Truth and Reconciliation Day: September 30th

In June of 2021, the federal government announced a new annual statutory day to commemorate and honour the Indigenous lives that were lost, the survivors, and the families and communities who continue to grieve, as a result of the residential school system in Canada. This day is called Truth and Reconciliation Day.

 

Recognizing the historic tragedies and the ongoing trauma Indigenous communities face is an important and necessary step toward reconciliation. Truth and Reconciliation Day will be held annually on September 30th, and Normac will be observing this day henceforth.

 

As a progressive employer that is dedicated to recognizing and remembering these preventable atrocities, we are asking all our employees to take time today to acknowledge the tragic history of our country, and to educate themselves on the residential school system in Canada.

 

Included below are some resources regarding the history of residential schools, education on reconciliation, and the current struggles and traumas that effect Indigenous communities, which we encourage you to read, as well as some donation links to actively help these communities.

For CRISIS SUPPORT 24/7 call the KUU-US Crisis Line Society at 1-800-588-8717

Insurers Prepare for Increased Impacts of Climate Change

The alarming surge in natural disasters caused by global climate change has brought the average annual cost of claims for property damage to $2 billion, and insurers are preparing to offset losses by updating risk models. Between 2000 and 2009, we saw an annual increase of $400 million per year in claims. A report released by the United Nations this month predicts that by 2030, the world will be 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels. The 1.5 Celsius mark is the level countries agreed to cap global warming at as per the 2015 Paris Accord. For 1.5°C of global warming, we can expect to see increasing heat waves, longer warm seasons, and shorter cold seasons.

 

This will inevitably result in more climate-related disasters.

 

Craig Stewart, Vice-President of federal affairs for the Insurance Bureau of Canada, states that the current climate crisis has caused “more frequent, but also more severe weather events.” According to Stewart, events such as flooding Eastern Canada, higher-intensity tornadoes, and wildfires “may have happened anyway, but they wouldn’t have been as intense as what we’re witnessing now.”

What has happened in the past decade?

As outlined in our blog post Reviewing Canada’s Catastrophic 2020, a series of major natural disasters last year caused property insurance rates to skyrocket. Most notably, it was reported that the Fort McMurray flooding and Calgary hailstorm cost insurers nearly $2 billion. In November of 2020, Ontario also experienced severe windstorms causing $87 million in insurable damages.

 

Since 2005, Canada has seen 9 out of the 10 most significant losses for property insurers in history, the only exception being the 1998 crystal ice storm that hit Quebec. The costliest natural disaster on record was in 2016 caused by the wildfires in Fort McMurray, resulting in nearly $4 billion in insured losses. 

 

With the average annual cost of claims now at $2 billion, it is estimated that uninsured losses will be double that amount. Stewart has noted that “data that’s driving underwriting decisions [are] now being updated to reflect that new risk. Reinsurers have lost billions of dollars in this country over the last decade… so they are upping their rates, insurers are paying more. And of course, that gets passed down in terms of increased premiums to customers.”

Insurers limit fossil fuel exposure
23 global insurance companies have adopted policies that end or limit insurance for the coal industry.

With increased global initiatives to move towards an eco-friendlier planet, insurers are limiting their exposure to the fossil fuels industry. Over the past three years, 23 global insurance companies have adopted policies that end or limit insurance for the coal industry, and 9 insurers have implemented the same strategy for the Canadian oilsands. In July of this year, eight of the world’s largest insurance companies – most notably Zurich Insurance Group, Aviva, and Swiss Re – have committed to a net-zero greenhouse gas emissions portfolio by 2050.

 

After increasing pressure from environmentalist groups, some insurers have refused to provide coverage to the Trans Mountain pipeline extension. To me, it illustrates a real shift in the sector,” said Mary Lovell, who leads insurance campaigns for the San Francisco-based environmental group Rainforest Action Network. “These insurers understand the reputational risk of being involved with a project as contentious as Trans Mountain, as well as the material risk of constructing a new pipeline during a climate crisis.” 

Strategic relocations

With some areas across Canada – specifically in Alberta, BC, and the Atlantic region – being more prone to natural disasters, we must consider the difficult decision of strategic relocation. A national emergency management strategy published in 2019 by the federal government outlined the federal and provincial priorities for assessing, preventing, preparing, and responding to disasters from now until 2030. The research has found that Canada is warming twice as fast as the global average, and three times as fast in the Northern regions. 

