In this story, builder Sean Murphy and his company, Hollyhock Construction, set a high performance precedent (and secure a win at the 2022 Logix Awards) with locally available labor skills (with a bit of help from Logix Brands).

Sean and his team met and exceeded client expectations — and the industry standards — while relying solely on locally-available materials and non-specialist labor.

The result? A masterful coordination of locally available engineered insulation products, such as Logix ICF, Halo Exterra and Heat-Sheet from Logix Brands, integrated together by superior detailing rooted in building science and common sense.

Background

This 2,925 ft2 single family residential home was constructed in 2021 in Teulon, Manitoba, a town in the Climate Zone 7B (one of the coldest). It was designed by ANT Architecture and built by Hollyhock Construction.

Primary Objectives

Per Sean, the owner of general contractor,  Hollyhock Construction, the primary project objectives were:

  • Near-total accessibility in the home. The owner required the garage, patio, sidewalks, dining and living areas to be fully accessible. Non-living areas had to be as accessible and comfortable as possible.
  • Energy efficiency and comfort was another crucial requirement to consider, especially given Teulon’s location in Climate Zone 7B, which is one of the coldest climate zones in Canada.
  • And crucially, Sean wanted to achieve these performance objectives while using readily and locally available building materials and labor skills.

Key Product Spec’s

  • R-60 roof insulation:

    Heat rises, so high thermal resistance at the roof is essential to prevent heat loss in cold climate zones.

  • Triple-pane fiberglass windows: Triple-pane windows excel at minimizing heat loss through the fenestration because they add a second thermal break (the gap between the panes of glass) in heat’s path.
  • ICF grade beam: to support the two separated areas of the home: The team had to increase the level of the ground to match the neighboring house. The ICF grade beam raised the level of the house and supported the two separate areas of the home.
  • Helix micro rebar: this type of reinforcement adds both tensile and flexural strength to the concrete while also reducing labour cost and increases speed of construction.
  • Logix ICF: Sean Murphy’s team constructed a 3-foot foundation stem wall for the slab-on-grade with Logix ICF blocks. However, Sean opted to not use ICFs for above-grade walls because the concrete plant was far away.
  • 1.5-inch Halo Exterra: To give the exterior stud walls a boost in thermal resistance, Sean’s team used 1.5-inch sheets of Halos’ Exterra, thus providing a continuous layer of R-7.5 insulation and the much needed thermal break
  • 3.25-inch Heat-Sheet Heavy: Hydronic radiant floor heating was integrated into the home’s design to afford the clients utmost comfort and high energy efficiency. Heat-Sheet Heavy, used to support hydronic heating tubes and prevent downward heat loss, covered 2,655 ft2 of the home’s floor area — essentially the entire living area.

Highlighted Details

Sean has shared several key details from the Teulon House project, and below are the two most essential section details that illustrate the interfaces between the various Logix Brands components and other building elements. These details show how all these components worked in concert to give the Teulon House its high energy performance and comfort.

Stem Walls – Above-Grade Walls – SOG interface

Stem Walls - Above-Grade Walls - SOG interface

Above-grade Walls – Roof Structure Interface

Here’s a brief recap of the most crucial details, some shown in the illustrations above, as explained by Sean Murphy:
  • Frost shield:

    Frost can go down to 9 feet in Winnipeg and Manitoba which can and does freeze water lines, so Sean decided to install a frost shield — an essential component in Climate Zone 7B.

  • Continuous air barrier: Starting from the fastfoot bag footing all the way to the truss and VB tie in, a continuous air barrier was maintained. Sean’s team used a bituminous product at the Logix-to-wood-framed-wall interface between the Logix stem wall and the wood-framed above-grade walls. BlueskinVP100 was then overlapped ontop of the top plate and tied into the ceiling poly to form a continuous air barrier.
  • 1 ½-inch false ceiling: This way, no penetrations to the air barrier were required to facilitate electrical conduits.
  • Window detailing: At the window, Sean’s team used a custom foam liner fabricated by AMC Foam, and the latter served as a thermal buck. Then, liquid flashing was also applied. Meanwhile, on the interior side, Sean opted for a silicone sealant to seal the window to the foam.
  • Exterior strapping detail: Sean’s team installed ¾” plywood strapping over the Halo Exterra layer using U2 construction fasteners. Strapping distributed the load over the Exterra and also created the rain screen for the home. The crew did not encounter any depression of the foam with this approach. The rain screen was a critical part of the building design as it drastically increases wall durability which also leads to a better performing wall assembly.

Execution: Obstacles, Solutions, and Timeframes

Challenges and Solutions During Construction

Site Access

The site was located a bit far from Winnipeg, so traveling and transporting materials and equipment presented a logistical challenge. The team was able to overcome the daily struggles of commuting and bringing materials to site thanks in part to cooperation from AMC Foam, the local Logix Brands manufacturer which was site stored in a shipping container for site security.

And since the concrete plan wasn’t close and getting the mix to site was a logistical challenge, Sean’s team performed a monopour, thus minimizing concrete delivery and pumping costs.

Site Elevation

The grade level was originally below that of the neighboring sites. Sean’s team solved this obstacle by using a Logix ICF grade beam to raise the level of the house.

Narrow time frame

The clients had a limited time in which their new home had to be built, as they were moving to Manitoba from out-of-province. Sean’s team was able to design and build the house in only 10 months even during the pandemic — largely thanks to the readily available materials like Logix ICF, Halo Exterra and the speed of installation with these products.

Construction Times

Sean Murphy has shared with us the durations for each of these tasks:

  • Foundation stem wall with Logix ICF blocks: 10 days
  • Above-grade wall insulation with Exterra: 3 days
  • Floor slab with Heat-Sheet Heavy: 2 days
  • Total estimated man hours: 366 hours
  • Total estimated cost for all Logix Brands products and installation: $37,500

Outcome

Sean Murphy and Hollyhock Construction completed the entire Teulon House project — including design and construction — in only 10 months which is a very efficient timeline considering the logistical challenges the team faced due to the site’s distance from Winnipeg.

What’s more important was the end product met and exceeded the client’s expectations.

Crucially, the entire home ended up being completely accessible, an achievement that went a step farther than the client’s requirements for an accessible living area.

Also, the house achievedimpressive R-Values, and consequently, a high energy efficiency. The home’s main walls had a thermal resistance of effective? R-27.2, whereas the garage walls had effective? R-17.9. The home’s airtightness was equally as impressive , measuring at 1.24 ACH50 during the door blower test. That’s roughly twice as airtight as what most modern new homes offer, and slightly better than the 1.5 ACH50 Net-Zero Ready mark.

Thanks to its high thermal resistance values and impressive airtightness, the Teulon House received an EnerGuide rating of 76 Gj/year, which makes this house 29% more efficient than comparable modern homes.

There’s no better way to summarize this incredible project than to quote Sean Murphy, the man who cleverly pieced together various high-performance components to build this high-performance home:

“This project has set a precedent for our future custom home projects whereby a critical need of the client can be addressed while using the best construction materials in order to enhance their living experience.”

Sean Murphy, Hollyhock Construction
Tyler Simpson
Ask Tyler Your Technical Questions
Tyler Simpson, MBSc.

Manager of Technical Services & Building Science (Canada) for Logix Brands

[email protected]

Tyler is passionate in the design of building enclosure systems that are durable, safe, efficient, and engage material selections that limit advancement of carbon emissions. His educational background provides a solid foundation of field research, hygrothermal modeling, and forensic investigation of building failures.