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Deen Pantalone web

In conversation with… Deena Pantalone of National Homes

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In conversation with… Deena Pantalone of National Homes

With a mission that You are the blueprint, National Homes is laser focused on what new-home buyers want, the things they love and how they want to live. Having built more than 5,000 homes across the GTA, with increased focus on the highrise market, National doesn’t just strive to build quality new homes. Just as critical is exceptional customer care, and a market-leading embrace of technology every step of the way.

We spoke with Managing Partner and Director of Marketing & Innovation Deena Pantalone to get her insights on just how National connects with today’s discerning homebuyers, and what lies ahead in 2019.

Deena Pantalone

HOMES Magazine: As Director of Marketing & Innovation at National Homes, how has what you do changed over your time in the role?

Deena Pantalone: The largest change has been the evolution of our marketing to digital communications, and smart phones in particular. My role has expanded from Managing Partner and Director of Marketing, to Managing Partner and Director of Marketing & Innovation over the years, as I am constantly looking for innovative ideas to set National apart from everyone else, whether it be in our designs, technology or our customer service. We want to be at the forefront.

We are focused on keeping up to date with state-of-the-art technology and seeing how it can apply to National Homes. Keeping an open eye and mind approach to any new property technology and be willing to explore and implement if it will benefit the homeowners, potential buyers and us.

HM: Technology is an increasingly important part of home building these days – in everything from construction to sales and marketing to what customers expect in home tech. How prevalent is National involved in keeping up with these trends?

DP: Technology is central to everything we do at National. As homes and families get more and more integrated with the new digital revolution, National Homes is in the thick of it all – bringing ever more bright ideas that help our homebuyers stay on top of their lives. More choices. More options. More devices. At the end of the day, it’s about making our homebuyers’ lives easier, smarter and richer.

We do market research and workshops to determine what our buyers would like to have in their ideal homes and how they would feel if we implemented certain things, because it goes back to our core values – You are the blueprint.

We hold cutting-edge events such as our Blueprint Workshop at the IBM Innovation Space, which brought together 70 participants in discussions, presentations and interviews, learning about innovative products from building and design professionals and sharing their thoughts in a thinktank format. This way, our customers have a direct input into ideas that are reflected in our home designs. Because our philosophy has always been that, as a customer, you are the Blueprint.

We’ve brought virtual reality into our sales offices so buyers can walk around and explore their future homes, and we’re constantly looking for ways to be energy efficient and more sustainable.

 

 

National Homes Focus Group
Pantalone leading a customer focus group discussion

HM: And in the next five to 10 years, what will be the biggest change or opportunity in these areas?

DP: Property Technology is expanding at an exponential rate. That means your home will be smarter tomorrow than it is today. We will be seeing more of smart buildings, cities and communities, driverless vehicles which will affect the way that homes are designed.

Right now, smart home technology is just in its infancy, so in five to 10 years, everything will be connected not only in our homes, but our construction processes and development work.

HM: How important is social media at National Homes, in terms of connecting and communicating with customers – particularly Millennials, who have grown up in the digital age?

DP: Digital communications are key to everything we do today. Prior to a sale, it starts with social media on platforms such as Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest, Houzz and Facebook. We search out the latest innovations in architecture, design, technology from around the world and share them with our community. And, of course, we also speak to our followers about upcoming neighbourhoods and other news.

HM: National is building in a variety of communities in and around the GTA. Where do you see the next hot market – in terms of either geography or product type?

DP: There’s no question that affordability has become the biggest issue in the GTA housing market, and land prices are right at the heart of the matter. Everything starts with the needs of our customers, and if price is even more of an issue today, then we have a responsibility to find answers.

This is why we are bringing on new communities in Brampton, Courtice and Burlington, where lower land prices can make homes more affordable. And we are expanding our product design mix to include midrise condominiums that give people better prices.

National Homes Forest Phase 2
Forest Phase 2 Model Home

HM: What can your customers expect from a National home?

DP: Our customers can expect a home that is designed with their needs in mind. We put an enormous amount of effort into research, workshops, focus groups and questionnaires.

Our customers can expect exceptional customer service. Our Customer Care program has been designed to make the entire home purchasing experience a positive one. Some of the highlights include a New Home Workshop and seminar to prepare you for the homebuying process, the National Care Kit, a wealth of information on how to care for the finishes inside your home, innovative framing walk-throughs, detailed customer surveys and a homeowners’ portal communication hub where they will find everything they need to know about their home.

