Breaking groundMonday, 9 April 2012

Today we broke ground for our new home. The building site is that of a 19th century farm house that burned down in the 1950s. The foundations of the old stone barn and silo will become a garden wall. We will do some farming on the property and will attempt to restore other parts of the property to its presettlement condition.

Home site

Old foundation

Maura breaking ground with Brilla supervising

Photo by Michael Klinger

Studying prints

Excavating crawlspace

Excavating crawlspace

Excavating crawlspace

Stratified outwash sand

G • O Logic designed a 21st century farmhouse for us that targets the strict Passive House standard. Energy Wise Homes will construct the home using techniques that conform to this standard.

A Passive House is an intricate balancing act of passive solar energy gain and storage with minimal thermal bridging. To reduce energy losses, the home will be heavily insulated with a thick, air-tight building envelope and triple-glazed windows. An air exchanger/energy recovery ventilator keeps rooms at a constant temperature and humidity with fresh air flow throughout.

In order for the building to meet the Passive House standard, blower door tests will be conducted at various construction milestones to assure minimal air leakage. We will select appliances that use the least amount of energy possible; in particular, tier 3 Energy Star ratings assist with this research. Building a Passive House is an active process as we have to think about our long-term energy consumption as well as our impact on the environment.

At some point we will have an open house so that people who are interested in this type of building can see the home under construction.

Links of interest

G • O Logic

Energy Wise Homes

J F Shewchuck Construction

Bostwick Excavating

Hanneman and Fineis Concrete Construction

Northern Michigan Hardwoods

RTM Heating & Cooling

Bach Electric

GoldStar Hardwood

Randy Lalone Well Drilling

Nu•Wool Premium Cellulose Insulation

Weaver Tile

Passive House Academy

WKAR / Lansing Home Builder Pushes Green Envelope

Pro Trees Unlimited

MPC Cashway Lumber

Lumbermen's Inc

Spartan Painting

Reynolds Water Conditioning, Co.


Mitsubishi Electric Cooling & Heating

Young Supply

Equilibrium Energy Spaces



Picture index




April 2012

Breaking ground

Preparing the footings

Completing the footing forms

The Passive House standard


Footings poured

Crawlspace walls

Concrete poured

Additional insulation

Drain tile wrapped


May 2012

Backfilling and compaction

Crawlspace backfilled

Support posts installed

Framing delivered and barrier installed

Installing TJI joists

Installing the subflooring

Installing the first floor walls

Preparing for the second floor

Straight, Plumb, Level, Square and now Airtight

Second floor taking shape

Attic joists

Roof trusses

Roof trusses and attic deck

Roof deck and overhangs

Fascia boards


June 2012

Crawl space insulation and roof

Made in Michigan

Special delivery

Crawl space preparation

First floor preparation, TJI base

Sealing air barrier

Soffits and tape seams

First floor concrete and first envelope trusses

Crawlspace concrete

Excavating, trusses and crawlspace stairway

Water line excavation

Stairway, window framing

Fiberboard installation

Fiberboard installation and wrap


July 2012

Framing crawlspace walls

Envelope, plumbing

Beginning of wraparound porch


Porch and ceiling

Wrap-around porch


August 2012

Wrap-around porch

Window installation

Preliminary blower door test



September 2012

Wiring, insulation, porch roof


Siding progress

Well drilled

Mechanical system installation


October 2012

Insulation of inside wall

Drywall and siding


Drywall and attic insulation

Drywall, mechanical system

Wood floors and exterior painting

Doors and cabinetry delivered


November 2012

Exterior concrete, kitchen cabinets

Upstair floors, porch siding

Painting, tiling, flooring

WKAR interview, floor finishing

Exterior concrete, crawlspace walls and floor

Crawlspace floor

Compressors, exterior lights, tile

Entrances: drive and house


December 2012

Trim work

Front entrance

Floors and windows

Exemplary results in blower door test

Walkway, bathroom vanity top

Counter tops

Kitchen back splash tiling


January 2013

Upstairs painting

Upstairs painting and trim

Downstairs door finishing

Upstairs floor finishing, water conditioner

Downstairs painting

Kitchen shelf, painting

Cabinetry trim, painting


February 2013

Cabinetry hardware

Final interior painting

First Holly Passive House Conference


March 2013

Certificate of Occupancy



December 2013

Settled in


January 2014

Winter storm


February 2014




April 2014

Habitat restoration


May 2014



August 2015



February 2017

Life in a Passive House


December 2017

Are passive homes the future?