Thursday, July 30, 2009

Fireplace in a Condo

Add a fireplace anywhere

Historically the main function of a fireplace was to provide the principal source of heat, and therefore was typically positioned centrally.

Today, fireplaces are less functional and more focal points for a room; they are installed to create a cozy luminescent atmosphere and their design has to be consistent with the overall style of the home. In the last decade fireplaces have evolved in terms of both style and heating mechanisms.

There are infinite styles available, for example wall mounted, freestanding multifunctional coffee table/fireplaces in a variety of materials (stones, wood, steel, glass) and colours. Along with the traditional wood, gas and electric models, the market has introduced new fuels like gel or liquefied ethanol. These new energy sources are great for condos where it often isn’t possible to install an exhaust system.

All these and more can be found locally at 360living.ca located in Toronto at Dupont and Avenue Road. I had the pleasure to meet with Christine Denault of 360 Living to discuss the most popular choices and finishes. Christine indicated that there was also strong demand for their outdoor self contained units.

I would encourage you, to seek out the newest technology both for their esthetics and improved visual appeal of your west end condo. The Bonus! You also get the Home Improvement Tax Credit.


Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Experience May Not Count


When it comes to using business finance, mortgage and real estate professionals using experienced people may not assist you as the consumer.

I read that twice. Since when does experience not matter. We have seen the same situations over the years or over decades in my case.

Here's the quote;
" suggests that more experienced mortgage brokers might actually be more likely than novices to make loans that end up in foreclosure.

Mr. Garmaise analyzed nearly 23,000 mortgages processed by 2,905 brokers from 2004 to 2008. When the brokers were starting out with their lenders, he said, the loans they made were less likely to result in foreclosure. (By his own calculations, the fifth loan was 8 percent less likely to result in foreclosure than the 10th loan.)

One reason for the increased failure rate, Mr. Garmaise said, could be the pace at which loans are underwritten. The more the brokers did, the less time they spent on each of them, he said.




Monday, July 20, 2009

There's No Place Like Home

The housing market may have experienced some ups and downs this year, but the spirits of potential first-time homebuyers across Canada remain strong. According to Genworth Financial Canada’s First-Time Homebuyer’s Monitor released today, 84 per cent of those surveyed said that owning a home goes beyond its financial value and feel that homeownership pays off in more ways than one.

“The survey results show Canadians have a deep emotional attachment to homeownership,” said Peter Vukanovich, President of Genworth Financial Canada. “Most people closely associate financial security and emotional well being with homeownership.

That’s particularly true among first-time homebuyers.”

The study measured both the financial and psychological factors of homeownership – providing the following insights into the link between homeownership and personal fulfillment:

• 84 per cent agree with the statement, ‘Owning a home provides a greater sense of
emotional well-being and security’.
• 85 per cent believe that even though homeownership may mean more work and
effort, they’d rather own than rent.
• 88 per cent say they would feel more financially secure owning their own home.

The national survey of 2,521 Canadians was conducted between April 24 and May 4. The complete Genworth Financial Canada First-Time Homebuyer’s Monitor with a regional breakdown is available at www.genworth.ca.

If you are considering the Purchase of your First Home and would like patient, honest input and perspective I invite you to have me over for a coffee, I would be pleased to answer your questions.

CMHC's Publication; 1st Time Buyer Handbook are available. Reserve your copy now, by calling me at 647 218 2414.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Garbage Strike continues to Hurt Local Business

This Strike is hurting the local small business owner's that are the backbone of communities like Bloor West Village; The Danforth, Kensington Market, Lake Shore Humber Bay.

Someone needs to stand up and ask these children [politicians] to solve the issues in a business like fashion and let the youth of Toronto have their Parks and Recreation Centers opened. With the warmer weather approaching there will be no wading pools open at all to escape the summer heat.

The world is watching our City thru the CNN Newscasts that talk about Toronto not being a great place to visit and the lack of Ferry Service and other City worker related issues that have an impact on the enjoyment and visitation on vacation for evens like Caribana.

