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finished homeWest Broadway Healthy House

West Broadway Neighbourhood, Winnipeg MBdrilling piles

Advanced Design/Build worked closely with the West Broadway Development Corporation to design and build an in-fill 3-bedroom home that would have very low energy input costs, excellent indoor air quality, wheelchair access, and affordable construction costs. West Broadway is a neighbourhood bordering the downtown core and undergoing a renewal of housing stock. The City of Winnipeg has dozens of in-fill lots available, typically in the range of 30 feet wide, with back lane access. The challenge for this project was to create a model of energy efficiency (low income residents can benefit from low heating costs) and to fit a new home into the style of an old neighbourhood while keeping construction costs as low as possible.

For this 33 foot wide lot, the maximum home width was 25 feet - that allows a 4 foot space to the property line on each side. Digging a basement was impossible - the excavation would have extended up to the rubble basements on both sides, and any future problems with the neighbouring basements could be blamed on our excavation work. As well, there had been a large home on the lot and it was only removed a few years north wall upearlier, so we were dealing with disturbed soil - we would have to dig down to undisturbed soil, which might be deeper than we wished to go. To have a stable foundation for this home, we drilled 12 poured-in-place piles: 18" diameter and 30 feet deep. A structural slab was poured over the piles to give us a concrete surface approximately 2 feet above the sidewalk passing in front of the lot. This allowed for wheelchair access as the slope from the main floor surface to the sidewalk was 1 in 12 - the acceptable wheelchair slope.

Because the back lane access was inhibited by tight right-angle turns at both ends, we hauled building parts to the site with a 3/4 ton truck, bringing only the day's materials so that nothing was left loose on site aupper south wall upt night. Walls were assembled and sheathed with OSB and also fibre-cement siding. Doing the siding work while the wall was flat on the slab eliminated a lot of ladder/scaffold work. Wall jacks were used to lift finished walls into place - only 2 people were needed to raise a 35' x 10' finished wall. While some builders raise finished walls with windows in place, we chose to install the windows after the walls were up. This allowed us to install all the windows and doors at once and then secure the building on the same day. Vandalism can be a problem with in-fill lots because the normal traffic through the day and night cannot be regulated as it would for a subdivision. However, nothing was ever rafters ontouched on our site, and we simply ensured that our fencing was complete and we posted overnight surveillance for the site as soon as the windows were installed and building locked up.

To keep an open sense of space on the main floor with an interior width of only 23 feet, we used 2 steel posts to support a centre beam that bore the entire 2nd storey. Thus, the entire 1st floor area of 23'x 33' could be a single room with no structural dividing walls. The steel posts carried through the second floor and picked up a ridge beam for the roof structure. Because of the steel posts, we were able to build the roof without any need for supporting walls on the second floor. Rafters were used to allow for a curved ceiling on the second floor - using roof trusses would have resulted in flat ceilings.curved ceiling

Walls were build with trusses having a thickness of 10½" which allowed for an insulating value of close to R-40, using cellulose insulation. Above the curved ceiling of the second floor we installed cellulose to a value of R-65. All windows are triple-glazed with a fibreglass frame. Metal roofing was used as well as an overhang system constructed completely of metal overhanggalvanized sheet metal to eliminate the wood rot problems so common with roof overhangs.

A thin mortar bed was laid over the rough structural slab and in-floor heating pipes (plastic) were laid into the mortar, followed by ceramic tile. A common 60 gallon electric water heater provides heat for the in-floor system and domestic hot water. The water heater is the only source of heat for the main floor. Four electric wall heater units provide supplementary heat for the 3 bedrooms and an office area, while the bathroom has in-floor heat like the main floor.

An operable window located high up in a bumped-up section of the roof structure allows summer heat to exhaust by natural convection. This feature combined with the concrete slabhigh casement floor have made any additional air conditioning equipment unnecessary - the home has a pleasant indoor air temperature on even the hottest of summer days.

The final test for the house, of course, is how it performs - did we achieve an energy efficient home? The homeowner reports that monthly electrical costs are typically $75, so ceramic main floorthe annual cost is $900. That is the total heating cost plus electricity for the electric clothes dryer, steam shower unit, and all other uses together. Construction costs were in the range of $100 per square foot (2004).

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