January 7, 2013

Familiar territory

SpringSide developer has had a long-standing association with Maple Ridge


Project Location: 24177 102nd Ave., Maple Ridge
Project size/scope: A two-acre neighbourhood with 27 single-family detached homes
Residence size: Two models of three-bedroom, 2.5-bathroom homes ranging from 1,460 sq. ft (not including basement) — 2,200 sq. ft.
Prices: $379,800 — $489,950, plus HST
Builder: Epic Homes, Maple Ridge
Sales centre: 24177 102nd Ave.
Phone: 604-477-2959
Contact: Norm Jones or Natasha Turnbull
Hours: noon — 6 p.m. daily
Occupancy: from March 2013

Special to The Sun

Epic Homes has had more than a passing acquaintance with Maple Ridge in recent years: the homegrown developer has built more than 650 residences there over the past dozen or so years. Maple Ridge has evolved in that time — two new bridges, combined with the well-established West Coast Express train service, have brought the one-time sleepy Fraser Valley farming community “closer” to Vancouver — but some things haven’t changed. Among them: the fact that homes are more easily within reach of buyers, compared to those in many other parts of Metro Vancouver.

“More than anything else today, it’s about affordability,” says sales rep Norm Jones, who has been selling Epic Homes since 2004, and is now focused on the company’s newest project: a 27-house development in the Albion neighbourhood called SpringSide. “Where are you going to find a single detached home in the Lower Mainland for under $400,000? It is just not out there.” Cory and Devon Byerley spent several months visiting open houses in the region before settling on an attractive Craftsman-style home at SpringSide. The couple in their late 20s has been renting in Port Moody, but got a chance to look east to more affordable housing when Cory’s employer, a geo-technical company, moved its headquarters from Coquitlam to Maple Ridge.

“We were looking at other homes in Maple Ridge that were older, but the prices were comparable,” says Devon. “The price here is exactly in the budget we wanted. Anything else (new) in the area started about $460,000 with tax on top of that.” Built on two acres in the eastern section of Maple Ridge, SpringSide offers first-time buyers and downsizers many high-end features. The homes range in size from 1,460 to 1,489 square feet on two levels with an additional 700 plus square feet of unfinished basement. All the homes have the iconic front porches of the Arts and Crafts theme with some welcome variety from house to house in colour, ground-level and second floor windows, and roofline treatment.

Homes in SpringSide are smaller than in Epic’s earlier Maple Ridge Uplands and Vista subdivisions of executive homes, reflecting the fact that Epic is targeting first-time buyers and down-sizers. The lots are also smaller — 26 feet by 100 feet — which has allowed Epic to provide some of the most competitive prices for single-family homes in the region. “You sacrifice a little on lot size, but then you are getting your own house,” said Ryan Connolly, Epic’s general manager. “Think about it: that means an extra $200 a month that can go to your mortgage rather than to strata fees for a condo or townhouse.”

While first-time buyers accept smaller lots, they have higher expectations about quality than they did a few years ago, Connolly said. “We used to build homes with baseboards, vinyl flooring and carpets, very inexpensive cabinets and laminate wrap cabinet doors. Everything top to bottom was engineered in terms of getting it as low as possible for the homebuyer. But in today’s market, people will just not accept that level of finishing. They definitely want more in terms of what they get inside a home.”

SpringSide homes show well from the moment a buyer walks in the front door. A custom tile foyer gives way to living room carpeting and laminate hardwood flooring in the kitchen and dining areas. Nine-foot ceilings and generously sized GenTek vinyl windows add to the sense of space while an energy-efficient gas fireplace topped by a custom wood mantel creates a cosy atmosphere. The wall above the fireplace is recessed to accommodate up to a 60-inch flatscreen television.

The kitchen features six-foot-long granite slab countertops and kitchen cabinetry with soft-close doors in country white or maple finish. A stainless steel Frigidaire refrigerator, range, dishwasher, and over-the-range microwave are standard, with the option to upgrade to the “Gallery” series, including a natural gas range. Epic offers three variations in each of its Primrose and slightly larger Larkspur homes. Both models have a powder room on the main level, but Primrose buyers get a laundry room off the back door rather than a laundry closet on the second floor.

Upstairs, the master bedroom features a vaulted ceiling with an ensuite bathroom with separate soaker tub and ceramic surround shower stall. Depending on the model, the two other bedrooms are located side by side at the rear of the house or configured along its length with a bathroom in between. The basements, either 711 or 720 square feet with separate entrances leading to the backyard, come with roughed-in bathrooms and wet bars. Epic offers an option to finish the space for $19,000, with the “fourth bedroom” serving as the popular “man cave” (with a window) or as an in-law suite.

All homes have high-efficiency forced-air furnaces, 60-gallon hot water tanks and roughed-in solar heating systems. The backyards offer just enough space for a barbecue and picnic table and Epic gives buyers the option of pavers. A covered carport for two vehicles takes up the rest of the property which backs onto a lane through the development. An option for the carport is one of SpringSide’s best deals. For just $5,000, buyers can choose to have Epic close in the garage and add an automatic garage door, a warrantied feature that Jones says owners would find difficult, if not impossible, to match on their own.

SpringSide doesn’t lack for local amenities. Bruce’s Country Market, established by the McEachern family in 1948, a one-stop shop for everything from organic produce to fresh, locally caught salmon, is just a five-minute walk away, as is one of 20 elementary schools. A short drive away are the major grocery chains. Also within easy reach is Planet Ice for budding NHL players, a municipal leisure centre with a 25-metre pool and waterslide, miles of hiking trails, the idyllic Alouette and Pitt Lakes and at least four golf courses.

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