House Beautiful: Designed for good health

This home’s smart blue and white exterior is a blend of traditional and classical elements and was designed in the Italian villa style, says builder Gunnu Gill of Seba Construction.

But inside, this house is entirely contemporary, from the state-of-the-art air filtration system to its high tech water works.

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It is also one of the Island’s most healthy homes.

“We have a hospital standard air filter, which we really need because both our children have serious allergies,” explained Azalea Jin, who is a lawyer specializing in regulatory law.

“It’s amazing the difference it has made. We have definitely noticed they don’t have the same congestion, the coughs and other issues.”

She and her husband, David Duquette, opted for an IQAir Perfect 16 system when they moved here from Calgary recently.

The purification system in their new home quietly cleans all the air up to 125 times a day, and delivers more than 50 times more filter power than an ordinary system.

It uses microfibre technology to remove allergens, dust, pollen, mould spores, bacteria, viruses and other airborne pollutants down to 0.3 microns.

The couple also installed a Kinetico 2100 F whole-house water filtration system, which removes sediments, fine particulate matter, chlorine and neutralizes the water’s pH.

Some homes have a kitchen tap that delivers this quality of water for drinking, but these owners took it to the next level. They opted for the same filtration on every tap in the house, an unlimited supply, so they can bathe and shower in it, gaining advantages for skin and hair, too.

Both systems were ordered through Trail Appliances and that company’s sales consultant, Thomas Schultz, confirmed this is now the first designated Healthy Living Home in Victoria

The house looks modest from the street but is surprisingly large inside with more than 5,000 square feet of living space on three levels. And it feels airy, thanks to the generous expanse of pale, polished floor, which is covered in a solid oak from Germany. (Because of allergies, the children’s bedrooms have cork floors, although the master bedroom has carpet.)

The heart of this home is its kitchen, which has a three-metre-long island, sleek quartz countertops and an induction stove. Azalea likes the fast cooking properties of this kind of range because with two demanding jobs, and two children, they don’t want to take too long cooking at the end of the day.

They wanted a home that was functional and bright, and one way they accentuated this was by installing eight-foot high doors in all the main and upstairs doorways.

“It keeps the home feeling more open,” said Duquette, who is six-foot-four.

Moulded panel doors from the Berkley collection were supplied by Slegg Lumber and have a stylish, architectural look thanks to horizontal embossed lines.

David explained this building project went very smoothly, especially when compared with a major reno of their previous Calgary house four years ago. “The memories of that are still painfully fresh,” he said with a chuckle.

What was the biggest lesson?

“Managing costs,” said David, who manages an investment firm here.

One of the changes they wanted to make this time, was adding more space in all the bathrooms, especially the master ensuite, and creating a little more stylish ambience.

Azalea explained: “We had some neat features in our last house, but not as much character as here. I like the combination of modern and traditional features in this house, the barrel ceiling, the drop down over the dining area, the wainscotting and bronze door hardware.”

They have both lived in a number of different places — including Toronto, Montreal, Vancouver and Calgary — but both were keen to return to the coast, Azalea said.

“It was an exciting opportunity to come to Victoria,” David said of the job offer that brought them here, and they love the area they live in, near Willows beach and Estevan village.

Originally they were looking for a house to buy, but when they spied this lot under construction they immediately inquired if they could have a custom home built.

Seba co-owner Gunnu Gill said he intended to build the house for himself, but when the Calgarians drove by “and saw this hole in the ground” he agreed to sell it. They had been searching for about nine months.

“They wanted to scale it down a bit, make it a little more affordable, take out the sauna and other things I had wanted. So I gave them the budget and they had a chance to trim and customize. It worked out amazingly and the house was done in five months.

“That was because Azalea was really good. She had everything picked out ahead of time. It was flawless construction. I’ve never had a job happen like that before. Sometimes clients can’t make up their minds and because you always need things decided by a certain date, you lose time. People always blame it on the builder, but it’s not our fault if clients don’t figure out what they want.

“But she and her husband were on top of everything,” he said.

“We gave them a list of all the suppliers in Victoria and it was done long distance from Calgary, mostly by e-mail, though they did come to the site now and then. It was very unusual for such a high-end home, but it’s getting easier and easier now, with modern technology and the Internet.”

In addition, he said the owners were incredibly understanding when he had to leave town suddenly because a family member needed a liver transplant.

“That meant a lot to me. I really respect them and they have become more like friends.”

Gill also enjoyed building the house because of its many special features, from dropped, custom ceiling over the dining area to the barrel ceiling in the living room.

“To make that ceiling, we used vaulted trusses then framed inside with semicircular strips and then used flexi drywall.”

The insulated concrete form construction in the basement was a challenge too. “We had to do a lot of research and then find the right guys to lay it down.

“The whole house was also pre-fabbed too, and all the walls came from Sleggs. After the basement floor was laid out and the sub floor, we had the roof on in just two and a half weeks. It’s a great system because you don’t have any lumber waste and it is so quick.

“That really shocked me,” said Gill, whose family has been in the construction business for over 30 years, doing many condominiums and townhouses. He and his brother Jamie branched out a few years ago into subdivisions and custom homes.

“You often see smaller pre-fabbed houses, but not normally ones of this size. It was all computerized and it was really neat. Everything came in sequence: First the main floor, then second and third. They came on three flatbeds, each with its own crane.”

Gill said it’s the only way to build a house and he’ll never do it any other way. “It’s so neat and tidy.”

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