When you build a home from the ground up, there’s one thing that’s more important than the concrete, the lumber, the steel or nearly anything else: patience.
For Jack and Araxi Evrensel, that became abundantly clear when they began start-and-stop work on a house that clings to a steep slope of granite at the edge of Burrard Inlet, in West Vancouver, Canada. By the time the house was completed, they had spent eight years working on it, with three different architects.
The couple tried to take each delay in stride. “We took our time, because we weren’t in any rush,” said Mr. Evrensel, a former restaurateur who sold his five upscale British Columbia restaurants in 2014. Although they were eager to see their dream house built, they were fortunate enough to be able to stay in their old home as long as they needed to, and were focused on getting things right.
“We were very lucky to find this spot,” Mr. Evrensel said. “I loved the idea of the waterfront and that it’s just an outcropping of pure rock.”
The Evrensels, who are in their mid-60s, bought the half-acre lot for about 2.5 million Canadian dollars (roughly $1.9 million) in 2004. To design the house, Mr. Evrensel initially turned to his friend Werner Forster, the architect who had worked on his restaurants.
They got off to a quick start, and construction began in 2005. “He developed it to a point where we started the blasting of the property, since it was all rock,” Mr. Evrensel said.
Shortly after blasting began, however, Mr. Forster became seriously ill and died. With little more than a clearing in the rock completed, Mr. Evrensel put the project on hold. “I wasn’t sure, at the time, I would build it without him,” he said.
Eventually, though, he began thinking about finding another architect. He had long admired the work of Arthur Erickson, one of the most decorated Canadian architects of the era, and had seen him at Mr. Forster’s wake. Although Mr. Erickson had dined in Mr. Evrensel’s restaurants on a few occasions, Mr. Evrensel felt intimidated to ask the architect about his personal project, as Mr. Erickson was known for high-profile buildings like the Museum of Anthropology at the University of British Columbia and the Museum of Glass in Tacoma, Wash.
Nevertheless, he mustered the courage to introduce himself to Mr. Erickson, who was immediately receptive to the idea. They agreed that Mr. Erickson’s former associate, Nick Milkovich, an architect who had handled Mr. Erickson’s residential projects before opening his own studio, would lead the project, with Mr. Erickson serving as a consultant.
“When we first stepped into the project, it was tentative,” Mr. Milkovich said. “Knowing that Jack’s good friend had been working on the house, we wondered how much we could change.”
For months, Mr. Milkovich tentatively floated one small change after another, until Mr. Evrensel made it clear that he wanted his new architects to have full creative freedom. “He said,