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Bright ideas come out of National Homes’ Blueprint Design Lab

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Bright ideas come out of National Homes’ Blueprint Design Lab

Society is undergoing a time of groundbreaking change. Advanced technology, Green initiatives, smart cities, robotics; it’s all taking place as the largest single demographic, Baby Boomers, are handing the reins to Millennials, a group with very different perspectives and needs.

The Forest Phase 2 Model Home.
The Forest Phase 2 Model Home.

To steer a successful course and to thrive, the team at National Homes has deeply leaned into their core philosophy and longtime tagline: You are the Blueprint. One of the GTA’s most celebrated names, National Homes is renowned for its customer focus, as the company designs, builds, markets and sells homes based entirely on their understanding of clients’ needs.

This promise inspired the company to create a new and experiential concept, The Blueprint Workshop. National Homes wanted to re-imagine the way the company listened to its customers and design their homes. Having employed traditional focus groups and online survey methodologies for more than 20 years, National’s goal in creating the Blueprint Workshop series was to find a new way to engage participants far beyond the standard notions.

The vision was to revolutionize the way new home consumer research is accomplished, thereby raising the bar for innovative thinking around home design, with a particular focus on the fast-developing “smart home” connectivity technology of the future.

National’s inaugural Blueprint Workshop event was held at the IBM Innovation Space, welcoming globally recognized leaders in the fields of technology, product development, and design, who participated in group interactions and the co-creation process. Also taking part were dozens of past and potential National buyers of varied ages and demographics: National staff architects, designers and engineers; and students from York University’s Schulich School of Business real estate master’s program. The group then rolled up their sleeves and held deep discussions, presentations, interviews and educational sessions, all in a thinktank format.

Many groundbreaking ideas from that first Blueprint Workshop are already working their way into homes of new National communities. For example, when new-home buyers indicated that they want more input into the building of their homes than just choosing cabinets and countertops, the builder responded by launching a new customer service initiative that combines the best use of technology, with hands-on involvement.

At National’s new forward-looking Blueprint Design Lab, customers can personalize their new home to reflect their style using the Virtual Interior Design Tool that makes the decor selection process more fun, creative, and efficient. National’s R&D Department regularly tests products, materials and techniques in the Blueprint Design Lab, particularly with sustainability in mind, and this is where future Blueprint Workshops will also be held.

To provide blueprint-to-welcome mat updates for customers, another innovative use of technology by National is The Homeowner Portal that connects buyers to the design and construction of their home from the moment they decide to buy until long after they move in.

The builder is constantly pushing the envelope to source the latest and the best, with a commitment to use advanced thinking to make a real difference in the way people live in their home. National calls these Bright Ideas. Things such as smart thermostats to keep costs low, smart locks and cameras to keep residents safe, and built-in recycling areas to make responsible waste sorting easy. Incorporating these Bright Ideas and others make National homes smarter, more responsive and energy-efficient, a very Bright Idea in itself.

New-home buyers care about energy efficiency, sustainability, carbon footprint, smart home products and much more. They also care about functionality, convenience and comfort. Many Bright Ideas take comfort to a whole new level. Imagine a closet organizer with revolving shoe rack in the dressing room, pulldown cupboards and motion sensor faucets in the kitchen, a voice-activated smart shower in the spa ensuite that controls on/off, water temperature and flow, and a convenient pull-down drying rack in the laundry room. Simplifying life is a Bright Idea, too.

It’s already happening for National buyers at The Forest Phase 2, who will enjoy many Bright Ideas as standard features. Residents will benefit from a main door smart lock and Wi-Fi video doorbell, and the ultimate help to stay uncluttered: a drop zone with storage, shelves and hanging hooks, and a family centre with desk. This is fitted with a whiteboard and shelving to display and store messages, school forms, family calendar and various other odds and ends with no place to go in a typical home, this exciting Bright Idea also has a hidden charging station for multiple smart devices.

IBM Blueprint Workshop.
IBM Blueprint Workshop.

Involving buyers in the process, National aims to provide innovative new solutions by thinking ahead and designing the homes of the future, today. Interested potential purchasers can sign up online to participate in scheduled Blueprint Workshops related to upcoming new National communities in the early planning stages.

NATIONAL HOMES

For more on National’s Bright Ideas, Blueprint Workshops, Blueprint Design Lab, current and upcoming communities, visit the website.


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National Homes - The Forest Phase 2

National Homes’ The Forest Phase 2 is a spectacular sequel in Bradford

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National Homes’ The Forest Phase 2 is a spectacular sequel in Bradford

The second and final phase is coming to The Forest, completing a community that has come to represent the very best of Bradford. But you’ll have to be swift to call The Forest Phase 2 home.

