Image Image Image Image Image

What's New



Join us in Celebrating 15 Years of Design Build!

  • By novelladmin

Novell’s Anniversary is coming soon

Novell Design Build is celebrating 15 year anniversary on December 2nd, 2020 and wants to invite you to join in a digital countdown to this milestone!

We send many thanks to everyone who has helped support our growth over the years. Over the next 15 days, we will be reflecting on our history, in order to move towards the future with a new energy.

Follow #15YEARSNDB for our

15 Days of Design Build Countdown

Every day, we will be exploring the behind the scenes of some of our favourite projects. Follow #15YEARSNDB to explore our Design Build insights, all-time highlights, challenges, and recommendations for custom building in the future. There may even be some surprises along the way!

We can’t wait to share more about our growth over the years and share some of the exciting news around the corner.

Now is a great time to start thinking about your home. Finding ways to connect with each other, and enjoy the spaces we inhabit is becoming an even larger priority for our community. This year, Novell Design Build has shown that strong teamwork and thoughtful solutions are the best way to solve problems together.

We now offer an expanded breadth of services to the outdoors in a strategic partnership with Novella Outdoors. Together, we provide the expertise to transform your home and your expanded outdoor space. Keep your eyes out for some early-bird discounts!

With an expansion of our service provided areas, Novell continues to provide custom Design Build homes, laneways and coach houses + outdoor services to Vancouver, North Vancouver, West Vancouver, Burnaby and Richmond.

Are you interested in starting your Design Build journey? Contact our team to learn how we can provide a custom home for you.

Follow Novell Design Build on our socials for the latest:

Twitter and Instagram: @novellDB

Pinterest and Houzz: @novellstudio



Vancouver’s Making HOME Project as seen through a Design Build lens

  • By novelladmin

Why Design Build firms are necessary for Vancouver’s gentle densification efforts.

In a bid to help fill the “missing middle” housing gap, the City of Vancouver has announced a new housing initiative, the Making HOME program or, Home Options for Middle-income Earners. This initiative seeks to provide an opportunity for middle-income earners to own a home in Vancouver’s single-detached neighbourhoods. The benefits of this initiative and its challenges are adjacent to those faced by Design Build firms in Vancouver already.

The Making HOME program proposes housing opportunities for middle-income earners and expands the vision for gentle densification beyond the single-family unit.
The Making HOME program proposes housing opportunities for middle-income earners and expands the vision for gentle densification beyond the single-family unit.

This proposal seeks to enable current Vancouver homeowners to create up to four sellable market homes on a single residential lot, as long as up to two additional dwellings are permanently set aside as affordable rental units. The Making HOME program, if endorsed by Council, would surpass all current zoning provisions in Vancouver’s single-family areas for buildable floor space. It is a pilot project to address social, economic and environmental equity, with a new approach to gentle densification.

To make the vision come true, Vancouver is going to need Design Build firms, such as Novell, with experience in both new build construction and major renovations. In order to navigate the complexities of this level of redevelopment, experts in multiple fields will be necessary, including:

  • Designers who can creatively envision a thoughtful and beautiful approach,
  • Architectural Technicians who can understand the building requirements
  • Project coordinators who can navigate the City, and organize trades,
  • and Builders who can direct a renovation and new build simultaneously.

Design Build firms offer the breadth of service necessary to deliver this type of project from start to finish.

Building for the Future with Design Build

1. Starting with INTENT: How are Design Build firms already making affordability and multi-generational living a priority?

As a professional Design Build firm, we’ve seen the effects of the housing market on building demands first hand. Almost all of our projects are custom designed with gentle densification in mind. Multi-generational concerns and housing affordability often informs our project goals.

  • Efforts to create gentle densification in Vancouver has been occurring for years. For instance, laneway houses have expanded our options for density and functionality, and multi-generational planning has been on the rise for years.

The Making HOME project is an extension of these efforts.

