Monday, February 8, 2021 – The Simcoe County Home Builders’ and the Ontario Home Builders’ Association (OHBA) applaud the Ontario government’s decision to remove the construction permitting restrictions and the prohibition on starting new renovations that were part of the emergency orders that came into effect on January 13. The changes announced today, which will take effect on Feb. 10 at 12:01 a.m., mean that as the province transitions back to the COVID-19 Response Framework: Keeping Ontario Safe and Open, all residential construction, including renovations, and related support activities may resume on February 10 with strict COVID-19 measures in place.
This will enable the industry to meet the housing, commercial and renovation needs in the Simcoe County Region, while continuing to protect workers’ health and well-being.
“The health and well-being of workers and residents continues to be our top priority said Sandy Tuckey, Executive Officer SCHBA. Our members look forward to ensuring a healthy supply of new and renovated homes allowing workers to provide for their families and making our contribution the economy under strict health and safety protocols.”
Health and safety are always priorities on construction work sites. During COVID-19, the industry has adopted very strict enhanced measures that meet or exceed the requirements outlined by the provincial government. Construction continues to be a low-risk activity compared to other sectors.
“Our industry continues to implement the Ministry of Labour’s guidelines on construction site health and safety during COVID-19,” said Joe Vaccaro, OHBA CEO. “Keeping colleagues, employees, and homeowners safe needs to continue to be the priority, and that includes Ministry of Labour inspections and, if necessary, closing any site that doesn’t meet or exceed these requirements. We need to keep each other safe as we continue deliver keys to homeowners.”
The Simcoe County Home Builders’ Association (SCHBA) represents builders, developers, renovators, sub-contractors, suppliers and building industry professionals in Simcoe County. Simcoe County is the region immediately north of the Greater Golden Horseshoe which is home to 450,000 people and has an employment base of 230,000. The County is comprised of 18 Municipal jurisdictions.
The Ontario Home Builders’ Association is the voice of the residential construction industry in Ontario, representing 4,000-member companies organized into 27 local associations across the province. The residential construction industry contributes over $51 billion dollars to Ontario’s economy, employing more than 330,000 people across the province.
By John Devine
Special to Ontario Construction Report
When COVID-19 first appeared on the scene last winter, it resulted in a lockdown that lasted through the spring and into the summer, with numerous businesses and sectors deemed non-essential required to close their doors.
The construction industry was excluded from the list of sectors deemed non-essential, and proceeded to have a pretty good year in terms of housing construction, resales, and renovations.
According to data from the Ontario Home Builders’ Association (OHBA), the number of new starts from January to December last year totalled 78,916. December numbers aren’t available yet from the Canada Mortgage Housing Corporation (CMHC), but even without them it’s still an increase from the 67,864 starts for all of 2019.
The dawn of 2020 arrived with high expectations for Ontario builders, with the economy booming and a provincial government committed to cutting red tape, says Joe Vaccaro, CEO of the OHBA. Queen’s Park had signalled that a million new homes would be needed in the coming decade, and builders were rising to the challenge.
“Across Ontario, members were launching new communities, providing new housing supply and choice. But we all know what happened on March 17. Ontario declared a State of Emergency in response to the pandemic and shifted resources to respond,” says Vaccaro.
“But the association didn’t stop working, didn’t stop advocating, didn’t stop communicating with our members. We stepped up.”
By May 19, all construction in the province was allowed to proceed. The association, he continues, developed a plan that gave the government the confidence that residential construction could proceed safely during the pandemic. And proceed it did.
“Respecting the necessary rules, OHBA went to work, establishing the health and safety protocols needed to keep job sites open and members working so that they could deliver keys to the thousands waiting to be homeowners,” says Vaccaro.
Stats from the Municipal Property Assessment Corporation (MPAC), which assesses new homes once they have been completed and occupied, also shows an increase in 2020 from the previous year.
In 2019, MPAC assessed a total of 51,829 new residential units, with a value of $27,793,391,026; 2020 saw 52,445 homes assessed, valued at $28,370,327,727.
The resale of housing also recorded a banner year in 2020, with the Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA) saying sales across the country were up 47.2 per cent in December, compared to the same time the previous year, largely driven by increases of more than 20 per cent in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA) and the Vancouver region.
The average home price jumped 17 per cent to just more than $607,000, an increase of 17.1 per cent from December 2019. The number of sales in Canadian housing markets increased for six continuous months through to December, with that month witnessing the biggest annual spike in monthly sales seen in 11 years.
