Air Sealing an Energy Efficient Home

Air Sealing an Energy Efficient Home

Is your home leaking?  A leaky home can result in high energy bills.  Air leakage takes place when outside air enters a home and warm indoor air leaves the home uncontrollably through small cracks and openings throughout a home.

Where Can Air Leak From?

There are many areas where air can escape:

  • Electrical outlets
  • Door and window frames
  • Electrical and gas service locations
  • Under exterior walls
  • Weather stripping around doors
  • Attic hatches
  • Cable or phone lines
  • Dryer and hood fan locations

Air can also escape around pipes, wires, foundation seals, and mail slots.  To heat and cool a leaky home can be very expensive.

Air Sealing a New Home

Reducing the amount of air that leaks uncontrollably in and out of a house is a key part of building an energy efficient home.   It’s also an important part to controlling moisture and mold in a home.

When building a new home, the best time to air seal a home is at the framing stage.  Sealing takes place around the electrical and plumbing locations as well as all penetrations that enter and exit the home.  The minimal cost in materials and labour is worth it when you consider that air leakage amounts to 25% to 40% of the average heat loss in winter and cool air loss in the summer.

Sealing an R-2000 Home

An R-2000 home is a home built to standards that make the home on average 50% more energy efficient than homes built to the standard BC Building Code.  R-2000 homes are better sealed than a standard new home resulting in reduced drafts, cold spots, dust, pollen, pests, and noise.

Carriage House

Building a Coach House

A Coach House is a Practical Home!

As summer warms up we’ve been busy building a coach house for a local family here in the Fraser Valley.  The trusses have been installed and we are working on framing while the sun shines!  This coach house is designed to be both energy efficient and practical for our clients.  We are excited to see the finished product and we know they are too!

There are a number of good reasons to consider building a coach house on your property.  Of course, you do need to ensure the zoning in your local municipality will permit this on the size of property you own.  A call to city hall should provide you with the answer.

Here are a few reasons to consider building a coach house on your land:

  1. A coach house, also known as a carriage house, will increase your property value.

While it is an expense up front, additional living space will make your property more valuable down the road when you are thinking of selling.

  1. Keep your family close together

Aging parents or adult children who can’t afford to leave just yet.  A private suite in the backyard keeps family close to home. 

  1. Monthly income

Renting out a coach house can bring in valuable residual income, especially now with the cost of rent being as high as it is.  You may find the monthly payments to finance a coach house could be a lot lower than the rental income you can bring in. 

Is a Coach House in my budget?

One of the first questions we are usually asked by prospective clients who wish to build a coach house is regarding cost.  As you can imagine, coach houses vary in a big way when it comes to size and finishes.  There is no set “per square foot” cost when it comes to building anything custom these days.  The best way to begin determining the cost is to sit down with a builder you trust and share your thoughts on what you want.  An initial meeting should confirm whether what you hope to build is within your budget.

Contact Us!

As zoning and bylaws change it’s becoming more common for families to keep the property they own and build a coach house to accommodate changing family needs.  Contact us today if you are considering a coach house on your property!

Rainwater Harvesting in Abbotsford!

Water Conservation in Abbotsford

With the forecast showing upcoming days of sunshine, we are forging ahead on our Abbotsford project!  This energy efficient custom build contains plenty of workshop and storage space with cozy, practical living quarters.

These Fraser Valley homeowners are all about water conservation so they recently installed 3 Graf Carat rainwater harvesting tanks beside their future home.

Using a Telebelt

We called in Marshall Brothers to provide the services of their telebelt conveyor to assist in the placement of material around those tanks.  By using a telebelt, we can quickly and economically convey and place bulk materials such as sand, gravel, and crushed rock.  A great big “thank you” to Jim Smith from Marshall Brothers!

Rainwater Harvesting Tanks

Each Graf Carat rainwater harvesting  tank, supplied by Barr Plastics in Abbotsford, can hold up to 1,700 US gallons of harvested water.  This water can be used for toilet flushing, running laundry, washing vehicles, and irrigation.  A great way to save water and keep that municipal water bill extremely low!

Several years ago we installed Graf’s largest rainwater harvesting system in Canada!  Read up on the story here on the Barr Plastics website.

Today’s video on New Homes Built Right talks about the use of the telebelt.

Mike Holmes and Team

A Visit from Mike Holmes!

Mike Holmes Visit to Abbotsford!

Last Friday we hosted a fabulous meet and greet with Mike Holmes at our office, right here in Abbotsford!   He was here to shoot Sonbuilt’s latest promotional video showcasing the building practices and products that we use. We introduced him to our trade workers, suppliers as well as a few friends, but were especially excited to be able to invite some of our past, present and future clients whom are the heart of our business!

