Finding a Builder

Most people we talked to about building a house told us: “Whatever you do, take your time finding a builder.” I guess Darcie and I don’t like to listen to most people. We chose our builder after approximately zero hours of looking and after interviewing exactly zero other potential candidates.

Shortly after we had first talked to Crystal Bueckert at BLDG Studio about Passive House, my mom, an interior designer who had worked as a project manager at the University of SK, told me, “You have to meet this guy, Murray Guy!”

Murray Guy runs a company called Integrated Designs Inc., a local engineering consulting company, who are involved in design, project management, energy modelling, and building commissioning, on high performance and energy efficient commercial and public buildings. Their focus is to “deliver sustainable designs that are efficient, practical, and cost-effective. The integrated design process was developed specifically to deliver high-performance, cost-effective building solutions.” Sounds good to me!

Murray and his son, Taylor Guy, a carpenter by trade, have started an umbrella company called Eco-Smart Developments that uses the skill, knowledge and extensive experience of Integrated Designs Inc., to now build green, sustainable and energy-efficient residential houses.

However, we didn’t know this at the time.

My mom had simply said we needed to meet this Guy and discuss our ideas (she didn’t know he was involved in building homes either). Sure enough she called him up and told him about our plans to build a Net Zero house based on Passive House principles. He told her, “Oh, well then they have to come over and see the Net Zero house I just built. What are they doing tonight?”

After touring his house and discussing our plans we realized that this Guy was awesome! He was super-knowledgeable, very passionate, and was willing and able to build a house for us. He and Taylor had already assembled a crew of tradespeople who they trusted and could therefore eliminate the inefficiencies in time, cost, and materials of multiple trades coming into and out of a project.

Particularly with a Passive House, it is critical that all parties involved in the building of the house from the designer to the plumber to the dry waller and everyone in between, need to understand the overall goals of the house – that is, high performance and ultra-low energy. Minor mistakes (putting a hole in the vapour barrier, for example) become huge issues in an extremely efficient house. Eco-Smart had already taken steps to eliminate this by having a crew already assembled and on the same page.

Additionally, we had heard time and time again, about how difficult it was to get contractors out to rural areas. Murray and Taylor were not only willing to do the job but were excited about the potential project. Their excitement increased when they said a couple weeks later that we should take a drive and check out our property.

The following week, Darcie and I, Murray, Murray’s wife, Taylor and our dog, piled into my Subaru and drove out. They were thrilled about the site, the view and the possibilities. (Also they were the ones that suggested we put a yurt out on our site as they had built one on their property at Candle Lake where they’d built their cabin [the first Eco-Smart project]).

So that was how we chose a builder. I don’t know what the big deal is for everyone else. It was pretty easy I thought.


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