Pimp my house

Photo by entheos_fog

Photo by entheos_fog

Vancouverites, you’ll have to help me out with this – this isn’t a phenomenon I saw much of growing up across Canada. Like, maybe once. Now it’s everywhere. People jacking up houses, entirely renovating the old structure into something new, and usually something with a basement suite to rent out.

I think the first one I saw was around 5 years ago on Elgin street and it kind of blew my mind. They weren’t just adding a new basement foundation, they were creating a whole new ground floor – and that’s a considerable amount of lifting, compared to propping up a house, maybe jacking it a couple of extra feet to allow bigger basement windows. It wasn’t until I saw the final result that I saw the point was to create one suite upstairs, and another suite downstairs that is almost as attractive as the upstairs as it is more a walk-in suite than a basement suite.

Now I’m seeing this everywhere. Is it zoning, as in it’s harder to get a new design approved for areas, but a literal gutting of a house, while retaining the original shape is ok? Or is it a cost thing? Is it cheaper to retain the frame of a house, than to tear it all down and start from scratch? Or a combo of the two?

I will have to look into this more, but I have to share this picture of what it my favourite reno job to date, happening on my street;

Photo by castewar

Photo by castewar


The house is almost done now, but imagine with me; take the right side of the building, as you see it. That’s the original house – the left is a mirror image of the right that didn’t originally exist. Instead it was some asymmetrical, narrower portion of the house. This whole house was jacked up, the ugly left cut off, a new basement poured, and then the right was mirrored, leaving a duplex with a basement suite. It is ingenious.

Anybody else seen any good renos in Vancouver lately?

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