Finding a Builder for Your EkoBuilt Passive House: Part 1

We've designed our passive house kit to ship just about anywhere in North America. So how best to find a local builder?

We’ve designed our passive house kit to ship just about anywhere in North America. So how best to find a local builder?

Modular passive house solution

We have developed what we believe to be the most affordable passive house solution in North America. We’re based in Ottawa, Canada, and while we can handle complete builds for our local customers, we had to find a way to share our approach with homeowners across Canada and the US.

Enter the passive house kit. Our pre-certified passive house components have been refined to make local builds easy, which is where the idea of “modular” comes into play.

There is no specialized knowledge required; any experienced carpenter or builder can put together our kit. We also offer direct support to answer any questions that may arise.

Once the core kit has been assembled, it’s simply a question of lining up the appropriate trades for finishes, as per your home’s design and your particular preferences.

NOTE: If preferred, we can provide our weathertight shell in prefabricated panels, accelerating your build timeframe and easing the way. Ask us!

Exterior picture of a two-storey passive home built using EkoBuilt's passive house kit.
This EkoBuilt home in Eastern Ontario was built using our modular passive house approach.

So how do you get from a floorplan and a kit to this, a finished passive home? Read on!

Passive house floorplans

We offer 50+ passive house floorplans ranging from 400 to 3,200 sq ft, including secondary and primary dwellings. We can modify any plan to suit your needs or we can create a brand new floorplan just for you with our in-house architecture service.

Finding a passive house builder

You don’t need to find a builder who uses the “passive house” descriptor.

We find it’s best to do one of the following:

  • Conduct a locally focused internet search for “”custom builders” or “carpenter builders near me”. Both of these will turn up options. Do your research, and select 3 or 4 that standout as strong options.
  • Speak with your local building supply centre; these folks work closely with builders and carpenters and may have good suggestions.
  • Get a recommendation from a neighbour or friend who has been through a home build or major renovation recently.

What to look for in a builder

Beyond the obvious steps you should take in verifying a builder’s credibility and track record, including public reviews and references, the following are very important:

  1. Experience in building wood framed homes
  2. Interest in building energy efficient buildings
  3. Openness to working within a model where materials for the Passive House building envelope (wall & roof assembly, windows, and doors) are provided by EkoBuilt, while the builder handles installation and sources all other parts of the home build.
  4. Availability to start your foundation and build within your required timeline

Specific skills:

You need to find a builder or a carpenter that has a team with experience in wood framing. The EkoBuilt passive house wall assembly is a double wall system, while conventional homes are single wall systems.

If you have framed a single wall, it is the same skill set to frame two walls or a double wall system.

EkoBuilt provides design, construction details, all materials, and a complete Builder Handbook on how to frame the walls, so any skilled carpenter / framer can easily do this.

If you do find carpenters or builders that have experience framing double walls, then this is bonus.

What a potential builder will need

We provide turnkey cost analysis documents for building with any of our existing floorplans, but you will need to verify actual costs for your builder and any selected finishes for the home.

In order to provide a quote, a builder is going to typically need these three things:

  • Design and architecture drawings: our drawings will include the construction specifications and detailed drawings for your house (this is an output of our design process with you). 
  • List of EkoBuilt inclusions, and what the builder needs to provide and price. (We include a full list when you work with us.)
  • Call with EkoBuilt for clarifications and questions on wall / roof assemblies and inclusions / exclusions.  Normally a short phone call with potential builders is all that’s required to understand the simplicity of our system and to provide direction for the project.

How we ensure your builder can meet the quality of Passive House:

  1. Design and Architecture detailed drawings and notes:   We ensure that your builder has the blueprints to build your house correctly.
  2. Builder Handbook:  We supply a 70-page full-colour Builder Handbook that is shipped with your material kit. It provides further notes and instructions to help your carpenter and framer build the wall assembly and roof assembly to meet our quality standards.
  3. Quality Checklists:  We split the build into various stages and provide quality checklists for each stage of the build. These are simple one-page checklists that you can use also to discuss the build with your builder at each stage.
  4. Categorized Material Lists:  We provide all the materials they require for each of the components of the Weathertight Shell, so that the builder is able to easily envisage the materials required for component and match it with the Builder Handbook, design, and quality checklists.  
  5. Consulting package:   Given all the resources we provide, this is not required, but we can also provide a consulting package for $7,500 where we are available from start to finish to help answer questions, speak to your builder or trades before and during the build, and to support you to assess and decode different trade opinions on the ground, so you can always determine the correct course of action to keep your build moving forward and on budget. This package is just what some folks need and we’re happy to provide it.

In Summary

We’re here to guide you and your builder through the process.

We created a webinar for homeowners that will answer all of your questions. It’s led by EkoBuilt’s president and visionary, Paul Kealey.

For your builder, we’re here to answer their questions to make sure your project moves forward and is successful.

You will want to make sure that the carpenter or builder you choose understands what is required and will guarantee the cost of installing the wall assembly, roof assembly, windows, doors and interior partitions.

In the next parts of this series, we’ll address topics like project management, pricing expectations from builders, and issues to anticipate.

Ready to move forward with your project? Give us a shout, we’re here and ready to help.

Our next webinar is June 6th, 2023 from 7 – 9pm EDT.

Leave a Reply