Tuesday, January 20, 2015

A Custom Home in a Premium Package

Chris and Karen Brennan had been looking for months for a country property outside of Brantford, Ontario. They did not need a large home, just one big enough for them and their two cats with a shed for their boat. They had lived in a small bungalow in Brantford and were eager to relocate to the open space of the country.

They eventually found exactly the land that they were looking for; a three-acre, tree-lined property with a century-old farmhouse and shed in Brant County, Ontario. But closer examination of the house revealed "it was just too far gone," recalls Chris. They decided to have the house demolished and build from scratch. Thus, started their search for the perfect home.

Chris picked up a copy of the Beaver Home and Cottage Design book and found a floor plan for a package home that fit their desire for a home with country charm. "We wanted to live in the country and I wanted a country-looking home. The front porch is what attracted me," explains Karen Brennan on her appeal to the Fulmore model.

With a model from the Beaver Design Book in mind, the Brennan's met with Ted Costen, Home & Cottage Design Consultant at J & K Home Building Centre in Brantford to inquire about building a package home. The fact that Chris could be his own general contractor and oversee all the sub-trades but to also have Ted to guide him through the process, should he need it sealed the deal. As owner of a heating & air conditioning company in Brantford, Chris had been working in the residential and commercial construction business for 15 years and knew a lot of sub-trades. Karen recalls, "Chris really wanted to build his own house. With Ted's help, this was a way to do it ourselves."

The reasonable cost of the package home was also a factor for the Brennans on their decision to build. Chris also liked the security of knowing that the original quote would not change: "The price is locked in after the deposit. I was able to build in our budget." He recalled that the cost of plywood almost doubled during the construction process of his home but it did not affect his cost because the price had already been locked in.

Budget is one topic that Ted stresses during his first meeting with potential customers. "I preach about budgeting," says Ted. "Most of us build at the top end of our budgets so there are no room for surprises." One of the biggest advantages to building a package home is the guaranteed price. Ted continues, "You are given one price and that is the price. The price is frozen."

Chris and Karen were drawn to the home's covered veranda stretching the length of the front of the home. The interior was perfect in size for the two of them but they approached Ted about customizing the plan to better suit their needs. "Ted had some really good ideas. Whatever we wanted, he'd do," says Chris.

Ted sat down with Chris and Karen to listen to their ideas on what they wanted in a layout and then came up with suggestions. The Brennans did not need three bedrooms so the plan was altered to make two larger bedrooms. The living room and the kitchen were flipped from the original plan. A large picture window in the living room allows additional light and a great view of the couple's large backyard. Ted recommended vaulted ceilings and numerous pot lights to highlight the openness of the spacious kitchen, living room and dining room areas. The staircase to the basement was moved from the center of the house to the end of the hallway. A half bath and a 1 1/2 car garage were also an addition to the original plan. Four large symmetrical windows were added in the enlarged guest bedroom enhancing the front exterior. Two sidelight windows transform the front entrance. The Brennans also decided to brick the entire exterior of the home.

Acting as his own general contractor, Chris hired everyone from framers, drywallers, to plumbers, to bricklayers and was in charge of overseeing all of the sub-trades. He praised the scheduling and delivery of materials: "Materials were always on time."

While most customers hire their own general contractor, Ted tells his customers that if they decide to be the general contractor of a project he can be involved in every step of the building process. He says, "I see myself as a service man. They [the customer] need services and I'll help them get whatever they are looking for. They know that I will be there for them."

As a sub-contractor himself, Chris has seen a lot of variance in residential construction quality. One of the reasons he was so impressed with Home's material packages is the quality of blueprints and materials. "It is premium," says Chris of the quality of construction. He points out that package homes are built to meet or exceed the National Building Code of Canada. "When people hear a 'package home' they may think it is lesser of a home," continues Chris. "It is not a 'kit' home. It is really a custom home with a material package."

"There are things that make the difference between an ordinary house and an extraordinary house," adds Ted. "You want to build the standard for tomorrow, not for today."