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Prefab Green Homes: Passive Solar House Kits from Green Modern Kits!

Our family's passive solar zero energy off grid house kit construction blog.
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1/30/10

Save The Date! The Prefab Net Zero Energy Passive Solar House Kit Will Be Open For Tours April 10th!

[Well, it is SNOWING UP A STORM, at least 8" deep at this point.
What else was I supposed to do on such an impassible day?
Dream of spring in the prefab house kit, and therefore, the upcoming Prefab Open House! ]

We will have our second Prefab Green Home Open House in the Virginia Passive Solar Net Zero Energy House Kit on Saturday, April 10th, from 1-3 p.m.   

Like last time, we scheduled the house kit open house to coincide with historic and fun events showcasing this rural, beautiful, historic area of Virginia. So mark your calenders! Here's what's going on during that weekend that we know of so far:
  •  April 08, 2010 – April 12, 2010145th Anniversary of the Surrender

    Appomattox Court House National Historical Park
    Appomattox, VA 24522
    434-352-8987
    www.nps.gov/apco
    Special programs related to the surrender, including 1st person living history offered each day from April 8 to April 12. 
     
  • April 09, 2010 – April 11, 2010
    Appomattox History Weekend

    Clover Hill Village
    Appomattox, VA 24522
    145th Anniversary of Lee's surrender to Grant to be held at Clover Hill Village. 1 mile from actual surrender site. Living historians will be portraying Generals Lee & Grant and their lieutenants will recreate historic moments of the final days leading up to and including the surrender. Activities include: Lee's last war counsel, General Gordon's attempted break-out, Lee-Grant meeting, stacking of arms and reduction of colors. Reenactors limited. Military host: Lee's Lieutenants, contact Al Stone at astoneasrelee@suddenlink.net or (304) 466-2030. Civilian host: contact Ms. Carolyn Davis at casonclee@aol.com Cost: $10 for adults, $5 for children under 12. 
     
  •  April 12, 2010 – April 12, 2010

    Holiday Open House
    Appomattox Court House National Historical Park
    Appomattox, VA 24522
    434-352-8987
    www.nps.gov/apco
    Join the park staff for an festive afternoon of music, refreshments and holiday activiies with a historic flare!

We hope you use the opportunity to travel to the prefab house kit to explore and see more of historic Virginia.  ...Make a weekend of it!
(And hopefully it wont rain in torrents like last time!)

For accommodations and more history, see here:
(Because if you're a design geek, you're also a history geek.
Welcome to the crowd!)

See more details about the previous Virginia prefab house kit open house here.


Currently, we are all, humans, dogs, feral cat, and especially our chickens, officially snowed in.  And the snow is still coming down strong!

The Colorado prefab green home begins this spring after their snow melts, sometime in mid-March... we will keep you posted on that house kit construction! 

Recent Press:
If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact me at copeland@greenmodernkits.com.

Sincerely yours,
Copeland Casati

copeland casati
president
www.GreenModernKits.com
6902 park ave / rva 23226

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1/29/10

Vintage! Hat! Friday! Bring On The Snow!

Didja hear it's gonna snow? Didja hear it's gonna snow? Didja hear it's gonna snow? 
Now this would have been an example where, upon seeing the big snow forecast and knowing our children already don't have school on Monday, we would have grabbed our closest friends, piled into the car, gathered lots of provisions and headed for the prefab net zero energy house kit to get snowed in!!!

I haven't really shown people the land yet as we're focused on the prefab green home construction, but know it is PERFECT for sledding and skiing.  The house kit and fields sit atop the highest point; then it descends to the tobacco barn, where it climbs and winds back into the hills. It is PERFECT: you could climb then sled / ski down -or- you could have fun hiking / cross country skiing over the field and along the beautiful roads, passing nothing but old farms and woods.

To see another opportunity like this pass us by simply because we have no heat is painful...

BUT: On the prefab net zero energy passive solar house kit front... WE HAVE INTERIOR WALLS!!!!!!!!!!!

So you can imagine how much I am *dying* to head out to the land and see for myself what it feels like to have ROOMS, *real* *rooms*!  We may still have no systems, but we have WALLS! 
We can now invite friends over and give them a BEDROOM!

Interior wall pictures of the prefab house kit soon... as soon as we can get OUT there...
In the meantime... it is... VINTAGE! HAT! FRIDAAAAAAY!
(Oh yes, it is. And you thought this was going to be a construction post.)

