One Year Houseiversary

Yesterday marked one year that we’ve lived here at the Arbolodge. Because I love lists, here are ten things we’ve done to make this place our own.

1.) We had a custom wardrobe installed in our master bedroom.

This was a fun one because we got to design the perfect solution but it was also probably the most expensive so far. We originally budgeted a few thousand dollars to come up with a storage solution for our miniature 1912 closet for our master bedroom, and we ended up spending about $5500. That said, I would rate this expense as Worth. Every. Penny. I wrote a review of the company we chose to use, California Closets. There are two things I need to sort out to make them perfect – I need a mirror on the end and some sort of decorative tall standing element to break up the hugeness of the wall (A vase? Pussy willows? I dunno).

2.) We moved the shed around in the backyard, built a raised vegetable garden, and constructed a giant compost bin out of used shipping pallets.

I’m shocked at how much more room this created in our backyard. I don’t know why visually, having the shed moved to the other side of the yard has made such a big difference, but it has. Also? Where the shed was made the most sense in terms of where you should put a veggie garden as it was the sunniest spot in the backyard. In fact, my veggie garden is nothing but giant plants right now. Just need a bit more sun to get some tomatoes off the vines and strawberries off the patch. I blogged about it here.

3.) We had a rock wall installed around the back of the property.

It drew the supposed ire of an anonymous neighbour (I still think it was the garbage collector complaining to their boss, however), and we were paid a visit by the City shortly after its install to confirm the placement was on our property (it is), but we get nothing but compliments on this wall.

The height of destruction. Lovely.
Completed river rock retaining wall.

4.) We completed some landscaping at the front.

I showed you guys pictures of the landscaping in progress in the front yard, but this weekend we finally officially finished the front garden bed.  This one is so noticeable from when we bought the place last year.

I am a little yellow house.

I also took video footage of Ross and our hired helper moving those giant [expletive deleted] rhododendrons. Check it out.

Here’s the final picture as of yesterday.

Don’t I look nice?
From the side.

5.) Got chickens.

So far? No eggs. But these are some funny birds. Noodle and Giblet are quite entertaining and are growing well. Our guess is eggs within a few months. We’ve also learned that it is really hard to get things like straw, oyster shell, and other chicken related supplies in New Westminster. To Langley we go.

Noodle (front) and Giblet (back)

6.) Installed a tankless on-demand hot water system.

The process to get this installed was a bit disappointing. Our old house threw a lot of curveballs that increased the cost of the install as the plumber worked her way through the install. What was supposed to be about $3200 ended up at around $4200. Since installing, we’ve seen our gas bill cut from $88 / month to $41 / month. In the long run, this will work out as a good investment, but I don’t know that I would have done it again without checking around to multiple plumbers and getting a price guarantee. Forever hot water is kind of nice though.

7.) Installed a porch light.

I don’t understand why former owners of this house didn’t address this. Not only was it unsafe for visitors who came at night, but it was completely unwelcoming and uninviting to not have a light above the door. I visited a local lighting store in Burnaby on the recommendation of my father in law, who had previously bought a great light fixture from them. I was really disappointed at how few options they had for outdoor lighting, and even fewer for outdoor energy efficient lighting. After picking the brain of the (very helpful, I must say) sales person, I decided not to go ahead with a purchase. I just didn’t like the art deco-y look of the one light that met my needs, and the $180 price tag was not really to my liking either. Later that week I found myself at Home Dep0t, and lo and behold, a light that was not only Energy Start rated, it featured a two stage motion sensor-activated light. And it was $80. Done and done.

I am an attractive light.

8.) Installed a new bathroom fan.

The old fan didn’t actually work. It wasn’t vented or hooked up properly, and it was loud as loud can be. This was when I learned what “low sone” meant. File that one under “Things I Never Would Have Bothered to Learn if it Weren’t for This Whole Homeowner Thing”

9.) Newly recovered sunroom furniture.

I love this furniture. Sitting in this room just makes me calm and happy.

Sunrooms should be mandatory.

10.) Spent a crap tonne of money doing it all.

