This site is going to document our new home from start to finish, hopefully with a lot of pictures and information. The focus for the site, as well as the home itself, is a net-zero passivehaus design which will get all of its energy from roof-mounted solar panels.

A Short Version of the Background

We started this whole thing about 2 years ago, looking for a conventional house but then transitioning to building our own. If we were building from scratch, we wanted a net-zero/passivehaus, powered by solar panels and basically no cost-no maintenance once it was done. So we looked at pre-fabs for a while, then started talking to what eventually became our architect in Jan/Feb of 2019. We started designing the house around then and booked a long trip to search for property in May of 2019. We found what we were looking for and started planning in earnest at that point. We booked another trip a few months later and found a local builder after interviewing about 6 of them. (oh we’re trying to keep it all local to the area too. forgot to mention that).

Fast forward to this year. Our architect completed construction drawings in the beginning of June. We had been kicking around design drawings from last summer until about January. There were many meetings with the architect and interior designer during the ensuing months, some with the builder added to discuss feasibility and cost implications and doing “value engineering”. Each meeting brought things closer and closer to a final design. Once we hit the 100% design drawing phase, we handed it off to the builder for doing estimates on materials, getting quotes from sub-contractors and all of the work they needed to do. We are trying to do a fixed-cost build which might end up costing us a little more if things go perfectly but will save us money if there are surprises. The goal is the contain costs through planning (which my partner and I both do for a living).

We submitted drawings and forms to the zoning board May 20 and it was approved June 15. There was a 15 day appeal period but we got no appeals so we’re a “go”.

Last week we went back to the builder for final sub-contractor quotes. Because that’s going to take a while, we’re splitting the contract into two parts – the site work and the house construction. The sitework is pretty well-defined and is being done by one company so it was easier to get a handle on quickly. I keep pushing to start ASAP because the supply delays due to COVID are unpredictable and we need to move into a finished house by next summer.

If all goes well, the site-work will be done in a couple of weeks and we’ll have the following ready: - trees cut, cleared - old camp on the property knocked down and cleared - pad for garage (also concrete) and screened porch done - trenches for water and electricity dug - prep for well-digging - septic system ready for installation - driveway complete

Then we should get final numbers from the builder, we approve it and he orders things like windows, doors, Zehnder, HVAC, and starts framing with the goal of getting things built up and enclosed before snow flies.

A New House

My wife A and I are building a new house in the mountains of Vermont. This site is going to be a picture-dense accounting of the journey.

a preliminary rendering of the house a small excerpt of the plans in progress

View all of the posts in the archive, browse the tags, or subscribe to the feed for All Posts.