Monday, September 27, 2010

Pictures of the finished product

A few more pictures of the finished product. Note Solar Panels on roof!

Beautiful interior finishes.

Open and very light Kitchen.

Entry wall with recycled wood from the old house.

Controls for the solar panels;
This has been a fun project; a great learning experience and a house I'm proud to have designed and had built. I would like to be involved in more of these kind of project, either as a designer and maybe will build another one when the market is right.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Sunnyland Sunhouse for sale; $299,900

Rain Barrels

This week the final touches are finally being done; hooking up rain barrels and minor touch-ups to the paint, etc.
Now the focus will be on selling the house. The final bills are in and we have decided that since it is a very poor housing market that it would be best to price the house at our best price; $299,900. Subtract the tax credit of $4100 for the solar panels and the net price is really $295,800. Also of interest to a potential buyer are energy savings. There will be a yearly check of about $700 from the state for solar power produced plus a credit from the power company for the power produced as well. And since we are using extremely high efficient furnace and appliances and lighting this will reduce power bills as well. The extra insulation in the walls, roof, and crawl space keep heat loss to a minimum and are yet another step in reducing power bills.
I have worked really hard to provide the best possible house at this price point and it is quite a value considering all that it has going for it. Not just a multitude of green features but a beautiful and practical home as well.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Open House a success!

Unfortunately I was away for the open house sponsored by Sustainable Connections but here is an article from the Bellingham Herald on it;

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

BBQ and tour , Tuesday Aug. 31

Sustainable Connections will be hosting a BBQ & tour of the Sunnyland Sunhouse on Tuesday Aug 31 from 4:30 to 6:30.
Our house was the first to take advantage of the 'Bin Bump' expidited permit process for green built homes and is a celebration of that. This will be a good opportunity to learn about green building techniques for those interested.
I have had a trip planned for several months now & may not be able to attend, I really don't know right now.
Please check out this link for more info;

Monday, August 23, 2010

Sunnland Sunhouse is nearing completion!

I wasn't able to be at the open house on Friday the 20th due to my backpacking trip in Montana taking longer than expected. Quite a few friends and relatives showed up & I wish I could have been there!

A few pictures of the (almost) finished product.

I'm very happy with the kitchen cabinets and tile, it turned out very well.

Annette, my brother John and I worked both Sat. afternoon and Sunday morning on getting the house ready for the Sunday open house. The place looks a lot better than it did for the Friday open house.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Open House, Friday Aug. 20, meet the designer

I'll be out of town right before this but wanted to plan on having an open house to show the place off on Friday Aug. 20 from 5-7pm. I'm thinking this may be better than on the weekend and I believe our real estate agent will have an open house on Sunday Aug. 22 too.
This may be the only time I'll have to do this so I hope to see a few interested people there!

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Rain Garden & native plants

The rain garden shown here was put in some time ago now but just finished today with bark. I dug up some Carix Obnupta and Dagger Leaf rush, both native wetland grasses from the pond in my back yard to plant here. We used the rocks dug up from excavation to decorate the garden bottom & set it apart from the rest of the yard. I tested the soil for drainage and we should be able to disperse most of our runoff into this rain garden. The downspouts will be hooked up soon to run to the raingarden.

Today I worked on installing plants with a majority being native varieties. Some of our plantings: Lots of Salal, Kinikinik, some Oregon Grape, Evergreen Huckleberry, Sword fern, and Penstemon. Also put in a Red Flowering Current which is one of my personal favorites and have an Alaskan Cedar to plant.

Other plants; 3 varieties of Heather and a Rhododendron (both somewhat similar to native heather), Nest Spruces and a couple of other miniature conifers.
The garden is doing very well now and producing a variety of vegetables. I put in a couple of apple trees last week as well as 2 blueberry bushes. The whole garden area gets lots of sun which really helps in our area.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Interior update

The inside of the house is being finished rapidly and here are some pictures of where we are now;
The upper picture shows the Mini-Split heat pump unit inside on the Living Room wall. These units are super efficient and it should be able to heat the entire house given how well insulated it is.
We have also put in Radiant Cove heaters that are all individually controlled for each room. In addition there is a fan/duct from the top of the stairs down to the Laundry Room to help mitigate warm air stratification.
In the middle is the Master Bath where the tile backsplash has just been installed. We spent an extra $600 for 3 dual flush toilets in the home. This was an important step in making the house more green and not something one would normally find in a house in this price range.
The lower picture shows the Kitchen which I had to include just because it is looking so great! In the background is the Dining Room and the wood on the short wall was from the old house that was torn down on the site.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Solar Panels Installed 8/3/10

Today the solar panels were installed! They look great and make the house look distinctive and will let people know that this is not an ordinary house. The panels are clearly visible from nearby I-5.
The system is being installed by Advanced Solar Energy LLC and here are a few pictures of them being put up.

We have put up 8 panels at 175 watts each and there is enough room on the roof to expand to a maximum of 24 panels. The inverter is also sized for this future expansion.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Rain Barrels and Solar Panels

Picture taken on July 26 showing the finished exterior paint, a growing garden, and rain barrels.

