Friday, February 25, 2011

an example

If you've got about thirty minutes to spare, sit back, relax and watch this Passive House as it's built in California.  This is a very detailed explanation highlighting the precision and sample materials required to construct a home to meet the Passive House standard.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

project proposal

We're getting closer!  Last week we got our project proposal from Structures and the energy projections were amazing.  The proposal suggests our Passive House will perform at an 88% heating and cooling efficiency which will result in an 73% reduction in carbon dioxide emissions as compared to standard construction.

While the energy savings and reduction in carbon emissions are huge, the project costs are minimal.  Its estimated that we'll be spending approximately 9% more for passive house construction.

We've reviewed the project estimates and submitted some minor changes to Adam and Rob, i.e. siding, flooring, etc.  Once we have a final price for construction, we'll start shopping for a loan.  The real challenge will be the appraisal.  Since Passive House construction is relatively new to the US market and our home will be the first passive house in Southern VA, we'll need to educate the appraisers to justify the 9% increase in construction costs.  Regardless of the outcome after the initial appraisal we're prepared to pay the extra 9% upfront because our Passive House will start paying us back immediately.

Adam is looking into having our home rated on its energy performance if Passive House Certification isn't enough to justify its efficiency.  In the US, the Home Energy Rating System (HERS) provides a measurement of a home's energy efficiency.  An energy rating for new homes will allow buyers to compare the energy efficiency of homes they are considering buying.  While HERS has not been formally adopted in VA, other states in the northeast as well as California and Florida have incorporated programs to require energy ratings for new construction.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011


We hired Tim Parker with Parker and Anderson Inc. out of Thaxton, VA to put together our well/septic inspection for us.  I reached out to him after I spoke with the Department of Health (DOH).

When I inquired about the application process with the DOH, they told me that we could hire a soil evaluator to perform a site inspection and submit an application for us.  Hiring a soil evaluator ended up costing us an additional $100 but I opted to pay Tim because he was such a pleasure to work with before we bought our property. Tim helped us out before we purchased our property in 2009.  We wanted to perform a perk test to ensure our land would accommodate a conventional septic system and Tim was up there the day after I called him.

If I were to apply for a well/septic permit on my own, it would have cost me $725 plus additional expenses if we hit rock and needed to rent a mini excavator.  By hiring Tim, the application cost us $525 plus $300 for his time and if additional work was required, Tim would have covered it in his $300 charge.

So look at it like this, we paid Tim $300 as opposed to paying the state government $200 - after all, they get enough of my paycheck already.  All said, it was worth it; Tim called me today and told me he's done and the application is in the mail to the DOH - five days after I hired him to do the work.  We should have our well/septic permit soon.