Saturday, April 3, 2010

Construction Budgeting - Contingency Reserve

The Importance Of a Contingency Reserve

Throughout the processes of remodeling, renovating, or building your own home, some homeowners discover unforeseen obstacles or repairs not noticed during the initial home construction. In most cases, a contingency reserve will be needed to help cover unanticipated costs that occur during this crucial time period. A contingency reserve should be considered early in the home construction process as part of a home construction loan.

Before making the final decision on how to remodel or construct your home, you should first consult a contracting company if you have not yet done so. This step is necessary for input on how your contractor can help fit the plans into your budget, which then ties into your contingency reserve. Once you are aware of the total budget, you will know what percentage of your budget should be placed on reserve for unforeseen costs in the future.

Contingency reserves can range anywhere between 5% and 15% of the initial budget of your overall home construction or remodeling plans. These percentage rates coincide with the total home construction loan and also with the overall costs to build. This is necessary to insure that all extra costs, including inaccurate prices, missing items or overdrawn accounts, are covered and paid in full in case emergency usage is required.

Contingency reserves can save most homebuilders money in the long run. If you were to put a certain percentage of your initial budget away for safe keeping and emergency use, when the time came to use the money, you wouldn’t have to wait for the time it would take to go to your loan officer. This saves time, work, and money in the long run because there is no panic about where the money to buy new materials will come from because you’ve already planned ahead.

These contingency reserves are key in establishing and maintaining the construction of new and old homes and should be one of the first steps considered when thinking of building or remodeling any kind of home.

For help in building your budget contact Ken at 250 859 6062

Friday, November 20, 2009

HST - CHBA works towards changes

Increase of HST threshold a good first step

BURNABY, November 19, 2009 – The Government of B.C. announced today the HST transition rules on housing.

“As a result of the advice you have provided to government and B.C.’s unique real estate conditions, the Province is proposing to increase the threshold for B.C.,” said Colin Hansen, Minister of Finance, in a statement to CHBA BC early today.

The Province is proposing to increase the threshold for the B.C. HST new housing rebate from $400,000 to $525,000 to ensure that, on average, purchasers of new homes up to $525,000 pay no more tax due to harmonization than is currently embedded as PST. Purchasers of new homes would be eligible for a rebate of 71.43 per cent of the provincial portion of the HST paid on a new home, up to a maximum of $26,250. Homes above $525,000 would receive a flat rebate of $26,250 or the same 5% that CHBA BC has recommended. This enhanced rebate represents a 30 per cent increase in the threshold and maximum rebate available.

“CHBA BC has worked diligently to ensure meaningful change to the HST threshold and we are pleased that government has acknowledged our recommendations in their final decision. We will over the next two years continue to compile empirical data to demonstrate to government that this threshold sill needs to be raised. Indexing will also be top of mind as we continue lobbying,” said Bob Deeks, President of CHBA BC.

The Province is also proposing transitional rules for new housing. The provincial portion of the HST would not apply to sales of new homes where ownership or possession is transferred before July 1, 2010.

CHBA BC suggested to government that new houses should be entitled to grandparenting up to July 1, 2010. Grandparenting rules issued in today’s notice state that sales of newly constructed or substantially renovated homes would be grandparented where the written agreements of purchase and sale are entered into on or before November 18, 2009 and both ownership and possession of the homes are transferred under the agreement after June 2010.

For more information on new housing rebates and transitional rules for B.C. HST, please visit

The Canadian Home Builders’ Association of BC, a viable industry driven organization, is the voice of the residential construction industry in BC, and is built on a vision of strong and positive roles for the housing industry. CHBA BC is committed to supporting the professionalism of our over 1700 members and providing affordability, quality and choice for consumers. CHBA BC’s voluntary membership comprises builders, developers, renovators, suppliers and other professionals who are dedicated to industry excellence.

Further Information
Nafisa Abdulla, Director of Communications
Canadian Home Builders’ Association of BC

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Okanagan - Dimensionally Stable Timber Framing - Tru Dry

Building with or adding a timber frame feature to a new build or renovation is an excellent choice in today's market. However, working with large dimensional lumber can it's problems if not cured correctly. Curing wood timbers is difficult and it usually results in the heart of the timber having high moisture levels. Large timbers will often twist, crack and check in our dry climate over time, which can lead to an appearance that is not visually appealing or to structural problems.