Amy: “Bonjour, Paris!”

Last week you CLEARLY stated a preference for quiet, understated hats. I’ve heard you, masses.

As opposed to last weeks’ Italian frippery, I’ve donned a compact velvet French number I dug up for $7 in an antique store.

If I have to cover all of Europe to find something you approve of, I shall. Don’t make me do it!

As for the rest of the outfit: the jacket was $8 at Goodwill, also where I bought the Guess Jeans for $3.50. 

The double sided hound’s-tooth scarf was inherited from my grandmother, the lovely cameo brooch was a gift from friends, and the belted shirt a gift from another friend. 

The purse was 50 cents at the St. Catherine’s theater sale. 

The gloves were from Halcyon I believe? 

The boots were my personal birthday gift to moi, While they were more than I usually spend on boots, they are insulated, weatherproof, SLIP PROOF!, and my friend assures me that they put me “perilously close to looking like you’re always ready for a Foxhunt.”

I’m so Okay with that.

Vote for me; because if I lose in another landslide of scorn again this week I’m throwing darts at my hatboxes to figure out what to wear next Friday.

Copeland: Bring On The SNOW!!!!
I am ready. The vintage coat is from Finland, my FAVORITE country (The architecture! The Moomins! The Forestry Schools! The Midsummer Parties! The mosquitoes the size of a large puppy!).

The shirt? Vintage, probably purchased from Fan Thrift for a few cents... I can't remember...

The hat? FINE, I stole it from my dad a few years ago... hey, at least I'm not like my brother, heck, he stole my dad's GUNS, I just borrowed a vintage tweed hat that doesn't even fit him!

The SKI SUIT.  This was purchased from a thrift store when everyone was doing the disco theme in the '90s - I permed my stick-straight hair into an afro, teased it up, popped in some tight glittery barrettes on either side a la Shalom Harlow, and wore these ski pants to clubs.   

Oh yes I did, I have pictures, and no you can't see them.

The boots: I have had 'em for twenty years so that counts as vintage, kinda?

The ring: Purchased from random thrift stores, I collected 1960's lucite rings when I was a lil' punk rocker kid. Still wear 'em regularly.

And thaz it! Vintage Hat Friday continues... vote for meeeeee!

P.s. Later note: I was disappointed to realize that no, I didn't steal the hat. I realized that there's a reason it wouldn't fit my dad's head: the hat is actually my GRANDMOTHERS!

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1/25/10

Passive Solar Prefab House Kit: Touching on ERV / HRV, Fireplaces And Dessicant Wheels

If you're wondering, we have no intention of having our own passive solar prefab house kit certified. That's not to say we're not mentally aiming for passive house / similarly efficient standards, so a lot of passive house information I link to regarding our off grid house kit systems is because it is designed for highly insulated, tight homes like our own prefab house kits.

You know our house kits are energy efficient, being built with SIPs (structural insulated panels), passive solar, and designed by LEED accredited architects. That is not to dissuade you from certifying your own house kit- there is much value in how far you can take this bare-boned house kit architecture- pushing it as far as you want in energy efficiency and off grid / net zero energy systems, with the help of an accredited certifier.


A tight, energy efficient passive solar house kit built with SIPs also means you are going to need a way to mechanically exchange air, preferably without losing / gaining temperature from the outside, as well as ensuring moisture does not sit within the house kit.

Talk to your contractor about what works for your area and for your own needs, but here are some links I found educational:


Any-hoo, we are currently trying to figure out if the mid-century fireplace is worth the effort / expense; whether it is worth adversely affecting the house kit tightness to integrate into our prefab house kit when we could spend that money towards systems. 

We originally spec'd the systems plan to not have a fire place- coupled with radiant heat, an efficient stove would easily overheat the net zero energy house kitBut when it got down to eleven degrees and we were still without our off grid systems installed, I went a little crazy.  Handsome Husband knew the disadvantages the entire time; I did too, intellectually; but try explaining that to the frantic-mom-inside-of-me-trying-to-resolve-warmth-immediately.

Regardless, the coolio modern fire place will be put to use, even if as just an outdoor feature... but that doesn't help us when we haven't installed systems and need heat immediately... it's a shame if we can't incorporate it, now that it's there.

