House Build Progress Q4 2020

Garrison Creek has pushed hard in Q3 /Q4 to get the house completed for us. Drywall started to go up in late August after the electricians, plumbers and tilers did their rough installations. Paint and trim soon followed as well as the kitchen and bathroom cabinet installations.

All of it came together on December 23, 2020 when we received our occupancy permit (Merry Christmas to us!).

Thanks to Kyle and Fraser at Garrison and the many tradespeople who help us get to this point, despite a crazy year due to COVID-19.

What’s Ahead

We move in!

House Build Progress Q3 2020

Garrison Creek has pushed hard in Q3 to get the house completed for us. Drywall started to go up in late August after the electricians, plumbers and tilers did their rough installations. Paint and trim soon followed as well as the kitchen and bathroom cabinet installations.

What’s Ahead

Hopefully we’ll take occupancy in the next few weeks and move in.

House Build Progress Q1/Q2 2020

Work on the house was progressing well up until March 2020 when the various construction site restrictions due to the COVID-19 outbreak kicked in. A skeleton crew continued to work over this period but progress slowed considerably.

Several big items did get finished: the pouring and finishing the concrete floor throughout the house, the rough plumbing, the garage door and the elevator. Externally, the majority of the siding was installed.

What’s Ahead

We are hoping with restrictions easing in Ontario that the house can be completed so we can take occupancy in September. Electrical and HVAC rough-ins need to be completed before the interior finishing (drywall, painting, kitchen and bathroom installations) can start.

House Build Progress Q4 2019

Getting the house sealed up so the inside work could start was the big activity for Q4. Firstly, the roof and windows were installed. Then the ground floor concrete slab was poured. Finally a temporary front door was installed and a portable propane heater was used to bring the inside temperature up to a comfortable level.

What’s Ahead

Getting the plans together for the HVAC systems is the main focus for early Q1 2020.

House Build Progress Q3 2019

Lots of activity on the house in Q3. The most obvious from the photo above is the application of the insulating foam both inside and on the outside of the house. There has also been a lot of work in running the water and electrical services from the front of the property to the house. Although not shown in the photo, we’ve also had the septic system installed on the southeast corner of the house.

What’s Ahead

Garrison Creek is moving quickly to complete the outside of the house so that work can continue inside. Roofing, siding and window installation are all coming up soon.

House Build Progress Q2 2019

We have a lot more progress to show at the end of June 2019.


The soil remained our biggest hurdle to progress. Firstly, we needed to reinforce the driveway to allow the heavy concrete trucks to access the building site. Secondly, we needed to find a good solution for backfilling the foundation as our geotechnical engineer indicated that reusing the original clay soil would likely cause problems down the road. Some thirty trucks of gravel later we were back in business. Unfortunately this all took time.

Rapid Progress

June 11 marked the first day of work on building the steel structure. Since then, things have been going at great speed. The photo above was taken on June 19 and shows a good deal of the steel framing completed in just one week. As of today, the steel structure is complete.

What’s Ahead

The next major step is to install the structural insulation panels (SIP’s) on the roof and exterior walls.

House Build Progress Q1 2019

On-site work on our new house started on January 25, 2019. It has been quite a process getting to this point, but we’re happy to see things moving. A big shout-out to our builders, Garrison Creek Construction, who have been moving things forward despite the challenges on winter in southwestern Ontario.


The biggest challenge at the start of the build was the weather. Our area got wrapped up in the Polar Vortex that hit in late January, meaning the crew were clearing the ground and excavating in -20 degree C weather. Then things warmed up and all the ice and snow turned into water, flooding the excavation. Water management became the focus for several weeks.

Once the water was under control, the forms for the footings were placed and a ground heater brought in to remove any remaining frost from around the footings.

Finally, concrete for the footings were poured on March 25.

What’s Ahead

With the footings poured and set, the next step is the foundation. Garrison Creek will be using insulated concrete forms which make for reduced energy losses out through the foundation.

