Building a custom infill is an exciting process! Unlike new neighborhoods, you are part of the process of making the old become new. You are helping revitalize an older neighborhood, you are maximizing current infrastructure, and in Saskatoon you get to enjoy the beauty of old and mature trees! However, from a construction standpoint there are some things to consider when you are building an infill in Saskatoon that you may not need to think about in other areas. Infill construction has some unique quarks that building in other neighborhoods do not, so we broke down five things to consider if you are going to build an infill in Saskatoon!
If you’re building an infill, the beginning phases of the build will take longer. You are dealing with existing infrastructure so there are some added tasks and responsibilities that you/your builder will have. To get the property ready for construction you’ll need to do the deconstruction first. The permitting, demolition/removal of the existing house, tree removal, and other small tasks add time to the process. Typically, we allow 2 additional months for this deconstruction process. Most of that time is waiting for documents, permits and approvals but it’s time that isn’t required when you’re building on vacant land. Most of it is quite straightforward, but it’s something to be aware of when you are planning.
The next thing to consider are site conditions of your lot. The main things that impact infill construction are fences, trees, and existing sewer lines.
Fences impact construction because very rarely are fences in existing neighborhoods in Saskatoon on the property lines. Often fences need to be removed to start building the house. Most times this won’t affect timelines, but it could affect budget. Before you start construction look at the fence is on either side of your property. Often the mature trees along the property line are on the property line. If the fence is built on your side of those trees, it is likely that the fence is encroaching onto your property and may affect construction. Again, it’s not something that is the end of the world, but it is something to be aware of.
The next thing that can affect construction are trees. The unfortunate reality is that there are times where trees (or parts of trees) need to be removed to build the new home. Most times you will be removing a smaller house that has been landscaped with (what are now) large trees. With modern day home sizes some trees cannot be saved OR those trees are dying and will soon become a hazard to your home. Again, this is no surprise to most but is simply something to be aware of from a budget standpoint.
The last thing that is specific to infill construction is existing sewer lines. Old neighborhoods were built with shallower basements than we build today. There are times where the main sewer line is not deep enough to accommodate the proper grade from your new basement depth to the sewer main depth. To make a long story short, that essentially means that you’re trying to flush your toilets uphill. Obviously, that will not work! There are a few different ways to get around this but the easiest is to simply raise your house out of the ground so that you can accomplish the proper grade. This will have design implications, but it is the simplest way to go. This isn’t something that happens commonly, but it does happen so again, it’s something to add to your memory bank.
Often when you are building an infill your limiting factor will be space. Infill lots are traditionally narrower which means that you need to be a little more creative when you’re designing your home. You may not have an opportunity for as much storage space as other building areas, so you need to keep that in mind throughout the process. Simple ways to maximize space are to ensure all cabinetry goes to the ceiling, intentionally build your cabinets around your needs, avoid designing dead space in your layout and utilize concepts such as cantilevers and bump outs. Your goal should be to squeeze as much functionality per square foot as possible!
Setbacks are not unique to infills, but they do seem to have a bigger impact on design. Because you are traditionally working on smaller lots most times you want to maximize the space on the lot that you do have. As much sense as that makes it is sometimes contradictory to what you are trying to accomplish. Setbacks have an implication on window placement/size, maximum wall size, fire rating, etc. All these things can have an impact on your home’s layout as well as the final feel of the home (especially when it relates to the impact on windows). Make sure that you talk to your builder and understand the implications of these setbacks and what they mean for your home.
The unique part about infills is that you are working within an established neighborhood. Combining that with smaller lot sizes, space is often at a premium during construction. With less space means there needs to be better planning and oftentimes longer time frames. This can mean longer build times, but it can also mean that some things need to be left to be completed until later than you would like. The perfect example is a detached garage. Ideally the garage would get built at the same time as the house. Unfortunately, that space is dearly needed to build the home properly which often means the garage gets built after the home is finished. This may mean that you might move in without a garage, but it is something that needs to be worked around in order to do things properly.
These are just some of the things to consider/be aware of if you are building an infill in Saskatoon. If you are interested in building an infill in Saskatoon we would love to chat! Infills are where we got our start, and we love bringing new life to old neighbourhoods. Feel free to contact us – we would love to chat! We hope that this blog on five things to consider when building an infill was helpful for you.