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.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Getting there is half the...

Here's the porch framed. In these shots Chris D., center, is finishing the decking and Lloyd is widening the opening for the mason to pour the hearth area required by code. The porch itself adds a great deal to the space of the house, and as it's on the east side only darkens the house in the morning. This afternoon, Chris and I were hanging fascia board so that we can move on to roofing shortly. I was "wing man;" a nice way of saying I held up the other end while Chris did all the work.

Meanwhile, inside, Atlas Insulation was putting batts of insulation in all the walls as we are still expecting the board guys on Monday. I'll be doing some more tomorrow, but we're looking pretty good at this point; all I have to do is a small area around the staircase.

Thursday, May 28, 2009


I am going crazy seeing Lloyd, Jimmy, Steve, Doug, Jason, Red, Bob, Chris D., Sam and Paul all buzzing around the property... and watching my checking account dwindle. However, this too shall pass, just not yet. Tomorrow, we add an insulation guy to the picture and on Monday, the boarding folks. I'll remember my camera sometime, but not right now. I hope to get a couple of good shots tomorrow.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Conditional thumbs up

So the building inspector came and saw; made a few requests and gave us a conditional thumbs up to close in the walls. This morning, Chris D. is putting up lags and hangers on the west wing ceiling. It's raining, so Sam & Paul are inside the west porch shingling there, and John Larter is coming with load after load of leaching sand for the septic field. I've spent most of this week so far running to doctors' appointments (children, dog) and to school events. Now that the inspector has given the okay, we'll move toward insulating the interior walls and up goes the blueboard!

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Flip on deck

It's rare to have a pic of Flip, who is there when I'm not or is not there when I am. Today being Saturday, though, we managed to overlap long enough to get a snap of him screwing down the decking on the west porch. Many trips to the recycling transfer station and after moving the piles around the yard, he still hasn't received the admiration that he's due as Waste Master and General Factotum.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Paddock's Progress

Doug, Red, Bob and Jason were back from Paddock Carpentry to put up the east porch and how sweet it is. They were just putting on the carrying beams when I left after Flip and I sorted all the scrap wood and moved the piles around. Meanwhile, Sam and Paul were climbing up the north side of the house with shingles, and Chris Lombardo got his plumbing inspection. Two down, one to go--the building inspector comes on Tuesday to give us the thumb's up (or down, hope not) so we can go ahead and board things up.

Money's tight now, and we had many discussions on whether we could move on the porch at this point. Given that there were two exterior doors and a fireplace there, we Had to build at least a deck. When we costed out the incremental increase to roof it, we found we wouldn't be paying that much more to complete it. With a few cost cuttings on materials (using pressure treated instead of redwood or fir), we will eke it through the exchequer with a simpler design and a slight green tinge to the decking and posts. How appropriate.

Thursday, May 21, 2009


Top, the gutter guys work above Sam and Paul as they put gutters up post-haste. Middle, Steve the electrician after bringing the barn live, and bottom, Jimmy J in the truck. We also have well guys (2), John Larter and his backhoe, Chris D. and Lloyd. Lots of trucks...

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

We've Got the Power

Electric's up. Tomorrow, electric rough, water and furnace on. Thursday, plumbing rough. Click click click...

What's that in the trees?

At top, Sam is shingling and the weather is fine. At the bottom, peek through the trees and there you'll see... the NSTAR trucks! Yes, they're bringing in the power lines and we won't have too much longer to wait.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Ambitious? Possibly.

We're down to the last few days of the generator and we're all looking forward to the sound of one less machine. Hoping to get our rough inspections the end of this week, finish up shingling, get the porch going, put up some gutters, get our septic leaching field in and move into finish stages (board and plaster) next week.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Final pour

Left to right, Lloyd, Gordon Maxfield (neighbor), Paul Cook of shingling fame, and Chris Dowling manage the final footings for the east porch.

A dirty job, again.

At top, John Larter is happy to see the septic tank go in. Chris and Lloyd were setting the sono-tubes for the porch posts today, and believe me, both of them spent true quality time in the hole. Meanwhile, inside, Erickson's team continued wiring and now confront the wiring of the exterior walls. Showed them Paddock's trick of heating up a floor joist mounted on a piece of wood; when the hot metal hits the XPS it melts like buttah.
Unfortunately, I ran across a few more doors that needed stripping. So I will let them fester until morning.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Hey now.

The guys are so busy it was clear they didn't want me inside the house today, so the Mouse (who stayed home from school) and I stripped and painted some more doors in the barn. Chris made a wonderful extension jamb for the circle windows out of Azek, heated and bent into a circle. The Mouse vacuumed inside the wiring holes in the second floor (before we got the boot) so Lloyd could put fire-stop in the holes. Rained out this afternoon on shingling, but they're getting there.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Wiring and wondering

Here, you see Steve (top) and Jimmy (center) of Erickson Electric wiring the upstairs and downstairs respectively; they are bookin' it. Meanwhile, Chris has hung all the uppers of the kitchen cabinets, including cutting one down six inches to fit over the fridge. Although traditionally we would not mount cupboards during rough, we needed to see where they would go and if they would fit, as they were salvage. You also see here the Chambers stove, delivered by Claudia over the weekend, which we have now safely wrapped with plastic so we can wheel it around on the dolly rather than lift its 500 pounds (again).

