Ottawa passive house
EkoBuilt News & Happenings

Reminder: EkoModel Home Open House this Saturday!

In the Ottawa area? Interested in visiting one of our passive homes?

Come visit the EkoModel Home this weekend – we’ll be open from 9am to 3pm on Saturday, October 5th. The home is just west of Ottawa in McNab/Braeside. (If you can’t make it this time, we’ll also be having a 3-day Open House in early November.)

Open House days include a 12pm presentation by EkoBuilt’s Paul Kealey.

Passive House resources

EkoBuilt News & Happenings, House Design

EkoBuilt Project: Passive Home in Rural West Ottawa

This new EkoBuilt passive home is located in rural west Ottawa. A bungalow, its design is slab on grade and it encompasses 1365 ft.² of living space including two bedrooms and two bathrooms. It was finished in time for the 2018-2019 winter season.

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Couple viewing potential land for their home
Energy & Household Trends, Home Building trends, House Design

Tips for purchasing land on which to build your home

Hoping to build your own home some day? Does it seem like a dream? It’s best to start planning as far ahead as possible. Here’s why:

The excitement and potential around building your own home are pretty special, but there is a lot of work that needs to go into the process before you ever get there. If any process deserves a long lead time, home building is it.

Considerations around location, availability and zoning of available land, whether to share or become part of a community with others, whether to build in an income component, and the type of structure you would build are just the starting points.

With land availability increasingly scarce in some areas, and energy costs rising, it’s important to get all of these things as right as you can.

1) How do you want to live?

  • Are you building for where you are now, or where you will be in a few years or more? Are you building a family home or for a single/couple? Will you work from home?
  • Do you like the idea of building a home with a community of other like minded folks?
  • Does your household have special needs?
  • With rising costs for home ownership, does it make sense to build in an income/rental component?

2) Where do you want to live?

It’s never too soon to start looking at available land and considering your options.

Urban or rural?

In an urban environment you will likely have to take land that’s available or find a property with an existing older home and rebuild. The rebuild may be the preferable option for most in order to be in the neighbourhood of choice and also for the property not to be subject to development costs which can be as high as $25,000-$30,000 in the city of Ottawa. If the property has an existing home on it, regardless of condition or age, the development fee is waived.

In rural areas or smaller towns it is still a good idea to pay attention to development fees. Using Ottawa as an example, the $25,000-$30,000 development fee within city limits could be reduced to as little as $3,500 in the surrounding townships.

Other factors to consider:

Lay of the land. This is important for some because it may dictate the style of foundation. For example, if you want a walkout basement, a sloped piece of land is necessary. On the flip side, if no basement is preferred, then a relatively flat piece of property is required.

Orientation. In order to maximize solar gain, it is important to have access to the sun and this means designing the house to face within 20° of due south. In a town or city, streets that run north to south are preferred instead of east to west for privacy reasons. For example, if a street runs east to west, a house on the north side of the road has its south side facing the street. As living areas would normally be placed on this side of a home, there is a potential loss of privacy particularly if the home needs to be positioned very close to the road.

Water quality. It’s a good idea to research depths of wells if the property is located outside of a municipal area. Deep wells (greater than 250 to 300 feet deep) normally have higher concentrations of minerals which may require a large water treatment system. Well records in the province of Ontario are public information so it’s very easy to see the results.

3) Budget: To build & to live

There is a budget for building, and then there is a budget for living, and as energy prices rise the latter is getting more attention from homeowners.

Ottawa coach house plans by EkoBuilt

EkoBuilt’s Mooneys Pad tiny house plan

EkoBuilt offers pre-existing energy efficient house plans to suit many different lifestyles, including tiny/coach house options. Many of our clients like to start with one of our plans, and then customize to best meet their personal needs and preferences, but we can also start from scratch. Working with pre-existing plans provides great benefit in terms of proven models of energy efficiency, layout convenience, and – of course – budget.

EkoBuilt also offers a key array of house performance models for your home, including Code Plus (a home built to the Code standards projected for 2030), Passive House (a home that is 90% better than Code), and even Net Zero (a home which produces as much energy as it uses).

The best investment you can make is in the most energy efficient home that you can afford to build, as you will get the best return on that same investment. Imagine simply not having to worry about steeply climbing energy bills.

4) How will you build?

Finding a builder who understands what you want to achieve and can work with you to do so, is critical. At EkoBuilt, we welcome clients who want to save on the build cost by doing some or all of their own work, when circumstances allow. We also work with clients who need us to do everything from start to finish.