Starting from only $699,990, these are the lowest priced detached homes in the Bradford and Newmarket area. Furthermore, this is a limited release of fully detached homes up to 3,473 sq. ft. that check all the boxes on every wish list and more.

The Forest Phase 2 is full of bright ideas. Once again, National Homes has raised the bar, offering buyers a truly state-of-the-art new-home buying experience at the company’s Blueprint Design Lab and a home they will be proud of, with advanced energy-efficient and smart home technology. The future has come to The Forest Phase 2.

Lush surroundings

As its eponymous name suggests, The Forest Phase 2 is surrounded by lush forest. Elegant detached homes with up to five bedrooms on 36- and 40-ft. lots boast gracious elevations of stone, stucco and classic brick. Buyers will move into an established National community as Phase 1 is completed and families are already enjoying their new homes.

With 25 years of experience, scores of inspired communities and more than 15,000 homes built, National Homes has become one of the GTA’s most celebrated names. But to National, it’s only ever been all about the homebuyer. The team at National has really leaned into their core philosophy and longtime tagline: You are the Blueprint. The company has initiated a series of Blueprint Workshops where homebuyers are invited to participate. Its R&D department regularly tests products, materials and techniques. A new Bright Ideas initiative offers advanced tools and technology such as smart ventilation, built-in recycling areas, smart thermostats, and more that make National homes smarter, more responsive and more energy-efficient.

Planning for The Forest Phase 2 included a Blueprint Workshop with potential Bradford buyers to discuss which Bright Ideas would be of most value for growing families here. As a result, residents at The Forest Phase 2 will enjoy optional and standard features such as a WiFi video doorbell, main door Smart lock, a family drop zone with storage shelves and hanging hooks, and a family allocated smart centre with desk. This exciting Bright Idea has a hidden charging station, whiteboard and shelving to store and display the family calendar, mail, messages, and school forms, all those odds and ends with no place to go in a typical home.

In addition, a range of dreamy comforts are offered as options, such as a closet organizer with revolving shoe rack in the dressing room, and a voice-activated Smart shower in the spa ensuite that controls on/off, water temperature and flow. Laundry rooms can be fitted with a convenient pull-down drying rack, kitchens with pull-down cupboards and motion sensor faucets, and more.

National Homes has teamed up with Pottery Barn to bring home its trademark style in the exquisite model home at The Forest Phase 2 designed by David Nosella. On display is an eclectic fusion of traditional style mixed with striking accents and contemporary aesthetics. All the Bright Ideas are built into the model as well, for visitors to see and experience. Pottery Barn stylists have designed beautiful spaces that appeal to the lifestyles and tastes of a wide range of customers. Purchasers at The Forest will receive 20 per cent off at Pottery Barn plus free professional design consultation from Pottery Barn and West Elm.

Homebuyer Portal

Buyers can also take advantage of the builder’s new customer service initiative. National’s Homeowner Portal connects you to the design and construction of your home, from the moment you decide to buy until long after you move in. It also makes the decor selection process at the Blueprint Design Lab more fun and much faster, using their Virtual Interior Design Tool.

Residents will delight in the views of rolling farmland and forests right across the street, Lake Simcoe 20 minutes up the road, and all the conveniences nearby. A large, modern, multi-use leisure centre, new library, high school and elementary schools are within walking distance. There’s ample choice in shopping, including Tanger Outlet Mall and Upper Canada Mall only minutes away. A short commute on the GO Train whisks you into Union Station, or take Hwy. 400 to the GTA in 20 minutes. A proposed 16.2-km connecting link between Hwy. 404 at Queensville to Hwy. 400 at Bradford is in early planning.

NATIONAL HOMES
The Forest Phase 2

If you’re looking for the charm of a real forest community with the comfort and amenities of modern living, National’s latest release of elegant and innovative homes in Bradford is for you. Register online to preview.


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National Homes

Cover Story: Editor’s Choice: National Homes

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Cover Story: Editor’s Choice: National Homes

Blueprint Workshop revolutionizes new home consumer research

As its slogan “You are the Blueprint” attests, National Homes takes homebuyer feedback seriously when planning its homes and communities.

Always an industry innovator, the company has now revolutionized the concept of traditional focus groups and consumer research with the National Homes Blueprint Workshop, a ground-breaking event that explored how homeowners feel about their homes, how they live in them, and what type of design, features and technology they believe will improve their lives.

The January Blueprint Workshop brought together creative design thinkers with dozens of past and potential future National Homes buyers of varied ages and demographics. They gathered in the IBM Innovation Space at Venture Labs in Markham, along with National Homes staff, designers, architects, engineers and partner leaders for a THINKTANK dedicated to new homes. Students from York University’s Schulich School of Business real estate master’s program also participated.

