Monday, December 22, 2008

8 Projects

One of the things about our house that people might want to know is that we went to considerable trouble to find a house with an unobstructed southern exposure. This will allow us to maximize the efficiency of the solar panels we are going to install. anyway that's just a side note.

Project 1 Energy Audit
Of course all sustainable projects must include an energy audit as early in the process as possible. This is something that will happen as soon as possible!

Project 2 New roof/photovoltaic Installation
One of the things that set us back a bit was the harsh realization that we really needed to put a new roof on the house before installing our PV system. We are considering using a new product from It’s basically solar in a box with much of the infrastructure needed to support a PV system built into the panel system. This should greatly reduce installation costs and the system pricing seems pretty reasonable.

Project 3 Rainwater harvesting
As we get our roof completed, we plan to reorute the rain water leaders to a central location just in front of our laundry/mechanical room. This will allow us to install a cistern at a later date which we plan to use for washing machine and gardening, if not toilet flushing on the lower level bathroom.

Project 4
Solar Hot Water
With the money we receive back from rebates and incentives on our PV installation, we plan to install solar hot water for domestic hot water use and potential for radiant floors on the lower level of our house.

Project 5
Pellet Stove
We like the idea of being self sufficient, meaning that if the grid goes down, we can still function at a minimum level of comfort. A pellet stove would be useful because we could purchase a large supply of fuel pellets and store them in the garage.

Project 6
Large Kitchen Window
One of the great things about the orientation of our house is that lots of low winter sunlight enters the house providing free heat in the winter. We would like to enlarge the kitchen window (south facing) for views and for heat gain, while also providing shading to protect against high summer sun.

Project 7
Edible Landscapes
We are working on an early idea of something called front yard CSA’s. During WWII, 40% of food was grown in people’s front yards. We’d like t bring that concept back and join with other neighbors in growing a wide variety of vegetables that will be available during different times of the year. We’ve talked to our farmer friend Dave at Weaversway Coop farm, and he seemed intrigued by the idea.

Project 8
WE have a large strand of bamboo on our property. So far the only use we could find for it is to make charcoal for cooking. Apparently, you can’t burn bamboo in a fire place. It does not provide much heat, burns quick, and explodes when the knuckles are heated up. But making charcoal would be interesting to try, but we since we don’t have a lot of time or expertise, this project is a bit further down the pike for us.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

A Busy Couple Of Months

Renovations, maintenance and a new school year. Boy, oh boy, has it been a busy couple of months!

Rob and I had both been feeling a little demoralized by the economy and not getting everything done all at once (we can be impatient people). To lift us up I thought I'd put together a list of the things we've accomplished so far. I really need to get pictures of what the house looks like now. Maybe one day next week after homework and dinner!

Greening of the Fleming Home

CFLs throughout
Renewable resource materials
  • Bamboo countertops with natural oil sealer
  • Bamboo floors
Energy Star appliances
Filling the dishwasher to maximum capacity before running
Green cleaning products
Low VOC paint

Living Room
Renewable Materials
Bamboo floors
Passive Solar heating (windows)

Dining Room
Cloth napkins
Passive solar heat

Bed rooms
Ceiling fans
Passive solar heat (master bedroom)

Dual flush toilet

Energy star washer

Low water plants and lawn (we hardly ever water)

Whole House
Green cleaning products
Low VOC paints
Programmable thermostat
Paperless bill pay
Buy local food

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Getting There

So, we thought we have the kitchen done by now. As a matter of fact, we thought all the cosmetics would have been completed. Alas ...


5/31/08 7/22-08

Living Room

5/31/08 7/2/08

Taking this much time on cosmetics did allow us to think more about incorporating earth-friendly materials. At first we were so happy to find oak floors in the living room and planned to refinish them. But the room was the "odd man out" since the other floors needed new materials. We decided to go with bamboo for the kitchen and dining room, but we were undecided about the entry hall. Natural linoleum? Then we'd have linoleum, bamboo, and oak all on the same level in an open floor plan. There is such a thing as too much texture. 

