Thursday, July 21, 2011

Restoration project

Only in the back alleys of Dunbar can you find 10 year old yellow stalk bamboo for free. As we were taking friends of ours on a tour through the neighbourhood that is exactly what we stumbled across, not 5 minutes from our home. Similar to what we did in the winter when we began collecting furniture for our new home, now we are on the prowl for plants and shrubs and have begun stashing our finds in the backyard in anticipation of getting them into the ground. 

Since October last year when the demolition began Barb and Roger have suffered through being sandwiched by two cavernous pits of dirt. One would become our home and the other would carry all our water, sewage and gas pipes to the street. All the while, not only did their gardens take a beating but their home did too. Once we moved in a couple of weeks ago now, we knew that (even though the garden was crying out for attention) the next big thing that needed to happen was a major paint job on their house.

Now first let me remind you of how it looked back in October.

Presto, chango, look at it now!

Steven makes his mark in the wet paint.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Garage Sale!

Yes, we've alluded to it in posts past. The time has come to officially sell off and give away as much of our things as possible. Will you be the lucky one to purchase our wardrobe? Interested in a never used vanity sink? What about an incredible assortment of photography equipment? Well, if you're curious we'll be hosting a garage sale this Saturday July 9th from 9:30am to 2:30pm. You know the place - 3595 West 23rd Ave.

Now we're also interested in some trades (or donations). We are desperately looking for blinds for our windows. Preferably white and ideally wide. Got any that you want to get rid of? We'd be delighted to take them off your hands.

See you this weekend!

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

We're in!

We are now eating and sleeping in our home. In fact, as I write this blog I’m sitting in my living room surrounding by a canopy of green trees as far as the eye can see.

Last week our home was inspected and reviewed to make sure that it met code and was safe to inhabit. The interiors got a green light which was a great relief considering all of the sweat blood and tears both we and Smallworks put into the place leading up to the review.

We started moving in almost immediately, carrying dishes and utensils across the 16 foot distance from our basement rental suite and our new home. We then christened the space with a party and close friends. It’s hard to believe, but it’s been over a year since Brendon and I started this journey and we can’t close this chapter without first acknowledging everyone that has supported us along the way. 

Barb and Roger – There are not many people that would have done what you guys did for us. In fact, I don’t know any. You’ve lived through having your front and backyard uprooted, unmet deadlines, challenging budgets, a stressed out couple and an endless assortment of crazy city rules and regulations. And yet, you have always only offered support, kindness and (at times) an intense commitment to negotiating the best possible deals for us. We are lucky to have you in our lives and honoured to call you family.  

Erin – The sister with the mister. You took a risk and put your finances on the line to make this project happen. And then from caulking to painting you rolled up your sleeves to help us even while your final exams for medical school loomed. As Brendon would say, “You’re a big sis to admire.”  Our/your bathroom is always open to you.  

Ron and Paulette – Dad thank you for being the devil’s advocate and helping me see every single possible configuration of disaster that could befall me as a result of this highly unusual arrangement. You helped Brendon and I talk through and negotiate some tricky financial discussions. And to mom for believing that we could do this and reminding me that I come from a lineage of home builders and DIYers. You gave me the confidence to keep going when the gap between what I knew vs what I had to do seemed insurmountable.
Friends – You were the reason we set up this blog. So many of you live far away from us and we missed not being able to share this experience with you in person. This online diary became a way for us to stay connected to you all. Yes – we periodically had to remove a few unsavory comments from our closest friends who some how forgot that discussions about lubricants on the same site that my boss and grandparents were reading was not appropriate. But for the most part you guys reminded us why we took on this crazy project in the first place. You are all people that believe in challenging the status quo, and working to make this world a better place. We are lucky to call you our friends.

Smallworks – We picked you because we liked you as people. Yes, we loved your homes, and yes we were impressed by your knowledge of environmental design. But really Brendon and I chose your company because we enjoyed your company. Now as all good business relationships go, we were not without our differences, but on a project so complex and complicated we feel lucky to wrap up our contract not only with a beautiful home but a warm friendship. Kate and Jake – you are superstars, patiently guiding us through this home building process accommodating our novice questions and applauding our early successes. You are changing the landscape of the city…for the better. Brent, Brian and John – from building to our bank accounts, you kept this project rolling.

Neighbours – When you move into a neighbourhood you usually do so because you like it just the way it is. If you live in a place long enough, you not only see people come and go but the physical shape and nature of the community change as well. We know that the construction of our home hasn’t always been easy on you and you’ll probably be very happy to never hear a tile saw in your life again. The saying goes that ‘fences make good neighbours’ yet we’ve been without a fence since October 2010 and it was only when that barrier came down that we got to know you. Thank you for sharing our journey with us and for all of the warm advice and support you offered on your dog walks, exercise runs or evening strolls down our shared lane. I look forward to many more conversations to come.

Readers  - When I told my mom that we had readers from as far away as Malaysia, she couldn’t believe it. To tell you the truth, neither could I. I still can’t figure out why so many of you from Ireland read our blog. The fact that our story has been followed by people in over 40 countries has literally meant the world to us. You all were on my mind every time I sat down to write an update. You reminded me that there was something universal to our story. That other young couples are struggling to find a home to call their own. That this resurgence of DIYing reaches beyond borders.  And that a call for innovative environmental solutions is not only compelling but critical as well.

And as all good speeches end…thank you to the Academy.  

Much love,

Akua and Brendon

Steven gets comfortable on the sill. 

 [sigh] our finished bathroom...

P.S. For those of you that think that’s it, we’re done and we’ll be shutting down our blog, you can breath a sigh of relief ;) We still have a huge project to landscape the front and back yard. Our goal here is to create a space filled with native species, fruit bearing plants and trees and a sanctuary for birds and bees. We’ll be learning how to do this along with you all so we are looking forward to sharing the process. If it's time for you to sign off and say goodbye - then a warm "Sayonara".