Getting Started & Planning

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The first step is to make contact. You may have a complete set of plans, or just a vague idea that something needs to happen. Either way, we can help. Our experience may save you a headache, and a phone call (250-886-3833) costs nothing. The planning stage is your chance to spend time to save money. The first step is to solidify your concepts into something that can be quantified. We will then be able to provide a detailed breakdown of costs using our custom software. We are happy to take a look at your existing plans, or help you develop them with our own design team. We listen to your ideas and figure out the best way to collaborate with you.

 

SHOULD I WORK WITH A DESIGN PROFESSIONAL?

Our job is to successfully transition your concepts into reality. The job of a designer or architect is to ensure that those concepts are complete, functional, and incredible. A designer not only shapes your space in the best way possible, they also craft the documentation that clearly describes everything we need to build your vision. We love the up-front planning and excellent results that working with a professional designer brings to the table. If you think your project might benefit from this added touch, ask us! We’re happy to recommend our favorites.

 

BEGIN TO BUILD!

Finally, the exciting part! Interactive Construction provides solutions for any portion or every stage and component of your project. We can be there with you from dropping the first tree on your new lot or knocking out the first stud in your old home. And we can take care of every detail of the project, down to planting your flower garden and hanging your favorite artwork over the new mantle on our way out.

So let’s get this project started!


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Garden Suites

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“My husband and I are thinking of building a garden suite on our property to help with mortgage payments but we’ve heard it’s a difficult and expensive process.  Do you have any advice?”

Great news! Victoria city council has approved garden suites in all single family homes. This is a significant step towards fixing the current housing shortage. With this new change, the application process will only take 3-4 weeks, cost $200 and be handled by city staff instead of by councillors.  The old process was a daunting 6-8 months, cost $4,000 and had no guarantee of approval.

What are the advantages?

  • relatively inexpensive housing option for elderly parents, disabled persons or young family members.
  • a senior could move to the garden suite from their previous dwelling – freeing up equity, extending independent living, and increasing companionship, security, and support.
  • garden suites are connected to the services of the main dwelling and wouldn’t require the purchase of additional land.
  • if rental income is received, garden suites can act as a “mortgage helper” to homeowners.

What should be considered?

  • neighbours may raise concerns about the increase in density.
  • on street parking could be a problem.
  • more homes mean more demands on infrastructure such as sewers and water supply.

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the FYI on PST

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“Hey Russ, can you please explain how the PST is charged on your invoices?”

We found a great article on TroutLakeGroup.com that answers this question: PST and Real Property Contractors

  • A Real Property Contractor (RPC) does not charge PST to its customers on materials and services.
  • A RPC pays PST on the materials it purchases to fulfill its contracts with customers – unless a specific exemption applies.  The PST becomes part of the material expense.
  • When a RPC (who is GST registered) wants to get a full reimbursement from its customers on materials purchased, the RPC would charge GST on the materials and PST.

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Here is an example:

ABC Contracting buys $1,000 of lumber from Home Depot to build new front steps for its client, Miss Brown.  ABC Contracting is charged GST and PST on the lumber.

The total Home Depot invoice is $1,120 ($1,000 plus $70 PST plus $50 GST).

ABC Contracting incurs $500 in labour to build the stairs.

ABC Contracting would bill Miss Brown as follows:

Material ($1,000 plus PST of $70)  $1,070.00

Labour                                                      $500.00

Subtotal                                                 $1,570.00

GST                                                           $ 78.50

Total                                                     $ 1,648.50

For more information please refer to the Small Business Guide to PST.

SOURCE: https://troutlakegroup.com/2014/01/21/pst-and-real-property-contractors/


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Solid vs Engineered Hardwood Flooring

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“My husband and I are installing hardwood flooring in our home and were given the choice between solid and engineered floors – what’s the difference?”

When it comes to adding warmth, beauty and style to your home, nothing compares to hardwood flooring.  So, here’s the question… Solid or Engineered?

Solid wood flooring is a solid piece of wood from top to bottom. It can be sanded and refinished several times during it’s service life.  The downside of solid hardwood is that it expands and contracts in reaction to changes in moisture and temperature. Because of this, solid wood flooring is only recommended for rooms at ground level or above. It’s very important that the flooring installer leave the right amount of space for natural expansion and contraction – too tight and your floor will buckle, too loose and your board gaps will get too wide. The wider the plank you are installing, the more pronounced this issue becomes.

Engineered wood floors are made using multiple wood or wood composite veneers beneath the visible top layer. These veneers can be the same or different species and the grain of each veneer can run in different directions, increasing its stability.  The alternating plies resist expanding and contracting during fluctuations in humidity and temperature.  Engineered wood flooring can be installed above, on or below grade and can even be sanded and refinished, depending on the thickness of the top layer.

The choice is yours, but we highly recommend engineered hardwood flooring for life on the island.

Thanks for reading!

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Water Absorbing Driveway

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What is Pervious Concrete?

Pervious Concrete (also called porous concrete, high porosity concrete, permeable concrete, and no fines concrete) is a special type of concrete that allows water from precipitation and other sources to pass directly through it. This reduces the collected surface runoff from a site by allowing natural groundwater recharge instead.

