Buy & Renovate Your House With Marina Bastarache and Félix-Antoine Tremblay

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Anne-Élisabeth Bossé: [00:00:00] Hi everyone! I’m Anne-Élisabeth Bossé and welcome to Beneva’s podcast, It happens to everyone. Since at Beneva, they’re really good people, we tapped into their contact network to create some memorable meetings. During each episode, I will have a guest here to discuss what’s going on in their life. Buying a house, regardless of age or where we live, is always a major decision. We worry about making a mistake, we have so much money at stake, it’s such a long-term commitment...we don’t want to mess it up. That’s why it’s so hard for so many people to take the plunge. I decided to invite someone on today who’s in the thick of this type of situation right now: Marina Bastarache. I also invited Félix-Antoine Tremblay, a pro in buying houses, to give us a few tips. Let’s get to it.

[00:00:40 INTRO]

Anne-Élisabeth Bossé: [00:00:46] Marina Bastarache.

Marina Bastarache: [00:00:47] Hi!

Anne-Élisabeth Bossé: [00:00:47] Thanks so much for being here. You have a YouTube channel, you’re a TV host, a cast member on Code F, a young chef on a mission, and you have your own brand of clothing, Nana the Brand. But most importantly, you bought a house. Was it your first house? How did it go? Let’s get down to business.

Marina Bastarache: [00:01:02] It was my second purchase because, last year, I made my first purchase with Lou. He had already bought a cottage. Anyway...

Anne-Élisabeth Bossé: [00:01:09] Lou is your boyfriend.

Marina Bastarache: Lou is my boyfriend, sorry?

Anne-Élisabeth Bossé: No it’s all right, I just wanted to be clear.

Marina Bastarache: [00:01:13] Yes, and so last year, my boyfriend and I, we bought some land. We built a home from A to Z. His dad is a retired architect, so we were in good hands.

Anne-Élisabeth Bossé: Yeah, you had a good base.

Marina Bastarache: Yes, exactly. My contractor friend and my dad, who’s an electrical engineer. So overall, we were off to a good start.

Anne-Élisabeth Bossé: [00:01:33] Right, we can agree that not everyone has that much going for them right off the bat. But still. It’s a huge move, even if you’ve got great support.

Marina Bastarache: [00:01:39] It was indeed a huge move. We built a home in Mont-Tremblant. We’ve been living there for a year and now we’re moving again. We’re going back to Montreal because, honestly, it was too far for our lifestyle. Lou is filming five days a week on the South Shore, I think. We live in Tremblant. Tell me how we’re supposed to pull it off.

Anne-Élisabeth Bossé: [00:01:58] Charmed by the beauty and setting of Tremblant, but not very practical.

Marina Bastarache: [00:02:02] Exactly. So we returned to Montreal. And, this time, we obviously bought an existing house, and for the next two or three months, we’ll be doing a lot of work on it. We’re knocking down walls, moving some sections of the floor, there’s work in the kitchen, bathroom... we’re going all in.

Anne-Élisabeth Bossé: [00:02:20] So after a year, you realized that this project you poured so much effort into, from A to Z, is no longer working out.

Marina Bastarache: No.

Anne-Élisabeth Bossé: We’re buying a house.

Marina Bastarache: Yes.

Anne-Élisabeth Bossé: [00:02:27] How are you dealing with all these disruptions? Are you someone who can handle this kind of stress well? Were you made for this or the opposite, are you hating every minute of it?

Marina Bastarache: [00:02:34] Honestly, I discovered that I’m very passionate about building and flipping houses. So much so that at one point, I was wondering if I missed my true calling in life.

Anne-Élisabeth Bossé: You didn’t think you’d ever like it this much.

Marina Bastarache: Never crossed my mind! I never studied design, don’t know much about construction. But I’m into projects. In the sense that you mentioned earlier, I’m an entrepreneur and have my own clothing line. I like challenges. I’m like “go girl, manage this, work it out and do something with it.”

Anne-Élisabeth Bossé: [00:03:07] So you’re not the type of person who’s afraid of taking risks.

Marina Bastarache: No.

Anne-Élisabeth Bossé: No, eh?

Marina Bastarache: No.

Anne-Élisabeth Bossé: [00:03:11] Is there another area of life where you might be or...?

Marina Bastarache: An area where I might be more afraid to take risks? No.

Anne-Élisabeth Bossé: [00:03:16] Well, that’s great!

Marina Bastarache: [00:03:19] Not sure if it’s great or completely nuts, but there you have it. It’s like I see something, an opportunity, and I have to seize it at all costs and I jump in with both feet. I go all in. And somehow I’m sure that, in the end, I’ll be all right. I don’t know why.

Anne-Élisabeth Bossé: [00:03:37] But still, you must have run into some unforeseen events. Because you had a whole house built, there must have been a few issues. Were there?

Marina Bastarache: [00:03:44] The biggest issue for me, OK, was that I didn’t know it cost so much to manage land. I used to think that a kitchen counter is what’s expensive. No, no, no, no, no.

Anne-Élisabeth Bossé: [00:03:53] What’s expensive?

Marina Bastarache: [00:03:53] Soil. Let me explain. We bought the land thinking it’s on flat ground so naturally, it should be easy to build there.

Anne-Élisabeth Bossé: [00:04:03] Yes, the great plains of Tremblant, as they say.

Marina Bastarache: Exactly. We had to clear the slope to get to the house. It’s this big. So from there, levelling the slope, I think we went over our budget by $50,000. Just to move soil!

Anne-Élisabeth Bossé: [00:04:20] Ouch! For me, $50,000 would have not gone over well at all.

Marina Bastarache: [00:04:26] That’s right. But at the time, I was thinking OK, we’ve gone over by $50,000, so where will we get the $50,000, you know? And there again, we were lucky to be surrounded by people who could help us out. So in the end, it was my dad, Lou and his dad who took care of the ceramic tiles instead of hiring a contractor. We did a lot ourselves, because at the start of the project, to do the earthwork with an excavator, I’m repeating myself, I know, but it cost us an extra $50,000.

Anne-Élisabeth Bossé: Bah, that’s peanuts!

Marina Bastarache: [00:04:51] I must admit that I did not see that coming. Not at all!

Anne-Élisabeth Bossé: [00:04:58] But that wasn’t that bad. We’re still only talking about soil, but after that, it’s the house itself. I imagine that plumbing is...

