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6-21-09-ss-1The Summer Solstice is here! And so are the long hours of daylight, the deep green trees, and the brilliant flowers. Cool rivers and ponds are beckoning and so are our porches and decks that allow us to enjoy these views.

In the design stage, we have clients asking for the same attention to detail for the outdoor spaces as they do the indoor. After all, many have carefully selected their land for the magic that the natural elements possess.

Since the sun is rising far in the northeast and setting far in the northwest, porches on the east and west can be especially delightful right now. But even north porches or decks capture a few sunbeams this time of year.

These same porches can also shade the east and west house walls and windows. This reduces solar gain from the intense east and west sun this time of year. Even the north windows of the home receive a few sun rays beaming in during the earliest and latest part of the days. Personally, I love these surprise sun rays streaming into the house that remind me of the sun’s movement. It’s also one reason why we do not recommend a porch across the entire north side of a home.

The south windows of a home will receive surprising little direct sun since the great ball of fire is so high in the sky at noon. (To be specific its is almost 47 degrees higher than it was on Dec 21.) Actually,with a properly designed south overhang above south-facing windows, there should be no sun entering the house from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. But as the sun begins to drop back down in the sky (or actually as the northern hemisphere of the earth begins to tilt away from the sun), the south windows will begin to receive a little more sun daily. Designing for the middle of summer can be one of the biggest challenges in passive solar design and why even with our sales of pre-designed or stock plans, we look carefully at the location in which the house will be built and sometimes make recommendations to modify the design for maximum comfort year-round.


6-21-09-ss-2-aIt only makes sense that we would feature “The Solstice” home design this quarter. And it just so happens that a reversed version was constructed by one of our favorite builders. (See more on Anchorage Builders below.) They not only sent us many photos of the house, but took the time to tell us about the energy details of which they are so proud:

“The Solstice was built for Bill and Nicole in Efland, NC. It turned out great and they are experiencing a comfortable, self regulating house with very low electric bills, in the $40-60 per month range depending on season. Bill’s professional woodworking shop is running off the same meter, too. They have great cross breezes and the passive solar works like a dream.”

Here are the general energy-related specs on the house:6-21-09-ss-2-b

Orientation – south wall faces 4 degrees east of true south

Foundation – Raised, insulated slab with extensive tile on first floor

2×6 walls with extensive air sealing

Wall & Roof Insulation – Icynene (sprayed foam)

South Glass – Cardinal LoE-178 #3 0.63 SHGC (solar heat gain coefficient) which lets in 63% of the sun’s heat. Overhang designed to keep sun off of glass in summer.

E,W, N Glass – Cardinal Lo-E 170 0.37 SHGC glass (this glass keeps out the sun, but lets in a high amount of visible light)

6-21-09-ss-2-c(The window data above is for the glass only. Pella ProLine casements and awnings were used. Cardinal is one of the most popular glass manufacturer’s and is used by many window manufacturers.)

HVAC – 2 small heat pumps for up and down, with extra air returns or transfer grilles, and fresh air intake

Wood stove

Solar hot water

Garage & Shop – detached, pre-plumbed conduit for future PV (large roof area, rotated to face south)

Interior Finishes – hickory flooring in kitchen (dropped slab to allow flush transition) and upstairs, cherry trim and interior doors, custom faux finish paint on some areas, extensive color elsewhere, owner built front door (mahogany) and birch kitchen cabinets, stone chimney

Exterior Finishes – local craftsman built timber frame front entry with cherry T&G gable inside porch covering

6-21-09-ss-2-d“It was an great experience and co-collaboration with the home owners on finishing details. We had the house on the local green building tour last May; it was a great example of true passive solar and great architecture. ”

Vernon Little
Anchorage Building Corp

(While you can understand why they would not want people that area not in their building area asking more detailed questions about this house, if you are in their building radius as mentioned below then I feel sure that they would not mind a few questions.)

6-21-09-ss-3-aBuilding in Central NC around Pittsboro, Hillsborough, or Chapel Hill? You need to contact Anchorage Builders. They have built several of our homes (see featured home above) and continue to delight our customers in terms of proven low energy homes, professionalism, attention to detail, knowledge of green and energy construction methods as well as the ability to listen. Our clients have described them as “just really nice guys!”

As an architectural design firm that specializes in designing low-energy homes, we are concerned about our clients taking our/their plans to a builder that has little experience and training in energy efficiency. If a home owner is not so fortunate as to find a builder trained in energy-efficient construction (this is more the norm rather than the exception), then it is critical to the home’s performance to hire a Home Energy Rater as a third party and to request an Energy Star Certified Home. Raters not only oversee conformance to building sealing, right insulation, and good HVAC design, but perform testing prior to the house being finished to see if anything needs to be corrected.

Click to find out more about Anchorage Builders:
6-21-09-ss-3-b          6-21-09-ss-3-c          6-21-09-ss-3-d

6-21-09-ss-4Steve and Peggy currently living in NY have been diligent and delightful clients. Anchorage Builders will be constructing their home in NC and they have been equally pleased in working with Steve and Peggy over the past few planning months.

They started planning and designing months before construction and made a 1300 mile drive to meet with us in the initial review. (Most clients send us their info – site plan, photos, movies, wish lists, photos) by US mail and email.)

They had their finances in order, were realistic about changes that needed to be made to bring the house within budget, and attentive to details that home owners are most qualified to select. It’s easy to go the extra mile for those who appreciate the services of architects and builders.

Click here to see more upcoming plans.

Well, we’ve run out of time if we want to get this out before the end of June 21, so we’ll have to add new designs in the next email. For now, you can take a peak at the above link to Upcoming Plans.

The 3D images posted here show our latest custom design. If you are interested in Custom Design, please let us know.

While we have no coupon to clip, for Construction Review Set orders placed through our shopping cart, we will credit your credit card $50 after the order is placed if you agree to PDF delivery only. You may then print your own 11×17 sets of drawings. This is in effect through August 16.

6-21-09-ss-6To verify that you will accept the PDF only version (instead of the 11×17 printed version), you will need to reply to the automatic email that you receive after you place the order. If you still want the printed set, we can of course still mail them to you, but no credit will be issued.

If you are upgrading from a previous Study Plan purchase, you can receive a further discount which is the Study Plan price paid less the standard $15 upgrade fee.

And as always, the purchase price of a Construction Review Set is deductible in the future from the price of the full construction orders (Blueprints, Erasable Vellums, and CAD Files) even if you switch to another design.

Click here to read more about Construction Review Sets and our other products

July 2018
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