Housing in Vancouver–Part 3

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Here’s the third and last part of Jill and Steve’s conversation about housing in Vancouver.

Steve: Hi, Jill.

Jill: Hi, Steve.

Steve: How are you today?

Jill: I’m great thanks, how are you?

Steve: Good.

We were talking about houses.

We were talking about your plans that eventually you’d like to move away from downtown Vancouver; move to a house on the north shore, North Vancouver.

You were saying that the price of land, the price of building materials, the price of construction, has gone up and that one solution might be to go jointly with your brother and sister-in-law and you and Chris.

Is your brother also handy when it comes to fixing things up?

You mentioned that Chris is an engineer and he’s very handy.

Jill: He’s very handy.

My brother’s name is also Chris so this may be a little bit confusing.

But, my brother Chris, he’s okay.

He’s not nearly as handy and I think the bigger difference is that he just doesn’t really enjoy it, whereas my husband Chris does enjoy it.

He loves doing those sorts of things.

So, he’s good though, he can work with Chris and my husband can give my brother direction and, you know, he will help out for sure.

He’s not lazy; it’s just not fun for him.

Steve: Because we were talking about the cost of the building trades; of trades people, plumbers, electricians, carpenters.

I mean, there are certain things that people do themselves like even me and I’m not very handy but I’ve done quite a bit in terms of fixing up; not where I’m living now but the previous home.

When I was in my 30s I spent, it just seemed to me, forever fixing.

Jill: Painting?

Steve: Well, I redid because we didn’t have sufficient insulation.

We had a post and beam house and it had very little insulation so I went in and I put two-by-fours along all the beams and then I put insulation up and then I put paneling underneath the insulation so that when you looked up at the ceiling you saw this wooden paneling, but we had added four inches of insulation.

I mean, it’s a huge ceiling.

Most of the time I was looking up at the ceiling breathing the insulation fumes.

Jill: Oh, not good.

Steve: Or nailing the paneling, you know, more or less upside down and it was…I mean, and if I wasn’t doing that it was something else.

So, when I got to the stage where I could afford to buy a new home…I am not interested in lifting a finger, okay?

But, I think we all have to go through that period.

Jill: We all have to start somewhere.

Steve: Start somewhere.

And so, certainly, carpentry is something that’s a little easier to do and even dry walling but, boy, it’s so hard to do a good job.

Jill: Chris can do a good job.

Steve: Really!

Jill: Well, he’s so meticulous.

Being an engineer, he’s very meticulous about everything he does, so.

He just helped his brother-in-law build a staircase, rip out floor and build a whole staircase in his home in two days.

Steve: Right.

Jill: And it looks great so he’s very handy, thankfully.

Steve: I’m just going to take this call and then we’ll continue.

Steve: Hi, Jill.

Jill: Hi, again.

Steve: I had to take that call.

You know, that was from…and we’ll tell our listeners what it was about.

The Export Development Corporation in Canada is a government corporation that provides financing for and also insurance for export.

We use them for our lumber business.

This lady phones and wants to do a survey and, you know, I told her I was not interested.

We get a lot of this kind of thing.

People phone up and they want to take 15 minutes of your time to do a survey.

Jill: Yes, yes.

Steve: Personally, I think that is a tremendous imposition.

Jill: They do it at dinner time.

Every night we get phone calls.

Steve: I think they’re getting paid to do the survey.

If they pay me, I’ll do the survey.

Jill: Right.

Steve: Otherwise, I’m not interested.

I didn’t used to be that way but I get so many of these people.

If you want to pay me, I’ll give you the information for my time, that’s fine; otherwise, no.

Anyway, so that was an interruption.

Getting back then to fixing up homes.

So, Chris is very handy?

Jill: Very handy, yes.

Steve: Obviously, electrical.

Does he will he dabble in electrical?

Jill: He will, he’ll dabble in pretty much anything.

Steve: You’ve got to know what you’re doing there.

Jill: If he doesn’t know he will read up on it and he will figure it out.

Steve: Okay, because I mean, if you do something electrical to your home do you have to have it inspected?

Jill: Yeah.

I mean, there are codes you have to follow.

Steve: Okay, but it’s one thing to follow the code or think you are following the code.

If I’m building a house, for example, my electrician, who is a qualified electrician, when he’s finished doing all the wiring there is an electrical inspection.

When you are building a new home there are various levels of inspection.

Inspection of the framing, inspection of the plumbing, of the electrical and so forth and so on and if you don’t pass, then you have to fix it.

I’m just wondering, when a homeowner does something to their own home, I know they need a permit for certain things…for an extension to the house…but what about the electrical?

I mean some people, …maybe Chris is very careful.

But, I’m sure there are other people who will do things to their electrical system that might be quite dangerous.

Jill: Well, people do.

I think people do stuff all the time to their homes that maybe they’re not technically supposed to do, but who’s going to know; who’s going to find out.

Steve: Right.

Jill: I think most people or I hope most people are smart enough to know that something like the electrical system can be extremely dangerous.

I’m not saying that Chris would ever try to redo the whole electrical system.

He wouldn’t do that.

He would hire an electrician because he’s concerned about safety.

But, if there is something minor that happens, he’s not afraid to look around and see if it’s something he can fix but he would not undertake a whole project like that, no.

Steve: I don’t know; he’s an engineer.

Maybe he’s better than the average electrician for all I know.

Jill: And actually, my brother is also an electrical engineering tech so he’s got a ton of knowledge with electrical systems as well so, between the two of them, they could probably figure it out.

Steve: Good; alright.

So, but that sounds exciting!

