eco building, footings in hard pan clay, green building, green building in Nova Scotia, greener building in Canada, Jetta VW as a pick-up truck, John Otvos, passive solar house construction, site selection for a passive solar house in NS
In the spring of 2008, I left the belovèd Comox Valley of Vancouver Island to wend my way . . . eventually . . . to the Annapolis Valley of NS. From the Pacific to the Atlantic; Comox to Annapolis; West to East; mountains to mountainside; townhouse to duplex. Now how many semicolons will the pedants allow me to ‘legally’ post in one sentence?
I spent the next 9 months looking for the proper building site, for this, my third and last owner built home and homestead. Many thanks to Ken Kern who wrote the Owner Built Home back in 1975. While on one of many excursions in the fall of ‘08, the underwriter was travelling south down the red clay dirt of the Burgess Mtn.
Happening to look in, jayöh sees a disused driveway.
The memory stuck like the red clay does to footwear and tires. Several months later in Jan. 2009, my real estate agent asked her colleagues if there was a site that met my criteria. It was this 5A piece of dirt, left undeveloped for nearly 20 years.
jayöh loves a challenge. He is an Aries after all. I suspect that people interested in this property as a building site were dissuaded due to the cost of putting in an 800′ driveway, levelling a glacial moraine to create a potential site. But not him. jayöh remained undeterred!
I needed peace and quiet. A natural setting, hopefully somewhat forested. Some water would be a bonus. Of greatest primacy, was the need for an unobstructed southern exposure.
This was to be my best attempt at coming even closer to the elusive goal of the so-called, perfect passive solar house. Another decisive factor was that the lot be far enough away from neighbours, to support ‘the potential’ for a wind turbine within the confines of Kings County.
When I trudged in that first sunny January day without snowshoes, groin deep in snow, groaning all the while, what I found was a sight that made my Heart sing. I had found a sanctuary. This sanctuary was a place to live out the remainder of my Earthly existence, hidden from most prying eyes (2 neighbours visible) and sufficiently far from the sounds of man and his infernal combustion chambered automobiles.
After satisfying the requisite red tape authorities, I purchased the 5A in March of 2009, setting about clearing the site, the power line easement for NS Power and ‘the long and winding road’ (apologies to the Beatles).
I got as far as the footings and ran smack into the proverbial red tape with ‘the authorities’. I lost the building year from 2009. Oh well! Those are the two little words that will take you through every issue that life rolls your way while on the hillside. I recall looking at the long cement lines of the 20″ footings thinking;
“This is a really big building for a retirement home, one who cherishes a small carbon footprint. What have I done?” I’ll respond to this a little later on.
I Am John Otvos, aka jayöh.