Foundations & Structures

 
Insulating crawlspaces
Crawlspaces are very rare as part of a new home construction. There is a reason for that - they serve very little purpose. If you've got one here's how to fix it. . A crawlspace comes with all the downsides of a basement, but it is just too low a space to be functional. Unless there...
Concrete, wood and steel structures
A life cycle analysis of the three major materials used as structural support for buildings. Wood, steel and concrete each have specific structural advantages, each with their own characteristics. The following is a life-cycle comparison conducted by the Athena Sustainable Materials...
Choosing house sheathing
Both plywood and OSB have benefits and drawbacks, the most important thing is to understand and respect their limitations to avoid a wall failures. . Odds are, that if you pass a housing development of wood-framed houses, it will have OSB (oriented strand board) as exterior...
Tyvek home wrap left exposed to wind and UV rays
Weather barriers (or more accurately water-resistive barriers) keep bulk water away from vulnerable building components and allow walls to dry at the same time. .   A technical guide to understanding the role weather barriers and rainscreens play in a wall...
The Fiction Factory Wikkelhouse tiny house made of carboard
The Cardboard Wikkelhouse from Fiction Factory falls under our 'too cool not to share' category. . Seriously, no pun intended - it's just hard not to describe the cardboard Wikkelhouse as anything other than an extreme case of thinking outside of the box. It's like there is some kind...
Earthship in Taos, New Mexico
Despite the good intentions, Earthships in cold climates come with a much heavier environmental cost than they claim and contradict the laws of physics. I'm not the Mike Reynolds who invented the Earthship, I'm the Mike Reynolds who thinks Earthships in Canada and other cold...
Radiant floor heat in a bathroom
Radiant heated floors add comfort to a home and can help you heat more efficiently. ...
All lumber for interior and exterior framing is FSC certified. All framing materials for the Demo House are FSC certified, and provided by our sponsor Kott Lumber. Kott engineered the plans for us , supplying detailed framing documents including a cut list for each framing member...
Snowboarder, Mike, Basich's, off-grid cabin in the woods with hot tub
With a hot tub, personal chairlift and the mountainous playground in his back yard, snowboarding pioneer Mike Basich re-defines what a truly rich life looks like. Snowboarding pioneer and photographer Mike Basich built himself an epic Tiny off-grid cabin. Without a bedroom or...
World's tallest skyscraper planned for Vienna Austria
Wood framed multi storey buildings are becoming more and more common; the one planned for Vienna, Austria next year would be the tallest in the world. The emotional impact of watching a tree fall can cloud the reality of what wood actually represents to us as a building material. It's...
Off grid, passively heated and cooled house in the Gatineau Hills, Quebec
When you're a long way from the amenities of civilization, employing both active and passive solar strategies can provide security, independence and just good living in general. . With their house about three kilometers from the nearest paved road and hydro pole, Craig Anderson...
Dense-packed cellulose wall insulation
Dense-packed cellulose insulation in double stud walls offers high performance while maintaining a low carbon footprint. Here we bust some of the unfortunate myths and misunderstandings surrounding this type of wall construction. . In 2005, Metric Homes of Carp, Ontario designed and...
Exterior damp proofing and drainage mat to protect basements from water damage
Basements in Canada face serious challenges: fluctuating water tables, surface floods, thermal shock, radon gas infiltration, condensation, mold, mildew, rotting walls and heat loss. Better basements manage these issues. . The most common practices currently employed for finishing...
Spray polyurethane foam on basement walls prevents mold and midlew
Why are basements moldy? Because we build walls so they can't dry. Simple changes in wall design will result in mold-free durable basements. . Basements don't have to be moldy, that is the first thing to realize. It's easy to build them better but we have resigned ourselves to the...
Finished basements can lead to mold and mildew
Basement mold and mildew can easily be avoided with better designed walls. Common building practices trap moisture in wall assemblies preventing them from drying. The musty basement smell that we have come to accept as unavoidable, is actually quite avoidable. The solution is really...