From Handsome Husband:

"We started with our desire to be warm, not yet having purchased and hooked up our systems. Getting the (admittedly cool) fireplace led to the realization that a ERV would need to go hand-in-hand with such an installation (or anything), coupled with the need for a fireplace / stove in such an efficient house to prevent back draft. Many people now realize that burning a fire in a fireplace in a traditional home has the following effect: the flu sucks air out of your home in a big time because, boy, does heat rise and air gets shot out of your flu.


Well, that creates negative pressure in your house - air is sucked out of the house. In a conventional home you get new air sucked in through the cracks in your house to maintain balance of pressure with the outside. In a home built with SIPs the envelope is much more uniform and easy to seal- you do that, of course, and end up with a home that doesn't have cracks to suck in enough air to balance the loss of air through the flue. What happens next apparently is that the negative pressure in the house exceeds the power of the air rushing through the flue. Bad news because now the smoke from your fire no longer wants to go up the flue but instead becomes the means to de-pressurize the house, compensating for the previous loss of pressure.

What to do?

Sounds like one wants to prevent de-pressurization. This occurs when air is sucked out of the house - something we don't want anyway because we just HEATED that air. So you decouple the flue from the house by giving it its own snorkel - sucking air for combustion in from the OUTSIDE through a tube running from an outside wall to the inlet on the fireplace.


This works great for SEALED fireplaces or wood stoves or, of course, pellet stoves. In our case we have the mod version of a chiminea and we have to see whether we can a) attach an external air supply to it and b) seal the fire place by replacing the screen with a sealed cover.

Fall back is to use it seasonally by swapping it with a sealed wood or pellet stove with external air supply."

In the meantime, here are some video updates on the modern prefab passive solar green home:

Still sorting VMI floorboards to reuse in the passive solar house kit...

Note to energy enthusiasts: He also discovered there was a pipe that had not been correctly sealed during the energy audit... which certainly contributed to temperature drop / leakage... that is now corrected!

Net Zero Energy Passive Solar House Kit Update

...An unexpected visitor to the net zero energy prefab modern house kit:
(Dude, don't eat mah steps!)

Handsome Husband Encounters His First Hog


Now, now. I know we've been persnickety as of late, but don't think we're soured and nasty over all the recent heating hullabaloo...
Despite the prefab zero energy house kit setbacks, we keep on tha' sunny side! (Right June?)

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1/22/10

Rainy Vintage Hat Friday

Next up is a systems post where we talk about HRV/ERV, etc. so stay tuned.
But it is Friday, at a certain time o' the year, where we celebrate reuse and recycling of discarded clothing in the workplace so you are just going to have to put up with (or ignore) our seasonal silliness.

Because, yes, it is... Vintage Hat Friday!!!!!!!!!!

Copeland: I woke up demure.
I have no idea why...
Maybe it is the remnants of being sick all week. I think I have walking pneumonia, so maybe that's why I gravitated to this navy blue 1940's (? '50s?) dress, does blue symbolize health? I have no idea, I'm just delirious.

I bought this dress, used, in a thrift store in my teens, and wore it paired it with combat boots... then later, in my 20s, re-discovered it for swing dancing.  Now, it looks perfectly appropriate to offer you tea on a rainy day, comfortable to spend the workday in, to lounge, yet still look pulled together and dainty.

The hat came from the high school theater sale we visited this summer... the gloves, well, those were worn for a season in my 20s...


You have to take a close look at the earrings, some of my favorite! Dogwoods, to symbolize Virginia. I found them at a backyard yard sale an older woman was having and fell in love with them, wear them all the time.  And the tea set... another yard sale, yep, a mid-century silver tea set at a YARD SALE. It's amazing how many people have no idea what is underneath old items with black tarnish...(?!?) I can't tell you how many silver mid-century things we have picked up cheaply just because they weren't polished...

Vote for me!!! Miss Demure!!!! (for today, at least...)


Amy: ".... Nice Hat..."

...Were the words that greeted me from a pleasant passerby this morning when I arrived at work. I wasn't sure whether that was a good sign or a bad one, but either way I sashayed my way into the office. You gotta have a lot of confidence (or at least a capacity to fake confidence) if you're gonna wear this hat.

I can tell you only 3 things about this hat:

1. I inherited it from my Grandma.
2. It's from Italy (so sayeth the Tag)
3. And it looks like nothing so much as an ill kept poodle decided to roll about in some really huge pieces of glitter, and then nap on my head.


Hat aside (if that's even possible at this point) the coat is my favorite vintage London Fog trench picked up at a sale at Nonesuch (when it was still on operation *sigh*) and the dress was a lovely bargain over at the St. Catherine's Theater sale late last year. The shoes, as per the usual, are from Goodwill.

