energy demand; high-performance thermal insulation in building envelopes; roofing and energy use.

    Webinar On Design Trends For 50+ Homes & Communities
    US National Association of Home Builders 50+ Housing Council and NAHB Remodelers are hosting the webinar Designing 50+ Homes and Communities for the Future. It will provide an overview of universal design, how builders and remodelers can incorporate universal design features into new or existing construction — without breaking the budget, and a checklist of what makes a community truly liveable. The webinar on Tuesday, September 15th costs $100 for non-members.

    13. Computer, Internet & Fun

    Microsoft Windows 7 Upgrade Advisor
    Microsoft provides this Windows 7 Upgrade Advisor site to help you to determine if your PC can run Windows 7.

    Online Conversion To Convert Just About Anything
    Online Conversion is a resource site for weights, measures, calculators, converters.

    LinkedIn May Help Grow Your Business
    US National Association of Home Builders article says the cost of networking with other professionals through such traditional methods as printed materials and meetings is an expense that is difficult to justify in today’s market. just may be the tool that can help you make the most of your professional networking and grow your business.

    Move The Blocks
    Pretty simple objective...just push/pull all the blocks to their corresponding lights. Sure! And I thought I was so good after easily getting the first one!

    14. Industry Survey

    Today's Survey:   Will The New BC Harmonized Sales Tax Hurt Your Business?

    There are many different opinions about whether or not the new BC HST will be good or bad for the various types of businesses in the building industry. Do you think it will hurt your company?

    Yes, it will have a negative impact on us
    No, we do not expect a negative impact
    Not sure yet

    View results

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

    • 100% Said: No

    Thanks for your participation

    Dittie For Today: On Risk

    You do not need a parachute to skydive. You only need a parachute to skydive twice.

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    ISSN: 1703-5597 - National Library of Canada