Tag Archives: Home building

Q&A with Sarilia resident, Vaughn Krywicki

Vaughn and Stacey Krywicki moved to Sarilia five years ago this fall. A year after settling in, their family expanded with the birth of their son, Huxley.

Vaughn has a unique perspective on river valley living, given his role as a Realtor, and as a board member of the Sarilia Community Association. We recently chatted with Vaughn to find out what’s new and exciting at Sarilia, the new lot sale ($10,000 off every lot until Sept. 23!), and what kind of lifestyle the river valley offers him and his family.

As both a resident of Sarilia, and a Realtor, what do you see as the main reasons people move to Sarilia?
The people who are have moved to Sarilia recently are a lot of young families that are looking for more space and freedom. A lot of them come from smaller towns or farms and have lived in Saskatoon or even smaller bedroom communities, like Martensville or Warman, and they are looking for something more.

It’s a good opportunity to buy property at Sarilia now to build a new home. Gwen (Sarilia’s developer) and I have put together a plan where every lot has been reduced in price by $10,000 until September 23.

It’s more like pricing from 10 years ago. So, that’s a good opportunity, and builders are also aggressive right now with their pricing.

You’re a member of the Sarilia Community Association. What kind of community improvement projects are underway right now?
I’m on the Parks and Rec committee, and we just cut a new trail system this winter with the approval of the RM—we received some funding through the RM to make it happen.

We’re also in the process of building a new playground and an outdoor recreation area for kids and adults. But at the end of the day, it’s all about the kids. That’s something exciting that I’m proud to be part of. And it’s exciting for the community and the residents. We’re looking at estimates for features like park benches, playground equipment and maybe a basketball net and a horseshoe pit—any sort of outdoor recreation. It’s nice because the area is sheltered in the tree belt.

There will continue to be more improvements and interesting things like that in the future.

What kind of person would appreciate the lifestyle that Sarilia offers?
Someone who appreciates nature. Someone who doesn’t mind a short commute that they can use to wind down. I know for myself, that living at Sarilia with that short commute—it’s nice to have. Initially it was hard to get used to, because I was used to everything being 10 minutes away—but you can’t even get to everything in 10 minutes in Saskatoon anymore. It’s actually been better for me as it’s forced me to be more efficient with my time and planning.

A lot of people want to know how much it would cost to buy a property and build their home at Sarilia. What do you think is the entry-level price, when you combine the cost of a lot and home construction?
Lot prices are coming down, and in my opinion you can have a beautiful home for under $300,000. That’s very affordable for a brand-new house.

I hear you have a family cabin at Candle Lake. Some residents have compared living at Sarilia to spending time at the lake. Do you find any parallels?
It certainly has a lot of attributes that are like the lake. You can do all kinds of outdoor activities just like at the cabin—hiking and fishing and that kind of thing.

What kinds of activities do you do as a family at Sarilia?
We ride our bikes and walk. Our son is four. He’s a madman, so he’s always running around, doing whatever four-year-olds do.

What’s it like to raise a child at Sarilia?
In some ways, it feels a little bit safer. There’s less traffic and you know your neighbours. We know everybody. You look out for each other in that respect. There’s lots of young kids out here too—a lot of young families are moving in.

What are a few of your favourite aspects of living in the river valley?
The air is fresher. Just being outside. I’m a big advocate of getting outside. When we were kids we did a lot of that—camping and spending time outdoors and over the years I’ve expanded on that. Being next the river is certainly an attraction. That’s a mainstay for Sarilia. It comes back to that lake lifestyle.

Would you say you appreciate the outdoors during all four seasons at Sarilia?
Yes. You bundle up and get outside during the winter. Our son goes outside every day in the winter, even when it’s minus 40—briefly of course. He enjoys it too. And it helps you sleep well at night.

What kinds of activities do you do out on the river?
I fish quite frequently. It’s a passion of mine. Once every other week I would like to get down there this summer. And I often meet a lot of my friends from the city out here. They’ll come out to Sarilia to meet me, so they’re making a commute to where I am and the fishing is right in my backyard.

I would really like to get out on a canoe this summer. I went on a paddling trip as a novice canoer last summer up at the Churchill River and I kind of got hooked on that. I’d like to bring a little bit of that home. I know my neighbours are going to be reading this blog post so maybe they’ll invite me to go to Petrofka, or Borden, or something like that.

