Building Our Own Net Zero HIGH PERFORMANCE HOME

When It All Began

When we started Sonbuilt Custom Homes back in 1995, our goal was to build to the best quality and standards possible.  We had already built several homes on our own and enjoyed the home building experience.  Those early days of being self employed were full of challenges and growth opportunities.  We learned the “ins and outs” of running a business, hiring employees, and balancing work and play.  It wasn’t easy.  Being self employed is never really easy.

The Dream Begins at Lot 4

Fast forward a number of years and we started dreaming of building our own home.  A net zero High Performance Home that would “showcase” all of the features we can offer to our customers.  Our dream took shape in 2010 when we found our dream property we affectionately call “Lot 4”.

Sonbuilt Great Wall

The slope of the land meant before we could even begin construction of our home, we had to build several retaining walls to keep the slope from sliding into our foundation.  We called it the season of building the “Sonbuilt Great Wall”.  It was a lot of hard work and there were definitely times when we wondered what we had gotten ourselves into!

Insulated Concrete Forms

We were finally ready to start the foundation and, of course, we built our foundation and walls using Insulated Concrete Forms (ICF) so that our home would be comfortable from basement to top floor throughout the year.

Geo Exchange

As we started the foundation, we brought in the rig to drill for the geo exchange system.  Geo exchange uses the temperature in the earth to heat and cool our net zero home.

Walls of Foam

We decided to build both our foundation and walls of our High Performance Home with ICF to ensure a quiet, durable, energy efficient home.  This was a new concept for some of our neighbours and we frequently had to explain the benefit of building with insulated concrete forms.

A Home With Braces

For the main floor of our High Performance Home we used Quad Deck.  Quad-Deck combines the strength, security, and reliability of reinforced concrete with the energy efficiency, fast construction, and comfort of insulating concrete forms.  The lower level needed extensive bracing for the concrete pour and concrete curing process.

A Growth Spurt of … FOAM!

With the main floor poured, we were ready to grow higher.  We continued to install the insulated concrete forms for the main floor walls and within a few weeks, we poured the top floor.  Every time we poured concrete, we wished the rain away.  We were pretty fortunate (most of the time)!

Rainwater Harvesting System

As a resident of Abbotsford, we pay for city supplied water.  Every drop.  We decided to install 9 GRAF rainwater harvesting tanks below the ground for water storage.  The water we harvest will be used for laundry, car washing, toilets, and irrigation.  The day of the installation was exciting!   Our rainwater harvesting system is the largest GRAF residential system in Canada.  Both University Sprinklers and Barr Plastics were on the jobsite and a marketing video promoting the system was taped.

Installing the Timber

By now the trusses and roofing were installed and we were heading into winter.  Despite the moist, cool weather, we decided to install the timber accents.  This required that we cover the front of the house with plastic and work in the dry space.  The house was covered for several months.  We were pretty excited when we encountered a few dry days of sunshine when we could finally reveal the timber!

A Retaining Wall.  Again.

Summer was now upon us and it was time to tackle the slope behind the house.  Using Redi-rock we built the retaining wall behind the house.  It took a lot of time, resources, and creative thought. We are pretty happy with how it turned out!

Drywall

Prior to drywall we took numerous photos of the interior of the home so we would know the locations of important pipes and wiring.  We do that on every net zero home we build.  During drywall we rented a lift to assist in drywalling the high ceilings and walls.  It was dusty and heavy work but overall, fun!

Finishing Details

With the majority of the drywall done we started painting and installing doors and trim.  We have an oval ceiling in the suite upstairs.  Mark, one of our team, was the inspiration behind this ceiling.  We call it Mark’s Ceiling.

Tying it All Together

A big step towards completion was hooking up the plumbing, heating, and electrical systems.  In a net zero home like this, there are many, many components that need to work together seamlessly.

Solar 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 net zero home.  Since the day we installed the solar panels, 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!

Wrapping up Construction

Is the home of a builder every really done?  Yes, the finish line is nearly here.  Some minor aspects still need completion and the builder’s wife will be very happy when the lower part of the property is landscaped.  But I digress.

Fulfilling any dream isn’t easy and our net zero High Performance Home journey has had many interesting moments.  Are you interested in knowing more about building your own net zero home?  Contact us today!

Thanks for reading!

Built Better and Feels Better

Feel Better About Your Future in a High Performance Home

Imagine living in a home that’s built better, feels better, and allows you to live better.  And it just happens to make as much energy as it uses.  A Sonbuilt High Performance Home will provide you with comfort that saves on energy.  A comfortable home is warm in the winter, cool in the summer, and free from drafts.  For many homeowners, comfort is a high priority.

“I wanted a better living experience for my family.”

~  High Performance Home Owner

We use materials in our homes that respect the environment and ensure lower energy bills, improved comfort, and clean indoor air quality.  Some of these materials include insulation upgrades, higher-performance, Low-E Argon windows, more efficient heating with a complete HRV system and sealed ducts for better air distribution.

We combine comfort, energy savings, and environmentally caring products into each of our homes while respecting your wallet and your budget.

Let’s Chat About Your New Home

We’d love the opportunity to chat about your new home.  Contact us today!

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!