Three win special achievement awards from the Greater Ottawa Home Builders’ Association

Three veterans of Ottawa’s housing industry have been honoured with special achievement awards from the Greater Ottawa Home Builders’ Association (GOHBA). The awards were presented during the association’s annual general meeting March 10, where the leaders of the national and provincial builders’ associations also spoke to a cross-section of the local housing industry.

The three awards, all recognizing long-term contributions to the association and the local housing industry, have traditionally been presented at the association’s Housing Design Awards gala in the fall but have been moved to the annual general meeting to give greater recognition to the recipients.

Pierre Dufresne: Peer recognition & the Official Plan

Special Achievement Awards from the Greater Ottawa Home Builders’ Association


Pierre Dufresne, right, winner of the Colonel Boss Award, with GOHBA president Roy Nandram.

Pierre Dufresne, vice-president of land development at Tartan Homes, won the Colonel Boss Award, named for the association’s first executive officer. Winning the award is “huge,” said Dufresne after the event. “I love this industry… It’s very special to be recognized by my peers in such a way.”

Dufresne, who has served as president of both GOHBA and the Ontario Home Builders’ Association, noted that he also won the Colonel Boss Award in 1997. “Makes me think maybe I’ve been doing this far too long,” he joked.


He also referenced the current review of the City of Ottawa’s Official Plan. A refreshed plan, which governs everything from land use to infrastructure, is expected in 2021 and will set the tone for the city’s development for 20 years or more.

While residents don’t normally find the plan an exhilarating topic, Dufresne said the home buying community should be aware of the extent that municipal policy has on housing supply, choice and pricing.

For instance, attempting to control urban sprawl by strictly limiting the expansion of the urban boundary in favour of densification reduces the opportunity to own a single-family or similar home within city limits. Buyers are therefore increasingly faced with either purchasing a condo — “If you have three kids, you don’t want to live in 700 square feet,” says Dufresne — or looking at homes in outlying areas, and “that will lead to true urban sprawl.”


Limited access to more land also drives up the price of that land and, in turn, the cost of homes, he explained. Millennials wishing to buy a home are especially affected by skyrocketing prices. “The number one concern is the price of housing and the ability for the community to enter into the market.”

Amsted Design-Build: Legacy & community


Special Achievement Awards from the Greater Ottawa Home Builders’ Association


Amsted Design-Build, winners of the Fred Nielsen Award, with GOHBA president Roy Nandram, right.

Amsted Design-Build was presented with the Fred Nielsen Award, named for one of the association’s former leaders.

The renovation and custom-build company has won numerous awards over its 31-year-history, including being named 2019 renovator of the year by both GOHBA and the provincial builders’ association. Company founder and president Steve Barkhouse, like his father, Fred Barkhouse, has served as president of GOHBA.


Receiving the Fred Nielsen Award was especially sweet for Barkhouse because “It’s not about any individual project or any individual person. It’s about the entire team… I’m just super proud of that. My dad’s proud of that. It’s our legacy. And to be recognized for our efforts — holy cow!”

Asked what he most likes about Ottawa’s housing industry, Barkhouse joked, “Every year the houses get a year older, and I’m in the renovation business!”

More seriously, he said that Ottawa may be growing but that the housing industry is still composed of community-minded people. “It’s just good people, decent people, and it’s fun to work with them. It’s just a fun industry to be in.”


Urbandale Construction: Knowing yourself & your customers


Special Achievement Awards from the Greater Ottawa Home Builders’ Association

Enbridge Hall of Famer winners Urbandale Construction, with GOHBA president Roy Nandram, left.


Urbandale Construction, an award-winning builder of energy-efficient homes across the city and beyond for the past four decades, took home the Enbridge Hall of Fame Award.

Urbandale was “honoured to be recognized,” said owner/president Richard Sachs after the event. Listening to customers and providing a quality product has been the company’s mantra, according to Sachs, who underscored Urbandale’s long history of building energy-efficient homes, starting with passive solar homes in the 1980s and now constructing both Energy Star and R-2000 homes.

Sachs also had sound advice for any business, especially as we head into darker economic times: “Define who you are and who your customer is… We’ve focused on customers who appreciate the difference in our homes.”


Prior to the presentation of the three awards, Stefanie Coleman, president of the Canadian Home Builders’ Association, spoke about the impact of the housing industry on the Canadian economy — the industry employs 1.2 million people — and the association’s successful efforts to influence housing affordability, including changes in mortgage regulations.

Special Achievement Awards from the Greater Ottawa Home Builders’ Association

Winners of the CHBA leadership awards, Shelley Beck and Serge Desjardins, with association president Stefanie Coleman, left, and GOHBA president Roy Nandram, right.


Coleman also presented CHBA’s association leadership awards to Shelley Beck of Postmedia and Serge Desjardins of Minto Communities.

Her provincial counterpart, Bob Schickedanz, president of the Ontario Home Builders’ Association, addressed the crucial need for more tradespeople as older ones retire and issues affecting housing affordability and warranties in the province.


Amsted Design-Build company highlights


Urbandale Construction company highlights

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About the Author

Patrick Langston

Patrick Langston is the co-founder of All Things Home Inc. and a veteran journalist. He has written widely about the Ottawa housing industry since 2008.



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