Dear Urbaneer – The Nightmare


This autumn Urbaneer met with a client who lives in a gorgeous Victorian located in Riverside. The dwelling has excellent bones (including vintage plank floors) but the 1980s renovation is tired and a little worse for wear. Although our client has occupied her home for a number of years and is craving a change of residence, we recommended that instead of selling her house ‘as-is’ and finding new digs right away, she undertake a property tune up that includes repainting, new lighting, new fixtures and a new kitchen.

We made these suggestions for two reasons.

First, as a seller, the best way to realize the highest return on your investment is to sell the property in its optimum and most stylish condition. We cringe at the thought of someone selling their property ‘as-is’ so someone else can capitalize and profit on it. We prefer to find those opportunities for our Buyers!

Second, our intuition says our Seller will find breathing new life into her existing residence may delay her desire to move. Yes, there will be a time in the future where it will be appropriate for her to down scale, but why not spend the next year or two revamping her house into a showcase that reflects who she is now, while we also begin exploring her future housing options based on where she’s going? If you’re a regular reader of our blog, you know it often takes an urbaneer buyer six months to two years to find the ‘perfect’ place, especially if you’re searching for a property that will serve you for the next twenty plus years. By renovating her Home, our client will be eliminating whatever disdain she has for her residence in its current condition that might be motivating a move and, while it will raise the bar on what she chooses as her next property, the whole house hunting process will be a more enjoyable adventure.

Except for… errr…. ummm… surviving the renovation process she needs to undertake now.

Undergoing a property transformation is never easy. We had our client empty her house of all contents which were obsolete, served no direct purpose, and were devoid of sentimental value. Call it a purge, a cleansing, or a fresh start, but the process is cathartic and time-consuming. It took a month for our client to tackle every corner of her three-storey residence.

A testament to our client’s reality came in the form of this letter, which serves to kick off our new series called “Dear Urbaneer”, where you can email us questions about your house and home.


Dear Urbaneer,

Last night dreamt I was in a car that was picking up speed … I asked the driver to slow down but he wouldn’t.

He actually started to drive faster. I’ve never been in a car going this fast. It became clear that the driver was out of control, and the car was heading for a huge crash.

I was terrified.

In the car I had to brace myself for a huge catastrophe. I felt the intensity of that moment just before you know impact is coming.

The next thing I knew I was in the hospital…and then, I woke up.

I didn’t wake up and wonder why I dreamt this…I instantly knew it was because l’m about to have my entire kitchen ripped out.

The heart of the house, my favourite hang out place, is about to be gutted and all I can do it brace myself for this explosion of debris.

My question for you Urbaneer is…

How does one brace one’s self for what is about to happen?
Emotional and intellectually?
Any tips on how to prepare…?
Any tips on how to set up a space so that you can have tea?

Out of control.


Here’s our reply:

Dear Riverside!

Just like a nightmare car ride, a renovation is never an easy state to navigate. After all, you’re about to embark on a transformative process which will derail your daily rituals, and in the case of your kitchen, the heart of your home.

First, we want to commend you on how you executed a very thoughtful and deliberate measure even before we discussed it. You pro-actively had your second floor den and third floor master suite re-painted and set up in advance of renovating the main floor. You instinctively knew this would provide a calming influence and refuge while the main floor was being modified. For a homeowner who can, tackling a renovation in stages, or by floor, is a superb way to mitigate the physical, mental and emotional upheaval any renovation incurs. Especially when you have to live in the residence through its reincarnation.

To help any homeowner through this process, and offer some spiritual balance, we recommend they to choose a new place, or room in their Home, where they can establish a new space of calm and solace.

In your case, we’d like you to set up a table in your second floor den which includes those items, utensils and ingredients that provide you some comfort. Perhaps it’s your coffee machine to start your day; biscuits, tea or cereal for an afternoon snack; or red wine and popcorn for your movie night ritual. Although you’ll be eating out and ordering in most of your kitchen surgery, set up a microwave and/or toaster oven to see you thru those times when you crave the simple and familiar. Also, on your deck, install a camping cooler to contain your organic fruit and veggies, milk, juice and other perishables which need some refrigeration. Now that it’s autumn, the temperatures have dropped just like a fridge, but make sure you stuff any food in something with a complicated handle or lock, otherwise the raccoons will be feasting at the expense of your well-being.

Finally, nightmares often signal a fear of the unknown and a lack of control over any outcome. But in your waking state, take a moment to offer yourself some reassurance that the upheaval you’re undertaken is one necessary step to making your dream come true.



Do you have any questions about housing and home you’d like answered? Please forward your question to

~ Steven and the urbaneer team

Dear Urbaneer
Real Estate

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