Monday, September 28, 2015


Radio Silence

It’s been quite a few weeks since the last update. We had our move in date set on Aug 29th. It has been very busy and stressful leading up to the move. Then it was equally as stressful post move. I’ll document all this in the next post. We have been without internet up until last week. I know I could have updated the blog with my phone but I wanted to get internet set up properly, then I can have my computer set up properly before I get the posts going again. We have been living in the laneway house for about three weeks now, we’re starting to get more settled. Really looking forward to getting things set up and organized so that we can really enjoy the space.


Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Guest Post: Sense Sleep Tracker Review

Sleep is important is our lives. I believe the quality of sleep is more important than the length of sleep and affects us in different ways.  I would classify my sleep as poor.  I typically get around 6-7 hours of sleep a night and often wake up groggy or feeling exhausted. Thus, I am constantly looking on solutions to improve this problem.

After much researching online I found a Kickstarter campaign that was exactly what I was searching around for. Before backing this campaign, I tried a few sleep apps on my iPhone but I found them a bit troublesome as I had to do the following:
1.       Have my iPhone powered by an outlet which made my pillow warmer than usual
2.       Place my iPhone underneath my pillow
3.       Start and stop the app everytime I would go to sleep and wake up.

Sense is a sleep tracker that focuses on learning your sleep habits. This little device sits on by bedside and silently monitors your sleeping conditions. To measure your sleep, it has a little sleep pill that attaches to your pillow.

An Android and iOS app is used to communicate with the Sense. The UI is very simple to use and was very intuitive when setting up the Sense to navigating through your sleep results.
Setting up the device was easy, the Sense and its Sleep Pills use Bluetooth so connecting with my iPhone was very simple through the app.

Once you are setup, the Sense just needs for you to sleep to start learning your habits.  The Sense measures your sleep duration and your deep sleep to provide a score from 0 to 100. After a night’s rest, you can look at your sleep score and it will graphically breakdown your sleep cycles for the night. If there is any movement, it will record it and will let you know within the graph.

On average my sleep score is 70. As with any score, you will want to always improve your score and the app makes it easy to do so by giving tips on how to sleep better. 

The beauty of the Sense is how it knows when you get into bed and when you get out of bed and when the lights are out.  It constantly adapts and learns by asking questions every morning such as “How was your sleep last night?” and allows you to choose from 3 preselected choices to rate your sleep and takes it into account.
On a few different occasions, it asks you different questions. I usually watch TV or read before I go to bed so the Sense asked me “Do I read or watch TV before bed?” the morning after which goes to say it does learn and adapt to your sleep habits.

The sleep alarm on the Sense attempts to wake you in your lightest sleep cycle so you are not feeling groggy or tired as opposed to your typical alarm wakes you at a preset time. That being said, if you set your alarm to wake up at 700am in the morning it may wake you up at any time between 630-700am.
I have been using the Sense for about 6 weeks now and have found that my sleep has improved.  I haven’t had any issues with my Sense and love to open the app every morning to see my score.
Overall, I think this is a great product and for the price tag of $129 is a great value.  You can find more information at


Sunday, June 21, 2015


Progress has slowed for the past couple weeks. Here's a couple minor things that popped up:

Master Shower: I went to LA for a few days and I stayed at the Standard on Sunset they had bathroom set up close to what we are building. One thing that I got to see was how a partial glass shower screen works. We were worried about the water leaking and I have to say that was very minimal. The other worry was it being cold without a full screen or a shower curtain, I must admit it was colder but not too bad. I got to try out a rain shower head again and it was great. The shower at the Standard didn't have a hand shower, which made me rethink our shower set up in the master bath. Initially I didn't want a hand shower to go with the rain shower head but Simon at Ensuite and my wife convinced me otherwise. We it's a moot point though as the cost of taking away the hand shower  costs more then keeping it as the plumbing was built around the hand shower already and the parts have been bought already.

Move In Date: Starting to think about the move in date as we have to give notice on our apartment a month before we move out. Paying rent and the mortgage has been tough, looking forward to saving that rent money. Our tentative move in date is in early August. Lets see if that date works out.


Saturday, May 30, 2015

The Decisions on Home Design Doesn't Stop

Paper cutouts of drawer handles I printed to help us pick handles
I thought that after construction was under way that we would need to stop making decisions on items as a lot of it has been figured out already. But as the construction went underway we had periods of time where we would spend a few nights in a row picking out options which we weren't aware of or options of things that didn't work out as planned. I guess there are some things that we could have left to the contractors decisions but I fully believe that having a chance to build your own house is a rare opportunity and if you can customize your home fully you really should take advantage of it. So here's a list of things that we've been reviewing lately: drawer pulls and handles. bathroom hardware, ventilation options for the laundry closet, relocating the mailbox, just to name a few things. I'm sure out of all the little things that we picked out there is still a multitude of options that still outstanding.


