Super systems, amazing people

We’re in the depths of the longest, coldest, snowiest winter southeast Minnesotans have seen for years. The photo below was taken on February 5. A few things have changed on the exterior of the house since then, but the view was much the same yesterday—white sky, blustery wind, and several more inches of soft, mounded white everywhere. Once again we’ve called on Dan Sveen and his crew to plow the entry and driveway so the  team from Expert Insulation and our electricians can get in to work today (most of the contractors were snowed out on Monday!).


The people building our house are hardy folk. Their work would be easier without snow and below zero temps, but while a lot of joking goes on, there is little real grumbling. They make sure it’s safe to get on the roof or up on scaffolding, and a few tasks simply have to wait until temps stay in the 20s and 30s. But for the most part they just keep working.

On a recent subzero day, the Expert Insulation truck wouldn’t start. So Brad and Jason came early Saturday morning to blow 30″ of loose cellulose into the attic. Here, Jason climbs onto the roof and up a precarious-looking ladder to reach the attic. That big smile is real and it’s a bitterly cold day with windchills in the 10-20 below zero range.


Since then, interior walls have gone from bare bones…


…to a chaotic-looking, but intentionally designed system of plumbing runs, wiring, tubing for the air exchanger, and condenser pipes for the minisplit system that will keep us comfortable on the most extreme days of the year.






solar contractors…


and roofers have come and gone — and will all come again!


On one of the coldest days, Jeff and JR (below) contorted to bring the roof-mounted solar system interconnection through a very carefully constructed wall penetration. Jeff continues to guard the building envelope, working closely with Troy and JR to make sure every penetration is fully sealed and insulated.

DSC05171 DSC05170

Our second-floor mechanical room changed from peaceful home of the kindly alien (our air exchange/energy recovery ventilator, or ERV)…


…to a (carefully-planned) jungle of tubes and wires to connect solar equipment, electrical panels and the ERV.


And the main living space, which has looked like a fully-equipped carpenter’s shop since December…


…is now empty — except for a few exterior garage frames I added a coat of paint to Sunday evening.


Before this week is over, insulation will fill the Larsen truss walls and the ‘bones’ of this house ‘body’ and its many internal systems will be largely buried in cellulose. We’re ready! But oddly, just as we take a big step toward finishing this seemingly never-ending project, I feel sad to see the bones of the house disappear.

It will pass!

As we catch our breath, we’ll add detailed postings on the various systems that have been added over the past weeks…they’re so amazing!




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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