The “Almost” Passive House

The “Almost” Passive House

This new 3 bedroom, 2 1/2 bath home project, located in Charlotte, Vermont, was built using a modular construction approach and was designed using Passive House energy performance criteria. The goal was to meet the Passive House performance standard.  After many weeks of design work completed by Pill-Maharam architects, blasting the site,  setting the foundation and working closely with Preferred Building Systems in Claremont, New Hampshire, the 4 modules went into production and arrived on the site to be set on a beautiful, sunny spring day. Once the modules were set and the roof assembly completed, it was all ours to complete – exterior trim and siding, porches and decks, foundation parging, kitchen installation, interior window trim, flooring, etc. Passive House Foundation Details The foundation footings were set on top of 4 inches of high density EPS foam and completed wrapped on all sides with 4 inches of EPS. The foundation had 4 inches of EPS foam installed on the exterior walls, 2 inches on the interior along with a 2×4 framed wall filled with spray foam to achieve an R-45 rating. 12 inches of high density EPS foam were placed under the slab. The wall assembly utilized double 2×4 framing with a 10 inch cavity for dense pack cellulose with 4 inches of polyisocyanurate on the exterior making the wall assembly about R-62. The flat trussed ceiling has 30 inches of loose fill cellulose for an R-value of 108. Not your typical house! Mechanicals- Heat Pumps, Air Exchange-Heat Recovery Ventilator, Solar Hot Water, Solar Electricity The house uses a Zehnder 350 air exchange-heat recovery system. We installed a soil exchange loop around the footings ( 2 laps of 1 inch Pex tubing filled with anti freeze) to plug into the optional Zehnder heat exchanger that pre-warms and cools incoming air and helps to dehumidify the air. The hot water system is a two panel solar hydronic system with a 80 gallon storage tank and a 50 gallon standard electric hot water heater for back up. The house is heated and cooled with a single point Mitsubishi Hyper Heat Mr. Slim FE-18 heat pump. A 3 inch concrete slab was poured and polished in the main great room as thermal mass. In the laundry area on the first floor, a condensing dryer was used to avoid having to vent to the outside creating a major penetration of the thermal envelope. As of this posting, we have been monitoring the performance of the house closely and it has been performing quite well with overall temperature variations through the house only being a few degrees. More specific performance data will be posted in a future update. We call it the “almost”...

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Hinesburg Renovation and Remodel

Hinesburg Renovation and Remodel

In this renovation and remodeling project, we took out the old sliding glass doors and added two large walk-in bay windows that made the small interior space feel much more open and spacious. A balcony was added to one of the windows which opens out from the master bedroom to a stunning Adirondack view. The master bedroom was completely redone and includes locally harvested maple trim and several built-in shelves and doorways with transom windows that allow light to flow through the entire upstairs. More energy efficient, double pane Marvin windows with durable metal exterior cladding were used to replace the old, leaky windows that were installed when the house was originally built. Local Materials for a Great Renovation Many local materials were used on this project including spruce and pine flooring, solid maple and pine that was used for trim and several custom built-ins including the one seen below that enters into the master bedroom suite. The balcony was all made of red cedar for its warm color and durability to rain and snow which this house sees plenty of.  ...

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Custom Design- The Dome House

Custom Design- The Dome House

This custom design home is one of the most unusual projects we have ever worked on. The exterior walls were made by Monolithic Domes out of Texas and constructed from 2” of polyurethane foam and 5” of steel reinforced concrete. We arrived to an empty shell and had to devise creative ways to frame the inside of the house. The interior is spacious and extremely unique, with tall arching cathedral ceilings in the upstairs bedrooms and library and include many built-in shelves and cabinets, recycled pine floors from an old barn roof with a radiant heat slab beneath, maple and cherry cabinets, cherry stairs and butcher block counter tops. This home redefines the terms ‘custom’ and ‘personalized’. This home will be heated primarily with wood and solar hot water pumped through a radiant heating system. The thermal mass of the concrete walls makes it especially energy efficient year round and solid. Custom design- mechanicals The home features a full house air exchange heat recovery ventilator and solar electric panels were added as well to make this home extremely energy efficient.                ...

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Energy Star, Neighborhood Farmhouse

Energy Star, Neighborhood Farmhouse

We started building this 5+ Energy Star house in the fall of 2009 and completed it in the late winter of  2010. Built for a family of four near downtown Shelburne, Vermont,  it is about 2400 square feet with 3 bedrooms, 2.5 baths, a large 2 story mudroom with sky lights that links the main house to both floors of the 2 car garage. The mudroom contains a laundry facility, large closet and room for built-in benches. There is also a full basement and study. This house has room to grow, including a huge 675 square foot space above the garage that can be finished and another 550 square feet of basement space that has radiant floor heat in the slab already (finished in the spring of 2014). Radiant heat was installed on the first floor, with baseboard on the second floor. A beautiful wood burning built-in stove was installed in the living room with a unique one piece limestone facing. The wood stove heats the entire downstairs comfortably. The floors and cabinets are all red birch and counter-tops granite. Cellulose was used to insulate the house and, as we always do, an air exchange/heat recovery system was installed. Custom tile work was done in the master bathroom steam shower, all the bathroom floors and mudroom. The master bedroom suite is quite spacious with a full cathedral ceiling, walk in closets and spacious bathroom. The outside decks and porches all feature Brazilian Paulope with tongue and groove pine ceilings. Cost was about $162.00 per square foot (2009) not including blasting and excavation to build the house. This does not include design work,  land and permits....

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Spacious Custom Renovation

Spacious Custom Renovation

Custom Renovation We did this custom renovation in Burlington, Vermont, with the focused purpose of connecting the inside of the house with the outdoors. This home has a beautiful backyard, but had no inviting way to get to it and celebrate it from the house. The owners wanted more space, more light and to feel the yard was much more a part of their house. We tore off the old mudroom and added a three season sun porch, wrap around deck and mudroom. Inside, the walls which divided the kitchen, living room and dining room were all removed creating a larger, delightfully open space that flows nicely out onto the new porch and deck through French doors and out into the backyard. Mission accomplished! We created a large mudroom with a cathedral ceiling conveniently accessed from the garage. Inside the garage we also created space for a small workshop. We used cellulose insulation in the walls and ceiling to maximize energy efficiency and air seal the new exterior walls.                                  ...

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Spacious Charlotte Custom Deck

Spacious Charlotte Custom Deck

Custom Deck from Natural Materials This was a fun project. This house has a large backyard and was built with a tiny back deck. So we built a new custom deck that is three times bigger. The deck features handmade built in benches and railings and clear red cedar decking which wraps around the west and south sides of the house, allowing views towards Camels Hump. The pressure treated decking that was salvaged from the old deck was recycled through Recycle-North. We were able to use the framing from the old deck, so very little waste was generated on this job.            ...

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