Drywall and Paint

Another step complete! In order to save money we hung all the drywall ourselves. It took about 3 weeks to hang all the drywall during evenings/weekends. We hired 2 local guys to do the mudding and taping within the house. They were at the house 8am-4pm and took 3 weeks to complete. I can only imagine how long it would have taken Brent & I. To save money, Brent and I mudded/taped the garage & basement ourselves.

For the paint, we went with Benjamin Moore – Silver Satin in a matte finish. I debated between 2 other popular colours, BM – Grey Owl and BM – Classic Grey. I found the Grey Owl was too dark and the Classic Grey was too beige. I rolled the walls with primer and Brent sprayed the ceilings to save time. It took me about 2 full weeks to paint the house. I am so happy with the colour.

Cost Breakdown

Mud & Tape Labour – $8928

Drywall Materials (House and Garage) – $7275

Primer & Paint – $2341

= $18,544

Front Door: Drywall
Great room: Drywall
Staircase: Drywall mudded & taped.
Guest Bedroom: Primed walls
Paint Colour: We went with Benjamin Moore – Silver Satin in a matte finish. I used the Regal line throughout the house and the Aura Kitchen & Bath in the 2 bathrooms.

The Best of Everything: Kitchen

The Best of Everything: Kitchen

This is a roundup of the best products to use and own in the kitchen. It is blend of personal opinion as well as brand legacy and dominance in the category.

John Boo’s Maple Cutting Board, $60

John Boo’s has been manufacturing cutting boards since 1887. He originally made a butcher block for a blacksmith. When the local butcher saw and admired the innovation, he realized that he could use one in his meat market.

All-Clad Cookware, $170-$2200

All-Clad cookware is the only cookware to buy. The patented roll-bonded process uses 5 layers of metal bonded together. It uses a magnetic stainless steel exterior, aluminum layer, copper core, aluminum layer, and 18/10 stainless steel interior cooking surface copper. Since copper is a better heat conductor than stainless steel, it allows for better heat distribution. All-Clad uses the easy-care of stainless steel on the exterior with the performance of copper and aluminum on the interior.

Blanco Sink, $332

Whether you buy the Silgranit or classic stainless steel version, Blanco is the house name for kitchen sinks. I hopefully will be getting the Silgranit version as I want the look of a black sink. Silgranit is heat, acid, scratch, rust and impact resistant. I want the large, single basin so we can easily clean large pots.

Moen faucet, $258

Moen faucets have a lifetime warranty. I think most companies do, however, the ease and simplicity of submitting a claim on our old Moen faucet was so effortless and free of resistance that it has made me a Moen customer for life. Obviously I would have preferred our faucet not breaking in the first place but when things do go, I appreciate an easy process.

Wolf Range, $10,000

My parents have had their Wolf range for 20 years with no problems. As soon as we can afford it, we will be purchasing one. The problem with appliances these days are the electronics. As soon as the board goes, the cost of replacing it costs almost as much as the unit itself. It perpetuates the disposable society that we live in. I want the 6 burner model with a convection oven. The simplicity and industrial appearance of Wolf make it a no brainer.

Stainless Steel Cooking Utensils, $20 – $40

No comfort silicone grip, no plastic handles, just good, old fashioned stainless steel. Silicone and plastic look grotty after years of use. When we got married, I registered for all stainless steel cooking utensils. With proper care, I hope they last us a lifetime.

Fiestaware in White, $28

Fiestaware has been around since 1936. It is known for its bright colours but I prefer dinnerware in classic white. The reason why I think Fiestaware is the best is its clean lines and brand longevity. If I break a dish, I know that I can always replace it (especially in the white colour). Fiestaware is oven/microwave/dishwasher/and freezer safe. You would be surprised to see how many plates cannot go in the oven. Their plates can withstand temperatures up to 350 degrees which is great for reheating food since we do not own a microwave. To top it off, Fiestaware is all made in the USA.

