Planning: Its Importance in Custom Homes

PlanningPlanning is a very important step before construction even begins on your new home. It can be the difference between an “okay” house and the dream home you had always imagined.  It might be tough to envision what your dream home will look like while looking at a house plan drawn on a piece of paper.  Room sizes, traffic patterns, furniture placement and other design elements can be challenging for even industry professionals to grasp. For clients building their dream home the questions and concerns can be endless and almost overwhelming. 

So what can you do to make sure your dream home is as close to perfect as possible and that meets your every need and want?  A good builder will want to meet with you directly to carefully review your plans and be able to address all of your concerns on paper before construction even starts. This is especially important if it’s a custom plan! It’s not like you can tour another one just like it that was already built across the street to see if you like it or not. You only have 1 chance to get it right. It may seem simple and easy on paper prior to construction, but imagine trying to move walls after they have already been constructed!

Some builders may offer the assistance of interior design as part of their package, so you’ll want to take advantage of this service.  Even if you’re comfortable making color and other style selections on your own, confirming it with an expert is also reassuring.  At Lexis Homes, our design and planning process is very thorough. We take the time necessary to take all rooms, functionality and practicality into consideration, using the help of an architectural draftsman and our very own in-house interior designer to provide you with floor plans and layouts, interior/exterior elevations, architectural elements and detailed room designs.

Building a custom home takes time, effort and good planning. The craftsmanship and execution of the home is also very important, but without accurate design and detailed planning work, the project will not be successful. Using the extended services of a custom home builder will make the entire process less stressful for you and make it a more enjoyable experience.  Feel free to contact us at Lexis Homes about the planning services we offer when you’re thinking about building your dream home in Saskatoon and surrounding area!


A slower approach to life with a Slow Home

What’s Wrong With This House?
Fast Houses, Slow Homes and How to Tell the Difference
by John Brown & Matthew North

I’ve described what one should avoid in a Fast House.  Let’s look on the flip-side at what really defines a Slow Home?  Brown & North continue with the ideal description of a space we can comfortably call home; Lexis has adopted this model in their building philosophy.

The Slow Food Movement of the mid-1980s brought people back to how things were eaten in the ‘olden days’.  Slow Food now opposes the standardization of taste; think salt content and edible bi-products we’ve experienced for a long while now.  Slow Food protects cultural identities tied to our culinary traditions; sure, fast food chains offer a lobster burger on the Canadian coast, but is that a true representation of a traditional seafood meal?  Slow Food is based on its long-term value to our wellbeing rather than short-term gain; instant and long-term benefits of a carrot stick naturally outweigh the instant gratification and yucky feeling after potato chips.  Like Slow Food, a Slow Home benefits the health and wellbeing of those residing in it, as well as the planet.  It helps the homeowner take a slower approach to life within this fast-paced world.

Now, don’t confuse a Slow Home with a high-end, new, or custom home; although custom homes can give a buyer the potential to incorporate Slow Home concepts, they can come in all shapes, price ranges and years built.  The following are a few concepts Slow Homes should portray.


Chapter 2 | Slow Homes

Grouping common-themed rooms together will avoid traffic through the home, facilitating easy movement & flow; You wouldn’t want to run more than a dozen feet to get a spice from your pantry while cooking, nor down the hall to the closest closet for laundry soap.  Brown & North also describe a kitchen’s efficient work triangle, unobtrusively between the sink, stove, and fridge; this allows any chef to easily flow through the kitchen.

Where do you spend the most time in your house?  If you did not answer the main living room, consider the idea you may currently live in a minimally-functioning Fast House.  The living room should be the best space in the home: best possible daylight, open layout, and centrally located to the home’s flow… The uses for this space can be endless: conversation pit, movie theatre, craft room, office, snoozing grounds, social club, and likely many more and in combination.  Dedicating decent space and design will make this space ideally usable.

Outdoor living should be easily accessible and essentially an extension of main living spaces.  A balcony needs to be a useful shape –long and skinny without being able to fit a table setting is rather useless.

When indoor living, dining space is a high traffic one; an eating bar alone is usually insufficient.  Space required for the dining table and chairs should be free of door swings and other collisions of space, and conversely not leave too much wasted space surrounding.  It is also recommended to centre the table on a visual focus, perhaps a window, a large piece of art, or a book shelf.

Does your house have a beautiful study, enclosed behind French doors with a large desk, shelving galore, and comfy armchairs?  If you use this space, great.  If you really just pay your bills on your laptop while sitting on the living room couch, this space is not well designed for your usage.  In this case, seek alternatives: if your desk often looks like a tornado hit it, a small alcove with proper space for a desk, away from view of the main living space could be ideal.  If you keep a tidy office, the 2-in-1 kitchen table with basket shelving close by could be a more ideal alternative.

Bedrooms should allow the user to efficiently get ready in the morning.  A flow from bedside to closet to bathroom is the natural and Slow Home progression to allow quiet  and less back-and-forth for those sleeping in.  Closets can also ideally be located to create sound buffers between rooms.

Bathroom details are a Goldilocks story about size: not too big on the main floor, but not too small to efficiently provide counter space and storage.  The just-right size may not include an en-suite if that space would be better used otherwise.  Location on the main floor counts, too; Have you ever awkwardly been a guest in a home where the bathroom door opens to the gathering area?!

Entries are a point of transition.  Main entries should not be extremely visible from the entire house; we Saskatonians need that space to freely host our keys & blackberry, touques & muddy boots, groceries and guests and then not begrudge the chaos from every room in the house.

