Made to Last is the most sought-after custom home builder in the Cowichan Valley. To give you more information about what it means to build with us, we have answered some frequently asked questions below. We look forward to answering your specific questions with a phone call or in-person meeting, so please contact us today.
One of our most frequently asked questions during the initial stages is “What is the cost per square foot to build a custom home in the Cowichan Valley.” As this is a large question with many variables, we have dedicated a separate article to answer this question.
Frequently Asked Questions
We are the most awarded and sought-after builder in the area. We receive a high number of referrals from our previous clients, as well as local realtors who end up seeing our homes. Our emphasis on quality, transparency and communication has built us a great local reputation. Our commitment to pay our trades and treat them with respect while setting clear expectations for quality and timeliness has allowed us to utilize the best trades in the Valley.
New home builds meet schedule 90+% of the time. There’s often something small that is delayed, but it doesn’t stop our occupancy goals. The biggest concern is groundwork throwing us surprises that can add weeks, but that is known early on, and rarely happens. We can almost always find ways to stick to the overall end target. Using BuilderTrend, the industry’s top project management software, also helps to keep you informed of the building schedule, so you are always up to date with the latest information.
We give guidance throughout the design and build process and prefer to be up front and honest. Our goal is the successful completion of a home you can afford, rather than allow you to dream and design something or choose selections that do not fit within the budget you provide. Our Budget Tracking is updated with each invoice. We also actively adjust the cost projections forward to try and help you make the best finishing choices that meet your design goals as well as budget.
We are fully licensed with BC Housing as a homebuilder in BC. We have been certified as a Net Zero Home builder (higher energy efficiency standard) with NRCan and the Canadian Home Builder’s Association (CHBA). We are the only Cowichan Valley builder with this certification and recently completed the Cowichan Valley’s first certified Net Zero home. We recently were finalists for a national award with the CHBA, after winning 3 provincial awards in 2021.
Our primary Owner (who built in Alberta previously) and a number of our team members have been doing so for decades, but Made to Last itself has been building custom homes for over 10 years.
Yes, we carry liability insurance with up to $3 million per occurrence and we have a great up-to-date record with WorkSafeBC.
Yes, our insurance covers your home and materials and tools. However, one of the requirements that our insurance company and lawyers set out is that you also have to get Course of Construction insurance during the build process. It isn’t that expensive, but basically it means that our insurance companies can battle as to what happened, who is liable, and likely end up paying only 50% each for the losses. We’ve never had a claim for any of our home builds during our company history.
Yes, we can design in house, bring in a gifted designer that we partner with, or work with a design that you bring to us. We are flexible and can give you advice on what we think fits your schedule and budget best.
We prefer to send out your plans to our various suppliers and sub trades…about 50-70 per build. Some of these are competitive quotes, as we want to make sure we get the best price for you as the client. We then gather everything back (we usually give each person 2 weeks to submit), and put together an overall Estimate for your home. Obviously there are a lot of variables and allowances included, as you will direct the selections since it’s a custom home. These selections include everything from windows to flooring to trim details to siding materials to colours, etc.
a) Fixed Lump Sum contract? Custom building does not allow for it.
b) Cost Plus contract? Yes, this is our norm.
c) Competitive Bid Services contract? This is not something that we have done for residential.
d) Construction Management contract? Not usually, but we are open to discuss if you are eager and want to make an offer. Our experience is that we only can do this for very-high end expensive jobs, and the client is paying more overall than a normal cost-plus contract for management, but that part is more controlled and it allows for more expensive finishing choices at no additional costs beyond the cost of materials/install.
e) Time and Materials contract? Not at this time.
Our primary Owner tours our job sites about 1-4 times/month and helps to ensure quality and staff are up to his standards, but he does not get personally involved with clients. He is a carpenter by trade and started building custom homes in Alberta about 20 years ago, where he moved from being on the tools to owning his own company (and still being on the tools) within 5 years or so. When he started Made to Last out here, he was on the tools as well, but he quickly grew to just project managing, and then eventually running the company and overseeing everything. We assign a Project Manager (PM) to your job who is on-site daily through most of the build. We also have a Construction Manager who is a Red Seal Carpenter with 10+ years of PM experience who helps oversee the PMs and carpenters through division of labour, on-site weekly inspections, training, and problem-solving.
Our Project Manager (PM) is on site every day throughout most of the build. Our Construction Manager is on site at least once a week, as he helps to oversee our PMs as well as problem solve. Our General Manager and our primary Owner are on site once a week to once a month depending on the timing of what is going on and the location of the build (further away from Duncan seeing less frequent visits).
Your Project Manager (PM) and our General Manager (GM). Our GM is included in all email conversations, and leads or helps with design, estimating, permitting, selections, budget tracking, and invoicing. Our PM leads the actual construction, and will do on site visits with you as necessary (some clients desire more than others, and we are happy to accommodate as you need).
We take care of all permitting.
Yes, we have a Design & Build Agreement that we sign to commit to the build and begin work for design (if we are doing it), estimating, permit prep, etc. We then have a New Home Construction Contract that we sign to commit once the Estimate has been prepared and confirmed, and the build is approaching (usually done about 2 months before expected construction start).
Yes. BC Housing requires each licensed builder to hold HPO insurance that ensures a BC Housing provided insurer holds us to a Home Warranty that outlines items that are covered for 1, 2, 5, or 10 years.
Made to Last goes beyond that to provide a 10 month inspection to make sure everything in your house is operating and looking at optimal levels prior to the 1 year warranty mark. This includes drywall cracks, grout line repairs, door adjusting, etc. When we commit to your build, we are committing to what we expect and hope to be a long term relationship of care and support.
We have never had a claim that the BC Housing approved insurer (we go through Travelers Insurance) has had to manage for our company.
Also see “Will we offer a guarantee on our work, and if so, what is the guarantee?”
If anything is needing repair on an emergency basis, we expect to be called asap. If not, we take care of things at the 10 month mark. For anything that needs repair beyond that, we want to be your first call to help manage the repair if necessary.
Our process is to have the client provide a deposit up front to allow us to purchase on their behalf. We use that deposit to pay the last invoice(s) at the end of the job. We then bill for costs after they happen – so when a deposit for a product (e.g. flooring) is placed or after it is installed.
We bill on biweekly basis (unless costs for the last 2 weeks are below $10,000) to help make sure that all costs are known by you as the client as we see them. Our clients very much appreciate this transparency.
If clients are needing support for getting financing, then we can almost always arrange with no penalty or financing charges. We just ask that you are up front with us with any challenges to payments that you foresee, and we’ll make it work.
Yes, our New Home Contract already has termination clauses.
Yes. We can work with a professional you bring into the mix, or we can provide these individuals to meet your goals. Frequent and thorough communication is our standard.
Generally it will be same day if critical, or within 24 business hours if not. We expect that you’ll be communicating with your Project Manager on a near daily basis during most parts of the build (depending on how custom your home is and how high-end the finishing is).
We believe that disputes can be avoided with good preparation, communication, and proper care. That said, building a home is expensive and emotional for the clients, and a complex task. This always means that some conflict or concern will arise at some point. We want to know any concerns asap. First to the Project Manager (PM) (if during construction) but also to our General Manager (GM). Our GM is always available to direct questions or concerns too if you have a worry about the PM or something you don’t want to bring up to them. We resolve conflicts through communication first, and we believe that most disputes are often caused by misunderstandings or unmatched expectations. So our goal is to seek clarity first and then communicate with all involved to problem solve solutions.
This is done through our site inspections explained above, as well as daily and week-end clean-ups by our team. These costs are accounted for in our Estimate.
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