In 2011, Paul McGavigan received a phone call from his friend, Jamie Affleck, who asked if he wanted to help start the first franchise of Alair Homes, a well-respected custom home builder in Nanaimo, British Colombia. McGavigan, a journeyman carpenter, agreed. Little did he know that five years later he would be a partner in Alair, now helping run one of Edmonton’s most unique custom home builders.
“There hasn’t been a lot of innovation in the custom construction industry,” he says. “Getting a client signed, getting a shovel in the ground and away you go — that’s sort of been the process for a long time. But your ability to affect the budget and timeline is drastically reduced the quicker you jump into something. So we take the time to figure out exactly what you want, and what you’re getting for your money, before we move into construction. We eliminate the veil between client and builder.”
The design process can take six months or more before a shovel ever breaks ground, because in Alair-built homes, clients can choose everything from the “colour of the screwheads on their light switches to the tint of the shingles.”
In 2018, Alair Homes started #BuildingARTyeg on Instagram as a way to recognize every set of hands involved in making people’s dream homes a reality, including framers, drywallers, painters and finishers. It’s since been shared thousands of times. “They’re all artists in their respective fields,” McGavigan says. “We wanted to elevate the idea that we’re not just building homes, we’re building art.” He says Alair is as much a lifestyle brand as a building company.
Sadly, also in 2018, Affleck died of cancer. He had suffered from melanoma which spread to his spine. In his memory, Alair entered into a partnership with the Cross Cancer Institute. “It was a rough couple of years where we scrambled to make sense of it and move forward,” McGavigan says, “but he inspired us to work with and sponsor the Cross Cancer Institute and start the Alair Suncare Initiative, providing kits [with sunscreen] for tradespeople working outside.We understand how short life can be.”