Blog

Energy Modeling your Custom Home

When building your dream home, it is essential to make the right choices from the beginning of the process in order to end up with a property that is not just beautiful and stylish, but also safe and healthy for your family.

Beginning on January 1, 2019 all new buildings, additions and major alterations in Saskatchewan must be energy code compliant. This means that all buildings must preform and maintain a certain level of energy consumption.

What is Energy Modeling?

  • The design stage starts with us performing a test with a computerized or virtual simulation of the designed building to analyze its characteristics. It usually contains the load designs and energy analysis. It primarily focuses on the future energy consumption of the property and considers the costs and life cycle of energy-related items such as air conditioning, heating and hot water systems, lighting and insulation.

How is an Energy Model Simulation Done?

  • An energy modeling simulation consists in creating a virtual replica of your custom home. This is done by top trend software that allows builders to enter property components in a computer and simulate its performance through weather conditions, for a full year, to predict energy consumption, saving and loss.

Who even needs Energy Modeling?

  • Technically, it needs to be done before you have a set of finalized blueprints. The Energy Model that is performed for your house is equally valuable for builders, homeowners and the environment.
  • The architect can benefit hugely in designing energy-efficient homes while comparing and reducing up-front construction costs and operational energy costs. Having these types of energy performance reports, your homebuilder can choose the best HVAC (Heating, Ventilation, Air Conditioning) system, air tightness, window types, wall and insulation thickness types to meet your property’s thermal loads effectively.

What’s in it for me?

  • Probably most of you who are reading this, and have gotten this far, are in the midst of design or seriously considering doing a major renovation or new home build. I suggest that you do not rule out a very important question, “How green should I build my home?”
  • Most people want to build structurally sound homes that have a very high quality of finish. Most of times, home owners will pass by the whole Eco-friendly custom home topic and not look it.
  • With today’s technology and the ability to run energy modeling simulation, it makes it more and more affordable to build green. I say this because you can adjust how Green you want to go. You would not want to build a house and then try to adjust later or even in the midst of construction.
  • The energy modelling analysis scenarios (like your technical, climatic, economic, internal and external conditions) measure your homes energy performance. Ultimately this removes all worries and headaches in the future.

What’s my next Step?

  • Being able to recruit a Design-Build company can really provide great benefits for your home’s energy modeling. It allows the builder and architect to work together to design your energy-efficient home while focusing on reducing up-front construction costs and operational costs.
  • At Contegrity we are able to work with our architect to provide you with performance reports so that we can choose the best HVAC system, window types, wall thickness, and attic insulation so that we can meet all the necessary energy consumptions. This will save you on resources, time and money!

The Cost of an RTM

We are here to answer the good old question of, “Is a RTM house cheaper than a site built home?”

I would like to just say before I get into this, that if you already have an RTM, you may be extremely happy with it. We are not here to try to disagree with you. There are many people who have had very positive experiences with purchasing an RTM. We know a few families that have chosen an RTM and and had us do the basements for them. Over all, they have been very happy with the results.

This blog is to point out the advantages of the Custom Home Build over an RTM house. I have put together the following 5 advantages of a site built home:

Value for Investment:

What people aren’t always aware of, is that the RTM company doesn’t provide all the items needed to complete your home. These include:

  • Basement (Wood, Cement or ICF).
  • Bathroom in the basement (Plumbing, Electrical, Tub, Shower, Vanity, Flooring and a Fan).
  • Stairs from main-floor to basement.
  • Required insulation of floor joists around the perimeter of the outside wall (usually spray foamed).
  • Garage (Doors, Overhead Doors, Drywall, Insulation, Concrete Slab),
  • Back Deck, Front Deck, Front Entry, Back Entry.
  • Mechanical – Furnace, A/C, Air Exchanger, Water Heater, Outdoor Faucet, Heat to your garage, Gas outlet on your deck for BBQ.
  • Completion of Exterior – Eavestrough, Windows in Basement, Finishing on Foundation.
  • Driveway, Sidewalks.
  • Electrical plugs and lights by code in basement.
  • Sewer Hook Up, Gas Hook Up, Power Hook Up.
  • Landscaping.

I’m probably missing something, but you get the idea..

People think buying an RTM should be half the cost of the actual house. Right? After all, you are getting the main floor all finished. NO… From our experience with other home owners, its just above 40% of what home owners pay in the very end.

A Custom RTM?

Hip Roof is the in the red box. Gable Roof is the blue box.

