Faced with limited land and soaring real estate prices, homeowners are digging deeper for solutions. Father and son duo, John and Jeff Gunson, of Euro Canadian Construction, share the process of building iceberg homes in Vancouver.
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About the Speakers
John Gunson: John Gunson President, a licensed building professional, has 45 years’ experience in the residential and commercial construction industry locally, nationally, as well as extensive experience internationally, in Africa, the Middle East and Asia. John Gunson’s professional training consists of Certificate in Project Management, Apprenticeship Certificate Carpentry, Certificate of Qualification and various training certificates that cover all aspects of the construction industry.
Jeff Gunson: Jeff Gunson, John’s son gained a passion for construction at a young age. Starting at age 12 he worked weekends and holidays until he was able to work full time after graduating high school. Jeff quickly acquired his Red Seal in carpentry through training at B.C.I.T. followed by numerous certificates in Site Operations, Site Supervision and Project Management. Jeffrey is currently in the role of Project Manager.
Here's the Full Transcript of this Episode and Resources
[00:00:00] Jennifer Lee: Hey Mike, I’m excited to be in the studio again for another episode of Measure Twice, Cut Once and today we have some very exciting guests on.
[00:00:12] Mike: Hey Jennifer, great to be back in the studio with you. And I have a sense you might already know these folks, so why don’t you introduce them.
[00:00:18] Jennifer Lee: Yeah, I might know them a little bit. It is my father and brother. My dad is of course the president of Euro Canadian Construction. My brother has always worked for the company as well as project manager, and I’m really excited for you guys to get to know them because usually I’ve been around forever on their construction sites and I know everything that they do and I know that I’m biased, but they’re really amazing at what they do, and I’m very proud. And so, I’m very excited that they get to kind of take a little peek into my world today and see what I do and what I’ve been doing for over the last 10 years.
[00:00:57] Mike: And yeah. So, I’m excited to have you guys, and I’m excited because I get to, for today only be an honorary Gunson. And a lot of things our listeners wouldn’t know is that to be a member of the Gunson family, your name has to start with J. So, we have Jennifer, John, and Jeff, and I assume that if you’d had another daughter, the daughter would be named Jayden or something like that. Just keeping with the theme. Either way. Really excited to have you guys here today to talk about not only this really cool project that you’re working on right now but some of the projects you’ve worked in in the past and some of the trends that you’ve seen that have started in your world, which is the luxury higher end world and made its way into the more mainstream everyday construction world. So welcome Gunson family.
[00:01:41] Jennifer Lee: I know a lot about the company obviously, but can you tell our listeners a little bit about Euro Canadian Construction? How did it all begin?
[00:01:49] John: Well, it started going on 30 years ago. I’ve been in construction for longer than I can imagine. I started when I was 16, 17, and I’m well past retirement now and still going at extensive experience in local construction by taking an apprenticeship in many college courses at BCIT and Douglas College. I’ve also worked in Africa teaching in Polytechnic construction related trades. I’ve worked in Saudi Arabia building emergency troop centers during the Iraq Iran War. I’ve worked in Japan teaching the traditional Japanese carpenters, how to build West Coast BC construction. So, my experience and knowledge of, of people has been a benefit to the way I build. Coming back into Vancouver after all my expensive travels, getting married, having a couple kids, and I thought it was time to start my own construction company using my own thoughts and beliefs on how it should be done. We are a small mom and pop operation. You know, I lead; Jeffrey is the second lead. His mother is the accountant, bookkeeper, project manager, and Jenny is our social media representative. We do one or two homes at a time. We never take on exorbitant amounts of work because we are the face of the company. We are the project managers; we are the superintendents. We are people that make sure that the project and the quality is what we expect. This is the reason why we got into the high end is that it gives us a, a lot of liberty to, to build what we wanted and to see our visions along with the interior designers and the architects and the rest of the consultants that are, are always on the table. So, we think we build a better project by being a boutique builder and being our own, our own crew.
[00:03:47] Mike: Jeff, can you tell me a little about what your role is in Euro Canadian and also, and I think this is more important, how did you get into this business? Was it a natural thing for you or is it something you wanted to do all along?
