Passive kit home made with quality materials

Prefab house vs. passive house kit

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.

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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

  1. Transport – large prefab walls require multiple large trucks, adding cost to the project’s bottom line.
  2. Site access – large trucks often have trouble accessing building sites, requiring additional vehicles and steps at increased cost.
  3. Build integrity – insulation in prefab walls demand just the right weather conditions during transport and assembly.
  4. Assembly & foundation issues – prefab buildings need cranes for assembly, which are costly. This cost is often driven up by site / foundation irregularities affecting installation.
  5. Hidden costs – fully prefabricated homes are marketed as being cheap and quick, but as the points above illustrate, at what additional cost?
  6. 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).
  7. 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

  1. Flexible, local – our kits allow you to be as involved as you like, as well as to involve local builders and tradespeople.
  2. Transport – we partner with national carriers and distributors, allowing us to minimize delivery and travel distances regardless of property location.
  3. Site access, build versatility – our weathertight material kit is provided unassembled, simplifying delivery options and providing flexibility for adapting to building site conditions.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. Customizable – we offer the choice of structural wall assembly: standard wood frame or optional internal timber-frame core.
  7. 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.
  8. 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.
  9. 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.

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Ottawa Infill House Project

One of the projects currently underway with EkoBuilt is an infill home in central Ottawa. This house is being built to Code Plus standard and is currently being insulated; drywall to start this week.

EkoBuilt’s Code Plus framework designs to the projected building code standard of 2030 when it’s estimated that minimum exterior wall insulation will be R32 (currently R22), and roof insulation will be a minimum of R50 (currently R32).

The house also has a 10 kW solar array attached to the Ontario Micro fit program. Watch for more updates this winter.

 


Graphic courtesy of TheFix.com

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!