Alert Notice #52
Latest Industry News, Events, Issues, Products, And Resources
September 20, 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 John Davies, Jeff Smith, Dennis Gaskill, Chris Cocchio, John Chepil, Charlotte Davis, Pinder Rehal, Ross Woolford, Joanne de Vries, Glenn Duxbury, and Denisa Ionescu 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

    Just Right & Airtight
    Building Science says folks are building houses and retrofitting existing houses with increased airtightness, and this is great. They use a blower door to help measure leakage, and this is also great. But then they think that a blower door actually is a precise measuring tool for how air will leak across the building during service. Wrong. Even more serious an issue is to then take the leap that using a wrong assumption about the results of an approximate measurement can be used to decide that mechanical ventilation is not needed. Bad, very bad, and potentially deadly.

    1. Industry Issues, Forecasts & Trends

    BC Home Sales Will Decline In 2011 But Prices Will Rise
    Central 1 Credit Union says the BC housing market will slow this year and total sales will drop slightly from 2010. Total home sales are forecast to reach 88,200 units by the end of this year, a slight decline of less than 1% from 2010. Resale home transactions are forecast to end the year 4.7% ahead of 2010, but new home transactions will lag by 26%.

    BC Mortgage Rate Forecast September 2011
    BC Real Estate Association mortgage rate forecast of September 2011 says their forecast for the remainder of 2011 assumes that very low bond yields will persist through the end of the year and will therefore lead eventually to a cut in mortgage rates. (PDF)

    Canadian Housing Starts Retreat In August
    Journal of Commerce says the fall season is gradually gaining the upper hand and it would seem that homebuilders are taking note of the chill in the air with respect to the overall economy.

    Canada's Housing Market Update September 2011
    Royal Bank of Canada reports Canadaís housing market was presented with a tough test in August. Weaker-than-expected housing starts hinted that homebuildersí perception of demand for new homes might have been dimmed as a consequence. (PDF)

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

    Assessing Outcomes Of Affordable Housing For Families
    CMHC study shows not only are most low-income families who have moved into social housing better off financially, the housing is more suitable, better maintained, and of better quality. The families experienced less financial stress, more privacy, less crowding, and more secure tenancy. Moreover, families reported additional non-shelter benefits, such as better nutrition and physical and mental health, and better access to services. (PDF)

    2. Business Management

    Guidelines For Contractors On HST Changing To PST
    Vancouver Regional Construction Association article by Ron Coleman describes some items for contractors to start thinking about as BC returns to the PST system.

    BC Government Action Plan To Return BC To 12% PST/GST
    BC Ministry of Finance outlines their action plan to guide the transition process from the HST to the PST plus GST system in BC.

    Fulton Homes Sells Houses Like Trousers
    Builder Magazine describes how Fulton Homes sells houses using retail techniques. An important piece of the companyís retail focus is a design center that offers buyers 6,000 different choices that they can preview online before visiting the design center itself. Fulton opened the design center in 2005 and kept it open even as other builders were shuttering theirs to cut costs.

    Construction Management Guidelines
    BC Construction Association developed the Construction Management Guidelines to take the confusion out of procuring construction management services. It is intended as a guide to help the owner through a process for the selection of a construction manager and trade contractors in a fair, open and transparent manner. (PDF)

    Canadian Businesses Face Tough Challenges With Strict Anti-Spam Law
    IT Business says Canada's new anti-spam law will be among the world's toughest when it comes into force some time this fall. Lawyers and marketing specialists say Canadian businesses need to understand the law and make some changes in the way they use e-mail to avoid possible fines.

    3. Building Design & Trends

    Multigenerational Homes Surge In US
    Bloomberg describes how multigenerational households in the U.S. are more popular than ever.

    Retirement-Ready House
    Builder Magazine describes the retirement-ready house that is completely accessible, energy efficient, and maintenance free, making it ready for whatever the future brings.

    New Homes For Older Couples Add Snore Rooms
    Today describes how builders specializing in communities for active seniors over 55, such as PulteGroupís Del Webb brand and D.R. Horton, are offering new home designs featuring snore rooms near the master bedroom for couples who canít always catch a good nightís sleep together due to differing schedules, nocturnal habits or medical conditions.

    Could There Be A Boom Of Backyard In-law Cottages?
    A developer in Berkeley, Kevin Casey, offers homeowners a turn-key ADU package that includes private financing, design, permit approval and construction.

    Design Tips For Garage Storage
    Qualified Remodeler says garages have enormous potential for custom storage solutions, and more homeowners are beginning to understand the value of these solutions as garage remodels are becoming more widespread.

