Lexis Homes President Elected as Chair of Saskatoon Home Builder’s Association

This article was originally published by the Saskatoon & Region Home Builder’s Association (SHRBA) – It has been reposted with permission. For any questions about the SHRBA please contact Krystal Rubyk, Marketing & Communications Manager.

Q & A WITH SHRBA BOARD CHAIR CAM SKOROPAT

Cam Skoropat Cam Skoropat, whom recently began his two-year term as Chair of the Saskatoon & Region Home Builders’ Association Board of Directors, has a unique lens to look through when it comes to the residential construction industry in the Saskatoon Region. Cam got his start in real estate investments while working as an engineer after graduating from the University of Saskatchewan, which then led to a custom home building career and the founding of Lexis Homes in Saskatoon. We sat down with Cam to ask him a few questions about his focus as Chair, his view on the current industry landscape, and what he’d like to see happen moving forward.

What are some challenges you see Saskatoon’s residential construction industry facing right now?

There have been major changes introduced in the past couple of years that builders have had to adapt to, both of which affect home buyers’ ability to afford homes – the introduction of a mandatory stress test on mortgages, as well as PST now being applied to new homes are two of the most significant examples. From the Association’s standpoint, these are challenges to the affordability of homes, which we are always working to protect, and will continue to do so in the upcoming year. We are also concerned with ensuring that Professional Builders are properly supported and equipped to handle these kind of changes and maintain the success of their business, so that will continue to be a focus.

What does it mean to you when you see that a company is a member of the Saskatoon & Region Home Builders’ Association?

For us personally, Lexis Homes became involved with the Association early on in the start of our business. The Association does a lot of work advocating on behalf of the industry, and we wanted to be able to contribute to those discussions. And although it was not originally why we joined, the ability to network with other builders has become a very valuable part of being a member – we help each other raise the bar. In general, I think that a membership with the Association shows that a company is serious about improving their company and having the most current industry information and training, which indicates a high degree of professionalism.

On the flip side, when I see that a company isn’t a member, it indicates to me that they don’t plan to be in the industry for the long term, and that they may not be willing to make that investment in an effort to improve professionalism – and for the public of those looking to select a builder, that should be concerning.

What would you like to focus on during your 2-year term as chair?

Focusing on advocacy work related to high impact topics at the provincial level (like the PST issue noted earlier) is going to be really important. The Association also introduced additional ongoing educational offerings last year, and I’d like to see that expand during my term. Bigger picture, I’d like to make sure that we’re doing a good job conveying the value of the Association to members, and to the public.

How will you judge your own term as SRHBA Chair – what will define your success?

One thing I want to make sure of during my time as Chair is that we, as a board, continue focus on governance excellence. If we tone the top, we will lead by example. I also want to ensure that we continue protecting the financial stability and sustainability of the Association, especially in what is turning out to be a bit of a “transition period,” logistically.  The Association’s staff and main office will be moving this year, so it will be important to make sure this is a successful move, and that we maintain that stability and accessibility to the membership that we’ve worked hard to establish.

Tips for Protecting Your Home from Winter

Tips for protecting your home from Winter

This is a special guest post written by Mike Holmes. Lexis is a member of Holmes Approved Homes.

It’s a sad day when I have to take my boat out of the water and face the reality of fall and winter. Winter can be very damaging to your home, especially if you haven’t kept up with seasonal maintenance.

Luckily, there a few things we can do to minimize the damage of Old Man Winter.

  • When it comes to de-icers the most common is salt, but it damages your lawn and garden and eats away at rock, concrete and mortar. It’s just one of those things that causes deterioration. Instead, after shoveling I apply a good layer of sand and gravel.
  • Remember to shovel the snow away from your foundation walls. Concrete is porous and moisture from melting snow can be absorbed by foundation walls and penetrate into the basement. A little more shoveling can go a long a way.
  • Make sure that any pipes that run through cold zones—such as crawlspaces, a garage or along a wall that isn’t insulated, like in the basement—are properly wrapped with foam.
  • Familiarize yourself with your home insurance policy. Not all insurance policies cover snow and ice damage. Most standard policies won’t cover winter-related flooding, unless you have a separate flood insurance policy.

The Acreage Advantage: Space, Privacy, Nature and Tranquility

Let’s face it — some of us are natural urbanites and some of us crave the peace and privacy of acreage living. If you’re one of the latter, maybe you’re looking to build a bigger home than you could in Saskatoon, or perhaps you simply want the quiet serenity country living affords. Whatever your reason, there are several advantages of acreage living around Saskatoon, and we’ve compiled a few for your consideration.

