There were many “ah-ha!” moments for the Lagois Design-Build-Renovate team recently when they attended The Buildings Show in Toronto at the end of November. 

The show was a huge event filled with seminars, demonstrations, and the latest in new technologies in the building industry. It was yet another opportunity for these Lagois experts to expand and update their knowledge and skills.

Lagois Lead Designer Jeff Hurdis was most impressed with a seminar about Accessibility.

He said two things in particular struck a chord with him:

  • Twenty-two per cent of Canadians live with a disability ‒ only two to four per cent are in a wheelchair. But the building code is heavily designed around those in a wheelchair. While this is important, said Jeff, what else could be done for people with other challenges? 
  • Language is incredibly important. Jeff likes using the term "living in place" as opposed to "aging in place" because he feels it helps remove the stigma when dealing with younger clients. 

“To that point,” he said, “I’m considering making 34-inch-wide doors a standard in all our designs. Why not always design for any eventuality?” He added it’s much more cost-effective to do it now than to be forced to do it in the future.         

Sophie Villeneuve, Project Development Manager, said it was “great to network with our team members ‘off the clock’ while learning about new products.  

Like Jeff, Sophie took the Accessibility class, a subject always dear to her heart, and she agreed with Jeff: “It made me realize we should incorporate more accessibility features into people’s homes right from the start. Accessibility needs to become a standard. It makes a house adaptable and timeless.”

She explained further: “Life changes as you age, as your kids age, as your parents age. You can get injured, even temporarily. It makes sense to plan ahead of time when you can.”

Sophie also studied a class on passive houses. “My takeaway from this one was the importance of building a home as a system and aligning yourself with the right contractors and suppliers to get it done,” she said.  

Darren Vander Meer, Lagois Production Manager, attended a seminar on how to deliver passive house building cost effectively. He was struck by the fact that building standards are more technical and therefore critical for accomplishing a passive rating. This was of great interest to him because Lagois has recently achieved Ottawa's first Net Zero Ready renovation, with many more expected in the future. 

He said he was reminded of the importance of ensuring the team is aligned top to bottom with clear objectives. “From design through to construction and even use by the end user,” he said, “everyone's end goal has to be the same.” He called this “a great reinforcement” about applying Lagois systems and processes to new milestones and standards in the future.

Tom Felts, Lagois Site Supervisor, said the event was “a great time to learn and celebrate with the team” and along with his teammates offered his heartfelt thanks to President Jacob Kirst for giving them that opportunity.

He attended a seminar called “Managing Multiple Priorities, Projects, and Deadlines”.

He enjoyed the discussions of strategies that help with planning and decision making.

“The one that really hit home for me,” he said, “was the reminder that a clear mission will guide all project decisions.”

Gordon Shaw, also a Lagois Site Supervisor, appreciated all the time it took for Jacob and Lagois office manager Brenda Salmon to organize the team’s part in the event. He said it was the first one he had attended in Toronto, and he praised it for its excellence. 

Gordon liked the “Managing Multiple Priorities, Projects, and Deadlines” seminar, too, and said it was perfectly relevant and useful to him in his work. 

He added another aspect of the event was the fun of socializing with the team ‒ something not always possible when everyone is working so hard and focused on their tasks. He especially recalled Tom [Felts’s] stories. “He kept us all laughing for sure,” he said.

Lagois Architectural Technologist Ruby Rose thoroughly enjoyed the conference. She loved learning new things and having special unstructured time with her team members. 

Ruby said the vendors were interesting. She was enthralled by (“really geeking out on”) all the new products that can be used for better assemblies or that widen the possibilities of what can be built. She was pleased that the vendors had the ability to scan participants’ badges and send along relevant information. “So now I can do some research on exact specifications and availability,” she said.

Greg Fabris, Lagois Project Development Coordinator, found a great deal of good information. He liked the “Introduction to Project Management” seminar because it provided practical lessons that he will use firsthand. He was working on a summary of everything he learned at that seminar to share with the rest of the team.

Greg had a special reason for enjoying the show. “As the newest member of the team, only having been here less than a month at the time,” he said, “what stood out to me was how generous it was of the company to include me on the trip.” 

He said it “fostered a feeling of being included as part of the team as well as the sense of faith in me as a team member.”  He also appreciated the “bonding” opportunities when they had time to socialize. 

Rheanna Kollaard, Lagois Architectural Technologist, called the event “awesome and rewarding” just to have the whole team together. She said she learned a great deal.

“I enjoyed having plenty of time to walk among the vendors’ booths and being able to discover new and/or advancing products,” she said.

She attended a seminar about artificial intelligence being used as a design tool, and she thought it was fascinating. “It made me curious about its effects and seemingly endless possibilities. Keeping up with the evolution of technology is so important in this industry.”  

Lagois Lead Craftsman Jason Simons agreed with his teammates about all the opportunities to learn so much about advancements in the industry. 

But the best part for Jason? 

“Realizing what a great team we have,” he said.