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Family constructs dream home

Current builders offer advice to residents planning to create their own future abode
house build
Workers began making the detailed building plans for the Ellwyn family’s dream home come to fruition in October 2017.

Live in enough homes and soon you will have a mental list of must haves for your dream home. For many, this idealized list is something carried around subconsciously for life. For others, the idea of having everything they ever wanted becomes a reality as they take on the undeniably challenging yet equally rewarding task of building a house.

The small print

Before starting, you must know what you are getting into, both in regard to finances and the process of building itself. Run through the numbers with a financial advisor and ensure you understand the expectations throughout the entire process, and that you are comfortable with the financial obligation at completion.

Hire the right people

Ask for builder registration and about the inspection process and warranty information. Discuss both the craftsmanship and the relationship with the builder’s past clients. Your builder relationship should also include a contract to ensure your protection.

Aside from finances, this will be the biggest decision you make; ensure you do the footwork to make sure it is the best possible choice for you.

Plan ahead but be flexible

Research and be able to communicate a clear idea of what you want before you get started. Whether you choose your blueprints online or work directly with an architect to draw up your own, ensure your plans have all the spaces you want at a scale that works for you and your budget.

Keep a binder of printouts, images, notes, samples and paint swatches. Planning ahead is vital, but not getting ahead of yourself is equally so. Be prepared to make quick decisions but also keep in mind the need to remain flexible. Ideals do not always translate to realism, so it is imperative you remain flexible throughout the entire process.

Prepare for hurdles along the way. There will be many moments of compromise; things will get lost in translation and mistakes will be made.


Ensure you are working with someone you can openly communicate with and who cares not only to hear you but also to understand you and your wishes. It is important to work with someone whose skills and abilities you trust, and with whom you feel comfortable asking questions or respectfully challenging something you are not sure is correct or what you have asked for. Assumptions and silence will lead to mistakes and missed opportunities.

It’s in the details

If you have created that mental wish list, you have likely added things such as a mudroom, ample storage, a guest room, office space and perhaps a home theatre and a deck to house a hot tub. These aspects will be built into your architectural plans, but do not forget to give ample thought to the little things.

What kind of lighting do you want your home to have? Where should the electrical outlets be placed to best meet your design needs? How do you want your windows to open? Perhaps you want to enhance the view by installing some picture windows. What kitchen layout suits not only the space, but also the usage needs? At what angle will you situate your house on your lot to maximize the view and ease of access? What style of doors and trim match your taste? This is where you truly add personality to your home, so keep all of these considerations in mind.

Include your children

In a world where one simply wishes for something and they have it, there are incredible lessons to be learned in watching a home being built from the ground up. Include your children in the process; take photos that include them at the different stages of construction; have them meet the individuals who are putting your dream together; include them in discussions and allow them to help you make decisions; encourage them to make their own decisions for their individual spaces; model appreciation for the hard work taking place; encourage them to ask questions and share opinions; and take the opportunity to discuss things such as anticipation and patience.

Maggie Ellwyn is a Powell River resident who is building a home with her husband David and children Sidney, eight, Riley, five, and Ezrey, two.