Results from the 'Home Building' category

A Guide to Edmonton Infill Building

April 23, 2018

Considering an infill build and are unsure of where to begin? We’ve laid out a few of the key points to inform and guide you when preparing to build a custom infill home in Edmonton.

As our city grows and expands in the suburbs, the need and desire to live in older, developed and established communities has become ever more popular. Building an infill home in a mature Edmonton neighbourhood allows for the unification of a new home built to the standards and specifications of the homebuyer, in a unique and developed Edmonton community, with a great return on investment.

Thinking of Building an Infill?

Here are a few steps to help you prepare for the build:

  • Decide on your preferred location and the size of your new home. Using a realtor can better narrow down your search and their expertise can ensure you get the right lot to suit the style and size of home you want to build.
  • When looking at potential infill lots for your home, be sure to consider: the way the lot slopes, the direction of the rear of the house (typically west or south back yards are more popular), and if there are mature trees on the property (sometimes the City requires that certain trees remain, which could affect the design plans).
  • If considering a front driveway, check for electrical transformer boxes, boulevard trees or hydrants which are often found in mature neighbourhoods. These could affect the ability to put in or the location of a front driveway (note also that if the lot you are considering has an existing rear alley, it is extremely difficult to even have a front driveway as the City encourages that garages be accessed from that rear alley).
  • Be sure to also take into account the Mature Neighbourhood Overlay as there are guidelines that need to be adhered to in older neighbourhoods. However, there are sometimes justifiable variances that can be presented to Development Officers when applying for a Development Permit if your house design cannot or does not meet all of the MNO requirements.

Ready to Build an Infill?

Once you have found and decided on your lot you will need to:

  • Have your dream home designed. Parkwood Master Builder has the expertise and experience to work with you on the design of your infill home and can guide you through the process to ensure that your end goals are achieved.
  • Apply for a Developing Permit. This will review what you want to do on the lot and ensures that it meets the zoning requirements for that property. This is a process that could take up to several months depending upon the complexities involved. You will need Outline Drawings, Floor Plans, Elevations, Sections, Lot Grading Report and a Plot Plan showing the house on the location; all items that can be provided and advised upon by Parkwood Master Builder for our customers.
  • If there is an existing house on the property that needs to be removed, Parkwood would also apply for a Demolition Permit at the same time (ensuring utility services are disconnected & a Hazardous Assessment is conducted).
  • After review, a City Development Officer will inform you if anything is missing or if there are any objections from the City. At that time your Builder/Designer can justify the variances or make the changes required by the City.
  • If there aren’t any variances required, you will be issued a Class A Development Permit. This allows the project to proceed without any further delays.
  • If there are variances, it is considered a Class B Development Permit and the variances would be circulated to neighbours within a 60m radius of your property for review. This will add an additional 3-4 weeks. At this time, neighbours have the opportunity to object to the proposed development, if they so choose. If there are objections raised, the application would then go to the Subdivision and Development Appeal Board (SDAB) for a hearing, which can add about another month to the process. The SDAB will then decide if the objections are justified or if the development should proceed as approved.
  • When you finally have a Development Permit your house is ready to be excavated and the basement can be poured. At this time, the Building Permit process will begin which then needs to be approved before the rest of the construction of your dream home can begin.

In building and designing your very own infill home, the opportunity to be creative, unique, and innovative will come in to play, allowing you to truly personalize the home in your desired and beloved community. Working with our Parkwood in-house Home Designer, Interior Designer, and the rest of our design team, we can take your vision, ideas, and requirements to build the infill home of your dreams in your ideal location. Want to find out more? Connect with us at [email protected].

For more information on the City of Edmonton requirements for building an infill home, please visit their infill website.

Custom Builds - Tips for Over-Garage Room Heating

March 13, 2018

Building a custom, personalized home can provide you and your family the opportunity to see your dream home come to life! But in bringing your ideas to fruition there are many structural and mechanical items to consider, such as proper home heating, cooling and ventilation.

Our friends at Weiss-Johnson, locally owned heating, cooling and home comfort specialists, have compiled a great list of tips for maximizing the heat and comfort in large custom homes that specifically feature over-garage rooms:

  1. Go for carpet flooring in the spaces over a garage.
  2. Consider a gas or electric fireplace with a thermostat on the second floor to add supplementary heat.
  3. Drop the ceiling over the garage and do a hot box system, allowing for a heat run or two to be located in the dropped ceiling space.
  4. Use your Ecobee 4 thermostat, standard in all Parkwood Master Builder homes, and add the remote sensor to this room so the furnace will run longer to satisfy that space.
  5. Install the mechanical room and furnace as close to the garage as possible so that the heat runs are as short as possible. The heat runs over the garage are always the longest and run through a cold space often so the pipes take longer to warm up and often by the time they get up to temperature, the thermostat is satisfied and the furnace is off.
  6. If the space over the garage is 600-1000 sq.ft, consider adding a zoned system off of the furnace just for that space.
  7. Use a variable speed furnace so that temperatures are more even throughout the house.
  8. When planning out a home think about your family living in it. If little Johnny is always warm and sleeps with his blankets off anyways, put his bedroom furthest away from the furnace if you can. Often little Jane’s room is upstairs around the back side of the stairs furthest away from the furnace and she is always cold, so plan her room closest to the furnace. This can happen with master bedrooms too, often they are furthest away from the furnace on the top floor and even though Dad is warm, Mom isn’t and that’s not good. If Mom isn’t happy, nobody is happy!