Marina Bastarache: [00:05:01] But the rest went well.

Anne-Élisabeth Bossé: [00:05:02] Electricity and all, no problems?

Marina Bastarache: [00:05:04] No, because when you build a new house, aside from the land, there isn’t much you can’t plan for. You’re in control.

Anne-Élisabeth Bossé: Yes. No unpleasant surprises.

Marina Bastarache: Exactly.

Anne-Élisabeth Bossé: [00:05:13] It’s not like you’re simply removing a board. When you lift it, it’s all black underneath.

Marina Bastarache: No, no, that’s exactly it. Whereas in Montreal, we’re not doing earthwork. But when we take down walls, we never know what we’ll find.

Anne-Élisabeth Bossé: [00:05:22] Who knows! But it’s OK if something pops up and we’re stressed out a bit. We’ll find a way.

Marina Bastarache: [00:05:27] Absolutely! Really. You’ll be in action-reaction mode. That’s me. So what just happened there, that’s not the news we were hoping for. What should we do next? What can we act on, react to, and adjust, you know? You can’t change what can’t be changed, so no use getting worked up over that. What’s done is done. That’s it, focus straight ahead.

Anne-Élisabeth Bossé: Good mindset to have. But it’s crazy, you look like you were made for this. What age did you wait until before buying? What made you do it? Because for me, buying a house is a very adult move.

Marina Bastarache: [00:05:49] Yes.

Anne-Élisabeth Bossé: [00:05:55] Was it something you wanted to put off until later in your life, that feeling, a little bit of maturity that you feel when you buy?

Marina Bastarache: [00:05:59] Of course. When I was younger, I didn’t really have a lot of money. So I lived in my dingy apartment in Montreal’s East End. And let’s just say it was as far east as you could go. And I’d save my money and tell myself that one day, I’ll have a good amount for a down payment. So I lived in my dingy apartment for about eight years.

Anne-Élisabeth Bossé: [00:06:16] In saving mode.

Marina Bastarache: [00:06:17] Yeah. In “I’m putting money aside so that one day I won’t be suffocating” mode. That’s what it was.

Anne-Élisabeth Bossé: [00:06:22] You’re good! You were young, to be...

Marina Bastarache: So, you know. But that’s it. It’s like when I was young, I didn’t like taking risks. I have a degree in accounting because I thought I would become a CA.

Anne-Élisabeth Bossé: [00:06:32] You have a degree in accounting?

Marina Bastarache: [00:06:30] Yes.

Anne-Élisabeth Bossé: Wow!

Marina Bastarache: [00:06:35] I figured I’d become a CA, do people’s taxes and never be short of money. Know what I mean?

Anne-Élisabeth Bossé: [00:06:35] Yeah!

Marina Bastarache: [00:06:40] That’s a quick recap of my life at the time. Then, I had the dingy apartment, the degree in accounting, and I realized that I wanted more for myself.

Anne-Élisabeth Bossé: [00:06:47] Life could be a little sweeter, maybe.

Marina Bastarache: [00:06:50] Exactly. And today, I’m so fed up with accounting that I don’t even balance my own books. I take all my receipts, shove them in an envelope like this, and I give it to my accountant. That’s it.

Anne-Élisabeth Bossé: [00:07:00] OK then. So you are a responsible person.

Marina Bastarache: Yes.

Anne-Élisabeth Bossé: So you waited because you wanted to be sure you had enough money and were on solid financial ground before making your move.

Marina Bastarache: [00:07:10] Yes. It made me insecure because I was in one, two or three-year relationships but not one in which I knew... You know I have friends who in their early 20s were already involved in something stable, who worked on projects together. I didn’t have that. So I knew that I couldn’t be faint of heart if I ever embarked on something like that.

Anne-Élisabeth Bossé: [00:07:25] Yes. But in the end, you didn’t do it alone.

Marina Bastarache: [00:07:29] That’s right, I didn’t.

Anne-Élisabeth Bossé: [00:07:30] You met someone you knew you could move ahead with.

Marina Bastarache: [00:07:35] It’s also because, as you said, there are a lot of responsibilities that come with owning a house. And everything outside of the house, I must admit, doesn’t interest me.

Anne-Élisabeth Bossé: I know exactly what you mean!

Marina Bastarache: I mean, zero interest! So I told my boyfriend when he wanted to build a house: “You just have to know one thing. I’m not doing any landscaping.”

Anne-Élisabeth Bossé: [00:07:55] No little spade, no gardening, none of that.

Marina Bastarache: [00:07:59] Not gonna do it. Unless, you know, I’m tempted to do it one weekend. Then, OK. But I don’t want to feel obligated to water my plants each week, mow the lawn, change this or that... My God! No thanks. But he said it’s OK, he enjoyed doing it. Great! So we struck a deal.

Anne-Élisabeth Bossé: [00:08:15] Yeah that’s great because as a couple, you could…the strength of one is the weakness of the other. But it could still be very challenging. I don’t want to intrude on your private life, but it sounds like it’s an adventure to do this as a couple, doesn’t it?

Marina Bastarache: [00:08:28] Everyone told me…

Anne-Élisabeth Bossé: [00:08:30] Oh, everyone must have said “It’s terrible, it’s terrible!”

Marina Bastarache: [00:08:33] Hello! My God, be careful! But honestly, Lou and I, this is the type of project that motivates us. So there’s no friction. But it’s also because we work well together. Let me give you an example.

Anne-Élisabeth Bossé: [00:08:46] Tell me everything.

Marina Bastarache: [00:08:47] Lou doesn’t want to research. On the other hand, I love design, I follow design blogs, I research trends. I like it. Lou doesn’t want to take the time to do that, but he would like to help with deciding which tiles we go with, and what type of plumbing.

Anne-Élisabeth Bossé: [00:09:01] Personally, I would be frustrated if, after going through all the steps, I didn’t like the end result. Yeah it’s because you would have only seen the tip of the iceberg.

Marina Bastarache: [00:09:07] So what I do is I create a nice Pinterest board that only has items that I like. And then he chooses from those.

Anne-Élisabeth Bossé: [00:09:15] He can’t pick something you don’t like since you’ve only included items you like.

Marina Bastarache: [00:09:18] Exactly. But he seems to like what I like. So he chooses from those options. And I tell him “great, you want to go in that direction? No problem. I like them all.” So we’re never on opposite ends. It just never happens.

