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Cob or alternative building methods in NB and Maritimes & building permits / engineers  RSS feed

 
Steve Ash
Posts: 2
Location: Central New Brunswick
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Hi gentlefolks, we have just arrived in New Brunswick and are asking for a bit of advice from fellow permies in the Maritimes. We wonder whether you have built or know of a hobbit-y style dwelling with cob or a combination of either cob, straw bale, cordwood, stick frame, and are familiar with the building permits for such a dwelling in New Brunswick and the Maritimes?

Could you also name engineers who have experience with alternative building methods, and are thus familiar with the permit process here in the Maritimes? Or possibly you might know of an organization or university faculty which has undertaken such home dwelling building projects in respect to the permit process?

You might also have suggestions on how to build an for some us "aesthetically pleasing" hobbit-y style small-scale dwelling (400-600 sqft.) in respect to a building permit. I trust it could include standard stick/wood to offer structural support "engineered to plan" to pass, and incorporate the various natural materials for the "look-and-feel".

Many of us are acquainted with the various utilised natural building methods discussed in the forums, but we hope that this can act as a reference point for folks as ourselves in the Maritimes who will need to steer through the building permit process, and Canada for that.

"Mille" thanks for any input, peace & regards
 
Max Tanner
Posts: 92
Location: Ontario North and South - right now, moving North Permanently soon. Timmins Cochrane areas
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CMHC has a whole experimental site just for Straw Bale and Alternative building processes in Nova Scotia Maritimes anyways, try that angle first then broaden your search from there.
 
Steve Ash
Posts: 2
Location: Central New Brunswick
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Max, thank you on behalf of all future potential Maritimers who are looking to build naturally as we are and are at the beginnings of their research efforts.

It was through a search "Straw bale house Maritimes" that we had already found a document that was created on behalf of aforementioned CHMC. The report was from the 2006 Straw Bale Builders Conference Maritimes, found @ ftp://ftp.cmhc-schl.gc.ca/chic-ccdh/Research_Reports-Rapports_de_recherche/eng_unilingual/Straw%20Bale%20Final%20Report(w)_july06.pdf.

This report was compiled by a wonderful lady who is a guest lecturer on Natural Building at the Faculty of Architecture at the Dalhousie University in Halifax.

Due diligence will also offer those interested a list of participants who have built straw bale houses in the Maritimes. From there one would find individuals who have been through the building permit process with alternative buildings. You will notice herein that at this time I will only provide references, and no names. As our research continues and we begin to communicate more frequently with persons who are involved in natural, sustaintinable building in the Maritimes, there will the opportunity to compile a detailed list. We already have the names and introductions to a few builders, engineers and architects to address the permit process.

A reply from a contact at NBCC (New Brunswick Community College) included "even the contractor Paul Arsenault is building a development of passive /zero-energy housing in the Moncton region. Or, you may be interested in contacting someone at the NBCC Moncton campus for further information. I know they often take on planning and drawings for residential projects. (Tel: (506) 856-2220 or 1-888-664-1477, Email: moncton@nbcc.ca) The best departments to contact are: Carpentry, Civil Engineering Technology: Building Systems, Civil Engineering Technology: Architectural or Civil Engineering Technology: Construction Management."

We will be visiting the Falls Brook Centre & the South Knowlesville Eco Village Community Land Trust now - http://www.fallsbrookcentre.ca/ and http://www.back2land.ca/about-us.html
The Falls Brook Centre is a sustainable community demonstration and training centre in New Brunswick.

Another interesting response came from a nature organization in NB that also supports the concept of natural, sustainable building.

If one follows the Terra Berma project via FB and view the online CBC report/vid clip, you will find reference to an engineer from Ontario who has "broken ground" with NB building permits.

We also took the opportunity to contact a building inspector directly at rural planning under the new organization title "Regional Service Commission 11" - this is for various counties around Fredericton and Central New Brunswick. One can simply find this currently @ http://www.ruralplanning.ca

We've also taken the time to search and then to address a few folks who give insights into off the grid living in New Brunswick on the web. We'll be visiting some of them very soon.

There is also a neat web site for environmentalism in NB - see http://www.elements.nb.ca/ - one can find some topics and local folks who are into sustainable building

Last but not least, here is a hommage to the late Jack Henstridge who lived by Gagetown Village - we met folks from there who told us about Jack and his buildings with plain, old cordwood and mortar. Find articles on Mother Earth News and other sources.

As one can imagine, this is not a project where one goes "to your realtor". We are real people taking "our" time and working on the building of a sustainable, natural dwelling - and we're having joy and fun doing so. We're here in NB from out west on advice from some friends we had out there and who came from Kent county - we are embracing the move to a more natural, slower-paced lifestyle that will fit in wonderfully with our goal to build naturally, grow and store our own produce naturally, and spend "our" time more attuned to our surroundings.

Over the next fortnight we (my partner & myself) will be looking for a down-to-earth home to stay at around the Woodstock - Fredericton back road area. We are now also beginning to shift our focus to finding some property around Fredericton/Woodstock/Central New Brunswick with a spring and/or running water body.

