Buying A Calgary Infill Home – 5 things to consider


Buying A Calgary Infill Home

5 Things to Consider when Buying Calgary Infill Home:

We are often asked this one question by our clients that are considering buying Calgary infill home:

“What should I consider when buying Calgary infill home?”

This is a great question. A question that if left unanswered, could result in a buyer instantly regretting their decision a few months after taking possession of their new inner-city home.

We have come up with a quick list of considerations to ensure this doesn’t happen to you:

1. Infill Neighbourhoods

Selecting the right neighbourhood seems like a no-brainer.  The sad thing is that a lot of potential buyers don’t put enough thought into the community they’d like to be in as opposed to the type of home they want.  Many people believe all inner-city communities are similar, some are just more central, closer to downtown than others.  This is simply not true.  Things to consider when selecting your ideal inner-city neighbourhood include:

– How many homes are rentals vs owner occupied.
– What is the community centre like? Is there opportunities to be involved?
– Is the community walk-able? close to parks, restaurants, schools, etc. (here is a great link to walkscore to help you assess the walk-ability of any specific community
– Is the community quite established with new development? Or is it an area just starting the transition into new infill homes?
– Are there a lot of investment properties in the area that could stall future infill growth?  These include: duplex side by side, duplex up and down, 4plex, 6plex, etc.
– Are the majority of the lots zoned R-2? Are they typically 50 foot x 120 foot lots? Or are there mainly R-1 zoned properties in the community?

2. Street The Home is on

Once you’ve selected a handful of communities that suit your lifestyle the best the next thing you’ll need to consider is the street.  Many infills are built on busier streets.  These lots are typically less expensive for the builders to buy, grossing them a larger profit on the sale.  Another reason for many infills being built on busier, main commuter streets within the community is that it is great advertising for the builder during the build process.  It takes several months to plan, permit, tear down, and build a new infill home.  During this process many builders place a large sign in front of the future development in hopes of selling it or attracting a buyer that may want to build with them on another lot.

Here are a few things to consider when choosing a street within a community:

– Is the street busy?
– How close is the bus or train station?
– How noisy is the street?  Can you enjoy a quiet evening on your deck or patio?
– What is the street parking like?  In an area with lots of rentals the street can get congested with parked vehicles.
– Is it a tree lined street? This is very important for many people, even if it is not something you are concerned with for yourself it is something to consider with resale in mind
– What is the commute like to work? The gym? etc.  How bad is it during rush hour?

* Try doing the commute from work one day during rush hour before committing to the location.

3. Buying Attached vs. Detached Home

We find many buyers look at both attached and detached infill homes when they start their search, then lean towards one style or another as they narrow down their search.  Some of the important considerations between the two may be obvious but are often overlooked.

Attached Infills are typically wider than comparable detached homes that are built on 25ft lots.  This is mainly due to a shared wall that eliminates the need for the separation between two detached homes.

– Is the common wall sound proof?

– Which direction is the home facing? This is super important in Calgary, especially in winter when we don’t get as much sunlight during the day.

If natural light in your home is important to you, keep in mind that an attached infill is eliminating an entire side of the home for window placement.  This isn’t as important if the side it eliminates is North or East, but it will still affect the amount of natural light in the home.

Detached homes as stated above are typically narrower than an attached home when built on a 25ft lot.  More commonly detached homes are built on a slightly wider lot but at an increased price as there is more land involved.  Some of the benefits of a detached home include:

– Private entrance.  Many of the attached homes have front entrances that are very close together.  The exception to this being infills that have been built on a corner lot.

– More light.  Natural light is an important factor for most buyers.  Having a detached home affords the ability to add more windows allowing for a brighter home.

– No neighbour to deal with when making important decisions about your home.  Want to change the siding? The shingles? do some landscaping in the front?  These are some of the issues that can come up when sharing a wall with someone that has a completely different view on what the property should look like.

4. Home Builder

Many infills built in Calgary are through small to mid sized builders.

Some of them are a first time build for someone that decides to play General Contractor. They tear down an existing home build a side by side infill to live in one side and sell the other to help pay the costs of the build.

Others are built by the small to mid sized builders.  It is important to know the builder of any infill you are considering purchasing.  Not all builders are equal.  Each of them have their own standards of workmanship, quality of material, and specifications they use.  You will need to do your research and due diligence when selecting a builder or purchasing a home already built by one.

Here are a few quick questions you might want to ask an inner-city builder

– How many homes per year do you build?
– Are you registered with Alberta New Home Warranty?
– How long have you been building infill homes? In what communities?
– Do you have a completed build I can see to assess the quality of the finishing?
– Do you have 3 home owners that currently live in homes you’ve built that I can call for a reference?
– What kind of builder warranty do you provide? How long does it last and what is included?
– What are your specifications on your build?  This is an important one that is often neglected.

Many builders put in nice finishing as cosmetic upgrades sell homes for a higher dollar amount and perceived value.  Many builders will skip out on structural upgrades that may be an important factor in you decision.  For example. What are the quality of the windows? single pane, double pane, triple pane? sliders? casement? solar shield? etc.  Flooring: Are the floor boards just nailed or are they screwed and glued? Insulation: R-40? Noise reduced fiberglass batting? blown in fiberglass? spray foam insulation?  There are many more structural related questions you should be asking, contact us for a full list.

5. Realtor Representation

Just like builders, no two Realtors are the same.  Make sure the Realtor you hire to help you buy or sell your Calgary Infill is one that understands the process, the builders, and the players.  Infill homes are much different than a new build or existing residential build in a new community.  It is important to have the right agent on your side that can help guide you and navigate you through the transaction from start to finish.

Authored by Mike Star.
Mike Star is a Calgary Realtor with 11+ years experience in the Calgary Real Estate market.