Integrity Home and Cottage

The right design and the right budget

Whether a newly build or a renovation, Integrity Home and Cottage strives to provide its clients with the right design and the right build while taking the utmost care to meet the client’s budget.

The Canadian Business Journal spoke with Edward Freibauer, Principal at Integrity Home and Cottage, about the company’s advantage, the business of custom-built homes, and how the company provides the ultimate in customer service from project inception to completion.

“We are a total custom home solution enterprise. We changed our approach, and we are selling a service of custom home build, and we work with our clients to make sure that our customers get the right house at the right price. We say that we used to sell car parts, but now we sell cars,” begins Freibauer.

The construction industry is naturally fragmented, and unreliable in terms of quality from one builder to another. At the same time, individuals are likely to get involved in this market once or twice in their lifetime, not knowing what to look for when choosing a builder, and some builders even may take advantage of this, resulting in poor budgeting, not meeting deadlines, etc., which creates further mistrust in the industry.

“With the shortage of quality builders, construction is an easy industry to get into with very little experience. I would say that there is also a level of disrespect toward the skills and demands of a quality build. This confuses the customer and has a negative impact on the industry as a whole,” says Freibauer.

What distinguishes Integrity from other within the industry is the technology. Using top-level, innovative technology allows the company to be effective and efficient in project planning to the point that it can offer customers the most realistic pricing and timelines, so they in turn can be confident the project won’t be over budget, and will come in on time.

Freibauer describes this as “self-scheduled budget,” and the company spends a lot of time on project planning and during the execution constantly updates clients about the progress. “Building a custom home or cottage is a stressful proposition, and we are trying to take the stress element out of the equation during the process. It’s about taking a sophisticated approach and bringing a level of professionalism.”

First, the company provides customers with guidance and counsel to make sure that the clients are comfortable with Integrity as its professional builder of choice; second, Integrity will articulate the client’s vision into a design, and implements its construction and budgeting skills so the customer can make an informed decision. “We invest a lot of our time into potential clients before they actually hire us, and when they feel comfortable with the budgets and product they can choose whether to go forward with the project. Our goal is to give them the information they need to make a good decision,” says Freibauer.

“As a company, we are data-driven,” he continues. “We electronically track our workforce hours, so we know what a linear foot of wall costs to build, we know what it takes to build a bathroom, we know what the basement will cost, the first, second and the third floor, etc. We have excellent data, and we build algorithms to build budgets off design sketches, so we can give customers their vision and a reasonable cost estimate with about 10 per cent margin of error. From here, we move to strategize to adjust the cost to meet the budget, plan out the project spending, etc.”

While the company also partners with developers and works on smaller-scale developments, the custom builds lay at the core of the Integrity business. “Our customers are individuals who want to build a custom home or cottage, looking to move away from the urban areas, people who are used to a certain quality but can’t find it.”

As a custom builder, the company does not inflict styles upon its clients, rather focuses on distilling what works best for the client. That being said, with decades of design experience, the company streamlines the process, and helps the clients make informed decisions. “If a client has a vision we will follow it, whether they seek a modern design or something Victorian. We design in-house, so we can work with the client from A to Z — from translating client’s ideas into a sketch, all the way to have the finished house cleaned and in a move-in condition,” says Freibauer.

Construction is a complex endeavour requiring a large number of skilled professionals to deliver on time and budget, and project management, so working with reliable trades is paramount. “Communicating and remaining organized throughout the building process is a challenge, and we work with builders who are organized, consistent and disciplined throughout the operation, otherwise we would not be able to deliver on our client promise.”

Integrity prides itself on using the best materials and technologies; however, the ultimate cost of the Integrity solution depends on the choices the clients make. To the question ‘how much a square foot may cost’, Freibauer answers — ”What is the cost of a red car? The cost of the square foot depends on the composition of that square foot. That’s when our budgeting process kicks in and provides that answer.”

Information and thorough planning lay at the core of Integrity’s impeccable service, and since the company re-focused on providing a complete custom-build service, Integrity has been doubling in size over the past three years, and there is likely much more in the store for this unique and dynamic company.