The 92-year-old “Hammond Forever House” was a few feet taller than usual last week.
To provide better insulation and allow for a new foundation to be installed, Nickel Bros. House Moving Ltd. lifted the heritage home at 11406 205th St., in cooperation with Ridgewater Homes Ltd.
The lift is part of a renovation and retrofit that owners James Rowley and Leanne Koehn have been planning for what’s also known as the Whitehead residence for that past five years.
It will allow for a deeper basement with seven-foot ceilings, super-insulation, and pipes in the concrete floor for radiant heat.
“We originally planned to leave the basement alone, but then got excited about the idea of a super energy efficient house,” Rowley said. “In 2008 we did our best to seal and insulate the house, but the basement was still losing a lot of heat, so this time we’re going all the way.”
Koehn watched some of the work being done on Monday morning and is excited to see the family’s plans take shape.
“It’s a vision we’ve had for five years but I couldn’t imagine the details,” Koehn said. “It was like, ‘okay that’s how they raise it, okay, that’s how they take out the whole foundation.’ We were looking at what we needed to change to improve our quality of life [in the house] for the next 50 years.”
Koehn said she and Rowley have no plans on selling the home, and hope to pass it along to their children.
“I don’t think it’s a popular approach in today’s day and age, where people want to own the newest house,” she added.
Rowley and Koehn call their house “Hammond Forever House” because they want to encourage other homeowners to invest in making homes last longer and reducing their carbon footprint, but they admit that going as far as they are is currently too expensive.
“We can’t afford it either,” Rowley said, “so we’re doing as much of the work ourselves as we can. I would like to see a community project help people retrofit their houses in bulk, but mostly I would like to see the government come back to the table.”
Rowley noted that by spending all this money to get off fossil fuels, “we’re helping [the government] reach their greenhouse gas emission targets. Most homeowners will not do that.”
In 2013 a federal government report predicted that climate change will cost Canada about $5 billion per year by 2020 and go up from there, according to Rowley, who would wants to see if local candidates in the upcoming federal election support bringing back the EcoEnergy Grant program that was cancelled two years ago.
About the Hammond Forever House
The historic Whitehead residence is a craftsman-style cottage built by Koehn’s grandfather, Carl Whitehead in 1923 with his own hands, largely from wood produced in the nearby Hammond Cedar Mill.
In 1922, Whitehead bought the land the home stands on and the rancher-style home that still stands beside it. He also built three more homes around the block, as well.
For more on the Forever House, ciick here and you'll see a video of the lift.