Frequently Asked Questions

Got questions about your Victoria BC custom home or renovation? Here are some pro answers to the most common asks.

What happens if you build without a permit in Victoria BC, Oak Bay, or Saanich?

The building permit is for you, not your general contractor. Building permits and inspections protect you from inexperienced or unethical contractors that can cost you money down the road. Think of the inspector as the independent party who holds your contractor accountable to meet minimum requirements under the provincial building code as well as specific municipal code enhancements. Without a building permit, you have no record or assurance of what has actually been done, which can have big financial implications when you try to make an insurance claim or resell your home later on. At Horizon Pacific Contracting, we coordinate the entire municipal permit and approvals process for you. And when we hit an obstacle (and we will), we’re highly skilled at navigating through it.

How to get started on your custom home or renovation project?

Anytime you’re ready to talk about your building project, you can call or email us. We’ll schedule a time to meet with you, and go over the entire process in detail. You’ll have a chance to ask as many questions as you like. At the end of this conversation, we’ll have the information required to give you a pre-commencement budget.

How should you prepare for your first meeting with your custom home builder?

The first conversation with your builder should be purely exploratory. It’s less about the details than it is about the big picture. Some people come with plans already drawn and a building site selected; others have concepts in their heads, but no details worked out. At Horizon Pacific Contracting, our Design + Build service walks you through the process of turning an idea into reality. Our goal is to find out more about what you want, and make suggestions about options you’ll want to consider and why. We will also answer your questions about materials, fixtures, installation methods and the budget.

Do you need to talk to an architect before talking to a custom home builder?

No. At Horizon Pacific Contracting, we encourage our clients to contact us as early as possible in the design planning process to keep the budget grounded in reality. As builders, our goal is to match your vision, values, and tastes with the desired outcome. If you don’t want a 10,000 sq ft home, you shouldn’t design one.

Some people will seek out an architect because of their signature style but will have little idea of what questions to ask or what that style will cost. Having built many different types of homes we can help you build an accurate budget before you commit to a design path. Once this is clearer, we can then connect you with a designer that is an expert in the style of home you want to build, which prevents a lot of heartache and headaches later on.

How much does a custom home or renovation project in Victoria BC cost?

oday, the cost of building a custom home in Victoria BC ranges from $300 to $1000 sq ft. But square footage estimates like this are haphazard. Why? Because every project has a different set of variables. Building waterfront homes, for instance, tends to be more expensive than building on inland sites due to the additional risks and regulations of being near tidal, flood, or tsunami zones. It’s not a terribly accurate way to estimate the feasibility of your project.

A better way to estimate the costs of your custom home or renovation is through a pre-commencement budget. This budget factors in all the hard and soft costs involved in your home build, including the price of permitting, clearing land, hiring a designer and sub trades, all the construction and finishing materials, and much more. It is the most valuable aid to have in your planning process.

How do you select the right architect or interior designer for your custom home?

You will know if you have the right custom home architect or interior designer if you are meshing with them. Conversely, you will know when you do not have the right match if you are fighting the design all the way through the planning and building phase. The right designer is the person who has the time and attention to listen carefully to your goals and devote time to your project. Unfortunately, you won’t find this out until well after the design contract is signed. If you avoid consulting your builder until then, you might end up having them navigate municipal variance battles, calm angry neighbours, and re-do the budget when they hit a buildability issue.

Horizon’s Design + Build service takes this burden off you. Having worked in Victoria for 30 years, we have built close relationships with almost every home designer, architect, and interior design firm in the region. Our ability to match you with the right personality, project type, and budget is the key to success.

I don’t live in Victoria. Why should I hire Horizon to be my custom home builder?

Horizon Pacific Contracting specializes in “finely crafted” custom homes and large renovations. Our 30 year track record can give you some critical perspective on the local market. We’ll also introduce you to a network of the most highly sought after professionals who you could never consult with, let alone hire, directly. We have streamlined administrative and accounting systems in place specifically designed to give visibility to out-of-town clients as well as camera technology that allows you to see real-time updates of your home as it is built.

One other thing to note is how much our clients love that we keep things straightforward, transparent, and cost-efficient. That means no expensive third-party cloud services, no marble-tiled boardrooms, no fancy branded vehicles. We keep our overhead costs low so that the focus stays where it should be — your custom home building project.

Why should you hire a licensed Victoria BC-based builder for my home renovation?

Licensed builders are required by BC law to honour building warranties – this is your protection in the event a product, material, or service fails within the warranty period. You have recourse through BC Housing, a government agency, and there is a historical record of past performance violations. Yet none of these protections are available to you for a renovation. By hiring a licensed residential builder like Horizon Pacific Contracting for a renovation, you know you are partnering with a reputable company that stands behind its work.

How long is your custom home build or renovation going to take?

Your building project length will be determined by its scope. For a custom home in Victoria BC, the build time is typically from 12 to 18 months. At Horizon Pacific Contracting, we fully schedule every project before building, so you’ll know exactly how long each phase will take, and be able to track progress with our monthly reporting. If changes need to happen, you will be made aware well in advance.

What are the various types of custom home building contracts?

There are three types of building contracts: time and materials, cost plus, and fixed bid. At Horizon Pacific Contracting, about half of our projects are based on time and materials and half are based on fixed bids. The truth is that your contract should reflect your wishes, not your contractor’s.

What are the benefits of hiring a green builder?

Green building offers many benefits. First and foremost is that using eco-friendly materials and building practices promises better health and safety for your family through improved ventilation, earthquake resistance, and no toxic off gassing. The second major benefit is more of your money saved from energy efficient design.

At Horizon Pacific Contracting, green building is in our DNA. We are Built Green certified, and have built one of only two Leed Platinum Certified single family homes (Sparrow Hill) in all of Greater Victoria BC. Every one of our custom home and renovation projects, green or otherwise, takes advantage of green building techniques that have little or no extra cost to you. We stay on top of the latest technologies and are regularly consulted by local and provincial building authorities to deliver feedback on changes to building code.

What is the latest version of the BC Building Code?

BCBC 2018. This code was a major rewrite to the 2012 code, especially in the areas of sound transmission ratings, seismic design, and safety design. Also, the Province recently added an optional energy efficiency-focused code framework called the BC Energy Step Code, which some municipalities have begun to adopt.

Why is this important? If you’re building a new custom home or embarking on a major renovation, the 2018 code and Step Code is relevant to anything you change. Choosing how and what you build can have major cost implications. We know the code changes intimately. Working with us at the concept phase of your renovation will ensure you make smart, budget-conscious decisions from the get-go. And help avoid costly surprises later on.

How do you deal with Asbestos?

Asbestos is being taken very seriously by Victoria’s municipal inspectors and WorksafeBC. No licensed contractor can perform work on your home unless it has been tested for Asbestos. That makes understanding what materials were used in the construction of your older home more important than ever before. We have the in-house expertise and equipment to handle asbestos remediation on a small scale but we subcontract out larger jobs. Regardless of the size or complexity of the job, we will always make sure you have a clear understanding of the options (including not removing the Asbestos) that you face well in advance of the work being done.

What happens if I want to make changes after the home building starts?

As your building project progresses, it gets increasingly expensive to make changes to your design, because materials may have been bought and structural work may have been done. Therefore, it’s important to discuss the implications of a change with your builder well in advance of your decision. That said, we are not opposed to changes. But they must be handled systematically. At Horizon, every change is handled through a change order request.