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About the Speaker
MADELEINE SLOBACK: Principal, Interior Designer, Madeleine Design Group
Before starting her career as an Interior Designer, Madeleine worked as a finishing carpenter on commercial and high-end residential projects, building a knowledge base of how each of the elements of construction work together.
Madeleine’s knowledge of construction combined with her passion for catered, functional, and creative interiors has helped her create spaces that are unique and distinctive to each individual client.
JOHN QUINTON: President, Quinton Construction
Born in Montréal growing up in Knowlton, John moved to Toronto for High School and graduated as an Ontario Scholar. While in Toronto he worked as a handyman helping with light renovations to rental units for friends of the family. Completing a university undergraduate degree in Marine Biology and a Masters Degree in Zoology at the University of BC, John began working on his PhD at Simon Fraser University. Along the way he met and married his wife and had a family. During his studies he began working for his father-in-law, John Adams, a developer in Vancouver.
In 1981 John started Quinton Installations doing tenant improvements for Adams Properties where they branched out into more commercial interior work and did a lot of work with Spectra Group doing restaurant renovations. During this period they began doing more residential renovation work for people they had met through the commercial work.
Quinton Construction has specialized in residential renovation and new construction since then. It is a family business run by John and his wife, with a daughter and son in the office. Specialized as a high-service quality residential renovation company, committed to their clients, employees and community. Active in profess, professional associations such as the Homebuilders Association Vancouver; they are a registered RenoMark Contractor, member of the Better Business Bureau, and registered with the ITA with an active apprenticeship training program. John is also a strong believer in the heritage of Vancouver and sits as a member of the board of directors of the Vancouver Heritage Foundation.
Check out pictures of the Kitsilano Heritage Renovation project.
Here's the Full Transcript of this Episode
EPISODE #52 HAVAN AWARDS Best Home Reno: $1.5 Million and Over
[00:00:00] Jennifer-Lee: Hey, Mike, we’re back in the studio for another episode of HAVAN’s Measure Twice Cut Once.
[00:00:07] Mike: Hello there, Jennifer Lee. It is always a pleasure to be back in Rami Films to record another episode of HAVAN’s fantastic podcast, Measure Twice Cut Once. And as always, we are talking with an award winning designers and award winning builders about some of the things it takes to create amazing results when you’re planning a project. And I’m so excited about the guests we have this week. We have Madeleine from Madeleine Design Group, who is a phenomenal designer with an amazing background in this industry and one of our neighbors, and we have John from Quintin Construction as well. And we’re going to dig into it and learn a bunch about both of you.
[00:00:40] Jennifer-Lee: Yeah. I’m really excited. Like I’ve known Madeleine for quite a few years and John, we just met, but you seem like a lot of fun. So for the audience that might not know you, let’s start with you, John, can you tell us a little bit about yourself, your origin story?
[00:00:56] John: I have been working, Quinton Construction’s been around since 1981, so more than a little while. Started out as a tenant improvement company for my father-in-law, who was a developer downtown. Morphed into a residential construction company because we enjoyed that a lot more than commercial. It’s more personable. So we started as mostly a renovation company. We now do a mix of renovation and new build. We’re very client driven. And we’re just big on quality service.
Jennifer-Lee: And you have an adorable dog.
[00:01:32] John: I have two adorable dogs.
Jennifer-Lee: Oh, there we go. Chihuahuas. Chihuahuas, of course.
[00:01:37] Mike: And when we think of award-winning builders, we often think of people with engineering backgrounds or framing backgrounds or something like that. You have a very different background. Can you tell us a little about it and how it doesn’t relate at all to construction?
[00:01:48] John: I do have, I have an academic background. I have a bachelor’s degree in in marine biology, and a master’s degree in zoology and biomechanics.
[00:02:02] Madeleine: I did not know this. Wow, I’m in shock.
[00:02:04] John: And seven eighths of a PhD in aquaculture. Yeah I’ve done a few varied things. I’ve been a sessional lecturer which I enjoy. I enjoy teaching and I think that’s part of what I still enjoy because we are involved with the ITA and we’re running an apprentice program. So we try and build the future of construction in BC. Yeah, it just got to the point where I was seven eighths of the way through a PhD with four kids and the prospect of endless series of postdocs with no money didn’t appeal to my wife very much and the children kept wanting to eat and wear shoes and stuff. So we I’d always been in construction since high school too, as a part-time thing and my father in law was a developer. I’d worked with him a lot during my academic career again to feed children. And then we just transitioned into it and it’s been great. I enjoy it. It’s again, it’s especially in renovation. It’s a problem-solving approach to building and yeah, enjoy it.
[00:03:04] Jennifer-Lee: I think that’s great because I believe that many degrees can help you, even if they’re not like, biology, maybe not necessarily like construction, but they all interconnect. Like we had Khang on a recent episode, and he started in biology and he was an architect. So, I just think a lot of times you can learn and use things from it.