    11 Outdoor Living Designs
    HGTV Pro online slide show shows how the right design lets you enjoy the comfort of indoor living without the constraints of walls all around you.

    2011 Remodeling Design Award Winners
    Remodeling Magazine displays winners of their annual Remodeling Design Awards that represent highest standards of design and excellence.

    New Lighting Design Ideas
    Builder Magazine article offers ideas from three lighting designers on the brightest ways to illuminate your homes.

    Applied Computer Modeling For Building Engineering
    Building Science online slide show presentation on Applied Computer Modeling For Building Engineering covers why to model, heat flow, heat & moisture, fire, energy, and lighting. (PDF)

    What Are Industry Members Saying About BC Building Info?

    Wendy McNeil, VP Marketing & Education, Greater Vancouver Home Builders Association says: "Your newsletter is awesome."

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

    4. Codes Standards & Regulations

    New BC Code Requirement For High Efficiency Toilets
    The new BC Building Code standards for high-efficiency plumbing fixtures is in effect as of October 3, 2011. The new high-efficiency toilets (HETs) or dual-flush toilets will be required in new residential buildings or when renovations involving plumbing fixtures occur, and whenever urinals are installed, new high-efficiency urinals (HEUs) will be required.

    Purchasable Glazing Systems Specifications Manual
    Glazing Contractors Association of BC sells the Glazing Systems Specifications Manual, National Version (2010). It is intended to reflect all aspects of the practice of glazing in Canada. $250 CDN

    Performance Rated Panel Subfloors Under Hardwood Flooring
    Engineered Wood Association offers APA Performance Rated Panel Subfloors Under Hardwood Flooring, with specification and installation recommendations for panel subfloors to be used under hardwood flooring. Free site registration required.

    Do We Really Need More Codes & Standards?
    US National Association of Home Builders article says codes and standards what was once a body of work that focused almost entirely on health and life safety issues has grown into something much larger and now includes issues related to civil rights and resource conservation and management.

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    5. Building Science & Technology

    Fundamentals Of Building Enclosures
    Building Science online slide show describes fundamentals of building enclosures. (PDF)

    New BC Building Enclosure Design Guide
    BC Homeowner Protection Office developed the New Building Enclosure Design Guide for Wood-Frame Multi-Unit Residential Buildings. It is a resource for industry professionals involved with design and construction of building enclosures of multi-unit, wood-frame residential buildings. It explores the latest research, design and construction best practices. It addresses wood-frame construction in five and six-storey mid-rise buildings. $70 CDN

    HVAC Duct Design Issues & Ideas
    Green Building Advisor describes how a presentation by David Hill suggested good duct design includes examining the way we do duct take-offs and fittings, placing an evase between the fan outlet and the trunk, looking very carefully at filter placement and the taughtness of flex duct, and start doing all this in the design phase.

    HVAC Improvement Guide For Contractors To Share With Homeowners
    US Department of Energy online HVAC Guide for Contractors to Share with Homeowners describes ways to reduce energy costs and improve the comfort, health, and safety of homes by upgrading heating, ventilation, and air conditioning equipment. (PDF)

    How To Look At Houses, Starting At The Base
    Fine Homebuilding online video Starting at the Base, is the first installment of How to Look at Houses (Like an Architect). Every house elevation has a base, middle and top. This video describes the base, which incorporates the foundation, and addresses how a house meets the ground.

    6. Building Performance Issues

    Monitoring Internal Moisture Loads In Residential Buildings
    US Department of Housing and Urban Development research project collected 1 full year of indoor temperature and humidity data from a sample of 60 homes across three different climate regions, including the hot and humid Southeast, the cold Northeast, and the marine Northwest. Correlations between indoor moisture levels and climate, occupant density, and house characteristics are the focus of the results. Conclusions and recommendations for indoor moisture management or future research needs are also discussed.

    Contractors Guide To Efflorescence
    Concrete Network provides an overview of major efflorescence issues, preventative measures to control conditions that encourage efflorescence, and remedial suggestions.

    Common Thermal Bridging Problems
    Remodeling TV provides online video describing where common thermal bridging problems occur and how to fix them.

    Spray Foam Jobs With Lingering Odor Problems
    Green Building Advisor beleives smelly spray foam is rare, but when the problem does occur, everyone gets a headache.

    E-nose Sensor Detects Formaldehyde Off-Gassing
    Canadian National Research Council has designed e-nose, a sensor intended to wirelessly detect formaldehyde off-gassing levels in airtight, energy efficient, smart buildings.

