Newsletter #151
Latest Industry News, Events, Issues, Products, And Resources
October 3, 2017


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


My thanks to Wilma Leung, David Hill, Harmeet Grewal, Alex Crisman, Ted Sheldon, Denisa Ionescu, Glenn Duxbury, Ben Eisen, Joey Fearn, Chris Brooks, Christine Gibson, Julie Domvile, John Maus, Brian Hart, Sabine Just, Peter Sundberg, Isaac Wong, Brad Bradshaw, Craig East, Anna Kosova, Bryan Clark, and Wilson Edgar 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 Newsletters 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


Ken's Top Pick

Claddings & Great Fire of London
Building Science describes why combustible claddings can be used on low rise buildings, and non-combustible claddings can be used on everything.

1. Industry Issues, Forecasts & Trends

BC State of the Market Report Q2-2017
UDI online State of the Market Report for Q2 2017 provides stats and graphs showing price escalations, supply contraction, and differences in market sectors (building types and regional sub-markets). (PDF)

Vancouver Developers Face Rising Costs & Fees
Journal Of Commerce says developers could soon face even more costs to build in the red hot Vancouver market.

BC Economic Outlook 2017-2020
Central 1 report BC Economic Outlook 2017-2020 says the BC economy has fired on nearly all cylinders in 2017 and growth will remain healthy through 2020. (PDF)

Measuring Impact of 2017 Election on Uncertainty in BC
Fraser Institute study Measuring the Impact of the 2017 Election on Uncertainty in British Columbia finds that the tenuous nature of the recent provincial election in BC has increased political and policy uncertainty to the highest levels since at least 2009, which could drive down business investment by between six and 10.5 per cent.

BC’s Fastest Growing Industries
Business Council of BC shows the 30 BC industries that have grown most rapidly over the past five years, based on average annual growth in economic output.

Response to Proposed Changes to Mortgage Underwriting Practices
BC Real Estate Association encourages the government not to make fundamental changes to the national housing finance system at a time of rising interest rates.

Canadian Mortgage & Consumer Credit Trends
CMHC report Canadian Mortgage & Consumer Credit Trends says high levels of household indebtedness remain a key concern of the financial system with total household credit market debt reaching two trillion dollars by the fourth quarter of 2016. While credit growth has surpassed growth in disposable income for many years, the ratio of debt to disposable income reached 167.2% by the last quarter, a three-percentage point increase over 2015. (PDF)

How BC developers Are Building the World
BC Business says Vancouver property developers and the local companies that work with them have created a booming global export business.

2. Business Management

Federal Tax Change Could Hammer Contractors
Home Builder Canada magazine says many residential contractors exist as small independent businesses, making them vulnerable to higher taxation under new federal Finance Ministry proposals.

Fast, Accurate Techniques for Estimating Construction Costs
Fine Homebuilding says in order to quickly produce accurate construction estimates, you need to develop a unit-cost method for estimating your construction projects.

Developing an Integrated Marketing Plan
Plumbing and Mechanical says many contractors are slow or very behind in integrated multi-media, causing inconsistency, confusion, and opportunity.

Business Financial Foundational Flaws
Journal of Light Construction describes some inconsistent record keeping and faulty accounting things that typically throw business financials out-of-whack.

Opioid Crisis Touches Construction Industry
Builder Magazine asks if construction industry will come clean on the impact of substance use and abuse on its job sites, and take action to protect workers.

In Praise of Carpenters
South Mountain Company says a carpenter’s intimacy with a building is particular and visceral.

Simple Steps to Hire a Great Estimator
Trowel magazine says following these guidelines will help narrow your search for the best estimator to ensure long-term stability within your team.

Three Changes Could Easily Double a Remodeler’s Net Profits
US National Association of Remodeling Industry describes three easy things smart remodelers can do to increase profits next year and beyond.

3. Building Design & Trends

Homebuyers Willing to Sacrifice Square Footage for Outdoor Space
Builder Magazine says a study finds renewed interest in the backyard.

What Buyers Want in Small Home
Best In American Living says buyers of small homes are more willing than others to accept smaller lots and fewer amenities to make a home more affordable. They are not, however, more willing to compromise on finishing all the spaces, quality of materials, or commuting distances.