Anne-Élisabeth Bossé: [00:09:31] You guys are really inspiring, I must say! You have a great system.

Marina Bastarache: [00:09:34] I’m not sure if we’re inspiring or whether it’s because I’m a bit more controlling.

Anne-Élisabeth Bossé: [00:09:37] Maybe controlling, but organized. You know what you want, so it’s good to know that you have a character that’s a bit more...

Marina Bastarache: [00:09:42] Even with money, you know. Lou’s not a numbers guy. He’s more of a creative type.

Anne-Élisabeth Bossé: [00:09:47] I’m Lou. I’m more like him.

Marina Bastarache: [00:09:48] I’m sure! But there’s a reason why you’re great actors, in the sense that you’re creative people, you’re intuitive.

Anne-Élisabeth Bossé: Dreamers.

Marina Bastarache: [00:09:55] Yes. But Lou will sometimes come to see me. The renovation budget? I don’t understand it anymore. I’ll tell him “Look, I made you a Google Drive where you can see the work schedule, our budget, the quotes. I put all that there, do you understand?” And he’ll be like, OK. So then I’ll go check and tell him “You see? We’re still under budget, it’s going great.” He’ll be like “OK, good.” He gets a little anxious with numbers, he doesn’t always know where we’re at. So I tell him, it’s all there.

Anne-Élisabeth Bossé: [00:10:20] So it must have been difficult to admit, after a year, that Tremblant was not what you wanted.”

Marina Bastarache: [00:10:25] Honestly, it was quite painful.

Anne-Élisabeth Bossé: I totally get it!

Marina Bastarache: [00:10:27] It still hurts, you know? But what’s great is that the people who bought that home in Tremblant want to make it their house for life. They’re a bit older than us, and they said they wanted to stay there until it was their time to go...

Anne-Élisabeth Bossé: [00:10:37] They want to settle in.

Marina Bastarache: [00:10:38] Yes. So it’s reassuring for us. They’re not going to rent the place out on Airbnb, you know? They want to live there, make the most of it.

Anne-Élisabeth Bossé: [00:10:45] It’s important, the legacy of a home.

Marina Bastarache: I don’t know.

Anne-Élisabeth Bossé: [00:10:25] It’s understandable, you don’t want it to just mean nothing.

Marina Bastarache: [00:10:49] Exactly. So that was honestly very reassuring. Is my heart a little broken because we left the house that we imagined, drew and built from A to Z? Absolutely. But I tell myself we’re moving closer to Montreal. We’ll be better, we’ll have less traffic to deal with. There were weeks when Lou was in Montreal and I was in Tremblant. We were completely disconnected. So for all these reasons, I know we’ll be better off in Montreal. But am I, how can I put this, totally OK with it? No. It still bothers me a little.

Anne-Élisabeth Bossé: [00:11:25] But we mentioned it earlier. The anticipation of the pleasure ahead is stronger than the pain of what you leave behind.

Marina Bastarache: [00:11:28] Yes. You focus on the future. I tell myself that I want to be better off and that we will be better off. But Lou is so discouraged, the poor guy, because I told him “This will be our house for a little while.”  He says “What, only for a little while?” And I tell him “Yes, we’re moving back to Montreal. But after that, there will be another move.” And he said “What, another move?” And I said “Of course, I love embarking on projects, don’t you know!”

Anne-Élisabeth Bossé: [00:11:49] No, that’s right, you won’t be stopping there! Is the hard part the fact that you can’t take advantage of the present? Does it feel like you always have one eye on the future?

Marina Bastarache: [00:11:56] Yes I am that way a bit… but I’m not unhappy. In fact, I’m so intense that sometimes I wake up in the morning and I’m just happy to be alive. I’m also that type of person, you see?

Anne-Élisabeth Bossé: Yes.

Marina Bastarache: [00:12:07] Then you have my boyfriend, who’s a bit more gruff, and he’s like “OK”. But, I just don’t know. I tell myself that I have energy, I’m still young, no isn’t this the time to give all I have?” Maybe some day I’ll have kids, and I won’t feel like moving anymore.

Anne-Élisabeth Bossé: [00:12:26] Yes, yes, yes. You’re maximizing the energy you have. You’re maximizing the situation.

Marina Bastarache: Yes.

Anne-Élisabeth Bossé: [00:12:30] Ah! It’s a great way to put it.

Marina Bastarache: [00:12:32] Plus, Lou works a lot, gets a lot done. I work a lot, get a lot done. So I tell myself we’re in it, we’re moving fast, we react fast, we’re living in the present, so let’s take advantage of it.

Anne-Élisabeth Bossé: [00:12:41] Can’t stop progress.

Marina Bastarache: [00:12:45] Yes. But I think that some day, I will have had enough. I’ll just settle down and be fine.

Anne-Élisabeth Bossé: [00:12:51] Yes, yes, yes. That’s your true self, you’re not looking for an escape, it’s part of who you are.

Marina Bastarache: [00:12:55] Something like that.

Anne-Élisabeth Bossé: [00:12:56] So what do you tell a person who’s afraid of taking risks? When I bought a house 10 years ago, the notary said something like: “We see each other now for your first purchase. We’ll see each other again later.” And I told him “No, this is the house I'll die in. You don’t understand, I don’t want to go through this again.” But then life happens, and I’m going through that same process. But it’s been very, very trying for me. And I ask myself, what advice would I give to a person who’s paralysed by fear over doing this?

Marina Bastarache: [00:13:19] Well I think that, at first, you have to identify what scares you. Is it money-related? Do you need more time? What scares you, exactly? Then, the way I’m organized, it becomes a matter of patching things. I’m a little nervous and stressed. But then I settle down and move forward. When I was younger, I had less money so it's something I carry around in my head, it's like "hey I don’t want to go bankrupt, I don’t want to be short of money.” That's something that scares me. So what do I do? I analyze the market. Is it a good time to buy this particular house? What’s selling around it? Then I’ll decide that yes, this is a good opportunity. And I jump in. Every penny I put into this house, I will get back when I sell it. So it reassures me to know that I’m not just throwing money out the window.

Anne-Élisabeth Bossé: [00:14:07] But there’s always some risk involved.

Marina Bastarache: Of course.

Anne-Élisabeth Bossé: You have to live with that. You have to put up with some uncertainty.

Marina Bastarache: [00:14:13] Yeah because the truth is, you will never have anything worthwhile if you don’t take some risks.