People worked very hard to get these events promoted and attended only to have the garbage strike take the focus away.

We cannot make up for lost tourist dollars in October and November.

Add your comments!

Call your elected member of City Counsel.



Sunday, July 12, 2009

Home Staging Top 10 Do's

As we move into modern times we turn to David Letterman for our inspiration.

Here is our Top Ten list of home staging DO's

1. Sparkle and Shine – Keeping a clean house is paramount to making a positive impression on potential homebuyers. Nothing will turn off homebuyers quicker than a dirty house. In the mind of a homebuyer, a clean house equals a house that has been well taken care of.

2. Clear the Clutter – Take a step back and assess the room and all of its belongings. If they’re not adding to the design or function of the room, store them or remove them. This goes for furniture too. Remember the old adage, “less is more”, especially when it comes to showing off the space in a room.

3. Tone Down Your Personality – Smart sellers know that the purchase of a home is a very emotional decision, which is then backed up by the rational. Therefore, if homebuyers see too much of “you” in the house, they will not see themselves living there. Potential homebuyers become home buyers when they imagine themselves living in the house. Let them do that by removing personal effects such as photos, degrees, and knickknacks.

4. Clean up the Curb – Sellers often focus on the interior and neglect to focus on the first impression—the outside. How does your home look when you drive by? Are the trees trimmed? Lawn mowed? Weeds picked? Garbage stored away? Windows washed? If potential homebuyers drive by before setting up a viewing (and a LARGE majority WILL drive by) and do not like what they see, they will cross you off their list. Remember to look at curb appeal at night too, as most drive bys will happen in the evening after work!

5. Fix the Faulty – Have you been meaning to replace that burnt out light fixture in the bathroom for awhile, but keep putting it off? Well, now is the time to do all of those “minor” repairs around the house. “Minor” repairs that need to be done will become major problems in the homebuyers’ eyes. Moving is stressful enough—the last thing homebuyers want to do when they move in is go around the house replacing burnt out bulbs and fixing cracks in the wall. Fix it before homebuyers eighty-six it!

6. Paint the Town Red, Not Your Walls – Love your red dining room or blue bedroom? While you might, not everyone has the same taste in d├ęcor as you do. Although paint colours are just an easy aesthetic change, most homebuyers will not be able to get past them. As well, different colours can conjure up different emotions such as frustration and agitation—not exactly the emotional state you want a homebuyer to be in! Neutral colours not only appeal to the masses, but also create a more calming and relaxed atmosphere—the perfect atmosphere for buying!

7. Warm It Up – Now, after telling you to de-clutter, de-personalize, and neutralize, you’re probably thinking your house might look more like a hospital than a home. In addition to these lessons, though, remember that you still want to create a warm, welcoming atmosphere. Think more hotel than hospital. Warm up the space with fresh flowers, fresh fruit, throws, pillows and rugs.

8. Point Out the Positives – Staging is not about hiding all of the negatives, but about accentuating the positives. Focus on highlighting what made you fall in love with your home when you bought it—Updated kitchen? Spacious family room? Gorgeous garden? Make sure you catch homebuyers’ attention in the right rooms.

9. Let the Light Shine In – Now that you’ve spent all of this time and energy getting the house ready, don’t hide it in the dark. Always open your blinds and drapes and turn on the lights before any showings and open houses.

10. Look at Your Objects Objectively – Even after going through the list, you still have to step back, remove yourself from the emotional side of selling your home and go through the list again. Do you really need your DVD collection on display? Remember, you’re moving everything eventually, so you might as well get started now! Not ready to part with your green bathroom? Again, you will eventually have to part ways and, really, are you ready to lose a sale over a can of paint? Because of the difficulty separating yourself from the connection you have with your home, many homeowners have found it’s much easier to go through the selling preparation process with a staging professional. Staging professionals can help them look at their property objectively and make the changes they need in order to sell quickly and for the most money.

