Vernon House

Plan F

The Vancouver house is sold! The new owners take possession on October 15. We can move forward with the Vernon house project. YAY!

We drive from the cottage to Vernon to meet with our builder, Albert, to discuss the drawings, plans, contract, etc for the house we bought in 2017. That meeting is in the afternoon, following a quick Earl’s lunch. 

In the morning we meet at the now empty house – the tenant is still cleaning when we arrive – with Melissa, the designer that Albert recommended. She is very low key. Does not give much indication of what she thinks of the house. Although she also makes some good suggestions right off the bat and seems to get our aesthetic.  

From reading Joanna Gaine’s book, we have labels for our style. Bev is a rustic minimalist and a colourful industrialist combined. Craig is unlabelable, as it turns out. But he has a lot of ideas.

After lunch, back at the house with Albert, our Dutch builder and Anne, his Japanese wife and business manager, we go through the rooms, talking about the major issues. Flooring, windows, added insulation, removing the stucco, which he recommends. Both discourage us from keeping the wood floors. Mostly because of a squeak we have not even noticed. 

In the basement we talk about loads. On the top floor about the roof. Not much of the existing roof can be saved. Albert has built some of this into the budget already. 

Craig is getting agitated. I can tell by looking at him. He wants to save as much as possible, including the stained, grey porcelain kitchen sink, which Melissa puts a halt to, saying it is worth the cost to get a new, undercounter, clean, practical sink. Everytime something gets axed and thrown in the metaphorical dumpster, Craig gets more agitated. 

He steps directly into what may or may not have been a trap cleverly laid by Albert, saying “it’s like we’re replacing the entire house?!”

Alberta does not jump in too soon, giving away what may or may not be his bias. He quietly says that the engineers who’ve looked at the project wonder why we are not tearing down the house and building from scratch. 

Neither Craig nor I see this coming. At all. We are momentarily speechless. Then we crack a few jokes about needing to have a drink. Everybody laughs. 

I look at Albert directly when I ask him his opinion. “What do you think we should do, Albert? As an experienced builder what would you recommend?” 


We’ve been here before. E 14th. Craig wanted to renovate a crumbling bungalow. Eric, the builder, and I put at stop to that nonsense and we built a four-plex, after tearing down the bungalow. E 2nd. Craig wanted to do minimal renovations to the existing house. Mila and I ganged up on him and we did a complete rebuild.

So that is what we are going to do. Possibly save the foundation. Gut everything else. Build new on top of the existing basement. Craig is apoplectic. I am calm but bewildered. I see the wisdom in Albert’s proposal. But it feels overwhelming. And I don’t feel like arguing with Craig about it.

We head back to the cottage to digest all that Albert has told us and eventually we both calm down and accept the new reality. We will build anew.

But first we will live in the house. (Craig’s idea, not mine. I was abhorrent at first. But, starting on October 15, I will be sipping my morning java in Vernon.) See what the space is like and how we’d like to change it. Because if we rebuild we are not limited by what is there now. We can reimagine the entire house. Easier said than done, however.

Turns out we’ve been working with the renovation plans for so long that we cannot imagine a different floor plan. But we know we should try. And we should start by living in the house as it is, work on the cabana and rethink the floor plans. 

We invite you to come and visit. Experience the before. Give us some feedback. Be part of the project. We will be at the corner of 20th St and 37th Ave. Just up the hill from Pleasant Valley Road. 3605 20th St.,-119.3513847,12z

And, if you are interested, you can follow along. I’ll be narrating the experience here as the Vernon house journey progresses. An odyssey in every way.

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