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.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Site work, part 63

The sun came out, and thus the backhoe; John Larter and I were placing rocks which look small here, but are really quite huge. Jeff and I have been making some progress on the flooring, and friend Barbara Keene and her friend Sue and puppy Fern stopped by to discuss rocks, placement of, et cetera... such a big help to have more minds on this than only mine. John and I only did these three, but picture plantings!


Monday, June 29, 2009

Hard at work

Top, Chris takes a load off on a hammock at friend Janice's; middle we get a dozer in the face as John Larter raises the grade for the steps to the west porch; bottom Madison is landing a plane...not.

Today, Jeff Heavner laid the Marmoleum ("green" linoleum) floor in the girls' shower room; we still must tackle the master bath tomorrow. Flooring is in full swing now; the first board is laid upstairs and once the master bath is done it's off to the tongue and groove, babe.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Sunday night blues

Flip, Chris D. and Neil C. (one of the salvage door team) have gone off to see Star Trek (the new movie), Madis has a sleep-over and Eva's coming home soon from weekending with friends (how many 8-year-olds weekend with friends?). That means..... YES! I am alone! Well, except for Luna, who since it's after supper hardly makes a difference.

Today, Flip and I worked on priming and prepping the annex for painting. Flip primed walls and ceilings, I Ready-Patched, sanded and caulked. We are, well, almost there on the 1/4th of the house we were working on... rather daunting when we look at the beamwork and high ceilings and nail holes and caulking spots everywhere else. But in our own, small way, we have made a start before flooring. Too bad the flooring will start this week and then force us to paint over the top of it. But such is life, and newspapers need new purpose these days (beyond my reading them in bed, which is one small benefit of aging).

Friday, June 26, 2009

Chain of custody

Our flooring was delivered yesterday and no, that's not all of it, just a few boards. We purchased pitch pine in variable width (between 8 and 12 inches in width) from Craftsman Lumber in Groton, Mass, which came with something LEED folks like: a chain of custody document. Essentially, a chain of custody proves who touched the wood since it was a tree... like a chain of evidence. In our case, our flooring came from a Nature Conservancy forest in Cocorua, NH that was being harvested for fire breaks and open habitats. Logging contractor LE Taylor and Sons conducted the harvesting, and sold the sawlogs to Home Grown Lumber of Center Conway, NH, who milled them. Craftsman Lumber, finally, planed and formed the tongue and groove.

LEED likes locally, responsibly harvested lumber. This chain of custody document not only proved this, but is also quite interesting all by itself. How many of us know where our trees came from?


Thursday, June 25, 2009

finally, photos

Top, the salvage french doors are looking swell.
Next, Jeff Heavner works on ceiling slats as Eva strolls through.
Third, baseboards are complete and we're moving in flooring through these doors.
Last, Chris D. and Lloyd—who is their wardrobe consultant?
Upstairs flooring was delivered this morning, downstairs coming this PM as the delivery guys are dodging raindrops. It's been raining non stop for a week and a half, and the barn doors are swelling, the bugs are moving up to escape the ground water, and it's murky as heck.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Short break

Have run off for a short break. More Wednesday.

Thursday, June 18, 2009


Okay, my camera's been acting up. Porches, check. Exterior, check. Plaster, check. Upstairs window trim, doors hung, baseboard trim, check. Finish team is moving downstairs. Hope to get a shot later today, but it's raining (again) and the grading has been held up with weather forever. And forecast says... rain some more. So grading, not check, holding up porch steps. Andy T and Flip are going to move the kitchen cupboards in later tonight, and I'm whittling away at the downstairs ceiling slats.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Getting plastered

Okay, so the Paradise Plaster dudes have moved downstairs, working their way from west to east. They needed a rest from high beamwork, so they've done the annex (which has no posts and beams) and are moving into the main living area of the house. They're making good progress, not sure exactly when they'll be done. The finish carpenters are right behind them doing the window casings and hanging doors.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Base and case