Vaughn currently has two beautiful listings for sale at Sarilia:

104 Saskatchewan Heights

426 Saskatchewan Road

From Grey Cups to Geo-fencing: Q&A with Rhett McLane of Alair Homes

Rhett McLane has transitioned from a professional football career to the life of an entrepreneur through his partnership with Alair Homes—a home-building company with 122 franchises across North America. He became the Saskatoon franchise owner last summer, and says his past athletic pursuits have a surprising amount in common with his current career.

All photos courtesy of Alair Homes

“It’s no different from playing football,” he says. “You’re system oriented. You’re driven to one goal. I always approach it as, my project managers are my star quarterbacks, the bench is my sub-trades. You always want the best people on your bench—you can tap them and bring them into the game or bring them onto a project and let them do what they do best.”

Rhett says there’s a similar systemic approach with Alair. “It’s very organized because you’re drawing from the experiences of 122 other franchise owners, which spoke to my heart because I won a Grey Cup with the Edmonton Eskimos in 2005, so I approached Alair Homes and the business that I run the same way as I approached my football career.”

As one of Sarilia’s suggested builders, we chatted with Rhett about his home building experience, industry trends and what drew his attention to Sarilia.

How did you get your start in home building?

I’m a new franchise owner but my history in construction goes back about 10 years. I started working with a home builder in Saskatoon as a salesperson and it progressed from sales,into project management, and now ownership. I’ve always wanted to own a business and when I started working in construction I wanted to own a construction company. I just didn’t know enough back then, so I talked to as many people as I could and I listened. I observed on the residential side and then I went and worked with a commercial construction company out of Edmonton for two years and I learned a lot about the bid process on large $15-20 million schools, shopping centres, hotels and things like that. Then the opportunity came up to become a partner in Alair in Saskatoon which is my home city.

What kinds of trends are you seeing in the home building industry today?

Home automation. It’s something that comes up more and more when speaking with clients. Home automation can be more than using an app on your phone to control the thermostat or using a remote control to put blinds up and down. It can go through to your lights, your plug ins, your stereo, your TV—everything is integrated off of one remote.

But when you take it up to the next level—it’s called geo-fencing your home. So if you’re driving home and you start pulling up to your driveway and open your garage door, the home recognizes that you’re coming home and it turns up the furnace, it turns the lights on, it unlocks the doors, everything like that. It readies the home for you to walk inside before you even get there.

What was it that enticed you to take a look at Sarilia?

My wife and I both grew up on a farm and I think it’s important for (our) kids to have that extra space. Our goal was to try to transition our family into acreage living at some point, so I was always looking for these types of developments around Saskatoon. I think the views that Sarilia provides—and the trees—are the big thing.

Not to talk badly about the developments that are south of Saskatoon, but people drive that highway to Regina and they just can’t believe what people build out there. There are no trees—you’re just building on the barren prairie. So when you can get into places like Sarilia, you have these beautiful vistasdown into the river valley, but you also have trees as well, which offers you privacy on some of the lots. And there’s just a lot of variety with the lots. There are different elevations: you can have riverfront, or you can have river view where you sit up a little bit higher. There are a lot of different options—lot sizes and pricing and things like that as well.

You met Gwen, Sarilia’s developer, for coffee back in December. What did you learn about the development during your meeting?

Just the community feel that she’s trying to convey out there, which is something that really spoke to me because, like I said, I grew up in a small town and she is offering the same type of values: knowing your neighbours, a community garden, a playground, things like that. There’s lots to do. Have a walk, a riverbank snowshoe—there’s lots of positives.

Q&A with Jade

Jade and Devin are our newest soon-to-be residents at Sarilia. With two daughters (Sloan, age 2, and Neve, 5 months old) and a dog named Philly, they’re eager to start their new life in our river valley community this summer—they expect to move into their new A-frame-style home by July. We chatted with Jade to learn more about her family, what drew them to Sarilia, and how it felt to meet some of their future neighbours back in October.

How did you first hear about Sarilia?
We were looking at acreages online and we stumbled across one that was for sale at Sarilia. We drove out there and we realized how beautiful it all was, and how there was all this other property that we could look into.

I got out of my vehicle and stood there, and I was like, “Okay, we are going to be moving here.”