[00:03:22] John: Maybe not zoology, but there are a surprising number of builders who are biologists.
Jennifer-Lee: Oh, really? I didn’t know that.
John: Yeah. Yes, and I’ve known quite a few. it’s problem solving, and it’s an approach to problems that, that helps. I think, many people will look at a degree not so much for what the degree is, but because you’ve committed for at least four years to show up and do what you have to do, so it shows a commitment, and you can look at that and move forward with that.
[00:03:51] Mike: Hey, John, I’ve got a question for you. In addition to all this wonderful education that you have, you’re also very active in the community as well, specifically sitting on the board of directors for something very near and dear to your heart. Can you talk a little about that?
[00:04:03] John: I was on the board of directors of the Vancouver Heritage Foundation for 10 years and the term is only maximum for 10 years, so I have left the board itself, but I continue to work on the granting committee and various other involvement with the Heritage Foundation. I originally got asked to be on the board when I had worked on over half the board’s houses at that time. And they thought maybe somebody who at least has a pickup truck would be helpful. And that, and I enjoyed my time with the board. It was interesting. It’s a different perspective on building, but I have had a long commitment with the history of Vancouver building and I love it. And I’m very familiar with it. And we do a lot of heritage work in Vancouver.
[00:04:48] Jennifer-Lee: That’s great. I love the fact that we are preserving a lot of the buildings and like even the finding the right paint colors fascinates me too because I know in one of the seasons we followed a Heritage B renovation and the idea of there’s only so many colors that you can pick and it’s depending on what area of Vancouver too has its own set of colors.
[00:05:07] John: There’s a lot of very specific vernacular details in Vancouver. The Heritage Foundation does have a true colors program where they will come. and scrape your house and tell you what your original colors were, and there’s grants to paint it in the correct colors. A little plug for the VHF. That’s okay. But even down to knee brace design they vary even within neighborhoods because a lot of Vancouver was built by neighborhood builders. So you’ll see a lot of the same type of house in the neighborhood. Like the Vancouver special, but no, but the original Vancouver death specials date from about 1906. And you’ll see the same house, that’s in Kits, and then you’ll see the same house and you’ll go and look at all the Georgians in Kerrisdale.
[00:05:56] Mike: Now, did that have to do with approval of plans and just a standardized set of plans the city could approve, or is that just any easier to, than redesigning a new home?
[00:06:04] John: Up until probably the, what we consider the Vancouver Special, that would have been just what was selling for the builder because there’s been a commercial aspect of building in Vancouver since the get go. So, it was the style of the house that was popular with the demographic that the builder was building for. So, the big house, the big Georgians in Kerrisdale were for successful people who wanted big Georgian houses. The Vancouver, what we think of the Vancouver special, which is the two-story box with a Miranda on the front and the fig tree in the back was developed. As almost standard set of plans, which you could take into city hall and get approval for it within 15 minutes. It doesn’t happen these days.
[00:06:47] Jennifer-Lee: What?
John: Yeah. I was like, wow,
Jennifer-Lee: My dad would be happy to know that. Cause right now, as permits can take quite a while.
[00:06:54] Mike: So we’re talking about Vancouver specials. We’re talking about heritage homes. And I imagine that doing renovation work on a heritage home would be difficult. I would also imagine designing a renovation with a heritage style home would also be very difficult and that’s where having a great team comes in. So obviously half of this dynamic duel is also a phenomenal designer. So Madeleine, can you tell us a little bit about yourself because you’re part of this equation as well and I love your background because you’re not just a designer, you have a very detailed background. So why don’t you introduce yourself because this is your first time on our show.
[00:07:27] Madeleine: Yeah, so Madeleine Design Group is our company. We’re in our 10th year of business this year which is awesome. I made it past that hump. I feel like I created a couple of humps along the way though, trying to produce a family. Yeah, that’ll do that. But yeah, no, we’re very excited to be in our 10th year and I, my background actually comes in in another form of the construction industry. I started out as a carpenter. So I went the government has a fantastic grant program where you can actually take a trade in high school. So I did my first year carpentry in grade 12, and graduated and got working on the tools right away. And my, it was something that my high school woodwork teacher pushed me to do. I had done another, program through high school that started in grade 10 for me. Actually, grade 10, 11, 12, it was just an evening program out of Kwantlen where I was doing an architectural drafting certificate. So through high school and once I graduated, I had those two skills on hand. And was able to go out and make some real money, which was great, and then started my started my interior design journey very shortly after. Started going to school for that at BCIT and worked on the tools while going to school, which just gave me a great knowledge background for how everything gets put together, how construction works. I had a little bit of commercial experience in construction, I had a little bit of residential while I was doing carpentry work and then and then once I finished the schooling and got to a point where I wanted to be with design I went out and joined a firm.
