Vancouver Ave. Duplex


This duplex design challenged me in every way. The modern roof style was something I hadn’t done before, driveway access was tough and it would be the personal home of a friend of mine. For several years on & off he told me one day I’d get to design his home and finally the opportunity arose. In addition, his good friends would be purchasing (and living in) the other half of the duplex; I had to create something special.

I’ve included the plan images in the gallery along with detailed progress photos


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The building is on the lower half of a double depth lot with access thorough a side yard easement on the upper property. Driveway grade was set at the maximum 20% to ensure the building would be as low as possible to allow three storeys to fit within the height restriction. Parking and backing up the driveway was one of the toughest factors to overcome in this design. The front elevation window spacing were co-ordinated with exterior siding to create vertical bands of stucco finish running top to bottom. Steel stairs with concrete treads were used to access the entry from the driveway level. To keep the building within the allowed height and to create a modern feel, I used very low pitches on multiple roof areas. Siding combined with stucco and tall windows added to the look. Obviously views are very important here and each room facing the lake was fitted with 16 foot wide sliding doors. With the exception of some trim, the glass is nearly wall to wall. As with the right elevation, stucco and siding are combined to create a simple, modern exterior. The lower level garages were oversized to allow for storage. Each unit has a rec room with covered deck, a bath and mechanical area. One of the units even has a small wine room.The main level is completely open from end to end with the exception of a powder room and entry closet. This posed some engineering challenges as there were no interior walls to maintain rigidity in the structure. Later on in the progress photos, you’ll see a steel framework installed to allow for the open concept. The master bedrooms of each unit are located on the view side of the building and are separated from the bedroom areas by a large ensuite and walk-in closet. Each unit is just under 18 feet wide which made it tight for side by side bedrooms but I used a bump out to add additional room width. Even the smaller bedrooms have oversized closets. Feb 24, 2012 was my first visit to the site. It was already being cleared and the plan was to have the building locked up and being finished before winter. We had 7 months or so but factoring in design time, engineering and permits…..the pressure was on. Just a few days later on Feb 27, 2012 the site is cleared and ready to be surveyed. One of the nice features of the property is the treed area at the rear which will never be built on as it steeply drops off to the marina below. The challenge will be to ensure the bedroom levels get views over the hillside.June 1, 2012. With the design is done and building permit issued, work has started on the footing level.The driveway where the trailer is parked still needs to be excavated to just above the height of the footings you see on this side of the lumber pile. (garage slab level) There’s also a meeting happening here between the owner, builder and engineer regarding steel placement in the footings. June 13, 2012. Crawlspace walls are formed and concrete will be coming shortly July 8, 2012. The lower level is backfilled to slab height and the rec room walls are standing. Rec room walls viewed from the hillside. A slab will be poured off the rec rooms out to the retaining wall at the base of the hill. The concrete piers will support the covered deck posts. July 11, 2012. Things are getting interesting here; the structural steel frames are in place along with the deck posts and beams. This was one of the most complex area of the building design-wise. (and from the framer’s perspective – he reminded me a few times about this !)The garage walls are framed and driveway grade is getting closer to finalized. The top of the steel frames is the third floor level and we still have walls and roof to be installed. The view from the third floor is going to be amazing. July 20, 2012. Without actually standing here it’s tough to see what a challenge this was to incorporate the steel posts, angled deck framing and all the engineered hold-down hardware but it was really something else to see. I credit the framer on staying cool and doing an amazing job of all of it.I had to include this photo because it was right before the framer noticed me and was about to chase me off (or push me off) the deck ! Jokingly of course, but admittedly I created some interesting work for him. Not to mention it was blazing hot. August 11, 2012. Now I’m excited as it’s starting to look like a building; the main floor walls are done and the second floor decking has been installed. One more floor to go !The second level decks are creating some nice shade on the lower patio.Another example of the complexity of framing steel posts into the walls. The deck support beams meeting it at an angle added a little challenge but it’s all part of creating a unique design.Aug 28, 2012. Second floor is complete and the roof trusses are installed. The beige band of fascia is the edge of the covered deck roof on the right side unit and the ceiling of the dining room on the left. View from the hillside with all levels complete. Here you can see how deep the middle level decks are; lots of room to enjoy the view. Full height privacy walls are framed between each deck. I climbed a little higher on the hill to get some perspective on the building size. The front and rear sections of trusses are installed but the middle section is yet to be completed. September 10, 2012. All the windows are installed and fascias are complete. Exterior finish will be starting soon. View from the hillside with all levels complete. Here you can see how deep the middle level decks are; lots of room to enjoy the view. Full height privacy walls are framed between each deck. This shot really highlights the decks and how the sliding door openings are angled to face the view of the water rather than perpendicular to the side walls. The middle and side walls of the decks will give plenty of privacy. Master bedroom deck with membrane applied. Nov 11, 2012. The interiors are now boarded and taking shape. I’m looking from the living room through the kitchen towards the dining and entry. The powder room door is just behind the stairs. Looking from the dining back toward the living room. Dec 26, 2012. Yes, it’s Boxing Day, I couldn’t help myself but go see how things were progressing. Now it’s looking like a finished buildingThe scratch cost of stucco has been applied and scaffold is starting to come down. There was just enough room to squeeze scaffolding along the side yard. The driveway is paved, scratch coat complete now just waiting for warmer weather to arrive for final stucco coat and landscaping. I love these doors. They are just starting to make their way into our area and aren’t typically seen that often. Steel stairs down to the driveway will be installed directly in line with the entry doors. (currently covered in wood)