settling in

It’s hard to believe it’s been almost a month since we moved in. Time flies when you’re having fun as they say. It’s been so amazing living in our pint-sized house so far. It’s so bright, new and cozy. We feel so lucky to be in here. The first couple of days, we felt like we were staying in someone else’s beautiful new place and would have to leave soon! It’s feeling much more like our own now, with our personal touches around the house. I thought I’d give a virtual tour of what we’ve done with the place. Look for captions in the slideshow for descriptions. Friends who have visited have told us we’ve done a great job balancing modern and traditional design and created a cozy, liveable place. I think I have to agree with that! Thank you, Smallworks, for helping us design such a beautiful new home.

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So, what’s next? Well, we’re waiting on our custom adjustable coffee/dining table, which is being designed and built by a talented friend of ours, Dave Myers. We look forward to sharing the final product with you!

In the meantime, one of the things we’ve been enjoying most is using our new fancy kitchen. One of our favourite websites to get recipe ideas from these days is Gojee. It sources out some of the best food blogs around the internet and organizes them in an attractive, easy to use website and smart phone application.

Tonight’s meal makes use of our garden kale: Shrimp Quesadillas with Kale. Yum! Click the image to visit the recipe. Until next time!

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the pint-sized finale

Well, the last few weeks have felt like molasses, only because when you’re this close to having something – time slows waayyyyy dooowwwnnnnn. That said, I see now that heaps has happened since my last blog post, so clearly things were not moving that slowly at all. The little details matter so much though! Smallworks has been polishing up our place nicely, and we’re just days (perhaps hours!) away from being able to move in. What we have managed to get ‘in’ the house however, is our edibles in pots on the balcony and also our balcony furniture! We’re anticipating many a mojito this summer on that balcony, and many weekend breakfasts in the sun.. whenever the sun shines in Vancouver, that is. We ended up planting romaine and red leaf lettuce, cilantro, rainbow sage, variegated oregano, basil, chives, kale and sugar snap peas. We’ve also planted some arugula and nasturtium seeds that should be sprouting in a couple of weeks. Not bad for a first shot at edible balconies, I think! We’re easing our way in and hope to plant a few things for the fall too.

Other than that, I don’t have much to report in words, because I think the pictures say it best. Below you’ll find our finished product, as a slide show. We’re so pleased with our new home and are just dying to move in!

Although our journey with Smallworks and laneway house construction is nearing an end, this isn’t really the end… it’s only the beginning. The Pint-sized House blog will be a place for us to share ideas on small space living, healthy living and eating, and other things that we come across that we’d like to share with others. Not to mention the fact that we haven’t moved in yet and will want to share how we add our own finishing touches. I can’t wait to see what the industrial furniture we bought looks like in there.

Until next time! (when we should be living in our pint-sized house)

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when sewage becomes exciting

Yup, that there is a no stopping sign. What makes it so exciting? It means our sewer and water lines are being connected very soon!

Perhaps the only time a person could be so excited about sewage is a time such as this.  It marks the last big, noisy and messy part of the project. Hurray!

Moving on from sewer talk, things are looking beautiful indoors. We were able to take a peek recently so I snapped a few shots.

Here we have wrought iron spindles with oak railings, and our custom entertainment cabinetry on the right, made from alder. Alder is a very plentiful local wood, so we feel pretty good about our choice, both from an aesthetic view and more sustainable one!

The left side of our kitchen. We decided on alder cabinetry on the bottom, and white with glass on the top, to make the space feel a little taller and more open on top. I am especially fond of our farmhouse sink.

We decided we liked the clean look of subway tiles. It also goes well with our semi-industrial look.

Our custom built-in corner couch, with storage drawers and a hatch on one side to stow spare folding chairs. Also made of alder. Upholstered seat arrives soon!

A better look at our entertainment unit. The hole in the centre will feature our fish tank.