In our climate, winter for much of the year, our homes should be oriented to heat the interior by the sun.  Therefore, main living space windows ideally face South.  This can dramatically reduce the energy load of less natural heating mechanisms.  Give the garage North-facing space!


Our homes are the most important place where personal recalibration needs to occur; they are our haven from a fast-paced world. If you never experience Slow Home living, you may believe your Fast House is still doing the trick, without realizing how unacceptable it really is.  A Slow Home is designed to fit the way we actually live.  I challenge you to investigate your current space to change one concept towards slower living and tell us about it on Facebook.

Home Design Concepts

What’s Wrong With This House?
Fast Houses, Slow Homes and How to Tell the Difference
by John Brown & Matthew North

Did you know the fast food epidemic is equally applied to new home building?  How often do you really use that extra living room, fondly remembered at grandma’s house with plastic over the seats?  Or have you figured out furniture placement around that weird corner of the house?  Apparently in the industry, this is called a Fast House.  In their book, Brown & North describe this epidemic, and more importantly, how to spot a Slow Home.  As I read to apprise myself of adopted Lexis values, I’ll detail the differences…

Chapter 1 | Fast Houses

In the 1940s, when the home-cooked meal saw its replacement by processed fast foods, so did the home building industry see the same effects: sprawl of standardized, cookie-cutter, suburban houses.  With growth in every corner of our Saskatoon, it is not surprising to see this effect catch up to us… but how healthy is it really?

The fundamental problems as we look at a new home to purchase are often masked; we do not discover the awkwardness until we’ve lived in it for a few months, at which point this industry tends not to have a return policy to fall back on.  Brown & North describe 20% of homebuyers move within the first three years of purchasing a new home, often due to dissatisfaction with the way the house functions.  This lack of functionality tells us the homeowner is in a Fast House, instead of a Slow Home.

Top Clues you’re in a Fast House:

Street of Dreams: model homes victoriously stand on the largest lots in a cookie-cutter land.  We are made to believe the optional features of a gourmet kitchen, hardwood, sport garage or spa bath are really customizing the home to suit our needs and creativity.  In reality, your house will look like your neighbours’ after choosing from the limited selection.

Redundant Spaces: we’ve got the family room and living room, dining room and kitchen eating nook.  How often do you really use all these spaces; they’re like the good dishes –they only get pulled out for Christmas.  Instead of multiple rooms, each concept could be properly set within a single space so as not to repeat functions within the home –after all, you can only use one at a time.

Colliding Geometries: the most grand of features, like the off set staircase, or the angled entertainment corner.  Although they catch our attention, these pieces often break up spaces in a floor plan and are difficult to work, move, and place furniture around.

Supersized Features: a study library (which is really just another room) or an oversized staircase (who hangs out there, anyway?).  Although the grandeur of these features gives the allure and lure of a high-end, fancy home, the builder usually ends up compromising quality for quantity; More usable rooms are compromised in space and features.

While these features can attract us to a house, none of this fills the longing we feel for a real sense of home.  There is a bright side, though, in a Slow Home.  I’m proud to discover the belief in this concept by the Lexis team, and look forward to helping build Homes, not houses.  Over the hurried holiday season, I’m off to read the next chapter, and analyze how slow my own home is… will report back.

BOLD on BROADWAY –New plans unveiled

New home in Saskatoon

Modern home in Saskatoon – Broadway Avenue

[click for full size image]

We talk a lot about creating homes that are different than the norm. This is why we are pretty excited about how our plans are unfolding for our new project on Broadway. This location is going to give us a lot of latitude to be creative!

The reasons are two-fold:

1. There are no exterior architectural controls in the area that “force” us to build “standard design” homes.

2. The area / atmosphere lends itself well to the trendy / modern styles that we like to use.

For example, it is quite standard in new neighbourhoods in Saskatoon (like Willowgrove) where a home must have a minimum roof pitch of 6/12 and a double garage is mandatory in the front of a house.

We are not using either of these concepts in the Broadway townhome. We will be implementing a “flat roof look” on this design. It will incorporate the great look and style of flat roofs without some of the issues associated with “true” flat roofs.

We are also using brick accents on the house to escape the “norm” of using stone on the exterior. Cedar soffits and accents are currently in the design plans as well!

This project will be taking place at 1210 Broadway Avenue in Saskatoon. This location is one and a half blocks South of 8th St. It is a short walk to the heart of Broadway and also in close proximity to downtown.

The project start date is early to mid May 2010. The anticipated completion date is September 2010.

Stay tuned for more blog posts about the interior design and the project progress.


The new and improved Lexis website!

Welcome to the new and improved Lexis Developments website! We have spent a considerable amount of time and effort to revamp our site to better reflect our vision. Since our slogan is Different by Design we felt our website should be different from the norm as well.

What makes our website unique?

1. Inspiration gallery

We decided to include this gallery to help inspire people to implement creative ideas into their new homes. There is no better way to come up with ideas for your home than actually SEEING some great concepts. The gallery also gives you some ideas about the types of things we plan to do with some of our house designs. The photos in the gallery are just a sample of the full collection that we maintain in our design database! Custom home buyers are able to view the full collection when we work through the design process.

2. The blog

The blog serves a few purposes. First of all it brings some personality to the website and our company. It helps you to get to know us as people and as home builders. The second benefit is that it allows us to share some design ideas and home building tips and keep the content and topics fresh. Lastly, the blog will also create a platform that allows everyone to interect with us and provide input on designs and ideas.

We hope you enjoy the website. Stay in touch by signing up for our newsletter or follow us on twitter or facebook.