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Mold Company Recommendation

From time to time we run into various conditions on a project that calls for a professional firm that specialises in what they are very good at. When we come across a company that we feel deserves to be recognized we’ll provide a link to them. 

The first link we’ll post here is for a very good mold inspection and removal company. They’re called Maple Leaf Mold Inc and here’s their link;



We find that there are a number of companies out there that say they’re IICRC registered but really don’t understand what needs to be done, (this is very important). These guys understand what they’re dong. Remember, the potential for significant health issues are real if you don’t have it addressed by professionals. 





Will severance of a laneway house ever be allowed?

Severance – Only a matter of time?

Just thought I’d take another read through of some of the comments the City of Toronto had put forward about laneway houses. In particular, the City’s comments specific to whether or not a new laneway home could be severed on title from the main home. 

While the City is not in favour, (and some of the less experienced voices out there have suggested that it would be a mess or to difficult to achieve), there is some case history out there that indicates that it can be done and without a great degree effort.  

One only has to look to other City’s…their heritage groups have demonstrated how adding a laneway house behind a house can be a positive way to retain heritage and character homes.

Last year, a City of Vancouver heritage group toured six houses built after 2009 when the City of Vancouver amended its zoning bylaws to permit laneway houses in some single family zones. However, it also included a 900-square-foot laneway house that was constructed in the 1890s, and a 1,600-square-foot house built in 1990 behind a 1912 character home.

What was significant about these two properties was unlike the smaller houses built under the city’s laneway housing program which must be rented, they could be sold. That is because in some zones the city allows a laneway or coach house, as they are sometimes called, to be sold when a heritage house is being preserved.

As a long time head of a design / build firm, I have read a study exploring opportunities for “sensitive infill” that proposed laneway housing for Vancouver. It is interesting reading when comparing it to what the City of Toronto is proposing now

Unfortunately, given the way the initial laneway zoning bylaw was drafted, it did not permit the kind of laneway houses many were seeking, namely predominantly single storey cottage-like homes for sale.

The earlier Vancouver Heritage Foundation tours demonstrated how laneway houses could be a very effective and charming way to increase the density in a neighbourhood without significantly compromising its character. However, there was often a shortage of parking since the zoning did not require any parking space for the laneway unit.

Furthermore, the garages in many early laneway homes had large windows and in-floor heating, making it obvious they would be converted to living space at some time in the future.

Given that some single-family lots could have three dwelling units (a main dwelling, a basement suite and laneway unit) without any off-street parking, this resulted in numerous and valid complaints about parking in some neighbourhoods.

And in speaking with a number of laneway house builders in Vancouver it appears a large number are not being constructed as rental units, but rather as homes for relatives. In some instances, the children are moving into a laneway house, with the intention of moving into the big house at a later date. In others, one or both parents are moving into the laneway unit.

Despite some complaints, I understand the program is working however many, in Vancouver, would like to see the city permit some laneway units to be sold, rather than remain as rental, resulting in more affordable ownership housing in established neighbourhoods.

While the City of Toronto seems somewhat entrenched in its position right now don’t be surprised if one day if the allowance of severable laneway homes will become a reality.

Here’s and interesting article about some of the issues Vancouver area laneway homes have presented.  



Robert Offenbacher is the President of Flatrock Inc, a multi-discipline, licensed design and construction firm located here in Toronto. Robert has been involved in Toronto’s design and construction industries for almost 25 years. Have a question or comment about Laneway homes or a potential laneway rental property? Please give him a call at 416 770 7475

Update to Toronto’s Laneway Housing Initiative

Just had another interesting conversation with one of our contacts at the City of Toronto. He and I were chatting about the laneway housing issue and he’d mentioned that the City has received a significant amount of calls and emails about the initiative. He estimated that there is a ratio of roughly 2 to 1 for people who are in favour of the initiative passing versus those that aren’t.

However, of the people who called and expressed concern, one of the important questions was whether or not the Laneway Initiative would help address Toronto’s lack of a rental housing inventory for the City’s lower income residents. This question remains unanswered at this time.

Status of the Initiative

We attended a City council meeting in July 2017 that outlined the next steps the City was taking in order to move forward. These steps will insure each of the various departments impacted by the proposal will have had an opportunity to comment prior to moving to the next steps.

One of the issues that I am aware of is the requirement for Toronto Fire Department vehicles to be able to access laneway homes in the event of an emergency. Current laneway widths are not consistent across the City and vary from one to another. The current emergency vehicle inventory would not be able to access a number of the smaller width laneways at this time. Whether or not new dedicated vehicles with smaller widths is the answer will hopefully be outlined.          

So at this point we await comment from the various internal City departments outlining their concerns and requirements prior to the initiative moving being approved for implementation. It is my understanding that by mid-Spring 2018 we should have a clear understanding and receive clear comment from the City. 

