Part of our highlight of Bay of Quinte Home Builders and Realtors over the next several months. Find a HOME in the Bay of Quinte Region here: www.bayofquinte.ca/living
By Jim Barber
Building homes is truly in Eric DenOuden’s blood. Coming from a family adept at the craft of construction, home building and working with wood in general, over three decades he has built his Belleville-based company, Hilden Homes, into one of the largest and most vibrant home building enterprise in the Bay of Quinte region.
Not content to simply expand his business operations adding to his impressive inventory of award-winning residential projects, DenOuden has also used his talents, expertise and experience over the years for the greater good of his community and on important community infrastructure projects in a number of underdeveloped nations.
“I guess it was the way I was brought up. When I was a little kid my mom made me shovel out the neighbours’ driveway in the winter because they were elderly. I guess it’s always been in me to give back. I have spearheaded large community projects for charities and non-profit organizations like schools and churches, and I helped organize the Children’s Safety Village here in Belleville. We pooled the resources of our suppliers and trades to put together that million dollar project,” said DenOuden, who is a past-president of the Quinte Home Builders Association and is currently finishing up his one-year term as the president of the Ontario Home Builders Association. He is also currently the second vice-president of the Canadian Home Builders Association.
“The way I look at it, this community has been good to me and I have been giving back through sponsorships and donations over the 30 years we have been in business. Volunteering and getting involved in worthy projects is great. I enjoy it. It’s fun and you also get to meet new people and learn new things when you volunteer.”
DenOuden’s charitable work has also taken him to the Dominican Republic, Haiti, Uganda, Sierra Leone and South Africa, helping the locals build community centres and other pieces of important infrastructure.
“It’s one thing to write a cheque but it’s another thing to go over there, buy the materials and work alongside the local community to see their project come to fruition. That’s truly rewarding.”
Throughout the Bay of Quinte region Hilden Homes has developed a first-class reputation for its reputability, quality and pro-active approach to customer service.
“I may be the owner and president but I have a great team and staff, and without a great group of people you can don’t anything. We now develop a lot of our own land and subdivisions. We design homes in-house, so we build within our own subdivisions and we will also custom design and build on people’s own land. No matter the situation we always like to encourage people to customize each plan to suit their needs,” DenOuden said.
The company has Mercedes Meadows in Belleville, Antonia Heights in Frankford and is working with a developer to build Kingfisher Cove in Quinte West. In the past, Hilden Homes has developed Appledene Park and Whispering Woods in Trenton and has also done extensive work in Brighton.
“We also do our share of individual builds in Prince Edward County. We don’t have a set development there but we are building homes all over the county, including four right in Picton this year,” he said.
Creating a company of his own was a logical step for DenOuden based on his familial heritage and his own training.
“I was born in the industry and by that I mean my grandfather in the Netherlands was a builder/contractor and a lot of my uncles were involved in the trade, as well as cousins. And my father was a cabinet maker. So it wasn’t a strange concept to one morning be getting up and building a house. Not long after I finished my Civil Engineering program at Sir Sanford Fleming College, I got married and bought a lot in 1980. My friends who were already in the industry encouraged me to build that first house, which I sold not long after and build another one,” he explained.
“I got together with a friend of mine in 1985 and decided to do it for a living and that’s how Hilden Homes came about. He sold his half to me in 1989 and I have owned and run the company myself since then. So, quite by accident opportunities arose for me to move forward but the business was always in my blood.”
DenOuden said that the Bay of Quinte Region is a truly special place in which to be a developer and home builder because of the unique characteristics of the environment and the diversity of the clientele looking to purchase new homes.
“Something that is really great about the Quinte area and all the builders here is they can give people a wide range of choice, because it’s a wide array of people who want to call this area home. We have young families and empty nesters and everything in between. And the price points are also varied as are lot sizes, square footages and amenities within the homes. I don’t think there are many places in Ontario with the variety and choice that we can offer,” he said.
“I travel all over Ontario and I have to admit that this is a beautiful place to be. We have the rolling hills, the rivers, the bay – we’ve got so many natural features compared to many locations in Ontario. People are making a conscious lifestyle decision to move or return here. We have amazing educational, recreational and health care facilities and some of the best golf courses in Ontario. And we are still less than two hours from downtown Toronto. We have so much to offer and we need to share that news with people looking to leave the GTA.”
He feels the market will continue to grow in a measured way which will allow for the maintenance of the enviable quality of life we all enjoy but still foster the region’s ongoing growth and prosperity.
“We are an alternative for people looking north of the GTA or west. We can show them that there is a little piece of paradise to the east of the GTA. We have a lot of provincial-level award-winning builders here with great inventory and land costs that are still very affordable,” DenOuden said.
“We have so much to offer as far as housing goes. It’s going to continue to be very affordable compared to other parts of the province, the quality is unsurpassed and there is just so much choice. Good things are going to continue to happen in the Bay of Quinte region for a long time to come.”
For more information about Hilden Homes, visit http://hildenhomes.com.
– Jim Barber is an award-winning journalist and author based in Napanee. Contact him at [email protected].