This house was a real pleasure to build. First the style of the house has a lot of character; second the clients were some of the nicest people I have ever worked for. This house is a retirement home for my clients. When we set out to design this house we kept in mind that the clients will have to age in place and as such certain things were taken into consideration. The master suite is on the 1st floor along with the kitchen, dining room, great room and laundry room. The master bath has a curbless shower, so that if in the future the clients are wheelchair bound they will have easy access. The lady of the house gave a great deal of thought to the layout and she came to me with a very complete list of what she wanted. As we designed the house, I made several suggestions and modifications to enhance its appearance. One of the features I added was the timber framed front porch, I felt this added a lot of character to the house. We were able to take the logs we had cut down and have them milled into timbers; this repurposed and saved valuable resources. Another feature was the use of the Craftsman style windows; this too added a lot of character as well.
The site was quite challenging as it is on top of a mountain with a long steep gravel road. As we began to excavate, it became apparent that the site was almost all rock and it required a lot of extra work to remove the rock.
The house is very energy efficient. We employed many new building techniques. We started out using ICF concrete forms for the basement walls. These look like giant Lego blocks made out of styrofoam. After putting all the blocks together, then adding the steel reinforcement the concrete is poured into the blocks. This gives you a very strong, very energy efficient wall that allows the basement to be completely finished and very comfortable. We then framed the house using 2x6 walls; this gives the house more strength and more room for insulation. Speaking of insulation we used 2lb. spray polyurethane foam in the walls and roof. This is the most efficient insulation on the market today giving you 0 % air infiltration. We then installed a high efficiency variable speed heating system using the latest compressor technology. This system works by varying the compressor output to the demand on the system. This is so far superior to the old technology of just running the system at 100% then turning off. There are many benefits to this beside the energy efficiency. By having the system run at a low output over a longer time you are able to remove the humidity in the air better, have fewer drafts and remove stale air. We also employ an ERV for fresh air. ERV or in layman’s terms an Energy Recovery Ventilator removes stale indoor air and returns fresh filtered outdoor air with very little energy penalty. When the indoor air is expelled to the outside, the latent heat or cold that is in the air is recaptured and introduced to the incoming air stream. This allows you to recover the cost of heating or cooling the air in your house and thus reducing your energy bill. We also used tankless water heating for all domestic hot water. This system will give you endless hot water without having to heat a large tank. It works by sensing the demand for hot water and then turning itself on. The heater has such a high temperature that it heats the water immediately when you turn on the faucet and it turns itself off when you close the faucet, thus saving you the cost of heating and maintaining the temperature of a 50 gallon hot water heater.
The house also uses many long lasting worry free products on the exterior. The siding is fiber cement and it is incredibly durable. Being fireproof, rot proof and insect proof, it is probably the best siding product on the market. The windows are aluminum clad all wood windows. These are casement windows by Jeld-Wen and are very energy efficient and maintenance free. All the exterior trim is waterproof, rot proof, fireproof and will never need replacing. It is made of a composite of fly ash and as such it is almost made from 100% recyclable material. We used architectural grade shingles that have a beautiful three dimensional look and a 50 year warranty. The house was wired for a standby generator and all essential circuits were wired into their own subpanel. All the recessed lighting is LED for even more energy efficiency.
All in all this was a great project working for great people you have become great friends.