Perspective and progress

It’s 5:15, first light is filtering into our Lanesboro apartment, and the early bird’s chirps are now a chorus. I crashed at 10 last night after a full day of painting and oiling wood, then woke from a dream patterned with the swirls of red elm.

My cloud of early morning thoughts thickened and hovered like a swarm of angry bees. How will cabinets change the living area? (Jake is delivering cabinets this week!) Will the countertops be wild? (They’re almost ready.) Are the pavers too red? (Should we have chosen the plain concrete color?) Buy wood-finishing oil in Winona. (And ask Wayne where he got the hinges.) We are swimming in details and I wonder: Have we lost our minds? What did it feel like to have a ‘normal’ routine? What happened to friends and visits and people who mean the most to us? Will we be intact when this house is finished?

It’s obviously time to get up and have a cup of tea.

This project has taken a lot of our time. A few years, in fact (including planning). But as John said clearly yesterday, “This is not just a project. We’re making a home.” And that is the truth. We need a home. There are many reasons we’re investing who we are, what we know, and what we have in making this a place of refuge, strength and joy.

Real home is not dependent on a certain kind of building. In 1992 my son, Peter, made a Mother’s Day plaque that hung next to our back door for years. It reads: “Houses are made of sticks and stones, but homes are made of love alone.” It was the first thing we hung back on the wall after a tornado. And it’s written on all of our hearts.

Yes, this new home is for us. But the investment is much more about community, connection and aligning our actions with reality.

We’re pushing to complete the house by the end of May. About a month ago we realized there’s no coasting to the finish! No blog posts since then because we’re tired at the end of the day…and using every minute.

But there’s a lot to tell. We’ll share more about what’s happened in coming days. But for now, know that the builders, carpenters, electricians, sheetrockers, and we all have been moving forward quickly (save one week of really nasty, cold weather!) since our last post. We’re in the home stretch!

Recent highlights, with more to come…


Lynn Mattson installs the floor using wood from nearby hills.

John & Kevin

Kevin Rapp, Midwest technical sales representative from Zehnder Comfosystems, paid us a visit. He was curious about the house and interested in everything—especially the details of the energy recovery ventilator (ERV) system he helped us design and purchase.


Clay, with Viking Electric, was back working with a Tri-County Electric crew to activate power in the house and garage. The builders were ecstatic to be free of a tangle of long electric cords.


And smiling, still, John lays pavers in the breezeway. We had a weekend of great weather to finish that area and make way for the combination windows/doors. It looks great!

  1. Catie Knudson

    I truly have enjoyed watching your home become reality Nancy and John! It’s looking so beautiful both in form and function. I admire your determination especially now that you’re in the home stretch, way to go!!


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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