When bringing our standard panel systems and high performance building approaches to the effort of designing homes that people might like to live in, we knew we didn’t have all the answers. That’s why we welcome you to make choices to make these homes your own. In our preorder process, we’ll guide you with budget numbers to consider for the options you choose, while afterwards during an initial consultation, we’ll help offer our experience as to what options might make more sense than others for your particular location and lifestyle.
Each of our home designs offers 2-3 different style options, to help your home achieve a traditional, modern, or mountain aesthetic. All are offered as part of a standard package with no additional design fees, although you can expect that certain styles have a higher upfront cost due to a larger volume of panels and/or additional windows or other features.
Layout & Orientation
The standard layouts have been designed for southern orientation, with large south-facing windows to maximize solar gain in the winter and a room layout that puts the living room and kitchen where there is an abundance of natural light, and the bedrooms tightly organized in order to optimize fresh air ventilation in each room. If you have a view or other site condition that lends itself to rotating the orientation of the home, we can provide recommendations on the impact on energy efficiency and comfort, and help you make a decision about whether these designs fit your needs or whether you might need something more custom.
If you would like to make changes to the layout, whether you would like to mirror the layout, change the bathroom location, move the entry, etc., we can accommodate these requests, whether in the 20 hours of complementary design time we offer with every Collective Home package, or with an additional design contract to manipulate the floorplans to your every need. Changing the overall building size is also possible, but may require significant design hours due to the need to also update the window, panel, and structural design.
We hear a number of common requests for add-ons to our home designs – carports, detached garages, a fully-equipped rental unit or ADU, decks, screened porches, and accessibility packages for persons with reduced mobility to name a few. If you’d like to add something, reach out to us and let us know your desires, and we’ll suggest the best way to move forward as well as typical costs involved in design and construction.
Foundations & Basements
The adaptation of a standard home design to a site is no small feat. But we’re here to help you find the right solution.
For flat sites, you can choose between slab on grade and an unvented crawlspace with a site-built main level floor, and we can provide you or your contractor with the details to ensure structural and thermal continuity for a safe, comfortable, and durable enclosure.
For sloped sites, many buyers want to see their building on a basement with a walkout, helical piers, or some other solution. We often recommend engaging with a local designer for these sloped sites, who can also help you with any necessary geotechnical engineering services that may be required to assess the feasibility of what you wish to accomplish. Contact
us to discuss your site and whether we might be able to take on a custom basement design in-house. Basements are often constructed with a different building system (concrete stem walls or ICF), so this will usually fall outside of the Collective Carpentry prefabricated panel scope.
All of our designs have been composed keeping in mind a possible basement staircase location (usually conversion of a utility room or other closet). Other staircase location options are possible, but may affect the structural design of the wall or floor panel system and come with accompanying design fees.
Energy efficiency & renewable energy
While state-of-the-art building certifications like Passive House can help deliver a 90% reduction in heating cooling energy, most clients just want a comfortable, pretty good home. Our standard designs are capable of a 50% (or higher) reduction in energy costs compared to construction built to current code levels in most areas. You may decide, however, that you’d like to get your home modeled and/or certified to the Passive House Low Energy Standard, the International Passive House Standard, Net Zero Energy Ready, BC Building Code Step Code 5, or another method of verification for your home’s energy efficiency. Reach out to us to ask how we can either help your energy modeler or directly provide energy modeling services in order to achieve the building standard of your choice. Depending on your goals, some changes may need to be made to window glazing, insulation thickness, heating and electrical systems, shading, renewable energy systems, or other elements that will increase the energy performance of your home.
Heat recovery ventilation is a relatively new addition to a North American home, although it’s been used in European homes for several decades. These systems act like the lungs of the home, providing fresh filtered air at controlled locations as opposed to relying on leaks in the building envelope. Some North American HVAC contractors may be less familiar with these systems.
