Passive House Addition for a Tiny Post War Home

Post World War II homes of the 1950s and early 60s were tiny. For some, the challenge is finding more space while remaining in place.

Post World War II homes of the 1950s and early 60s were tiny. For some, the challenge is finding more space while remaining in place.

Passive House Additions

Once ubiquitous, strawberry box houses (so-called for their shape) or Victory homes, were seen in major cities across Canada. They tended to offer a compact ground floor with kitchen, dining, and living areas and possibly a small bedroom or den space. Upstairs, under the peaked roof, were two small bedrooms.

As housing trends continue towards smaller footprints, these homes are great for some, but just not enough home for others. For one Ottawa family in a mature neighbourhood, their teensy post WWII home was just not big enough. They already had one child and planned for another in a household that also accommodated extended family members.

They also wanted to remain in the area they loved and had room to build back on their property. After discussing what they needed from an addition with EkoBuilt, we were able to deliver a design that tripled the home’s square footage, providing the extra bedrooms they needed and a more flexible floorplan for all of the home’s occupants.

A classic tiny post war home in Toronto.
An image of a classic Canadian post-war home — known as Strawberry box houses or Victory houses. Image from Wikipedia. Learn more.

More Home on a Budget

The approach taken to the addition was one we often find ourselves advocating for.

Conventional additions involve removing the roof system and tearing down walls before building can begin, adding significantly to the bottom line.

In this case, an existing patio door at the rear corner of the home offered the opportunity to join a new two-storey structure to the existing home. All of the available budget could go into a smartly designed, two-storey structure that was also designed to respect privacy for neighbours on either side.

The two parts of the home are connected by an eight-foot section that houses the adjoining hallway. There are three steps down into the new ground floor of the addition, and a full flight of stairs up to the new second storey. (The addition is entirely slab on grade, whereas the original home has a stone foundation.)

Cost comparison

A brand new passive addition cost roughly $350 per square foot ($300 per sq ft to drywall stage, $50 per sq ft for finishing), as compared to upwards of $500 per sq ft for a conventional addition.

Looking at total budget, this meant a 1,629 sq ft addition for this client, as compared to something just shy of 1,200 sq ft had they undertaken a conventional addition.

A site plan for the project.

Passive Addition Floorplan

The new addition incorporates a comfortable open plan kitchen, dining and living space, as well as a powder room.

The upper floor includes two bedrooms, each with an ensuite bathroom, and an open loft space for relaxing.

A patio sits in the u-shaped space between the two structures and windows were placed strategically for light and livability, as well as privacy for and from neighbouring properties.

This family’s renovation journey began with considering all available options for remaining in the neighborhood they love. As we’ve explained in other blog posts, a renovation of the existing home was deemed too costly and a conventional addition would have reduced the scale of the project.

A cleverly designed passive addition that took “thinking outside the box” to another level offered the perfect solution. Download the floorplan in PDF.

Naturally, this addition comes with the tremendous energy efficiency and savings on energy bills that any passive home can guarantee!

Considering a passive addition to your existing home? Give us a shout!

Floorplans for the ground and upper stories of the addition.

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