Homes of the future
Terra View Custom Homes is implementing advanced technologies and sustainable, green building practices in its projects.
By Sukanya Ray Ghosh
On April 23, 1991, Terra View Homes in Guelph, Ont., began its journey in the home-building industry under the leadership of its founder and CEO Andrew Lambden. The mission statement that Lambden set for Terra View Homes at that point was that it would develop communities that will stand the test of time, with an emphasis on architecture, quality craftsmanship and energy efficiency. Terra View and its team of 15 professionals adhere to this commitment even today.
Five years later, in 1996, Terra View Custom Homes was born. When Lambden and the company’s president,David Brix, saw this niche demand in the market, they decided to drive the custom homes segment of the company to success. Terra View’s purpose-driven approach is what helped the company capitalize on this opportunity in a booming industry of cost competitors.
“Building upon our inherent desire to offer a distinctive, fresh perspective in our home designs, without sacrificing quality or service, allowed us to differentiate and evolve into the industry leader we are today,” says Lambden.
All of Terra View’s team members work in the company’s custom homes segment. The team consists of longstanding dedicated employees who are heavily involved with every custom client throughout the building process.
“Each member of our team greatly contributes to the success of the company and satisfaction of our custom home clients. From blueprints to colour selections, our on-staff professionals in architectural and interior design are on hand to offer advice and walk each purchaser through the customization of their new home,” explains Lambden.
The year 2021 is a major milestone for the company as it is celebrating its 30th anniversary. Terra View attributes this success to its forward-thinking leadership, long-tenured employees and dedicated trade partners.
Over the years, the company has designed and built several custom homes, majority of them being tear-down rebuilds.
Lambden notes that such projects come with their own set of unique challenges since they are built in existing residential properties that are sometimes also located in historic districts.
For the Terra View team, a custom home built in an older part of Guelph is one of its favourites. It also happened to be one of the most challenging projects that the team has worked on.
“We had to work closely with Heritage Guelph to be granted permission to demolish the existing 120-year-old home. There was a
significant amount of opposition from the neighbourhood,” recalls Lambden.
To uphold the heritage of the home, Terra View created an historically accurate clone from the outside, down to the proper Ontario-sized brick with replicated details and stone veneer foundation. At the same time, the home is now a very low-energy-consuming
Energy Star-rated and comfortable home.
Terra View’s custom homes team enjoys working on sites that have unique environmental and cultural aspects to them. They have taken up projects that are located in desirable parts of the community, in natural spaces and unique urban areas.
Every one-of-a-kind custom home comes with its set of unique challenges, according to the Terra View team. However, these challenges have allowed them to learn, grow and improve over the years. They are now better prepared to tackle issues and resolve them quickly, easily and without undue cost or stress.
Handling relationships with home neighbours in tight lot situations when doing tear-down builds is a challenge that the team often faces. Another challenge is working through servicing logistics in existing neighbourhoods where old trees need to be retained. Many trees are hard to access and also involve cutting through red tape. Unexpected costs and delays with materials and city permits are common too.
Lambden says the team has learned that patience and working through hurdles with city staff and the community are essential. Additionally, he says, it has highlighted the importance of optimization when approaching custom home builds.
When it comes to creating custom homes, the Terra View team understands they need to be built with people in mind. The home owner not only wants a quality home but also desires a sense of community and belonging.
The Terra View team builds on the vision of the clients, following a collaborative approach throughout the process. The communication channel is always kept open so that the client is able to share inputs at every stage of building their dream home.
Several challenges often come up when building custom homes in existing neighbourhoods. Terra View’s team members use their years of experience to navigate them.
Terra View focuses heavily on attention to detail when designing and building custom homes. The company offers homeowners design innovations, state-of-the-art technology and tomorrow-friendly features. As a result, aesthetics is not compromised for the
sake of functionality.
“We emphasize the green building practices that we are known for in our custom builds, resulting in high-performance home functionality and even constructing some to a Net Zero standard,” notes Lambden.
For Terra View’s team, creating custom homes is rewarding. The focus is always on listening to the clients and working closely with them throughout the design process. This is to ensure that the homeowners are happy with the end result and that their dreams
are achieved within their budget.
Terra View’s custom home building process begins with a pre-consultation session with the client. During this meeting, the team understands the client’s vision, informs them of the up-front costs and identifies any potential pitfalls.
The next step is planning the design of the new home. Terra View meets with the client several times to refine the plan to accommodate their needs, such as lot location, floor plans, interior design, exterior aspects and landscaping.
Pricing is a vital part of the process. Terra View prices the home after including the client’s needs. When the budget is reviewed by both parties, adjustments are made if necessary by modifying the plan or selections. The company begins the construction once the pricing is finalized. However, throughout the build, the client is still able to offer inputs.
Terra View’s job does not end with the completion of the house. Its team also assists in making the closing and move-in process as simple and efficient as possible.
“We are always on hand to provide support with any final changes and while helping our clients get settled into their new home,” says Lambden.
Things to be proud of
Terra View has been a green builder for three decades, specializing in using sustainable, green building practices.
“We go as far as implementing our green building practices into the design and construction of our custom homes. We proudly provide our custom homeowners with a healthier home design that incorporates advanced technologies, environmental efficiencies and green building innovations,” says Lambden.
The team incorporates the key elements of Energy Star, GreenHouse, Built Green and LEED into its custom builds. For all of its custom homes, the company uses building materials such as low-emission quartz countertops, low-VOC cabinets and wood finished
off-site to limit gassing. This results in lower emissions from the construction process.
Terra View has received several accolades during its 30-year journey. Most recently in 2021, Terra View was recognized by the Guelph and District Home Builders’ Association Awards of Distinction as a winner in the following categories: Green Builder of the Year, Most Outstanding Production Home Design and Most Outstanding Custom Home Design. Terra View also received the 18th Avid Gold Award for highest customer ratings in Ontario in the Small Volume builder category.
Home building associations have recognized Terra View for its custom home designs multiple times. Additionally, city staff have lauded the company for its efforts in designing custom homes that naturally fit within the existing community.
“Building resilient custom homes that also meet Net Zero Ready standards is an achievement in itself. But to fulfil the dreams of our clients at the end of the day brings us the most satisfaction,” says Lambden.
On its 30th anniversary, Terra View is looking forward to the next 30 years.
The company plans to continue to build upon its strengths, including embracing sustainable construction and green building practices to help combat climate change, maintaining homeowner and customer relationships, implementing innovative building solutions and technologies and living its vision of building homes.
For its custom homes segment specifically, the company intends to maintain and enhance its team of dedicated staff. Terra View plans on keeping ahead of changes and remaining on the cutting edge of technology and building science. It wants to ensure that its future custom homes meet highest standards of efficiency and durability.