The remodeling industry has a growing problem on its hands that must be addressed immediately.
1910 Bungalow Becomes Green Remodeling Showcase
An ecological designer salvages an old bungalow and turns it into a green remodeling showplace
|The remodeled house retains its simple, vintage character; the two-story addition recedes into the background. A large south-facing window in the tower captures light and heat; trellises shade windows from the summer sun.
Photos by Josh Bogle
Sharon Patterson wanted a bad house, and she found one. It was the ugliest and one of the cheapest in Boise, Idaho, she says. A tiny, uninsulated bungalow built around 1910, the rundown house had seen hard times as a rental for decades. Most buyers would have torn it down, which is exactly why Patterson didn't do so when she bought it in 2007. An ecological designer, she wanted to salvage the unpromising house as a model of green remodeling. The house would become her own residence and an educational showplace for her real-estate industry clients, OM Your Home residential remodeling and Eco Edge.
Boise contractor Josh Bogle was eager to take on the project. The new company he co-owns, Green Remodeling, had used some green materials and techniques in projects, but Patterson would be the first client for whom green was the primary driver, he says. She was just the kind of client he wanted.
Together with Doug Cooper of McKibben & Cooper Architects, local sustainable design specialists, Green Remodeling and Patterson turned the ugly duckling into a green swan.
The old house had two assets from a green perspective: It offered good southern exposure, for passive solar design; and it is within walking distance to downtown, stores and the bus, allowing Patterson to get around without burning auto fuel.
Her remodeling goals were to change the 540-square-foot stucco house as little as possible and augment it with a two-story, 730-square-foot rear addition; reuse materials from the house and other sources; choose products and suppliers from nearby to reduce the carbon footprint; and implement a full complement of green products and progressive green building technologies, all without an extreme-looking design or prohibitive cost. The revamped house needed to be “achievable, approachable and fitting for the neighborhood,” Patterson says.
That would be ambitious enough, but the production schedule heightened the challenge. Patterson landed a promotional plum: a local half-hour television show about the remodel to air in early December 2007. With work starting August 7, 2007, Bogle faced a rigid, three-month production timeline including weekly video documentation. “This made the whole project very dynamic,” Bogle says. “Sharon and I talked daily. Many times we were waiting to hear about possible promotional prices from suppliers before making a product decision.”
Patterson drafted the overall plan, which features a kitchen and living room in the existing space, and stacked bedroom and bathroom areas in the new rear “tower.” Cooper designed the exterior and fine-tuned the design, with a shed roof and a large south-facing tower window to drink in light and passive solar heat. A design-build remodeler, Bogle contributed to the plan as well. His idea to move the first floor bathroom to the addition, for instance, improved traffic flow. To save money, he advised against vaulting the great room ceiling because the room is airy and bright without it.
The living room new extends the full width of the existing house. A high-efficiency wood stove heats the existing space; ceiling fans spread the heat and in summer, circulate cool breezes. Horizontal-grain bamboo would be even more hard-wearing, says Patterson.
Bogle routinely deconstructs to salvage materials. Doors saved from Patterson's house and other Green Remodeling jobs were reused in her project. Additional doors came from Second Chance, a local reclaimed building materials supplier. Plywood and lumber from Patterson's dismantled carport formed the headers, underlayment and risers in the addition's staircase. The stair treads are wood reclaimed from an old barn in Idaho and sold by another local salvage supplier. Interior windows for the stair tower use glass from another Bogle project. More old glass, painted on the back, forms a kitchen backsplash. Patterson adds, that most of the materials that left the house, including the cabinets, and couldn't be reused went to Second Chance, not the Dumpster. Three trees on the property had to be cut down, but Patterson burns the wood in the stove that heats the existing house.
To reduce carbon emissions from transportation, Bogle and Patterson chose local suppliers for the lumber and the sand for concrete and stucco. A local cabinet maker crafted the custom cabinets using recycled and sustainable woods. The recycled paper-based countertops came from relatively nearby Portland, Ore., and the Energy Star-rated composite windows, ordered from Salt Lake City, Utah, use raw materials from the Pacific Northwest. Bogle wanted FSC-certified lumber, but to meet the television schedule he had to settle for other lumber on hand locally (since the Patterson project, his lumberyard has stocked FSC products).
Other green products include Cambria quartzite counters, which require no toxic sealants and which Bogle says are U.S.-manufactured in an environmentally responsible way; all-natural Marmoleum and bamboo flooring; natural clay on the chimney; VOC-free paints; recycled wood particleboard without added urea formaldehyde; and cotton batt insulation made from recycled jeans. Supplemented with spray foam insulation made from soy, the denim insulation makes “a good, tight wall,” says Cooper.
