Retrofit or Rebuild in a Net Zero World?

It’s a very real question in 2023: for owners of older, inefficient homes, is retrofitting or rebuilding best?

The other issue most of us are facing in 2023 is the rising cost of living, and price surely is the deciding factor. Let’s dig into it.

Keeping up with change

It won’t be surprising to hear that our customer base has been changing. In the early days, we mostly worked with folks already committed to the notion of a green home, a sustainable way of life.

Today, we’re hearing more and more from people looking to find the most affordable and sustainable way to live in a rapidly changing world. Climate change and the impact of regulatory moves towards Net Zero are being felt by everyone.

We’ve talked about the value of retrofitting in the past, but more recently we’ve had multiple opportunities to do side by side comparisons of the cost / benefit of retrofitting an older, inefficient and expensive to run home vs. building a new passive home.

A passive build just makes sense

Our most recent comparisons showed the cost of a full retrofit of an older home in a mature neighbourhood matched that of a tear down and passive house rebuild on the same property. The cost to the young family considering how best to plan for the future would be the same.

So how to choose?

The retrofit process would have come out somewhat faster, and we all want to realize our dreams as quickly as we can, but the resulting home couldn’t compete well enough with the real benefit of a fully passive new build designed to last.

The new passive home will take a little longer to realize, but ultimately will be cheaper to run due to its much smaller ongoing energy requirements. It will also be supremely comfortable and healthy.

Going passive is the very best way to protect your investment.

Planning your future

Ultimately, each homeowner needs to decide what will work best with their situation, but the guidance we can offer is clear:

  • Looking to expand your current home’s footprint and stay in a neighbourhood you love? Opt for a fully passive addition.
  • Debating whether to retrofit or rebuild on your current property? A passive rebuild would be our advice. Going net zero is extremely easy when you build the right way — passivehouse.

Protect your investment

We’ll be blogging next about how our net zero passive model home performed in one of the worst winters for sunlight in a century. Keep reading!

Come out to see us at the Ottawa Home & Garden Show this weekend to discuss your project, or give us a shout!

Catch EkoBuilt's Paul Kealey on the topic of net zero homes on March 24th and March 25th!

Learn more about going Net Zero at the Ottawa Home & Garden Show. Our own Paul Kealey will present today and tomorrow! We’re also at booth #1913.

3 thoughts on “Retrofit or Rebuild in a Net Zero World?

  1. ShennaW

    Thank you for the post, as this has been an issue for me with a home I recently inherited.
    I would love to see more specific comparison details on the retrofitting.
    What are the most costly/challenging aspects? Maybe some before&after photos of retrofits?

      • ShennaW

        Also, if I’m planning to retrofit in the short-term, and rebuild in the future (say 1-2yrs), what products/materials can potentially be reused for the rebuild?
        For example: If I need to renovate plumbing, heating, and electrical systems for an existing home, are there products/materials that I can invest in that can be transferred to the new passive home later?

Leave a Reply