This summer, a couple embarked on the construction of a so-called “passive” house, that is to say, with very low energy consumption. From the first sketches to the handing over of the keys, we follow his project in Ham-Sud, in the Eastern Townships, in three stages. In this second part*, we look at the construction of the residence.
Nathalie Larouche and Philippe Candelier spent a… constructive summer. Alongside the workers who have been erecting their future passive house in Ham-Sud since the spring, they have invested themselves in the work, tackling various complementary tasks. But basically, the plan goes off without a hitch.
“It’s a real marathon, but we appreciate the fact of not being in self-construction, because there are a lot of details to settle”, confides the couple from the construction site, in Estrie. The long-distance race started a few months earlier, with the excavation, then the pouring of the concrete slab, in May, before the assembly of the walls and the framework, in June. In early July, once the tin roof was in place, the house was considered “out of water”, i.e. sheltered from the weather. This was followed by the polishing of the concrete slab, following the casting which had resulted in some irregularities; operation that lasted nearly two weeks. Finally, the workers’ holidays at the end of July opened a parenthesis… but not for everyone.
Indeed, in the absence of the workers, Nathalie and Philippe continued to make their contribution to the building, by continuing their interventions on the site. “Sealing is our new religion!” “says Nathalie, who rolled out dozens of square meters of adhesive tape and membranes.
“They are different from regular Duct Tape, more premium and durable, but also more expensive. But they are guaranteed for 100 years! », completes Philippe.
During the construction holidays, the couple therefore had “homework to do”, including the installation of a breathable membrane, more efficient than the current polythene. “It opens or closes depending on the temperature, which allows the walls to breathe during the summer and block the vapor during the winter,” explain the future owners of the house. Thus, the latter had to cover the interior areas in their entirety, sealing all the sections of membrane between them. A real headache! However, they will leave it to the professionals to install them on the ceiling, the task being more difficult. When we spoke to them, Nathalie and Philippe were expecting the start of the insulation operations any day now, with the injection of cellulose into the structure.
Just as in the preparation of the plans, having to deal with the characteristics of a passive house posed some challenges during the construction itself. “Things were new to them, as they were to us. It happened that the carpenters met in caucus to discuss certain particular achievements because they had never done this type, and asked our opinion. But all the problems have been solved”, says the couple, citing the example of the installation of specific membranes and other particular products with which professionals are not used to working.
Despite these occasional little headaches, the passive residence is taking shape and should conform to the wishes of future occupants. On the other hand, the schedule initially planned risks overflowing by a few weeks, and ending at the beginning of autumn and not at the end of August. A not very practical situation, since Nathalie and Philippe will have already had to leave their house in Longueuil before their new home is finished. “We’re going to have to store our things in the garage while we wait,” they resign themselves. Fortunately, they have a trailer in which they sleep when they participate in the construction site and where they can stay while waiting for the housewarming party – which will be the subject of the third and final part of this series.
Until then, they should also receive a visit from a couple wishing to carry out a similar project in the vicinity of Granby. Not surprisingly, since many La Presse readers seemed intrigued or inspired by the passive house concept. To be continued !
According to the Écohabitation organization, it is a residence that uses little energy to remain comfortable all year round. It is its orientation and its structure maximizing solar radiation as well as its thermal insulation and its sealing which allow it to reduce its heating needs significantly, even in winter. The passive house concept remains variable from one project to another.