LCH Developments (previously known as Lifestyle Custom Homes), is a residential building development company in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA) focused on serving individual communities based on their needs. In an effort to optimize available space, it gets approval to convert underutilized pieces of land into the highest and best use for the neighbourhood.
The founders of LCH are two brothers who decided to go into business together at a young age in 2007. With backgrounds in engineering and business management, Lukas and Michal Wywrot originally operated the real estate company by acquiring rental properties. By 2013, they had transformed the company into custom home development for high quality, unique, low-rise properties. In more recent years LCH has begun to take on larger projects including townhouses and multi-story mid-rise and high-rise buildings. The company, learning through its trials and tribulations, also provides consulting services to other real estate developers who can benefit from LCH’s knowledge.
LCH is equipped with a lean team of skilled employees and it prides itself on being a lean developer that does not require a large staff. When a company grows by taking on more people very quickly, it can be forced to stay busy in order to keep up with the overhead, and this can be a distraction away from its primary mission. In an effort to keep its business lean and efficient, LCH depends on third-party consultants.
“We rely heavily on our employees but we rely more heavily on our expert team of consultants that we have long-lasting relationships with,” says Michal Wywrot, President of LCH.
The owners of LCH actively encourage its employees to join programs and gain new skills to ensure that they can grow along with the company as it advances in the industry.
“In terms of our workplace culture, we believe in empowerment first and foremost. We take the opportunity to provide additional skills for our employees for them to proceed in their professional development and to stay with us as we continue to scale our company,” explains Michal.
Later this year, LCH has expansion plans to move into a larger office. The new office will be located in a 9,000 square-foot facility and this upgrade will allow it to grow at the speed of its choosing. With eight team members today, LCH expects to increase its staff by 50 percent in September 2020, when it moves into the new space. It also plans to expand its consulting services at this time for both preconstruction and project oversight. Presently, the facility will not be used exclusively by LCH; the goal is to designate a smaller portion to lease out the extra office space and it plans to create a co-working space in the building as well.
LCH is one of the very few grassroots developers in the area that was able to successfully jump into mid- and high-rise development in a very short period of time.
“There are a lot of developers that come from generational ownership and it’s a lot easier for them to take on projects, whereas we didn’t have that leg up,” explains Lukas Wywrot, CEO of LCH. “We were one of the few developers that started off as small time custom home builders, but were able to penetrate into the mid-rise and high-rise market by seeking strategic properties and acquisition in neighbourhoods and communities that had high growth potential.” Choosing where to build new developments is one of LCH’s most important tasks.
Using a collaborative effort, the company works with the community and with the city to acquire properties in neighbourhoods where residents will find the project relevant and useful. LCH makes sure to avoid areas where residents are not interested in high-intensity development. To date, all of its projects have been located in areas where it had both community and city support to improve a problematic site – where the neighbourhood as a whole would benefit from the development.
Before the stage of formally submitting approvals to the city, LCH engages with the local community to receive valuable input. It goes above and beyond by organizing community meetings to collect feedback on what they think is important for any new project that is introduced to the area. Often the company finds that these meetings with the residents become useful in the overall building design because they provide exclusive information about what sort of amenities or programs will be successful in the area.
As developers, LCH is faced with ongoing challenges every day including increasing construction costs, the process of securing the approvals that are required from the city, finding investors for specific projects, and securing financing for the project. The company’s leadership has laid out five strategies to tackle the arising challenges: don’t overreact, don’t blame others, detach yourself from the challenge, don’t overanalyze, and accept that challenges are a part of life.
Pride, passion, and people are LCH’s key assets. It completely dedicates itself to its projects, unlike the type of developer that creates buildings simply to make a profit before moving on to the next as quickly as possible.
“We take pride in what the end product is going to be, and our reward is the smiles we get on the purchasers’ faces when we hand them the keys and they have a high quality and high-performing unit,” says Michal.
LCH believes that productivity is greatly enhanced when a company is passionate about its projects. By demonstrating its commitment to neighbourhoods in the GTA, its vision of making a positive difference is instilled to its employees and also to its third-party partners.
In real estate development, the ability to trust employees and consultants is crucial. These partnerships must be reliable for the company to keep up with timelines and deliver as promised, and LCH has been fortunate to create exceptional long-lasting relationships that are truly dependable. “It’s our competitive advantage that we keep a very close relationship with everybody both on a business level, and on a personal level as well,” says Michal.
As a small company that worked its way up from the bottom, LCH has had to learn about every facet of a construction project from start to finish. The team has developed significant experience by playing many different roles over the years, including site superintendent, project management, bookkeeping, financing, and customer service. Although it is now able to delegate a lot of these tasks, the leadership at LCH knows how to optimize the entire process. When a larger development firm operates with one main developer that may not have personally done a lot of the groundwork, the project likely will not run as smoothly as it does with LCH. The company’s background in custom home building has also sharpened its customer service skills.
With a unique approach, LCH creates spaces with careful attention to detail. “We look at doing the design of the buildings from the inside out and we like designing the units for the end purchasers or customers so they have the ideal units with great views and great layouts. We start from the inside designing and then we work our way toward the outside and we design the exterior to match the neighbourhoods,” says Lukas.
Located on the corner of Kingston Road and Danforth Avenue, Merge Condos is the perfect example of the company’s objective to improve the lives of people in the community. The 12-story building in Scarborough features a modern and innovative design that includes sustainable energy technology and convenient amenities. It has a rooftop terrace overlooking Lake Ontario, a two-storey fitness and yoga center, electric vehicle parking stalls, an event space to host parties, and a dog washing facility on the ground floor. To ensure the safety of its residents, full-service security is provided through the Executive Concierge.
Currently known as developers of mid-rise and high-rise buildings, the owners of LCH have much bigger aspirations in mind for their futures. Still quite young in their careers, Lukas and Michal aspire to use their experience to build healthy and happy communities as city builders one day. This ultimate goal is the reason LCH puts such an emphasis on the community with each and every project it takes on.
“We have aspirations to eventually become city builders and not just developers. So we like to look at development in a holistic manner, not just purely driven by profit, but as a way that we can optimize private and public space,” says Michal.
As Lukas says, “We want to enhance the overall quality of life not just by building a single building, but by building a community.”