BC Electrification by 2030. How would affect your home?

Building electrifications by 2030! How can we achieve that?

Several companies and local municipalities are combining forces to electrify buildings in BC by 2030. Clean BC (a provincial government organization), BC Hydro, B2E are a few big names committing.

With this news, all new buildings and existing ones should switch from fossil fuel heat sources to electricity. Meanwhile, all new buildings will have to follow higher building standards that require less energy for heating and cooling as well as to use only electricity as their energy source. So, developers are required to get ahead of the curve by making changes now.

Severe environmental impact in our province!

We are experiencing climate change in BC in the summer with the heat waves and the colder season with the atmospheric river-type rainfalls. This trend will not stop soon, and it might worsen, so it is crucial to prepare. Reducing the carbon footprint might lessen the severity of the storms. 

This action will include removing as many internal combustion engines on the road as possible and replacing them with electric vehicles.

This sounds like a solid plan and good for our society in general, but how will they do it?

myenergi-or5HkqJffHY-unsplash
Photo by myenergi on Unsplash

Governments are taking action!

The good news is that BC Hydro is offering up to $10K grants to homeowners who make their homes energy-efficient (check BC Hydro rebates for the home grant).

The organizations mentioned above are proposing the use of an electric heat source heat pump that can generate heat and cool simultaneously. It sounds incredible, right? You will remove your natural gas furnace and install a smaller electric unit inside your mechanical room and an external compressor in your yard. You will have heat during the cold seasons and cool air during the hot season. It is practical and useful. But it costs over $15k to install one in each home.

This is the best-case scenario and could reduce our carbon footprint and I see across the board suggested by the governments so far. What I see as trouble down the road is the following: (applies for single-family homes):

  • The heat pump compressors units (external unit) which are installed in the yard are noisy and imagine every single home has one in their yard, and they work simultaneously; what would be the noise level they create! Everyone whose neighbour installed one can testify that the noise of only one unit can be annoying. What would happen if all the houses in the block installed these units? We solved one issue but created another one.
heat pump
  • The external units take space, and most of the time, people must install them on the side yard, so it is not visible nor gets damaged by foot traffic. The side yards are primarily used for foot traffic to access the backyard from the street. Installing the unit in the side yard will reduce the yard’s width. In some cases, minimum side yard widths are required for firefighters’ access, so installing this unit will not be available for some homeowners.
  • We must install an electric vehicle charging station in our house to charge our electrical vehicle, at the same time installing an electric heat pump will add more load to the grid. BC Hydro mentioned that they don’t have any concerns about added load to the grid for the next ten years as they have enough power to supply, and they leave the problem to solve after the decade has passed by the next generation.
  • BC Hydro charges its subscribers on the steps billing system, and if customers use over 1,350 kWh, they will be charged $12.75 / kWh. That’s why many subscribers are afraid of using the electric source heating system as the cost goes up dramatically. Including myself, after charging my EV at home, my electric bill jumped by over $70/month and expecting more.

As a home designer, I tried to convince my clients to go all electric and avoid using fossil fuel in homes to reduce our carbon footprint within the last 10 years or so. Still, I face this obstacle with every client – natural gas is cheaper, and electricity is too expensive. So, they don’t want to make the switch to electricity because of the cost associated with it.

After talking to BC Hydro, they mentioned they know about the issue and are thinking about it. So, how can BC Hydro and the BC government expect the consumers to make the move when they don’t support them nor remove the obstacles.

I attended many webinars regarding these new initiatives the government is taking. I noticed how specific they are when offering heat pumps as the best option. I agree with the tremendous benefits of this system can offer. However, I don’t think that it is the government’s job to lead/push towards a specific system over any other solutions.

I’ve seen some builders/homeowners go fully electric in a much more efficient way than installing a heat pump system. Instead, they installed electric, solar panels on their roof to produce electricity for the entire home. They installed individual units for heating and cooling. (This system requires an upgrade to HRV system as well)

When I presented this idea in the meetings, they dismissed it as it seemed not viable. This system is at work in many other parts of the world, including areas similar to the BC climate as well as colder claimants.

It is less dependent on the grid, clean energy and requires minimum effort to transfer power from the source to the consumer.

The public needs bolder and stronger support!

BC Hydro net metering system can help homeowners use the grid as their backup when not generating the power. At the same time, generating electricity helps the grid when the system needs more electricity when commercial consumption is higher during the day. Most importantly, we won’t need to rely on building more dams to generate electricity for the next generations.

