NSHBA’s 2011 Builder of the Year
Companies who take risks and challenge market standards are far and few between. So when innovative thinkers like Rooftight Construction Ltd. start to shake up the industry, it’s no wonder they earn the title of Nova Scotia Home Builders’ Association Builder of the Year.
Rooftight started in 1995 as a small home building business that quickly grew into a successful full-service company of custom home builders and designers. From modest beginnings, Owner Scott Smith went from learning how to read a tape measure to mastering specialty courses in Woman-Centric design and planning.
“Three years ago, Rooftight was in the upper echelon of builders in Metro, but found ourselves competing against other great builders in the marketplace with no way of differentiating ourselves from the rest,” says Smith. “So I found a Design Basics program called the Woman-Centric approach and decided to rebrand Rooftight to really stand out in the Nova Scotian market.”
Rooftight explains the Woman-Centric approach to mean building homes based on four maxims of livability. Storage and convenience, entertaining spaces, flexible living spaces and de-stressing areas. This approach also promotes low maintenance and easy to clean spaces, useful organizational features and layouts that speak to the sensibilities of a woman but are equally as usable by both genders.
According to the United States based company Design Basics, a leader in the Woman-Centric approach, women are the sole or primary decision makers in 91% of new home purchases. Design Basics has been quick to optimize on the strong female influence on home purchases and renovations. And in 2003, Design Basics published the first magazine of its kind called Her Home, which unlike decorating magazines, focused on the design, construction and planning process of home building and renovation from a woman’s perspective.
Smith and his team at Rooftight were the first in Canada to capitalize on this way of thinking and rebranded their business to market towards women and build homes that women can connect to on many levels.
“Why were we marketing towards men if women made the majority of home buying decisions?” says Smith. “It didn’t make sense. So this realization led us to where we are today – with a new brand, a new website, a new philosophy, a new everything.”
The rebranding led to a very interactive online presence where potential homebuyers could research the company from the comfort of their own home and get to know Rooftight before even meeting the team.
Smith and Rooftight’s Director of Marketing and Design, Michelle Reid – also certified in the Woman-Centric approach – both strive to bring that relaxed and interactive online experience into the office and onto the job site.
Smith and Reid are as inviting as their online web personalities suggest. And they make choosing shades, textures and finishes in their all-in-one design centre a stress free and exciting experience.
“Sip a hot coffee or enjoy a glass of wine and let the kids enjoy the play zone while you consult the long list of design options with our in-house designer,” says Smith. “People really fall in love with the things that we offer because we’re hitting the nerves of their lifestyles and they can’t help but enjoy the process.”
Focusing on women has encouraged this interactive process of the buyer working alongside the designer to flourish and gain popularity throughout the building industry. More and more builders are implementing the all-in-one design centre and custom planning approach – but it’s the way Rooftight strives to reveal the nuances in each family’s lifestyle that sets them apart from other Metro builders.
This interactive approach is catering to a new kind of homebuyer, explains Smith – the educated buyer who won’t settle for less.
“Buyers in 2012 are information savvy and usually come in with a list of questions and a solid understanding of the latest and greatest features being offered, how much they cost and how they work,” explains Smith. And with the vast amount of valuable information made available on the Rooftight website, it’s the perfect complement. Although it will never get to the point of purchasing homes online, the Internet has changed the way builders market and sell their homes explains Smith.
The consumer is shifting today’s industry standards when it comes to building and buying in Metro, and Smith is noticing the hands-on Woman-Centric approach complements this move quite well.
“No two lifestyles are the same. No two people are the same. So no two houses should be the same,” says Smith. “Our approach is to sit down with all homebuyers and figure out how they live and what they need in their new home – and they are thankful that finally someone is asking them what needs to be asked.”
Families who choose Rooftight quickly come to realize that they have purchased an experience and not just a new house. The team digs deep to find out how you wake up in the morning, how you enter the home after grocery shopping and how the kids take off their shoes after playing in the yard. These are lifestyle questions that traditional builders overlook. And in turn, traditional builders provide one-size-fits-all solutions and suggestions to what they think the buyer needs and wants.
Many Rooftight homes incorporate unique features like pet showers in the garage, a laundry room on the same floor as the bedrooms, a hobby room and a flex room on the main floor that can act as a home office, kids gaming room, reading room or homework room. Adding these features don’t necessarily raise the cost, it just requires proper planning and design early on.
“If your arms are full of grocery bags and you have two kids around your ankles, we can design a parcel drop zone at the entrance to the home,” says Smith. “We go as far as to implement personal features like cell phone and electronic device charging stations near the door or designated areas for keys and accessories.”
Entering your home and feeling comfortable is Rooftight’s mission. And for many, buying a home will be the single largest purchase in their lifetime – so employing a fulltime designer on staff has proven to be an integral component in the success of the new business model. Consistency and quality are monitored every step of the way from project conception to completion.
Every homebuyer ultimately wants a house that their family can feel comfortable in. Rooftight’s team goes a step further to create not just comfortable spaces, but retreats throughout the home where family members can escape to and also enjoy together. These spaces include home theatre rooms, spa-inspired bathrooms, built-in window seating for optimal sunlight when reading a book and open concept living spaces that create niches of relaxation yet still keep the family connected.
