Five and a half acres of woods and rock in Pemberton, British Columbia. 2021 • 2020 • 2019 • 2018 • 2017 • 2016
The final inspection has passed. Remaining work to fix small issues and finish the shop and outdoor spaces is rapidly being nailed down. We have been able to start to relax and enjoy the outcome of the past 5 years of effort. Just in time for the holidays.
So many of the simple pleasures we’ve imagined over the years and made decisions based around are now tangible. It feels miraculous to arrive after the drive up, or wake up in the morning, or return from a walk, and find this place that we’ve inhabited in our minds and in our architect’s renderings and contractor’s blueprints – solid and real.
We are immensely lucky and feel so fortunate to get to spend the rest of our lives building memories in this place together.
Sometimes people ask us about our experience – either out of curiosity or practical interest if they’re undertaking their own project. We gush about the positives, but the reality of a project of this scope is that there are a lot of challenges too. Costs overrun, deadlines missed (the house was originally targeted for December 2019), messed up orders, insufficient specs, and just plain old human error.
As we wrap up I was thinking back on some of these and wanted to collect them here for shits and giggles.
- The time the wood treatment company stained our entire order of 3,000 board feet of lumber the wrong colour, setting back siding installation by 6 months.
- The window installer who had to come back 4 times to get the framing square.
- When the lighting company sent our bedside table lamps without bases.
- The mis-measured corner window that left a 2” gap into the living room.
- The uninsulated section of flooring that made our pantry an unintended sauna.
- The mis-poured concrete step that collects a puddle at the front entry.
- Unexpected heat exhaust from the pool plumbing requiring a whole added layer of insulation in the crawlspace.
- The beautifully invisible drains in the showers ... that don’t drain fast enough so water pools around your toes.
- A freezer that came with a broken water filter (so no ice making), and then the replacement sent to the local post office (with no notice) which then went back to the manufacturer in New Zealand after not being picked up. We still don’t have ice in the freezer.
- When the pool guy closed up the pool but didn’t turn off the heat, draining an entire tank of propane in a few weeks as winter set in with subzero temperatures.
These have all been addressed and figured out, of course. The team working on the house has been a dream to work with and our contractor and architect have been incredible partners every step of the way. You’ve just gotta shake your head sometimes and carry on.
A while back I decided to build our dining table with my Dad. Over the summer we did that, and this past weekend we got to use the finished product.
Final construction detailing continues, but we’ve had our furniture delivered and are starting to bring some of our things into the space.
Fall is almost here – though it’s still 30°C during the day in Pemberton (10°C at night). We took a trip up to site to meet with the landscapers. All the earth and stonework is done so now it’s time to plant so everything comes up nice in the spring. We are putting gardens in around the pool deck, at the front entry, and on the north slope above the house. We are also putting in a grassy meadow down near the road for the kids to throw a ball.
We’ve decided to plant a few shade trees beside the meadow for a break from the sun – likely a small oak grove that will grow slowly over the next 100 years for our grandkid’s kids (or maybe their kids) to sit under.
While on site we also got an up-close look at all the finishing that’s coming along.
Millwork is installed. Mirrors are in. Countertops on the way. Lighting going in. Plumbing and appliances going in. Metal trellis above outdoor fire/hot tub area being fabricated.
I continue to absolutely love the material details as they come together. The minimal palette and superb workmanship make everything feel absolutely incredible. Understated and practical, but supremely well made.
Fingers crossed for Thanksgiving.
We are beginning to consider post-pandemic get-togethers where we may need extra sleeping space.
We’ve fantasized about Airstream trailers (they’re beautiful and my family has history with the brand – my Poppa on my Mom’s side was the first Airstream dealer in Canada in the 60s) and may go that route at some point. But one of the more compelling immediate options is to build a small bunkie in the woods above the shop.
