a peek inside the fishbowl

21 Apr, 2011

Reno post #005 – the office

Posted by andrea tomkins in: Home/reno

I haven’t written about the reno in awhile, but it is still underway, chugging along. We are in the middle of some back-and-forthing with our architect about what it’s actually going to look like. Nothing official yet, but we are narrowing it down.

Let’s just say it’s going to be a fine balance between open-concept and not-so-open concept. :)

I am still scouring magazines for clever ideas, perhaps naively looking at “small picture” kinds of details (eco-friendly driveways! Pocket doors!) when I really should be focusing on the big picture kind of stuff right now.

There is one rather large issue that needs to be resolved, and that has to do with our office. It’s really quite worrysome, because we desperately need this space. This is where I work. (In fact, this is where I am writing this post right now!)

Our home was built in the 1940s and as far as we know the office was added about a decade later. Major cracks have appeared on the exterior wall. There isn’t a full basement underneath it, it’s just a spider-filled crawlspace there right now. It’s drafty. The insulation is poor and needs to be updated, but our main fear is that the addition may not have been built on very firm soil and may be shifting away from the main house. There are questions about heaving foundations and clay. 

Through our architect we hired a structural engineering firm to come and look at it, and today was the day. She was here early, and cheerfully inspected the crawlspace (*shiver*), the inside of the office, and checked out the damaged stucco outside.

Worst case scenario: it’s going to cost untold thousands to prop it up and redig (?) the footings, at which point we will have to decide how much is too much. We need to figure out how much this room is worth to us. Five thousand, ten, twenty? If we can’t save it we’ll have to tear it off and figure out another plan for the office (and closet, and 2-piece washroom that goes along with it). I had a neat idea of designing a large work area that runs parallel to our dining room, just wide enough for desks, clever shelves and chairs and then hiding the whole thing behind a series of opaque screens on tracks, but Mark wasn’t keen on this kind of design innovation. :)

Fingers crossed we can keep this space as is!

2 Responses to "Reno post #005 – the office"

1 | Javamom

April 21st, 2011 at 2:38 pm


Oh my. It sounds both frightening and exciting! I wonder, has your architect thought of moving your office someplace completely different (if worse case scenario happens and the cost to fix/rebuild that space is too high)? Like, expand the roof, or if you have a non-standup roof (like we do) expand it (I’m thinking dormers in the attic, kind of thing).

Just a thought.

Good luck!

2 | Katherine

April 27th, 2011 at 9:05 pm


Good luck! Renos are always a hassle! I’m dreaming of open staircases, skylights and built-ins in our new house (moving in in July) but costs and structural issues will probably slow us down!

Hope it all works out for you!

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My name is Andrea and I live in the Westboro area of Ottawa with my husband Mark and our dog Piper who is kind of a big deal on Instagram. We also have two human daughters: Emma (20) and Sarah (18). During the day I work as a writer at The Royal Ottawa Mental Health Centre. I am a longtime Ottawa blogger and I've occupied this little corner of the WWW since 1999. The Fishbowl is my whiteboard, water cooler, and journal, all rolled into one. I'm passionate about healthy living, arts and culture, family travel, great gear, good food, and sharing the best of Ottawa for families. I also love vegetables, photography, gadgets, and great design.

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