Winter is fast approaching and even though we live in a moderate climate city,
it’s still very important to make sure your house is well maintained! Here is a
winter maintenance check list for all of you home owners out there.
- Check the attic for leaks, check the insulation, look for blocked
vents and look to see if any daylight is coming through the
roof or around the chimney (may indicate a leak or hole).
- Replace the furnace, air handler filters (home owner), clean
your HRV system (home owner) and have your boiler serviced
if it’s been more than 12 months since your previous service
(a technician is required to provide this service).
- Clean and test all smoke alarms – check or replace the
batteries if they are not hard wired.
- Remove ice and snow from porches and concrete stairs as
soon as possible – don’t use salts or other chemicals that will
damage the concrete, membranes and/or tile to melt or
- In freezing or snowy conditions check for ice dams on the
overhangs of the roof.
- Occasionally open windows to allow the house to air out
(weather permitting). Not needed if your home contains an
- Avoid overloading circuits with heaters, light decorations or
appliances during the winter.
- Remember to remove and store all your hoses, turn off the
water supply to the exterior faucets and drain hose bibs
(remove diverters too) BEFORE freezing temperatures. This
may not be necessary if your home uses frost free hose bibs.
- If you have an in-ground sprinkler system, make sure it is
properly drained and winterized BEFORE freezing
- Check that your faucets are not leaking – this will save you
money especially on your hot water heating costs.
- Check all the CO (Carbon Monoxide) detectors for operation.
This is especially important in winter.
- Do not pile snow against the side of your house.
- Check for any areas with failed caulking and/or sealants,
keeping it maintained will prevent larger issues from
It’s unfortunate that your home can’t talk because if it could it’ll remind you about the benefit and importance of caulking & sealing. It’s probably one of the most important and overlooked parts of construction. Even if you spend tons of money on equipment and devices making your home as energy efficient as possible, it won’t make a difference if your home is not sealed properly with quality, long lasting products. Those dollars spent on higher end energy efficient equipment will leak out through every unsealed nook and cranny.
Furthermore, even when using the right product it’s essential that it’s applied properly. Certain products require clean, dry, dust free applications, while other products are more robust and can be applied to less prepped surfaces. It is also essential that you know the longevity of the product. Most often, the product will need to be reapplied within as little as a year depending on the temperature, moisture, and environmental exposure.
Don’t be afraid to ask you builder questions about what products they suggest and if there’s higher performing options available. The smaller increases in price could be beneficial in long term monetary and environmental gains.
Yes this is a blog about construction, not about some nasty gingivitis and mouthwash. Scope Creep by definition refers to uncontrolled changes or continuous growth in a projects scope. This phenomenon can occur when the scope of a project is not properly defined, documented, or controlled. It is generally considered a negative occurrence, and therefore should be avoided. Now as builders, our job is to provide our clients with direction, not to just take orders. This at times requires being critical, not critical in the sense of making judgments (e.g., “that’s a dumb idea”) but in the sense of breaking down an idea in order to make sure that it’s sensible for the project and budget. It is our job to challenge the client on decisions to make sure it’s for the good of the project and not just an impulsive decision. Your builder needs to be aware of the details; for example, adding a few pot lights here, and couple extra dimmers, a tile that is slightly more expensive and the next thing you know your budget has increased by a few thousand. It is often difficult to know what a small change in price in material will mean in the end. Does this material require different installation? Are the products for installation more expensive? Will it require more upkeep? Working with an experienced build & design team will ensure they help keep you on-budget, and on-time.
When it comes to green energy there are many options to consider in regards to the surrounding environment in which your home is located. It’s not about the quantity, more so the quality. Just because you throw money to get the latest and greatest doesn’t mean you’ll do the environment any good or even save money.You need to consider many variables before installing any type of green technology.
Let’s take Vancouver for example. Over the last few years Geothermal heating has been very popular and had much publicity, however it requires a bit of real estate which is now at a premium in this city.
Recently wind energy has been in the media and although it’s an effective and very environmentally friendly source of energy there are still many obstacles to overcome. In particular, there must be enough wind to power the turbines. As well, municipal processes and public education of this application are still in its early stages and can see some resistance.