The rain barrels are re-used food grade storage containers and will be painted to match the siding and installed on the north (left side) of the house.

Today I signed a contract with Advanced Solar Energy LLC to install solar voltaic panels on the house made locally in Washington State. The locally made panels are more expensive than other comparable output panels but there are a couple of advantages; they are stronger than other panels for one. Also, the rebate check given to the buyer of the panels will be about 3 times higher than a conventional panel. This was established by Washington state law makers as I understand it to encourage local solar products. The result for the consumer will be huge; several hundred dollars per year. It was hard to make this decision to spend the extra money for this but I feel that a buyer will realize that it the payback will be in a short period of time, probably 4-5 years. As far as I know this will be the first spec home in the state to use these panels & I hope that others can find a way to use them in their projects too.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Sun Tempered features

A couple of pictures of the house taken July 12. As you can see the siding is on and in the process of being painted. What I'd like to point out is how the windows are shaded from the summer sun on the south side of the house (the 4 windows shown in both pictures). This keeps the house from being overheated in the summer. In winter the sun angle will be much lower, allowing sun and therefore heat into the space when it is wanted. Having the glass on the south makes it bright inside in both the summer and winter creating a bright space that will not need so much electric lighting.
Since I haven't put extra mass in the house this should be called a sun-tempered design rather than passive solar. Being a more affordable place this was a great solution for the house.

Monday, June 28, 2010

The house is now being sided and sheetrocked. Pictures and details on that later. For now;

Here is a picture of a heat exchanger that takes heat from wastewater and pre-heats water going into the hot water tank.

Some local Chuckanut sandstone blocks salvaged from the old house to be used in landscaping as a smal garden retainer. I'm trying to find uses for pretty much all the waste that will enhance the new house and landscaping. Finding a use for rock such as this is easy!

Monday, June 21, 2010

Energy saving features of the house

Here is what builder John Nelson had to say about some of the things we are doing to save energy in building the Sunnyland Sunhouse;

'The method involves removing most of the plywood sheathing and covering the entire exterior of the building with rigid foam with a rating of R-5. In the stud bays I will use R-23 blown in blanket insulation. The use of an uninterrupted R-5 layer on the exterior that is also air-sealed with glue and tape (and has a perm rating similar to Tyvek) has the effect of keeping the interior of the wall warm and dry almost every day of the year. By putting the vapor barrier on the outside and eliminating the vapor barrier on the inside, this method actually reduces the chance of having condensation occur inside the wall cavity and still allows any moisture to get out after those few days of the year when temperature and dew point create the possibility of moisture condensing. By combining these R-values, installing in this manner and using a rain path gap between the foam and the siding, I hope to show with testing that the wall is functioning at R-30. Combine that with R-38 in the floor, raised heal trusses and R-60 in the attic, foam spayed to seal the rim joist areas beneath each floor, and advanced framing techniques to limit thermal bridging, I am attempting to create what I call an Extreme Insulation Envelope that should make it possible to heat or cool the house with almost no energy.

Some other interesting features that the future owners of this home will hopefully appreciate include:

Efficient plumbing design with high-efficiency hot water tank, waste-water heat recovery, and super-short hot water plumbing lines
Solar panels (more about that later!)
Mini-split heat-source with a SEER rating of 25
High indoor air quality
A vegetable garden, with ripe vegetables at the time of sale (around August 1)
Thanks to all who have gone before me and provided me with the opportunity to produce a house like this that can sell for less than 20% above the median price in Whatcom County. My belief that green buildings can be built without much added cost is being demonstrated here. Methods used to realize this project will be shown to the public via internet and other means, should anyone be interested. A website will be online by June 21. Sustainable Connections has suggested that they will showcase the home and the RE Store has published some information about their efforts to reclaim materials from the demolished house and to help me keep the building out of the landfill. By the way, zero percent of the old house became trash.'

Open house this week at Sunnyland Sunhouse

This week only from 7:00-8:00am (or by appointment, 360-303-4784). This is a chance to see what we are doing with framing and insulation before it is covered up! The best days would be Tuesday & Wednesday while everything is still visible.
Yes, its early but work will be continuing on the house so it has to happen early to avoid construction.
Please come by & see it, I (Grant) will try to be there one or two days this week for the event.
Here is an updated exterior look though we are a ways out before it looks like this!

Friday, June 18, 2010

Exterior foam insulation now in place

We are making a lot of progress on the Sunnyland Sunhouse & I'm so busy with things that I haven't had a chance to post anything for a while. Here are some pictures of where we are right now.
The exterior is wrapped in 1 inch of polystyrene foam with an R-5 value.

The roof is on and windows are in. Doesn't look too pretty yet but it looks a lot more like a house!

Here is a detail that shows a lot; Studs at 24"oc with the window sized to fit between so that minimal lumber is used. Metal hangers replace cripple studs.

