Custom Home – Month 17 & 18 – WE ARE HOME!!!

Phew! It has a been a whirlwind of activity around here! When I last left off, our builder had told us that they likely would not make their latest deadline which sent us into a panic since our landlord had already said that he could not extend our lease beyond September 30…

For a long few days we seriously contemplated moving all of our belongings (and our children and dog!) into the unfinished portion of our house while construction continued upstairs. Then, our builder advised that they were going to work miracles to get everything done in time for the end of September. And then, as though the stars aligned, our landlord agreed to let us stay an extra two weeks into October, provided we moved all of our belongings from the basement of our rental out of the house by the end of September so that he can have workers start finishing the basement. Crisis averted!

“Work miracles” is definitely one way to put it! There were trades working on top of trades nearly everyday, including the weekends, in September to get the house completed. Ultimately, September 30 proved to be too ambitious because we needed a buffer of a few days between when the Certificate of Occupancy was issued and when our bank would finalize our mortgage. So we ended up closing on our house on October 7, just in time for Canadian Thanksgiving!

Like any new build, things were not 100% completed upon closing. We had temporary garage doors for a few weeks, some of our exterior doors are still backordered (we have temporary ones for now), we were missing a faucet in the powder room that has since been installed, we had a leak in our kitchen sink that has since been fixed, our pocket doors still don’t close, we are missing cabinet doors, etc. But it is fine because we are home!

Now that the “construction phase” is behind us, we have a whole new set of “pandemic challenges” to deal with, including the fact that none of our appliances were delivered and there is currently no date set for when they will be in stock. For now, we have a loaner fridge and stove, we are hand washing all of our dishes, and relying on friends and family to do laundry every week (there are no laundromats near us)… But it is fine because we are home!

And since being home, we’ve already been able to enjoy our first family celebration! If you were here for my very first construction update post, then you know that we found out that I was pregnant almost immediately after we sold our house and closed on our land. That was the start of our home project and we’ve since come full circle as Luca just celebrated his 1st birthday in his very own home!

While my monthly Construction Updates have come to an end, there is still lots to share! Once we get fully settled in (it’s taking much longer than I anticipated), we will start tackling our long list of DIYs and I’ll be sure to take you along for each one, big and small!

“Old Ways Won’t Open New Doors”

With our first home, we never even thought about our interior doors. It didn’t cross our minds that we could alter the doors; whatever was included is what we’d get. The only “upgrade” that we did was change our pantry door to a French door and I thought I was so clever for having thought of doing that…

A few years into our first home, I decided to paint all of our doors black and, wow, what a difference! That was the first time we realized how a space can be drastically changed just by updating the doors.

We smartened up (a little…) with our second home. While I still didn’t imagine that I could significantly change the doors, we decided to ask if it was possible to upgrade the doors from 7 feet to 8 feet and, sure enough, Mattamy Homes said yes! I’ve talked, in a previous post, about how significant of an impact the added height made to our home – not just from a design perspective but also from a functionality point. We also had the doors painted as soon as we moved in, this time in a dark gray/blue to match the grey tones of the house.

8-foot doors painted in Sherwin Williams Cyberspace

Now, with our custom home, I’m hoping that maybe the third time is a charm. We have forgone our old ways of just taking what is included when it comes to doors; below are some of our changes:

  • We upgraded all of the doors to 8 feet (I wish we could go higher but the prices rise drastically (in the $1,000s) with anything above 8 feet);
  • We chose all solid core doors; no more hollow doors for us;
  • We changed most of the bathroom doors to pocket doors so that we don’t need to account for the space that regular doors take up;
  • Where closets are concerned, we removed the doors altogether to make them feel more like change rooms as opposed to closed in closets;
  • We changed the pantry door to a swinging door – we keep all of our food in the pantry so we’re usually coming in and out of that space a lot – making it a swinging door means the kids can get in without having to ask us each time!;
  • We changed the door leading to our future gym in the basement to a glass door to allow sunlight to enter the space; and
  • The one I am MOST excited about is my office doors, which we changed to steel/glass barn doors!

