Habitat Studio builds big dreams


New home builder helps family build the home of their dreams on the footprint of their former house.

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They’ve gone big and they’re going home.

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Building on the site of a home that one of the homeowners was raised in, this new house, at three storeys and 4,637 square feet, is an eye-catching modern offering with all the amenities and then some: an underground gymnasium that also serves as a badminton or basketball court, there’s a golf simulator with a glass wall for views from the adjacent family room, an elevator and a tunnel.

On the more traditional side, you’ll find a spice kitchen, two guest bedrooms, a home office and an in-law suite.

The old house, said Cindy and Vic — their last names are not being published due to safety concerns — was a small, older bungalow that had seen better days with its best feature now being its location. While Vic had long since moved out of the home he grew up in, his parents remained in that Strathearn home until just about the point it was time to tear it down.

But even though Vic’s parents needed to move due to the build, both Cindy and Vic wanted them to be a part of the new home’s future.

A spacious in-law suite on the main floor contains a den, master bedroom, ensuite and walk-in closet on one side of the home, while the open concept living, dining and kitchen spaces comprise the rest of the main level, which includes an open-to-above view from the living room.

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The second floor, meanwhile, is home to the master retreat, bedrooms for their children, Cindy’s home office and a family room. One floor up, there’s loft space and access to the rooftop patio.

The home’s lower level hosts the guest bedrooms, the golf simulator, a family space and a workout area. It’s also where you’ll find that so-called tunnel, which is actually more of a connecting zone to reach the separate building housing the garage and gymnasium.

“We’re absolutely excited to finally move in. We’ll definitely enjoy it — my parents will, too,” Vic said, adding this will allow everyone to spend more time together. “This whole COVID thing was kind of tough, too; being apart and not being able to see each other as often.”

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Five Year Process

While it was May 2020 when the old bungalow came down, planning started earlier — in 2017.

“We thought we had an idea of ​​what it would kind of be like,” said Vic. “We talked about needs and wants, and we went to go look at show homes.”

They also had a lead on a builder, Habitat Studio — Cindy discovered she knew a number of people who had built with the company and said the reviews were positive.

Habitat was also chosen, said Vic, because of its experience with building energy efficient homes.

“We weren’t needing to be net zero, but we definitely wanted to have a very efficient house, if possible, and kind of future proof it in a way where we could be more environmentally friendly. Habitat has the reputation of building energy efficient homes,” said Vic.

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While Cindy notes home design expertise is not one of hers or Vic’s strongest points, they provided Habitat with more than enough ideas to get the dream home that will be their forever home.

“Initially, they wanted to build a home based on a modular system done out of steel,” said Habitat Studio’s Trevor Hoover, partner and senior designer. “We started down that road but that wasn’t workable with the lot they had.”

Instead, they worked with the couple, asked plenty of questions, and for Cindy and Vic’s design inspirations, and came up with a new plan. Habitat’s interior designers, said Cindy, helped to guide the home to a successful finish.

Building The Dream

To make the home work, Habitat found itself with an interesting challenge: limited lot space and big dreams.

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Even Cindy and Vic weren’t sure what they would initially get when they proposed their wish list basketball request.

“In our heads we were thinking it would be this small area where we can shoot (hoops),” said Cindy.

But Habitat had an idea. They could build an underground gymnasium that would be about as large as three-quarters of a traditional basketball court and then they would place the home’s garage — a separate building — on top of it. That meant digging 23 feet down in the backyard.

Digging down, however, wasn’t limited to the court. The house’s main floor is at street level, with no front steps. To
do that, and to meet overall height requirements for the build, Hoover notes that the main floor was pushed into the ground.

“It was a different build, it was unique,” ​​said Hoover. “It was fun to build. They’re great clients and they gave us plenty of leeway to be creative as we could.”

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