Anne-Élisabeth Bossé: If you do nothing, you get nothing. That’s for sure.

Marina Bastarache: That’s exactly it. And knowing helps. For me it’s the monetary aspect, the opportunity. Will I come out a winner? I prepare my lists, make my budget, I compare. Then with all this done, I tell myself OK, I’m not getting myself into something crazy, it’s good, I can proceed. Let’s go!

Anne-Élisabeth Bossé: [00:14:38] They say you have to take the bull by the horns, and you shouldn’t hide under the blankets to avoid getting out there. You have to look at reality and remind yourself that you can do it.

Marina Bastarache: [00:14:46] And that it’s worth it at the end! And remember that houses in Montreal are very expensive. And I remember that, in my mid-twenties, I thought that I would never be able to afford a house in Montreal.‑ I really doubted it because it was so pricey. But, thanks to the house we built in Tremblant...

Anne-Élisabeth Bossé: [00:15:01] You were able to afford it.. OK.

Marina Bastarache: [00:15:02] Yes, exactly. And today, I can afford to buy a house in Montreal with my boyfriend. For me, it’s a childhood dream come true, something I thought I’d never be able to do. But in the end, I did. It’s crazy.

Anne-Élisabeth Bossé: [00:15:14] Well, you knew what you were going to do. It paid off.

Marina Bastarache: [00:15:17] Yes.

Anne-Élisabeth Bossé: [00:15:17] And how did the house hunting go in Montreal? Were you discouraged at all? Did you see anything interesting? Because there’s so much available on the market.

Marina Bastarache: [00:15:24] It’s so funny! And I’m telling you, Lou is sure to listen to this...but right now, I’m imitating Lou’s voice. Lou walks into the house and he’s like “Ohhhh, wow, it smells so artsy in here! I feel like I can be really creative here.” That’s my boyfriend, you see?

Anne-Élisabeth Bossé: Good feeling.

Marina Bastarache: [00:15:38] Then I get there and I’m like “Hiiii!” There's wall-to-wall carpeting everywhere. OK.  Wall divisions that don't make sense. There are no closed rooms. I have to make rooms. The main bathroom is not finished. OK, gotta take care of that. I’m in assessment mode. “It smells artsy!” That’s my boyfriend. “It smells artsy, I feel like I can be really creative here. Plus, we have garages! We finally have garages! Wow! Babe, we have to make an offer on this place.” That’s my boyfriend. I’m like, wait a second.

Anne-Élisabeth Bossé: [00:16:00] I’m 100% like Lou in this scenario. 100% Lou. I like it, I buy it. Where do I sign? I like it here!

Marina Bastarache: [00:16:04] It was almost too easy!

Anne-Élisabeth Bossé: [00:16:04] Let me handle things. It’s the way I like it. Sometimes I just focus on one thing.

Marina Bastarache: [00:16:10] OK, you two are identical. Because Lou asked whether we could buy paintings and stuff. Because in our case, it was a succession. The people leaving weren’t necessarily taking everything with them and they said “Just tell us what you would like to keep.” So Lou made up a list and circled the items he wanted.

Anne-Élisabeth Bossé: Because it was included.

Marina Bastarache: [00:16:25] It was included and it was a way for the person who lived there before to live on. Lou is into that sort of thing. I love that about him. He’s too cute. This is where the Cartesian in me comes out. I’m like OK, I have to do this, I have to change that. And Lou, all he thinks is wow, I’ll be able to be creative here, it’s great!

Anne-Élisabeth Bossé: It smells artsy, you know.

Marina Bastarache: It smells artsy indeed!

Anne-Élisabeth Bossé: [00:16:10] We all want a miniature Marina Bastarache in our purses who can say “Hold on! What’s going on here? What year is this?”

Marina Bastarache: [00:16:51] You got it!

Anne-Élisabeth Bossé: [00:16:53] It’s really very touching and inspiring to hear you talk about this. But now, I think I’ll invite another home buying and renovation pro to join us. Félix-Antoine Tremblay. You’ll stay with us, Marina?

Marina Bastarache: [00:17:04] Of course!

Anne-Élisabeth Bossé: Great!

[00:17:06 TRANSITION]

Anne-Élisabeth Bossé: [00:17:07] Félix-Antoine Tremblay.

Félix-Antoine Tremblay: [00:17:09] Hello!

Anne-Élisabeth Bossé: [00:17:10] Bonjourno! Actor, host, Soirée Ma moto, OD dans l'Ouest, Zénith, Lover.

Félix-Antoine Tremblay: [00:17:16] Completely Zénith.

Anne-Élisabeth Bossé: [00:17:17] All that. We did some radio work together. Host of Des idées de grandeur.

Félix-Antoine Tremblay: [00:17:21] Yeah!

Anne-Élisabeth Bossé: [00:17:21] But, above all, a real pro in buying houses.

Félix-Antoine Tremblay: [00:17:24] Yup! I overheard you earlier. Not sure about being a pro, but I definitely love it, and I’m a curious type, and have some baggage, too. And I heard you talking, too, and my God, we know one another. But I didn’t know all that about you. It was a bit surprising.

Marina Bastarache: [00:17:37] Not at all. But for me, I think it was in Passion poussière that I understood that you really liked this stuff.

Félix-Antoine Tremblay: Yes.

Marina Bastarache: But I didn’t know exactly where you were at with it.

Félix-Antoine Tremblay: [00:17:46] During Passion poussière, before Passion poussière, I wasn’t really sure what I liked. For me it was thanks to Sarah-Jeanne. Sarah-Jeanne Labrosse, she really encouraged me to get into it, like a chick leaving its nest. Fly away, my pretty!

Anne-Élisabeth Bossé: [00:17:57] That’s how it all started.

Félix-Antoine Tremblay: [00:17:59] I’m a buyer of new off-plan condos. That was my...

Anne-Élisabeth Bossé: Your first purchase.

Félix-Antoine Tremblay: [00:18:03] My first purchase. I dreamt of it. A bit like you, I was like...I’m from Chicoutimi. I come from a modest family. My goal was to study theatre in Montreal and to make a living working in the field. But I always told myself that I had to buy myself a condo ASAP, as security...

Anne-Élisabeth Bossé: [00:18:21] To anchor yourself somewhere, invest in a home. You can’t go wrong.

