Episode #3 – BC Energy Step Code & The Future of New Home Construction

How energy efficient is your home? Have you ever had an Energy Advisor provide you with energy modelling and air tightness testing? Do you know what a Step Code is? James and Denny talk about the BC Energy Step Code and how builders are using energy software modelling and on-site testing to rate the insulating efficiency of a home. Listen to the Garbutt+Dumas Real Estate Podcast (bottom of page) to learn about the BC Energy Step Code and the future of new home construction.

BC Energy Step Code & The Future of New Home Construction

The BC Energy Step Code is a system of guidelines laid out to make sure the construction of new buildings are compliant in terms of modern-day energy efficiency. The goal of implementing such regulations is to make all new buildings “net-zero energy ready” by 2032. While this may be ambitious, it’s happening, and we need to get ready…

With more and more local governments adopting the BC Energy Step Code as part of their legal compliance for construction, in their latest podcast, our friends, James Garbutt and Denny Dumas, discussed the implications of these new regulations and offered some practical advice for those who wish to make sure they’re operating within the new laws.

A total of 64 local governments in British Columbia have submitted their initial notifications that they have started to consult on the new regulations, with 31 of those fully adopting the BC Energy Step Code as a part of their bylaw.

Displaying great humility, James wanted to make it clear to listeners that he doesn’t have the definitive answers on making sure homes meet the new provincial standard, however, he does offer us his own, practical insight into the topic based on his years of experience in real estate construction.

BC Energy Step Code

The BC Energy Step Code is different according to two distinct categories: Houses (Part 9, simple buildings) and Wood Frame Residential Buildings (Part 3, more complex buildings). In this podcast, Garbutt and Dumas discussed the application of the new code to residential houses (Part 9).

Part 9 buildings are categorized according to five steps; step five being the highest level of energy efficiency and, to all intents and purposes, is a building that could be considered off-grid or completely self-sustainable. Some local governments are demanding that builders comply with step four of the BC Energy Step Code by 2022, with the aim of achieving step five by 2032.

While steps one and two of the BC Energy Step Code are very much achievable without the addition of huge costs, James gave us his practical advice to help builders understand what is needed in order to achieve step four. To keep it simple, it’s all about insulation and designing a home in a way that has more focus on energy efficiency.

All About Insulation

“Let’s talk about insulation,” James said, “because that is what it really comes down to”. His personal interpretation of a home that would meet step four of the BC Energy Step Code comes down to simply building with 2 x 6 walls that have batt insulation, a rain screen on the outside, and a vapor barrier on the inside. James recommends adding insulation boards to the foundation walls, like a 2-inch rigid board to the exterior, as well as beneath the concrete slab in the basement.

In James’ opinion, if you put rigid board (or similar insulation products) around the exterior of your home and on top of the sheeting in your roof too, the framing materials of your home will be encapsulated in this, giving extra protection to preserve the building for the long term. It could also block condensation from getting to the wood and, in his opinion, is the great way to make a home compliant with step four of the BC Energy Step Code.

One of the most important factors in achieving compliance with the BC Energy Step Code is creating a fully sealed building that has minimal air gaps. Right now, there is no air testing, but as part of the BC Energy Step Code, buildings will be subject to an “airtightness test” at a certain stage of its construction. While there is no obligation to commit to step four at the moment, 2022 is fast approaching, and so James advises us to get used to the extra reports and tests in energy efficiency now.

A home that is compliant with step four of the BC Energy Step Code will have to have significant insulation in the roof. They want to increase the minimum to R40 (currently at R20), meaning, in some cases, a metre of insulation could be required. This will, of course, affect how architects approach roof heights as we move forward.

In order to achieve compliance with the BC Energy Step Code, James discusses using triple pane windows with insulated frames to improve efficiency. Window placements and overhangs are also important factors that can affect whether the home meets the new energy-efficient insulation demands. An overhang keeps water away from the walls and offers shade against the summer sun. Clever design means the home can be angled to capture the warming winter sun without having that sweltering greenhouse effect in the summer.

James goes on to discuss the mechanical changes on the inside of the property as the BC Energy Step Code aims to reduce heat loss through vents. The use of a heat exchanger system is James’ tip to combat heat loss as they warm the fresh air that is coming in. “There are lots of ways to get there”, James added, “there is no one way”.

Market Effects of the BC Energy Step Code 

What will be the effect of constructing according to step four of the BC Energy Step Code? Well, incredibly efficient and durable homes for a start. In James’ opinion, these houses could easily last for 200+ years if built and designed to a high standard.

Having said that, there will be additional time and costs to this energy-efficient construction. For example, factoring in the costs of the design, tests, reports and the extra building material costs, such as insulation, on a typical Vancouver suburb home could exceed $50,000.   More so if you include financial carrying costs for the extra time.

