Tag Archives: Alair Homes

Race cars & relaxation

A forever country home set amidst the idyllic Niagara escarpment is the perfect antidote to life in the fast lane

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A forever country home set amidst the idyllic Niagara escarpment is the perfect antidote to life in the fast lane

Photography by Candice Manastersky

With a need for speed, a professional race car driver and his family wanted to slow life down a little by investing in a custom home outside of Toronto. The goal was to escape the hustle and bustle that comes with living in a big city and create a forever country home, complete with all the modern amenities. As homebuilders, we wanted to infuse a cosy yet sophisticated modern vibe in an open-concept, two-storey home that’s both inviting and suitable for entertaining. Alair Homes worked with design firm Aspen & Ivy, and Custom CADD architects to help bring this family’s country dream home to life.

Landscaping permits protect the environment

The Niagara Escarpment Commission (NEC) does an incredible job of environmentally protecting the area, and that’s why it took over a year of planning to gain permission to break ground. Even a lighting plan had to be submitted, as the NEC has a dark sky initiative, which forbids any exterior light to pierce the sky. Many site meetings were held to obtain landscaping approvals, which included identifying all of the trees that couldn’t be cut down and generating a tree-replanting schedule. Once we sought out all the necessary approvals, the team started work on a home surrounded by natural beauty, while ensuring the land was protected during the construction process from start to finish.

Spectacular views

For a home located near the Niagara Escarpment, it was only natural for the design to revolve around the location’s stunning 360 views. We took advantage of the design’s high ceilings by installing large floor-to-ceiling windows that would allow natural light to flow throughout the home. Warm wood, natural stones and black hardware materials were combined to enrich the natural brightness. The family wanted to have an inviting open-concept floor plan because as much as it is a place to escape the city, it also needs to be a place that was perfect for hosting social gatherings for friends and family. With the sunlight-drenched dining room and the connecting Muskoka room taking in the vista that overlooks the Escarpment’s treetops – which is extremely scenic during any season – it’s truly a place to marvel at the natural beauty that surrounds the home.

Heart of the home

It’s all in the details – that was the was the designer’s approach when designing the great room. One of the most striking elements is the eye-catching 20-foot custom natural stone fireplace with an old barn beam mantle, handpicked by Alair Homes. We wanted to steer the focus towards this beautiful, charming feature, and of course, there’s nothing like hearing the sound of the fire crackling during the long winter months. To complement the fireplace, warm design elements were added to the great room: layers of whites, panelled walls, tongue-and-groove ceilings, and natural granite stone. The integrated living space expands into the spacious kitchen where the family can enjoy countless meals together in an inviting dining area. In the kitchen, every aspect is truly custom. From the shiplap ceiling, to subtle uses of colour, and white oak pocket doors, no detail was overlooked.

The oasis bathrooms

The bathrooms in this home are designed to be a retreat away from the busy household with the intent to inspire a space of well-being. The oasis incorporates beautiful materials like herringbone slate floors, porcelain tiles that mimic natural stone, and faucets in luxurious brushed gold and dramatic matte black that are paired with custom vanities and his-and-her sinks. We even added a dog shower for the family’s furry friends to maintain an organized and clutter-free home.

Wade Swyer has been building houses and cottages in Ontario for more than 28 years.

And in 2015, he joined Alair Homes by opening an office in Bradford, where his team provides high-quality modern renovations and custom-built homes.


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Successful renovation

At the crest of the busy renovation season, here is a guide to planning a successful one

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At the crest of the busy renovation season, here is a guide to planning a successful one

Photography: Courtesy of Alair Homes

Spring is a great time to turn your attention to begin that renovation you’ve been putting off. If you are planning an upgrade or renovation, you are in good company. Based on Statistics Canada’s Canadian Housing Survey (2018), over one million Canadian homes are in need of major repair.

Renovations and repairs may include a smaller job, like a bathroom refresh or finishing a basement, to meet changing life needs, or maybe it’s something more substantial. Regardless of the project, understanding the process and planning is a key factor in achieving the results you want.

Articulate your wish list

Your first step should be to develop a very clear vision of what is required. Take time to articulate what goals you want to achieve with your renovation and develop a clear description of what you want to change. Write down your priorities and items that you’d like to have if your budget allows. Make sure everyone in your home participates in the discussion so you have a complete picture of what is needed.

