Remodeling to Attain Passive-House Standards

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Written By Jim J Neal

This episode of FHB House Connecticut features Elizabeth DiSalvo, an architect, who gives a brief overview of the changes that were made to this home in order to transform it from feeling dark and low to make it more spacious and efficient.

The original house was an older house built over many years. It was a mixture of a cobbled-together house and a more traditional house, almost like a large cottage. It was dark. It felt very small in all rooms and the kitchen was located in a dark corner. It had low ceilings, no insulation and a stone foundation. Although it had a finished attic with low ceilings and very limited walking space, the roofs were thin and there was little insulation. We had lots of material to work with.

The new design

We wanted to open up the space and make it flow better. This look was achieved with lots of clean lines. Boral TruExterior siding was painted on the exterior in an off-white color. This, along with the Kebony wooden, gives the house a crispness.

Energy efficiency is the focus

It was a Passive House. This was the energy direction. It was a team effort between the architects and the client. The interior designer has an amazing eye. This space was created by us all. It takes a lot of work behind the scenes to create something so beautiful and simple. This includes the framing of the walls and the curtains pockets. It all comes together with details such as the Clopay garage doors. These doors are very modern and stylish. These details are woven throughout the house. Even though you can’t see the garage from the road, once you reach it, you will be astonished at how beautiful it is.

It feels light and airy when you enter the entranceway. It is possible to see into different areas of the house. You have a lot of space in the kitchen. The air is always perfectly conditioned and the sound is extremely quiet. This insulation creates a muted and quiet environment that blocks out outside noises.

Finalizing performance

Although we are still finishing the final testing, performance wise we have met the Passive House requirements. Another goal is to have a net zero house. The second phase is a garage. A PV system will be installed on the garage roof, which will reduce our net zero.

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