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Posts Tagged ‘building’

Property Transfer Tax and the new BC budget

Thursday, February 18th, 2016

There are no changes to the first time home buyer exemption limits;

All buyers (whether first time buyers or not) no longer pay PTT on purchases of newly-built homes up to $750,000 in value; note the buyer must be a Canadian citizen or a permanent resident; there is a partial exemption for homes between $750,000.00 and $800,000.00; The newly built home exemption will only apply to people who actually occupy the home as their principle residence for a year after purchase. (relatives do not qualify)

PTT has changed so that there is now a 3% tax on amounts over $2,000,000.00. The 3% tax is only paid on the amount over $2,000,000.00, not the full price.


The existing first time home buyers program for re-sale homes remains unchanged. The threshold remains $475,000 with a partial exemption for homes between $475,000 and $500,000


The challenge of renovating a heritage castle in Moncton, N.B.,for less than an East Vancouver bungalow.

Thursday, October 23rd, 2014

Castle Manor

A Vancouver owner who wishes to remain nameless has taken up the challenge of renovating a heritage castle in Moncton, N.B., that went on the market earlier this year for less than an East Vancouver bungalow.

Jay Tse is a Moncton-based, semi-retired contractor with family ties in Vancouver. Much of his family is involved with real estate and construction.

“That’s what we talk about — construction and how much real estate is in Vancouver and in Moncton — and the topic of the castle came up because at that time, it was for sale,” said Tse, noting media reports about the peculiar property had caught the eye of a Vancouver relative.

In January, The Province wrote a story comparing the price of East Van bungalows to the 107-year-old Castle Manor in Moncton, N.B.

While many B.C. bungalows were priced north of $700,000, the Moncton castle — with 54 rooms and 12-foot ceilings spread over 19,000 square feet — came in at under $700,000.

“By Vancouver standards, it was very economical and that’s how we all started,” Tse said.

A Vancouver relative then became interested in buying the castle and asked Tse to look into the property on their behalf, and to consider taking on the renovations.

“I think they found it very interesting because of the history and the tradition of the castle in Moncton, and they asked me to think seriously about it,” Tse told The Province.

“I discouraged them because it’s not an easy project, as you know. It’s a heritage building and there were a lot of issues associated with a project this size and the extent of renovations.”

Following the sale, Tse said it took a few months to clear up legal paperwork and secure the right permits for the renovations.

The local community has also grown attached to the castle, which Tse said has challenged him to find the right balance between honouring the history of the castle, while also moving forward with renovations that will “make it last at least another 100 years.”

“That was the first huge stumbling block, but after that, it’s just a beautiful old building that needs a lot of tender loving care,” Tse said, adding the municipality has also been very supportive of the project and has offered extensive help.

For the Vancouver owner, who has asked to remain anonymous, Tse said the castle represented more of a challenge than an investment property.

“If they wanted to make money, there were other things they could do that are much easier,” Tse said, noting the new owner was adamant about buying the castle.

Still, the new owner has no plans to live in Castle Manor.

“I doubt they will move to Moncton — they love Vancouver too much,” Tse said.

Instead, the castle — which used to be a care home but has sat empty for several years — will be converted into a planned 14 high-end market condo units. Tse said the finished product could be ideal for mature professionals at a nearby hospital, professors and mature students at the local university, or retirees in the surrounding area who are looking to downsize but wish to remain in the neighbourhood.

There are no plans to change the stone facade of the castle, other than possibly adding a few windows, and the rest of the designs are still subject to the heritage board’s approval.

Tse and his crew — many of whom have worked with him for 25 years — begin their work on Tuesday, by conducting support-beam and sound- proofing tests. A completion date of Oct. 1, 2015 has been set.

“It’s a challenging but interesting project,” Tse said.


B.C. has a height limit of 6 storeys. Will high rises be built of wood?

Thursday, August 14th, 2014

Adera Development Corporation’s Sail condo development at the University of B.C. in Vancouver includes two six-storey wood-frame buildings.

In the five years since B.C. increased the height limit for wood-frame buildings, new structures have been popping up all over the province. Now lumber’s biggest advocates are predicting they can build higher than they ever expected.

Since 2009, when the province raised the limit for wood-frame buildings to six storeys from four, 202 new five- and six-storey buildings have been approved, including 58 that are already complete.

Among the finished structures are the two buildings at Sail, a six-storey condo development at the University of B.C., the five-storey Library Square development in Kamloops and the five-storey Riverport Flats rental development in Richmond. The new projects come as the province pushes to revitalize the forestry industry and find new markets for wood projects.

But builders can go even higher than six storeys if they use mass timber — also known as massive timber. Unlike the light-frame or stud construction used to build houses and low-rises, mass timber is made by bonding together thin layers of wood to create a material that is much stronger and more fire-resistant than lumber.

To get approval for mass timber structures higher than six storeys, developers must prove that the building will be just as safe as if it were built with concrete and steel.

Vancouver architect Michael Green has been one of the world’s strongest voices in support of tall wood buildings. He grabbed attention with the audacious claim that mass timber construction can be used for structures as tall as 30 storeys, but he now believes he wasn’t shooting high enough.

“I’ve been saying 30 for a long, long, long time … but I picked the number 30 out of the air,” he said.

“I am quite convinced that we’re going to get to 40, we’re going to get to 45. I don’t know where we’re going to end.”

He believes that as these buildings push higher and higher into the sky, concrete and steel will be incorporated into the structure in an attempt to get the most out of each material.

Green’s firm designed the Wood Innovation and Design Centre in Prince George, a seven-storey mass timber building at the University of Northern B.C. that was recently completed and should be cleared for occupancy in a few days.

Now he’s got his sights on much bigger things. Although he couldn’t give any details, he said his firm is now working on a “very large timber project” in Minneapolis with a large developer that has traditionally built skyscrapers.

And later this week, Green will submit his proposal for a groundbreaking new 16-18 storey wood student residence building at UBC.

“It will absolutely be the world’s tallest. It’s absolutely one of the most important wood projects to be announced in the last, well, ever,” he said.

“It’s a huge step for UBC and even if I don’t get the project, I’m tremendously honoured that everybody has embraced the idea to this extent.”

Green talks about wood with reverence, describing the beauty of lumber and the human desire to be surrounded by natural materials.

But he has practical reasons for advocating for wood as well.

“Sixteen per cent of the world’s fossil fuels go into making steel and concrete,” Green said. “How can we build big buildings in wood that sequesters carbon, that’s very low energy, that we can grow more of, that’s a renewable resource?”

On Monday, forest research organization FPInnovations launched a technical guide to help builders become familiar with wood as a construction material. It includes peer-reviewed research on building techniques.

Natural Resources Canada, which funded the creation of the guide, said in a news release Monday that “increasing the number of tall wood buildings is a priority for economic growth opportunity.”

Conroy Lum, FPInnovations’ research leader for structural performance in advanced building systems, said that incorporating wood will be key as the world’s population grows and becomes even more concentrated in urban areas.

“There’s going to be greater demand for buildings, both to provide service as well as to house people,” Lum said.

“If we can we do it with a material that allows us to deal with minimal impact to the environment, that would be preferred.”

He believes that Canada’s building codes are in need of a reboot to reflect the fact that fire-prevention science has advanced significantly in recent decades.

“Let’s start from fresh. Let’s look at the materials closely. Let’s see how can we go about building and designing with wood that will help us mitigate the risk,” he said.

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