Stretch out your floor plan and your options
The acreage developments you’ll find outside Saskatoon range anywhere from one to ten acres. Other developments like Sarilia Country Estates offer one-third to one-quarter of an acre, with the ability to combine lots, so no matter your lifestyle or floor plan size, you can find a good fit outside city limits.

Having more space to build means you have more options: walk-out basements, bungalows with one-level living, and larger garages for those who need extra storage for snowmobiles, boats, canoes and other toys. A large vegetable garden, fire pit, pools, hot tubs, and space to raise chickens all become possible—just check to ensure they’re approved under any building standards or bylaws the development may have.

Trade car alarms and sirens for birdsong
Many of our acreage clients have a nostalgia for country living. Perhaps they grew up in the country and are looking to recreate that pastoral lifestyle for their own family, while others just seek the sound of birdsong instead of sirens. Abundant wildlife, fresh air, gorgeous sunrises and sunsets, superior star-gazing, and the simple escape from the hustle and bustle of city living are all solid reasons to consider building a new home on an acreage.

Most acreage properties that Lexis Homes can provide are within only a few miles of Saskatoon yet feel a world away. Many Saskatoon acreage properties are just a five-to-ten minute drive from downtown but are completely absent of city noise. A few minutes drive can replace horns and sirens with bird chirps and whispering breezes.

Improve your privacy
When you build a new home on an acreage, you’ll no longer be able to look out your kitchen window into your neighbour’s living room or backyard—or have them looking back at you. An acreage’s ample greenspace leaves plenty of room for beautiful trees and shrubs to create a natural divider from your neighbours. In many developments, proximity to wetlands, rivers and municipal reserves mean you may never have a next-door neighbour.

A great example of a privacy focused acreage development surrounded by unique landscape features is Saddle Ridge Estates where Lexis Homes has already built for a few homeowners. This property has terrain that includes natural water features, hills and trees providing each lot with plenty of privacy. The breathtaking lots are also in a prime location being just five minutes outside Saskatoon.

Experience nature on your doorstep
If you live in Saskatoon, you may have to walk or drive to local parks or the Meewasin Trail to truly experience nature. But when you live in the country, nature is right on your doorstep—no driving required. Imagine waking up in the morning to see rabbits hopping by, having a relaxing walk along a hiking trail, or going for a quick paddle in a nearby natural pond.

We’ve built for happy homeowners in Grasswood Estates, which offers residents over three kilometres of connecting trails for walking, biking and jogging. Two wetlands provide opportunity to kayak and canoe in the summer. Acreage living can offer it all.

If country roads are calling your name and you’re ready to take advantage of acreage living, check out our Acreage Promotion that provides a one-stop place to view popular acreage floor plans, research property developments, and download acreage-planning tools. Contact us to discuss options for building your acreage escape.

Buy vs Build Self Assessment

How do you decide between building new versus buying an existing house?

Like most major life decisions, there are pros and cons when it comes to deciding whether you should build a new house, or buy an existing one. Your timeline, tastes, preferred location, and many other factors need to be carefully considered. We’ve pulled together a few of the benefits of both options to help point you in the right direction.

REASONS TO BUILD A NEW HOME
Your mother-in-law refers to your design tastes as “particular.” You have strong opinions on baseboard trim styles. You binge-watch home design and construction shows. You know what “greige” is. You’ve saved hundreds of photos of beautiful homes in your Houzz Ideabooks. In a nutshell, you have honed your vision for your future home and want to turn your ideas into bricks and mortar—with cedar accents.

If this sounds like you, then building a new home might be the only way to ensure you’re perfectly pleased with the final product.

On the flip side, perhaps you know how to describe your tastes, but aren’t confident in your ability to pull everything together. In that case, having a dedicated interior designer on hand to help you choose features, finishes and colours is another bonus that comes with building a custom home with a reputable builder.

A few other benefits of building a new home include:

A healthier environment: If you have allergies to dust, mould or pollen, a new home built for your needs (such as installing hardwood instead of carpet) will help you breathe more easily. You can also choose non-toxic materials and paints which will provide extra peace of mind for your family.

No unexpected, expensive surprises: If you build new, you won’t have to worry about fixing a leaky roof or broken furnace for a very long time. And if something does happen to break in the short-term, a new home warranty system will likely have you covered.

Improved energy efficiency: With choices like LED lighting, Energy Star appliances, superior insulation and water conservation technology, building a new home gives you the ability to create an energy efficient home—a win-win for the environment and your bank balance.

