Month #6 – Building a Canadian House

A little more than six years ago, my wife and I purchased three and a half acres of high bank (that means that the last step before the water is, as they say, a doozy) waterfront property on Pender Island. Pender is one of the Gulf Islands that sit between Vancouver and Victoria. They enjoy a sub-Mediterranean climate, easy access to Vancouver and some rural landscapes.

We consulted an architect, who drew up plans. We intended to build relatively soon, but life intervened, and we moved to Malta instead.

In the next couple of years, we may get serious about building the house. So, I wanted to include a month in One Year, One Canadian about building an all-Canadian house. In short, to ask the question “how much of a house can you build using only materials manufactured and, ideally, sourced in Canada?”

As of today, I know absolutely nothing about this question. I’m the least handy person in the world. I’m 37 years old, and (while I have kissed a girl), I’ve never purchased lumber. I actually paid a man to hang pictures in our apartment. It’s really that pathetic.

I don’t even know where to start. Do you know a contractor, a carpenter or a supplier of Canadian building products? Leave a comment, and help a fellow Canadian out.



  1. Andrea_R (Reply) Posted on July 1, 2011

    My mom is building a log home and as far as we all know, the lumber is from our very own province.

    He blog is here – http://atypicalife.net/mam/ and she has some pictures on Flickr here http://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/ . Just tell her that I sent you and she’ll be happy to yammer on.. I mean answer any questions you may have.

    Windows are also manufactured locally, but for things like insulation I’m not sure. The old pellet stove we had to heat our house was made in Quebec, not sure about the newer one we got.

  2. roof vents (Reply) Posted on July 1, 2011

    this is a beautful design. I have actually seen a UK company with a similar design that sells as a flat packed home.

  3. Dean B (Reply) Posted on July 3, 2011

    I think wood at lumber stores comes from mixed sources, maybe Canadian, maybe not. Perhaps you could find a wood mill in your area that uses a more local source of lumber — you might find a ‘portable’ mill and use your own wood (it’ll take time for cutting, drying etc), or buy direct from a larger a commercial mill. I’m not an expert, but I have bought rough lumber from a mill in the past. Good luck!

  4. bobby (Reply) Posted on July 4, 2011

    Darren

    Best of luck building this house using Canadian sourced material.

    bobby

  5. Niki (Reply) Posted on July 6, 2011

    how about this:

    http://www.raisingspaces.com/index.php/green-building-products/

    You may also find this of interest (focus is on green technology, but I think it is also an important part of being good stewards of our surroundings, supporting local companies and minimizing our carbon footprint, etc.)

    http://www.greenbilthomes.ca/Home/OurProjects/TheGreenHouseProject/tabid/230/Default.aspx

  6. Tara (Reply) Posted on July 8, 2011

    They are advertising this product through Rona saying that it is made in Canada. I haven’t researched it yet but here’s the link to their site.
    http://www.kwpproducts.com/en/homeowner/products/

  7. Tara (Reply) Posted on July 8, 2011

    Forgot to mention that it is for siding. It’s at least a start.

  8. Jaki A. (Reply) Posted on July 11, 2011

    There is probably a mill on Pender that cuts local wood you can buy. Texada Is produces granite for counter tops. Nails, wire etc. is made by a company between New West & Richmond. I think you could do a lot of your house with Canadian sourced building supplies – we do on our farm in Fanny Bay on Vancouver Island.

  9. Christina (Reply) Posted on July 11, 2011

    Oasis windows are made in Surrey: http://www.oasiswindows.com/ There are a number of other lower mainland manufacturers, but we went with Oasis and I can’t remember the other companies’ names.

    Doors: http://www.stylesglass.com/ (haven’t used them but are hoping to) or http://www.a1doors.ca/view/about-us.aspx Jeld-Wen started out as an American company but have Canadian manufacturing plants.

    Jack’s Salvage in Burnaby has all sorts of stuff, some of which was likely originally made in Canada and they might know of Canadian sources: http://www.jacksused.com/

    For floors, I think I remember some/most of the trees that fell down in Stanley Park in the big storm of late 2006 got milled for flooring planks. Not sure where you’d source something like that though.

  10. Todd Wickenheiser (Reply) Posted on July 11, 2011

    Hey…just up our alley..
    We are out of Golden B.C…and all about green building etc…etc…
    check us out !
    Our Company is now working on a project in Cambell River..
    Would love to see if we could work together on your project..Concept is fantastic !

    Todd

  11. Leslie Yeager (Reply) Posted on July 12, 2011

    In the late 70s, we built our own house on the coast, mostly from the land, so to speak. We bought what’s called an Alaska mill that fits on a chainsaw and slices the trees lengthwise into useable lumber. We also used recycled materials that we got from taking apart old world war 2 buildings (with consent) in the area.
    We built a hiproof – 2 floor (loft) house which housed us for a period of 3 years, until we moved on. The one thing we didn’t know then was green lumber bounces!! We had ‘moveable’ floors!! The experience was the neatest one we’ve ever had and the satisfaction from building your own home could never be outdone!! Good Luck.

  12. Isabelle Remy (Reply) Posted on July 13, 2011

    My friend Tim sent me this great link for recycled plastic building material made in Quebec: http://www.polyboard.ca/anglais/polyboard/html/residentiel.html

  13. bobby (Reply) Posted on July 15, 2011

    Darren

    How are you progressing with this house? I expect it won’t be too difficult to build it with Canadian sourced raw material but i expect the project will take a lot of time…

    bobby

  14. Louise Harrod (Reply) Posted on July 21, 2011

    Start here: http://www.nest-timberhome.ca . A B.C. product and labor.

  15. geoge (Reply) Posted on July 28, 2011

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  16. Keith McMahon (Reply) Posted on August 5, 2011

    Consider building a southern exposure hillside “earthen” geo-house where you only have to think about a glass frontage,a natural earthen roof (perhaps with a nice garden area to poke about on,good strong Canadian concrete for the outer shell ,finished with great Canadian flooring and drywall,etc painted with CIL paint (which I think is still made here) etc.
    Or you could contact that out fit in Southampton,Ontario who have an “eggshell” style home -which has received some publicity . Or, the “eagles nest” home might also be appropriate (but I’m not sure if it originated here

  17. bobby (Reply) Posted on August 31, 2011

    Darren

    Did you complete the house yet? I expect this could go into next year.

    bobby

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