Dec 21, 2009

Chapter 1: Giddy jumpy claps! We got the house!

So cute, non?

Hubby Jason and I had been scouring the Calgary listings for weeks after we found out he was transferred to Calgary. We found this little gem of a house and contacted a real estate agent when we arrived for a week visit prior to our move.

The house is situated at the end of a quiet street in a sleepy little suburban area of southwestern Calgary in the Shaganappi neighbourhood - a 5 minute drive from downtown. There is nothing cool about the neighbourhood but we liked it because it is close to a main road with coffee shops and grocery stores and is nearby to a community centre and a school. It is also close to downtown where Jason will be working. We currently live in a condo in downtown Vancouver: a 5 minute walk to Jason's work and 10 for me. So a short commute was a BIG. DEAL for us.

We fell in love on our first sighting and made an offer. After some haggling, the house was ours.

What we love about the house is that it is in near original condition. I am a heritage consultant and have spent years providing advice and plans for the restoration of heritage houses and buildings across western Canada. But, I have yet to dig into my own project. The fact that this house has barely been touched is an important quality in any house we buy. Modern renovations tend to ignore (read: gut) elements that define the character of a house in favour of new, modern, luxurious. We wanted to be able to view these features in their original context and decide for ourselves what contributed to its original personality. Enhancing where required and replacing where necessary.

So, our goals for the house are as follows:

1. To assess and restore where possible, the elements that define the heritage character of the house.
2. To renew elements that are beyond repair to an era that both respects its mid century roots and incorporates modern elements that bring the house into a modern context
3. Repair systems that are failing or are not energy efficient in the most green manner possible
4. To do all of this within a modest budget that does not result in divorce. ha.

As part of the program, we intend to replace the roof and garage roof, add new green insulation, repair and seal the foundation, upgrade the plumbing and electrical.

We will restore existing elements that define the house by:
  • painting the exterior in traditional mid century modern (hereafter MCM - I'm lazy) colours
  • painting the interior in modern but sympathetic colours (MCM interior colours are a bit over the top for my taste - turquoise and pink flamingo anyone?)
  • restoring all interior teak trim and oak flooring
  • restoring pink and white bathroom fixtures - yes indeedy, we're keeping the pink toilet/tub
  • replacing bathroom tile with new sympathetic
  • changing out all lighting and switchplates to modern
  • refinishing kitchen cupboards and adding new modern hardware
  • new flooring in kitchen (it's gross yellow linoleum)
  • new energy efficient appliances
  • repairing wood windows
  • landscaping

We take possession in February. In the meantime, hubby and I will crack open our 2004, Black and Decker Complete Photo Guide to Home Renovation*, figure out how to use that drill that's been collecting dust in our storage and start packing!


*This book is hilarious. It starts with an introduction of how to use basic tools - ie. hammer, screwdriver, etc then by Chapter 6 your rewiring your house and replacing your roof. Sure. I'll get right on it.