Alert Notice #47
Latest Industry News, Events, Issues, Products, And Resources
 May 31, 2011


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

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My thanks to Rob Dumont, Sonia Halbert, Montgomery Wood, Richard Fearn, Wilma Leung, Kim Savage, Corey Breed, David Hill, Denisa Ionescu, Hans Van Nuland, Mila Djuras, Wendy McNeil, Maureen McLaughlin, Mary Hart, George Pinch, Trish Wuttunee, Dave Ricketts, Amy Spencer-Chubey, Chris Mattock, John Michael, Kelly Friday, Bob MacKie, and Garry Lowney 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

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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    Ken's Top Pick

    Window Sill Details For Effective Drainage Of Water
    Canadian Institute for Research in Construction presents results from a recent study of sill installation details for the effective drainage of inadvertent water entry at the wall-window interface.

    1. Industry Issues, Forecasts & Trends

    BC Home Sales Slow After Strong First Quarter
    BC Real Estate Association reports that MLS residential unit sales in the province declined 14 per cent to 7,187 units in April compared to the same month last year. The average MLS residential price climbed 16 per cent to $598,308 last month compared to April 2010. (PDF)

    Moderate BC Expansion Continues in 2011
    Business Council of BC report says the BC Economic Index posted a 0.6% quarterly increase in the first quarter of the year, essentially matching the Q4 2010 rise. The good news is that consecutive quarterly gains in the Index of this magnitude indicate the economy is on a solid footing. But a cautionary note is that growth remains on the soft side considering the depth of the 2008/2009 recession. (PDF)

    Housing Affordability For Owners In BC
    Urban Futures report In the Eye of the Beholder: Occupancy Affordability for Owners considers measures of affordability for owner-occupiers, and current and future contexts for housing affordability in British Columbia. This analysis was precipitated by the recent and severe recession that was spurred by the collapse of the US housing market. As a result of this, there is much discussion in BC today of whether or not we are headed down a similar path as the US, especially given the outlook for rising interest rates. (PDF)

    BC Action Plan to Address Market Housing Affordability
    Housing Affordability Symposium report Action Plan to Address Market Housing Affordability has been developed to help ensure housing is within the means of British Columbians. Under four overarching subject areas, the Action Plan outlines a series of recommendations that can either directly or indirectly impact housing affordability. Recommendations have been provided for four stakeholder groups: industry, municipal/regional authorities, provincial government and federal government. (PDF)

    Provincial Outlook Long-Term Economic Forecast 2011
    Conference Board of Canada report Provincial Outlook Long-Term Economic Forecast 2011 provides economic data projections for all provinces. Free registration required.

    Canadian Housing Industry Economic Update June 2011
    Canadian Home Builders Association Economic Update for June 2011 offers information on international, national and regional economic trends of interest to the home building industry. (PDF)

    Government-Imposed Charges On New Housing In Canada 2010
    CHMC study examined government-imposed charges on new housing in Canada in 2010. Such costs include the full range of levies, fees, charges and taxes that are imposed by all levels of government due to the development, sale and ownership of housing. (PDF)

    Economic Impacts Of Canadian Housing Industry
    Canadian Home Builders Association provides statistics on the economic impact of the housing industry in various provinces and municipalities in Canada.

    2. Business Management

    HST Or PST?
    Jonathan R. Kesselman form the School of Public Policy at Simon Fraser University seeks to clarify the real facts, evidence, logic, and economic basis for BCís shift from the provincial sales tax to the Harmonized Sales Tax, and exposes substantial adverse consequences that British Columbians will face if they make an ill-informed decision to restore the PST. (PDF)

    How To Draft An Accident Response Plan
    Journal of Commerce says an accident response plan is a core strategy that can help construction companies minimize their risk and ensure effective action when an incident occurs.

    How To Build A Succession Plan
    Canadian Federation Of Independent Business succession planning guide will assist business owners in successfully accomplishing the transition process.

    Book On Basic Construction Management The Superintendent's Job
    BuilderBooks, the publishing arm for the National Association of Home Builders, has released the fifth edition of Basic Construction Management: The Superintendent's Job, a complete reference guide on construction management for superintendents. $45 USD

    Purchasable Podcasts On Markup & Profit
    Consultant and educator Michael Stone, who helps contractors master the fundamentals of business success, offers his DVD and video Markup & Profit course as a downloadable podcast.