Christine LeLacheur is a Certified Staging Professional (CSP™) and has a Masters of Business Administration (MBA). She continually augments her formal education by keeping on top of industry trends and keeping an ear to the ground to ensure she provides homeowners with ideas and layouts that appeal to an array of potential homebuyers.

Christine and her team are committed to making your house looks its best, optimize its value, and add to your pocketbook without leaving any equity on the table! Contact Christine today to learn more about how The Frugal Stager can help you sell your home!

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Toronto Purchase Closing Costs

Home Buying Closing Costs Toronto GTA Real Estate

How much are the closing costs? How much money do you need in addition to your deposits. All are answered here with a financial income requirement worksheet.

Calculate Land Transfer Tax

Am I able to get First Time Buyer Rebates?

Home Buying Calculation sheet is generated on each property we are seriously considering during our shopping process. At this point you would have already decided condo or freehold ownership, Fixed or Variable Funding for your mortgage.

The Top Half of the Worksheet describes monthly debt payment calculations

The bottom half describes the Taxes and expenses relative to each purchase.

The new HST (Harmonized Sales Tax) will alter many items.



Any House

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Tax the Home Buyer Buffet Continues in Halton

Open Letter to Gary Carr,

Chair of Halton Region

From Peter Gilgan, CEO Mattamy Homes

Dear Chair Carr:

Politics is your business, building homes is mine.

For more than 30 years now, together with many hundreds of Mattamy employees and many thousands of skilled trades-people, we’ve built well over 13,000 award-winning family homes in Halton Region. My company has helped some families get their start in life and others move up to the home of their dreams.

Through the years, I’ve stayed out of the limelight. But I can no longer remain silent.

Halton Region proposes to raise taxes on new homes by $8,000. That’s in addition to your tax increase of $8,000 over the last 12 months and the $9,000 tax increase that Oakville is currently proposing.

If this increase goes through, in just five years, the combined Halton Region and Town of
Oakville new home tax will have increased from $24,981 to $63,813 without any increase in the services provided.

That’s a tax hike of 155 per cent. Nothing justifies an increase that large in so little time.

In fact, the $8,000 tax hike is so extraordinary, Council had to by-pass the Ontario Development Charge legislation enabling such taxation.

How can you justify new home taxes that are twice as high as in Durham? It just doesn’t add up.
Another tax increase of $8,000 per new home far exceeds the costs of new growth.

I agree, existing taxpayers should not pay taxes to support growth and new development. But, it is irresponsible to suggest that without another tax increase on new homes, rates will go up for existing taxpayers. You may well decide to hike property taxes. But it will not be because homebuilders and new homeowners aren’t prepared to pay their fair share.

If this tax increase is approved, it will put the dream of new home ownership beyond the reach of many average families. It will mean that younger couples and families who grew up in our community will have to move somewhere else to afford a new home. And it will mean that seniors and “empty nesters” looking to down size to a new home will have to move away from their friends, kids and grandchildren.

Finally, whatever might be said about the need for funding development, this new tax increase
was proposed last year using out-of-date, pre-recession budget assumptions and estimates
.

Governments around the world, businesses and families have all had to readjust to the new economic reality.

Shouldn’t the Region of Halton do the same?

Let’s think twice about increasing taxes on new home owners.

Sincerely,
Peter E. Gilgan
CEO, Mattamy Homes

Additional Facts about the New Tax

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

When Toronto's Garbage Became Everyone's Problem

"For more than 15 days now none of the garbage and recycling units that dot most street corners in Canadas largest city have been emptied.

“Its disgusting, theres garbage flying around everywhere, we have to sweep the patio every 30 minutes just to keep it presentable,” said Vicki Rivard, manager at Davids Tea on the street. A block away, street vendor Anthony Vilanova says business is already being hit.

And it is the second time in seven years that garbage pick-up has been disrupted, with the last civic strike in 2002." FROM A US WEBSITE

KUDOS are deserved! I was so proud last week that the Pride Parade organizers had handled their garbage issues in an efficient and productive manner, taking the time and effort to hire private contractors to fill the void left by city employees.

