Mid-Construction Doldrums

 

The weeks since the last post have felt like a Seinfeld episode as nothing much has really happened except fretting, stressing, sleepless nights, and numerous “discussions” with the builder and the bank.

We have slowly, almost glacially, plodded through myriad picayune (but essential) tasks in preparation for closing up the walls (drywall) and moving to the finishing stage. Plumbing, electrical, and mechanical systems all needed to be roughed in, sometimes framing needed to be altered to accommodate these systems, and the sub-trades cannot work concurrently nor seemingly without complaining about each other’s role.

In a passive house, there are extra steps involved. To create an airtight house, every penetration of the exterior wall needs to be sealed (every pipe, electrical cord, vent, etc.) Windows & doors need to insulated and sealed on both the interior and the exterior.

Roof insulation (spray foam & batt) is then installed.

Next, the vapour barrier is applied which also needs to be sealed off.

Hooray! We Passed!  Finally, the house is ready for the “blower test” (or energy test). This test measures the amount of air exchanges per hour to gauge heat loss. It is important because it determines the Step Level of the build (a government energy efficiency status that triggers rebates) and a certain number is needed for Passive House certification. So, air is first drawn out of the house and a magic number is generated. Leaks are checked and corrected. Then air is pushed into the house and the tester uses smoke at key locations to check for leaks again. For example, smoke escaping at a window frame means a leak. Enough of these and your house won’t achieve the numbers to pass the test. In our case, the first go-round already passed, and the number improved with on-the-spot sealing.

At the end of construction, this blower test will be repeated for a final rating. While the mid-construction test is technically optional, one would be silly to omit it and have to take apart walls, insulation or siding to find the problem.

One day, unbeknownst to us or the builder, the City of Penticton decides it is the time to upgrade the water service connection to the house. As the City will also be putting the electricity underground, this will all get torn up again when that department decides to show up. The irritating inefficiency of duplicating such work was not lost on us as this was the very day we paid our property taxes.

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During a lull in activities, we spent several hours with S’s new shop vac to clean up the inside spaces.

 

 

While we only have pics for two, we would like to thank our many visitors who have witnessed the organized chaos that is house-building.

 

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