HM: Please finish the following statement. For National Homes, 2018 was a year of:

DP: Innovation. From the home designs we have been developing for our new communities, to the products and technology we are incorporating into our homes, this year we have been pushing the boundaries behind the scenes to ready ourselves for the launch of our next communities.

HM: And 2019 will be a year of:

DP: Introduction and implementation. In the new communities we introduce this year, all the research and development we have been working on behind the scenes will start to be available to our new buyers. And that makes this coming year a very exciting time for us.

Portfolio

  • THE FOREST, detached homes, Bradford, Final phase coming soon
  • STATION TOWN, townhomes, Markham, In registration
  • THREE RIVERS CLAIREVILLE, townhomes, Claireville, In registration
  • COURTICE, townhomes, In registration
  • BURLINGTON, townhomes and condos, In registration
  • BRAMPTON, townhomes, In registration

nationalhomes.com

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Design/Build Expert: The Big Picture

Design/Build Expert: The Big Picture

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Design/Build Expert: The Big Picture

by Brendan Charters

When it comes to successful renovations, the adage “the whole is more important than the sum of its parts” really rings true

Shelter, in all shapes and forms, is derived by a summation of parts. A tree with leaves does better at keeping you dry in a summer storm, than one that has shed its canopy in fall. This simplistic reference is expanded in more complicated form when we discuss our most critical element of shelter—our homes. Housing across the decades and centuries has taken many forms. Never in history have the individual parts within those assemblies changed so dramatically in such a short time. The near future will yield us even more substantial changes to the envelopes we reside within than we have ever seen before. Factors pushing and pulling at the whole package include affordability, heritage preservation, sustainability (including short-term and long-term resource management), occupant health, our desire for ‘things of beauty,’ social norms and responsibilities, (the Jones’) as well as our relative ignorance and ability to be sold on something we may not really understand, want or need.

Adding modern technologies to an old building requires careful building envelope planning to create consistency in temperatures and humidity levels.
Adding modern technologies to an old building requires careful building envelope planning to create consistency in temperatures and humidity levels. Photography by Valerie Wilcox

DO YOUR HOMEWORK

At the end of the day, people weigh all the above noted differently, so there is no one perfect solution when planning to make changes to one’s homestead. No two people are identical, and thus, neither are their actions or inactions when living in their homes, which for the most part, are also different from one another. As such, in planning renovations to existing homes, or planning building envelopes in new homes, we like to think people know enough now to understand that a home with more efficient mechanical systems and greater amount of insulation, will typically consume less energy and should, therefore, be more comfortable and cost less to operate. This basic knowledge is driving positive change throughout the country. The challenge still exists however, that we are all being sold a bill of goods at every turn. Building a home is not rocket science. Building science, however, is becoming increasingly more complex. Understanding how new technologies work together to create total assemblies that manage to separate the indoor and exterior environments, is likely boring to most people. It is critical information though, and should not be dismissed. Even the most well-intentioned designs have shown problems for building lifecycles, homeowners’ health and designers and builders’ liabilities over the decades.

Steamy showers and baths produce a lot of moisture that requires a plan to exhaust, ensuring an efficient, comfortable and safe environment for the occupants.
Steamy showers and baths produce a lot of moisture that requires a plan to exhaust, ensuring an efficient, comfortable and safe environment for the occupants. Photography by Valerie Wilcox

NEW HOME-ENHANCING TECHNOLOGIES

Floors, walls and roofs that are exposed to the exterior have two sides that are constantly at odds with each other. Think of working outside in a rainstorm while wearing one of those old plastic yellow rain coats. The water may not get in, but you are soaking inside as the sweat builds up beneath it. Just as the garment industry has more recently developed waterproof, breathable and insulated clothing—so too has the building industry—to not only manage to keep water out and regulate temperature on your body, but to also allow and even promote the escape of the moisture our bodies create. This is important stuff when it comes to reducing the risk of mould, and premature degradation of structural elements.

