In the summer of 2013, Solares founders (and life partners) Tom and Christine put their money where their mouths are. They bought, designed, gutted, and rebuilt their own home in Toronto’s Roncesvalles neighbourhood. The finished product is an energy-efficient, three-bedroom home with a basement rental suite – a welcome change from the original, dark and leaky hundred-year-old home.
This major renovation transformed an existing West Toronto house into a healthy and sustainable home and rental suite. The main floor has been completely opened and highly efficient building systems have been installed. The house is now equipped with brand new insulation and windows, as well as healthy, sustainable, and beautiful interior finishes, and a clever, open-concept design.
The previous home had many qualities that they valued. It was close to parks, schools, and shops on Roncesvalles Avenue. It was walking distance to the Solares office, and though the home lacked a backyard, a spacious yard wrapped around the front and east sides of the house. A large tree sits in the front, and a detached garage is located on the eastern edge of the property line.
Two main considerations in this overhaul were energy efficiency and efficient use of space. The goal was to renovate the existing brick structure, but the small property and tight budget gave little possibility for adding space. As such, the finished building footprint stands at only 450 sq.ft. per floor. The strategic, open-plan design fully optimizes the space, with naturally bright communal rooms, one full bathroom, one powder room, and plenty of built-in storage.
The finished house boasts an EnerGuide rating of 83, a huge improvement from the building’s pre-renovation rating of 38, as well as an impressive 84 percent reduction in energy use. The house is equipped with brand new insulation, an innovative plumbing system, and a custom HVAC system that incorporates in-floor heating, a small combination boiler, an ERV unit per dwelling unit, and a ductless mini-split tied to the ERV ductwork for air conditioning. Two condensing dryers, one in each dwelling, do double duty: while drying clothes they also provide additional space heating in the winter.
The house acts as a physical example to family, friends, clients and neighbours that even a small “starter home” renovation can be sustainable, and affordable. Tom and Christine now give tours to potential clients, for firsthand experience on how comfortable a high performance house can be.