The shift­ing pop­u­lar­ity of new-build home up­grades

StarMetro Calgary - - COOL STUFF - BARB LIVINGSTONE

Home com­mand cen­tres, ex­tra-large clos­ets, gyms, sec­ondary suites, en­ergy ef­fi­cien­cies and more – the new-build bells and whis­tles home­buy­ers are choos­ing to­day are all about con­ve­nience.

No mat­ter the size of the home, buy­ers want prod­ucts that sup­port a busy life­style, says Michelle Jake­man, di­rec­tor of sales and mar­ket­ing for Cal­bridge Homes.

Cal­bridge, this year’s home­builder of the year, builds every­thing from stacked town­homes and bun­ga­lows to multi-mil­lion-dol­lar homes through­out the Cal­gary re­gion.

In many cases, that busy life­style means turn­ing a home’s ex­tra space – pre­vi­ously used for a den – into a home gym.

“It’s a very pop­u­lar re­quest,” said Jake­man. “It might be a small space for a yoga mat, or down­stairs in a walk­out in­stead of a games area. It’s a time saver, es­pe­cially with our win­ters, and if you have kids. You can stay in, rather than travel to keep healthy.”

That quest to sim­plify ex­tends to clean-faced fire­places, dog washes in the mud­room and “re­ally large clos­ets.” Jake­man says buy­ers some­times elim­i­nate an ex­tra bed­room to ex­pand stor­age space and, for con­ve­nience, can “put the washer and dryer right in the closet.”

Ryan Moon, di­rec­tor of busi­ness de­vel­op­ment at Brook­field Res­i­den­tial, says his com­pany has also seen a shift in home lay­outs.

Sep­a­rate of­fice space is be­ing re­placed by com­mand cen­tres in smaller ar­eas like but­ler pantries, for or­ga­ni­za­tion of every­thing from pay­ing bills to do­ing home­work.

“You just don’t need a full room,” said Moon.

Brook­field is also meet­ing buyer de­mand for multi-gen­er­a­tional liv­ing or ren­tal in­come with sec­ondary suites in homes in its new Liv­ingston com­mu­nity.

“It’s about dif­fer­ent fam­ily ar­range­ments to­day, and also about af­ford­abil­ity,” said Moon.

The com­pany is also see­ing grow­ing in­ter­est in home au­to­ma­tion, and in its concierge ser­vices that take the stress out of mov­ing.

Both Jake­man and Moon say buy­ers are also go­ing be­yond the “lip­stick” – those add-ons you can see – to the home’s nuts and bolts, in search of greater en­ergy ef­fi­ciency and re­duced en­vi­ron­men­tal im­pact.

Brook­field is build­ing a pi­lot “pas­sive house” in Sy­mons Val­ley that is air­tight and uses lit­tle en­ergy for heat­ing and cool­ing, while also of­fer­ing still-size­able homes on smaller lots with a re­duced en­vi­ron­men­tal foot­print.

Cal­bridge builds all its homes above build­ing code stan­dards aimed at green ef­fi­cien­cies, in­clud­ing its HRV (heat, re­cov­ery, ven­ti­la­tion) sys­tems that en­sure qual­ity air flow.

“It’s def­i­nitely front of mind with our buy­ers, and we do every­thing we can in en­ergy ef­fi­cien­cies,” said Jake­man.

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