[00:03:57] Jeff: I’ve always had a bit of an interest in construction, but originally when I was going through high school, I was really interested in digital arts and animation, and as soon as I graduated, I started working full-time for the company while I was taking night courses trying to determine what I really wanted to do or what kind of field I was most interested in. And I realized very soon that I couldn’t sit at a desk anymore. And I enjoyed the freedom and the physical aspect of construction. And then as soon as my father learned that, he said, well, if you’re going go into this, then you’re going to get your apprenticeship and then take all the management, all the business courses that you can to learn it. So, the main aspect I probably fell in love mostly with was client interaction being around the job site constantly. My father seeing him, how he interacts with designers, consultants, architects, clients. I really liked that relationship building that I saw with people. How you become so involved in their lives and you start to know them more on a deeper basis than most people would as you help them navigate construction to build their ultimate dream home, and you see and find their wants, their needs, and how they live their life at an intimate level.
[00:05:22] Mike: I imagine there’s a lot of trust required because number one, we’re talking about high dollar amounts, but also these people are trusting you both to bring their vision or dreams to life. What are some of the ways you build trust?
[00:05:25] John: Well, you know, we build a trust with our costs and we build a trust that we are there on the site for them. A lot of clients will come on a weekly basis, some come on a daily basis. So when you call them coming on a daily basis, you’ve got a lot of questions you have got to answer and you’ve got to answer them honestly and truthfully and you’ve got to keep them involved in it. It’s the cost. You’re going to say, okay, concrete went up 15% this month, or Drywall’s gone up 15% this month. Lumber’s gone up a thousand percent this month. And you have to keep them abreast of what’s going on and they appreciate it more and, and they gain their trust by that. You know, we interact with them on a personal level, whether through lunches or dinners. And so, we become family members, we become an extended family, you know, usually a two year job or longer because of the size of the houses and the complexity of the houses. So, it’s a marriage, a convenience, and we know some marriages get along, some don’t. We try to make our marriages last. We go back on these houses. We have houses that we built 25 years ago. We get a phone call, and we say John or Jeff, we have a squeaky door. We have a door that’s rubbing or sagging. Can you come and fix it or we want or to do a reno? And yes, right away we are there. In the next couple days, we evaluate it, and we’ll go back and do whatever they want. We look after our client’s long term. It’s not just an in and out in a couple years, grab some money and run to the next project.
[00:06:48] Jennifer Lee: So, trust is a big thing with you and your clients, but you also have to have trust with the other people that you work with, like the architect and the architect we currently have right now on one particular project trusted you enough because this project was technically challenging and it is called something like an iceberg home. Can you tell us a little bit about what this project is?
[00:07:09] Jeff : For this current project that we’re on, we were recommended by the architect to these clients to do the home basically because of the complexity that he felt it was a good match for us.
[00:07:23] Mike : I’m reading Iceberg house. I’m going what? Lettuce or like they got a greenhouse in the basement or what? What’s going on here? So, let’s actually, let’s actually answer that question. Quantify what it is.
[00:07:29] Jeff: People often call it an iceberg home because it’s not what it seems. You see a modest, smaller house on top, but it is accompanied by a large, multi-level basement to accommodate people’s desired square footage. The ability to build downwards, deeper, into the ground gives you more options for room layout or placement of desired areas of the house. It gives you the allowance to put less desired spaces that often take up key areas at home, like closets, storages, mechanical rooms, and whatnot, and put them down into a basement where you don’t need windows, or you don’t need access to at all times.
[00:08:14] John: The concept was created in London, where the original London, the downtown part of London, where all the old heritage buildings are, and they’re all two-story buildings. Row homes are going for, you know, 20, 40, 60 million pounds and somebody pays that kind of money and they’ve only got two floors above the street and nothing below grade. The houses are too small for the value of what these people have paid for them, and the restrictions of London is you can’t change the facade of a building and you can’t raise the height. So, because of heritage restrictions. So, they dug down and into the ground and increase the size of the square footage of the house accordingly, they put swimming pools down there and rec rooms, light shafts so they get all the convenience of being above ground by building downwards. The City of Vancouver has rules and regulations about how many square feet you’re allowed above grade, but there is no reference in the bylaws to how many square feet you can add below grade.