2018 in Gardening

2018 represented our first full year of gardening at White Tree Farm. Robin did most of the work on it, from planning to seeding to harvesting. All in all, it was a good first year.


As you probably could determine from the lead photograph, pumpkins and squash did very well this year. We gave a lot away and still had lots for soup and pie. All the varieties we planted did well.

Hot chili peppers did well.

Zucchinis matched our consumption and we were able to dry quite a bit for use over the winter.


Robin planted a lot of tomatoes and the results were mixed. The smaller varieties did well while the larger ones suffered a number of setbacks.

We planted too many cucumbers for the rate at which we eat or preserve them.

We should have planted more beans; the ones we harvested were good; we just eat more than we harvested.

Green peppers and watermelons did OK, but not great.

Getting Started on Our New Home

Surveying Stakes at WTF

Things often seem to take longer than expected; house construction could easily be the poster child for this phenomena. It looked like things were going to get going in October, but here it is December and only now do we really feel things are moving.

Our major blocker was the need to have our septic plans completed before the house building permit would be issued. In hindsight, this makes a good deal of sense given the challenging soil makeup on which White Tree Farm is located. Test pits were dug (three of them!) and a full engineering design written up. This took a good part of November.

But the last week has been a flurry of activity. We met with the main systems designer from Garrison Creek and discussed heating, ventilation, electrical, plumbing and computer systems. Garrison Creek’s project manager was out at the property with the surveyor and laid out the basic footprint for digging the house foundations  And today we picked up the approved building and sewage permits from the township.

Robin and I have put the extra time to good use. We’ve been focusing on the great room design and spent a weekend mocking up the new kitchen. This caused us to reconsider the design of the kitchen which created some nice benefits for the rest of the great room. We also had satellite Internet set up so we are now connected there as well.


Designing Our New Home

It has taken almost a year and a half but we are finally moving forward on the construction of our home at White Tree Farm.

The Design

As we outlined in this post, we decided to engage BONE Structure as both the designer and the supplier of the main structural aspects of the home.

Over the years, Robin and I had collected quite a bit of information on what we wanted in the house design, so it took us some time to go through it all and make a final list of givens and druthers:


  • A durable, low maintenance, low energy usage house
  • Interesting architecturally but should echo the style of Ontario farm buildings
  • Living/dining/kitchen on second floor; living /dining should face south towards Lake Erie
  • Living/dining/kitchen in a great room arrangement
  • Stairs to second floor close to kitchen and garage
  • Mudroom near main family entrance and garage
  • Five bedrooms in total
    • Small bedrooms, each with an en-suite (sink, toilet and shower)
    • First master bedroom for owners in one wing
    • Second master bedroom for owner’s children in the second wing
      • Smaller bedroom for grandchild adjacent to second master bedroom
      • Shared bathroom
    • Two additional bedrooms for guests and potentially one for elderly parent
  • Two small offices
  • One-car garage


  • Separate formal entrance
  • A covered porch area with views to the lake
  • Fireplace in living room
  • Library/game/music room
  • Play room for grandchild
  • Elevator to allow barrier-free access to second floor

We also spent quite a bit of time on the BONE Structure website looking at their designs and completed projects. One particular design we liked was the New Classic 32, which tied two traditionally shaped houses together via a connecting cube.

Once we had the contracts signed, we met several times with the designers, both face-to-face and via video-conference. BONE’s lead designer for our project, Ioana, hit the first concept design out of the park: Robin and I had only a few minor comments and clarifications. We’ve tweaked a few things in the meantime, but the drawing above remains very true to the first concept.


Because of the specialized nature of the BONE Structure construction, we decided to go with a builder who has had experience with them, Garrison Creek. Garrison built the BONE Structure house we visited in May 2017 and they agreed to take on our project. We’ve met with them on two occasions on site and are very pleased with the enthusiasm they all have for the project.