 

“If people are living in harm’s way, we either need to invest heavily to protect them to mitigate those communities that are at highest risk … or we need to move them,” Stewart said, noting that this could require a government buyout for properties located in risk-prone areas. Recently, the U.S. based real estate brokerage, Redfin, has announced that they will be including climate risk information on their home listings. The government of Canada had recently created a task force on flood insurance and relocation in November last year to protect homeowners who are at high risk of flooding and have difficulty obtaining adequate insurance

Ensure your assets are protected

Given the current market conditions, it is critical that your condo or strata corporation is adequately covered in the event of a total loss.  We have seen cases where properties have been underinsured, exposing themselves to unnecessary financial risk and liability.

 

At the same time, we have seen properties carrying excessive replacement costs and, as a result, paying too much for insurance.  Having an insurance appraisal done by experts trained in local construction costs ensures that you not only have sufficient coverage for your property, but that your premiums are accurate and in line with the market. 

Normac’s Annual BBQ – The Big Meet!

In August, the Normac team celebrated our Fiscal Year End with our annual Team BBQ! Continue reading to learn more about Normac’s dynamic company culture and exciting social events! 

Social Events at Normac

Normac is committed to cultivating an inclusive and fun company culture for everyone that works for us. Our team members are the heart and soul of our company, and we take pride in the monthly Social Events arranged by our Social Committee!  

 

The Normac Social Committee is a volunteer group of Normac team members who organize all of our Social EventsDuring the pandemic, we had the challenging task of organizing all virtual events for our team. Howeverthe transition was well received by our tight-knit team and these virtual events soon became something everyone looked forward to at the end of the week. The virtual games and events we organized ranged from Pictionary and Catch Phrase, to virtual Escape Rooms and Office Olympics! Now, as vaccination rates are on the rise and businesses start to re-open, we are excited to start organizing more in-person events for our team as provincial health direction allows.

  

Blue vs Green! The competitive spirit of our team members was in full swing during our Kickball game
The 2021 Normac BBQ

In August, as provincial health directives allowed, we were lucky enough to be able to throw an in-person, outdoor BBQ for our team! This was the first in-person social event that our team was able to organize in over a year.

 

Additionally, as we acquired Reliance Asset Consulting from Calgary back in June, this was the first time many of our team members met those who we now call the “Normac Calgary Team.” This was a much needed ice-breaker with the new team members, and the day was filled with laughter and great conversation. 

 

In order to ensure an extra level of safety, we ordered delicious individual takeout meals for each team member from Tacofino, enjoyed good music and games, and capped off the day with a game of Kickball. Our team is quite the competitive bunch, and this game was no exception! At the end of a tight game, the Blue team prevailed with a score of 13 points, to the Green team’s 10. Way to go, everyone! 

Hit me with your best shot!

Normac fosters an inclusive work environment that takes pride in incentivizing our team to always be the best they can be! We know the modern-day worker appreciates a flexible work-life balance, and we take that into account. With our in-office beer fridge, dogfriendly office, and monthly Social Events, we make working for Normac an enjoyable experience for everyone. 

The Normac Team

 

Interested in working for Normac? We’re hiring! Apply today for our Vancouver Office – Client Services Administrator position by emailing communications@normac.ca with your resume and cover letter. 

What to Expect Before and During a Normac Site Inspection

Know what to expect long before one of our friendly appraisers comes knocking at your door. While every inspection with Normac is different (because each property we appraise is unique), we’ve done our best to keep our site inspections to a relatively predictable sequence for your convenience and peace of mind. 

Normac to Resume Interior Site-Inspections as of August 1, 2021

All of Normac’s initial appraisal programs include an exterior and interior site inspectionThat is, until COVID-19 hit, and we had to adapt our processes several times to protect the safety and well-being of our team members and clients. 

 

At the beginning of the pandemic, we carried out exterior appraisal inspections without meeting a site contact in person. Information about the interior of the suites and common areas of the buildings were still reliably obtained through a combination of a questionnaire completed by the site contact, credible online sources, and via telephone consultation with one of our appraisersBy July of last year, we carefully went ahead with resuming interior common area site inspections on a voluntary basis, while still halting in-suite inspections. 