If you are looking into building a custom home, we would invite you to come meet us for a free consultation at the Parkwood Design Center. We would love the opportunity to create the cozy and comfortable, dream home you’ve been looking for. Contact us today at [email protected].

Advantages of a Draw Mortgage in Your New Home Build

October 02, 2017

What is a Draw Mortgage?

A Draw Mortgage is a method of providing financing to purchasers who wish to build a new home. This method positively addresses some of the negative issues associated with another commonly used funding source, the Completion Mortgage. While there are some proponents of Completion Mortgages, there are some pitfalls associated with it; whereas a Draw Mortgage helps alleviate these disadvantages.

With a Draw Mortgage, the bank allocates funds to the builder as the construction of the home progresses. The mortgage itself takes effect upon the first draw of monies, which is done at the early stages of construction. This means that the interest rate is locked in and Title to the home is given to the purchaser. Usually only the amount required for that stage is advanced to the builder by the bank.

With a Completion Mortgage, an approval is received at the beginning of the purchasing process but it doesn’t take effect until the possession date, so the interest rate isn’t locked in and no Title is given. This is quite risky, especially when interest rates are rising. With this type of mortgage the entire amount of the mortgage is advanced to the builder at possession.

Most banks or mortgage brokerages offering Completion Mortgages will only hold the interest rate for 120 days from the date of the approval. This is an immediately cause for concern with anyone who is building a home, as it takes longer than 120 days for construction. Short timeframes for interest rate holds such as these don’t really work when constructing new homes.

Since these banks and brokerages have such short interest rate holds they require the purchaser to be ‘re-approved’ just prior to possession. This can be a hardship for some families, whereas a Draw Mortgage doesn’t require purchasers to qualify twice. This is an important fact for purchasers who are planning or expecting a child, or if a large purchase such as a vehicle may be on the horizon. In these scenarios the mortgage re-approval may be negatively affected as the available household income is usually reduced while the purchaser is on maternity leave or when trying to make payments on a new loan or increased credit card debt.

In the unfortunate event that a builder runs into financial difficulty and they can’t complete the home, the homeowner who has a Draw Mortgage can rest easier, because they have Title to the home as soon as the funds are allotted to the builder. This is a significant difference, because not only is their deposit secured, but they also own the home up to whatever stage it has been completed to. This is not the case with Completion Mortgages.

As the build of the new home progresses, draws from the approved mortgage will be made in stages:

  • When the home reaches foundation or framing
  • When siding or drywall installation are in place
  • Once the interior finishing’s begin to be installed (flooring, doors, etc)
  • And finally, when the home is complete

To ensure work on the home is completed as required, third-party (lender) inspections are made at each stage to ensure everything is on track and completed. The build has to pass each inspection before the next draw will be permitted. This assures that the homeowner only pays for a progressive build.

There are even some builders, such as Parkwood Master Builder, who will pay the Draw Mortgage interest and any associated costs, such as legal fees, associated with this mortgage. Will the builder you may be interested in do this for you?

When building a home with Parkwood Master Builder and using a Draw Mortgage, the homeowner endures no extra cost. Parkwood is happy to provide homeowners with full coverage of any inspection fees (as required), legal fees (if their lawyer is used), as well as pay any accumulated interest or insurance on the mortgage up until possession.

Knowing that the financing is in place throughout the build process can provide a lot of peace of mind and allow the homeowners to relax while dreaming of living in their new home, whether it is a Parkwood home in Edmonton and vicinity, or otherwise.

All that is left to do is to get packing!

Make the Most of Your Space with Secondary Suites

November 20, 2015

The trend of developing secondary suites is gaining momentum in Edmonton and across Alberta. With the high cost of living in our province, making the most of your space isn’t just nice—it’s essential.

Whether you’re looking to decrease your mortgage payments with rental income or create a cohesive multigenerational home, a secondary suite might be the right choice.

Multigenerational and Multi-family Homes

Regardless of whether it’s for cultural or economical reasons, having multiple families or generations under one roof comes with some unique challenges. How do you make the most of your square footage while maintaining some level of privacy for everyone?

Simply trying to fit a second family into a single-family home is less than ideal. With so many different schedules and preferences to manage, heads are bound to bump. An ideal situation would be to build a brand new home with a customized multi-family layout, however, there are other less-costly ways to make your home work for multiple families.

A separate basement, garden, or garage suite could be added to an existing single family home, (if the conditions permit) or as an add-on feature to a new home. These types of suites are self-contained and have a separate entrance, which will provide privacy and autonomy while still maintaining that feeling of family closeness.