Our architect Michael Leckie also created the Backcountry Hut Company. The company designs and builds modular pre-fab huts for remote installs. Their System 00 is a modern A-frame with a 10x10 footprint (read: no permit required) that can provide extra sleeping space or a getaway from the group.
While we’ve got our builder on site we may end up popping one of these in the back woods (X’s) for adventurous guests:
Architizer award finalist
Our house has been nominated as a finalist for the 2020 Architizer awards in the category of private homes under 3000 sq. ft. The exciting bit of this news is that we got some incredible renders of the project for the submission.
Our recent visits have given us a glimpse of what a carefree summer in Pemberton will feel like. Hot sun, wildflowers, cherry trees, and everything lush and alive.
The siding is on! The pool is complete. The tile is in. The millwork and cabinets are being installed. We have a garage full of furniture ready to move in.
Best of all, we’ve been swimming. 😀
Just a little longer! We are told September. Which is a month in the year 2020. Which is something.
It’s been nearly 2 years since we broke ground on site in June 2018. The team is hard at it trying to get everything done so we can enjoy some of the heat of the summer in our new pool. Speaking of which...
The pool tile, plumbing, lighting, and cover are complete! The hot tub is close behind, with the top-coat of concrete poured and tile going in. Next up to complete the “outdoor experience” are the fireplace, trellis, and deck around the hot tub.
Meanwhile, hard landscaping continues in front of and behind the house, and on the west side of the shop.
Our long-delayed siding installation is also finally ready to go. Below you can see the detail work to install flashing along the “holy line” – a horizontal metal detail that extends around the house, aligning the tops of windows and sections of lower volumes along the roofline. This line is also carried into the house and matches the height of the lower level dropped ceiling in the dining room and the tops of the cabinetry and doorway in the kitchen. Somewhat hard to describe in writing but brilliant to experience in person. This also helps break up the tall verticals of the siding so they don’t read as industrial.
It’s these kind of details that make the difference in a modernist home. We are so excited to see the house with the siding on and these details fully revealed.
The holy line
Siding brushed, stained, and ready
Inside the house, finishing work is well underway. The corner windows have come together beautifully.
The tile in the bathrooms and laundry is nearing completion.
Master bathroom shower
Many of the tiny details of the fit and finish of the house are also becoming clear as we get closer to completion. A few favourites are the custom routered MDF ventilation grilles and the flush door track for the slider on the media room. The attention to detail on these things and the resulting feeling of minimalism and solidity are absolutely incredible.
All the ventilation grilles are CNC-machined into MDF, painted and mounted flush with the drywall to eliminate “wall acne” and unnecessary plates.
The 12’ Oak slider door in the hallway on to the media room is mounted to a metal track in the ceiling for smooth opening.
Finally, the hearth and fireplace in the living room are being finished with the concrete fluted tiles being installed a couple weeks ago.
Flesh on the bones
We have drywall and paint. After years of looking at renderings, and months of walking through the framed suggestions of rooms, we now have painted walls that give us the feeling of the final product. It’s a really exciting step and an incredible thing to see all the work along the way arrive at spaces we can stand in.
The site-measured wooden doorframes and fireplace hearth are also in. Next step is the hardwood flooring on the upper level – kitchen, dining and living room will have a polished concrete floor. Then millwork installation: cabinets, built-ins in the library and living room, and wall panels behind the wood stove. Meanwhile the exterior siding can go on, and the corner windows will be installed.
As the walls go up we get a first look at how the light fills the spaces. The clerestory windows are paying off: lots of magical moments as the sun moves across the house.
We have a pool deck. The crew had been working hard to get the deck poured before the first frost in early winter, but it wasn’t meant to be. To continue work we installed a tent over the pool deck. This allowed the team to frame and pour the concrete so that we can have a pool this summer. It’s looking fantastic, with slot drains outlining the pool (rather than circular or square drains dotting the deck) and plastered steps ready for tile.
We are getting closer day by day to having our home. We can wait.