In March 2010, Nic and Stef bought some land in Pemberton. And in October 2011 they found they were expecting a baby. Now they just have to build a house... and a home!

Monday, March 29, 2010

Grand designs

There has been much head-scratching, dreaming and searching of web-based house designs, but Stef has come up with a home exterior we like, and I have roughed in where the rooms should go. Suddenly, after weeks of “no, not like that, um, no not like that either” we have miraculously what seems to be a workable design of the right shape and size and number of rooms. This is astounding. Designing a house is truly more difficult than you think it will be. You start thinking “well, I’ll start with the footprint I want, so that the house gets the best views and sun exposure and we still have a good-sized garden, and I’ll work up”. Then you get to the top and find it’s impossible to put a sensible roofline on the thing that doesn’t funnel all the snow at your front door or block half of the upstairs rooms with roof or come to a valley in the middle that will only leak. So you think, “okay, I’ll start with the roof and work my way down!”, only to find that the only bit big enough for a garage is at the back of the house on the other side from the driveway, and there’s nowhere to put the stairs. We want this thing to be green. But do you design the house and then adapt it to be eco-friendly? Or do you need to know about eco-friendly modifications before you design it?

So we now have a somewhat workable design but still lots of questions about whether it’s actually buildable. Stef has been banging his head against a bit of software for house design that is in equal parts amazing and useless (SketchUp, which he downloaded off the Google ‘even more’ page, does very fancy things, but somehow never does exactly what you want it to do). After an extensive period of time doing this (which we won’t admit to), we have given up and admitted that we need help (which we should have done from the beginning). Stef has found a designer (via yellow pages) called James Hall whose stuff we like, who comes pretty cheap, and who is available. Most of all Stef gets along with him… seems to me the most important thing in a designer is that you can talk to each other, understand each other, and basically get along. Onwards, ever onwards.

Friday, March 19, 2010

We own land!

The clock hands tick past some invisible magic moment and we are, have become, officially land owners. It felt more real on the 17th, with all the paperwork, but we decide to celebrate this invisible landmark too. We grab a bottle of champagne that has been waiting in our fridge, pack some bags, grab our skiis, and set out for a moonlit tour to a remote cabin in the woods. After a 3-hour ski, my legs jelly, we arrive to find 20 other people already packed into a sleeps-15 hut that we had expected to be empty (apparently it’s spring break for some nearby universities or something), and make a fabulous dinner of Kraft cheese and mac (with veggies, so it’s pretty special) on the camp stove. We scrape burnt bits off the bottom of the pot and pop open the bottle of champagne (feeling slightly self conscious… being packed shoulder to shoulder with 20 other people and not quite having enough to go around). We own land!

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Signed and sealed

Having done nothing seemingly nothing for a few weeks, today we drive in to Whistler (25 minutes away) to spend the big bucks and sign our names to the final papers. The bank mysteriously allows us to shuffle $200,000 from our accounts into the seller’s account WITHOUT SEEING ANY ID. Isn’t that weird? I mean we had to enter our PIN into the bank machine in order to complete the transaction, but still. We didn’t even have to sign anything I don’t think (or did I? It's a blurr). I snap a photo of the bank teller. She loves Pemberton, she says – we’ll have to invite her to our first BBQ.

Then it’s on to see Peter at his offices. He is strangely chatty for a lawyer, asking us about our wedding (we didn’t have one) and other oddly personal questions, till the penny drops – he wants our business for immigration (don’t need one; my British hubby is legally a permanent resident thanks to my love for him, oh and our filling in a gazillion forms, getting police clearances, fingerprinting, medical exams, and holding our breath for a year), and – yipes - for wills. Seems premature. How dangerous IS building a house? He reminds us to take out insurance – if someone trips on a rock on that property they could technically sue us now.