This is a blog about building a Passive House in Flatrock, Newfoundland. We'll discuss decisions, and challenges, and follow the progress of the build. As it stands, this will be the first performance house built to the PHIUS standard in Newfoundland. The total energy requirements will be 7300 kWh/year and 3/4 of a cord of firewood. It will be the most energy efficient home in the province. CONSTRUCTION HAS STARTED!!!
Site Work Completed. Fill'er in!!
We completed all the necessary site work on Sunday to commence back filling. The electricians came and extended the electrical conduits above ground level (Photo 1-1, 1-2). There are three in total. The conduit to the left is labelled load. This conduit will exit the utility meter and enter the house under the footing and will come up through the slab in the mechanical room. The center conduit comes directly from the utility pole underground to the house. The third conduit is put in place for future PV solar power. Recently the local public utilities board approved net metering for the province. Details at this point are scanty, to say the least, but it made sense to install the conduit, nonetheless. With a power budget of 5MW province wide for electrical feed in to the grid, I expect that the applications will chew up the budget pretty quickly. I have priced an 8kW system which will offset all of my yearly power usage. At current electrical rates, the payback is fairly long ie 23 years. However, with the Muskrat Falls boondoggle mega project (Stan Marshall said it, not me!!!), which is massively overbudget, we are expecting power rates to double within the next 5 years. The payback then becomes 14 years. With most solar panels having very little maintenance and having warranties around 25 years, the benefit of solar looks more appealing. Given the horizon for retirement, it will provide us with years worth of power beyond retirement making our hard earned money go further. I'll provide more updates as more information becomes available about net metering.
Slugging stone for the weeping tile was fun.....NOT!!! After the stone arrived on site, the Stone Slinger wasn't able to evenly distribute the weeping tile aggregate very evenly and had to pile some at the back and side of the house. This meant we were left to move almost 10 tons of stone by hand with 2 shovels and a wheelbarrows. Luckily a friend of mine offered his services and came by with an extra shovel and a wheelbarrow. We had everything done in about 4 hours. With the weeping stone complete we covered the stone with a high quality drainage fabric that would stand up to backfilling (Photo 2-1, 2-2). The roll is 4'x200'. One person rolls it out while another fits it in place and lays some stones on it to prevent it from blowing away! This fabric prevents backfilling material from washing into the drainage stone which would eventually lead to clogging of the weeping tile. At a total cost of $72, its a pretty cheap insurance policy to ensure that the space for the weeping time remains functional for years to come.
To establish back filling grades we simply looked at the natural grade from the part of the lot that wasn't cleared. I had determined soil depths and the depth requirements for driveways and brick walkways beforehand. Using all of this information we used a chalk line to define the maximum height for back filling on the outside of the foundation. If you look closely you will see a blue chalk line on the foam. Knowing the depths for concrete, foam, and stone for capillary break on the inside of the foundation also made it easy to determine the infill depth and make a chalk line on the inside of the foundation as a reference for backfilling . I have found that foundation work and site work are very incremental. It does sometimes feel like you are getting nowhere quickly! However, this all changed pretty quickly yesterday morning! With all necessary site work completed we were able to start back filling a day early! Too see back filling happen and getting filled in so quickly was pretty exciting. Jason Wade is a whiz on that Kubota! Working his way along the back of the house he was back filling the outside of the foundation and dumping piles of the structural fill (that we had piled during excavation) inside the foundation. Starting tomorrow, the infill we be tamped using a large diesel tamper to help compact the stone for the structural slab. Back filling the rear yard is now complete. We now have a backyard for the Flatrock Passive House! More pictures to come!
Photo 1-1. Electrical services: Load, Line, future PV solar
Photo 1-2. Expansion join on the Line conduit.
Photo 2-1. Drainage fabric used to prevent backfilling material from clogging the drainage stone.
Photo 2-2. Drainage fabric used to prevent backfilling material from clogging the drainage stone.
Photo 3-1. Backfilling behind the garage.
Photo 3-1. Backfilling behind the house.
Photo 3-1. Backfilling the west side of the house.