According to a recent article in the Financial Post, pre-fabricated homes are soaring in popularity due to innovative technologies that have significantly improved the quality and the performance of modular homes. One such technology that is turning heads is Canadian made BONE Structure – a high-performance light steel construction system that is versatile, durable and eco-friendly.
The first BONE Structure home in BC is currently under construction. Nicknamed the Februar House, the two-storey, flat roofed private residence overlooking Okanagan Lake is dream home come true. The Kelowna homeowners invested many years of research, including a trip to Quebec to tour the BONE Structure manufacturing plant, prior to selecting the BONE Structure construction system.
The contemporary Februar House is designed and built by Kelowna-based Bauhaus Designs and Thomson Dwellings. A first for both firms, the Februar House is an exciting project that demonstrates the design versatility and high-performance of the BONE Structure construction system for homeowners seeking a durable and energy efficient home.
The Februar House also features a host of other green building technologies, including German engineered windows and doors by Innotech. Delivering exceptional air, water and sound resistance, Innotech windows and doors are the perfect fit for the high-performance building envelope. Together with the BONE Structure construction system, the home delivers unparalleled R-values making it one of the most energy efficient homes in the province.
Welcome to part three of a series of short articles exploring the damage severe weather can wreak and how Innotech windows and doors help prevent or mitigate that damage. You can read part one here and part two here.
In parts one and two of this series the main topic was how windows and doors can be built to keep severe weather at bay. But the most well engineered windows and doors in the world won’t help if the wrong type is selected or if they are incorrectly installed.
How to Select the Right Window
Any window or door can be at risk during high winds and heavy rain, but basement egress windows are particularly vulnerable during stormy conditions. As this video demonstrates, a leaky basement window can definitely be cause for concern:
That homeowner is lucky the leak didn’t affect his electrical wiring!
Most areas’ building codes explicitly mandate the size, shape, construction, and operation of basement egress windows. For example, in Alberta the building code states that:
- “The window referred to in Sentence (1) shall provide an unobstructed opening of not less than 0.35m² (542.5 in²) in area with no dimension less than 380mm (15in)”
- “When a window required in Article 220.127.116.11 opens into a window well, a clearance of not less than 550mm (21.7”) shall be provided in front of the window. Where the sash of a window pens towards the window well, the operation of the sash shall not reduce the clearance in a manner that would restrict escape in an emergency situation.”
These regulations mean that the type of window selected for an opening becomes very important. Basement windows are typically wide and short in height. They also often open into the window well. The implications for the window type are critical:
- Casement: Cannot normally be used, as the max width is about 36” and combined with the short height it will not provide the clearance area needed.
- Awning: Typical awning windows are not allowed as they opens low to the ground and don’t provide the necessary clear opening area.
- Single/Double Hung: Not enough clearance for them to operate properly.
- Sliding: The most common choice for basement windows, however a large rough opening in necessary as well. Also, sliding windows are the least secure, and the least air and water tight.
There is another option for basement egress windows that are much more resilient in the face of severe weather (not to mention security!):
- Tilt & Turn Windows: The inswing of the window means it can accommodate almost any size opening, and the size of the window well is irrelevant. Plus, tilt and turn windows have been proven to resist air and water better than other styles (see part one and part two).
All too often homeowners choose beautiful expensive windows for their home, but outfit their basement windows with lower quality sliding windows. This mistake often doesn’t become apparent until it’s too late, and the owners are faced with large repair bills. Choosing the right windows for the right space can save financial pain in the long run.
Window Installation Matters
So once the correct window type has been selected, it’s just a matter of putting them in the openings, right? Well, it’s not quite that simple; a high quality window installed improperly can perform worse than a cheap window installed properly. A reputable window and door manufacturer will ensure that their products are installed to exacting standards by providing extremely thorough installation instructions.
A properly installed window has the following characteristics:
Surrounded by weather resistant seals
Manufacturer approved sealant applied to all four sides
Proper Drainage Measures in Place
Firmly attached to the building interface with manufacturer supplied anchors
These steps ensure that water and air stays out of the building envelope. A properly installed high quality tilt & turn window (like the ones manufactured by Innotech Windows + Doors) will last for years, and potentially longer than the walls around them. Builders who use our windows often remark that it takes longer to install our windows than our competitors', but the final quality is well worth it.
