Incorporating new technology in today’s designs

Homebuilder John Wilkinson will not compromise sound construction practices or his word, even when he is dealing with a new construction system or technology.

As president of Rockport Construction Services, Wilkinson has enjoyed a nine-year successful relationship with Toronto builder-developer Jack Winberg of The Rockport Group. Wilkinson’s forte is construction management which, together with thorough pre-construction planning and budget preparation, is akey to Rockport’s customer commitment: to avoid or minimize surprises by careful planning and attention to detail.

“A good builder will make the right choices, even when he knows there is an easier, cheaper and faster way,” says Wilkinson. “At Rockport, we have never put bottom-line considerations ahead of the promised quality of construction. The finished product is very important to us, and we are always on the lookout for a new way to build better and more efficiently.”

Among its many projects, Rockport’s “On Bogart Pond” multi-family residential community project in Newmarket, Ontario is a good example of the company’s ability to embrace new technology in constructing a better building. Wilkinson points to the use of light-gauge steel and the Baxi Luna wall-hung boiler as two new Rockport construction systems used in building the 132-unit, five-storey Reflections on Bogart Pond retirement condominium apartments project, located 40 kilometers north of Toronto.

“Light-gauge steel has been used as a structural system in residential construction for the past five to 10 years. We combined light-gauge steel walls with a composite metal deck and concrete floor configuration,” says Wilkinson.

“We also maximized the space and enhanced the energy efficiency for each of the 132 units by installing the Baxi Luna wall-hung boiler,” he adds. Each apartment has a Baxi Luna and air handler discreetly housed in six-square-foot closet space. Individual unit temperature controls means a homeowner only pays for energy use when they are in the unit.

“Many seniors who live here prefer to spend winter months in warmer climates. Before leaving, they can turn their heating system right down, eliminating costs associated with winter heating,” says Wilkinson. “By contrast, in a condominium with a central heating system that does not meter individual fuel unit use you end up paying for someone else’s use of the system, even if you aren’t there. The ability to control their own gas and electrical meters was a big benefits to purchasers of Reflections units.”

Wilkinson says the structural system and the heating system are key upfront pre-construction design considerations on any project. “During the design stage of construction, I highly recommend that builders get a mock-up of a Baxi Luna wall-hung boiler closet installation,” says Wilkinson. “It can free up premium living space, and eliminate mechanical room and bulkhead space needed by other heating systems.”

Wilkinson is a hands-on builder who is personally involved in all of the details of construction. From design stage, pricing through systems alterations and finishing touches, he is always looking for ways to get the most efficient project.

“By the time we have completed a simplified working plan, we are confident that each and every building component is consistent with the conventions in the marketplace,” notes Wilkinson. “We only deal with people we know will do the job well, and trades people respect the fact that we know our plans initimately and we expect them to do the same.”

Rockport Construction Services manages residential and commercial developments by The Rockport Group, as well as other quality builders and developers. For instance, the construction management specialist has developed a strong relationship with C.D. Jarvis Inc, recently completing the Massey Estates in Toronto – early and under budget, using the Baxi Luna as the heating systen for each of the 47 units.

John Wilkinson takes pride in his firm’s stringent process controls, which ensure they can avoid a list of extras on its projects. He has a core staff of three project managers, three superintendents and one stimator. He is also grateful that his enterprise has a track record for retaining quality trades people, and attracting and developing top young talent.

For the Reflections project, John enticed his son Jeff to assume project management duties, fresh out of university with a 5-year co-op civil engineering degree earned at The University of Waterloo. With the successful Reflections experience under his hat and a taste for managing a leading-edge project, Jeff will pursue a master of construction management at the University of Griffiths in Australia, right after the completion of the Reflections project this summer.

“We got to know and understand the heating system better through the Reflections project, but our family is no stranger to the Baxi Luna wall-hung boiler,” says John Wilkinson. “The Baxi Luna was the perfect heating solution for the 1500-squarefoot family home I built on Toronto Island seven years ago.”

Faced with a by-law restricting the size of residential properties on Toronto Island, Wilkinson’s construction team, and notably the project’s architect and mechanical contractor, selected the small, compact Baxi Luna as a way to maximize space and minimize energy costs.

“We installed the Baxi Luna in a little closet in the basement, and connected it to the in-floor radiant heating system in the finished basement, and then installed a fan coil in both the main floor and the top floor,” notes Wilkinson. “Our heating costs are much lower than energy bills of most people we know who have similar-sized properties.

“The Baxi Luna is the perfect solution to a small house, allowing a homeowner to reclaim space that is otherwise wasted on space heaters, furnaces, stand-alone water tanks and bulkheads for venting,” says Wilkinson. “You can put the Baxi Luna anywhere, because it is so compact and so quiet.”

For more information of Baxi Luna wall-hung boilers, visit