 

Effective August 1, 2021, Normac will resume full interior site inspections for all properties in your province. The requirement for Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) during a site inspection is pursuant to current provincial health direction in your region at the time of inspection. For residential interior in-suite inspections, our appraisers will continue to wear masks. If site contacts accompany or interact with an appraiser during an interior in-suite inspection, they are asked to maintain a two-meter physical distance from our appraisers and wear a non-medical mask or facial covering at all times. If you prefer NOT to have an interior in-suite site inspection completed, please advise us immediately.

 

Effective August 1, 2021, Normac will resume full interior site inspections for all properties in your province.
Scheduling a Site Inspection

A series of steps precede a Normac appraisal inspection:

1. Review and sign off on your Normac appraisal proposal. Ensure that you indicate who your site contact is and how to get in touch with them, what your Current Insurable Value is, and whether you have a copy of your property’s architectural blueprints. If this is your first time requesting an insurance appraisal from Normacyou may find this video tutorial useful. 

 

2. Once we receive all supporting documentation, one of our client services administrators will reach out to your site contact to schedule a site inspection. The site contact will need to be available during business hours on a weekday. Our scheduling coordinators will ensure the time slot chosen is approved by your site contact prior to our appraisers visiting the site.

 

3. The assigned appraiser will review the blueprints and necessary property information, familiarizing themselves with your property prior to the scheduled site inspection. 

Meeting Your Appraiser

On the day of the site inspection, a Normac appraiser will meet your site contact at the designated time and place. The site contact will need to give the appraiser access to an interior suite and common areas. Pro-tip: If ever in doubt, look for someone in a Normac-branded shirt wearing a face mask. 

From here, you can expect the appraiser to take photographs of the property. If blueprints were not available to review prior to the inspection, the appraiser will spend some time taking manual measurements of the building(s). The appraiser will also have a tablet in hand to take inventory of the construction build and identify any special features. 

 

To understand what our appraisers will be looking for during an inspection, it helps to understand how we determine Total Insurable Value (TIV). Assets included in our appraisal that are used to calculate TIV consist of structures, hard & soft landscaping, building code & municipal bylaw review, and demolition and removal costs. 

The list of structures is not exhaustive and slightly varies by province. To give a general idea, our appraisals include all costs associated with replacement of: foundations, exterior framing, interior finishes, floor structure, roof structure, balconies, decks, fire protection equipment, and elevators among others. Structures do not include costs for furniture, contents & equipment. Individual tenant improvements (i.e. custom counters and display areas, extra wall partitioning, vaults, custom electrical work) will also not be included, unless otherwise stated. 

Balconies and decks are an example of assets we include in our appraisal.

Hard & soft landscaping includes all costs associated with replacement of paving, curbs, sidewalks, handicap ramps, trees, lawns, shrubs, and hedges among others. Building Code and Municipal Bylaw review refers to the estimated additional cost necessary in the event of a replacement, to bring the subject structures up to the current local Building Code and Municipal bylaw with respect to parking spaces, fire protection, and handicapped access. The national building code sets the bare minimum requirements; however, additional requirements vary by each province and municipality. Costs for demolition and removal are also added to this section. 

Taking all this into consideration, a site inspection takes approximately 45 minutes to complete, but may take longer depending on the building, and if it needs to be manually measured. 

Look Out for Any Follow-Up Emails

After the inspection is completed, the appraiser will have enough information to complete your Replacement Cost Report, which will be delivered approximately 4-6 weeks from your inspection date. To avoid further delays, look out for any follow-up emails from our appraisal team in case any additional information is required to finalize the report.  

Trend Watch: Big Booms, Small Cities

Following a record-breaking 2020, the Canadian real estate market continues its upswing as sales activity remain exceptionally strong. In March of this year, Canada had hit an all-time high with over 76,000 transactions, with an average selling price of $716,828. Home sales have modestly declined since then, but activity remains high nonetheless. At the same time, the total investment in building construction across Canada continues to rise. The latest data released from Statistics Canada shows a month-to-month increase of 6.3% to $19.9 billion in April.