Félix-Antoine Tremblay: [00:18:24] Everyone told me: You need a plan B. Ha ha, Plan B, the show. Everyone said if I wanted to be an actor, I needed a plan B. And I thought no, I’ll do other things, I’ll find my way to have my own plan B. And for me, it was real estate. So when I got to Montreal, I lived in apartments, went to school. And at 25, I eventually bought my first condo. But I would buy new off-plan condos. Then...

Anne-Élisabeth Bossé: [00:18:44] But financially, it must have been a major…

Félix-Antoine Tremblay: [00:18:47] Well, I had some help. My dad helped me, because you know what it’s like, when you’re self-employed: you might have a steady income, but you still have to beg the banks on all fours for a loan.

Anne-Élisabeth Bossé: Yeah, they’re not in the business of buying dreams.

Félix-Antoine Tremblay: [00:19:01] No. And that’s it. So when I got the chance to buy a duplex, I discussed it with Sarah-Jeanne. And she encouraged me to do it, or else, she said, I would regret it. Whatever you do, it’s an investment. She would tell me it’s not a child. If it doesn’t work out, if it ever gets too hard, you can sell it, and walk away clean, bye bye.

Marina Bastarache: [00:19:21] Bye. But when you did it, you were like “Aaaaaaah! What did I just do?” Were you panicking?

Félix-Antoine Tremblay: [00:19:25] At the time, I was with my ex. And in the yin and yang of our relationship, I was 100% yin. I was the one who went full steam ahead, no fear, confident...I knew.

Anne-Élisabeth Bossé: [00:19:37] In Bastarache mode.

Félix-Antoine Tremblay: [00:19:38] I was really in Bastarache mode, completely.

Anne-Élisabeth Bossé: [00:19:40] As we say in these parts. With my miniature Bastarache in my purse.

Félix-Antoine Tremblay: [00:19:44] No, but it was always a bit that way. I told myself that if it didn’t work out, I would sell it. If money gets too tight, I’ll sell. So...

Anne-Élisabeth Bossé: [00:19:51] Not concerned with risk.

Félix-Antoine Tremblay: [00:19:51] Not worried about risk, or renovations. At one point, we completely flipped a place. We tore it all down. Only columns left standing, and soil, and four brick walls. Inside was like Beirut. And my ex was on a different level. He was more pragmatic, more stressed, more...

Anne-Élisabeth Bossé: [00:20:12] More anxious.

Félix-Antoine Tremblay: [00:20:13] Yes and more likely to just tear things down, to see what it would look like torn apart.

Anne-Élisabeth Bossé: [00:20:18] I understand, it’s not very common what you saw there. When I move some electric thing, I must admit that I‘m pretty impressed with myself! My boyfriend is like no, no, it goes there.

Félix-Antoine Tremblay: [00:20:27] Are you afraid of change, Anne-Éli? Is there something you want to talk to us about?

Anne-Élisabeth Bossé: [00:20:29] When I install a dimmer, it’s a big deal, OK?

Félix-Antoine Tremblay: [00:20:31] I get it. But yeah, black wire, white wire.

Anne-Élisabeth Bossé: [00:20:35] White clown, red clown.

Félix-Antoine Tremblay: [00:20:35] Right, white clown, red clown.

Anne-Élisabeth Bossé: [00:20:36] Yin and yang. So you did understand your ex’s anxiety.

Félix-Antoine Tremblay: [00:20:40] Yes, yes. We complemented one another on many levels. For sure, there were times when I felt a little dizzy, but I never doubted that I made the right choice when I bought a duplex, then renovated it.

Anne-Élisabeth Bossé: [00:20:56] So you handled the stress well. Then, what’s the primary principle. Off-plan condo. Then sell it and then the duplex?

Félix-Antoine Tremblay: [00:21:02] Exactly. Actually, I got my first off-plan condo. I was single at the time. I got my condo, I lived in it for three months, I met my ex. We lived there for two years. Then we decided to sell it to buy an off-plan condo together.

Anne-Élisabeth Bossé: [00:21:18] OK, so twice.

Félix-Antoine Tremblay: [00:21:19] Yes, which we sold after only a year because we thought it wasn't our project. Then we went all in. We decided to buy a duplex dating from 1900. Walls, windows, roof, everything. You can’t imagine what little was left of that building. Yes. But I loved it. I loved it. And this duplex, a bit like you, allowed me to buy a cottage. So during the pandemic, my mom passed away. And right after, I knew I wanted a cottage, I knew that this calling, being from Chicoutimi, having land somewhere, deep in the woods, and hearing nothing but the birds. So that duplex was my springboard and allowed me to get the cottage.

Anne-Élisabeth Bossé: [00:22:02] One thing leads to another. Usually how it goes.

Félix-Antoine Tremblay: [00:22:04] Yes because eventually...

Anne-Élisabeth Bossé: [00:22:05] In the long run.

Félix-Antoine Tremblay: [00:22:05] But, I heard you speaking earlier and I think it’s important to mention that we’re extremely privileged. And I pinch myself every day.

Anne-Élisabeth Bossé: [00:22:12] You’re also organized, for example.

Félix-Antoine Tremblay: [00:22:14] Yes, but still.

Anne-Élisabeth Bossé: [00:22:14] But you said it yourself, you come form an environment that was...not wealthy. You created your own opportunity.

Félix-Antoine Tremblay: [00:22:20] Yes, totally, but I think that....

Anne-Élisabeth Bossé: [00:22:22] But, still...

Félix-Antoine Tremblay: [00:22:22] I think anything is possible to a certain extent if you’re willing.

Anne-Élisabeth Bossé: [00:22:26] But we’re not all the same in that regard.

Félix-Antoine Tremblay: [00:22:28] Exactly. I remember working in restaurants for seven years while I was studying theatre, and I would stash $20 bills in a drawer and when I collected $1,000, I deposited the money in a bank account. It was to buy my condo.

Anne-Élisabeth Bossé: [00:22:39] Wow! We’re really different in that regard. The emotions you describe when you talk about buying a house, I can relate to that. It’s the dark side of the force. It’s a bit metaphysical as a question, but: How does it affect you? Some people get a tattoo and at some point, I don't know what it does to them, how it gets under their skin so to speak, but next thing you know, they're getting another one. It’s odd.

Félix-Antoine Tremblay: [00:22:57] But I think it’s something similar.

Anne-Élisabeth Bossé: [00:22:58] What’s it like? Can you describe the feeling?