Friday, May 29, 2015

Cedar Cladding Stain

We wanted to get burnt cedar for our cladding, the results from the light burn isn't turning out the way we want so we had to explore different options. One was to burn the wood much darker like traditional Shou Sugi Ban, second would be brushing the burnt cedar, third we would combine the light burn with a stain. We opt to go with the third option. I picked up four testers from the Benjamin Moore store on Main St. I ended up picking up Autumn Gold, Bark, Acorn and Driftwood. It was a tough choose but at the end we went with the Acorn colour. Here are some pics from my staining experiment:
Stain of choice from Sansin
Lightly burned cedar prepped for staining
Post stain, the left is the Acorn colour and the right is the Bark
Post stain part 2, the left is Autumn Gold and the right is Driftwood


Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Documenting Change

I thought I would utilize this blog to document a lot more then what I have already posted. There have been a lot of things going on, lots of small changes, figuring out additional options. Some nights we barely have enough time to sit through options and let alone blogging about it afterwards. I do have to say there are things that I am reluctant to write about, I guess I'm either waiting to reflect on decisions that we've make in hind sight and on other occasions I really don't want to get into my obsessive behavior. Once the house is done, I'll definitely revisit some of the choice that we picked in this blog. For now I have to figure out what stain we want to go with. That'll be the next post.


Wednesday, May 6, 2015

1 Year Post

Its has been one year since we started this journey to get the laneway house built. The process did take longer then expected because of the permit delays from the city.

We are looking at an early August move in date as of right now. Looking forward to moving into our own space. Overall the experience has been really pleasant, I've heard of so many people stressing over their builds it's nice to have the piece of mind with a company that is taking care of the issues for us.

We have a handful of decisions to make on the place still, and there are things that pop up from time to time but that is to be expected.

Time to go furniture shopping.


Friday, April 24, 2015

Equity with a Laneway House

Here are some of my thoughts on home equity for a laneway house. For the record we don't own the land that we are building the laneway house on, my parents do. So we are paying for the laneway house but we are getting zero equity in return. I worked out (somewhat informally) with my family how that will the equity would be divided in the distant future. So we are getting a (small) detached house for roughly the price of a two bedroom condo but we have no equity, no option to sell, our money is locked in until maybe the distant future. My wife and I are comfortable with this, we have a plan and this is going to be in line with what we want. To be honest with you I didn't really think about the equity portion of building a laneway house too much prior to getting it the process started. To us having our equity lock away for a while is okay, we didn't want to go with the alternatives: rent, buying a two bedroom, we can't afford a detached house, the only option that we really wanted to consider was a townhouse.

One thing that makes me wonder is will the money that we put into the laneway house, will that translate to equity for the entire property? Hypothetically does a million dollar piece of land with a $350K laneway house automatically mean $1.35 million in equity? I'm not sure, I actually don't know at all.

I've always approached the laneway house as our forever home. I don't anticipate needing to move. We have three bedrooms and two bathrooms, the space maybe small but in my opinion it's future proof for a while. I'm not going to worry about the equity (for now).


Thursday, April 16, 2015

Stucco Video

I really enjoyed watching these stucco videos from His videos are really informative. I really like seeing him apply all the different finishes and matching existing  finishes.


Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Laneway House: Electrical Wiring


Guest Post: Websites for House Research

Here's where you can see tax info for addresses. But it doesn't include longer than 3 years sales history. 
What's good about this bc assessment site is it gives recent sales in the area, click on the tab.

Here's another interesting free gov info site.  It shows you all the info about a property GIS.  Play with the side menu and what you can gather from your parents area.  Also, you can get a satellite bird's eye view by clicking on the side menu.  There's different versions of this for every city, ie. Richmond, North Vancouver, Burnaby, Delta, etc.

Len is Realtor with Royal Pacific Reality Group, Visit his site for more tips.

Monday, April 6, 2015

Guest Post: Burglarproof Your Home

Here’s how to make your home less attractive to burglars.

Start by thinking like a criminal. Take ten minutes and “case” your home – looking for opportunities for thieves, such as low basement windows without bars, open doors and windows, screen doors with flimsy locks, (during warm weather many homeowners open doors and windows to let breezes in), a spare key hidden under a doormat.

Precautions you can take when at home

1. Open windows: install locks which let you open windows 6” but then lock in place.

2. Open doors: install solid lockable screen doors or bars to allow air in and keep thieves out.

Precautions you can take when away

1. Create a ‘lived in’ look: if you are away, have lights and sprinklers on timers and have a friend or relative pick up mail and flyers, put out garbage cans, walk around your home, and make it clear that someone is around. Leave out dog dishes.

2. Noise: set a radio or TV on a timer to go on at different times of the day. If you have a dog, consider having someone drop by to care for it, rather than boarding it.

3. Hide clues of absence: stop your newspaper subscription, and don’t leave a message on your answering machine indicating that you’re away. Have a friend or trusted neighbour periodically park in your driveway. If you’ll be away for several weeks, have your lawn cut.

