Friday, June 27, 2008

Renewable Energy from the Pond

Geothermal energy from the pond
will be used to heat and cool the house

Aided by a week of near-perfect weather, the prefab Tidewater Cottage is quickly taking shape. As you can see from the photo, it's becoming easy to imagine the finished house nestled among the trees above the pond.

Although the pondside location is idyllic indeed, the decision to site the house there was more than just an aesthetic one. The pond will be used for a geothermal heating and cooling system that will save on energy costs and reduce pollution compared to a traditional HVAC system.

Eight feet below the surface of the pond the temperature remains a steady 55 degrees year round. The geothermal system will pump water through a system of looped coils on the pond bottom to extract heat energy to be sent to the house to provide heating in winter and cooling in summer. The system is being supplied by Mark Campbell of Renewable Energy Solutions in Rixeyville, Virginia.

Of course, it's still a lovely place to put the house.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Endorsements for "Roots of Home"

James Pitot House, 1799, New Orleans, LA,
from Roots of Home/photo by Erik Kvalsvik

In the past several weeks we have been delighted and honored to receive some wonderful endorsements for Russell's upcoming book, Roots of Home. Quotes have come in from architects Allan Greenberg and Robert A.M. Stern, Barbara Sallick of Waterworks, National Building Museum director Chase Rynd, interior designer Thomas Jayne, Thomas Gordon Smith and Bill Westfall of the Notre Dame University School of Architecture, British architect and INTBAU founder Robert Adam, Institute of Classical Architecture president Paul Gunther, and Lizz Plater-Zyberk of DPZ. The quotes are posted on our online media site here, along with lots more information on the new book, which will be published in October.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Halfway in Halfway

Floor deck with waterproofing on foundation
Insulated precast concrete foundation panels and floor joists
1st-floor wall panels and 2nd-floor gable ends
Here are progress photos of the factory-fabricated Tidewater Cottage being built on a farm in Halfway, Virginia, named such because it is situated halfway between Middleburg and The Plains. The construction crew from University Homes was impeded by several days of rain and record-breaking heat and humidity, but the weather has stabilized now, and things are going quickly.
It's the first time this crew has built a prefab house. The four framers are experienced, and, while the process isn't difficult for them, it does require a shift in mindset. Working with factory-fabricated parts means assembling from instructions rather than cutting the parts themselves.
The folks in the factory at Connor Homes have marked the house parts clearly, bundled them sequentially, and provided clear instructions. Once the crew finds the needed parts, assembly is quick and easy.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

A Precast Foundation

The precast concrete foundation for the Tidewater Cottage arrived and was installed in just three hours. The first photo shows the assembled foundation, which was manufactured by Superior Walls. You can see the chimney, basement window, and just about make out the ledges and ties that will help support the handmade brick veneer.

The second photo shows the crushed-stone bed awaiting the foundation. The manufacturer uses crushed stone for the footing rather than poured concrete because it's faster and easier to install and more flexible. We will be adding a liquid applied asphalt membrane to waterproof the foundation.