Comeon. Look. At. This. Hat. I wore this out of the house this morning. VOTE FOR ME!

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1/17/10

Prefab Green Home: 1st Energy Audit Of The SIPs House Kit!

This is the FIRST of two energy audits.

Energy Audit #1, today's energy audit of the prefab modern house, is as we're at the "This is the modern house kit + cladding + the homeowner sealing around the windows stage", the second will be once we're "done, finished, kaput, as in done, done, done, done, don't ever want to think about anything construction related for at least another week DONE."


Our mission is to create tight, energy efficient, gorgeous passive solar house kits.  I admire rated, certified, even more stringent approaches, like Passive House standards, maybe we'll do this in the future, but we achieve what we want in an energy efficient home while incorporating great modern design on an average, reasonable budget.

Some highly energy efficient homes incorporate two door chambers to prevent temperature loss.
I picture the way I live, and it is just too chaotic and messy to make such an entrance successful.  Can you imagine a couple struggling with the stroller, dogs still on the leash, juggling a bag of groceries and a baby on one hip, getting the key in the door lock then screaming to the spouse...
"Quick honey, seal the chamber, we're losing LEED points!"
Obviously if you live in a severe climate, it makes sense. But we're in Normal Rest-o'-Tha-World here.

We're a muddy, raggedy bunch here... why do ya think we're bandits?
You can increase the thickness of the house kit panels, choose even more efficient doors and windows (our casa ti prefab green home is spec'd for Jeld-Wen and our, SIPs house kit with two stories, The R1 Residential, is spec'd for Marvin Integrity), seal it up even tighter... but my focus is on affordable energy efficiency in our prefab green homes, so we chose great solutions that fit within a moderate budget.

The average quote for the casa ti windows is currently about $9,000-$10,500. If you would like to spend more on windows to make 'em nano-crazy-efficient, go for it, we can adjust the shop drawings. But expect the added cost.

We hired energy rater Guy DuBois, of No Energy Loss, to come out and inspect the modern prefab house kit
These are the notes I jotted down during his cell phone call to me en route from the land. Mr. DuBois will guest blog later this week with more real data, but here are his initial verbal impressions of the still-under-construction, still-not-completely-sealed house kit:
"Well, we certainly smoked up your house quite a bit, there was nowhere for it to go!"
(Copeland's note: Ummmm, I assume he means it was some kind of smoke air test thingy? I hope he didn't mean he smoked in mah house?!?)

Ok, on to Mr. DuBois:
"Those windows - they are worth the money, they were very well sealed."
Copeland's note: Handsome Husband also sealed around the frames... OK FINE I will just stop commenting and just TYPE what he said!
"Your husband did a good job of sealing around the windows... there are two areas he also could look at if he wanted to seal further- along the south eave and that back door threshold.

It is surprisingly tight. I don't know why I say surprising, but I guess I didn't expect it to be so tight, even though I should have."

[Copeland's note: Um, yeah, thanks Mr. DuBois... ; ) OK, OK I'll stop commenting!]
"I'll go back at completion and run more tests.  This was a good time to go out there because if there were problems you could address them before everything was closed up.

As you know, it's so tight you really must have mechanical ventilation, which you will be installing (HRV), which is critical in these energy efficient homes. Most homes, most traditionally-built homes, leak willy-nilly so you don't ever have to worry about air quality, but in energy efficient homes like these they're so air-tight that air-exchange is imperative.

I saw very little air leakage... there is some thermal bridging you can address if you want but you certainly won't have a problem heating and maintaining good energy efficiency, that's for sure. How does it compare to a "normal" house? Superior!"
To continue to seal even further, concentrate on the areas where there is lumber vs. SIP (structural insulated panels)- the doorway header, add insulation around wooden framing, and if you're in really severe climates, you could add an exterior seal.

Mr. DuBois makes a good point:
"But you have to consider the climate- maybe if you're in Alaska or really south Florida you would want to consider that, but... we're in Virginia, how much gain will you really get by doing all that?!? You already know that with your off grid systems, comfort will never be an issue.

I will be punching in everything I did today and coming back with some data next week... you're not trying to get this house certified, so this is just more FYI info, but it will be cool to compare today with when you're done at the end of the project."
He also said that the amount of leakage currently (we're still not done sealing) in the prefab SIPs passive solar home is equivalent to about 6 x 6 inches, smaller than a basketball. Handsome Husband is chasing that number, with sealant in hand.


