Have you ever dreamed of building your own home? Have you ever wondered why anyone would become a builder? We had the distinct pleasure of sitting down with Travis Erdely of Destination Custom Homes – winner of Tommie and Okanagan Housing Awards of Excellence, and learned more about how they became one of the five Preferred Homebuilders at Lakestone – Lake Country’s Hidden Gem.
Are you a local? Since 1987 when my family moved to the Okanagan from Athabasca, Alberta (an hour north of Edmonton).
Have you won any awards? We won best show home under $500,000 at The Lakes, and for Lakestone, best home over $1,000,000 and best home under $1,000,000 – just to mention a couple. We have other homebuilding awards and are proud to say much of this is the result of strong teamwork over the years.
Do you think awards are important? Awards can mean a lot. They can provide assurance to a customer they’re working with a legitimate and reputable builder. Homeowners put a lot of trust in the homebuilding process, and we find awards can help put their minds more at ease. Our current show home at Lakestone has been very well received and is currently the most popular show home we have ever built. It’s a very practical and functional plan which is very important to us. We’ve had a lot of people come by and comment how much they love the design…so we really appreciate people coming by, and taking a look, as feedback is so important in designing and building homes.
How many homes do you build a year? We average between 8 to 10 homes which is a manageable amount for us to properly and personally look after of our clients. We take real pride in our work, and reputation is everything to us. We’re extremely thankful, and fortunate, that 25% of our business is from unsolicited referrals
What do you like about it? The whole process of making a vision a reality. Every client is so different and has unique ideas and needs so the visons are always different. And we are fortunate to have an amazing group of trades who works with us on every home, which makes the process really enjoyable.
How did you become a builder? I started working summers for a local roofing company, and for my Dad, doing general cleanup duties and helping out. I have a lot of sweet memories from all those crawl spaces I cleaned. Did I say memories? I meant nightmares. (laughing)
Early on in high school I really enjoyed woodworking. I signed up for both the woodworking and boatbuilding class as those were the only 2 woodworking classes offered at the time. They were both great! I have always been good with my hands, so this became a passion for me. I made a plan, around that time, to pursue homebuilding after graduation. It was a pretty easy decision, as I had lots of encouragement at home from my Dad. I completed and received my interprovincial red seal carpentry ticket in 2002. I worked for other contractors doing multiple things during my apprenticeship before moving over to Destination Homes. I stuck with one company for most of that time, and got the best experience a guy could possibly ask for, doing a mix of different jobs like concrete work, framing, millwork (building custom cabinets and installing them), finishing, drywall, painting, flooring, siding, laying brick and more. I also worked for a contractor building tilt-up concrete buildings here and out of province. In 2004 I started project managing for Destination Homes, building homes from the bottom up, and kept project managing for them until I branched off and started my own company in 2012.
What’s on trend these days? West Coast Contemporary design is very popular these days – especially in Lakestone.
What about energy efficiency? I’m a big believer in high energy efficient homes and building a better tomorrow. Energy Efficient Homes are the future and with the new step code in place we now have a long-term plan to cut this down substantially. 45% of greenhouse gas emissions are from housing so by cutting these emissions down, we’ll make a huge impact on the environment, and will help build a better tomorrow. When building a custom home, we work very closely with a Certified Energy Advisor to help determine what energy performance pathway the client would like to go.
Advice to anyone planning to build? Making an appointment or stopping by to see Charlotte and me would be the first piece of advice. If you want your homebuilding experience to be a very positive one, it’s critical to find a builder you trust – and connect with! Choosing a builder with a good track record is a definite must and we have that! There is a right and wrong way to build a home, and a lot of people don’t follow the correct process because they have a hard time committing to a builder right away. We feel speaking with an experienced, preferred builder before you even finalize on a lot is the first best step. Our advice is free at this stage and choosing the correct lot for your needs can start your entire process off in the right direction.
Buy or build? Build – depending on the economy, it’s usually cheaper, because you’re not paying for someone else’s time, money, and effort to get it market-ready and where you’ll typically pay top dollar. Most builders are cost plus (versus fixed/flat price or monthly management fee), and at the end of the day, we just want to be fair.
How long does it take to build? For us, in Lakestone, it will typically take between 6 to 11 months depending on a variety of factors. We’re loyal to our trades that stay competitive, and whom are loyal to us. Some trades have been working for Destination Homes as long as we’ve been in business, through thick and thin. When the market crashes, I keep them busy working, and when we’re hit by trade shortages, they’re always there for us.
Why Destination Custom Homes? We’re a family-run, husband and wife team that have a great track record. Our clients are always able to reach at least one of us on any given day of the week. Good communication is important. Charlotte is available in the Lakestone show home on weekends, and I’m available all week so there’s always someone to talk to. We also have a carpenter on payroll who helps with anything extra you might need, like putting together furniture on move-in day or even hanging pictures etc.
Tell us about how you give back to the community? We make multiple donations throughout the year towards various initiatives, but one I feel really passionate about is COBSS (Central Okanagan Bursary Scholarship Society). It stands out because it’s a non-profit society of volunteers who are dedicated to providing financial assistance to high school graduates to further their post-secondary education. There are a lot of families that can’t afford to put their children through post-secondary education, so these bursaries are very important to them. Some families have shared very emotional stories about how these donations changed their lives, and that’s such a rewarding feeling.
Best advice? Keep your cool, and I like Jim Jefferies’s quote, “We can all do better”.
What makes a home a “home”? Home is where you make it. The people inside it, make it a home.