Weather is just fine anytime of year at Lou and Marianne’s Net Zero home

Terrance Gavan – Freelance Blogger / Ski Bum

Jun24 update from Sticks and Stones Productions on Vimeo.

Somewhere in Ontario, it’s September and you’re sitting in your house wondering why the dog hasn’t come out of the basement in four days. Heat warnings have been posted for Toronto for the past four days and you might be wondering why you didn’t buy that air conditioner.

Well, somewhere else in Ontario, Eagle Lake to be precise, Lou and Marianne Fenninger have no heat, no cooling, no electricity moving air in their brand new home… and the weather is fine.

“The temp(erature) inside has stayed at 20 for the last 3.5 months without any help from heating or cooling,” says Fenninger, and that’s not a miracle and it’s not a result of any divine intervention.

It’s that way by design. Lou is out to prove that an idea he had a long, long time ago is indeed feasible and progressive. We need to lay off the fossil fuels and Lou is incorporating many of the cutting edge (and historically tested) designs in staying true to that vision.

The vision? That a house can run self-sufficiently even here in Canada, where most people are so reliant on the dictates of fossil fuels in the winter that some families need to decide what comes first: heat or food.

This latest video shows Lou in his favorite place, walking a videographer through his house.

And yes the house is big. But Lou has always maintained that these houses – Net-Zero-Projects – can be run at scales to fit any size family or situation.

Take a look at this video. It may change your mind about what is, and is not, possible!

Gav @terrancegavan

NetZeroBuild house construction, Sept. 5, 2013

NetZeroBuild house construction, Sept. 5, 2013

NetZero Sep 5, 2013 from Sticks and Stones Productions on Vimeo.

From Sticks and Stones Video – Midori – Sept 5 2013

Once again we have a stellar video from Midori and Sticks and Stones Video.

In this clip we watch Eric (Master Timber Framer) preparing ‘dry white oak’ timbers for placement.

Also in the video Lou Fenninger describes how the big timbers are placed seamlessly during the construction.

Thanks again to Midori for the excellent video clips.

Groovy grooves in big timbers – NetZeroBuild – August 18 – 2013

Groovy grooves in big timbers – NetZeroBuild – August 18 – 2013

Photos by Terry Gavan

A local reporter took a walk through the site late last week in an attempt to decipher how the big timbers are prepared by master timber framer Eric.

The cuts are all pretty painstaking and feature some pretty specific measurements. You will note that the angles and the notches are all scored first with a boxcutter and then the cutouts are made and shaved accordingly.

Thanks for putting up with the improvised narrative. Eric left before our crew could get over to him for some comments.

We will be talking to Eric in our next video.

NetZeroBuild wall construction – July 31, 2013

Foundation excavation completed – NetZeroBuild update

Progress Update: July 24-2013

NetZeroBuild Progress Report

1.We have all the main beams cut and ready to install.

2. We did the excavation today and it went perfect.

3. The first few support trees have had the white oak inserts installed

So we are off to the races is:

1. Keep working on the trees

2. Get footing forms in and poured

3. Prep all the trees for install  

Bobcat working overtime at

Working with Wood and talking with Eric

July 23 – 2013

It’s always a treat to chat with Eric.

He is a master timber framer and has forgotten more about timber framing than most of us will ever know.

He received his apprenticeship in Germany and works in the Haliburton Highlands.

Thanks for visiting our build.

Next step has already begun.Excavation took place this week.

You may read about it right here. Shortly. We’ll have some pictures up as well. sawmill is on the way sawmill is on the way

Sawmill is state of the art!

 We have worked out all the design details with the Erik Michele and the Engineer.

I feel very fortunate to have found Rob , Michele and Erik  ( Engineer,draftsperson and timber framer ).

It’s so great to have them on my net zero team.

Each one brings great expertise to the party.

We will be ready to get our building permit next week.

The larger, more automated saw mill will arrive next week and we can start sawing the timbers.

This will be very specialized as the timbers will be like nothing I have ever seen before. I still need to find and harvest a few more maple columns.

I cleared the area where the mill will be setup today and went hunting for some column pieces. It’s going to be great to start shaping the columns and the big timbers.

Can’t wait.

During my quest to find the perfect tool to help with the debarking process I met a friend of Erik’s.

Andy is an expert in wood cleaning and finishing. It was great to go over his thoughts and experience on the process.

Thanks Andy… so good to meet you today as well.

Signing of for now.

All the best…

Lou main floor plans finalized main floor plans finalized

March 20. 2013 – Net Zero Build and Design

Update On Site and plans:

All building plans are near completion.

The Engineer has extensive experience with timber frame building.

The locally harvested timbers are cracked up and ready for the sawmill. When the weather breaks the stripping and cutting will begin.

The septic permit is in place and test hole is done. has hired a master timber framer for the month of June. I had him do some work on my current home and it worked out great.

All the timbers have been sealed at the ends to minimize checking. We scoped all the timbers for the build and we have lots of fabulous timber on hand.