They broke into four small groups with partner leaders to engage in discussions, presentations and interviews. IBM helped to design and facilitate the workshop.

When IBM’s expertise in human-centred design indicates that the conversation is less about features and functions, and more about users and outcomes, businesses are more successful. It’s about understanding what matters to clients, how they see the world and getting to know them.

“With a typical focus group, people are sitting behind a screen or mirror with a facilitator and it’s structured,” says Deena Pantalone, director of marketing innovation and managing partner for National Homes. “This was more relaxed and comfortable. Rather than asking things such as, ‘Which interior finish do you like,’ we discussed generally how it feels to live in a house.”

The workshop’s purpose was to provide in-depth insight into homebuyers’ needs and desires, to further research and development efforts to position National Homes as a builder that values innovation and is responsive to its customers.

The day delved into the homeowner experience beyond bricks and mortar, explored new technology and time-saving solutions, as well as how to make the homebuying experience unique. It explored the idea of community, looking not just solely at homeowners’ needs, but what their parents and children might need as well.

Participants were selected based on responses to a survey sent to registrants from National Homes’ communities, along with current homeowners.

Partner leaders included Karl Vredenburg, Director IBM Design Worldwide Client Programs and head of IBM Studios Canada; Professor James McKellar, Associate Dean External Relations and Director of the Brookfield Centre in Real Estate and Infrastructure at the Schulich School of Business; Raphael Wong and Matt Lennan of ThoughtWire, a leading Canadian digital intelligence company; Jenna Zaza of The Interactive Abode, a technology company that allows purchasers to virtually decorate their new homes and make finishing selections online; Jason Disher, Logan Stewart, Tyler Balding and Yonnas Tecle of Panasonic, a company that makes state-of-theart home products; and Bob Storey, Andreas C. Leuth and Greg Jefferies of Sto Canada Ltd., a leader in high-performance building cladding options.

“Innovation has always been a staple of our corporate foundation,” says Pantalone. “I’ve travelled to leading international cities where this type of research is being carried out. We want to anticipate homeowner problems and provide solutions by thinking ahead. We want to provide futuristic homes that are affordable.”

Workshop participants got a glimpse into some of the future possibilities. For example, ThoughtWire has changed the way people act with their built environment with its software. It has played a transformative role in digitizing healthcare facilities, speeding up workflow and improving patient experience with automation and real-time interactions between medical staff, systems and devices. For instance, patients can control the temperature in their rooms, medical personnel get real-time patient information on their devices and elevators can be programmed so food carts delivering patient meals won’t be delayed. Some of this technology can be adapted for residential use.

Panasonic might be best known for home entertainment products in Canada, but the company has a comprehensive lineup of home-related products and builds entire new home communities in Japan. Participants learned about the Shimau Principle – the art of space and harmony where everything is in its rightful place. Panasonic offers comprehensive storage and organization solutions. Developed in Japan, where people live in smaller spaces, the solutions are a great fit for condos — or any home — as many homeowners do not utilize space to its best advantage.

Attendees got to see, touch and feel EcoShapes from Sto Canada, a product that has been used in Europe for more than 30 years but is new to Canada. It reduces energy costs, provides a higher R-value and reduces the home’s carbon footprint. Sto’s forward-thinking products contribute to creating a superior energy-efficient home.

Zaza, founder of The Interactive Abode, explained how pop culture, online sites and TV shows inspired development of her interactive software that allows purchasers the time to research and make decisions about their new home selections from the comfort of their own homes. It uses photo-realistic renderings to take the guesswork out of decisions between standard or upgrade options and allows buyers to visualize how colour selections and finishes will look in their new residence. Zaza says in the last five years, sales centres have incorporated software that helps with homebuying, but the process was lacking in the design studio. Zaza brought four laptops for workshop participants to try the online design studio for themselves.

Pantalone is excited about the possibilities the Blueprint Workshop offered and sees this as the springboard for more collaborative sessions with homeowners and other partners to transform the builder-buyer relationship.

“Our slogan, ‘You Are the Blueprint,’ means something to us as a company,” she said. “This will allow us to take our relationship with our purchasers to a whole new level and create a more meaningful buying and living experience for them.”

National Homes looks forward to offering some of their latest “bright ideas” at upcoming new home communities in 2018 and 2019 including Markham, Bradford, Brampton, Courtice and Burlington.

National Homes returns to Bradford with Phase 2 of The Forest, featuring elegant homes and stunning architecture.
National Homes returns to Bradford with Phase 2 of The Forest, featuring elegant homes and stunning architecture.

NATIONAL HOMES

Visit National Homes online for more information and to register for previews before the public openings in communities in Markham, Bradford, Brampton, Courtice and Burlington.

NationalHomes.com


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