September 14, 2018 by [email protected] 0 Comments

North Shore Municipalities Adopt the Energy Step Code

North Shore Municipalities Adopt the Energy Step Code

North Shore municipalities adopted the Energy Step Code for new homes on July 1, 2018. What does this mean for homeowners or new home buyers?

The Step Code is an amendment to the existing BC Building Code and focuses on air tightness and insulation for new houses and is a five-step process. At this time, municipalities require homeowners to comply with step 3 of the code. That means houses that are built now on will be 20% more efficient and by the year 2032, all new homes will be required to implement all five steps. This will make the houses Net-Zero (or Net-Zero ready), which will be explained later in this article.

Under the new system, Architects/Designers will be free to recommend any wall/ roof or floor assembly for the house construction, as long as they can prove it meets the requirements of the Step of Energy Code they are aiming for.

Additionally, a certified government energy advisor will be required to advise on the assembly detail and run the tests to make sure the builder has achieved appropriate airtightness in the house.

What does airtightness do?

When our homes are heated or cooled by our mechanical systems installed in the house, the temperature difference between the inside and the outside the house will create a negative or positive pressure which forces the air inside or outside the house. This means any hole will cause a draft that pushes the conditioned (or heated) air outside. Think of the gap between your door and the floor; if we’re cooling the home in the summer, our cool air is seeping out under the door. The same happens in the winter with our heat, if we don’t block that gap between the door and the floor. This means we are cooling or heating the neighbourhood with the lost energy, which translates to money leaving our wallets.

Evolution in Building Techniques

Decades ago, home builders were building homes with a 2×4 structure, exterior clad with lath and plaster inside. Typically, the houses were smaller and occupancy was higher, but with the changes in our society, the houses have gotten bigger and bigger with occupancy shrinking.

Later, the Building Code came into force and required more insulation in the exterior envelope, which required houses to be constructed with a 2×6 structure. The lack of proper air barriers caused mold to develop and most windows, doors, floor junctions with walls and bay windows had a draft.

Now we are in new era of building techniques and technologies that helps us to build more comfortable homes.

The amount of insulation required for Step Three of the energy code is greater than the 5.5” cavity in a 2×6 structure. As a result, many designers have suggested adding a 2” insulation layer to the outer layer of the assembly before installing the siding. This method proves the required insulation value can be achieved.

Personally, my preference is to make the change from a 2×6 structure to a 2×8 one, which will provide enough room for the required insulation value. The reason for this is because when the insulation is installed on the outer layer of the house, rainscreen strips have to be installed to create airflow (to avoid water damage). The contractor has to screw the strips through 2” of insulation to 1/2”- 5/8” sheathing, which in my opinion, don’t have enough of a grip to hold on. More importantly, the building façade is connected to the building through these strips.

So that’s why I prefer the 2X8 structure which gives the total wall assembly the same thickness as the other method and provides stronger connection of facade to the structure.

Netzero home

Netzero home


Since the new buildings have very little air flow from outside because of airtight construction the indoor air has to maintain in high quality. That’s when HRV (Heat Recovery Ventilation) or ERV (Energy Recovery Ventilation) systems come to the rescue. These systems work around the clock in our homes to make sure the right amount of fresh air is coming into the house and the indoor air is flowing to help prevent the growth of mold in a damp environment. They also help the heated or cooled air to be distributed evenly throughout the house, making the entire house comfortable.

This would be a little different for smaller or laneway houses, which might use passive ventilation by requiring the bathroom fan to operate 24/7 along with a fresh air intake to maintain the air flow in the house.

Certified Energy Adviser (CEA)

Prior to the submission of blueprints to the municipality, the Step Code requires a Certified Energy Adviser (CEA) to confirm the exterior walls, roof, and floor assembly meet the Step Code requirements. Additionally, during construction, the CEA will do a series of tests to make sure the builder is on track to meet the requirements.

In the City of Vancouver, it is required to have an air blow test done by the CEA after the insulation has been installed, but prior to drywall going up. The CEA is required to provide the final report to environment Canada after the house is built, but prior to the occupancy permit being issued.

Construction Standards

Over the last 50 years many different standards that have been established to provide guidelines and standards to build more energy efficient houses. R2000, Built Green, LEED and Passive House are some of the most recognizable ones and some of them are on a point system that considers the entire construction process and practice. Included in the points that can be collected is the way the builder runs his/her site in terms of efficiencies in manpower, equipment, and recycling, to name a few.

Passive House is the most recent standard that has been introduced to North America from Europe. It is focused on achieving net-zero homes by designing the house with the appropriate house direction toward to sun, windows and door sizes, locations, exterior shell assembly, and airtightness. The wall thickness of a Passive House reaches up to 12” and up.

What is a Net-Zero House and How Can it be Achieved?

Step three and four of the Energy Step Code provide guidelines to achieve higher airtightness and more insulation so we use less energy to heat or cool our homes. However, the ultimate goal is to build homes that can produce the energy it consumes.

That means the power to heat/cool, to provide domestic hot water, to run small and large appliances are produced by the solar panels installed on the house or by a windmill connected to the house or any other renewable energy methods.

Is it more expensive to build? Absolutely, but, in the long run, it pays for itself and at the same time it is more comfortable to live in.

