A Beacon for the Future

A Beacon for the Future
"We hope the reinvention of our 100-year-old waterfront home as a model of green building will educate and inspire both the building industry and the general public.” - Homeowners Dave and Anna Porter (rendering by Craig Thorpe).

Friday, March 6, 2015

Seven Years in and Counting

Gee whiz! Didn't realize it had been so long since we last wrote a blog here! Most of what we share now goes through our GGATB Facebook page so we tend to forget the blog!

So here's a quick update: We've now been in the house for 7+ years and still loving it! We feel so blessed to still be here and still tell the story. Although we stopped late last year having regular public open houses, we still give private tours. To date, since the house was completed, more than 4,200 people have toured the home and nearly 47,000 unique visitors to the Web site! We have 79 likes on our Facebook page and invite you to join us!

How's it going? Overall things are still humming along. Here are specific updates on certain features:

  1. The geothermal heating system is always the biggest one I think of, since it was one of the costliest items. The system is still going strong although we have found this year that the radiant floor heating hasn't kept up quite as well on some of our coldest days (that is to say that room temps fall to as low as 65 from an ideal 68 degrees; not like its not working at all). We're thinking we might need to increase the flow of warm water through the pipes.
  2. The green roof is still going strong: no leaking and the plants have survived very cold winters and some hot dry days as well. It has morphed somewhat over the years so that some plants have taken over more than others but so far so good. On occasion during the growing season we do have to hire someone to get up on a ladder and pick a few weeds but the plants manage to combat most of those themselves.
  3. The solar system is still doing fine as well. It did seem to perform better the longer it has been in operation but the real disappoint is that it is just too small to make any kind of real difference in our bills. And last year our public utility decided that they could no longer bill us on a monthly averaging since we have a net meter (still not sure why this is; no one can really give us an answer except that is is just the rule). The result is that we seem to be penalized because we produce some of our power. But we still believe in solar! We have good friends down the street who put in a larger system last year and it has been not only providing all they need but getting them some refunds from the public utility! We'd like to get a larger system someday...the reality is that for a very green, very energy efficient house we still use a lot of electricity (I mean, not compared to other houses our size but still more than we'd like). We have necessities like an offsite septic drain field that requires pumping our, ahem, stuff uphill and a wine room cooling unit that protects our wine investment. We also have niceties like a hot tub (not necessarily "green" but definitely good for mental, physical and emotional health!) and and overflow fridge and freezer downstairs. Our bill averaged around $200/month when we were on averaging. 
  4. Countertops and flooring overall have been great! The only real disappointment has been the Marmoleum in the great room. Don't get us wrong; we love the look, feel and ease of care but for various reasons we wish now that we had at least gotten the "roll" product as opposed to the Marmoleum Click (tongue and groove panels) as seams near wetter areas are popping up just ever so slightly. The thing is that ideally with the Click product if a panel got damaged you could simply pull that panel and replace it. The reality is that the new panel would have to be glued down as the damaged panel would have to be cut out, removing the tongue-and-groove features of the adjoining panels. That would mean the whole rest of the floor would be "floating" (not glued down) and that single one would be stationary. We've been told this can be a problem. So we have learned to live with the blemishes. We are very pleased with all of the other hard surfaces and wouldn't change any of them.
  5. Paint, exterior and interior, has for the most part stood the test of time well. The only has been with the garage door. The paint color has faded there--possibly weather-related? But otherwise holding up well for its age.
  6. Appliances overall are fine too. We did have to replace the dish drawers, sadly, and ended up getting a more conventional dishwasher. Also had to have some repair work done to the dryer. And the steam unit motor is in for repairs. But these are all to be expected these days.
  7. Have to give kudos to Kohler. Our kitchen sprayer faucet finally failed and they sent a replacement for free!  Yay for lifetime warrantees!
That's the latest. Thanks for visiting and come see us on Facebook!

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