Pick a pro

Then it’s time to find a professional renovator that will guide you through the process. The good ones get booked up months in advance, so it is in your best interest to start this process early. You will be putting a lot of trust in this person, so look for a renovator that is a member of BILD’s RenoMark program. This means that they have committed to the RenoMark code of conduct and BILD’s code of ethics. To find a RenoMark renovator, visit the website.

For most people price is an important consideration when choosing a renovator, but it’s important to note that you often get what you pay for. Make sure to consider the renovator’s experience, construction schedule and references. You should verify that the renovator has the appropriate licences, WSIB coverage and insurance. Take the time to check three references to get a good understanding of how the company operates.

Outline budget & potential permits required

Once you have selected your professional renovator, he or she may bring in a designer or architect, and together you will work through your project outline and create plans and specifications. This will help determine the budget estimate and any building permits and approvals you will need. In some municipalities, obtaining building permits and approvals can take many weeks and even months. This is another reason to start the process early.

Get it in writing

When you are comfortable with the preliminary design, budget and timetable, you’re ready to draw up a written contract with your renovator. The contract sets out the precise scope of the work, the price, a schedule of payments, a reasonable timetable for completing the work, product-specific details and a warranty clause. The contract should be reviewed by a lawyer. A RenoMark renovator will provide a contract for all projects. Remember good contracts provide protection to both parties in the event of a dispute or problem.

For more information about the nuances of planning a renovation, BILD has recently compiled a new Reno Guide to assist homeowners through the process. The Reno Guide is published with the support of the City of Toronto Environment & Energy Division and can be found on the BetterHomesTo website.

Dave Wilkes is President and CEO of the Building Industry and Land Development Association (BILD), the voice of the home building, land development and professional renovation industry in the GTA.

For the latest industry news and new home data, follow BILD on Twitter, @bildgta, or visit bildgta.ca.


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Barrie, Ontario

Barrie – Gateway to cottage country open for business

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Barrie – Gateway to cottage country open for business

Barrie may be best known as the “gateway to cottage country,” but, borrowing from a recent initiative of a certain provincial politician, the city might just as well hang a sign out front saying “open for business.”

Indeed, the days of this city of 141,434 being little more than a popular tourist and getaway destination are long over.

Barrie is a thriving city in its own right. It has long moved on from a bedroom community for Toronto, about 100 kms south, to developing its own increasingly diversified economy, with a focus on education, healthcare, information technology and other sectors.

For example, Barrie recently hosted industry experts, executives, investors and entrepreneurs from across Ontario at the third annual Manufacturing Innovation Summit. Presented by the Business Development Bank of Canada, the event strives to help manufacturers maintain competitiveness and maximize productivity.

Creative economy

Further illustrating a focus on economic development, the City has partnered with Sandbox Centre to make regional resources for innovation and entrepreneurship more accessible to local businesses. Opened in April, Sandbox Centre is the first private sector-led innovation hub in Ontario.

“The rapid pace of change in business and in technologies means that companies are best positioned to succeed when they can learn and share from each other,” says Karen Dubeau, director of creative economy with the City. “Sandbox Centre provides a centralized hub for established businesses, aspiring innovators, and independent entrepreneurs to share expertise, energy and opportunities.”

Director of creative economy? Such a title and position speak volumes about Barrie’s forward-thinking leadership.

It is exactly these types of initiatives that make Barrie so appealing for real estate. Economic development means employment, jobs attract residents, and residents translate to housing demand.

The city’s ability to attract younger residents is influenced by its growing reputation as a place for families and young, active professionals. Recent GO Transit expansion has made it easier for professionals to live in Barrie, where it’s more affordable, and work in Toronto or somewhere along the way.

However, as a smaller centre, Barrie is sometimes subject to swings in the real estate market. Median home prices for the first quarter of 2019, at $505,795, were flat compared to the same period last year. Detached bungalows, however, grew 1.8 per cent, year-over-year.

While at first glance this might not seem like great news, but the slower price growth provides buying opportunities for Barrie’s resident profile – many of them young, first-time homebuyers.

Live, work and play

It’s not strictly business in Barrie, however. Tourism still plays an important role in the local economy, with the historic downtown and waterfront major attractions. The downtown area hosts numerous annual festivals and events such as The Barrie Waterfront Festival, Barrielicious, Winterfest, Jazz & Blues Festival, Promenade Days, and Ribfest and Craft Beer Show.