    How Pay-Per-Click Advertising Fits Into Your Marketing Mix
    Web Marketing Today multi-part series discusses pay-per-click (PPC) advertising, covering the essential elements in running a successful campaign.

    3. Building Design & Trends

    Multigenerational Households Are Here to Stay
    Builder magazine says multigenerational households, often thought to be a product of the recession, are a trend driven by older adults and immigration and has been growing for decades.

    Greater Vancouver renOVATION Award Winners For 2011
    Greater Vancouver Home Builders Association lists winners, with pictures of their projects, for the renOVATION Awards program that recognizes excellence in renovation construction and design.

    European Trends Heat Up Kitchens
    Custom Home magazine says painted and exotic-wood cabinets, appliances boasting wireless connectivity, and hands-free faucets are some of the hot trends from overseas.

    Generational & Societal Influences Changing Kitchen Design
    GenShift 2011 study identifies changes in lifestyle, typical kitchen layout and functionality of spaces that have implications for the aesthetics, storage and other factors of todayís ideal kitchen. Free registration required for full report.

    2011 Kitchen & Bath Watermark Award Winners
    Builder Magazine features pictures and descriptions of the 2011 Watermark Award winners for the best in kitchen and bath design.

    Top 10 Trends From 2011 NKBA Design Competition
    National Kitchen & Bath Association describes the latest standout design trends culled from their 2011 NKBA Design Competition.

    BC Pushing Height Limit For Wood Structures & CLT
    Daily Commercial News says British Columbia is pushing the height limit for wood structures, using cross-laminated timber.

    Use SketchUp To Master Math For Stairbuilding
    Fine Homebuilding online two-part tutorial describes how to design and plan your next staircase with Google's free 3-D modeling software.

    The Future For Architects
    UK Building Futures study explores the future role of architects, asking: who will design our buildings in 2025; what roles will those trained in architecture be doing then; and how will architectural practice have changed as a result?

    What Are Industry Members Saying About BC Building Info?

    Bruce Gray of Solaris Manufacturing says: "I found BC Building Info very informative. I spent hours connecting through various links to other BC industry resources."

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

    4. Codes Standards & Regulations

    BC Directive For Plastic Pipe Venting
    BC Safety Authority bulletin provides clarity in regards to gas appliances approved with Special Venting Systems using plastic materials. (PDF)

    WorkSafe BC 2011 Changes To OHS Regulation Guidelines
    WorkSafe BC lists new and updated guidelines to Occupational Health and Safety Guidelines for 2011.

    Fire In BC 6-Storey No Cause To Question Building Design
    Canadian Wood Council says fire during construction phase of the 6-sorey Remy construction site in Richmond, BC is not cause to question building design. (PDF)

    History of BC Building Regulations
    BC Building Policy Branch provides brief history of its building code adoption and timeline with effective dates of implementation of previous building code regulations.

    Housing Accessibility Regulation In Canada
    Canadian Home Builders Association paper contains a survey of current/proposed requirements and policy directions in the national and provincial building codes, with particular reference to visitability requirements for residential units. While the precise definition varies, visitability involves wheelchair access from the exterior to the main living spaces and to a washroom in every new dwelling unit. (PDF)

    CSA Z320 Building Commissioning Standard
    CSA Z320-11 Building Commissioning provides guidelines for the commissioning of a building and all related building systems and has been developed to deal with the building and/or its major systems as a whole rather than separate individual standalone components. It applies to new construction and renovations of existing buildings or facilities.

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    5. Building Science & Technology

    Confusion About Diffusion
    Building Science says diffusion is supposed to be easy, but what we call diffusion isnít diffusion anyway; itís a combination of diffusion, capillarity and surface diffusion with simultaneous flows of varying magnitudes sometimes in opposite directions. All the action happens at the surface.

    Building An Unvented Crawl Space
    Green Building Advisor describes how to build sealed crawl spaces that have less mold and stay dryer than vented crawl spaces, and often save energy.

    Concrete Joints In Slabs
    Concrete Network describes concrete joint types, where to locate joints in concrete slabs, special considerations for installation, and related information.

    New Way To Duct HRVs
    Green Building Advisor says in some types of new homes you may want to consider exhausting stale air from bedrooms instead of pulling exhaust air from bathrooms and the laundry room.

