Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Custom Homes at Package Prices

“I wanted a custom home, but I did not want to pay a huge custom price,” explains Rob Myhre, proud owner of this beautiful new river front home, near Lake Erie, Ontario. “I had a friend purchase a building through Ted Costen at the J & K Home Building Centre in Brantford and he thought it went well, and he saved a lot of money. Personally, my biggest concern was quality. I wanted it done right. I thought: let’s just check out these packages”

So Rob did. Ted remembers the project well: “I had done a house in St. George for a customer and Rob knew the owner. He mentioned that I was able to massage the plan and the budget to suit them. So Rob came to see me.” It was an unusual project in more ways than one, “The house was going on a sloping river front property,” explains Ted. “It needed some engineering, huge pilings, and there were a lot of costs associated with this. Rob needed to make the house cost-effective, and that’s something that I really like doing.”

Rob and his family also had very specific criteria for any new home they chose to build: “Main floor, one story, ravine walkout, near the water and more a California style,” he lists off. “And we wanted three-bedroom, a big master and a big party area.” Above all, “We wanted a quality home. We didn't want formal living or dining, all we wanted was a large great room. A two-person home built around entertaining, for family and friends coming over,” he remembers.

The lot, though perfect and to their specifications, required the services of an engineer in order to build. “I’m on the south side of Black Creek, and that side is totally ravine,” says Rob. “I would say that my property is in the middle of the ravine, probably about 140 feet from the water right up to the top, and it’s quite a slope.” Though it was what they wanted, the site posed some unique challenges: “Because of the proximity to the water, the City made us do tests in order to determine the stability of the soil, to see if we could put a foundation on it. The closer that we got to the water, the deeper the foundation had to go.” The dimensions of the pie-shaped property also created additional issues, “With everything being so tight, we not only had to get a huge backhoe in there to excavate,” Rob explains, laughing, “We had to be able to backfill!”

Foundation and engineering challenges overcome (and apparently worth every penny) Rob and his wife had settled on Home’s Silver Maple model with some custom modifications. “I wanted just a single level with a walk out,” he explains. “We liked the outside [of the Silver Maple], and then we found an interior that we liked and had Ted work on that.”

“I love the creation of the interior plan,” says Ted “The creating is the high point of working with the customer. When all that happens and they finish happy, I’m really happy.” The home included many changes and upgrades, among them a high-end front door. “We put a lot of windows on the back and that just lightened it right up,” he continues. “It has 10-foot ceilings in the basement and we put steel beams in so we didn't have a bunch of posts in the way.”

Though he’s been helping people build their dream homes with Home Hardware’s Package Sales program for 30 years (“I have over 400 of them between Durham and Tobermory!”) Ted clearly views Rob’s project as one of his most memorable, “It’s amazing, for a 1500 square foot home,” he says. “It’s almost trickery, because it’s really enormous. It shows really well for a house that’s not a monster. We massaged the plans to suit them so that the only thing that was about the same was the doorknob on the front door. The front yard is very small, so he doesn't have a lot of maintenance, they have a gourmet kitchen, they can go out the back of their house and get right on their yacht and go out into the harbour... They didn't cut a corner anywhere.”

Ted’s services did not stop with the sale. He handled the many revisions to the building plans, the permit processes and assisted Rob in co-ordinating with and getting quotes from tradespeople. Because of Home’s unique “on time delivery” program, materials for package homes are delivered to the building site on an as-needed basis, eliminating delays and reducing the damage done by the elements as well as limiting “shrinkage” from jobsite theft.

As far as the timing went, everyone seems pleased with the outcome. “I've heard of people going two years building a new house,” says Rob. “We started July 7th and we finished May of the following year. I felt really good about that.” Though he admits that there were the occasional stresses and strains, given the unusual location he was really happy to have it done in that period of time. “Would I do it again?” he asks, pausing for thought. “I think so!”

Because the lot was so unique, and because Rob’s list of must-haves was so specific, in the end this truly was a custom home, but without the custom price tag. Because of Ted’s experience he figures that, “By the time Rob and his wife were done, and even with all the upgrades, it was still about $40,000 cheaper than the other nearest quote. He was a happy guy. What I’m waiting for now is for them to give me a referral,” he says, laughing.