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Portrait of a custom house builder: Jean Houde

Original title : Jean Houde – The soul of a builder

Jean Houde has a steady stream of orders for his custom homes. As a true builder, he knows how to meet client expectations with patience and integrity.

When he moved to Montreal from Sherbrooke over 30 years ago, Jean Houde had a university degree in accounting and some experience as a labourer and bricklayer. He could have gone into accounting, but he chose to become a contractor instead. He built his first house, then another, and gradually grew his business while specializing in custom homes. As he acquired and maintained his reputation working with rather particular clients, word of mouth took care of the rest. Few contractors go into this line of work, for obvious reasons: orchestrating the construction of custom homes requires familiarity with the trade—as each house is unique—and a true understanding of what clients want.

Most clients turn to Jean Houde because they already know his work. “In addition to helping our clients find their ideal building site, we take care of the permitting and have the plans drawn up by an architect.” When construction is complete, the company can also provide the services of an interior decorator and a landscape architect. Looking at the amount of work involved, it is easy to understand why the demand for these large houses is as strong as ever. Jean Houde is the first to admit that his clientele has changed. “Several years ago, our clients were older business owners, but now we are building for younger workers and professionals who hold high-level positions.” This shift towards younger clients has also led to new construction styles. Flat roofs, contemporary interiors and sliding doors opening on to a garden, waterway or pool are very popular with home buyers.

The company has built its reputation on two fundamental pillars: honesty and a client-focused approach. A third notable element is transparency. Clients can ask for ten references and see all the information associated with building their house, from quotes and budget reports to the number of times the supervisor visits the building site. Jean Houde has such unwavering confidence in what he does, that he will let some potential buyers use materials he has developed to approach other contractors for quotes. Neither building site challenges nor client demands can stand in the way of Jean Houde and his team, who pay as much attention to the foundations, insulation, electrical and heating as they do to the finishes.

“Building high-end homes is definitely a vocation,” he notes. Perhaps this is Jean Houde’s true strength: the ability to sustain a consistent client base, continue building, and maintain a network that contributes to the Fondation Charles-Bruneau, a charity for whom he is a board member. By always putting his clients first to better meet their needs, he has made his profession into a vocation, becoming a true builder.


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Jean Houde – The soul of a builder – e-mag