Affordable Housing in Calgary

One of the big topics of conversation here in Calgary since we have been visiting has been the cost of housing. Since we were here last in 2003 house prices have easily doubled, they have increased 46% in 2006 alone! The median house price in Calgary is about $450,000, and the median condo price in Calgary is over $310,000.

This is proving to be a huge challenge for a lot of people in the city. Many service professions, like teachers and social workers, are finding the increased cost of living to be extremely challenging. My sister, who has a university degree in social work and is currently working at a group home, has found that she can not afford to purchase a house, or even a condo in Calgary on her salary.

This situation is not only evident for those wishing to purchase a home, but it’s also the case for people wanting to rent. Calgary has a unique situation now where people in lower paying jobs are being forced to live in their cars on in shelters.

So what are some solutions being presented?
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Queensland Owner Builder Course

In trying to get our renovation project off the ground more, and open up more options for getting the work down I did a Queensland Owner Builder Course.

The idea behind the owner builder course is to allow people who are not licensed building Trade Contractors to build their own homes and perform renovations, extensions, etc. on land that they own. A Owner Builder Permit is required for work where the total value would exceed $11,000 (including GST and labour) if performed by a licensed building Trade Contractor. With the Permit the owner builder is allowed to do all the building work, except for plumbing and electrical tasks.

The course can be delivered in many different ways, including classroom delivery or by correspondence. Because of my workload and family commitments, and the fact that I couldn’t find it being offered in Townsville, I took the course by correspondence with The Peach Institute. I probably could have completed the entire course in a weekend If I had sat down for an entire weekend to do it, but instead I spread it out over a few evenings in the span of a month and completed it.
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6 Advantages and 6 Disadvantages of Composite Decking

The use of composite decking really seems to be taking off here. While at the Calgary Home and Garden Show I had a bit of a chat at a decking booth. He told me that composite decking material is becoming more and more common. They are still building more timber/wood decks than composite decks, but composite decks are becoming more popular and common.

Below are a few advantages that they talked about with composite decking materials:

  1. No evidence of nails / nice flat finish
  2. Environmentally friendly, made from recycled material (plastics bags, milk bottles, etc.)
  3. Pre-coloured and never has to be painted, oiled or stained
  4. Easy to clean with a hose
  5. Smooth, splinter free finish
  6. Flexible material with many unique possibilites over wood / timber

All of those sounded too good to be true so I did a bit of research into composite decking material after coming home. There is a lot of good things about it, but there are also a few concerns that I found on the Internet about composite building materials. Here are a few of them: Continue Reading →