Pervious concrete is made using large aggregates with little to no small aggregates. The concrete paste then coats and glues the aggregates together, allowing water to pass through the concrete slab. Pervious concrete is traditionally used in parking areas, areas with light traffic, residential streets, pedestrian walkways, and greenhouses. It is an important application for sustainable construction and is one of many low impact development techniques used by builders to protect water quality.

 

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Benefits of Pervious Concrete:

  • Reduces stormwater runoff
  • Reduces or eliminates the need for retention ponds
  • Reduces impact and cost of stormwater treatment infrastructure and public safety liability
  • Replenishes water tables and aquifers
  • Allows for more efficient land development
  • Minimizes flash flooding, standing water and backflow into the property causing damage
  • Prevents warm and polluted water from entering streams and affecting marine habitats
  • Mitigates surface pollutants
  • Reduces Heat-Island Effect
  • Enhances traction and helps minimize the potential for hydroplaning
  • May assist in earning points for green certified buildings
  • May assist in discounts and refunds through various green programs

 

IN THE NEWS: Interactive Construction installs what is likely Victoria’s first Pervious Concrete driveway!  (As seen on VicNews.com)

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Water-absorbing driveway leads green push in Victoria

A Fairfield home is likely the first in Victoria to install a driveway that lets water run straight through it, an innovative approach that saves the homeowner cash and lessens the load on city pipes.

Ron Manuel decided to install pervious concrete after learning about the City of Victoria’s pending stormwater utility. In January 2015, Manuel will become one of a few Victoria homeowners eligible for up to a 40 per cent discount under new bylaws that reward locals for keeping their rainwater on their property.

“I think it’s great,” he said, hosing the driveway to demonstrate the lack of run-off water. “This can take gallons of water a minute, and it just runs straight through.”

For all residential homeowners, the city will soon begin calculating the utility charge from the hard area footprint, or roof coverage, of each home. Driveway footprints… Read more from this article, posted by Vicnews.com.

 

Interested in watching it in action?  We’ve found a great video on YouTube, click the image below to watch…

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Urban Green Passive House: Part 3 - A New Approach

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Now people are stopping to stare. I overhear a passing child call it the Lego Block House, and the parent chuckles. Several passerby’s comment that they don’t like the look of that ugly green siding. Almost nobody recognizes it for what it is. It’s CavityRock insulation – an exterior rated stone wool batt made by Roxul.

Cavity Rock

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  • Non-combustible stone wool insulation with melting point of approximately 1177°C (2150°F)
  • Fire resistant due to its high melting temperature
  • Water and moisture resistant; does not absorb moisture to maintain insulating value
  • Chemically inert
  • Does not rot, promote mildew, fungi, or bacteria
  • Made from natural and recycled materials

Now the unique and unusual products are on display and this doesn’t look like every other house anymore. Every time I visit the job site someone has stopped in to ask questions. There are a lot of quizzical eyebrows and I find two very different groups of people.

The first group is mistrustful. This is definitely something different and certainly not like the way things are usually done around here. This might be some sort of scam. “Why insulate on the outside like that? Haven’t stud walls and fiberglass batts worked perfectly well for decades? If it’s air-tight don’t you have to open the windows to breathe?” Early failures of air-tight homes cast a negative shadow on these modern principals which have excellently controlled fresh air exchanges.

The second group is fascinated. “Is there really no furnace or baseboard heaters going in? How do you know it will work? How much does all that cost? What’s it made out of?” We know the technical answers, but this is our first Passive House and we have to trust in the science at this point.

The questions are endless and we all enjoy talking it through. We ask both groups about their heating bills and we hear quite a range between $1500 – $3500 annually. Then we tell them this house is modelled to need as little as $100 to heat for an entire year.

Most people walk away thinking we might all be a bit nuts. But at least a few people run straight home to google “Passive House”.

Read Part 1: an up and coming neighbourhood

Read Part 2: science makes sense


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Urban Green Passive House: Part 2 - Science Makes Sense

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So far the Passive House construction shows very little obviously out of the ordinary. We’re into the lock-up stage before anything unusual becomes visible. But there have been some serious details to consider. Let’s take a minute to find common sense in the complex science.

Sense

Close the window! Don’t let all the heat out.

In the middle of winter, it doesn’t matter how hot you crank the radiator in your car if you’ve got the windows open.

Science

Convective Heat Loss
Convection is heat transfer by mass motion of a fluid such as air or water. When a mass of hot air is adjacent to a mass of cool air, the temperatures will rapidly flow between each other until equal.

Sense

To stay warm in winter, wear a coat not a suit of armour.

Sitting around a campfire you see a wooden stick and a metal rod each half in the fire. Which one is likely safe to grab, and which one is likely to burn you?

Science

Thermal Conduction

Thermal conduction is the transfer of heat by particle collision and movement of electrons within a mass. The rate at which energy is conducted as heat is relative to the temperature difference between the two bodies and the properties of the conductive mass.