Those who attended learned more about building healthy and energy efficient homes. We displayed information and samples on all kinds of both sustainable and energy efficient technologies including rainwater harvesting, insulated concrete forms, solar power, and geo exchange.

Holmes Approved Homes

Sonbuilt Custom Homes is an accredited partner in the Holmes Approved Homes builder program. This is an invitation only program where the builder and Holmes Approved Homes agree upon the specifications to build to and also allows for a minimum of 3 staged third party inspections by Mike Holmes Inspections. After each inspection of their new home, the client will receive a report with photos. That is value added to the home right there!

When you build with Sonbuilt, we commit to building homes to a high standard in energy efficiency, durability, and practicality. That’s why Mike Holmes selected us as a partner, we are very good at what we do.

 

Peace of Mind

Building with a Holmes Approved Homes builder provides peace of mind that your home is going to be built right.  Each builder across Canada in this program is recognized for their commitment to quality and better building.

THANK YOU!

We want to say a big “thank you” to everyone who came out on Friday for our event.  We truly hope you enjoyed your time!  We had fun and Mike did too! 

We also want to express our gratitude to Mike Holmes and the team he brought along, Seth, Jon & Michael.  Our partnership with you means a lot to us!

For more information on Sonbuilt and the Holmes Approved Homes program, CLICK HERE.

 

Relax with Healthy Indoor Air Quality

Is Your Home Making You Sick?

Have you ever wondered if your home is making you sick?  Did you know that the air in the average home is more polluted than the air outside? There has been a strong push in the last few decades to build homes more airtight to conserve on energy.  However, if the home cannot breathe the air will become stagnant.

Poor indoor air quality has been linked to a multitude of conditions including:

  • Eye, nose, throat and skin irritation
  • Respiratory tract infections: bronchitis, pneumonia, and ear infections
  • Increased severity and frequency of asthma episodes
  • Dizziness, fatigue and lethargy
  • Digestive problems
  • Damage to liver, kidneys, and central nervous system
  • Chronic health conditions including heart disease, cancer and infertility

Healthy Indoor Air Quality with an HRV

Ventilation is needed to ensure healthy indoor air quality.  As homes in Canada become more airtight, the need to ventilate the home increases to ensure the health of you and your family.

An HRV, or heat recovery ventilator, will remove stale air from a home and replace it with fresh air.  Not only will an HRV help maintain a healthy indoor living environment, it will also help keep energy bills down.

In the process of removing stale air from a home, an HRV will use the heat from the indoor air to reheat the incoming outdoor air.  Heat recovery ventilators typically have heat recovery efficiencies of 60% to 80%.  Maintaining an hrv is important and should be done regularly.

hrv
A Typical HRV System

An hrv ensures the delivery, distribution and circulation of healthy fresh outdoor air throughout the house.  It will control indoor air humidity levels to prevent moisture problems such as condensation on windows and mold growth.

Owing a healthy home can literally change your life and the lives of your family.

Contact us today for more information.

Holmes Approved Homes Builder

For Greater Vancouver and the Fraser Valley

We’re proud to say that Sonbuilt Custom Homes has been chosen by Mike Holmes as the Greater Vancouver and Fraser Valley exclusive Holmes Approved Homes builder.

Partnering with Mike Holmes

Our clients know that a Sonbuilt home is comfortable, well built, durable, and designed to last. Now our approach has been validated by Canada’s most-trusted contractor, Mike Holmes. Through his HOLMES Approved Homes Program, Mike is partnering with industry-leading builders to ensure buyers get a home that’s built to his standards.

Protecting Your Investment

According to Mike Holmes, “Buying a home is one of the biggest investments you will ever make. The HOLMES Approved Homes Program is about protecting that investment and building it right the first time.”

Holmes Approved Certification

Homes certified under the HOLMES Approved Homes Program receive a certificate along with the inspection report and a label on the electrical panel to verify the home. When it comes time to sell your Holmes Approved Home, certificates are fully transferable to the new owner, providing you with a unique selling feature!

Building Science – What is It?

Defining Building Science

In the past, designers and builders considered each aspect of a home – foundation, walls, windows, roof, plumbing, electrical, all the parts that make up the home – individually.  Today, we know all aspects of a home work together as a system to create a comfortable, durable, healthy living environment.  Balance all these components together and your home will be far more energy efficient than a home in which these aspects are not working together in harmony.

The study of homes as a system is called Building Science. 

Your home interacts with the surrounding environment and those who live in your home.  The following components have an effect on the overall system:

  • Outdoor temperature, wind, rain, air quality, and dust
  • Everyone living in the home, including pets
  • The materials that make up the envelope of the home like the foundation, exterior walls, windows, roof, and floors
  • Interior aspects that remain fixed in the home
  • Appliances, equipment, and furniture
  • The mechanical and electrical system, ventilation and heating, plumbing and electrical components

Each component will affect the overall performance of your home in terms of energy efficiency, durability, and longevity.   When the systems in your home are not working together, the overall health of your family could be compromised through poor indoor air quality, mold growth, and poor ventilation.