[00:09:16] Mike: Jeff, I have a question for you. When you guys started building these homes, this is a different logic or methodology than a conventional building. How was it to circumnavigate things like bylaws and city approval and everything else? Like when you’re the first of anything, there are always some challenges. Can you talk a little about how it was to try to bring this to bear, to get approval and any of the challenges you faced in that regard?
[00:09:37] Jeff: On the approval side of it, it wasn’t so much up to us. It was mainly the architect that drew the plans with the idea and then submitted to the city.
[00:09:47] Mike: Was the city okay with all of this?
[00:09:56] Jeff: Yes. The city is fine with it, as long as engineering is there to back it up. They’re willing to approve it if the lot is suitable for it.
[00:09:56] Jennifer Lee: So, the city’s aware of this and there are actually more and more popping up all the time. Like we’ve been asked to quote even like triple basements. And so, there’s like a lot of this going on here in Vancouver.
[00:10:07] Mike: So, John had mentioned like five, six stories down in London. Is there potential for us to go down that deep in this, in this region, or are there some issues with geology and geography and things like that that prevent us?
[00:10:18] John: It all comes down to what the city thinks, but in the future, I can believe we could go down deeper. You know, there is a very large shortage of buildable land in Vancouver. Vancouver in general, is a very tiny city. It doesn’t, you know, we’re surrounded by water or mountains, so we don’t have a lot of area to build. So, in the future, we’ve got to start using some of these ideas in order to accommodate the people who would like to live here.
[00:10:45] Jennifer Lee: And a lot of these houses too can be used for having multi-generational living in them as well, because you can have more bedrooms and stuff on top, and then you can put the amenities in the bottom basement that don’t require light, like we said, like a home theater or a rec room for the kids to put all the toys down there. Lots of different things like our, our client is putting a music room in because he loves listening to music.
[00:11:08] Mike: I like your client already. But I actually like the idea of multi-generational living too, because of the way the demographic shift in our city has happened, we see more and more people doing multi-generational living and families that maybe previously wouldn’t have looked at that are now looking at that. So, in many ways, again, what you guys are doing is shifting how we perceive things and do things as a whole, not just amongst your marketplace as well. Going down deeper is obviously going to present some incremental and additional challenges versus conventional building. Do you have issues with things like water or gas or any of those sorts of things that make it harder to build this style of home?
[00:11:47] Jeff: You have to look at utility maps in the areas before you dig anyways to avoid hitting any services such as gas, electric, or water.
[00:11:57] Jennifer Lee: So, you have to do that for a normal basement anyways. So, doing a double basement, it’s not any different.
[00:12:02] Jeff: Yeah. For a double basement, you follow the same steps.
[00:12:08] John: Prior to the excavation on the current project we have going, we had to do a lot of test holes. So we had a drilling rig on site and we were not only digging for the density of the soil, but also for the aquifers.
[00:12:21] Jennifer Lee: For people that might not know what an aquifer is out there, and what is it?
[00:12:23] Jeff: is basically an underground lake that is subterranean.
[00:12:29] John: Digging down deeper is going to create some, some different issues from conventional excavations for a single-story base. When you’re digging down to, you know, 25 feet below grade in order to put in a double basement, you’re looking at having to have a Geotech engineer on site to evaluate the soil consistency to make sure that it will bear the weight of the home. You also have to worry about. When you’re going down 20 feet or 25 feet, you can’t follow the rules of workers’ compensation of one to four slope on the banks or otherwise. You’d be taking up all the properties around your, around you on your, with your slopes, because you’re only working to minimal side yard widths. So, we have to put in, cut straight down and use short creek in order to accomplish. Which takes geotechnical, and these holes are very deep and very large and very boxy people. We have to make them safe.
[00:13:24] Mike: So, Jeff, can you talk a little about the safety that’s required to build this style of home?
[00:13:29] Jeff: It’s basically the procedure of solidifying and reinforcing a bank of excavation. So, how we do that is we cut down and then we drill soil anchors into the side of the excavation pit. And basically with those in place, they get concreted in and we tie mesh to these all covering the whole sides of the bank. And then what we do is we shoot concrete onto it. And basically these, the combination of the soil anchors the concrete and the wire mesh holds and stabilizes the soil so it doesn’t fall back in on the workers or while you’re inside it.