The earlier in the process that we can have a conversation, the more we can help you consider the best and most cost effective ways of achieving your dream. Make time to sit down with us today, even if you can’t foresee being in a position to build for two or three years.

We look forward to hearing from you!

 

Photo by Alex Iby on Unsplash
Child's bedroom in energy efficient home plan
Energy & Household Trends, Energy Efficiency, Home Building trends, House Design

Energy efficient home plans are essential

If you’re planning on building a new home, you’ve got a chance to get it right from day one. Low energy bills, a healthy and supremely comfortable living environment, great design – what’s not to love?

Energy efficient home plans are the key ingredient to an energy efficient home, along with energy efficient materials and building technologies, and – of course – a builder who understands how to make the most of all of these.

Energy efficient home plans from EkoBuiltWhy are they so important?

Home plans that have been developed by an experienced home builder over time will take into account myriad factors, including the best distances for work areas in a kitchen, ideal corridor and flow pathways, orientation of private spaces to public ones, relationships of the indoors to the outdoors, etc. But there is much more to a home than floorplans.

An energy efficient home plan will also take into account things like roof slope and style, overhangs, maximizing window size on south and west facing walls, etc.

Will you know an energy efficient plan when you see it?

Possibly not. Unless you know the right things to look for, you may not be able to pick out the best options. An energy efficient home builder will be able to guide you in selecting from the best plans, can work with you to further customize those base plans to best suit your needs, preferences and budget, and will know the appropriate building materials and systems required to realize the build properly. The right builder will stay abreast of the best home building technologies and approaches for reducing a home’s energy footprint.

Why EkoBuilt?

Child's bedroom in energy efficient home plan

A child’s bedroom in the EkoBuilt model home. Although curtains have been added for light control, they aren’t needed for warmth. The Munster windows are incredibly well sealed and energy efficient.

After years of building custom and energy efficient homes for customers, the EkoBuilt team has years of experience in designing and building homes, and this experience has translated into the 13 energy efficient home plans from our Passive House line, as well as 8 tiny/coach house plans for secondary dwellings/rental properties and tiny home enthusiasts.

The 13 passive house plans that we’ve developed encompass both two-storey and bungalow styles, all boast low-slope roofs with large overhangs, and each one is designed to maximize the placement and size of south and west-facing windows.

These house plans also build on years spent accumulating knowledge of the best kinds of home floorplans to cater to different lifestyles and life phases. Some of our plans will be better suited to individuals, retired couples or those without children, while others are more clearly family/multi-resident homes.

All of the plans include an optional basement with lower-level access, and all can be paired with an energy efficient garage, as required.

Homes designed to take advantage of electricity – the fuel of the future

These homes are easily and cheaply run using an air to air source heat pump which can heat a home for less than $30/month (electricity) during the coldest months of winter. Really!

And, as noted above, we’re always delighted to work with clients to customize one of our plans to best suit their design preferences, budget and needs. We can help you think through how you live and how your home’s design can best support that.

Most importantly, we can help you end up with the most delightfully comfortable and healthy home, that is also the most energy efficient one possible to build currently.

Get in touch

Tell about your dreams and plans; we’ll help you choose the best energy efficient house plan and show you how to make it your reality.

Read more about the EkoModel Home, which demonstrates all of these principles.

Wood engineered siding on the EkoModel Home
EkoModel News, House Design

Engineered Wood Siding: Beautiful & Sustainable

In spring 2017 we installed siding on the EkoModel Home. If you’ve followed the build of this passive house that we’re using as a showroom for what we can build, you’ll be familiar with its two-storey, flat-roofed visage.

This 2,506 square foot home includes 4 bedrooms, 2 1/2 bathrooms, and beautiful, sun-filled rooms from its south-facing rear orientation. When it came time to clad the exterior, we wanted to choose a product with a high degree of renewable or recycled content that would also be:

  • affordable
  • a natural material
  • extremely low maintenance, and – most important of all –
  • look great!

We choose an engineered wood siding product, GOODStyle by Goodfellow (a Canadian company), that comes with a 40-year guarantee and has 100% recycled content.

Offered in planks, shingles or panels, GOODStyle siding is available in a vast array of colours. We opted for a mix of grey and mustard tones, giving the house depth and interest (actual colours: Galet, Barn, and Cedar). You can realize your own perfect exterior with the many options and colourways available from Goodfellow.

For more detail, view the GOODStyle by Goodfellow brochure.