  • With the average price of a detached home in East Vancouver being $1.4 million, housing options are becoming increasingly limited in Vancouver. When companies listen to homeowners, the result is homes that are ready to support multiple generations in the years to come.
  • The “missing middle”, referred to in the HOME announcement, are the 80% of potential Vancouver homeowners who cannot access social housing, yet cannot afford the high cost of many of the urban and suburban housing options. The joint income of these households ranges from $60K to $175K. 
  • Accordingly, the Making HOME initiative is responding to the “60 percent of the city that is simply out of reach to average families, couples and those looking to downsize their homes.” – Mayor Stewart, The Globe and Mail

Here is an example drawn by the City of Vancouver as to how five dwelling units could exist on a single-family residential lot.

This is an example of a five dwelling home designed for Making HOME by the City of Vancouver.
Example of a five-dwelling home designed for the Making HOME program.

2. THOUGHTFUL DESIGN leads to meaningful spaces: How can the Design Build process offer intangible value to densified homes?

Expertly crafted spaces facilitate life’s moments: from everyday needs, to work at home spaces or social gathering events. Homebuilding is done best when the process considers what matters most to its inhabitants, and plans for the decades to come.

Thoughful Design Build can make this vision a reality by offering services that would deliver the project in totality; and it all begins by listening to what people care about the most.

  • The Making HOME initiative offers an excitingly feasible opportunity, but we must be wary of having a single-minded approach. Building for building’s sake just won’t do. That being said, the benefits of a successful Making HOME project cannot be ignored! On top of widening access to the housing market, the Making HOME program promotes a walkable Vancouver while providing an alternative to unfettered vertical densification.
  • It’s an opportunity for the younger generations, their friends and families to remain in Vancouver. The program would fight the widening sprawl of Vancouver’s commuters, and/or the dispersal of younger people by sheer virtue of affordability.

3. FULL SERVICES from a one-stop shop required: How would a homeowner begin to undertake such a large project?

It is early days, and much still to be determined. Of those that may be eligible for such a major development, this type of project would undergo a case-by-case permitting and development process. While the City of Vancouver boasts an expedited process for the Making HOME initiative, there is still much to consider and we have seen incredibly slow permitting activity around the Character Merit Program, for example. Interested homeowners should strap in for a long process. Patience will be necessary.

Such a complex project requires experts who can envision the totality of the project, including:

  • intensive custom design for complex dwellings;
  • permitting and development expertise to forge a path for the rest of the industry, and navigate new challenges as they arise;
  • construction expertise for coordinating a major addition, major renovation and new build simultaneously.

For this, Design Build firms with a firm understanding of both custom new build and major renovations will have the full breadth of expertise to offer. As well, Design Build firms are a one-stop-shop that can thread together the details from early concept to final finishing, and remain accountable throughout.

What’s Next?

In reality, not all 67,000 single-family lots in Vancouver would qualify for this program. While 71 percent of Vancouverites want more home choices in single-detached neighbourhoods, only a small percentage of land would be eligible for the Making HOME pilot program. At the moment, it “would not be applied to designated heritage homes, or homes with rental suites within them to avoid any potential of displacing current renters” says HAVAN, our professional association.

Coordinating a pilot program was at the core of last week’s announcement. According to HAVAN, 100 unit pilot and proof of concept could potentially be in place by the second quarter of 2021, with the first shovels hitting the ground in late 2021.

We know, along with others, that the work to stratify a property will be much more complex, time-intensive and expensive than the City implies.

Why Do We Need This Program?

Similar to laneways, this initiative responds to the urgent housing demands and socioeconomic needs of Vancouverites. Efforts to create gentle densification with laneway homes have seen much community support, but perhaps not enough municipal efficiency.

Laneways are beautiful, functional options for densification, but smoother processes must be in place to make it an affordable option. Accordingly, we have high hopes that the Making HOME initiative can bring heightened awareness to the need for thoughtful developments.

Of course, this project is welcome beyond housing and City development. Its benefits include the relationships of these communities to transportation, to economic development, to existing and new amenities.

A six dwelling property won’t suffice for Vancouverites unless it is thoughtfully crafted, and meaningful to its inhabitants.

This can be best delivered by a Design Build team because the tenets for thoughtful design are already, inherently woven into the Design Build process. Vancouver can be a housing leader. We’re ready!