Later, Handsome Husband arrived home, and I had all these pictures and video to look at... and share with you now.

HOUSE KIT ENERGY AUDIT VIDEOS:
Mr. DuBois sets up...

SIPs House Kit Energy Audit #1 of 2

They start do to the smoke test and pressurize the modern house kit. SUDDENLY, a clerestory window pops wide open!  It had looked closed, but hadn't been closed totally, which certainly that had also contributed to our loss of temperature this winter at night!  It is securely locked now... : )

Smoke And Open Windows In The Affordable Prefab SIPs House

So, they pressurize again...

Energy-Audit-#1 of 2 In The Affordable Prefab Green Home

And then....they freakin' fill mah house up with SMOKE!
Note the comment about the south edge- later they discovered that when the door was installed they didn't put any sealant under that south door.  You as a home owner can seal that more if you live in a severe climate area. I knew the windows worked really well for our budget, but am pleased with how impressed he is! : )

Energy Audit 1 of 2: Smoke And Windows

Here Handsome Husband decides he's going to track down that durned elusive number.


Energy Audit 1 of 2: Husband Wants Passive Perfect

Then they go tramp around outside looking for leaks.
If there were gaps, you'd see the smoke drifting out.

Energy Audit #1 of 2 of the Prefab Net Zero Energy Green House

Check out what it looks like when they crack the door (and how hard it was to open because of the pressurization - because the house kit was so tight!).

Energy-Audit-Of-Green-House-Kit

...And then they start calculating...
Which Mr. DuBois will go into more in his guest post soon.

Energy-Audit-01-16-2010-36 from Copeland Casati on Vimeo.

And thaz it, the latest from our passive solar green home!

Here is Handsome Husband's summary:

"This wraps up the initial test of the house kit. We now know what simple steps we have left to optimize the envelope of the SIPs house, and we look forward to the final testing after construction is (finally) completed. The general goal and idea of the casa ti has passed Mr. DuBois's testing with flying colors, as we already suspected in the prefab house kit's performance over the last few weekends where the design and structure were able to give us relative comfort in a hostile climate.

The great thing about the delays in this project is that we're able to thoroughly test the house kit without further improvements, this allows us to confirm the performance a passive solar house kit built with SIPs."

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1/15/10

Vintage! Hat! Friday!!!! La Grippe Edition

I hear a rumor that an Energy Audit might happen in the prefab net zero passive solar house kit this weekend IF it doesn't conflict with meetings with the fireplace installer OR the carpenter OR the electrician... Regardless, there will be updates on the prefab green home forthcoming after the weekend.

On To Vintage Hat Friday!

Now, now. Just because we have a little touch o' tha grippe doesn't mean you'd think we'd cancel our so-recently-resurrected Vintage Hat Friday, now, do you?

Oh, no. We have eager minions awaiting in the wings to step into our Recycled & Reused Clothing At Work Spotlight when the divas fall ill.


In Amy's corner:  ROMEO
Romeo is modeling a pancake.
I have no idea WHY Romeo is modeling a pancake, because Amy is in a client meeting off site today.
I can only hope his pancake is not VINTAGE, yet am confident it is home made from this morning's breakfast.I await further comments from Amy... But am certain Romeo is whispering...
"Vintage Hat Friday! Vote for meeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!"


On Copeland's side: We present... FRENCH FRY!



French Fry has decided to reuse a vintage hat from Season 1.  

French Fry, please explain to us all your strategy and the history of this outfit.

French Fry: "Bok."

...And there you have it!!!!  
Vote for French Fry!!!!!

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1/11/10

The Insulation Post: Outside The Prefab Net Zero House, It Plummeted To Eleven. Eleven Degrees.


It plummeted to eleven degrees outside the net zero prefab SIP house last night.

And we're on a windy hill so... I... I just can't imagine what it was. I don't want to, honestly, as we still have not installed our off grid systems that would ordinarily keep us comfortable during these frigid temperatures.
Even with the kit house built of structural insulated panels, there is more you can do as a consumer to insulate and make your own house kit more tight... I encourage you to do so.
(And you will really appreciate those extra efficient touches in this weather!)

I previously mentioned how you can also order foam from the factory to put UNDER and AROUND your foundation:
"Insulating your home is not just about the SIPs panels that come with our Green Modern Kits SIPs house kit.

