Wednesday, 14 November 2012

The morphing of Passive House Casa Tortuga

Just a small 11,000 lb hoe ram (not me...the machine!).
This is my uncle David, owner/operator of the tiny,
ultra-quiet (not!) machine.
The activity at Turtle Falls has been brisk this week. The distinctive sound of the hoe ram on solid granite has been echoing throughout the land. It has been a good week of meeting the nearby neighbours. There's the curious neighbours wondering what the racket is all about. There's the helpful neighbours taking away the felled trees. They are happy to get the free firewood and/or pine logs. We're totally happy they're taking it away for free. We are certainly not going to need it as we will not be having a wood burning appliance in this passive house. I suppose this is one way to ease into the bribing the neighbours with free firewood. And, since the amount of rock we need removed will only be the equivalent of 3½ days of hammering we shouldn't lose all those newly-made neighbour friends. Some excavations in this area can require several weeks or months of hammering. We got to live through the months-long hammering for a house down the way last summer. It's the type of sound you just really can't get into the Zen of. Your brain starts to rattle along at the same tempo after a while. Your ears ring when the machines have all finally been quieted at the end of the day. It's all good least from our perspective. We can't speak for the neighbours. We'll just beg forgiveness daily, now to completion.

The co-operative effort of taking down the big oak tree. These are our neighbours, lumberjacks Peter and Alistair. It sure was nice having the machine's assistance to assure the tree landed where wanted, rather than on Priscilla.

Making sure the rock is gone from all areas where footings need to be when the house is oriented to true south.

One machine is good. Two is better! One hammering, one clearing.

While all the hammering is happening at Turtle Falls, architect Chris and Homesol have been working with the Passive House Planning Package (PHPP) to finalize the details for the house. There has been a major change in the look of the exterior of the house from the first version I posted earlier, but the floor plan remains the same. As I was writing this paragraph architect Chris called to discuss further design changes to the exterior. It's interesting to watch the changes morph the house from one form to another. We have certainly gone from one end of the spectrum, with a flat roof ultra modern look, to the other end with this version that looks more bungalow-like. Some changes were expected to happen in order to accommodate for roof overhang necessary to tame the summer sun streaming through the south windows. Ras was happy to lose the higher roof projection to gain the wrap-around deck. After talking with Chris it seems there will be much more morphing to come. Changes to the garage and it's roofline are forthcoming. So, for now...this is where we're at.

The latest version of the south east elevation with the lowered roofline, extended overhangs and decking.

Copyright © 2012 Vert Design, Chris Straka

More to come, no doubt. Too exciting!



Saturday, 3 November 2012

The money pit

There are few things more exciting than the first day of excavating for a new home. There's the initial feeling of nervousness anticipating what will become of the landscape that you have fallen in love with so intensely that it made you uproot your whole life as you once knew it. There's the "make sure you never leave the house again without your cheque book" realization. There's the "I need to get a better pair of boots to wade through the mud" realization. There are the many moments of being thankful for the league of extraordinary gentlemen that have jumped on board our crazy train to help bring this passive house to reality. But best of all, there is the all out feeling of wanting to jump for joy because of all of the above. Can't explain it any better than that so I'll get on with showing you this week's activities that have us so giddy.

Although we are not ready to start building just yet, the digging is commencing so we can deal with the rock that inevitably will show up in the wrong places. The following photos show some of the highlights of the last two days at Turtle Falls.

This is the view of the building site from a couple of weeks ago.

The same view after 2 days of digging and rock wrestling.

A co-operative tree-felling effort. Lumberjack Alistair cuts while excavator Richard directs the fall. Contractor Mark looks like he's just warming his hands in his pockets. Can't blame rained most of the day.

Alistair rescues the lumber.

Yep, we knew this would likely happen. The white stripes in the dirt are telling us it's time to call in the hoe ram to carve out some inconveniently placed rock! Note to self - remember the ear plugs for that little exercise.

Ras and Mom supervise from the edge of the money pit. More tell-tale white stripes in the dirt means more work for the hoe ram.

For perspective and a closer view of the rock needing to be hammered out. Almost looks like a little  jump for joy.

This is Jim, the water witch (warlock, whisperer?). He is using his trusted crowbar as a dowsing or divining rod. The good news is he found a spot where 4 streams cross, making for a good well. There is no way to witch how deep we'll need to go to find that water. Word on the street is a well in this area can be as shallow as 80 feet or as deep as 450 feet. Here's hoping for closer to 80. 

More later,