In 2020 we sold our first model home, the hugely popular Trillium model that we had built west of Ottawa as a showcase for our passive house offering. This is an overview of that build. Our new model home isn’t ready yet, but you can read about it here.
The Trillium energy efficient house plan is a two-storey home with a really unique layout, including single storey “wings” that were used for the kitchen and master suite, respectively.
The core two-storey section of the home houses living spaces and a powder room on the main level and three bedrooms and a bathroom on the upper level.
The street facing side of the home features smaller windows, while the living areas at the rear side of the home feature much larger windows and patio doors.
One question we often field is whether our passive house kit is the same as a prefab house. It’s not. It’s something much better, in our view, and here’s why:
Unlike a prefabricated house, which comes straight from the factory ready for final assembly on your property or site, our material kits provide quality materials installed in the correct steps and the option to be as involved as you like in the build. These are quite significant differences.
Our weathertight material kit can be shipped across North America, and can be assembled by any experienced carpenter. It’s down to you and the details of your project to decide on foundation and finishes.
We’ll state our bias upfront: we think that our passive house kits win hands down over prefab assemblies, particularly for our northern climate where weathertight wall assemblies matter a great deal.
Prefab Homes: The Cons
Transport – large prefab walls require multiple large trucks, adding cost to the project’s bottom line.
Site access – large trucks often have trouble accessing building sites, requiring additional vehicles and steps at increased cost.
Build integrity – insulation in prefab walls demand just the right weather conditions during transport and assembly.
Assembly & foundation issues – prefab buildings need cranes for assembly, which are costly. This cost is often driven up by site / foundation irregularities affecting installation.
Hidden costs – fully prefabricated homes are marketed as being cheap and quick, but as the points above illustrate, at what additional cost?
Air leakage – prefab systems come with just one chance to seal the building with exterior tape, compared to the stringent triple-protection of a passive house build (vapor barrier, air barrier, and water barrier).
Mechanical penetrations – there are a number of items required to pass through walls, such as plumbing vent pipe, exterior light and outlet wiring, HRV supply and exhaust lines, heat pump lines, etc. Prefab walls containing insulation will compromise thermal break at all of these points, making the building envelope far inferior.
Passive House Kits: The Benefits
Flexible, local – our kits allow you to be as involved as you like, as well as to involve local builders and tradespeople.
Transport – we partner with national carriers and distributors, allowing us to minimize delivery and travel distances regardless of property location.
Site access, build versatility – our weathertight material kit is provided unassembled, simplifying delivery options and providing flexibility for adapting to building site conditions.
Sensible construction – insulation isn’t installed in the roof and walls until the building is proven to be weather-tight; an on-site build just makes more sense.
Quality assurance – the integrity of installed materials is best accomplished when they are installed together. The vapor barrier goes first, followed by the air barrier, and then the water barrier. The only method of quality integration is with a site-built kit, not a pieced-together panelized home.
Customizable – we offer the choice of structural wall assembly: standard wood frame or optional internal timber-frame core.
Insulation – this is the main component designed to keep the building easy to heat and cool, and to remain problem-free. Any super-insulated building needs to have a vapor permeable system in place for the wall to maintain dryness. EkoBuilt wall insulation R75, roof insulation R120.
Wind tight: an EkoBuilt PassiveHouse is guaranteed to be under 0.6ACH (air exchange per hour). Any modern building should be able to perform to this degree of air-tightness.
Timing – pre-assembled kit elements achieve an accelerated build timeframe.
We think you’ll find that the quality and energy efficiency that can be achieved by building on-site far outweighs the apparent convenience of a fully pre-fabricated house. Contact us to find out more.
As we talked about in our last post on passive windows and doors, pre-certified components are a thing. They make meeting the passive house standard that much easier (whether you plan to officially certify your home or not).
You can always find a larger square foot home more cheaply from a developer, but as soon as you move into one of these spaces and notice the poor air quality, cheap finishes, and expensive utility bills, it is easy to become quickly dissatisfied with the space. Why compromise?
We’re often asked about Tarion warranty and the homes we build. As a builder of custom homes for individuals, our homes don’t qualify for Tarion. Read on to learn more about why this is so, and how we protect your new home.
We have been so excited by the tremendous interest in visiting the EkoModel Home this month. We have a fully booked day and are excited to be able to meet with folks so enthusiastic about building passive, building smart.
The Fiddlehead in its original form is quite a departure from the Sunflower, which we recently profiled. Coming in at a modest 1,330 square feet, it includes 2 + 1 bedrooms and 3 baths over two floors.
The ground floor has a nice open plan, while the bedrooms have their own space on the upper floor. This appeals to anyone attached to two-storey living or concerned about the home’s footprint and its size. A two-storey home is typically less costly to build.
The Sunflower in its original form is a pretty sweet houseplan. Running at 1,852 square feet, it encompasses 4 + 1 bedrooms in a really neat layout that places the bedrooms/bonus rooms off to the sides of the central living area, like wings or petals. It’s a houseplan that creates some really interesting corners and sightlines for indoor/outdoor living.