It started with a squishy toilet – but now a Hammond couple is planning to lift their home, dig out the basement, and retrofit their home to make it as energy efficient as possible.
James Rowley and Leanne Koehn live in a house built by her grandfather in the 1920s, and the repairs they are planning will make it more structurally and environmentally sound.
It could be costly, but Rowley and Koehn feel it’s the right thing to do.
To make it happen, they are hoping to get a large number of like-minded homeowners and stakeholders together.
They’re holding a meeting Tuesday to hear a presentation about collaboratively retrofitting multiple homes to save money.
“We can’t wait for government to give the right incentive to do the right thing,” Rowley said.
With a heritage revitalization agreement for their home in the works with the District of Maple Ridge, the Rowley-Koehn family will have five years – if it is approved by Maple Ridge council – to complete the renovations.
They are hoping to bring together a group of people interested in retrofitting their homes and through economies of scale, bring down the costs significantly.
They are organizing a workshop on Tuesday, Feb. 5 with a green company, Now House, at Maple Ridge council chambers.
Rowley and Koehn have already added insulation to their home, and this brought down their heating bill considerably.
But the next step would be to insulate their basement, thereby making it lose less energy.
“I really want to do what’s right but I don’t feel we can do it on our own,” Rowley said.
Rowley and Koehn would like to see how uniting could work in Maple Ridge, and especially in their neighbourhood of Hammond.
While a focus of zero-energy technology has been on new homes, Now House has focused on retrofitting older homes, explained Lorraine Gauthier, team leader and project manager with Now House.
Rowley attended a seminar at SFU in October about Now House where Gauthier talked about the house retrofits in Windsor that were done.
Now House was able to retrofit a group of 95 houses at a substantially reduced cost.
When Now House did the home retrofits in Windsor, the first house cost $80,000 to fix. Next, they did five houses, and each one cost $45,000 to complete, Rowley explained.
When they then embarked on a project to retrofit 95 homes – albeit all similar post-Second-World-War homes – it cost $15,000 each to renovate.
“Based on the work in Windsor there are some basic guidelines that would assist a community contemplating a multi-residential retrofit community project,” Gauthier said. “A project would require multiple homes in order for suppliers and installers to provide discounts.”
But, she added, the homes need to be similar in size and layout, and the project needs the cooperation of local government, utilities, suppliers, builders, trades, and financial institutions.
Gauthier suggested the local meeting might be helpful for homeowners, but also for municipal government, utilities, and builders and contractors. While homeowners will benefit from lower heating bills, government and utilities can achieve conservation, emissions reduction, and job creation goals, Gauthier added.
In addition, “suppliers, builders, financial institutions will acquire new knowledge and will gain experience in green building retrofits, which will help them grow their businesses.”
The Now House presentation will take place on Tuesday, Feb. 5 from 6:30 to 8 p.m. at Maple Ridge council chambers, 11995 Haney Pl.