Design and Phasing

The rebuilding of our house in the country.  It's deep in the Catskill Mountains of New York State.  Appropo to it's location, it's a slow paced project.


Finally I have a plan that's lasted long enough for me to believe I've got it right.


Here's the program:

  • Saving Energy - Extreme Edition - a Deep Energy Retrofit - slash expenses to keep the place long term.

  • Solar Energy - Super insulation isn't economical for the walls, so I'll use that money to harvest some solar energy - economically and synergistically by retrofitting the porch as a huge Solar Hot Air Collector - among other uses.
  • Phasing in elements with good bang for the buck -  times are tough.
  • Bathrooms situated by need, rather than where the pipes from the spring first came in 70 years ago, between the dining room and kitchen - ekkkk!  Designed not just for accessibility, but to make those who need assistance relish in the freedom they will have, afterall, someday, it'll be me.
  • En-Suite living accomodations - Design for modern relationships which are defined as much by seperation as togetherness.  Much like computers and the internet which allow us to submerge ourselves in a narrow but deep range of experiences we are comfortable with, yet enabling us to become part of wide ranging and diverse groups, so will our old house in the country.
  • Durability, at 80, I don't want any major rehabs, yes, I think that far ahead.
  • Preserve as much of the fabric of the building as possible.  Less waste, far stonger materials than modern replacements, and if this building has survived a hundred years, it deserves another hundred.


Here are the solution sketches with some backstory, showing the design's evolutionary process.


UPDATE:  Tallied up the energy bills finally and Whopppieeeeeeeee, 30% energy savings our 100 yr olds old country house so far.  Click here for more!

Solar Tempered Sun Space: 

When super insulation is no longer a cost effective option and you haven't met your deep energy retrofit goal, you need to move on to capturing solar energy. 

I have rather limited funds, so I will enclose the porch with inexpensive glazing. The porch then becomes a huge solar hot air collector.  It will be low temperature solar hot air. The lower temperatures, the higher the efficency.  A porch provides a HUGE surface area with horizontal and vertical orientations in multiple directions that will heat up and collect solar energy from diffuse and scattered sunlight available on even cloudy days.  No, it's not meant to be human comfy all the time.  However it will also function as a solar heated hot air clothes dryer, saving energy by reducing dryer use.  On sunny days in cold weather it will be a delight.  Deep in a valley in the Catskill Mountains we get little sun in the fall and winter, and a standing wave of chilled air cascading down the mountains.  It's like the upper reaches of New York State; Glenns Falls is the closest match with a weather station I can find.  That's a good 3 hr drive north!  The captured solar energy will be shunted down to the crawl space under the house, seep up to warm the first floor, and down into the earth for storage.

Lifestyle Changes? 

Melodramtic you say......

One and half baths (or two holer outhouse before that), for a 12 room house, with 8 bedrooms, doors connecting every room to another and 20 roomers back when it was a full blown rooming house. 
Sounds like that country house you always dreamed of? 
Not in this day and age. 
Needs a new design.  A design for the 21st century.
Also, money is a problem alas not just for myself in this day and age.  As it stands, there's no way to add a bit of income renting out to roomers, vacationers, skiers, etc..
So, the design has to creates a more livable house for us, does not destroy the character of our old house, create  accessible bathrooms designed to encourage use.  A new old house design that can serve us, help us keep the house by renting.  It used to be THE way retirees supplemented their income by the way.  I've researched the decline of renting out rooms in one's home, drop me a line if you're curious.