Beyond Status Quo
Partners Development Group: The Way Forward
If your point of reference is their “Arrive Home” website—a departure from those who insist on their company name as their website address—you know you’re looking at a builder focused on creating homes, not just building houses. Warm colour hues, young faces, and a focus on sustainability are peppered throughout the website to reflect their core focus areas—highlighting a business with a view to the future. There is a sense they can help you “arrive home”.
Partners Development Group focuses on three core areas: affordability, quality, and sustainability. It’s these values that drive this builder forward.
The company began with smaller-scale, conventional projects, for most of its first decade. As new building practices were developed, the growing Partners team researched green methods and technologies to build more responsibly, while finding the way to feasibly accomplish this in the first-time home buyer’s market. In 2010, this effort began to see Partners differentiate themselves from other multi-family builders.
“We wanted to do better—strive to be better. Building to code as a minimum wasn’t enough,” says Alan Quinn, Vice President of Construction. “We wanted to challenge ourselves and know this was the future of Partners Development Group. How can you not feel good about that?”
And so they talked to their customers. The responses reinforced the path they were on. Inspired by those younger than him, Quinn also listened to his nieces, nephews, and other young people he could find to talk to. He wanted to know what was important to them. Homeownership was at the top of the list and increasingly, affordability has become critical—especially for the younger generation. He felt this group is made up of critical thinking customers looking for ways to live more sustainably. Partners Development Group wanted to do their part in making homeownership a reality while developing their townhome communities in a responsible way.
Quinn recalls: I was visiting my niece and her husband in Lethbridge, early 2009, and they were saving for a down payment on a home. It was very important to them to have a green, sustainable home apparently. They found that the products they were looking at were out of their budget. We discussed what “green” options were most important to them, and after a long list, Partners set out a goal to enlist as many items as possible while maintaining an affordable price point for their main purchaser base—the first-time home buyer.
Partners Development Group set out to prove that affordability doesn’t have to mean a lesser quality build. This is where durable, quality homes and sustainable building practices intersect. Many people are unaware that sustainable builds don’t have to be cost prohibitive. Quinn describes their initial entry into sustainable building through a process he describes as a “cost per point” analysis: putting dollars to points, informed by the BUILT GREEN® checklist, to determine what green features they could integrate while remaining competitive in the marketplace for their largest demographic—the first-time home buyer.
That analysis saw them going to their trades, and in some cases, being greeted with backlash. Nonetheless, they remained committed—this was the way of the future—and the trades came on side. There was trial and error for some product lines, but they worked through it together and found what worked the best for all. By using new construction techniques and technologies—from recycled content in the materials, to the way the building materials are handled and disposed of, to utilizing higher insulation and finishing techniques, using advanced mechanical systems for air quality, offering better Energy Star appliances and fixtures that consume less energy—they were able to build affordable homes that have lower operating costs than conventional developments, all in a professionally managed, community setting.
Partners Development Group innovated by understanding their requirements, the purpose of new technologies, the cost benefit, and meeting customer demand. They went on to demonstrate the close relationship between quality and sustainability with the incorporation of such features as low-maintenance exteriors, sustainable landscaping designs, and efficient garbage collection systems, to name a few.
When Partners originally integrated BUILT GREEN® at the onset of their sales process of ARRIVE at Skyview Ranch in 2010, it was an education process. Their sales managers were trained through the BUILT GREEN® certification program alongside the construction crew, as their purchasers were asking valid questions about being “certified BUILT GREEN®”; they needed to know this wasn’t a fad or a gimmick. When the sales team described the make-up of the party wall, for instance, it had people knocking on the wall connected to the other show home, and the build spoke for itself.
For most, initially they were drawn to the ARRIVE townhomes by price point and location, and after living there for a few months, realized how fortunate it was to have such a solidly built home—and silence from their attached neighbours! Bill and Kathy Hannah have been living in this first Built Green development of Partners since 2012 and say, “We were probably here half a dozen times or more watching the construction to see how the townhomes were being built before we decided to buy,” Kathy says. “When we walked around the first time and saw they were using spray foam insulation in the garage it really blew me away,” Bill says. “I felt that if the builder was willing to go that extra step and not be over-priced, then this was a good choice.”
Building sustainably has allowed Partners Development Group to pass on cost saving benefits to customers. Improved efficiency means long-term cost savings, such as on water, electricity, and gas bills. A home built in the BUILT GREEN® program should save a minimum of approximately 10 per cent in annual utility bills, compared to a code-built home. Cumulatively, the savings can be substantial. These homes offer longer-term durability through the efficient use of building materials and processes. This means a longer life for the home with lower maintenance costs. Consumers who purchase a BUILT GREEN® certified home will benefit from an increase in market and resale value. Recent research has shown that homes with green certification sell for close to 10 per cent more on average than homes without green certification.
Fast forward from 2010 to last spring when the demand for sustainably built homes was further reinforced with the release of the 2015 Canadian Home Buyer Preference National Study. Conducted and produced by Avid Ratings Canada, in partnership with the Canadian Home Builders’ Association, homebuyers rate three of their top 10 “must haves” as related to energy efficiency, with 64% citing an efficient home, and 49% citing home certification as “must have” with an additional 29% saying they really want certification. Other top “must haves” include water conservation features.
Quinn reflects back to earlier days and knows that they’ve been ahead of the curve for some time. Their steadfast commitment has led to over 425 BUILT GREEN® certified homes, all of which are Gold and Platinum certified. Today, all their builds are BUILT GREEN® certified. As a company looking to the future, Partners Development Group continues to strive for the best home building results, while inviting their purchasers to “arrive home”.