Remodeling: 2018 Color of Year Predictions Indicate Black, Black, Blue
Remodeling magazine says three paint companies picked the misunderstood neutral, while another chose a calming blue-green hue.

Ten Amazing Doors
Fine Homebuilding shows the great potential of the craft and beauty in door construction with these remarkable portals.

New Face of Kitchen Cabinets
Home Innovation Research Labs says over the past several years, there has been rapid evolution in home design in the kitchen. The most recent acceleration in this evolution is in cabinet styles and finishes. Flat panel doors, while long considered a low-cost option compared to raised panel doors, have now gained greater acceptance and represent more than a third of new single-family home installations and a large majority of multifamily installations.

Countertops Trend Toward Nature-Inspired Designs
Builder Magazine says a new study shows that home buyers will pay more for the look of natural stone countertops.

Suburb of Future, Almost Here
New York Times says millennials want a different kind of suburban development that is smart, efficient and sustainable.

MURB Design Guide
University of Toronto online MURB Design Guide, Enhancing the Liveability and Resilience of Multi-Unit Residential Buildings, covers the design of multi-unit residential buildings in a Canadian climate, specifically mid-rise and high-rise housing typologies. (PDF)


What Are Industry Members Saying About BC Building Info?

Bob MacKie, Vice President Sales, AssociCom says: “Your newsletter is a well-researched, well-written and nicely laid out information source for builders. It's a pleasure to see it in my inbox.”

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

4. Codes Standards & Regulations

BC Step Code Raising Eyebrows Among Builders
Journal of Commerce says the Step Code was implemented in April 2017 for use on a voluntary basis but as of December 15th it will be mandatory for all municipalities that had required builders to meet other energy program standards and certifications.

Which BC Jurisdiction Applies for Electric & Gas Safety?
Technical Safety BC administers the Safety Standards Act and associated regulations that apply throughout BC, including on lands which are subject to federal regulation for other purposes. They also list the other authorities having jurisdiction in areas where the regulation of electricity and/or gas has been delegated to the local government.

Asbestos Awareness Resources for BC Contractors
WorkSafe BC says asbestos exposure remains the number one killer of workers in BC. Whether you’re a general contractor, abatement contractor or a demolition contractor, you are responsible for the health and safety of workers and that includes protecting them from asbestos exposure.

Why Contractors Should Not Risk Asbestos
BC Council of Construction Associations says WorkSafe BC has launched a targeted contractor awareness initiative to support their Prevention Field Services work in construction. Their purpose is to get the word out directly to contractors regarding their obligation to manage asbestos safely and responsibly.

Approved Certification Marks for Gas Appliances
Technical Safety BC bulletin contains updated approved certification marks for gas appliances.

EI Insurance Rate Hike Impediment to Small Business
Canadian Federation of Independent Business calls for the federal government to reduce the overall payroll tax burden on small businesses, following announcement of an increase in the 2018 Employment Insurance premium rate.

Dispute Resolution
Qualified Remodeler says a problem on the job can cause homeowners to blow up. Use a proven process to help defuse and manage it.

Taxes Versus the Necessities of Life
Fraser Institute report Canadian Consumer Tax Index, tracked the total tax bill of the average Canadian family from 1961 to 2016. Last year, the average Canadian family earned $83,105 and paid $35,283 in total taxes compared to $31,069 on housing (including rent and mortgage payments), food and clothing combined. The average Canadian family paid nearly twice as much of their income in taxes (42.5 per cent) as they did for the basic necessities of life, which include food, clothing and housing, that amounted to just 37.4 per cent of income.

5. Building Science & Technology

Moisture Diffusion in A Wall In Winter
Construction Instruction online animation shows how moisture diffuses through a wall in winter.

Building Science Advisor Online Tool on Moisture Risk
US Department of Energy is developing the online Building Science Advisor tool which will be able to provide guidance to building professionals on how to minimize moisture risks in low energy, high performance homes. (PDF)

Is Your Exterior Rigid Foam Too Thin?
Fine Homebuilding says more builders are adding a layer of rigid foam insulation on the outside of homes. The idea makes sense, done correctly.

State of Stucco
Building Science online slide show presentation describes issues and considerations for quality installation of stucco.