“Almost everything we did had not been done in our area,” says Bogle. Excited about the innovation, the UltraTouch insulation manufacturer sent out representatives to help with the installation. A Sherwin-Williams crew applied the radiant barrier coating to the underside of the addition's roof deck, training Bogle's team in the process.
The existing one-story house squeezed two bedrooms, a bathroom, a kithen, and a living room into 540 square feet. Thought the rear addition is just 730 square feet, it makes a big difference, housing a second-floor master suite and a first-floor bathroom and bedroom/flex room. Relocating the bedrooms and bathroom cleared the way for a larger living room and an open kitchen and breakfast area.
A nonvented system incorporates mold-resistant spray foam insulation in the roof of the addition, allowing the area to be vaulted without sacrificing energy performance. “We've done spray foam insulation at the roof deck on every house since,” says Bogle. “In more traditional roofs, it allows our ductwork to run in conditioned space and adds storage.” (Bogle also installed under-roof plumbing at Patterson's house in preparation for later installation of collectors and a solar hot water heater.)
For the slab-on-grade addition, he experimented with a frost-protected shallow foundation. The footings and floor are poured at the same time and the concrete is insulated, so the foundation can be shallow — above the frost line. The slab is plumbed for radiant heat. Neither Bogle nor the engineer was familiar with the system. “As it turns out,” Bogle says, “we used more concrete than a traditional pour. It was not a green technique as built.” Now Bogle designs these insulated concrete foundations differently, using 15 percent less concrete than a traditional pour.
Though the addition has no air conditioning, Bogle installed a whole-house fan system high on the wall that draws out summer heat and pulls cool air in. To keep a tight envelope, the fan is sealed behind an insulated door when not in use. “It's a very inexpensive way to provide cooling and ventilation,” Bogle says.
Cooper designed trellises for south-facing windows to provide shade from the summer sun. Patterson's landscaping plan features low, non-obstructive plantings to the south; an open area on the northwest to admit summer breezes; and evergreens on the southeast to block winter winds. She plans to add a ductless multi-split heating system and build a south-facing passive solar sunroom next.
Home performance auditor Ted Duby, of On-Point in Boise, Idaho, did a blower-door-test on the house before and after the remodel. His findings were dramatic. By insulating the existing walls; sealing the attic and crawlspace; air sealing around windows and plumbing connections; and building a tight addition, Bogle cut air infiltration in half. “This house will heat for 50 to 75 percent less than the pre-renovation structure, even with the additional square footage,” says Duby.
The house was essentially complete for the final television shoot in early November 2007 — though Bogle admits he took care of a few out-of-view things afterward, such as insulating under the existing house. The show aired in early December, and Boise residents still talk about it. Together with word-of-mouth endorsements, Green Remodeling's home show exhibit, and the green remodeling seminars that Bogle and Patterson give, it put an airtight seal on Bogle's reputation as the company of choice for green remodeling.
|May 25||Initial meeting with client; commitment to do project|
|June 12||First meeting with architect to see conceptuals|
|Aug. 2||Construction agreement signed; scope of work mostly complete|
|Aug. 7||Deconstruction begins|
|Aug. 10||First television shoot|
|Aug. 13||Excavation begins for foundation|
|Aug. 16||Radiant heat lines installed|
|Aug. 27||Framing begins|
|Sept. 3||Windows arrive, installed|
|Sept. 10||Rough plumbing and electrical begin, roofing installed|
|Sept. 16||Insulation completed|
|Sept. 24||Stucco exterior, drywall interior completed|
|Oct. 8||Cabinets and flooring installed|
|Oct. 15||Finish carpentry and Paperstone counters completed|
|Oct. 27||Client moves in|
|Oct. 29||Cambria counters installed|
|Nov. 1||Final television shoot|
|Payment schedule: 2007|
|Bathroom fixtures: La Toscana Chimney finish: American Clay Concrete soy stain: Ecoprocote Cotton insulation: Bonded Logic Composite windows: Amsco Countertops: Cambria, Paperstone Kitchen sink: Kohler Marmoleum flooring: Forbo Metal roof: Elixir Industries No-VOC paint: Sherwin-Williams, American Pride Particleboard: Roseburg Skyblend Pullout faucet: Moen Rooftop E-barrier: Sherwin-Williams Sinks, bathtub: Kohler Soyfoam insulation: BioBased Toilets: Decolav, Kohler Whole-house fan: R.E. Williams|