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The Early Bird Builder

It's 4:45 a.m. and Mario Di Pede's eyes pop open as if they were on a timer.
They've been doing that most of the 63 years they've been steering Di Pede through life, particularly the 45 years he's been building homes.

SpringTown Homes' Mario Di Pede is on the site before 6a.m.


As a young bricklayer fresh from Italy in 1053, his work day started at 5:30 a.m., not because the boss demanded it, but because you were paid by the brick and laying bricks sun up to sun down was the hard road to success.
And DiPede is a success. He has built more than 5,000 homes and has more then 400 tenants spread throughout his array of commercial and industrial buildings in the Toronto area.
Still he is on the job site before 6 a.m., long before any of the construction trades arrive, so his eyes can roam on every detail of what they did before and what has to be done for this day.

"We'll build more than 300 homes this year and every one of them would have been very closely inspected by my father. No other builder in the city can say that," said Tony DiPede who arrives at the office by 6:45 a.m. and is often teased by his father for sleeping in. But Tony gets to rub his younger brother David who doesn't show 'til 7. Neither of the boys apologize for not adhering to their fathers schedule.
The three DiPede's run Springtown Homes, the home building firm Mario launched with his sons in 1983 after 24 years as a partner in Ideal Homes with the late Albert Kartavicius.

Albert, an immigrant brick layer from Lithuania, and Mario started working together in '53 and soon noticed that their personal standards for quality workmanship weren't matched by other bricklayers on the job. So the two immigrants married their talents and created Ideal Construction. By 1959 they decided to build homes for themselves and became Ideal Homes. For a period in the '70s they were partners with the founders of Greenpark Homes and the firm was called Ideal Greenpark.
When the next generation was ready to build homes, Albert created Eden Oak Homes with his nephew Romas and Mario launched Springtown. Albert drowned while boating in Florida last year.
DiPede said his demand for good workmanship hasn't diminished over the years and that's what he checks for.
"One thing I am looking for is that proper procedure is being followed. Building a house well requires a schedule and a system. Some things shouldn't be done before other things are complete," said the senior DiPede.
"If the scheduling is off, a joist might be sealed off before a heating duct goes in and then the furnace installer has to put the elbow in to go under the joist. That elbow creates a heat loss similar to adding 10 feet of duct. That means he house will cost more each year than an identical house without the elbow," said DiPede.

'We have the last site in Vaughan with new homes backing on to a provincial park'
It's the kind of precise management that makes home building trades like Rocco Palumbo, who owns Eastgate Plumbing, and George Gronwall of Applewood Heating and Air Conditioning, enjoy dealing with Springtown.
"You know that when you send a crew out to install a furnace in a Springtown Home that it'll be ready for it", said Gronwall. "When I have to reschedule installers because a house isn't ready, it creates problems all along the supply chain and we'll loose money or have to charge the builder more money. With Springtown, that does not happen".
Springtowns latest project is Ravines on the Humber, an elclave of 170 single-family homes backing on to the heavily-treed Humber River Valley and the Kortright Conservation Area on the north fringe of Woodbridge.
"We have the last site in Vaughan with new homes backing on to a provincial park," Tony DiPede said in an interview with The Star early one morning around noon.

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