Another popular green energy source over the last ten years has been solar energy. This technology has made huge advances in the last several years due to its extensive use in Europe and Australia. It’s the least costly of the three mentioned and can be used anywhere that has ample amounts of sunlight.
There are two types of solar energy; solar thermal (hot water) and solar electricity. Solar thermal which sits flat on the roof like a skylight can provide up to 70% of a homes hot water needs (including radiant in floor heating) annually. That’s 30-40% in the winter and 100% in the summer. This can translate to huge savings on gas energy. Solar electrical can provide electricity which can either be stored in batteries (requires space in the house) or sold into the BC Hydro grid and purchased back at a reduced rate. Both solar energy sources are fairly economical and have a shorter payback period than wind or geothermal. It’s also quicker to obtain permits for installation and easier to maintain.
Hardwood floors are essential to the comfort and décor of one’s home. With that said it’s important to maintain and take proper care of your hardwood floors.
A humidity level of 40% to 60% must be maintained all year long. A good quality and properly maintained drum humidifier attached to the furnace is required to achieve the proper humidity level. An inexpensive Hygrometer purchased by the home owner is a wise investment to ensure the proper humidity levels are maintained.
Failure to maintain proper humidity levels can and will result in boards cupping and face checking; as well as cracks opening between boards. This is especially true in our dry winters, even during Chinook conditions. Please keep in mind that in most cases it is the reasonability of the home owners to maintain the proper humidity levels!
Here are some more tips:
- Homes with radiant heat floors require independent humidification capable of maintaining humidity
- Portable humidifiers are not recommended
- Hardwood floors should be vacuumed prior to cleaning
- Only use the hardwood floor cleaner that is recommended by the hardwood floor manufacturer
- Damp mopping of any type is strictly forbidden
- Never use water, water/vinegar mixture, oil soap products or ammonia based cleaners
- All furniture must have felt pads attached and cleaned on a regular basis
- Walk off mats at entry doors and in front of kitchen sinks should be used
- Denting and scratching are not covered under warranties
- Damage done by pets with their claws are not covered under warranties
Keep your toes warm and the your pockets green with heated floors
Whenever you’re doing a reno that involves laying a new floor, whether it’s tile, stone, concrete, laminate, or hardwood or engineered hardwood, consider adding a radiant heat floor system like Nuheat. Radiant heat works by warming everything it touches from the ground up, therefore only drawing energy when it’s used. Besides the benefit of warm toes, you can count on savings because no energy is lost through ducts in traditional forced air units. For an average sized bathroom, you’ll spend in the neighbourhood of $400-$800. It’s super simple to install, just unroll the thin mats with coils at a perfect spacing to avoid cold spots, have an electrician hardwire to a thermostat, and lay your new flooring on top.
- Silent- no hum of a furnace switching on.
- Eliminates dust, pollen, and germs blown through traditional force air ducts to decrease allergens.
- Reduces dust mites and mould for a healthier house.
- Installing an energy-efficient product such as this make you eligible for a federal tax credit.
- Can allow the thermostat to be set 2-4degrees lower than a forced-air system, which can lower energy costs by 10-40%
Visit www.nuheat.com for more info.
Manager, Design and Client Services
Bet you didn’t know…that most homeowners are unaware of an existing law that stipulates the financial and legal liability is on the HOMEOWNER if an unregistered WorkSafe worker is hurt on the homeowners jobsite. In fact, most homeowners would hire a contractor assuming that the contractor would take full responsibility in making sure that everything is looked after. That is often NOT the case.
If you’re looking for a contractor to do either small or large renovations or builds etc… you need to make sure to hire a contractor that is fully registered with WorkSafe. As well, under the current Legislation it states that YOU as the homeowners are responsible to assign a prime contractor in writing and if you neglect this procedure, then you become the prime contractor.
We know that most homeowners hire contractors based on their experience and price rather than their liability credentials. A lot of people just don’t realize that as a homeowner the liability can attach itself both as the employer and as the prime contractor leading to potential financial catastrophes if a worker not registered under WorkSafe is injured your site.