Félix-Antoine Tremblay: [00:23:02] I listen to you talk now, and to be completely honest, only three minutes before coming into this room, I was on Centris shopping.

Anne-Élisabeth Bossé: [00:23:09] Yes. You were...OK.

Félix-Antoine Tremblay: [00:23:10] I’m always looking.  And it’s funny because I don’t know if you see it the same way, but I think with your house in the Laurentians, you saw it that way. But I never did renovations thinking I wanted to sell. I did renovations thinking this is my home, it’s where I want to live.

Anne-Élisabeth Bossé: [00:23:26] They were your thoughts in the present time.

Félix-Antoine Tremblay: [00:23:26] My goal wasn’t to turn a profit. It wasn’t to make it all nice to quickly sell it. I lived in that house and loved it, and I saw myself in the duplex for years. But I think that eventually there comes a time when you simply think “I want to go back there.”

Anne-Élisabeth Bossé: [00:23:46] It comes back, like springtime.

Félix-Antoine Tremblay: [00:23:48] Yeah. Ask someone who jumps out of an airplane several times a year.

Marina Bastarache: My boyfriend.

Félix-Antoine Tremblay: It’s like “Ah!” It’s exactly that. You ask “why jump out of a plane again? You managed to survive.” Well, because I miss it.

Anne-Élisabeth Bossé: It makes me go tic-tic-tic.

Marina Bastarache: [00:23:59] For me, it’s different. I will think on it more...I want this because I think it’s nice, because it’s practical, ergonomic, all that. But I’m always thinking, the Cartesian...

Félix-Antoine Tremblay: Yes! When you’re selling.

Marina Bastarache: Yes, when I’m selling. Is that a good move?

Félix-Antoine Tremblay: [00:24:15] The thought will always cross your mind.

Marina Bastarache: Always!

Félix-Antoine Tremblay: But I think that...

Marina Bastarache: [00:24:18] But above all, I do it for myself.

Félix-Antoine Tremblay: [00:24:19] Exactly!

Anne-Élisabeth Bossé: [00:24:20] To be happy.

Félix-Antoine Tremblay: [00:24:21] Yes. On the practical side, you have to think about the long term, and tell yourself that perhaps some day, this will not be my home anymore.

Marina Bastarache: That’s right.

Félix-Antoine Tremblay: [00:24:29] But in actual time, I feel like I’m dying on the inside, you know?

Anne-Élisabeth Bossé: [00:24:32] Yes, yes, with passion, and with guilt, all the time.

Félix-Antoine Tremblay: Yes.

Anne-Élisabeth Bossé: [00:24:36] But you have to be comfortable with talking about money. I have a thing with money. I don’t like it, I do my taxes like this, without looking.

Félix-Antoine Tremblay: I’m that way, too.

Anne-Élisabeth Bossé: [00:24:43] But when it comes to homes, not only with your ex, but your boyfriend, you have to talk about finances. You have to be able to look at money in the eye, is what I’m saying. So you’re comfortable with that. We’re talking about significant amounts.

Félix-Antoine Tremblay: [00:24:52] Yes. Maybe I close my eyes a little bit.

Anne-Élisabeth Bossé: [00:24:55] Sometimes, we close our eyes a little bit, and that’s OK.

Félix-Antoine Tremblay: [00:24:57] I’m like zoup! Perfect. OK, have to do this. Have to do this. Have to do this. I’m aware of amounts, I understand what it implies. But at some point, we obviously need a budget. At some point, you have $150,000 to renovate a duplex, to redo two floors, the roof, the foundation.

Anne-Élisabeth Bossé: [00:25:16] Yes. The money disappears quickly.

Félix-Antoine Tremblay: [00:25:16] Yes, real quickly, but things get done. There’s like a...

Anne-Élisabeth Bossé: [00:25:21] The brain starts processing things.

Félix-Antoine Tremblay: [00:25:23] You’re moving forward in a tunnel and at one point, you’re like “Oh, did you think you were supposed to turn right here? It’s OK.” Then there’s the terrazzo tiles and the material for the counters that will cost more and you think OK, I know where I’ll make some cuts.

Anne-Élisabeth Bossé: [00:25:34] Yes, yes, yes.

Félix-Antoine Tremblay: [00:25:34] That’s how I see it.

Anne-Élisabeth Bossé: [00:25:35] In solution mode.

Félix-Antoine Tremblay: [00:25:36] Yes.

Anne-Élisabeth Bossé: [00:25:37] A bit like having a child, I imagine. You can’t foresee everything, and at some point, a certain instinct takes over, and you go “oh”. At some point, you have to make a decision.

Félix-Antoine Tremblay: [00:25:43] Just like in traffic. You’re in your car, you have to drive for an hour-and-a-half, and at some point you get stuck. It’s ok, I’ll take the other lane. Zip, zip, zip. It may take longer but it’s OK. Then oops, you go back.

Anne-Élisabeth Bossé: [00:25:51] I freeze in traffic. I do nothing at all. You think it’s normal?

Félix-Antoine Tremblay: [00:25:55] Well you just recently started driving.

Anne-Élisabeth Bossé: [00:25:56] Quite recently. Yeah.

Félix-Antoine Tremblay: [00:25:59] Did you get involved at all with the renovations?

Marina Bastarache: [00:26:03] I did.

Félix-Antoine Tremblay: [00:26:03] No, no, but…

Marina Bastarache: [00:26:05] I’m painting the mouldings now. I get more involved with ideas, management as you mentioned, make sure everything goes well, that all is well done. But really, I’m the type of person who would drive a nail through her foot. And you would wonder how I managed to do that.

Félix-Antoine Tremblay: Everyone has their strengths. It’s quite all right!

Marina Bastarache: I tried so hard! The number of times in my life that I thought “my dad was in construction, I could install a shelf.” No problem. The number of times everything crumbled down to the floor. And I was like I put the anchors in, I checked where my beam is. I did everything! I checked everything! But it’s not working.

Félix-Antoine Tremblay: [00:26:38] If you need reassurance, I was never able to put in supports that held either.

Marina Bastarache: [00:26:42] It never holds!

Félix-Antoine Tremblay: [00:26:42] It doesn’t. I don’t know what skill I need to put in an anchor. It looks easy. Everyone seems to be able to do it, but it comes out all the time when I do it.

Marina Bastarache: It comes out!

