Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Where's the wood?

I guess it slipped my mind. In my rush to tell you about the demise of our cherry tree, I neglected to share with you where you can expect to see the wood. Thanks to all of your suggestions, we'll have a few winners who will be receiving their prize.

First of all - the branches and leaves were sent to the City of Vancouver compost where they were ground down so that they could be used to make compost and ultimately the soil that the city will use in the spring.

We kept all of a larger branches and the trunks and will be milling them once they are dry. To keep them from cracking, immediately after they had been sawed up, I sealed the end with a waxy solution. This will keep the wood in the best condition possible while it drys. We plan to use the wood to make a beautiful frame for a piece of art that will hang above our kitchen. We should still have some wood left over after that but until we know how much, we won't reveal the other places that it will be used.

One last bit of salvaged wood came as a surprise to me. As we dug up the root ball we noticed that the roots were incredibly thick in places. We were able to carve up a few pieces and we hope to use this wood for wood chips in our barbecue. Apparently, the cherry smoke adds delicious flavours to meat and fish.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Bye, bye cherry tree

Well, it's gone. Today our beautiful cherry tree met its maker - in this case it was Gavin Scorer. He gifted the tree to the Purdy's about 10 years ago and today he showed up soon after breakfast to take it down. It's a little despressing that after a decade of life it took less than 20 minutes with a chain saw to cut it down. But I just have to keep reminding myself that good things will come from this decision.

Gavin - sipping tea after the big day. Thank you for all of your help. We couldn't have done it without you!

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

It's what's outside that counts

WARNING: Panos - the content below contains no images of dirt, digging or destruction. Only paint chip samples and r-value explanations. Reading this post may leave you wanting for men without shirts wearing tool belts...

Monday afternoon I met with Kate (Smallworks) to go over a revised version of the house plans. With Brendon still in the Kootenays and not yet back from a string of weddings he entrusted me with the job of signing off on the plans. I'd like to think this is because we've come so far in our relationship that I truly know what he would want. But really, I think that he would have given his bad foot to be there and truth be told, being a photographer, he can visualize these two dimensional plans better than I can. That said, I was really happy with the plans and when I shared them with Brendon tonight, he was thrilled too. Now, with a few small tweaks they'll get submitted to the City of Vancouver for review and in four to six weeks we'll be issued our building permits. In the meantime, pretty much every week Brendon and I will be meeting with Kate to pick out everything from exterior lighting to built-in kitchen seats.

The process starts with the exteriors. Because the home is actually built in pieces off site, Brendon and I have to decide on all elements of the exteriors before we're issued the building permits. This means that we have to go over the shell, windows, doors, insulation, rain drains, roof and the all important paint colours. Choosing the right exteriors can really make or break a green home. How well the shell is built determines the energy efficiency of the building so the decisions we make here are uber important. Here is a sample of where we are headed:

Exterior shell: We're going for wood here. The lumber will be sourced and milled in BC and will be from second growth forest to ensure that virgin trees aren't used in our home. The majority of the house will be painted knotted pine with the exception of the trim which will be BC cedar. They key here was for us to choose renewable products that were locally sourced. This on its own significantly reduces our footprint.

Windows: Double paned windows throughout the house. This will help reduce heat loss while still ensuring that we can take advantage of the passive heating attributes of our south facing windows.

Insulation: There are two things to consider when selecting insulation - how well it keeps heat in and then how good it is at keeping moisture out. The R-value is the indicator of heat trapping ability. The higher the rating the better the performance. With the choice of insulation Smallworks uses, we'll be looking at an R-value of 26. For green homes, the City of Vancouver suggests an R-value of 20, so we'll be a little above standard. Want more information on our insulation(Polyisocyanurate Insulation Sheathing)? Check out the document on the right. As for the moisture barrier, I’m drawing a blank so I’ll have to get back to you on that.

Colours: Durango (main home), sea haze (trim) and apple crisp (doors). There really is nothing like picking out paint colours. What do you think of our choices?

Phew - okay I’m wiped. I think that we’ll have to leave our roof and door options to another time. But before then though, stay tuned for our adventures into landscape design.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

From nothing to something real good

Okay, so I know one of the worst things you can do when you start blogging is to stop blogging. It discourages your readers, puts out the message that you're no longer interested, interrupts the flow and stifles any momentum that's been generated. Yet that's exactly what I've done. It's been over a month since our last blog post! And to tell you the truth, from our side of things not much happened. In fact the closest we've come to construction was the removal of one of Brendon's screws from his ankle. Yes, back in July Brendon went under local anesthetic and a doctor removed one of the pieces of hardware holding his tibula and fibula together with a screw driver.

Right afterwards we took off to Saskatoon for my grand parents 65th wedding anniversary and left all visions of the mini home behind.

Now back in Vancouver, we met with Smallworks late last week to look over the architects first crack at our home. It is pretty amazing to see it start to come to life. Unfortunately we had to absorb a couple of setbacks, not the least of which was the loss of square footage on our place. Apparently, the main home on the property cannot have a footprint of more than 40%. With the addition of a laneway home that cannot surpass 60% total. Barb and Roger have a long home that (although not big) covers more than 40% of the property leaving a much smaller pocket for the mini home.

After we got over the shock a smaller main living space, Smallworks introduced to the idea that our loft space could now be larger and would make up for the space lost below. Phew! We took the plans back home and spent all Monday morning plotting out our 'home' in the backyard, marking the kitchen, bathroom and garage with rocks and bricks and trying to imagine how it would look once it was built. This is when we really started to get excited as we began to see how amazing it was going to be.

Next week, we'll be meeting with Smallworks again to look at a second revision of the plans, one that will take into account some of the changes we explored in our last meeting. From there everything will begin to snowball as we take on the work of prepping the site for building.

I promise, this will be my last lapse in blog entries for a while. The energy is picking up again and the list of things to do begins to unfold before us.