RND Construction’s Roy Nandram may have exited the recent Housing Design Awards in Ottawa staggering under the weight of trophies, but despite this he doesn’t appear to be blowing up as a corporate builder anytime soon.
The highly revered green builder and renovator not only walked off with the most awards (yes, a staggering nine) but scored a first for the annual event, which is hosted by the Greater Ottawa Home Builders’ Association, by winning two of the prestige trophies: custom builder of the year and renovator of the year.
Regardless of all the notoriety, “It doesn’t change anything for us. We’re just going to keep doing the same great job we’re doing,” says Roy. And, contrary to the philosophy of bigger is better, “I don’t want to grow the business because it might reduce my level of involvement and ultimately the level of quality.”
That attentive and measured approach consistently informs Nandram’s projects and business relationships, doubtless helping him win the two prestige prizes which are based on judges’ reviews of customer testimonials, responses to essay-style interview questions and the two highest-scoring projects submitted by competitors.
While critical of those who don’t put max effort into building well and building green, Nandram says that events like the design awards showcase how new companies are emerging and how the bar for quality in new homes and renovations alike continues to rise.
In looking at the market, Nandram also underscores the versatility of his own company, which opened in 1990 and works in the custom and small-scale production home, renovation, and commercial markets. “We have staff set up for any kind of work,” he says. If it’s slow in custom homes, “we have the reno side of the business that keeps things stable.”
Stairway 2 Haven, a stunning reno on Bayswater Avenue undertaken in collaboration with Ha2 Architectural Design, won prizes in both the renovation $350,001 to $500,000 and green renovation categories. The project saw a 1,150-square foot, storey-and-a-half home built in 1912 transformed into a bright and spacious two- storey home of 1,650 square feet. Thanks to Nandram’s passion for energy efficiency, the home, which now includes a sculptural staircase and a sleek, second-floor bridge, uses an estimated 75 per cent less energy than it did before the reno and rates 82 rather its former 57 on the EnerGuide scale.
RND also picked up a double win for Riverpark Green, a small enclave of new production homes in a mature neighbourhood. Designed by architect Christopher Simmonds, who has shared frequent top honours with Nandram over the years, the project won green production home of the year – single as well as production bathroom (Deslaurier Custom Cabinets shared in the bathroom win). The homes feature birch flooring made from reclaimed river logs, a gracious open-concept plan with a light-filled great room, and tremendous energy efficiency. “I’m happy we achieved more than we were going for,” says Nandram. “We were going for EnerGuide 85 … but we did so many little things in the process that didn’t cost very much money that we ended up going to EnerGuide 89.”
The home’s master ensuite boasts a floating double vanity, a spa-like shower and a separate water closet room with a translucent panelled door.
Riverpark Green also won a production home prize at this year’s Ontario Home Builders’ Association awards. The victory was Nandram’s second at OHBA, adding to his groaning trophy shelf, which includes provincial EnerQuality awards.
Nandram teamed up with Simmonds on two other trophy-winning projects. One – involving a covered veranda, garage studio, and cedar bridge – took the honours in the exterior living space category.
Built to a combination of Energy Star and R-2000 standards, the home hit a very commendable 89 on EnerGuide.
“We were happy to know that lots of windows in the design is not an obstacle for RND to make a home green,” says Nandram.
One other fact Nandram is eager to point out: RND took three of the four green awards during the recent gala. That’s in part because Nandram works green into his client consultations at every opportunity. He says he has to because, with one exception, he’s never had a client ask him to build green.
“I always explain to people that we don’t know where energy prices are going, so you can prepare now by reducing the use of energy. If you spend this money on insulation, you can reduce energy and be more comfortable, walk barefoot in the basement. I bring all the points in for being green, and people buy into it eventually.”
Thankfully for Ottawans, Roy and RND will be providing an excepetional option for Ottawa’s high-end, green home-building scene for many years to come.