It was a dark and snowy night on Saturday, but a certain hotel ballroom located mercifully close to the highway on the outskirts of Abbotsford held plenty of good cheer: it was the inaugural run of the CHBA Fraser Valley Awards of Excellence--and we hardy building industry folk weren't going to let half a foot or more of blowing snow, icy roads, stuck cars, and slightly-tardy-but-worth-the-wait catering get in the way of celebrating the work of our peers. And celebrate we did!

Despite the harrowing trip out and back from downtown Vancouver, it's always a pleasure and honour to be part of the first run of any awards program. It's even more of a pleasure and honour when our clients placed as finalists in just under half of the total categories.

So: which projects reigned supreme?

Linhan Design's lovely Family and Formal was a finalist in the Best Single Family Kitchen, Best Master Suite, and Best Interior Design Custom Residence categories. Utilizing transitional design elements, this South Surrey-based project featured a number of clever design elements that allows a mix between public and private space--allowing the house to work equally well for day-to-day family use as well as a space for formal entertaining, music, and art. 

You know it's going to be a good night when you sit down with a glass of wine, flip open the awards program, and discover one of your photos being used on the inside front cover:

Langley Timber Frame


That lovely twilight exterior belongs to South Ridge Development's Farmhouse Charm and Cottage in the City projects, which propelled them to win the coveted Grand Custom Home Builder of the Year and Custom Home $450-699K awards, as well as placing as a finalist in the Custom Home $1 Million+ and Best Single Family Kitchen categories. These two timber-frame projects share a multi-acre lot on the edge of Langley. Facing rebuilding after a house fire, and being owners of several beautiful horses (who I got to meet on the shoot!), the owners of this project took the opportunity to build their ideal barn (with open living space above) for their pasture and paddock, and then live in that space while they built their new house next door. This was one of our most intriguingly fun projects to photograph last year: timber frame always shoots well (and our medium format tech cam gear just loves all the texture), and we had the wonderful challenge of chasing the closing of a weather window before the Georgie Awards deadline. That twilight exterior was photographed just minutes before a storm system proceeded to come in and hose the area with a late-September thunderstorm. Good thing all the staging was waterproof!

The big standout of the night amongst our clients was Hayer Builders Group, whose Exchange project near Carvolth Exchange on the Langley border we photographed as part of the crazy week before the Georgie Awards deadline last September, and whose Summit project we've photographed a couple of times this winter--once for interiors, and once for exteriors just a couple of weeks ago...because, while we expected the pervasive snow and ice that caused a big weather delay on the first visit to melt out by sometime in early January, as those of you in Vancouver who are reading this while watching the snow fall yet again, the number of snowy and icy days this winter, particularly in the Fraser Valley, has presently blown past the number of not-snowy-and-icy days. Among other things, both projects are notable for their big private rooftop decks that each unit gets--and you know the weather's been crazy when you have to wait weeks and weeks for a rare non-snowy-non-wet day to photograph the rooftop decks sans slushy mess.

These two projects were (big breath...) winners in Best Multi-Family TownhouseBest Multi-Family KitchenBest Innovative Feature, and finalists in Best LandscapeBest Outdoor Living. With all that love, it was no surprise that Hayer took home the Grand Multi-Family Home Builder of the Year

Congratulations, everyone!

We're looking forward to seeing some very good things from this awards program in the future. One of the things we noticed was that there were far more finalists in the New Home categories than in the Renovation categories; apparently a lot of the renovators didn't complete their entries. Which is a shame, because we know there's a lot of good work out there, and we're here to help! Renovators in the Fraser Valley, time to strut your stuff next year!

If you've never entered an awards program before, we'd strongly encourage you to--especially because for most of you in BC, you now have three levels of awards you could possibly win: your local awards (the GVHBA Ovation Awards, the CHBAFB Awards of Excellence, the CHBAVI VIBE awards, etc.); your provincial awards (the Georgie Awards), and the national CHBA Awards of Excellence. Because all three awards levels have different judges but very similar entry requirements, we'd encourage you to enter as many levels as you can qualify: once you've done the work to enter one, you've done about 90% of the work required to enter the next level, and that gives you more opportunities to win.

To help with that, we've put together a guide that works you through the whole process. It will be several months yet before the Georgie Awards call for entries comes out (it's usually the first out of the gate), but this gives you more time to be prepared and get your project ready!