We started off at this house with a respectable little nugget of cash that we’d saved from the mortgage swapping and buying up and all that stuff. I’m not about to divulge our financial assets, but suffice it to say we are left with about 1/3 of what we started with, and the list above and routine maintenance has used up 2/3 of the reno budget we had banked on stretching much further. Our next project is sprucing up the otherwise useless basement. We can’t afford to actually renovate it – that means a house raising and that means more money than we want to spend, but we are going to waterproof it, insulate it, paint the concrete, drywall and paint it, and generally make it more welcoming. We’re also looking at a new roof in the next few years and the stucco is on its way out too – but both of those projects are probably ones we need to save up for.

Houses really are giant holes you pour money into. But I love our house. I really do. What a great choice we made. Happy Anniversary, House!

10 years ago


  1. I love this post! And, I love your yellow house. You’ve made some fantastic improvements! Now I’m nostalgically thinking back over all the things we’ve done to ours. I won’t tally the money, though, or I may weep…

  2. Howdy nice work is your house heritage if its goes back to 1912 ? that must be really neat my house was built in the late 50ties and we worked on it 2. the sad part is nowing the efferts you do don’t always pay off with old house. i also put a flash water heater in. i can tell you you got taken. mine cost $ 2000 and its outside, round 6 years ago the unit takagai(?japanese 25yr wrnty) cost 1200 now only 700 buxs. i didnt know that your supposed to have a permit to change your hot water 2 ohwell. also we installed a small electric water tank, so you dont get the cold water pulse, like in the kitchen sink when you use hot water and shut it off then turn it back on it comes out hot first then goes cold and the goes hot again, a small tank gets rid off it. you should look at your gas bill if its 40 dollars, i bet 15-20 $ is minamum charges, and ur only realy using 20 $ of gas, we went propane cuz we paying more in fees then gas. look close you’ll see what i mean. otherwise they are #1. ordinary plumbers hardly ever put them in and rip you off cuz they know its going 2 save you BIG bux so fewer people get them. hop u get some eggs soon, hope everything is well with yur flock. I got your twitter about not nowing if ur setup is good 4 ducks. maybe later. i also read some of other pages from the twiter links and the 1 about the riot, i didnt liek it either and it wasnt mostly white poeple. the most ofensive pictures (i think and so does most everyone on FB) was the asian UBC punks trying 2 hide their faces threating the elderly white lady protecting the store. the never showed it on TV becase it is so vile, it makes me wish i was there to do something, and it definatly cause tons of racsist comments on FB. this generation is really lost and have no repsect or decency. 4 letter words is everyday speach now in public and i dont listen 2 ignorant skid trash man or women and i not afraid tell them 2. im so happy they got the kid lightin the cruiser bcuz his parent are rich doctors, so they have to hide and get protection from the police. isnt that ironey. on facebook a lot got fingered and i even looked 2 see if i could help id any1, but thats the world we live in now. Having you own home does cost big $$$ and it doesnt pay off with old houses. we upgrade hardwood tile bathroom etc last year with the tax savings they granted, spent around 15 thousand and this years assement the house went from valued 50 to 10 thosand. the land is only thing worth something now, and its a mud puddle most of the year from the new houses piled on dirt all around. there are only 2 old houses and 1 from the 80ties on my side of the street now. it realy breaks the heart 2 see that your hard sweat and money go down the tubes. that would be my best peace of advice 2 you in the future as your neighborhood will be torn down and re-developed soon 2. its crazy new home only have 2/5/10 warranty but our old 50+year proven-tech-knowledgy houses are considered junk and devalues. plant some fruit trees ! ok bye

    1. Hey Jerry, Thanks for the note. I don’t think we got taken. We chose a Navien unit that has a 30 year warranty and is stainless steel, and also has a built in recirc pump to avoid that cold water sandwich. The big thing for us was that our basement lacks a drain, and so extra plumbing had to be installed for the condensation. I also didn’t want an outdoor unit – the way our house is on our property wouldn’t have allowed for it. You are probably right about our gas bill being mostly mandatory costs! We’re pretty pleased with our neighbourhood and feel there is good value. I’ll keep you posted on the eggs!

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