James Garbutt and Denny Dumas conclude this podcast by discussing how step four and above compliant homes will affect the future of real estate in the area. In two years, many cities throughout BC have a goal to meet step four of the BC Energy Step Code.  In the short term, they agree that speculative new home construction may be affected by this as buyers may take some time to pay the additional premium for these new homes. At some point, however, high energy efficiency will be the norm, and homes built prior to this era might have a negative connotation. Similar to how a building without rain-screen does today.

#106 1250 Quayside Dr., New Westminster (The Promenade)


THE PROMENADE – COMPLETELY UPDATED 1 Bed + Den, 1 Bath, 1104 sqft, Private Ground level unit with huge patio over looking the park.  Approx $65,000 in upgrades!!! New Kitchen (maple cabinets, puck lights, island, stainless steel appliances), New Bathroom (tub, rain shower, seamless glass enclosure, vanity, tile, radiant in floor heating, etc…), New Bamboo flooring, Fresh Paint, New Mouldings, Exposed Concrete Ceiling with Cedar Beams. Building was Rainscreened in 2003, New Boiler (2011), New Plumbing (2007), New Parking Membrane (2011), New Roof (2011), Healthy Contingency Reserve Fund. Enjoy the open concept floorplan with 10″ ceilings in the Living Room.  Steps to the Quay Boardwalk & Park. An absolute must see!
 Click here for Full Listing
MLS Feature Sheet #106 1250 Quayside Dr

SOLD! #214 14 East Royal Ave, New Westminster (Victoria Hill)


VICTORIA HILL – Stunning 2 Bed, 2 Bath 1051SF South Facing Suite Overlooking the Park & Fraser River. Very Private & Peaceful View that will not change and enjoy it from your Large Balcony which receives plenty of Sunshine. Features incl: Gas range, Granite Counters, Stainless Steel Appliances, & upgraded 42″ Upper Cabinets in the Kitchen, Stone Fireplace, with Hardwood Throughout (Living/Dining/Bedrooms), Crown moldings, 2″ Blinds, Granite in all Bathroom. Open Floor Plan with Spacious Kitchen. Well Maintained Building. Amenities Incl: Gym, Lounge & Billiard Games Room. 2 Side-by-side Parking & 1 Large Storage Locker.
For complete listing click here.
MLS Feature Sheet #214 14 East Royal Ave

Aug 2012 New Westminster Market Update.


New Westminster Market Update for August 2012.
Stats are taken from the MLS on September 5, 2012 and are based on MLS sales only.
Condos:
405 Active Listings
33 Sold:  Avg. Sale- $322,900, Avg. Days on Market- 51
Highest Sale: $708,000 Penthouse at ‘Azure’at Plaza 88’
Townhomes:
46 Active Listings
5 Sold:  Avg. Sale- $526,500, Avg. Days on Market- 30
Highest Sale: $612,500 in ‘Glenbrooke at Victoria Hill’
Homes:
109 Active Listings
9 Sold: Avg. Sale- $760,700, Avg. Days on Market- 52
Highest Sale: $1,149,000 for Family Home built in 1940.
 

SOLD 1027 Hamilton St., New Westminster (Moody Park)


Impressive 3 level 2472sqft home built in 2011 (by reputable builder), 2-5-10 yr warranty. Located on a quiet street just steps from Lord Kelvin Elementary School & Moody Park. This home has 3 bed+den & 2 bath UP. BSMT has huge media room w/ bar & office (potential 4th Bedroom) or potential for 1 bedroom suite with separate laundry & entrance. Features include wide plank oak HW floors, maple cabinets & caesarstone counters, stainless steel appliance w/ gas range, gas fireplace w/ stone surround. Enjoy entertaining guests on the large patio with natural gas hook up for BBQ, private back yard w/ great landscaping with apple trees. 2 Car Detached Garage w/ lane access. No HST!

#311 225 Francis Way, New Westminster (The Whittaker at Victoria Hill)

April 12, 2011 – Video Blog of #311 225 Francis Way, New Westminster

WHITTAKER at Victoria Hill – Stunning 2 Bed+Den, 2 Bath with unobstructed River & Mountain Views!! Enjoy views of the Fraser River from your living room & large patio. This suite features a large and open living/dining room area with  laminate flooring, impressive kitchen with granite counters, stainless steel appliances & lots of cabinets, granite counters and under-mounted sinks in bathrooms as well. Located just steps to the Boiler House which features a huge gym, lounge area, reading area, media room, meeting room & basketball court. 2 Parking Stall included! Rentals allowed & pets allowed with restrictions. Must See!!

