In this blog post we welcome our new team member Joe Camilleri, Lanescape’s Construction Director. Joe oversees all aspects of the construction process from initial design to project completion. In this Q&A style blog post, learn more about Lanescape Construction, Joe’s history in the architecture industry, and why he has made the transition to laneway and garden suite construction management.
Q: With over 20 years of experience in custom residential, what were some factors in your decision to move towards managing laneway and garden suite construction?
A: The opportunity to develop a Construction Division for Lanescape was appealing to me because I have always loved building and this was a chance to help Lanescape build a team to become a full service design-build firm with inhouse Design & Construction. Laneway and garden suites present a unique challenge that I am well suited for based on all my years building new construction in the City’s core.
Q: What advice would you give to someone who is considering building a laneway or garden suite but is unsure of where to begin?
A: Lanescape is a wonderful resource for everything laneway and garden suite related. Lanescape offers a complimentary Property Report that will provide information specific to your property address and will let you know what can be built as of right. Once we can establish the maximum size of the laneway or garden suite I can help establish preliminary construction cost values based on that. It offers a great starting point to make sure that your budget and intended use of the project align. We can then narrow the parameters to meet design and budget considerations.
Q: How do you manage and address any challenges or setbacks that may arise during the construction process?
A: There are always challenges within each project because of all the unknowns when building. Once a challenge or setback is realized I look at the best way to resolve the issue based on years of experience and similar situations. I work with a great pool of trades that are always willing to do their part to help resolve or work through challenges. Building is a group effort and when everyone works together, we can overcome any obstacles or challenges.
Prefabrication & Timelines
Q: What are the typical timelines for laneway or garden suite construction? Are there still premiums or delays associated with building as a result of the pandemic?
A: I currently allow an eight month build schedule on a typical 2 storey laneway or garden suite. This allows for pre-construction planning and the building phase. Suites with full basements take longer based on the additional challenges those present. Building material costs have levelled out for the most part, although they are still subject to increases based on supply chain availability. Trades remain busy so it is important to plan and schedule projects accordingly.
Q: Can you explain why prefabricated designs do not work well for laneway or garden suites in Toronto specifically?
A: Prefabricated models may not work well for laneway or garden suites for the simple reason that access and staging areas are at a minimum in Toronto’s narrow alleys. When assembling a prefabricated model the components are so small that you actually require more material to build them, resulting in higher costs. The time saved is negligible for these small buildings and the limited options may not be ideal for the majority of people considering them.
Q: What are some of the benefits of choosing to work with a design-build office like Lanescape when building my laneway or garden suite?
A: The biggest advantage of working with our design-build team is how streamlined the process is. We share an office and are able to review and plan our projects collaboratively. Homeowners are busy with their own lives and may lack the experience of having built a home before. We take that stress away by bringing the design and construction teams together making the process far easier and much more enjoyable. Issues are resolved at the planning stages and help minimize and reduce delays and added costs to our projects once they are under construction. Time is important to everyone and by working together we ensure that issues or challenges are addressed before they become problems that can add costs or delay a project.
Q: Can you describe a successful project you’ve completed in the past and how it highlights the advantages of the design-build approach?
A: I strive to make every past project completed a success. Homeowner’s I worked with have become friends and still call or email me when they have questions about their home. I remain a resource for them because they trust and appreciate my honesty and construction knowledge.
Q: Can you give a good example of how you have reduced construction cost without compromising on the construction quality or programmatic needs of the client?
A: A great example of that is on a current laneway suite we are in pre-construction on. The engineering drawings call for structural steel components to achieve a cantilevered curved exterior wall detail. The cost for this structural steel component was an added $30,000 to the project budget. After reviewing the design and considering my options I was able to eliminate the steel requirements and achieve the same detail using structural wood beams. We were able to save and reduce the budget by 30k on just that one item. The homeowner was excited to realize such a savings on his project and we were able to provide great value for our design-build service.
Q: How will our clients interact with you and the design build team?
A: I currently participate on the preliminary design review phase to introduce myself and provide insight into areas of consideration when making choices with design and material selections. Our hope is to help provide guidance to make selections that are in keeping with the projects intended use and budget. Once a project moves into the construction phase I remain their main point of contact and oversee the construction of their new laneway or garden suite until the end of the project.
With over 20 years of experience and an established track record of success, Joe delivers projects driven by thoughtful design and value. He is a motivated and hands-on leader that engages with collaborators with enthusiasm and care, delivering projects of the highest quality and in a timely manner.
If you or someone you know is interested in building a laneway or garden suite, please follow this link to receive your complimentary report. Our team will respond with a complete review within a single business day.