April 3, 2009
it looks like we’ll be staying in our house! we were granted the variance to add a partial second floor, in spite of opposition from our neighbours (the house beside us and the two across the back lane). in fact, the neighbour directly behind us showed up to the meeting to state his case. yikes!
the Board hears cases where you can make an argument that you will experience ‘hardship’ under existing code. Our argument was that our house was built before existing by-laws and we have a full, deep (undeveloped) basement that is counted as part of our total square footage. Under current code, our basement is deep enough that it is not considered ‘habitable space’, meaning that we wouldn’t be allowed to legally put bedrooms down there. Our proposed addition is a second floor with three bedrooms and a bathroom. After building, we will still be lower than our neighbours’ houses (all of the protesters) and well below the building envelope (how high you are allowed to build on the lot).
It’s a bit of an awkward situation when you have this kind of conflict with people you live next to. After all, we’re going to be neighbours for the foreseeable future and it makes no sense (at least to me – mr. naki might disagree) to turn it into a battle royale. We’ve tried hard with the design to respect the architecture of the existing house (corner windows, hipped roof, stucco exterior). I feel quite strongly that it is better to try and work with the existing structure than tearing it down and building a monster house, which has unfortunately happened to a number of older homes in the area.
I’m so relieved that everything is settled and we can move forward. yippee! now i just have to find a good contractor…