Then there were two! The guys rocked it out on Friday…
Thursday afternoon, the crew was working on the garage. By Friday, they had the garage skinned in, the Gear Room framed (with its hot little window!) and had moved on to the West Cube.
The overall design of this house is really straightforward – three cubes and a rectangle. No angles in the entire place other than 90 and 0 – right angles, flat surfaces, simple and clean. The East Cube celebrates the rising sun – Master suite and workout room. The Central rectangle is main living space – Great room, kitchen (and bar) and dining. West Cube has two levels – lower is guest suite with a walk out porch (think, morning coffee or afternoon margaritas!) and reading/media room, upper level – behind a door that must be opened and a stairwell that must be ascended, is the office suite. 2 offices and a small bathroom – a good workplace with expansive sky and treetop views to generate inspiration! The garage and gear room are the third cube. Meh.
Friday, they started framing the West Cube, beginning with the lower level and working their way up.
When designing a house from a blank piece of paper, there are always pushes and pulls from what the owners had in their heads initially to what gets translated into sticks and roofs. One key design requirement I had starting out was that I refused – REFUSED – to have garage doors be the first thing someone sees as they come upon the structure. I can’t remember where I learned it (and therefore my memory could be frayed) but Frank Lloyd Wright used to bemoan the rise of suburban houses with their blocks of garage doors facing the street – rows and rows of garage doors and no style or culture to bring a sense of community to the neighborhood where they sat. Garage doors are imposing and confrontational.
Unfortunately for us, it snows here – often in great amounts, and getting rid of that snow, or having a place to put it, is a primary concern. Given the Passive House solar siting requirements, and to maximize the fantastic view, we had to shift on where the driveway would enter the lot and place the garage accordingly, considering those (hopefully frequent) 18″ snows that will linger for days or weeks. Plus, we had an existing scrape from the logging operations 20 years ago, that would serve as the baseline for an adequate driveway (hence, cutting down fewer trees).
The beneficial consequence of that?? At least we will get really cool garage doors and are thinking through eye catching and unique surfaces for the garage – might as well make it interesting!
Going vertical happens quickly with an experienced and coordinated crew.
Under the Passive House approach, every place where an air leakage can happen, must be sealed permanently. Absolute air tightness is one of the five key concepts of this approach, and is a key difference from conventional building practice since, well, forever.
Air-tightness is the key to passive houses, whether it is around the windows, in the roof, or around the base of the foundation. It must be sealed, or, in the words of Heath Perry – Keep It Tight!!