We need the energy we put in the home to stay in the home. Nobody would choose to drive their car around with a hole in the gas tank or dragging a pallet of cinder blocks behind it if they didn’t have to. It would be an obvious waste of gas and money. So why ask your house to do the same? Plug that hole and ditch the extra weight!

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Convective Heat Loss

Why it matters

In conventional buildings, convection is the dominant form of heat transfer. Controlling air leakage is one of the critical elements of creating an energy efficient home.

What we did about it

To keep our air barrier continuous, we ran overhanging strips of OSB on top of the upper wall plates and then taped all joints and the outer edge to the exterior wall sheathing. Then we dropped the trusses, sheeted them, and applied the roofing membrane.

This allowed us to install two layers of R30 fiberglass batts in the trusses – well ahead of when you would see insulation typically. This had to be done early since we then sheeted the underside of the trusses in full sheets of OSB and taped those seams. Now we have a solid airtight barrier to frame our interior walls up to.

We left our interior wall heights 1 ½” lower than the OSB and framed a 2×4 dropped ceiling chase below the trusses to add lights, ducting, and wiring without penetrating our air-barrier.

On the exterior walls, we used a series of compatible Siga products for the weather and air-barrier. Siga Majvest is the barrier product and a variety of amazing Siga tapes create the seal against surfaces such as wood or concrete.

Thermal Conduction

Why it matters

Highly conductive materials protruding through our assembly from a warm side to a cold side will ruin our chances of achieving suitable energy efficiency. The more conductive a material, the faster our precious heat will walk across that bridge. The more of that material we have, the wider the bridge and the more heat will be constantly escaping.

What we did about it

The 6” of rigid insulation we see on the outside of the foundation is a pretty simple concept and one of the first visible steps taken to reduce heat loss through thermal conduction. Even our bottom run of flashing does not go completely to the wall sheathing. There is a block of rigid insulation behind it and the weather barrier is lapped over and taped to the flashing. This creates a thermal break between the conductive bottom wall plate and the highly conductive metal flashing.

On the framed walls, we used ACS clips fastened to each stud through a R-4 rated PROLOFT pad to reduce thermal bridging. We installed every clip prior to our first blower door test but before installing any Roxul batts. This was important since we could test our air-barrier for leaks before it was covered over and inaccessible.

We cut each block of Roxul CavityRock easily with a regular utility knife to fit tightly around windows and corners. Most pieces need no trimming and simply fit snuggly between each of the previously installed ACS clips.


Passive Home Before and After

Urban Green Passive House – An up and coming neighbourhood

Passive Home Before and After

This time last year I was standing on a beach in Cuba watching my two long-time friends, Reed & Aneesa, get united in marriage. This year I stood with them on an overgrown lot in the Hillside/Quadra area watching a derelict abandoned building get pulled to the ground and hauled off in dusty pieces. Though the scenery differs significantly, this is just the next step on their journey together.

Early on it was decided that it was important that the build process reflect their deeply held personal values regarding environmental protection. In the end they settled on the Passive House model. In upcoming Blog posts, I hope to have them write some guest spots on their perspective and their continuing experience as we move from design through construction.

What is a Passive House? It’s a common question with a lot of misleading information available. In layman’s terms, a Passive House has a highly efficient and controlled interior environment that dramatically reduces the homes energy consumption, and increases comfort and health for the inhabitants. For a more technical definition, try the Passipedia definition.

How do we achieve this and how is it measured? The entire building must be designed with the Passive House modelling software (PHPP) from the ground up. Site location and building orientation play crucial roles in making this possible. The passive solar gain, through precisely placed windows, provides the majority of the heat for the building. Carefully calculated overhangs and window location and size control overheating in the summer months. The building must be air-tight to stop all unconditioned air from infiltrating the building envelope, with the interior fresh air exchanges controlled by an HRV unit. Additional insulation and special high-efficiency windows are required to slow heat loss. Thermal bridging of every structural component is calculated and detailed to reduce energy transfer.

Nearly every other facet of our world has seen wide and often staggering scientific improvements that generally enhance our lives. But we still tend to build houses with the same thermal, air quality, and energy considerations that we did before the transistor radio came along. And no I’m not exaggerating – insulation got 2” thicker, we’ve adopted some rudimentary air and moisture control barriers, and that’s about it. Many early systems received bad publicity due to some cases causing rot or poor interior air quality. The fault typically lay with improper design, application, or combinations of incompatible systems used by builders – the science was sound, and it continues to improve.

Stay tuned in upcoming months as we cover the unique assemblies and materials we’ll be using to accomplish this task. Hopefully the free sharing of information will make it easier for other builders to adopt Passive House systems and for everyone to see how a few small changes can make one huge difference. We invite both homeowners and builders alike to join us on Reed & Aneesa’s Passive House journey.

Read Part 2: science makes sense

Technical Side-Bar

In our Passive House plan, the air-barrier is found at the outside sheathing plane where I firmly believe it belongs. Weather and vapour barriers will be found in their traditional locations. 6” of exterior insulation will be applied outside the framed walls, in part to remove the excess of thermal bridging that occurs through studs and wall plates. We will be applying strapping for our rain-screen drainage plane outside the insulation layer and then cladding the building like any other.