Image Image Image Image Image

Homeowner Advice Archives - Novell Design Build



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



Get started on your new home build at the 2018 BC Home + Garden Show

  • By novelladmin

Deciding to build a new home in Vancouver can feel like an overwhelming process. With so many moving parts, it’s hard to know where to start. The BC Home + Garden Show is a great place to connect with the companies who can build your home and start the process. We’ve gathered a few tips of what to consider if you are in the early stages of planning your new build.

Know Your Zone

Vancouver zoning bylaws are complex to say the least. Different zones come with different considerations for your new custom home.  Our first step as a Design Build team is to identify the zone in which the home will be built. You can look up your zone based on your property address on the City of Vancouver website.

Once you find the zone for your property, write it down and bring it with you to the show. Don’t worry about understanding the guidelines or details of your zone. A knowledgable builder will be able to take your zoning information and with a little research, provide you with your options to build new.

Don’t have time to look up your zone before the show? Let us know your address and our team can do a search at our booth.

Look for Design Build

When you are thinking about a new home, you may first think “I need to find a builder”. While of course your builder is an integral part of the process, don’t forget about the design component. Although you can hire one company to design and another to construct, consider the benefits of Design Build. Increased efficiency, effective problem solving and expert collaboration are just some of the advantages of Design Build.

Many companies advertise as “Design Build”, but true Design Build is when both teams exist under a single company. When talking to firms at the show (especially those who advertise as Design Build) – ask them if their designers and builder are all on staff, or is one side subcontracted? That will give you an indication if you are working with a true Design Build team.

If you’re exploring your options to build new in Vancouver, come see us at the 2018 BC Home and Garden Show at booth 513. The show is happening February 21st – 25th at BC Place. A full schedule and discounted tickets can be found by clicking the link below:

buy bc home and garden show tickets online



Take a 360 Tour of one of our Homes in Virtual Reality

  • By novelladmin

virtual reality home tour

If you’ve been keeping up with the latest technology trends, you know that virtual reality (VR) is on the rise. VR is quickly becoming more accessible with affordable hardware and mainstream applications. We all know that VR can be a fun way to escape reality with games, but what about in the home design and build space? It turns out that virtual reality can play a role in helping you envision what’s important to you with your home.

Why Virtual Reality?

When looking for inspiration for your major renovation or new custom home, websites like Houzz and Pinterest are a great resource. They allow you to browse thousands of images for design ideas, but the downside is you rarely get to see an entire home. Getting to truly experience a home from top to bottom can put into your mind the little things – important pieces you might not see captured in static photos. Viewing an entire home also allows you to experience all aspects of the space working together. Of course the best way to do this would be to visit homes in person, which isn’t always an accessible reality. Luckily, the VR world has given us the next best thing. By viewing a home in 360 degrees, you can experience the feeling of visiting a home without making the trip.

Where Can I find a Virtual Reality Home Tour?

Because VR technology is still on the rise, these types of tours aren’t yet very common. That being said, why not ask your builder?  You’ve likely seen lots of static photos of their work (which are a great resource) but ask if they’ve got anything in 360 that can give you a more complete vision of a project. However, keep in mind that this technology is still new, so you may not find a whole suite of VR tours available with every builder.

Novell Design Build’s Project in VR

Here at Novell Design Build we are committed to staying ahead of the curve, so we’ve gotten in on the virtual reality game. Our Kitsilano Residence Rebuild is now available in 360 degrees! You may have caught a peek of this project already at the 2017 Vancouver Fall Home Show where it was available for touring in partnership with the Greater Vancouver Home Builder’s Association. Although VR is typically experienced through a viewer or set of goggles, navigating through the home on a computer or tablet still offers an experience unlike any set of photos!

Click the play button below to view the 360 tour. For the best experience, click the “View Fullscreen” button in the right corner of the viewer.


3D Tour by SeeVirtual



Your Guide to Meeting Builders at the 2017 Vancouver Fall Home Show

  • By novelladmin

Can you believe we are only a week away from the 2017 Vancouver Fall Home Show? Our team has been gearing up for the show for the past couple months, but we shouldn’t be the only ones getting ready! If you are shopping for a design-build team such as ours, keep in mind that not all firms are alike. Every company will have their own specialty or niche offering, so preliminary conversations like the one’s you’ll have at the show are key. Here are a few elements to keep in mind when talking to builders at the show:



Visiting a home show can be overwhelming when there are hundreds of booths competing for your attention.  Take a look at the exhibitor list ahead of time and write down the companies you’d like to visit. Ask yourself these questions:

  1. What’s important to you?
    We ask this question with every new project, and it’s never too early to start thinking about it. Consider the experiences you want to have in your new home and know your priorities.
  2. Am I just shopping around for ideas, or am I looking to make a decision soon?
    If you know you are still in the early stages of your project, don’t feel pressured or intimidated by pushy salespeople. The most important thing is that you work with a company you feel comfortable with, so take your time.
  3. Is there any specific information that I feel is important to find out like ballpark budgets or timelines?
    Write down your questions to be sure you don’t forget!

