Jesse and Betsy searched for two years for the dump of their dreams: a dirt cheap, homely 1960s ranch house within walking distance of their kids’ neighborhood school and close enough to downtown Portland to ride bikes into work. The hope was that they could renovate it into a affordable, high-style and extremely comfortable home for their family. As an architect and fiber artist respectively, their creative vision was clear enough to sense the glimmer of a diamond that lay deep inside that forgotten home at the end of Madeline Street.
The house has a striking presence in a neighborhood that hasn’t seen any new construction in a few decades, but sets a quiet tone with its dark stained hemlock siding and its 150 year old salvaged slate siding and chimney. Just past the fondle-worthy, Euro-brown triple glazed entry door, the mudroom buzzes with vigor from the vivid blue wall flowing with birch plywood off-cuts / coat hooks (Credit that one to the textile expert of the family). As you turn into the living room, a sexy, curved plaster ceiling billows and heaves in all the right places to define the comfy kitchen and dining room. It quickly rises to twelve feet over the proud and bright main living space where the custom steel fireplace surround visually locks you in. Turns out it’s worthy of such attention as the family’s primary source of heat in this amazingly energy-efficient home.
The 1,100 SF footprint was expanded to 1,900 SF on a budget of only $85 / SF.
The only footprint additions were a compact 2-bedroom volume upstairs for the kids, and the refinished breezeway, now part of the heated envelope.
- LEED Platinum projected 2012
-The renovation layered 6 inches of salvaged rigid foam over the existing walls over a sheet applied air barrier. All windows were replaced with triple glazed fiberglass R-5 windows. The final air tightness was increased by 90%, meeting the Passivhaus EnerFit standard (1.0 ACH50)
-The basement slab was over-insulated to R-10, then a new basement slab was poured to isolate the building from the ground.
-The mechanical system supplements the existing gas boiler with a compact Scandinavian wood stove that allows the house to be entirely heated by renewable local biomass for only $350 per year. A Swiss heat recovery ventilator provides fresh air year-round to all rooms.
-Deep set windows and slatted exterior sunshades prevent overheating in summer while maximizing winter sunlight.
-The house meets the Architecture 2030 Challenge goal of a 70% carbon reduction by 2015. Average energy use is only ~350 kWH / month due to efficient appliances and LED / florescent lighting throughout.
-All materials are carefully chosen for low toxicity with salvaged materials throughout, including the kitchen appliances, ceramic tile and the existing red oak floor stained black with “Liquid Nightmare” ebonizing
-This house uses only 13 kBTU / SF /YR