[00:14:18] Jennifer Lee: and that’s something that I wouldn’t have thought of. But yeah, you want to protect the safety of the workers if you’re going that deep under.
[00:14:23] Jeff: Exactly.
[00:14:24] Jennifer Lee: So that’s why it’s important to have a knowledgeable builder do something like this, because it’s not your average job. It’s not just building a one level house. You need to actually know a lot about the land and how to deep, deep safely.
[00:14:39] Jeff: Absolutely. No, it, this portion starts becoming more commercial and less residential at this point when you start.
[00:14:47] Jennifer Lee: So, as a contractor, do you need some more commercial type of knowledge or are you able to still conduct the site in a way because of all the experience you’ve had in the past, even though it’s been mainly residential.
[00:15:00] Jeff: Not necessarily. It can help to have a commercial type background, but residential, you can see this from time to time, depending on complexity of builds you do. So, it’s not out of the norm, but it’s just more of a definite thing that you’d have to do when digging down deeper.
[00:15:19] Jennifer Lee: So with having knowledge, it’s also important to hire the right professionals to get you to where you need to go in the project. So, I know for this particular project, need to hire a Geotech engineer. What is their purpose and how do you even find one that you can trust?
[00:15:36] Jeff: Geotechnical engineer is an engineer that specializes in ground stability and soils. They are on most jobs to test the soil as we dig down on a standard home, even when building. They do it in a couple different ways. Generally, they’ll do a compression test. They’ll have a rod that they’ll go and push into the soil and it’ll test a density and see if it’s safe enough to build on.
[00:16:03] Jennifer Lee: And that’s why you need to have the proper team of the Geotech and everybody that knows what they’re doing to create your double basement.
[00:16:10] Mike: Well, that’s a recurring theme throughout this show is having the right team of professionals to bring your vision to life. So this is obviously an unconventional building style right now, but one thing we’ve learned over watching people like yourselves over the years is what is unconventional today becomes commonplace later. As people like yourselves execute and make it possible. Right now, how many homes would you estimate of this style of homes are being built in Vancouver? Because we’re trying to get a sense of where we’re at now, but also where this architectural design style is going to go in the future as well.
[00:16:44] John: There’s a handful being built right now. It is a relatively new to Vancouver. It is starting to catch on. I think you know, in the future it will catch on further. Because of shortage of land in Vancouver.
[00:16:57] Mike: We’re starting to see something that was incredibly new and groundbreaking, and now we’re starting to see some percolation.
[00:17:03] John: Yes.
[00:17:04] Jennifer Lee: But the interesting thing too is like when I was looking at the London one, they said that all of them had pools like the majority of them. I know that here we’ve only been maybe asked about one with a potential for a pool. Do you foresee maybe more of these double basements accompanying pool or do you think that’s just too much cost and too much like obviously you have to do that properly.
[00:17:24] John: You know, pools are, are, are sort of a rare entity in Vancouver they’re getting more popular. As our seasons change and our weather changes, a lot more people are putting pools in. Now, when I first started in construction 40 years ago, or 50 years ago, I guess the only place you’re seen pools was the ultra-rich in Vancouver or in West Vancouver. Now it’s the norm to put a pool just about anywhere. Yes. Pools are becoming more popular. People are trying to make their houses now they’re putting in pools, they’re putting in in gyms, they’re putting in theaters, they’re putting in sound rooms, they’re putting in wine room. People are building their own small castle. It’s their home and it’s got, they never have to leave it other than to go to work or whatever, necessities. But they’re cocooning a lot more now than they did in years past. People would go out and socialize more in at pubs and now everybody is staying home in their own, instead of going to a theater, they’ve got their own, instead of going to the local pool, they’ve got their own, instead of going to a wine bar, they’ve got their own. So, it’s, everything evolves. People just want everything at their fingertips instead of having to go up for it nowadays.
[00:18:37] Jennifer Lee: Do you think Covid changed a lot of that because now we know that maybe there could be more potential for things like Covid, so why not have kind of your mini sanctuary?
