Downsize to Live Well with Less

I just discovered a new magazine Downsize with the theme "Live Well with Less". As a high performance builder striving to build NetZero homes this downsize concept really works for us.

Downsize means less material, less volume, less cost, less energy use and less PV panels to get to NetZero energy. It also means less taxes which in Saskatchewan is GST of 5% on the Purchase Price including the land , plus another provincial tax of 6% on the Labour and Materials.

"If we approach our homes with the "good things come in small packages" adage in mind, we might be presently surprised what we can do without." Kiley Jacques, Editor

Let's go inside and explore some of the DOWNSIZE concepts and nuggets in the Fall 2019 issue. As a summary we will create a check list of how to build smaller, high performance and low maintenance.

The first IDEA on the Ad on the inside page is use "Exotic Woods" to make your home Exquisite. By building smaller just maybe we can afford to use exotic material and apply boat building principles to make smart use of smaller spaces.

Another consideration could be to adopt "Strategies for Aging in Place" by designing your dream home around future needs. Clearance for wheel chairs, main floor bathroom and bedroom, site access and much much more.

The "Set for Life" article takes cues from boat building to make a comfortable 1585 sq.ft. home for two, with provisions to accomodate absorbing more people for short visits. The strategies used were built in bunks, storage areas tucked away in stairwells and rolling barn doors. Building a three feature unit that acts as a couch, bed and storage cabinet.

"While an empty nest needs to feel comfortable for one or two people most of the time, families hate the idea of not having a place for friends or relatives to stay" - Susan Stoltz

For the next article "The Ever-Evolving House" we start to define the size of a down sized home to be in the 1500 to 1600 sq.ft range. In this area we can accomodate 2 bedrooms, 2 bath rooms, office, living, kitchen and dining room.

Award Winning Modern FarmHouse, DownSize

In the "Get the Big Things Right" article by Asa Christiana we discover that the Owner of this Modern Farmhouse tempered their desire for a Passive House Standard and shifted focus to getting the best performance they could afford. Having worked on a Passive house we concur that the sweet spot based upon green building economics is somewhat lower than the strict Passive House standard.

The Modern Farmhouse compact box shape makes this design more affordable to build. The IPE rolling shutters are a good idea to block intense summer sun to reduce cooling loads. The durable siding and roof material (Cement Board Siding with IPE Accents, Standing Seam Metal Roof) will last a lifetime. Blown in cellulose insulation is a great sustainable choice.

Well It is time to get back to work so will save the rest of the magazine articles for another Blog. But before we go, let's create:

the Small but Spacious Design Check List

  • Going smaller enables us to afford better quality exotic finishes

  • Downsizing leads to less of everything including taxes and cost

  • Think about the boat building principles with low maintenance and excellent use of a smaller space, as guiding principles

  • Review aging in place requirments and think about designing for future needs

  • Make provisions to absorb more people for short visits

  • Adopt strategies like built in bunks, storage areas tucked away in stairwells and rolling barn doors.

  • Consider building to the sweet spot in energy performance as opposed to taking in all the way to Passive House Standard. Passive is really hard $$$$ to achieve, NetZero surprisingly is not!

  • Build a compact simple shape with clean lines and accents to be affordable and energy efficient. Accents for uniqueness and interest.

  • Consider rolling shutters for shading to minimize solar gain/cooling loads

  • Blown in Cellulose is a sustainable economical choice for insulation

  • Cement board siding and metal roofs for durability

Thank you DownSize for the wonderful IDEAS, I am looking forward to the next issue.

Please come and checkout many of these same ideas in our #EcoSmart homes.

Murray Guy

EcoSmart Developments

306.222.5384 or

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