When the homeowners envisioned renovating a home where contemporary aesthetics intersect with high-performance, it made sense to partner with former colleague and Residential Designer, Ryan Hoyt of Ryan Hoyt Design. After previously working with Hoyt at Read Jones Christoffersen Ltd (where the husband is a Managing Principal), the couple was confident in their collaboration to finely tune a modern design while reducing the home’s overall ecological footprint. With energy costs on the rise and a legitimate concern for the environment, the owners wanted to design an energy efficient/post-disaster prototype without sacrificing on style.
After selling their century-old, two-story house on the Gorge, the couple bought a classic 1960’s Gordon Head split level with strong bones. Set on a gorgeous tree-lined property with ocean views, the couple fell in love with the landscape and had a progressive vision for the home. Preserving the existing foundation, the dwelling received both a design and energy efficiency overhaul making it a leader in high-performance homes. The result of this design collaboration is a three bedroom, three bathroom 2300-square-foot west coast contemporary home boasting a powerful eco-sensibility.
“To bring the facade a more contemporary feel, the exterior was adorned in contrasting cladding materials and faux ‘build-outs’ to create interest and shadow lines. We sought a high contrast exterior with a black metal roof and flashings, black tilt-and-turn windows against light acrylic stucco, natural fine line cedar and a charcoal stacked stone veneer. An embellished fascia/eave profile with a hidden gutter gives the simple roof lines striking definition even with very classic architectural stylings,” say the owners. The awkward wraparound deck was transformed into a private patio with a more modern entry canopy to break up the facade and provide cover.
In terms of performance goals, the house was designed as a Part 3 Building (Complex Design). The structure is 50% beyond Part 4 (Structural Design) requirements of the building code and is classified as a post-disaster building. The building envelope is designed via Part 5 (Environmental Separation) and utilizes split insulated vapour controlled assemblies to provide a level of performance beyond new high-efficiency standards such as the City of Vancouver’s new R22 Effective Requirements.
The entire house from the foundation up is exterior insulated with stone wool (Roxul). A vapour permeable, self-adhesive air/moisture membrane (Soprema) applied to the exterior sheathing provides an elevated level of airtightness and controls vapour transfer. Closed cell spray foam insulation was used at all exterior wall/roof transitions and also in the garage ceiling to maintain continuity of the air and thermal barrier. Triple pane windows, doors and skylights are utilized throughout to maintain a consistently elevated level of performance. Read Jones Christoffersen was the Coordinating Registered Professional and provided the letters of assurance for the structural and envelope design.
“The design challenge was to transform the main floor into a spacious open concept while maintaining the energy reduction objectives of a high-performance house. The split-level layout was quite functional for the homeowners but typical of the era, the rooms were too small and disconnected from one another,” states Hoyt.
The centralized kitchen with no upper cabinets allows for open sight lines from every angle and creates a calming atmosphere for main floor living. A floor-to-ceiling pantry with barn door hardware adds plenty of storage while keeping kitchen clutter at bay. To maximize natural light, skylights were added to the main and upper floors. The combination of pale grey walls, shaker-style solid wood cabinetry, granite countertops, and recessed lighting retains the home’s contemporary feel.
Rake windows and double glass doors create a dialogue with the outdoors and flood the kitchen in natural light. The European-style tilt and turn windows open by either tilting the top inwards or swinging the window open into the room. All of the windows and exterior doors have multi-point locking mechanisms offering superior air tightness and water resistance. Widely used in colder climates, triple glazing matches the standard of insulation in the rest of the house so that the air-tight envelope performs consistently.
Mosaic tile backsplash in shades of blue and grey speak to the home’s ocean views. Energy efficient appliances were carefully selected to keep energy costs down. The upper level enjoys three bedrooms with two bathrooms while the lower level completes the home with a rec room, laundry, bathroom, utility room, mud room and garage.
German-made textured laminate flooring was chosen for its durability. With its varying tones of grey, EuroStyle’s Bedrock Oak anchors the home’s colour scheme and was used throughout the house to create a seamless sense of flow. Beneath the flooring, concrete topping controls deflection and assists in moderating temperature fluctuations (heat sink). For locations where there is slab on grade, existing concrete was removed and replaced so that insulation could be installed beneath all heated areas.
In the main living area, the gas fireplace with high gloss tile surround becomes the focal point and reflects the natural light from the ocean-facing feature window.
The front entry stairs lead directly up to the main floor. All stairs in the house are edged with LED lighting.
Reframing the roof upstairs and introducing rake head windows increased the ceiling height in the bedrooms giving the existing cozy bedrooms a more spacious feel. Built-ins maximize square footage and maintain the home’s streamlined flow.
“By far, this home has the most high-performance building enclosure I have seen installed in a single family dwelling. Most of the time we pursue the aesthetic and end up with the bare minimum of high performance ‘behind the walls’ features. However, in this concept-driven home, we ticked all the boxes of both an aesthetically pleasing product and high-performance design,” says Hoyt. Not only is it a livable layout but it is a beautiful example of how modern finishing materials can transform a fifty-year-old house without totally blowing up the existing lines. Together, Hoyt and the owners optimized the dwelling to significantly reduce the amount of energy the home consumes which has already resulted in massive savings — their highest monthly gas consumption to date was $19.