The independence moving to lane house.
Though Vancouver is fast gaining the status of being the ‘greenest ‘city in the world, especially with the institution of its ‘laneway housing’ policy, many of its residents still find it hard to wrap their minds around the stigma of living among garbage cans and garages.
A Laneway house is defined as a home typically built on pre-existing lots, usually the backyard and opening into back lanes. This form if housing is gaining popularity in the east coast of Canada, especially in the Metro Vancouver area. Amidst the call for dissolution of this rezoning policy of transforming single-family neighborhoods by dissenters who call this system the ‘laneway lunacy’, it looks like laneway housing is here to stay. The benefits of laneway houses are projected as:
1. A means to provide housing for aging family members, adult children, caregivers, and home owners wanting to downsize.
2. A means to provide more choice of housing types in single-family residential neighborhoods.
3. A means to contribute to the rental accommodation in the city.
4. A means to support sustainability by providing residents the opportunity to live in the city, close to jobs services and transit.
Most importantly, laneway housing complies with the ‘Green Homes’ program, with loans and grants provided for energy efficient upgrades that minimize energy consumption by as much as 40%, which in turn results in the greenhouse gas emissions by 33% – go green; save your environment!
Jimmy and Belle lived in his parents’ basement for almost a decade after their marriage. Now that they’d had a daughter, it was time to make a move toward more independence. Trudging about for more than a year looking for a place that they liked, on a budget of less than $8,00,000, they soon discovered that finding something suitable was an impossible challenge – he was stubborn, she was picky; he needed a home office, she needed a large kitchen as she’s a baking instructor. Nothing seemed to fit in their budget, and they weren’t satisfi
ed with the slap-dash construction they were too often confronted with. With their budget constraint, finding the ideal option seemed unreachable.
Giving in, seeing as there wasn’t a better solution, Jimmy decided to scrunch down on his bias and bow down to building their ideal home in his parents’ backyard. It proved to have advantages way beyond his expectations, not least because his mother continues to cook for everyone on weeknights, their two-bedroom 1050-sq-ft laneway house is sleek and energy efficient, custom-designed to meet their needs. And the building cost them less than $5,00,000, as they didn’t have to buy a piece of land to build on – so a college tuition fund for their daughter and a more fluid income is now a reality.
As carrying a large mortgage is no fun at all, they opted for fewer rooms with larger spaces – they sacrificed a dining room for a large kitchen, and the house is super-insulated with 13-inch walls and glazed double-pane windows that reduces heat loss in winter and protects from heat gain in summer. Along with a solar array on the roof, there are months when their energy consumption is virtually a net zero. In winter, their energy costs run a little more than $80 is all!
The need of Window Coverings.
As far as windows go, they had large pane sliding glass doors and windows fitted, and since the house fronts to the back lane privacy was a huge consideration, and their search for attractive window coverings ended with them zeroing in on blinds. The more commonly used window covering are Blinds in Vancouver metro area, for their features that provide privacy and great fit for most windows. When Belle enquired with her friends they also confirmed blinds in Vancouver is a popularly used window coverings. Now the consideration was whether to get the sleek and immensely sophisticated wood blinds or faux wood blinds. They decided to go the middle route and settled for something called 2 1/2 inch Traditions composite blinds, which are practically half the cost of real wood blinds while appearing just like them, with a few added advantages to boot! 2.5 inch Traditions composite blinds combine the luxuriousness of North American basswood and extruded liquid polymers mixed with wood particles, covered by a vinyl sleeve, which allows them to withstand highly humid conditions and prolonged exposure to sunlight without getting discolored or warped – in other words, durable. They can also be totally submerged in water, should heavy cleaning be required.
Traditions composite blinds ensure thermal resistance up to 130 degrees Fahrenheit, so they will definitely stand up to the scorching Canadian summer sun; they are engineered with color-fast compounds that prevent them from fading and discoloration; they provide complete privacy and room darkness when the slats are tilted closed. And being constructed out of composite material, they provide wonderful insulation when hung close to glass panes, within window cornices and door frames. Importantly, in keeping with their green home, they opted for the blinds with automated slat controls and a timer, so that they could go about their day without having to think about when to open the vanes, at what angle to optimize on interior lighting, interior warmth, and coolness in summer. And the critical consideration for the couple was that, should they have to vacate the premises (seeing as the economy is so shaky), they could leave the blinds behind as a value-add if at any point they needed to rent the place out – after all, the parents’ basement still holds good as a backup! But we wish them ‘kudos’, and hope now that King Abdulla 2 of Saudi Arabia has raised oil prices, the dire predictions of Canada’s imminent recession will soon be so much water under the bridge!