This summer marks 12 years since Wilcor Homes built its first custom home at Spring Lake Ranch! What started as one custom design on 60 acres of land has grown into a beautiful community filled with homes and families.
Wilcor’s custom and spec homes feature natural elements like stone, timbers, and large view windows, and have been featured in Best Home, the Edmonton Journal, and Homes & Land.
Here, Sarah Corker and Rainbow Williams open up about their collaborative design process and how they help clients through the custom-build journey. Read on to find out who is the “dreamer,” who is the “realist” and what’s next for Wilcor Homes.
Congratulations on 12 years of Wilcor Homes! The real estate industry has had its share of ups and downs during that time, and yet Spring Lake Ranch has continued to grow. As a custom builder, what are some key things you’ve done to succeed in a challenging market?
Sarah: For us the main key has been building quality homes that showcase the kind of features people consistently love. We know that most homebuyers drawn to Spring Lake Ranch are looking for bungalows with features like the 3 car garage, finished basement, large windows, hardwood flooring, and custom cabinetry.
We also continue to market ourselves in new and different ways. Social media is a component that has grown and changed so much in the last decade and we have prioritized growing and changing with it. The amount of people that have found us through Facebook and Instagram is amazing. Both are excellent platforms to tell our story and keep people looped in with what we are up to.
Rainbow: We’ve stayed focused on what’s important to us. Quality construction, strong relationships with our clients, and building in limited quantities. We can’t control the market, but we can control what we do. Working with experienced contractors and staying current with building technologies and design, we attract clients that often become friends.
Can you tell us a bit about your process as a builder and designer? Do clients meet with both of you to design their homes? Who does what and how do you combine your ideas when it comes to design?
S: Initially clients usually meet with me to learn about the community, walk the lots and tour the homes. From there, Rainbow and I will sit down with them and discuss the building specifics of Wilcor Homes. We work on the home design together and have a lot of fun at this stage. We love talking plans, looking at elevations and trying new ideas. I then help people make their selections, from exterior colours and materials to interior finishings.
I always say that I have the fun job and Rainbow has the challenging one in that I get to design and choose all the elements and he has to execute them and make it all a reality. Perhaps I am the dreamer and he is the realist!
R: We have a consistent process that each client is lead through. Typically, this starts with a meeting on site in one of our homes, either finished or under construction.
Meeting the clients together reinforces our teamwork and allows them to see how we work together. As our clients are different, so are we. Sarah prefers a visual, tactile perspective with materials and plans, whereas I am far more conceptual. These different styles compliment each other, like we do, and allows for a strong connection.
The homes you build feature a lot of natural materials like wood and stone, as well as oversized windows that bring in a lot of light. These elements will seemingly never go out of style! But what about design trends? What’s been inspiring you in the design world recently that you’ve showcased in your homes?
S: I love design and working with the newest trends while also building “forever homes”. It’s an evolving industry with new looks, materials and finishing techniques coming into play all the time.
In my opinion, the more neutral the backdrop (paint and flooring) the more the home can grow and change with trends. A person can easily change a light fixture or cabinet pull to evolve with the times but to re-paint an entire home is a lot of work and expense.
Currently, I am loving all the whites (both walls and cabinets) that are still on the scene but then pairing it with a hit of wood, metal or contrasting black. Tile is also an area that is really fun with more elaborate installation (herringbone, chevron, stacked and staggered techniques) and different shapes such as octagon, large format or super small format. A person can add texture and dimension without going crazy with colours.
R: Sarah tends to drive our “trendy” aspects in the homes. We stay current by working with industry leaders for lighting, plumbing and flooring as well as drawing inspiration from design publications. For me the installation of practical and functional products with new technology is exciting. LED lighting, smart wiring, solar power and innovative kitchen concepts are a few areas I really enjoy exploring. Lastly, everyone likes a good shower, so using large or small format tiles and high quality plumbing fixtures all contained with 10mm glass makes a master ensuite that much better.
A lot of people dream of building a custom home, but feel overwhelmed by all the decisions involved. How do you help guide the process?
S: We truly value all of the relationships we have developed over the years with our clients, with our suppliers and with our trades. Our focus on communication really assists our clients in staying well informed with the building process and allows them to come to us with questions and feedback along the way. We appreciate that custom building is a large undertaking for our clients so we do our best to ease the process. Part of this comes from our 12 years of experience in the industry and part of this comes from having built our own custom home so we totally understand what our clients are going through.
Right from the beginning of financing and design, we guide our clients. We work with their lawyers and bankers to get everything in place. We then have a step-by-step process for them to make all of their home selections. Our suppliers are also a key part of this as they meet with our clients and assist them with choosing their products and educating them on the various options.
R: It starts from our first interaction with each client. We outline the process from start to finish, along with putting clear timelines on each decision. Then we work together with our suppliers and clients to ensure that we are staying on budget and on time. Lastly, we perform a review of all the material selections multiple times to ensure that the products are working together, and the clients are satisfied. Our extensive experience building custom homes help our clients feel confident as they navigate the selection process.
A big part of building custom at SLR is getting to choose your lot. How much does the lot size and views affect the kind of home that’s built on it? How do you optimize the property features?
S: We call this Site-Specific Design and it’s a very important part of designing a home. We spend quite a bit of time on the vacant lot to determine the best views, optimal light exposure and maximum privacy. From here, we design the home to feature all of these aspects. Placement of windows is a big part of this as well as the decks. Each person is unique; some want to feature their deck to take in the hot, west sun, for example, while others prefer the morning light.
R: During the master planning stage, we designed each lot at Spring Lake Ranch to have its own view channel. As we plan the home on the lot, we take this into consideration as well as conditions such as passive solar (specific window placements to take advantage of light and the sun) and location of trees for privacy, right down to the direction of the window openings for capturing cross breezes.
Looking ahead, what projects are coming up at Wilcor Homes? How can people stay connected and learn about new homes for sale or building their own?h
S: The Birchview is nearing completion and it’s coming together beautifully. It’s a 3 bedroom bungalow for sale on one of the more private lots at SLR. From the back of the home, all you can see are trees. I am especially excited about the tile in this home — a combination of octagon and herringbone. Lots of whites with hits of black and gold.
We are also working on a new custom build at Spring Lake Ranch, a build in the city and a new spec home.
On September 14th, we are having a big community event with live music, a BBQ and the Remax hot air balloon! People interested in SLR should definitely mark their calendars and stay tuned for our fall building incentive.
R: Each year we bring new designs to the community, and this year is no different. The Birchview combines a spacious master bedroom, larger en-suite with walk in shower, massive 3 car garage, 3 bedroom main floor, dual laundry location (for family living, or empty nesters), large fully developed daylight basement, and a new colour of James Hardie Siding. There are many special design features like unique tile, floating vanities, wall mounted faucets and a large walk-in pantry. It’s a fantastic home and we are very proud of it.
This fall we’re planning to break ground on a new design similar to The Aspen, featuring new exterior elevations and same changes to the floor plan. We never build the same house twice!
As always, we welcome all to sign up for the Newsletter and follow us on Facebook and Instagram, but most important come out and visit us! Nothing does SLR more justice than a walk on the nature trails, taking in the lake or just sitting in a gazebo listening to the orchestra of birds who call SLR home throughout the year.
Thank you so much, Sarah and Rainbow!