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Net Zero Off Grid Prefab House Kit Update: Finishing Around Foundation

In previous posts I mentioned not only the importance of having an energy efficient, insulated house (our passive solar prefab house kits, are made with structural insulated panels, or SIP) but to remember to not only have energy efficient walls and a roof, but to also insulate underneath.

So before we poured our concrete slab foundation, we laid down foam.
(Which you can order from the factory if you like...)

Now we haven't yet infilled back the dirt from the home site, and it is time to finish the final insulation not only *under* the foundation, but *around* it.

With temperatures in the 50's, we headed out to the off grid, net zero passive solar prefab house kit for a weekend of work.
Here is what we're doing:
1. Self-adhered rubber against concrete (or waterproofing paint) will be applied to the exposed *sides* of the foundation (underneath is already lined with foam) then lined with foam.

[In case you are reading this years from now, this winter was The Winter - snow snow snow, wet wet wet, and because of that we're taking extra steps in waterproofing so that the next Hundred Year Dumping Of Slush will allow us to remain dry and clear of the wetness that came down from the fields this time and against our unfinished / unsealed foundation.]

2. Attach rigid board along the sides, all the way down as possible, which will be held in place by infill

3. Flashing will cover up aesthetic appearance of the insulation

4. You can also dig a trench around the house kit so that any water that would fall off the roof would fall into the center of the trench. Infill with gravel and soil, and even better- put some perforated drain pipes around edge.  To prevent dirt from filtering down the gravel and into the pipe, after you add a layer of gravel cover that with landscape cloth before adding the remaining dirt and gravel.

5. Grade slopes minimum 6” down within ten feet.

Here's pictures from our lovely but hard working weekend:
Make sure you read the captions, it explains more what is going on in each picture:

And more detail on site work:

Explanation of what the heck he's doing.

I busied myself on the interior of the prefab house kit, using an exacto knife (and fondly remembering my art school days) to slice off the foam we added around the window and door frames to further seal the house kit and aid its energy efficiency.

All these little things you do when under construction to add to the air tightness and energy efficiency of your home really will add up to long term savings and success!

In getting the gravel for the site work around the prefab house kit, we had a quarter of the load dumped near the prefab and used the rest of the load to be dumped along the trail we have driven over the fields.
So now, after YEARS, we have a road.
We are VERY excited - it's kind of like Follow The Yellow Brick Road except it's the Magic Gravel Road, OUR Road, leading to the off grid net zero passive solar prefab!

We have a ROAD! And it leads to a modern prefab house kit!

Well, we're now back in Richmond, happy and sore and the dogs are plumb wore out and will sleep for days...

Tired, muddy, happy dog...

Last night we had a lovely, LOVELY dinner with our friends Steve and Chris Ault, who have a natural farm down the road. (Check out some of the home made cheeses we ate for appetisers on the right, here!)

They took pity on my recent Sickness Postings  and not only fed us a *delicious* dinner with great company, in their cozy warm wood-stove heated home, but sent us home with a care package containing a young rooster, home made cheeses, and lard!

We are so grateful to have so many close friends here, it always makes the drive home so hard - you're happy from a weekend of hard work, feeling the sun on your face, happy exhaustion, the feeling of having "Gotten Things Done" - yet as your car drives, your heart saddens, you already miss the winter sun against the fields and trees and even though you return to a house with systems, with heat, it's just not the same as the crisp reality of being on the land, with good friends.

Over dinner, we pored through pictures of Steve and Chris's renovations to their farm house which they bought in very poor condition (see right picture here) and have restored themselves into a happy, beautiful home.

Fortunately, Steve and Chris were able to take this farmhouse and REBUILD it over ten years, from the foundation up, adding insulation, new windows, all kinds of structural work, and refabbing it to current standards. I'll go back and take some pictures of that renovated farm house soon - I didn't get an opportunity to do so last night.

We may still have no systems, but on the drive back to Richmond I thought about how so many people, especially in rural homes, are still in structures with no insulation. Driving home, we pass so many homes where generations of families live, in trailers or drafty 1800s farm houses and you know: there is NO insulation.

Our prefab house kit, even with no off grid systems yet installed, can get us through a winter - but think of the conditions of so many of these rural homes... even with no heat, our house kit only got down to 49 last night (it was in the 20s outside)... Under a down comforter, my bed was cozy and yes I will be happy when we have systems but... to go from 49 to 60ish with systems? Isn't such a strain. And to then maintain that temperature? Easy, because the prefab house kit is tight.  

Thanks to the structural insulated panels, passive solar design, and all the little extra things we, as house kit purchasers, do to accelerate its performance: foam around the windows, the door frames, and around and under the foundation, we should have a happy, warm home for (hopefully) generations to come.

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