Vancouver’s Best Laneways | Montecristo Magazine

  • By novelladmin

Our Grandview Lanway Residence is still one of Vancouver’s best laneway designs! This week, its custom features caught the eye of Montecristo Magazine’s design team:

Inside 9 of Vancouver’s Coolest Laneway Houses | Montecristo Magazine

A living green roof and a 360-degree, floor-to-ceiling bookcase are highlights of this dreamy Grandview laneway residence by Novell Design Build.

Katie Nanton |Montecristo Magazine

Take a peek inside some of our favourite building features:

  • The bedrooms downstairs are designed for comfort and relaxation, while the upstairs kitchen, living and south-facing patio allows for sunlight-filled entertainment.
  • The vaulted, 12 foot high ceilings and the 360-degree custom shelving for beautiful CD storage.
  • Hidden drawers and convertible closets make for hassle-free storage.
  • The mechanical room is suspended horizontally and accessible from the deck.
  • It features an eco-friendly and cost-effective living green roof.

Most of all, a beautiful space is best when it provides an abundance of joy!

Multigenerational Design Build houses are the future of Vancouver’s residential growth. Hidden density can be accomplished without demolition, or losing the character of our neighbourhoods.

Source: Montecristo Magazine. Katie Nanton. Inside 9 of Vancouver’s Coolest Laneway Houses. June 23, 2020.



Expert home reno and building advice at the B.C. Home + Garden Show | Vancouver Courier

  • By novelladmin

“…It can be a little daunting to tackle a home renovation, and downright terrifying to tackle a home build, without having the know-how to give you the confidence you need.

Fortunately help is at hand – for free – at the B.C. Home + Garden Show on February 19-23, thanks to the experts from Homebuilders Association Vancouver (HAVAN)…”

….Including Novell’s very own Laurel James ~ Friday February 21, 2020 @ 7pm on the Main Stage !

Source: Expert home reno and building advice at the B.C. Home + Garden Show | Vancouver Courier



3 Important Questions to Consider Before Starting Your Home Renovation

  • By novelladmin

The day has come. Maybe the years of saving up have now paid off, or maybe you just can’t look at that old tile any longer. No matter how you got here, renovating is exciting. And while you may be tempted to dive right in and take a sledgehammer to that bathroom, here are a few things to consider when planning a renovation.

What’s my real budget?

On the surface your budget might seem simple – it’s the amount of money you can spend on the project. Right? Well, while that may be technically correct, we advise breaking things down a little further to make sure you are covered in case of the unknown.

Unexpected costs happen, trades can be delayed. Even with the most meticulous planning most projects sees some sort of surprise expense – be it in dollars or in time. For this reason, we recommend building a contingency into your budget – 10-15% of the estimate from your contractor, set aside for those unexpected costs.

You should also be considering the budget of time you have for your project. With major renovations, it’s often best to temporarily move out of the home – which could mean renting or staying with others. Be sure to communicate often with your contractor about your project’s schedule and any proposed move in date. While moving in as soon as possible might seem like the best case scenario, your presence in the home may actually slow work down and cost more in the long term than an extra month of renting.

Your contractor should also have some insight and advice about how much contingency you should carry in your budget based on your contract, specific project’s scope, and possible unknown elements.

Am I renovating for me, or for a future buyer?

This may seem like a fairly simple answer, but think a bit longer term. Do you plan to stay in this home for 5 years, 10 years, or is this your forever home?

For example, elements like aging in place might not be a consideration for you right now, but may come to use for you one day, or potentially be attractive to a future buyer. Understanding your longer term plan for the property can help you narrow down what’s important to you in this renovation.

And just because you plan to sell your home eventually doesn’t mean you should make all your decisions based on that future plan – surface elements like fixtures and paint are easily replaced down the line, so go ahead and go for that gorgeous matte black faucet!

What should I do as a homeowner to make sure the project stays on budget and schedule?

After you’ve turned over your home to your Design Build team you may be left wondering, “what’s my part in this”? While we don’t anticipate homeowners to be swinging hammers, it is important to discuss your role in the project with your team. There is a fine balance between staying informed and making timely decisions and having the project become your second job. You hired a team for a reason, they should do the heavy lifting, not you,.

