Introducing: Kawartha-Highlands Net Zero Home

What would you do if your house got hit by lightning and completely burnt down?

It seems like a crazy question to ask, but this was the reality for two of our clients, a couple living north of Peterborough and west of the Kawartha Highlands conservation area.

The couple, with a grown up daughter who lives in Toronto, recently retired and planned on staying with their forever home for the rest of their lives. Their home wasn’t necessarily perfect, but, with a bounding dog and tons of outdoor equipment and vehicles like canoes, boats, kayaks, and a snowmobile, the property sure delivered for their outdoorsy lifestyle. Their relatively flat, 1-acre plot is bordered by a lake to the east, with a view dotted by cedars. Densely packed cedar trees line the property to the north and the south, and to the west, the main road stretches by. About 100 feet in from the road sits a limestone rock outcropping, about 6-8 feet high, which cuts the property in two – one half of the property sits at road height, and the other half lowers to meet the lake. The limestone, cedars, and lake make the property quintessentially Southern Ontario, not to mention beautiful.

Our clients could have easily focused on the trauma and fear of the incident.

There were many people in the house when the lightning struck, and though – thankfully – everyone was able to escape, the experience was terrifying. Instead, they were brave and hopeful – they began to see the experience as an opportunity to build a new (and even better!) home, totally custom to their needs and wishes.

Ideally, their new home would be smaller than their previous, and on one level, so they could age comfortably living in it. But most of all, their priority was a Net Zero house: they wanted a home that would produce as much – or more! – energy as it used per year. When they came to Solares with their optimistic outlook and awesome sustainable plan, we absolutely had to take part.

The couple is not only positive and environmentally conscious – they are also popular!

Their year is filled with potlucks, both casual and fine-dining dinner parties, overnight guests, and a couple of birthday extravaganzas, indoor and outdoor in the summer. Plus, their daughter often comes to visit from Toronto, staying overnight. Their new house, though compact, must still have enough space for overnight guests to feel comfortable, and the kitchen and dining room are a top priority – a fancy dinner party is only as large as the dining room table!

In their free time, the two are both huge hobbyists – he is a hunter and retired metalshop worker and tradesmen, and she loves to garden. Luckily, the property is spacious enough for a large garden with lots of southern sun, and a separate workshop/bunking lodge to store equipment and tools, and for hunting gatherings and hangouts. But that’s for next post.

This project will be exciting, interesting and enterprising – we can’t wait to see it through.

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