HOME OF THE WEEK
118 PARKVIEW HILL CRES., Toronto
Asking price: $1,688,888
Agent: Raza Haider Naqi (Re/Max Vision Realty Inc., Brokerage)
The back story
In his native Pakistan, Raza Naqi, the agent and co-owner of this house, was an entrepreneur who made his mark in a variety of industries. He was the first to introduce an indigenously-made security system with remote control and the first to bring in imported preassembled air conditioners. He also pioneered a disposable waste-reducing system.
"Whatever I did," he said recently in Toronto, where he has lived for the last eight years with his family having fled politically unstable Pakistan for a better life, he tried to "set a benchmark of excellence." When he became a broker in Canada, he wanted to set the same high standards for himself.
After doing some research, he staked out a niche in the real estate market where he thought he could really make his mark - green construction.
"I feel there's a big gap in home construction in Toronto; there's not enough green housing," Mr. Naqi says. "I, together with some silent partners, thought we could fill that gap but do so authentically, by using the most eco-friendly products out there." This new house on Parkside Hills Cres., a leafy enclave in East York perched on a ravine, is the group's first project.
The modern design features such eco-friendly details as reclaimed wood for a custom-made staircase and a stainless steel ethanol fireplace in the living room that looks urban chic at the same time as being environmentally responsible.
Mr. Naqi relied on home stager Tila Silverio of Nine Corners, for instance, a specialist in Feng Shui, the Chinese aesthetic that seeks to find the most auspicious interior design for a home. "I really believe in Feng Shui," Mr. Naqi says. "I think it really works. You walk and you instantly feel the positive energy that's here."
Almost all of the construction is new, save for a portion of the original foundation belonging to the 1½-storey bungalow that, for 60 years, sat on the verdant 50-by-173-square-foot lot.
The old house had 1,500 square feet of living space. Mr. Naqi and partners tore it down to down to make way for a new two-storey home boasting 3,700 square feet of living space with four bathrooms, four-plus-one bedrooms and a finished basement with nanny suite. The house was built for investment purposes but with an eye towards sustainability every step of the way.
It took a year to build and cost $900,000 on top of the land purchase price of $620,000, says Mr. Naqi. "Anything thing that could be recycled from the old house, like windows and baseboards, we gave to Habitat for Humanity," he says. "When we did use new materials like lumber for instance, we made sure it was certified by the Forest Stewardship Council."
As well, the roof is made from steel, eliminating the need to re-shingle, and the walls are well insulated. The paints are all rated zero for volatile organic compounds. Water conservation is achieved by means of a grey water tank that recycles shower water for use in toilets. "Everything about this house is energy efficient," says Mr. Naqi.
The house is as visually attractive as it is energy efficient. The master bedroom in the second floor has wall of windows overlooking the ravine out back, and has the feeling of street house.
The master ensuite bathroom has a large walk-in shower as well as a soaker tub and ample storage space. A walk out to a second floor rear deck is shared by a second bedroom, one of four on upper level. Boundaries between the outside and inside of the home are also blurred on the main floor where the modern-style kitchen - featuring high-end appliances and a Caesarstone quartz countertop - also comes with a wall of windows in the form of bi-foldable 12-foot high glass doors, overlooking the verdant backyard.
"I fell in love with this lot when I saw it," Mr. Naqi says. "I wanted to bring the outdoors in." The feeling is a modern home as cottage, but with all the benefits of downtown living.
That is one of the lures of the Parkview Hills neighbourhood, a leafy enclave in east York, that the enterprising Mr. Naqi targeted as where he would make his stage in this new land of his. "I read an article that Parkview Hills is the Rosedale of East York," he says. "That was good enough for me."