House is HOME


It has been several weeks since the polar vortex descended on Alberta and put our half completed HVAC system to the test. If you missed that chilling blog post, you can catch up here.

The SEED Homes team jumped into action immediately, delivering a couple of space heaters, which  tipped the balance and allowed internal temperatures to return to comfortable levels. With the cold plunge in the rearview mirror, their amazing team spent hours designing a permanent fix and rolling it out. 

As I understand it, two measures should allow the house to stay toasty warm when icy temperatures return. First, all the ducting that runs through the crawl space has been fortified with extra insulation. This will allow the warm air being circulated to hold its temperature over longer distances. With the cold air slipping in under the previously exposed skirting, the air being offered by the furnace was tepid by the time it reached the vents at the back of the house. 

The second thing that happened under the house was the fortification of the dog house, or the 2' x 11' foot structure that contains our furnace, air conditioner and HRV (Heat Recovery Ventilation) systems. That enclosure is now fully isolated, which will enable the furnace to function more efficiently overall, but especially during the days when windchills become a problem.

Jonathon, Kamryn, Taylor, Brandon, and Dallas have spent the week doing all the last remaining fixes to the Trusscore panels and bamboo floors. They also successfully installed our microwave over top of the tiling which Kent completed last weekend. With the exception of a few replacement window parts and the painting of trim, our house is substantially complete. As soon as the paint dries, we'll be able to unpack remaining boxes and fill the IKEA Pax closets in the master bedroom and in the entry way. When that is done, the doors can go on.
Having lived in the house for a month, and having watched all the finishing work happening around us, it is easy to see the role that sequencing plays in construction. Because the SEED Homes team is working with a significantly different wall and ceiling material - the Trusscore wall system - they had to learn some hard lessons. Unintentional scratches and dings happened throughout the process. I'm sure the same thing happens with unfinished drywall. However, with a tradition drywall approach, those dings and scratches get fixed with tape, mud and paint. Unfortunately, Trusscore panels that had been damaged had to be replaced. The good news is that material can be returned to the company as feedstock for future use. 
The other learning was with the floating bamboo floor. With the natural temperature fluctuations, the boards started to shift and separate in a couple of places. It could not be nailed down because of the in-floor heating pads and the risks of hitting a wire. There were also a couple of spots where some leveling issues had to be dealt with using additional thin set. Unfortunately, there were also dings and scratches from construction mishaps, particularly in the galley kitchen, that had to be addressed. Jonathan, one of the newest members of the SEED Homes team, has a strong background in flooring and did a masterful job in the passageway, kitchen, office and guest bedroom. 

The challenges with the floating bamboo floor in the house have caused the SEED Homes team to recommend some changes in the studio building. There will be no in-floor heating in Birdsong Studio 3.0. Instead, the floor will be nailed down and other heating methods will be utilized. The flooring and tiling will also be done in the shop and arrived fully completed.  

As a prototype building and on the front end of the development of processes and procedures of this new kind of modular construction, we have had to be patient. In a strange way, it's been fun (though at times deeply frustrating) to watch the lessons that are being learned along the way. With the conclusion of trim painting next week, we will be eager to fully settle in our new home. Before we know it, the big crane will return and Birdsong Studio 3.0 will arrive on site.
I can't wait to move my temporary painting space into the much larger studio. That'll be a day to celebrate.


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