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Cute and little house in the woods.

Trying to fit as much living space — and style — into 500 square feet can be a real challenge.  You can see how that challenge is being met on the Vancouver Heritage Foundation Laneway House Tour on Saturday, October 19.  Get your tickets now for a great afternoon of discovering all the ways designers meet the constraints of building a home in a tightly restricted size limitation.  Our place and one other are the smallest homes at 500 square feet.  Some of the others go up to nearly 1000.  But in every one you will find lots of great decorating and renovating ideas.

Be listening to the Home Discovery Show Sunday morning, October 13, for a chance to win tickets to the tour!

Far away from Vancouver’s urban densification, homeowners outside of Golden, Colarado found themselves with a similar dilemna.  They wanted to build a studio/guest house close to their main dwelling, up in the Rocky Mountains.  But they were restricted by building codes to build in the footprint of a recently-demolished shack — to just 500 square feet.  And they wanted the new structure to fit in with the rustic style of their existing residence.

As this story in Houzz shows, the answer was a delightful little “Hobbit House” seemingly growing out of the granite of the hills.

Rustic Exterior by Golden Architects & DesignersTKP Architects pc

From the quaint rounded front door to the slate roof, every detail was carefully planned and executed.  Guests can make themselves at home in a loft bed

Rustic Bedroom by Golden Architects & Designers TKP Architects pc
Or a Murphy bed
Rustic Bedroom by Golden Architects & Designers TKP Architects pc
And the “kitchen” is actually a studio for the owner, a jewellery designer
Rustic Living Room by Golden Architects & Designers TKP Architects pc
There’s a modern bathroom that still fits the quaint esthetic (a custom concrete sink keeps the theme going).
Rustic Powder Room by Golden Architects & Designers TKP Architects pc
And the fireplace and open beams are a perfect way to incorporate “Hobbit” charm. The mullioned windows along one side are actually doors that slide open to the deck.
Rustic Living Room by Golden Architects & Designers TKP Architects pc
Once again we see that good design can overcome site difficulties.  Who wouldn’t want to make their way to this guest house after a day of hiking or skiing?
Rustic Exterior by Golden Architects & Designers TKP Architects pc

Heating is happening

Dropping by the laneway the other evening I ran into Vahid, the amiable plumber, who was connecting the red hoses for the heating system through the new framing in the bedroom wall.  I was happy to talk about it this morning with Ian and Steve at the Home Discovery Show on the Corus network.

 

The system is sealed, the water going through it will not be mixing with the potable water that will be serving the bathroom and kitchen.  Once everything is connected with the boiler it will just use the same water over and over, cycling through the boiler then the hoses.  The water will be kept at about 15 pounds per square inch (sorry, don’t know the metric).  But to test the system for leaks they pushed water through to 100 pounds per square inch and they’ll keep it there while the build is going up around it, to make sure there will be no water leaking from the system, or from any punctures that occur during the build. The water hasn’t been connected to the mains yet, they borrowed some from the main house.

And Vahid reminded me not to use any long nails when hanging things on the bedroom wall!  Don’t want any nasty surprises.

20130726.6BedroomHoses

I didn’t get any pictures of the framed-in pipes — I didn’t want to disturb Vahid while he was working, and when I went back the house was completely locked up.  Those doors  do a good job of keeping people out.  We’ll be talking to some people about our security system this week, so more on that later.

Be sure to listen to the Home Discovery Show on Sunday July 21

Because I’ll be on!

And remember, if you have any questions, just phone in to the show.

The Home Discovery Show, coming to a radio near you!

I’m back on the Home Discovery Show this Sunday!

Be sure to listen!  The Lady will be visiting with Ian and Steve on the Home Discovery Show on CKNW.

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

And there’s no excuse not to listen!  Get the app, or download the podcast.

A guaranty of quality

I was on the Home Discovery Show this morning for a chat with Ian and Steve.  Their other guest this morning was Mike Holmes.

Yes, that Mike Holmes.

Mike Holmes changes people’s lives by going into their homes after bad building practices or crappy renovating have ruined them, and he makes them right again. He’s a hero to these people.  He respects good work, and he is constantly frustrated when he sees shoddy construction.

But what is to say we’re not going to have a badly constructed laneway home?  Sure, we can see a building going up, but how do we know it’s being built to withstand the weather? To not leak or creak or (shudder) reek?  So we can look forward to years in a well-built home that will need minimal maintenance and will never have to call upon someone like Mike Holmes to fix catastrophic problems.

Well, first of all we trust our builder, Novell.  Angelito and Laurel had our confidence right from the start.  They are a part of the Renomark Renovator Program, a member of the Greater Vancouver HomeBuilders’ Association, and are rated A+ in the Better Business Bureau Business Review. And we’ve seen how they work — always keeping the worksite tidy, using good materials.  Plus we talk with them all the time, in addition to our every-other-week meetings, we can call or email them anytime if we have questions.

