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Your Ultimate Guide to Building a Custom Home in Ontario 1

Your Ultimate Guide to Building a Custom Home in Ontario

Nothing allows you to create a beautiful living space tailored to your family’s lifestyle like a custom luxury home. 

One that perfectly fits your family’s style, needs, and goals – along with the satisfaction that there is no other home exactly like yours!

At Gilbert + Burke, we specialize in helping you design and build custom homes throughout Ontario. From a walk-in closet to a cozy deck, we can create what fits your family’s needs and wants.

But maybe you have a few questions first, such as: 

  • “What should I be thinking about before I start?”
  • “What are important things to keep in mind with location and design?” 

We explore all this and more in the following paragraphs. Plus, we walk you through the exact process of actually building your custom home so you can walk away feeling prepared and excited for the process.

Let’s get started!

Your Ultimate Guide to Building a Custom Home in Ontario 2


7 Considerations When Building a Custom Home

As you prepare to break ground on your new custom home in Ontario, give careful attention to the following seven key elements. 


Before you start building, it is important to think about its purpose. Knowing some of your family’s goals helps determine the layout, design, and features you want to include.

For example, if hosting is important for your family, then you will want to include at least one spare bedroom and bathroom, or maybe a completely separate apartment designed for guests.

Or, if you have children that need to burn off energy, then a separate game room or toy room may be important for your family. 

Whatever your family’s goals are, building a new home is the perfect way to ensure these goals are met!


Where do you want to build? The location and terrain of the site will impact the size, and potentially some of the features, of your home. 

Some families want to place their homes in unique locations, such as on a rocky point or the edge of a steep hillside. Remember to carefully consider support structures and access to utilities depending on the land you wish to build on.


Who will you hire to do the actual building? It is important to do careful research before choosing your contractor. Talk with several different contractors and ask about their experience with building homes. 

It is also good to ask them if they have a portfolio of past projects that you can look at to get a feel for the quality and customization of their work.

You need to be able to trust your builder throughout the entire process. If you hire a good, reliable contractor who understands what you want, the process will be smooth. This kind of contractor can explain everything to you step-by-step and make sure you are confident going forward. 

However, if you choose a bad contractor you’re going to be unhappy and stressed during the project. You might not even be happy with the finished project that you poured money into. 

Some helpful tips for choosing a good contractor include:

  • Gather a list of potential contractors
  • Write out questions to ask the contractors prior to meeting with them
  • Get quotes from each contractor and compare prices
  • Request references and a portfolio of past projects
  • Ask about schedule
  • Verify contractor licensing and insurance
  • Ask for a contract and get everything in writing
  • Pay attention to whether you felt you could trust the contractor



This is where it starts getting exciting! However, if you feel overwhelmed, here are some questions to help you get started in the process:

  • How do you want to lay out your floor plan? 
  • Do you want multiple stories or a single story? 
  • Where do you want entry doors and windows?
  • Do you want an attached garage? 
  • Do you want extra rooms like a mud room, game room, TV room, etc? 
  • What are the key things you want to include in your basement? 

Take time to think through as many design aspects as you can, and remember that the more ideas you bring to a contractor, the more custom your home will be. 

However, if you aren’t sure about what you want or how to decide on a few features, don’t worry! A trustworthy contractor can help you think through each step for your specific situation.


Building your own home allows you to use the materials and finishings of your choice, such as eco-friendly materials, efficient insulation designed for the cold, or natural stone or mosaic tile flooring.

You can also include technology components like voice-activated devices, solar panels to generate electricity, appliances that provide style and functionality, and much more.




As with any building project, the finishes bring together the final touches of your new home. In construction, this particularly applies to the interior and exterior finishes like trim, paint colors, and other design aspects.

If your family is looking for a particular design or look, then your contractor can help you pick the trim style, colors, and other design elements to match your style. 

At Gilbert + Burke, we offer interior design services to make sure the interior is perfect for your family when you move!

Note: when deciding on exterior trim and finishes, remember that they need to be able to withstand the cold Ontario winters.


The final key element to consider is the overall project timeline. Due to the colder winters of Ontario, you and your contractor will want to estimate carefully what stage of the project you should be at by the time temperatures drop below zero degrees Celsius. 

Ideally, the overall construction starts in the spring or summer so that the builder can have everything closed up and ready for the interior work before winter arrives.


Choosing the Right Location in Ontario

Now that you have put some thought into the design, it is time to choose the location. Let’s take a look at the options you have.

Rural or Urban?

