I’m a bit late with this update but we’re well past lock-up now, with insulation and boarding on the sched for the next couple weeks. It has been really fun to see the windows and doors go in; the plumbing and electrical complete except for finishing; siding basically finished and trim well underway. The front of the great room and the kitchen garden have yet to be sided but that will be done soon. Tom, Ron and Chelsea have done amazing work and Craig and Al have kept everything moving forward; they’ve all been a great team. So far, I think everything is on track for our move-in early next year. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to everyone!
Rough in for the turn around
Framing mostly done
Front of house – looks massive but it is smaller in real life
View from on high…
Working on entrance beams (in foreground)
Entrance posts installation; good thing we had the excavator
Installation of entrance posts
Panorama of the back of the house
Great room with office on left of photo
I just starting digging the trench for the well connection
Well trench finished
Siding started on the back of the house
Window opening mechanism
Panel rough in – sea of wires
Great room beam work
Data and electrical
Looking into kitchen – beams in place
Starting on trim detail
So part of my time thus far has been spent collecting names of reputable contractors, builders and service providers. Thus far, we’ve met with three builders, two interior designers, an alternate energy dude and an HVAC company. Tom and I visited the CVRD to discuss plans, zoning and environmental concerns. I’ve discussed grey water systems and had a fairly positive review of alternate septic options with VIHA/Island Health. Thus far, I have to say that most people I’ve (we’ve) dealt with have been great and it is making the decision making process difficult. I’m sure we’ll have dozens of meetings over the coming weeks and months but I think putting the time in to assemble a tight team is worth it.
Does anyone recommend local trades, suppliers, service providers and the like? Any feedback would be greatly appreciated! Onward we roll…
For the last four years, I’ve gathered photographs and ideas, jotted down pictures and book-marked websites, all in an effort to put some thought into our next big adventure – building a new house on the property. It’s now time to put pen to paper (or rather fingers to keyboard to CAD software) and start bringing this projection to life.
I plan to document things start to finish, successes and failures, trying times and exciting developments. My Dad told me once that he heard it took three ‘builds’ to get what one wants in a house and I think that is often true. I hope we can get it mostly right in one.
We have a few chief goals in this project. I’ll outline more details as we go along but the overall project will:
- suit our needs both now and well into our future
- be built, as much as possible, by local people, using local, sustainable materials
- feature alternate strategies (e.g. solar arrays, composting toilets, cistern systems, earth berms, drainpipe alternators, grey water treatment and recycling etc.)
- be constructed at a price which will allow others to realize that an innovative, energy efficient house can be build without requiring a massive budget
It should be a fun project so stay tuned!
The side building at our house is like a rabbit warren, full of little rooms. We have a pottery studio and a pet house in there along with some storage and my workshop. The outside of the structure, however, is a dog’s breakfast of rotting tongue and groove, dripping fascia and decrepit water pipes. While I wanted to clean it up a bit, I didn’t want to rebuild it or spend a lot of money so I just cut the bottoms off the rotting boards, added some cedar cladding from Dove Creek Timber, dropped a window in from my brother’s dump pile, trimmed everything and painted the fascia. I added a box to cover in the tap manifold and built a few window boxes out of scrap for flower and herbs. It’s a cheap fix and at least cleans things up for the time being.
Over the weekend, Magnifico Construction and I managed to put together the first bay of Bob’s new abode. After some mental acrobatics regarding post levels, spacing and anchors, we managed to get the first three uprights set, square and level in three dimensions! We tied them into the ledger board with some strapping before figuring out the rafters which went up quickly. Adding some cross supports tightened up the whole structure. We had a little challenge trying to get the north end of the shed up and over the slope of the existing building but with the aid of three cantilevered braces cut at rough 45s we managed to get it supported. Next step, adding the second bay. Stay tuned!
As the Raider’s anthem so aptly states, the “autumn wind is a pirate, blustering in from the sea. With a rollicking song he sweeps along swaggering boisterously.” The autumn wind is upon us and in the Comox Valley that means one thing: rain. Now before I get too carried away, let me remind my readers from parts elsewhere that contrary to popular belief, we don’t get six months of rain here. In fact, we don’t get three months or two months. We get a lot of grey, overcast days which sometimes make it feel like it is raining! Compared to a few other cities, the Comox Valley’s seasonal rainfall is quite reasonable. Of course, we all know the axiom regarding statistics!
That said, poor ol’ Bob has a house with a leaky roof and I need to solve this problem. In addition, the trailer Tim, Dad and I just built needs a shelter from the monsoon. After some careful consideration, I determined that the existing lean-to shelter is pretty much done and needs to be dismantled. I will salvage all the wood and the metal sheeting and use it in another project in some fashion or another. I’ve sourced my new lumber locally, from a responsible supplier. I just have to pick it up, finish the dismantling process and start construction. It sounds so simple.
My normal M.O. when doing these bigger projects is to think about the end result whilst omitting some of the specifics regarding measurements, calculations or design features. My childhood dreams of being an architect were probably best left as dreams!! That said, I’m hoping that I nail this project. I’ve measured three times not twice and even have my laser level out! This weekend past, I dismantled the existing framework. This weekend coming I hope to start the construction phase.
As many of you know, I’m quite interested in alternate energy, recycling and reclamation systems, self sufficiency and sustainability. My knowledge is growing but I have a long way to go. That said, I’m happy to announce that I’m starting a new section on my blog titled “The Greening of Knight.” Over the next two, three, four years (I don’t know the actual time frame), Josée and I hope to build a new house on our property. This project will have four pillars of construction:
- ENERGY: The house will be self-sufficient as regards energy consumption. We may use a combination of energy sources and systems: geothermal, solar, gravitational dynamos, wind. Both passive and active systems will be engaged. Our initial plan was to build an off grid residence but after additional consideration, it would be more of a challenge (which we relish) to build a grid-connected house, producing a regular surplus of energy which could be sold back to the grid. Obviously this will only work if proceeds from a sale would result in a cash rebate, rather than energy credits.
- COST: Over the past months, I’ve spoken with a number new home owners who were interested in non-conventional construction strategies but when confronted with the cost quickly turned tail and went with the status quo. This is an understandable decision. Our project needs will be designed such that it costs exactly zero dollars more per square foot than conventional construction. This is the only way that contractors, municipalities and other individuals will consider alternate construction methods as valid. In addition to an equal (or lower) construction cost, we will implement a cost recovery tracking system. I want to monitor our energy consumption in order to determine exactly when our benefit (energy production and re-sale) has exceeded our cost (implementing the systems).
- LOCAL: I feel it important to source materials locally and use local labour, local skills. I’m not sure if this is entirely feasible at this point but additional research over time should determine the viability of this requirement.
- IMPACT: We wish our project to have zero impact on our property. Some of the concepts we will implement include rainwater harvesting systems, grey water reclamation, radiant flooring heat (hey, the Romans had it!), on-demand geo or solar heated water and the list goes on. I’ll add more detail as we go but for the time being suffice it to say that the ideas come thick and fast – some practical and probable, some in-exact and borderline insane!
This journey will be an interesting challenge on several levels. The nay-sayers are out there; I’m bumped into a few already! Josée and I are quite excited about the possibilities, especially as we are in the brainstorming phase – no idea is a bad idea. In subsequent blog entries, I’ll write more on the professionals who will be helping us on the project. In the meantime, if you read this and want to join our team, please contact me. Stay tuned and if anyone has suggestions, ideas or input, please jot down a comment or email us.