Félix-Antoine Tremblay: My toilet paper holder needed two screws. It’s still at 45 degrees, it’s been over a year that I’m living in my condo.

Anne-Élisabeth Bossé: [00:26:56] That’s how it will go for me, too. And it will stay that way forever.

Félix-Antoine Tremblay: [00:26:58] What I find cool is that you have a newly built place, that’s your big baggage. My duplex, I demolished it. I tore down the walls, with the help of my ex and some friends of course, but I enjoyed learning how my house was built.

Anne-Élisabeth Bossé: [00:27:16] In elbow deep.

Félix-Antoine Tremblay: [00:27:17] Yes. You mentioned Lou having great respect for the history of the house.

Marina Bastarache: 100%!

Félix-Antoine Tremblay: There was some of that for me too, seeing what the walls were made of, who built them and how.

Anne-Élisabeth Bossé: [00:27:29] It gets emotional, it really does. You bring down the wall and you see some wool in there...someone put that in there.

Félix-Antoine Tremblay: [00:27:32] Yeah, horsehair.

Marina Bastarache: [00:27:33] Lou, when we were building the house, told me, “Hey maybe we can leave a note under one of the stairs. That way, if ever someone finds it...”

Félix-Antoine Tremblay: [00:27:38] We did that too!

Marina Bastarache: Yes!

Félix-Antoine Tremblay: Did you do it?

Marina Bastarache: I’m not sure.

Anne-Élisabeth Bossé: [00:27:40] It’s so cute. Adorable or what?

Marina Bastarache: I’m like “oh”...

Félix-Antoine Tremblay: [00:27:47] We leave a small trace. There’s something so emotional in buying a house, in renovating a place.

Anne-Élisabeth Bossé: [00:27:52] Selling is emotional, too.

Félix-Antoine Tremblay: [00:27:53] Yes. And a condo, regardless, there’s something emotional about it. You choose to live there. Then at some point, you don’t live there anymore. People will have kids there, experience ups and downs, good times and bad times. There’s something very, very emotional for me about living in a house. I think you have to respect, and in my case it was a house from 1900, the history of the house you’re buying, you know?

Marina Bastarache: [00:28:18] And the design will have to work, too.

Félix-Antoine Tremblay: Absolutely.

Marina Bastarache: In a way, if your house dates from 1900, you can’t behave as though it’s brand-new.

Félix-Antoine Tremblay: No.

Marina Bastarache: [00:28:25] Some things will remain, even if you redo the roof.

Félix-Antoine Tremblay: [00:28:28] And some of it willingly. I chose to keep some things, some of the beams. They don’t build houses that way anymore, with 12-inch beams piled up like that. So I...

Anne-Élisabeth Bossé: [00:28:37] You chose to.

Félix-Antoine Tremblay: [00:28:38] Yes, I insisted. You have to imagine it. There’s someone, probably just one man, who nailed that there with his bare hands in 1900.

Marina Bastarache: [00:28:46] And remember that we can’t even put up a shelf. Shelf, toilet paper holder...can’t do it.

Félix-Antoine Tremblay: [00:28:52] Don’t even mention it.

Anne-Élisabeth Bossé: [00:28:53] What would you say to someone who wants to get into this, since you’re the pro here?

Félix-Antoine Tremblay: [00:28:56] Would you like my emotional or pragmatic answer?

Anne-Élisabeth Bossé: [00:29:01] What do you think? Let’s start with emotional, please.

Félix-Antoine Tremblay: [00:29:03] Well, do it...go all in.

Anne-Élisabeth Bossé: Go, go, go! Really.

Félix-Antoine Tremblay: Don’t hesitate. Even if...I was also listening. Even if you think that at some point it can’t be done, start thinking about what can be done and do things that will make it happen.  Now I sound like the Dalai Lama.

Anne-Élisabeth Bossé: [00:29:18] No, not at all, it’s inspiring!

Marina Bastarache: Well that’s what it is, it’s true!

Félix-Antoine Tremblay: [00:29:19] It really is. And do it to the best of your abilities. And for me, taking care of your living space, improving it so you feel good in it, it doesn’t necessarily have to involve buying and flipping a house. It can be just painting your kitchen, changing door handles, or other little things that create value. It makes your daily life brighter, more inspiring.

Anne-Élisabeth Bossé: [00:29:43] Our homes are reflections of who we are.

Félix-Antoine Tremblay: [00:29:44] Yes, exactly. And my pragmatic answer would be: check your pride at the door. Can’t be arrogant, not while you’re on the road to making decisions and must let some things go. There comes a time, when you have ideas in your head about where you will put your walk-in closet in the bedroom for example, and where the door will go, and the window.  Then someone thinks it’s a bad idea, and you still have it in your have to let go and understand that sometimes, you have to trust the experts.

Anne-Élisabeth Bossé: [00:30:12] Because you’ll eventually realize that your door was opening into a wall. There was something you didn’t see coming.

Félix-Antoine Tremblay: Exactly!

Anne-Élisabeth Bossé: I can’t open my wardrobe.

Félix-Antoine Tremblay: [00:30:18] Yeah, you have to let go. It’s still emotional, but what can I say.

Marina Bastarache: [00:30:22] For a new construction, a great piece of advice I got and that I share with everyone. In fact, there are two. First, you think it will cost $X, it never costs $X. You should budget between 5 and 10% more. Make sure you have that amount stashed somewhere. It’s a fact. It takes time. It takes time. At the beginning I thought if, let’s say for a new condo, the plan specifies it should cost this much and once it’s built, it becomes even more valuable, then why doesn’t everyone build their home?

Anne-Élisabeth Bossé: Right?

Marina Bastarache: It’s because you need liquidity when you’re building, while you’re living elsewhere. For starters. You need money. And it takes time.

Anne-Élisabeth Bossé: You have to be tolerant.

Marina Bastarache: You have to manage your project. Especially the construction of a house, if you’re self-building, you obviously have to be there. I would think I had so much time on my hands before building a house. I spend so much time on it.

Anne-Élisabeth Bossé: So many decisions to make all the time.

Marina Bastarache: [00:31:16] Decisions, phone calls, quotes, emails, going on the project site, going back to the store because you forgot something. It takes up so much time. But I thought it was truly worth it.

Félix-Antoine Tremblay: Me too.

Anne-Élisabeth Bossé: But I’d add, you have to want to do it.

Marina Bastarache: You have to.

