Developers sometimes get a bad rap for swooping in, buying up a swath of property, carving it into smaller lots, then selling it off at a profit, never to return again.
Chris Bowness likes to think he’s more invested in Vista Estates, a new Triangle Mountain neighbourhood that his company is partnering on building out.
Bowness, president of custom home builder Alair Homes Victoria, is thrilled with the fact he and his family are building their dream home on one of the 18 view lots created since 2011, when developer Fritz Karger decided to do something more with land his own family resided on for years.
“I like to say there’s an added attachment (in building your own home on land you’re developing),” he says. “You feel an added connection to the community around you and there’s an added sense of pride.”
With a five-year-old son already in school and a daughter who’s two, Bowness and his wife Scarlet – she’s the company shareholder and also operates a home-based baking business – are looking to put down roots in Colwood.
“We wanted security and stability for our family,” he says. “We designed the home and picked the lot. This is our long-term plan for the family (to stay here).”
Bowness, who graduated with a mechanical engineering degree from the University of Victoria 20 years ago and has since shifted his focus to architectural engineering, is jazzed, to say the least. On the day the Gazette caught up with him, they had just broken ground on the lot for their custom-built home.
Part of what he likes about the Vista Estates project, which is on an elevated and reinforced area bordered by Fulton Road, Karger Terrace and Demel Place and features the more recently dedicated Robson Place, is the combination of local companies that have worked on the project to date. “You’ve got different professionals involved, virtually all of whom are based on the West Shore.”
Besides Karger himself (F.K. Developments), who raised his family in the original Robson homestead, Bowness lists such contributing local companies as architectural designer Java Designs; Westbrook Consulting, civil engineers who do “land prep;” structural engineers Mann Engineering, and others having a hand in creating this exclusive neighbourhood.
The lots are a healthy size – 7,500 square feet is common – and the four large, high-end homes built so far use a significant chunk of the available space.
The Bowness home, the fifth to be built on the property, will be in the neighbourhood of 4,000 sq. ft. when done.
From an investment standpoint, Bowness said they are considering buying up one or more of the lots and building spec homes on them for sale as a complete package.
The company markets its design/build services to the public, but with connections already in place with tradespeople and other professionals, it may just make financial sense to help move along the progress of the neighbourhood a little more quickly.
Q: WHAT SHOULD I CONSIDER WHEN BUYING A NEW HOME?
Buying a brand new home is a big decision and an important investment and there is a lot to think about. You want to buy with confidence, enjoy the experience and know you’ve made the best decision for you and your family.
Typically, buying a new home takes place over time and in several stages. To begin with, you want to take some time deciding on your priorities – what you want in a home, where you want to live and how much you want to spend – and then explore what’s available.
Once you have narrowed your choices down to one community, one builder and one home, you are ready to work out the details and sign a contract with your builder. Then it’s time to step back and let the builder do the work.
Some of the things you should consider and questions to answer before getting to this stage are:
• what is the surrounding community like; what amenities does it have and what is the proximity to work and schools?
• what size, style and layout of the home – inside and out – works for you and your family?
• how do you plan to finance the project or finished home?
• explore your options; what do the various builders have to offer?
• does the neighbourhood fit your needs; what are the long-term plans for the area?
• do your homework on investigating the builder, their previous jobs and reputation
• what time frame do you expect or need for the project?
Other things will no doubt come up, but remember, there are no dumb questions, especially not when it comes to a purchase as large as a new home.
GREATER VICTORIA MARKET UPDATE » MONTH TO DATE SEPT. 21/15 COURTESY VICTORIA REAL ESTATE BOARD
» 432 / 565 — NET UNCONDITIONAL SALES / TOTAL, SEPTEMBER 2014
» 635 / 1,099 — NEW LISTINGS / TOTAL, SEPTEMBER 2014
» 3,509 / 4,253 — ACTIVE RESIDENTIAL LISTINGS / TOTAL, SEPTEMBER 2014