Pablo Sergio and his team believe that a custom home should be truly custom—a one-of-its kind original—different from the rest.
That belief, along with a commitment to the excellence in craftsmanship, design and client service, has gained Italian custom builder The Renaissance Group Inc. (TRGI) a sterling reputation. Sergio, TRGI founder and director, is the son and grandson of builders, and he and his team of creative thinkers aspire to raise the bar in each of the company’s projects.
One of TRGI’s current projects—a 6,000-square-foot-plus classically styled home at 48 Altamont Road in North York—is a perfect example. Like all of the company’s projects, the elegant four-bedroom, five-bathroom stone and stucco home, on a 53- by 150-foot lot and for sale for $3,888,888, is the only one of its kind. It’s the first in Toronto built using Canadian-made Structural Insulated Panels (SIP), a high-performance building system that is extremely strong, durable, and highly energy efficient, resulting in lower than conventional utility bills. With SIP, the solid walls won’t warp or sag, screw or nail pops don’t occur, and there’s no need to search for a stud to hang a piece of art.
Finishes also are a cut above than those found in many upscale homes.
“We have suppliers like everyone else, but we’ll use the products in a different way,” explains Sergio. For instance, his tradesmen will cut baseboards differently to create unique trim work. “We only use 100 percent solid wood trim and there is more than 1,500 feet of trim used in this house.”
TRGI manufactures its own cabinetry and has its own paint shop. For the main floor wide-plank hardwood flooring at 48 Altamont, a special brown hue with grey tones called Baby Mocha was created specifically for TRGI.
“I wanted this to feel like a house built 80 or 90 years ago, with modern Art Deco style,” says Sergio.
The finishes are high quality, from Fonder stainless steel sinks to quartz countertops to Italian porcelain tiles to Swiss bathroom fixtures. The Louis XVI fireplace mantle in the family room is limestone and the crown mouldings are plaster. Mirroring Juliet balconies off two of the bedrooms on the upper level boast hand-welded wrought iron metal work.
TRGI uses tradesmen who are specialists in their field—for example “the hardwood floor guy doesn’t do laminate; the tile guy only does tile, and the drywaller only installs the drywall,” says Sergio.
The 800-pound front door is solid mahogany. The hydraulic elevator has a back-up generator that operates in case of power outage. The garage has 12-foot ceilings and parking for two cars; the stone driveway can hold four more vehicles.
As beautiful as the home is, from the expansive foyer with 20-foot ceiling to the gourmet kitchen to the master bedroom retreat, functionality and ease of use is equally important to TRGI.
“We think about everything 10 times before we do it,” says Sergio. “We wanted this home to feel comfy and cozy, not stuffy. We wanted it to be very usable for young families. This house can take a pounding and will still look good.”
The usability is evident in kitchen features such as the Italian gas range which stylish yet simple to operate, a drawer-style microwave at a height easy for multiple people to use (yet password protected so young children can’t access it without permission). The glass wine cellar sits in the dining room to make it easy for guests to choose their favourite vintage. There is storage everywhere (“generous” doesn’t do it justice) from the kitchen to mudroom. The huge master bedroom walk-through closet has storage for everything from purses to hats to racks that hold 80 pairs of shoes to a special closet for long gowns. Landings and stairways have been designed for ease of manipulating furniture.
Windows have been oriented to maximize views of the stunning backyard which is naturally fenced with cedar bushes for ultimate privacy. The basement is finished but allows the buyer the flexibility to add personal touches.
The company puts as much thought into choosing its sites as it does into the architecture, design, and construction. Sergio’s team researches neighbourhoods six years into the past and six years forward to determine growth potential, real estate price increases, and what long-term plans the city has.
“We like to do business in marquee areas as the homes will hold their value despite market fluctuations,” says Sergio. “We never buy sites off MLS. We go door to door and talk to people and we have staff with real estate licenses so we can do our own transactions.”
TRGI incorporated in 2009 and was building two to three houses a year. The business has grown and it will build about nine projects this year and at least 15 next year. Although many of its homes are high-end, it does do small rebuilds as well and Sergio says every customer regardless of budget receives the same attentive service. The company builds in Markham Village, in the Bayview/Steeles area, at Lake Wilcox in Richmond Hill, and in Trent Hills.
“We want people to know what a truly custom home is,” says Sergio. “We are practically a one-stop shop for customization. We can even furnish a home so it’s completely turnkey.”
Customers can be assured their homes will be completely unique. Floor layouts don’t appear on The Renaissance Group’s websites nor are they sold or shared and they are archived after a project’s finished. Many clients are repeat customers.
“We are 100 percent client-driven,” says Sergio. “We want a client to love a house as much as we do.” Each home receives a plaque that includes the start and finish dates of a build and details of the house for new luxury homes coming in 2018.
TRGI is also open to potential partnerships with carefully selected and qualified candidates. For information on the company and its projects, click on http://www.trgicanada.com or call 647-352-9480 Ext. 4 (Mya, manager of business development). For the listing for the Altamont home, visit www.newluxurycustomhomesgta.com
Tracy Hanes is a GTA freelancer writer who specializes in real estate.