One of the perks of building a custom home is the flexibility of getting everything one wants in their home.
The minds behind Dream Ridge Homes thought that same idea made sense for the build process, as well.
“We realize that some clients would like to be involved quite heavily and very hands on with every decision that takes place throughout the build,” says Tom Obodzinski, project manager of Dream Ridge Homes Corp.
“Some of our clients, however, are just way too busy with their lives and just can’t commit hours to go through that whole process,” he adds. “Depending on the clients, we will customize our processes and systems to suit their needs.”
Dream Ridge has been building luxury custom homes in Calgary for 17 years. The majority of its homes fall within the $1.8 to $5M price range.
The majority of its work are infills in historic Calgary neighbourhoods filled with wide-reaching mature trees, such as Elbow Park, Mount Royal, Hillhurst, and St. Andrew’s Heights.
“In a conversation right off the bat, the client expresses what their goals are for the process and what their vision is and we adjust our systems to accommodate that,” says Tom.
Many of Dream Ridge’s peers do not offer the same degree of versatility, he adds, calling this difference “one of our biggest advantages.”
Homebuyers who want to be hands-on can be there for every decision, big or small.
“They would be involved in every meeting when it comes to architects, the architectural design,” Tom says. “They are fully-participating in every aspect of the home’s layout, room sizes, the overall design of the home, entire and exterior.”
They’re also welcome to play a role in meetings related to interior design, electrical walkthroughs, lighting layouts, stone and tile selection, among others.
“There is a lot of learning,” says Luke Obodzinski, Dream Ridge vice-president and co-founder.
While some clients may prefer certain materials for esthetic reasons, they naturally don’t have the expertise to know the rest of the story.
“We educate them and provide the pros and cons about using each product,” says Luke.
“We tell them where we think the value lies and we let them make their own value-based decisions,” he adds. “We’ll share the benefits, drawbacks, costs, lifespan, and through an educational process with us, they’ll determine what is the best fit for them.”
Another one of the company’s benefits buyers experience through Dream Ridge is the regular and detailed look at where their money is being spent.
“When we say we are fully-transparent, we really mean we are fully-transparent,” says Luke.
“We do a monthly review meeting with our client that will go over timelines, budgets, decisions, and each one of our clients gets a copy of actual invoices that were spent on their home so they really understand the price breakdown,” he adds.
Luke says custom builders commonly work on a cost-plus system. This describes an agreement where the builder is paid for all allowable expenses plus additional payment to allow for profit.
“We pass on the discounts to the clients that we get and there is full transparency because they get a paper trail of every dollar that has been spent on their build,” he adds.
“It’s a lot of money, it’s a lot of time, and we like building that trust from the very beginning. We are representing them in this process, we are looking out for their interests. It doesn’t matter how hands on they want to be, we send them all the paperwork that backs up exactly what was done and if they want to cross-reference things down the road, that information is available to them.”
The Obodzinski family immigrated to Canada from Poland in 1991. Both Tom and Luke’s father and grandfather were homebuilders.
Their father started as a framer with a veteran Calgary homebuilder, but wanted something more — leading to Dream Ridge Homes.
This backstory led the company to put an emphasis on their selection of trades and strong relationships with them.
“We are proud to say our trades have been with us for a long time, which creates a cohesive experience,” says Luke.
While some builders have in-house interior designers, the Obodzinskis see value in variety. The builder matches the buyer with a designer that excels at the sort of look and feel they’re looking for.
“A lot of clients have different visions,” says Luke. “We walk them through different designers we have worked with in the past, based on their esthetic and our track record with them. That gives us a wide portfolio.”
When Dream Ridge selected a warranty provider, management did its research, and saw the Alberta New Home Warranty Program as a natural choice.
“Dealing in a very high-end market, when we were looking at warranty providers, we tried to determine who was the best,” says Luke. “Who has the longest track record? Between the track record, service they provide and name recognition for our clients — I think they’d feel better going with a program that has such a good reputation — we decided on the Alberta New Home Warranty Program.