How would you describe your first impression?
We felt like we were at the lake. It felt like we were at the cabin—instantly relaxed and laidback and just where we wanted to be. It felt like home.

Where are you both from originally? And where are you moving from?
I grew up in Martensville and Devin grew up in a little town called Frobisher, just outside Estevan.  We live in Warman right now, so we will be moving from here.

What was it you were looking for that you found at Sarilia?
When I grew up in Martensville, it was a small town. And the community that Devin grew up in has about the same amount of people that Sarilia has. We both wanted that for our daughters.

When we moved to Warman it was a bit smaller. Now, all the sudden, grocery stores are behind our house, Dairy Queen is right there, and the highway is right there—everything was just too close. It was too city-like. We needed to get away.

Right now, we have the street lights shining in our house all night long, the grocery store lights are on 24/7 in our house—we just need to be in the dark for a little bit! (laughs)

Was there one feature at Sarilia that solidified your decision to move?
It was a number of things. We didn’t know about the river access until we met with Gwen. We just thought we’d have a view of the river and we didn’t know everything Sarilia had to offer until we met Gwen.

Our first impression would have been that we just want to be out there for the calmness and the view. Upon talking to Gwen a few days later, we realized the (little free) library, the river and the little nature reserves all around were just kind of bonuses.

Is there something you’re most excited about in regards to your new home?
It’s a little bit of everything. We’re really excited for the small-town community feel, and to feel like we can go and talk to our neighbours. Our girls can go down the street and ask a friend to hang out and we don’t have to be breathing down their necks or watching them all the time to make sure they’re safe.

And the laidback lifestyle. Because you come home from a long day at work and it would just be really nice to go down to the river and have a wiener roast—just feel like you’re at the lake every day.

Can you tell me about the style of your new home?
We’re going with an A-frame. It’s going to feel like a cabin/cottage. We’re trying to go with that mentality—so a stone mantle above the fireplace and the A-frame overlooking the river.

Why did you decide to hire Griffin Properties to build your home?
I’m good friends with Sarah (Reid, the co-owner) so I’ve known them to be extremely hard workers. I’ve seen all the houses that they’ve built for themselves and all the time and energy they put into all the little details to make the house perfect for their family.

I know when Sarah started looking at designs for our family, she was thinking about our family—not what everybody else would have wanted, but what our family needs and wants. Every little detail was thought of. They put a lot of TLC into the project.

What do you and Devin like to do in your spare time?
We like to travel a lot and we like to be outside and go to the lake. We have a cabin up at Chitek Lake with my parents, so we love to be up there all the time.

I like to snowshoe, cross-country ski and snowboard, and Devin likes to snowmobile and downhill ski, so we’re very wintery people. We like to be outside more in the winter than probably in the summer. I run too—anything to be outside really. We’re always up for trying something new.

Do you think you’ll get out on the water at Sarilia?
Oh yeah. Devin wants to buy a canoe. He wants to do that and I like to (stand-up) paddleboard. We’d like to do more of that.

My dad taught me how to fish, so I’d like to do that with the girls and teach them how to do things like that and appreciate nature.

Do you plan to get involved in the community garden?
Yes. I have two garden beds right now so I am definitely going to be doing that.

Even now, I know they’re really young, but we have raspberry bushes and in the summer Sloan likes to go pick them and eat them. That’s kind of what I want to get my girls into—just being more with nature.

Is there anything else you’d like to add?
We came out to Sarilia for a potluck at the beginning of October and it felt like home. We were like, “We don’t want to drive back to Warman.” (laughs)

It was really nice to meet everybody and we had a really warm welcoming. Everyone was so relaxed and laidback. I don’t know if that’s their personalities always or if being there brings it out of them, but I also felt like it was more of a family—like I could rely on some people to help out if need be and that kind of feeling. It made us more excited and we are very eager to be out there.

 

 

Q&A with Lexis Homes and Vereco Homes

This year, Lexis Homes will approach their 100th completed home. Launched in 2009, the Saskatoon-based business is a Mike Holmes approved home builder. The Holmes Group analyzed the builders in the Saskatoon market and then sourced Lexis Homes to work with them. “It’s a great partnership,” says Lexis CEO, Cam Skoropat. “They provide comprehensive inspections in all our homes and also provide technical support for us.” We recently chatted with Cam to learn more about Lexis—one of Sarilia’s suggested home builders.