The boom is not only present in major cities in Canada but can also be seen in smaller markets as well. With remote work continuing to be the norm, and developers extending to smaller markets, we are seeing real estate activity heating up in smaller Canadian communities.

The Kelowna Real Estate Gold Rush

In the past several years, the Kelowna market has been seeing a boom in residential and commercial developments. The pandemic has added to the surge, setting record highs and institutional investors have been putting large but rather safe bets into Kelowna. In June, we have seen a year-over-year increase in condo sales of +113% with a +30% increase in the average price sold.

 

Marshall McAnerney, principal and co-founder of HM Commercial Group, has been actively involved in the majority of land and development deals in Kelowna. The company has listed a $20 million downtown site that spans four-acres, and currently has 15 high-rise deals under way. “When we get a development piece of land, we get six to ten offers on it within a week, because there isn’t any more land to develop,” Mr. McAnerny says. “All the big REITs out of Ontario are buying it up.” The low interest rate, coupled with the pent-up demand from major markets across Canada, has contributed to the upward pressure in prices for premium land in Kelowna.

 

Vancouver-based real estate investment company Nicola Wealth has also recently entered the booming Kelowna market. Alex Messina, director of Acquisitions for Nicola Wealth Real Estate said, “I would say Kelowna has become a very prominent secondary market in B.C. and is on the trajectory of becoming a major market in Canada.” Partnering with Mission group, Nicola Wealth is on the final stages of the Bernard Block – a massive mixed-use development in the heart of Kelowna’s downtown core. The company is on track to add another $1 billion in property assets to its already existing $5 billion portfolio that spans across North America.

 

This growth comes with its downside, and renters are bearing the consequences of the price hikes. Landlords are capitalizing on the spike in home prices and are listing their properties for sale, driving renters back into the now-expensive rental market. In 2016, the average home price was $650,000, and has since gone up 27% to $830,000 in 2021. Despite escalating home prices, there are fewer homes available on the market, which adds the possibility of fierce bidding wars that can create more upward pressure.

Heated Activity in the Nova Scotia Real Estate Market

Nova Scotia has also been subject to the nation-wide real estate boom amid historically low interest rates and evolving consumer trends. According to the Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA), the number of homes sold through the MLS totalled 1,411 units in June, riding a YTD increase of 53.5% and the average home price has gone up to $358,291, up 30.3% YTD. Areas leading the record-high activity include Halifax-Dartmouth, Annapolis Valley, and Northern Nova Scotia, to name a few.

Halifax-Dartmouth, which is home to nearly 100,000 Canadians, had the most residential sales activity in June with 729 residential sales, with home prices averaging up to $468,790. In fact, Nova Scotia reports some of the highest price gains in all of Canada, with home sales 57.2% above the five-year average and 73.4% above the ten-year average in April of this year. Also in April, residential sales had gone up 159.5% year-over-year with 1,731 units sold – the highest ever recorded in the province’s history.

There is, however, good news – particularly for renters – as the federal and provincial governments are allocating $7 million for affordable housing projects across Nova Scotia to combat skyrocketing prices. The Affordable Housing Association of Nova Scotia will receive $1.7 million to build 25 units in Dartmouth, and the private sector will be undertaking a $650,000 conversion of the former Yarmouth High School into a 54-unit mixed rental building. Yarmouth MLA Zach Churchill said, “We know that more affordable housing units are needed in this area and this investment will ensure that more of our residents will have access to brand new apartments that they can afford.” The provincial and federal governments plans to invest $513 million in the next 10 years on affordable housing projects and programs.

 

Protect Your Assets

If you are buying into the Canadian condo market, it is imperative that you adequately insure your asset. In fact, most provincial condominium bylaws mandate that all condominiums are insured to their total replacement cost value. 

 

The only way to determine accurate replacement cost is by obtaining an insurance appraisal by a professional 3rd party firm, like Normac. Doing so means you will always be sufficiently insured in the case of a total loss, that you can receive better terms and insurance rates, and that you fulfill your fiduciary duty set by your provincial condominium bylaws. 