A prime example was a roofer who was killed when he accidentally fell through a skylight of former Gordon Campbell’s vacation home. Gordon Campbell became the “prime contractor” because he failed to assign in writing the role to one of the three general contractors working on his home. As a result, Campbell was legally responsible for coordinating and establishing compliance with health and safety requirements. Luckily for him all the workers were fully registered under WorkSafeBC and the unfortunate death of that worker has been fully compensated. This story highlights the importance of due diligence when hiring subcontractors to work on your home. If that individual who was killed was not registered under WorkSafeBC, then Gordan Campbell as the prime contractor would’ve been legally and financially responsible.
We urge everyone before hiring a contractor to A) Establish the role of prime contractor in writing and B) check on WorkSafe’s online registration database to ensure their chosen contract is registered. If they aren’t registered you can pay an assessment fee to cover the workers on your property, based on a 5.19% payroll of labour costs. Example: $100,000 labour cost should equal $5190 of registration insurance premiums.
For more information: http://www.worksafebc.com/
Odenza Homes builds and renovates custom homes in Vancouver and Burnaby. We have an opening for a Real-Estate Liaison. Working directly with our Client Service Directors and Real-Estate agents, you will be responsible for providing crucial assistance to our clients who are looking to purchase lots. You must have a valid driver’s license and suitable vehicle as you will be required to drive clients to various lots that are for sale throughout Vancouver. This is a full time job with salary plus commission, benefits and paid vacations.
- Liaising between the “buyers” and “sellers” of lots
- Assisting our client service directors in order to make the sale
- Always on the search for new lots for sale
- Negotiating with seller’s Real-Estate agents on behalf of our clients
- Touring our clients through various lots for sale
- Building relationships and networking with Real-Estate agents through Vancouver
- Promoting our brand
- Upkeep and updating our “lots for sale” section on our website
- Valid driver’s license
- Knowledge in the Vancouver Real-Estate market
- 2+ years of sales experience and/or working with people
- Networking skills
- Motivated and organized
- Ability to read and write fluent English
- CRM experience
Preference (but not required):
-Experience in the Real-Estate industry
-Ability to speak Chinese Mandarin
Please send us your resume and cover letter telling us why you would be a good fit to our company,
PLEASE EMAIL ALL APPLICATIONS TO SODI@ODENZAHOMES.COM
Things to watch out for:
There are many things to consider when choosing your lot. Real estate in Vancouver is at a premium so everyone is looking for that special bargain on a lot. Chances are that if a lot is substantially cheaper than those of the same size in the surrounding neighbourhood there is a good reason for it. Of course you must do your land title search and check the zoning of your prospective lot.
It is also highly recommended that a geotechnical survey be done prior to your purchase, as some parts of Vancouver are well known to be on or near peat bogs; grounds that are unstable and may require expensive piling prior to construction.
Other things to watch for when purchasing a lot are:
-A high number of trees on a lot with houses that are close on both sides. Falling and removal will be an added cost.
-A steeply sloping lot. This may require added retaining walls and extensive landscaping.
-The proximity of high voltage Hydro wires. This may limit you to where you may be able to build on your lot.
-Down guy wires. These are the angled tension wireswhich anchor and stabilize power/hydro and telephone poles. They can block garage or gate entries and seriously limit access to your property.
-Lastly it is recommended that you speak with the neighbours. They know the area and the people in it and can give you valuable information relating to your potential neighbourhood.
These guidelines will definitely help you minimize any hurdles and slowdowns during your development and construction process.
New housing rebate – owner‐built homes
An enhanced B.C. new housing rebate will be provided for owner‐built homes where an individual constructs or substantially renovates a house for use as a primary place of residence of the individual or a relation of the individual or an individual hires another person to do such new construction or substantial renovation. The enhanced new housing rebate for owner‐built homes will be available if on or after April 1, 2012: the new construction or substantial renovation of the home becomes substantially completed; and the rebate application is filed with the CRA. The maximum rebate for owner‐built homes will depend on whether the individual owner paid the HST on the land.
No HST paid on land
Where the HST was not paid on the land, the owner will be entitled to a B.C. new housing rebate of 71.43 per cent of the provincial component of the HST paid on qualifying construction expenses (which would not include land), up to a maximum rebate amount of $28,475 (i.e., 67 per cent of $42,500).
Time period for claiming B.C. New Housing Rebates
The time‐limits for claiming the existing B.C. new housing rebates will continue to apply for the enhanced B.C. new housing rebates.9 However, for certain housing types (i.e., houses acquired through the purchase of qualifying shares in a housing co‐op and owner‐built housing), the existing or enhanced B.C. new housing rebate will be available only where the application is filed with the CRA before April 1, 2017.