3 Levels of Building Enclosure Hierarchy
Energy Vanguard says there is a building enclosure hierarchy, consisting of three levels: Material; Assembly; Enclosure.

How Collar & Rafter Ties Work
Fine Homebuilding describes how collar and rafter ties are installed and work. (PDF)

Framing Techniques for Builders
WoodWorks online presentation Framing Techniques for Builders: Lessons Learned and Best Practices covers commercial and multi-family construction hurdles related to issues with building framing schemes, and best practices that builders can employ to avoid similar issues on their own projects. (PDF)

Evolution of Roofing Membranes
Building Science online slide show presentation describes the evolution of roofing membranes. (PDF)

6. Building Performance Issues

There’s Rot in the Roof
Green Building Advisor describes an unvented low-slope roof that is showing signs of water damage, and asks what the best fix is.

Tests Show Decades Later, Fiberglass Performs
Home Innovation Research Labs research finds that aged fiberglass batt insulation maintains an average of 95.5 percent of the labeled R-value after an average of 40 years of service.

Five Things You Never Want to do to Permeable Pavers
Buildings Canada says permeable interlocking pavers are often abused, neutralizing the effectiveness of carefully selected aggregate packed between paving stones. They list five terrible things that owners do to reduce the effectiveness of their pavers.

Our Homes May Get Smarter, But Have We Thought It Through?
NPR explores whether homes getting smarter is a good thing.

Limescale In Hydronic Systems
HPAC Magazine describes issues and considerations for limescale accumulation in hydronic systems.

Fixing a Poorly Insulated Roof
Green Building Advisor says a huge air conditioner and roof heating cables can’t overcome basic design flaws.

Behavioral Strategies for Effective Use of Programmable Thermostats
Fraunhofer report Evaluation of Behavioral Strategies for Effective Use of Programmable Thermostats in Multifamily Affordable Housing describes a field experiment to test two behavioral interventions designed to increase the effective use of programmable thermostats by low-income tenants who pay for utility bills. (PDF)

Benchmarking Initiatives in Multifamily Market
ACEEE policy toolkit item, Benefits of Benchmarking Initiatives in the Multifamily Market, reviews the existing research on how these initiatives can facilitate energy efficiency investments.

7. Green Building & Energy Efficiency

Vancouver Renewable City Strategy Slammed
Business in Vancouver says Vancouver’s future might look green, but for a number of businesses, including restaurants, fireplace manufacturers and the natural gas sector, it looks bleak, according to a new study on the City of Vancouver’s Renewable City Strategy. And while BC is energy-rich, Vancouver residents could face energy poverty, thanks to a plan to phase out natural gas for heating and a knock-on effect of the ban that could increase electricity prices provincewide and decrease natural gas revenue for the provincial government.

Step Toward Net-Zero with Step Code
RDH Building Engineering describes how BC is rolling out new building energy efficiency requirements with the Step Code.

BC Step Code Requires Diligence
Victoria Residential Builders Association says the purpose of BC’s upcoming Step Code is to fast-track energy efficiency in new homes, but there are some problems with this approach.

Build Value to Drive Home Performance & HVAC Sales
OmStout Consulting says if you can’t build and sell value, you have to compete on price. If you compete (and win) on price, it’s very unlikely you’ll be able to do things right and make a fair profit (although you might be able to do one of those two).

Multi-Unit Residential Buildings Energy & Water Efficiency
CMHC report Multi-Unit Residential Buildings Energy and Water Efficiency describes principles and practical considerations involved in implementing cost-effective energy and water efficiency measures in existing MURBs. (PDF)

New Westminster Urban Solar Garden
City of New Westminster online video provides a summary of their plans for a centralized, city-owned solar PV array where community members served by the New Westminster Electric Utility can subscribe to a portion of the electricity generated from the array.

Ontario Energy Efficiency Programs are High Cost, Little Benefit
Fraser Institute says the Wynne government seems to think cutting energy bills is as easy as changing a lightbulb or switching a thermostat. Research shows that simply isn’t true. Ontario’s energy efficiency programs are costly and will likely result in minimal energy savings for residents and businesses.

