Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Building a Home Yourself

The first step after getting your land and getting ready to build, is to do a plan of the entire site and the decide where to put in the house, septic and well. We are fortunate to have several good potential house sites on our property.

The chosen site for our new home has the following properties:

Unobstructed south view for solar gain in the winter
Good access to a suitable site for a septic field
Close to the well site
Slopes south for a walk-out basement
Slope allows for earth sheltering of back basement wall
Off to one side, thereby out of the way of farm activities.
On higher ground and away from potential flood zones
Easy access to the road via a driveway (to be built)
Not too close to the neighbours for privacy
Overlooks much of the farm fields and pastures and hill beyond

It turns out that there are several suitable sites for building on this lot, and we'll likely put up a cottage at a later date since it's allowed by our zoning, but for now we're just worrying about getting up a barn, garage and house. We'll finish the main living area to a basic level and then gradually add rooms into the basement and attic. It's going to be an evolving project for at least the next five years I should think.

So on the note of building...let's start at the bottom up.


The foundation is what gives your house stability and strength. Having a good sound foundation that doesn't settle, crack or leak is very important. Especially to those who are having trouble with theirs. Some problems can be very hard to fix. So obviously avoiding problems is major concern for builders.

Steve is currently looking into the feasibility of using a wood foundation. I know it might sound crazy, but it's an approved building method in most places in the world and involves using pressure treated lumber, poly vapour barrier and gravel as the main components. If you can frame a house, you can almost certainly frame up a basement.

Some of the benefits are: cheaper than concrete, easier to build in bad/cold weather, uses less energy to produce than concrete, makes for a warmer basement underfoot, can be owner built, can be more soundproof, easier to finish than a concrete floor or wall.

Won't it rot? Your wood pieces are treated lumber that will resist insect and water damage but with a vapour barrier it's protected anyways. It's anticipate that a permanent wood foundation could last well over a hundred years.

Still think I'm crazy? I'll pinch some diagrams off the CMHC website and give you some links to check out.

Here's the CMHC main site, lots of good thinks to poke around it.

And CanPly, the plywood company who have a vested interest since they make plywood.

But the best site is this one. User friendly, informative, practical.

Go have a read if you have time and let me know what you think.

Have a good day!

1 comment:

  1. A really great site and thanks for that. I am reading it a little at a time.