Foam spray in joist bays above seal the space from air leaks. Exterior 1" foam has replaced OSB sheathing where it is not needed for structural reasons. The window header uses 2x material with polystyrene sandwiched between for more insulation value.

At right are some of the decorative knee braces
that will be used on the house. They are built of scrap and recycled lumber. The red-toned pieces are made from fence posts found on the site. They are excellent quality cedar.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Green Features Post #1 The Site

Some of the green features of the Sunnyland Sunhouse

Starting with the site;

1) Infill lot close to shopping,schools,bus lines,restaurants, & easy freeway access.

2) Replacing dilapidated old house that was pretty much uninhabitable.

3) The new house will have a small footprint preserving the large yard on King Street.

4) The new house will not block the sun from the house to the north.

5) Existing plants were saved where possible; one lilac was moved because it was in the way and the other was preserved in place. These will give privacy to the street. A large mock orange bush was saved and these are considered a native plant I believe. Several sword ferns were dug up and transplanted in my yard.

6) Much of the excavated soil will be kept on site for grading and creating a large gardening area. We were fortunate to have such great topsoil that the excess was given away to gardeners by the pickup load. I imagine that the future owners of this place will enjoy raising some of their own fruits and vegatables.

7) we will be landscaping with natives and other lower water use plants. One exception is the Pink Kousa Dogwood street tree (a Chinese form of our native dogwood that is more pest-free)
may need a bit of summer watering though I have one in my yard and it has had little if any watering once it was established. It has incredible flowers and is one of my favorite trees and so I just had to include it!
Also plan to install some fruit bearing things like blueberry bushes.

8) Will be putting in rain barrels for use in watering the garden and to reduce our water runoff.

9) Exceptional solar exposure. Of course this requires a design to take advantage of the potential but that will have to wait for another post.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Walls are starting to go up & I'm finishing salvaged wood

Wood from the old house, salvaged for use in the new house. I've spent a lot of hours sanding this wood (60+boards) but it will be fun to have a bit of the old house incorporated into the new one.

Well, the walls are now being framed up! The lower picture shows the huge front yard with a large amount of soil near the left side that came from the excavation and was such great soil that we decided to keep as much as possible for a garden area. Excess soil was given away to gardeners, taken away a truckload at a time, and kept the soil from being hauled off to a fill site. I think that scores us a few green points right there! I have used some to create a new vegatable garden at my house.

'Humble Humboldt House' early model of Sunnyland Sunhouse

Here is a picture of my first green design with John Nelson as the builder. I had been interested in passive solar and energy efficiency and John brought in other ideas like rain sceening behind the siding and water barrels (on the corners).

We developed the idea of keeping the heating ducts inside the heated envelope and using a highly efficient furnace inside the heated space too.

Its located at 2228 Humboldt Street in Bellingham on a small infill lot that I owned and couldn't sell for what I had into it. In 2008 I decided to build a small house on it a John had been thinking about such a small and efficient home as a model for affordable housing.

The project was a great success, the house sold quickly since it was by far the cheapest new home in Bellingham at the time and had a lot of energy saving features that few houses had and was an Energy Star home.

The 'Sunnyland Sunhouse' is located ony a few blocks from this house and is based upon this design to a great degree. The new site is far superior especially from a solar perspective.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Here are the floor plans;

The design is a very compact with efficient floor plans and capture natural light throughout the day.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Thought we should start from the beginning, here's some pictures of the site. First, the old house, in terrible shape and overgrown with shrubs, it hadn't been occupied for over a year. The floor was buckled because it had no concrete foundation but it made it easier to remove and with less waste.
On the left is the site from the corner of King & Virginia showing the large front yard sloping up from the sidewalk. It didn't take me long to come up with the idea of a solar inspired concept for this site since its totally open on the south with no obtructions to winter sun.
We had just finished an Energy Star rated home incorporating a number of green features but I hadn't really planned on building another house. However, when this perfect site became available I jumped at the chance to build another one, this time going farther than we had in the past.

Green design means getting your permit fast!

The project started out by my builder, John Nelson of Northwest Framing and Finish, filling out forms to show that we were building a green home. This got us a building permit in just 5 days, something of note in Bellingham and an article in the Bellingham Herald;
This has given us some attention from the city since they are encouraging Green built homes and I'm hoping that we can produce a finished house that is both environmentally friendly and also affordable. Of course this will mean some compromises but John Nelson and I have taken this on as a challenge to make this house a good example of what can be done without costs getting out of hand.
We are aiming for a 5 star Green Built home (and possibly LEED certified) with 1428 SF of living space at a selling price of (hopefully) around $310,000 . There are few new homes for sale in Bellingham at or below that price and none that will have the Green certification that ours should have.

Introducing the Sunnyland Sunhouse

The Sunnlyland Sunhouse, located at 2200 King Street, Bellingham WA is my latest building/design project and will be a certified Built Green home.

Right now the house is at the start of the framing stage and walls should be standing this week. As I have time I'll explain some of the features of this exciting project!