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5/21/09

Wha? Oh, Back To The Prefab Zero Energy Off Grid House Kit Built With SIPs!

Well, it has been a crazy few weeks. We got my sister married off (and her husband's family is from Seattle so they came in early to spend time with their Virginia family here so it was not just a weekend but a nice time over awhile of the families coming together)... then I went to New York on business for about a week... (really, it was no fun *at all* ; ) ) Memorial Day Weekend appeared out o' nowhere, but finally, we were able to meet with Ron, our wonderful contractor, this weekend to plan the next phase of the prefab house kit: The Inside.
  • To finish the house, we need financing. The financing we did earlier was to refinance our current home loan because interest rates dropped so much. Now we need to consolidate the *land* loan and finish construction. We're increasing the *land* loan by the amount we need to finish construction since a traditional construction loan in Virginia does not understand or value green building or off grid construction / systems. Once construction is complete and we have a certificate of occupancy, we have been told by mortgage lender of our first house that they will consider refinancing the land *and* house. Because co-op interest rates are higher, Handsome Husband projects that once we have a traditional first mortgage, the monthly expenses will remain the same after the construction is financed. So we will be paying about the same, to do more, after having finished the project!
  • To get financing, we need to have a quote from our Fabulous Contractor, Ron Bernaldo of Giant Oaks Construction.
  • To get a quote from Ron, our Fabulous Contractor, my Handsome Husband needs to give Ron details, a list of systems (down to the model number) so that the electrician / plumber can give us an accurate estimate.
  • To get an estimate, we need to have the interior framing done.
  • To have the interior framing done, we have to give Ron the customized floor plan. (Yes, people, these house kits are made so you can work with your contractor to make 'em as you want! We didn't change much, just added more room for systems and a nook & cranny for a bookcase...)
If ONLY the rest of the personal decisions we make as a family were as easy as it was erecting the actual house kit! So yesterday Ron was given the floor plan, a list of systems is on its way, and he starts the interior framing next Tuesday.

In the meantime, I hope you enjoy pictures from this weekend's off grid prefab-ulous adventure at the end of this long and boring post.

We had some dear friends out, and it was amazing how *comfortable* the house kit was in the heat. Before, we rarely camped this time of year because the sun beating down on our little 1960's Scotty camper in the field was unbearable. In the house kit, it was breezy, comfortable, filled with natural light yet soothing and cool inside. In the winter, the dogs snuck into our beds; now they flopped, lazily collapsed on the concrete.

When I awoke last night to an unexpected thunderstorm, snuggled in my bed as it rolled, rumbling, in, I reflected how our visit in previous years would have ended first thing in the morning, packing up miserable muddy wet dogs and children in the rain. Instead, we contentedly listened to the rainfall as the children played together indoors while the adults slowly woke with steaming strong coffee.

In the house kit, the light was diffused and off the cement, not the sharp slants of light directly on the concrete as it is in winter. That was the first thing I noticed- that yes, the sun was not warming the floor but had moved higher in the sky, and thus prevented by the overhangs to heat. We opened the windows and let in a wonderful crossbreeze. The difference between lounging comfortably in the house kit to walking into the open field under the unsympathetic sun was palpatable- we all remarked on it.

Another thing I noticed was... how grateful I am I chose polished concrete. SO easy to sweep and keep clean. We also have recycled pallets at the doors which have been extremely useful to curtail the dirt- it looks coolio industrial, is recycled, and provides a great function.

We installed the screens, so we don't have to worry about uninvited animals/insects during the night entering from the open windows, and Handsome Husband and Mr. H stopped by the recycling center and plucked a nice tire to create a tire swing for the kids! We hung it off the old oak that shelters the picnic bench. Which, by the way, I picked up a *second* picnic bench for $5 at a yard sale so we can connect them end-to-end and have a fabulous banquet table for lots of guests.

And speaking of guests... we will have an open house in September!

More on this later, but if you would like to tour our prefab off grid zero energy house kit, there is a wonderful bike tour going on in the area on the weekend of September 26th. Bike Heartland is a fun bike tour that goes all weekend long through a gorgeous, historic area of Virginia. I am working with some local farms to have other activities like tours of natural, community supported farms, a winery that will be open for you to enjoy, and more, so pack yer tent and come on down! For more on accommodations, see here (camping at the Heartland Bike Tour), here (Charlotte Courthouse), here (Appomattox), and here (Farmville); and also be sure to visit Miss Emily's, where Necia and her husband will show you great English hospitality. (And boy does she know how to cook.)

So, next, we begin the interior framing. We install systems. We survive children out of school for the summer. ; ) AND some big family reunions scheduled... so June coverage might be a little spotty.

Even after the house is done, we continue crop tree release and increasing function-yet-preservation of the land, so that in a few short years we can be there sustainably full time.

P.s. This north middle window that will eventually be my daughter's room? The children discovered how to open it and then jumped from the sand pile into the house kit, in and out, in and out, in and out... hence my thankfulness on choosing the polished concrete, *again.* There must have been twenty times a day I was grateful for the concrete. Ah the spills. Oh the mud. Gee the sand. And the polished concrete took it, and looked gorgeous.

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1 Comments:

At 6/1/09, 12:00 AM , Blogger G. said...

Another great weekend, another great presentation!

 

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