Robert Offenbacher is the President of Flatrock Inc, a multi-discipline, licensed design and construction firm located here in Toronto. Robert has been involved in Toronto’s design and construction industries for almost 25 years. Have a question or comment about Laneway homes or a potential laneway rental property? Please give him a call at 416 770 7475 or at www.flatrockinc.ca.



Laneway Homes and Modular Construction

Modular Housing and why it won’t work in Toronto

Modular homes have many disadvantages compared to stick built homes.

Building a new home is a milestone in your life. It’s important to have a reliable builder guide you from one step to the next—and make the process fun, too.

First, you need to decide which building method is best for your new custom home.

Homes are traditionally stick built entirely, or in large part, on the site they are intended to remain forever. Stick building is the time-tested method of home construction that’s understood and accepted by everyone in the new home business from builders to lenders.

While most new homes in the Canada are stick built, there are other ways to build a new home including modular.


Modular homes are built in an assembly line process in a factory, trucked to the site in sections, set in place with a crane, and then joined together. Modular builders make some seemingly attractive claims such as less expensive, faster construction, and energy-efficient.

However, when you compare modular versus stick built, you’ll find modular homes often fall short of fulfilling their promises.

If you’re considering a modular, you should know the following disadvantages before deciding which building method is right for your brand new home.



The first problem you will encounter when you consider using a modular style home in a Toronto laneway is the difficulty in how you would make a cookie cutter design work with what you’ve got. Additionally, in building Toronto’s laneway homes, our experience tells us that the tight confines of a laneway itself will not allow for a modular home to be hoisted into place without significant modification to the design and to the infrastructure, (like hydro / telephone lines etc.). These costs will be passed onto you.


Some areas in Toronto have zoning laws, restrictive covenants, and hookup regulations prohibiting you from building a modular home on a particular piece of land.


If you are working with an existing garage the type of foundation needs to be considered because, the modular house is built off-site, your foundation must be perfect.

Modular homes may appear ideal in theory, but they lack a personal touch. By creating modules in a factory, there’s a real disconnect between the homeowner, the house plan, and the land itself.


The modular home’s price does not include important items such as foundation, concrete floor or utility hookups. Unfortunately, this forces you, the homeowner, to become your own general contractor. Talk about a stressful situation!

In contrast, our homes come as a complete turn-key package. The base price includes items like the basement, heating and cooling system connections, water heater, major appliances, and much more.


The payment process for a modular home is different than a traditional stick built home.

Modular builders require payment in full before the home is complete. Some lenders are unwilling to finance modular home construction. Therefore, if you don’t have the cash available, you’ll need to find other options to cover the costs.


Since the majority of the modular home’s components are built quickly, off-site, you must trust that the modular builder will produce what is needed. Unfortunately, one error can put the entire home in danger, and it may be too late when the homeowner discovers the mistake.


Because they are made in an assembly line process, modular homes are not as easy to customize as a stick built home.

As your custom home builder we are able to design your home around your lifestyle and needs. As a reputable builder, we will customize your floor plan to make your dreams a reality.


One of the main advantages modular builders claim is faster construction. But a more rapid building process might be a disadvantage.

For example, it’s difficult to make changes once fabrication has started. Changes disrupt the flow and timing of construction. Also, most modular companies aren’t willing or able to make floor plan modifications or, if they say they do, they will be expensive.


The individual modules must be transported from the factory to your building site. Careful handling of the modular components while in transit is required. However, sheetrock stress cracks are common.

In addition, here’s something to consider: Transportation costs may be higher for the modules than for the materials from which they’re made, which can often be packed and shipped more efficiently to the building site.


Many people perceive modular homes as less desirable and lower quality than stick built homes. And you should never underestimate the power of public opinion. Modular home’s negative image could make it harder to resell someday.

In conclusion

When it comes to your new home, not just any builder will do. Selecting the custom home builder with laneway design and construction experience that’s best for your needs and situation is a critical step to achieving your life goal.

When you choose us you won’t be compromising on your home’s cost, custom floor plan, or the sense of pride you’ll feel when you see your new laneway home.

Finally, with any builder you consider, we recommend you ask a lot of questions, get references, and scrutinize the estimate looking for red flags such as allowance pricing. When in doubt, get a second opinion. Trust us. You’re not just building a house; you’re fulfilling your dream. And that’s much too important to take any chances.

Robert Offenbacher is the President of Flatrock Inc, a multi-discipline, licensed design and construction firm located here in Toronto. Robert has been involved in Toronto’s design and construction industries for almost 25 years. Have a question or comment about Laneway homes or a potential laneway rental property? Please give him a call at 416 770 7475 or at www.flatrockinc.ca.

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