Watch: Normac Reliance’s SIUD Presentation

On Tuesday, June 22, Normac’s Calgary team hosted a Zoom webinar on the topic of Standard Insurable Unit Descriptions (SIUDs), featuring guest presenters: 


Watch the recording below:

In case you missed it, as of June 16, 2021 Normac has acquired Reliance Asset Consulting. Read more about this here

Normac Acquires Reliance Asset Consulting

Normac Acquires Reliance Asset Consulting
Normac Acquires Reliance Asset Consulting

June 16, 2021 – Normac Appraisals Ltd. (“Normac”) is pleased to announce that it has acquired Calgary-based Reliance Asset Consulting (“Reliance”). With a shared commitment to providing industry-leading replacement cost appraisals, Reliance will now be operating under the leadership of Normac. Normac will be acquiring Reliance and its insurance appraisal portfolio and operations; the reserve fund study portfolio will be taken over by Dan Jablonski at ICB Solutions Inc. who will continue to operate as Reliance Asset Consulting.

 

This coming together of two highly respected appraisal companies will further the common mission of providing clients peace of mind with superior insurance appraisal reports and unrivaled customer service. It also ensures that Normac is well positioned to pursue expanded growth opportunities and accelerate its investment in innovation and efficiencies. As the two largest specialized replacement cost appraisal firms in Canada, the unified company will continue to be guided by its dedication to its clients, the communities it serves, and the industry as a whole.

     

“Normac’s union with Reliance will strengthen our ability to deliver exceptional customer service and market leading replacement cost reports,” stated Cameron Carter, Normac’s President. “Combining our dominant positions in our respective markets will make us a powerful force in the insurance appraisal industry as we continue to grow across Canada and North America.”

 

Harold Weidman, President of Reliance, added, “Normac shares the same set of values that have always underpinned what we do at Reliance. Our long-standing tradition of deep technical expertise, unmatched service and solutions, and industry support and education will continue.”

 

Normac’s head office will remain in Vancouver. The combination of these two industry leading companies will ensure that clients in all markets continue to receive best-in-class reports with outstanding customer experience at the forefront of every interaction.

 

June 16, 2021 – Normac Appraisals Ltd. (“Normac”) is pleased to announce that it has acquired Calgary-based Reliance Asset Consulting (“Reliance”). With a shared commitment to providing industry-leading replacement cost appraisals, Reliance will now be operating under the leadership of Normac. Normac will be acquiring Reliance and its insurance appraisal portfolio and operations; the reserve fund study portfolio will be taken over by Dan Jablonski at ICB Solutions Inc. who will continue to operate as Reliance Asset Consulting.


This coming together of two highly respected appraisal companies will further the common mission of providing clients peace of mind with superior insurance appraisal reports and unrivaled customer service. It also ensures that Normac is well positioned to pursue expanded growth opportunities and accelerate its investment in innovation and efficiencies. As the two largest specialized replacement cost appraisal firms in Canada, the unified company will continue to be guided by its dedication to its clients, the communities it serves, and the industry as a whole.

     

“Normac’s union with Reliance will strengthen our ability to deliver exceptional customer service and market leading replacement cost reports,” stated Cameron Carter, Normac’s President. “Combining our dominant positions in our respective markets will make us a powerful force in the insurance appraisal industry as we continue to grow across Canada and North America.”


Harold Weidman, President of Reliance, added, “Normac shares the same set of values that have always underpinned what we do at Reliance. Our long-standing tradition of deep technical expertise, unmatched service and solutions, and industry support and education will continue.”


Normac’s head office will remain in Vancouver. The combination of these two industry leading companies will ensure that clients in all markets continue to receive best-in-class reports with outstanding customer experience at the forefront of every interaction.

“Combining our dominant positions in our respective markets will make us a powerful force in the insurance appraisal industry." - Cam Carter, Normac President
"Combining our dominant positions in our respective markets will make us a powerful force in the insurance appraisal industry."

- Cam Carter, Normac President

4 Things to Watch Out for When Selecting an Appraiser

Over the years, we have seen time and time again, firms attempt to enter the insurance appraisal industry and exit it just as quickly. Whether they are just starting up or trying to add bundled services to their portfolio, it becomes quickly apparent that they lack the experience and knowledge to produce reliable and comprehensive replacement cost appraisals. 


An insurance appraisal is a specialized report used to protect your biggest and most expensive asset. In order to mitigate risk and maximize cost savings, it is vital to choose an appraiser carefully. Here are four things to watch out for when selecting an appraiser.

