“Good house”


This morning I received a nice email and photo from an old friend/customer and thought I would share it with you all. It really hits home with me, because while I live in an old New England town with many antique farm houses…my area is also inundated with Mc mansions that are about the ugliest, shoddily built,energy wasting hogs…not to mention their Cadillac Escalates in the driveway.


Greetings from an old and still satisfied customer. I was storing the Roadster the other day in our new house and realized you might be interested to learn what we built in NH, two years after I THOUGHT we had decided on condo living.
My wife and I bought a parcel of land from a builder/neighbor who wanted to establish a reputation for energy-efficient homes. He’s an old school, custom builder who does maybe 1-2 houses a year. We wanted a house that had a small footprint, on a slab, was super-insulated, properly oriented for max [passive] solar gain, made optimal use of space and of passive ventilation, and that used eco-friendly materials wherever possible.

The attached photo (south side) gives a pretty good idea of what it looks like, though some exterior lights were added since April. The house uses a sub-floor hydronic heat system. PEX tubing embedded in the slab, two inches of foam insulation beneath the slab and around the perimeter. The slab is our radiator. The water is heated by a small, wall-hung unit. Most of the downstairs floor is tiled. The house is oriented to the south/southeast to get as much sunlight as possible. The roof overhang was calculated to block direct sunlight during the height of summer but allow it in during the colder months. I checked on July 1 and found the shadow of the overhang fell to the window sills. Pretty cool. We have a full 8 inches of dense pack cellulose insulation, and we sealed all leaks after conducting a blower door test. The place stays very comfortable in both hot and cold days, and the cellulose is a great sound insulation. Once the floor is sufficiently heated in the very early morning, it retains the heat for a long time, and by 9:00 the sun takes over, warming the tiles “as the world turns”.

Wood floors are bamboo. Countertop is paperstone, all paint is low-VOC or non-VOC. The windows have thermal blinds. Appliances are all high-efficiency units from Europe. We’ll be growing some of our own food starting next year.
I hope you and the business are doing well. Wonder if you saw an upsurge of interest when the gas prices were going through the roof.
Best wishes,


Also here is a link to someone everyone should know about…Wendell Berry



About antbikemike

Bicycle frame builder
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5 Responses to “Good house”

  1. Ahren says:

    Jack (and Mike),

    That’s a nice looking place. It’s good to see people taking the time to build a home they can really be proud of. Leah, my partner, and I have been talking about building a tiny house (http://www.tumbleweedhouses.com/) for a while, maybe scavenging for material. Turns out there is a course at the local tech school that builds them, so Leah is enrolled for next fall. But we still need to find land, or a driveway to park it, or maybe a tree…

    Happy living, Ahren

  2. My dream is to have a solar powered, off-the-grid-completely, framebuilding post and beam barn next to my house. I love stuff like this. I just read about a house in northern Ontario that was so well insulated it was heated year round by the “waste” heat of lightulbs.

    Great stuff Mike!

  3. David says:

    Thanks for posting this.

  4. Surly says:

    It’s nice to see a forward thinking homebuilder. I wish it was easier for the average guy to upgrage his or her home to the same ideas.
    Now if we can only make it easy to walk or ride bikes around instead of giant highways with no sidewalks…
    Thanks Mike.

  5. jack says:


    Here’s a quick update: outside temp here today is about 16 degrees (F). Inside temp is 78 and rising. Heat has not come on since around 4:00 this morning. Probably won’t be on again until early tomorrow morning. Thermostat is set for 68 degrees. Sunlight has been streaming through the south windows since 9:00. when the sun cleared the blue spruce trees on the east boundary.

    I neglected to mention that you would be most welcome to drop in if you are ever up this way.


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