Framing, upward and onward

We’re really quite pleased with how the house is taking shape. This past week ended with much of the second floor roughed in and the first of the roof trusses being put in place.

From ‘inside’ the house, we’re increasingly getting a feel for the rooms, their sizes, and their window views; it was particularly fun to be looking out over the nearby fields from this vantage point and seeing wild turkeys shuffling through the grasses—not something you normally see when you’re at ground level!

It’s also a bit deceiving being inside the house and feeling ‘all the space’. Periodically we need to remind ourselves that because of the super-insulation nature of the design, nearly two additional feet—one foot around the entire inside perimeter—will be lost to the Larsen-style truss walls that will be constructed in the weeks ahead (these are the 10-inch deep non-load bearing walls being added inside the 2 x 6 standard framing). Yes, in some places the overall thickness of the exterior walls will be nearly 20 inches, from the Hardie Board siding, through some 16 inches of insulation, to the sheetrock inside.

It’s definitely not your standard house construction. Sure, basic building techniques and materials are commonplace, but Jeff Vilen (standing at left, photo below), our main contractor, told me this past week he spends a half-hour or more daily reviewing the details of the architectural designs focusing on what can be achieved during the next day or two at most. And he’s always doing double-duty—while his hands (and those of his crew) are working to lay lumber in place, his mind’s eye is continually checking and rechecking the design details at each juncture.

102_0494sealing with Siga tape

Of particular note, we agreed, is the need to also be looking ahead weekly to make sure things are constructed in the proper order. Because of the layering of materials, the subsequent taping and sealing of joints, and strict construction guidelines for achieving passive house standards, it’s work that is extremely intentional and must be timed and planned precisely. We’re lucky to have a craftsman as dedicated to sound construction as he is committed to working through something new every day!

We continue to welcome guests curious about the project—and many from our immediate Lanesboro ‘neighborhood’ are trekking out to size things up weekly. We really appreciate all your support and encouragement, as well as your inquisitiveness. It’s become very apparent to us that the circle continues to widen among those of you interested in sustainability and new approaches to construction. Of particular note over the weekend was a visit from friends Mark and Connie, from just south of the border (the Minnesota-Iowa border, that is) who have ventured into various areas of sustainable living, with both their housing and their property, for decades. [They caught this glimpse of us, below left, looking out the south-side second-story windows.]

9-14 looking south editDSC04190

It’ll be quiet on site this week as the Vilen Construction crew is on holiday; Nancy and I, however, will be busy lining up yet another round of materials for the weeks ahead, while also continuing to evaluate design concepts for the kitchen, uses for our stockpile of native elm, interior doors and more.




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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