Monday, November 22, 2010

5 days in 2 minutes

Here we go! Watch our house go up!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Up, up, up and away!

On Monday this week Smallworks began putting together our home. Brendon has been capturing the whole thing by setting up his camera to take a photo every 3 0seconds. This weekend you'll be able to see a short movie of how it all came together but for now here's a preview of all that's happened in the last four days.

We are really excited and are loving how it is coming together. It feels bright, spacious and totally contemporary! Yeh Smallworks! We love it!

Monday, November 15, 2010

A buffet of weekend thoughts

Very often over the last few months I have wished that there was some sort of gadget that could transcribe directly from my thoughts to this blog. Something like the Vulcan mind reader would do the trick. I often sound better in my head – more articulate, funny and insightful somehow. Somewhere between my flashes of inspiration and the late nights when I put in the time to transcribe the story of the day, I lose something and I end up with a hodge podge of ideas.

This one is no different. In fact, I’m warning you in advance that I sound a little like an excited four year old recounting a story about their day. That won’t stop me though so here I go.

This morning, Brendon and I were on the ferry back home from the rainy Sunshine Coast. I organized a weekend away at a resort to celebrate Brendon’s 34th birthday. It was a much needed respite for both of us. We spent time mountain biking, eating great food and playing with our iphones at the dinner table. (I’ve gotten exceptionally good at the cribbage and scrabble apps.) The point of the trip was to distance ourselves from the stresses of home building and financing yet much of our conversation and activities revolved around the imminent home.

Upon our arrival on the coast, we took a scenic route to our destination and from the road couldn’t help notice a beautiful small home perched up on a hill. Brendon pulled the car off the road and we scrambled up the driveway to get a better look. There we met John Gillespie, the excited owner of the 750 square foot new home. He was more than happy to show us around and share his thoughts on modular small homes. His is a beautiful space on a gorgeous plot of land. The home is an experiment he’s working on to see if he and his partner can build something green, modern and affordable. They’ve got some green, a lot of modern and they are slowly chipping away at the price although it’s doubtful that they’ll be able to get it much lower than $250K with labour, materials and permits.

Friday, before we left, I took a trip to Smallworks with Barbara and Roger to see our home. It was hanging from the rafters and since it will begin to be put up tomorrow, it was our last chance to see it in pieces. I took some classic pictures – one of Roger in ‘the bathroom’ and another of our first and second floor hanging in one long line together.


Saturday and Sunday felt like a true break from our city routine but we couldn’t turn off our interest in real estate and we found ourselves ‘mls’ing’ and commenting the designs of different homes and communities. While the trip was a well needed escape from the everyday, it is pretty clear that if there were to be a gadget that could read our minds and transcribe our thoughts – the story you’d get is one that is dominated by anything and everything to do with building small homes.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Our home in pieces and on paper

Smallworks has been working double duty on our house - laying down the foundation while in their shop they've been putting together the house. With a prefab home, the exteriors are built out off site and craned into place when ready. Brendon took a visit to the workshop and grabbed some awesome photos of our home coming together. The shots below show two exterior walls being built and insulated.

Bruce, our site manager, says that the exteriors will be ready to go up in a week. That means that the next time you'll see our walls they'll be holding together our home!

Friday, November 5, 2010

Another Dad pays a visit ...

About a month ago my dad called to say that he was considering coming to visit us in Vancouver. In my 32 years on the planet my father has never taken a 'side trip' to see me so I was immediately suspicious. I had visions of Ron reviewing our budget and revising our shared equity agreement. There are still three days left in his visit so I don't put it past him that he'll want to do that but so far it's really been special to have him around. Every daughter wants their dad's approval and I am definitely no different. While in previous postings I've painted Ron Schatz as a catastrophist, you'll see from his own words below that he's really a supportive, funny and insightful dad.

Ron Schatz speaks:
I arrived in Vancouver on 31 October after spending a few days in Saskatchewan reconnecting with family. I decided to maximize my Aeroplan miles and visit with Akua and the Purdy's. I arrived to find deep trenches and Stephen the cat acting a bit skittish as his familiar marking spots in the back yard have been removed.

The visit started with a tour of Vancouver's progressive housing and city planning initiatives. Akua, in her usual participatory style, asked me to accompany her to an interview with some occupants of social housing in Gas Town, a location that she is using for an urban housing class. We then set out on tour (on foot of course) in the West End. Her positive attitude and enthusiasm is quite infectious and I needed all of it as I somehow ended up carrying her fairly heavy bag along the way. At one point I had to hand it over after I slipped down an embankment near East Lagoon and found jeans covered in mud. Suddenly with the mud enhanced appearance I had this rapid affinity with the social environment. As we passed one fellow who kind of looked like an artist with a fair amount of hair stuffed into his head gear, he muttered "f'ing fagot" as we passed. Whether it was my smile or my appearance who knows, but we had a good laugh about that. Anyway back to the mini home.

If you appreciate construction sites as I do, then the mini home now emerging is a fascinating place to be these days. In order to create a fully functional house the effort over the past few days has been on basic water supply, drainage and sanitary systems by connecting and extending (and sometimes improving) the existing systems that serve the main house of Roger and Barbara. The mini home, while relatively small in footprint, has all the technical and construction features of a house much bigger in size. One thing stays the same, and even might be more important given the infill location, that is the need for excellent project management to keep the project on track. That is where Smallworks, the design and construction company comes in and they look to be doing an excellent job.

Bruce from Smallworks on the job.

So this is Vancouver, a place of innovation in housing, transport, environment and socially responsible initiative. It has always been thus as new ideas emerge in the West and move East.