Aiming High

When DiGreen Homes and Digram Developments Inc. build communities, they aim to make them unique, President Abubakar Masood says. “We want to build a nicer product instead of the cookie-cutter products,” he says. “If my customers are going to pay a specific amount of money, I better give them a bang for their buck,” Masood says. “I want them to get something that myself and they are proud of.” The two firms, based in Markham, Ontario, Canada, primarily develop and build homes in the greater Toronto area. Masood’s family has more than 30 years in the industry, which includes projects in Dubai. Although it continues to work in Dubai, it branched out to Canada by partnering with another firm in 2002. The family set out on its own with Digram three years later, Masood notes. It followed this with the formation of DiGreen in 2014, which focuses on the construction side. “Digram Developments does the site servicing, which includes installing water mains, asphalt works, sidewalks, curbs, etc.,” he says. “DiGreen Homes will build the actual house and connect into the services already laid by Digram Developments Inc.”

IN THE LOOP Digram focuses strongly on quality when selling lots to builders. “We can’t sell anything to the builder until everything is approved with respect to quality,” Masood explains. As part of this process, “We keep the builder in the loop for the whole time we work with them,” he continues. “Our builders are happy that they … have somebody they can trust.”

SATISFACTORY WORK Masood is proud of his companies’ work, including its Greensborough and Wismer communities, which consist of low-rise houses in Markham. “When I saw the properties, they were on an agricultural field,” he recalls. This enabled Digram to work with multiple builders, including Primont Homes Inc., Pristine Homes LLC and Townwood Homes. Now that the projects are complete, “You can see some extremely nice houses over there,” Masood says. “The self-satisfaction I feel is tremendous, because I changed the existing landscape. It’s a very nice-looking community within walking distance of everything else.”

CHANGING TASTES Masood joined his family’s business four years ago and has watched many trends come and go. Today, buyers “want their home to be connected,” he says, explains that they look for smart homes that can control the thermostats and washing machines. “They’re looking for a cool factor in the house.” The buyers also are willing to spend more. “If they believe that they’re getting their money’s worth, they’re not afraid of spending,” he says. Their tastes in roofs also are changing. Previously, “People were fine getting an traditional-looking house, and now the buyer wants something modern,” he says, noting that he has seen many requests for flat roofs. “They think it’s time to change from the sloped roof.”

GOING FORWARD DiGreen and Digram plan to continue building and developing houses, Masood says. Although the role of the single developer may eventually be phased out in Digram’s market, “I am still focused on getting significant amounts of land,” he asserts. Additionally, Masood plans for growth for DiGreen. “The vision is to become one of the leaders in homebuilding, providing high-quality homes and adapting to the latest trends in the marketplace,” he says.