In homebuilding, foundations are obviously critical, for if not for solid grounding, homes simply can't stand the test of time. The same can be said for homebuilders, the very companies that construct the quality homes and condos GTA residents demand.
At FarSight Homes, built by three generations of the Schickedanz family, foundation is everything. We spoke with General Manager Johnathan Schickedanz, incoming president of the Durham Region Home Builders' Association, for his thoughts on all this and more.
HOMES Magazine: How's 2019 shaping up for FarSight Homes, and how does 2020 look?
Johnathan Schickedanz: It has been a slow start for FarSight in 2019 on the sales front, but we are not alone. As the market is finding its resting spot from the recent rise, fall and pause in home pricing, consumers are sitting on the sidelines to see where the floor is.
It looks like change is in the air, though. Over the past few months, traffic has picked up at our Alliston sales office, where we are marketing our newly released Beeton Creek at West Country project. Consumer confidence seems to be returning to the north GTA market, and sales numbers are on the rise. FarSight is optimistically looking forward to 2020 as an all-round better year, as we continue to sell and build in Beeton. Also, the hope is that we will be bringing our new Alliston site, an infill site located in the heart of Alliston, to market. It's a condo project that will offer a more price effective option to the local market.
HM: FarSight Homes has some great communities in areas outside the GTA core, such as Beeton, Alliston, Bowmanville and Pickering. Why these locations?
JS: FarSight is a family owned and operated business that has benefitted from generations of knowledge and expertise on knowing how to select developments that will not only offer value to our customers, but be a great investment for our purchasers.
HM: Where do you see the next opportunities for lowrise homebuyers?
JS: The future is looking good for future homebuyers of lowrise product. The provincial government is committed to seeing growth in the housing market to assist with the ever-increasing demand. It has also placed an emphasis on the industry to look into options on how we can supply more varying housing types and styles. So, future projects will likely be comprised of a greater mix of housing styles and price points to meet the needs of the different byers.
The other interesting policy piece is the ability and support the province is offering for the development of secondary suites. This will bring the opportunity for homebuyers to gain revenue off a portion of their home they wouldn't otherwise, providing multi-generational housing where families can live together.
HM: You were just honoured by the Durham Region Home Builders' Association (DRHBA) at the President's Ball. What does this honour mean to you?
JS: It's a truly humbling moment to be honored as the 68th president of the DRHBA. This association is rich in history and many presidents who have preceded me are people I look up to in the industry. I look forward to the year ahead and can honestly say that I have little to be worried about. This is due to the support I have from both the board of directors and DRHBA staff. With this much expertise in one place, only great things will be accomplished. Also, I am thankful to be able to give back to an industry that has provided so much for me and my family. I am a third generation builderdeveloper, and I and can say there is no other business that I could imagine being involved in.
Photo: Sabrina Byrnes
HM: In your view, what qualities and characteristics did DRHBA honour you for?
JS: Hard working, and a commitment to the association and industry.
HM: What have you learned from growing up in a family of developers that led you to where you are today?
JS: The market is cyclical and it will go through ups and downs, so be prepared.
The best way to learn about the business is a hands-on approach from the bottom up. I wasn't handed an office position right out of school, but was challenged to learn as many trades and skills as possible. My family believes that the best leaders lead by example.
HM: What's next for FarSight Homes?
JS: FarSight has just completed its first "Savings by Design" workshop, sponsored by Enbridge Gas Distribution. In this program, the coordinator brings together the trades, suppliers and the building scientists in one room where we are able to discuss opportunities for FarSight to build better-than-code homes. Through this program, I was made aware of the new developments in insulating products and air barrier systems that will allow us to build next generation homes. Also, this program has provided us the road map on the required steps to take our homes from where they are and to get them to net zero ready. Over the next year, we are looking to implement numerous new practices into our building program and are committed to building better-than-code homes for our purchasers.
AND ON A PERSONAL NOTE…
HM: Your uncle Bob is the new president of the OHBA. How exciting is that for the family?
It has been an exciting time for our family! Today, we have three generations involved in the development and building business in Toronto. And now that Bob has been elected as the latest OHBA president, it has allowed our family to start to give back to an industry that has given so much to us.
In 1951, my grandfather and his cousins opened Schickedanz Brothers Ltd., with the goal of developing exceptional communities and quality homes. And now three generations later, we are still following the same dreams. Having Bob now meeting with industry leaders around the province gives testament to the dedication our family has to this industry and the betterment of communities and homes for the future generations.
HM: What are you doing when you're not at the office or on a development site?
I'm an outdoors and cottage kind of person and look forward to time spent with my wife, two daughters and dog.
I have my pilots licence and enjoy time in the air.
I also usually have a number of projects on the go that involve metal fabrication and welding, fibreglass and paint work or mechanical repair and/or restoration.
I'm a true do-it-yourselfer. Never afraid to get my hands dirty and take on a project.
I enjoy travelling to different places to see different types of architecture – preferably warmer places!
- Beeton Creek at West Country, Beeton, Now open
- Greenfields, Alliston, Now open
- Timber Trails, Bowmanville, Coming soon
- Forest Creek, Pickering, Coming soon