Could Prefab Be The Future Of Residential Home Development?

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These days, builders are constantly raising the bar on green development. According to a Canada Green Building Trends Report conducted by Canada Green Building Council, 56% of the Canadian respondents reported that over 30% of the projects they build are green – and that number is constantly increasing. By 2017, it’s expected to be closer to 60%, which is exciting. Aside from the obvious health benefits of greener building, there are also other incentives such as lower operating costs and overall more efficient building.

In China, developer Xian Min Zhang is taking green/efficient building to the next level. A video made its rounds on social media this week showing his latest project: a 57-storey skyscraper completed in just 19 days. The building has 19 10-meter-high atriums, 800 apartments, and office space for 4,000 people. How was this possible? The building was completed using prefabricated materials, which during the construction phase were attached together. Think of it as a large-scale Lego project.

This method, according to Xian Min Zhang, reduced the use of concrete by 15,000 trucks, which eliminated the release of dust into the air. With the high levels of air pollution in China, this is a big deal. He also claims that all of the air inside the building is 99.9% pure thanks to the tight construction and built-in air conditioning system. The building has quadruple-pane glass and will reportedly save 12,000 tons of CO2 emission annually.

Could this technique be the future of development? Could this technique be applied more widely to residential housing here in Canada? Well, it’s already a movement that is slowly becoming more popular. In fact, in 2012 factory-built units accounted for 11% of all new single-family homes; however, much of the resistance to the growth in this movement is routed in stigma. Much of the criticism centers on the actual quality and structural integrity of the construction. That is changing though. For example, Landmark Homes and Summerhill Homes in Edmonton are now erecting all of their houses using prefab technique – and they’ve collectively built approximately 300 prefab homes thus far. Another builder who has applied this methodology for over a decade is Mattamy Homes, who built 200 of their 300 homes in Hawthorne Village inside of a factory located in Milton.

Whether prefab will grow in prominence remains to be seen. There are many benefits, and potential drawbacks, that need to be fully considered. One thing is for sure though: Xian Min Zhang’s latest project is extremely impressive.

We’re Growing…Digitally


It’s no secret that digital marketing is becoming the main focus for many agencies. There are many reasons for this: it’s more immediate, innovative, cost-effective and impactful. With the average Canadian spending 41 hours a month online, Canada ranks second across the globe in Internet usage, behind only the United States with 43 monthly hours on average. These numbers show that the bulk of the country’s consumers are living their lives online. Marketing has becoming more regionalized, and more localized – even more individualized. Breaking free from the constraints of traditional advertising is allowing marketers (like us) to create immersive experiences that take campaigns to the next level. This means that in lieu of static solutions, we have an opportunity to really interact with homebuyers in ways that we never could before. We can deliver tailored content to the right audience, at the right time, which amplifies our results.

We embarked into the digital realm years ago, and it’s thrilling to see how it’s paid off. As an example, I spoke about marketing automation a few times last year – and I can tell you that as we continue to develop and implement it into our clients’ campaigns, the results we’re achieving are everything we hoped they would be.

The numbers don’t lie: print is in constant decline, and digital media is now bigger than national TV advertising. Here at BAM, we’re extremely passionate about digital – and we’re not just talking the talk, we’re walking the walk. Currently, we offer a number of services to our clients, such as personalized web experiences and email campaigns, innovative social media advertising, digital/interactive site plan tables and much more. We’ve grown, and are continuing to grow, our team as well as our capabilities. Digital, as we predicted, is proving to be the future of our company. I’m excited about the projects we have on the horizon.

2014 EQ Awards


Corey McBurney, President of EnerQuality, was quoted as saying the future of development, home building and renovations is being written by the innovators.At BAM, we’re lucky enough to count many of those innovators Corey is referring to as clients. EnerQuality, who are currently celebrating 10 years of the ENERGY STAR program, is the Canadian housing industry’s top certifier of energy efficient homes. Recently, they announced their list of finalists for the EQ 2014 Awards – and two long-time BAM clients, Brookfield Residential and Empire Communities, are up for multiple awards.

Brookfield, who had a year marked with new (successful) communities and countless satisfied homeowners, has been nominated for Building Innovation and Ontario Green Builder of the Year awards. Empire Communities have been nominated for three awards: Ontario Green Builder of the Year (for the second year in a row), ENERGY STAR for New Homes Builder of the Year and Best Green Marketing Campaign. Winners will be announced February 19th during the annual EQ Housing Innovation Forum.