Before and After Photos

The rear, south-facing aspect of the house is where the common living areas are focused.

The front of the home, which is north-facing, has smaller windows.

Goodfellow Engineered Siding Photo Gallery

Find out more about the EkoModel Home passive house, and Goodfellow siding. Contact us today!

Graphic courtesy of TheFix.com
Energy Efficiency, Home Building trends, House Design, Simply Sustainable

Add a little inspiration to your spring

It’s feeling like spring really has sprung, and it seems like a good idea to share some of the inspirational ideas we’ve been storing away over the winter. Fun and clever stuff that will get the cogs in your brain whirring!

Making your old wood ‘pallet-able’

How to upcycle pallets into “rustic-industrial” stuff for your home

Pallet safety infographicThis article from theFix.com was recently shared on Treehugger.

It helps to determine which pallets are safe to use, and which are not, and also contains a fun and informative infographic on how to prepare pallets for whatever project you might have in mind.

Also from theFix.com is Home Improvement Projects You Can Do with Reclaimed Wood, which gets the same cool infographic treatment, making for a quick and lively review of some neat design options.

 


Passive house on wheels anyone?

Cargo van conversionDigital nomad’s ultra-minimalist van conversion includes hidden bike rack (Video)

We’ve all seen our fill of tiny home projects, including many models designed for hitting the road. This sleek cargo van conversion is a really cool addition to the options available to anyone wanting to live on the road.


Just plain cool

10 Ways to Repurpose Vintage Furniture (Apartment Therapy)
All-in-one cube is ‘room within a room’ that hides bed, bike, closet & office (Treehugger)
Genius Trash to Treasure Crafts (Good Housekeeping)

Happy Spring!

House with recessed LED lighting
Energy & Household Trends, Energy Efficiency

Why you should light your home with LEDs

Whether you’re building a new home or considering retrofitting the lighting in an existing home, if energy conservation matters to you there is only one type of light you should consider: LED lighting.

What are LEDs?

LED stands for Light Emitting Diodes. The following is an extract from How Stuff Works on How Light Emitting Diodes Work:

Basically, LEDs are just tiny light bulbs that fit easily into an electrical circuit. But unlike ordinary incandescent bulbs, they don’t have a filament that will burn out, and they don’t get especially hot. They are illuminated solely by the movement of electrons in a semiconductor material, and they last just as long as a standard transistor. The lifespan of an LED surpasses the short life of an incandescent bulb by thousands of hours. Tiny LEDs are already replacing the tubes that light up LCD HDTVs to make dramatically thinner televisions.

The Recessed LEDs We Recommend

In the EkoModel Home, we used recessed LED lighting throughout the home.

The product we chose to use is from a company called Energy Efficient Lighting based in Markham, Ontario:

4 inch UltraThin LED Recessed Luminaire Round – UTLED-S9W-3KWH

These recessed lights only require 9W of energy and are rated for an amazing 50,000 hours. They retail for about $30 per unit.

For a list of agents carrying these lights, see Energy Efficient Lighting’s website.

Ottawa Coach House builder EkoBuilt
Coach / Tiny Homes, Energy & Household Trends

Build your Ottawa coach house

The Ottawa Home and Remodeling Show 2017 Coach House Village was a huge success and we were pleased to be a part. We were blown away with the amount of interest,  from the general public as well as the Ottawa Citizen, CBC and CTV (the latter both broadcast from the Coach House pavilion).

We are attracted to the new Ottawa Coach House regulations because intensification of the city is an amazing example of sustainability! We heard lots of great ideas from visitors to our booth who are exploring putting a coach house on their property for the following kinds of reasons:

  • Granny or in-law suite: save $2-3k per month moving from a $3000 – $4000 monthly payment (retirement home) to a $1000 / month coach house
  • Rental unit: homeowners could make 12 to 15% return on investment per year (no more stock market speculation!)
  • Starter home: alternative for kids moving out or starting families instead of moving into an expensive apartment or condo
  • Air B&B: for those homeowner entrepreneurs out there

Apart from urban Coach House interest, there were also a number of visitors interested in tiny house communities run like a condominium and with a shared access road. There were retirees looking to truly downsize and those just looking to start small.

Listening to all these ideas was very energizing and inspiring and we look forward to seeing where the Ottawa Coach House trend will take us.

Learn more

Add your name to the list if you’re interested in taking part in a planned Community

View EkoBuilt’s Coach House plans and materials packages

View EkoBuilt’s Coach House pricing