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Monthly Archives: May 2013

Building on solid footings

It’s like a Hobbit house.  That is, its feet are larger than one expects.

The footings for the laneway house are now poured concrete, not just forms.

They are solid concrete — a sound foundation for our new home. Poured in the pouring rain.




The rebar sticking out of the footings shows where the walls will go for our main floor.

Downsizing the hard way

We are in our rental place, and the cleaners have gone through our condo until it sparkles.

The move went quite smoothly, seeing that DH and I have not moved in 13 years and had forgotten what a horrendous job it is and were not truly prepared for the discomfort and the shock.  It’s rather like childbirth in that way.

We are learning our lessons, and hopefully when we move (for the last time ever!) into the laneway, we can use those to ease us into our new life and our new lifestyle.

Lesson One: We have too much stuff.  I know, I know, we have been tossing and donating things for months.  But we brought too much stuff with us — even after stopping at the storage space to drop things off en route.  Since the rental is approximately the size of the laneway, it’s plain we have been delusional about how much we can keep.

There is nothing like trying to stuff two full bedroom closets and one hallway closet into one bedroom closet to make you realize that you have been holding on to things that do not fit, do not flatter, and you will never wear/use again.  Seriously, give it up.  As we speak bags are being prepared to take to Sally Ann (after we dropped a half-van-full of stuff there yesterday).

We are committed to our new lifestyle — but the transition is going to take some time and a lot of effort. And it’s also plain that we will have to rid ouselves of most of the stuff in the storage space if we are ever going to be truly free of our belongings.

Terence Conran — living small

Terence Conran is not a household name on this side of the Atlantic, but he is a legend in Europe (and kind of a hero to design fanatics here).


Now 81 years old, he’s been at the forefront of design (residential, commercial, graphic) since the 1950s, and he started some innovative companies to bring great design to the masses.

Ever the innovator, Sir Terence has gone online now with The Conran Shop and Conran Home  and ever the prolific author, has put his ideas about living small into a book – How to life in small spaces.


Lord love ‘im, he’s had his finger on the pulse of what is fashionable, cool, and avant garde for over 50 years. And living better in smaller spaces — is fashionable, cool, and avant garde.

Week 3 begins!

Here’s what we saw week 0:

LWHTime1Here’s what we saw at our last visit:

LWHTime4The trees at the front of the house have all their leaves now, and the work is literally taking shape.

Our first official site visit

Thursday evening was our first official, regular site visit with Laurel and Angelito from Novell.  We met at 6 and viewed the developments, and developments there were.

Here is what we saw:


Here is what we learned:

  • The sewer for the main house is being moved and will join up to the laneway house’s sewer
  • The water supply for both houses will be sufficient for excellent water pressure in both homes (very good news for the folks in the main house, who currently have low pressure)
  • The builders did not reach hard pan under the whole foundation (that packed clay layer underneath most of Vancouver) so they are building the foundation on concrete footings — those are the forms you see
  • After the concrete pour there will be inspections, then more concrete
  • By the time of our next meeting in two weeks, the concrete walls of the main floor of the laneway house should be built and they will be ready (or nearly ready) for framing
  • The laneway house is going to be fully covered by Home Warranty Insurance. Which is actually something I did not think about, in my giddiness about the build.  Once it’s up — it won’t fall down.  Nor will it leak or creak or reek.  Which is a comfort

What we have to start thinking about:

  • Lighting plans (oh!  We are thinking about lighting!)
  • Millwork (i.e. kitchen — we have a cabinet maker selected and they will be building far advance of when the cabinets will go in)

Also — moving!  It’s happening and we are busy up to our eyeballs in the process.

Listen to the Home Discovery Show this Sunday

On this Sunday’s Home Discovery Show on CKNW, Ian and Steve and I will be talking about the newest developments at the laneway site, as things start to literally take shape!

By the way, tomorrow’s show will repeat on the Corus Radio Network across Canada next Saturday.

Another super cool super small NYC apartment

Thius 425 square foot Manahttan apartment comes to us via the Inhabit website.

Manhattan-Micro-Loft-Specht-Harpman-5-537x357It’s another sleek, cool looking micro-apartment, built into a loft and over 3 floors.  Of course it is loaded with built-in storage — the space beneath the stairs is non-stop closet.  And it manages to maintain a comfortable feel while keeping clutter to a minimum.

The owners are using it as a pied-a-terre, not planning to live there full time, but I think it would be perfect for a single person (or a very compatible couple). I hope they hang a few paintings to take advantage of all that light.

BTW, you may want to subscribe to Inhabit’s newsletter.  It’s NYC-centric, but full of articles of interest to all sustainability and small-living fans.

Support laneway houses in Vancouver!

We knew that the City of Vancouver was discussing laneway houses.

But now they are asking for our input.

Want to show some support?

 Council referred proposed amendments to the laneway housing regulations and guidelines, and expansion of the program to Public Hearing on June 11th, 2013

interested in what they have to say?  Here’s the proposed amendments. I have to admit I flagged about page 32, but then, my evenings are full of placing items in cardboard boxes prior to the big move.  I will read it, and I will be at that meeting if it is at all possible.

Gotta walk the walk, know what I mean?

Thanks to the guys at Lanefab for the heads-up.

Still packing and purging

DH was out of town doing good works in Ottawa from Wednesday to Saturday last week.  I had big plans to do a lot of packing, but surprised myself by actually doing less.  I had forgotten how much work a person who works at home does while he’s home — working.  There were piles of laundry that did not magically transform themselves into clean clothes; cat dishes that did not get filled; litter boxes that did not empty themselves; dishes that stubbornly remained dirty. And get this — the refrigerator does not spontaneously make food! It’s nice living the life of the ridiculously spoiled, and I didn’t even mind being reminded that I do.

But he returned to us late Saturday night and by Sunday afternoon we had a nice pile of boxes to take over to the rental. The big move is next Sunday, and we’ll be schlepping boxes over to the storage space next Saturday, so things are back on track. And I used the Victoria day holiday to pack like a fiend again.

We are currently living in what Stephanie at the blog Scoutie Girl calls “home limbo“.

that space between the moment we start dismantling our current home, and the moment we declare ourselves satisfactorily settled into our new one

And that’s where we’ll be until we’re in the laneway.

The rental looks better every time I see it.  There’s lots of light, and the neighbourhood is great.  The kitchen is teensy, and I was stowing some stuff away and remarked to DH that living there would be like camping, just using what we needed, with no spares or extraneous stuff.  He gave me a grave look, and explained that this is the way we will be living for the rest of our lives.  We will be getting rid of stuff from now till the move into the laneway, this is just the first step.

Stephanie suggests purging inclusively

decluttering through the lens of what you want to keep, vs. what you want to get rid of

Look at whatever-it-is and ask yourself, not “do I really want to throw this away?” but “do I really want to keep this?”  Find space for it in our new place?  Displace something else just to have this around?

Makes decisions a little easier to make.

Week 2

When Laurel sent us the list of stuff that had to be done, I was expecting things to stay pretty static during the last week.

But when we dropped by yesterday we could see real progress.

It’s still a hole in the ground.  But now it’s a level hole, with gravel!

Day8.1No more excavator sitting in our kitchen!  Just a lovely level lot with places for water to come in and flow out.

The rest of the yard is completely out of bounds

Day8.2with red danger tape up.  And the back fence is up with danger tape on that.

But it’s looking more like home to me.

DH took another shot to show the difference.

Week 0

LWHTime1Week 2

LWHTime3Only 28 more weeks to go.





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