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Sask. construction industry loses 14,000 jobs over 3 years, association says

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Trevor Stein’s company spent nearly a year wiring new apartment complexes in Saskatoon’s Stonebridge neighbourhood.

After Stein invoiced the owner, Block 1, for more than a million dollars for wages and materials, he learned the British Columbia real estate company was seeking creditor protection.

The company never did pay him or a number of other local contractors for the work they completed, he says.

“Not one penny,” Stein said, after the courts finished sorting out Block 1’s misadventures this summer. “All our liens got ripped out and tossed out.”

in 2016, a British Columbia court issued a creditor protection order to the owners of The Cielo apartments in Saskatoon’s Stonebridge neighbourhood. The buildings have since been sold to new owners. (CBC)

‘There’s just less work’

With 60 employees depending on him, Stein said he had no choice but to chase more work to cover expenses. 

Finding that work is now more difficult.

For construction companies in Saskatchewan, 2015 was a record year, according to the Saskatchewan Construction Association, as crews built Regina’s new football stadium and the Children’s Hospital in Saskatoon, along with new hospitals in Moose Jaw and North Battleford.

The province has since tightened its belt.

‘It’s now an average of 70 to 90 days for a contractor to be paid for work that’s already been completed,’ said Mark Cooper, the president and CEO of the Saskatchewan Construction Association. (CBCKirk Fraser)

“Where you used to have three or four companies that used to compete for a job, now there are 20,” said Mark Cooper, president of the Saskatchewan Construction Association. “There’s just less work.”

Cooper said since 2015, 14,000 jobs have disappeared from Saskatchewan’s construction industry.

“What we do need is a return of confidence to the economy at both the consumer level and the investor level,” Cooper said.

“People are holding onto their money.”

Building costs rise, mortgage rules get stricter

It seems fewer people can afford to build new houses in Saskatchewan, which saw a 32 per cent drop in urban housing starts this summer compared to last, the province’s construction association says, earning it a last-place ranking among the provinces for growth.

Per square foot, Saskatoon has also become the most expensive city to build in Canada, with Regina in second place, according to the Saskatoon and Regina builders associations.

One home builder working in both Regina and Saskatoon has now laid off 50 employees.

Saskatchewan has weathered downturns before, said Stu Niebergall, president of the Regina and Region Home Builders’ Association. 

Stu Niebergall is the president of the Regina and Region Home Builders’ Association. (Radio-Canada)

“What’s different this time is that governments have chosen to increase regulations, increase fees and at the federal level, make it more difficult to buy a home,” Niebergall said.

Those changes include:

  • Increasing Saskatchewan’s sales tax to six per cent, and applying it to residential construction work.
  • American tariffs on drywall and steel making materials more expensive.
  • All mortgages in Canada are now subject to stress tests after Ottawa tightened lending rules.
  • Tightened building codes and energy-efficiency standards for builders.

Last month, the province also introduced legislation updating Saskatchewan’s Builders’ Lien Act, which is supposed to ensure contractors receive payments within 28 days of an invoice.

The Saskatchewan Construction Association’s Cooper says it’s “now an average of 70 to 90 days for a contractor to be paid for work that’s already been completed.”

“This is not going to be the silver bullet that fixes issues,” warned Chris Guérette, the president of the Saskatoon and Region Home Builders’ Association.

Saskatoon and Region Home Builders Association CEO Christiane Guerette said last year’s PST hike combined with tighter mortgage rules had a significant impact on the affordability of new homes. (Radio-Canada)

She said 65 per cent of her members build fewer than 10 houses a year, and she’d prefer to watch the way similar “prompt payment” laws are first enacted in Ontario

“It takes away some of the freedom that businesses have to work things out on what would be best suited for that relationship between two companies,” Guérette said.

‘Even if we win, we’ve got to spend more money’

For his part, Trevor Stein said the law may help contractors like him collect money owed, but he warned the changes are also likely to make money for lawyers.

“Every court case we’ve had, even if we win, we’ve got to spend more money to get money,” Stein said. 

He said a more effective way of keeping local construction companies afloat could include the province putting out-of-province builders’ funds into a trust, until the job is complete.

Trevor Stein owns and operates Stein Electric, which has been in business since 1980 in Saskatoon. He and his wife have seven daughters. (Submitted by Trevor Stein)

“Out-of-province people are the ones who seem to leave quickly,” Stein said.

He said basic electrical and plumbing work will always be in demand, but Saskatchewan’s construction industry feels increasingly unpredictable.

“My receivables are crazy,” he said. “You just don’t know when you’re going to get paid.”

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The cost of renovating your bathroom in Toronto in 2021

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Home renovations can be a big task, especially bathroom renovations where you have to work with either an awkwardly shaped space, or one with lots of pipework and very little natural light.

Nonetheless, getting a bathroom renovation by Easy Renovation to change your existing bathroom layout, improve the ambience or add more natural skylights can be worth all the trouble. But determining how much a bathroom renovation would cost is important while setting a budget.

The pandemic has changed a lot of things with social distancing rules, working from home, and for some, being made redundant. Therefore, having a complete grasp of the financial implication of a bathroom innovation is very important.