As the weather turns cooler, think of being outside on a frosty day:
Bundled up with a hat, scarf, nice warm coat... and...
No shoes? Bare legs?!?
Think of the exposed skin losing heat as it gets sucked away in the wind and cold...

Your house is like that too- despite the SIP insulating properties to ensure your home is tight, don't forget to add insulating foam underneath (and around) the foundation!"
We will start wrapping the exterior foam around the foundation next (we already added it below the foundation before we poured the concrete), but first we are sealing around the doors and windows (vs. paying someone to do so).

Each of Green Modern Kits / Green Cottage Kits / Green Cabin Kits' prefab house kits are different, and on this passive solar net zero casa ti there are a few areas that your contractor builds in that were too narrow for a SIP: obviously around windows and doors (to leave room for  framing); but on the north windows there is some higher framing to connect the SIP panels above the window, and between each clerestory window.

(Reference this picture, above - the vertical white to the right window Handsome Husband has just added foam to, and is now measuring between the next clerestory to cut his next piece of foam to add and therefore insulate between the windows that are not SIP. You / your contractor may choose to insulate there another way if you prefer.)


Still without systems, the net zero prefab house has been amazingly comfortable throughout the seasons... until now.
In Virginia, these extreme teen temperatures are not encountered often.  Until our off grid systems are installed, we are now relying on portable temporary heat to help the passive solar house kit maintain a comfortable level once the sun goes down and the temperatures plummet to such an extreme. 

We arrived mid-day Saturday to the interior of the prefab house kit reading 50. Outside, it was in the 20's. (The high was 28. And it was windy - gusts of 30mph. Mmmmmmmmmmmm, niiiice.)

Regardless of having no systems yet installed, having the energy efficient shelter of the prefab house kit shell has enabled our family to be on the land in January for the first time ever. Before, we would wait out mid-December through March... and only imagine what the land and community was like during that time. We are grateful to be there now even in these frosty conditions, and excited to see how cozy it will be once we hook up the solar / radiant heat / rainwater collection / etc.!

We met with Mr. H., the carpenter who will be building the interior walls now that Ron is retired.  When I explained our desire to not use dry wall and that we will instead reuse VMI's basketball court where possible, then that the house is off grid, then our general "pay as you go" philosophy and ended with,
"Maybe we're The Crazy Family in the area..."
He responded assuredly, "I always say, 'The customer is always right.' "
[Waaaaaaaaaait a second!
; ) ]

We also have news on the wood stove issue:
The one we purchased was not certified for residential homes but a garage and so it was returned.
 

Dejected (and knowing there is a perfectly good unused residential wood stove sitting in my parent's basement three minutes away from our house in Richmond that has now been promised to my dear brother who lives on the border of South Carolina... here I will end those mentions... just remember we were with our children in eleven degrees this weekend...), after spending the week making phone calls in a rural area trying to get someone (anyone?) to install my now imaginary wood stove... the phone rang.

"Hey. I hear y'all are having some issues with heat."

Early in my life, I learned a valuable lesson: Be a good friend, have good friends.
My. Friends. Are. Awesome.
Shawn Stanley offered up a cool, mod fireplace (still making those phone calls about installation).
We dragged it out to the prefab house kit and daaaaaaaaaanged if it didn't look perfect inside.
(Note: I am still looking for an installer. What is great about this fireplace is not just the coolio design aspect but that a conventional regular-sized wood stove would easily overheat the efficient, small footprint house once the radiant heat, etc. is working! Keep your fingers crossed. We shall see.)
[Should I insert ominous laughter now or be positive? I will do both. : ) ]

Regardless, with the portable heat we turned on after dark we were able, without systems, in freakin' dire temperatures, to get the house from it's natural passive solar 54 at dusk to 63. With a 15,000 btu heater. Outside at dusk it was... 20ish? (High was 28 that day. And at dusk it plummeted outdoors to 10, 11ish degrees.)

When we awoke, we could see our breath: it was 49 degrees.
At first, losing that much in one evening (about 1 degree per hour) shocked us.
Until we saw what the outside temperature had become.
With no systems installed. 
And not finished insulating the crevices.
Handsome Husband makes a good point: "Inside, it's uncomfortable. But what this proves is that you can survive, without systems, without freezing, in dire conditions. Outside? You're dead."
Ok, ok, but what about art?

So... I warmed up, drank some coffee... and then... I hung some art.
It's crooked.
That's ok. I'm also leaving it in the plastic it arrived in from the framing shop.

