Tuesday, November 11, 2008

So much progress has been made on our plans, although some key pieces still need to get figured out, particularly regarding the deep energy reduction/super insulation portion of our work. Our hope is that all this work will truly lead to a healthy home that has caused as little damage to the environmental as possible and that uses minimal energy.

Following a initial summit that included our architect (Olaf Vollertsen-www.vollertsenarchitecture.com), general contractor (Scott Sorensen-www.sesorensen.com) and energy consultant (Marc Rosenbaum-www.energysmiths.com) to detail a number of specific items, we have tentatively agreed that our super insulation project will include several key components:
1. Insulating the basement walls with closed cell spray foam insulation and sealing all the air leaks
2. Insulating the basement floor with one layer of rigid insulation
3. Insulating and sealing the attic with spray foam and blowing cellulose throughout for an approximate R60 roof
4. Adding 4 inches (2 - 2 inch layers) to the outside of the house on tip of which will be placed our new siding, which we had to replace anyway.
5. Installing new windows throughout.

Our big dilemma at the moment is what type of window to use. We started with Pella designer series which is a triple pane wood window because we wanted to keep the architectural integrity of our house which has beautiful wood trim around all our windows. The Pella's have a U value of around .30 give or take. But we've recently seen some fiberglass windows that are also triple pane, have the option of an oak interior and have a U value around .21 for double hung and even lower for casements (.18).

However, we need to feel certain that these windows perform well and are trying to find example of projects. The one company we're looking at is Fibertec (http://www.fibertec.com/) a Canadian company that does not have a lot of projects in the area. We hope to meet with them at Build Boston/Green Build next week but time is running out and we need to make a decision. We're also looking at Accurate Dorwin and Thermotec, although we don't think the latter makes a double hung window, which is something that we want to keep for the look of the house.

Once the envelope is secure, our hope is to heat the entire house without any ducts or piping, using a single point heater such as a Rinnai gas heater placed strategically on the first floor.

This all seems a bit mysterious for non engineers like us so we hope our energy experts know what they're talking about.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Project Description

New to blogging but as my wife and I are trying to undertake a home renovation project that attempts to be as green as possible without breaking the bank, it seemed appropriate to begin posting our efforts and hope that feedback along the way may be helpful. If not, at least our project may help others.

Here are the project details:
We currently live in a small bungalow type home in Auburndale, MA, totaling about 1250 square feet. There are 6 rooms with a LR, DR and Kitchen on the first floor and 3 brs on the 2nd. A somewhat finished basement existed until our water heater broke and we had to demolish much of the basement which had not been constructed with water repellent materials.

While the first floor was certainly liveable, we wanted more bedroom space on the 2nd floor, where one br was only 8x10, too small for second child, at least when they get older. After fits and starts with a first architect, we hired our second architect, Olaf Vollertsen, who so far has been great.

Our plan is to close in the front porch to create a smallish office/away room off the Living room and an entryway/mudroom along with a small powder room. On the first floor we'll also expand the kitchen by building a 6 x 17 addition and opening up the kitchen-dining room area. Above the porch our son's dormer will be demolished and a new larger dormer will be constructed to create 2 new kids' bedrooms about 10x12 each. Also upstairs we plan to expand our closet and re-do the one pinkish bathroom into a family bath with a double sink in one room and a toilet shower and bath in the other.

More on a key part of the project - deep energy efficiency - in my next post.