Moved In

We’re all moved in now, and our zero-energy house is doing what it does best: letting in lots of light and producing all its own power. In fact, since the city installed the meter a couple of months ago, we’ve already made way more power than we’ve used, over 1,000 kilowatt hours, in fact. That’s power in our energy “bank” that we can draw from during the winter, when the sun shines less and the heat pump runs more to keep the house warm.

I posted some photos below of our progress over the last few weeks. Aside from packing and moving, our big task has been to install and finish the reclaimed fir floors. A company called Salisbury Woodworking on Bainbridge Island took beams from an old building and milled them into 10.5″ wide planks. Each plank was 22 feet long, which is practically unheard of today. After sanding and cleaning the subfloor, we cut the planks to fit our rooms, then glued them down with construction adhesive. We then painstakingly cut out thin square pieces above the larger knots with a router and chisel and filled them in with good wood (a repair called a “Dutchman” in woodworking lingo, apparently). We also filled in smaller holes with black Bondo and then sanded the whole floor with hand sanders before applying a sealer and three coats of water-based finish. Whew! It was a ton of work, but we learned a lot, and it we’re really happy with how the floors turned out. (And thanks to Mom for doing much of the Bondo sanding, a nasty, dusty job if ever there was one.)

And while I’m thanking people, thanks, too, to Ted Sr., Ted Jr., Johnny, Cole, and Isaac for doing such a great job and being so enjoyable to work with. Their planning, craftsmanship, and all the great little touches they added take the house from being an econo-box to a unique, comfortable home that people stop on the sidewalk to check out.

We still have a few minor projects left to do, and we’ve done almost no landscaping yet, but it’s great to be home (and to watch the meter run backward).

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11 thoughts on “Moved In

  1. Awesome! The concrete floors look sweet. And the Wood floors…incredible. I love the wide plank. And I bet since it is reclaimed that it is really stable and should do well over the radiant floor; how thick is it?, is it T&G?. You guys really put together a great looking/functioning home…Enjoy!

  2. This all looks great. Take time to loll back on the couch, put your feet up on the rustic wood table, and take a moment to enjoy it all now that ( most of ) the hard work is behind you.

  3. The house looks great! Congrats! I am a little disappointed that I only discovered your blog in the last few days. I am curious how your city permit office reacted to seeing your plans cross their desk. Did they have any prior experiences with SIP? And did it have any effect on your building planning and process?

    • Hi Ryan,
      Thanks for your interest. The building department was familiar with SIPs, but mostly for roofs. It didn’t take very much longer to get approval because they fast-track “green-built” projects in Seattle. They did require that our engineer provide some additional documentation and sign a letter stating that the SIPs would work as load-bearing walls. Overall, we’re so glad we went with the SIPs construction. The house went up really fast without a lot of waste (no dumpster on this jobsite!), and it’s super tight. We actually achieved the Passive House standard for air-tightness. Let us know if you have any other questions about the building process. -Eric

  4. Eric and Alex,

    The new home looks great and much of the heavy work is behind you so relax and enjoy. Many interesting design features and the idea of using reclaimed wood for the flooring turned out well. I like the supports for the front overhang. Shouldn’t have any trouble filling the rain barrels. I’ll be interested in hearing how the zero energy pans out.

    Uncle Jim

  5. Pingback: Seattle area zero energy house opens its doors | SIPs.org

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