How “custom” can an RTM be? We drove through a small town on the weekend and we saw 3 different RTM company’s. To be honest, the houses all looked very similar to each other. How many floor plans can be designed that are LIMITED to its width/depth and height because of the need of transportation? Even the majority of roof’s on RTM’s are gable style, which are a more economical way of doing a roof. While most custom homes will have more of a hip style roof mixed in with a gable style roof. However, you are NOT limited to these styles in a custom home. The words “custom home” means a home that is designed for a specific client, at a specific location. When building custom homes, having 2 stories is always a plus, especially when you have a larger family. Thats the beauty of doing a custom site built home… Its not only 80% customized to you, its the best of the best, it’s 100% customized to your needs, lifestyle and budget!

Timing:

A custom built house can be built at anytime of the year. One of the HUGEST myths, is that you shouldn’t build a custom site house in the winter. Most of these RTM company’s are building on yards that are outside. Very few have the capital and functionality to build an RTM in a 300′ x 200′ heated building. We have built countless homes in the winter and it has not been a disadvantage.

Usually an RTM company will build a home in 3-4 months. That’s a 1500 square foot home without garage or basement, just finished on main floor with exterior finishing on the main floor. It can take 5-6 months from the time construction begins, to completion of foundation, to having the house moved on to the foundation. That is 5-6 months to move in. A custom built home is completed, on average, within 6-7 months .

Disengaged Design Stage?

So you decide you are going to purchase an RTM, and right before you sign the contract, they ask you in for one more final meeting to pick out all your finishings. For example, You will be given 3 options of coloured taps; chrome, satin or oil rub bronze. This goes on for each item throughout your house.

After that overwhelming meeting, you sign the contract and it is a high chance that it will be more expensive than what you thought it would be, because they never communicated budget through the design process. If they did, they would never come in lower than what they would have communicated during designing your home. But you sign the contract anyway, and away they go and start building your house. Probably the next time you come to the yard site will be at the rough-in stage. It would be a visit to decide where you want your plugs, switch’s and how high your shower heads will be etc.. In my opinion, this should be decided before the contract is signed, but it is another chance for a “change order“. Also, that is a long time to wait for a walk-through. When site homes are built, we are constantly communicating with our client, from the concept design to the completion. We communicate through our online system and offer weekly walk-throughs with our clients. I find that when we do site walk-throughs, people get excited and really enjoy seeing the process of how things are built and put together. We can really explain to them why we built it this way or why this was done that way. It ultimately builds trust with our client, and time and time again, proves to be a rewarding experience.

The move?

You have to understand that an RTM means READY TO MOVE, meaning that it has to be built on a yard site, loaded on a truck, and squeezed down the highway to its destination. And yes, you are paying for that in addition to SaskPower to disconnect the power lines that your house will cross.

Another myth, is that the cost for a contractor and trades to come out to rural countryside will be more than having an RTM moved to the home site. The moving cost and all the necessary permits to bring a 1500 square foot house down the highway will be just as much as a contractor coming to your site to build your 100% customized home.

In conclusion, with having experience in building both custom homes and building basements for an RTM’s, we would say the custom home is a better option. We also understand that each person looking for a home has different styles, wants and desires. At the end of the day, we want each home owner to be satisfied and proud of the home they purchased, either with an RTM or a custom site built home.

If you would like to discuss this further and are deciding between an RTM and a custom built home, give us a call, or even fill out our contact form here. We will reach out to you! We appreciate you reading this and look forward to hearing from you.

Seven Mistakes with Floor Plans & How to Avoid Them

A House plays a significant role in your life. We tend to spend a lot of time in our own homes… everything from being with loved ones, to where we sleep, eat, and share memories. It’s also a place where you can go and have “me time”. Now while we are right deep in the middle of Covid-19, how to you get your “me time”? If you are working from home and the kids are not at daycare or in school, it’s very hard to get that time to just be alone and relax.

Knowing that when a house has that much influence in your life, it is so necessary to invest your thoughts and time into the design of a proper floor layout. After deciding to build your own house, the first step will be finding the right contractor. We’ve written a blog about that here.

Once you have committed to a design-build company, they will want to work with your ideas, inspirations and other features that you can do with a custom renovation or new home build. Share these with your builder. The builder can share your ideas with the architect as well as the interior designer.

7 Mistakes with Floor Plan and How to avoid them:

Failing to look at Room Placement.

Bedrooms and Bathrooms are an essential to your house. Having the half bath in a highly travelled area, like the kitchen, is not ideal when doing your meal prep. What about your bedrooms? Do you want them on the side of the house that has the busiest street? Probably not. Take a moment and envision where you want your rooms and how they will affect the function of your house. What problems will arise? What will annoy you?

How much is too Big, How much is too Small?