While I am sure there is a lot more we could have upgraded to our doors, the above pretty much encompasses what was within reach from a budget and accessibility standpoint (our supplier provides all of the doors we wanted except for the office doors). Realistically, nothing is set in stone so, if in the future we decide that we want something even more custom, we could always make changes, one door at a time.

House Warming Gifts to Warm the Heart

With the 2020 real estate boom in Ottawa, many of our friends sold their homes and purchased new ones. Unfortunately, with the 2020 Covid-19 pandemic, I haven’t actually been able to visit them. The one silver lining, however, is that I have had a lot of time to think and prepare the perfect housewarming gift to bring with me when the time comes. Below is a list of a few of my favourites:

Christmas Ornament

Maybe it’s because it’s December and we’re nearing the end of the holiday season but the first gift that comes to mind is a Christmas Ornament that commemorates the new home. We had this one made when we moved into our second home. It is personalized with our home address and the month/year that we moved in. We’ll continue to put it up even though we don’t live there anymore because it symbolizes the growth of our family (Theo was born and Luca was conceived during the time we lived there).

Address Stamps

I have a select group of friends who still enjoy using the good ol’ snail mail (I am one of those who will always appreciate receiving letters in the mail!). So for those who like to send out birthday invites, holiday cards or any other type of letter mail, a personalized address stamp is the perfect housewarming gift! You can find some budget friendly self-inking stamps online and, if you want to take it up a notch, I am a sucker for embossers – they are classy and can be used as a decor piece in your office or on a desk.

Our address embosser sits in this pretty box, along with other stamps, when not in use.

Room Stamps

If letter mail is not your thing, I also love having (and giving, of course) custom stamps for the reader, the cook, the gardener, etc. Stamps that say “From the Library Of [insert family name]” to put on the inside of their favourite books; stamps that say “From the Kitchen Of [insert family name]” to put on recipes or cookbooks; or stamps that say “From the Garden Of [insert family name]” to put on notes when they gift fruits and vegetables from their future garden…

Party Stationary

This one I haven’t yet had a chance to gift but I will be ordering plenty for us when we move into our home and will be sure to grab a few for some select friends. Chances are if you are going to a housewarming party then the new homeowners likely enjoy hosting. Personalized party stationary such as doggy bags or paper guest towels are sure to impress and provide the special added touch.

Wine

A bottle of wine or alcohol is always a safe gift when you don’t know what to get or when you are short on time. If you want to go the extra mile, consider getting a bottle from the year the house was built.

This bottle isn’t fancy and not something I would drink but I’m holding onto it for the next friend who buys a house built in 2007!

Side Note: Depending on when your friends moved in, you may want to consider adding a bottle opener with the bottle. When we moved into our last home, we invited friends over for drinks; unfortunately, it wasn’t until they were there and the wine glasses were out that I realized our bottle opener was still in one of the many boxes that we had not yet unpacked…

Coffee Book

If your host is someone with a penchant for decor, consider gifting a coffee book from their favourite designer or travel or home decor. If you happen to have nice handwriting, consider inscribing something house related in the book. While not necessarily house-related, for our first wedding anniversary, Paolo had our wedding song inscribed in a “Humans of New York” book that I was looking to get. It was the perfect “paper gift” and is a coffee book that still conjures up conversation whenever someone opens it and sees the writing…

Magazine Subscription

This is one I hadn’t thought of until it was gifted to us but it is something I have gifted a few times during this pandemic! When we moved in to our second home, our builder (Mattamy Homes) gifted us a one year subscription to the Style At Home magazine. I loved it – mainly because I was already a long-time purchaser of the monthly magazine but also because I thought it was a perfect gift to give to someone who has purchased a home but whom you won’t actually get to visit in person. It’s a great pandemic present, or a gift to send a friend who you won’t be visiting for a while, etc.