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2007 April » Our Sustainable Home
Archive for: April, 2007

Detailed plans tendered

April 27th, 2007

We received the detailed plans from Joanne (the architect) on Thursday along with a 40 (or so) page document. The document includes the tender to the contractors that describes the obligations of all parties to each other, and details about what materials will be used. I’m only about half-way through the document at the moment and have been jotting down many questions for the architects.

There are two contractors making formal bids for this project and each picked up two copies of the plans and 2 copies of the tender documents. According to the documents they must return their bid by May 10.

Posted by Colin
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Tree issues almost resolved

April 26th, 2007

When we initially hired an Arborist to come look at our neighbour’s trees, it was with the intent of developing a protection plan for them. Unfortunately, his inspection found that primary tree that we needed to protect is probably not worth saving. It has developed a split down the middle that will eventually lead to the tree falling down in a future wind storm. As such he thought we should investigate removing the tree now, and felt the city inspector would certainly agree with his assessment if we decided to go that way.

We discussed the matter with our neighbours and offered to either protect the tree (which involves changes to the architectural plans and a specialized building structure) or remove the tree. Since there would be costs involved to preserve the tree, we also offered to cover the costs remove it; whichever they wished. They had a near-miss with a tree that fell just a few feet away from their house a few years earlier, and so agreed that the safer course of action would be to remove the tree now. (The split in the tree aims one of the two major branches towards the house.)
Even in a case where the city will clearly agree with the Arborist’s assessment, there is still quite a bit of paperwork to be done. We must apply to the city for its removal, and since it is not our tree, our neighbour had to sign a city form authorizing our Arborist to act on their behalf.

The costs to us for removing the tree include a fee of $100 per tree (just one in this case) to make the application to the city, and $550-750 (est.) to have a company come in and professionally/safely remove the tree.

Posted by Colin
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Proposed building enclosure

April 21st, 2007

For our initial meetings with contractors Joanne & Alex had put together a list of materials we will likely use in the home’s construction. Here they are:

Below Grade Enclosure

  • Foundation Wall Assembly
    • Clean, Free-draining backfill
    • 2″ Roxul DrainBoard Foundation Insulation
    • Damp-proofing on cement parging
    • 10″ Durisol ICF
    • 3/4″ strapping
    • 1/2″ DensArmor Plus
  • Basement Floor Slab Assembly
    • 4″ Compacted Gravel Base
    • 2″ EPS Insulation
    • 6mil Polyethylene Sheet
    • 4″ Concrete Floor Slab

Above Grade Enclosure

  • Wall Assembley (R40)
    • Fibre Cement Board Cladding
    • 3/8″ Strapping
    • 4″ Polyisocyanurate Insulation
    • 1/2″ ZIP OSB Sheathing
    • 2×6 SPF Framing at 600mm o.c.
    • Cellulose Cavity Insulation
    • 1/2″ Gypsum Board
  • Roof Assembly (R60)
  • Windows and Doors
    • Fiberglass framed, double-glazed, low-e (SHGC < 0.5, VT > 0.5, overall U-value < 2.0 w/m/K), argon filled, superspacer windows
    • Insulated metal-clad wood entry doors

Mechanical / Electrical

  • Space Heating and Domestic Water Heating
    • Source: High-efficiency condensing boiler (high temperature DHW and low temperature space heat) with integral or external heat exchanger.
    • Distribution: Hydronic Radiant Floor Slabs (all floors)
    • Rough-in for future solar pre-heat and power.
  • Ventilation
    • Direct outdoor air system (DOAS) – dedicated ducted supply with Heat Reclaim Ventilation (HRV). Supply points in all bedrooms and living rooms, exhaust from kitchen and bathrooms.

I think the ZIP OSB sheathing is one of the more interesting products to be used in this project. It differs from regular sheathing in that, once installed, creates a perfect water barrier for your home, before siding is even attached. As a result once the sheathing is on, work can actually proceed on the interiors while work continues to complete the exterior shell.

Neat!

Posted by Colin
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Scheduling

April 9th, 2007

Oh phooey. I thought we were going to be getting quotes from the contractors today, but alas today is not THE day.

This is my own fault though: I completely failed to read the part of the schedule provided by our architect where this was detailed (I mostly paid attention to the things we had to do). The detailed plans are, in fact, just being prepared by the architect now and will go out to the contractors this week.

We’ll also be trying to talk to the builder references this next week and visit their work sites.

Posted by Colin
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Cheaper solar cells on the horizon

April 6th, 2007

Massay University in New Zealand today announced a significant advancement in solar technology.

Dr. Wayne Campbell proposes a technique that uses nanotechnology to make photo-electric solar cells from dyes such as a synthetic chlorophyl. The cells would cost just 1/10th that of traditional silicon-based sells and use readily renewable and simple to process resources.

This adds more credence to my personal opinion that we will see a massive shift towards solar power generation in 5-10 years.

Unconnected to this announcement but on the same topic, Xerox PARC has posted an interesting lecture on the history and future direction of photovotaics.

Posted by Colin
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