When I saw a Tru-Dry ( presentation at the latest Canadian Home Builders Association South Okanagan regarding a unique drying technique I thought I should pass the information along. This Oregon based company offers the designer and builder an assurance that the timbers being installed will stay more dimensionally stable over time

Tru-Dry offers a clear advantage to builders and home owners seeking the finest timber available -- it's consistent and uniform moisture content. Using advanced, next-generation Radio Frequency Vacuum (RFV) technology Tru-Dry is:

* > dried evenly, to the core of each piece.
* > the most consistently dried timber on the market.
* > the most stable, solid-sawn timber on the market.
* > the leader in quality and appearance.

For more information contact:

Paul Bouchard
BP Wood
PO Box 1029 Penticton BC
250 498 7255

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Summerland Economic Outlook - Eric Geritts Homescape Building and Design

On February 18th, 2009 Patrick Murphy of RE/MAX Orchard Country hosted a Summerland Economic Outlook event. I was pleasantly surprised by the large turnout, guest speaker variety and the positive attitude in the room. Newly elected Summerland mayor Janice Perrino capped it off with an energetic and sobering presentation. The presentations avoided the negatives but stressed the realities of the challenges to be faced and an open community effort to kick-start local business.

One of the main speakers was Eric Gerrits, Past President of the Canadian Home Builders Association South Okanagan and owner of Homescape Building and Design. He outlined a bright future for anyone thinking of building of renovating in the next couple of years.

“As a long term resident of Summerland, this is the third economic downturn I have experienced and I have to say, that the Okanagan is always the bright spot in BC’s economic picture during these correction periods. We have an incredible resource specific to the valley in the way of tourism, retirement, inter-provincial migration to our area, and a rapidly growing wine industry that is a huge promotion toll to make people aware that we live in Gods country, we no longer the “best kept secret”. Who wouldn’t wish they could live here after experiencing the best place in Canada while vacationing in Okanagan communities like Summerland.

While housing starts are expected to decline, the renovation market is expected to grow significantly as people decide to make there current residence more comfortable by upgrading windows, re-roofing or creating more square footage for a growing family.

There are many grant programs available by the Provincial, Federal and Utilities plus PST and income tax exemptions and credits. All of these positively impact your comfort and utility bills while increasing the equity in your home. Now is an ideal time to consider these upgrades because now there are skilled tradesmen available that will be only too happy to take on these jobs. However, homeowners must be wary of the underground economy and only use qualified trades people with a track record.

(Flywheel side note – As a municipal inspector I have seen some very scary projects done by DIY’s and unskilled contractors, hire skilled people or assistance and avoid problems. Also check with your local building department regarding permits.)

Every home that is built provides 2.8 person years of employment and produces over $30,000 in spin-offs back into the local economy. Construction accounts for 2.3% of the provincial GDP contributing $3.5 billion to the provincial economy last year alone. It is the largest economic engine in the province and will be a leader on the path to our recovery in BC and local communities like Summerland.

The market has clearly shifted from a sellers to a buyers market and by all accounts 2009 will be the adjustment year.

If you were told in the summer of 2008 that you could:
• Save 20% on the construction value of your project
• Pay 3% less in interest rates
• Complete your project two to three months sooner with higher skilled labour.
Wouldn’t you want to Build or Renovate. Well that is what we have right now!

In this new economic reality, now is the time to consider that project, whether it’s a new deck, a bathroom or kitchen renovation or that new home you’ve always dreamed about. Costs will never be lower, permits never quicker and trade availability will never be better. So don’t miss this opportunity of a lifetime to become a homeowner, and your decision to act now, will provide the stimulus for your local community to continue and grow and prosper. “

Eric Gerrits, RHP
Homescape Building and Design
250 – 494 – 9850

Friday, January 30, 2009

Preparing your yard for the new Renovation - Excavating & Landscaping in the Okanagan

This article was provided by Greg Truman of Urban Contracting "Defining the Art of Excavating"
250 215 8006

Preparing your yard for the new Renovation.