Peugeot Peppermill, $45

At all fine dining restaurants, you will only see Peugeot pepper mills. Their iconic, utilitarian design make them suitable for use in the kitchen while still looking elegant on the dining table. They have been making them since 1840. They have been manufacturing them since 1840 in France.

Kitchenaid Mixer, $336

These mixers have been on every wedding registry since… forever. I received one but I am saving opening it until the new home. I hope to replace my bread maker with it. The iconic design of these mixers allow you to keep them on your counter indefinitely.

Kramer Chef Knife, Pairing Knife and Bread Knife $149-$349

I am convinced you only need 3 high quality knifes. A 8″ chef knife, a pairing knife and bread knife. Kramer is said to be the best knife in the world however they range from $2000+. Kramer has licensed its design to Henkalls who offer a more affordable option.

Pyrex Glass Bakeware, $13

I love my glass pyrex. I love baking in it and the ability to store my leftovers immediately with the plastic lid. The only issue with pyrex is that you cannot take it from a cold fridge directly into a hot oven. It cracks and makes a mess.

HiCoup Corkscrew, $23-$56

I do not own one of these since I have a bottle opener from Italy that is sentimental. If it ever breaks, I will purchase a HiCoup. It seems like most sommeliers and bartenders recommend this opener.

Waterford Crystal, $190

These are not your everyday water glasses however I think having nicer glasses for cocktails make your drink taste better. I plan to purchase 4 old fashioned glasses.

Riedel Wine Glasses, $59

Maybe I am not refined enough but I do not think you need multiple glasses for different varieties of wine. They break so fast. Riedel is known for their high-quality stemware and mid-range prices.

Let me know what you think the best kitchen brands and items are in the comments below.

10 benefits of ICF construction

10 benefits of ICF construction

Insulated Concrete Forms (ICF) is an alternative to traditional wood framed construction. The forms consist of two pieces of foam connected together with plastic rebar. The forms fit together like lego blocks and as you stack, you fill with steel rebar and concrete. There are many benefits to building with ICF which I will discuss in this post.

  1. Quick construction

This was the primary reason why we decided to build ICF. ICF is a 5 in 1 step: the structure, continuous insulation, furring attachments, air barrier and vapour barrier are all completed at once with ICF. While you pay a little more upfront (compared to wood framing), building more efficiently ultimately saves time and money.

We decided to outsource the ICF to a local contractor however Brent will be completing all remaining construction. Since time is money, the quicker the contractor can get the structure up, the longer summer building time Brent has.

2. Energy efficiency

A close tie to quick construction is the improved energy efficiency. Concrete has high energy storage capacity with low thermal conductivity, it provides the most useful level of Thermal Mass. This helps to stabilize the internal temperature from day to night temperature fluctuations and provides a largely self-regulating environment. Reducing the amount of mechanical equipment needed for heating and cooling means less energy consumption, resulting in greater cost savings throughout the year. I designed the home using PassivHaus principals. I positioned the large backyard windows oriented towards the equator – which is South in the Northern hemisphere. This allows for passive solar gain. The overhang over the deck blocks out the high sun in the summer but allow for solar gain in the winter when the sun sits lower in the sky. This is all how I am hoping it will play out. Fingers crossed everything goes as planned! You

3. Large window sills

Due to the thickness of the wall, the window sills are so wide that I can sit in them. It looks so beautiful, like a castle. Since the jams are so wide we ordered our windows with no jams. This saved us money on the windows, however, now we must build custom jams.

4. No off-gassing

NUDURA, the ICF manufacturer we chose, emits no harmful CFCs, HCFCs or VOCs.

5. Low Waste

The waste resulting from the construction was so minimal that it only resulted in one trip to the dump. If the City of Ottawa recycled styrofoam, we would have been able to recycle all waste. Check with your local municipality to see if / where you can recycle styrofoam.

6. Natural Disaster Resistant

Last year our community was hit with a few tornadoes. I am curious how well our concrete ‘bunker’ would fair out if a devastating tornado hit. I think the roof might blow off but I think the overall structure would stand. Nudura’s website claims that it can withstand 250 mph winds

7. Quiet Interior

Once again, due to the thickness of the wall, the inside of your home will be very quiet. This would be very important to me if we lived on a busy road or in the city. Since we are in the country it is not too much of an issue.