Knowing what you are looking to get out of the show will keep you focused. Take notes and don’t be afraid to ask questions. This will ensure a good record to refer back to once you are back home.



Choosing a company to take on a big project like a custom home or major renovation is a big decision. You will be working with this team for months, so make sure your communication styles are a good match.

Ask them to describe their process. Will they be communicating with you in person and via phone regularly, or just over email? If you have a concern and need to get in touch, can they guarantee a window of time to get back to you? If the company answers no, or it doesn’t seem like communication is a priority for them, take that as a warning sign of how they may treat you during your project.

Communication is one of the most important aspects of any large scale project. This is your home, so it is crucial that you are always on the same page as your builder.



You are trusting a builder with your home, something which is very personal. It’s important to vet any company you are considering which includes asking them about their history. Check out examples of their work and ask questions. Your builder should be proud and eager to tell you the story of each and every project.

It’s important to feel a connection with your builder, so be sure to also ask questions about the company and it’s people. Every member of the Novell team will be taking a turn at our booth, so come by and meet us!

The team you choose will be building your story, so have fun with it! No question or idea is too small. It’s the builder’s role to take your priorities and create something you’ll love, so share whatever is on your mind.

If you keep in mind the 3 elements of Goals, Communication and Story while talking with builders, the conversations should flow with ease. There is also a lot to experience at the show outside of visiting vendors. Check out any presentations or workshops that interest you (including from our own Laurel James) and take your time just browsing around. The show should feel like a treat, not a chore, so be sure to take time for yourself to explore everything the show has to offer.

We’ll see you at the 2017 Vancouver Fall Home Show!



Home Renovations You Really Shouldn’t Do Yourself

  • By novelladmin

Home renovations are expensive, which is why many homeowners will attempt to tackle them themselves. Nonetheless, we all know that can be a risky situation

Source: Home Renovations You Really Shouldn’t Do Yourself



4 Tips to Keep in Mind During Your First Meeting with a Design Contractor

  • By novelladmin

Purchasing your dream home is a huge stepping stone and a goal for many people. However, not all dream home come with the specifics that you would want whi

Source: 4 Tips to Keep in Mind During Your First Meeting with a Design Contractor



The First Residential Rainwater Cistern In The City of Burnaby

  • By novelladmin



Todays rain is a much-needed break from many people. Between the devastating wildfire conditions and the extraordinary dry summer, BC has experienced some of the harshest water restrictions we’ve seen in over a decade.  Yet we live in a rainforest – surely we should be able to capture enough rainwater through the year to hold us over when it’s dry.  Our 3 local reservoirs, Capilano, Seymour and Coquitlam are reported to be at 66% of their normal levels and so the challenge seems to be capacity, with a rapidly growing Metro Vancouver population and our thirst for nature’s resource we need to find solutions.

Rain barrels are becoming a more common inclusion in our projects.  We’re designing homes with rainwater collection in mind, and recently we are proud to have designed and installed the first residential rainwater cistern in the City of Burnaby, and we are really excited about it.  

The homeowners came to us with an interest for alternative energy and water management solutions, and together we planned the undertaking of a rainwater capture system into an underground cistern.  They are now able to use rainwater to irrigate their yard, wash the car, and even flush their toilets.


Screen Shot 2015-08-13 at 1.58.09 PM



 Screen Shot 2015-08-28 at 3.51.00 PM


Rainwater is collected from the roof, travels through a 3-stage gutter filtration system; gutter grates, V-shape funnel system & downspout catch basin. From here it travels along underground channels towards the cistern on a downward slope. As the water enters the system it goes through an internal filter, designed for optimum cleaning performance with maximum water yield and into the 1700 gallon tank; which is completely buried except for a lockable manhole. There are different sizes of tanks to choose from depending on your needs.

In the house’s mechanical room the central control unit cleverly provides a switch between the harvested rainwater or city supply therefore never leaving the household without the water it needs. The city water and rainwater are strictly isolated from each other at all times, even in the event of a mechanical failure the two sources can’t meet; so there is no chance of cross contamination. This is a mandatory requirement stipulated by the City.


Screen Shot 2015-08-13 at 1.31.10 PM

Photographer Ivelina Blagoeva is able to see the artistic potential that’s hidden within ordinary water droplets.



If you were going to talk to 3/4 of the world and tell them you fill your toilets with drinking water, they would think you were crazy.  Living in a rainforest brings us a bounty of high quality water throughout much of the year – it only makes sense to capture it and be smart with this resource.  Using a rainwater cistern rather than fresh water for secondary needs contributes to ensuring we have enough water for the projected growth of the region and for our future generations.

From a short-term financial perspective, a cistern like the one we installed in Burnaby would cost approximately 20-25k depending on your needs. It can be a considerable investment for some households, but it’s also worth considering that more and more municipalities are making the move to consumption-based water billing.

Even under Stage Four water restrictions, the use of rainwater is unrestricted and so allows you to continue watering and maintaining your garden…….there are no #grassholes at our Burnaby Residence!



Interested in whether or not a Cistern makes sense for you?  
Thinking of designing & building your home?
Contact us today.