Always take care of the measurements. Measure your current bedrooms, your kitchen, your living room; then go in your current back yard, or go to the Stadium Parking Lot (if your yard is too small) and figure out how big you want your bedroom and measure it out on the pavement right there. Know how big it will be. There are standard sizes for a bedroom. (11′ x 12′, accommodates a Queen size bed) Often people find those sizes fairly small. If it’s a nursery or a child’s bedroom, then it will work, but having a child sized bedroom (11′ x 12′) as the master, that will be a mistake that won’t be easy to fix.

The Front Entrance.

If you are looking to make a statement with company coming over or if you want to sell your house in 10 years, don’t forget about the front Entrance. It is one of the most impactful features of your house. It is very common to have high ceilings in this area, or to have great sight-lines to capture a city/country view. We will talk about this a few points further down.

People do so much talking at the front entrance of the house. Do you ever notice when you have family or friends over, and they get up to leave, it still takes them another 30 minutes to leave? Because they spend alot of time in the front entrance talking, getting shoes, grabbing coats, getting their kids together, etc. etc… Having a large enough front entrance to accommodate this would show tremendous foresight. Some of the best conversations are had at the front entrance of a house.

Bringing the family in.

Building a new home is not just for yourself. It will be a change for your kids as well. If they are able to understand the 3D virtual tour that we offer in our design package, this will help them see their room sizes. Ask them if they like it? Ask them if they would want anything different? Ask them what color they want there room to be? Sometimes kids have the most creative ideas and it is good to listen to them.

Not enough Storage.

When a homes gets built, no matter how big it is, a few years down the road, it gets filled up and feels cluttered. This is more of an organization tactic than the actual size of the house. Finding where to store certain items in your house is key to keeping it bright, airy and fresh looking. A great idea for storage is making your garage a bit deeper/wider, so you can have shelving in there for totes and other misc. items. Even having a taller ceiling in the garage can help for putting up ceiling racks. Check out this ceiling rack from Wayfair. It is economical and would be easy to install. Also, your mechanical room. Having storage in there is always great.

At Contegrity we always drywall, paint, lay flooring and install baseboards before the furnace, water heater and any other mechanicals show up. This way we are not trying to fit drywall in behind a furnace or squeezing it around an breaker box. Get your builder to install shelves in there. Usually 24″ deep, it can just be some 2×4’s and plywood. Doesn’t have to be anything fancy, you will not regret it.

Seeing Sight-lines.

What is a Sight-line? Simply put, it is an imaginary line extending from an observer’s eye to a viewed object or area. The term is to detail what can be seen from any given point in the room to describe efforts to create spaces that are as visually appealing as possible. Normally, the first view you get of any room is the one from the doorway. For many of us, that initial glimpse is enough to form an opinion on the space. So sight-lines are important. You don’t want to be walking into your home and see the toilet seat in the master ensuite!! When we use our 3D virtual touring of our designed home, we can show you sight-lines of each room in your home.

Furniture Sizes.

Lastly, and probably the most common mistake, is not knowing the size of furniture that’s going into your home. For any size of house, furniture placement and size is so important. For each room, it gives a magnificent and luxurious look to the interior of your house. It is very crucial that you should take proper measurements of the furniture that will be going into the space. Sharing these sizes with our architect will be beneficial as they can draw those sizes into the room, and it can be shown in our 3D modelling.

We believe these 7 mistakes can be avoided if you consider the advice given in each point. The worse that can happen is building a house or doing a major renovation and not having it function the way you like. Too many times you hear of people saying, I’d change this or I’d make this room bigger or this room smaller. This is unfortunate, especially when you are spending a-lot of money. It would be disappointing to have regrets. With our process we take those fears of having regrets away. Each step is taking your ideas, our expertise and bringing a concept to life and completing it.

If you would have any questions or want to learn more about our “Free Design”, give us a call or contact us on our form.

Who’s Who

So you have decided to build a house. You have weighed out the pros and cons of it. You have saved money and have talked with your bank and even decided where you would be building. The next step is finding out who’s going to be the builder?

The builder you use for your custom home is a big deal. He will be your go-to, your leader, the captain, the manager, the director, the problem solver and the guy you’ll want to hug after it’s all done! Picking the wrong one can lead to a lot of stress and disappointment, to say the least. It’s tricky, as picking a contractor needs to happen early in the process.

This is always an intimidating process and one that isn’t always the easiest. Which ones are inferior? Which ones are good? Which ones say they are good but are really inadequate? And beyond all that how much do they charge? Is my builder going to bring me the best value for my investment?

