Building Our Dream Home, Part 1

In the summer of 2009, my husband Jay convinced me to pack up our belongings, our daughter, and our lives, and move from Toronto to Vancouver. It took a lot of convincing on his part to get this to happen – I was totally against moving to the West Coast – I was a ‘City Girl’. Toronto was a happening place – amazing restaurants, shopping, nightlife – and only a short plane ride away from New York City! This was supposed to be our life, not some hippie granola-munching yoga-pants-wearing sloooow lifestyle that I’d heard happened out in Vancouver.  But I digress, he convinced me, and in October of 2009 I found myself in Vancouver. And thereafter fell deeply, madly, in love with it.


The fresh air, the mountains, the ocean, it was intensely beautiful. Overgrown trees, beautiful flowers, and even palm trees were seen on a daily basis. The weather was so gorgeous (when it wasn’t raining!), and I even welcomed the rain into my life by trading in my Tory Burch pony-hair flats for a bright red pair of Hunter rain boots.

We quickly discovered that the only real draw-back to moving from Toronto to Vancouver would be the real estate market. The cost of living is a little more expensive here, but the real estate can double or triple in price depending on the area. It was a bit shocking to us, considering we had just sold a place in Toronto and were hoping to put a down payment on a home out here. C’est impossible!

What we wanted and what we could afford were quite different realities, and anything we could afford would either need a total renovation or wasn’t in the right location. Jay always had dreams of building his own house, he is not one that’s happy with a builder’s finishings, he likes to make things custom to his own designs, which leads to the problem of ‘settling’ for a home that wasn’t quite what we wanted and was out of our price range anyway.


Then one day, sometime in 2010, Jay comes home and tells me about a ‘building lot’. I listened to what he had to say, but I hesitated to agree with him. We had purchased a lot back in Ontario and lost our deposit on it after realising that the project was too far out of our reach to complete. Building a home sounds like a wonderful dream come true, but when faced with a steep, tree-filled landscape (that is 40 minutes away from Vancouver, in the middle of nowhere) you really have no idea where to begin! And I need to see things before I can understand them, whereas Jay is a visionary and gets frustrated when others can’t see what he sees (in his head, mind you….).

One year after we moved to the West Coast, we had purchased a piece of land and moved from the city of Vancouver to a small mountain town, almost an hour north of the city, and set about our plans to build a home.


After much prep work to the lot (dynamite! diggers! might machines!) we finally had a flat building area on our lot. Foundations were made, concrete was poured and steel posts and beams were put in. Very slowly, over the course of a few months, our building lot went from overgrown and forested to build-able and then, built upon!


I admit, this process is exciting and frustrating at once! It is so awesome to watch things come together – from our first drawings, to our silly computer renderings (on an hgtv program, no less!), to all of our saved pictures and ideas, and then the real architect drawings – and to see it come to life is just amazing…. And frustrating that everything seems to take so slow, and requires a million details. And terrifying – what if it goes wrong? What if we did something wrong in the drawings?


Thankfully so far everything seems to be going to plan, other than a few hiccups here and there. And to add to the project I got pregnant and had a baby along the way – so it’s safe to say that things have been pretty exciting in our family for the past couple of years! The home building process is intense but the end result is so satisfying, and I can’t wait to show you more of our home build along the way!

Read Part 2 and Part 3

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17 thoughts on “Building Our Dream Home, Part 1

    1. Well that was what I *thought* Vancouver was like BEFORE I moved there. Is it like that? Sure, there’s SOME people that totally fit that description, but not everyone 😉

  1. It looks like a beautiful lot! I love the rocks in the back. It’s very cool that you get to design the home the way you want it, and the finished product will be more than worth all the hard work! Can’t wait to see it when it’s finished!

    1. The rock in the back is actually a huge piece of granite, our back wall will also be glass so it will have this amazing “art piece” of granite behind us – I am very excited for it all to be done so we can move in! But even though we “designed the home we wanted” I was surprised how many things we weren’t allowed to do – like a spiral staircase!