Biz X Magazine
BK Cornerstone recently held an open house in Belle River to unveil the latest in energy efficient home construction that included a Silent Auction to benefit the Community Support Centre. Thanks to those who donated items and those who bid on them! The event raised over $2,300 to benefit our community programs and services. Special thanks to BK Cornerstone for including the CSC in this unique event.
The region’s first home that produces more electricity than it needs has been unveiled in Lakeshore.
BK Cornerstone built the 2600 sq ft net-zero home in four months on Francis Cres.
President Ben Klundert it’s equipped with state-of-the-art energy efficiency.
Windsor’s real estate and home building market has picked up steam, and nowhere is that reflected more than in a major shift to purchases of semi-detached townhomes.
“It’s a demographic that’s the strongest right now,” said Ben Klundert, president of the Greater Windsor Home Builders’ Association.
“It’s a lot of empty nesters — not just retirees — but a lot of people getting their ducks in a row, downsizing and getting ready to retire.”
Of 242 new housing starts in Windsor to date for 2014, 79 of those fall under the category of semi-detached or row housing, according to the latest numbers released by the City of Windsor’s building department.
It’s not just the over age 55 buyers steering toward townhome developments. Single parents and first-time home buyers are also favouring them, said Klundert, founder of BK Cornerstone Homes.
Last month The Windsor Star reported that housing start were up 20 per cent in the greater Windsor area, which was an important bit of good economic news.
But the figures could have been twice as good if not for a now chronic shortage of skilled workers. Builders are so desperately short of qualified staff they’re months behind on everything, from starting to finishing to closing sales agreements.
How far behind are they? By hundreds of homes, according to some in the local industry.
“We especially need framers,” says Ben Klundert, president of the two dozen local companies which belong to the Greater Windsor Home Builders Association Inc. “Bricklayers is another one we just can’t find right now. Cabinet makers. Labourers. And we can’t get apprentices anymore.”
Windsor is enjoying a mini-housing boom with 20 per cent more startups than this time last year.
The Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation released a report Monday saying that Windsor housing starts were trending at 777 units in July, compared to 685 in June.
“The economy in Windsor is starting to pick up,” said Erica McLerie, a CMHC senior market analyst. “There are more manufacturing jobs. The population has started to increase a little after some years of negative growth. Things are starting to turn around.”
McLerie said all types of new housing are being built, as well, including single-detached, semi-detached and townhouses.
“Retirees are moving to the area,” she said. “They can move out of their home in the GTA (greater Toronto area), buy a house in Windsor, and have a lot of money left over to have a good lifestyle when they retire.”
One thing that characterizes BEN KLUNDERT is his love of building quality and affordable homes, a trait he learned from his father, FRANK, who began building homes in 1959 in Belle River, Ontario, a town about 50 kilometres southeast of Windsor on Highway 401. “My father did everything himself — electrical, plumbing, drywall — the whole nine yards,” Klundert, 44, recounts. “I ended up learning the whole trade from him.” (His father died about a year-and-a-half ago.)
That passion ran deep. Klundert formed his first company with an older brother, JOHN, right after graduating from high school in 1979. They built four houses, selling three rather quickly. Then the recession of 1981-82 hit hard. “We carried that fourth house for four-and-a-half years,” Klundert says, “which was a valuable lesson.”
Mary Borg was reluctant to move to the Windsor-Essex area at first, but over time the reasons kept adding up. “I said I would never move here and here I am,” said Borg, 64, who moved to the Cooper’s Mill retirement community in Lakeshore from Toronto last March. “We just liked what we saw.”
The 2011 census made the Windsor region into Canada’s bad news story, but the figures show the population flight wasn’t evenly spread throughout the county. Borg and her husband John are two of the many people who have relocated to the region since 2006, resulting in small population gains in Lakeshore, LaSalle and Kingsville.
Frank Binder of Royal LePage Binder Real Estate said retirees are driving the population increase in those towns. Seniors are drawn by the same factors that attracted the Borgs – milder winters, low housing prices and the waterfront. Kingsville and Lakeshore, whose populations grew 2.2 and 3.9 per cent from 2006 to 2011, boast affordable lakefront properties. LaSalle, whose population grew 3.6 per cent, has lots of parks and trails, Binder said. “You’ve got a lot of walking paths, a lot of trees. It’s an ideal community for retirees.”
When you have seven months of really great weather and five others that aren’t too bad, it doesn’t get much better for active retirees, says Murray Johnson, a resident in Cooper’s Mill adult lifestyle community at Belle River, Ont.
And, when you can sell your house in one of Canada’s major metropolitan areas and buy a comparable one for half the price, that’s attractive, particularly in the current economy, says Phill Young, who relocated from Edmonton to the town of Lakeshore, just outside Windsor, three years ago.
These are just a couple of reasons the Windsor-Essex County region, with its half-dozen adult lifestyle communities, is becoming a magnet for Canadians across the country looking for an ideal retirement home.
Indeed, the moderate climate in Canada’s southernmost region – on the same latitude as northern California and Rome with average above-10 C temperatures 223 days a year plus 2,000 hours of sunshine annually – and reasonable housing prices – Conference Board of Canada and CMHC surveys have found it among the most affordable in the nation – are major drawing cards for retiring boomers, says Krista Del Gatto, executive officer with the Windsor-Essex County Real Estate Board.
On a chilly winter evening, when most people were dozing in front of their television sets, a gathering of men and women streamed into a stylish new townhome, laughing and bantering good-naturedly like old friends. Except these were new friends, happily brought together when each recently bought residences in Cooper’s Mill Retirement Community.
Jim and Sharon Green are often found in the thick of such occasions. “Many times, there are impromptu, spontaneous get togethers at somebody’s home,” Jim says. Organized golf tournaments, street barbecues and other excuses to have fun encourage neighbourhood interaction. Cooper’s Mill residents since April, 2005, Jim admits, “Our biggest worry was leaving friends from our old neighbourhood and moving where we didn’t know anyone. Our worries were for naught.”