Spring thaw = a front porch!

When the weather was arctic, deep driveway ruts were never an issue and clean floors were an upside. But with the snow slowly melting away, it’s smart these days to get in and out of our driveway early or late in the day, when the ground is still frozen. This past week, grading and gravel moved up on the agenda!


Jeff, JR and Troy went to work on the front porch when the thaw first hit a week ago. Thirty-five degrees felt like summer after so many weeks of below-zero temps, and we saw bigger smiles, thinner coats, and a new spring in their step. Because the pieces were all ready, the porch went up fast!


After seeing it on paper for so many months it was satisfying to see the sturdy, “just right” proportions of the porch on the north facade of the house. In the photo below, it’s finished except for filling in the siding under the peak, paint touch-ups, and a small railing on each side.


Inside, Tony and Nick worked hard at finishing the sheetrock walls. They’re fast and careful with their taping, mudding (plastering) and sanding.

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Wayne Hammer and Stewart Hammer were by a week ago to measure for stair finishing, baseboards, window sills, counter tops, and a simple bench by the back door. They’re bringing the beauty of locally-harvested red elm into every room of the house.


Wayne even brought spice cake! Here, he serves Jeff through the front door during construction of the porch. It was good and homemade and I smiled realizing that it won’t be long until baking a cake is back on the agenda—in this house!


As the week progressed, completion of the porch gave way to other exterior tasks.  Jeff, JR and Troy got a good start on siding the garage. We’re using James Hardie fiber-cement board for both the garage and the house, which will eventually need a couple coats of paint when it gets warmer still.


Back inside the house, colors have also been on my mind. A patchwork quilt-style hanging of paint swatches (above) has moved from room to room as we narrow down the choices. Friends Michelle and Dale shared ideas with us (below) during a spontaneous visit last week as they’re preparing to build and were scouting out some of the design features built into our house. It was good to see them and to be reminded that aspects of what we’re doing can be woven into many different designs focused on sustainable living.


  1. What a labor-of love! Very unique and beautiful design. You will get a kick out of the “credits” on your electric bills. Congratulations!


Lanesboro, Minnesota
Climate Zone 6 (cold/moist)
Latitude: 43° 44' 18'' N
Longitude: 91° 54' 48'' W

House Size

Net Treated Floor Area: 1,514 SF
Gross Square Footage (House only): 2,210 SF

Building Envelope

Roof: R-99
Wall: R-61
Ground: R-53

Windows & Doors

Glazing: U-0.10 BTU / hour / sq. ft.
Solar Heat Gain Coefficient (SHGC): 0.48”
Frame: U-0.19 BTU / hour / sq. ft.

Modeled Performance

Specific Primary Energy Demand (Source Energy Demand): 12.1 kBTU / sq. ft. / year

Specific Space Heat Demand: 7.0 kBTU/sq. ft. / year

Peak Heating Load: 7,047 BTU / hour

Space Cooling Demand: 0.44 kBTU / sq. ft. / year

Peak Cooling Load: 3,625 BTU / hour

Pressure Test Goal: Whole House Air Changes Per Hour (ACH) = 0.4 ACH 50


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