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Designing Outside the Box

While the older homes throughout Toronto have been known for their character and interest, houses going up in the suburban areas seem to have a certain sameness.  To get an inside look into why single-family home design has become so homogenous over the years, we spoke with Bole Cirovic of Modular Home Additions.

There are three primary reasons behind the homogeneity of Ontario’s suburban neighbourhoods: The desire to fit in, municipal regulations, and resale value.

The Desire to Fit in

It is simply a matter of human nature that many homeowners want to cling to something familiar. There’s comfort in the predictable. Along with that is the desire to be liked and accepted by our neighbours.

When people buy a home, it isn’t just the house that has wooed them, but the neighbourhood as well. That is why any changes made to a home which may disrupt the overall look of the neighbourhood can be met with resistance.

“In some established areas, homeowners tend to prefer the traditional look and size of houses,” Cirovic explains. “Sometimes [owners of other homes in the neighborhood] fiercely fight against any change”.

Municipal Regulations

In some cases, the look a home’s exterior is actually dictated by the municipality. Meaning that even if a homeowner wanted to buck the trend and renovate their suburban bungalow to resemble a classic Toronto Bay-and-Gable, there might be local regulations preventing them from doing so.

“In some municipalities, such as Mississauga [Ontario], site-specific approval is required,” Cirovic explains. “They want to maintain the look of certain areas, hence they can even require change of colors of the exterior finishes. That could mean that Frank Lloyd Wright might have never been a very successful architect in Mississauga.”

Resale Value

Of course, money is always a great motivator. When it comes to home renovation, the fear of one particular design choice or another limiting the home’s resale value is always something that homeowners consider, whether inside or outside of the home.

custom homeHow to Be Different

Different personalities, cultures, and lifestyle choices mean that you, your next-door-neighbour, and the family across the street likely all see beauty differently. This can sometimes clash with a strong desire for your home to outwardly blend in with the look and feel of the neighbourhood.

Begin by studying the area you live in. There are often several different design styles in a given neighbourhood. Perhaps the dormers on a house down the street, a colour your next-door-neighbour’s bay window might spark some inspiration.

“Find something that might reflect your personality, consider the type of exterior finish, […] interesting materials, choice of colours, or size of windows,” says Cirovic.

If you’re ready to make your dream build a reality, be sure to enlist the help of experienced professionals like Modular Home Additions to come up with a professional, creative design for your custom home. Modular Home Additions is an award-winning custom-home, design specialist serving the GTA and surrounding areas. They have been helping Canadian homeowners add functionality and style to their homes for many years.

Visit Modular Home Additions online at or find them on

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