Y'know, (scoffs) 'cause at least I know that we're in a construction zone. ; )


(Contractors take a look at 0:45 and 1:20ish in this clip...)

To further vex Handsome Husband, I hung some old cuckoo clocks. They turned out to unexpectedly work. Which... shockingly... thrilled him!

[Cuckoo ... we are...]

I tried to throw a clean sheet over the Danish day bed to give it a crisp modern look, but somehow all the dogs and chillunz associated it immediately with "A Great Place To Nap And Jump!"

With the southern sunbeams shining invitingly directly on the frickin' day bed, I can't say I blame 'em...

Really, it took me about 24 hours of repeatedly re-attempting crisp hospital corners and re-smoothing it until I finally realized how futile it was and gave up.


Here, I finally hung some art as well, solidifying the reading corner (where you can then stretch out in the sun on that day bed to read)... and leaving the art in the pouches it arrived in to protect it from construction dust.

It's rewarding to be out there despite the cold, alternating relaxing with progressing on the prefab house kit even before the professionals return to finish the next phase of the net zero prefab green home.

In about two weeks the interior walls will begin to be built (yet leaving one side open so the electrician and plumber have access without having to redo anything).

In the meantime I am calling and calling around trying to find someone to come speak to us about installing the modern fireplace in the energy efficient green home (an issue, as a SIPs house has some considerations - as always, air exchange and proper ventilation are important...).  But that fireplace, if installed, will provide good heat as back up, yet without over heating the energy efficient and tight house kit.

Really, I just want to be hot and cozy even without systems installed... is that too much to ask when temperatures are in the teens? ; )

...Stay Tuned. We'll be out again this week in the net zero prefab green home... still with no systems!

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1/8/10

Vintage! Hat! Friiiiiiiiiiiiiiday! Yes, it returns. At least until the seeds start sprouting in the cold frames.


We are supposed to go to the net zero prefab SIPs house this weekend.
It is supposed to be TEN DEGREES tomorrow.

Please know we are not usually this talkative as we have been in the past week or two - usually I post about once a week, maybe every ten days. I can only blame my tallkin'-up-a-blue-streak on the dark, frigid winter and my anxiety over immediate heat in the prefab green home!

And to truly test your patience...
Vintage Hat Friday is back
!

Vintage Hat Friday helps us get through the black winter days, until seedlings begin to sprout in the cold frames and Friday's are again welcomed with garden experiments and warmth.

The holidays are over, there is snow on the ground, it will be TEN DEGREES... yet Vintage Hat Friday proves that recycled, reclaimed style can still BRING IT, adding affordable sparkle and style to our workplace.  To vote, just add a comment below telling us for whom you vote.
[And remember... Vote for ME!]

Amy: More Bogart then Bergman Perhaps…



"But really, if I had a hat as fabulous as Ingrid Bergman’s in Casablanca, I’d never take it off, and this competition would get very boring indeed.

I won’t lie, we’ve had a busy, productive winter at work. So much so that despite my best efforts to be whimsical today, I still came up all business. This was partly my own doing, and partly the result of a good friend telling me that I shouldn’t “Showboat” on the first Vintage Hat Friday of the season (he clearly didn’t know Copeland had a green mink… heck, I didn’t know Copeland had a vintage green mink!) but either way I think I could sweep a long scarf over my shoulder and board a plane in style in this ensemble.


The Hat: Yes, yes, you’ve seen it before. It was my grandfathers, and is quite, quite old and beautifully preserved, despite the fact that my brothers and I used to fight over who got to wear it as kids when we were playing ‘Indiana Jones’. I swear there are some new hats in the running this season, but there’s no shame in reusing a fabulous hat!



The Rest: The coat is a White House, Black Market brand trench I picked up at Goodwill for $12. This is the crown jewel in my thrift accomplishments of 4th quarter 2009. I was floored when I found it, and I love it to bits. The brown leather gloves: lovely gift from a friend, nice, warm, chic, and go oh-so-well with the shoes. Shoes: Another Goodwill find, $4 brown leather penny loafer styled high heels. Skirt is a black wrap style pencil skirt from Target (on clearance for $14) Shirt was on clearance at NY&Co, and the vest, well I paid full, blasted retail price for that vest. But every now and again, something warrants it. This did.