Properly selecting the right window for the job, and then installing it properly – two important factors in winning the battle against the elements. If you’re not sure which window is right for your project, why not talk to one of our fenestration experts who can guide you to making the right choice; click here to contact us today.
In the near future there will only be one place to see a doorknob in Vancouver – inside a museum. That’s because in December of last year the city council amended the city’s building code to ban doorknobs in all commercial and residential buildings. Existing buildings will be permitted to keep their quaint knobs, but all new construction must forgo them for handles.
The reason was not an aesthetic one. Door lever handles have been proven to be much easier to open, providing enhanced accessibility for the elderly and physically challenged. Former building inspector Will Johnson, who helped write the new code, explained “when I look at what we [proposed], it is simply good design. It allows for homes to be built that can be used more easily for everybody.”
Vancouver is considered a trendsetter with many of its initiatives and this one seems to be no different as governing bodies in other provinces including Nova Scotia and Manitoba are considering following suit.
This is part two of a series of short articles exploring the damage severe weather can wreak and how Innotech windows and doors help prevent or mitigate that damage. For part one please click here.
Part one of the “Defending Against Mother Nature” series explored the importance of a window and door’s impact resistance; a high-quality insulated glass unit with high performance glass and protective coatings play a critical role in keeping severe weather at bay. But, in the face of high winds, powerful storms, and flooding conditions, a window or door’s glass is only as good as the frame and hardware that surround it. Not only do they contribute to impact resistance, they are crucial to the air and water tightness of the entire window and door.
As stated in part one, the first job of a window or door is to keep bad weather where it belongs – outside! Rain or flood waters can cause extensive damage to a home, and air leakage can lead to dangerous pressure differential situations (not to mention cost you an arm and a leg in energy costs!). A window and door must maintain the integrity of the building envelope because as soon as there is ingress of air or water then the energy and repair bills start piling up: the more leaks, the higher the bills!
High winds in powerful storms can produce catastrophic results, but even slight air leakage can have a negative effect on the comfort and energy efficiency of a home. At wind speeds as low as 25mph a poorly built window can fail, with the wind driving cold air and damaging water into the home. Let's face it: if air can get in, so too can water.
So what does it take to build a leak-resistant window and door frame? First, it needs to be resilient. The best windows and doors utilize some type of engineered reinforcement system to help maintain integrity during extreme conditions. The stronger the reinforcement the better, with the best being high-grade steel integrally bonded to the frame.
Next, the window or door frames should not have any joints where air or water can intrude. This presents a problem at a window or door’s corners; how can two intersecting pieces be joined without a seam? Glues, sealants and conventional welding can be a viable solution, but the best option is something called fusion welding, whereby the adjoining pieces are actually melted together. Welded joints, especially of thicker uPVC profiles, are stronger than mechanical joints and are completely airtight and watertight. Unlike aluminum, fiberglass, and low quality vinyl windows and doors that rely on sealants and can work loose or leak, fusion welding eliminates one of the major pathways of air and water penetration into building walls.
Most familiar to homeowners is after market weatherstripping; this is what people often think of when they consider a window or door frame’s air and water tightness. However, an air and water tight system will have integral weather seals within its frame; a crucial defense against air and water, especially when multiple seals are used at once.
Hardware plays a very important role in air and water tightness. Ill-fitting or poorly engineered handles and locks are potential entry points for air and water, an intrusion that will surely find its way into the building envelope. The best hardware precisely aligns to mating surfaces to maintain contact in all weather conditions and adjusts along three axes to compensate for minor settlement and wear.
Finally, it’s not just how a window or door is made that determines its air and water tightness, but also how it’s installed in the building envelope. In a recent study conducted by the Alberta Municipal Affairs and the City of Calgary, the main reasons for water intrusion - also known as building envelope failure - in both single and multi-family homes are related to "poor construction practices and trade skills, lack of accountability within the building industry and insufficient or ineffective inspections/enforcement by municipal authorities" (source). Taking time to read and follow the manufacturer's installation instructions can significantly improve the air and water resistance of the installed window and door.