An option for multi-generational families is what is traditionally referred to as an ‘In-Law Suite;’ a part of the home that contains a bedroom and adjoining bathroom typically located on the main floor of a single family house. These layouts are ideal for an elderly relative who may not be mobile enough to handle stairs.

Parkwood can help plan your ideal multi-generational or multi-family home, either by custom designing a new home to meet your specific needs or by adapting one of our existing plans. We also have models that have a specific In-Law Suite on the main floor and several other models that have the provision for adding one.

Income Suites and Building Standards

Secondary suites aren’t just great for big families, they can also help supplement your mortgage payment through rental income. In fact, a recent announcement from CMHC allows 100% of rental income from a legal secondary suite to be used when qualifying for a mortgage, which is yet another reason to consider this option. The City of Edmonton also has grants of up to $20,000 available to eligible homeowners towards Secondary Suite construction costs under its Cornerstones II grant program.

As we mentioned earlier, Secondary Suites can include basement suites, garden suites (a self-contained separate building on the same property) or a garage suite (a self-contained suite above or attached to a detached garage on the same property). As there are limited locations in Edmonton that can actually accommodate garden or garage suites, we’ll concentrate on the more common basement suite.

All Basement Secondary Suites must meet local zoning requirements (not all neighbourhoods allow them so check with your local authority) and must be constructed according to the current Building Code. Code requirements include fireproofing and soundproofing, a separate furnace and duct system for the suite, adequate windows and exits, a separate entrance and more.

Because of the Code requirements, retrofitting an existing basement space into a legal separate suite can be quite a challenge. The requirements can be much more easily accommodated in a new home build where spaces have been designed specifically for the separate suite. Additional features such as larger windows, a separate laundry room, raised ceiling height and high quality finishes can be easily added and can raise the potential of the suite. Beautifully designed secondary suites not only bring in more rental income but they are more likely to attract responsible tenants who respect their home and will lease for longer periods.

Parkwood has a number of models, such as the Avalon II and Avalon III, which have been specifically designed to accommodate a secondary basement suite. These homes have separate entrances leading directly to the basement and can be purchased with the secondary suite included or can be roughed-in for future construction of the secondary suite. We can also adapt most of our standard model plans to accommodate a secondary basement suite and will ensure that your basement suite is well-designed and meets all Code and Bylaw requirements. Want to find out more? Let’s talk.

You can learn more about the requirements for secondary suites in Edmonton at the City of Edmonton website. Find information regarding the CMHC Secondary Suite Mortgage Qualifications here. The requirements for the City of Edmonton Cornerstones II Grant Program are available on

The True Cost of Building a Home: Why Price Per Square Foot Doesn’t Work

October 06, 2015

“What’s the price per square foot to build a house?”

This is often the first question people ask when they’re looking to build a new home in Edmonton, because it’s how we’ve all been taught to understand the housing market. But is it really the right question? Real estate can be confusing, especially with so many technical terms being thrown around. Amidst a lot of technical jargon, price per square foot can seem like an easy and concrete way to measure value.

“How do I Calculate the Square Footage Price of a House?”

Home buyers know they can multiply the total home square footage by the price per square foot to calculate the expected cost. Or conversely, divide the price by the number of square feet to find the cost per square foot. While this is true, is it really an accurate way to determine the home’s value?

Imagine you’re buying a car. What do you look for? Maybe you need all wheel drive, power steering, and a backup camera, and are willing to pay more for a respected brand. If we follow the price per square foot argument, a Kia Sedona should cost more than a Lamborghini Aventador. There’s obviously a vast difference between these cars, and the same can be said with homes. The contents and quality of the build are what determine true value.

When looking at the price to build a house, there are costs that are comparable across similar properties, regardless of size, location, or builder. Excavation, pouring the foundation and basement, driveway prep and concrete costs, and basic building materials are fairly consistent. It’s the contents and quality of that new home that really matter. For example, if you compare two homes of the exact same size, but one has an extra bathroom and kitchen, the added fixtures will increase the price per square foot. Larger and additional windows, quality of appliances, and types of exterior finishing materials all affect this cost as well.

Does Size Matter?

Larger houses sometimes have lower costs per square foot, because those base costs we discussed above are spread out over a larger area. But is bigger always better?

Ultimately it’s not just about size, but what you do with that space. Two houses with the same square footage could feel radically different once you step inside. Traditional two-story houses might be larger on paper than modern open to below house plans, but feel more closed-in and include floor space that isn’t always needed or useful.

It’s About Value, Not Cost

As a new home buyer, it’s easy to mistake cost for value.

At Parkwood we understand this struggle, and aim to provide value by designing so that space is not wasted, thus making the most of every square foot. Real home value is measured through factors like finishes, layout, and customization, and not just the cheapest price.

Want to learn more? We’d love to chat about building your Edmonton dream home. Contact us now.

Secondary Suite Grants from the City of Edmonton

July 07, 2014

Cornerstones II is a Secondary Suite program set up by the City of Edmonton to increase safe, affordable housing options for lower income households in Edmonton.

Our in-house design department is able to add secondary legal suites to many of our plans. Please contact your nearest Area Sales Manager’s for more information or visit the City of Edmonton’s website.

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