Construction Practices

Green Building

Habitat for Humanity Manitoba (HFHM) builds exceptionally energy efficient, carbon free homes.

We started building in a more energy efficient manner in 2006, when we adopted Manitoba Hydro’s Power Smart Gold Program. Since 2009, we have been incorporating key techniques from the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) program. In 2018, we built five Net Zero homes. As with LEED, we now incorporate many of the Net Zero features in all homes we build. 

The energy and water efficiency resulting from these efforts not only makes them environmentally friendly, but also more affordable by significantly reducing daily living costs for the low-income working homeowners. Building in this manner enables Habitat homeowners heating bills to be reduced by as much as 50% compared to homes built to meet the current building code and it allows homeowners to move to full Net Zero in the future at a reduced cost.

Homes are built to be as air tight as possible (minimal leakage) with increased insulation levels, efficient heating and ventilation systems, and energy efficient lighting and appliances.

We are now actively involved with Efficiency Manitoba and its “Certified Energy Efficient” program, which is a designation given to homes that are built to be at least 20% more energy efficient than comparable new homes.

Habitat for Humanity Manitoba takes great pride in consistently building some of the most energy efficient houses in Canada in any price range.

Link for more information on Efficiency Manitoba’s New Homes Program will be active soon.

Accessibility

An affordable Habitat home may be the only home its owners ever live in. Understanding this, Habitat has planned for their futures by incorporating wider doorways and hallways for future wheelchair accessibility, if mobility issues become apparent. This reduces the cost of otherwise expensive renovations and helps maintain the future affordability of Habitat homes.

We have custom designed and built many homes for families with special needs. For example, for one of the homes constructed as part of the 2017 “Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter Work Project” HFHM’s team designed and built a single family one story home with main floor laundry, a fully accessible kitchen, bathroom, bedroom, closets, access to the front deck, and wheelchair ramps to the back parking area for easy access to Handy transit.

Building Materials

All Habitat homes are built with top grade, new materials, either purchased or donated from manufacturers and/or home building centre retail outlets. In order to maintain the highest energy efficient standards, HFHM uses 2” x 6” construction with rigid Styrofoam on the outside of the house above grade, creating an R30 insulation rating.

Insulated Concrete forms are used on the foundation walls, along with raised wooden floors to create a warmer and dryer basement, which makes the lower level a prime area for expanding the living space. Often our families are large enough that we build bedrooms in the basement.

Skilled Labour

Professional construction personnel are necessary to guide Habitat’s many enthusiastic build volunteers. They ensure safety and teach volunteers basic building techniques that many utilize later for their own home projects. While volunteers do a large part of the home construction, it is the skilled professional labour that Habitat counts on to ensure a home is built to our high standards. Professional trades are hired to finish the home’s inner workings such as plumbing, electrical, heating along with dry walling to ensure building codes are, at a minimum, met.

Safety

Safety is the highest priority of Habitat for Humanity Manitoba for all volunteers, staff, sponsors and trades on our build sites. We follow equally strict safety procedures in our office and ReStore outlets. As part of the Habitat commitment to safety, we employ a full time, trained Safety Coordinator who works closely with a safety consulting firm and the Government of Manitoba’s Workplace Safety and Health Division (WSHD). Safety is everyone’s business and HFHM fully embraces the province’s SAFE Work program. The program is available online here.

The Habitat construction department attends safety seminars put on by the Construction Safety Association of Manitoba. As well, HFHM ensures that all volunteers complete pre-build safety training courses. Habitat appreciates the time and respects the knowledge of the safety coaches provided by the Canadian Society of Safety Engineers (Local Chapter). These special coaches come to the Blitz Builds (building many homes simultaneously) and help volunteers by demonstrating safe building techniques.