Off-The-Grid Home

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Our straw and plaster crews have fond memories of a summer spent lakeside, raising this tastefully appointed home.

Completely off-the-grid, this modestly sized yet carefully detailed lakeside homestead was collaboratively designed by our parent company, Evolve Builders Group, to serve as the new home for a young family relocating from southern Ontario.

Oriented to the south and located at the end of a long mostly unserviced road near Bracebridge, Ontario, this house is prepared for seclusion and independence. Passive solar design principles such as an appropriate balance of south facing glazing and interior exposed mass aid in collecting and then storing the sun’s free energy. A small photovoltaic system provides for all electrical needs. An EPA compliant wood stove can be fed with dead-fall and other wood selectively removed from the owners own property. Connections for future solar hot water collectors were pre-installed. And of course, the outstanding thermal insulation properties of straw bales were fully employed.

But these are merely technical details. The real measure of success is how one “feels” inside.

The owners expressed to us that their having been so welcomed into all stages of the design and construction process meant that the house immediately felt like “home.”  In fact, we arranged multiple activities with the owners that they managed and completed independently, displacing the cost of subcontractors while imparting more of themselves personally into the project. Concrete floor staining, exterior wall painting and hardwood flooring installation were all scheduled by our project manager in such a way as to permit the owner time to complete them within available time off from work.

And perhaps must fun and rewarding of all, one of our knowledgeable staff scouted the owners own surrounding woods for trees that could ideally be felled for forest health while generating material with the strongest of provenance for their new home.  Interior trim, cabinets, doors and some structural posts and beams were all pulled from this forest and then handled by a combination of our own team and the owner as needed to complete the finished products.

Such intimate involvement by our clients is a hallmark of our projects. As this is very different than typical contractor arrangements, its also among the things that make us most pleased and proud.

We also love the opportunity to work with such inspired people and to be invited to stay beyond work hours. In this instance our crew had the pleasure of camping on-site, finding frogs at the lake’s edge with the owners’ young son, evening canoe trips, bonfires and banjo music (yes we have other talents too…just don’t ask about our singing!). Sometimes the process is as enjoyable as the finished product.