I am not against the Unions, I am not against the City. But what are the real issues? Surely, Not the money. The same money that is being saved now will be spent, plus excess in overtime and back pay, plus the city will need to RETRO pay all the workers to the end of the last contract period.

I am sure someone could provide the details.

CUPE local has their own website and is encouraging the members to Twitter and POST and Participate but they are really working upstream, completely outgunned against the Public Relations Professionals that are the City.

SO who will profit in their profile and reputation from making all these apparent gestures to SAVE the city from the Unions?

Could this be the same CANDIDATE who promised to close a FEDERAL airport on the Toronto Islands outside of their jurisdiction during the last elections?

Toronto Business Owners are fed up with waste and mismanagement of services by the City and general dismissal of their needs to operate a profitable business. The City has meddled with Transit vis a vis the St Clair closures, the Molson Indy lost sponsorship (now the Honda Indy) will be picketed by the CUPE membership, last year the fight was about GUNS in the City that resulted in the relocation of the Sportmen's Show. That is not the image of the City I want projected on the evening news. We need tourist dollars.

Lets get a few business people elected to run a city properly, efficiently and responsibly. The ONLY reason this strike hasn't been settled is because the temperatures have been moderate. If we had a heat wave and the garbage stank, we would have settled weeks ago. Maybe after they fill High Park and the Sunnyside Pavillion on Lake Shore, so the 905'ers can drive by and TiSK TiSK and shake their heads.

I am embarrassed for the tourists that come to "Toronto the Good" for their week long vacations who cannot stay outside on the outdoor patio's and have a cool beverage because of mounting sidewalk garbage. I am so sorry that children who cannot play nicely with others have ruined it for everyone else.

If we want to be a world class city, Lets start acting and behaving like it.
What are your thoughts?

City of Toronto Offer Posted July 10, 2009


Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Sales Juggernaut Continues in Toronto

GTA Resale Housing Market Posts Best June on Record

TORONTO, July 6, 2009 - In June 2009, Greater Toronto REALTORS® reported a record10,955 sales, up 27 per cent from June 2008. The seasonally adjusted annual rate of sales inJune was 100,700.

"The record result in June is testament to the fundamentally sound housing market in the GTA,"said the Toronto Real Estate Board’s newly appointed President Tom Lebour. "An increasing number of households have been confident in purchasing a home in the region’s affordable anddiverse resale housing market."

The average price for June transactions was $403,972 – up by two per cent compared to thesame month last year. "The re-emergence of seller’s market conditions has exerted upward pressure on home prices,"explained Jason Mercer, TREB's Senior Manager of Market Analysis. "Look for sales to remain high relative to listings in the second half of the year. This will keep home prices growing."

Incredible News:

Using the sales numbers for June '09 alone, we are selling one house for every 1.78 homes available for sale. This is coupled with a reduction in the number of homes available for sale of appraoximately 14% and the combination will result in continued price increases and a sellers markets moving into the doldrums of summer.

Table Last 16 month

Will this continue? As long as interest rates are low, and the Harmonized sales Tax is on the horizon, informed people will want to make the move sooner not later.

What do you think?

Saturday, July 4, 2009

It's coming: HST may scuttle condo deals

The boost to maintenance fees could be enough to trigger ‘material change' provisions in contracts – and send buyers running for the exits

Terrence Belford Globe and Mail

Next year at this time, the Ontario government – the same government that still maintains rent controls – will raise monthly maintenance fees for all condominium owners by between 5 per cent and 8 per cent.

Renters will face rent hikes based on operating costs for their buildings. Those increases will vary but could be in the $25-a-month range for a downtown one-bedroom suite.

Owners of older condos may face an even greater hike to top up their building's reserve fund if major work such as replacing a roof is slated for the near future.

