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Our bungalow was a perfect starter house, but with a growing family we needed to think bigger. There was some sadness to seeing our house ripped apart, but also excitement for what will come.
Our bungalow was a perfect starter house, but with a growing family we needed to think bigger. There was some sadness to seeing our house ripped apart, but also excitement for what will come.

It was a great starter home, but it’s time to tear down and start over Add to ...

It was a great starter home: a little bungalow with basement apartment potential in a trendy Ottawa neighbourhood. And it was a decent price. In 2009, my husband (then-boyfriend) and I decided to settle down after a few years of school, travelling and living abroad. We’d been house-hunting for several months when we found The One.

Five years, a wedding, a long list of DIY renovations and a baby later, our family was feeling cramped. An 800-square-foot space with two bedrooms and a small bathroom just wasn’t cutting it any more. We considered moving up, and went to see a few open houses. There wasn’t anything bigger in the right location, and nothing with a basement apartment (we had come to rely on the extra income). The few that were in our price range needed a ton of work, but we already had some things to tackle in our own home if we were going to sell – a cracked foundation, a kitchen renovation, a new roof and fixing some of the exterior brick.

Since we had to deal with all of that anyway, we decided the cost of adding a whole new level was worth it in order to stay put. We hired an architectural draftsman and started dreaming up multiple versions of our perfect home. Our imaginations produced a new attached garage, an open-concept main floor, a second floor with plenty of bedrooms (meaning my daughter would no longer have to sleep in our home office) and three bathrooms (hello, master ensuite!). We even planned for a third-floor loft, a studio space I could call my own after years of painting, building and crafting on the dining room table. Heaven.

There was no way we could live through a renovation of that scale, so we moved into my parents’ place. Demolition day was a mixture of emotions. There was sadness at seeing our home ripped apart – “Why are we tearing down our perfectly good little house again?” I wondered – but also excitement at the prospect of building something that we could stay in for a long time to come.

In this five-part series, Gemma Bonham-Carter, of the blog The Sweetest Digs, will chronicle the overhaul and transformation of her house. Next up: tackling the exterior.

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