[00:09:04] Mike: And then eventually you went out and started a firm.
[00:09:06] Madeleine: Yeah. When I got sick of working under somebody else.
[00:09:11] Mike: And you guys also, we actually met because you’re in the same community as I am and you’d started doing this very big renovation of this house and it was stunning so I wanted to reach out to you and now I hate going to your house because every time I go back to my house I feel so inadequate because it’s so nicely done. But you guys have done some amazing things and you’ve got a new office now so lots of great things and love to see you, love to see you here with us and winning awards. That’s awesome.
[00:09:34] Madeleine: Thank you. Yeah, it’s been a journey. It’s been a, I call it the grind, but it’s very rewarding and just it’s always changing. Like we’re, it’s such a great industry and profession to be in because I started out in commercial when I got out of school. I did corporate tenant improvement for four and a half years, and it was a design build company and again got the great kind of details background, but the creative and the personal aspect that that was just really lacking for me. And that’s why I decided to start my own and get into the residential and get a bit more of that connection with clients and to be able to spread my wings creatively as well. And business wise too, which that was something I didn’t go to school for.
[00:10:23] Jennifer-Lee: I don’t think anybody that starts a business goes to school for a business.
[00:10:28] Madeleine: No it’s, yeah, like I said, it’s a grind, but it’s been a good one.
[00:10:32] Mike: This is why a lot of really talented people aren’t able to do what you’re able to do, right? Because there isn’t a lot of education on business acumen. It’s about how to do this and how to do that. So good on you for figuring all that out. And how many people do you have with you now? You have a pretty big team, right?
[00:10:46] Madeleine: We’re a team of five. So, it’s myself, I call myself the creative director, creative lead. I’ve got two lead designers who run their own projects support designer and an operations manager, who is my new lifeline. It’s still a newish in the grand scheme of things. She’s been with me for just over a year, but it’s given me the opportunity to really focus more on, on what my designers are doing and how we can run projects together and also have another baby, which is new.
Jennifer-Lee: Oh, I thought you meant having another baby. Another baby.
Medline: Yeah. I didn’t have her for the first one.
[00:11:19] Jennifer-Lee: Oh, I thought you meant having another, like a third baby.
[00:11:21] Madeleine: Oh, a third baby. No. It’ll be the two babies. Two babies. Two babies and the business.
[00:11:26] Jennifer-Lee: Your business is a baby.
[00:11:27] Madeleine: Exactly. Yes.
[00:11:28] Jennifer-Lee: And how did you guys get to know each other? You and John is this your first project working together?
[00:11:33] Madeleine: Yes, it was. So we are now working on two other ones. So we’ve got three but this was, we met on this project through the clients. Through the clients. Yeah, it was fantastic. I was very excited when I heard that I got to work with somebody that has a great experience in, or a great background in the heritage aspect. And it is, I just want to classify that it is, it’s not a heritage zoned building but we wanted to keep the heritage elements to what the, to be period correct, as John likes to say,
[00:12:03] John: especially exterior details, the house has to look right and we didn’t change. So it was this shape that it was when it was created. So the exterior details in order for the house to feel right, have to match that shape because you can’t put the wrong things on the outside of the house. The inside is more flexible and the details are important, but there are, you can interpret them a little more, because it’s a very important that a house works for the people who live there. And that’s where the strength of an interior designer is, in terms of developing the right flow to a house. So a good renovation is always what a house wanted to be when it grew up for the people who are living in it.
[00:12:44] Jennifer-Lee: Love it. And of course, we’re going to do a deep dive in that project a little bit later, the one that you won awards for. But had you ever heard of Madeleine before?
[00:12:53] John: I had we’d never worked together before. I have really enjoyed, it’s great working with a designer who has significant construction experience because a lot of stuff is really easy to draw and really hard to build. And that and having that conversation or having that level of understanding makes it a lot easier to, because during a renovation, there’s always challenges. And then we, I think we were able to work through them really well to come up with good solutions that work from both a design and a build perspective.
[00:13:25] Mike: Is it harder to plan a heritage style renovation? Each generation of housing is built differently, right? So you’re dealing with different elements in that age of building versus one from the 60s or 70s. Is it harder to plan those renovations for those older style homes or is it easier?
[00:13:41] Madeleine: I think it depends on the, what you’re trying to achieve out of it and how much money do you want to spend. That’s always the determining factor. You can do whatever you want if you have an open-ended budget. But yeah, I mean there’s definitely constraints. We were trying to work within modernizing the house but still keeping it feeling like, the correct era so opening it up, creating more of an open concept living, but still having that delineation between each room. So having, working within those constraints and then structurally as well. That was where the house ate up a lot of steel.