Félix-Antoine Tremblay: Yes.

Anne-Élisabeth Bossé: Don’t do it to please someone else.

Marina Bastarache: [00:31:32] No, that’s it. They’re major projects. But as I mentioned earlier, I think that you and I do OK in this area. Time, money and you have to want it. These are the three basics for building a house. I’d say.

Anne-Élisabeth Bossé: [00:31:49] Hmm! One of the difficulties for me is that doing this involves a lot of maturity. And I think becoming an adult, not everyone is ready for it. Would you say there’s a before and after purchase in terms of feeling like you’re an adult, or not really?

Marina Bastarache: Honestly, yes. I feel more alert, sharper. It was an area I knew so little about, so I think I’m more confident as a result. It brought out some good things in me I think.

Anne-Élisabeth Bossé: You surprised yourself.

Marina Bastarache: [00:32:17] I’m proud of myself. I’m so proud of myself. The girl who can’t install a shelf built her own house. And she’s in the midst of flipping another. It’s pretty amazing. So yeah, I do believe it does something...I’m like OK, I’m a woman now, I’m an adult. Even if I still sometimes feel like a little girl at heart. That’s what I think.

Félix-Antoine Tremblay: [00:32:36] Me too. It makes you self-confident. There’s a business side to getting involved in something like this. And if I go back to when I was 23, and I was saving to buy my first condo, there’s something that’s...I stumbled on to something. I discovered something in me that’s very structured, determined, a go-getter, rebellious, arrogant even.

Anne-Élisabeth Bossé: Confidence!

Félix-Antoine Tremblay: [00:33:04] And people around you are like “come on.” I wasn’t living life at the same pace as some of my friends because I obviously had a goal to achieve. My mom would tell me when I was little “When you have an idea in your head, you rarely rest”, and I still have that thought with me.

Marina Bastarache: [00:33:16] I heard that all the time, too!

Félix-Antoine Tremblay: [00:33:16] Exactly.

Anne-Élisabeth Bossé: My God! You’re from the same family.

Félix-Antoine Tremblay: [00:33:19] That’s the kind of thought I keep in my head when I’m involved in something like this. And yeah, I think I became more mature because of this project.

Anne-Élisabeth Bossé: [00:33:30] In a good way, though.

Félix-Antoine Tremblay: [00:33:32] Yes, yes, 100%.

Anne-Élisabeth Bossé: [00:33:33] And I’m not someone who crumbles under financial responsibility. On the contrary, I’m proud of myself, and I’m blossoming.

Félix-Antoine Tremblay: [00:33:38] Truly. I’m truly very proud of myself.

Marina Bastarache: [00:33:40] How about you, Anne-Éli?

Félix-Antoine Tremblay: [00:33:41] You’re looking at us like “Oh OK, yes?”

Anne-Élisabeth Bossé: [00:33:43] I’m also very proud of myself. It’s really not natural for me, and I don’t get the butterflies in my stomach like you do. But the anticipation of happiness and anxiety ratio it creates, is not good for me. But I press on because I want to outdo myself, and I want to get out of my comfort zone because I think it’s important to do that in life. But there’s no rest. No much, anyway.

Félix-Antoine Tremblay: Very interesting.

Anne-Élisabeth Bossé: But yeah, I still do it. And yes, I feel proud, too.

Félix-Antoine Tremblay: [00:34:09] Can I corroborate a compliment that was paid earlier?

Anne-Élisabeth Bossé: [00:34:12] Zip, zap.

Félix-Antoine Tremblay: [00:34:13] It’s true that the eyebrows are really nice.

Anne-Élisabeth Bossé: [00:34:15] Ma-gni-fi-cent eyebrows!

Félix-Antoine Tremblay: [00:34:16] I’m lost in the perfection of your eyebrows.

Anne-Élisabeth Bossé: [00:34:19] How many times did I lose my train of thought because I was staring at them?

Marina Bastarache: [00:34:21] OK, you’re teasing me now!

Félix-Antoine Tremblay: [00:34:22] I swear! They’re so well brushed. They’re totally straight. Well-groomed.

Anne-Élisabeth Bossé: Beautiful.

Marina Bastarache: [00:34:24] I forced myself to do them this morning.

Félix-Antoine Tremblay: They look nice.

Anne-Élisabeth Bossé: [00:34:27] Is that who you wanted to pay tribute to, the make-up artist? No, OK. I always ask that question at the end of podcasts, if the guest would like to pay tribute to someone. Sometimes yes, sometimes no. Is there someone?

Marina Bastarache: [00:34:38] Honestly, yes. The person who helped us the most in building the house, and is again involved with the renovation, is my boyfriend’s dad. Louis Tremblay. He’s a retired architect, passionate about his work, taught his whole life, wants to teach us, and who tells us “Oh, your renovations are in April and May, perfect.  I already booked the dates in my calendar, I’ll be with you every day.” He’ll be there every day, do you understand?

Anne-Élisabeth Bossé: [00:35:03] You’re very lucky.

Marina Bastarache: [00:35:05] Lucky? I always tell him: thank you, thank you, thank you. But I don’t know if he knows how much I appreciate him.

Anne-Élisabeth Bossé: I hope he understands. Well, thank you. Thank you Marina, thank you Félix-Antoine.

Félix-Antoine Tremblay: [00:35:16] A real pleasure.

Anne-Élisabeth Bossé: [00:35:16] Honestly, it was so good to have this discussion, and it removed plenty of my insecurities and irrational fears.

Marina Bastarache: [00:35:22] So when’s your next house?

Anne-Élisabeth Bossé: I think I’ll buy here. I like it here.

Félix-Antoine Tremblay: [00:35:26] Yes it would suit you. Nice cement walls.

Anne-Élisabeth Bossé: [00:35:28] I could live here. Got everything I need.

Félix-Antoine Tremblay: [00:35:31] For real. Yes.

Anne-Élisabeth Bossé: [00:35:32] Staying for dinner?

Félix-Antoine Tremblay: [00:35:33] Of course, with pleasure! What are we eating? Pasta with pesto sauce?

[00:35:39 Projet en habitation : avant de vous lancer…]


Marina Bastarache and Félix-Antoine Tremblay think back on their experiences of building and buying houses. Their contagious passion really impresses Anne-Élisabeth (their handy tips, too).

Animation : Anne-Élisabeth Bossé

Marina Bastarache and Félix-Antoine Tremblay

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