8. Recycled Material

The plastic folding webs between the styrofoam in NUDURA Forms are manufactured from 100% recycled polypropylene and steel.

9. Fire Resistance

With a 6″ ICF thickness, NUDURA holds a 6 hour fire resistance rating.

10. DIY

Originally we were going to do the ICF by ourselves, however, due to my husband not going on strike, we decided to outsource. Nudura offers a day long crash course in the installation of Nudura ICF. Brent attended a course locally and felt confident in his ability to install. Guess we will never know if it was manageable enough to do on our own… Maybe we will try building a shed or a pool?!

How to save money on windows

Here are five ways to save money on windows.

  1. Shop Around
  2. Colour
  3. Casement
  4. Grills
  5. Window Type

Shop Around

This is probably the best tip I can give you and the most obvious. During our quoting process we went to about 6 or 7 different window stores including big box stores like Home Depot and Lowes. I created a spreadsheet and entered each window from each quote. This allowed me to see window for window, what was a reasonable price to pay for each individual window.

Within this, I found there are differences between dealers and manufacturers. The manufacturers often have more playroom because they are producing the windows.

The game changer with shopping around was when I thought I had found a really good quote, I then took it to a competitor and asked them to beat it and they did! My quotes for windows and doors started at $35,000 and I was able to negotiate to $22,900.

Source: onekindesign.com


As soon as you stray away from the traditional white, the cost rises. Black exterior windows are usually 15%-20% more. The window companies (like Northstar) do run promotions for free upgrade to black at certain times of the year. We took advantage of this promotion. Even though we did not use Northstar, the manufacturer still honoured this upgrade.

Source: onekindesign.com
Source: normerica.com


Casements are the opening/closing operation of a window. Our designer put casements on 2 panels in a 3 panel window. Each casement adds to the cost of the window so we opted for a single casement on these style of windows.

Source: yankeebarnhomes.com
Source: instagram.com/ahousewebuilt


Each window that has a decorative grill adds about $30-$50 per window. If you were trying to save some money you could opt for grills on only the front of the house. This allows you to have the design aesthetic on the front elevation.

Source: actaeondecor.info
Source: inboundmarketingsummit.com

Window Type

I am not going into detail about the positives/negatives of double vs. triple panel. There are +/- about both. Based on my evaluation I had decided on double pane windows until my window manufacturer said it would only be $2500 extra if we got triple. When you go from $22,900 to $25,400 it really does not seem like that much of an increase, however, you need to put things into perspective. Would you rather triple panel windows or your dream stove/hardwood/fireplace/etc…

Source: normerica.com
Source: normerica.com

How much does a building permit cost in the City of Ottawa?

New Building Permit $1587

Education Development Fee $2280

Development Charges $13,554

9-1-1 Sign $92

Refundable Inspection Fee $300

Septic Permit $1280

Total $19,092

It is a little sickening to think we’ve spent almost $20,000 and have nothing to show for it except for a few pieces of paper. The septic permit would have been $700 however the Rideau Valley Conservation Authority is a scam organization. haha.

The Permit

The Permit

What do you need to submit for a building permit in the City of Ottawa?

I found that the City of Ottawa’s building application website to be confusing. Hopefully this helps clarify what is required to submit to the City of Ottawa. In a follow up post I will discuss the costs associated with all the below and the City of Ottawa fees. I’ve included links of the forms required as well as the people we used on the project.

What is required?

  • Completed Application for Permit
  • 2 sets of architectural drawings
  • Schedule 1 signed by the designer 
  • Energy Efficiency Design Summary 
  • Survey of the lot
  • MVDS
  • Truss Layout 
  • Floor Joist Layout
  • Site Plan
  • Grading Plan
  • Septic Design
  • Structural Report
  • Septic Approval

Completed Application for Permit

Who do you get this from: You or your General Contractor 

Fill out and sign Pages 1 and 2, here.

