Attic Conversions – To Finish or Not to Finish?

Feeling claustrophobic? Walls starting to close in on you? The answer may be right above you. A recent article in the Vancouver Sun delves into the pros and cons of converting your attic into living space. In a town like Vancouver where houses are often selling in excess of $400 per square foot (PSF), this is likely a wise investment.

Cheaper than building a new laneway house (starting at around $200 PSF), an attic conversion (starting at around $35 PSF) makes unused space within an existing home usable. On top of that, any added space will add value when it comes time to sell your home.

Older homes are the best candidates for attic conversions while newer houses that utilize roof truss systems will often be more costly to convert. The basics of an attic conversion are ensuring it is properly insulated and ventilated and that the floorboards are adequate to support people and furniture. You can go all out and add dormers but expect your costs to be significantly higher. Skylights are a good investment with any attic conversion due to lower/sloped ceilings.

Whether creating a no-go zone for the kids or somewhere to stash them, new space is usually a welcome addition. No kids? Home theater or home office perhaps? Did I mention the views are generally better up there.

New and Improved Name and Prices – The Village on False Creek

What used to be the Olympic Village is now The Village on False Creek. The media releases might have you believing that the condo development is almost sold out. Not exactly accurate. The limited release of units last week (230 of a total 474) have been selling briskly with 130 units under contract. All of these buyers have a 7 day ‘right-of-rescission’ period in which they can cancel their contracts for any reason – buyer’s remorse for instance.

The asking price reductions are substantial but seem to bring the units more inline with market value rather than making them breathtakingly low in asking price per square foot (PPSF). The lowest PPSF from the marketing material seems to be approximately $672 and this is for a 2 bedroom on a lower floor. This is still a higher PPSF than several nearby developments. Time will tell if the recent sales pace can be sustained over the longer term. This will probably be more a function of  the market strength in general than anything else. The taxpayers of Vancouver, owners of the development, can breathe a little easier now that units are moving.

Finally, as for rental units: “127 along the back row of the complex will be rented out temporarily to help fill out the village population”. Presumably these units will also eventually be sold by the city but that may end up being decided by the civic government of the day. Many taxpayers in this city would prefer that these be sold rather than the city becoming long term landlords over what must amount to nearly 100 million dollars in real estate.

I welcome any questions you may have about selling or buying.
Feel free to comment here or contact me directly.

Just Sold! Vancouver Special with a view and “laneway house” potential

I just sold this large property high on the hill near 22nd and Carolina in Vancouver. This property was a hot commodity that led to multiple offers and sold over the asking price of $959,000 one day after the first showing. Just 4 blocks off high demand Main Street, this home has a great view and the property offers great potential for building up to a 750 square foot laneway house (the maximum size permitted in Vancouver) with great views downtown and to the West.  The oversize lot is 49.5×122 which makes it 50% larger than a standard 33×122 lot.

The buyer plans to renovate this great Vancouver Special and modernize it at the same time. A laneway house may someday occupy the rear portion of this lot. A couple of local companies at the forefront of laneway house design are Lanefab and Smallworks. Here is a great lanehouse recently designed and built by Lanefab:

Vancouver’s Olympic Village – Worth $1400 per square foot?

According to a recent story in the Vancouver Sun, Olympic Village The Birds By Myfanwy MacLeodcondo prices are set to be slashed. The actual revised prices will be decided on by the receiver on January 15, 2011 and the units will then be put back on the market shortly thereafter. In May 2010, the original asking “price per square foot” for some of these units was a lofty $1400. Speculation suggests that the new asking price will be around $1000 per square foot. While a substantial reduction, is this enough of a decrease to lure buyers back to the project?

The bad press surrounding the workmanship on these buildings and the debacle regarding the City of Vancouver’s investment/involvement in the development have not helped. For better or worse, all of the residents of Vancouver have become stakeholders in this development.

The biggest barrier to achieving these luxury prices may well be the intermingling of social housing in this project. This has been a hot topic of late in Vancouver and it remains to be seen if buyers are willing to at once pay top dollar and live next door to individuals receiving social assistance. Stay tuned…

JUST SOLD! 1018 East 31st Ave, Vancouver


View of city & mountains in the perfect five bedroom home. Admire the vista from both the main living area & upper balcony. In the south backyard, there is a large cedar deck that you can bask in the sun & BBQ. This is a bright & quiet three level with full bathrooms on each level & a spacious high ceiling two bedroom suite below. Quality finishing throughout, dark hardwood floors, radiant in-floor heat, and built-in vacuum. Corner lot has tastefully fenced yard with double garage. Nice quiet street in a great neighborhood at the intersection of two cycling routes . Greys Park, McBride elementary annex and tennis courts across the street.