Net Positive Symposium
Living Future Institute & Passive House Canada presents Net Positive Symposium in Vancouver, October 30-31.

8. Building Products & Suppliers

Buyers Guide to Spray Foam Insulation
Fine Homebuilding says there are two main types of spray foam: open-cell spray foam, which has a density of about 1/2 lb. per cu. ft.; and closed-cell spray foam, which has a density of about 2 lb. per cu. ft. The higher the density of the foam, the greater the R-value per inch.

Modern Concrete Patios
Concrete Network describes how a modern concrete patio style complements a contemporary home, and is often designed to meld with interior decor to create a seamless transition separated only by large expanses of glass.

Installing Decorative Concrete Floors
Fine Homebuilding describes how to turn an ordinary concrete slab into a low-maintenance, inexpensive finished floor with the look, feel, and durability of more expensive stone floors. (PDF)

Gypsum Prices Continue to Climb In US
US NAHB says the prices of gypsum, softwood lumber, and ready-mix concrete increased by 1.4%, 0.6%, and 0.3%, respectively, in July.

Safety Helmets Replacing Hard Hats on Construction Sites
Bloomberg says designs first used in mountain climbing and other sports helmets are adapted for construction workers.

Choosing High Efficiency Water Heater
Green Energy Futures describes features and benefits of high efficiency water heaters, including tankless, electric heat pump and power vented units.

Ottawa Manufacturer Develops Super Window
Home Builder magazine says Verdun Windows & Doors claims it has developed a stronger, more energy-efficient window that has been recognized by Natural Resources Canada as the most energy-efficient one on the market this year.

New Fibreboard Insulation Being Developed
Green Building Advisor says a startup company is developing fiberboard insulation that it hopes will rival rigid foam.

9. Installation Procedures

Foibles, Follies & Fixes of Flex Duct
Building Science online slide show presentation describes issues and considerations for proper design and installation of flex ducts. (PDF)

Online Sizing Calculator for Downspouts & Gutters
SMACNA free Downspout & Gutter Sizing Calculator allows architects, engineers, designers, and contractors to easily and accurately size downspouts and gutters according to the specifications in SMACNA Architectural Sheet Metal Manual.

Floor Framing Trouble Spots
Journal of Light Construction says when you’re laying out floor framing, you need good support for all spans and all bearing walls. But if you’re also careful with changes in load, spans, and direction, you can avoid a lot of headaches.

Framing Floors
Fine Homebuilding online video takes you through the floor framing process, showing you practical ways to organize tasks, streamline procedures, and handle tools and materials efficiently.

Calculating Live Loads
Journal of Light Construction describes the best way to calculate live loads for floor framing in a house.

Old Meets New in Masonry Construction
Building Science online slide show presentation describes some history of masonry construction techniques, and considerations for maintenance and preservation. (PDF)

Residential Duct Systems for New & Retrofit Homes
US Department of Energy online slide show presentation describes features, issues and considerations for residential duct systems for new and retrofit homes. (PDF)

Pre-Retrofit Assessment of Existing HVAC Systems
US Department of Energy describes how to assess an existing HVAC system for potential repair, upgrade or expansion, or replacement.

10. Information Sources

Presentations From 2017 Westford Symposium on Building Science
Building Science has now uploaded the various online slide show presentations from their recent Westford Symposium on Building Science.

Time Required to Build Single-Family Home in US in 2016
US National Association of Home Builders says the 2016 Survey of Construction shows that the average completion time of a single-family house is around 7.5 months, which usually includes almost a month from authorization to start and another 6.5 months to finish the construction.

Canadian Home Buyer Preference Survey Results & Data Tool
CHBA online webinar video presents key results of their 2017 Home Buyer Preference Survey, and discuss how members can benefit from participating and using the survey's easy-to-use online analysis tool to get the data most relevant to their market, product type and target buyer.

Housing, Innovation, Vision, Economic
HIVE online features housing information and conversation to inspire creativity, higher performance and better solutions in design, finance, demographics, business management and products.

Get More Out of Marketing with Your CRM Software
Energy Circle says besides just helping keep your business organized, a CRM can boost the chances of success for various facets of your marketing efforts. It'll inform strategy and make sure the intent behind each channel is aligned with the right audience.

