Moving couch


by Stephen Dupuis, President & CEO BILD


September 17 - The best idea I never stole

One of the best ideas I never stole was the idea that has evolved into Destination Renovation, BILDs feature presentation at the National Home Show each Spring and the Toronto Fall Home Show every September.

September 10 - Urban lumberjacks coming to Toronto

We tend to perceive green building as a niche market driven by a small group of guys with long hair, beards and urban lumberjack apparel but the truth is green building is BIG business and the Greenbuild 2011 conference coming to Toronto October 4-7, right after we get all those TIFF-types out of town, proves the point.

September 3 - Spinning the advantages of new homes

I'm an indoor cyclist (better known as spinning) and try to get to as many classes as possible at Timberlane Athletic Club in Aurora. As I was warming up for a recent class, DS (short for drill sergeant), the class leader, was chatting about the fact that later that day she would be going to a relative's home to de-clutter it as part of the process of prepping it for sale.

August 27 - Four seasons to GTA new home market

Nothing says Fall more than the Canadian National Exhibition so I guess we can start talking about the Fall housing market, assuming we will be able to tell the difference from the hot Summer market, which was itself a continuation of the very strong Spring market.

August 20 - Would you like a new car with that home?

They say that ignorance is bliss so I might be making a mistake telling you what I'm about to tell you, but here goes. The latest survey of municipal development charges in the Greater GTA has revealed some huge numbers that homebuilders are paying and passing onto homebuyers in the price of their new homes.

August 13 - Welcome to the new virtual realty

Earlier this year, I was in Orlando, Florida attending the International Builders' Show convened annually by the U.S. National Association of Home Builders. It's a massive trade and educational show and I generally spend at least a day walking the trade show floor to see what's new on the building product and service front.

August 6 - Housing market trend-line bodes well

I knew we were having a pretty good year as far as total new home sales go but I was amazed when it was pointed out to me that we're actually well on the way to the second best year ever. We're going to get there in quite a different way than we did in 2002 when the all-time record was set, but hold that thought.

July 30 - City, suburbs will never be the same

Back in 2005, I authored a somewhat controversial column titled 'City, suburbs, will never be the same' to draw the public's attention to the pending implementation of the Greater Golden Horseshoe Growth Plan, which followed right behind the Greenbelt legislation.

July 16 - Renovation procrastination may lead to consternation

It's perfectly understandable, it happens all the time, and it's why renovation intentions seem to slide into the next season, if not the next year.

July 2 - BILDing foundations with Habitat for Humanity

This Saturday morning finds me in Bobcaygeon, Ontario, celebrating Canada Day week-end with my wife, kids and in-laws. I mention this for no other reason than to signal that this column is neither political, statistical nor critical in nature, which should make my wife, mother-in-law and mother, in that order, quite happy.

June 25 - Housing finance rules pass stress test

I will admit that I read each and every news report about Bank of Canada Governor Mark Carney's speech to the Vancouver Board of Trade last week to determine whether he was focusing solely on the Vancouver real estate market, where prices are eye-popping and continuing to rise quickly, or Toronto's as well, where sales volumes are quite elevated but average prices are much lower and increasing at a more sustainable pace. 

June 18 - Toronto Prosperity Initiative report needs a big tweak

I broke one of my own rules a few weeks ago by commenting on a report which had been described to me but which I had not read myself.

June 4 - Boom in condo renos twenty years in the making

When a new subdivision reaches about 20 years old, you will inevitably start to see massive waste bins getting dropped-off in driveways as your neighbours decide it's time to update the kitchen, bath, or basement, replace the windows or roof, or get rid of that hulking older furnace in favour of the newer, smaller and vastly more efficient models.

May 28 - Condo market juggernaut marches through April

The way it's going lately, somebody in the GTA will have bought a new condo suite in the time it takes you to read this column. By the time you collect your Sunday Star from the doorstep, more than 100 buyers will have signed on the dotted line for a new condo.

May 21 - First-time buyers making their mark

It’s been a while since I’ve felt that stomach-twisting anticipation of doing something for the very first time. You know the feeling — first day of school, a big presentation at work, expecting your first child. The latter trumps a pretty big one that typically comes just before: buying your first home.

May 14 - A good spring selling season

It has been hard to get in the mood to talk about the spring market when Spring has been so resistant to arrival, but this past week has changed all that. Between sitting in on lots of presentations and catching up on my reading, I've got lots to share with readers.

May 7 - Lumber is a family affair for the Gugliettis

When this column first started running more than a decade ago, it appeared under the title Bricks and Sticks, sticks being the colloquial industry expression for framing lumber.  The phrase "stick-built" is still widely used in the industry to distinguish low-rise construction. 