4. Keys: keep track of all keys you’ve made and who has them. Never hide keys anywhere around your front door. There is no ‘secret’ hiding place.

5. Alarm system: any alarm system, from a basic door alarm to one with remote monitoring – can be a good deterrent.

6. Visual deterrents: display “beware” signs indicating that you have a dog or an alarm. Often, the stickers are enough of a deterrent to make thieves look for an easier target.

7. Doors and locks: have minimum 1.5” deadbolt locks on all exterior doors. Locks are only as good as the door and frame in which they are installed. Hollow-core wooden doors can easily be kicked in or forced open – solid core or metal doors are best. Auxiliary locks can prevent sliding glass doors from being lifted out of their tracks.

8. Protect your valuables: remove anything of extreme value from your home and store it somewhere safe.

9. Lights: take care installing motion sensor lights around the exterior of your home. There is new evidence to suggest this can be a give-away that you’re not home.

Len is Realtor with Royal Pacific Reality Group, a father and a recovering denim addict. Visit his site for more tips.

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Guest Post: August Smart Lock Review

I was in the market for a Smart lock and researched many Smart Locks (Lockitron, Goji, Kevo,) and decided in purchasing the August Smart Lock.

A few factors weighed in on my purchase. Security, Price and Installation.

Security: I wanted a solution where I could still use my keys in case either I forgot my phone or I ran out of batteries. I also wanted to make sure the Smart Lock was not easily hackable so it would not make my home vulnerable. The August Smart Lock uses Bluetooth LE and its wrapped in 128-bit AES encryption. Even with the encryption, is my home still vunerable? Yes. Would a skilled hacker hack into my Smart Lock or rather hack into a Government website or bank? I would think it would be the latter.

Price: I purchased the August Smart Lock for $199USD last year when they were offering preorders for the device. They have raised the price to $250USD so I thought for the price and how it does not require you to replace your entire door lock.

Installation: Installation and setup took a total of about 10mins. The August Smart Lock replaces your deadbolt and fits almost all deadbolts on the market. The easiness of the installation was very impressive. A small download of the August app on the App Store and I was quickly able to configure and calibrate my Smart Lock.
The August Smart Lock uses 4 AA batteries which will typically last for year with normal everyday use. It also has a patented EverLock feature which will automatically lock your door. To unlock your door, the August Smart Lock uses their Auto Unlock feature with uses your GPS and bluetooth to unlock your door as your approach it.

After using the August Smart Lock for a few months, I have run into a few issues with my Smart Lock.
On one occasion, my Smart Lock did not work and my front door did not open. I opened the app on my phone and could not connect to it. The only solution I had was to use my keys and then remove the batteries from my Smart Lock and then I was able to connect to my Smart Lock.

I emailed their support with the issue and they promptly replied that their Auto Lock and Everlock were currently in BETA and an Firmware update would be rolling out in the next couple of month that will hopefully resolve this issue.

Overall I am happy with my August Smart Lock. The relative ease of installation, price and fast support factored into my experience with this product. If you were looking for a Smart Lock on the market, this is a Smart Lock I would recommend.


Monday, March 30, 2015

Guest Post: Apple Watch for Home Automation

Apple recently held their "Spring Forward" event and after watching the event and seeing the apps demoed on the Apple Watch, this could be valuable for home automation in future iterations of the device but it does not add any value at the moment.

I think the main point of the Apple Watch is really about detaching yourself from your phone. The watch is really a notification center that sits on your wrist. You would no longer need to pull your phone out of your pockets and instead just see the notifications on your wrist.

Of all the apps that are currently available at launch, there is no "killer" app that will make you think you need to purchase an Apple Watch. Until there is a killer app available, the Apple Watch is just an extension of your phone that sits on your wrist.


Wednesday, March 11, 2015

New York New York

A couple weeks back I went to New York. One of my main goals was to visit some galleries. I managed to hit the MOMA, New Museum and Cooper Hewitt. At MOMA I just missed the Henri Matisse exhibit and the Bjork exhibit didn't open yet at but the Forever Now artwork was really inspiring. The New Museum is aways interesting, one of my favourite pieces involves viewing artwork with the Occulus Rift. I have been wanting to go to the Cooper Hewitt for a while now. I was there years ago not knowing that the museum was closed for renovations. It was well worth the wait, lots of great interactive exhibits. The immersion room was really cool,  got to design wallpaper and have it projected while you worked on it was awesome.

Aside from museums I did a bit of shopping. I visited Dover Street Market, really cool interiors there. I had to make my usual stops at Uniqlo for basics and my absolute must Muji. They had so many great house ware items at Muji, the next time I go I'll definitely get a few items for the lane way house.

Such amazing artwork at the MOMA
Love the new branding for Cooper Hewitt
A tunnel at the Dover Street Market
If you want to see more pics from my trip, I do have more images from the trip on my Instagram.