Niagara Falls Builder Chris Lamb, Shares Insider Tips for Building a Home

Chris Lamb
3 min readApr 7, 2021


These insights will be presented in chronological order for ease of understanding the building process. The tips will be useful not just when you’re building with NewCastle Communities, but if you decide to build yourself!

When you’re shopping for your lot, especially in a popular market be specific about what you’re paying for, if extra depth isn’t necessary, don’t spend the money, if your dream house doesn’t require 50 feet of frontage, wait to find something with 35. Your investment starts with the land. Whatever you save here you can spend on the customization and finishes (or keep the money in your pocket entirely). In Addition to lot size always consider the distance or access to services and the depth of those services. Servicing your home from the main of the city, can cost anywhere from twenty to fifty thousand dollars.

When looking for a designer or architect, think in terms of sophistication. If you believe you have firewalls, precast concrete, large spans, anything with additional or custom loads, you’re more likely looking for a fully certified architect. If you’re building something simpler, you may be better off saving costs by using a high-end designer. In this interview process, simply look at the portfolio of the designer and ensure he’s built similar products to what you’re looking for.

A good designer will typically help you with your permit package. These permit packages normally consist of an as built survey, plans that are approximately 6 to 8 pages, floor and trusses packages, and the application itself. Depending on the city your costs for a permit and development fees can range anywhere from twenty to fifty thousand on a 2000 SQ FT house.

When you begin with concrete work, you can pay a contractor for what’s called a foundation package. This consists of bringing in the services, pouring the footings, foundation walls and later on, the floors. However, if you sub-contractor the flatwork and forming yourself, you can usually save a couple bucks. After the foundation is

complete, the sell consists of steel, lumber, windows, doors, and shingles. Once you surpass this step, it’s always a relief. Once you sealed in, you can confident your components are dry and on-site materials are secure. Typically, it’s good to layout a schedule by way of an excel sheet or a Gantt chart. When you’re hiring for your rough ins (plumbing, HVAC, Electrical) you will start having multiple trades on site. Trades don’t always like this, but it can save you time and money. The longer the project draws on, you’re paying, taxes, interest, and insurance on an unusable product.

When your rough ins are completed, you will face another decisions. You can insulate, board and tape with one group of companies, or again sub out yourself to save money. Ensure whoever you choose, minimizes their product waste and mess throughout the day.

Typically money is best saved on efficiencies in layout, lot size and scheduling trades. Buyers often believe there’s a large difference in finishes, however I would advise spending at the end of the journey as you won’t regret it. Most painters now that spray do a fine job but consider the quality of the paint itself. Trim, doors, and kitchens are becoming marginally different in price from one item to the next. If you’re looking for a modern look with quality woodwork, you’re typically only looking at a 10% cost difference.

This is a very brief, high level overview of building your home. I hope some of these insights find you well in your journey with us, or on your own.



Chris Lamb

First generation property developer and investor located in St. Catharine’s, Ontario, Canada.