Then the plan was to extend the bamboo to the entry hall. Brilliant! Down to only two surfaces. Now the floor guy had to be scheduled to refinish the oak living room. But wait! why not do bamboo on all the floors? It seemed sinful to cover up the oak, but eliminating the dust and chemicals involved in refinishing seemed a perfect solution. And now we just have to wait for the floor guy. 

Monday, June 16, 2008

Fortress of Sustainablility

This is what I've decided to call our house (I also call Rob's car The Golden Pius, but thats for another time). Not that the place is a fortress. It isn't even very sustainable yet. Oh, but it will be.

Speaking of sustainable—or rather, not so much—we had the pool service guy come to check out the pool that came with the house. Let's go back a few months. I had this fantasy that we would be living like the rich and famous, lounging in our yard by the pool, all the while trying to rationalize a sustainable lifestyle with a water hogging, chemical guzzling money pit. Well, the pool guy helped with that one. The pool has so many issues that the cost of of getting it running would blow the budget for a pellet stove and a solar hot water system. The pool is now the future sight of the fortress greenhouse.

I thought the blog was long overdue for some photos. Here are a few shots from our early demolition:

Is this a beautiful kitchen or what???

Under the living room carpet: Oak!

Under the dining room carpet: Not oak!

There are also oak floors in the bedrooms and upper level hall. Big bonus. The kitchen, dining room and family rooms need new flooring. We're scheduled to move in next week. Who's idea was this?!

Friday, May 30, 2008

The Past

We've been a little busy lately, what with fitting in little league, family gatherings, and school events between demolition.
Anyway, I thought I might show what the inside of the house looked like before we purchased it. These photos were taken by the realty company for marketing purposes.

The purpley-pink livingroom. Not horrible, but so not our style ...

the adjoining diningroom ...

and "The Gilded Master"

A Sad Note

We recently learned that the former owner of our house has passed away. Mr. Reid had a more stressful time than we did during the months the bank took to approve the sale. There's no doubt this stress contributed to his declining health. Our deepest sympathies go out to his daughter.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Seriously Stinky Stuff

Carpet, carpet, and more carpet. When not properly maintained (and the floors in the place were not), it can be seriously stinky! And draperies Scarlet O'Hara could make several dresses from. Not enough Fabreze in the factory to combat years of neglect!

Fortunately, Rob is on demo patrol. Every last stitch of fabric has been removed from the house, but now resides in the garage (we have a garage!) until Carlos, our partner in rehab and construction can take it away. The stink is almost completely gone.

Next to go is some of the shelving, except for the pieces that are original to the house.

Speaking of original, we have had nightly discussions on what to keep and what to update. Part of me wants to remain true to the mid-century style, but I'm admitting out loud that I'm having a hard time with the pink tile in the main bathroom. I can't tell if it's the color or my general aversion to other people's skeeve. OK, just grossed myself out. On a happier, cleaner note, painting in the kids' rooms is almost complete. They chose pretty traditional boy/girl colors. Go figure.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Home At Last!

We spent our first day as home owners exploring and ripping out carpet at 1030 Rock Creek Drive. It was amazing. We met wonderful neighbors (one even mowed our lawn while we went to lunch!) and only left out of exhaustion and lack of daylight (we have to fax documentation showing we are new owners to have power turned on. I won't even tell you the details of the hour and and a half phone call to the phone company!)

Since this has turned out to be a total gut/rehab, we'll be staying in the apartment for another two weeks—at least!

Pictures are coming!

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Everything But The House!

The Energy Star compliant appliances have been chosen. The estimate for radiant flooring is in writing. The size of the solar array determined.

We have no house.

Let's see. Last blog in June of 2007. Way back then we were looking to sell our victorian gem. We found buyers and settled on February 15. Many people selling and buying settle on the same day. We would have too if the new house was ready to be sold. Where to go? Temporary housing of course!

We packed up our stuff, sent it into storage and Rob, the kids and I took up residence in a two bedroom highrise. For three months!