CLICK ON THE LINK BELOW FOR MORE DETAILS:

http://mlsr.realtylink.org/mlsr_get/res_sale_result_detail.cfm?comID=&agentID=52438&searchtype=both&CID=1180398&TMPL=1&MLS=V878742

#106 707 Gloucester St., New Westminster

March 22, 2011 – Video Blog of #106 707 Gloucester St., New Westminster

Impressive CORNER suite in the New Westminster’s Uptown Area, Enjoy the large South-facing balcony surrounded by trees. Short walk to skytrain, shopping and elementary school. This suite features laminate floors, gas fireplace in the living room, new backsplash & counters in Kitchen,new appliances(2008). Spacious master bedroom with walk-through closet. Located on the SW corner of the building, lots of natural light,very open & spacious living/dining room area.Suite is on the 1st floor,but private and situated one floor up from ground level 1 Parking and 1 Storage included. NEW ROOF (2010), Re-Plumbed in 2001, NEW BOILER to be installed (paid by Seller) MAINT. FEE INCLUDES HEAT & GAS! Pets allowed w/restrictions.

CLICK ON THE LINK BELOW FOR MORE DETAILS:

http://mlsr.realtylink.org/mlsr_get/res_sale_result_detail.cfm?comID=&agentID=52438&searchtype=both&CID=1180398&TMPL=1&MLS=V875427

#1207 833 Agnes St., New Westminster (NEWS)

March 10, 2011 – Video Blog of #1207 833 Agnes St., New Westminster

NEWS-IMPRESSIVE 2 BED+DEN,2 FULL BATH CORNER UNIT WITH SW FACING VIEW OF FRASER RIVER!Built in 2006 by Rykon,CONCRETE construction & centrally located in the heart of downtown New West.This suite features all the builder’s upgrades!Granite  counters in kitchen & baths, stainless steel appliances, upgraded kitchen cabinets,built-in desk in Den & premium Maple laminate flooring. Large SW facing balcony,plenty of space for a BBQ & patio set,Spacious MSTR Bed w/Walk-In-Closet,Open floor plan/lots of window bringing in light 1 parking & 1 storage incl(ADDITIONAL Parking Space available for purchase $2750 TAX IN).Pets allowed & rentals allowed.Steps to NW Skytrain, Starbucks, IGA, Restaurants,Quay Market.

FOR MORE DETAILS:

http://mlsr.realtylink.org/mlsr_get/res_sale_result_detail.cfm?comID=&agentID=52438&searchtype=both&CID=1180398&TMPL=1&MLS=V873410

REBGV reports increased housing demand in February

VANCOUVER, B.C. – March 2, 2011 – Demand for detached homes continues to be strong across Greater Vancouver, with particularly high sales volumes occurring in Richmond and Vancouver Westside.
For the past two months, the number of properties listed for sale and those sold on the Multiple Listing Service® (MLS®) in Greater Vancouver outpaced the 10-year average in both categories. From a historical perspective, February’s 3,097 homes sales outpace the 2,742 home-sale average recorded in the region over the last ten years.
“We saw an increase in demand across our region last month as more buyers entered the market in advance of the spring season,” said Jake Moldowan, president of the Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver (REBGV). “The intensity of this activity varied between communities. Our statistics tell us that single detached homes in Richmond and the west side of Vancouver remain the most sought after properties in our marketplace.”
Between November 2010 and February 2011, the MLSLink® Housing Price Index (HPI) benchmark price of a detached home in Richmond increased $190,739 to $1,099,679; in Vancouver West, detached home prices increased $222,185 to $1,850,072. In comparison, detached home prices across the region increased $51,762 between November 2010 and February 2011 to $848,645.
“To effectively analyse real estate statistics for the purpose of buying or selling a home, it’s critical to focus on your neighbourhood of choice because, like we see today, conditions and prices can fluctuate significantly within the same city or municipality,” Moldowan said.
FOR FULL STATS PACKAGE CLICK ON THE LINK BELOW:
rebgv-stats-package-february-2011

#202 833 Agnes St., New Westminster (NEWS)

December 28, 2010 – Video Blog of #202 833 Agnest St., New Westminster

Concrete construction & built by Rykon. This 4 years young 1 bed/1 bath suite has many Oustanding Features which include: Granite counters, Premium front load washer & dryer, Stainless Steel appliances, laminate floors, walk-in-closet, in-suite alarm, built-in computer hutch with drawers & lots of windows. Amenities incl: Gym, social room, video surveillance, on site gardens & playground. You will love the central location!! Across the street from a dog park, steps to Douglas College, shops, restaurants, Skytrain (25 min from Downtown Vancouver), transportation, the Quay & much more. Rentals Allowed & pets Allowed with restrictions. 1 pkg &  1 locker included. Call today!