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What You Need to Know
Once you have made a decision to Custom Build, there are many factors you need to consider to ensure the final result meets and hopefully exceeds your expectations! Here is a compilation of the most frequently asked questions we hear from homeowners considering a Custom Build, including tips on what you should expect from the Builder you choose for your family’s home.
How do I know if I can build a Custom Home on the property I own or that I am considering purchasing?
The very first step in any home transformation project whether it is a Renovation or Custom Build should be a Feasibility Study. This is part of Pinnacle Group’s service offering, and it is free of charge for Consumers considering Pinnacle as their Builder. The purpose of the Feasibility Study is to verify all the details of your property to evaluate how this will influence the proposed build. Specifics such as your lot size, shape, site lines and sun exposure, as well as the neighborhood location and the standard set by adjacent homes for height, lot encroachment and setbacks will all be assessed. Using these facts will allow our architects to create a plot plan that ultimately maps out the setbacks and building envelope and calculates the percentage of lot coverage available to you. This will determine whether the size and style of the home you wish to build can be successfully achieved given your property’s footprint and the city’s requirements and restrictions. In addition, if you have specific criteria you are hoping to incorporate like a front or side loading garage, or specific architectural detail, the Feasibility Study will establish whether or not your request will meet the specific city and neighborhood criteria; this influences the city permit application process. Conducting a Feasibility Study will help you determine the proper investment range for your Custom Build given the assessment values of your neighborhood today, as well as what you can expect from your property value in years to come, based on historical reporting.
What’s the difference between a Building Permit versus a Development Permit? (As cited on the City of Calgary website)
A Building Permit applies to new buildings or structures including retaining walls over a meter in height and swimming pools or hot tubs and includes relocations, demolitions, repairs or alterations to existing buildings and structures. Building Permits are designed to address life and safety issues of the occupants and users of those buildings or structures.
A Building Permit is required for all Custom Home Builds because, as the definition states, it applies to a new build as well as it can involve a demolition.
The Building Permit process is based on the Safety Codes Act and the Alberta Building Code, Plumbing Code, Electrical Code and Fire Code for construction, alteration or addition for both residential and commercial buildings. Plan reviews, approvals and site inspections are provided in accordance to the required codes by each discipline to ensure the safety of your family.
Development Permits are required for new projects, changes in use, or additions to existing structures; this type of permit applies more aptly to Renovations when they require an addition that expands out or above the cities contextual guidelines. If a Renovation requires a relaxation on the existing boundaries for a side yard or front or rear set-back, then this will require a pre-application review by City Planning and can be dealt with during the feasibility process to ensure what you are considering has a high degree of approval. Many homeowners’ are not aware that building within the contextual guidelines of less than a 40 square meter addition could mean a Development Permit is not required. The knowledge of these guidelines has allowed past Pinnacle Clients to work within these parameters; eliminating the costs and time delays required for a Development Permit.
The Development Permit process is based on the Municipal Government Act and the Land-Use By-Law. Plan reviews, approvals, and site inspections in relationship to land use, site development, streetscape, planning principles, densities, landscaping, transportation, parking etc., are provided to ensure that development takes place in accordance to the approved planning, engineering and environmental policies.
Am I responsible for getting the Building or Development Permit?
If you choose a Design-Build Firm to build your Custom Home, they should take care of the appropriate permits. This is the case with Pinnacle Group; Pinnacle’s expertise is relied upon to navigate the entire permit process. Pinnacle knows how to traverse the sometimes challenging permit process and how best to get specific relaxations approved; they counsel their Clients on what types of relaxations they are confident the city will approve and in the instance that a request may not be approved by the city, they create a sensible back-up plan. Proper planning and consideration can avoid a lengthy appeal process that may not be necessary.
How long does it take to get a Development Permit?
Typically a Development Permit will take 12-14 weeks; Pinnacle carefully adheres to the application requirements and ensures the application is complete and concise at the time of submittal to avoid any unnecessary delays.
How do I know if my neighborhood has architectural guidelines/controls?
An experienced Builder should have a detailed understanding of the architectural guidelines or what used to be referred to as architectural controls, in each neighborhood; such is the case with Pinnacle Group. Pinnacle has an in-depth understanding of the variety of neighborhoods’ architectural guidelines throughout the City of Calgary and takes these into consideration when designing a Custom Build or Renovation. In all instances, their goal is to have the Custom Build or Renovation enhance the surrounding community and ultimately increase the value of adjacent homes.
