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.
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!
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!
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.
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!