In 2009, my wife and I had just purchased a new townhome from a local builder here in Ottawa. We went through the entire process, which took about 8 months to complete. With little help from this builder, we navigated all the steps but realized many did not come without their own challenges. Between the delays of starting the build, to picking the finishes and dealing with the constant price increases for upgrades, to then having them get the appropriate trades back in to complete the job and any outstanding items that were not completed before our move in date, was quite a challenge.
After finally moving in, we had several issues, mostly with reaching the customer service department and addressing some of the finishes that were not satisfactory to what you would expect with a brand new home. We made the best of it and were settling in to our suburban community when we started talking about our experience and the lack of professionalism and ownership this particular builder displayed. To them, we were just another house and number for their growing community. We started talking about how we would do it if we were general contractors, which grew into a bigger and more definitive conversation about the prospect of one day building our own home.
Within a year we were seriously searching for a vacant piece of land that met all of our wants and needs. Although we knew the elements that we were looking for in a community, and the price we were willing to pay, we kept running into the same problems. There were many custom home builders within the Ottawa area, but very few, if any, that would allow us to take on some of the project. There were general contractors that would oversee the job site and trades for a fee (usually higher than we thought was warranted), but not a company that would offer us a service that encompassed everything, from helping find and purchase the right lot, design the perfect house plans to meet our everyday needs, aiding in the selection of exterior products and finishes, ensuring all trades and their work meet the specifications of todays building code requirements, to finalizing our interior deigns and finally constructing a landscape design to ensure our desired curb appeal.
So what did we do?
With the help of some great friends and trades people, and our individual project management skills, we took the plunge and set out to build our first home – on our own. It took us a year from the time we started clearing the lot ourselves, obtaining the construction mortgage, constructing the house, to then officially moving in and making it a home. We have since sold this home to build another in 2014 because we liked the process so much. Since then, we have built a home for a young family in Appleton in 2015, a triplex in Carleton Place in 2017 and now again in 2017/2018 will be building another home for ourselves. Building a house is not only a learning experience, but a truly rewarding life experience, and is something that you can truly be proud of.