A Vereco Home built by Lexis

Who are your clients?
Our clients are typically “move up” home buyers. They are already homeowners, but want to upgrade to a home that better suits their needs. This could mean a larger home or a better location (neighbourhood/lot).

Are you witnessing any trends in the home building industry lately?
Higher energy efficiency seems to be top of mind. There also seems to a desire for larger garages.

What kinds of green technology or innovation are homeowners looking for these days?
I would say insulation under the basement slab is a key area for efficiency without high costs. Upgrading wall insulation and attic insulation are also popular.

How has demand for either environmentally friendly features and materials changed throughout your time in the industry?
In the last 3-4 years energy efficiency has been top of mind for many people. When we first started building, higher energy efficiency wasn’t on the radar for home buyers.

What home building practices would you like to see more of in your industry?
I still think we could use more professionalism in the industry. There are over 200 home builders in the Saskatoon area and there is a vast range of quality and professionalism in the range of builders. There is very little in the form of regulation or licensing of homebuilders so the “buyer beware” mantra is very true in our market.

Lexis has recently partnered with Vereco Homes. Can you tell us what your collaboration is about?
Sure! We have similar mindsets in that we want to see more high quality homes in Saskatoon and area. Our focus was on quality of construction and Vereco was focused on the energy quality. It was a natural fit to combine the two. Vereco designs ultra-energy-efficient homes for their clients and we work together with them to turn the designs into reality.

We also spoke with Ronn Lepage, the founder of Vereco Homes, to get his take on working with Lexis.

We understand Vereco’s mission is to help Canadians build green homes and that you use Vereco Licensed Builders (VLB) for home construction. Vereco has a very stringent process for selecting VLBs. Why did you select Lexis?
We select our VLBs based on competitive pricing, quality, reputation and risk minimization. Lexis is a well-known brand in Saskatoon and anyone that owns a Lexis home will tell you about the quality of their homes. Many of their trades had worked with us on other Vereco homes so Lexis had no issues learning the unique features related to building our homes. They are a stable company that has consistently been growing over the last 7-8 years. As a VLB, Lexis has to compete against at least two other VLBs to win each contract so our process ensures that they are competitive.

What are the unique features of Vereco Homes?
Our homes are designed for energy efficiency, comfort, and durability.

A home uses energy for space heating, domestic hot water, lights and appliances. The key technologies used to reduce energy consumption for space heating are passive solar design (using the sun to heat the home), additional insulation (lots of additional insulation in walls, attic and foundation), better windows and ultra-efficient mechanical equipment.

For domestic hot water, our energy efficiency strategies are focused on reduction in the amount of hot water consumed but we also use some neat technologies such as drain water heat recovery.

To reduce energy used for lights in appliances, our primary strategy is using energy efficient lighting, but we are also finding very good results from phantom energy circuits and whole-house monitoring systems.

We’ve found that many people are more interested in comfort than they are in energy savings. We design comfort into our homes with five perspectives: air quality, lighting, temperature, acoustics and safety.

More and more people are starting to consider the durability of their homes. We design our homes to last at least 100 years with a focus on materials, interior and exterior moisture management and flexibility. We design open-concept homes with flex rooms (for example, an office that can become a bedroom). Wherever possible, we position rear entrances in a way to allow the future development of a granny or rental suite. All our homes are designed to accommodate future solar panels, electric vehicle chargers and grey water recycling.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Q&A with our new neighbours – Kayla & Chris

Kayla and ChrisKayla and Chris, along with their daughter, Wren, and their English Mastiff, Gus, are some of our newest neighbours at Sarilia. Hailing from southwest Saskatchewan, they met in high school,  were married in 2013, and baby Wren was born last May. We chatted with the busy couple to learn a little bit more about them, and how they’re planning to enjoy spring in the river valley.

What do you both do for a living?
Kayla is a social worker and Chris is a journeyman instrument technician.

How did you first hear about Sarilia?
We Googled “river lots,” and one popped up for sale on Kijiji, so we went for a drive and got the contact information for the developer (Gwen Lepage) while we were out there.

What made you decide to move to Sarilia?
We had talked about getting a cabin and were getting tired of being in the city, so Chris brought up building something on the river to live in full-time and we both felt it would be a great fit for us.

What company did you choose to build your house, and what was the experience like?
We went with D.W. Elash Enterprises, a small company out of Martensville. We had a great experience with our builder. Alanna was very agreeable to work with and she made sure we got what we wanted.

