Ranch chat with Ed McDonald
As the team gets set up in our new location in Saanich, we thought we’d check with Ed McDonald, the founder of MAC Renovations, to get his perspective on the new location and what’s ahead for our home renovation team here in Victoria.
How did MAC Renovations get started?
I started the business in the 80s, installing windows and doors for homeowners and businesses in Victoria. In the early 90s, an opportunity came up to do energy retrofit projects for BC Hydro, and we started helping homeowners lower their energy usage while building our reputation for excellence. In 1998, we opened the Home Comfort Center in the Esquimalt industrial park. Although it was a house, it was commercially zoned, so we renovated it to suit our needs and showcase some of the products we were offering. As our team developed and expanded, we adapted the building, but we eventually outgrew it, which led to a lengthy search to find our new space.
How did you choose the new location?
It took about 18 months to find something that would work for us – central to homeowners throughout Greater Victoria, with good parking and room to grow. In 2017, we took over a building in Saanich with the intention of renovating it to fit our expected needs. We’re pretty experienced with renovations, but this was a complex building. The previous construction didn’t allow for a healthy, energy efficient building that would have the longevity we wanted for ourselves and our customers, so we made the painful decision to rebuild. We’re still finetuning the new space, but the team has moved in, and everyone is settling in nicely.
What’s it like to walk into the Ranch?
When people come in, they see they’re not just dealing with one person. They get to see our schedulers, designers, planners, project managers, carpenters, and administration – the whole MAC team. Homeowners coming to the new space are pleased to see that there is a whole team behind the scene supporting their project. MAC Renovations is a company that believes in lifelong learning and keeping up with the industry changes as they happen. Lifelong learning is important to us, and with the move it seems to have given everyone a moment to look at the education opportunities available. Currently, many of our team are working on improving their formal skills, taking courses, and learning about the changes within our industry. It is a real pleasure to see team members working together and sharing knowledge to solve problems and challenges as they present themselves.
We built this space to be energy efficient; the Ranch is a Step-4 building, with exterior insulation and air barriers, so once you’re inside you don’t know if it’s hot or cold out. It is a constant comfortable temperature inside, and a great building to work in.
We built the Ranch with materials we’d use in our customers’ homes. When clients stop by here, they can see, feel, and use the different products to get a better idea of their quality and aesthetics. The windows we’ve installed are the same ones we recommend for your home. We used HardiePanels and HardieTrim, a variety of door styles and transom lights, several different cabinets, a big island with a solid-surface slab, and butcher block tops that you can see and touch to appreciate the build quality. Where it was feasible, we salvaged and reused materials from the previous building.
Efficiency was a big part of the design of the Ranch. Energy savings was one aspect, and building a display area for homeowners to see and feel the materials that will go into their home was another. When our designers are creating their designs with the homeowners, there was a lot of time spent going around to different shops – going to a local flooring provider on one day, and the next day going to see a selection of tile in a different part of town. With the display area at the Ranch, we can have everything laid out here, so the homeowner can choose the materials that fit their design preference and budget. This will expedite the design process, making the entire experience less stressful.
How will the Ranch improve home renovations in Victoria?
We’re looking at ways to let other builders use our design processes and services. We have a talented team of professionals here, and many local builders don’t have access to their level of expertise, so we’re gearing up to change that. In the near future, homeowners will be able to have their design done by us, which will have a full breakdown of the specified selections, which they can use to choose a contractor to complete the project for them. We see this as a triple win – our designers get to do more beautiful home designing, the builders get to add a higher level of service, and the customers get a professionally designed renovation, with their choice of contractors.
As a design-build contractor, the design is one aspect, and the build is another. We won’t do a build without a design, but with our new approach, we can do a design without doing the build. It’s good for contractors that focus strictly on the build, and it’s great for the homeowners because it gives them more control throughout the process, as well as information they can use to compare the different building services.
When we work through the design with the client, they’re not tied to us to do the build. We’ll provide a completed design, and we’ll share our knowledge throughout the process. The result is the client is more educated about the renovation process and equipped to make an informed decision that works for them. Education is power, and helping our clients better understand the building process is better for everyone.
Now that the Ranch is finished, what’s next?
Well, we probably won’t ever be ‘finished’ – we’re still working on the design area and some of the little details that come up once you’ve moved in. We’re looking forward to the open house, introducing our neighbours, clients, and friends to the trades professionals we work with and our outstanding team. And we’re eager to share our design services with the talented contractors throughout Victoria, so they can bring better projects to the local housing market.
Stay tuned to our Facebook page for updates about the open house.