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.