We are full of "ado" and set on taking on the task, efforts and time to build "Canadian style", a free-flowing organic designed "hobbit" dwelling with cob/straw bale and cordwood elements. As I have in the past with other projects, I believe that it is possible to bring in additonal, season-dependent design elements built with recycled materials that will allow for such a dwelling but will also offer protection from the elements of our somewhat frigid Canadian winter. "Canadian-touch" design, and I will add as an auto didact that I will certainly if successful with the building permit include that iconic piece of re-used Duct tape strip ...

So please be patient with replies here over the next fortnight as we are in a "moving process. Regards to you Max, and all others

 
Max Tanner
Posts: 92
Location: Ontario North and South - right now, moving North Permanently soon. Timmins Cochrane areas
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awesome follow up, very well written as well.
Since your going the re-use it route, maybe contact some Contractors in the area who do demolitions of houses. Most through stuff into bins then into landfills. Some will let you go in and remove material prior to the big excavator coming in and tearing it down. Just think of all the crown moulding and such you can get that way, along with old doors. Tell them, the more you remove for them, the less it will cost them when the bins are weighed at the dump. Cost saving ratios speak volumes to these guys.

Best of luck and may your home grow around you in the days and months to come.
Cheers
 
Leonard Givis
Posts: 1
Location: Montreal Quebec / Maplehurst New Brunswick
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Hi, I'm new to Permies and and would like to know if there has been any advancement in this Maritime project?

Farm sheds and buildings, coops for the chickens,outhouses, etc do not require permits. Has anyone come across any Canadian / Maritime government sites that speak to this rural issue?

I have a parcel of land with a couple of buildings on it and will recoup building materials from one to build others. It is a farm and will remain a farm.

Thanks for any news you can share.
Len
 
Jay Peters
Posts: 75
Location: Montreal, QC mostly. Developing in Southern New Brunswick, Canada.
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Hi Folks,

Though I'm certainly no expert, i do have some insight and have done a considerable amount of research in this space. Very cool to hear about the action within the NBCC...I did not know there was any interest within the organization as much of its programs seem to cater to creating suitable employees for oil refinement, mining, and paper industries.

SO Steve: If your following the Terra Berma project ..which for those who don't know, is an earthship under construction not far from my spot.. you should know that although of course the engineer played a key role in breaking legal ground on the project, they are also dealing with one of the most understanding and forward thinking building inspectors I could imagine. He used to be the inspector for the Town of Hampton, near Saint John and is now working for a regional group that I believe covers much of the rural areas of the south of the province. I doubt if his work would extend as far up into the province to anywhere considered 'central'..not sure exactly of your location...but maybe he would be worth contacting to get a sense of how to go about the process, and who best to talk to in your area. PM me or contact the terra berma folks...or even just check out their posts on FB for the inspectors name.

Len: As far as I understand it with the exception of commercial structures one only requires a building permit in the rural, non-incorporated areas of NB for structures that are designed with sleeping quarters. So home or small/hobby farm sheds, barns, outhouses, garages, greenhouses, etc. are exempt as I understand it...I don't have the documentation on me to reference at the moment but that's my understanding. If they are intending with sleeping quarters and are under something around 260 square feet the permit fee is a flat rate and no inspection is required. If over that size then an extra 5 or 10$ per 1000$ expected expenditure is required on top of the fixed rate...again sorry about the fuzziness of the details... I'll try and find the document and post here. In the meantime I think I found it by googling building permits in rural NB.

j
 
Jay Peters
Posts: 75
Location: Montreal, QC mostly. Developing in Southern New Brunswick, Canada.
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Hi Again,

Here is the link to the NB Provincial Building Regulation, 2002 - Community Planning Act.

I had to do some digging around the internet for this document as it was no longer on my hard drive and it hasn't been a top priority...so sorry about the wait!

It turns out I was mistaken on certain fronts.. the cost for a building permit in rural (unincorporated NB or communities without their own codes/regs) is 25$ plus 5$ for every estimated 1000$ spent on the structure IF the structure is over 250 square meters (625 sq ft.) and is designed for 'overnight accommodation'.

The good news is that under section 6 of this document, if the structure is under 250 square meters or is considered an 'accessory structure' the permit is ONLY 25$, and if I understand this correctly... CODE DOES NOT APPLY...I did not realize that, previously and it could be a boon and a good reason to build under 250 square meters and add on later, or simple construct more 'accessory buildings' as necessary. So in theory, and in my interpretation only...which is by no means that of a Pro...you can do whatever you want if you keep it small. I also think that if you keep your footprint at 250sq/m and add a loft, the loft won't count toward the overall area.

I also remember seeing somewhere that if the structure was 250m/sq or less than the building inspector would only visit once, if at all...but I haven't been able to get too deep into this doc today since finding it (i'm at work...). Also logically, if it doesn't need to follow code, the building inspector shouldn't need to visit..right?

hope this helps!! I suggest you read this carefully and maybe have a law type person look at it and not take my interpretation as gospel!

j
 
Jay Peters
Posts: 75
Location: Montreal, QC mostly. Developing in Southern New Brunswick, Canada.
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Hi Again All,

Apparently I'm a big dumb idiot...56.08m^2 = 625 feet^2. Not sure how I mis-copied that without noticing my error... anyway. THE REST STANDS ! I just went over the document with my dad who used to be a building inspector in our town..which seems like a pretty good authority to me

j


 
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