What are you most excited for about spring at Sarilia?
We are looking forward to having our first garden in the community plots!

What do you like to do in your spare time?
There’s not much spare time anymore with a little one running around, but we love to go for walks along the river and are really looking forward to enjoying the beach this summer.

Has moving to Sarilia changed your day-to-day lifestyle at all?
We are definitely more content just being at home and looking out at the amazing views. We never want to go into the city!

Is there anything else you’d like to share with us?
We are looking forward to getting to know our neighbours once everyone is outside a little more with the warmer weather.

Q&A with Zak’s Bryant van Kuik

Zaks RTM sarilia

A Zak’s RTM

Sarilia is home to three ready-to-move (RTM) homes built with care by Zak’s, a family owned business that opened its doors in 1996. We chatted with Bryant van Kuik, residential salesman at the company, to learn about why RTMs work so well in the river valley, and what trends he’s noticed in the home building industry.

What is your role at Zak’s?
I have the pleasure of working with customers to design their home and take it right through to completion.  This includes floor plan design, architectural design, pricing, blueprints, final selections and warranty walk-throughs.

What home building trends are you noticing among your clients?
We continue to see many units going into lake country – some humble cabins and others very elaborate cottages. More and more people are asking about green alternatives – for example, we have a unit currently on site that has solar panels mounted on the roof.

In general, what were the Sarilia residents looking for in their homes?
The owners of the Sarilia units we have built seemed to have a priority on managing costs while maintaining a high build quality.  From there, they certainly all chose/developed plans that took advantage of the fantastic river views that Sarilia affords.

Interior of a Zak's RTM

Interior of a Zak’s RTM

What makes an RTM ideal for people moving to Sarilia’s river valley?
RTMs continue to be a great way for people to build homes that are not in major centres near tradespeople. We are able to manage both build cost and timelines very well since we are on site every day and tradespeople do not have extra travel time/cost.

In general, who are your clients?
Our clients tend to be a mix of age groups and life goals. At times, we are building bigger homes for people with growing families – other times we are building lake homes for people who no longer have kids living at home and require less space.

There seems to be a growing interest in tiny homes (homes between 100-400 square feet without a permanent foundation). Are you seeing some of this interest from people who are looking to build houses with a smaller footprints?
To date, the interest in tiny homes has certainly increased – but we have not seen a lot of units end up getting built. I have had conversations with people of all ages – but most do not have kids.

What we are seeing more of is what I might call a trend toward “small homes.” These customers are typically driven by cost of living and a minimal footprint. So rather than build a tiny home, they will build a smaller/more economical home that has a permanent foundation.

Most of these clients seem to be driven by the cost of living and a desire to have money for travel and other priorities – rather than being maxxed out by a mortgage.

What’s the smallest footprint Zak’s has built so far?
To date, our smallest home was a 640-square foot unit.

 

Meet Sarilia’s new sales agent – Ed Machart

Ed Machart - SariliaCoach. Home sales rep. Bison farmer. Ed Machart has worn many hats throughout his career, and his latest role brings him to Sarilia Country Estates. With 10 years as a Realtor under his belt, he brings his focused, former-farm-kid work ethic to his new role as Sarilia’s sales agent. Together with his partner, Marty Edwards, this talented team from Century 21 E&M Real Estate are looking forward to meeting interested property buyers and sharing with them all the perks of river valley living.

By way of introduction to Ed, we’re sharing this Q&A with him.

Where are you from?
I grew up on a farm just outside a town called Harris, 45 minutes outside Saskatoon (from kindergarten to grade 12). I was a farm boy. From there I went to Rosetown. Rosetown was my second hometown, so to speak. I had family and friends there so I went and worked there for about a year, and then I moved to Saskatoon.

Can you tell us about your family?
I have two sons—21 and 19. Both play football. Throughout everything I’ve coached ball, I’ve coached hockey. They both went on play junior football. My oldest played in Calgary for two years, with the Colts, and then my youngest is on the Hilltops, but also Team Canada. They just won the gold medal in Harbin, China at the under-19 world championships. (Ed and his wife travelled to China to attend the championships).

My wife and I love to go to Mexico—to Huatulco and Ixtapa on the west coast. We go a couple of times of year. It’s beautiful. We love walking, we love swimming, but most of all, we just sort of hang out. It’s more of a mental and physical resting time. We’ve rented scooters and gone on a few excursions. Most of all we love the beach.

