What It's Like to Build a House in Ontario During the COVID-19 Pandemic - Royal Homes What It's Like to Build a House in Ontario During the COVID-19 Pandemic - Royal Homes
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What It’s Like to Build a House in Ontario During the COVID-19 Pandemic

Building Your Home

You’re not alone if the COVID-19 pandemic is making you wonder:

“Is 2021 really the right time to build a custom home in Ontario?”

Like most industries, the home building industry has been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. It’s had an impact on everything from the design and building process to permits and financing.

Even when everything is going well, building a custom home is hard work. Throw a global health crisis into the mix and your new home could easily end up behind schedule and over budget ‒ especially if it’s being built on-site, rather than in a controlled indoor environment.

But here’s the truth: with the right plan, it is still possible to build a custom home with minimal stress in 2021.

Let’s walk through the process of building a custom home in COVID-19, making note of the differences between traditional homes and prefab homes during this time.

The Design Centre is Different

Before COVID-19, you would usually start your custom home journey at a Design Centre.

That’s where you’d meet your builder, make a plan, and choose everything from the roof shingles and siding to windows, flooring, cabinetry and more. You could even bring friends or relatives along for the ride!

Visiting the Design Center for the first time is always a thrill. You get to walk through model homes, meet your designers, and get a clearer vision of your future home in mind.

Nowadays, as a matter of health and safety, your first visit to the Design Centre (and possibly later ones) will probably be virtual.

Many Design Centres in Ontario are closed or have limited hours, often by appointment only. Relatives and friends have to stay home, though they may join the conversation remotely via video chat.

The good news is, many custom home builders in Ontario now offer a wide array of project photos and information on home models online. This is a great way to get an idea of what you want before you visit a Design Centre in person. You could even take a virtual tour!

Our Design Centres in Innisfil, Gravenhurst, Wingham, Minden, and Peterborough remain open, taking additional precautions to protect you, our staff, and the community. An additional Design Centre is slated to open in Sarnia this spring!

There’s a Chance Costs Could Fluctuate

If the terms of your build aren’t set in stone, you could be on the hook for some serious extra expenses.

New construction is already notorious for last-minute expenses, and if COVID-19 causes disruptions in the construction supply chain, the cost of materials could skyrocket after the ground breaking.

Your builder may be able to switch gears and use alternate materials, but if it costs more, that’s something you’ll have to pay ‒ unless you’ve got an ironclad agreement with the builder that says otherwise. Last year, some homebuyers saw increases of $6,000 to $20,000 just in the cost of lumber alone!

Of course, that only applies to a house being built the traditional way on a building site. Royal Homes’ prefabricated building process, refined over thousands of homes, gets your home built squarely on budget ‒ no matter what the market’s doing outside our factory walls. Plus, with the Buy Now, Build Later program, you can lock in cheaper prices now and start building in 2022!

Financing is More Complicated

Right now, thanks to COVID, everything is taking longer than usual on the mortgage side.

Building permits, appraisals, well and septic inspections, title searches…the list goes on. Financial institutions have less staff than before the pandemic, and with more families leaving the big city, demand has gone up.

At the same time, lenders are doing more due diligence to make sure that applicants are able pay their mortgage.

Since the pandemic has put many workers on shaky ground, some lenders are tightening their standards as well.

Expect Delays on the Building Site

When you’re building a custom home, it’s important to know how long it will take. This is crucial if you want to sell your current place first, or if you plan to rent while you’re waiting for your new home.

Due to all the delays in permits, construction, materials and financing, you should expect any new home build to go a little bit longer than normal during the pandemic.

Additionally, if you go with a traditional home build, you can’t count out the possibility the build will be stopped during a lockdown. During the first wave of 2020, non-essential construction sites were temporarily shut down in Ontario.

Prefabs are a different story. Since Royal Homes are built in our factory, not construction sites, we were able to keep building during the lockdown last spring. Our customers were  beyond relieved to hear that their homes were still being built while the rest of the province was shut down.

Expect a New Kind of Walk-through

The final walk-through of your finished home used to be a big deal. You’d go through the house with the builder, inspecting it from top to bottom and learning how the HVAC, electrical, and other systems work. It was the moment where it all came together!

Today, the walkthrough is less a grand tour and more a thing to get over with. Since COVID appeared, many builders no longer accompany buyers on the walkthrough ‒ they just send a video explaining how the house works. A bit anticlimactic, but necessary at this day and age.

One big event that hasn’t changed, at least on the prefab side of things, is the house setting. Watching your home roll in on the bed of a truck is an experience you’ll remember forever. You wake up with a foundation and go to bed with a house! That should more than make up for a less dramatic walk-through.

Building a Home During COVID-19

The process of building your own home is daunting in times like these. Be sure to get as much info from your home builder as you can, so you know what you’re doing and what to expect.

While there are some new challenges, it is definitely a good time to build a custom home in Ontario. The housing market is holding steady, interest rates are low, and there are more reasons than ever to escape to the country!

We’d love to talk to you about building your dream home in 2022. Just find your nearest Design Centre to get started!

I recommend Royal Homes to people speaking about building new.Penny
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  • FAQ

    Where can I get a price list or How come your website doesn’t show pricing?

    Prices vary geographically, depending on where you are building. With the amount of options available, price lists run into thousands of options. Prices change with the options you choose. The best way to get an idea on pricing would be to contact our Design Centre nearest to where you are building.

    Why should I buy from you over a conventional or "Stick-Builder"?

    The advantages of prefab include building in a climate controlled environment, using environmentally friendly products which reduces waste and a CSA monitored quality controlled program. There is less time start to finish, with less disruption to neighborhood. We also sell at a firm price.

    Do your homes include a foundation?

    Yes our homes include full foundation and basement.

    How long does it take to build a Royal Home?

    It takes less than two weeks to build a home in our factory, but the process from start to finish is very dependent on the timing of obtaining a building permit. For most of our clients the process from start to delivery is twelve to sixteen weeks with move in eight to twelve weeks thereafter.

    What size homes do you build?

    As a custom builder we can build any size home but generally the average size range is between 1300 and 3500 sq feet.

    Do you build garages?

    Yes. Garages are built on site after the home is delivered.

    Are the homes energy efficient?

    Building a prefab home in a factory assures the highest attention to sealing the building envelope and ensures that the cold stays out.

    Since your homes are so energy efficient and air tight, how do you get fresh air?

    All our homes have HRV heat recovery ventilator air exchanger to remove stale air, and introduce fresh air.

    Where can I put a prefab home?

    Anywhere in Ontario you like.

    Can I really customize my prefab home?

    Yes, we use state of the art custom design software, today no two homes are built alike.

    Do you finish the basement?

    Yes. We can customize your basement to the finishes you desire.

    Are Royal Homes built to code?

    All Royal Homes are individually designed to meet all provincial and municipal building codes for your specific lot location.

    Do you build stick-built or conventional homes as well?

    We are a custom home builder first and use prefabricated components wherever we can, because it is a better way to build. If you have a remote site or custom home design with large open spaces we would look at what makes most sense for that design and location. This could include prebuilt panels or partially site built specific rooms.

    What makes the building process environmentally friendly?

    Waste in the factory is separated and recycled, reducing the impact on landfills. This has less disruption in terms of noise and time at job site. Building prefab allows for higher energy efficient homes and reduced heating costs.

    How is your home delivered?

    Our home is delivered by way of custom designed hydraulic flatbed trailers and precisely craned onto the foundation.

    Can you make changes or custom design?

    Yes, clients are given preliminary plans to review and changes are welcome and easily accommodated.