The Journey Begins

Six days ago, we discovered the house that will become our first home.

We’d been browsing MLS casually for a couple of months.  We kept finding places saying “$180,000, As-Is” and “$170,000, needs work.”  This was blatant – they weren’t even trying to hide the fact that you were going to get a real mess on your hands for a lot of your hard-earned money.  It was depressing.

However, when we stumbled upon this house, we thought… maybe?

"As Advertised!"

The house was listed at a suitable price; you’ll come to understand why…  Take a look at the existing floorplan (You can see it in 3D at by clicking on the diagram and selecting “3D” in the top right corner of the page.):

3D Floorplan via

You can probably imagine how hopeless that layout is, based on the diagram, but wait until you see the pictures:

Click on a photo to see the album:

See inside...
Our House (Before)
Photo Album…

In our next post, we’ll talk about some of the ideas we have for this place!
Here’s a sneek preview: (FloorPlanner in 3D here…)

– D&S

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Updated Dimensions / New Designs!

Hi again everyone,

We’ve updated our floor plans based on the measurements we took this past week.  We were quite a bit off – not in total square footage, but in the length-to-width ratio.  (The house is narrower than we thought, but it also has an extra sliver on the right.)  So, here is the real lay of the land (Up is “East.”)  And yes, the stove IS still on the porch!

Original “As-Is” Floor Layout:
(to scale)

Click through to our album and see more 3D photos (newest at the bottom)!



Ok, so now… let’s see what we came up with, saving the best for last.  Don’t mind the furniture on the lawn…:


and now… the “winner” so far… “Design 2.”  You’ll notice the stairs to the attic (see photos), which I intend to be hinged and to double as a light fixture (when up) which folds down into a regular staircase / ladder like this…  We will hand swiveling lights between the rungs of staircase to make the staircase double as a light when the staircase is retracted towards the vaulated ceiling in the entryway.

Staircase Light

Lights hang between the rungs of the staircase to make the staircase serve as a light whenever the staircase is retracted towards the vaulted ceiling.

View from the South

View from the Street

Please Skype / phone / email us and let us know what you think!


Want to dream big?  Here’s a blank canvas with only the core structural walls remaining, and existing plumbing fixtures.


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Pre-Demolition & 3D Concept Videos

Good morning from Winnipeg!

Here are the long-anticipated Part 1 and Part 2 Pre-Demolition Videos, as well as a 3D concept video of the house.  Enjoy, and feel free to fast-forward through to see the parts you like.  Also, put on some music of your choice – the videos are silent for your viewing pleasure.


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Updated Design and Some Design Cues

Here are some updated floorplans – minor adjustments made based on your feedback. Also, we’ve put some photos of style cues we like up. Enjoy!

Current Floorplan 9 Feb

Current Floorplan 9 Feb

Our Design Ideas(Click on photo to see more!)
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2 Mar – Near-Finalized Floorplan

This is a near-finalized floorplan, subject to our interior designer’s approval!  We have spent countless hours rehashing things down to the inch!

Here’s how things are looking now:

  • We decided to eliminate the Attic development.
  • Front Closet
  • Front Room can serve as Living Room on Left or Right, either way you like!
  • Eliminated the (current) Awkward Bay Window
  • Side Door at the Front instead of French Doors; Big Window
  • Pellet Stove Below TV is an option
  • Bathroom is near to existing plumbing
  • Kitchen now fully Galley + Island
  • 2nd & 3rd Bedrooms Have Sloped Ceilings
  • Enclosed Laundry Machines.  We will need to run insulated plumbing for them.
  • Bench in Mudroom
  • Rear Mudroom Area Now Has A “Lid” for the stairway that adds floor space!
  • Flooring – Marmoleum, Diagonal Tile, and Hardwood
  • Large Soaker Tub with Armrests

(Note: If you had been looking at my old drawings, carefully check the scale.  In some drawings I had posted the scale bar was totally wrong. The house is, in reality, approximately 20’10” wide.)

2 Mar Post-Shelley

3D View

Check out this idea for the stairway to the basement:

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Hiding / Retracting Basement Stairs

Here’s a neat idea for a hiding or coverable basement/crawlspace hatch/floor door/trapdoor. (It might also be called retractable stairs or a hidden stairway). This kind of stairway gives you extra usable floor space when the stairs are folded down, and the stairs become a railing when they are open / up.

The stairs are power-assist using gas shocks like from a liftgate in a van/SUV/station wagon, or counterweights / springs.

(I am keeping this page as a reference in case people out there searching need the links.)

The basic idea is to have the floor on a piano hinge,  and open up to form a railing which prevents people from falling down the stairwell. (Two walls protect the other two sides of the stairwell. It seems like many manufacturers and designs ignore this obvious need!

The hatch needs to allow a code-compliant stairwell into a 5’8″-6′ crawlspace (3/4 basement.)

The biggest issues are what type of gas shocks to use to decrease the force required to open the hatch, and what type of materials to use for cost efficiency.

The two very best examples I have seen for basement access are here: – beautiful

Here are some more amazing cellar / basement access ideas!

Some videos:

Here are some more brain-candy ideas:

Commercial; not really what I am looking for:

Gas Shocks to use:

Pulls (Handles):,41427,41377

Good discussions:

Any tips or suggestions?

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5 Mar – Adding A Roof!

Hello everyone,

We had a great meeting with Chad Horril of Prestige Project Management yesterday.  He gave us a few key suggestions, and it made us change tracks a bit on our reno.  Here are the results:

  1. Instead of building a cement stairway outside the foundation, we’ll extend the original roofline fully to the rear end of the house.  This will improve its snow load capacity, and also improve the floor space, because all the ceilings will be the same height now.
    • This will significantly improve the house’s energy performance as well.
    • This will involve insulating/building up the northmost 2/3’rds of the floor in the back of the house to match the rest of the house.
    1. Instead of removing the bay window, we’ll keep it, and actually square off at its furthest extent, and include all of that floor space.  (Compare with the existing floor plan.)
    2. Plan on doing blown cellulose into the old/new attic and walls.
    3. Skipping the skylights.  Perhaps one Solatube in the bathroom, since it can also act as a vent, (unless the HRV will collect bathroom air???)
    4. There is now a legitimate bar seating area since we swapped the living room onto the south side.
    5. The basement stairs now occupy a spot very near or overlapping the existing hole.  🙂
    6. All plumbing is near to the original plumbing except the kitchen.
    7. As drawn, all windows are 3.5′ off the floor, 4′ tall.
    8. We’ve kept the Sunny Day Marmoleum and the Rona Birch hardwood flooring.
    9. FYI – North is on the “grassy” side, and the walkway is on the South side of the diagrams.
    10. We will be doing soffit, fascia, and gutters as required to upgrade the curb appeal of the house.

    Here are the pics (15 views in the Picasa album.)  Be sure to zoom in to see the details.  Note also we’ve added additional exterior photos.

    5 Mar Floorplan3D View - Image /15



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