Older couple - first home

Bricks & Sticks

by Desi Auciello

Desi Auciello is the 2006 GTHBA President, and is also president of Cachet Estate Homes.

They don't build them like they used to - AMEN

Date: March 3, 2006

Last week, I had the opportunity to travel to Lake Louise, Alberta for the annual conference of the Canadian Home Builders' Association. The conference featured the usual mixture of educational, motivational and inspirational sessions. I found the inaugural address by Alberta home builder Dave Benbow, the new president of our national association, captured all three elements quite nicely.

Benbow spoke of the changes in our housing product over the last 30 years, and what follows is an excerpt from his remarks:

"As builders, we're never quite satisfied.  We are always on the look-out for a new idea. And when we find a way to improve the quality and performance of our homes, or build them more efficiently, it's quickly adopted. In the home building industry, we've always worked this way. 

In the 30 years I've been in the business, how we build homes, and the products and materials we use, have never stopped changing and improving. When I think about just some of the more obvious changes and improvements we've made, it's a long list.

 Better foundations.  Better moisture control.  Engineered floor systems.  Incredibly good window systems.  High-efficiency heating and ventilation equipment.  Better insulation, roofing, flooring and cabinetry. That covers just about everything.

Quite frankly, I don't think there is anything we do today that isn't better than in the past.  And in most cases, dramatically better. The result is that homes are more comfortable, more energy efficient, healthier to live in, and require less maintenance and upkeep.

So, when someone says that we don't build houses like we used to, all I can say is "amen".

GST Relief

The balance of Benbow's speech, entitled "The right time is right now," dealt with some of the political issues and opportunities facing home builders, and by extension, home buyers. 

Regarding the goods and services tax on new homes, Benbow welcomed the government's commitment to lowering the GST from seven to five per cent.

"This is terrific news," he stated. As Prime Minister Harper pointed out, on a $200,000 new home, the reduction of the GST rate to 5 per cent, combined with the GST rebate, will result in a $4,000 saving to the home buyer. This means that the effective rate of federal sales tax on a new home will eventually be at the level that applied before the introduction of the GST in 1991. This is something that we have argued for, for many years," he added.

Right time, right now

Benbow went on to remind us that when the GST was introduced, the government promised to index the rebate thresholds, a promise that was never kept. "We now have the opportunity to ensure that the GST Rebate thresholds keep pace with rising home prices. Never again should new home buyers face a tax penalty simply because they live in a community where house prices have risen," he stated.

"Indexing the rebate threshold to reflect increasing house prices is the appropriate and fair thing to do. And right now is the right time to do it," he concluded.

Builder awards

Several GTHBA members captured national SAM (sales and marketing) awards. Congratulations to Atria Developments, with Montana Steele Advertising, who won the marketing excellence award for its Garment Factory Lofts project. This project, builder and agency also took awards for the best sales office and the best brochure and sales kit.

Montana Steele's efforts also earned the national SAM award for best Website, for Toy Factory Lofts by Lanterra Developments.

Windemere Custom Homes won the national award for best custom home over 3,500 square feet.

Personal Awards

Congratulations to Patrick O'Hanlon of Kylemore Communities and Frank Buck of Hanson Brick who were on the receiving end of CHBA award of honour certificates for service at our local level.

Mr. O'Hanlon recently concluded an eight year stint on the GTHBA board of directors, including serving as 2001 president. He continues to serve the GTHBA as chair of the past president's advisory council and remains involved in our industry advocacy efforts.

Mr. Buck served four years on the GTHBA board of directors, chaired the GTHBA associates council and emceed our 2005 home builder awards. Hanson Brick is a tremendous supporter of the industry and association as both a marketing partner and a corporate sponsor.

For further information on the awards and CHBA generally, visit www.chba.ca.