Author Archives: Lisa Hann

Christmas at Burns

We are so excited to spend our first Christmas in our new home. What a year it’s been….Between building a new home, eye surgery, new responsibilities at work, and a new baby on the way (Yes, you read that right), it’s been an whirlwind of a year!

2014 ROCKED!!!!

Merry Christmas everyone!!Xmas1

 

Weekend Projects

Who knew home owernship was so much work? Between cutting the grass, installing new shelving and closets, and general tidying up, we managed to get a few key projects completed this weekend. 2nd Floor banister, fence painting, and flower beds can be checked off the list. Move Date: 18 days

 

back railing

2nd Floor balcony railing

new fence

Fence painting

plant

New Boxwoods

hardatwork

Hard at Work

finally relaxing

Finally relaxing

Our story

I had forgotten. I forgot about the sleepless nights, the lawyers, the anxiety, the time. I forgot about all the pain we went through to get to where we are today. And it was worth it. Here’s our story:

In 2011, my mom was recovering from surgery when she came across a real estate flyer advertising a property on Burns Lane for a reasonable amount of money and right in the heart of Lorne Park. Burns Lane…never had she heard of it. So, in the dead of winter, she drove around in circles trying to find this Laneway when she glimpsed a ‘For Sale’ sign way down an old, gravel road. As she creeped down the laneway, she noted the snow covered canopies, the uniqueness of the private road, and then the house. This house:

cottage with snow

Yuck, right? We know. But, mothers know best and she could see the potential. What’s the saying? ‘Buy the worst house on the best street and you can never lose’. Well, that’s exactly what we did but on a grander scale. This was the worst house in all of Mississauga…maybe even the GTA! So I placed an offer on the house, took a gamble (no conditions), and hoped for the best. Lo and behold, we got it! Then the fun began…

After reviewing the title of the property and the laneway, it was brought to our attention that the laneway property was registered under the neighbour’s name, and not both property owners names (Burns Lane has only 2 properties on the street). Just great, our new property was landlocked (did I mention our offer had no conditions?)! Technically, the owners of the laneway (neighbours) could refuse access to our property since you had to use the laneway to get onto our property! So now what, and how much money is this going to cost to unravel it all??? (Sleepless Night #1 occurred here). (To Note: We refused to close on the property until title was fixed).

Without going into too much legal speak, all three participants drew up a plan (neighbours, seller, buyer – us) and we decided that the best course of action was to apply for Committee of Adjustment with the City of Mississauga to obtain severance of the laneway and to transfer title to the neighbours and us, the new buyers. In addition, a Cost Sharing Agreement had to be registered to Burns Lane. Cost Sharing Agreement? Both owners of the laneway share equally in property taxes, share in the cost of maintenance of the roadway (snow removal, pavement), and if a dispute should arise and not resolve itself within 60 days, the issue shall be brought to arbitration. Since we all agreed to this and it was documented by three different lawyers, we now felt we could close on the property. That was July of 2011.

Fast forward to June 7, 2012. I went to the Committee of Adjustment meeting (yawn) at City Hall with our lawyer (it took about a year to secure a CoA meeting), held tight for 30 days to ensure there were no appeals (surrounding neighbours could appeal the change to title if they wanted to), and after fulfilling 3 conditions to the CoA, we were granted severance of the laneway! Yes, all was in order.

For the next several months, we designed our new home, met with the architects, engineers, and surveryors. And on January 2, 2013 we submitted our plans to the City of Mississauga for the site plan approval. We knew approval would take several months but by this point, we were lining up the demolition crew, and we were all excited to start building in May. In April, the site plan was approved. They just needed some money – a grading deposit, municipal services protection deposit, and a tree deposit. Check, check, check. ‘Just a few more days’ until we would receive the building permit, we were told.

Days turned into weeks, weeks into months and then finally 2 months later we heard from the Region of Peel (To receive a building permit, the RoP must approve because the existing house was on septic). They would easily approve a new sewer connection all the way down the laneway and hook into Indian Rd., but they would not allow us to connect into the existing sewer system located at the foot of our driveway. We were at a standstill. We didn’t have the money to dig up the laneway, install new pipes, pay for the connection, backfill, and repave. That alone would be 6-figures (we did look into it). So we waited.

At this point it was June or July, and I provided the Cost Sharing Agreement that was in place with the neighbours with the Region of Peel. It’s a private sewer system, private laneway, we were responsible for the maintenance of the laneway etc. What the heck is the problem? Well, guess what folks, the Cost Sharing Agreement was NEVER registered to the laneway and my lawyer was MIA. After finally tracking down my lawyer (I lost my s*** on him), and having everything sorted out and registered to the laneway, the RoP issued their approval. The Building Permit was issued on August 25th, 2013. We popped some bottles that night! Moët baby!

So, that’s the entire, long-winded story. And this post is for me. Of how this all came to be.

Lisa’s favourite websites

I’ve already promoted Houzz.com which I visit daily, but here’s a list of some other websites that make building/decorating a home a little easier:

  1. Homestars – Are you not 100% certain about the trade that you are hoping to hire? Visit homestars.ca, search the company name or type of trade that you are looking for, and voila!, you will find the best-rated contractors in your area. I was very unsure about my tile installers…they weren’t cheap, the guy talked too much, he was just annoying actually….until I searched him on Homestars. He was rated a perfect 10 and had about 100 reviews. Customers found his work to be of high quality and they were fast. He was hired (but still very annoying).
  2. Lowe’s – Rona, Home Depot, Lowe’s = What’s the difference, right? Quite a bit. In my opinion, Lowe’s has both the best selection of product and the best prices. The shopping experience is far superior both in-store and online and shipping is free. Bonus! Home Depot comes in at #2, I find it chaotic, personally. They charge for shipping, and their loyalty program could be better. Rona is #3. Since Rona is franchised, the smaller stores don’t carry a ton of product, but their customer service is great since you’re dealing with the owners direct. The Airmiles program is pretty good though. I’ll be able to fly around the world twice with the amount of miles we have accrued.
  3. The Dollar Store – The best! Windex, mops, cleaning cloths, brooms, garbage bags. They have it all and only for a buck or two.
  4. Amazon.ca – I find amazon is great for those hard to find products. Our kitchen faucet was purchased through Amazon, shipped to Naples, Florida and was nicely wrapped under the Christmas tree for Erik. Savings: $250. And I have my eye on a firepit that I can’t seem to find at a decent price anywhere else. Amazon is Amazing. And I am excited for the drones!
  5. Elte & Restoration Hardware – Look but don’t touch is my motto at these retailers. I love this, and this, but with a little bit of hunting I know I can find something just as nice for way less money!