Barrie is also home to Kempenfest, one of the largest outdoor arts and crafts celebrations in Ontario.

During the winter months, people still flock to the area’s nearby hills – Horseshoe Resort, Mount St. Louis Moonstone, and a little further afoot, Blue Mountain.

Then, of course, there’s the hometown Barrie Colts of the Ontario Hockey League, who play out of the Barrie Molson Centre downtown.

Location, location, location

Located in Simcoe County in the northern part of the Greater Golden Horseshoe, about 100 kms north of Toronto, 36 km to Orillia; population 141,434.

Key landmarks

  • Barrie Molson Centre
  • Centennial Park & Beach
  • Georgian Theatre
  • Heritage Park
  • MacLaren Art Centre
  • Waterfront Heritage Trailb

Select housing developments

Ashton Meadows by Briarwood Development Group

• Birchwood Estates of Essa by Alair Homes

Bear Creek Ridge by Bradley Homes

• Birchwood Estates of Essa by Lilac Homes

• East Village Urban Towns by Cygnus Developments cygnusdevelopments.com

Forest Heights Estates by Democrat Homes

Professor’s Walk by Democrat Homes

Thornton Estates by First View Homes


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Top Honours for BILD Renovation and Custom Home Awards

Top Honours for BILD Renovation and Custom Home Awards

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Top Honours for BILD Renovation and Custom Home Awards

by Dave Wilkes

On the opening day of the National Home Show, the GTA’s top renovators and custom-home builders were recognized by the Building Industry and Land Development Association (BILD) at its annual Renovation and Custom Home Awards, which took place on March 8th at the AllStream Centre.

Created by BILD in 1999, the awards program recognizes renovation general contractors for professionalism, quality of work and industry leadership. Nominees are evaluated by a team of industry professionals. The Renovator of the Year award, which recognizes the renovator who sets the standard for the rest of the sector in leadership and commitment to customer service and contribution to the overall image of the renovation industry, is also decided based on survey results from clients.

This year, the Renovator of the Year award was presented to Golden Bee Homes.

“Golden Bee Homes’ clients speak highly of the excellence of the company’s work as well as their professionalism, customer service and courtesy,” says Justin Sherwood, BILD’s vice-president of communications and stakeholder relations and RenoMark program manager. “Owner Jack Torossian gives back generously to the industry as the Chair of BILD’s Renovator and Custom Builder Council and volunteers as a presenter for our renovation seminars for consumers.”

Best Bathroom Renovation was awarded to All Angles Renovation Ltd. for truly customizing their client’s space by using the space efficiently. There is plenty of natural light in the washroom with a window next to the tub and a skylight in the shower.

The Best Kitchen Renovation went to Binns Kitchen + Bath Design. The kitchen has a unique style application and incorporates an avant-garde range hood. The use of the space and the creativity tie all the elements together. Another unique aspect of this kitchen is a stove wall that includes upper cabinets unconnected to the ceiling.

Best Renovation (no addition) under $150,000 went to Alair Homes – Aurora/Newmarket for a major home transformation and upgrade on a modest budget. The kitchen was relocated to achieve a very functional cooking environment, while opening up the remaining spaces, significantly increasing natural light.

The Best Renovation (no addition) over $250,000 went to Bachly Construction for a stunning wine cellar. Extensive thought and creativity are evident in this design and the renovation, from the logistics of excavation to the creativity of using a drawbridge which provides access to portions of the wine wall.

The newly created Best Innovative Renovation award went to Kinswater Construction for creating a simple and timeless space, while incorporating the client’s ancestral heritage into the project. The renovator overcame structural and layout obstacles to create a functional layout that is truly original.

SevernWoods Construction was presented with the Best Custom Home award for creating a modern, but warm and inviting home. The materials chosen, like the use of local stone on the exterior and interior, help to achieve a good balance within the neighbourhood.

“This year’s winners exemplify the quality, innovation, creativity and integrity that homeowners can expect when working with professional RenoMark renovators and custom builders,” says Sherwood.

All award winners are members of the national RenoMark program, which connects homeowners with professional renovators who have agreed to abide by a renovation-specific Code of Conduct.

BILD would like to congratulate all the winners and finalists.

Contact information for all RenoMark renovators as well as a complete list of the winners can be found on their website.


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