Perspectives: Is A Custom Home The Right Choice?

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Perspectives: Is A Custom Home The Right Choice?

It’s becoming a more popular option, just be sure you know what you’re getting into

Many people have been asking what to do with their homes given how volatile the Toronto housing market has been for the last number of years. Most are opting to just stay in a home that no longer works the way they want rather than risk moving somewhere else. However, just because you decide that it’s better to stay put than to jump into the ever-fluctuating market, you don’t need to stay in a house that isn’t for you.

I’m going to explain some of the different options you have available to you that will allow you to stay in the house and neighbourhood you’re comfortable with that includes all amenities you’ve grown to know and love, without sacrificing the home that you truly wish you lived in.

Recently, I have noticed many new “smaller owned” custom homebuilders pop up in and around the city, paving the way for homeowners to make their dreams come true.

I’ve spoken to a number of people who chose to stay put and build rather than move and I’d like to share a few of those experiences with you. There are two things to keep in mind before you start:

  • A custom home renovation can truly be a blank slate. If you have specific ideas in mind, they can always be realized. If you are more comfortable leaving things in the hands of professionals that can be an option, too. If, however, you are really risk averse, the best option might be to consider buying an existing home.
  • Always make sure you find a reputable custom homebuilder who can take you through the entire building process from the initial draft to the final stages.

My first story comes from a woman who loved her neighbourhood and simply wanted to upgrade the home she already lived in. The builder allowed her to help in the design phase so the house would be exactly what she wanted. She lived in the home for the first six months during demolition and then had to move to a rented space while the project was completed.

It’s important to factor these potential costs in when beginning a project. Also, if you’re going to take a handson approach, be prepared to take time off work to help pick out flooring, tiles, paint, etc. so timelines stay intact. In the end, the woman fell in love with the addition and says that she would try and better prepare herself for any added stresses if she were to do it again.

My second story comes from a very hands-off homeowner. He met with an architect and they agreed on a budget and a style. The owner and his family moved out for two years while the house was rebuilt using designs, styles and innovations adopted by the architect. When construction was complete, the owner was thrilled with the results and had no stress issues.

While these are just two people’s experiences, hopefully you can learn a thing or two from them and apply them to your own views. Plus, before you start making any major changes to your living situation, here is a list of eight key things to consider first:

  • Know what you are getting into.
  • Hire the right people.
  • A designer is a must; knowing how much furniture and the placement early in the design phase is key.
  • Plan, plan and plan some more. Communicate everything and never assume.
  • Things look worse before they look better.
  • Mistakes will happen; have a backup plan.
  • Get to know your trades, they are on your team.
  • Listen to the professionals but know when to trust your gut.

If you think this list is manageable, maybe a custom home is the right choice for you. Just remember that the right team will make all the difference as to whether your custom home experience is a dream come true or a renovation nightmare. When you do select a builder and architect, make sure to ask for references, see examples of previous work and do a little bit of research online to make sure that there are no major red flags. When you follow these tips, you dramatically increase your chances of creating the home you’ve always wanted.

Vanessa Bellemare is the vice president, sales and marketing, of International Home Marketing Group (IHMG), a fully integrated sales manage and marketing company.



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