[00:18:45] John: I think you’re probably right there. It’s started before then on a smaller scale, but it’s, it’s ballooning since Covid, yes.
[00:18:53] Mike: Well, a lot of the things that you guys did years ago that were considered luxurious things are now very common. Let me give you an example. Your company has been doing automated houses for 30 years, and at that time it was hundreds of thousands of dollars and it was the purveyance of only the very wealthy. Well, now I can buy a couple bulbs and a couple other pieces of equipment and put a little Amazon Alexa and have a greater degree of automation than you did in those initial houses. And what I’m hearing from all the things that you’re doing is that a lot of what you’re doing or did, sorry, has now become commonplace, like the theater room, like the music room, like all of the like the pool, like everything else as well, and that creates a great deal of hope for me that this style of housing will become more commonplace because we’re all up against it. We all need more space. We all have more stuff. And like you said, the flexibility to live our lives the way we want in our own homes is massive. So, do you, would you mind just indulging me for a couple minutes and talking about some of the other things that you guys were groundbreaking on in the home that have now percolated down to what I would call the more common mainstream homes that are being built around the Lower Mainland?
[00:20:09] John: Well, I think the biggest thing is home automation. More than 30 years ago, I guess we put in our first automated home system and the electrical room was the size of this studio, you know. When we first started, the architect gave us a small closet and said, this is your mechanical room and electric room combined and we looked at it and by the time the electrical contractor gone through it and the mechanical contractor gone through it, he said, there’s no room. So, we started carving out more room into the basement area and you know, we wind up with a 10 by 10 or 10 by 12 electrical room in a similar size for the mechanical room and then they wanted a generator. So, that meant we put an underground bunker in beside the house and put a generator in and inside there along with it, we put in all the air conditioning systems and auxiliary units. And that was a massive room that we built underground, adjacent to the house so it could be soundproofed and the clients wouldn’t have to hear it. Same with the pool. We build a beautiful negative edge pool, and then we build another bunker at the end of the pool underground, and there we put in a well, and we put in a filtration system for the well, and we put in all the pool equipment, the boilers, the heat and pump, all the pumps for the boiler and a toilet for the gardeners. Those are sort of the things that we did 30 plus years ago, and now this is really normal in just about any house in Vancouver.
[00:21:29] Jennifer Lee: You see negative edge pools everywhere now. I remember when, like you showed me the first one, I was like, that’s so cool, and now it’s like, oh, every where’s got one.
[00:21:35] Mike: Yeah we tend to see that a lot in, in every facet of home construction right? The first is always the one in the magazine. It’s at the home show, and then after a while it just becomes so commonplace. That people just expect it. And what’s really neat is for those of us who try to see into the future, we do our best to read the tea leaves. One of the easiest ways to look at where we’re going to be in the future is look at what companies like yours are doing right now.
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[00:23:36] Mike: Jeff, John, thank you very much. Welcome back. We were starting to get in some really interesting details before the break, and I don’t want to lose track of what we were talking about. And one of the things that’s really been on my mind, and I’m sure anyone who’s listing is feeling the same way as well, is this is somewhat more complex than just digging a deeper hole in the ground. There’s obviously some technological things that are required to facilitate this style of home building. Can you guys dig a little deeper and yes, pun was intended, into what is required from a technological point of view to support this style of construction?
[00:24:12] Jeff: Basically, the main differences are because you’re digging deeper into the ground, you no longer can rely on gravity to remove all your wastewater from the building. Even with your perimeter drainage and such of the foundation, you can’t rely on gravity anymore because now you’re so far past the elevation of city services. You require a pump now to remove any groundwater or any water from any bathroom that is below the basement level, do you get pump packed up to the city to take it out. And with this now, your, basically your basement or your sub basement’s on life support and in case of a power outage, you’re going to need to have a generator because if not, your new sub-basement becomes a swimming pool.
[00:24:59] Jennifer Lee: And then your client is very unhappy at that point.
[00:25:01] Jeff: Client will be very, very unhappy about it. So, there’s a couple differences that you’ll require to have a sub-basement versus a regular basement.
[00:25:15] Mike: And John, is it different to insulate a basement going down deeper than a conventional basement ? Do you have to do anything differently from a foundational point of view?
