Main Level Living in a Rancher

Designing a home for main level living makes practical sense as we transition into the empty nest years.  A well designed rancher will accommodate many years of comfort and ensures a safe living environment in the event mobility needs change.

Why Build a Rancher?

We are frequently asked to build ranchers – homes in which every day living can take place all on the main level.  Our homes typically include generous kitchen spaces for entertaining guests, a master bedroom and spacious ensuite, and a well-equipped laundry room with lots of storage.  These rooms are often all on one level along with other spaces usually found on a main level.  All of your everyday living can be done without needing to use stairs.

My Story

Ranchers became uniquely special to me as I watched my father-in-law transition in his later years from a strong, vibrant individual, to someone who struggled to walk and care for himself adequately.  He desperately wished to live at home.  I am fortunate that he was able to spend his final year of life in his home that did have the space and design necessary to support his changing his mobility needs.  The experience of assisting my aging father reinforced in my mind the importance of designing homes to suit current and future needs.

If you are considering a rancher, a beautiful, well designed home that supports one level living and an active lifestyle at the same time, give us a call at (604) 626-4688 or contact us through our website.

Be sure to check out Our Portfolio page to see some of the ranchers we have designed and built.  And finally, visit our Aging in Place webpage!

Thanks for reading!

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!

A Zero Energy Home

What is a Zero Energy Home?

A Zero Energy Home is a building with zero net energy consumption, meaning the total amount of energy used by the building on an annual basis is roughly equal to the amount of renewable energy created on the site.

These buildings consequently do not increase the amount of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. They do at times consume non-renewable energy and produce greenhouse gases, but at other times reduce energy consumption and greenhouse gas production elsewhere by the same amount.

Most zero net energy buildings get half or more of their energy from the grid, and return the same amount at other times. Buildings that produce a surplus of energy over the year may be called “energy-plus buildings” and buildings that consume slightly more energy than they produce are called “near-zero energy buildings” or “ultra-low energy houses”.

The Harmony House in Burnaby, built by Insightful Healthy Homes Inc., produces more energy from on-site renewable energy systems than it consumes in a year.  The home is a highly insulated airtight building featuring vacuum insulated panels and triple glazed windows.  It incorporates both passive solar heating, a solar domestic hot water system and grid-connected photovoltaic panels.  Ultimately, this home is an energy efficient, healthy home with a low environmental impact.

 

We are currently building a near-zero energy building in Abbotsford.  Stay tuned for future updates on our exciting project!

Sonbuilt Home in Langley

A Happy Customer

The best moments in the life of a custom home builder often take place when the keys are handed over to an excited, happy customer.  We had one of those moments this week.

We met our client over two years ago.  A fire had resulted in the loss of a home and a life.  Six weeks after this tragic event our client contacted us for the first time.  At our initial meeting we listened.  We listened a lot. It was difficult for us to comprehend the sadness our client was facing.   At times we really didn’t know what to say.  Sometimes saying “I’m really sorry” seems so inadequate.

Our client was determined to move forward.  Working through the insurance process wasn’t always easy and at times it was frustrating.  So many decisions to make.  Moving on can be a difficult road when a variety of emotions are tangled in the process.

Keeping busy, thinking about designing and building, and considering what a new home could look like proved to be a healer in this case.  And finally, almost a year and a half after starting the process, construction began!

It was a pleasure to build for this client!  The goal was to achieve an energy efficient rancher, complete with a finished walk out basement suite.   During the design phase we ensured many “aging-in-place” features were incorporated into the layout allowing our client to remain in this new home for many years to come.    This R-2000 custom home in Langley is ideally designed for anyone in the “empty nester” years who wish to remain busy entertaining friends, family, and active grandchildren.

To our client – you have been a joy to work for.  We admire your determination and perseverance.  Thank you for choosing Sonbuilt Custom Homes!  If you don’t mind, we’ll be stopping by sometimes to visit!

Welcome home!

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!

IBS 2016 and Mike Holmes!

Last week we attended the International Builders Show in Las Vegas.  The show is a massive home show with vendor booths from all over the world.  From construction software to the latest in geo exchange and solar, we saw it all.

While the show itself was impressive, we were privileged to spend one day at the show with Mike Holmes, a Canadian residential home improvement contractor and television show host.  Also with us were members of Mike Holmes’ family and his support team.  We visited various vendor booths, saw product demos, and learned more about healthy, energy efficient building.  It was a lot of fun!

Over the next couple of months, we will be adding information to our website and officially announcing that we are a “Holmes Approved Homes” builder. You can see what this means by clicking here.  We’ll be sharing our story of how we were found by the Holmes Group in coming weeks on our blog.  Be sure to check back for updates!

Besides attending the show, we also spent one day in Las Vegas taking in the first ever Holmes Approved Homes Summit with other builders in Canada.  This was our first time meeting many of the builders that are also part of the Holmes Approved Homes program.  It is an honour and privilege to be part of this group of builders dedicated to building better.

We will be in a couple of Home Shows in the month of February so be sure to visit our Facebook page for more information.

Mike Holmes & Mike Holmes Jr.
Mike Holmes & Mike Holmes Jr.
Tree and Hand

Features of an ENERGY STAR home

We are pretty excited to be accredited with the ENERGY STAR designation!  Typical features of ENERGY STAR qualified homes built to the latest standard include:

A heat recovery ventilator – Each Sonbuilt home and provides fresh air and improved climate control.  You will notice the fresh-air difference in your home!  A home needs to breathe air in and out to stay healthy and fresh.  By using an HRV, we ensure our homes feel fresh-air inviting in the summer and cozy and comfortable on chilly winter evenings.

Walls and ceilings – insulated beyond what is required by the building code.

High-Performance ENERGY STAR windows, patio doors, and skylightsOur high performance windows are double and/or tripled glazed with low-e and gas filled meaning heat stays in during the winter, and stays out in the summer.

ENERGY STAR products – such as lighting and appliances.

Click Here For More Information. 

All Energy Star homes are required to be inspected and certified to ensure that the home is truly Energy Star approved.  Contact us today for more information!

Energy Star

Lot 4 Timber

A Builder with Experience

As a builder with 20 years of experience in building custom homes, you could say we know a thing or two about the construction industry.  We’ve weathered some storms, seen some good and bad, and are happy to say we plan to be around for quite a bit longer.

The construction industry is changing.  Technology, new ideas, and improved products are just a few of the factors contributing to the change.  As a generation we are becoming more concerned about living in healthy homes, energy efficient homes, and durable homes.  While cost continues to be a high priority, so does living in a home that doesn’t make us sick and tired.

Building a better home, a more efficient home, can be slightly more complex than a conventionally built home.  Those of us with experience in building air tight homes can honestly say a house is a system.  If you seal a home up, you need to make sure that home can breathe too.  A home that doesn’t have fresh air circulating is an unhealthy home.

Trends come and go.  Right now, building energy efficient, green, and sustainable is popular.  It’s a good trend.  We hope this trend becomes the norm, because building energy efficient with earth friendly products is better in so many ways.

A word of caution though.

If you decide to build a home and wish to build an energy efficient home, do your homework on your builder’s qualifications.  Choose a builder who stays current in training and is up to date on his or her knowledge of the products going into your home.  A relationship between you and your builder can strain quickly if you discover part way through the construction experience that some aspect of your home was not thoroughly researched nor understood by your builder.

Do your research and ensure your builder has experience in building the type of home you want.  After all, this is likely your biggest life investment!