To build our home

We bought five and a half acres of woods and rock in Pemberton, British Columbia.


A pool is poured


It’s been a few months and there’s been a lot going on, both on-site and in the design process. Here are some of the highlights. 

We decided to include the shop construction in this phase. We’d initially planned to defer the shop (and its associated budget) until after the house was complete, but we realized that getting it done while the machines and crew are on site made more sense.

It’s sited on a flat area about 80’ up the slope from the house, surrounded by forest. We’ll use it for woodworking and gear storage. It’s 32’x20’ (640sf) with 12’ ceilings and has an area for chopping and storing firewood on the west end of the building. 

Our pool contractor has started to build the pool. It’s 30’x14’ and fits into the L-shape created by the two main volumes of the house to the southwest. It gets lots of sun and we’ve chosen two sliding doors for the entries to the master and kitchen. Our hope is that the deck will feel like a continuous indoor-outdoor living space connected to the house.

Green roof
When we first started designing the house, we were interested in having a green roof. Green roofs can help with cooling the house, help it blend into the landscape, and add a unique natural look. After a few iterations these were edited out and we kind of forgot about them.

After the house was framed in, we were on site checking things out. Jess noticed that two areas really lended themselves to small areas of green roof – one visible from the pool deck to the north of the raised kitchen volume, and one at the entrance to the house.  The builders and architect agreed and we’re now bringing this part of the original idea back in.

Outdoor living
We’ve rearranged the outdoor living space to include space for a long table. After the last iteration we realized that the space was optimized for sitting by the fire, but that we’d lost a space for outdoor eating. The centrally located chimney subdivided the space in a way that reduced flexibility for the layout. With the fire on the wall we gained back lots of floorspace for more dedicated areas for sitting, eating, and the hot tub. We also decided to raise the hot tub above ground so that it has a ledge for sitting, and the architects did a brilliant job adjoining the hot tub wall to the hearth. It’s going to be so cozy!

Here’s the previous design:

And the new design:

With plumbing and electrical rough-ins in progress, we’ve been finalizing placement and choice of some fixtures, and selecting finishes and materials for surfaces. Here are some variants of dining room lighting and the kitchen backsplash.
Ambit pendant lamp by TAF studio.

Acorn pendant lamp by Atle Tveit.

Counter variations with concrete and tile. We’ve opted for the first, simpler option, and will use the vertical grey tile in the powder room.

04.2019 – Site Visit

03.2019 – Framing & Roofing

Ray and his crew at Western Craft have been busy framing the house in. We’ve had some cold snaps but have luckily avoided too much snow and managed to keep the project up and running through the winter. Since January we’ve seen it go from the first vertical sticks, to framed-in rooms, to exterior sheathing, and now to roof trusses. 

The roof has been really interesting to see come to life. It’s the most unusual part of our house design, with four raised volumes – three of them with large banks of clerestory windows in the living room, kitchen, and study:

Inside each volume, the ceiling is sloped from 14-16’ at the top of the windows down to 8’. This means the trusses are installed with the long edge on the slope of the ceiling:

The intent is to create elevated areas filled with light (and views of the cliff face to the north) in the public areas and lower more intimate spaces in the dining room and private bedrooms, with large windows and ground-level views to the surrounding scenery (Mt. Currie & the Garibaldi range to the south and the forest to the north).

Once the roof is complete the next step is windows and doors and then “lock-up” (when the exterior building envelope is sealed and windows and doors are installed). At that point the construction will really kick into high gear as the crew will take on:
  • pouring the pool foundation and building the deck
  • pouring the shop foundation and building the shop
  • beginning interior plumbing, electrical and floors in the house
  • finishing the exterior of the house

Latest schedule has all this wrapping up by late fall/early winter. It’s going to be a busy year.

03.2019 – Interiors & Appliances

While framing has been ongoing we’ve been working with the architects on the interiors. This includes millwork details, fireplace design, placement of window operators, which doors should have locks, where light switches and outlets should be, and finalizing our appliance package. This is all important, interesting, and time-consuming! Thank goodness we work with design+build architects who are guiding us along the way. There are so many things to consider and get right in a custom home, and every one of them has the tradeoffs of cost, quality, and impact on other parts of the project.

In terms of interior design we are currently focused on the built aspects of the house (as opposed to decorative elements). We have decided to invest in key pieces of built-in millwork in the kitchen, study and living room. In the study we have a wall-length unit that includes bookcases, TV, and file storage drawers. This is then joined to a long desk on the adjoining wall. This space will be used as a home office, library, and media room, and can be converted to an extra guest bedroom when needed.

In the living room there’s a built-in bookcase that may also be the spot for the hi-fi (though that might go on the back of the fireplace on the dining room sideboard).

In the kitchen we’ve opted for a 48” pro range with double oven and a column fridge/freezer. We both have big families and love to cook and entertain. We want this house for ourselves but when we daydream about it we imagine the times when we’ll be able to have big groups of friends and family over to stay. I think we’ll be happy for the capacity on those holiday long weekends.

01.2019 Renderings

We’ve been iterating on lots of details over the past few months. The exterior dimensions have been locked in since the foundation was poured, so our focus has been on the interiors as well as some landscape and grading considerations. These are the latest models that account for all the decisions we’ve made so far.

Site overview This view shows the built area of the property. There’s a few hundred feet of sparse forest and grassy area on the lower slope down to the road. The bulk of the property is above the built area and is heavily forested with steep sections of rock.

Northeast entry


Pool deck
Exterior living area has a fireplace, hot tub, and trellis-covered seating.

East elevation

South elevation
The fence is required by code for the pool, and also a way to keep large animals out of the immediate house area and garden.

The interior floorplan is ~2600 sq. ft. The exterior deck is ~1600 sq. ft.


The northeast room is intended for mixed use. It has a sliding wooden door that will be open most of the time for use as a library and media room. When closed it can convert to a spare bedroom (with pullout couch) or a study.

The kitchen opens onto the pool deck via a sliding door. There’s a towel room and powder at the west end, and a walk-in pantry at the east end.

Kitchen and dining
The kitchen, dining, and living room are all part of a large open concept space on a slightly lower elevation from the private level of the house. A linear kitchen, long island and bar seating face a woodstove hearth and bench and seating with a view to the Garibaldi mountain range.

Kitchen fireplace

01.2019 Site Progress

We have (some) walls! Framing is well underway. Here’s hoping the snow holds off. 🤞🏼

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