    Is Weathered OSB Okay?
    Journal of Light Construction says OSB sheathing retains effective structural strength even after prolonged weathering has caused the surface to turn gray.

    Indoor-Outdoor Air Leakage Of Apartments & Commercial Buildings
    California government research showed commercial buildings and apartments seem to be about twice as leaky as singleĀ family houses, per unit of building envelope area. (PDF)

    7. Green Building & Energy Efficiency

    New R-2000 Standard Draft For Public Review
    The Canadian R-2000 Renewal Committee has posted for public review their recommendations for the updated R-2000 Standard.

    New Green Building Products
    Green Building Advisor describes new green building products including high-performance windows, doors, and tapes for your next superinsulated home.

    Saving Water In Style
    HGTV Pro describes some new products that not only meet water conservation standards but look good as well.

    Retrofit Best Practices Guide For Homeowners
    Oak Ridge National Laboratory online Retrofit Best Practices Guide: How to Save Energy When You Fix Up the Outside of Your Not-So-New House, provides homeowners with an overview of residential energy retrofit measures and procedures. (PDF)

    Blower Door Testing & Air Sealing In Multifamily Buildings
    Home Energy magazine describes how blower door testing and air sealing in multifamily buildings is not only possible, but important. The evidence is developing that, just as in single-family buildings, air sealing is the single most cost-effective measure in most apartment buildings.

    Retrofit Analog To Digital Thermostat In 30 Minutes
    Building Green says replacing manual thermostats in commercial buildings with digital controls is usually expensive and invasive, but new technology costs far less and can be installed in less than a half hour.

    MIT Weighs Lifecycle Impacts Of Concrete
    GreenBiz says cement's carbon intensity can often lead to harsh judgments of concrete as a building material, but research from MIT's Concrete Sustainability Hub says that looking at every phase of the life cycle is necessary to gain a fair judgment. "Conventional environmental assessments often overlook one or more of these phases, leading to incomplete results and inadequate conclusions," the study said. For example, the total life cycle, global warming potential for concrete is the same as, or lower than, designs in steel or wood.

    Implications For Canadian Construction Workforce In Green Building
    Canadian Construction Sector Council report Green Sustainable Building in Canada discusses implications for the commercial and residential construction workforce. It describes the changes in the construction industry that have resulted from recent green/sustainable building trends, as well as the impact of these changes on the skills and knowledge requirements of the workforce. Free site registration required.

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    8. Building Products & Suppliers

    Geothermal 101
    Dovetail report Geothermal 101: The Basics and Applications of Geothermal Energy focuses on residential applications of geothermal through the use of geothermal heat pumps (GHPs). It provides an overview of the basics of geothermal energy: how it works, how it can be used, and the advantages and disadvantages of the technology.

    2011 Radiant Flooring Guide
    2011 Radiant Flooring Guide provides information on various types of systems, and explains how to make proper choices on flooring over radiant heating systems, as well as an updated directory of radiant floor product manufacturers.

    Test Of Subcompact Drill/Drivers & Impact Drivers
    Tools of the Trade tested subcompact drill/drivers and impact drivers and the results made it clear that most of these tools, despite their small size and light weight, are surprisingly capable.

    Fiber Glass HVAC Insulation
    North American Insulation Manufacturers Association online video describes fiber glass insulation products designed for the HVAC system for residential and commercial buildings.

    Explaining Benefits Of A Tankless Water Heater To Your Customers
    Green Building Advisor says you should understand why so many folks are in love with the benefits of tankless water heaters to learn how to sell more of them and how to better satisfy your clients.

    9. Installation Procedures

    Solid Subfloors & Tips To Reduce Callbacks
    Ainsworth Engineered online video describes best framing practices for solid subfloors.

    Installing Mineral Wool Insulation Over Exterior Wall Sheathing
    Green Building Advisor describes how researchers confirm that Roxul panels and furring strips can be installed on walls as a substitute for exterior rigid foam.

    Online Video On How To Scrape Off Linoleum Flooring
    You Tube online video provides tips and tools for easier removal of linoleum flooring.

    Health Concerns When Using Spray Foam In Retrofits
    Green Building Advisor says protecting workers during and occupants after retrofits involving spray foam insulation installation is essential.

    Drywalling Over Protector Plates & Other Bulges
    Journal of Light Construction discusses tips on how to get a flat drywall job, even when there are bumps and lumps on the framing caused by hanger hardware or similar items.