[00:14:10] John: It does have a lot of steel in it. We do use a lot of steel because of the transition from a, originally the house would be a lot of little rooms. And that’s structurally, what holds those whole houses up is a lot of interior walls. And when you move away from that, you have to work with a good engineer who understands old buildings and how they transfer load. And you can come up with a design where you can integrate those steel and other structural elements without it really impinging on the feel of the house again. So you can make it work without it being obvious that there’s a. Jesus, big steel, 27 foot steel beam running down the middle of the house.
[00:14:54] Jennifer-Lee: Yeah. It must be hard to do open concept then for the heritage style homes, because like you said, they were so dependent on many more walls and boxed off rooms and everything like that.
[00:15:05] John: It’s a structural challenge and, but that’s true of almost any new house given the way that people want no walls, all glass and nowhere to run plumbing. Invisible plumbing but. I think we were able to move walls around and maintain that feel really nicely for that house. Anything’s possible and you just have to approach it with a problem-solving attitude that we can make this work and there may be a compromise here or there. We’re going to have to move a wall a little bit but generally speaking that because they’re fairly simple structures. The old houses are very straightforward in terms of their framing, joist, and structural layout that we can usually work around them without a lot of, we can make it work.
[00:15:54] Jennifer-Lee: You can make it work.
[00:15:55] John: We can make it work.
Mike: I want a home that’s all glass, not one wood beam. I want to find out about this heritage style home because that’s really intriguing to me. But before we do, we just have to take a short break to podcast partners. We’ll be right back.
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[00:17:34] Mike: All right, we’re back. We’re talking about the Kitsilano Heritage Renovation, which has won, what, two HAVAN Awards? Congratulations. So, you guys won an award for Housing Excellence winner, Best Renovation: $1. 5 million and over, and Best Interior Design Renovated Home. So, congratulations on both, to both of you. Is this your first awards that you guys have won?
[00:17:57] Madeleine: Nope. No, Madeleine’s won many been, I’ve been yeah, no, we’ve been pushing for the awards for a few years now. We’ve got a nice shelf in my office.
[00:18:06] Mike: Welcome back to the winner’s circle. John, you’ve won your previous award winner as well?
[00:18:11] John: Not really. I don’t enter much.
[00:18:15] Madeleine: Only if he’s got a sucker of a designer that’ll do it for him. That’s right.
[00:18:17] John: That’s right. We have done a few. We’ve been finalists in a lot, in, in both Georgies, and HAVAN Awards the last couple of years. But it’s never been a big part of what we do, but it’s nice to be acknowledged and it’s nice when you’re working with a great designer and have it and a great client. Great product.
[00:18:34] Jennifer-Lee: So, she’s got a closet of awards. So where do you put yours?
[00:18:38] John: It’s in the office somewhere.
[00:18:40] Jennifer-Lee: Oh, nice. And in all seriousness, of course, this is a great big deal. What does winning an award like the HAVAN Awards mean to both of you?
[00:18:49] Madeleine: It’s just great recognition throughout the industry and a little bit of street cred for our industry peers. And also, just good marketing for clients as well. Just being able to say that we’re award winners and talk about those specific projects. We submit projects that were particularly very proud of and have worked really, have just gone really smoothly with clients and the overall end result is something that everybody’s really excited about. So, it’s always just, it’s great to have that extra badge of honor to, to wear on a project that you already feel very proud of and to know that other people are proud of you for it as well is great.
[00:19:25] John: Yes. That’s it. That’s it.
[00:19:25] Jennifer-Lee: You said it. You liked them.
[00:19:28] John: I was like, yeah. Quintin Construction has always been a referral kind of business because we’ve been around just like my family company.
[00:19:35] Jennifer-Lee: Got it. A long time. Your love of dad.
[00:19:38] John: But with the right project, it’s, I like getting it out there. Like, I was really proud of this project. This is one of my favorite projects. So, it was nice to get it out there and get it recognized as for what it is. There it was a great project with a great team and a great client. Because you can’t do it without them and I think it turned out really well and it’s nice to get it recognized for that.
[00:20:04] Jennifer-Lee: What makes this project special for you then, that you wanted everyone to see it?
John: I don’t know. The floors.
[00:20:10] Madeleine: It’s a combination of a bunch of things, like the clients are phenomenal and we’re happy. The whole process, like we had some challenges with permit delays and just challenges moving things through the city and some frustrations for sure on that. And just to be able to have a really great relationship with the client all the way through and then be understanding of those kinds of challenges and anything that came up on site that needed to be reworked or massaged during construction. There was just a really good team approach to it and so everybody’s excited for the end result because you’re not dreading the misery on site, which can happen during construction. Sometimes it’s just you don’t have the right mix of personalities or the correct equation to make it all run smoothly and this was just it. We had the it team.