Trust me, your contractor understands (and shares) your excitement. And in order to give you the best result, you need to trust your team will keep you informed with everything you need to know. That’s not to say you shouldn’t ask questions or raise concerns, of course.

The greatest thing you can do for the success of your project is really quite simple. Communicate. Before embarking on your project, sit down with your Design Build team and review expectations. Who is the point of contact on the Design Build side and who is the contact on the homeowner side? How often will you meet in person on site, and what methods of communication will be used between meetings? What is a reasonable response time to questions both from the contractor side and the homeowner side?

Laying out these details at the beginning can help prevent confusion down the line. Likely, your chosen Design Build team already has a structure or idea of how to execute communication, so you can always follow their lead.

Looking for more advice on how to be successful in your renovation? Come see us at the Vancouver Fall Home Show October 24th-27th at the Vancouver Convention Centre and don’t miss our Principal Designer, Laurel at the Ask an Expert Stage Saturday and Sunday!



Vancouver Sun: Multi-generational households drive renovation revolution

  • By novelladmin

…“Our expectations have to shift,” said Laurel James, co-owner of Novell Design Build. “There are tradeoffs we can make to live in Greater Vancouver.”

When James founded the Vancouver-based company with her husband, Angelito Camaclang, 14 years ago, clients wanted open-plan aesthetic upgrades to their main living areas and dream kitchens.

“People wanted to improve their homes to self-actualize, or for the benefit of their immediate family and to fit everyone around the table on special occasions,” she said.

“That has shifted,” she said. “Over 90 per cent of the potential clients that we meet now want to accommodate three-plus generations.”

Multi-generational households are the fastest-growing household type in Canada, according to the most recent federal census. The number of households with at least three generations under the same roof grew by 37.5 per cent between 2001 and 2016.

Read the full story from The Vancouver Sun here:



3 reasons not to miss the BC Home + Garden Show (2 for 1 tickets inside!)

  • By novelladmin

It’s that time of the year again! We are less than a week away from the 2019 BC Home + Garden Show, and our team has been busy preparing and getting ready to meet the thousands of homeowners who will stop by BC Place Feb. 20-24.

If you’re on the fence about whether you should attend (it’s cold out – we get it), keep reading. We’ve put together a list of some of the top reasons to hit up this show!

1) It’s so much more than gardening

While it’s true that this event has a much larger presence of landscapers and outdoor living experts than the Fall Home Show, there are also hundreds of other exhibitors in attendance. From home builders like Novell to the hundreds of products you can purchase and take home from the show, there really is something for everyone. So, even if you don’t have a garden or outdoor living space, you’re still sure to find whatever you need at this show.

2) It’s your chance to talk to experts in a low pressure setting

You may be at the early stages of your project – and looking to learn as much as possible about a company before inviting them to quote on your new home build or major renovation. The BC Home + Garden Show is a great place to introduce yourself to someone you might want to work with, and get a feel for how they communicate and work, before you have them over.

3) You can get 2 for 1 tickets!

If we haven’t convinced you yet, then perhaps this will. Using promo code “Novell” you can get 2 for 1 tickets to enjoy the show!

Novell will be at booth 513, ready to hear what’s important to you! We’ll have lots of zoning info and maps on hand to help you determine the possibilities for your property. And, if you are ready to take that next step, we’ll be booking complimentary phone consultations right from our booth so you can talk in depth with our team.



Constructive Comment: Creative ways to transform spaces

  • By novelladmin

Our Principal Designer, Laurel James, talks transforming spaces in The Province with @GVHBA CEO @rdewit


Following Mortensen’s talk, I reached out to Laurel James, principal designer of Novell Design Build, to learn more about trending designs related to this concept.

To begin, I learned that the great-room concept, which has been trending for some time, is spilling over into the bathroom. James said people don’t want to be confined by the traditional toilet, sink and bath combo.

“They want function, but they also the spa-like experience, with the ability to choose how the room is used, creating different experiences for different family members within the singular space.”…

Source: Constructive Comment: Creative ways to transform spaces