Building a new home... what an adventure! If you are reading this then you are obviously lucky enough to have connected with Tony and Lina already. However, you may not be aware that Tony and Lina select their clients as scrupulously as their clients select them. They have to be selective to create the relationships that effectively and efficiently result in 4-5 wonderful custom homes each year. What follows is a summary of our experience, starting with an even shorter synopsis of the juiciest facts.
- My wife and I reviewed ~20 builders, contacted ~10 of them, interviewed 5 and got quotes from 3. We selected Grandscape.
- The final contenders in our selection process were/are all well established quality custom home builders but they differed substantially in their management models.For us, building a home was/is about relationships, the product of which is a home.Tony and Lina's management style matched our "people first" philosophy.
- Tony and Lina treat their trades as well as they treat their clients.
- We would build with Toni and Lina again.
- We gave them a bonus based on the quality of our home, communication and the adherence to both our 14 month build time and our budget.
- We are not alone in our estimates of the value Grandscape offers; our home was/is valued at 10-20% more than the total cost of construction.
- Efficiency: Ex: despite heating ~8,000sqft, our worst monthly winter heating bill was under $350.
- Testimonials are great but references are better.Please contact me to discuss our experience.
In the summer of 2010 my wife and I found our dream lot and purchased it in September. We started work with an architect who represented a firm that we were strongly considering building with. After the first 3 quotes (kitchen, plumbing fixtures and appliances) came in 30-40% over his initial estimate and the increasing difficulties with communication we were left wondering... and rather glad that we had ensured options. During the tendering process he dropped out leaving us deciding between 3 builders which we narrowed to 2 builders then 1, GrandScape.
We first met Tony and Lina in the summer of 2010. We visited with them at their beautiful home while it was being set up for a company BBQ (they have an annual get together with a tent, BBQ, etc for all their trades). We noted their emphasis on valuing relationships and people, their lean management style and a genuine desire to help us make the right choices, even if we chose not to build with them.
After getting our Development Permit, tendering our plans and selecting Grandscape, Tony and Lina started building our home. The original home that was on our lot was demolished and building commenced on schedule in June of 2011.
It wasn't long before we hit our first snag. Shortly after excavation started, Tony called me to a meeting on site with Warren (excavation) and Carmine (foundation cribbing). Apparently we had to dig a lot deeper than originally planned to get to the undisturbed earth required for a solid foundation. I queried whether we could use resistance piles to support the footings like our 2 neighbours with newly built homes had done and was met with a somewhat flat "No, we can't build like that with a clear conscience". A little over a year later, when both those neighbours' basements flooded in the spring, I shook Tony's hand so hard and so long he must have wondered if he was ever getting it back.
In consultation with Tony and myself, Carmine also added 25 concrete pillars to support our basement slab, load bearing walls and garage. This theme of "over do it a little now so we have fewer problems later" I eventually realized is a hallmark of all GrandScape trades and thus the ultimate quality of GrandScape homes in general.
Throughout our build the expertise and foresight of our trades was evident. Examples abound:
- Our plumber, Tim, placed a one inch gas line to our kitchen range area despite it not being in the plans. His response when we pointed out we selected a 220v induction cook top and not gas... "What if you or a future owner ever want to renovate? This is peanuts to do now and horribly expensive to do later. Besides, this is my standard and included in my quote." He also plumbed the mechanical room so we could easily add a water softener... which we did less than a year later.
- Our framers, Frank and Ben, pointed out and eventually compensated for a 4 inch error made between the foundation and house plans. Not only did their work pass inspection with no faults but the framing was so "over done" that many of our guests just laughed when they saw it (I wouldn't have it any other way).
- Our electrician, Jeff, placed long lasting LED bulbs in the double story chandeliers simply because it would be immensely difficult to change blown incandescent bulbs.
- HVAC: Brad worked tirelessly to ensure basement bulkheads were minimized and ventilation, as well as circulation, was efficiently maximized. There are no cold or warm spots in our home.
- Finishing: Peter is a true professional. He made numerous, immensely practical suggestions that have made our home much more liveable (not to mention his attention to detail and quality of product).
Unfortunately I'm just now recognizing how long this story will be if I include a full narrative of our build and everyone who helped make it possible. However, I would be remiss if I didn't also mention some of our challenges:
- The civil/structural engineer our second architect hired padded his invoice with 4 fees for visits to the site that where supposed to be covered by his initial quote- bad enough, but worse considering we determined that he only visited the site 3 times. Not only did Tony ensure we were refunded the funds for the fraudulently billed visit but Tony took it upon himself to cover the other visit fee in question (we appreciated the offer but refused his kindness on the grounds that the architect was the one that hired him and Tony had no direct influence).
- Our plans called for 24" transom windows over the 8 foot main sliding windows but once the engineering was done the beams didn't leave enough room. Tony worked with the architect and Frank (framer) onsite to restructure the wall and fit the windows in. The only additional cost was a few joist hangers.
- Our lot is on an ~ 20% grade so there is some ground water flow issues that led to heaving of our driveway. Although we have not fully sorted this issue, Tony and his trades continue to work with us in a collaborative fashion.
Only now do I fully recognize how lucky we were to have built with Tony and Lina. We know many friends and family members who have built homes with various builders; we've swapped many stories and invariably our experience was the best. Most importantly, we got into our wonderful new home still married and in time for the kids to start school as planned. Even though managing time, quality and costs are all exceedingly important, Niamh and I felt communication and responsiveness were the hallmarks that set GrandScape apart.
I'm sure Tony and Lina can show you pictures from the "Best Home" article about our home however these offer little more than a reflection our own eclectic design tastes. To get a real feel of what building with GrandScape is like, I strongly recommend you take me up on my offer to drop by for a visit. At the very least, please call.
Best of luck with your build,
Tyson and Niamh Warner