Crimson Cove Homes builds communities in Edmonton with clients’ needs in mind.
Wade Grabeldinger and Jon Schwartz watched for years as the large production homebuilder that employed them treated its buyers like numbers instead of valued customers. This motivated them to launch Crimson Cove Homes to offer homes customized to its clients’ desires.
“This is probably the most expensive purchase of someone’s life,” says Grabeldinger, who serves as CFO of Crimson Cove Homes. “These production builders strove to minimize customer involvement as much as possible in order to plan and build the homeowner’s house as fast as possible for the lowest cost.
“We felt the experience should be more than a race to build a house for the lowest possible cost,” Grabeldinger adds. “We strive to balance customer input, design and construction timelines to meet our needs and those of our homeowners.”
Today, Crimson Cove Homes is developing four communities in Edmonton – Granville, Walker Lakes North, Glenridding Heights and Henley Heights. The company chooses communities conducive to raising families with amenities like green space, parks, walking trails, schools and neighborhood commercial areas. Most importantly, Crimson Cove Homes gives its homebuyers the opportunity to customize existing house plans to meet their specific needs.
“This includes meeting with the homeowners multiple times to receive their input and further meetings after the plans have been created to ensure we are building what they expect,” says Schwartz, who is president and CEO of Crimson Cove Homes. “We provide input based on our experience building new houses. Our goal is that they receive not only a beautiful house, but one that is also functional and of superior quality.”
Established in Edmonton
Although Grabeldinger, Schwartz, Construction Manager Ray Schmidt and Sales Manager Muriel McKay have more than 55 combined years of homebuilding experience, Crimson Cove Homes still struggled with the stigma often attached to startup companies.
“While we had considerable experience in the industry, we did not have a track record as owners of a housing company for the customers to rely on,” Grabeldinger says. “These are justifiable concerns, and over time we have been able to overcome these concerns by building great quality homes and providing a phenomenal customer experience.”
Providing that phenomenal customer experience includes staying up to date with the latest innovations in materials and technology. However, Schwartz says not all materials are suited for the climate conditions encountered in Alberta, so Crimson Cove Homes guides potential homebuyers toward decisions that will help their homes withstand the elements for decades.
“Our climate is very dry in winter, and it can be especially hard on products that are not natural to our climate,” Schwartz says. “We try to be aware of all products being introduced with an eye on long-term longevity of the product recognizing our homes are being built to be lived in for 50 years, not one year.”
Sustainability has been in vogue for a number of years now, so customers often approach Crimson Cove Homes about adding sustainable features to their designs. However, price often plays a role in the final decisions to keep those features, according to Grabeldinger.
“Most homeowners, if not all, will tell you they like the idea of sustainable offerings,” he says. “However, sustainability typically comes at a higher price, and if choosing a sustainable floor means a customer will have to forego upgraded counters in their kitchen, the customers nine times out of ten will forego the sustainable flooring to be able to afford the higher-end counters.”
Crimson Cove Homes also keeps its clients’ best interests in mind during the design phase of the homebuilding process even when some customers insist on eliminating certain sustainable features. Schwartz says the company won’t budge on features like triplepane windows, spray-foam insulation under living spaces, and high-efficiency furnaces.
“OUR GOAL IS THEY RECEIVE NOT ONLY A BEAUTIFUL HOUSE, BUT ONE THAT IS ALSO FUNCTIONAL AND OF SUPERIOR QUALITY.” - Wade Grabeldinger, CFO
“There are many items that we feel are very important that homeowners may not think of,” he says. “We have had requests to delete some of these features, but it is something we won’t compromise on.”
Even throughout the recession between 2008 and 2010, Edmonton and the entire province of Alberta continued to thrive due to the oil and gas industry that stems from the oil sands in northern Alberta. The strong economy has created good jobs directly and indirectly related to the oil and gas business, and the windfall has led to spending by industry employees.
According to Grabeldinger, Edmonton is the most affordable large city in Canada when comparing average household income to the cost of living, which has led to a larger base of potential homebuyers.
“This has enabled a very diverse group of people to afford to own their own home that typically might not be able to afford a new home and might have to look at apartments or condos instead,” he says. “This group can include new immigrants, young professionals or those new to the trades.” Although the pool of potential homebuyers is expanding, the demand for smaller housing options continues to rise, as well, as land prices escalate. Schwartz says Crimson Cove Homes focused on larger housing when it first launched, but it has since altered its focus to cater to this need in the market.
“Affordability will always be an issue and housing demand has been rising over the past four years,” he says. “As more and more people were interested in our products but couldn’t quite afford us, we looked at other products to help fill that void in our product lineup.”
Crimson Cove Homes is always on the lookout for new opportunities for its products, and land prices have the company looking outside of Edmonton for its next community. The company must make sure it treads lightly in these new geographic areas.
“We find that there is a very strong demand for our product, but there are cases that the land prices in Edmonton force potential homeowners into a different product or different market than we currently have or operate,” Grabeldinger says. “In order for us to enter a different market, we require a level of understanding of the market and homebuyers’ preferences.”
No matter the location, Crimson Cove Homes has proved that homebuyers can be treated like valued clients versus numbers and builders can maintain their bottom lines.
“Our experience to date has reinforced our goals and motivations to provide a great customer experience and quality built home,” Schwartz says. “Customer tastes and demands for more input have validated our goals. The reception to our business philosophy has been very strong.”