Our shower tiling detail. I saw something like this on Houzz.com and really loved it, so this is our version of it. I also blogged about it way back in the early months of our project. I really liked the ‘waterfall’ feel that the orientation of the tiles gives.  Quite happy with this! Sorry for the poor photo.. there wasn’ t much light in there at the time.

And now, for my favourite thing:

I have a thing for exposed beams. These were put in after the drywall, and have oak cladding. Super pleased with this! It’ll make our bedroom so cozy. At the back of the room there, we have a window seat and storage built in to maximize the space and not have to worry about finding furniture to fit in. We’ll be using basket or similar to store things on those shelves. A bookshelf is going in on the right as well.

This is becoming a long post. I also want to share what’s going on outside though. Things are looking much better these days!

We’ve gone from this:

To this!

The patio has a few garden beds lining it, one along our house on the left there, another on the right by my parents’ back stairs, and then another one against the fence (not visible) which will have a 20 foot tall tree for extra greenery and privacy. Things aren’t looking green now obviously, but I think it’s going to be a very pretty and useable little courtyard for all of us.

Things will be ‘back to normal’ before we know it.. Spring is starting to show it’s lovely buds and we’re feeling our new beginning is just around the corner!

Smallworks continues to be fabulous and we couldn’t recommend them enough if you’re considering building with them.


The Caboose

Yep, it’s been a little while. I’m starting to lose momentum on this blog stuff, but we’ve also been pretty busy. We just had a wonderful extended weekend in Rossland, BC with friends. Lots of fluffy powder for snowboarding and cross-country skiing.  I’d never been there before – it was beautiful! And Rossland is a lovely little mountain town.

View from the window out to Rossland

Snowy shadows on the edge of Nancy Green Lake

Back in Vancouver, the outside of the laneway house is looking awesome. All that’s left is the siding on the inside of the balcony, and the composite decking material. When my uncle saw the house the other day, he said it reminded him of a train – and we concluded it was The Caboose. We all thought that was very clever and amusing, and I think we’re going to stick with it. How could we resist naming our cute little red house? Yeah, we’re dorks.

Our little red caboose

Do you see the likeness? heehee

I’ve mentioned the composite decking in an older post, but I didn’t have the manufacturer’s name. It’s called Moisture Shield and it’s an environmentally friendly product made from  95% pre- and post-consumer recycled content, including construction debris, grocery bags, plastic milk jugs, and more.  It’s then treated to look like wood – and it’s pretty convincing!

An example image from Moisture Shield's gallery

They also make deck tiles and fencing. It’s supposed to look good for up to 25 years which is great. Less maintenance is always a bonus, especially if we can help the environment too!

During my time of silence on the blog, we also had our 2 paragraphs of fame in the Vancouver Sun Weekend Extra a couple of weekends ago, exploring the question of whether laneway housing is an affordable housing solution.  The journalist somehow got it in her head that I’m a “visual artistic director” which made me chuckle.  Sure, I’ll take it.

Our photo in the paper

So what’s next? We’re getting electricity today! The drywall is up and the primer is on the walls. We’re supposed to have the sewer connected within three weeks as well, which is a huge relief because the city sewer crews have been backed up (no pun intended) with waits of up to 18 weeks. They recently added crews to work on weekends and try to get through the huge heap of connection requests on the waiting list. Vancouver is a busy growing city!

Thanks for reading – more to come on the interior finishing soon!

 


the rain rain rain came down down down

Perhaps some of you know this classic Disney Winnie the Pooh Song. It jumped into my head today as I stared out the window at the torrential downpour from our basement suite. It’s been like this all day.  I used to work in landscaping,  so I can sort of empathize with the guys working outside on the laneway house as it pours down with rain.  It’s pretty amazing to see what can still be accomplished in this kind of weather though.  I suppose it’s still better than freezing rain and snow we had earlier this month (which thankfully I never had to experience during my spring/summer stint as a landscaper!)

