Local resident Scott Gertsma has the first polycore home on Vancouver Island.

Local resident Scott Gertsma has the first polycore home on Vancouver Island.

New method of home building

There's no place like 'foam'

With more than 1,000 homes completed in Alberta, Edmonton-based Polycore Canada Incorporated has worked out the bugs with it’s building system and has brought the process out west.

Scott Gerstma’s new home is the first polycore home on the Island and, because good insulation and good design are important wherever you may be, will likely be the first of many.

“I’m the guinea pig,” Gertsma laughed at the Larkspur Road construction site recently of his decision to go with the building process which makes use of expanded polystyrene (styrofoam) combined with galvanized steel studs.

Gertsma’s home will be 2,800 square feet on three levels. When complete it will boast an insulation value of R34 as compared with an R15 or R16 which is common in most conventional homes. This type of rating adds up to greater year round comfort and economy for the homeowner, and there’s a definite ‘green’ connotation to go with it as well.

It’s interesting to note that although the building site may look a bit like a giant picnic cooler, the strength and life expectancy of the Polycore structure is more than equal to a traditional wood frame home.

“If you look at this house, if you were to take all the styrofoam away,” said Polycore Canada president Mark Cunningham who was on site that day on Larkspur Road, “it’s a steel-studded structure which is really the way most commercial buildings are made. So in effect it’s actually, in many cases stronger than a typical residential construction package.”

Polycore Canada literature indicates that the process and materials are adaptable to most commercial or residential building uses including walls, foundation walls, foundation floors and roofs. The system has many unique advantages, significant cost savings, and its ease of installation makes the product less dependant on costly and hard to find skilled trade workers.

Economies of scale will most likely be available as the Polycore style of home becomes more common in this part of the country. For this local prototype Gertsma said he’s looking at a price premium (compared with standard construction) of about 10 per cent.

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