Depending on where you live and who lives in your home, you may be interested in upgrades to the fresh air systems, including an ERV upgrade, dehumidification, HEPA filter upgrade, or an earth tube ventilation system. We can help guide you on what’s necessary in your location so that you know the right questions to ask when working with your HVAC or general contractor.
Plumbing, electric, heating & cooling, and hot water
Our home designs come with recommendations for standard plumbing systems, a mini-split heat pump for heating and cooling, and an electric resistance water heater. As most homes in the future will be, this home is designed to be an all-electric home. The very small heating system is a testament to the energy efficiency of the design. It is useful to be able to understand this when communicating with your HVAC contractor, who may lean towards oversizing your heating system and recommending a conventional heating system.
If you require upgrades to these systems, from a greywater system to septic systems, drainwater heat recovery, electric vehicle and solar hookups, in-floor radiant heat, geothermal systems, a ducted mini-split heat pump, a heat pump water heater, solar thermal water heating, etc., help us understand these needs so that we may help guide you in – similar to the above – in being armed with the right questions and information when discussing these with your local contractor.
Apart from windows and doors, finishes are mostly chosen by you depending on what’s locally available in your region. It certainly doesn’t help to choose finishes that local trades aren’t familiar with! Whether you are an owner-builder comfortable making your own choices, or whether you are collaborating with your General Contractor and/or a local architect or designer, you can make use of our architectural and building envelope 3D models and drawings to get take-offs for your finish needs.
Architects and novices alike often choose IKEA kitchens for their simplicity, adaptability, and affordability, but upgrades to fixtures, countertops, and cabinetry are common desires. Help us understand your desires and we can help you imagine the impacts on budget before you approach a general contractor or supplier.
Contrary to the structural, insulated building envelope which is designed to last the life of the building, bathrooms can change many times over the life of a building. Whether you want to start with a simple bathroom design or a high-end one is up to you. You might also decide to change the size or placement of bathrooms – talk to us about your needs so we can help you understand the design and budget implications of these changes.
Lighting choices can be extremely personal and we don’t profess to be lighting experts. Our recommendations are based on energy efficiency and simplicity, but you might prefer to speak with someone who can help you make choices to better fit your preferences. Let us stick to building fabrication and performance, and we’ll let you customize your lighting design with outside parties if you so choose.
Interior finish choices can range from the thickness and durability of your drywall to paint colors, crown moulding and other finish details, custom cabinetry, flooring, or even the use of natural lime-based plasters. As with many interior design choices, we leave most of this up to you and your local team. Don’t hesitate to ask us about your ideas, as we may be able to help you avoid certain items, for example certain paints with toxic materials or materials which inhibit the ability of your building to properly regulate moisture to avoid rot and mold. We highly recommend you ask your suppliers whether their products contain Red List materials, so you can avoid those that create air quality issues in your home.
Exterior siding choices are highly dependent on your location, as such we recommend again speaking with local professionals who know what will stand the test of time in the elements. We recommend a metal skirt at the base of your walls to prevent moisture issues and to keep with the design intent of our homes, and all wall systems are designed for a ventilated rainscreen. Some exterior siding choices may require extra structure, like vertical Shou Sugi Ban siding for example. We are advocates of wood siding which comes in many forms, and of choosing materials that are as local as possible. Stick to what your trades know, and know the cost and durability tradeoffs of different exterior siding choices.
Our roof systems are designed with an insulated roof panel and a separate uninsulated roof panel to accomplish overhangs and provide adequate venting for the roofing material and the roof assembly. Metal roofing is often the material of choice for durable high performance enclosures, but that doesn’t mean that other options shouldn’t be considered. Your roofing choices may be affected by snow loads, wind loads, or other environmental factors. Speak with your contract, tradesperson, or engineer about roofing recommendations and don’t hesitate to ask us in advance if your choice of roofing requires any change to the roof panel design.
Ready to proceed with developing your own unique Collective Home? Try our non-binding pre-order process to generate a preliminary cost for your Collective Home base costs as well as your estimated total build costs. Once you submit, an advisor will get in touch to help you continue to develop your ideas.