How does completing Pinnacle's DNA document influence the Development Permit process?
The reason Pinnacle consistently receives a 98% referral rate is because of the due diligence done up front during Pinnacle’s intensive Design Discovery Process; neither Pinnacle nor their Clients want any unforeseen surprises. No one wants to spend considerable money in design architectural fees only to find out their application is denied as a Development Permit. Pinnacle’s comprehensive DNA (Design, Needs and Alignment) Document includes an introduction to the DNA concept, followed by a Preliminary Needs Analysis Questionnaire that helps their Clients drill down to what they really want to achieve in their Custom Home Build or Renovation. In addition, it provides a detailed section on the specific Expert Industry Questions a Client should ask any Builder they are considering hiring for their home project. Once the Client has filled out the DNA Preliminary Needs Analysis Questionnaire and Pinnacle meticulously discusses all details, Pinnacle will have a thorough understanding of their Client’s project scope; allowing them to evaluate if there is any possibility that the Development Permit application could be denied, or limitations granted. The conversation takes place up front, and Pinnacle ensures that whatever the potential minimum allowances are that the city could approve, the Client will be comfortable with the proposed design based on this. If you would like to download the complimentary DNA Document or access other Pinnacle resources available to you, visit the Resources section of the website: Resources section of the website.
What are the steps in Pinnacle's Design-Build Planning Process?
The following provides a detailed overview of what you can expect from Pinnacle Group’s Building Planning Process; this process was developed from years’ of analyzing our systems and procedures and listening to the valued feedback from our Client Families, employees and long term trade partners. This process is the foundation that allows us to maintain our commitment to providing you with an enjoyable experience that you can unequivocally say is built on ethical best business practices, trust, and quality craftsmanship. Our goal is to exceed your expectations, creating a home that truly reflects your innate family characteristics for a lifetime of living.
1. Feasibility Study – for details on what a Feasibility Study entails read the FAQ titled How do I know if I can build the Custom Home I want on the property I own or that I am considering purchasing?
2. Design Discovery Process
With the Feasibility Study complete and the assurance that what you are proposing can in fact be accomplished; Pinnacle transitions to the Design Discovery Process. Ensuring your family’s needs, expectations, and proposed budget parameters are in alignment is paramount; complete due diligence is done on Pinnacle’s behalf to ensure that your trust is firmly established, giving you peace of mind when approving the design retainer.
As soon as the retainer is authorized, you will be provided access to Pinnacle’s proprietary customer online portal and given a tutorial. The entire Building Planning Process document is populated on Pinnacle’s online portal, allowing you to see optics of your entire project. You can easily track every detail including your total investment, tallies, selections, photos of the project in progress and a calendar with the guaranteed completion date posted. It also serves as a direct communication tool; you can post questions or provide feedback and review the progress of your project 24/7, even when you are out of town. It also provides accountability to Pinnacle’s Production Team, trades and yourself; for example if you were to miss a Design Review Meeting you can see how that then bumps production forward a week; it demonstrates how imperative it is to keep to the schedule as created by Pinnacle.
Pinnacle then meets for 2-3 Design Discovery Sessions where they will discuss the detailed information gathered from your completed Preliminary Needs Analysis Questionnaire in the DNA Document. As well, this is when they will review specific photos and magazine clippings you have collected that reflect your inspirations, and you can also browse Pinnacle’s reference materials for further design ideas. Continued email and phone dialogue will ensue until Pinnacle is confident they have accurately captured your Client Family’s vision and the inherent “why” behind your Renovation or Custom Home Build. Pinnacle’s goal is to uncover not just what you want your house to look like but rather how you want to live in your home. It is the success of Pinnacle’s Design Discovery Process in defining the unique nuances of their Client Families and in turn their ability to successfully infuse this into the design of the Client’s home, which has led to so many satisfied Pinnacle Client Families.
At this point, Pinnacle unveils your first draft design using their 3D Modeling Software. 3D Modeling allows you physically to see what your Renovation or Custom Home will actually look like; making sure you are completely satisfied with the result long before the project commences. The use of 3D Modeling starts from the very first rendering presented; this is contrary to what is typically offered by most architectural firms, in which the 3D Model is provided at the end of the design phase as a final rendering.