Think about your current home.  Do you see any concerns? 

  • Condensation on windows
  • Rotting windowsills
  • Damaged drywall
  • Bubbled or flaking paint
  • Musty smell
  • Mould on walls
  • Mouldy drapes, carpets or furniture
  • Mould in closets

Think About This

Building to the standard BC Building Code is not enough to ensure your home is a healthy place for you and your family.  It is the minimum standard, but by no means a healthy standard.

If you are considering building a new home, ensure your builder is well qualified to build a healthy home.  This is probably going to be the biggest investment of your life.  Make it a healthy one!

For more information on healthy living environments, download a copy of “Moisture and Air Guide”, by the Canadian Mortgage and Housing Council.

A Langley Home Teardown

Tear Down and Build New

As housing prices continue to rise in the Fraser Valley and the cost of land increases, there is growing interest among homeowners to tear down the home they currently live in and build a new home on the same land.  A common question when thinking about tearing down the home you currently live in – is this a good idea or not?

Identifying a Teardown

Older homes with structural issues, homes with outdated kitchens or limited bathrooms, and homes that incur increasingly high energy bills are often identified as homes to demolition.  Structural concerns can be expensive to repair and frequently these repairs do not add extensively to the value of the home were you to consider selling.  Whole house renovations involving changing room sizes, updating finishes, and adding more rooms can be expensive.  There are times when demolishing the home and building new may not be that much more than a renovation.

How Do I Decide Between a Renovation and a Teardown?

Sometimes the cost to repair an older home is just not worth it.  An abundance of mold, a damaged foundation, extensive rot in the structure – problems can lead to surprisingly expensive repair costs.  Unhealthy indoor air, hazardous older materials, wet basements. These concerns need to be addressed to ensure the home is safe to live in.

Does the home need new windows, updated electrical wiring, and a new roof?  Does the existing layout make sense for your family or would a renovation include extensive floorplan changes?  Demolishing the home and building new may be the best option if the cost of a renovation is high.

What Is the Cost to Tear down a Home?

Tearing down a home can vary in cost.  Prices can depend on the size of the home, the location of the site, and what hazardous materials are found in the home.

What Permits Do I Need?

Your local municipality will be able to determine what permits are needed for your specific home.  Every home is different and each municipality has its own requirements before a demolition can be done.

What is a Hazmat Report?

Worksafe BC will require a “Hazardous Materials” report before a teardown can begin.  This report will identify what hazardous materials are in the home.  Some materials may need to be removed prior to demolition.

How Much Will a Hazmat Report Cost?

Depending on the size and age of the home, a hazmat report can start at around $500.

How Long Will a Demolition Take?

A home can be torn down in just a few days once reports and permits are in place.

If you like your neighbours and want to keep your kids in the same school but find that your home just isn’t suitable for your changing needs, consider tearing down your home and building a new one.  I’m sure you have many questions and we’d like to help answer them.  Contact us today.  We are happy to chat!

Building a Carriage House

A carriage house, also known as a coach house, is a second house located on a residential property.  As housing prices go up in the Lower Mainland of British Columbia, including the Fraser Valley, building a carriage home can be a practical solution for accommodating college aged family members or aging parents.  Carriage houses are also a great way to bring in some residual rental income.

One of our current design projects is a carriage home.  This eco-friendly house will have plenty of storage, boutique style living quarters, and a generous workshop.  Our client is going to be installing a residential rainwater harvesting system as well.  We are excited to be designing this coach home!

We are also in the finishing stages of building an energy efficient coach house in the Fraser Valley.  This home is using solar, geo exchange, rainwater collection, and other energy saving technologies.

Are you thinking of adding a coach house to your existing property?  We are experienced in both the design and construction of these homes.  Call us today!

Chilliwack Home Update

Custom Design and Build in Chilliwack

The foundation is nearly complete on our Chilliwack custom home.  We’ve battled snow, intense wind, and all kinds of weather.  We are looking forward to spring!

We designed this home for a young family who desire to move to the country.  Play spaces, homework spaces, and family time spaces.  We’ve thoroughly enjoyed getting to know this couple and their kids!

The Fraser Valley is known for spectacular views and scenery.  This property is surrounded by beauty.  Snow topped mountains, forest, and rolling hills.   We intentionally designed the home to ensure the scenery will be viewed from every possible angle.

This R-2000 home is also our first “Holmes Approved Home”.  A Mike Holmes Inspector will inspect the construction of the home at 4 different stages of construction.  We had our first inspection last week!

Stay tuned for more updates!