[00:20:58] Mike: This show is all about that. Finding the right combination, finding the right team and finding the right people. Let’s take a look at this house because you guys are both so proud of it and I love hearing the background because it didn’t start out what it is now. Can you guys give us a bit of background of what you started with and what the process was to come up with the final end result? Because there’s two parts to that one. Why did you do what you do in second part? And this is always the part that perplexed me. How do you look at a house and go we’re just going to do this, and this, like how, where’s that inspiration come from with an older home? So, it’s a two-part. Maybe I’ll get John to talk us through the initial part of the home and what you did and then how you figured some details out.
[00:21:35] John: The house started when we, when our clients and we first looked at it, it had been subdivided into three legal suites. And the client loved the location, liked the look of, liked the feel of the house, but wanted to return it back into a single family home with a legal suite in the basement, which was already there. And they had already approached Madeleine. There were some fairly, quite preliminary, or not bad design drawings about what they were going to do about it. At that point they hadn’t considered changing the exterior, which at that time was red stucco. Which is an unfortunate choice by somebody not associated with anybody.
[00:22:21] Madeleine: Yeah, along with some resting and finishing materials. Yes,
[00:22:25] John: yeah, there were, there was a lot of questionable design choices, both inside and outside the house that needed to be fixed. Madeleine’s design was focused on the interior and then we were looking at changing all the windows to achieve a higher degree of energy efficiency. We’re looking at, and it became obvious to me because the, we really wanted to fix the exterior of the house, that it would never be the house that it could be if it was left with a stucco, smooth stucco exterior, no matter what color it was. And it needed to have the correct details reestablished on the outside, the correct feel, and we talked to the homeowners and they came to the realization that in order for the house to end up where they really wanted it to, that redoing the exterior was going to be part of the plan. And I think one of the things that made this job easier, and Madeleine’s referred to it as well, is the level of transparency between designer, builder, client. It was here’s what we think, it was very transparent, and that helped a lot.
[00:23:37] Madeleine: Yeah, absolutely.
[00:23:39] Jennifer-Lee: I want to know about some really unfortunate design choices besides the red stucco. What’s the worst one that sticks out to you? Paint a picture.
[00:23:46] Madeleine: So it was divided into three legal suites so that they could be rented. And so, there were rental finishes. Oh, okay. Like the hardwood flooring that we uncovered underneath the laminate flooring. It’s just oh my god, why would anybody ever cover that up?
[00:24:01] Mike: So, this is a renovation done in the 90s, obviously.
[00:24:03] Madeleine: Yeah, it was about a 15-year-old reno or so?
[00:24:07] John: Yeah, it was a 90s reno done in about 2005.
[00:24:11] Madeleine: Yeah, exactly. You could tell that it was discount materials. Thrown in there to get rental units out.
[00:24:16] John: Like they did it cheap and it was a classic seventies kits rental. If you’re what’s a classic you got around and sit in the seventies kits was not what it is now. It was all cheap rental places.
[00:24:42] Madeleine: Yeah, it was just, they just weren’t well curated materials, obviously not set up for it.
[00:24:47] John: Yeah, they were just
[00:24:53] Madeleine: Like it’s cheaper,
[00:24:53] Jennifer-Lee: but that’s the one thing that’s always perplexed me about the older homes in Vancouver is why people want to cover up the gorgeous hardwood.
[00:25:01] Madeleine: Because it costs money to repair it and position it correctly in a home. It’s way easier to cover it up with laminate than to refinish it and continue it into a room because obviously the old the original house was chopped up into these three different suites now. And then when we demoed it, we tore it all back and we’re like, whoa, this is obviously John walked us through the house because he’s got the knowledge on heritage and it’s just this is obviously where the old kitchen was and this was where the sitting room was and it was just so interesting and you could tell just from the floor. Yeah, where the fireplace was. Yeah, exactly, because you, these are the areas that your guests would see, whereas in the kitchen of that age of house, that’s not where your guests would see. It’s very different than how we live in our house now. So, the flooring is cheaper. lesser expensive. I don’t like to use the word cheaper. So yeah, no, it was a really interesting process in that sense. And then with the design of it to bring it back to, bring it back to what what it wanted to be when it grows up as John likes to say, but also what the clients wanted to see. And that’s what, that’s where our relationship with a client as a designer is so important. And what we do is so important because we aren’t designing houses for us. We’re designing houses for our clients. And it’s really our process and our values are really making sure that our projects really represent what our clients want to see and how they want to live in their house and what’s important to them and what was really important to these particular clients was to have a house that feels like it’s the correct era by modernizing as well still and bring in some modern elements with technology, but also the flow of the house and finishes and marrying those two was really a fun process and creating a layout tha represents both of those was – it was just neat because they really, they had a vision, but it’s really about pulling their vision out and putting it down onto paper for them.
