Jacinthe Paiement and Benoit Le Blanc waited a long time before carrying out the necessary work in a duplex dating from 1948, in Villeray. He was thinking big, but she had one foot on the brake, until they had no choice but to act.

“Benoit wanted to demolish everything on the ground floor and in the basement to make an extension,” she explains. We had 900 square feet per floor, which wasn’t too bad for us and our two kids, and I thought the basement was still OK, with the bathroom redone in 2012. I agreed because that everything had to be torn out from the back anyway. »

In 2018, they started working on plans with a friend, who is an architect. A year later, they contacted a structural engineer, who produced the plans submitted to the borough in November 2020. They obtained their permit in July 2021, just before the start of demolition work on August 1.

They had the yard dug. The foundation was extended the full width of the house, 30 ft (9.1 m) by 12 ft (3.6 m) deep, adding 360 ft2 (33.4 m2) in the basement and on the ground floor. Upstairs, the area above the extension has become the tenants’ terrace.

“It’s especially the common spaces that we have enlarged, because we like to entertain,” says Ms. Paiement. We have big families and music is part of our lives. My boyfriend is a musician and singer, and our son is in the Petits Chanteurs du Mont-Royal. We wanted the piano to be at the heart of the house.

“The goal was to make each room more efficient and have more storage space,” she continues. We have a walk-in closet and a bathroom adjoining our bedroom. There is also a small bathroom on the ground floor. We gained comfort by installing a heat pump, a ventilation system and a heated floor in the basement, where the children’s bedrooms are located, a large room with a ping-pong table and a bathroom. »

The owners wanted to follow the work closely. They rented an apartment in the neighborhood for tenants, then moved in upstairs with their children Émilien and Charlotte, who were then 11 and 9 years old. They continued to work full time. While she made sure everything went smoothly (back to school, Halloween, concerts, children’s hockey, etc.) and fought daily against dust, he saw to the smooth running of the site, coordinating the trades. Benoit Le Blanc is also a painter and joint shooter. At every stage, he was hands-on. And he had to face many unforeseen events, largely caused by the pandemic.

“It was quite a challenge to complete the tenants’ accommodation and ours in such a short time frame,” he reveals. In their home, each room was touched. At one point, we focused on allowing them to come back. »

What was supposed to last two months took four. “The tenants have been extraordinary,” emphasizes Ms. Payment. On December 19, we went down, then they returned home. We had no doors, we had a sink throughout the house. We were camping, but we made ourselves a Christmas tree. We were really happy to have space, because upstairs it was a mess with the tenants’ belongings and ours. We were happy to reclaim our home, even if it wasn’t finished. We agreed to swallow a little dust for a few more months. »

“We had objectives,” adds Benoit Le Blanc. We had to deal with shortages and delays, and turn around to deal with the situations. Our friend Patrick Mallette, who is a specialized contractor, helped us a lot to hire the workers and prepare things for the next day, so that we didn’t waste time. »

Seeing the price spike before starting the work, they wondered if they were completely crazy. The high price of houses in their neighborhood convinced them to persevere. “We made a custom house,” says Jacinthe Paiement.

“We wanted a house that would suit everyone,” adds Benoit Le Blanc, proud to point out that they never quarreled.

“The trick is to always say that the other person is right,” he explains.

And, she adds, knowing when to let go.

Duration of main works: four months (August 1 to December 19, 2021)

Project: expansion 30 ft (9.1 m) long by 12 ft (3.6 m) wide (basement and ground floor)

Budget initial : environ 400 000 $

Total cost: $700,000 (including yard and deck)

Must-have: a large space for entertaining, where the piano would go

Another must-have: a bright kitchen

An unforeseen event: Jacinthe Paiement and her son having caught COVID, the work was paralyzed on a few occasions.

Surprise: cost overrun

General contractor: Martin Charbonneau, Marcha Construction