BC Hydro and the government are offering millions of dollars toward educating and switching to heat pumps. Instead, they could facilitate the distribution and installation of solar panels to beautify them and make them more accessible for consumers.

I was thinking of installing a system for my own house. Still, after reviewing the supply and installation cost, I put a pause on it for the time being. It is absolutely in my future plan to install a solar system in my house and encourage my clients to make similar changes to make a greener and cleaner BC for all of us. I’m waiting for the government and other organizations, including BC Hydro, to be more diversified and open to other ideas and options rather than being single-minded.

solar panel vancouver
Photo by Jamie Davies on Unsplash

We are all working toward a better community. We can do it by opening the floor for dialogue and listening to all the ideas on the table.

 

Contact us if you need to know more about how can you make a difference and make your home energy effiectint.

Vancouver Bylaw Changes

west vancouver zoning changes

What are the changes in Vancouver Bylaw, and how would it affect on your project?

The city of Vancouver is going under new changes on the VBBL starting on January 1st, 2022.

Some of the changes are for new home constructions and some can affect the renovations as well. How would these changes affect your project?

The city of Vancouver is changing Vancouver Building Bylaw to improve energy efficiency and reduce emissions for new lowrise homes on the new lowrise buildings (single-family homes, laneway homes and infills).
That can be achieved by improving the performance of the homes. A simple explanation for this is that they are moving away from natural gas heating sources in homes. By electrification of the domestic hot water and space heating systems, the new homes will be more energy-efficient and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. 

Use of an electric heat source heat pump which can produce heat during cold weather and cooling during hot weather is encouraged.
 The move is to build homes to energy step code four standards, making homes more airtight with higher R-value on the building envelope; specifically, the new changes apply to the roofing systems.

If you are planning to construct a new house after January 2022, these changes will affect your project.

You might ask, “what about a renovation?”
If your renovation is not major, like replacing a bathroom, kitchen or small interior renovation, these changes will not affect your project.
However, if you are adding floor area or the roof is being affected by these renovations, the new bylaw has to be followed. As per walls, the city would ask to improve the performance of the walls and the house in general anyway.

heat pump
A heat pum unit installed outside a house.
Heat recovery system
https://organicnaturalpaint.co.uk/

Home recovery ventilation system is commonly used these days in the city of Vancouver and it will be mandatory in all newly constructed homes.
It helps to circulate the air throughout the house, and it will reduce the waste of energy by reusing the conditioned air within the house and combining it with fresh air.
The air quality in homes with HRV is much better and improved and will reduce the need to use individual fans in each bathroom.

If you are thinking of building your new home or renovating it after January 2022, stay in touch with us and take advantage of our 30 minutes free consultations to learn about your options.

We also offer a low-cost consultation which gives you a roadmap of what to expect before getting into more extensive commitments.
All you need to do is fill the form below, and we will contact you to arrange a time to talk or meet.

 

 

The Exciting news about Laneway Homes, Coach Homes

Exciting news about Laneway homes/ Coach homes

Have you spotted these small homes showing up where there used to be a garage? They are Laneway Homes and they are becoming quite the thing. The concept of a Laneway House is very compelling. Small, well designed spaces we can use for a family member to live in (Aging In Place), or a space to rent out as a mortgage helper or a beautiful fresh space to downsize into while you rent out your original home on the property. In this article, we’re going to take a look at what’s possible in the world of Laneway Homes.

 

The exciting news is that the district of West Vancouver joined other Lower Minuciplaities and starting January 2022, will accept the construction of Coach Homes in any single family lots as part of their new bylaw changes!

 

The question remains, How to start a laneway home/ coach home project?

First let’s ask - What is a Laneway Home?

A laneway house, coach house, garden suite or accessory dwelling unit is a suite built within a single family lot which is not connected directly to the main dwelling, but cannot be separated, stratified or sold separately. They will share the same main water line, sewer and storm line. Laneway Homes should have their own meter and are generally built for long term residency

Here’s the fun stuff that will make you want one!

Laneway homes and accessory units became very popular within the last 10 years because of the options they have to offer. The return on investment is attractive when balanced with the costs of construction. Basically, if you have a lot that qualifies for a laneway home, well it’s like a lottery ticket to generate passive income for years to come. Our expert team of designers focuses on design ideas to create a set of drawings that makes clever use of all spaces to provide a smaller space that feels expansive. We inject design features and finishes that excite and give that #aah feeling of “being home”.

Working with clients is where we shine….we define your style and mix it with our expertise. Whatever your objectives are…..renting, downsizing, Aging In Place…..your satisfaction is our goal.