At the same time, developers of projects with suites already sold but not yet occupied are scurrying to their lawyers. Their concern is an 8-per-cent hike in monthly maintenance fees may trigger the “material change” clause in purchase agreements and allow buyers to back out of signed deals.

The increases do not benefit builders; they go straight to government coffers because of the proposed HST – harmonized sales tax. In the past the 8-per-cent provincial sales tax component did not apply to services – things such as the cost of hydro and natural gas, and the salaries of concierges and the men and women who managed and maintained the properties.

After July 1, 2010, everything becomes taxable and the impact will apply not just to new homes but to every condo in the province and every rental unit as well.

While the province has announced changes that will soften the impact of HST on new condo buyers – not eliminate it – there is no similar relief being offered for renters or existing condo owners.

“Frankly, I just don't understand why the government is doing this,” says John AbedRabbo, a partner in Polyzotis & Co. chartered accountants. His company audits about 70 Toronto area condo corporations. “The impact on anyone who owns a condo or anyone who rents an apartment is going to be really significant.”

He says a review performed for his company's clients suggest the hikes in monthly maintenance fees will range from 5 per cent to 7 per cent with potential extra levies to top up reserve funds, the condo corporation's nest egg.

“If you have a 700-square-foot, one [bedroom] and den and now pay 45 cents a square foot for maintenance, your $315 in monthly fees will go up by between $16 and $25 a month,” Mr. AbedRabbo says. “If you rent, then that extra expense will pass straight through to you on top of whatever normal rent increase the landlord can charge.”

Tasso Eracles, president of Simerra Property Management Inc., which manages 22,000 condo suites mainly in the Greater Toronto Area, says Mr. AbedRabbo's figures may be conservative. He says the average increase for the 200 buildings Simerra manages will be 7.3 per cent – and 8 per cent at the upper end of the scale.

“This is going to have a tremendous impact on an already suffering condo industry and on the affordability of rental housing as well,” he says. “And unlike the impact of HST on purchase prices of new housing, this aspect of HST affects every condo and rental unit in Ontario.

“You have to wonder if the province thought all this through.”

Equally troubling, especially for builders, is the possibility that significant increases in monthly maintenance fees could trigger the “material change” provision in purchase contracts. The intent of that clause was to give purchasers a way out of a deal if the terms and conditions had changed significantly, says Harry Herskowitz, a partner in DelZotto Zorzi LLP and one of the city's busiest condo industry lawyers.

It was, in essence, consumer protection ensuring buyers got exactly what they agreed to pay for.

He says in past the rule of thumb was the 10-per-cent rule. If any factor increases the costs less than 10 per cent then there is no material change. If, however, after July 1 next year projected budgets come in 3 per cent over estimate and HST raises monthly costs by 8 per cent, the variation will be 11 per cent and buyers may indeed have legal reason to cancel their purchase.

Without HST there is no cause for triggering material change; add HST and the scales are tipped in favour of the buyer.

“I stress that this is only my own opinion, there is no case law on this issue,” he says. Neither the builder nor the buyer is at fault on this issue – the impact of HST could not have been predicted by either.

“But I think if it went to court judges would most likely favour buyers,” he says.

The potential impact of HST is indeed having an effect on the condo market, developers say. And with good reason, Mr. Herskowitz adds.

“There is so much uncertainty surrounding application of the HST and its impact as presented is profound,” he says. “Like many others I am at a loss to understand the reasoning behind its application to housing.”

Yes the province promises HST rebates when it comes time to file income taxes, but that is after the fact. The government seems to be taking its lead from Wimpy in the old Popeye cartoons. “If you give me a hamburger today, I shall gladly pay you next Tuesday.”

David Pylyp This is going to have a profound effect across the board for everyone that ownes a condominium unit and no one has yet started to address the issue. Yes Buying a home gets a rebate but this is a completely new tax on all condominum maintence fees.

What are your thoughts?

Thursday, July 2, 2009

The Townhouses Burnt Down - Now what?


