When Temps Fall, Challenges Rise for Canadian Home Builder

When Temps Fall, Challenges Rise  for Canadian Home Builder

Infiniti Master Builder is a custom builder that serves its home area in and around Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. Infiniti’s team savors nothing more than meeting individual family needs and wants in custom homes, while observing the budgetary parameters of each client. Excelling in that role, however, is not without challenges. While sunlight lingers long into summer evenings in that far northern locale, winters are a far different matter. Ensuring its team can build year round has required Infiniti to adopt proprietary systems allowing it to work around the region’s frosty climate. It has also compelled Infiniti to favor a very specific exterior
siding product.

The Infiniti Master Builder team has more than 60 years combined experience, and has worked together for more than eight years. The company’s staff includes three master home builders, an architectural designer and a certified new home sales professional. The client’s ideas are gathered by the team, and a floor plan and elevations are created. “We use technology to provide 3-D renderings, and ‘3-D walk-through’ of the home,” says Marina Plewes, master home builder principal at Infiniti Master Builder. “The client can walk through the interior of the home and can ‘fly’ around the exterior on a computer. This realistic experience gives clients the confidence those lines on the page will be converted to their dream home.” The master home builders on staff review each project for constructability and to ensure an energy-efficient dwelling.

A member of Built Green Alberta, Infiniti builds homes that rank high on the energy-efficiency scale, Plewes says. Edmonton’s temperature range is broad, ranging from as cold as 35 below to 35 above on the Celsius scale, or minus 31 to 95 Fahrenheit.  Extreme cold can create challenges with timing. But Infiniti builds all year round, Plewes says. “That’s why we’ve developed systems for heating the footings to ensure that the concrete is cured properly,” she reports, adding cold can halt exterior work, but basements are heated from the start. “If it’s a certain number of degrees below zero, we will wait to dig the basement.  We want a maintenance-free exterior, and that’s what drew us to maintenance-free cladding. We don’t have to wait until it’s a certain temperature over night to do
exterior painting.”

Another Edmonton building challenge is the strong local economy, which can create labor shortages. Infiniti has established relationships with trades and suppliers in each phase, ensuring projects are completed in a timely manner.

As Plewes mentions, extreme climate calls for maintenance free cladding.  Seven or eight years ago, Infiniti’s cladding tradesman recommended Foundry®, a maintenance-free siding product from The Tapco Group®. “We want a maintenance-free exterior, and that’s what drew us to Foundry,” Plewes says. “In addition to the weather not being a factor in finishing the home in cold weather, using Foundry means our customers don’t have to paint. They don’t have to worry about the home needing painting in a certain number of years.  They can just enjoy their homes.”

Use of Foundry also means greater safety for homeowners. Some of Infiniti’s houses have walk-out basements. If the houses had to be painted, homeowners would have to paint at the top of a three-story walk-out, she says. The Infiniti team soon realized Foundry also helped the company attain its goal of providing the exterior of each home with great visual interest. “It’s authentic-looking and has a really nice range of colors,” Plewes says. “This adds a lot of interest to the elevation. You don’t want it to all be one material, you want a variety of materials. We will use Foundry shakes, in combination with stone and siding to create visual interest.” Plewes also likes the fact that in addition to offering a range of colors, Foundry has “given its shakes some shading,” she says. “It’s nice that it’s not a solid color, by giving it some shading, it provides some dimension.”

Infiniti’s most popular home styles are Craftsman and Heritage, she adds. The percentage of Foundry used will vary with the style of each home. On some homes, 30 percent of the elevation will feature Foundry. On other houses, the percentage may be closer to 10 percent. “We’ve had some homes where the upper portion of the house all around the elevation is Foundry,” she adds. “Or it can be accents. We use it a lot in the gables.”

The fact that Foundry complements varying home styles also serves Infiniti Master Builders well in meeting municipal ordinances, she adds. “In developments within municipalities, the developers will typically employ an architectural consultant,” she explains. “They have to approve a home design to ensure there’s a proper level of variance and color variety in the streetscape. You may be limited to certain styles within a neighborhood. Some may be limited strictly to Craftsman or Heritage, others offer a variety. Foundry lends itself to a number of different styles.”  In many of the neighborhoods in which Infiniti builds, the company is required to use a darker siding color. “We can add interest to those darker colors with Foundry, either blending it in or as a contrast,” she says.

Because Foundry is resilient and braves those tough Edmonton winters, Plewes says Infiniti doesn’t have a problem providing its homes with warranties. “We know Foundry will last,” she observes. The customers Infiniti serves are a satisfied bunch. “You want a stately house when people drive up,” Plewes says. “Our houses are like that . . . One architectural agent told us she can pick out our homes in a community, by the looks of the exterior and how well we put them together.”