[00:26:53] Mike: I just want to go back to something. We’re talking about the technology in the home. We’re not talking about TV and sound systems. We’re talking about other technology that one could put in a home from the 1900s to bring it up to 21st century specification and standards. What are some of the types of technology someone should be thinking about if they have an older home and want to do a renovation of this type?
[00:27:12] John: Probably one of the largest. pieces of equipment that you would want to put in your home would be a good HVAC system with a heat pump. And that will do a lot for your home. Also making sure it’s properly air sealed, which doesn’t necessarily, we replaced all the windows in this house. None of them were original, but even if you have an older home with original windows, as long as you draft seal, you can get increased efficiency. Terrifically. You have to be careful when dealing with an older home because the building science of an older home is based on having huge drying potential. Almost all these houses at some point get wet, but they’re able to dry. And you have to be cognizant of that when you’re upgrading these homes that you bear that in mind. For our new construction, we are, we’re very aggressive with our air sealing. We use entirely exterior insulated wall assemblies. So we’re very forward on that. type of technology when applied to an entirely new home. But when you’re working with an existing home, you have to be careful about how you apply some of those technologies.
[00:28:17] Jennifer-Lee: I just have a quick question for you because you’re a very first heritage expert we’ve had on
John: I wouldn’t say expert.
Jennifer-Lee: You’ve been on a board for 10 years, I’d say expert. But I want to know just about the windows. Because I know you mentioned, Madeleine, that this home didn’t have a designation, so you guys didn’t technically have to put it up to the heritage standards. But in other ones that do have designations, do you have to keep the windows like the original glass and some?
John: You should.
Jennifer-Lee: And how do you get around that though? Because obviously don’t have R value and things.
[00:28:46] John: okay. All windows, even if they’re triple glazed argon filled are relatively large holes in your house. The R value of a very efficient window is not that great. In Vancouver, because we have very few days where there’s a really huge difference between interior and it isn’t Edmonton, like you’re not going to have a hundred degree temperature difference between inside and outside. Not minus 30. No, most of the discomfort you feel in an older home is not through transmission through the glass, it’s drafts around it. And you can rebuild a traditional double hung window. So they are ways. It’s really quite airtight if you use the right sealing and that increases a combination of increasing the air tightness. And if you put either drapes on the inside or storm windows on the outside, old technology works great. When I was a kid, we used to change our storm windows, put them on in the fall, take them off in the spring. Yeah. There’s grants from the Vancouver Heritage Foundation available for storm windows for your house. So, there are a lot of solutions that allow you to keep a lot of the very traditional heritage details and increase your efficiency.
[00:29:57] Jennifer-Lee: See, you are an expert. I always wondered about that. So thank you. Storm windows. Storm windows. First thing, I learned something new all day. I get it. I, because I live in a building from 1912 and it’s all windows and they’ve never been replaced And I do feel the draft coming to the window.
[00:30:12] John: It’s the draft that’s cold. It’s not, you only feel the window temperature if you’re standing like right in front of the window.
[00:30:20] Jennifer-Lee: So the air I’m feeling is not from the window. Okay.
[00:30:23] John: It’s not coming through the glass. No. Okay.
[00:30:26] Mike: So on this project obviously there were some great results that were created and we’ve talked about that. There’s also going to be some challenges because there’s no manual on how to renovate a home because every home is different. What are some of the challenges that you faced doing this project and how did you overcome them? Because. Okay. this is going to have, as an example, we know this happened during some severe fluctuations in material goods. That would be one of many challenges. What are some of the other challenges that you had to deal with in this project?
[00:30:59] Madeleine: How much are we allowed to talk about the city?
[00:31:05] John: There were some permitting challenges exacerbated by COVID in terms of everybody working from home and the time, response time was slow. And the ability to, because each of these type of projects requires. some interpretation of how the rules are supposed to work. Don’t get me started on why the City should have a heritage character home stream for renovations.
[00:31:34] Jennifer-Lee: They don’t have a separate one.
[00:31:37] John: They do for passive houses, but, don’t get me started on that. But so, there was those challenges. There were a few structural challenges. They weren’t too bad. We did increase the scope of work significantly with the exterior renovation and it’s all done in real cedar shingle. And that does reflect on the price increase because the price of shingles quadrupled. Per box. So that when we decided to pursue that avenue of finish I went out and bought every box of shingles I could that we needed for the house at what, at the cheapest price I could find, which turned out to be a fairly good deal. ’cause they went from, we paid around $400 a box and they, by the time the job was finished, they were retailing for just under nine. How many shingles in one box? There is half a square, 50 square feet. Apparently, I should be in the shingles business. Yeah, there’s a whole issue about shingles because they can only come from old growth trees because they’re the only ones big enough to create shingle bots.
