Floor prep for luxury vinyl plank

The installer is on site to prep my floors for the vinyl plank. He quickly determined the floors aren't flat enough and require the edger sander to smooth the seams.   Lots of dust and mess but then is nicely vacuumed and we are ready to go. Also the stair nosings will be fabricated.  



Lots of bare wood means the seams are flatter.  



More Ames product on site.  A pallet of 40 boxes fits nicely in the back of my truck.  750 sq ft per pallet.  

Asbestos go away

My asbestos crew is over at the upcoming Richmond? 20 Ave SW? Project dealing with a little asbestos.  I've lost track of how many to times I've had to rely on these guys to get the job done.  Always prompt and take care of business.  



This house is almost ready to demo.   Not much insulation in those old walls.  With the asbestos gone I can pull the demo permit but once again Atco is busy and is making distant appointments to remove the gas.  Not sure why this has been an issue since 2016.  Can't they predict the workload?   The company spent a fortune building its showcase office, yet lacks resources to rip out inner city gas lines.    

Hexagon tile work at the Live33st rowhouse

The tile crew is on site and we are exploring the possibilities of the shapes and textures of a few new product lines from Ames.  Ames is touring the world of ceramic tile and is now bringing in decorative tile made in Spain.  So far it seems like a great fit for the rowhouse project.  We have a few bold colours and shapes ordered (actual back-ordered), hopefully this shows up soon or we will have to reselect.  More updates to come next week.  



Interesting hate mail

One of the interesting features of new home building is the diversity of opinion you will get among the general public toward your product.  I value constructive feedback because I’d like to improve my work.  I sometimes wonder if people know how much effort goes into a townhouse project.   



haters are out in Killarney! 

Rowhouse aluminum railing

One of the final components of the rowhouse exterior is now being installed.  Once the railings are up we can finally get rid of that obnoxious construction fencing.  Time to get on the landscaper to commit to a date as well.  



Appeal - Killarney rowhouse project to be scrutinized by the appeals board.

On June 21 the appeals board will consider the rowhouse project development permit on 26a st.  This is a lot formerly zoned rc2 that was rezoned by the builder to rcg.  once successful the builder then designed a very nice four unit building and had it approved by the planning department.

My understanding of the situation is an arrogant and mean spirited bully type lawyer-neighbour decided to take it upon himself to launch a last minute appeal.  Note the project has been blessed by mayor and council and the staff. It was reviewed by the Killarney planning committee and the design work was generally well received.  

Other interesting information. The project approved didn’t require relaxations.  The row house is a permitted use, not discretionary.   The building height is well under the maximum allowed.  The policy of adding some density to older grid areas is well liked by the elected leadership.  Despite this, one person feels his own NIMBY bias against redevelopment should supersede that of society and its betterment through sensitive densification of a highly desirable part of the community.  For a minuscule fee he has decided to try and use legal means to overturn a lot of costly design and permitted work.  Is the intention here just to harass and delay the builder to punish his business with financial waste and loss?  It is not clear.  

The treatment of this permitted project by the appeals board will be very interesting.  My preference would be to have the appeal tossed out and not even heard by the board.  I’d prefer the appellant to not even have any standing before the board, and the phone reasons for appeal be rejected.   

UPDATE - The hearing agenda is now posted on the appeals board website.  It appears the builder is defending himself by hiring a lawyer, no surprise here, and they are attempting to have the appeal thrown out over lack of jurisdiction.  They argue, as I thought, that the board has no jurisdiction to adjudicate over a project that is a permitted use (not discretionary, no relaxations).  Also, and very disappointingly, the appeal does appear hastily put together and lacking in evidence.  The appeal states that the project violates the height restriction rule, but provides no evidence, as an example.  You would expect better from someone trying to quash a $2.5M project that will employ many people than to fabricate nonsensical grounds for an appeal.  




Here is the appeal notification. I will review the agenda once it is posted.  

Rowhouse tile

The crew is now tiling the rowhouse. We have some innovative and new tile styles coming up for the dining room wall and fireplace.  More pictures to come soon.  



zoning - the endless debate

Zoning is a hot topic in many cities, and Calgary is no exception.  Calgarians have their own biases and prejudices as we have discussed here before. The biggest politically acceptable prejudice in Calgary appears to remain against renters by owners.  This is mostly bogus, but deeply ingrained into the Calgarian psyche.  It is essentially a class based prejudice and a false assumption that by purchasing a home in an area you ‘own’ the zoning rights of your community.   Pseudo arguments related to character are then crafted to disguise the raw prejudice into something an educated progressive person can publicize without fear of being shamed by an online zoning ‘me too’ backlash.

My thouhts on this issue are apparently out of the norm.  I don’t believe the zoning of a community should be frozen in time.  I think zoning is like mineral rights and those are owned by society not individuals and the way the rights are deployed needs to change over time.  Calgary is a city that has changed more in 30 years than other cities have changed in a century yet many of our ARP documents that guide zoning at the community level are very old.  

Zoning creates a lot of compliance cost.  It often results in land being underutilized or built up in a way today that is a misallocation based on a best use that isn’t allowed or would take years of effort to change.

creating new Zoning rules is often needed to accommodate new types of development.  it has all sorts of unintended consequences.  A classic case is the redesignation of land into the rowhouse zone yet not allowing it to work on mid block lots that are the most commonly available size.   

