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St. Thomas


Owner: James and Christina Swann


Web site:

Type of building (home, cottage, studio, cabin): home

Construction method (load-bearing, post and beam, hybrid): post and beam

Square footage: 2500

Stories: two

Stage of completion: 90%

Date of occupancy: 2002

Other unique systems/features of the building: hydronic heat, septic biofilter, clerestory windows, vaulted ceilings (open concept)

Builder (owner, contractor, both): owner acted as general contractor with some sub-contractors

Designer: owner


Engineered components:TJI and Parallam post and beam re-engineered by Moffat and Powell

Engineer: Kris Dick

Volunteer participation: invaluable contributions from both friends and family

Length of time to build: major work completed in five months, finish work took considerably longer

Foundation method and material(s): "Over engineered" re-enforced concrete with partial basement (service area). Main floor is tinted slab on grade. House is positioned on the removed remains of the old community swimming pool.

Roof style: edge stacked infill

Roofing method and material(s): blue steel roof over TJI rafters with R55 insulation

Bale wall style:

Notes on bale walls (ie, pinned or not, mesh, framing material/style): Some walls pinned with 2x3 stakes. All walls with welded 2x4 wire fencing curb to roof, stitched and stuffed by owners and crew from Harvest Homes.

Plastering methods/materials: Lime plaster stucco applied by Camel's Back Construction. Notables in the crew included Chris Magwood, Peter Mack, Tina Therrien and Ben Polley. Water proof cement with tint applied to exterior 9 months later by owners. Inside is finished with eggshell latex paint.

Other insulation materials: Roxul in roof

Window style/materials: Clerestory on upper floor (south), three patio doors (south), and three single hung on east side. All are vinyl.

Heat source(s): Single domestic propane hot water tank for both hot water and hydronic slab on grade system. On sunny winter days the heater does not run due to passive solar design.

Cooling source(s):

Electrical source/system: 100 amp grid connection

Water collection/distribution system: Drilled well on site previously supplied the whole community until town water became available, now we are only users. Plumbing is PEX (plastic) and copper combination.

Sewage collection/disposal system: Waterloo Biofilter


Cost for per square foot: approximately $40

Other information you'd like to share: If I had it all to do over I would have never built a second story. The building was easy on the main floor and became more difficult the higher we went.



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