[00:25:19] John: No. You can use a typical wood formed construction technique and pour concrete. What we did with ours was we used IC Foundation system, the ICF is like building Lego. It’s all it is, is large con Styrofoam blocks with interlocking blocks, which you put together and support and put your rebar in as you’re going up and, and then pour it with concrete and your wall is done. So, it’s pretty much as simple as that. There is some exterior bracing, which you have to do so you sort of have to know what you’re doing. Jeffrey went and took courses on it, so it made it quite simple.
Using this, we didn’t have to insulate inside the basement walls so we could and didn’t have to frame the inside the basement walls. We could apply our drywall right to the Styrofoam, and they have special inserts in there in which you can screw to. So, it saved money on insulation. It saved money on the framing in perimeter framing. It also created a warmer environment inside the house because there was a thermal break. You had insulation both inside and outside of the concrete. So, there was no heat transfer or less heat transfer or cool transfer from the outside coming into the basement. So, we found it quite a good technique and I think we’ll use it again in the, in the future.
[00:26:40] Jennifer Lee: It’s a great thing that you point out is that a good builder always is, and this is something we’ve learned through this whole podcast, is always taking courses on the new stuff, having knowledge about it. And not only that, they’re able to work with your budget, no matter how big your budget is or how small your budget is. A good contractor will always try to find ways to build your house, correct. And build it to fit in your budget.
[00:27:03] Mike: And I find great builders are the ones who are sort of pushing the envelope. Again, no pun intended as far as technology and, and practices as well. Now, Jeff, I have a question for you because there’s two parts of this. One is you’re building underground, so that adds challenges as far as thermal management, and two, when you’re dealing with insulation and calculations and things like that. One of the things that was most astounding to me was the variances in temperature below Versus above ground. So, when you literally have half the house at a certain temperature level and half the house at a certain other temperature level, that has to create challenges for thermal management overall. How do you guys get around that and what are some of the issues that you know are created as a result of that?
[00:27:43] Jeff: For the lower half of the house, that’s underground it’s generally better thermally just because it’s at a more regulated temperature. It doesn’t see high temperature differentials from hot to cold as the above grade would. Being underground, it definitely helps manage that so your heat doesn’t go on as much or your AC doesn’t go on as much, but some of the problems though with it being a little bit better thermally underground is if we have a theater in the very bottom basement, the heat from the equipment generally creates an issue, therefore, you have to now implement air conditioning in to make the space more livable.
[00:28:22] Jennifer Lee: What I want to discuss with you guys is we always talk about indoor air quality on the show, and with a double basement, obviously you have the walkout, which gets you into the garden. You have the double doors to get you outside, and you’ve got the windows and you have different options for air. But in the very bottom basement where they’re going to have their music room, they’re going to have their home theater system, how, when you’re going so deep down that you ensure that you’re going to have good air quality, so you’re able to breathe while you’re downstairs watching your movie
[00:28:42] Jeff: To ensure good, healthy air quality down in the sub-basement, we had to have a mechanical system appropriately designed, so tons of fresh air will be able to come in and be replaced on a regular basis to Ensure healthy living and proper air circulation down the basement so it doesn’t stagnant.
[00:29:17] John: And this is done through an HRV or a heat recovery ventilator. A heat recovery ventilator brings in fresh air from outdoors, tempers it through as it goes through the equipment and then is dis distributed to, to all the rooms in the lower basement.
[00:29:30] Jennifer Lee: How far down is this basement?
[00:29:33] John: From finish grade to the floor level we are probably looking at it about 23 feet to finish floor from finish elevation, outside the finish elevation of the floor.
[00:29:41] Jennifer Lee: And where does this HRV sit ?
[00:29:43] John: The HRV sits in the mechanical room, in the sub-basement in the lowest level.
[00:29:46] Jennifer Lee: But it’s able to reach outside?
[00:29:47] John: It is, the air is brought in through Duct work to it.
[00:29:54] Jennifer Lee: Yes. See, this is something you always think you don’t think about. It’s like, okay, we’re going in the basement. But I know I’ve been in just regular bases sometimes, and they’re very damp feeling, they’re very stuffy. They don’t feel very great. And so that’s one concern I’d have.
