the inside

We know, we know. Some folks have been asking for interior photos for a long time. We had to spiffy up our house for some other things over the past two days so we decided it was time to take some photos and share them. Here they are at long last!








We LOVE living in our home!


we have walls!

This week we had a taste of October with big dumps of rain here and there. Fortunately there have been some warm periods to let things dry off and warm up too.

Despite the challenging weather, there was a crew at our site every day this week. They’ve been working full days on some big houses out of town and then putting in extra hours up here until it gets dark (which is so much earlier now). They’ve also been working on Saturdays!

Here’s where things were at on Monday:
Aug 26 - we have walls!

And by the weekend most of the exterior was sheathed and the interior shear wall was built. This house shouldn’t be falling down any time soon with all the nailing our structural engineer is requiring!

Sept 2 - staircase shearwall

I know how much it sucks to have people looking over your shoulder so I’ve been trying to limit my visits to the site when the guys are working, unless it’s to bring baking or go over details. We had stellar weather on Saturday so for the first time we worked in parallel. They did their framing thing while we went through the wood that had arrived for the floor joists.

A good number of the joists will be visible from the main floor so our job was to select the best ones for that and sand off the markings. Sure there was some nice wood, but in the lengths we needed the majority of it was yucky with huge checks or cracks, really rough milling or fuzzy blue-grey mold. Not the kind of stuff we want to put in our house at all!

Kevin’s out there now sanding the wood we can tolerate. We each have a really busy work week ahead but somehow we’re going to have to go about selecting better wood so that work on the second floor can really get started.

On a completely different note, the stellar weather and work schedules also meant that we could camp out in the house on Saturday. I think it brings our count up to 5 nights of sleeping on the site but the first time that we’ve slept in our bedroom. I was so delighted that our set up was so simple because the crew left such a clean site. I didn’t even need to sweep!

Sept 1 - camping out in our bedroom

I can’t wait until that’s where I get to sleep every night. The sun in the morning is so nice!

Money Matters

Woah… it turns out that it takes a lot more money than we thought it would to build a smaller, energy efficient home without all the bells and whistles.

We knew that some of our choices would cost money and had figured on some trade offs – things like keeping the concrete floor to help offset the cost of wooden windows and building a small house so that we would have financial room to do things better.  We also opted to work with an architect because of our desires to maximize the views and natural light in this place we’re getting ready to build.  What we didn’t count on was how much money it costs to go with metal roofing, 8″ walls, wooden windows, or an air-to-water heat pump.  Or to design for the option of main floor living so we can live here for as long as possible. We’ve just had a reality check!

First things were looking pricey so we had to start chopping, and then we talked to the bank.  It turns out there isn’t much data out there to show green homes reselling for more money than conventional homes and the appraisers like to look at cost per square foot, a measure which is not at all supportive of small houses.  Our options boiled down to a) investing our own resources to cover the extra expenses, b) cutting some of the fancy things out or c) starting over.  Somehow this wasn’t something that we, the builder or the mortgage specialist had anticipated.  To say it’s been a stressful part on this roller coast ride is an understatement!  It’s been a week of chop, chop, chopity, chop.

So far we’ve been able to keep the roof and wall thickness but we’ll most definitely be doing more of the labour and likely a lot more of the project management.  And that heat pump?  It’s long gone.  We hope to still manage pre-plumbing for solar hot water and hydronic heating on the main floor so that those upgrades can happen at a later date.

I’m not complaining about us finding our way to a smaller mortgage but it’s disappointing to learn that there is so little incentive for folks to build smaller or better homes.  The only things I can find so far are the rebates the mortgage insurance companies offer.  Even if we did need mortgage insurance the piddly rebate is hardly enough to offset a single upgrade.  The other energy rebates pretty much just work to cover some of the costs of evaluating our building envelope.  As of yet, I haven’t found anything to support building smaller other than that the total costs are lower.