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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.

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Artist and Desert Dweller with Big City Style.


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building a home that's not too big and not too small


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Small house designs with big impact

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