Living in Vancouver with a dog, child and another one on the way, we knew that renting a bigger space would be a challenge. The rental vacancies are extremely competitive and even if you secure a place there’s a chance that you might lose it with your landlord cashing in on the hot real estate market. It was time to settle down and create some roots here.
A lot of people say that when you buy a house you’ll just know “it’s the one”. That wasn’t really the case with this house. Everything about it was old. The carpets were stained at the house and a weird funk to it. I spent about 10 minutes in there before I had to leave. My impression of the house? “It has potential.” Even in its fixer upper state, we still had to deal with 8 other people bidding on the house, but we finally lucked out.
I knew this was going to be a big job. Nothing had been updated since it was built, including appliances. There wasn’t a room that wouldn’t involve some sort of work. Asbestos was abated, carpets were immediately ripped out and replaced with wood flooring and we were waiting on permits to tear down the walls. We love the open concept look and the kitchen layout wasn’t functional with its small space and my (ahem) large collection of kitchen wares.
One thing I learned about this process is that it’s a very slow one. We’re still undergoing renos and won’t be completely done until next year (at least I hope). Finding a contractor was difficult with many of them booked months in advance.
This was our set up for awhile: No stove, no sink on the main floor (later we got a temporary laundry tub put in and it made a world of difference), no microwave. Easiest thing to live without? Microwave. Even after the kitchen was complete we didn’t get one for another few months. Hardest thing to live without? Kitchen sink. I’d have to wash all the dishes upstairs, pregnant.
To get our open concept kitchen we needed a permit to bring down walls and that took 4 weeks. Without the permit, no major work could be done. Even the flooring on the main level couldn’t be done because the wall had to come down first. Looking back, I’m amazed how we lived through this. During this time the most valuable assets were the toaster oven (roast chicken!) and the grill.