Jeff H. and John Luczkow have been casing windows and hanging doors, respectively, on the east side where Paradise Plaster is done. They're moving at a wonderful pace. Unfortunately, my pictures of Brian (Paradise) posed in front of beams look like someone possessed, so I shall try again on Monday. I'll try for some interiors tomorrow when hopefully, I will have the legroom.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Cleaning house

Since the cats are away, I took the opportunity to clear the decks. Filled up the big shop vac twice, stacked wood, took another lumber delivery and cut some ceiling stock. Work on window casings starts tomorrow by Jeff Heavner; John Luczkow is coming to hang our antique doors, something he's been doing for years in his honking great antique down the road. Sam and Paul, having finished their endless shingling job (yay!) will be putting the supports together for the two remaining entries on the north and south sides. John Larter is grading and grading. (But remember: Don't tell Chris and Lloyd, it's a secret.)

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Good news, bad news 2

Good news, Chris's stairway design was structurally approved by the building inspector. Bad news, that means Erin had to insulate above, on the sides, and underneath the stairs both with fire stop (rock wool) and regular itchy fiberglass all in one day. Good news, insulation was approved to close in; bad news, board men have gone so this waits for another day.

Chris has flown the coop--he is off to vacation with his family at Claudia's, although Claudia may leave herself, who knows? Tonight, he and his stay with Hannah and tomorrow, off to the Island with the sands and seas, leaving us to our fiberglass dust and regrets.

Big Secret: Many things may happen in his absence, but sssshhh! Don't tell Chris!

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Top, a picture of Erin's handiwork in the office; learning how to install the slats between the beams, allow for wiring, and not waste wood is a lesson in progress. Bottom, Chris contemplates the porch which has a few tweaks needed; after working so very hard for five days on the stairway, he now awaits inspection. I'll tell you what—with the house full of board and plaster guys, we do NOT want to be in there.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Groovin' with T&G

I spent today up and down the step ladder, to the table saw, to the lumber pile, to the step ladder, with a mallet, with a nail gun, down the ladder again, get the jig saw... Cutting the T&G ceiling planks around the ductwork so that they'll marry again at the end of the wall was a bit of a trick. But two sections done; one to go. It's really fun when you need reading glasses... part of the time... when you're on a ladder.

Friday, June 5, 2009

Stair, by Chris

He probably doesn't want me to put this up yet. He's picky that way. But note the graceful turn, the beadboard wall. The stair is taking shape.

Board Warriors

Blueboarding with cathedral ceilings and beamwork is some pretty fancy cutting. Here are two of the board experts from Paradise Plaster who are cutting it in. Couple of short walls to go upstairs, then on down.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

What's this?

That's right, wet plaster. In my experience, a team would come and board the whole house, then another team would come and plaster. These guys, however, have three guys boarding, followed by two guys plastering, which means we have one room already done and moving on to room two. They are doing both at once in each area of the house. Boy was I extraneous at the site today; I bugged out to make spaghetti sauce and lie low. Very low.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009


Shingling around a circle is an interesting job, especially when you're working at altitude. Paul has been working on the two dormer windows for the last two days, and I do believe he is finishing up as I write this. It will be a relief to him (and me, too) to have them done. Meanwhile, the blueboard and plaster was delivered but the guys aren't starting until tomorrow.

This gave Chris D. a couple of days inside alone to work on the winder staircase. The architect had designed a partial winder—that is to say you go up three steps, take a left on two triangular steps, then a straight step, the left again on two triangular steps. Chris thought, and I agree, that a continuous set of triangular steps completing the U-turn on the stair would be both more comfortable and more attractive than having a straight step in the middle.

The building inspector suggested it as "ambitious," and that's all Chris needed to meet the challenge. He's spent yesterday and today reconfiguring the staircase and now he's building it--beautifully, and to code. So there.

The bottom shot is our new mantle piece, a hunk of butternut that had sat in a Vermonter's workshop for oh, twenty or thirty years. Cleaned up "real niiiice."