Poly vapour barriers in air conditioned houses can cause mold and rot
The practice of putting polyethylene vapour barriers in houses was intended to keep them dry, but it ends up keeping them wet. It's time to explore alternatives. Much of the following was inspired by a lecture given in Barrie, Ontario, April 2014 by Joe Lstiburek of Building Science...
USGBC Outstanding Single Family Home of the Year Earthship Farmstead
The Wallace Residence, also known as the Earthship Farmstead, was named Outstanding Single Family Home of the Year by the U.S. Green Building Council. From the USGBC...
Basement wall insulation
The importance of properly insulating basements cannot be stressed enough. Uninsulated basements and poorly insulated basements can be responsible for as much as 1/3 of the total heat loss of a home. . Technical edit and thermal images by Denis Boyer Before we began insulating...
The Kenogami House holds the highest LEED score achieved in Canada (106), a Net Zero Heat rating of 15 kWh and a Home of the Year Award from Green Builder© Media for Best Resilient Design. . Along with its unprecedented achievements, the Kenogami House continues to act as a...
Slab-on-grade construction technical guide
A home built on a slab-on-grade can be more affordable, more comfortable and more durable. Here is a technical guide to building a home on a slab instead of a basement foundation. TECHNICAL GUIDE : Slab-On-Grade Construction, an affordable and durable alternative to starting a home...
Step by step guide for slab-on-grade home construction
Our step by step guide to building a home on a slab-on-grade and avoiding basement foundations.   Slab-on-grade technical guide The following is a technical guide for slab-on-grade home construction. The design and dimensions of any slab will be determined by the size and...
Wood frame construction
Solid wood and various wood-based products are used for framing, insulating and finishing. Here is a brief rundown on the different products you have to choose from, and their proper applications. Text adapted by Natalie Pavey Framing lumber Framing lumber, also known as...
BioSIPS Pre-fabricated straw bale panels
Straw bale SIPS (Structural Insulated Panels) have all the benefits of traditional straw bale homes, but address all the risks. Traditional straw bale home construction can be a low-tech and affordable route to a very ecologically responsible home. There are, however, some legitimate...
The passive solar home in Lac Kenogami, Quebec
With the help of the Ecohome design team, home builder Alain Hamel builds "The Most Resilient House in North America". The first house designed under our Passive Solar Index (PSI) program won "Most Resilient House" in the 2013 Green Builder® Home of the Year Awards. The Kenogami...
The Conservation House in Saskatchewan was built in 1977, and was a revolutionary building design that introduced passive heating and cooling to modern home building. . If you've ever sat in a car with black leather seats, you likely understand passive solar heat gain. It is a very...
Students at New Frontiers School Board to build LEED home to be donated to Habit
The New Frontiers School Board (NFSB) in Ormstown, Quebec wants to give their graduating students a leg up in the world of green home construction, by building a LEED house that they plan to donate to Habitat for Humanity. . After completing a design workshop for high performance wall...
Interior sheathing wood frame construction
3/4 inch OSB sheathing on the interior can be an excellent air barrier and a great vapour barrier as well. We are currently in an evolutionary period of home construction. The old standby wall recipe of 2x6s, glass fiber insulation and polyethylene saw us through the last few decades...
Timber frame construction
Undeniably the most ecological framing material, wood is both a renewable resource and one that serves to reduce greenhouse gas emissions when used in place of other materials. Text adapted by Natalie Pavey The environmental advantages of wood frame construction: As the only...
Air barriers are essential to a properly functioning wall system
Approximately 100 times more water vapour is carried into our walls by air leakage than is carried by vapour diffusion. That makes air barriers 100 times more important than vapour barriers, so why is no one talking about them. Approximately 100 times more water vapour is carried into...
Timber frame home being raised
Choose a structure and building envelope with the best possible energy performance within your lifestyle needs and budget. . There are many choices to make regarding choosing a building envelope, starting with a basement foundation or a slab-on-grade, and a multitude of different...