New home styles aren't just about attracting potential buyers; they can also help homebuilders take the express lane around shipping delays
By Steven Sandor | March 29, 2023
We’ve all done it — we’ve flipped through the channels and stopped at one of those dream-home-shopping shows. You know the score — a couple tours three or four homes in some sort of island paradise, and then they have to decide which one they are going to buy.
The couples gripe about things like drawer pulls, faucets and showerheads. They have four homes that offer postcard views of the ocean, but it’s all going to come down to which house has the rainfall shower.
Thing is, we’re like that when we shop for homes, too. Note the rise in the high-end rental market, where a premium has been placed on fixtures and appliances.
But, as homebuilders deal with inflation and supply-chain issues, our love of high-end fixtures and finishes may offer a way for them to get around the delays.
How is that?
Let’s go back in time a few months. Supply-chain issues are causing massive issues for homebuilders. In 2022, Rohit Gupta, the president of the Rohit Group of Companies, told a gathering of homebuilders and developers that the issues in getting supplies was critical. Delays force developers to sit on land, and pay the servicing costs, as builders wait for supplies. And that drives up costs.
“Until the supply chain issues in China sort themselves out, nothing else matters,” he said.
The supply-chain issues means that it’s taking longer to build a home. Late in 2022, the Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corporation released its study on the housing markets in all of this country’s major cities. Analyst Abedola Omosola noted that the wait times for homes is lengthening.
“In Edmonton, the average time between receiving the permit to build and starting construction increased from 2.3 months to 3.2 months within the review period,” wrote Omosola. “This may be explained to some degree by supply chain issues and labour shortages, which are known causes of construction delays.
But, for Rohit, the uncertainty has been a catalyst for a rethink on how homes are designed. In March, the company is unveiling a new program — Calgary-based Louis Duncan-He has created three signature designs for the homebuilder.
Duncan-He is used to working one-on-one with clients, rethinking high-end homes. Creating designs that can be replicated in hundreds or thousands of homes — that’s new territory.
“I think what has been interesting is that it’s new for both of us,” says Duncan-He. “I don’t think they’ve ever worked with a designer as intimately as they’ve worked with us. It’s a partnership. We’ve never done this before. We usually work on high-end residential homes where it’s a one-off.
“I think it is groundbreaking… Not everyone has access to that level of time and that level of design. You have to have a certain amount of resources (money) and a certain sort of home to be able to work in that way. It was exciting for me to have that kind of impact on people outside of our regular demographic.”
Rohit isn’t alone in trying to find ways to bring value to homebuyers. Cantiro is advertising a savings plan on selected homes, which includes help with mortgage payments over the first two years of possession. Brookfield Residential offers potential buyers the chance to tour homes outside of regular business hours, and has online tools to help visualize home designs.
Everyone is looking for a leg up in the industry.
But how does Rohit’s plan help with supply chains? Kayode Olufowobi is Rohit’s senior buyer. He says that when a homebuilder can order a large group of items — faucets or flooring — that are custom designed, then no one else is in line for those items. If, for example, a builder is using basic faucets, then a bunch of other builders are likely using them too. And that means there’s a lineup to get them.
“No one else is going to use it,” he says of the new custom-design goods. “It’s all coming to me.”
He says that, in the three years he’s been with the company, the discussion has been around what specific things grab a buyer’s attention when that person walks into a showhome. Faucets. Flooring. Light fixtures.
“What are the things that make a house stand out, and how can you simply bring added value?” he says.
And, then, comes the realization that if a homebuilder is big enough, it can make a bulk order for custom-designed features.
“We do enough numbers so we can satisfy the minimum ordered needed for these products that our customers want.”
Duncan-He understands this new line of thinking. “With some of the specific choices we’ve made, we can go both locally and internationally, and procure products that are made just for Rohit, and they have the volume to validate that level of order. It’s a win for everyone. You’re getting something that’s more special, something specifically picked for that design, and you’re not really competing with other people.”
Duncan-He was first contacted by Rohit in September, and now the designs are ready to unveil. It’s a sign of just how fast changes are being made in the industry.
“If this was a relationship, we moved from dating to living together right away.”
So, you’re not in the market for a new home? After all, buying a new house is a pretty extreme move if all you want is some updated fixtures for your place. If you want to add some nice details to your home, here are some suggestions:
A brushed gold Align kitchen faucet sure stands out from all the silver offerings out there. Give your kitchen a little bling. (Splashes Bath and Kitchen, 11704 170 St. NW, Edmonton)
So, your other car is also a BMW? Got a thing for German engineering? Hansgrohe faucets are pretty sought-after, with German engineering and water savings that seep into the kitchen (see what we did there?) (Ensuite Edmonton, by appointment, 10930 184 St. NW, Edmonton)
Baril faucets look like the stuff of sci-fi; they mix black and metal finishes. But they aren’t made on some distant planet; in fact, they’re designed in Montreal. (Bartle and Gibson Showrooms, 13475 Fort Rd. NW, Edmonton)
Want to make your dining room look like it’s in the sky? We like Modern Forms’ Fluffy LED Pendant, which features silkscreened “petals” that mesh together that look like a cloud. (Robinson Lighting & Bath, 18511 104 Ave. NW, Edmonton)
Or, maybe you want to hang a chandelier from Stormy, that looks nothing like a chandelier. It’s… a snowflake in aged brass? Whatever it is, it’s definitely a conversation piece. (Edmonton Lighting, 9729 51 Ave. NW, Edmonton)
For something that looks ultra-modern, the Hustler linear pendant shines LED light from a 54-inch bar, framed in walnut. It’s simple and beautiful. (Dhillon Lighting, 6704 68 Ave. NW, Edmonton)
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