Left alone, water is one of the most powerful forces in nature. Properly collected, controlled and directed water becomes manageable and predictable. Preparing your yard for that new addition is one of the most critical steps in assuring your investment doesn’t wash away or at the very least settle, shift and crack. A sound foundation is the cornerstone of your project. Companies like Flywheel Building Solutions may be involved in the preconstruction and final finish stages to assist homeowners with all the aspects of the project assuring that any details large or small are being properly reviewed and completed as per the local building codes. Excavating contractors like Urban Contracting or your building contractor are also excellent sources to help you design and properly complete your project. If you’re the kind of homeowner that likes to get involved and assume the roll of the General Contractor here are some steps you should follow;

The first consideration before you start excavating, for the new addition, is reviewing the general layout of your slope around the property and to assess the type of ground conditions or geology of your property. Controlling water runoff or ground water starts with understanding the slope of your property and where you are going to direct the excess water from the new structure. Mother Nature over millions of years has shaped the landscape as we see it today. When we remove the earths natural ability to absorb water in the native soil and replace it with hundreds of square feet of roof we must direct and control the potential deluge of water to locations that are designed to adequately absorb and disperse the water. We do this by directing the water into pipes that flow to drywells or some form of seepage bed located 3 meters or more from your buildings foundation. The Okanagan Valley offers diverse geological soil conditions. Ground conditions will vary from property to property, homeowners can be faced with; bedrock, silt, clay, hardpan, sand, gravel or a combination of all the above. When assessing the degree of slope required to control your surface water the homeowner must consider the size and type of drywells required based on your geological conditions. As an example, a property with a gravel base would require substantially less area to direct and absorb the water V.S. a property with bedrock or hardpan conditions. Again, if you not sure it’s best to consult your contractor, engineer or building inspector for the location and size of the collection system.

Ask yourself these questions; What impact will the new addition have on your existing yard? Will I need to relocate irrigation lines or small plants and shrubs? Is my septic system or drain field in the excavated area? If so, does the septic system still meet the Ministry of Health’s setbacks or usage guidelines? What is the location of your domestic water line? Am I on a community sewer system, Is the pipe near or under the new addition? Do I have an underground or overhead electrical connection, if so, where is it located? What impact will the new roof runoff have on your existing drywell or water collection system? What are my ground conditions? And finally, what will happen with the surface ground water after your addition is complete?

Once you have assessed your property its time to redesign and redirect your surface and ground water to a proper location. It is very important that the foundation for your new addition be kept dry and is capable of dealing with any unexpected water from either underground or surface water. Ground water or surface water that is able to penetrate your footings will over time cause serious damage. Your building will settle and drop creating instability and noticeable damage. To solve the issue, homeowners have the option of using a 4 inch plastic perforated product called “Big O” or a more ridged perforated 4 inch PVC type pipe. The perforated pipe, that allows water to enter quickly, is carefully laid next to the entire length footings and completely covered over by the locally approved drain rock and a filter cloth used to create a barrier between the soil and the clean drain rock to help prevent silt-out or contamination. The pipe is gently sloped along the foundation until it reaches the drywell located at a specific distance from the building.

So, you have completed the required perimeter drainage system and now its time to backfill your new addition. It is recommended that the surface slope of the property be a minimum of 2% from the building allowing surface water to naturally flow away from the building. Some regions or cites have adopted slopes of 7-8% or more. It is also advised the material being used to backfill your structure be compacted by mechanical means. Poor compaction of the surrounding excavation will allow the lose ground to settle and cause low spots allowing water to pool. This pooled water will naturally drain down the side of the concrete wall further settling the un-compacted ground. If not corrected, pooled areas will cause damage to the footings, sidewalks or driveway as the ground continues to settle. Once again, depending on ground conditions and the potential volume of water from the surrounding area, the homeowner should consult their local inspectors or building department for recommended guide lines or suggested slopes. If your land is properly sloped away from the building the perimeter drainage system my never see any water.

