June Updates

Much has happened in the last few weeks. The roughed in driveway was completed last week. We seeded and mulched all the exposed areas. The surveyors finished the property adjustment survey last week. The brush was moved into one big pile. The excavator made a cut behind the house site to level off the house site and provide drainage from the area above the house. He used some of the cut to fill in front of the house site. We also marked and cleared the location for the well.

After being stalled by spring rains, yesterday (Tuesday) we finally got word that it was a good day to dig! So they dug the hole for the foundation. They were curious to see if there was any ledge where the foundation would go. None. I told them it was a good spot. (After they cleared the site, we moved the house over about 20 feet, hoping to steer clear of a chunk of ledge. It appears that was a good decision.)

We also hired an engineer last week. I had just enough non-standard details that it was making my contractor and inspector nervous. I thought it would be money well spent. He is based in Massachusetts but is licensed in several states including New York. He will size all the structural members and do a code check on the drawings. I found him through my energy consultants.

And speaking of energy consultants, Warren and I took a trip to Newton about 4 weeks ago to go over the preliminary calculations and discuss how to improve the details. They estimated that the house would require 11,900 BTU/sq. ft/year for heating. If you multiply that by the heated area (roughly 1200 sf), you get approximately 14.3M BTU/year. I estimated approximately 13.9M BTU/year using my rough calculations. Not bad!

With the improvements we’ve since made, including insulating the basement to R40 values, adding sun shades for the first floor, Canadian windows, etc, I’m hoping to get well below the 13M BTU/year estimate. As soon as the plans are complete and ready to be submitted for the building permit, I’ll be able to get the final energy calculations for the house. I’m very confident that we will be able to hit net zero with our budget. More on this as the numbers get finalized.

We should be ready to submit the house plans for a building permit within a week or two.

2 Responses to “June Updates”


  1. 1 Chuck 17-June-2010 at 10:05 pm

    Looks great. I hope we can get up to see it sometime this summer.

  2. 2 Aunt-E 18-June-2010 at 11:03 am

    Always love to stop by to watch the progress. Thoughts on the time when we built our energy efficient home in Ontario…How much space have I got here to write? :) Very few contractors, Joe and I did 99% of all work (with friends who helped)on evenings and weekends. We have extremely strict building codes here as well as very informed housings inspectors who turned out to be very helpful – so it was a love/hate relationship when it came to inspectors. We had a preserved wood foundation which allowed us to go R40 in both basement and ceiling. It has a 99 year warrenty and having lived in the house for over 15 years, it turned out to be quite wonderful. Energy efficiency is all about the continuous vapour barrier! We opted for energy efficient Pella windows which, for reasons you mentioned and more, turned out to be a very expensive disaster. Do you ever wonder why I have so many artificial plants in my apartment? No house plant will grow. I don’t know if things have changed in this respect, but at that time two panes of glass encased argon gas. It was only a couple years later when this leaked out of the windows and allowed moisture in. So much for argon low E windows, follwed by moisture stains inside the glass so much so that you could not see out of most of the windows. We replaced with very inexpensive well made windows which were wonderful, no problems and no change in our heating bill. Last suggestion, or bit of advice..Gas fireplaces are wonderful, clean, zero clearance, throw off a ton of heat. In the ice storm of Jan. 98, we were able to disconnect the electric start, light them by hand and heated the house very comfortably. I am sure you looked into this option, but if woodburning is out of the question or at least on the back burner for now…check out the styles and the flames again. We had two, one in our bedroom and one in the livingroom which had an 18 ft cathedral ceiling. It really is hard to tell the difference. I am sure you can run on propane. Finally, one summer I went to a pig roast (know what that is? lol) and asked Mac the owner of the farm if he ever let Eddie, his walker hound, off the leash of his dog house. I wanted him to run around with all the kids and have some fun. Old Mac said, I haven’t let him off the leash since the last time he got away. :) Bernadette is gorgeous. Keep up the good work, wish I was younger so I could help you guys!

    Love, Aunt-E


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