What other jobs have you held?
I worked in sales for Yanke Transfer and as a home sales rep with Northridge Developments in Saskatoon. I also worked at Pepsi-Cola in Grande Prairie in sales and as head of new business development. My roles have always had a strong focus on sales and marketing.

I also had a bison ranch in Harris while I worked full-time for Northridge. I managed it with my little brother. We had 75 bison. We’ve since sold the business.

Why did you decide to get into real estate?
I wanted more for my family. I’m a hard worker and I wanted to work for myself. Growing up on a farm, I think there was always that, “go out and do it yourself” mentality.

I had tried different ventures, and real estate was something many people told me I’d be great at. And finally, it got to a point where I thought, “you know what, I’m going to do this.” And it paid off, but that’s my farm-kid work ethic—it really works well.

What are your hobbies?
Mostly driving around and looking at real estate. My wife and I go for drives in the country. We like driving the back roads and getting out of the city. We like driving by farms and acreages—that’s how we first saw Sarilia many years ago. I had heard of it through real estate, and then we were out for a drive one day and I said, “Oh, here it is. Let’s go take a look at this,”—and we loved it.

What was your first impression of Sarilia?
When I drove through it, I just loved it. I thought it was great because I’m not a golfer and it seems that everywhere you go they have these big, beautiful mansions and they’re surrounded by golf courses and surrounded by people. That’s not nature. Out at Sarilia, when you drive up, instantly you see the river and it’s unspoiled. It’s just more natural, quieter, and more peaceful and I think it’s captivating.

What type of person is best suited for Sarilia’s lifestyle?
I think it’s the type of person who enjoys nature and enjoys the landscape somewhat undisturbed. It’s out of the hustle and bustle. It’s all about quiet. If you want to hear birds sing, you want to watch the sunset, and get out of the hustle and bustle of the city.

My wife and I are the type of people who, when we get busy, we say, “OK, let’s go to the lake,” or, “let’s go for a drive” and the second you’re out of the city limits, your energy just picks up. And that’s how I feel every time I go to Sarilia. As soon as I pull in, it’s like my energy just changes. It becomes more positive and lighter and life just…everything seems better. The grass is greener, birds are chirping, all of that, it’s hard to articulate that, but that’s the type of person who should live there. It’s energizing.

Five “Smart Green” tips that will save you money

When Gwen and Ronn Lepage traded their modern town home in the city for a beautiful new home in the river valley at Sarilia Country Estates, they had the perfect opportunity to leverage Ronn’s expertise in “Smart Green” building technology.

With a master’s degree in environmental strategy focusing on residential construction, Ronn and his company, Vereco Homes, had already designed Canada’s first net-zero home exhibited at the Western Development Museum in 2010 and 2011.

Ronn’s thesis explored why people weren’t building green homes. “One of the barriers was that nobody really knew how to do it,” he says. “We started Vereco to help people who want to build a green home, or do a retrofit.”

The teachings from his master’s degree, combined with his 31 years as a chartered accountant, enable Ronn to provide advice that balances both the environmental and economic factors involved in making good decisions on green technology.

“At first, when we started talking to people about building green homes, their idea was that you just build a normal house, include a geothermal system, and cover it in solar panels. But that’s a very expensive way to do it,” says Ronn. He adds that there are smarter ways to be green and earn a return on your investment when you make your decisions armed with the right information.

Based on Ronn’s net present value (NPV) calculations, the following five technologies have provided the greatest return on investment in his and Gwen’s green home.

  1. Install an energy monitoring system

TED The Energy Detective“We’ve found that the biggest thing you can do is start monitoring your energy use,” says Ronn. The Lepages use a system called TED 5000. It hooks up to their electrical panel and they can view their usage levels on any computer, anywhere in the world. Installation is a snap, but it should be left to an electrician.

The monitoring system cost $300 and the Lepages estimate they save around $400 per year because of the awareness that comes with understanding how energy is used in their home. Gwen says, “Once you know where you stand, you can make an adjustment. You can look at it and ask, ‘what could we do to get that lower?’”

