The Garden Suite In Progress


As you can see in the photo above, when we bought our ‘little house that could’ four summers ago we knew a significant renovation was required before passersby and guests alike might gasp in delight, as we’re doing now that we can see how far it’s progressed. There’s still a massive amount of finishing to do on the main floor, one of three legal suites, in addition to completingl the exterior landscaping and the construction of a Side Porch. Regardless, after a few summers of renovations we’re getting giddy over the transformation that’s imminent.

First, if you’d like a little history on our Tales of Upper Hillsborough, Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island, journey click HERE to connect to a past blog on Tackling The Property Tune Up, which outlines the process we recommend an investor address when purchasing an income property. In our opinion, the best course of action is to get your investment in the best shape possible in order to minimize tenant complaints, while garnering the highest rent feasible. In our case, we’re investing a massive sum of capital to renovate, rebuild and expand this vintage 1880s house in order to double (or even triple) our rental income.

Since taking ownership we refreshed and upgraded the second floor suite, which we affectionately call “The Captain’s Quarters”. Our $40,000 investment included the installation of a vintage-inspired marble-tiled washroom with stacking laundry, the replacement of the threadbare carpet with wood flooring, new paint, new appliances and, underway right now, the construction of a 9×12 foot Covered Sleeping Porch on the back of the suite overlooking the garden, and the addition of a sun-drenched balcony off the kitchen on top of the soon-to-be-built Side Porch. Although the cost to create outdoor spaces for our upper two units is substantial (about 15k each), a suite with generous outdoor space will always find a tenant faster and attain a higher rent. Our second floor suite is currently rented unfurnished, and has rarely been vacant since we took possession which has prevented us from photographing it. One day we’ll show you! We promise. Here’s the floor plan:


We did spend two summers completely gutting, renovating and furnishing ‘our Attic Atelier’, which is the 780 square foot two bedroom suite James occupies when he lives here for the Summer playing in the Charlottetown Festival. We invested about $80,000 gutting and making this our first luxury furnished rental, and are spending around $15,000 this year adding the 9×12 foot ‘Sky Tree Terrace’ which is going to be a breath-taking dining deck with barbecue situated under the jutting branch of a massive one hundred year old tree. Click HERE to read about the renovation, and HERE to see some of the details which make this place so special. We’ll be revealing the Treetop Sky Terrace shortly so stay tuned! Here’s the floor plan:

Now we’re in the throes of the Main Floor Renovation. Below is the original layout of the Main Floor Unit when we bought the triplex. I hated the little shed addition which contained the washroom right off the kitchen. The whole apartment was somewhat grim and dilapidated. It was 200 square feet smaller, and only two bedrooms, which prompted the addition. Basically we need larger accommodations for when we’re in town, especially as we’re always inviting guests to visit.

Click HERE to see some of the Before Photos and when this space was first gutted in May 2012.

Right now the renovation is at that stage where all the finishing pieces are about to be installed. We’re stoked about this! Here is the new and improved Main Floor Unit  layout showing the two new additions (constructed with permits) at the back of the house.

Behold the well-proportioned luxury three-bedroom 1.5 bath Garden Suite. This has been a top-to-bottom gut and rebuild, including replacing most major building components (yes, we found knob and tube wiring despite the ‘clean’ home inspection!).

We’re also about to construct a gracious Side Porch that will give the Main and Third floor suites the same visual importance as the Front Porch which exclusively serves the Second floor suite. After all, our objective is to avoid making any tenant feel like they’re the ‘poor sister’. In creating luxury accommodations, we want every suite to present as equally excellent. When you live a life of real estate, one learn that begins with the first impression. Stay tuned for pics!

Here’s some pics of the interior of the rear addition on the Main Floor, including the Kitchen Diner with its bay window, the Sitting Area with its vaulted ceiling and remote-controlled skylight, and the back wall of the original house that connects to the new addition. You can’t tell yet, but all the plywood sheathing is going to be covered in black wood shingles like the exterior, with the three openings finished to look like a ‘Greek Revival’ porch with french doors (the film has to be removed from the glass). Our intention is to make the Porch appear like the ‘original rear entry’ into the back of the house. Hard to envision? Stay tuned as the finishes and fittings will soon be installed:


Here’s a peek at what the back of the house looked like Before, and how it’s looking today with the two additions. Note the Sleeping Porch on the second floor is under the third floor ‘Treetop Sky Terrace’ perch, which is under construction progress.


In the photo above, you can see the fresly laid lawn, gravel path, and the posts that outline the locations for the raised cedar decks. The huge beams on the ground are soon to be suspended from the ceiling in our Kitchen Diner (where the one on the far left is U-shaped to wrap around a steel structural beam) to give that authentic rustic look only a real former barn beam can give!

We’re like kids at Holiday, gnashing our teeth and jumping in excitement for the day this is completed.

Will it be completed this year as we hope?

You can read more of our journey at The Tales Of Upper Hillsborough.

Stay tuned!

~ Steven

Tales Of Upper Hillsborough

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