We did not build our own windows :). Working with an engineer we assessed the solar ramification of windows on our home. Although we ended up decreasing the amount of glazing from the original design, we still employed fiberglass framed, triple glazed, argon filled, coated windows. They were the largest single purchase for our home, they are doing their job well, and we love them.
Traditional concrete slabs were not in the cards for our design. We wanted to have the flexibility to move walls, and change our design in the future. So, we built a nail laminated timber floor out of 2x6 dimensional lumber. This resulted in many weeks of bending and nailing lumber to our will!! As much as we love working with wood, we wanted our floor to be relatively level, so extra care was taken to get it right, but is took longer than we had hoped. The floor design also allowed for some flexibility in the beam layout as we could cantilever the floor beyond the beams and have the walls still supported without worry.
Our Eco home
Our Eco home was built in Grafton Ontario, on 7.5 acres on the traditional lands of the Mississauga and the traditional territory covered by the Williams Treaties. We are privileged to be stewards of this land, and endeavor to make our home a place that is welcome to all.
In keeping with our values of respecting the environment, and acknowledging the reality of climate change we set out to build our home with a few basic principles.
Build it as much ourselves as possible
No concrete in construction
No foam insulation in construction
Use wood as much as possible as is it a renewable resource (also a carbon sequestering technic)
Insulate, insulate, insulate.
Multiple family home (community home)
Our home was planned to be the center of a working farm and a gathering place to the community so was designed with a large common space - kitchen, dining, and living as one open concept room. This room also doubles as a space for house concerts and family gathering. Bedrooms are located at the ends of the home to maximize privacy and allow for private access to outside through south facing doors. The home is about 2200 sq.ft.
The “no concrete” principle challenged us the most on how to begin our build. With help of our trusted Engineer Tim Krahn, we set about to build our home on screw piles. 54 piles (or piers) support our home,they are screwed into the earth 5-7 feet. A lattice beam structure was then built on top of the piles to support the floor structure. The pier design gives us a utility crawl space of just under 4 feet, enough to crouch walk.
Built with a combination of build philosophies, Passive solar, Net Zero, Off Grid, recycled materials, and carbon sequestering, ours is a unique self-build journey.
The walls are all 2x6 construction with the largest wall being over 15 feet high. This allows for no internal load bearing walls, the north and south walls do the work to keep the 40’ roof trusses in place. Internal walls were also built with 2x6 construction for code requirements, and the ability to sound insulate easily around pipes and wires.
Although we had a very sophisticated engineered recommendations for our heating plan, we felt like this was an area we could flex on budget and experiment. Between the nail laminated timber floor and our maple hardwood is a network of 14 zones of radiant tubing. Through some creative thinking we replaced our boiler design with a single residential electric hot water tank as our soul heat supply. The entire system was designed by us, playing off the original design, and implementing some features from other builds we had seen. We topped the system off with a self built heating control system that is now in its second generation of design. As with all things we are learning, and due to an oversight by the designer (Jason) the hot water tank was undersized. What is amazing is that our home, except for the few coldest days of the year, remains comfortable on a 3000W hot water tank. We have areas to improve, our home is not as air tight as it should be with work required on three of the five external doors to the home before winter 2023.
So why did we build ourselves, why did we build this way?
We could not have bought the home we built, this was economics at play. We know that the fruits of our labour have produced an amazing home that will be "worth" 3 or 4 times our investment some day.
From Scratch Farm house was built to expand if required. Using additional piers we see no issue with expanding if required. Our focus in 2022 will be on outbuildings to support market gardening, the honey house and hopefully some small animal dwellings.