These are all valid questions and if you aren’t asking them now, you will be in a short while. Choosing a builder is difficult and once you pick one, you must gain their trust and they must gain your trust. After all, they are building your dream home!

3 Givens

Get Him Involved:

“Pursuit is the proof of desire…”

Ask the builders you choose, if they will be involved in the design process. This is essential. Many builders won’t have any input into the design process and therefore won’t get to know you and your lifestyle. This can leave you frustrated with the type of quality that you may not want. If you really want your dream home, then its best to get a builder who will work with you from the get go. This will also build trust between your builder and you as the client. Spending the next 10-24 months with your builder will require that you communicate. Did you know, over 80% of blueprints don’t go to construction? Why? Because the home owner chooses to not involve the builder in the design stage and communicate budget all the way through design.

Not the cheapest:

Good work ain’t cheap and cheap work ain’t good…

Asking the builder how much he charges per square foot will end in huge disappointment. Alot of people think the builder who is the cheapest is the best, and they choose them with them. Nine times out of ten that builder has forgotten some type of material, or an extra step in your build, and therefore you will get a change order. Change orders will cost you more money than you want to spend and take longer for the completion of your home.

In our experience the better builders cost a little more. It makes perfect sense. A good contractor is going to put more time, effort and attention into your home, and their compensation should reflect that. I’m not saying that you’re only safe with the most expensive contractor, just know that the added level of care and quality is typically worth paying more.

Ask the right questions:

“You have not because you ask not”

It’s very important to interview your builder. He should be doing the same to you. Some great questions are “Have you built custom homes before?”, “How long have you been in business?”, “Do you specialize in the type of home I want?”, “How does your process work?”, “How does design-build work?”, “What type of materials will you use to build my house?”, “Do you have a schedule?”, “Can you guarantee my move in date?”, “Is your price a fixed price contract?” “Is your fixed price contracts detailed out so I will know exactly what I’m getting?” “If we sign a contract are we committed to those selections?” Can we have a tour of the projects you have done?”

As he should be asking you… “Your family size?”, “What type of lifestyle do you live?”, “Do you like to entertain?” or “Are you more family geared?”, “What’s your budget?”, “Do you have land?”, “What type of home do you want to build?”

As these are all great questions to start with, and will help you build trust with your builder.

Choosing Us

Contegrity Contracting has been in the construction industry for over 7 years, and has over 40 years of team experience. We know the ups and downs of building custom homes, and we have found that our process has been the most successful. As a design-build company we work towards building your dream home with great foresight and an indispensable amount of knowledge in the industry. If you’d like to learn more from us contact us.

5 Tips on Costing your Custom Home

For most anyone, planning to build your custom home is one of the top single projects you will ever tackle in your lifetime.

Trying to figure out how much it will cost can be a difficult process but it is vital to know how much you will be spending and how the money will be distributed before your builder shows up on site.

At Contegrity Contracting we have worked with a wide range of clients helping them realize their dreams and not only them owning their homes but building them from scratch.

We have developed some basic steps involved in costing your new home project and the steps you should consider.

Size and Type Of Land

This first step will be probably the most important step. Depending on the size of the land you choose, where its located (rural or urban), and the geography of the land will all come into play at how much your custom home will cost.

In Swift Current there are lots behind the new hospital which you can see locations at city hall. Then there are lots at Cypress Point which is right beside the luxurious Elmwood Golf Course. The homes on these lots carry architectural controls, meaning you will have to abide on certain types and quantities of materials, as well as maintaining one of the four design styles required by the City.

All these lots have utilities to the property line, then it will be the homeowners and contractors responsibility to bring them to the building.

Most of these lots are in good shape and as far as being rocky or uneven, it wouldn’t be a concern. If you are looking to build in a rural area you will need to check the land, and if there’s unevenness or rocky areas you will need to spend the extra cost to get the ground level and smooth.

Each location of land has its own characteristics so understanding how working with these will impact the final construction cost is essential. We at Contegrity Contracting can inspect any land before the client makes the final offer to purchase and will advise on any construction issues we foresee.

Design of your Home

A common mindset is the larger your custom home, the more it is going to cost. Once your land has been selected, our design team can get to work on the greater detail of your home.

We will not only be providing you plans but also we make sure that those plans are implemented properly on your lot, on the outside of your home and on the inside of your home.

The cost of materials you want to use and the quality of installations can also be implemented in this stage. For example, are you wanting luxury glass in the windows or energy-saving features. This will all affect the cost involved. Making the right selections is vital. It’s so important to work with a company that does both the design and build to offer you options and to direct you on budget.

With our team we provide experienced design professionals, experienced architect professional as well experienced builder knowledge and budget. This gives you what you want with budget continually in mind.

