The evidence of poor insulation is revealed by snowfall.
We have officially broken ground and begun a new project, back in our home town of Pt. Roberts. It’s been so good to be home, and we were, thanks to friends helping us move speedily along, able to get started right away.
After getting home in late May, we took a couple of days to get adjusted and then Jeff Peltier of Hank’s Backhoe Service got us off the ground by beginning our excavation and setting up our foundation concrete forms right away. We were able to easily coordinate with him and as he got pours done for us, we handled installing electrical conduits, sewer buck-outs, yard and subfloor plumbing, insulating the slab, and even doing some of the gravel work to expedite things. The pours came together well and inside of a month, we were ready to begin framing. We did take a few days off to handle some business and have a bit of leisure, but now we are officially on to framing.
Pictures are not the most exciting when you are starting groundwork - the yard is a mess, things are still semi churned up and there’s only so much excitement we can expect people to muster for our concrete work, sill plates, and the subfloor work, but for those diehard fans, it’s worth noting that we are learning as much as we can from this concrete pour in preparation to perhaps try one on our own someday. This time around, we insulated the slab, and are also installing sleepers and interior grade insulation under a 1 ⅛” plywood subfloor. Our insulation values on this home are going to be as high as we can make them - our goal being a highly energy efficient house.
And of course, thanks also to Jeff’s speedy work, along with a lot of fabulous aged manure from his family’s horses, we now have a garden growing, too. Now it’s beginning to feel like home.
Do you think this comment was made by a visitor to the Palace at Versailles or a weekend visitor to the Beekeeper’s Bungalow? Well, let’s just say it could’ve been overheard at either location…
We are really making progress on the house and are starting to anticipate moving in sometime in late spring. Interior walls are built, plumbing is being roughed in as I write, and the stairs are built and are awaiting the finishing details. The insulation is also done and the house is staying toasty warm with just a tiny space heater at this point. We are impressed with this last bit for a couple of reasons: First, when we completed our energy audit for the county while applying for our building permit, it looked as though a single 400W electric heater could do the trick in terms of heating – the entire house that is. While it seemed hard to believe at the time, it is now being borne out. Secondly, we used a new (to us) product, the Knauf EcoBatt, for insulation. We did the entire insulation project on our own, employing caulk and foam for air sealing and this high density insulation to bring our walls, ceiling and subfloor insulation up to and beyond current code requirements (we achieved cavity values of R-21 walls, R-38 floor, R-38 cathedral ceiling). We’re so pleased that the product is working so well. In addition, the Knauf insulation is easy to work with, doesn’t smell bad, is free of toxic binders and dyes, and isn’t even all that itchy!
Plenty of large spaces are insensibly (and strangely) laid out, feeling cramped, small and inefficient. You can also have large spaces that seem plenty large but don’t actually offer up much in the way of functional space to the inhabitant. This particular design flaw creates a problem for people in that they can come to believe that you need even more square footage to gain function and comfort. Many houses are designed BIG as a way to avoid conflicts with code. However, what people really need (and want) are better layouts and good balance, which can take place in both large and small spaces. Huge vaulted ceilings in a large house tend to be enormous wasted spaces that might make a place seem airy but also inadequate. A small home can suffer, too, I think, if it becomes too much like a low, small den. A little bit of vault can be a great antidote to this sense, along with well placed fixtures and maximized space usage. All of us, I would imagine, have lived in small spaces that seem highly functional, small spaces that seem totally dysfunctional, large spaces that seem to somehow not provide appropriate space, or large spaces that seem cavernous and just lack something despite obviously having plenty of square feet. Balance is key, whether you prefer a large or a small home, or whatever gradient in between.So, all this progress is making the house seem like it’s nearing completion. Of course there’s a lot more to do, but we’re at the point where the rooms are obvious to visitors and a sense of comfort is heightened. People are dropping by with interest and we have noticed something interesting about our visitors: most of them immediately comment, “This is really spacious” or “It doesn’t feel small at all” or “It’s so much bigger than it looks!” We intentionally designed a house that wasn’t extra large or even “large” by current standards. This house, in fact, seems like it could be a little smaller and still be plenty comfortable (for our needs). We’ve noted that other people used to much larger spaces are immediately impressed by how “large” the house feels. This is very interesting, especially to me, in that it makes me consider what it is about spaces that makes a small one seem larger or a large one seem smaller. This isn’t the newest of news, and it’s not a revelation, but it’s mostly, I think, an issue of layout.
It will be fun to post more pictures as they come and we get ever closer to finishing work.I think Shawn and I have reached the point where we are able to design for ourselves (and others – thank you to our customers and interested followers out there!) small spaces that achieve maximum function by being thoughtfully laid out. Obviously, a modest space is never going to be laid out in a way that causes it to resemble the Palace at Versailles; yet, a small house can definitely, as our visitors attest, be laid out in a way that makes it seem not cramped, small and stingy on space – and even cozy, comfortable and functional with room for all that we need in our lives.
Thanks for coming along!