Full document is available at: http://www.hstinbc.ca/media/2012_housing_rules_.pdf
Government announces the transition rules for the HST early
The Honourable Kevin Falcon, Minister of Finance held a press conference on Friday Feb 17th in Victoria to announce transition rules for the harmonized sales tax and the affect it will have on the home building industry. Effective April 1, 2012 the threshold for new housing rebates will be increased from $525,000 to $850,000, including secondary homes. This means that new homes costing up to $850,000 will now be subject to only 2% of the Provincial portion of the HST, as opposed to the original 7%.
“We are elated the Provincial Ministry of Finance and the Federal Finance Department asked for our input and that our provincial government listened to the lobbying efforts of CHBA BC,” said CEO, M.J. Whitemarsh. “We had the confidence the Government would take our concerns to heart and implement the best solution for our industry; the news today was worth the wait and is even better than we could have anticipated.”
Since the referendum results to rescind the tax, the Canadian Home Builders’ Association of BC (CHBA BC) has worked diligently providing information from members to the government requesting the implementation of the transition rules be done as simply and quickly as possible to prevent any further stalling of the residential housing industry.
“The out-of-box forward thinking from the Government has created a stable situation for all CHBA BC members who build secondary homes,” Whitemarsh said. “Houses purchased as of April 1st will ultimately be receiving a $42,500 discount, now that the threshold has been raised.” (This is $850,000 of building costs x 5% = $42,500).
Releasing the transition rules on housing early was a wise and bold move on government’s part, one that is mutually beneficial. CHBA BC lobbied for a tax rebate to be created for consumers
on new home purchases and renovations, so the industry could move forward and gain momentum once again.
“Raising the threshold is a brilliant decision that is fair and equitable, a huge benefit to all consumers that will spur the market,” said Doug Wittal, President of CHBA BC. “Including the second home market outside the GVRD and CRD will create a huge boom, creating jobs and pushing the industry forward in very innovative ways.”
The 2012 budget will be announced Tuesday, February 21, 2012.
One of the least thought through options, yet greatest benefits when building a new home is the ability to “future proof” your home by pre-wiring it to suite all existing and newly created tech gadgets on the market. Quite often inexperienced contractors don’t understand how to pre-wire or even what to pre-wire a home for. It is actually quite easy and cost effective when wiring your home to cover any emerging technology. It is also quite beneficial from a design perspective since unsightly wires and components can be organized and stored to reduce clutter. Newer and more affordable technological innovations are available each day to control everything from sound systems to powered blinds. You can even use motion sensors to light up stairways and hallways at night. With the power and ability of today’s smart phones and handheld tablets along with the rapid decrease in technology costs, it won’t be long until every home becomes a “smart” home.
Vancouver’s residential streetscapes are as eclectic as its inhabitants, which helps give this city its diversity and rich cultural influence. As communities change and grow so do trends in residential custom home building. It is common to get swept up in the latest fad or trend when it hits the market, especially if you are looking to sell. If you are thinking of an exterior renovation it is important to research the proposed product, the install application and the qualified contractor prior to purchasing or commencing with the work. The most common mistake when choosing the materials for your renovation is not accounting for our climate in B.C. This is one of the most perpetuating problems people encounter with starting a renovation. A qualified, established contractor will be able to research, make recommendations and secure sample products for your build. An established builder brings with them a knowledge transfer, whereby they have often worked in a number of different projects and can bring different levels of experience to your build. So when you are ready to renovate, look for the office of your local neighbourhood builder to get your project started off right!
Potentially you can be overlooking many factors when it comes to your Energuide rating for your home. The Energuide report for your new home is not just a score but a wealth of information that explains the rating system and gives a breakdown of energy consumption by end use within the house (space heating, hot water, lights and appliances etc…). It also provides an assessment of where heat is most easily lost from the home.
The Energuide report can also provide valuable estimations on annual energy costs. In particular, the report can estimate the total annual energy consumption of the home, including electricity, natural gas, oil and propane. Any builder should be able to easily translate the report into an estimated annual energy cost, providing the new home buyer with a number they can take to the bank to ensure their efficient carrying costs are reflected in mortgage applications and use to plan monthly bills.