Owning your dream bathroom can be made a reality and the good thing is, regardless of your financial situation, there are always available options. If you also decide to put up your property for sale in the future, a bathroom upgrade would be a great investment—as it would add significant value to the property. Your bathroom renovation project, like every home renovation, can either be very affordable or extravagant, but one thing is certain, you’re bound to have a more refreshed, stylish and modernistic space.  

Looking through detailed sketches of luxurious and expensive bathrooms can be quite tempting, especially when you’re on a budget. However, your bathroom can be equally transformed into something that looks just as modern, stylish and refreshing but without the heavy price tag.

Conducting a partial bathroom renovation means you only have to change a little part of your existing bathroom rather than tearing it down and starting from scratch. If you intend to carry out this type of bathroom renovation in Toronto, depending on the size of your bathroom, you can spend between $1,000 – $5,000. With a partial bathroom renovation, you can save money by tackling smaller problems that exist in your present bathroom—or you can just upgrade a few of its features.

Partial bathroom renovations are quite affordable and would leave your bathroom feeling new and stylish without being time-consuming or a financial burden—which is important considering the economic impact of the pandemic. Repainting the bathroom walls, replacing the tiles on the floor and in the shower area are examples of partial bathroom renovations which is the cheapest to accomplish.

A more expensive and popular bathroom renovation is the standard 3- or 4-piece renovation. This renovation type involves a lot more services that are not covered by a partial renovation budget. To execute a standard bathroom renovation in Toronto you need a budget of about $10,000 – $15,000.

Unlike with a partial renovation, you would have to make a lot more changes to various elements of your bathroom without the hassle of changing the overall design. You can easily restore your current bathroom into a modernistic and classy space that fits your existing style. Making changes to more aspects of your bathroom is quite easy since there is more room in your budget to accommodate it.

A standard 3- or 4-piece renovation includes everything in a partial renovation plus extras such as revamped baseboards, installing a new bathroom mirror, buying new lights, installing a new vanity, changing the toilet, and buying new shower fixtures.

If you’re one of those looking to make a complete overhaul of your existing bathroom, then the option of a complete bathroom remodel is for you.

Unlike a bathroom renovation, remodelling means a complete change of your current bathroom design and layout for one that is newer and completely unrecognizable. The possibilities when remodelling a bathroom are endless especially when you have a large budget of over $15,000. That way, you can get the opportunity to create the perfect bathroom for yourself.

In addition to all that’s available with a standard bathroom renovation, bathroom remodelling allows you to make bathtub to shower conversion, relocation of plumbing, relocation of the toilet, reframing the bathroom and even relocating the shower.

In conclusion, a bathroom renovation can be a very important upgrade to your home and depending on the features that you decide to include, in addition to the size of your bathroom, this would influence the total cost of the project.

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7 Tips For First-Time Home Buyers In Calgary

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Buying a house for the first time can be overwhelming to say the least. If you’re wondering what neighbourhood to go with, what you can afford, or even how to just get started on the process, let us take some stress off your hands! We’ve teamed up with Hopewell Residential to give you 7 tips to ensure the home you end up with is everything you dreamed of.

Hopewell Residential is a five-time Developer of the Year award winner, so their expertise is second-to-none in Calgary and beyond. Who better to learn home-buying tips from than the homebuilders themselves?

Create a checklist of needs & wants

This is a biggie. When you’re buying your very first home, you’ll want to weigh your needs vs. your wants. Ensuring you have what you love in your first home is a big, big deal.

What should you do? Easy. Set up a list of needs and a list of wants, but be pretty strict with yourself, and make sure you take your lifestyle into consideration. With the increase in remote work over the past year, it’s important to keep in mind that a home office or flex room might just be the key to maximizing at home happiness. Especially if you’re thinking you might be expanding your family later on, spare rooms and extra space is key (but more on that later!).

Or for instance, you might need a home in an area with a high walkability score, but you want to be close to certain amenities. Set yourself up with the right level of compromise and the number of homes that actually fit your ‘perfect’ idea will skyrocket.

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‘Don’t give up’: Ottawa Valley realtors share statistics, tips for homebuyers in ‘extreme’ sellers market

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The real estate market in the Ottawa Valley can be summed up this way: people from far and wide are in a buying frenzy, but there’s hardly anything to buy at the “store,” and the limited inventory is overpriced.

This “stampede” — as one realtor described it — will affect rural towns as residents grapple with finding affordable housing and agonize over their inability to purchase homes in their price range.

“We are seeing a lack of inventory in all price ranges,” said Laura Keller, a real estate agent from Carleton Place.

Helen Vincent, a Renfrew realtor, said she’s never seen a market like this in her 36 years of practice. “We postpone offers for four to five days in order to get all the buyers,” she said.

Multiple offers — between seven and 10 — became the norm, with cash offers and no conditions, as buyers faced bidding wars. “In Ottawa, they have up to 50 (offers),” she added.

“It’s very stressful. You’re going to get nine (people) ticked off, and one happy. So many people are disappointed,” Vincent said.

Terry Stavenow, an Arnprior realtor for 40 years, said that “the pent-up need took over with inventory going low. It made a stampede on everything that was available.“

“Brand new housing — it’s very much gone. Several building developers are rushing to get inventory. They usually don’t do construction in the winter months,” said Stavenow.

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