At BAM, we help clients shape their green programs and create their green marketing campaigns, so understandably it’s a thrill for us to stand beside them as they’re recognized as ahead of the pack in the residential construction industry. Over the years, we’ve had the opportunity to do so multiple times at the EQ Awards – in fact, Empire Communities won the Building Innovation and Excellence Award and ENERGY STAR for New Homes Builder of the Year in 2012 and 2011 respectively, and Sean Mason won in 2011 for the Leader of the Year award.

I’d like to congratulate Brookfield and Empire, and – as well – my hard working team here at BAM. I look forward to the gala this week, and letting everyone know the results of the awards.

What Does The Reduction In Bank Of Canada’s Interest Rate Mean For Canadians?


Last week, in response to the recent sharp drop in oil prices, The Bank of Canada announced that its interest rate would be dropping to 0.75% – significant considering it’s the second lowest it’s been in the past two decades. It was definitely a surprising move, especially as economists had previously forecasted an increase.

So what exactly does this all mean for Canadians? It could mean lower mortgage rates, which would be particularly exciting for homeowners, and those considering making a purchase. Variable-rate mortgages are determined by the prime interest rate, which is – in turn – linked to the same overnight interest rate that the Bank of Canada just lowered. As one writer for Renter’s Guide noted, people buy payment, not house prices, which I’m sure many people can relate to.

Individuals making payments on other types of debts may see a difference as well. Like variable-rate mortgages, lines of credit and credit card rates (dependant on lender) are generally tied to a bank’s prime interest rate, which is usually tied to the Bank of Canada’s overnight rate. That means borrowers may see their monthly costs come down, depending on whether their bank cuts its prime interest rate; however, some banks have yet to adjust their rates amidst many concerns. Most pressing is the fact that Canada’s household debt-to-income ratio hit a record high 162.6 percent just this past December.

Any downsides? Well some obvious ones that come to mind is our dollar, which fell dramatically against a variety of major currencies as soon as the Bank of Canada made its announcement. That’s bad news for any of you planning any trips south of the border or abroad. Another negative about a lower Canadian dollar is the higher cost of imports such as food from the USA; however, a major benefit of lower Canadian dollar is the potential increase in Canadian exports. Another potential downside to the drop in interest rate is that it could mean bad news for individuals who count on interest generated from traditional savings accounts.

Interest rates have proven to be, if anything, unpredictable. This decrease is looking like it will be a great opportunity for a majority of homeowners and buyers in the interim, but it will be interesting to see how it plays out and affects the real estate market in the long-term.

Why You Shouldn’t Leave Advertising Out Of Your Social Media Campaign

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Social media has grown substantially in more ways than one. What began to balloon in the mid 2000s as a free way for brands to promote themselves, has become a circle of revenue driven corporations that no builder, brand or organization can afford to ignore in their marketing strategies. Not convinced? Well, in 2014 alone, 1.5 million businesses combined spent (a total of) $2.66 billion on Facebook advertising. That number is actually an increase over 2013.

In its infancy stage, brands seemed to struggle with the various platforms. Social media appeared to level the playing field in terms of marketing, making the sole barrier to entry a PC, Mac or smartphone – and many brands attempted to participate by simply existing. Then the platforms (most notably Facebook) did something drastic. They began to throttle engagement and impressions, forcing brands to pay in order to reach a larger audience. What this shift to pay-to-play models has done, beyond creating ways for these platforms to sustain themselves and grow, is put the power back into the hands of professionals and force more creative uses of the platforms. Marketers and brand champions must now understand the financial implications of haphazard campaigns, and strive to use their clients’ budgets to achieve more concrete ROI.

Some great examples are Facebook Ads and, more recently, Pinterest’s promoted pins. Both platforms seem to understand that their users aren’t overly excited about being advertised to, and thus have implemented restrictions upon advertisers that require them to bring creative, personal and engaging content to the table – or face failure. Restrictions include the use of sales heavy messaging and copy heavy images. The result is an attempt to create authentic relationships through the use of great imagery/copywriting and personal connections.

Within the real estate industry, this concept of creating authentic relations seems like a no-brainer. The use of targeted advertising to potential homebuyers on a platform like Facebook, where 829 million users spend an average of 40 minutes a day, can result in not only registrations, but also referrals. It’s a unique opportunity for users to engage and share one of the most exciting times of their lives with you – and everyone else (including their friends/family) can watch it unfold.

Your strategy and approach to advertising should be tailored to the specific network you choose to use, whether it’s the use of YouTube pre-roll ads, Twitter sponsored tweets or even promoted LinkedIn posts – but there is definitely a platform that is right for your specific campaign. Ignoring these platforms, unfortunately, is no longer an option.

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