After my partner and I got engaged we started looking for our matrimonial home. We both dreamed of owning a large piece of property in the country where we could one day have a garden and grow our own food. Buying in and around Toronto was not an option for us financially, and so we set our sights on property within a two-hour drive of the city.
The key feature we were looking for was the land. The land and the surrounding area had to be beautiful and picturesque. Ideally there was water located on the property; a river, a pond, or a small lake that was private. Buying in an area that was protected by a conservation authority was also appealing to us, as we both had a healthy respect and appreciation for nature and wildlife.
Although the house was also important, at the time of purchase we were only concerned about the bones. Combining the skill sets of both my partner and I, we were design savvy, resourceful, creative, handy, and proactive; if the house was structurally sound but it needed a lot of work, we were confident we could turn it into something special.
In August of 2018, while viewing property listings with our real estate agent Wendy Edwards, we came upon what we now affectionately call “The Holland Housch”. It had already been listed on the market for a few months but with no offers. Viewing it for the first time, it was easy to understand why. If the piles of garbage and junk surrounding the home didn’t immediately turn you off, then perhaps it would have been the stale bouquet of cigarette smoke and male cat urine that greeted your nostrils when you entered the interior.
If those two things didn’t have you turning on your heels, you were soon to discover that the house was falling into bad repair; rain gutters were hanging off the facia boards, sections of siding were missing from the exterior, sections of the deck railing were threatening to fall over, batts of insulation were falling from the ceiling of the greenhouse, the dryer vent was no longer hooked up to the back of the dryer, and curtain rods were hung askew, mismatched and secured to brackets with duct tape—to list a few items.
However, despite all these obvious concerns there was something unique and special about the property that both my partner Justin and I tapped into immediately. I would go so far as to say that the house called to us before we even reached the top of the driveway. It was located at the end of a gorgeous stretch of gravel road, lined with a mix of thick brush and mature trees. The branches, which on that particular day were covered in fall leaves, draped over the country road like a covered bridge.
The house itself, although in desperate need of some TLC appeared to be structurally sound; and for our purposes there was no reason to improve on or add to the general layout. It covered all our space requirements including a two-car garage and a 200 sq. ft. green house. The main heat source was a geothermal heat pump, which when installed properly, offers significant savings in a homes heating cost. As well, when the house was designed and built by a previous owner, it was wisely situated on the land for maximum solar gain during the winter months—the main living areas were facing South and West, while the North side of the house was nestled into a hillside.
The keynote feature which prompted us to make an offer on the home, was the view. The main living area and walk out deck looked out onto 50+ acres of mostly conservation wetlands, a meandering stream that ran the length of the property, and a substantial evergreen forest. What was not to love when everything on our “must have” and “nice to have” list was checked off.
As fate would have it, the offer we made on the house was accepted, and we took possession this past October. We have spent the last few months preparing the house for winter, collecting and disposing of all the garbage, and CLEANING!!! Yes there are still wiffs of cigarette smoke and cat urine in the air, but they are soon to be expelled as we excitedly enter into the design and renovation phase of this home and project we call THE HOLLAND HOUSCH.
Are you hesitating to commit to the purchase of a home because you struggle to understand its full potential? Design for Conscious Living® can walk with you through the property and guide you in deciding if the home is a good design fit for you.