Any changes that you want to make can instantly be applied, giving room to experiment and try variations. Pinnacle’s 3D Modeling Software allows you to view design options with a simple “click”. Walls can be modified, moved, or even taken away to immediately reveal a new layout; without incurring the typical costs associated with changes to an actual architectural drawing. As Pinnacle gets closer to design approval, they start populating the renderings in colour that truly brings your home transformation to life.
Pinnacle has spent many years developing their intense Design Discovery Process, and this is inherently interwoven within the Design-Build Model. Most Design-Build firms employ professionals from both the design and construction sector which is the case with Pinnacle Group; this creates a seamless communication forum. Naturally, the expertise and creativity of an architect is required to draw up a plan. However, they may not be conversant in real-life construction applications; specifically as the design relates to associated costs of construction. What is designed and what occurs on a construction site can lead to a disconnect, resulting in major setbacks in project timelines and mid-way construction delays.
Pinnacle Group goes one step further inviting not only the Architectural Design and Production Team to the initial Design Discovery conversation but also the Trade Team. Having all parties involved in the conversation from the onset allows valuable input into the final project solution, providing you with a synergistic solution and an achievable result. There is no stone left unturned; with this level of planning, prior to the start of any Custom Home or Renovation project, unforeseen project delays and costs are mitigated. This is why Pinnacle is the only Renomark™ Builder to guarantee the start date, completion date and cost, known as their SCC 3-Way Guarantee™.
3. Design Sign Off
Pinnacle’s Architectural Design Team (both Architect and Interior Designer) has collaborated with you since the first Design Discovery meeting; helping you define specifics such as window sizes and location, roof pitch, roofing and siding material, and location and style of doors and garage doors. It is very important to understand that certain design choices such as the window sizes and roof pitch cannot be changed once the permit is submitted.
By the 4th meeting, you should be ready to sign off on the design; this is the macro overview of design Pinnacle is referring to at this stage with 90-95% of the design choices certain but with room to massage minor details; there is always of course room for major changes but with the understanding that this can result in major project delays.
4. IPP – Issued for Pricing Plans
Once the design has been approved, Pinnacle converges with their trades. Pinnacle’s Architectural Design Team provides the blueprint and a cross section of the plans, highlighting all of the detailed trade requirements so the trades can accurately compile their cost proposal and align with your budget expectations. The trades will typically also meet with Pinnacle onsite to provide further context to the project. As well at this time, Pinnacle populates a succinct schedule; this is a global snapshot created for the entire project from start to finish and is how Pinnacle can guarantee your start date, completion date and cost. The trades know right from the onset, exactly when they are scheduled to provide their services for the project and when they are required to complete their portion.
5. Development Permit Plan
The Pinnacle Architectural Design Team is now committed to populating the Development Permit Plan and submits it to the city. Typically a Development Permit will take 12-14 weeks; Pinnacle carefully adheres to the application requirements and ensures the application is complete and concise at the time of submittal to avoid any unnecessary delays.
6. Interior Design Selections
Once the Development Permit is submitted, Pinnacle’s Interior Designer begins working with you on interior design selections, while the Development Permit is in process so Pinnacle can ensure the fundamentals of the Building Planning Process converge; that is to say that once the Development Plan is approved by the city which typically takes 3 months, all design selections are complete so that construction can start immediately upon approval of the permit; without this planned coordination, it would mean delaying your project an additional 3 months.
All interior design selections are completed during this time frame including molding profiles, sound and automation, theatre, flooring, millwork, kitchen, appliances, plumbing fixtures, electrical and lighting plans.
At this point, you will receive your final and guaranteed project cost proposal and your build approvals; upon acceptance of the build agreement, your project will commence. .
From this point forward, construction begins, and Pinnacle’s Architectural Design and Production Team will work hand in hand with you. Production will be busy ordering the chosen materials from the trades and ensuring materials and trades are on site as scheduled and that the project is progressing as planned. The key to Pinnacle’s history of success is decades of developing their Building Planning Process, resulting in the assurance that their SCC 3-Way Guarantee™ is for real!
Typically how long does it take to build a Custom Home?
As with any Custom Home project, the timeline for completion varies on the project scope. However, the general guidelines for completion of a high-end Custom Home would be 3 months for the design development, followed by up to a 3 month wait to receive the Development Permit from the city and then production can start. Production typically takes 8-12 months including the knock down of the existing home, if this is required. Pinnacle Group’s SCC 3-Way Guarantee™ takes the guess work out of the project timeline and leaves you with the peace of mind that you can trust Pinnacle to deliver on time and on budget.