Thursday, March 27, 2008

No more duplex for us

Well, we've bought a house, and it's not the perfect green solution, but it's ours. Our friends have half a duplex, and they're happy with it too.

Since neither of us could afford to live in one place while building in another, we had to buy what was on the market.

Oh well, maybe next time. There's a lot of mortgage payments to go before we can afford our second home!

Friday, September 7, 2007

The Crush of Reality`

Sigh. The house is on the market and I fear that we've failed in our quest. How disappointing.

So, if you want to buy a 3BR upstairs half-duplex for about $550,000 or a downstairs 2BR half-duplex for about $450,000, there may be one on the market next spring.

As for where we'll be living, who knows. We're sad, and especially guilt-ridden over wasting all that time -- not only for us, but for Eric and Patti, who we've let waste prime house-hunting season. I'm so sorry.

I just don't know about Vancouver -- the city pays lip service to "eco-density" but the planning board won't give variances for exceeding .60 FSR and they insist on demanding that houses be designed to look like 18th century New England, and not 21st century Vancouver. Hypocritical morons, if you ask me.

So who's going to live in Vancouver when it costs $700,000 for a house? And who's going to clean those people's houses, teach their kids, sell their groceries, deliver their mail, fight their fires, police their streets, pick up their garbage, staff their nursing homes... none of those jobs get you $150,000 a year, which is what you need to buy a house.

So, Mayor Sam Sullivan and your Board of Variances, you're turning Vancouver into a millionaires-only city. Pick up your own garbage. I guess young families aren't welcome.

Monday, July 23, 2007


Well, our landlord called last night and told me what a great location we had, how much he likes us, and that he's getting old.

He didn't say he'd sell the place for less, however.

Our challenges:

1. Buy the lot for as little as possible.
2. Design a duplex that maximizes space (interior and exterior) up to the limit the Board of Variances imposes.
3. Build the duplex quickly and efficiently.

Personally, I think we can get this lot for a reasonable price. The big question is still how much will it cost to tear down the current place and build a new one? If we can build a modern, open, bright three- or four-storey duplex (with rooftop garden) for under $300,000, we win.

Am I dreaming?

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

What I've Been Up To

Clearly, I'm becoming the one that doesn't post. Well, I better change that.

First of all, I called our landlord and he was in the middle of dinner with relatives from out of town. Oops. I'll call him Wednesday morning and tell him I have the day off if he'd care to chat.

I've been reading Dwell Magazine and our book on modern pre-fabricated housing, shipping container and steel-frame construction, and inexpensive sustainable design. (I'll post the title and author when I can check on it.) Any other interesting findings, y'all?

My thoughts are currently leaning toward a designer/architect who can modify a pre-existing design to be a duplex that fits our lot and neighbourhood. Rumour has it that the current board of variants (variances?) is amenable to eco-friendly design. Just say the magic words "eco-density" and we're in. I hope.

I'll let you know how Wednesday turns out.

Friday, July 6, 2007

Before We Actually Buy...

... your landlord's lot.

Maybe we should take the measurements of the lot to a developer or architect and see if a duplex is even plausible. If yes, then onward and upward. If not, then further discussions with your landlord are moot.

You two may have already done this, I don't know. It just seems like a good idea to find out now before engaging in negotiations we might not need to.

Saturday, June 30, 2007

The agony of waiting

Hey P and Daddy L -- just wanted to give you a quick update. The Pirate called our landlord a couple of weeks, but never got an answer (and no answering machine either).

However, we just called now and talked to his wife. Turns out they've had out-of-town guests staying with them and were planning on calling us Monday, after their guests left, to "sit down and have a chat."

Of course, we'll be in Indiana that day, so the chat is going to have to wait until after we get back on the 8th. But the fact that she said they had plans to follow up with us on the subject is a good sign.


We'll give you a call once we get back from the States and will keep you updated on anything we find out!

Cheers and happy Canada Day!

Thursday, June 28, 2007

The Friendly Woodwork

After reading NBB's last post on variances, and the helpful-husband-of-the-woman-in-the-park, it seems people are coming out of the woodwork to give us a hand. Considering the daunting and long list of tasks/steps we need to take to make this project a reality, I welcome any and all help.

  • Patty runs with someone who also works at the city, and also might be able to help us with our zoning application.

  • If we manage to swing the private sale with DPR and NBB's landloard, our Realtor said he'd help us do up the paperwork and make sure everything is in order, for free.

  • One of my co-worker's husbands is an architect, and is brimming with tips, contacts and ideas for us four potential homebuilders. A warm belly full of tapas and wine is our only fee.

I have no doubts that as our adventure progresses, more helpful folk will emerge.

Just where is this "woodwork" that these helpful people are coming from? I want to visit there. It sounds like a nice, pleasant place, with peppermint trees, lemonade springs, and hens that lay soft-boiled eggs.

Oh wait, that's Big Rock Candy Mountain. I like that place too.