April 23 - Best before date expires on house price projections

It was exactly a year ago this week that Gluskin Sheff Chief Economist David Rosenberg came out with his prediction that house prices could fall by 25 per cent. I remember it well because I was on my way to a Saturday morning ground-breaking for a new community in King City and I felt terrible for the builder, a young up and comer in the industry who was there with his wife, newborn daughter, parents, relatives and friends. That builder was as excited and scared as everybody he hoped would buy his homes -- yes, home builders are people too.

April 16 - Pink is the new Green

Between the bones of every house there is, in one form or another, a product that makes the home more sustainable and energy efficient, namely the insulation. Sure, most of the time it's hidden behind the walls and even if you get back there during a renovation, it's not very sexy. But as the building industry shifts to provide customers more green options, the manufacturers and suppliers to the industry have to keep up. And for Canada's homebuyers, there really is value in knowing what's behind those walls.

April 9 - Campaigning for future homeowners

Here's a staggering statistic! In February, the number of new homes sold across the GTA was 21 per cent of the total number of new homes sold throughout the entire United States. The 3,602 new homes sold locally amounts to one-fifth of what was sold in all markets south of the border!

April 2 - Head of the Class

When I was approached by Genworth Financial Canada to take part in a webinar during National Homeownership Education Week, it was a no-brainer. Now on my third house, two of which were new builds, I've probably made every mistake in the book, so I am happy to be able to tell first time buyers what not to do, and to share what I've learned along the way.

March 26 - Mr. Flaherty’s sin of omission

I hadn't intended on writing about the federal budget this week but the fact that it might never see the light of day as a fiscal plan prompted me to write about one thing that was in it, and one thing that should have been.

March 19 - Strengthening the Economic Engine

The major homebuilders get a lot of attention for being the economic engine of our industry but what about all of the surrounding parts that give the engine purpose? I mean the moving parts, behind the scenes. The companies that manufacture steel, pour concrete, improve the technology behind fibreglass insulation or install the heating, ventilating and air conditioning systems? Without them, our homes would not perform effectively and efficiently, and neither would our industry.

March 12 - Change to mortgage financing rules double-edged sword

It seems like everywhere you turn lately, someone's dishing out financial advice. With RRSP season over and tax time almost upon us, I guess it's just that time of year. If you're a homeowner and you have a mortgage, your ear might be tuned to any news about interest rates-and there has been a lot of that lately. What about mortgage financing? At BILD, we've been keeping an eye on the mortgage financing rules, especially since they were just tweaked by the federal government for the third time in the last three years.

March 5 - Mom, dad and home

I just got back from the annual conference of the Canadian Home Builders' Association held in beautiful Banff, Alberta. While I was away, the house I bought in Aurora 20 years ago sold for $105,000 more than I sold it for just seven years ago. Yeah, the guy that bought the house from me did very well, but so did I when I sold it to him.

February 26 - Going Green Gets My Kids’ Attention

Sitting around my dining room table for a meal this past Family Day weekend was like most others in the Dupuis home.  I mention that I met Debbie Travis at the National Home Show and how cool the Glass House is, which gets a little engagement from my wife and blank stares from my kids.

February 19 - Celebrating 90 years and going strong

I was chatting with Mississauga Mayor Hazel McCallion at an industry event in mid-January when the subject of her 90th birthday came up. She seemed tickled that I remembered that her actual birthday was also Valentines' Day, and of course she hit me up to buy some tickets to the gala in support of Sheridan College, which I was happy to do.

February 5 - Designer renovations featured at this year’s National Home Show

For fun, I thought I would add up the total value of the 53 projects submitted to BILD for our annual renovation and custom building awards. The total value for the 41 renovation projects came in at just over $10 million, ranging from $22,000 up to $920,000 - yes, that's for a renovation to an existing home.

January 29 - Trends reveal we’re growing smartly

RealNet Canada Inc. recently released the year-end new home sales totals for the Greater Toronto Area market. When all was said and done, there were 36,803 new homes and condos sold in the GTA last year. To put that sales total in perspective, it was better than 2009 (by 8 per cent), it was better than 2008, and it was better than all the expert forecasts for the year. That said, it was also the third lowest total since 2000.

January 22 - Mortgage financing rules changing yet again

You know it's going to be an interesting week when your Blackberry is already buzzing at 7 a.m. on Monday morning with reports that the federal Finance Minister is about to announce some changes affecting mortgage financing.

January 15 - Renovation market to enjoy double digit growth

As the resale housing market goes, so goes the home renovation market, and the fact that there were 86,170 resale housing transactions in the GTA last year means that 2011 should be another good year on the renovation front.

January 8 - Healthy, not hyper year ahead

Last year at this time, I offered my fearless forecast for the 2010 new housing market predicting a "respectable year ahead" and projecting sales of 29,000 units for the year. Looking back on my own forecast, I was off the mark by more than 20 per cent, and thankfully I was low.