The Briefcase! I almost forgot the briefcase! This vintage lovely briefcase given to me by a friend, purportedly obtained in Germany while her family was overseas serving in the military. Fabulous in form and function, sleek and so very, very useful. I’ve been dragging it everywhere since I got it. And if I do say so myself ties the Hat, shoes, gloves, and all together rather nicely.

Happy Vintage Hat Friday and Vote for Me! Because this week it’s all business, but there are hats with bows and silver ribbon and sparkly bits in your future. Well… My future. I promise."


Copeland: Bring it, Marchesa.
[Amy's talking about business makes me realize, Dag, she's right- we've touched Colombia, Switzerland, Virginia and Texas all in one week for work, no wonder I'm exhausted! ]


"Baby, it's cold outside. But that doesn't stop me from donning my score-of-the-summer:
A vintage Guy Laroche dress purchased at a high school theater department sale! Yay vintage, yay reuse, yay spending money recycling for a good cause! The jaunty hat is from the same sale, and when I add the vintage coat my mother-in-law gave me (I would never *purchase* fur. It was a gift, and dead before I was born. These temperatures are what the durned coat was made for. But do know I'm very against fur for fashion. At least the coat is warm on a subzero day.)...  

Together, it makes me feel like The Marchesa Casati.

That is, if the Marchesa were a business lady with pink hair. Ok, maybe Marchesa Casati in her more bedraggled years, tearing through the dumpster in the early morning hours, sporting gold lame and a gown. Um......never mind.
BRING ON THE COLD, BABY, I'M READY TO HEAT UP THE PREFAB!"



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1/6/10

Modern Interior Design For A Net Zero Prefab : About Reuse

While I embrace clean cutting-edge new modern design, I also adore any opportunity to reuse and repurpose old items in another way, and am happily recycling many reclaimed items for our own modern prefab green home.

We really shouldn't be dragging out furniture to the net zero prefab modern house yet while the interior is under construction.  I know better, I do. Just know that.

Our most recent find was a teak modern Danish bed we found in Restore (RVA's Habitat for Humanity's salvaged materials / donated items outlet), now recycled into our bedroom in the still-unfinished prefab green home.


Now that we're installing a wood stove, I am going back to my original idea of that south-east space: grouping floor pillows around the more casual comfort of the wood stove, surrounded with old Popular Mechanics books, Countrywide Magazines, and "How to do XYZ" books where you can lounge around and... learn how to do stuff.

Facing the "view," the south end of that room will be more "ring in the cocktail hour!" - More formal, here you will find hardbound vintage books on mid-century architecture, style, as well as books on off grid living and prefab architecture.

I began to look for some modern floor pillows for the area around the wood stove. Within minutes, I discovered one modern retailer that was selling a floor pillow for...
$590. 
To throw on the floor. A pillow.

Mod retailer: You are kidding me. Oh but you aren't. You're selling $590 *floor* *pillows* and you're not embarrassed?!?

A friend jokingly responded: "Are we in the wrong businesses? We should look at floor pillows again...sounds like there's potential!"

You need to know that $590 floor pillow was UGLY.

Floor pillows. *A* floor pillow for $590.
And it would just get stained, scuffed, worn out being scraped along a floor... there must be a better way to create a floor pillow that is stylish, inexpensive, modern, yet durable.
I stewed a moment, then came up with a solution:  


1. Ok. 1st you get some scrap wood. Build a mod, sleek, low frame (preferably with a handle, and yes it needs a bottom).  For ours, I will reuse some of the VMI basketball flooring to build a low, 2"-ish high frame. 

2. Fill the frame with rows of tightly rolled old clothes that now have holes (I have 10 shirts that just died after ONLY fifteen years of use, *sob!*)...  It will give a modern effect of Missoni-ish lines/fabric while reusing clothes you can't even donate to a thrift store! The more different fabrics, the more interesting and mod the pattern!

3. Pack it in tightly so it's sleek and smooth and there ya go:
A high-end, modern, chic and didja hear it was by the *coveted brand* Green Modern Kits DESIGNER free floor pillow! ; )



[Now I can use my fave shirt (which I still never threw out despite 6+ holes, reused, at the net zero SIPs prefab!)]

THIS JUST IN: Related in being adverse to waste:
http://www.nytimes.com/2010/01/06/nyregion/06about.html
Trending topic: Clothing retailer H & M destroys unsold clothes in lieu of donating

What a SHAME, what a waste.
I jokingly reacted with, "Think of all the *floor pillows* they coulda made!" but really, when you think of all the needy schoolchildren... WHAT A SHAME.... What a WASTE!

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