Two Sets of Architectural Drawings

Who do you get this from: Architectural Technologist or Architect or Designer

More Info: Rather than hiring an architect to design our house, we used a local Architectural Technologist. This saved us a lot of money. We worked with him to design the house. Before submitting, I went to the City of Ottawa building services department and asked a lot of questions. They requested me printing the drawings on legal size rather than bringing in the full blueprints. 

Schedule 1

Who do you get this from: Architectural Technologist or Architect or Designer

More Info: Once you are happy with your design. Your Designer/Architect/Technologist must have a BCIN number in order to have authority to design your house.

Have the designer fill out and sign Page 3, here. 

Energy Efficiency Design Summary

Who do you get this from: Architectural Technologist or Architect or Designer or Independent  

More Info: Our Designer filled this form out for us at no charge so request it when you are designing the house. He/She has to fill out his BCIN number and sign.

Have the designer fill out and sign this form.

Survey of the Lot

From: Real Estate Agent or Sellers of the property you are purchasing

More Info: This one was straightforward, we received this from the people we purchased the lot from. It shows the lot dimensions, set backs, roads, etc.. The City says:

“The owner shall submit a copy of a plan of survey certified by a Registered Ontario Land Surveyor to the Chief Building Official when required to demonstrate compliance with the Act, the Building Code or any applicable law”

Mechanical Ventilation Design Summary

From: HVAC company or Independent

We locked in prices with our HVAC company beforehand as we knew what type of system we wanted. They completed this for us but used the company I was going to use had we not secured our HVAC company. 

Have your HVAC company or Independent fill out this form.

Truss Layout

From: Truss manufacturer 

More Info: You have to work with a local truss company and have them design/engineer your truss layout. They will send you the design. Local truss manufacturers include KOTT Lumber, Terranova Truss, Valley Roof Truss Ltd.

Floor Joist Layout

From: Floor joist manufacturer 

More Info: You have to work with a local floor joist company and have them design/engineer your truss layout. They will send you the design. We used the same company as our Truss manufacturer, KOTT lumber. 

Site Plan

From: Engineer

More Info: I used the same local engineer to create the septic design, grading plan and complete/sign off the structural report. The site plan and the grading plan are the same. I asked the City of Ottawa to clarify. The site plan must show:

(a) lot size, lot dimensions and setbacks to any existing or proposed buildings; 

(b) the similarly dimensioned location of every other adjacent existing building on the property; (c) existing and finished ground levels or grades to an established datum at or adjacent to the site; and 

(d) existing rights-of-way, easements, utilities, municipal services and private services

Since my grading plan demonstrates all of the above I labelled the requirement “Site Plan/Grading Plan”

Grading Plan

From: Engineer

More Info: Same thing as above. The local engineer surveyed the lot and created a document showing the existing and proposed grade elevations at all portions of the lot. It shows the proposed finished floor, foundation, footing elevations, slop as well as the proposed location and elevation of the septic bed.

Structural Report

From: Engineer

More Info: This report was done by the same group of engineers however a different engineer from the septic/grading. He basically reviewed the drawings and commented on the integrity of the design. We also sent this report to our Truss/Floor joist manufacturer.

Septic Design 

From: Engineer

More Info: Same group of engineers designed our septic. I would talk to a local installer that has installed septic’s in the area before you reach out to the engineer. Our engineer designed us a very expensive Eco flow septic. The installer informed us that we would save $10,000 had we just had a simple conventional bed. We asked the engineer to redesign the septic to a conventional system. This of course, came at a cost.

Septic Approval

From: Local Conservation Authority. Ours was Rideau Valley Conservation Authority

More Info:Once you approve your design of your septic bed, our engineer submitted it to the local conservation authority for approval. You have to submit the approval from the conservation authority to the city. 