And we have another reason to feel confident that our home will be solidly built.

Like all BC residents, we have the Homeowner Protection Office, a branch of BC Housing.  And that means we have Home Warranty Insurance on our new home; we are

covered by mandatory, third-party home warranty insurance. As a minimum, this coverage includes 2 years on labour and materials (some limits apply), 5 years on the building envelope and 10 years on structure. It’s the strongest construction defect insurance in Canada.

The HPO’s Guide to Home Warranty Insurance in British Columbia is a 24-page comprehensive guide to what you can expect in the way of protection.

The 2 year labour and materials coverage includes

defects in materials and labour supplied for the electrical, plumbing, heating, ventilation and air conditioning delivery systems, as well as for the exterior cladding, caulking, windows and doors

The 5 year building envelope coverage includes

the components that separate the indoors from the outdoors, including the exterior walls, foundation, roof, windows and doors.

And the 10 year structural coverage includes

defects in materials and labour that result in the failure of a load-bearing part of the new home, and for any defect that causes structural damage that materially and adversely affects the use of the new home for residential occupancy.

Novell has purchased insurance through a company called Pacific Protected for our build.

I recommend that anyone who is building or renovating (or if you are interested in the process) go to the HPO site and explore.  They have guides for every stage of the build so you can see for yourself if each aspect is being built properly.

On this week’s Home Discovery Show it’s me — and Mike Holmes!

Not together, unfortunately, but I’m sure you will all be ready to ask the questions I would.

The Lady will be visiting with Ian and Steve on the Home Discovery Show on CKNW, chatting about the newest developments in the laneway build, and why I am not worried about the quality of the building process.

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

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.

Be listening to the Home Discovery Show this Sunday!

As you do every week!

Sunday morning bright and early (well, early anyway) I’ll be speaking with Ian and Steve of The Home Discovery Show about our laneway adventure — and I may have some news to share!

So stay tuned!

Another visit with the Home Discovery Show

Yesterday I was happy to talk again to Ian and Steve at the Home Discovery Show on CKNW and the Corus radio network.  We chatted about where we are in the process.

And where are we in the process?  Well the city wants to see a report on the soil stability by a geo-technical engineer, plus we need to have an architect sign off on the plans to make sure the structure can support the living roof.  PLUS it turns out that the height allowance for laneways is calculated differently than the height allowance for the average build (a calculation difference that is not mentioned in the literature and is so arcane that it cannot be described over the phone).  So it was back to the drawing board for our designer at Novell to lop a foot off the top floor (good-bye 9 foot ceilings).

But all that is done, so we are looking forward to having the plans accepted. Soon.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch, the demo has started on the basement, and the front and side yards were ripped apart for the new water supply.

That’s all going smoothly.  When they ripped out the basement rooms they found no moisture (yeah!) but they did find a little bit of asbestos in the tape holding the heating conduits together.  So that means calling in the experts, taping off parts of the basement, and taking out the asbestos safely in a process called abatement.

One step forward, half-a-step back.

Ian brought up an interesting point:  a lot of families fall apart over these little projects. But we’re all looking forward to this so much, we honestly have not had any differences at all.  Sure, we were crushed when we found out we couldn’t have a spiral staircase in the laneway (they need at least 12 feet clearance, which is basically the whole house).  And we still haven’t decided which yellow is yellow enough for the exterior, without being too yellow.  But these are just subjects for discussion, not points of disagreement.

Everybody just gets along.  And I think the compromise process is so smooth we don’t really notice it.

Right now we are looking for a place to rent.  We would love that to be in East Vancouver, so we can get used to our new neighbourhood, establish which Starbucks is “ours”, plot out our trips to our new grocery store, etc.  So if you hear of anything in the area around Rupert and Broadway, let us know.

We’re already packing for it.

A visit to the Home Discovery Show

I had another chat with Ian and Steve at the Home Discovery Show .  I followed their chat with Melissa of The Thirties Grind, who coincidentally had a post last week about laneway homes that I left a comment on. The circle of life.

Ian and I talked about the garden plans for the laneway, what the City of Vancouver expects of us, and about the living roof we plan to install.

We are very lucky, when we told our builder, Novell, that we wanted to put in a living roof, they assured us that they are qualified installers of LiveRoof — complete system of plants plus growing medium to give you the roof you want.

Roof

 

It’s truly a garden on your roof, and it’s installed in such a way that it protects your roof from the very harmful rays of the sun, which eventually break down the membrane on regular roofs.

Ian was also kind enough to mention my Celt in a Twist podcast, and the fact that we’ve been nominated for an award on About.com.

About.com 2013 Readers' Choice Awards

Just a friendly reminder that you can vote here for the show every day until March 19 in the About.com Readers’ Choice Awards. And maybe for St. Patrick’s Day, you’ll want to hear the show itself.  You can find out more about it at Calcopyrite.com.

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