A postcard from Canada
Neither Robert Herman nor Scott Mooney is a builder. Nor are they architects. But the Canadian duo took on the challenge of designing their own super-eco home – and won.
|Taking inspiration from Australian designs, Herman and Mooney have taken green living to the max. Even a two-ton glacial boulder that was unearthed during excavation of the build was not discarded, but instead transformed into a landscape feature.
The pair live in Niagara-on-the-Lake, in Ontario, where the climate is one of extremes. The couple used their own research, brave designs and lightweight materials to create a modern home that suits the changeable weather conditions.
Starting from scratchHerman and Mooney’s project began as a piece of land with nothing on it but two ramshackle old sheds.
Designing their dream eco home was a learning curve. to say the least. They wanted something modern, as well as something green – and so it was to Australia they turned for inspiration. “We read every Australian home magazine we could find, as we were impressed by the forward-thinking, modern, green designs we found,” explains retired art teacher Herman. “Canada is sadly lagging behind in this respect. Very few buildings around here are modern – we wanted to shake that up a bit.”
The drew up their plans, with some help in the latter stages from one of Herman’s graduate students, who transferred their drawings to a CAD program. “I have designed a house once before, about 15 years ago,” says Herman. “We also built a 600ft addition on the back of our last house. Through doing these things, we learnt a bit about designing and building.”
When the plans were approved, builder Mark Holmes, of Brock Builders, was appointed and the build began – a smooth process that took seven months.
Bungalow livingTo maximise efficient heating and cooling, Herman and Mooney’s home is a bungalow. Eco features include an open plan ‘great room’ that minimised building materials and makes heating and cooling more effective, as well as a recyclable metal roof, cross ventilation and large south-west facing windows to capitalise on passive solar heat.
Wanting to be as eco-friendly as possible, the pair sought out much of the materials themselves. Herman says: “We sourced the metal roof ourselves, from a local Canadian company, and got it pre-fitted so there wasn’t any wastage.”
They also researched and sourced the James Hardie PanelClad® stucco sheets themselves. “We wanted the look of a stucco finish, but that costs a fortune here, so this way we achieved that modern look within budget,” added Herman.
A local winnerTo boot, the project was accomplished within the CA$325,000 ($322,100) budget. “We wanted to make our home as eco-friendly and green as we could, within our budget,” said Herman. “I think we did pretty good.”
The pair say they love living in the house – and they loved the process of designing it from scratch. So much so, they are already thinking about their next project.
“Within the next couple of years, I think we might well do it again,” said Herman. “The challenge of being able to do something again and maybe somehow improve on it is exciting.”
FactsDesigner: Robert Herman and Scott Mooney
Builder: Brock Builders
Location: Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario, Canada
This is an abbreviated version of an article first published in the Light Home Winter 2012 magazine. Read the full article by downloading the free Light Home magazine.