[00:30:07] John: We also have our electrical room. and our low voltage equipment room on the lower lowest level as well, which generates a lot of heat. So, we’ve had to incorporate an air conditioning system into that area to keep the place cool enough for people’s comfort.
[00:30:22] Jennifer Lee: Is that why a lot of like older basic suites are musty and so because people don’t have this technology in them or they didn’t have any forethought into making the suites a livable place?
[00:30:35] Jeff: Basement suites on older homes in general tend to suffer from a bad moisture barriers leading into the basement on the foundation, so allows a lot of moisture into the basement, which leads to mold, mildew, and that mustiness. And then in combination with that, you have poor ventilation. In a lot of basements over time, they were sellers, especially in older homes that were converted into basements and people didn’t spend the time putting in a proper furnace or air handling system in there to accommodate it. With the combination of the AC and HRV unit, it ensures proper air circulation and tempering of the air to give a comfortable climate down in the sub-basement.
[00:31:18] Jennifer Lee: Okay. Just switching gears, a little bit, because something I want to touch upon before we go is obviously we’ve been talking a lot about the double basement. Just want to talk about that the bottom floor is in complete darkness. There are no windows, but the other floor is actually a walkout basement. So, because I think a lot of people are thinking we’re just digging and burrowing underground. So, can you tell us about the spaces that you’ve created on the walkout level versus the spaces that you have created for the ones that require no windows?
[00:31:48] Jeff: Well, the walkout level basement is suited for rooms which you would like to have windows in or access to readily. There’s living space, there’s a library area. A gym area and an extra bedroom down there. Anything that was easily accessible from indoor to outdoor living space, you would like to have windows for where lowest levels are great for the simple fact, they’re the best for areas that don’t require windows or you wouldn’t want a window to begin with in like a theater you don’t want light in there. Or a wine cellar you don’t want windows or UV or even in those, and mechanical rooms and storage rooms are ugly rooms that no one wants to see or have in their house in the first place so you just bury them in the basement so you don’t take away from usable space on the upper floors.
[00:32:32] Jennifer Lee: Our client is going to have a music room. Can you explain a little bit about that? Because it’s kind of unique.
[00:32:37] Jeff: Yeah, our client is really into music, so he wanted to create a room that’d be suited for listening. So, he will have a nice hi-fi system accompanied by acoustic panels and other touches in there to heighten his listening experience when he, when he wants to just relax and listen to something, maybe grab a wine from the wine.
[00:32:57] Jennifer Lee: You’re speaking Mike’s language right now.
[00:32:59] Mike: Can I just interject that? I feel every home should have a high-performance listening room with acoustic panels, so thank you for making it mainstream.
[00:33:06] John: But how many do we see? This is something that is very, quite unique in a house. People will have that integrated into their theater, but not in a specialized room.
[00:33:15] Jennifer Lee: And that room’s pretty big. Like how much square feet is that room?
[00:33:19] Jeff: Oh, well, it’s, it’s sort of, it’s, it’s quite a large room. It integrates into sort of a party bar area. Yeah, it’s more of a subs, like a, a section kind of off to the side.
[00:33:25] Mike: I do deal with some people who have the luxury of having a dedicated room just for music, but it’s very, very rare. And then we see multipurpose rooms in a lot of homes for. So, when you see somebody who actually has the ability to do something like that, it’s quite exciting because it’s very rare. I think a lot more people would, but it’s just, we live in Vancouver, right? And I think the other thing that goes through my mind, and nobody else will care about this but me, but the acoustics in a room like that are going to be so much better than in a conventional house as well. So, you’re not going to get a lot of bleed upstairs and down. Because most of the new modern homes are really, really, really loud. So, it sounds like this is going to be a way to circumvent that internal noise that’s creating a lot more extra decibels in the home.
[00:34:19] Jeff: Exactly. If you won’t get any exterior noise, and it is also partitioned off from the rest of the home quite well. So yeah, you won’t get bleed through from any other areas.