    Insulating Old Brick Buildings
    Green Building Advisor says if you're thinking of insulating old brick walls, proceed with caution, or you could end up with a pile of bricks instead of a comfortable, energy-efficient building.

    10. Information Sources

    Resource Site On Roofing
    Traditional Roofing Magazine provides online articles, information and resources on many different types of roofing.

    Mortgages 101 & Buying Your First Home
    Financial Consumer Agency of Canada provides information about the mortgage process and how to find the mortgage that best meets your needs.

    Resource Site On Floods
    Insurance Institute for Business and Home Safety provides information and resources on floods.

    11. Conferences & Shows

    Vancouver Home & Interior Design Show
    To Be held October 13-16 at the Vancouver Convention Centre, the Vancouver Home & Interior Design Show is an annual fall consumer home show that features the latest design trends, products, and renovation resources.

    Power Smart Forum For Building Owners & Managers
    The Power Smart Forum, to be held October 17-19 in Vancouver, features three days of trade show, workshops and breakout sessions focused on this yearís theme, Resilience & Adaptation: Adjusting to a Changing Climate.

    Construction Fair 2011 In Vancouver
    Construction Specifications Canada is presenting Construction Fair 2011 on November 9th in Vancouver. The fair will bring together more than 80 manufacturers, suppliers and distributors for networking and education focused on institutional, industrial, condo and commercial building within the Vancouver market. This free, one-day event will be of interest to architects, contractors, owners, engineers and others who design, build, specify, engineer, renovate or operate in the built environment.

    Electrix Learning Expo In Vancouver
    BC Electrical Association presents Electrix Learning Expo in Vancouver on November 2. It provides companies with an opportunity to show new products, new services and innovations, and give presentations to a captive, educated audience.

    12. Education & Training

    Workshop On Residential Green For Kitchen & Bath
    BC Chapter of the National Kitchen & Bath Association presents Residential Green for Kitchen and Bath on September 30th in Burnaby. Participants in this class will learn to evaluate products effectively by applying a wide range of criteria that identifies the true measure of a productís impact on the environment and occupant health. Green certifications, sustainable organizations and market realities will be discussed and their relevance will be examined.

    Applications In Sustainable Community Development
    Light House Sustainable Building Centre presents Applications in Sustainable Community Development on September 30 and October 1. Through field trips and presentations by sustainability project champions, you will explore the application of sustainability principles in a variety of programs, projects and business ventures.

    Construction 101: An Introduction to the Construction Industry
    Vancouver Regional Construction Association workshop Construction 101: An Introduction to the Construction Industry on October 3rd was developed to familiarize construction staff and personnel with all aspects of the construction industry. It is an introductory course that will provide individuals working in administrative positions, sales positions, and staff in other related construction positions and companies with the opportunity to obtain a comprehensive introduction to the construction industry terms, documents, and processes.

    Course On Introduction To Hydronic Heating
    Canadian Hydronics Council will be holding its popular 2-day Introduction to Hydronic Heating Installations course in several locations across Canada this fall, including Coquitlam on October 26-27.

    Industry Courses On Lighting
    BC Section of Illuminating Engineering Society offers several levels of lighting education.

    Canadian Seminars On Building Information Modeling
    Canadian National Research Council annual Building Science Insight seminar series this year covers Building Information Modeling. Sessions will be presented across the country during October, November and January.

    IAB Canada: Courses On Internet Marketing - Oct & Nov
    Interactive Advertising Bureau of Canada is offering several courses in Vancouver including Interactive Marketing & Online Advertising, Social Media Marketing, and Mobile Marketing.

    13. Computer, Internet & Fun

    Tablets Take Off In Construction
    Engineering News Record says tablets, most notably the Apple iPad, are changing the way the construction industry works by speeding up processes that were once tedious and putting a wealth of information at workers' fingertips. The touch-screen devices allow for quick communication between on-site workers and off-site architects and managers.

    How To Download & Save Streaming Videos
    Windows Secrets describes tricks to getting the video you want into a format you can use. If you get the right software, you can download almost any streaming video and store it in many different formats.

    Great TV Shows Of 50's, 60's, and Roots Of Rock & Roll
    Oldies Television has more than 200 free performance archives, many full-length shows. A PlayItAll Media Player is required but download is free on the site.

    Dittie For Today: On Motivation

    When you're a self-starter, others don't have to be a crank. - Author unknown

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    © Copyright 2011               Ken Farrish               All Rights Reserved

    ISSN: 1703-5597 - National Library of Canada