Our home will be featured in the March 3 Homes section of the StarTribune, with an article written by Lynn Underwood and photos by Aaron Lavinsky. It was an interesting experience for JoAnn and me to be interviewed by a reporter and to have the house (and us) photographed. Aaron particularly liked our very sociable cat, who may or may not appear in the feature!
In any case, it is an honor to have been selected for this, and hope that the StarTribune’s readers find aspects of the house that they like.
The roof deck umbrella went up today, while the final green roof module aluminum edges get cut (to be installed this weekend). And we got a bargain on a propane grill! All of this in the nick of time so we can enjoy the deck a few times before winter hits!
After a mix of procrastination and other priorities, I'm finally starting to add the cedar soffit boards to the east entry soffit.
The LiveRoof modules are now in place on the west roof, giving us a new elevated landscape to enjoy from the deck. All that needs to be done to complete the installation is some cutting to length of the edger pieces and some protection membrane trimming. So far, the weather has given us no need to water!
Today, we planted the rest of the "Fireglow" Sedum plants in the non-turf area of the front yard. Once these grow and spread, along with the "Calgary Carpet" Juniper, the basic landscaping will be complete.
We calculated the drainage area that the rain garden will receive, conducted two percolation tests, and sized the basin accordingly. We next dug out the basin and created a flat bottom, approximately 6" below the invert of the overflow drain pipe. We've since mulched the area and are now selecting plan species for the bottom, sides, and perimeter of the garden.
We are plugging away at the remaining landscaping, mostly in the backyard. Here, the completed path under the garage eave shows the pavers, crushed stone and hostas. Many of these hostas were transplanted from a generous client who was doing a little thinning out of her garden.
I'm very pleased that our home was selected to be featured in the StarTribune's Home of the Month program. We don't know when the feature will be, but it's exciting to have been selected.
We're wondering about some splits in the sides of both glu-lam beams, only noticed recently. Is this normal for such large members, due to low winter humidity and the long-term drying out of the lumber? I've asked the engineer at the firm that manufactured them. Stay tuned!
2/26/18: This is "seasonal checking" and not a structural concern, I am told.
No certificate today, but I was informed by the USGBC that the house is certified LEED Silver.
The house was certified Gold by the GreenHome Institute! The third party rater was Pat O'Malley of Building Knowledge. We're very happy to have achieved this level, as we made significant efforts to build responsibly.
Comparing last December's gas bill to this year's, I got an early indicator regarding one measure of our new home's performance. A year ago, we lived in a 1930, 2-story home that we had made many improvements to (including a new boiler and water heater, new double-pane windows, and more insulation). Our new home is 10% larger than the old home, but comparing gas usage from 2016 to 2017 shows that we are currently using about 55% of the gas the the old home used. Looking at weather data, it appears as if this same billing period last year was slightly warmer than the current year.
As time goes by, I look forward to comparing historical energy and water usage through comparisons of gas, water and electrical records.
The LED recessed lights were selected by our electrical contractor and, while they perform well from a lighting standpoint, several of them have now failed from a staying-intact standpoint. Five of them have fallen apart, the most recent being a surprise when we heard a crashing sound in the kitchen. The problem is that the trim breaks free from the rest of the housing, falling to the floor. The electrical contractor is no longer in business, having been acquired by another firm, and I thought that rather than complain I'd learn how to fix them. It's not that hard, but I'll know better next time and will avoid specifying Halco ProLEDs on future projects!
Scroll right-to-left to see the three images.
This morning, at long last, the City of Minneapolis planning inspector signed off on our total tree girth (18" total required) and our building permit will get its finally approval and closure. This has been a frustrating milestone for us to comply with, as our lot is small, there was only one small tree on it to start with, and we wanted to be careful not to shade future photovoltaic panels or our neighbors any more than necessary.
We planted 13 trees in all, although at least 5 of them are smaller ornamentals and/or arborvitae accents. It won't be Fangorn Forest in years to come, however, as whatever trees that actually live will be trimmed and otherwise managed to meet the city's requirements while maintaining a reasonable balance.
The house that we tore down had a tested radon level in the basement of over 5 pCi/L, slightly above the recommended action level set forth by the EPA (4 pCi/L). Last week, I did a short-term (4-day) radon test and found out today that radon level was 1.1 during the time that I conducted the test. Apparently, it's not possible to get to 0, but given the sealed slab, vapor barrier, gravel bed with vented perforated pipe, and a vertical stack to the exterior - I though that we would.
At some point, I'll likely do a long-term radon test. Still, 1.1 is not at all bad. All the same, I'm hoping to get a better result in the future.