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What are the services of Home design company

I’m surprised to know many of people who I encounter with in our profession don’t know what are the services of a home design company.

A home designer (architect) helps home owners or contractors at the initial stages of a house renovation or new house construction.

Or if a home owner has a lot that can be subdivided, we can help as well. Tenant improvement applications for an existing restaurant, retail, office or daycare are other examples of work we offer.

The following is the breakdown of services:


We offer design, blueprint and architectural drawings for the following:

Deck Addition
Garage-Carport construction
Secondary Suite
Minor Interior Renovation
Interior Renovation with Exterior changes
Interior renovation for Larger homes (3800 sq.ft.+)
Addition to existing house
Major Addition to existing house

New Home design

Laneway House
House Design up to 3000 sq.ft.
House Design up to 5000 sq.ft.
House Design more than 5000 sq.ft.

Tenant Improvements

Retails, Warehouses, Offices

Subdivisions & Rezoning

Double lot subdivision
Board of Variance


We help our clients by hiring the required engineers during the permitting process.
Survey Engineer
Structure engineer
Geo Tech Engineer
Energy Advisier

Permit followup

Permit Follow-up for construction permit, development permit, tenant improvement permit, board of variance or subdivisions

Interior Detailed Design

Interior Detailed Design for hotels, restaurants, luxury homes

Project Management

Project Management for larger project which needs overseeing the projects


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Daycare designer

Sales Professional Building Industry Needed

Sales Professional Building Industry Needed:

Seeking sales professionals to approach Construction company owners, real estate agents or home owners and sell them our design (blueprint) services

We offer competitive commission structure, Earn $70K if you’re good, and way more if you’re great!

This is a commission based job for a period of 2 months trial and you will get secured monthly income of $3K + commission as soon as you bring three clients per month.


$500 +- Per client (who sign a contract)

About Us

We are a home design company specialized on design and production of blue prints for new homes. Renovation, tenant improvement and subdivisions.

We help contractors and construction companies with their customers who need blueprints and building permit, or home owners who are looking for building new homes, adding a laneway house in their yard, building a garage, adding a secondary suite, or any other renovation that requires building permit.

Responsibilities For Sales Professionals

  • Seek out and visit construction companies in Vancouver, Burnaby, North shore Coquitlam or New Westminster and try to pitch them our services or to book a meeting.
  • Meet with Real estate agents and find out if they are in process of a deal which the house might require a renovation or new development.

Responsibilities For Sales Professionals

  • This is an out side sales opportunity and you don’t have to be at our office except to report us. You will work from your home and visit the potential clients. When you get hired with a secure income you will be committed to report of your daily activity.

All training and materials will be given. This is a unique opportunity to work from home, be your own boss and report to us.

What we are looking for in a perfect candidate:

  • – You must be fluent in English and have good communication skills
  • – Outgoing, enthusiastic, self-motivated and reliable
  • – Previous customer service & sales experience an asset
  • Strong knowledge of construction and building industry is a plus
  • Ability to use spreadsheet and word processing and email
  • Strong customer service and being able to make a sale
  • Ability to build and maintain rapport with customers
  • Self Starter and Outgoing Attitude
  • Quick adaptability to Sales Processes
  • Strong work ethics

*All applicants must be 18 years of age, have a valid driver’s license and vehicle.

Feng shui in today’s Homes

Feng shui in today’s Homes

Chinese home buyers are made up a significant percentage of our buyers, and principles of feng shui have to be taken into account, everything from the orientation of the building to how the floors are numbered. A Chinese buyer will almost never buy a property numbered four, or on the fourth floor, whereas eight is lucky.

At its most extreme, feng shui can seem absurd to Westerners, of the so-called rules governing the positioning of furniture can take it “too literally”. But its basic premise really chimes with modern life. Many of us are looking for something akin to feng shui without knowing it.

kitchen designer surrey

Feng Shui in today’s homes

Clean and Open space

One of the basic principles is about a clean, open space. Essentially it means uncluttered living for an uncluttered life, which enhances your sense of well-being. We may not all call it ‘feng shui’, but that is increasingly what we aspire to. More and more of the properties coming to the market have been uncluttered in this way, with a sense of flow and balance, with everything tucked away so that there are no obstacles. It attracts buyers because quite simply, it makes life easier.

A house with good feng shui has a smooth, strong and clear energy flow to the front door – nothing should block the door or pathway. The entryway is the mouth of “chi” where all your opportunities come in. A yin/yang symbol to the left of the front door represents prosperity for the next generation.

Positive, meaningful energy is expressed in a clean space with fresh air and plenty of light. The house is “nourished” by fresh, clear and free-flowing energy: get rid of clutter, hard corners and obstacles, and keep surfaces clear.

A good feng shui house is “anchored” in its main energy centres – the bedroom, the kitchen and the bathroom. The entry door and exit door never line up to avoid draft. Meaning the value of the energy in the house. (which is an environmental friendly concept)

Positioning of the house

Homes positioned at the end of a street are in a difficult location since all the chi energy will rush towards your home.

Feng Shui starts in the outdoor area leading up to your home. A curved driveway, for example, improves energy flow and directs energy and good fortune into your home. Ideally, there shouldn’t be any stairs directly behind the door, as these symbolize fortune escaping. Furthermore, a staircase behind the front door is not particularly inviting for guests or family members anyway.


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