Powering On

As we begin 2020, we have come to realize with startling clarity that building a house is logarithmic, not linear. The last 5% goes v e  r  y    s   l   o    w     l       y.

Electrical completion, finishing carpentry, vanity installation, fixtures, drywall repairs, repainting, threshholds, correcting errors and the myriad of other tasks that were small compared with windows, floors, kitchen, etc now must be completed. The main house is almost complete, but those “almost” tasks are very time consuming.  But we’re warm and dry and living comfortably so can’t grumble.


Actually, S is warm and dry. January also saw Dr. M working throughout the province (normally driving through winter conditions) and only home on the weekends.  At the end of the month, she’s presenting at a conference in Vancouver between work assignments and I’ll join her and have a couple of days of R&R on Salt Spring Island.

We weren’t that happy with the original drywall sub-contractor so for the interior finishing work we asked around and hired a local crew. The leader came to look at the job, stated a fair price, started a few days later and finished in a week.  Three or four fellows arrived, dropped their shoes and each took on a task.  They were in and out in an hour or less each time. Very professional.

The vanities have been installed, the ensuite one being a bit of a saga – the cabinet company put it up but neglected to pull the water hoses out from the trap behind the drywall.  Back they came, removed the vanity only to discover that the hoses were too short. The plumber returns to fix it, then the vanity was re-installed.  Another Contractor error.  In any event, it didn’t delay us too much as we’re once again waiting on the countertops. Glacial.


We have focussed almost entirely on the main house since we moved in, and going forward we are turning our attention to the suite.  S stained 168 tongue-in-groove boards and Ivor nailed ’em up.  Ivor continues to be a key member of our team.  Unflappable, reliable, and talented.


The garage is coming along……S has completed another wall of plywood, some of the cut-outs are things of beauty, some much less so.  S parked the Odyssey in it…….symbolically, since there’s a whole bunch of things that still need to happen in there (not to mention cutting of trim, and one more wall) but was very happy that it fits.


And the state of the van can be explained with continuous runs to the transfer centre in the name of site clean-up. One load was 600kg! The most useful vehicle we have ever owned.


Many of you have been regaled with our tales of woe related to our Contractor. After two months of investigations, BC Housing Corporation has agreed that the Contractor did indeed construct the house and thus is legally obligated to provide the New Home warranty.  Although expected given that we were almost 90% complete when they pulled out, this is an enormous relief.  Running the project on our own since October, we see the complexity of making it all fit together–it can’t be done with an occasional drive-by and voicemail.

Most exciting this month is that we are now generating power! The solar panels are now active! (and there’s a tale to go along with that…). “What’s the payback period?” As a male of a certain age, this is the ultimate question that I hear from my peers. I normally respond that I’m doing it for the polar bears.  What they’re Solar Panel Statisticsasking is how long will it take us to repay the investment?  This query, from non-polar bear lovers, is the same one asked regarding the purchase of any energy-saving product:  windows, appliances, mechanical systems, etc.  The fact is that on these winter days we have generated 25% of the average daily power our house uses when we’re home. During the rest of the year we’ll be selling power back to Fortis most of the time.  This is the concept of “net-zero” – over the course of a year, we will generate all the power we consume. If we end up generating more power than we consume, it’s called “net-positive.” However, the financial argument should revolve less around the pay-back period and more around ROI (return on investment). For our solar investment we’re looking good.  And the polar bears are happier, to boot.

A polar bear stepping onto sea ice. Melting Arctic sea ice may not only threaten the habitat of animals...

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