Holliston LEED House

This is the story of a family who built the first LEED "green" house in Holliston, Massachusetts. We were trying to spend no more than it would take to build an ordinary house,and maybe even succeeded. The dust is still settling.

Monday, October 20, 2008

A peek from the east

This is the east and north of the house, which has been designed to somewhat resemble an antique from the exterior. Our plans are being submitted to the HERS rater this week (who is the same as the LEED rater) as well as the building inspector for our permits. We are shooting first for Energy Star, then for LEED. Although we are a bit over the ideal footprint for a 4BR LEED house, we have many other features that should bring our points to the needed level.

Received our stormwater runoff permit from the town (new reg last month, who can keep up) and now all's lined up for submission to the town. We're racing the weather to get our foundation in before the hard freeze. Fearless Leader says all systems are go with the backhoe man John at the end of the month.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Closed loop, open loop…

The cost of geothermal varies greatly depending upon whether you plan to plumb your house for radiant heat or use a simple air system with ducts. The way we’re leaning now is to build an open loop, one hole geothermal system (which you can only do if your water quality is Fabulous) which works by digging our water well deeper (to 500 feet). Then, the system drains at the bottom of the hole, while our drinking water is supplied from a depth of 140 feet and ne’er the twain shall meet, I hope.

Using one of the two name brands (ClimateMaster or Water Furnace), we then limit our cost for the geothermal to the well (ours is costing around 8500k including water well for 5000 which we had to get anyway), plus a backup dry well (leaching field), and the interior machinery and ductwork, which goes for about $5000-5500 per ton. In our two story, cathedral ceilinged 2800 sq ft house, we need to move 5 tons of air.

Generally speaking, a standard forced hot air heating system here costs about 15,000. This means the geothermal is roughly double that. However, you won’t be buying fuel every year, so up here in New England that means it pays back at around 2000 a year, net of the increased electric.

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Tuesday, October 7, 2008

As time goes by

Found one of the few remaining spots around the globe without a wireless connection, sorry for the break. Here’s the update:

Water quality is good. Better than good. Better than bottled. So this bodes well for a one-hole geo system if we can manage.

Financing: While economy crashes, we are still waiting to hear how much we can borrow. Fortunately, we have good credit; unfortunately, property values are down and that makes a big difference. My niece and her husband are trying to get a mortgage while their banker is breaking her pelvis on vacation, so things could be worse.

Plans: The plans are in their final stages and we should be going to building inspector soon. BUT WAIT! Of course, we found out we will need another variance from town for a new regulation about tree clearing that wasn’t even in existence when we cleared… but there you go. The town wants another $350 fee, but I don’t think we will need to have a big wait. At least I hope not.

Fearless Leader has been good about watching the documentation… we now have a “potable water source” and thus a legal site. Also, we have a bank appraiser who couldn’t find the site until guided by phone twice, which means it must be a Very Good Site.
More anon.