House Beautiful: Homeowner gets it right with fourth new build

Rayn Properties founder Rov Dosanjh visits the homeowners of one of his latest custom houses and the conversation flows as it would between long-time trusted friends.

Which turns out to be the case, since this builder of homes is also about building strong relationships with his clients.

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One of the homeowners has been working with Dosanjh since 2004, a year after he and his former partner Joe Samra started building custom homes in Victoria.

This latest build, in which Samra helped out, is the fourth house created for the homeowner.

Her first custom home was a rancher in North Saanich, followed by an Arts and Crafts house in Cordova Bay, then a spec home in View Royal. While her third house was never enjoyed by the family, that isn’t the case with the fourth. Now married, the homeowner, along with her husband and 10-year-old son, moved into this three-level house, with its mix of modern and traditional elements, two weeks before COVID-19 hit.

“Thank goodness we were here during that period of time, and to have so much space and a beautiful neighborhood. It’s hard to be locked down but easier in a new home,” she says.

While the homeowners appreciate older, character homes they prefer new builds over restoration projects. And it’s obvious they have thought through every step of the building process, as we tour the house to see the many design choices made by the couple.

“I’m definitely a new-build person … It’s the creativity and the process that drives me,” she says, explaining her history of building custom homes. “I haven’t done a house for eight years before this. I took time off while my son was growing up. So I had to get up to date on style and design.”

She worked closely with Dosanjh on all four of her houses, a collaboration he, too, enjoyed. The owners were so involved on this latest house, they even stepped in to be the daily clean-up crew so they could keep close tabs as it was under construction.

“I like to say we built this house. The part that is easy for me is [the homeowner] has a vision and she knows what she wants,” Dosanjh says.

But he also points out that keeping expectations in check is also necessary so the dream home doesn’t become a nightmare.

“It’s a big investment for homeowners, so if things go wrong, it could affect their whole life. I just want to make sure every step of the way it’s the right decision,” says Dosanjh, who does about five custom homes a year.

The homeowners bought the north Oak Bay property in May 2018, taking possession in August. The husband knew the established neighborhood well, having grown up here, and used to visit a friend who lived in the house next door.

While the 50-foot lot they bought was ideal, the old house that stood on it was a teardown. After it was demolished and the ground prepared, Rayn Properties started framing the new five-bedroom house in January 2019. (All five bedrooms have ensuites. There’s also a powder room on the main floor.)

The original goal was to create a farmhouse-style home, but a “glamorous” one, says the homeowner.

The decor reflects both modern and farmhouse chic, with glam furniture choices such as a chrome and glass-top coffee table, velvet grey couches, and white plush and metallic pillows throughout the home. The country comes in with choices such as the darker hardwood flooring, comfy leather couches in the study and an impressive candlestick chandelier in the stairway.

One of the details the homeowner insisted upon was having kitchen appliances from the same manufacturer, so the handles would match - a detail that might be overlooked by others but makes sense here.

Another detail is the hexagon patterns used throughout the home. That design is seen on the kitchen backsplash, a wall in the upstairs laundry room, and on the living room’s marble front fireplace, for instance.

Their decision to put under-mount cabinet lighting on kitchen cabinets and the floating cabinetry in the living room helps to create a special ambience in the evening.

One major decision Dosanjh suggested was moving one of the two staircases leading to the basement outdoors, instead of having it in the open-concept living/kitchen/dining area. That provided seven extra feet to the main living area, creating a more spacious feel in a room that already enjoys the benefit of 10-foot ceilings.

All of the upstairs bedrooms, which are eight feet in height, were vaulted to create a sense of extra volume.

The open-plan areas and additional finished space downstairs, which includes a recreational area for their sons (the husband has two sons in their 20s), gym and guest suite, mean the family has everything they could possibly need in terms of space and light.

In the south-facing kitchen, overlooking the well-groomed backyard, the homeowners opted not to close in the pantry, which adds to the spaciousness of the room. However, all of the kitchen cabinets are closed and reach to the ceiling with glass-fronted cabinets on top, to display a mix of white and silver vases.

And while the room is flooded with light on a sunny day, two skylights over the large quartz-top kitchen island bring in even more light to that corner of the room.

The homeowner says the key to designing a custom home for yourself is to spend time “really thinking about what you want” before you even begin.

“You don’t want to make a lot of changes along the way.”

There was only one main addition the couple made during the construction process, and that was adding panelling to the front entryway to give the space more texture.

The husband adds: “If you do make a change, you have to be aware of the ramifications.”

That’s where having a budget and realistic expectations helps, he says.

Another practical decision the couple recommends is having a dual heating and cooling system that is separate on the main and upper floors to save energy costs.

In the summer, the family has been spending a lot of time outdoors, so a lounging and dining area has been set up in the private backyard. The garden design was created by the homeowners, who kept mature trees like the lovely lemon yellow Acacia Frisia tree, as well as an apple tree in the centre of the yard. On the perimeter, side gardens, with a white and purple colour theme, were planted. The white comes from a row of white hydrangeas and the purple from lavenders and rhododendrons, to name only a few of the plantings.

There’s only one spot where the backyard is overlooked by neighbours, so the homeowners plan to plant bamboo in a large metal container in that corner so it grows quickly without spreading.

The outdoors was done by Luxor Landscaping, while Sublime Rock Gardens did the pavers and expert placement of river rock around the property.

Even though the family is happy there now, the homeowner jokes she enjoys the process so much there likely will come a day when they sell this dream home and begin all over again.

kpemberton@shaw.ca

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