Abode owners Sandra Ramos and Eddie De Sa are like many homeowners in the downtown city of Toronto during the pandemic . . . they were busting at the seams when it came to functional, usable space in their 1,600 sq ft home.
Pre-pandemic the family of three had all the space they needed in their laneway home. And then, like all of us, their situation changed in March of 2020 when the pandemic hit and Eddie, Vice President of Client Services for a retail design and manufacturing company started working from home and Matthew, their 7-year-old son started home-schooling and Sandra was holding it all together. Their home started feeling smaller by the day.
As far as temporary measures went, they were making it work. As the pandemic went on Eddie’s company decided to eliminate their office space and keep their team working from home permanently. Sandra started to feel the space closing in on her.
“I don’t know if you know my back story, I have stage 4 breast cancer,” Sandra told me in our interview.
Sandra was diagnosed in 2019 with metastatic breast cancer and is undergoing aggressive treatment. The treatments leave her exhausted and in need of rest to recover. Her diagnosis also meant that when it came time for her son to return to school, due to her compromised immune system, he would be homeschooling permanently. Their once-comfortable home was no longer working.
They were starting to trip over one another and having to tip-toe around each other. While Eddie was using the main floor for conference calls and the dining room table as his office, Sandra was trying to rest in the adjacent living room and Matthew was a loud, fun-loving 7-year-old boy. Sandra knew for everyone’s well-being they needed more space.
Moving wasn’t an option… they loved their home and wanted to stay.
Renovating and adding an addition became a thought. A short-lived thought, however.
“Immediately I knew, no, I don’t have the bandwidth for that.”
And with Sandra’s health a priority, an invasive home-reno, with the mess and the contactors entering her home, was not an option.
When Sandra saw the TORONTO LIFE article on the Abode she thought this would be a good option for them.
“This might be a good option for us. It must be cheaper than an addition” Sandra said. And she secretly hoped that if one day her husband returned to work full-time, she would turn this new flexible space, into her private craft room.
So, Sandra started researching companies that built backyard offices. And at that time another TORONTO LIFE article was published listing the top 10 backyard home offices.
“We didn’t like any of them as much as the Abode.”
With a laneway house and a small backyard, anything they built was going to be visible from most of their windows and from their existing patio.
“We are going to be staring at this, basically all the time. We want to be staring at something that’s not just nice on the inside, but nice to look at from the outside too.”
They went to see the model Abode in Richmond Hill and immediately made their decision.
“As soon as we saw it, and all the windows, we were like “yeah!” she said.
Sandra and Eddie decided they were getting an Abode in December, 2021 and by February 2022 they were move-in ready.
“Then, we had a major flood in our home”
Two weeks after the installation of the Abode the Ramos/De Sa’s had a major flood in their home and Sandra’s trepidation about having contractors in her home and undergoing an extensive renovation, were coming to life.
They had to move into an Airbnb just down the street and in an ironic twist, Eddie started commuting again to work. This time, he was commuting back to his home and working from the backyard in his new Abode.
“The timing was fantastic actually” said the optimist Sandra. “We would have all killed each other in the Airbnb because it was tiny on two small floors and that office was a godsend.”
It allowed Eddie to still be out of the house during the day, Matthew to continue home-schooling and Sandra to be able to get the required rest.
And the renovation, like so many home reno’s these days, has gone far past the original deadline. With delays being the norm, what was supposed to be a 3 month job, is still in a state of disarray almost 5 months later.
Now having lived through a renovation, Sandra can’t say enough about the process of installing the Abode. It’s quick, clean and stress-free.
“I’ve already recommended it to friends.”
“You get an extra room, that’s climate controlled, add square footage to your house without all the mess and all the frustrations and all the stress that goes into a home renovation that we are feeling now.” said Sandra.
“There was no stress and no mess. The biggest stress we had was picking which colour we wanted for the floor.” joked Sandra.
Sandra, Eddie and Matthew are spending the summer at their vacation home in Niagara and hope to be back in their home by the time school starts in September.
“We are missing that extra space for sure… I would love to put another Abode here” she says.
Sandra beautifully chronicles her cancer journey on her Instagram profile @Sandy967NBC