West Vancouver coach homes
Photo Credit to: Tierra Mallorca
So, what can you do with a laneway home?
  • You can rent it out and collect residual income 
  • You can have your loved ones living close by to enjoy their company and help out the younger generation
  • You can have a senior parent Aging In Place 
  • You can move into a new smaller home when it’s time to downsize and rent out the bigger house to enhance your retirement income

So what’s possible within the building envelope?

The size of an accessory unit (laneway home) depends on several factors and the most important of all depends on which municipality your lot is in.

 

In Vancouver standard lots are about 640+-sf. and for a larger lot up to 950+- sf. The city of North Vancouver allows an even larger home, up to 1,000 sf. At this stage, it’s time to do your due diligence. To get a better idea of what’s possible for you can take advantage of the free 30 min consultation and we will help you to get a better idea of the process and your options.

Vancouver laneway home
image bank>sotck photos>pexels-cottonbro

Important bits to know

  • Regulations around feasibility (lot size, parking rules, etc) Each municipality has different rules about the lot size, the set-backs and the parking requirements.!
  • Discuss costs – when would you use high end finishes, or be more economical (ie: rental unit vs Aging in Place option)
  • Is there an impact to property taxes? Property tax will be calculated based on the value of the lot and the value of the buildings on it. The value added to your property will more than offset the rise in property taxes. 
  • The size of the structure impacts the project costs less than other issues. The issues that impact the budget are infrastructure considerations such as services, demolition, excavations and essential structure of the building. A few hundred extra square feet won’t make a huge difference to cost. There will of course be an increase in materials and labour which will be directly related to the number of square feet. 
  • Another important factor that impacts costs is the finishing and style of the home. Most homes today are built with high performance standards. These are important issues to discuss with your designer.

In the preconstruction stage the cheapest company often ends up the most expensive one. Oftentimes people will try to by-pass the input of a designer or engineer, not understanding that at this integral stage expert input can make the project more affordable in the short term and the long run. A professional design will give the contactors iron clad drawings to work from. This will make the most out of small spaces so every square foot matters. Input from a professional designer will point the way to the most cost efficient, effective finishes and choices for the project.

What are the first steps?

Book the 30 min free consultation with our lead designer Aryo and leave the rest to us. We will make sure you are taken care of as we offer a 100% customer satisfaction guarantee.

Will Changes to West Vancouver’s By-Laws affect your plans?

Will Changes to West Vancouver’s By-Laws affect your plans?

You may have heard about the West Vancouver zoning changes. These new zoning by-law changes are going to affect what is possible when building a new home in West Vancouver. If a new build is on your radar you NEED to be aware of this. As of January 31, 2022 these changes will become law. 

We all know that ownership of land doesn’t mean you can do what you want with it and from time to time the rules get changed. Well, that’s what’s going on now and as Home Designers it is our responsibility to be up to date on what the changes are and how they will impact your project. The My Home Designer team can advise clients about what they can do and more importantly, what they can’t do as these changes come into effect.

Some of the zoning changes will enhance the beauty and walkability of our neighbourhoods. For instance, there are new opportunities for Secondary Suites, Coach Houses and Laneway Homes, in addition to neighbourhood beautification guidelines…..

west vancouver zoning changes

Floor Area Ration

However, in this article we are focusing on the changes to Floor Area Ratio (FAR). At My Home Designer, we are looking at what those changes will mean for you as you design your home. 

With the looming deadline, there is still time to complete your design and have it submitted for approval before these restrictions become law.

Here are the changes in point form:

  • The recommendations call for a reduction in the FAR for new houses from the current 0.35 to 0.30 on lots larger than 7,285 sq. ft. 
  • For lots between 4,500 sq. ft. and 7,285 sq. ft., the buildable area for the house would be a fixed 2,200 sq. ft, reduced from 2,550 sq. ft.
  • To encourage housing diversity, the working group suggested a bonus FAR for a secondary suite of up to 500 sq. ft. or a 0.05 FAR bonus, whichever is less. 
  • Coach houses are recommended to come at FAR bonus of 800 sq. ft. or 0.10 FAR, whichever is less.
west vancouver architect

What can you do about it?

It’s time to act and let us help you with your home design by providing architectural and interior design drawings for your dream home project. 

Of course, our expert team, at My Home Designer will create an architectural masterpiece in West Vancouver by taking a deep dive into your desire and expectations of your life ahead. 

If you need to learn more about this we would love to hear from you. You can book a free consultation with our expert designer Aryo Falakrou. Aryo will be able to answer all of your questions and support you in the next steps.