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Today, the geothermal system is being perfected for launch. Whether they fired that puppy up yet I don't know; had to take the girls to the dentist. But the van was there, the water lines were there, and the super generator was there. So I guess I'll find out tomorrow.

Chris D is perfecting the art of using salvage cupboards. Erickson's team tore through the cellar, putting up the power lines and circuit box and lighting. When last seen, they were tearing through the second floor. Guess I'd better get up there and clean the first floor soon. Pix tomorrow, promise; I forgot my camera today.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

The Week in Review

It's Mother's Day, and things have settled down for this moment; here's what occurred this week.
Lloyd: Got back from vacation and managed us all, hopefully feeling refreshed
Chris Dowling: Completed nearly all the extension jambs and sills for the windows and doors, changed the kitchen island configuration to allow refrigerator clearance on the stair side, built and/or altered a few spaces to allow shelving, toyed with using a salvage bannister for the stairway, started the tub surround and generally kept moving 24/7.
Claudia Dowling: Brought up the 1950s Chambers stove she found in Staten Island (thanks, Ted)
Electric: Erickson's team showed up and got ready to run cable from the telephone pole to the house on Monday, will then tear through the house wiring.
Ductwork: Completed, tied into the furnace
Richardson Wells: Started with final water lines in cellar, had to fly away for a water emergency
Sam Savage and Paul Cook: Got most of the South and West sides of the house shingled.
John Larter: Backhoed the utility trenches closed and graded around three sides of the house; will start septic tomorrow.
Erin: Stripped down the french doors and put a coat of lead binding paint on them between clouds of sawdust, painted duct sealer on the cellar seams of the ductwork
Luna: Was mad because she wasn't invited to the site as she barks at the backhoe in an annoying fashion
Flip: Earned the money to pay for it all

As you can see, a productive week. More this week; we'll see how we do

Friday, May 8, 2009

Good news, bad news

Good news, we get to use these fantastic salvage French doors. Bad news, they tested positive for lead paint. These and the 18 other interior doors came from an antique being torn down in Newton, Massachusetts. Drew, Neil, Flip and I took them out of this house complete with casing and hardware. Now, I have to strip the paint and reprime. In this shot, you see this pair already stripped and being primed. Only 18 to go. Luna thinks it stinks.


Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Shake and dig it

While Paul and Sam shingle (thanks to a break in the weather), John Larter digs; as you can see, the ground is coming up to meet the house as the septic field starts to take shape. I've been in the barn stripping doors, Chris is doing extension jambs (still) and will advise me on porches tomorrow. Lloyd and Dean were consulting about stormwater reuse, and tomorrow John Erickson starts, I think....

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Buried again

The electrical inspector looked at the trenching yesterday, and John Larter's guys are in the process of burying them once again. After this, Larter will put in the septic system and porch footings. Meanwhile, inside, Chris D. is cutting extension jambs and working to complete a visual for the interior so the electrician can see where to wire and the plasterers will have a more complete idea of where the board goes. Erickson Electric should be starting shortly with wiring.

We received our tub and toilets this morning, and Chris and I stowed them in the cellar while he perfects the concept for the tub surround. Sam and Paul were rained out today for shingling.

Monday, May 4, 2009


Okay, so Will D'Arrigo from CSG stopped by Friday to look at the ductwork. The ducts will be pressurized to make sure that they are within a range of being air-tight, and he determined to wait a bit before doing this test while I do a little more. In the shot above (NOT our house), it is done correctly; with painted mastic along the seams and tape along the joins. In our house, we did pretty well taping the joins but need to paint on the mastic. Dave and Ken have done an awesome job, and plenty of it--so I have a job this week, tweaking the riveted areas to make them further airtight.


Saturday, May 2, 2009

Two down, one to go

Okay, so if Chris and Flip actually buy the washer and dryer they went to see from Craigs List today, we'll be down to just the dishwasher (and disposal) to buy, and those I was going to get new anyway (something about used dishwashers and disposals just didn't do it for me). That means we're closing in on being done with appliances, phew.

Friday, May 1, 2009

Update from here

Today, Chris Lombardo just about finished his rough, needs water to complete. Electrical inspection did not happen, but probably will Monday morning. This means we still have trenches across the driveway, which should close up then. Chris Dowling has been fixing the areas that needed tweaks in framing before the electrician comes. Will D'Arrigo came by and told Chris D. what else I need to do before he tests the ductwork (mastic on the exposed seams and cover returns). Sam and Paul continued shingling, and Erin cleaned up. Some. But I'll have more to do tomorrow.