  1. Manage phantom energy

In Saskatchewan, around 40 per cent of the electricity used to power home electronics is consumed when the devices are turned off. This is known as phantom power. The Lepages had phantom energy circuits installed, so turning off phantom power is as easy as a flick of a switch. “To go around unplugging everything – I just wouldn’t do it. So we’ve got a switch on every floor,” says Ronn.

There’s also a simple solution for existing homes – a power bar with an on/off switch. Costing roughly $40 each, they are a great investment considering that phantom power in our province is responsible for about four per cent of a home’s electricity consumption – equating to over 300 kilowatt hours per year.

  1. Upgrade insulation

Our long, cold winters mean that the best way to reduce energy use is proper insulation. In an existing house, the attic is relatively easy; it’s the exterior walls that can be difficult.

“I’ve talked to a few people who have redone their insulation – it’s really expensive,” says Ronn. “You’re moving heat registers from the walls because you’re making the wall thicker. That’s a really big reno.” Ronn studied how insulation was upgraded in Saskatchewan and eventually flew to Germany to see how it was done there. “They add insulation to the outside. It makes a lot of sense.”

This discovery prompted Vereco to create a system called xWRAP. It involves stripping the exterior of the house and wrapping it in a blanket of polystyrene foam up to a foot thick. The siding or stucco is then attached. The Lepages have eight inches of this insulation on the outside of their home – making it very energy efficient. Ronn notes that the right amount of insulation for your home depends on a variety of factors. “Each home is very specific in terms of energy savings from additional insulation.”

  1. Reduce hot water consumption

low flow shower headThe savings multiply when homeowners reduce their hot water consumption. This is because it not only saves water; it saves the cost of heating that water. Ronn says the first order of business is installing low-flow shower heads. “About 50 per cent of the hot water used is in your showers. A typical house would have a 9.6 litre per minute shower. Ours is 4.6 litres per minute. So you’re saving that much energy and water every time you shower.”

If you’ve ever experienced a drippy low-flow shower head at a hotel, don’t assume they are all created equal. The Lepages’ shower heads add air to the water so you feel the same pressure as you would in a regular shower. Translation: you’ll be able to easily rinse out that shampoo.

  1. Use LED lighting

Since houses use a lot of energy on lighting, switching to LEDs is a smart choice. “We’ve got LEDs throughout and it’s just amazing,” says Ronn. “It’s very natural light. Even at night, it’s almost like daylight in here.” Their indoor and outdoors bulbs are 12 and three watts respectively. If the outdoor lights are left on all night, the impact isn’t even noticeable. The bulbs cost about $35 each, but Ronn says, “they last 50,000 hours so you never have to worry about changing them.”

For more information about Vereco Homes and smart green technology, visit www.vereco.ca.

This article originally appeared in the summer 2013 issue of Saskatoon HOME magazine. 

Six benefits of building an RTM

RTM

An RTM from Zak’s Building

We have a handful of soon-to-be new neighbours who will be building their homes at Sarilia this spring. Many of them have chosen to go with ready-to-move (RTM) houses, for a variety of reasons, which we’ll outline below. But first, what exactly is an RTM? There are some misconceptions about their definition. RTMs are not mobile homes (other than the one move to your property, they’re not actually mobile at all). Nor are they built with modular or pre-fabricated construction techniques. They are stick-built homes erected on a permanent foundation.

Now that we know what they are, here are six reasons you may want to consider an RTM for your new home…