For more information regarding green building and the EnerGuide rating system please visit: www.odenzahomes.com/innovations
Home automation is one of those things that everybody seems to ask about, but few people understand. Last year we installed two home automation systems; one in my house and my brother’s house to test and determine what home automation can do. I can now report to you that home automation truly makes life a lot easier. I installed a system called Control4, and chose the basic options including lighting control, televisions, music and security. Lighting control is by far our favourite out of the bunch. Being able to turn lights and other electronic devices on and off etc… From our iPads, iPhones and wall switches makes life so much more convenient. Here’s an example. Let’s say the kids are in bed and we want to watch some TV. With the press of one button on a wall switch the TV goes on, lights throughout the house go off, and lights in the family room dim to 22% power (which is the level we’ve determined is ideal for watching TV). We have even been able to program lights to turn on/off after sundown using the motion sensors in the house. It takes a little while to learn what all the functions of the wall switches are, but they’re also back lit in different colour codes to make it easier. After a little while things fall into place and like heated seats in your car, you wonder how you ever lived without these little conveniences.
Our mission at Odenza Homes is to bring our clients homes in On-time, and On-budget. Now, we’ve haven’t been perfect in our history and we’ve had to make good on our promises but by in large it’s been a very successful way to do business. We’ve built many great homes and have great customers to show for it. The word “mission” as it relates to business bothers me. Why? Because it’s overused to the point when I tell people we have a “mission” I can see their eyes gloss over. So, I want to tell you that we no longer have a mission but a cause. It’s a different word, but maybe just the right one. I like the definition the dictionary gives: “to unite in a joint effort; work together for the same end”. That’s what we want to do at Odenza Homes. We want a joint effort between all of us, our trades, our suppliers and even our customers. The joint effort will result in all of us working together for the same cause, to finish your home on-time and on-budget, every time. It is something we need to keep working toward, keep improving on, and staying focused on, because this is what I hear from clients that bothers and scares them the most about building. We want to be the new home builder that takes away that concern and delivers great results. In another couple months we will have completed a new software system that will connect us to our trades and our customers closer than ever. We will continue to invest in every effort that maintains our ability to deliver on our promises to our clients.
Total inventory on Vancouver’s West Side continues to drop. It’s now down to 528 total houses. With the influence of Christmas, the expired listings have really picked up with over 110 listings expiring December. What has dropped is the average sale price which continues to slip. We saw a levelling off of prices but in the last couple of months prices have turned downward. The average sale price for homes in the West Side is approximately $2.26 million and lasts around 30 days on the market. The same can be said for homes on 33’ lots, even though there hasn’t been any price change for average new home sales since March 2011. A steady increase in the number of new homes for sale and a build-up of inventory is apparent but no significant price drops have occurred yet. Anything on a 45’ lot or bigger has been dropping in price over the past number of weeks. The larger homes have seen an increase in lower offers and thus dropping in price. The sellers of the homes are accepting these lower offers. Therefore, the build-up of inventory of larger new homes is negatively affecting this market. If you’re living in a home and you’re thinking about building, you should consider selling your existing home first. That way you’ll know exactly what you have to spend on your next lot purchase.
Clients always enjoy watching their new home being built. Some have a deep understanding of the construction process and others do not. What sometimes surprises people are the multitude of trades that are involved in the building process such as workers, carpenters, framers electricians, plumbers which are among the most recognized. There are a lot of other trades that are involved in the process that people often don’t recognize. One of these very specialized trades is the foundation damp proofing/waterproofing crew. These specialized crews are responsible for damp proofing the foundation below grade (the part underground). Concrete is not waterproof, as a result it is important to seal the concrete foundation against ground water. It is imperative to have the damp proofing system installed correctly. When applying the damp proofing membrane to your foundation the surface must be dry and clean of any contaminates. This can prove difficult in Vancouver during the winter. Proper measure must be taken to keep the rain off of the surface before, during and after the application of the damp proofing. The surface of the concrete must also be cleaned to remove any dust and dirt. If the membrane is applied correctly the foundation will last through the ages. If the membrane is compromised the water will move through the wall and enter in to the home. The “house” is a system of components and every component must be installed correctly for the whole system to function properly.