The real answer could be simpler rules and deregulation in policy documents that give some guidance to development but are less prescriptive.  I don’t think anyone wants to create a hodgepodge mess in a community.  But regulating of every possible built form, regulating context and character, and trying to keep up to date with a dynamic society is impossible for a slow moving bureaucracy.   




Maybe we need a few more of these billboards around town? 

Mid year Killarney market update - palindromes, clueless, greed blinded sellers and the realtors that ‘aid’ them.

This is a follow up to my year end review and predictions for 2018 posts.  As of mid June and with Calgary experiencing a heat wave, the spring market is officially over.  Compared to previous years it was not very strong. Mortgage rules have had a dampening effect on new home sales and it seems many builders are hitting the pause button after the construction frenzy that began last summer.  The desperate urgency to acquire land and builder mania that we ruefully observed last year has been replaced by a lot of inventory to choose from and little motivation among builder buyers.  Keep in mind I recorded a high selling price of just under 700k for a quality lot last winter (and at that time felt it was a huge mistake).

What hasn’t changed is the over valuation sellers are placing on land.  It is reaching levels in some instances where there would be a zero or negative return for the builder.  The cluelessness is quite astonishing on some of these so called deals, and I can’t really begin to comment on the ridiculous realtor descriptions promising future appreciation as if it is a certainty (on land already 100k over market).  It is equally hard to understand why a realtor would want to waste time listing a property so overvalued by the owner.  Perhaps they have no concept of development potential? 




here is the current winner of the out of touch with the market seller award for 2018.  I wouldn’t purchase this property unless it was discounted by $150k.   There is zero value here to the builder.  Note the 775,577 number, what a creative palindrome.  I don’t think a builder will overpay by some massive amount because of a creative list price.   

Hand rail detailing

Following some discussions with trades where I wasn’t getting either the answers or materials I wanted at the price I was willing to pay I once again took the diy route with the hand rail brackets. 

First of all I wanted a round hardwood rail. Nobody seemed to want to sell me that so I acquired my own half rounds and assembled them.  Secondly the brackets available where cheap and flimsy so I custom ordered some from q railing, and they look great.  Finally I was too busy to install them so I invited some carpenters in to finish it off for me.  In all, a considerable amount and lead time and leg work, but reasonable cost.  



handrails and brackets are all installed. Ready to stain.  



making these in the garage was surprisingly easy.  Much sanding was yet to take place but already we had demonstrated that this budget scheme would work well. 

Company accountant and cfo at work

Integer homes accountant and project labourer is back on site doing what he does best - the really dirty jobs. Thanks again grampa j. We’ve got to get these ugly walls prepped to parge.  Cribbing is not the prettiest wall finish.  



grinder connected to the shop vac.  Why was this work quoted at $1600?  Job is done diy style for $150 in rentals and some labour. 

Rowhouse garage

I organized another garage project, this time at the rowhouse.  I’m using the compartmentalized slab design as previously done but this time I’ve been required to build some non combustible walls.  This means no wood and a lot of extra cost and effort to make the garage fire resistant.  Fortunately I was able to expand my network of contacts and get a really good metal framer to come in and save the day.  



Metal walls holding up wood roof.  

Rowhouse kitchen progress

The first townhouse cabinet install is well underway now.  With cabinetry wrappIng up we will template the quartz counters and get into tile.  As usual I’m getting material delivered and always observing and dealing with mistakes so I don’t waste time.  Over the weekend the first kitchen should be finished and the custom hand rails and brackets I ordered will be installed.  



Window coverings

My usual supplier of blinds and window coverings is installing the package now.  The blinds are a nice addition to making the product look more complete.  


Best for less blinds and shutters. Good job as usual  

Rowhouse cabinetry

At this stage of the process I can really get a sense of how the interior details will come together. The rowhouse project will be getting a single dark coloured wood cabinet door front.  Looks good so far.   



Rowhouse finishing begins

the Finishers are now on site and will be hanging all the interior doors and trim.  This work always makes the houses a lot more 'finished' looking.  Next up is the interior spraying followed by cabinetry.  



Rowhouse concrete flatwork and stairs

The concrete crew put in a long day Monday to get the remaining stairs and walks prepped for today's pour.  Access to the front of the townhouses has been awkward so now that we are poured we are in way better shape for deliveries.  The concrete doesn't need a lot of time to set up before it can handle foot traffic but I like to stay off it for 48 hours. The surface scuffs too easily when it is only a day old.  



Dominic is happy to get this pour done so he can get to one of his many other jobs.   



Ready for broom finish and we have permanent sidewalks and can landscape.  

Picking tile for the rowhouse

tile selections are coming together at the rowhouse. It has been a tricky affair as I’m looking to make each unit unique and special and confusing myself with lots of indecisiveness.  Wouldn’t it be so much easier just to do it all the same? 




new arrivals are very tempting 

Lots of small jobs

It is always amazing what it takes to actually finish a house to a full 100% complete.  

Here are a few recent updates



Just need to get these on the walls



Washer and dryer is ready to go