The single most neglected item that will cause serious damage to your building and surrounding structures are the roof drains. Remember, you have redirected hundreds or thousands of square feet of land that was previously able to absorb the water naturally and now have it focused to your new roof. If you don’t control or redirect the water to a new location you are allowing high concentrations of water to be distributed to just a few down spouts. If your property is not sloped correctly the water will very quickly find the path of least resistance. This path, leads directly to your footings, under your newly poured sidewalk or freshly paved driveway. We have all visited someone’s home and seen the sidewalk slabs that are misaligned, the retaining wall that looks like it may fall over any day or the driveway that has cracked, shifted or sunk. This damage could be from poor compaction during construction but most likely is from misguided surface water.

The installation of a three or four inch solid PVC piping system connected to all the down spouts on the building is ideal to control and manage any roof water. The PVC pipe is normally run along the side of the building approximately six to twelve inches below the surface. In addition, any large surface areas like your driveway, decks, pool, grass and patios should also be collected and directed to the same drywell or a series of drywells depending on the layout of your property. This new system should not be connected to your perimeter drainage system that was installed for the footings. Find an area away from the building suitable to support the potently large volumes that may occur from rapid runoff in the spring or heavy rainfalls throughout the years.

Now that you have controlled the water in your yard is time to reinstall the irrigation, any additional plants or that new patch that is required to complete your landscaping. Any irrigation located near the building should be monitored and operated manually every few months to assure it has not been compromised. Be aware that newly excavated areas can often settle causing a break in the irrigation system. Although you have just designed the property to deal with surface and underground water a failed irrigation system can cause serous damage to your property.

As a quick recap, I always recommend to my customers that it’s important to control any potential water that may find its way to your footings by installing a proper drainage system, compact your excavation and control your surface ground water by sloping your property to the recommended building code in your area. Control and capture any roof or manmade surface area, including large patches of grass that are not able to naturally absorbed water like the original native soil. If you follow these basic steps you will ad years of value to your home.

Greg Truman
Urban Contracting
Kelowna 250-215-8006
Penticton 250-492-1147
Toll Free 877-290-8006

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

15% tax credit for renovation projects

Homeowners can claim 15% of costs on projects worth $1,000 to $10,000 on top of the grants offered by the Livesmart & ecoenergy programs and local utility providers.


OTTAWA–Installing a new furnace this year? Building a deck?

The proposed federal budget offers a temporary new tax credit for your home renovations – provided you do them soon.

The Home Renovation Tax Credit (HRTC) is designed to get Canadians spending now to help create jobs in industries typically hurt by an economic downturn.

"These measures to support home construction and renovation will help stimulate our construction and building-supplies industries," Federal Finance Minister Jim Flaherty said in his speech. "This in turn will support forestry and other Canadian industries. It will give an immediate boost to our economy, and help to create jobs."

Effective today through Jan. 31, 2010, homeowners can claim a tax credit for 15 per cent of renovation expenses between $1,000 and $10,000. The maximum tax credit (on $9,000 in renovations) is worth $1,350.

The government estimated the total value of the tax credit at about $3 billion, and expects about 4.6 million families to benefit.

The tax credit would apply to a variety of home improvements, such as renovating a kitchen, bathroom or basement, new carpet or hardwood floors, building an addition, deck, or fence, installing a new furnace, painting the inside or outside of a house, or laying new sod.

Expenses such as building permits, professional services, and equipment rentals are also eligible. Routine repairs and maintenance will not qualify for the credit. Nor will the cost of purchasing furniture, appliances, electronics, or construction equipment.

Houses, cottages and condominium units owned for personal use are eligible.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Flywheel - Building Okanagan - When do you need an Engineer

I am often asked when should an engineer come on board for a residential project. Unfortunately there is no clear answer. The best solution is to first speak with your local building authority. Some require a soils and structural engineer for anything bigger than a two car garage while other more rural areas have are more willing to do some calculation leg work. A rule of thumb would be to obtain a soils engineer for any type of addition or new build and a structural engineer for anything over $50k in value. It is better to be safe than sorry.

The Association of Professional Engineers and Geoscientists of BC (APEGBC) have created two documents that may offer clarification of when an engineer should be required and who is responsible for what.

Guideline to professional services

Guidelines for Housing

For more information contact

200-4010 Regent Street
Burnaby, BC V6C 6N2
Direct: 604-412-4853 Toll Free: 1-888-430-8035 Ext. 4853