Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Laneway housing in East Vancouver

For years we have been talking about owning a house where we could build a laneway house, which is why we searched for property with the right zoning so we could eventually do so. In Vancouver that meant a house in a RS-1 or RS-5 zone. Our house is in a RS-1 zone. Perfect. We can build a mini-house if we want to. And I know Cool J REALLY wants to. Our pocketbook doesn't.

It's fun to research laneway housing in Vancouver and to see the occasional construction site while riding bikes through East Vancouver. "Look how cute that one is!!" or "What did they do that for? Huh". It certainly ignites our excitement to see these mini-houses popping up and of course our imagination runs wild! What is our little house going to look like?

Luckily we have made friends with a very cute gay boy couple who have built their very own laneway house. We have been able to hear and see the progress they've made, what problems they've encountered, what processes they went through and, of course, expected a personal tour of the finished project!

Michael(L), Steve(R) and Buddy

Ok, so how cute is that?? And that's just the outside! Take a look inside:

Stairwell to loft bedroom
Loft bedroom
Bedroom patio
Main entrance into kitchen

Um, so yeah. Holy crap. What a nice mini-house! We were impressed, to say the least. I didn't get any pictures of the outdoor living space that they have for the new tenants but I can tell you that they are lucky tenants!

I'm sure that this "little" project (haha) didn't cost very much. Yeah right. I'm sure it cost a pretty penny but they will be paying it off with monthly rent cheques courtesy of their new tenants. And they welcome pets. How awesome is that?!

So what is our laneway house going to look like? Not sure. Well, depends on who you ask. Cool J can probably outline what she wants. Including the fact that she wants it to be built out of rammed earth, which is another trend that is starting to pick up speed. Maybe its the fact that Randy Bachman (The Guess Who, BTO -Bachman Turner Overdrive) has a rammed earth house on Salt Spring Island. Rammed earth you say? What's that? Well, I'll let David Suzuki explain & take care of the business of showing you around Bachman's rammed earth house :

So picture a mini rammed earth house in the backyard of 2 eastside lesbians. Now picture the Lez Renovate videos that go along with that adventure! Wow. Look out renovators and renovation supporters, your socks are going to be knocked off with excitement. But don't hold your breath until then, we need to save up first.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Lez Build a Bench - Part 1 - VIDEO

Summer is around the corner, unless the Rapture on May 21 gets us first. But I'm preparing for many mortgage payments and fun times at the georgia cottage for years to come!

We were sitting on our patio the other day thinking that it would be great to have a bench that doubled as seating and storage. So of course we recycled some material from the basement demo and made a bench.

Renovating outside is so much better than renovating inside because when you are done, you can sit outside on your patio and drink beers!!

Hope you are going to enjoy your post-rapture weekend, including the Canucks game.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Lez visit Epic, sustainable living expo at Vancouver Convention Centre

LL & CoolJ wondered how insurance, beer, savings accounts, free gas for a year, yoga clothes, and makeup make for sustainable living?

We scored free tix to Epic, the sustainable living expo held this weekend at the Vancouver Convention centre. Which was cool, because CoolJ wanted to get back in there, having forgotten during the conference I attended there last week to take a picture of the 'don't drink the toilet water' sign.

Flushing toilets with grey water is a great idea. Drinking from the toilet is not

Vendors at the trade-show were pushing the sustainable swag: wildflower seed attached to a flyer advertising tax free savings accounts, reusable shopping bags by the dozen, and the draws. I can hardly wait to win the sustainable trip to Vegas, or the free gas for a year. LL signed up for a Lexus test drive. She knows about sustainable transportation  - she keeps letting her driver's learner permit expire so we always have to carpool to the home reno stores.  Are you getting my point? The consumer product sustainable living expo was a bit of a stretch. "Don't worry about the planet destroyed by our over-consumption, just consume the right coffee, beer, makeup, gas" was the message.

We really enjoyed looking at the convention centre building. It cost us a zillion dollars, but it is a gorgeous renovation of Vancouver's historic  PierB-C
But they really should get a few goats up there on the green roof.
CoolJ's scheme #1455: become a goat herder. Leaning on a crook all day & watching seaplanes
CoolJ at the Old Country Market, Coombs BC
Back at the expo... we got a nifty shower hourglass timer to help my friend LL KillerWatt track how long she spends lathering her locks every morning.  So far CoolJ has learned that my showers are less than 4 minutes. At least at home. In this other post you heard how I sometimes splurge on someone else's utility bill.