Submission on Renegotiation of NAFTA
CHBA National has responded to the Federal government on NAFTA issues that relate to the home building industry. (PDF)

Young Adults & Construction Trades
US National Association of Home Builders national poll of young adults ages 18 to 25 found out how this age group feels about a career in the construction trades. The majority of young adults (74%) say they know the field in which they want to have a career. Of these, only 3% are interested in the construction trades.

House Flippers Triggered US Housing Market Crash
Quartz says house flippers triggered the US housing market crash, not poor subprime borrowers. Mounting evidence suggests that the notion that the 2007 crash happened because people with shoddy credit borrowed to buy houses they couldn’t afford is just plain wrong.

11. Conferences & Shows

Canadian Hydronics Conference
Canadian Hydronics Conference will be held in Edmonton, October 16-17. It is an opportunity for all hydronics industry participants to visit the CIPHEX Roadshow trade show and learn from North America’s leading hydronics educators.

BC Construction Safety Conference & Trade Show
BC Construction Safety Alliance presents the 2017 Bridging the Gap: Construction Safety Conference & Trade Show, in Vancouver, October 26-27. Learn from a range of innovative professional speakers, and network with safety peers, industry organizations, and safety experts alike.

Canadian Construction Innovations Conference
The first Canadian Construction Innovations Conference will be held in Toronto on November 3rd.

Canadian Conference on Building Science & Technology
The 15th Canadian Conference on Building Science and Technology will be held in Vancouver, November 6-8. Program content is composed of submitted and peer reviewed Building Science/Building Envelope related technical presentations and speakers.

National Design & Architecture Expo & Conference
IIDEX Canada, the National Design + Architecture Exposition & Conference, will be held in Toronto, November 29-30. The annual show focuses on all areas of design including workplace, healthcare, hospitality, retail, residential, education, architecture, landscape architecture, lighting and sustainability, wellness and accessibility.

Canadian Construction, Design, Real Estate Show
The Buildings Show will be held in Toronto from November 29th to December 1st. It combines Construct Canada, Home Builder & Renovator Expo, PM Expo, World of Concrete Pavilion, IDEX Canada, and Real Estate Forum shows.

12. Education & Training

Leading & Managing Organizational Change
ICBA seminar Leading & Managing Organizational Change, held in Burnaby on October 11th, is focused on preparing you to manage organizational change and to lead and mentor others through change.

Vancouver ICF Training
Vancouver ICF Training holds hands-on training sessions that cover everything from footing formwork to embedding electrical wiring in the Nudura ICF.

Webinar on Building Smart with Air and Vapour Barriers
BC Housing webinar on Building Smart with Air and Vapour Barriers will be presented on November 21st. It covers the latest, most effective way to use air and vapour barriers in single and multi-unit residential buildings. Building envelope experts will share the challenges and options for improving durability, comfort and energy efficiency in Part 9 and Part 3 buildings.

How to Take Continuing Professional Development in BC
If you are a BC general contractor who wants to renew a residential builder licence, you must take Continuing Professional Development (CPD) related to the residential construction industry. This applies to general contractors who build single-family homes or small residential buildings in BC. BC Housing describes the types of training you can take, where to take it and how to report it.

New Website for BC Builder Education Courses
Canadian Home Builders Association of BC has launched their new education website. Whether you are looking to fulfill CPD requirements or seeking your builder licence, these courses may be of value to you.

Flexibility in Canadian Apprenticeship Technical Training
Canadian Apprenticeship Forum says the federal government Flexibility and Innovation in Apprenticeship Technical Training program is funding ten pilots to experiment with online learning, upfront training, mobile labs and/or simulator training.

Mass Timber Connections Online Workshop
Woodworks online Mass Timber Connection Design course focuses on connection design principles and analysis techniques unique to mass timber products such as cross-laminated timber, glued-laminated timber and nail-laminated timber. It covers design options for connection solutions ranging from commodity fasteners, pre-engineered wood products and custom-designed connections. (PDF)


Dittie For Today: On Experts

An expert is somebody who is more than 50 miles from home, has no responsibility for implementing the advice they give, and shows slides. - Edwin Meese


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ISSN: 1703-5597 - National Library of Canada

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