Have you been out looking for potential heritage homes that you might be able to buy?

Jill: Not really.

We haven’t we’ve looked on the Internet on MLS a Website.

Steve: MLS, Multiple Listing Services or Service.

Jill: Right.

Steve: Which is where you can go and see all the homes that are listed in a given area?

Jill: Right.

Often there are pictures of them and the price and all that sort of thing so, you know, we look on there quite regularly.

We haven’t really gone to look at anything yet because until we’re really ready to buy something else and to move, there’s not a lot of point in going and looking.

So, maybe within the next year, probably, we’ll look.

Steve: Yeah.

It’s interesting; you were saying earlier that you think that younger people who want to live closer to downtown Vancouver will probably not be able to live in single-family homes.

That you are seeing already in North Vancouver and in West Vancouver and in other areas that single-family homes are being replaced with multiple-family homes; not necessarily high-rise, although there are also high-rise developments going in.

High-rise apartments, 10-stories, 15-20 or more stories, but there is also a lot of what we call “medium density” housing which can be, as you referred to, a duplex or a triplex or a fourplex, there are also townhouses which are medium density developments.

There are four-story apartment buildings, six-story apartment buildings so that I think there is a bit of a movement to medium density; although on the north shore, it’s still overwhelmingly single-family.

Jill: Yes.

Steve: And I think that there is some resistance to this greater density so that the town planners talk about yes, we need to have higher density; higher density is a good thing.

It’s good for the environment because it reduces commuting time and so forth and yet, the people who live in these communities, they resist.

They resist the medium density.

They don’t want because, typically, areas are zoned for…in other words, this zone, this area, is designated as a certain, you know, density level.

This is single-family so you can only build single-family.

This is multiple-family; this is high-rise; this is commercial or industrial.

Jill: You’re not allowed just to build whatever you want.

Steve: You can’t build whatever you want.

You can’t build a factory amongst a bunch of homes.

Jill: No.

Steve: You can’t just put a store anywhere so there are regulations. This is called zoning.

Very often a developer will want to go in and buy 10 homes and put up some kind of a multi-family, medium density or a higher density housing project.

Very often the people who live around the area are opposed to that.

So, this is very interesting.

You have the theoretical town planners at some level think it would be a nice idea if everybody lived in an apartment so then they’d all bicycle to work and we wouldn’t pollute as much.

So, we have all of these kinds of generalities but when you talk to people who actually live there, they like living in their single homes and they resist any move to change those zoning regulations.

Jill: Yeah.

Yeah, some people do for sure but I mean I do know other people too who would like to live on the north shore but can’t afford a single-family home and want to move into a duplex or a triplex or a fourplex because that’s the only way they’ll be able to afford to live over here.

I think the other thing too that we were talking about with younger generations, it’s not only necessarily that they can’t afford to live in single-family homes, there are a lot of people who do not want single-family homes.

I know a lot of younger people like that.

They don’t have an interest in a big yard.

They don’t want weekend work.

They don’t want to take care of a big yard.

They are happy to live in a condo, be downtown, and be where all the action is; everything is taken care of for them.

They don’t have to worry about when a new roof gets put on, dealing with it, they just have to pay their money and you pay money for your own home as well.

Steve: Right.

Jill: So, there are lots of people who just want that.

Steve: For sure and so there is a demand for that kind of dwelling.

There is a demand for that kind of dwelling.

But, we have this other factor which is sometimes called “the NIMBY” factor, not in my backyard.

So, you know, and it comes up all the time.

For example, whether it be, let’s say, a sewerage treatment facility or a facility to treat garbage, we’ve got to do it somewhere.

Jill: Right.

Steve: But not in my backyard.

So don’t come around where I live and do it.

People can be quite selfish.

Jill: Right.

Steve: You know, they have these half-way houses for people, let’s say, who have been in trouble with the law and now they come out of prison and, in a way, we want them out of prison because it’s expensive to have them in prison and it’s not a very good environment so, they have a half-way house.

Do you want a half-way house for people who have been in prison and who might be reformed drug addicts and do you want that in your neighborhood?

No.

People say not in my backyard.

Jill: Right.

Steve: And so, in a way, it’s similar.

People who live in a quiet neighborhood and they all have their own homes and they like that.

And when they understand that there is going to be a medium density housing development so all the people who like to not worry about a house and they like to party and they like to have a good time and they all drive cars, and so these people are going to move into their neighborhood and they say no, we don’t want that.

Jill: Yes.

Steve: So, there’s a constant struggle between…there is a market for that.

I’m sure there are a lot of people who would like to live in medium density housing on the north shore.

I’m sure there are a lot of developers who would be happy to develop that kind of, you know, housing for them.

And yet, you have the residents who are resisting it and somehow the municipal government would like to have more housing so they can get more revenue.

Jill: More taxes.

Steve: More taxes, so they want to encourage this thing.

And so, anyway, this is the kind of stuff that I’m sure goes on in every community around the world and gradually, growth does occur but it’s not necessarily an easy process.

Alright, I think we’ve kind of talked about that subject for quite a while.

Jill: Yeah.

Steve: EnglishLingQ.com.

It would be really fun to hear from other people about the housing situation where they live.

We hope that we have covered a lot of the terminology that relates to housing and dwellings and real estate and fixing up your home and so forth.

Jill, I hope you find your nice heritage house.

Jill: Dream home!

Steve: I expect to hear that you’ve become an expert electrician and dry waller.

Jill: Oh gosh, no.

Thank you.

Steve: Alright, EnglishLingQ.com.

Thank you very much for listening.

Jill: Thank you.

Steve: Bye, bye.

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