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How a $500,000 laneway house went from a Hollywood rental to a no-cost retreat for nurses

From Toronto Life:

Before the pandemic, local contractor Zeke Kaplan rented out his three-bed, two-bath laneway house to fat-pocketed Hollywood types who were filming in Toronto. It cost roughly $5,000 a month to shack up at the 1,450-square-foot modern getaway. But when the pandemic hit, freezing international travel and much of the entertainment industry, Kaplan decided to offer the space free of charge to a much-different demographic—the health care workers risking their lives at Mount Sinai Hospital.

Zeke: In 2013, I bought a three-bed, two-bath Victorian near Bathurst and College for $838,000, pooling money with a few family members. In the back, there was a 1,450-square-foot laneway house, which dated back to the 1870s. It was more of a dilapidated garage, if anything. The place was in rough shape. It had a crumbling foundation and the basement leaked when it rained. We decided to renovate the primary residence and rebuild the laneway house, but it took a few years to plan everything and apply for building permits.

Construction started in 2018. We gutted and renovated the main house, reinforcing the foundation and adding a 500-square-foot addition. My sister now lives there with a few roommates. In the back, we tore down the old laneway house and built a three-bed, two-bath modern rental space. It’s two storeys. The split-level main floor includes the kitchen, dining room and living room, with big floor-to-ceiling windows that connect to a deck in the backyard. There are a couple of bedrooms on the upper floor. We wanted the place to have a luxurious vibe with high-quality finishes, so we used restored barnboard from the original structure on the exterior, added polished cement floors and installed solar-powered skylights. This type of build would typically cost more than $500,000.

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