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.

The Blower Door Test

The Blower Door Test

What is a blower door test?

A blower door test locates air leaks by using a special fan to depressurize a house.  Blower door tests are usually performed before and after air sealing to measure the effectiveness of the home sealing.

A blower door is a powerful fan that mounts into the frame of an exterior door located on the home. The fan removes air out of the house, and lowers the air pressure inside. The higher outside air pressure then flows in through all unsealed cracks and openings. A smoke pencil is used to detect air leaks. These tests determine the air infiltration rate of a building.

Blower doors consist of a frame and flexible panel that fit in a doorway, a variable-speed fan, a pressure gauge to measure the pressure differences inside and outside the home, and an airflow manometer and hoses for measuring airflow.

Who needs a blower door test?

Blower-door testing is useful for both new construction and existing homes. By testing a new home, we can determine whether a certain air tightness target has been achieved.  This is especially important when building an ENERGY STAR home or an R-2000 home.  The results of the blower door test are required for certification of the home.

Why is an airtight home important?

  • Energy consumption due to air leakage is reduced
  • Moisture condensation problems are avoided
  • Uncomfortable drafts caused by cold air leaking in from the outdoors are eliminated

We have been performing blower door tests on our homes for over 10 years.  It’s our way of showing our customers we stand behind our promise of building quality into our homes.

Step Up to One Level Living

Every Day Living on One Level

As a builder, I have always emphasized to my customers who are enjoying the ‘empty nest’ years the importance of designing a home that encourages ‘one level living’.  A comfortable home that promotes living safely and independently all on one level.

Designing for Accessibility and Flexibility

A good home design will result in a safe and secure environment that is accessible and flexible.  Spaces within the home include room for social entertaining, active grandchildren, and ample storage.  A level entry at the main entrance and minimal steps from the garage into the home.  Master bedroom and laundry room on the main level.  Consider a design that allows everyday living to take place all on one level, yet still has comfortable spaces for visiting grandchildren, overnight guests, and lively evenings watching the game.

As we age, our mobility needs change.  It’s something we may not think about much in our forties and fifties, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t plan for the possibility when designing a home.  36” doorways as opposed to 30” will allow plenty of space for moving furniture and wheelchair access.  Wider hallways, 43” or more, will feel wider and are less confining.  A specific closet designed with a future elevator shaft in mind will allow for longer term mobility within the home.

A Safer Home

A well lit home is a safer home.  Motion lights conveniently installed into stair steps will ensure lighting is always present in stairwells.  Lights in closets and within cabinetry will enhance work spaces and walkways.

The list goes on.  A well designed home will be attractive, accommodating, and adaptable to all stages of life.  If you are thinking about a new home, consider a design that allows you to do all your every day living on one level.

After all, there is no place like home.

Interested?  Please download our ‘Sonbuilt Aging in Place’ brochure!  And don’t forget to contact us today!

Foundation Finishing

Transitioning from an ICF Foundation

Our foundation finishing details are an important part of keeping our homes dry and comfortable.  We use several different waterproof products to transition from our ICF (insulated concrete form) foundations to our exterior cladding.  Using these products ensure our foundations stay protected from water and dampness.

1.  Colphene

The first product we use is called Colphene, by Soprema.  Colphene is specifically designed to waterproof an ICF foundation.

2.  Delta Drain

We also use Delta Drain.  Delta Drain is an effective method to control the flow of damaging soil moisture and hydrostatic pressure through cracks and gaps in below grade structures. It is an essential element of a complete waterproofing system.

3.  TuffX

The final product we use is TuffX.  We use TuffX as a transition strip between the ground level and the exterior cladding.  TuffX is extremely durable and tough.

ICF foundations are known for reducing cold spots and drafts in basements.  By waterproofing our foundations we limit the potential for moisture to seep in through the foundation and fuel mold and mildew growth within interior finished basement walls.

For more information contact us!

Foundation Finishing

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.

Window and Door Bucks

Window and Door Bucks – Building Them Right!

Our Project in Abbotsford

Our Abbotsford project in the Fraser Valley is coming along nicely.  We are fortunate to have some nicer weather lately and this has made our job just a bit easier!

Known for Quality Built Homes

We are known for quality built homes.  We don’t cut corners.  We build our foundations with ICF, also known as insulated concrete forms.  An ICF foundation makes a home more energy efficient, durable, and comfortable.  Damp basements and random cold rooms are eliminated when living in a home with an ICF foundation.

The walls on this particular home in Abbotsford are ICF as well.  As a result, this home will have a lower appetite for energy and vastly improved comfort inside the home due to more consistent temperatures, lack of drafts, and superior sound absorption.

A Home with ICF Walls

When your home has ICF walls, we work to ensure the window and door openings are sealed for  minimal air leakage.  A window or door buck is a wood, metal or plastic element used in conventional or icf concrete forming.  It can be removed after concrete is cured or left in place as a permanent attachment point for windows, doors, or other finishes.

New Homes Built Right

Today’s vlog New Homes Built Right shows how we build our window and door bucks to keep your home durable and well constructed.

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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.

 

The Stone Slinger

The Stone Slinger

What is a Stone Slinger?

A stone slinger puts soil, dirt, rocks, and other materials where you need it.  By using this efficient piece of equipment, we can eliminate material handling, reduce construction time and waste, and ultimately, save on the cost to build your home.

Today’s video on New Homes Built Right shows a stone slinger from local Abbotsford company, Slingshot Contracting.  We are adding a layer of clear crush under the slab of this foundation.  Using the stone slinger keeps our labour costs low and ensures we are providing a cost effective method of material distribution for our client.

Underslab Preparation

Introducing Our Video Series – New Homes Built Right

A Sonbuilt home is a well built home, even in the places you don’t see.

Today we are discussing underslab preparation.  We’ve put clear crush rock under the footings and the slab of this new home. Prior to placing the footings, we sloped the excavation to one corner where the water will drain away from the foundation.

By doing this, the water will drain away from the under the slab and from under the footings.  The result – the footings won’t be sitting in water.