    Product Guide For Sanded Plywood
    Engineered Wood Association offers the Product Guide For Sanded Plywood, which describes the specification, advantages, applications and finishing recommendations of sanded plywood, and includes trademark examples and explanations. Free site registration required.

    Advances In Fire Suppression Systems
    Canadian Institute for Research in Construction paper describes newly developed fire suppression systems, and provides technical information on the fire suppression performance of each system as well as the limitations or concerns related to using the new suppression systems. (PDF)

    Summary Of NRC-IRC Housing Activities For 2010
    Canadian Institute for Research in Construction report summarizes NRC-IRC research, code-development and technical activities relevant to builders, and summarizes NRC-IRC's Internet and publications resources for builders. The report covers activities carried out during the 2010 calendar year. (PDF)

    6. Building Performance Issues

    6 Ways To Stiffen A Bouncy Floor
    Fine Homebuilding describes the six methods to reduce the bounce in floors. (PDF)

    EPA Takes Action On Spray-Foam Health Risks
    Building Green says the US Environmental Protection Agency has released a new action plan for chemicals used in spray polyurethane foam (SPF) insulation. The action plan leaves open questions about how far EPA will go to clamp down on these products, but itís safe to think of this as a shot across the bow from EPA for the SPF industry.

    Study Says Formaldehyde Levels In Cabinets Not Harmful
    Kitchen Cabinet Manufacturers Association says National Academy of Science review of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agencyís 2010 draft IRIS risk assessment on formaldehyde states that the EPA failed to support its conclusions that formaldehyde causes respiratory cancers, leukemia, and other health problems, including asthma. The NAS report says that EPA overstated its conclusions that formaldehyde damages the nervous system and questioned the EPA link to reproductive effects.

    How To Soundproof A Bedroom
    Fine Homebuilding provides online video describing how to soundproof a bedroom using green glue and double sheetrock.

    Selecting Walls For Speech Privacy
    Canadian Institute for Research in Construction paper Selecting Walls For Speech Privacy explains the average Transmission loss, TL(avg), now known to be a better indicator of the amount of speech privacy provided by a wall for closed rooms. It also presents sound transmission loss data for 74 different types of gypsum board walls with calculated TL(avg) and STC values for each type of wall. (PDF)

    Seismic Retrofit Of Wood-Frame Homes
    Association of Bay Area Governments in California online training slideshow and manual describe how to reinforce existing older homes to withstand earthquake forces.

    Options For Shear Bracing Foam-Sheathed Walls
    Fine Homebuilding describes five ways to brace a foam-sheathed wall to prevent racking.

    Category 3 Wind Demonstration Blows House Down
    Institute for Business and Home Safety built this South Carolina wind tunnel, capable of exposing entire houses to hurricane-force winds. Here's an online video demonstration of the facility's awesome power.

    Information & Resources On Accessible Housing
    CMHC offers online fact sheets providing persons with disabilities with information on design considerations and choosing elements for the home.

    7. Green Building & Energy Efficiency

    How High-Performance New-Home Builders Market Their Homes
    Home Energy magazine describes how high-performance new-home builders can market their homes, and presents some success stories.

    How To Cheat At LEED For Homes
    Green Building Advisor says the road to green certification is paved with low-hanging fruit, and offers a cheat sheet with 22 shortcuts that will get you to LEED certification without a lot of trouble.

    Online Tool For Assessing Thermal Solar Suitability
    District of North Vancouver online tool allows users to assess the suitability of solar hot water systems for single family residential buildings within its geographical area.

    Energy Use & GHG Emission Performance In Canadian Homes 1990-2008
    Canadian Home Builders Association 2011 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, and the impact of retrofitting and equipment upgrades in the older stock has been considerable. (PDF)

    Canadian Research Into Zero-Peak Houses
    Canadian Institute for Research in Construction is investigating how Canadian homes can become zero-peak power consumers, and to demonstrate a practical zero-peak house. Zero-peak means drawing no power from the grid at times of peak system-wide demand. It can be achieved through more efficient house design, shifting demand to off-peak times with advanced controls, appliances, and changes in occupant behaviour, and local power generation and storage.