Construction

After the last steps have been completed, and you have approved all your selections, the cost of constructing your new home becomes a lot easier and a way more enjoyable experience. Materials are at a set amount. The Builder knows what quantity is required and the necessary labour to complete the home.

Now throughout the construction stage, this may not always go as planned and your builder might have to jump through hoops to bring it all together. It’s imperative that your builder has a schedule, and that he is keeping to that schedule. If he doesn’t have a schedule, RUN!!!

Openness and transparency with your builder is key!! At Contegrity Contracting, we strive for open communication and this is why we use a project management system that tracks communication with the home owner, our suppliers, our trades (plumbers, electricians, drywallers, framers etc). In our online system you can see the construction schedule, receive daily logs with pictures of the days’ progress, see your selections and get updates on your budget. Every client we have talked to since we began this system has raved about how awesome this is. This system builds trust and a transparency you can’t obtain from the average builder.

Interior Design

Choosing the interior design of your home is as important as the construction. This includes everything from your wall color to the kitchen counters choice to the bathroom you want. Going from flooring transitions to picking out styles of light is all important. One key word for this stage is PRIORITIZE! These elements can always be added in at a later date.

What we do Best

Contegrity will help you with every stage of the construction home process, from initial CONCEPT DRAWINGS to FULL COMPLETION to home visits every 3 months for the next two years after you move in. We realize that doing a project like this means a lot to you, and you should and will have high expectations.

We bring many years of experience and a great reputation to the table. Being highly customer focused, our aim is to deliver your dream and not dictate what your dream should be.

If you are searching for a friendly, transparent and talented home construction team to work with, contact Contegrity Contracting today.

Last Month Blog:
Keep Calm and Build On

Keep Calm and Build On

Why is Building a home Difficult?

Building a home doesn’t have to be a complex adventure. But somehow many people find it to be a horrifying experience! One of the biggest problems is…

TIME DELAYS

Think about this… You have hired a builder. He gives you a date when you can move in. You sell the house you are living in and move into a rental suite while your house is being built. You calculate your finances based on that date. You contact SaskEnergy and SaskPower to apply for hook up on the date you are moving in. You contact Sasktel saying this is when you need internet. You even take time off work two weeks before the move in date, just so you can pack and unpack. 

And then you find out that your NEW HOME IS NOT READY

Ok… There’s been a day or two delay because of weather.  And this does cause some delays. But other than acts of God, there is no reason for you to not be in your New Home by the completion date.  The reason the setbacks have occurred is because of a…

DISORGANIZED BUILDER

Yes, building a home is a monumental logistic marathon. It’s about regulating people and managing product. Your builder has to go from coordinating the excavation, to getting concrete, to the framing, to the roofers, plumbers, electricians, drywallers, to lining up flooring products/installers, to painters to countless other trades. This all at the same time he’s managing these trades… He has to… MANAGE YOU!

In the course of the building process you will be required to make a lot of decisions.

For example, the plumbers are ready to come in and do the rough plumbing. Our plumber needs to know what style of shower/bath taps you will be using. Each brand of taps has a different housing that is required before the waterproof membrane is installed at the drywall stage. The last thing that you want is to be running around the city looking for taps while the plumber is standing there waiting for you. These things need to be planned out weeks before the plumber shows up. 

Managing this takes expertise and skill. Just because a builder is good at swinging a hammer doesn’t mean he’s good at being a manager. Its vital for you to ask what your builder uses to keep himself and your new house…

ON TRACK

If he’s full of a whole bunch of hope and good intentions to get you your dream home by his expected completion date, there will be no chance of you moving in on that date!!

Gantt Chart

You want a builder who has a scheduling software and who can adjust the scheduling software; Something that is cloud-based (online) that handles the entire process including communication with trades and venders. 

If your builder is not using a schedule and management program like this, you risk mistakes, confusions and major catastrophes in completion dates, costing you time, and more importantly, money.  

Contegrity Contracting goes a step above the average builder and uses an online project management system that not only has a schedule, which we can adjust as the construction process progresses, but also keeps track of your budget, all your selections (like flooring, tile, cabinets, exterior finishes, lighting etc..), communicates with our venders and trades. It also stores files, documents, plans and the contract. At the end of everyday we take a minimum of 5 pictures, loading them up into our online system, just so you can see your progress.

It’s all there – all transparent and organized for everyone to see, making your experience with us one you can trust, stress free and all on budget and on schedule.

If you’d like to hear more about this and see a demo of our Online System, you can contact us here. 

You can also see a video of our online system on our website here.