1. Experience

Determining replacement cost value requires more than a basic understanding of material costs. An experienced insurance appraiser also has in-depth knowledge of construction costs and trends, current building codes and municipal bylaws, demolition and removal costs, and hard and soft costs. Additionally, a thorough understanding of condo and strata law and provincial acts is important when considering the inclusions and exclusions of an appraisal. All of these factors must be taken into account; appraisers lacking in experience and knowledge can expose owners to unnecessary risk.   


Normac’s team of accredited appraisers bring together more than 175 years of combined experience that make us experts in this field. We have completed more than 80,000 appraisal reports across the country and appraised all varieties of property types. With our finger on the pulse of the construction and insurance industries, you can rest assured that your assets are always protected.  

2. Specialization

The most reliable insurance appraisers are ones who specialize in this type of valuation. An insurance appraisal requires a specific valuation method called the Cost Approach. Other valuation methods such as the Income and Direct Comparison Approaches are used strictly to determine market value appraisals; these methods consider land value or the potential income a property is capable of producing. To achieve an accurate replacement cost value, it is critical not to confuse the Cost Approach with any other as this can lead to significant inaccuracies.  

 

Normac specializes in insurance appraisals – it is the only type of appraisal that we do. This specialization eliminates opportunities for errorsshortens turnaround time, and increases accuracy. The result is a justifiable replacement cost that ensures your property is neither over or underinsured.  

3. Costing Sources

There are many different sources which can be used to calculate replacement costs. However, knowing which of these to use and how to properly apply the multipliers is the only way to achieve an accurate valuation for each unique property. Be wary of firms who use USA based cost guides such as RS Means or CoreLogic as their method to determine costs.  We have found these costs guides to be inaccurate as they do not consider Canadian or regional nuances.  

 

Normac has its own proprietary costing database that has aggregate data from our 23 years of business and more than $800B in replacement costs appraised. In addition, we refer to local cost guides and actual construction projects and data from Canadian architects and builders. When compared to the USA cost guides, our costing provides a more accurate depiction of costs, specific to the communities we serve. 

4. Accountability

Aside from experience, specialization, and appropriate cost sources, it is equally important to consider accountability. Do your emails get answered promptly? Are your reports delivered on time? Will the company be around in years two and three of your program? How do they respond when there is an issue? Moreover, some appraisers are unable to stand behind their reports and expressly deny any right to any claim which may arise out of the report’s use.  Be sure to take the time and closely review the fine print in their assumptions and limitations. 

 

Our clients have come to rely on us because of our established quality of service. Normac has been around for a long time; we have built trust and familiarity with our clients. Our dedicated client services team is always here to pick up the phone, answer your questions, and provide solutions. We have also invested in technologies to improve our workflow; these refined systems mean we have the ability to accommodate custom, complex, and urgent requests. We consistently strive to deliver the superior experience that our clients have come to expect.

At Normac, we believe that if you are going to do something, you better do it right. There is added value that comes with experience, specialization, custom costing, and accountability. Thanks to all of these things, we can offer our clients cost savings without ever compromising on the quality of our reports or integrity of our service. In the end, we do what we say we are going to do. And we plan to continue doing it for a long time.  

Watch: Supply Shortfall Webinar (CCI Golden Horseshoe)

Earlier this week, the Golden Horseshoe Chapter of the Canadian Condominium Institute hosted a webinar on the topic of supply shortfalls due to COVID. The webinar focused on the current construction labour and materials shortage that the condo industry has been facing. Our very own President and founder of Normac, Cameron Carter, was one of the panelists alongside John Macleod (President, Key Property Management & Consultants) and Sally-Anne Dooman (Director of Condominium Management, Wilson Blanchard Management).

The structure of the presentation was as follows:

  1. What is the material/labour supply crunch we are facing at the moment, featuring real-world examples, presented by John Macleod.
  2. Why has there been a supply shortfall, including the technicality behind the surge in building materials and the shortage in labour, presented by Cameron Carter
  3. How can property managers and boards respond to the supply shortfall, along with best practices on managing the corporation’s budget and future projects, presented by Sally-Anne Dooman.

Thank you to the panel of professionals for sharing their insights!

Watch the Webinar Below