The Globe and Mail, October 3, 2017
The large lots around a secluded nature preserve are deeply forested and feature dramatic outcrops of the Canadian Shield. Deer are a common sight — which is appropriate for a place called the Deerhurst Sanctuary.
It’s a remarkable area that’s about to include a remarkable community of innovative, ecologically sustainable homes near the Deerhurst Resort, a 12-minute drive from Huntsville, Ont.
The homes being marketed and designed by Laval, Que.-based BONE Structure Inc. are constructed with a patented, 11-gauge galvanized steel framing construction system, and are insulated and sealed to be “net-zero ready” in energy efficiency. That means they’re so well-insulated and air tight that with a renewable-energy source such as a solar array, they can produce as much energy as they consume for heating, cooling and lighting.
Deerhurst’s owner, Skyline Investments Inc., partnered with BONE Structure on the project because BONE Structure’s modern homes and their efficient construction are ideal for building in this natural reserve, says Paul Mondell, Skyline’s senior vice-president of development.
“BONE Structure buildings provide a unique look and feel, but more to the point, they are a very environmentally friendly builder in the way they construct homes and the fact there is little waste produced on site.”
The steel framework of the homes is designed and precision-cut off-site, and the parts are delivered ready for assembly, so the frame of a house can be installed on a foundation in anywhere between 12-15 days depending on the size of home,, with no cutting to be done or leftovers to be carted away.
“The end product is a lot more energy efficient than the typical wood-framed house and that provides synergies with the image we want to project of Deerhurst Sanctuary as an environmentally conscious place to live,” Mondell says.
“It was a natural fit to partner with Deerhurst and we’ll be handling the sales, marketing as well as the building consultation for the 27 Sanctuary properties, which range from 1.2 acres to nearly five acres”, says Marc Bovet, founder and chief executive officer of BONE Structure. “With limited lot inventory available in the area, we expect to complete lot sales by end of 2018.”
Skyline was looking for a construction method that would leave the lightest environmental footprint on the Sanctuary.
“The last thing [builders and developers] want is an area under construction for many years that requires a lot of trees to be cut. They typically need to clear a lot completely to bring in the heavy machinery to build a house and store building material and waste from construction,” Bovet says. But with the BONE Structure system, after the foundation and driveway are completed, materials are delivered to the site pre-cut on a flatbed truck, so construction has less impact on trees on the property.
All BONE Structure homes are designed and assembled using a patented steel construction technology inspired by the aerospace industry. The metal skeleton of the home is encased in a polyurethane thermal envelope that is so energy efficient that home owners can save up to 90 per cent of their heating and cooling costs, Bovet says. The steel frame won’t rot, go mouldy or be damaged by termites, as can happen with wood construction, he adds.
Because the structure is supported from the perimeter rather than interior load-bearing walls, he adds, it permits a wide range of large, open-concept options.
“Bigger window and larger spans are also possible in BONE Structure homes in comparison to a usual wood-framed house, so you can enjoy more natural light and views of nature,” Bovet says.
A model home showcasing the BONE Structure technology will be built on one of the lots beginning this fall, but the company expects that most buyers will opt for the custom option. Homes are expected to range in size from 2,500 to over 4,000 square feet.
The already-serviced lots range in price from $199,000 to $289,000, plus HST. The cost includes the use of BONE Structure’s integrated design services,to take into account the site’s unique topography and view. BONE Structure has a roster of builders who can do the turnkey construction, notably Garrison Creek Homes, but owners can also choose their own contractors to complete the work.
Deerhurst Resort will be home to the Sanctuary’s display and sales office, where interested buyers can meet directly with representatives, Mondell says. Buyers can also book appointments on the BONE Living website. Buyers in the Sanctuary will get privileges at the resort, including preferred memberships.
But the principal draw for some, Bovet says, will be living in a community that is more environmentally sustainable because the BONE Structure homes are net-zero-energy ready. “The value of the homes is destined to go up as they’re built, because they are part of a community in harmony with nature,” he says.