[00:34:23] John: The thing is, is that during the construction, when we built the double basement, the floor of the basement, the floor separating the basement and the cellar is concrete. It’s a suspended concrete slab like you find in underground parking garage in Vancouver. So, the place is virtually soundproof. So, when we went to make the sound room and the theater, we had to, of course, frame and insulate and take all the jogs and levels out of it. Pretty much a clean spare box so the sound transmission would go travel and wouldn’t get caught in in small corners. Like Jeffrey said, acoustic panels are applied everywhere as well.
[00:34:56] Jennifer Lee: I think something you touched on a little bit earlier, Jeff, about the double basement that I can definitely see working into everyday lives is the fact that like, you put things in the bottom that aren’t going to waste your space of the house because space is limited here. And so, it’s like if there’s things that you can put in a really bottom basement that don’t require light, then you’re going to be able to have more room for more bedrooms. Like we’re talking about multi-generational living or aging in place, but you’re going to be able to grow into that house. And just one more question for you guys. Do you foresee in this kind of hypothetical one, because I don’t know what the city would allow, but maybe the walkout basement. Do you think that could be a legal base suite and then the rest of the house can have the very bottom one is like their fun room. Do you think that there’s a way to eventually get kind of like an income helper or just put more living spaces out there on the market?
[00:35:45] Mike: Yes. See, there is a way of doing it, but you’d probably have to partition it differently. You would need a full independent staircase from the upper floors to the sub-basement that bypass The main living space for the suite, but I don’t see a reason why you couldn’t design a home around that.
[00:36:02] Jennifer Lee: This conversation has been great because like I said, there’s a lot of things that we could use in the future. I really have enjoyed talking to you guys about this. Obviously, this has been my whole life In construction and growing up on the job sites.
[00:36:15] Mike: I feel like I was an extra sitting around the family dinner table for a conversation as well. I do really want to express my gratitude and appreciation to Jeff and John for taking the time to be here today as well. Every time I’ve had a conversation with you guys, it’s been informative, it’s enlightening, and you guys have always been very open about passing along knowledge. Before we go, I’m wonder for someone who’s listening, thinking about any sort of project, what’s one piece of advice you would give to anyone thinking about building or renovating a home?
[00:36:43] John: Make sure you’re compatible with your contractor. Interview your contractors. It’s not necessary price. Most people that bid the job should be bidding similar. If somebody is bidding it lower than you have an issue but interview the people that are relatively the same price and see if you can bond with them because this is a long-term commitment.
[00:37:05] Jeff: With that being said, have trust in your consultants and contractor. Trust that they have your best interest in mind, and all they want to do is to help you build your dream.
[00:37:14] Jennifer Lee: Thank you so much for coming today. It means a lot to me that you guys, A, were able to jump into my world for a little bit, but also showcase your expertise because I know how hard you guys work and how long you guys have been doing this for, and I’m just glad to showcase what Euro Canadian is all about. It’s a family run business and even mom works in the office too, so it’s really family run.
[00:37:36] Mike: Well, and it’s been kind of neat for me to be here and sit as an honorary and a member of your family and pick their brains as well. I really appreciate your insight, your knowledge, and your experience and indeed your leadership in this industry as well. So, thanks so much for taking some of the time out of your day, your busy day to be here with us today to answer our questions and to give our listeners. And our viewers a glimpse into where the future of home construction will be in a few more years even though right now it’s happening.
[00:38:05] Jennifer Lee: There is something for everyone And of course the building industry is going under massive changes at this time and I’m just really excited to see where it’s going. So, thank you guys so much and yeah, thanks for joining us.
[00:38:29] Mike So huge thank you to Jeff and John. To our listeners, if you enjoyed this podcast, please like, follow and share with your families and friends. The more followers we have, the more people will find out about our podcast and the excellent resources our guests like Jeff and John are sharing.
[00:38:29] Jennifer-Lee: And for notes and links and everything on today’s episode, including resources shared by John and Jeff, go to havan.ca/measuretwicecutonce. Next week we’re going to be in the studio with BCollective talking about Boss, an open-source building system for factory built passive homes.
[00:38:51] Mike: We sure are covering the home building spectrum this season from custom-built iceberg homes to standardized homes. We’ve got it all, and I love it.
[00:39:05] Jennifer-Lee: Something for everyone. The home building industry is undergoing massive changes, and it’s an exciting time to explore building trends. See you next week, and thanks for joining us.