Wood, metal, glass, plastic, hot and cold temperatures all collide throughout a building envelope. Careful sealing of system penetrations is required to avoid air and moisture leakage, which can lead to bigger issues.
Wood, metal, glass, plastic, hot and cold temperatures all collide throughout a building envelope. Careful sealing of system penetrations is required to avoid air and moisture leakage, which can lead to bigger issues. Photography by Eurodale

INSIDE OUT

Renovations can take part in a small space in an existing home (i.e., a powder room or a kitchen), and often yield a view inside the existing wall structure/assembly. If you are going to be opening a wall, floor or ceiling that abuts the exterior (either above or below grade), we recommend doing some research on how best to insulate that space, but most importantly, to also learn about Radon, VOCs, air exchange, insulation properties (both thermal- and moisture-wise), as well as vapour and air barriers. Remember—that roof, floor or wall assembly is just that—an assembly, so look at the materials the whole way across it from the exterior to the interior and take the time to learn or pay the pros to educate you about how they interact with each other and what they do independently within the composition. Air leakage is a complex element that saps a lot of energy from our homes, but over-sealing them can also cause problems if not designed for proper air exchange. Working with a professional designer, architect or builder can help to educate you about best practices. Every change in the link of a chain impacts its ability to perform—and there are many links in the housing chain. Knowledge is power.

Brendan Charters is co-owner of Toronto Design-Build Firm Eurodale Developments – 2016 BILD Renovator of the Year.

Visit eurodale.ca or follow Brendan on Twitter @EurodaleHomes

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Product Showcases: Windows & Doors

Product Showcase: Windows & Doors

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Product Showcase: Windows & Doors

by Rise Levy

THAT SPECIAL AMBIANCE

Made in Spain, Ambiance Roller Blinds & Sliding Panels from Shades of Home offer a selection of unique banded fabrics, translucent materials with slim aluminum horizontal bars separating the panels. These Roller Shades and Panel Tracks are available in unique materials and finishes that allow you to create one-of-a-kind window treatments, manual and motorized. Shades of Home offers many unique window covering treatments. Visit one of their design showrooms in Oakville or Toronto to see for yourself and speak to one of our experienced window treatment experts.

SHADES OF HOME
shadesofhome.ca


HIGH PERFORMANCE WINDOWS & DOORS

Unitech Windows and Doors is a leading manufacturer and factory direct supplier of energy-efficient residential vinyl windows and modern maintenance-free fibreglass doors. In its spacious Vaughan showroom customers can get access to an entire range of high performance custom glass windows and doors styles. The showroom has over a dozen door designs in actual building situations for your easy selection. Within the showroom is a dedicated window design section with emphasis on custom shapes and unique solutions for any design or style.

UNITECH WINDOWS & DOORS
UnitechDoors.com
UnitechWindows.com


SMART SHADES

Make your home a smart home with the Somfy myLink app from Elite Smart Shades. Now you can control your shades, blinds, drapes, and even lights from your smartphone or tablet. The myLink hub plugs into any wall outlet and communicates with your home’s Wi-Fi network. The mobile app features scenes, schedules and even remote access so you can operate your shades and lights when you’re away from home. Now that’s smart.

ELITE WINDOW FASHIONS
elitewf.com


INNOVATIVE & PRACTICAL

Selecting window fashions is often a complicated decision as there are many practical considerations. Window fashion innovations such as Silhouette window shadings from Hunter Douglas with the Signature S-Vane, offer a combination of sheer fabric to maintain a view of the outside, and rotating fabric vanes for light control, both during the day and at night. Available at Centurian Window Fashions.

CENTURIAN WINDOW FASHIONS
centurianwindowfashions.com


EXTERIOR ENHANCEMENTS

Pollard Windows enhance the architectural lines of a home, adding character and stimulating visual interest. They have earned the ENERGY STAR rating and have been used in several LEED Platinum certified homes in North America. Ask about their new EnerMax option for all vinyl Advantage windows for maximum energy efficiency.

POLLARD WINDOWS INC.
PollardWindows.com


LET THERE BE LIGHT!

Sun-Brite Drapery recently introduced two new wireless shade systems by Lutron, battery-operated and a low-voltage system, offering remote-controlled shades that are fully motorized and reasonably priced. The Serena system is a stand-alone product, which makes it more affordable for homeowners who cannot afford to fully automate their homes. Serena roller shades can be installed with or without wires, and come in a wide variety of colours and fabric textures.

SUN-BRITE DRAPERY
sunbritedrapery.com


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