[00:32:46] Mike: So, do companies, like there are companies there that are now doing deconstruction as opposed to just demolishing houses by leveraging those companies that are taking apart some of these heritage houses. Can you find organic materials that work with the house or do you have to source all new materials in these type of projects?
[00:33:04] Madeleine: It’s typically all new materials.
[00:33:06] John: Yeah, it’s very some, there’s a couple of issues with recycled materials. Flooring you can do. But the problem with, if you’re looking at a typical three eighths inch top nail white oak, which is a very traditional floor in Vancouver, when it’s applied, there’s 32 nails per square foot when it’s applied properly which means that old floors Come with 32 holes per square foot and then you fill them and then use them. So, there’s a different look to it depending on how it’s filled. Shingles can’t be removed, but we’ve done other houses where we have removed the asbestos shingle.
[00:33:41] Jennifer-Lee: Why can’t shingles be removed?
[00:33:43] John: Because they don’t come apart. They split.
[00:33:46] Madeleine: Asbestos, yeah. Yeah. Yeah, the houses that are getting deconstructed, the materials aren’t necessarily being rejuvenated back into the original form they’re going into they’re getting recycled into other types of building materials. Yeah.
[00:33:59] Jennifer-Lee: And in Vancouver, you can only deconstruct now, right? Isn’t that the law?
[00:34:03] John: There, there is a, there are recycling requirements. Yeah. Deconstruction requirements. Yeah.
[00:34:07] Mike: So, Madeleine, I, I always wonder how you figure out the things you figure out. And that’s probably why I’m not a designer. That you need to be talented.
[00:34:17] Madeleine: Don’t even get me started on why I don’t do A.V.
[00:34:23] Mike: how do you get, when we’re looking at a project like this, how do you balance a home like that with the rest of the neighborhood? Is it a matter of just doing some research or talking to neighbors? Like how do you make it look like it belongs even though it’s essentially a new…
[00:34:37] Madeleine: On the interior’s perspective, that’s not so much a concern because you don’t see inside people’s houses. But the exterior, we had a lot had a lot to do with John’s influence, to be honest. One of my most favorable memories of one of our site meetings was doing a little walkabout. He took us on a tour. We had a little field trip around the neighborhood with John and talked about some of the architectural elements of some of the other houses in the neighborhood, and what was correct for that neighborhood, what was correct for the era and how to incorporate it into that house with it all being the proper representation of its birthday.
[00:35:20] Jennifer-Lee: And Madeleine, with that, did you keep any heritage details or add them throughout in the interior design? Or was it quite modern inside?
[00:35:27] Madeleine: No, so it’s quite, it’s, there’s a lot of traditional elements on the interior of the house. We did uncover some absolutely stunning original hardwood floors that that were a huge win in the demo process. So, we actually had some photo-realistic renderings done of the kitchen when we were doing the interior design. And if you look at the rendering, and then the real image, it looks almost the exact same except for the floors, and the floors in the real image are so outstanding because they’re just, the detailing in them is incredible. So, we incorporated, we I don’t think we changed too much once we discovered those because they, it just worked with what we had, which I think is is a bit of a pat on the back to our design team for creating an interiors package that does speak to the original era of the home because they did just work. But we have some modern elements in some of the millwork detailing, like we, we eliminated crown. in the kitchen and had around the kitchen cabinetry and had the crown actually butt into it. And then the wall paneling throughout, John had the influence on that, on how to properly detail that to to be more period correct. And then incorporating artwork and some furniture. The client had some really awesome antique pieces that we brought in and then mixed with some modern furniture as well. Cause we actually did. the full furniture and decor package for this as well. So, it was just a really fun process of mixing the two styles and creating this very almost eclectic but very personal space for these particular clients.
[00:37:00] Mike: Imagine it would be a little bit more of a creative challenge than here’s a brand new house and a blank slate as well, because you’re trying to balance two things, but you still get to, like, how do I make it look like it’s from the time, but also make it look new?
[00:37:11] Madeleine: Yeah, exactly. And it was fun. Like we, me and Tyler, the lead designer on the project, we actually went out one day and just went antiquing. We were trying to find a a chest of drawers to use the, as the vanity in the powder room. Clients ended up finding one at an antique shop that they were visiting. But just that kind of stuff where you’re out and you’re thinking outside of just your, the box that we, it’s a big box that we have to source from as interior designers but incorporating some more personality and it was so fun to be able to use some of their influence as well. I’ve, even just her art collection was outstanding and I got to go and reframe it and create some cohesiveness just with using the same frames on a few pieces, but having the original art because she is a great art collector of some really awesome vintage pieces. So, it really boils down to having the personality of your clients really shine through.
