|Knode Ranch Residence|
Sustainablity and passive solar design were emphasized for this five bedroom, three bath residence. The exterior structure was built using Insulated Concrete Forms (ICFs), structural insulated panels (SIPs), and includes an enlarged two car garage.
For this residence, the client had already created a rough floor plan of their ideas for our review. Their goal was to minimize the square footage of the home by combining activities and emphasizing energy efficiency. We used the "Not So Big House" series of books by Sarah Susanka to review ideas with the client during the design process.
Another goal of the project, and one we have in every project we design, was to significantly reduce the heating and cooling costs for the life of the home. There are many ways to do this, but one of the best is passive solar design which tries to gain as much heat as possible from the sun during the winter months, while not overheating the home in the summer months. We also explored the use of thermal mass in the floor and walls to retain the heat from the sun, including a vented slab for the lower level, building with structural insulated panels (SIPs), and other non-traditional building options to improve the energy efficiency of the home. In the end, we chose the ones which made the most economical sense for construction and long term payback.
The client's site had a variable slope - steep at the edge of the property by the street, then a more shallow slope towards the south where the home was built. They preferred to have the appearance of a walk-out basement instead of a two story home. We accomplished this by using the soil removed for the foundation excavation to fill in between the steeper hillside and the north side of the residence so it would look like a single story from the street. This also helped protect the north side of the lower level from winter winds.
The client's conceptual floor plan for the main level was in the shape of a "T" with the stair running through the middle which robbed usable living space. We proposed to move the stair outside of the living area towards the south and position it to connect the main living areas on each level while making the other spaces more efficient. Some of the passive solar design principles we used were deep roof overhangs, extensive glass on southern faces and minimal windows on the north and west to minimize the effects of winter winds. As site and design conditions permit, we try to do this with every design project.
The massing of this residence started with the stair. As mentioned, it connects the upper and lower living spaces which are on opposite ends of the home. A stair parallel to the home would have positioned it in the wrong place, but a stair built at an angle matched the spaces perfectly. A side benefit was additional space for the living room on the main level and the mudroom & laundry on the lower level. The north wall of the stair was designed as a thermal mass with brick, while the south wall is full of windows. A return air duct was placed above this area to easily distribute the heat throughout the home. The "angle" idea was carried into the master bath, entry, and entry stairway to complete the design of the floor plans.
This residence is a compact design for a five bedroom, three bathroom home of approximately 2,800 square feet of living space. The main level features a true "Great Room Concept" with the living, kitchen, and dining sharing the same space. A covered, outdoor patio with built-in grill provides additional living space in the warmer months. There are three bedrooms on the main level and two bathrooms including the master suite. One of the bedrooms is used as an office and the master suite includes a bedroom, walk-in closet, and bath with whirpool tub and double shower.
The lower level features stained concrete floors to capture solar heat during the day and return it to the interior space at night. The family room includes east and south facing windows with space for a future wood burning stove and access to a patio with a hot tub. There are two additional bedrooms on this level, a bathroom, mechanical room, and mudroom & laundry with built-in dog washing station. The two car garage is extra deep with a six foot wide overhead door on the south for easy access for equipment.
The exterior is finished with a combination of stone, stucco, powder coated steel columns, and a standing seam metal roof. These materials were chosen for their aesthetic appeal and low maintenance. All gutters and downspouts are connected to a collection system which gathers the rain water and snow melt from the roof into a cistern for use on the landscaping.
After living in the residence for a few years, the clients have noted that their heating and cooling bills are significantly less than their neighbors.
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