Basement or slab?
We met with Adam on Monday and got to see the first sketches of our house. Our initial plans, per our request, featured a north facing walk out basement which housed the utilities. The plans also featured the master suite, laundry, kitchen and great room living spaces on the first floor. On the second story, two bedrooms share a single bath.
A north facing walkout basement is not ideal for a passive house. Exposing more surface area that faces the north will require a higher heating demand during the winter months. Would it be better to build on a concrete slab? Ideally, yes. Minimizing our energy demands is our ultimate goal. Building a slab is in line with the passive house standards, due to our building site, and ultimately minimizes our heating demands.
On a slab with extra square footage or a garage?
If we build on a slab, our budget would allow for adjustments to the square footage on the first and second floor or allow for building a garage. Eliminating the basement would mean we'd have to relocate the water tank, heat recovery ventilator (HRV) and some of the other utility components as well.
If we build on a slab and add square footage to the floor plan, we could place the utilities on first or second floor. I feel like the initial floor plan needs some adjustments, but I don't think we need more living space. I'm confident we can accommodate two bedrooms, one master, laundry etc. within ~1500 sq. ft. provided the layout is efficient.
If we build on a slab and add a garage, we might be able to put the utilities in the garage. An attached garage would have to allow for shelving, two vehicles and a motorcycle as well. I can hang our bikes and canoes; no problem, and my tool chest can stand just about anywhere in a garage.
The absence of a garage would mean all of this stuff would have to live outside, one or two years, until we could save enough money for building a garage later. The more I think about it, I'm not sure I want anything that we'd store in a garage sitting outside for one night, much less, one year or two.
Tentatively, a passive house on a slab with an attached garage sounds like our best option. Once Steph and I have had a chance to talk it through, we'll revisit the drawing board.