Featured Home: Designing Your Home

How would you go about designing and building a new home? What steps would you take? What pitfalls would you try to avoid? Stewart and Jamie- Lynn Dyck are going through that very process right now. And they are delighted to share their experience with you.

After several moves over the years, the Dyck family – Stewart, Jamie-Lynn and their six-year-old daughter – were at a point in their lives where they were ready for a new house. Here was a chance to have exactly what they wanted. Here was a chance to achieve a long-standing ambition of building their dream home. “We had a passion to build our own home,” Stewart says, “the way we wanted it built.” Stewart and Jamie-Lynn are the owners of Promotional Publications, a local print and digital media company. Among their products and services is the magazine you are reading right now: “Design Your Home.” What’s the first piece of advice that Stewart and Jamie- Lynn have? “Take your time,” Jamie-Lynn says, “and make sure you have the time.” Even if this is not your “forever home,” you still want to have the best fit for your family today, for the needs of your family into the future, and for eventual re-sale.

“We hope to be in there for a long time,” Jamie-Lynn says about their new house, “but because we have moved so many times, we are always aware of re-sale.”

Taking your time is also a way to avoid becoming overwhelmed by all the information, all the options, all the choices.

The first step was to check out finances. They visited Scott McMullan, a mortgage broker in Brandon with Centum mortgage Choice Corp. From McMullan, they found out just what they could afford and what was the best alternative for their mortgage. Financial limits determine the building possibilities. Stewart notes that at this stage, you can obtain – and this is recommended – a pre-approved mortgage.

The next step was to buy a lot on which to build. in their case, they wanted to live close to Brandon, on a property of at least one acre. They spent two years looking until they located their ideal spot: a two-acre parcel just outside of the city.

Knowing where they would build and how much money they had, they could start designing the house they wanted. Based on their previous experience and seeing the homes of family and friends, they decided on a bungalow. Their sloping property meant that they could have a walk-out basement on one side. Their rural setting was an invitation to have a home with a cottage-like feel.

Stewart and Jamie-Lynn recommend gathering as much information as you can. There are plenty of ideas out there for all types of houses, including floor plans and tips for living, dining, kitchen, bathroom, and bedroom areas. A good place to start is the website

Look around. Measure the individual rooms of your current house. Ask around. Talk to friends, neighbours, and people in the industry. As Stewart says, “Don’t be afraid to ask as many people as possible.”

Stewart and Jamie-Lynn assembled all of their ideas and went to see Dan Forsythe of Forsythe Technical Design & Consulting in Brandon. Forsythe brought Stewart and Jamie-Lynn’s ideas, questions, and budget into a great house design. And, despite all the research they had done, Forsythe was able to add “many things that we didn’t think of,” Stewart says. “And we saved a lot by his suggestions.” Forsythe also was able to show them with 3D drawings what the inside and outside of the house would look like.

They especially appreciated the working relationship with Dan Forsythe. “He educates you,” Stewart says. “He suggests, but doesn’t tell you, which is great.”

Stewart and Jamie-Lynn are acting as the General contractor for their house, using the plan developed by Forsythe Technical Design & Consulting, Stewart sums up Dan Forsythe’s approach as designing for the needs and wants of homeowner first, while also considering the builder in the equation. He is concerned with the longevity of his custom home designs. He can answer any questions posed by the builder and will consider the builder’s ideas if they make sound sense and are in the best interests of the homeowner. if any questions regarding the F.T.D.C. plans arise during the entire costing and construction phase, Dan is there to help answer them.”

They were now ready to take their plans around to builders for quotes. As they were doing that, stewart and Jamie-Lynn were also proceeding with another piece of the puzzle: selling their existing house.

“Putting your house up for sale is a process,” Jamie-Lynn says. “It is not just a matter of one day deciding and calling someone.”

They did a thorough evaluation of their house. They completed any outstanding projects. They repaired any scratches, nicks, and dings. They also upgraded and improved features such as some of the lighting. Then they completed a major decluttering, which required the renting of a storage unit to contain all the extra stuff.

They have transformed their house. Their lives in their house are now revolving around a different purpose. As Jamie-Lynn points out, when you are living in your house, you organize for functionality. But when you are selling your house, you organize for presentation.

Stewart and Jamie-Lynn are selling their house themselves, using their media company, Promotional Publications. They can apply their previous experience with videography and with social media – as well as with traditional media – to market their home.

What is most important when you design and build your own home? With a laugh, Jamie-Lynn replies, “go in with a good relationship with your spouse!”

Clearly, Stewart and Jamie-Lynn have that required good relationship. They now have their property. They have their house plans. They have their current house up for sale. They hope to have their new house built, their old house sold, and their family moved in by the end of this summer.

How will it all work out? stay tuned for the rest of the story.