“Dedication to family life is what we admire about Scott and Rooftight,” says Paul Pettipas, CEO of the Nova Scotia Home Builders’ Association. “Making the family who will be living in the home a first priority is a quality all builders should consider. You can always build a beautiful house, but making it a real home is the challenge.”
Rooftight often encourages families to think twice about building large, over the top houses and focus on bringing the family together without the use of an intercom. The team is there every step of the way to help plan and design beautiful, practical spaces that exist on their own and as a whole – much like the individuals who as a whole, make a family.
“Without the families, we would just be building frames and walls,” says Smith. “It’s what’s inside the home and who’s inside the home that makes it Rooftight.”
Builder of the Year isn’t awarded to the highest grossing company or the builder of the largest communities – it is awarded to those who are innovative, passionate and show a real concern for the consumer and the industry.
As a dedicated philanthropist and supporter of a number of groups like the Fall River Business Association, Halifax Chamber of Commerce Advisory Board, the IWK Foundation and Fall River Minor Basketball, Smith is also the proud builder of this year’s NSHBA Lifestyle Home.
Nestled in the welcoming community of St. Andrews West, Fall River, 627 Beaverbrook Drive is a 4,000 square foot bungalow-style home with double garage and state of the art home automation provided by uberHome.
The Lifestyle Home showcases Rooftight’s capabilities as a builder as well as the superior quality materials donated by this year’s community supporters. But what makes this sale a significant one is that all proceeds will be donated to Smith’s charity of choice, the Canadian Marfan Association.
The CMA supports the education and research of Marfan Syndrome, connective tissue and cardiovascular disorders. And after cuts in federal funding, the association now relies primarily on the financial support of the public and private companies like Rooftight. Smith estimates $30,000 will go to the Marfan Association and $10,000 will be donated to the Homebuilders Care program run by the NSHBA.
Rooftight’s focus behind the design of the Lifestyle Home is to build a home that a family will feel good about buying and living in. On top of the charitable donation from the sale of the Lifestyle Home, it’s a sound investment concerning the environment. With a remarkable EnerGuide rating of 93 and R-2000 certification,
627 Beaverbrook Drive is fully equipped with solar tubes to heat the home’s hot water supply and solar photovoltaic cells that convert the sun’s energy into electricity which gets pumped back into the Nova Scotia Power grid and credited to the homeowner’s account.
This stewardship to the environment is a key feature in all Rooftight builds and is a growing demand among consumers. As Smith is noticing the Canadian building industry rapidly changing with technology, builders are compelled to keep up with all energy conservation techniques, practices and rising standards.
“Five years ago, the industry standard in EnerGuide rating was in the high 60s,” explains Smith. “Today they are averaging in the 80s and most Rooftight houses aim to reach the mid 80s or higher. And that’s a difference of only five years.”
To keep up with the changing industry, Smith, Reid and the rest of the Rooftight team continue to seek out specialty courses abroad and training programs through the NSHBA. In addition to programs like the Woman-Centric approach, training in energy efficient building has proven to be just as rewarding and necessary for the growth of the company.
“We like to stay three steps ahead of the industry and keep moving forward,” says Smith. “By listening to our customers and giving them control over the process, we have managed to remain innovative,
successful and flexible.”
There is no guarantee in predicting what the future holds for Rooftight, but Smith is fully committed to seeing that the quality of service and product only progress with time. Smith also hopes to dedicate more time and resources to philanthropy and supporting Rooftight communities in the near future – as a way of giving back to the families who have become advocates for the brand and longtime friends of the company.
“The rebrand has rejuvenated and motivated our company,” says Smith. “And we can confidently say that we will continue to be the leaders in social media, marketing and Woman-Centric design – because they work!”
Setting the bar higher is what Rooftight does well.
From navigating the website to meeting in the design centre to walking into your new Rooftight home, it is a very calming and surreal experience that makes selling the home effortless explains Smith.
In a male-dominated industry where the females hold the purchasing power, it only makes sense to tailor building and marketing efforts towards women and cater to the emotional side of the purchaser.
Smith has come to learn that even if the home has all the features the purchaser is looking for but the emotional connection is missing, the sale will not go through. But if there is an immediate draw to the home yet three of the six key features on the purchaser’s wish list are missing, the likelihood of a successful purchase becomes significantly higher.
“If the family feels good in the home, they know those missing features can later be added by the wife and husband,
contractor or renovator,” says Smith. “But we prefer to ask all the necessary questions when we first start the building and planning process so that when the owners walk into their new home, it is exactly what they expected, needed and dreamed of.”
Rooftight designs homes for real life – not just houses. And these homes are tailored to complement the lifestyle, habits and needs of each family. This new approach to ultimate customization and genuine customer interaction is what homebuyers have been waiting for and it’s what’s helping propel the building industry to the next level.
In the ever-changing building industry, Rooftight has definitely laid the foundation for what is and will continue to be one of Nova Scotia’s most influential builders.