Wood Mid-Rise Is On the Rise


Last week, BILD held a seminar to discuss the technology, challenges, and benefits of 6-storey wood construction. Architects and builders have been grappling with some of these issues since the amendments to Ontario’s building code to allow mid-rise wood frame building took effect in January of last year. It’s without question a huge improvement in our industry, as building similar structures using concrete is both expensive and grossly inefficient. Mid-rise structures are desperately needed along many of the major streets here in Toronto. Currently, many younger families are forced to move outside of the city to find affordable homes.

Wood is natural, strong, durable, renewable, and – of course – greener. 99% of every tree is used in the manufacturing process, and it takes much less energy to manufacture, meaning a reduced carbon footprint. Challenges, though, include logistical construction issues, concerns around fire, and some of the physical properties of wood. For example, wood shrinks over time, which could cause potential issues with the structural integrity of the building. However, these concerns haven’t stopped developers such as FieldGate Urban and Hullmark, who are behind Heartwood The Beach, Toronto’s first wood 6-storey residential building located in the Beaches. Curated Properties and its top-tier architecture and design team are also developing a similar project called Cabin, located at 45 Dovercourt. Both of these projects are currently featured in the Spring 2016 issue of Toronto Builder Magazine.

With Cabin now 70% sold, it’s clear that the demand for affordable mid-rise homes in the city is real; it’s only a matter of time before more developers begin to line the streets of our city with funky, innovative, 6-storey wood designs.

AI Video Development Is The Future Of Content Sharing


It’s no secret that video is the king of shareable online content. Larger media publishing brands, like Mashable – for example – have been rolling with this trend, and developing daily, timely, and relevant video content that is generating unprecedented levels of engagement. In fact, Facebook reported, as of early January, that its platform has over 100 million hours of video watched each and every day. For smaller brands, though, such a high turnaround of videos can be daunting, expensive and unrealistic. A handful of new start-ups, however, are offering tools that eliminate the need for in-house video production, or any video production for that matter. Welcome to the dawn of artificially intelligent video making.

Two companies, Taiwan-based GilaCloud and USA-based Wibbitz, have developed online dashboards that allow you to turn articles your brand is already creating into visually compelling summary videos, complete with royalty-free background music. Both services use AI technology to scan your online articles for keywords, highlights, and overall tone, and instantly comb the net for corresponding images (from services like Getty Images and Reuters), video, or necessary sound bites. They then arrange them into a branded, HD video ready to post across all of your networks.

Granted, these services are far from free and don’t advertise their prices publicly. The costs, though, when stacked against the expenses of equipment, editing, and music/image clearances, are likely to be more than reasonable; as well, there’s the fact that you can develop an unlimited amount of content for a set monthly/annual fee. It’s unlikely that these two companies will be the only players in this field for long. Will AI become the future of video development?

Cardboard Offers Innovative Solutions For Brands


Virtual reality – as cool as it is – definitely isn’t for everyone. For one, it isn’t free, which can limit the audience. Dependent on the system you choose to go with, there’s a headset to purchase, and customized experiences take engineering and programming to develop; however, the rise of Google Cardboard, offers a huge opportunity for brands. It leverages smartphones, which most consumers currently possess, and creates immersive, unique VR experiences without the need for a complicated learning curve or expensive hardware. For those who don’t know, Google Cardboard is a complete virtual reality platform developed at the Google Cultural Institute in Paris. It’s commonly used with low-cost viewers, made of foldable cardboard (hence the name), 45mm plastic lenses, and a magnet or taped lever to operate the screen.

Regarding real estate, builders could – instead of traditional brochures – offer branded cardboard viewers, complete with instructions for downloading a simple web based app for either IOS or Android phones. The app could take users on a Cardboard compatible tour of a virtual sales centre, complete with home designs, prices, and interactive site tables.

There are some 360-degree cameras which are currently available – meaning brands can develop their content in-house, and use hosting through YouTube to deliver the content to clients, or to third party apps. If you haven’t explored YouTube’s 360-degree video capabilities yet, you’ll want to go ahead and do that. VR is the future, but leveraging Cardboard’s potential is an excellent way to provide innovative experiences to traditional homebuyers without scaring them off.

BILD Award Nominations


Last week, nominations were finally announced for the 2016 BILD Awards, which recognizes excellence in sales, marketing, design and construction of new homes in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA). This year, we’re excited to be three of the four projects nominated for Best Digital Marketing Campaign — for three of our most exciting projects to date. First there’s Queensville, a multi-phase, 6000 home project in East Gwillimbury. Secondly, there’s Lakebreeze, a large scale, waterfront community that is going to transform the town of Bowmanville. Lastly, there’s Pine River, a multi-builder project located in Angus. Additionally, we were nominated for Best Sales Video for Queensville.

Over the past year, BAM has put a strong focus on digital innovation, especially as it applies to our marketing campaigns. We’ve employed creative Facebook advertising, cutting edge SEM techniques, and industry leading websites. We’ve offered clients advanced functionality such as web/email personalization, Interactive site tables, backend CRM integration, online preview appointment booking, and – in the case of Pine River – the ability to actually reserve your home design and lot right on the website. We’ve been changing the way our clients generate registrants and, as a result, make sales. The results we’ve helped our clients achieve this year is something we’re incredibly proud of, but these nominations have us over the moon. They’re truly a result of the hard work the entire BAM team has put into these massive projects.

We look forward to seeing all of our clients and friends at the awards this April and hopefully walking across the stage with them as we celebrate everything we’ve been able to achieve.

Another Step Towards Online Home Purchasing


Recently, to make the home buying process even more simplified, we introduced an online reservation system on the Pine River website for our clients Lancaster and Zancor. Our system is integrated into the builder’s CRM, so while browsing through the selection of towns and detached home designs, users can select their favourite and choose/reserve their preferred lot within a real-time community site plan. It is also programmed for architectural control, meaning users can only put home designs on appropriate lots. The tool is even able to tell them the grading, closing date and final price – including all premiums. To top it all off, the site lets users save/view their favourites, remembers recently viewed designs, and displays popular designs to buyers based on their browsing habits.

The next step is for buyers to visit the Presentation Centre (of their chosen builder) in person, and finalize the deal. Their hold is only placed until the Saturday of that week These innovative features provide more control than ever over the process by allowing prospective buyers to fall in love with – and lock in – a home and lot without any roadblocks.

This is extremely exciting for the team here at BAM, as we’ve been continuously working toward the inevitable ability for buyers to make a complete purchase online. With electronic signatures now being legally binding, the concept is entirely viable; there has already been some success with online home sales overseas. With the increasing complexity of the sites we’ve been building for clients, buyers are currently able to make a near-purchase decision, and in more than 80% of the cases, a full purchase decision before they step foot in the Presentation Centre. Allowing them to take the next step, right then and there, seems like a logical progression. It also opens up the possibility of virtual sales centres, or even just live chat attendants, which would let buyers talk to a representative right on their device and clear up any concerns or misunderstandings.

This online reservation system is an enormous accomplishment and an exciting look at what’s to come here at BAM. It’s one step closer to our goal of making the home buying process a fully digital, and seamless, experience.

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