Put all of these elements together - a very strong framing system, multiple weather seals, high-quality hardware and proper installation - and your windows and doors are in a much better position to defend your home against Mother Nature. Watch the video below to see how a high quality Innotech window handles extreme weather conditions.
When you combine integral steel reinforcement, fusion corner welding construction, high quality multipoint locking hardware, triple and continuous seal technology, and good installation, you get windows and doors that will resist costly and dangerous air and water intrusion.
+ Click here to read Part 3 of this series
This is part one of a series of short articles exploring the damage severe weather can wreak and how Innotech windows and doors help prevent or mitigate that damage.
2013 will be a year long remembered for its severe weather. Mother Nature was at her destructive worst, causing damage to homes all around the world. Hurricanes, tropical depressions, high wind storms, and swollen rivers all contributed to a frightful year for homeowners. Perhaps most significant to Canadians were the massive floods that struck Albertans, specifically those in Calgary and High River, and caused a staggering amount of damage; the Insurance Bureau of Canada has called it the costliest disaster in Canadian history.
With the destructive power of Mother Nature regularly reported in the media, it’s natural to wonder what steps a homeowner can take to protect their possessions and their family. It surprises many to find out that windows and doors play a major role in keeping Mother Nature at bay.
The first step to preventing damage is to ensure that bad weather stays where it belongs – outside! To do this, windows and doors must be constructed with three important characteristics in mind:
- Structural and Impact Resistance
- Air and Water Tightness
- Window Placement
This article will deal with the first item, structural and impact resistance, and subsequent blogs in this series will tackle the others.
The Importance of Impact Resistance
A window’s ability to resist impacts is critical to preventing weather damage to a home, but the reasons for this may come as a surprise.
Strong winds in a hurricane or powerful storm can carry debris through the air at high speeds. The danger of debris flying through the window, along with the shattered glass, is significant in itself, but so too is the pressure differential that is created when a window burst open. If you’ve ever seen pictures of a home that’s had its roof blown off in a storm, you might have thought it was just ripped off by the wind. In reality, it’s often broken windows or forcefully opened doors that allow air pressure to build up inside, increasing the likelihood of roof failure. By protecting against impacts a well-engineered window and door can help prevent the pressure differential that is so dangerous to homes.
Likewise, rocks and other debris carried by flood waters pose significant dangers to a home. A failed window, especially a basement egress window, will allow the interior to become flooded with mud and water. Windows designed and built to withstand impacts can help keep a home protected during a flood by maintaining their structural integrity, keeping the water out.
What Makes a Window Impact Resistant?
Impact resistance is a product of a window or door’s frame construction, its operating and locking hardware, the quality of the insulated glass unit within that frame, and the thickness and types of coatings of the glass. When all of these components are engineered to work together, a window or door can achieve high impact resistance - helping defend your home.
The video below includes a demonstration of the kind of force that Mother Nature can throw at a home, and the types of windows that help protect homeowners and their families. Filmed on location in Innotech’s testing facility, using actual Innotech products, the video documents two separate tests; an impact test consisting of a two-by-four being fired at the window, followed by a pressure test which sucks in and then pushes out the glass, replicating the pressure changes that take place during a storm.
The glass in our windows and doors is supplied by Cardinal Glass, the world's premiere supplier of high performance insulated glass units. Not only do we utilize the best glass vendor in the industry, but the glass used in Innotech products is on average 25-50% thicker than other manufacturers. This top quality glass works in concert with Innotech's German engineered Hybrid Framing System and Defender Hardware System to provide superior impact protection.
As the video demonstrates, a well-engineered window and door can protect your home from high winds, driving rain and hurricane conditions. By ensuring your windows and doors are built to withstand impacts, you can help defend your home and your family against nature’s destructive power.
+ To learn more about the anatomy of an Innotech window, click here
+ To learn more about the safety coating options offered by Innotech, click here
+ Click here to read part 2 of this series
One of the best parts of the US Department of Energy Solar Decathlon's competition is seeing all of the different sustainable building technologies and products used in the construction of each of the homes. We'll admit that the first building component we look at are the windows and doors - after all, this is a competition that's all about the best of the best in sustainable construction!