Sales across the GTA were up 24.3 per cent across the GTA compared to the same timeframe in 2019, according to the Toronto Real Estate Board.
“It’s official, despite all the challenges, 2020 was a record year for Canadian resale housing activity,” stated CRA chair Costa Poulopoulos.“While momentum continues into 2021, surging COVID cases and a return to April-like lockdowns in some provinces means we’ll be revisiting some of those virtual technology solutions to process deals in the first few months of the year. Hopefully we’ll have the current wave more under control by the time the spring market rolls around, which is shaping up to be a very active one.”
All those resales likely drove renovations in 2020, which saw an increase from the previous year, according to the MPAC. It all added up to a busy year for builders and renovators. The corporation recorded 32,806 permits for renovation work in 2020, totalling $3,630,673,414, compared with 28,406 in 2019, and a total value of $2,610,916,044.
The average permit value of closed permits in 2019 came in at $91,914.25, and in 2020 at $110,671.02. Alterations and renovations of homes led the way, followed by: additions, garages, shed, porch covers, decks, and swimming pools.
“With people spending more time at home this year, we saw an increase in building permits as people invested in making improvements to their homes,” said Carmelo Lipsi, MPAC’s vice-president and Chief Operating Officer.
“We reported over 50 per cent increase in the total assessed value of renovation permits in 2020 compared to 2019, with over 19,529 permits completed, an increase of over 30 per cent compared to the previous year.”
When reviewing the year, an analysis may say it didn’t live up to pre-pandemic expectations, but it ended better than it might have.
Performance Path SB12 Success at Beeton Creek
Beeton Creek Project Details:
- Project Name: Beeton Creek
- Project Location: Beeton, ON
- Product Type: 47 single detached homes
- Home Performance Targets:
- All homes meet OBC SB12 Performance and aggressive air tightness targets
- All homes qualified to Energy Star® for New Homes
- All Homes meet and exceed ENBRIDGE Savings By Design efficiency targets
- One Discovery Home built to CHBA Net Zero specifications
Net Zero Discovery Home Project: Beeton Creek
The Beeton Creek community sold out very quickly. FarSight has reserved one lot within the current project for a full Net Zero Energy discovery home. Applying technologies and concepts from the EnerQuality / BuildAbility LEEP TAP project, FarSight intends to evaluate the practical application of various technologies and allow homeowners to tour the discovery home.
The home will exceed proposed future energy code targets (NBC Tiered Energy Code 2020 tier 5 – Net Zero). They estimate the energy use will be reduced by nearly 60% compared to new homes built today. More significantly, the home will enable ideal control of interior indoor air quality, providing occupants with a healthy, easy to control, comfortable indoor environment.
Some technologies proposed for the discovery project include:
- Continuous layer of exterior thermal insulation around enclosure of the home
- Cold Climate Air source heat pumps: HSPF 10+ /SEER 20+
- Aerosolized Air Barrier Technologies: 0.5 to 1.0 ACH @ 50pascals
- Tri-pane super insulated windows: 0.8 to 1.2 U-value or lower / SHGC .35 or lower
- Balanced Ventilation with heat recovery and highly efficiency ECM fans/blowers
- Continuous, below grade insulation layer along walls and under slab
- Photovoltaic for renewable energy production: Designed to generate as much energy as the home may use over the course of one year
- Highly efficient household appliances
- Home energy monitoring dash board
About the FarSight team:
- Established in 2000 by 2nd generation (Bob and Richard Schickedanz) and 3rd generation (Johnathan and David Schickedanz) family builders – Originally founded in 1951 by the Schickedanz Brothers
- Product Type: Part 9 residential low rise
- Location: North GTA /Surrounding GTA
What is the FarSight team’s ultimate goal with high performance construction?
To ensure the solid structural and operational integrity of every home. Beyond beautiful designs and architectural appeal, FarSight homes are highly durable, incredibly efficient, exceptionally comfortable and healthy. Homeowners receive a product from FarSight that is prepared for future challenges related to healthy indoor living environments, rising energy cost and consumption, the far reaching effects of climate change, and so much more.
What is the FarSight Team’s top 3 go-to building science solutions?
- Durable water management construction and detailing. The FarSight team uses the complete Tyvek exterior house wrap and flashing materials to achieve a durable Water Resistant Barrier (WRB). This WRB also provides additional protection against air leakage.
