Tuesday, June 18, 2013

A Pretty Good House

Over the past few years, as the kids approached college age, I've been keeping an eye out for lakefront property in the area, checking zillow.com every few weeks.  About a year ago a property came up on a lake about 10 minutes from my current home.  The house was fairly small (1150 sq. ft), the layout was terrible, it needed major updates throughout, and it was rather musty.   But it was on a quiet street, had a beautiful view of the lake and 140' of lake frontage.   Pretty much exactly what I'd been hoping to find.   Great location and a house that itself added very little value so that I wouldn't feel bad about gutting it and turning it into my dream home.

Well, that's exactly what I'm doing and what this blog is about.  In particular I've long been intrigued with the notion of living in a ultra energy-efficient house - partly because I've got a bit of tree-hugger in me, but also because I'm not a big fan of the cold weather in New England and I'd like a house that's as comfortable in the winter as it is in the warmer seasons.

The house I'm planning on building is what the green building community refers to as a "pretty good house".  There are several energy-efficiency standards that one can aim for when building a green house, the most well-known of which is the PassivHaus standard.   The PassivHaus standard is quite rigorous and certainly results in an extremely energy-efficient house.  But it does add cost - if nothing else in the modeling required to attain the certification, but also in achieving a range of performance numbers.  A "pretty good house" is an informal term for a house built with more of a focus on bang-for-the-buck rather than specific thresholds.   Most of the posts on this blog will be about the various technologies, decisions and building techniques that go into building a pretty good house.

The photos on this page are of the house before any work has commenced.

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