This past October at the 2013 Solar Decathlon, two our staffers had the opportunity to go to California to tour the 19 entries in the competition. We were pleased to see that about half of the homes featured European-style windows and doors.
Of course, the three European teams, including the winning team Team Austria from Vienna University of Technology, all had tilt and turn windows and high-performance exterior doors, but many of the North American teams also opted for European windows and doors - most likely because of their excellent air, water, sound and structural ratings.
It's great to see more and more discerning building professionals - even our up and coming ones - specify high-performance fenestration for their projects.
The Fraser Shipyards in Superior Wisconsin have seen their fair share of amazing engineering, what with Coast Guard cutters, massive container ships, and huge barges all spending time in their docks.
This past July, the growing shipyard broke ground on their new expanded offices on Lake Superior's waterfront and Innotech was chosen to supply our high performance windows, adding our fenestration engineering to compliment the nautical variety. The project features 67 openings, which are filled with double glazed fixed windows, spectacularly dressed in our charcoal exterior and white interior.
Scheduled to be completed in the coming weeks, we'll be sharing more photos of this amazing project once it's finished. For now, follow the link below to enjoy a selection of progress pictures provided by Fraser, and be sure to follow us on Facebook for more updates about the project!
We love seeing beautiful photos of our clients' projects!
Lately, we've spotted a growing kitchen design trend: replacing upper cabinets with extra large windows. And we've got to say: we love this look! It opens up the space making the kitchen look huge, floods the space with warmth and natural light, and is a wonderful departure from "cabinets gallore" designs.
Here are a few of our favourite upper-cabinet-free kitchen designs:
To see more kitchen design ideas - with and without upper cabinets - see our album "Cooking with Sunlight" on Houzz.com.
We would like to extend a huge congratulations to Team Alberta for placing 9th at the US Department of Energy Solar Decathlon 2013. In what was the tightest competition in the Solar Decathlon's history, Team Alberta earned an impressive 913 points out of a total of 1000 possible points. The very close competition was a reflection of all of the quality homes displayed in California.
Team Alberta designed and built a modular, net-zero home named Borealis for this year's Solar Decathlon. The affordable, comfortable and energy efficient home was built in response to the immediate need for housing for the resource industry working in remote areas of Western Canada. + Read more about Borealis here
The winner of the Solar Decathlon is the team that best blends affordability, consumer appeal, and design excellent with optimal production and maximum efficiency. The winner of this year's tight competition was Team Austria from the Vienna University of Technology. Congrats to Team Austria!
During the ten day competition, Director of Business Development at Innotech George Nickel and Director of Sales from Fentro Technologies Henry Nickel went to California to support Team Alberta and take part in some of the Solar Decathlon's festivities. Here are some of our favourite photos:
An arial photo from Orange County Great Park in Irvine, California where the 19 competing teams re-constructed their homes for the competition:
The entrance to the US Department of Energy Solar Decathlon 2013:
Below right: Team Alberta's Project Manager Alexandre inviting us into Borealis. Below left: Neal from Team Alberta with George from Innotech.
The back of Team Alberta's t-shirts showing all of the sponsors of Borealis:
The front and back of Borealis by Team Alberta:
Congratulations once again to Team Alberta for all of their hard work and genuine passion for high-performance, energy-efficient design and building. It was a pleasure working with you and cheering you every step of the way! See you in 2015!
+ For more information on Borealis, click here
+ For more information on the Innotech products in Borealis, click here
Two years of creating, designing and building a solar-powered home has come down to these 10 days of competition! Team Alberta, pictured above with Borealis, is currently in Irvine, California for the much-anticipated 2013 Solar Decathlon.
We've been closely following all of the excitement on Team Alberta's Facebook page and Twitter feed. And if all the buzz is to be believed, it sounds like our windows and doors are the talk of Borealis:
October 7, 2013
You can support Team Alberta by voting online for the People's Choice Award. It takes less than a minute to show your support to a dedicated team of students who have spent hours helping make Borealis the hit that it is.