Sunday, March 15, 2009

Just Like Us

(Karann) I finally found some people just like us.  The Porter Family.  We too believe that building green does not mean building a house that costs $2oo - $300 per square foot.  Our philosophy is the same and we are also trying to use as much salvaged materials as possible (verses new "green materials").  
We purchased salvaged cabinetry and granite counters for our laundry room.  We found most of the interior doors that we need at a non-profit organization that accepts donations of salvaged and left-over building materials.  We also acquired some old cedar barn siding and salvaged red oak flooring that we are going to use as wainscoting in several rooms.  We found a black marble bathroom vanity counter with attached, undermount double sinks that was a reject from a high end home in Avon, CT.  We're constantly scouring websites and the newspaper for opportunities to find interesting materials that we can recycle.  A little creativity goes a long way.  And to us, hunting for the stuff is way more fun than buying something new...imagining how and where you can use something...the feeling you get when you get a great deal while recycling something that would otherwise end up in the dump.
Like the Porters, we're also using SIPs for the shell, however, our heating system is very different (and less expensive).  We're relying on solar generated hot water to supply heat through radiant tubing.  We're also fortunate to live in a state that has great rebates and a leasing program for photovoltaic installation so we can start producing our own energy right away without spending $40,000 for the system.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Finding a way

(Jeremy) We were pretty taken aback by the realization that we simply couldn't afford this house. While our entries into this blog have been few, our efforts for the past several months have been many. From concept, to design after redesign, not to mention the untold hours of research and discussions, this house has been the focus of an immense amount of time. And emotion. To be at an impasse like this was an immediate kick to the balls. 

Not to say I wasn't expecting it, but it still steals your breath for a moment upon impact. And what do you do then? I'll tell you what, you catch your breath and you go kick the person's ass who was the culprit. Well, that's what you should do. I, myself, began to entertain the idea of cargo container/prefab home dwellings or selling the land and moving to Costa Rica or possibly roaming the land for adventures in our VW Camper. Think of it as a "Swiss Family Robinson" meets "Kung Fu".  It took Karann a few days to talk me down but together we started to come up with "realistic" solutions and I think we are well on our way to figuring this whole thing out. For the record though, I still like the "Cargotecture" option. 
Cost Rica sounds good too. 
I really don't think the VW/Kung Fu option would work out.

(Karann)  I actually liked the cargotecture house link above.  Nice concept, good recycling idea, and pretty cheap.  I just didn't like the idea of starting over on an idea, especially when Spring is on the way and the snow is melting.  Besides, we both really love our house design.  
So the plan we're working toward now is to have a GC working on the project up to completion of the shell (excavation, septic, trenching, foundation, all radiant and plumbing in the slab, slab poured, SIP package built, and windows installed).  At that point we would take over the contracting.  We really believe it will save us a considerable amount of money and allow us to do some items ourselves at a slower pace at that point.  Jeremy thinks he knows enough contractors that are also clients that we can use.  
So with our plan in hand, we went to our bank, not really sure if they would let us be our own GC for the last half of the project.   They surprised us by being very excited (about the house) and were willing to let us be an owner/builder.  Wow.  Some good news finally.  Things are looking up for right now.
Since we already had quotes and a detailed estimate for the finish work in the house (floors, cabinetry, fixtures, etc,) we just have to fine-tune our quotes for some of the bigger items like roofing, siding, plumbing, etc.    Then the bank can order the appraisal and we can hope that our land hasn't lost too much value in this dismal housing market.