Home of the Month by Scott Newland

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.

Shelter from the sun by Scott Newland

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!

Table and umbrella vertical.jpg

Living Roof by Scott Newland

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!

This 160 sq. ft. installation uses two different module depths (4" and 6"), with an island of the deeper modules positioned toward the street to allow the Karl Forester grasses to be seen from below.  The entire live roof cost about $3700 from Bachman's, and we did the installation ourselves.

This 160 sq. ft. installation uses two different module depths (4" and 6"), with an island of the deeper modules positioned toward the street to allow the Karl Forester grasses to be seen from below.  The entire live roof cost about $3700 from Bachman's, and we did the installation ourselves.

The front yard is done (more or less) by Scott Newland

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.

A lesson I can't seem to learn: Always get more mulch than you think you'll need.  Maybe then it will be enough.

A lesson I can't seem to learn: Always get more mulch than you think you'll need.  Maybe then it will be enough.

Rain Garden basics by Scott Newland

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.

The cage at lower right is for our house cat.  The dead grasses at left are a first attempt from last year at a roof terrace screen.  Trial #2 will be implemented yet this summer.

The cage at lower right is for our house cat.  The dead grasses at left are a first attempt from last year at a roof terrace screen.  Trial #2 will be implemented yet this summer.

Landscaping, slowly by surely by Scott Newland

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.

060918 new rocks on the north side of the garage.jpg

Home of the Month by Scott Newland

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.

042218 StarTribune page H7.jpg

Beam splits: ?? by Scott Newland

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!

022418 split in east face of east glulam.JPG

2/26/18: This is "seasonal checking" and not a structural concern, I am told.

GREEN CERTIFICATION! by Scott Newland

5333 DREW GREENSTAR GOLD Certificate Form-signed.jpg

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.

Early performance indicator by Scott Newland

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.

LIGHTING ISSUE by Scott Newland

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.

Tree girth total finally reached and approved! by Scott Newland

fangorn_forest_by_smagliczka.jpg

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.