Oak Bay duo brings a fresh rethinking of the family home

Couple builds what is expected to be the community's first platinum LEED for Homes dwelling

  • Sep. 25, 2015 6:00 p.m.
Numerous windows create a bright interior for homeowners and designers Neil Barman and Carrie Smart

Numerous windows create a bright interior for homeowners and designers Neil Barman and Carrie Smart

Jennifer Blyth

Oak Bay News

If there was ever any doubt that “green” could be beautiful, an Oak Bay couple has put those concerns to rest.

The two are in the final stages of earning an expected platinum LEED for Homes rating for their single-family home on Quimper Street. It will be the first single-family home in Oak Bay – and likely Victoria – to earn the LEED rating, says Carrie Smart, who designed and built the home with husband Neil Barman.

In addition to sustainability, “we wanted to build a contemporary home that felt warm and inviting to the community,” Barman says.

Both LEED-accredited intern architects, the two were committed to creating a unique family home for themselves and their two children that also showcases LEED’s sustainable principles.

The result is a warm and inviting contemporary residence nestled in the community of Harling Point.

“We had friends living here already and it’s an extremely tight-knit community,” Smart notes.

The existing home had reached the end of its life cycle, so instead of renovating, they embraced the challenge of designing from the ground up. With creative design elements and ample use of natural materials,  the home breaks the stereotype of new construction being out of place and cold, they say.

Taking their time with the design, Barman and Smart watched and researched the Point’s unique climactic conditions for a year during the design phase. They spoke with neighbours, tracked weather data and even camped on the site. A true family affair, their two young children were both involved with the project, from design drawings to site visits.

They also took time interviewing builders before selecting Emil Wessner of BO Project, who shared their enthusiasm about the LEED ideas.

Welcoming neighbours to the process, they held a variety of tours at various stages to share the process, their experiences and knowledge with those of all ages.

With myriad decisions that must be made during a project, the LEED program can help those who want to make sustainable choices. “It’s hard for the consumer to know if they’re making a truly smart choice,” Smart says.

Among the fundamental principles of the home’s design are optimizing natural daylight, enhancing energy performance and maximizing water efficiency. For example, a cistern collects water to use in the garden, both in the front yard vegetable garden and the water-wise decorative plants.

Indoor air quality is paramount, with natural ventilation and cooling paired with a unique building envelope that increases insulation properties. At about 2,200 square feet of interior space, plus several patios and balconies, the rooms are compact and flexible allowing their use to change as the family evolves.

Planning to stay in the home for many years, the two focused on durability – both in construction methods and materials – and a design that will allow them to age in place with the option of main-floor living and no-step entry. The property is also in an established community with parks, services and transit nearby.

 

Want to learn more?

As part of their LEED certification, Oak Bay’s Neil Barman and Carrie Smart are sharing information about their innovative home. Learn more at www.quimperhouse.ca.

• Learn more about the two intern architects/designers at www.barmansmart.ca.

• To learn more about LEED generally, visit the Canada Green Building Council at www.cagbc.org.