CADCR special feature
Vancouver-based VictorEric is celebrating its twentieth anniversary designing and building custom homes. The company has added Passive House (PH) design to its list of offerings and uniquely serves the multi-cultural Lower Mainland marketplace through its multi-lingual staff.
While the firm now employs almost 50 across a range of disciplines, in 2007, with a staff of only six, it had already begun to achieve industry recognition with its first Georgie Award.
Founder Eric Lee came to Canada with his family in 1979. He says that from an early age he developed an interest in design and construction, which was evident in his preferred toy – Lego – and his determination to access construction sites to observe framing and other details.
He says his early experiences instilled in him the value of honesty, integrity, hard work, perseverance and personal development. That and natural talent led to his first home design at the age of 18.
Lee formalized his education by studying architecture through BCIT’s Building Technology Program, later adding education in interior design. Today VictorEric uses a design-build approach to address construction management, budget direction, interior design and landscape design for a full custom home solution.
“Whereas most builders subcontract a designer or use stock plans, we offer a truly integrated design-build model wherein our in-house construction experts participate in design discovery meetings to fully understand clients’ needs and budgets,” he said.
Listening to clients means hearing not just what they think they want in a home, but understanding their interests and lifestyles, he says.
“Then we seek to inspire every client to create a legacy-home which fills them with pride for generations to come. Our biggest difference is that we are truly integrated from AD, ID, LD (architectural, interior and landscape design?) to construction management staff. This gives us utmost control to deliver the best customer experience.”
Lee says the company is able to focus its expertise by being selective about the projects it will take on, ensuring that the team and clients are aligned in their values and goals.
Those values are also evident in the integrity he says the company strives to bring to the industry and the lower mainland region VictorEric serves. “Value engineered (VE) care is our motto and we measure ourselves by whether our employees and customers feel we are demonstrating the appropriate level of care in each situation.”
Passive House construction has evolved to meet the company’s VE Care model, he says. “A low carbon footprint home is environmentally ethical. Passive Houses use 90 per cent less energy to heat, they tend to be healthier homes for the client with a more consistent temperature which provides the best thermal comfort.”
Lee says he sees the PH design standard being pushed by more jurisdictions and believes this should be the future standard. “For us, being ahead of the curve is where we are most comfortable.”
Many of the PH design components can serve non-PH projects equally. Greater wall thickness, higher R values, roof and window overhang designs better suited to heating and cooling internal temperatures based on the sun’s seasonal angle and the natural convection process in the home, and high-performance HVAC are just some of these. Hidden, they do not impact the home’s design from an aesthetic perspective but work invisibly to create a better environment.
He says consumer uptake in PH has grown to the point that it’s economically viable for VictorEric to be designing Canada’s first fully Passive House sub-division in Harrison, BC, named Panorama. “We hope suppliers will be able to keep up with the demand for the unique materials needed for these premium structures.”
The growth in PH demand has been the result of much education. “People often don’t even understand the cost-benefit of triple pane windows much less an entire Passive House. When potential clients see on paper just how much of a benefit a Passive House can be there is certainly a lot of excitement.”
In 2014, responding to customer demand for the company to invest in development projects, VictorEric Select Projects was launched. “VSP offers boutique developments for people who appreciate quality and style but may not be able to afford an entirely custom single-family home,” he said.
“Dickens at Kensington is an 11-unit project, with a unique character-home duplex element which is in the finishing stage. With only two units left, we are pleased to say it basically sold-out prior to our ability to advertise its existence. The Lancaster Collection is an upcoming project of five graceful, stacked townhomes under the same umbrella.”
VictorEric has been named one of the Top Five Best Employers in B.C. by Small Business BC the past two years. Part of this may be the result of the emphasis Lee says the company places on fun, family, fitness, continuing-education and promoting from within.
“Aside from regular training, junior staff are paired with more experienced senior staff – buddies – to help both individuals grow.
“We are proud of our family-like culture that we’ve developed over the years with monthly activities, contests and challenges,” he said.
In addition, unique monthly bonus programs allow staff to directly profit from the money they save the company on both projects and marketing.
VictorEric has also been recognized in the past year for its projects including Georgie’s for Best Interior Design and Best Any Room, an Ovation Award for Best Interior and Best Outdoor Space.
Lee is a long-standing member of the Greater Vancouver Home Builder’s Association, a career mentor for BCIT students, and a volunteer with Big Brothers of Greater Vancouver.
For more information, visit http://victoreric.com.