Friday, May 29, 2009

Building with our own wood

Today's post is a plea for help. : )

This new land we are planning to build our house on has a 60 acre forest. It would make sense to use at least a bit of this wood in the building of our house. Unfortunately, having never harvested our own wood, we don't know where to start!

So to people reading this who are in the Ottawa area. Please let me know if this is something you have ever done, and how we should go about doing it. (who can help do the actual work)

I know that wood has to dry a certain amount of time before it can be used, so we think we are limited to using our own wood for trim work and the like (if at all). Still, that would be something. : )

Any pointers would be greatly appreciated.

Green building, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Thank you La Leche League!

I am now 8 months pregnant and really starting to think about life with the new baby (our third child). Nursing the baby is a given by now but I must thank the La Leche League women who helped me out the first time around. Without them, I would never have managed I am sure. We had so many little problems that could have gotten really big had I not had excellent expert advice!

But I find myself wanting to thank them as well for pointing me in the direction of sustainable living. Not that sustainable living is a goal of La Leche League but it definitely is a consequence of being part of the organisation! I mean, when you think about it, you can't get a much more local source of food than a mother's milk! Thanks to tricks I picked up from other moms in this group, I also learned how to make my own baby food, how to use cloth diapers, and where to find great used stuff for children. It's also from other moms in the group that I first heard of Natural Infant Hygiene as well as of masonry heaters (yes very divers topics of discussion in these groups) .

So yes, La Leche League is a sustainable living organisation! Who knew?!?

Green building, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada

Thursday, May 21, 2009

The most mind-boggling gardening book ever!

About three years ago, my husband and I cleaned out a room to make way for our new baby. It was basically wall to wall books. We then went to used book stores to sell our books. That is when we made a discovery that, being the book lovers that we were (and still are), astounded us. Used books are worthless! We resolved then and there to stop buying books (and only get books from the library)! We amended our resolution shortly after to: only buy books that we thought would be used often enough that it would be inconvenient to get from the library.

So why am I telling you this? Because I am in the process of reading the most mind-boggling gardening book ever! I am SO impressed with this book in fact that I decided that this will be my new way of gardening. And even beyond that? I decided to buy the book and the other books written by the same author as well. That is how impressed I am!

The book: THE WINTER HARVEST HANDBOOK by Eliot Coleman.

Mister Coleman, as far as I can tell is a gardener turned farmer. He lives in the state of Maine (so a very similar climate to ours) and grows vegetables year round on his farm in unheated green house. He explains in his book that he has always loved reading gardening books. Now, some years ago, he read that the city of Paris used to be completely self-sufficient in it's vegetable production. He new that Paris had the same amount of winter light hours that his garden got during the winter so it gave him an idea. He wondered if the plants that grew over there during the winter could grow over here during the winter. It's colder here, but we get the same amount of sun. So off he went to Europe to visit winter gardens.

He found out that only specific vegetables grew during the winter in Europe. The next logical step was to try growing them here in cold frames. It worked! Unfortunately, he found that digging cold frames out of the snow was a bit inconvenient, so he decided to put a green house over his frames. This turned out to be a stroke of genius! Now he farms during the winter with much bigger green houses. Inside, he now uses spun row covers instead of cold frames. Oh! And this is all done using organic gardening techniques!

Like I said, this is going to be my new way of gardening!

Green building, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada

Saturday, May 16, 2009

We have our architects!

So how did we go about finding them?

Well, we started off by getting recommendations from people in the "green building" world. We then did telephone interviews and finally met with 2 firms. We then asked to get proposals from both firms. We had lots of questions so there was quite a long series of back and forth emailing and phone calls. But now, a couple months later, we have finally made up our minds as to who we are going to work with. Yey!

The firm is called "Live Architecture" (pronounced like give not hive). They need to work on their web-site but at least you have their email if you want to contact them. : )

They are a husband (Laszlo Mohacsi) and wife (Teresa Hanna) team and they are totally devoted to "green" building. We have now had a few meetings with them and we always come back totally reved-up and excited about our project. I think working with them is going to be a blast.

Last week we had our first site visit with them and we also went to the "Passive House" presentation together. It was really nice to have an educational/social evening with people we are going to be working so closely together with.

Next step: meeting with Malcolm, Teresa and Laszlo.

Then I think we need to find a contractor pretty early on so he can be part of the team as well.

Also, I think I have also found a landscaper who could help us out but I have yet to meet him in person. We have to wait for his spring planting rush to be over.

So now what do we do? We collect pictures we like of everything that can be found in a house, and of the outside as well.

Still lots of research to do!

Green building, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada

Monday, May 11, 2009

The Bookmobile stops in front of our lot!

For those outside of Ottawa, the bookmobile is like a portable library. It's basically a library in a bus.

Well, we were just at our lot and while we were there, the bus stoped at the school that is in front of our lot.

Are you kidding me!?! We are library super-users! I can't believe we will have our books delivered to our door (or just about) when we move out to the country!

This just keeps getting better and better!

Green building, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Have you ever checked out the CMHC web site?

My experience with the CMHC, until recently, had been limited to mortgage insurance, but about one month ago I discovered that they do much more than that.

I went to their web-site after one of my blog readers suggested it to me and I must say I was quite impressed with what I found. I ordered a few documents from the CMHC and I have just started looking through them. All I can say is wow!

Many of their documents are free too!

I ordered a few that had fees as well and I can't wait to start reading them. I'm particularly looking forward to these two: "Healthy Housing Renovation Planner" and "Tap The Sun", both of which will be quite relevant to our project.

Green building, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada