(edit) About OSH

What is this site about?

It is the aim of this web site to share with its readers, what we learn while constructing an environmentally friendly “Sustainable Home” in Toronto’s East-end, from the ground, up.

Our preliminary research suggests that the only reason there is not more sustainable construction in the city is a lack of educational resources for consumers and builders. It appears that building a Sustainable Home is a sound investment, both economically and environmentally.

We hope that by being able to follow our steps (and learning from our missteps), others will also be inspired to build a Sustainable Home of their own.

What are you building?

“Sustainable Home” means different things to different people, but a loose definition could be: a dwelling which endeavours to reduce its total energy ‘footprint.’ To some this means living entirely “off-grid” (no use of public utilities or non-renewable resources, at all) and for someone else it could mean upgraded insulation. For us, it will be somewhere in the middle; Exactly where remains to be seen. Our research has suggested that, even on our very modest budget, we will be able to build a wonderful home, constructed largely from renewable resources that will be incredibly energy efficient.

But to build so soon, we know we are going to have to complete a lot of work ourselves to keep the house within our budget. (Fortunately we’re both quite handy.) It is our intention to have our house built “to the drywall,” and take care of installing the kitchen, bathrooms, shelving, molding, painting, etc. ourselves.

We know we can’t take large steps like installing a photovoltaic array (a.k.a. solar panels) at this stage, but it is our intention to build the house such that we will be ready to move ourselves further off-grid as the technologies become more affordable, and our savings will allow it.

What aren’t you telling me?

We don’t expect to mention anyone by name who hasn’t agreed to let us mention them. We will be discussing those people who we particularly liked, but if we want to warn you about a particular aspect of the process, we’ll probably refer to individuals by an alias, such as “Appliance Dealer #3.” This will give us the freedom to warn you about the types of things we found worrisome, without having to go to war with someone over it.

When the project is complete, we’ll be adding a “Recommendations” page for every person/company/product we feel is worth endorsing, but we will not share the exact price we pay for individual items. We will try to include typical retail prices for those items, where appropriate. It just seems unfair to the vendor to reveal the price at which they sold to us, when they may have only done so because of: the time of year, their current inventory, schedule, etc. Under different circumstances, they might be able to charge more or less.

We do hope to provide an approximate final project cost, and will definitely include a summary in the end describing whether we feel Sustainable Builds are the economic and environmental win-win options we felt they were at the beginning.

This blog was started November 4, 2006. You may find posts on this site that are date-stamped before this; These were added to put our activities in approximate chronological order.