Sutton Group West Coast Realty Realtor Bob Starr

HOMEFINDER: Making beautiful music in Happy Valley

The Piano offers luxury with options that make purchase affordable for many

Numerous new home options have sprung up along the Happy Valley Road corridor in recent years.

They’ve run the gamut, from larger homes designed for established families, to smaller units aimed at first-time home buyers.

Moji Shahab of Parsi Developments, well into construction on the first 10-home phase of The Piano, a cluster of single-family homes at the corner of Happy Valley and Marwood Avenue, wasn’t worried about pricing them on the higher end compared to other nearby projects. He and designer-wife Noushin Ashtiani wanted to create something special, a contemporary development without compromise.

“We never look at them as a competition, we are basically complementing their work because we need the variation here,” Shahab says of the neighbouring developments. “Each of us are catering to a different group of our community, with different products, like on the menu of a restaurant.”

Priced between $474,900 and $574,900, these modern-design homes feature such unique energy saving and comfort features as a four-foot, insulated heated crawlspace – no concrete slab on ground – and the use of fir plywood for the sub-floor and main flooring.

Other quality elements included in the design are stainless steel appliances, triple-glazed windows, “floating” fireplace box and bathroom cabinets, solid doors throughout, hard-wired technology centres and fully serviced and private rooftop patios.

“Our focus is on bringing something flexible; modern luxury at an affordable price,” Shahab says.

He acknowledges that affordable can mean something different to everyone.

Sutton Group West Coast Realty agent Bob Starr, who is marketing the properties along with Zahra Shahab – Moji’s sister – explains that the multiple rental options built into the homes have been a major selling feature for people looking at price and affordability.

Depending on how much space the owner needs for their own purposes, the configurations allow for either a one- or two-bedroom ground floor legal suite in the largest homes. Total square footage in those units is 2,630. Mid-sized units, designed with a one-bedroom ground floor suite, come in at 2,260 sq. ft., while a few three-bedroom 1,400 sq. ft. units are also available.

Starr shows on a handout that a one-bedroom suite renting for $930 is worth about $200,000 of mortgage. A two-bedroom suite bringing in $1,160 of income bumps that up to $250,000, he says.

“That brings the total cost down to about the price of a condominium, where you’re paying strata fees as well,” he says.

The suites are built to the same standards of quality as the upper level, with triple-pane, floor-to-ceiling windows in the main rooms, extra thick insulated concrete walls for more noise reduction, and solid wood doors.

The development attracted attention before construction began. Last spring Parsi placed an old piano on the corner of the property, across from Happy Valley elementary, which the public was encouraged to play as they went by.

In keeping with The Piano’s theme of “living in harmony” with the community, a sundial has been placed at the corner and a piano art feature will be placed there.

The company hopes to build dozens more homes on an adjacent property on Happy Valley Road. This first phase of luxury, two units from which are sold, will give Parsi a good sense of whether The Piano is in tune with the market.

For more information, visit thepianoproject.ca

Q: WHAT ARE THE PROS AND CONS OF NEW VS. EXISTING HOMES?

Among the differences, new homes in development can offer opportunities for personalized touches, while pre-owned homes are already set. However, be aware that some developers can become cash-strapped so buying a home on spec can be a gamble, even if the developer is reputable.

On new builds, warranties usually begin from the closing date of the sale. Having a warranty to cover home and appliances can be a comforting thought for some new homeowners. New homes traditionally carry a higher price tag than a similarly outfitted pre-owned home.

Some buyers go for new construction to avoid headaches. Sellers are required to disclose known pre-exisiting problems, but that may not always happen.

A home inspection is important on used homes, but even then there are never guarantees.

On the flip side, a pre-owned home will sometimes offer a mature neighbourhood with large trees, established schools, parks and services and give the buyer more of a built-out feeling of community coming in.

GREATER VICTORIA MARKET UPDATE » Month to date Dec. 8/14  COURTESY VICTORIA REAL ESTATE BOARD

» 112 / 355 — NET UNCONDITIONAL SALES/ TOTAL,  DEC. 2013

» 148 / 437 –NEW LISTINGS / TOTAL, DEC. 2013

» 3,455 / 3,554 — ACTIVE RESIDENTIAL LISTINGS / TOTAL, DEC. 2013