We could not find anyone at the green living expo to advise how to practically implement a grey water system at home. We learned that anyone can join the Team PowerSmart , so  LL is looking forward to spending the $75 rebate on consumer electronics when she gets our energy bill to drop 10% over the year by turning off her Bridge of the Enterprise studio/power bar daisy chain every night.

I was most interested in learning about "renewable natural gas." Ummm. How do they renew natural gas? Does anyone know? I do I do! Hint: the grass roof as above. Methane!  I'm thinking of cutting out the middle man & putting a composting toilet in our bathroom reno, but LL has never been much one for experimentation with pooping in a bucket.

We kibbitzed our way around the canning supplies vendor, the sewing lessons stand, the booth for recycled aluminum roofing, the guy pitching plastic grass (who was having none of our clever remarks about who mows the lawn in a lesbian household). Then we did not drink the toilet water, and we came home to start the next phase of our "green" outdoor living renovation. Well, the lead paint on the floor of our deck is green. See you soon with pics of that project! Green living to all & to all a good night.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Lez Build Acoustic Panels PART 2 - VIDEO

LL says:

Hiya! Welcome to Friday. The day before Saturday. The day after Thursday. And the day that a new video is released on Afterellen! Fun times.

This is the 2nd part of Lez Build Acoustic Panels. Cool J and I finish organizing the studio. And just in time! I recorded a new ep with my band EP Island. You can check out our Facebook page here: EP ISLAND.

I forsee some rockin' tunes! So happy that the studio is done. Now to work on the jam space. Oh brother.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Lez move the raspberries

Neighbourhood raspberries
CoolJ: I was berry pleased with myself last weekend after planting my berry patch.
However, I was chagrined to note when I rode through East Van on my bike that no one else had spread their 10 spindly seedlings bushes over 20 square meters. I thought they would fill up the dirt, that I was giving them room to breathe & realize their potential. But then I saw my neighbours' clever, compact raised raspberry bed.

Garden Envy struck. And worse, I had a side effect of Garden Resentment. Because I want to have an awesome edible garden. But also I have NO time. And it is so. much. work. And it requires expertise.

Anyhoo, I rearranged the raspberries to be a bit more like my neighbours'. Someone may give me a gorgeous wood trellis for my birthday? Or maybe I'll use some string to keep the brambles in check...
Lez Reno Rasps. Ah. Much better. We are with our friends!

Spent the rest of the day digging & weeding & planting. Just trying to keep the weeds at bay and maybe eke some food out of this urban lot. We in East Vancouver like our food gardents. I live in a neighbourhood where houses that are valued at $850-900K have ramshackle plastic greenhouses in the front yard. Across the street are 3 large free-ranging urban chickens (at least I think there are still 3. I did see a coyote recently). Vancouver aims to become the greenest city in the world by 2020 and citizens love our food security.

But I think I have discovered a major gap in our civic food planning - East Van Companion planting. Lez Renovate is based in a house that is 80+ years old. Our garden is a typical east van garden: chain link fence, roses galore, peonies... the only thing missing is a camelia and a fig tree.
"McLean Drive" by Dana Ayotte
What I think we need is a special East Van Companion Planting Guide. What do Rhododendrons like? I tried onions, since I read that rhodos like lillies & lillies look like onions, and much as I like saws'all-ing I didn't want to chop down the robust pink Rhodo, or pull out all the roses. That would just leave me with more dirt to fill up!

So what do roses like? I hope roses like tomatoes & cukes & kale, because that's what they are getting!
And I hope blueberries like peonies because they are sharing space as intimate as any East Van cooperative house with 8 bicycles on the front porch.

When the rain finally stops, irrigation is the next problem to untangle.

Finally, I hope the elderly  folks on my block with roses and front yard green houses like lezzes because LL & Cool J have lots of gardening, lawn mowing, and outdoor projects this summer and we'll be OUT in front. Lez grow, lezbo!