REASONS TO BUY AN EXISTING HOME
If you’re someone who loves to wield a hammer and tackle home renovations on the weekend, buying an existing home and making it your own might be right for you. Don’t mind digging around to find the construction permit history of an older home to ensure it’s up to code? Then start scoping out the resale market. Even if you’re not a natural DIYer, there are always existing resale homes that are only a few years old, and likely requiring minimal maintenance if they were built by a reliable Saskatoon homebuilder.

Here are a few more benefits of buying an existing home:

Shorter timeline to possession: Perhaps you have a date you need to be settled in by, and it’s within the next 2-3 months. If you’d like to avoid having to move twice, buying an existing home might be the better option.

More established neighbourhoods: Unless you’re interested in building an infill home, buying an existing home is an easier way to put down roots in an established Saskatoon neighbourhood. With amenities within walking distance and mature landscaping already in place, there’s a convenience that comes with living in the core, and a wide array of architectural styles to choose from.

Still unsure if you should build new or buy an existing home? Check out our self-assessment survey, below. Answer 10 key questions and you’ll be provided a result indicating which option is probably best for you.

Create your own user feedback survey

FAQ – How to Finance a Home Build?

financing-image-3

Financing a new home build through builders, banks or brokers: Answers to your burning questions!

Although you may already be familiar with the financing process when it comes to buying an existing home, the process is a little different when it comes to financing a home that’s being built for you. Perhaps you’re unsure whether you should approach your bank or a mortgage broker. Our clients often ask us about the buying process, so we’re sharing our answers to two popular questions in today’s post.

 Q. I’m thinking about building a new home, instead of buying an existing one. What are my financing options in this situation?

A. In this situation, there are two possibilities:

  1. Builder finances the build: The builder takes a deposit before construction begins (usually 10% of the purchase price) and then finances the remainder of the build all the way to possession day. The homeowner then pays the outstanding balance on the date of possession (via their mortgage or their own funds). Lexis offers this option to clients (in this case, we hold the title to the property until possession day).
  2. Owner finances the build: Some builders simply don’t have the resources to finance the build so they’ll require their client to finance it. In addition, if the client owns the lot and the title can’t be transferred to the builder, the owner will have to finance the build. In this case, the owner will pay with their own funds, or, like the majority of buyers, they’ll have to apply for a mortgage.

Q. Sadly, I don’t (yet) own a Tesla Model S, and I’m not raising any #richkidsofinstagram. Translation: I’m not independently wealthy, so I’ll need to apply for a mortgage to finance the construction of my new house. Should I make an appointment with my bank, or go to a mortgage broker?

 Financial institutions (banks and credit unions)

If you’re happy with your current financial institution, it’s a good idea to book an appointment with your banker or a mortgage specialist there to find out what your options are—but it still pays to shop around. Don’t just look at the posted rates online or in the branch—often, those are just a baseline.

Pros

  • Some banks provide loyalty or bundling discounts. For example, at some banks, if you have a mortgage, credit card and bank account with them, they’ll waive certain charges or monthly account fees.
  • If you have an existing relationship with the bank, you’ll have a direct point of contact available to you if you encounter any issues.

Cons

  • You might not necessarily get the best deal with your existing bank, as banks can only access and offer their own lending products. This means you’ll need to do the legwork of shopping around and negotiating with other lenders to ensure you’re getting competitive interest rates and terms.

 Mortgage broker

A mortgage broker’s job is to find you a lender with the best interest rate and mortgage terms to suit your own unique financial situation. They negotiate on your behalf, as an intermediary between you and a number of lenders.

A mortgage broker will assist you throughout the application process, but the financial institution who provides the mortgage will service your loan: collecting payments and providing customer service.

Pros

  • The services of a broker don’t cost you anything, as they get paid commission by the lender when your mortgage is approved and the contract is signed.
  • They’ll save you time by doing the comparison shopping for you, often reviewing rates and terms from dozens of lenders.
  • Don’t have a gold-star credit rating? Mortgage brokers can often obtain approvals for clients with less than stellar credit scores.

Cons

  • Mortgage brokers don’t necessarily have access to every mortgage product at every bank. That means it’s still a good idea to look around on your own to ensure you’re getting the best deal.

Mortgage brokers and mortgage specialists with the banks often work outside traditional “banker’s hours” these days. Many of them will even come to you—whether that’s your home or office—and meet during a weeknight, weekend, or whatever suits your busy schedule. How about a referral to a fantastic mortgage broker? We’ve also got you covered there. Contact us today and we’ll team you up with a talented and trusted professional.

Want to learn more about financial side of building a new home in Saskatoon? Check out our latest guide, Financing a new home: Top 10 things to know.