Our off grid home

My wife and I have had the pleasure of designing and building an extremely efficient and resilient, off-grid home that I hope will serve my family for my lifetime and more. We share our project hoping to educate and inspire others to build better homes. This series of posts focuses on the details of different aspects of our project, with what we have done, how this fits into good design principles, and some thoughts on what we’ve learned and what we might do differently the next time. It is necessary to get into the technical details, as it is these details that really determine the performance of a home.

I’d like to thank Anthony Mach of Mach Design, who helped us to turn our ideas into architectural plans, while helping us to refine ideas and improve both the build quality and livability of the final home. I also thank Stephane Charette and his crew at Bala Structures, who built our home. They do extraordinarily high quality work and came up with a lot of innovative solutions to figuring out the details of the build. The house itself is the perfect size for a family that likes to spend time together and entertain, a 2000 square foot, 3 bedroom, 1.5 bathroom home, with an open concept upstairs living space, and bedrooms and utilities tucked into a lower walkout level, with the whole thing built into the side of a hilltop.

Posts about the house:
Inspiration for our home
Building site and orientation
Our building envelope
Heating systems for our home – and some lessons learned
Generating power off the grid
Electricity usage patterns for our off grid home
Mechanical and other home systems for our off grid home
Technical presentation about the house
Energy model of the house
Some thoughts on architectural and interior design

As we built what has been considered an interesting project by everyone involved, we actively sought out some press coverage to allow us to highlight the things that we think make our place special. These include:

The Ottawa Citizen. The local big newspaper does real estate pieces, and wrote a feature story about our home on February 27, 2015:

EcoHome. This is a website that focuses on sustainable housing. A short article that is mostly about the building envelope of the home:
Off grid and passively heated, this house in Low, Quebec is aiming for LEED certification
They also published reinterpretations of some of the posts from this site:
Off-grid living blog: A firsthand account of building and living in a remote area
Generating power off the grid
Heating systems for our home – and some lessons learned
Off-grid living blog post 4: Appliances, mechanical and other systems
Off-grid living blog – Energy modeling projections and real performance

SabMag. Sustainable Architecture and Building, which focuses sustainable design in Canada:

The full article from the print version is also on hosted on the Bala Structures website:

The Low Down to Hull and Back News. The local magazine/newspaper for our rural area north of Ottawa: (hosted by our builder, Bala Structures): http://balastructures.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/03/2015-01-Low-Down-Modifi%C3%A9-LEED-Home-in-Low.pdf

Houzz website. A few images of the interior of the home provide a bit of eye candy:

Green Building Advisor. This is a great resource for high efficiency building, renewable energy, and more. Scott Gibson, one of the main site coordinators, turned several of the blog posts that I wrote into articles to share on the GBA site. To make that happen, he did some light editing of my writing, and then combined the sections of posts that were most appropriate for the GBA audience into a set of articles. This is fairly similar to the Ecohome articles linked above. Those pieces are:
Building an Off-Grid Home in Canada
Off-Grid in Canada: The Building Envelope
Off-Grid in Canada: What We Did for Heat
Off-Grid in Canada: Solar Was the Only Real Choice
Off-Grid in Canada: Choosing Efficient Appliances
Off-Grid in Canada: An Energy Model of the House