The framing is nearly complete, so we’re getting a good sense of what the place is going to look like! It’s kind of crazy seeing this little house right next to my parents’ house now. We’ll be able to wave at each other through our kitchen windows. As close as that sounds,  there is actually a fair bit of space between the two homes, where a lovely patio and garden beds will no doubt reside one things are finished.

the front of the house, looking across the street.

In the photo above you can sort of begin to see the front design. The builders are starting to put in the hip-roof that surrounds our balcony. The opening peaking over the edge is our balcony doorway. We’ve got a nice big window in the front and our front door is on the right there. Since we’re a corner lot, we can have the entrance off the side street instead of the lane which gives us a great opportunity to have some nice curb appeal!

This is the side facing the lane.

In the photo above we have the lane-side view. Garage door on the left, living room window on the right, and the bathroom dormer on the top. Those pre-fab walls really make the house take shape in what feels like the blink of an eye. Smallworks builds most of the house offsite and then puts it together like a big puzzle, to ensure the weather doesn’t have it’s way with the exposed structure for too long.

The messy work is still going on at the side of my parents’ house with the sewer line trench getting deeper and longer and no doubt muddier during this rain storm. The excavators were quite amused to find that we still have a steel water pipe (which haven’t been used for decades) going into the house. Turns out we need to get it replaced due to it’s ancientness and corrosion, so the house is without water for a few hours today in order to install a shiny new water pipe.  Things sure get interesting once you start digging!

our basement suite door usually exits here.. not so much right now.

As you can see from the photo above ,the trench goes right against the side of the house, and currently blocks our exit from the basement suite. I haven’t had to come home through my parents’  front door after a weekend night of being out until 3 a.m. since I was 18 years old.. it’s a bit of a flash back to say the least.

I will wrap things up with a slideshow of progress over the last week or so. I think the photos probably illustrate how Smallworks really is a well oiled machine… and a very pleasant and friendly one at that!

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darn that flying time…

Okay, it’s been far too long since our last update. Between a computer keyboard breaking (not at ALL because of me being clumsy and spilling water on it), Christmas holidays, and being sick through the new year, it’s been tough to find time or feel motivated to write something. Today was particularly exciting though, because the walls are going up! So… no more being lazy. Time to share some stuff.

Everything has been going well, except for a *minor* issue of the main house on the lot being old, and the soil around it very loose and weak. As the excavators were digging along south side of the house for the sewer line, they found it was probably risky to just fill it in normally, since the old foundation and weak soil wasn’t going to be so good for keeping the house stable. Things would start slipping over time. An unfortunate slight increase in the budget that couldn’t be avoided. My parents would rather not have their house start leaning like the Tower of Pisa for some reason. To remedy this, some concrete reinforcement will be put in place before filling in with the usual stuff.

To summarize what’s happened since the last post, It seems best to share photos rather than describe. The following are highlights from December before the holidays.

Initial digging of the foundation pit.

Taking down the hedges to make way for the sewer line.

The beginnings of framing for the foundation.

Digging the sewer line trench.

Bringing in more wood for the framing.

Pouring the concrete into the foundation framing.

There’s a lot more that I’ll put in a separate post. I shall leave you with our silly Christmas joke. Gotta pretty up the front yard somehow, right?


there’s some hoeing goin’ on back here..

Bright and early yesterday morning we awoke to a rumbling sound outside our window. The sound of new beginnings! Otherwise known as a backhoe digging up the yard.

When I left that morning, I saw that the gas line was wrapped in the old tree roots of a pine tree that once grew in the garden but was killed by a bad winter of heavy snow a couple years ago. The first surprise of the project, within a couple hours of work! Oh dear. Let’s hope that means we’re getting the worst stuff out of the way first. When I got home from work it looked like the guys were able to get the gas line out safely. It looked like pretty delicate work though – between gingerly prying off cunks of stump with the backhoe and manually chipping at it with a shovel. Talk about patience.

Digging out the old roots around the gas line

The hole is getting bigger this morning as Smallworks continues to plod ahead. That’s all to report now.

The vehicle rests after a day's work.