The Exterior

The Exterior

Deciding on the exterior colours has proven to be challenging. It has been dependent on the window colour – white or black – as this dictates all other exterior selections such as siding, trim and stone. We are 90% certain we will have black windows, here are some options we are debating over.

Option #1:

Stone Brand: Brampton Brick, Style: Vivace Canada, Colour: Cortona Combo & Large Combo

Cost: $4.67 /sq ft (CAD)

Siding: Brand: Gentek, Style: Board and Batten, Colour: Windswept Smoke

Cost: $1.70 /sq ft (CAD)

Source: Limestone and Moss Instagram


Emliviar Outdoor Wall Sconces – Black

Masonite Cheyenne Black Front Door

Adirondack Chair

Gentek Board & Batten Siding in Windswept Smoke

Brampton Brick Stone in Cortona

Option #2:

Brand: Shouldice Designer Stone, Style: Estate, Colour: Wiarton Blend

Cost: $5.37 / sq ft. (CAD)

Siding: Brand: Kaycan, Style, Davinci Board & Battan, Colour: Castlemore

Cost: $1.83 / sq ft. (CAD)

Source: Shouldice Designer Stone
Source: Shouldice Designer Stone


Globe Electric Bowery – Matte Black Wall Sconce

iRing Door Bell

Entry Handle set Bronze

Kaycan Board & Batten Siding in Castlemore

Shouldice Estate Stone in Wiarton

The Clearing

The Clearing

Brent and I decided to clear our property ourselves over the winter. Below our the top 6 items that have helped us complete this task. Clearing in the winter has a lot of advantages like NO BUGS, no extra leaves, no heat, etc… It also has disadvantages like clearing snow and finding new ways to get the fire started. Clearing the property ourselves has saved us a few thousand dollars. It also allowed us to observe the and appreciate characteristics about the property.

Stihl MS 362 C-M Chainsaw

Brent loves this chainsaw. He is so happy he paid the extra $ for the professional series. It has something called a “microprocessor-controlled engine management system” that is designed to optimize engine performance in changing environments. We have used this saw all winter and it starts in one single pull, every time. We bought the protective case and hope to use this saw for our lifetime.

Milwaukee Dual Chemistry Jobsite Radio

This is an amazing jobsite radio. I love how all the Milwaukee tools all take the same battery. This makes it really easy to change between devices. There is a protected case for you to charge your phone via USB or hook up to the audio port if you still have a headphone jack. In case you drop the radio, the end pieces are rubberized to absorb the shock.  The only downside is it is not Bluetooth compatible. 

Carhartt Coveralls

These are very comfortable and warm enough for clearing in Canada’s cold winter. I like wearing overalls rather than just work pants while clearing the property because the fronts of your t-shirt or sweater from tearing.

Stihl ProMark Forestry Helmet System

Brent raves about this mask for chain sawing. The mask portion is mesh so it doesn’t scratch like plastic would. The all-in-one eye, hearing and head protection make this a no brainer. No pun intended. 

Stihl Promark Protective Chaps 

These chaps are made with “‘Avertic” – a patented chainsaw protective textile designed in Sweden. The pants are developed with 9 layers of this cut protective fibre. A study on their website showed that 37% of chainsaw accidents happened on the leg area. Wearing necessary protective gear is so important. These chaps are also machine washable and dryer safe, allowing me to get the stinky fire smoke smell off the garment

Hay Bales

Starting a brush fire in the winter is difficult. In the beginning we were using old pallets from my dad’s shop to get the fire started however when we ran out of pallets we needed something new. Brent saw a youtube video of a guy dosing a straw bale in fuel and igniting it. The straw bale acts like a match to the rest of the wet pile of brush. We found a local farmer getting rid of hay bales that were no longer suitable for his livestock’s consumption. We dosed them in diesel fuel and set them alight. It is VERY effective and I recommend if you are clearing in the winter.

The Design

The Design


  • 2035 sq ft.
  • 5 acres
  • 3 bedrooms
  • 2 bathrooms
  • Walk-out basement
  • Large kitchen and living areas
  • Covered front & back porch
  • Oversized garage