    Webinar On Marketing Green Building Products To AEC Industry Professionals
    Construction Specifications Institute webinar on June 9, Marketing Green Building Products to the AEC Industry Professional, covers why green products are now in greater demand, difference between green product attributes and a sustainable organization, various metrics for assessing and evaluating a green product, why comprehensive Life Cycle Analysis of products provides the best basis for environmental claims vs. test results for verification of a single green product attributes, and how providing information on financial incentives for green or energy-efficient products could help you with sales. $25 USD

    Residential Retrofit Program Design Guide
    US Department of Energy online Residential Retrofit Program Design Guide focuses on the key elements and design characteristics of building and maintaining a successful residential retrofit program. (PDF)

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    8. Building Products & Suppliers

    10 Client-Pleasing, Budget-Slimming Vinyl Flooring Options
    eBuild describes 10 vinyl flooring products that are making great strides in the resilient flooring category as the synthetic material becomes an attractive substitute for wood and tile floors, boosted by better technology and a demand for budget-slimming alternatives.

    New BC Bracing System For ICF Walls
    BC fabric forming system manufacturer Fab Form has developed Zont Bracing, a light weight ICF bracing system where the primary contact with the wall is a horizontal 2x4 waler held in place with Zont brackets. This differs from conventional ICF bracing where the primary contact is the vertical brace itself. This online video shows how a Vancouver builder used it on an ICF foundation with 17' walls on a site with177' of grade change.

    New Solid Wood Technologies & Projects
    Woodworks online slide show presentation describes different solid wood panel products, advantages and disadvantages, status of the joint Canada/US Cross Laminated Timber code committee work, how solid wood panels are used in actual projects, and project examples. (PDF)

    Specifying Treated Wood
    FP Innovations online slide show presentation on Specifying Treated Wood covers 2010 National Codes, CSA Wood Preservation, use categories, products for specific exposures, treatment requirements for plywood and lumber, selecting species, selecting appropriate preservative, pre-and post-treatment conditioning, third party quality assurance, appropriate and inappropriate product substitution, handling, and long term performance. (PDF)

    Selection Tips For Adhesives
    Home Builder magazine describes some critical considerations for picking an adhesive for different types of jobs.

    Choosing Between HRV & ERV
    Green Building Advisor discusses whether a heat-recovery ventilator or an energy-recovery ventilator is right for a cold climate, when choosing equipment for a whole-house ventilation system.

    Review Of Job-Site Radios
    Tools of the Trade review job site radios including Bosch Power Box PB360D, DeWalt DC012, Makita BMR100W, Milwaukee 2790-20 and 2590-20, Porter-Cable PC18JR, and Ridgid R84082.

    Application Guide For CO Detectors
    System Sensor online Application Guide For CO Detectors provides information on the proper application of system-connected carbon monoxide detectors in ordinary indoor locations. It outlines basic principles and standards that should be considered in the application of early warning CO detection devices in relation to the characteristics and effects of CO gas. (PDF)

    9. Installation Procedures

    Decks & Porches
    Green Building Advisor provides information and resources on decks and porches, including their need to stand up to the weather.

    10 Rules For Framing
    Fine Homebuilding describes 10 rules for framing that can act as guidelines for working efficiently and knowing how good is good enough. (PDF)

    Nailing Window Flanges Through Foam
    Green Building Advisor says builders have been nailing window flanges through foam for years but some window manufacturers arenít sure itís a good idea.

    Pinpointing Air Leaks With Fog Machine
    Green Building Advisor describes how to use house pressurization and a fog machine to find air leakage pathways in a building.

    10. Information Sources

    Technical Reports On Brick
    Building Science technical reports cover various topics on brick issues and performance.

    Technical Resources & Bulletins On Roofing
    National Roofing Contractors Association offers technical resources on roofing & flashings, including their Roofing and Waterproofing Manual, construction details, technical search, building codes & standards, technical bulletins and special reports, low-slope & steep-slope, conferences and symposia, and technical publications.

    Concrete Industry News
    Concrete SmartBrief, designed specifically for concrete professionals, provides the latest news, legislative updates and trends for the concrete industry.

