Innovative steel home assembly process delivers precision, high efficiency
A Quebec company is transforming the home building industry, one set of ‘bones’ at a time. BONE Structure, the brainchild of former Bombardier executive Marc Bovet, is finding a receptive market for its patented steel construction technology that enables energy efficient residential homes to be assembled with precision.
The company is intent on bringing the same rigour and quality improvements that have advanced other consumer goods such as cars and phones to houses, turning conventional wood construction on its head. “When you look at the productivity index, the only industry where you’re paying more and getting less in terms of quality, durability, eco responsibility and energy efficiency is your home,” said Bovet. A BONE Structure home is designed using 3D software and laser cut from galvanized steel in the same manner machine parts are made for aircraft and vehicles. Structures arrive on-site pre-cut, pre-drilled and ready for easy assembly using a drill. They are insulated with a combination of expanded polystyrene panels and foam insulation to form a highly efficient and moisture-resistant barrier, eliminating opportunity for mold or pests, and reducing heating and cooling needs by 90 per cent compared to the average new home, said Bovet. The exterior can be “dressed up” in a myriad of finishes, from wood, stucco and masonry to more modern steel or concrete panels. “It’s a very innovative, new direction in homes that we sort of fell in love with,” said Fourteen Estates Ltd. vice-president Shawn Rondeau. “It’s almost like a kids’ K’nex assembly set. It all goes together off of drawings that are easy to read.
Fourteen Estates is offering six different BONE Structure platforms in its Eden Park community, an enclave of 28 luxury homes in the neighbourhood of Newtonville, Ontario. Each home will be built on a three-quarter acre lot and will be designed for net zero energy efficiency, meaning they only use as much energy as they can produce. The state-of-the-art homes, ranging in price from $1.1 to $1.8 million, are wired for full smart home capabilities and come standard with electric vehicle charging stations from FLO Inc. High-end finishes include pre-engineered wide plank wood floors, Caesarstone and Cambria counters, and eightfoot interior doors. Because BONE Structure designs often require no load-bearing interior walls, the homes can be configured according to homeowner preferences. Rondeau said he was “blown away” by the technology after one of his engineers brought it to his attention. The contemporary look is attracting “likeminded people who are very interested in new age construction, net zero capabilities and very efficient, clean homes,” he said. “When you look inside these units when they’re under construction, it looks like the fuselage of a plane.” BONE Structure embeds quality into its assembly process using an extremely precise, integrated design process. As Bovet explained, it’s nearly impossible for assemblers to make an error. “You can’t forget to clip a part, add the insulation or put in a window exactly to millimetre accuracy,” he said. “It’s like assembling a Lego toy. If 1, 2 ,3 doesn’t clip, you can’t go to steps 4, 5 and 6.”
The company also takes location into account, designing homes to take advantage of their natural setting, including sunlight analysis so that energy can be captured and released. “We’re not a construction company. We’re a technology company that has come up with processes, found the right material … to enable people to assemble quality homes,” said Bovet. Ontario is the largest market or the Laval, Que.-based company, followed by California where there is a mandate for all new residential construction to be zero net energy by 2020. “To build one home with wood and make it energy efficient can be done, but it’s going to be a harsh and difficult road to make it happen and you can’t scale it up,” said Bovet. “We make it a scalable, worthwhile proposition for today’s owners and future generations.”
Toronto Sun | November 2018