Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Flywheel - Selecting Hardwood Flooring

Courtesy from Phil Taneda of Koeda Hardwood Floors of Kelowna

Selecting the right hardwood floor is sometimes a battle between color and performance. Quite often we do not give enough consideration towards how you need your floor to perform for example in a powder room or laundry room tile or lino seems to make the most sense but in the open floor plan which is the majority of today's home design,breaking up the flow of color can be a conundrum.

For the most part hardwood placed in a small powder room on the main floor seems to be the popular choice. Also another performance consideration is the family pet or young children with heavy traffic use. To counter effect the inevitable we often add distressing to the floor prior to stain and finish giving the floor character along with our wide plank and random width.

Humidity levels also play a key factor when selecting flooring. Having a controlled humidity level is important in the Okanagan and solid hardwood should not be placed below grade and only certain species are suitable for radiant heated floors.

Most consumers are unaware that there is a transformation in attitude taking place with the manufacturers in that green certification and registered wood acquisition is becoming more and more main stream. Such certifications are FSC standing for Forest Stewardship Council or certifications that require an audited chain of custody certificate. These wood products are managed with consideration to sustainability and fair trade practices. There are finishes that have been available for many decades in Europe used on toys and furniture alike that are very environmentally friendly such as our Osmo hardwax oil. These oils are derived from a plant base and have been used in commercial applications such as airports and train terminals. The oil finishes are more flexible as opposed to a standard al/ox polyurethane finish which is hard and brittle. Oils penetrate the surface of the wood as opposed to placing a plastic film over the surface. The advantage of oil is the grain of the wood becomes more prevalent and a deeper more natural look is achieved. The oils are considered environmentally friendly by using a sustainable plant as a base and the VOC content is almost 100% free.

's are volatile organic compounds these are the nasties that off gas and are placed in a finish to make it flow onto the surface smoothly and decrease the drying time. Green products are available if we choose to use them and in searching for the products we found ourselves looking towards the European market place. Some 3 short years ago no one in North America had heard of an oiled floor. Now after attending the Surfaces Flooring Show almost all manufacturers have some form or another of these products to offer.

Forest Products have been manufacturing custom wide plank random width hardwood floors for the past 3 years using environmentally friendly finishes right here in Kelowna and a portfolio can be viewed at

Friday, July 18, 2008

Ken Kunka - Interest rates – Re Laurie Baird – Mortgage Intelligence Inc

Bank of Canada keeps overnight rate target at 3 per cent
OTTAWA – The Bank of Canada today announced that it is maintaining its target for the overnight rate at 3 per cent. The operating band for the overnight rate is unchanged, and the Bank Rate remains at 3 1/4 per cent.
Three major developments are affecting the Canadian economy: the protracted weakness in the U.S. economy; ongoing turbulence in global financial markets; and sharp increases in many commodity prices. The first two developments are evolving roughly in line with expectations in the April Monetary Policy Report. However, commodity prices are continuing to outstrip earlier expectations. This has led to further increases in Canada's terms of trade and real national income, and has altered the outlook for global and domestic inflation.
Although Canadian economic growth in the first quarter was weaker than expected, final domestic demand continues to expand at a solid pace. The economy is judged to have moved into slight excess supply in the second quarter of this year; excess supply is expected to increase over the balance of the year. High terms of trade, accommodative monetary policy, and a gradual recovery in the U.S. economy are expected to generate above-potential growth starting early next year, bringing the economy back to full capacity around mid-2010. Canadian GDP is projected to grow by 1.0 per cent in 2008, 2.3 per cent in 2009, and 3.3 per cent in 2010.
Total CPI inflation over the next year is expected to be much higher than projected at the time of the April Report. Assuming energy prices follow current futures prices over the projection period, total CPI inflation is projected to rise temporarily above 4 per cent, peaking in the first quarter of 2009. As energy prices stabilize and with medium-term inflation expectations remaining well anchored, total inflation is then projected to converge to the core rate of inflation at the 2 per cent target in the second half of 2009. Core inflation is projected to remain well contained and broadly in line with earlier expectations, averaging close to 1.5 per cent through the third quarter of this year and then rising to 2 per cent in the second half of 2009.
The three major developments affecting the Canadian economy pose significant upside and downside risks to the Bank's base-case projection. Weighing the implications of these, the Bank views the risks to its base-case projection for inflation as balanced.
Against this backdrop, the Bank judges that the current level of the target for the overnight rate remains appropriate. The Bank will continue to monitor carefully the evolution of risks, together with economic and financial developments in the Canadian and global economies, and set monetary policy consistent with achieving the inflation target over the medium term.
The Bank's detailed projection for the economy and inflation, and its assessment of risks to the projection, will be published in the Monetary Policy Report Update on 17 July 2008.
Information note:
The Bank of Canada's next scheduled date for announcing the overnight rate target is 3 September 2008.
Laurie Baird
"Your Mtg Gal leading the way to a better mortgage"
Accredited Mortgage Professional (AMP)
Mortgage Intelligence Inc.
(250) 469-1611
Fax (250) 712-0209

Ken Kunka - Canadian Government restricts long-term mortgages.

Globe and Mail Update, Reuters
July 9, 2008 at 4:36 PM EDT
OTTAWA — The federal government says it will no longer guarantee 40-year mortgages, one of a handful of measures aimed at guarding against a U.S.-style housing bubble.
The Finance Department said Wednesday in a news release that the government will guarantee no mortgages with durations longer than 35 years. The government also will demand a minimum down payment equal to 5 per cent of the value of the home.
"Today's announcement marks a responsible and measured approach by the government to ensure Canada's housing market remains strong and to reduce the risk of a U.S.-style housing bubble developing in Canada," the Finance Department said.
The government hastened to emphasize that Canada's housing and mortgage markets were performing much better than in the United States.
Canadian housing prices are in line with economic factors such as low interest rates, rising incomes and a growing population and the demand for residential housing remains buoyant at more than 200,000 housing starts a year, it said.
The percentage of bank mortgages in arrears is also stable at 0.27 per cent, the lowest levels experienced since 1990 and well below the highs of 0.65 per cent in 1992 and 1997.
"The historically prudent and cautious approach taken by Canadian financial institutions to mortgage lending, combined with a sound supervisory regime, has allowed Canada to maintain strong and secure housing and mortgage markets," it said.
It nonetheless noted "accelerated financial innovation" in the mortgage markets since the fall of 2006, for example, allowing loans up to 100 per cent of the value of the house and increasing amortization periods to 40 years from 25 years.
The government will now require a consistent credit score for mortgages it backs, and a minimum level of loan documentation standards to ensure evidence of the reasonableness of property values and the borrowers' income.
In addition, government guarantees will not be allowed for high-ratio mortgages where amortization is not required in the first few years – e.g., mortgages that begin with interest-only payments.
Finally, it will set a maximum of 45 per cent on a borrower's debt-service ratio – the proportion of gross income that is spent on debt service and housing-related fixed or essential payments.