    11. Conferences & Shows

    BOABC: Building Officials Association Of BC Conference
    The Annual General Meeting & Conference of the Building Officials Association of BC will be held in Whitehorse from June 5-8. It will include a trade show, plenary sessions, and workshops on a number of building topics. (PDF)

    Canadian Annual Conference On Quality
    Canadian Quality Congress is an annual industry conference providing educational and networking opportunities. This year it is in Winnipeg, June 27-29

    Annual Meeting & Conference For Canadian HVAC Industry
    Heating, Refrigeration and Air Conditioning Institute of Canada annual industry meetings and conference will be held at Niagara-on-the-Lake, August 25 - 27, offering networking and educational opportunities.

    12. Education & Training

    Vancouver Earthquake Potential June 6
    BC Constriction Roundtable presents Vancouver's Earthquake Potential: What can we expect?, will be presented in Vancouver on June 6. This half day session on earthquakes and what the construction industry needs to know includes experts on seismicity in coastal British Columbia, different types of earthquakes we can expect, earthquake effects upon buildings and infrastructure, building code objectives for building performance in earthquakes, insurance aspects, effects of earthquakes on economies, and emergency planning.

    Online Course On Introduction To Construction Estimating
    Construction Sector Council online training course will provide learners with skills and knowledge related to estimating practices, and help them understand the importance of estimates as one of the key first steps in any construction job.

    CSA Fenestration Installation Technician Certification Beta Exam
    CSA Standards is launching the Fenestration Installation Technician certification program this summer. Before the certification exam can be offered, it must be beta-tested to provide valuable feedback to assist in establishing the final exam questions and the pass/fail score for certification. If you are up for the challenge of beta-testing this brand new certification, you can sign up here. Exams will be deployed at testing centers throughout Canada starting in June 2011.

    Art Of Marketing 1-Day Workshop
    The Art of Marketing, held in Vancouver on June 9th, will provide a clearer understanding of how marketing has changed, what role it now plays in the buying decision, its impact on your business and ultimately how the consumer views, interacts and positions your brand in a crowded marketplace.

    Fundamentals Of Building Science
    Building Science Fundamentals is a two-day seminar, held in Seattle on September 29-30, that teaches the basic knowledge needed to design and build durable, energy efficient, affordable and healthy buildings. Dr. Joseph Lstiburek and Dr. John Straube will discuss building science principles (such as the control of heat, air and moisture and IAQ) and show you how to apply them to low-energy enclosure design, advanced HVAC systems, forensic investigations, and the repair and retrofit of existing buildings. Building Science Fundamentals 2011 focuses on commercial, institutional and multi-family buildings. However residential topics relating to unvented roofs/attics, basement and crawl space construction will also be covered and examples relating to single-family construction will be presented.

    New Professional Builders Institute Of BC
    Professional Builders Institute of BC will increase the professionalism of Residential Home Builders in BC who are in the business of building and/or selling residential buildings that contain from 1 to a maximum of 4 homes per building, through education, training and certification.

    Careers In Civil Construction
    Canadian Construction Association site Careers In Civil Construction is aimed mainly at high school and college students but applicable to anyone looking for information on civil construction careers.

    2010 BC Apprenticeship Student Outcomes
    BC Government 2010 Apprenticeship Student Outcomes Survey was conducted with former students who completed the final year of their apprenticeship training in a B.C. post-secondary institution between July 1, 2008 and June 30, 2009. Approximately six months later, from January to April of 2010, 2,750 former students from 29 institutions participated in the survey. (PDF)

    13. Computer, Internet & Fun

    Free Windows 7 Troubleshooting Book
    Windows 7 Power Users Guide is a free eBook for people of all technical ability from complete novices to IT Pros. It contains 16 chapters and is a guide on how to get the very best out of Windows 7 from installation to configuration and advanced operations. It includes step-by-step guides, screenshots and diagrams on every page, quick tips throughout the book and is presented in full color. (PDF)

    Talk Housing Public Engagement Website
    Talk Vancouver is a new public engagement website that provides citizens with an online forum for them to join the conversation and tell the City what they think should be done about homelessness and affordable housing.

    Apple Shooter
    Here's a simple little time-waster that will test your bow and arrow skills. I sure felt guilty when I missed!

    Dittie For Today: On Silence

    One reason the dog has so many friends? He wags his tail instead of his tongue. - Source Unknown

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    © Copyright 2011               Ken Farrish               All Rights Reserved

    ISSN: 1703-5597 - National Library of Canada