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.

Solar Panels

5 Reasons to Go Solar!

A Solar Home in Abbotsford

Back in April we installed a solar panel system at our home in Abbotsford.  A big shout out to Riverside Energy Systems from Kamloops for installing the system on our roof!  Since that day, we have regularly checked our account with BC Hydro to compare our cost of electricity from day to day.  We noticed an immediate drop in our daily cost of power!

Installing a solar panel system is a big decision that more and more people are choosing to make.  There are a number of reasons why we chose to invest in solar for our home.  We know we made the right decision.  Here are five reasons why we believe solar panels should be something a homeowner should consider:

1.  Greatly reduce your energy bills

Electricity can eat up a lot of your monthly income.  While a solar panel system probably won’t produce all of the energy you and your family need, it will drastically reduce your utility bills and save you a lot of money.  Interested in the BC Hydro Net Metering program?  Click here.

2.  Good return on your investment

Solar panel systems are designed to last for many years. While they can lose some efficiency over time, even after 30 years your panels should be 80% efficient.  If you are planning to build your forever home you won’t regret spending some extra money up front to guarantee a lifetime of savings.

3.  Protect yourself from rising energy costs

In the past number of years we have seen a rise in the cost of residential electricity and your future monthly energy bills will continue to increase.  Solar panels protect you and your family from unpredictable increases in electricity costs.

4.  Add to your property value

Homes with solar panels have higher property values.  As prospective home buyers and appraisers  become more educated on the benefits of solar, the demand for homes with solar panel systems will continue to grow.

5.  Protect the environment

Solar is a good way to reduce your carbon footprint.  A typical residential solar panel system will eliminate up to 3 to 4 tons of carbon emissions each year – that’s the equivalent of planting over 100 trees annually!

The benefits of adding solar panels to your home are undeniable.  If you are considering building a home and wish to discuss possibly adding solar panels, contact us!  We are happy to chat!

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.

Chilliwack Custom Home Update

We are excited to be getting ready for drywall on our Chilliwack custom home.

Healthy Home Design

This two story home, designed by Sonbuilt Custom Homes, is for a young family with fun, active children!  It is being built to the R-2000 Standard featuring durability, healthy indoor air quality, and comfort.  For more information on the certified homes we build, click here.

Mike Holmes Approved Home

This Chilliwack home is a Mike Holmes Approved Home.  The custom home will undergo a series of home inspections, including onsite field reviews by approved Mike Holmes Inspectors, providing our client with a transparent record of the quality and value that exists behind the walls.

Built Above Building Code Standard

Local municipal inspectors provide inspections ensuring the minimum building code is being met.  A Mike Holmes inspector will be looking for proof that we are following through with our promise to build a custom home that exceeds the building code.

Be sure to visit our websiteFacebook, or Instagram page for updates!

Move to the Fraser Valley!

Considering a move to the Fraser Valley in British Columbia?

The Fraser Valley is becoming a popular home for many families who wish to live outside of the big city, yet remain close to many shopping options, entertainment venues, boutique-style wineries, locally grown produce, and recreational experiences.

There is a growing interest among many families to relocate to the Fraser Valley.  Improved transportation from Vancouver to the Valley has significantly changed the commute times.  As well, housing is generally more affordable in the Fraser Valley than in Vancouver.

Are you considering a new home in the Fraser Valley?  Be sure to visit our website and contact us today.  We would love to chat!

Abbotsford District Career Programs

Employer Award

Employer Award!

It was an honour this afternoon to receive the Employer Award from the Abbotsford School District.

Sonbuilt Custom Homes values apprentices who want to become certified tradespeople.  The District Career Program in Abbotsford offers students a variety of career and technical training while completing their regular high school courses.  Students can choose from a variety of trades, technical and/or university transition programs.

We appreciate the opportunity to work with students who intend to become certified carpenters.  Thank you Abbotsford!  We are thrilled to receive this award!

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.