[00:38:05] Jennifer-Lee: And usually with interior design, I hear this from many different people is sometimes the clients have a clear idea of they want, what they want, and some don’t. When they came in, did you know that they wanted to keep more of a heritage feel to the home? Or was that something that you and John kind of pushed them towards?
[00:38:21] Madeleine: No, she definitely, it’s what I shouldn’t say she, both the husband and wife were very involved in the whole design process. They have some they’ve lived in England for a part of their relationship. And a big influence came from Soho House. The private hotel chain that, I don’t know if it’d be a chain, but I’ve never visited one.
[00:38:43] Jennifer-Lee: They look very fancy.
[00:38:46] Madeleine: But she, her influence was very much so from that. So we went, we bought a couple of Soho books and and pulled some design elements from those. And again, that kind of has that eclectic modern mix with traditional elements in those. So it was, she definitely had that vision of wanting it to have that kind of I don’t know what you even call it. We, it’s there’s so many terms out there for interior design styles that it’s hard to pinpoint every house, but it’s her, it’s them. It’s their personality, which is what our job is all about.
[00:39:18] Mike: It just underscores the value of working with a great designer. their own. Yeah. This has been such a great conversation, and this is such a unique conversation because we don’t talk about heritage style homes. There’s not many of them because we’re a fairly young city, but the ones we have are really beautiful and really worth preserving. Obviously, there was a lot of things that we went through this today, and you guys have been very candid in sharing both the good and the bad, the struggles and the wins, and a lot of lessons as well. I think the two biggest lessons I’m taking away from this are the fact that, first of all as always, you need to work with the right people. So if we’re looking at a heritage house, working with a great designer, working with a builder who’s very comfortable with that type of home is going to yield great results. And as always, working with professionals who both have the experience and the passion to bring a project this to where it is, where it’s winning awards, it looks fantastic is really key. So, thank you both of you for sharing your insight, your experience, and your information today.
[00:40:20] Jennifer-Lee: Yeah, and just before we go I have to ask you guys this question like I ask everyone But I know you shared a lot of great tips today, but can you give us one more tip to close everything off for somebody? Who wants to maybe do a heritage home or something else you really want them to know about maybe hiring an interior designer?
[00:40:39] Madeleine: I’ll take that just so John doesn’t say the same answer as me and I’m left with nothing to say. No, I think it’s really about building that team. And I say this to every client that we’re every prospective client is building the team early on and making sure that you’re comfortable with with who you’re hiring and that and that you’re, that they’ve worked either, they’ve worked together, which I mean, we hadn’t, which is a great example of building a relationship with somebody that that you can foresee working well together and and having that connection. It’s such a personal thing that you’re doing. And I tell clients that to interview their builders because based on their personality, as opposed to what they see on paper, because it is a very personal relationship that you’re creating over the course of however many years and just getting everybody together from the get go.
[00:41:27] John: I think, I agree actually. I think that it’s critical. We have always just been a build firm rather than a design build firm because I know lots of really good designers. Madeleine, of course, being the best. But they’re not the perfect designer for every client in the same way that I’m not the perfect builder for every client. So I think it’s really important that you get a team together that you’re very comfortable with and share your vision. It’s your house. And you have to be able to move forward because in reality you’re going to be in a relationship depending on the size of your project for quite a long time and you’re going to give us quite a lot of money so you should be happy with who you’re working and comfortable with who you’re working with. And in terms of planning, getting the team together. The new phrase is the integrated design technique, but it’s just been getting the team together early because depending on who your architect, your engineer, your designer is, some stuff’s easy to draw and hard to build. Sometimes you can get good experience and maybe a different technique will save you money in the training and all changes done on paper are cheaper than ones done in wood or concrete.
[00:42:35] Mike: Great advice. Very true. It’s been a great conversation. Before we go, I have one last question, but it’s not for you two, it’s actually for our viewers and our listeners. Hey, would you like to win a beautiful stainless steel, natural gas barbecue from FortisBC? If you would, then you’re definitely in the right place. All you have to do is listen to our podcast, what you’re doing, tell your family, tell your friends, even if you see people in the street, go, Hey, there’s this podcast you need to know about. Definitely share it. And if you do, you can win an Napoleon prestige P 500 stainless steel, natural gas barbecue valued at over $1,500.00 courtesy of our fantastic podcast partners at FortisBC. All you have to do is go to HAVAN.ca/measuretwicecutonce.
[00:43:16] Jennifer-Lee: All I can think about is burgers now. You’re making me hungry. And notes for links to everything mentioned on today’s episode, including resources shared by John and Madeleine, go to HAVAN.ca/measuretwicecutonce. Thank you again to Trail Appliances, FortisBC, Vicostone Canada, and Rami Films, and thank you so much for joining us. Thank you
[00:43:36] Madeleine: Thank you.
[00:43:36] John: Thank you.