- Application of higher quality roofing materials and additional synthetic underlay. This provides added resiliency and durability to the home.
- Superior wall structure performance using IsoBrace. This exterior sheathing product combines structural reinforcement and a nailing base along with exceptional insulation performance (R5 continuous insulation).
What are some of the challenges faced by homebuilders today?
- Owner expectations are always increasing. Consumers now have access to thousands of design ideas, technologies and home features. Most production built homes are now highly customized. FarSight sees the opportunity in balancing client expectations with the reality of the homebuilding experience.
- Municipal development approvals are particularly challenging. As a 3rd generation family builder, it has been challenging to keep home building production schedules steady due to the long, unexpected approvals process. The result is increased home prices and a shortage of available, affordable housing.
- Availability of skilled trades is of great concern for homebuilders. Significant numbers of skilled residential trade professionals and building inspection service professionals are entering retirement age. There is a growing need for highly skilled construction professionals who apply their craft with a fundamental knowledge of building science (i.e. house as a system thinking).
When looking at the road to 2032 and Net Zero Ready homes, Johnathan Schickedanz shared these thoughts. “Our industry will have to navigate through the retirement of numerous skilled tradespeople and train a new generation of homebuilder’s all while we test new products and implement new construction methods in the quest to creating efficient homes. These new efficient, low load homes will require the trades to pay closer attention to the small details and will place the spotlight on the need for more frequent training to ensure that all trades know what is expected of them.” He continued, “As homes become more efficient the possibility for unintended consequences will grow and builders will have to work collectively to find solutions to these issues as they arise.”
On the land development front, he shared these thoughts, “I see a continued struggle to bring new lots to market. The provincial government through Bill 108, More Homes More Choice Act, was designed to help streamline this process but I find that municipalities are creating the largest delay in this process. As the province removes a piece of “red tape” the local municipalities are adding two to three more. On top of this, there seems to be a new “need” for municipalities to mandate better than code items as part of the site plan or subdivision agreement process. This municipal overreach, I find, is counterproductive and is slowing the process to bring new lots to market and directly impacting affordability.”
In conclusion, he shared FarSight’s goals, “to continue to collaborate with members within our sector, test new products and find a balanced approach on creating Net Zero Ready homes that meet the 2032 mandate while keeping a close eye on the cost/s and overall affordability of homes in our communities.”
Written By: Andy Oding, Vice President & Director of Building Science, Building Knowledge Canada
Chris Simon Barrie Advance
Innisfil 4th in Ontario in seasonal-unit construction. Barrie has experienced quite the building boom recently.
There was more than $185.3 million in total new assessment within the city in 2020, the not-for-profit Municipal Property Assessment Corporation (MPAC) says. The information is part of MPAC’s annual assessment roll report, which shows the assessed value of all properties in Ontario is now estimated to be more than $3 trillion.
“Even during a pandemic, Ontario continues to grow,” MPAC president and chief administrative officer Nicole McNeill said. “With people spending more time at home this year, we saw a 28 per cent increase in the number of renovation permits this year as people invested in making improvements to their homes.”
MPAC defines new assessment as the value of new construction, as well as additions to existing properties, that has not previously been calculated. It is a key economic indicator for municipalities because new construction leads to permit fees, development-charge revenues and expansion of the property-tax base.
Among municipalities, Barrie finished 38th in new assessment last year, well behind leaders Toronto ($11.65 billion), Ottawa ($2.68 billion), Vaughan ($1.49 billion), Hamilton ($1.15 billion) and Mississauga ($1.14 billion). In fact, more than 60 per cent of new property value was located among 10 municipalities.
More than 36,000 homes and 16,000 condominium units were built across the province last year.
Outside the Greater Toronto Area, a major driver of property value was the construction of seasonal units. Cottages accounted for nearly $600 million in new assessment. Muskoka Lakes had the largest growth with $59 million in new assessment, followed by Lake of Bays ($41 million), Seguin Township ($37 million), Innisfil ($28 million) and Kawartha Lakes ($21 million).
Nearly 1,700 new commercial and industrial buildings were also valued across the province; the warehousing and logistics sector, in particular, saw eight new distribution centres open with a total value of more than $405 million.
Property values and new assessment numbers continue to be based on a Jan. 1, 2016, valuation date. Though MPAC is supposed to update the current value assessment of every property in Ontario every four years, that work has been postponed by the provincial government due to the COVID-19 pandemic.