Do you want your new home in a quiet rural setting? Or would you like to be in an urban setting where all the action is?


Here are several pros and cons for both rural and urban settings:

Pros for a rural setting

  • Lower cost of living
  • More space for beautiful landscape
  • Less hassle with potentially concerned neighbors
  • Fewer regulations
  • Possibility for digging a well instead of paying for city water
  • Closer to nature
  • Slower pace of life
  • Opportunity for growing your own food

Cons for a rural setting

  • Higher upfront cost to install well and other utilities
  • Longer commute to work
  • Fewer job opportunities
  • Greater property maintenance
  • Fewer neighbors for community
  • Lack of public transportation

Pros for an urban setting

  • Easier access to utilities
  • More people for community
  • Increased diversity
  • Greater job opportunities
  • More shopping and supply centers
  • Less property maintenance 
  • Access to public transportation
  • Opportunity for good food

Cons for an urban setting

  • Higher cost of living
  • More competition in the job market
  • Less space
  • Fast-paced lifestyle
  • More pollution


Wintery Fun or Easy Driving?

Consider the elements as you select the building site. The winters will be icy and you will need to remove snow from your driveway and walkway. While building in the hills may provide fun activity in the winter, keep in mind that it will also make for more difficult driving in the winter.

Creative or Accessible?

While you are in the design process make sure you design it in a way that future families would want to buy it if you chose to sell it down the road. If a home is too unique, you may have trouble selling it when your family is ready to move.

Existing Utilities or Blazing New Trails?

Another aspect of choosing a good location for building your home is the distance to the nearest utilities. If you can tap into existing power and sewage lines, it will make the construction process easier and cheaper. If you can’t tap into any existing lines, plan on running power and sewer to your location. 

Unique or Comparable?

Lastly, when it comes to choosing the location, consider what the surrounding neighborhood looks like. If your home blends well into the existing neighborhood, then it will be more sellable and have better value when you sell it in the future.



The Process of Building Your Dream Home

Now that you’ve thought through the important aspects of design and location, how do you actually go about making it happen?

Let’s take a look!

Step 1: Choose the Location

As we touched on above, the first and most important step in building is choosing a good location.

Some families make the mistake of designing their home first and then trying to find a location to fit the design. However, it’s usually easier to first choose the location you want and then design your home according to the terrain and surrounding community. 

If you have a particular look you are going for, spend time scouting various locations that might readily provide that look.

Step 2: Select the Builder

It is crucial that you can trust your builder throughout the construction process. Take time to research various contractors. Read their reviews and view their portfolios. Ask questions about their experience and process. Check on their licenses and certifications. 

Remember: the builder you hire should be familiar with the overall process and know about the custom home industry!

Whatever you do, don’t rush into a decision on who you hire. If a contractor makes you feel pressured into hiring him or if they treat you like you’re a child, then run the other way.

You are getting ready to put the construction of your most valuable asset into their hands, and they need to earn your trust.

Step 3: Design Your Home

Your builder should be involved in the designing process. When you give them the overall design and list of things you want to be included, they should know how to include these pieces and the nuances involved. 

Therefore, once you’ve found a builder you can trust, work with them to find an architect that can help bring your dream living space to life. 

Don’t forget to enjoy the process – this is where your family’s dreams and customization start coming alive! 

Step 4: Trust Your Builder

The reason it is important to vet your builder well is that you must be able to trust them throughout the process.

After all, building a home is a big project! 

Don’t be alarmed when unexpected problems arise, because this is fairly common in the construction industry. When issues arise, however, a quality builder will be trained to navigate those problems and guide you in making any necessary adjustments.


Once you’ve chosen a builder, trust them. You will have a much smoother experience if you do.

Step 5: Enjoy Peace of Mind

If you put the thought, time, and energy into choosing a good location, finding a builder you can trust, and designing a home that fits your needs, you will enjoy peace of mind through the process. You’ll also enjoy watching your new home take shape.

Step 6: Move Into the Home of Your Dreams

Designing and building takes time and work, but once construction is complete, you will be able to move into and live in the home of your dreams. 

That’s when you will realize that the process was completely worth it!



Are you ready to build your very own custom luxury home? 

Don’t let the process of building overwhelm you. We know it’s a big project, but the Gilbert + Burke team can help you every step of the way. 

We make it our job to make sure you have the information you need to make the best decisions for your home. 

Contact us today to get started! 

Our services include: 

We look forward to hearing from you!

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Ken Jaquith Director Of Client Experience
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