Last Monday night 56 or 57 townhouses under construction by Dunpar Homes at their Burnhamthorpe and Ponytrail site in Mississauga burned to the ground. This site has had fires before. All are being investigated as arson.

In all, 96 high-end townhouses are under construction at this site, a half-hour drive west of Toronto. Of those damaged, including more than a dozen that burned to the ground. All 57 will likely have to be razed and rebuilt. The remaining stone facades that remained after the fire, were being leveled as I took this picture Thursday morning. (7.02.09) Globe and Mail

The developer, Dunpar Homes, said each unit was worth between $500,000 and $625,000 and that most had already been sold.

"Who is doing this to us?" asked Mark Mintzer, vice-president of marketing for Dunpar Homes, whose original development plans were opposed by residents and the city.

In 2007, when the site held just an empty field, the townhouse complex proposal drew ire from neighbours, who thought the units too dense and too tall. On Monday night, they stood on the sidewalk and watched the units burn. Missisauga News

So what happens Now? Where will you live?
  • The Builder, once they have had a few days to regroup from this tragic event will have a number of isssues to decide.
  • Are they able to conclude the project at the price, time and material quoted and contracted?
  • Will extensions be permitted?
  • Will they merely cancell everyone's contract and start reselling the units again?
  • I would think that existing contract holders would have the first right on the same unit.
To those that commented about insurance proceeds and profit, that is just silliness. Homes are built when they are contracted for occupancy. That means that someone has bought it. No Builder is erecting dozens of models home on the chance that they will sell.

I would welcome your comments and thoughts on this event in Mississauga.

UPDATE: They found and charged a 19 with this and the previous arson event
Quit work! Kudos to our Police

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Renovate Your Cottage - the Government will help

Take a renovation vacation at your cottage this year and you could enjoy a significant tax break. The Federal Government’s Home Renovation Tax Credit (HRTC) on eligible home renovations undertaken after January 27, 2009 and before February 1, 2010 may be claimed only for the 2009 taxation year and applies to eligible expenditures of more than $1,000 but not more than $10,000, resulting in a maximum credit of $1,350 ($9,000 X 15%).

The good news is that you can apply the credit to across all ‘eligible’ dwellings. The Canadian Revenue Agency (CRA) generally considers a dwelling to be eligible if it is used for personal purposes and could include a house, a condo unit, and a cottage. Additionally, the HRTC is family-based – for the purpose of the credit, a family is generally considered to consist of an individual, or an individual and his or her spouse or common-law partner, including children who will be under 18 years of age at the end of 2009. One family equals one credit but if two or more families share the ownership of an eligible dwelling, each family is eligible for their own separate credit of up to $1,350.

Here are a couple of examples of how you can use the HRTC:

You have a home in town and a cottage at the lake owned by you or your family. You can claim a total credit of up to $1,350 for eligible renovations incurred at either or both dwellings up to the maximum of $10,000 per family.

You co-own a cottage with relatives and the total cost of eligible cottage renovations is $20,000. You can claim a credit $1,350 on $10,000 of the total amount and your co-owners can also claim a credit of $1,350 on the other $10,000.

You must have acceptable documentation – such as agreements, invoices and receipts – to support your claim. These need not be included with your tax return but must be provided if requested by the CRA.

You can’t claim for renovations aimed at earning income – such as the renovation of a basement for rental purposes – only for expenditures made for personal-use area of the dwelling.
Eligible expenditures can include:
  • A kitchen, bathroom or basement renovation
  • New flooring
  • Building an addition, deck or retaining wall
  • Re-shingling a roof
  • A new furnace or water heater
  • Interior or exterior painting
  • Driveway resurfacing or a new driveway
  • New sod
  • A permanent swimming pool
  • Plus associated costs such as permits, services and equipment rentals

The HRTC is for a limited time so if you were planning a home or cottage renovation down the line, it could pay to reschedule it for this year. But before you start laying out large chunks of cash, talk to your professional advisor about how the extra expenditures will affect your overall financial plan.