  1. Budget & cost control – Have you ever met someone who built a custom home on site who didn’t go over budget? We didn’t think so. With an RTM, there’s less room for budget-busting, because there are (usually) no surprises. Whether you go with a pre-designed or custom RTM, you collaborate with the RTM builder with a clear budget in mind and work together to stay within it. As RTMs are built in a controlled environment, there are cost savings due to the absence of theft, time travel costs and material delays.
  2. Time savings – An RTM takes a lot less time to build than your typical site-built home. If you manage your timeline effectively, your new home could be ready as soon as the foundation is in. Wyatt Zacharias, operations manager with Zak’s Building says usually it’s just six months from start to finish. “Within six months of signing a contract, we can have it on your lot if your foundation is in place.” Sometimes, he adds, it can be even less than that.
  3. Financial control Question: What’s one of the biggest stressors for someone selling their current home and buying a new one at the same time? Answer: The possibility that your current home might take a long time to sell, leaving you with not one, but two mortgage payments. With an RTM, you can put your deposit down and then hold off on the final purchase until your first home is sold. The peace of mind this provides is priceless.
  4. Convenience – Depending on the builder, you’ll likely only be in contact with one employee who manages and oversees your build. This saves you from having to correspond with and organize a variety of tradespeople and enables more seamless communication. “Our competitors will hire a moving crew outside of their own company whereas we have our own moving crew so from start to finish, you work exclusively with us,” says Wyatt. The RTM builder is essentially the general contractor but without the contractor fees — which equates to big savings for you.
  5. Quality control – “We have a project manager on the yard at all times with all of our trades,” says Wyatt. This means any oversights aren’t missed, and any issues can be addressed before they become a problem. “Quality controls is a big asset because if you’re doing a site build out at Sarilia and your project manager is in Saskatoon, he might stop by there once a week — every two weeks if he’s not a good project manager. Things might get overlooked. Construction might be on another stage where you don’t see an issue, for example, if it’s a plumbing issue and they’ve put the drywall on.”
  6. Visualization – Many of us are visual people. Sure, you can pour over blueprints, but it’s a whole other ballgame to be able to see a potential layout in person. If you go with a pre-designed home, some RTM builders will have models on site for you to wander though. You may end up preferring a certain kitchen design or floor plan once you’ve seen it in living colour.

Three home building tips for saving your time, money and sanity

My husband Josh and I are building an infill home in one of Saskatoon’s older neighbourhoods. Josh works in construction so he’s acting as our general contractor. He’s overseen the plumbing, electrical, and mechanical elements, while I’ve been making the design decisions. The process has been both exciting and stressful, but we’ve received lots of helpful advice from people who’ve been in our shoes. Here are three of the latest home building tips I’ve learned from others, or learned the hard way:

  1. Visit the site as much as possible.
    Soaker TubEven if you’ve hired a general contractor, visit your building site as often as possible – daily if you can swing it. You will likely find mistakes and oversights, and catching them early usually means they can be fixed quickly and easily.

    One of our plumbers had to move our soaker tub out of the master bathroom while the pipes were being installed. He moved it to our walk-in closet and soon after, the drywallers got to work. They drywalled the walk-in closet with the tub still sitting there and now the tub won’t fit through the door. Had we visited the site that day, we wouldn’t currently be dealing with a bathroom/closet hybrid. Josh is confident that – with another set of strong arms – he can lift the tub, flip it sideways and fit it through the door frame. If that doesn’t work, the drywall around the door frame will have to come down. Fingers crossed for Plan A.

  1. Borrow samples of finishing materials.
    CarpetThe colour of any finishing material can look quite different in the store versus the place where it’ll eventually be installed. Ask for samples and take them to your building site. View the material in both shade and direct sunlight. The bigger the sample, the better. This goes for everything: carpet and hardwood samples, countertops, tile, and exterior finishes like brick, stone, and stucco.

    Our home’s exterior will be a mix of stucco, cedar and brick. We couldn’t decide between two shades of dark-grey stucco, so we gave our installers the two paint swatches we were considering. They mixed two samples and created two stucco boards which we brought to the site to hold up in the sunlight and shade. It made the decision much easier. When it came time to choose the brick, we borrowed light-grey samples that would contrast with the stucco. In the sunlight, a few samples looked pinkish-grey so they were taken out of the running.

    If you’re deciding on an exterior material like brick, stone or even roofing, ask the supplier if there’s a home clad in that material that you can go take a look at. In our case, we liked particular shade of brick and were given an address where we’d find a home entirely clad in that particular shade. Once we saw the home in person, we decided it wasn’t quite our style.

  1. Once you’ve made your choices, stop looking and comparing.
    This is has been one of my biggest struggles. We now have a plethora of places for gleaning new design ideas: Pinterest, décor magazines, HGTV, Houzz, the list goes on. Just when you think you’ve found the perfect pendant lights for your island, you catch a glimpse at one of Sarah Richardson’s latest kitchens and decide that you’ve made the wrong choice. You suddenly can’t live without Sarah’s sparkling silver pendants.

    I have to remind myself that I’ve done my research, having poured over hundreds of lighting options in the past year. There will always be new products coming out, and the more you look around, the more you’ll second guess yourself. Once you’ve shopped around, make your decision and be confident you’ve made the right choice. And if you simply can’t stop looking, make a Pinterest board for your next home, or your next renovation.