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TECH CORNER: Welcome to residential construction’s crazy season
October 28th, 2015 7:36 pm     A+ | a-


Michael Steele / RESCON

The pile on my desk keeps growing.

After returning from a recent short vacation, here is a snapshot of some of the items Tech Corner is dealing with after sorting through that pile:

 

TARION

Ontario’s new-home warranty program has launched a Stakeholder Consultation. Deadline for submissions is this coming Dec. 16. Here is the recent written request that Tarion put out to industry stakeholders.

Seeking Your Input - Formalizing the Repair Warranty

 Dear Stakeholder, 

Tarion is seeking your input on how to formalize the Repair Warranty. This is your opportunity to provide direct feedback before a mandatory, written policy is even developed by Tarion!

Currently, there is a longstanding, informal policy to warrant repairs made by builders or Tarion, for one year from the date of initial repair. This informal policy has been generally accepted by the building industry and the Licence Appeal Tribunal (LAT).

Tarion believes that formalizing this policy will provide clarity and consistency for all parties involved, enhance consumer protection and help ensure repairs stand a reasonable test of time. We look forward to receiving your feedback on the considerations that have been outlined in this consultation guide.

 

 

Here is a key question and a few thoughts …

Question: Why is it necessary to develop a legal framework to formalize and replace a voluntary system that has been largely successful and in use for 20 years?

My take: This change will not benefit consumers. Once a legal framework is established that defines the builders’ obligations relating to warranties on repairs, many good builders will think twice about doing work outside of this framework and will only address those areas of repair mandated by Tarion.

 

Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing (MMAH), Buildings Branch

In Issue #239 / October 20, 2015,of their newsletter, Ontario CodeNews, MMAHannounced that the ministry is preparing for the development of the next edition of Ontario’s Building Code and has set November 30, 2015 as the cutoff date for submitting proposed changes to the Building Code for consideration in the next edition (no date provided).

My take: Historically, stakeholders received advanced notice of these kinds of issues and more time to develop submissions of a high quality. The reduced time frame is restrictive and compromises an established process that has served well over the years. One could speculate that this change in process was made to minimize the number of submissions reducing the time required for review.

 

 

Ministry of Energy

The MOE closed its consultation, Sept. 30/15 on its July 15, 2015, “Home Energy Rating and Disclosure Proposal Overview.”

RESCON was only recently made aware of this consultation which has re-kindled the discussion about mandatory labelling of all existing and new residential properties that are for sale.

My take: Mandatory labelling is the wrong approach to achieve energy conservation as it has the potential to …

  • Decrease property values if mandatory requirements cannot be met or substantially increase the cost of new and resale housing reducing the stock of affordable housing.
  • Expand the underground renovation industry as homeowners, prior to selling their property, look for the most cost-effective way of obtaining compliance with mandatory requirements.

Energy conservation should be voluntary and based on achievable guidelines, whose compliance is driven by market forces.

My dream …

That our building code and politicians would facilitate necessary changes legislation that would allow construction of projects similar to:

  • The 30-plus-storey residential condo in Brooklyn, N.Y., made up of stacked pre-fabricated, volumetric boxes with completed interiors is well underway.
  • High-rise wood structures such as the recently announced 18-storey project in Quebec using cross-laminated timber (CLT).

One way of achieving this could be the introduction of legislation that would allow for the construction of projects that do not conform to the Ontario Building Code but demonstrate the use of new technologies and innovative techniques that facilitate the construction of sustainable, resilient, affordable housing.

My nightmare …

 Then I woke up and realized that I had a nightmare as this couldn’t happen in Ontario. Why, if we can’t even manage to publish guidelines for fire safety during construction of five- and six-storey wood buildings in Ontario, which was approved a year ago, could I ever dream that all of a sudden we could change the building code to enable demonstration projects to be built.

We’ll continue to push for this change and will update readers on this situation on this blog and in our newsletter. Thanks for reading!

 

Michael Steele, B. Tech. (C.M.), is the Director of Technical Standards at RESCON. Reach him at steele@rescon.com or @RESCONtech.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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