John Scholl B. Mathematics, CGA, Investors Group(905) 450-2891 X529 (866) 799-2223 Cell; (416) 731-3660
Email: john.scholl@investorsgroup.com

Is green roof bylaw valid or cash grab?

Late last month, Toronto became the first city in North America to adopt a bylaw requiring the construction of green roofs on new developments. It comes into force Jan. 31, 2010.
A green roof is a system where a vegetated area becomes part of the building's roof. It includes plant life, a growing medium, a filter layer, a drainage layer, a root resistance layer and a waterproof membrane.

Under the new rules, a green roof will be required on all new buildings with more than 2,000 square metres of gross floor area. The area of the green roof will range from 20 per cent to 60 per cent of the roof, depending on the size of the development.

Green roofs have been used for years in Europe and the United States, but they are relatively new to Canada.

They are said to reduce stormwater runoff, energy consumption, the local ambient temperature and associated cooling costs. As well, they have been touted as beautifying the city, creating more green spaces and providing opportunities for food production.

Unfortunately, however, there are significant problems with the city's efforts to legislate environmental policy. From a legal point of view, it seems to me that Toronto is improperly using the City of Toronto Act to mandate building standards, a legislative area reserved exclusively to the provincial legislature. As such, it could well be exposed to a legal challenge.

The idea that the very shallow growing medium on green roofs can be used for food production may well be wishful thinking.

Fire is also an issue. According to a report last year in Property Week magazine, Swiss insurer Zurich, the third-largest insurer in the U.K., warned that green roofs could dry out and become flammable.

The City of Toronto is aware of the fire issue and is currently reviewing safety issues with Toronto Fire Services. A staff report last month noted that "there is no standard, establishing minimum requirements" with respect to fire safety.

Structural failure is another issue with green roofs. A presentation at the American Institute of Architects (AIA) convention in 2007 reported that in one U.S. case, a green roof failed and the water leakage caused significant structural damage.

The AIA presentation also forecast insurance claims and litigation resulting from failure to deliver promised energy savings, mould or other environmental hazards as a result of poor maintenance of the roof, or a roof collapse resulting from improper construction, maintenance or installation.

Wherever green roofs and green buildings are found, green building litigation is sure to follow. The United States has already seen its first green building-related litigation and its Canadian counterpart cannot be far off. An article in Green Real Estate Law Journal earlier this month predicted that "green building-related litigation will remain on the horizon for the near future."
Green roofs present serious issues for condominium corporations. Owners face significantly higher maintenance costs for green roofs to minimize the risk of fire and to ensure proper drainage.

The typical lifespan of roof membranes, with or without a green roof, is estimated at 25 years. When a membrane has to be replaced, condominium reserve funds will be hit with huge costs.
Locating a roof leak is challenging even where there is no green roof, but when the source of a leak is concealed by tons of vegetation and a growing medium, the costs can easily skyrocket.
I'm not sure that adequate study has been given to the green roof initiative in Toronto.

I also wonder why, if green roof technology is such a laudable goal, the City of Toronto stuck a "cash in lieu" provision in the bylaw, allowing builders to pay the city $200 per square metre instead of simply building the roof. Or is this just another city cash grab?

Bob Aaron is a Toronto real estate lawyer and a director of the Tarion Warranty Corporation. He can be reached by email at bob@aaron.ca, phone 416-364-9366 or fax 416-364-3818. Visit the column archives at http://aaron.ca/columns/toronto-star-index.htm for articles on this and other topics.

David Pylyp. There are wiser people to deal with these issues but I do see challenges beyond fire hazards on the rooftops, What about weight loading from snow and water retention in the roof lawns.

Why not legislate something that has a benefit to the Condominium Owners rather that a political ECO green hot topic. Why does the city not mandate energy self sufficiency. There are currently viable hydro co generation programs that could be used with Solar Panels installed on the out of sight roof tops.

I would personally welcome a reduction in my long term bills and passive income from hydro regeneration. Isn't it about time?

Your comments are always invited.