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Innovation is Transforming Construction

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People change. Life and lifestyles change. Trends change. Consumer wants, needs, wish lists and creature comforts change. And construction – especially Edmonton’s residential construction – changes.

While the basics still refer to square feet, 3BR, 4BR and condos, there is a transformation in new home construction. Builders, developers, and designers are re-thinking the planning, the construction, the products and materials, the features, buyer attitudes and expectations and consumer trends.

Most savvy Edmonton builders are adjusting their perspectives. They are more innovative than ever, focusing on priorities like new design, re-defining room sizes and layouts to accommodate contemporary lifestyles, multipurpose rooms blending room functionality, new features, a tsunami of technology and contemporary must-haves like energy efficiency and sustainability.

“Over the past five years or so, Edmonton’s construction trends have moved towards modern interior design, smart technology integration, outdoor spaces, sustainability and architectural diversity,” says the upbeat and focused Maria Kennedy, Edmonton general manager of Homes by Avi.

According to Charles Fay, vice president of Jayman Built Edmonton, “Exterior elevations have seen some recent changes with developers and builders following trends and bringing new options to the market. For example, one of the more popular exterior styles we are seeing is the modern farmhouse with black wrapped exterior windows. These modern styles are being well received by home buyers because of their sleek designs, steep roof pitches and bold accents. Wood-style materials and brick have also been used more on exteriors with options for a natural presence within the community.

“Buyers are looking to gain more from their home space. More and more requests for functional design options. Home offices. Larger main suites with oversized showers and soaker tubs and kitchens with room to entertain. We are also seeing more ways for people to extend their living outdoors, onto back decks.”

In addition to new construction details like next generation framing, roofing, low-maintenance materials, high efficiency windows and more, the interior design of new homes is trending toward layouts geared for productivity, creating spaces that boost productivity with factors like natural light, noise isolation and a comfortable setting to enhance work-from-home efficiency or study places for students.

“The interior design has evolved to reflect contemporary preferences with open concept layout and flexible workspaces,” Kennedy explains. “We have also seen an increased demand for master bedroom and baths for maturing families and side entrances to provide a revenue suite or multi-generational living space.”

According to Erik Eisen, director, sales & marketing of Edmonton’s Sterling Homes, “Construction is adapting to multi-generational living and multi-family living. We have seen an increase in demand for features in homes that address multi-generational living and aging in place. Bedrooms on the main floor as well as full bathrooms are some of these features. Increased demand for spice kitchens has been another impact from an increase in immigration from South Asian countries.”

He explains a more subtle and indirect impact of new construction, “Housing affordability has had a major impact on aspiring home buyers with escalating costs and interest rates. Municipalities like Edmonton are encouraging higher densities in communities to enable builders to adjust building forms and increase the number of dwelling units per lot in some ways.

“Secondary suites in basements and over garages have been a benefit to address number of housing units built, as well as a tool to help families have ‘mortgage helper’ rental units to help offset increasing costs of home ownership.”

The City of Edmonton has implemented a new housing bylaw that went into effect in January to help address these needs.

Edmonton builders agree that new home construction is embracing sustainability! It is an important must-have for homebuyers, because environmental consciousness continues to drive residential construction trends.

Sustainability has triggered a surge in sustainable construction practices, with an emphasis on eco-friendly materials, energy-efficient designs and often the integration of renewable energy sources like solar panels.

Sustainable construction means using recyclable and renewable materials in building projects and minimizing energy consumption and waste production. The primary goal of the sustainable construction method is to reduce its impact on our environment. In today’s construction sector, environmental, economic, and social factors are sometimes referred to as the three pillars of sustainability or “the triple bottom line.”

Eisen underscores that, in addition to the traditional “beauty stuff” and creature comforts, energy efficiency and sustainability are key factors in today’s residential construction.

“Sustainability is important. It reduces greenhouse gas emissions and provides opportunities to save money in the long run. Airtight houses, for example, can prevent deterioration of the house caused by humidity. This involves construction methods like making sure doors and windows are properly sealed; blower door testing is a standard practice in detecting air leakage. It is important. Sterling Homes partners with Built Green Canada and industry-driven certification programs have been created to encourage and facilitate sustainable building practices.”

Fay emphasizes that sustainability, energy efficiency and “green” are popular priorities for Edmonton home buyers.

“Today’s buyers are more aware of the impact and choices they make that impact the environment. Many homebuyers are thinking about their children’s future and with that are making the transition to build a greener more sustainable home. The pressure of building a more efficient home is here. Builders need to adopt the new energy codes that take effect in 2024. Jayman BUILT is building to 2030 requirements now and is well on its way to what is projected in 2050 with a full NET ZERO home.

“Sustainability has always been part of our DNA. Our homes come with 10 solar panels standard, as well as a host of other energy efficient inclusions to reduce carbon footprint and energy bills. This includes features like triple pane windows, active heat recovery ventilators, a two-stage 96 per cent energy efficient furnace, tankless hot water heater, electric vehicle car charging outlets and a UV-C air purification system.”

Homes by Avi has also adopted green building standards to meet the growing demand from environmentally conscious buyers. Some features include Energy Star appliances, high efficiency furnace and hot water tank, smart thermostats and triple-pane windows. They are all important factors for new home construction and features, which prioritize both environmental responsibility and new home cost effectiveness.

Residential construction has discarded dated references to “gadgets, toys and bells and whistles.” Technology is a key factor of innovative construction and the constantly updating options continue to make smart homes more and more of a standard.

Smart thermostats intuitively adjust heating and cooling, combining comfort with energy savings. Smart lighting remotely controls brightness, sets schedules and even adjusts with the day’s natural light. Home security systems with advanced cameras, motion sensors and smart locks. Built-in wireless charging and USB ports. Centralized home automation is more and more a standard construction feature, controlling the entire home – HVAC, lights, appliances, security systems, even blinds and curtains and more – from a single device.

The integration of smart technology has become more prevalent in interior and exterior construction,” Kennedy points out. “Innovative technology is being used in many ways to enhance comfort, convenience and energy efficiencies in today’s homes.”

Buyer trends and builder innovation are re-defining new home construction. The future is exciting as these developments continue to unfold.

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