House in a Hollow

House in a Hollow

The house-in-a-hollow isn’t really in a hollow, it’s on a knoll, above protected wetlands, northeast of Bellingham. The hollow is formed by the trees, which were preserved to shield the house from overheating, and to conserve the flora of the native wetlands.

Measuring 1950 square feet, this Department-of-Energy certified Net Zero clerestory design has a central kitchen and a 1st floor aging-in-place floorplan. Designed for an Alaskan couple whose love of the outdoors demanded a house that fully engaged with the landscape, plenty of daylight is admitted & access to outdoor living is easy.

Most of the house is downstairs, leaving (2) bedrooms, a full bathroom and a rec-room upstairs for family visits, grandchildren to play Lego, perhaps an office if needed, old friends to take up residence…

Advances in TC’s mechanical systems determined that the radiant tubes embedded in the 4” concrete slab will serve as a back-up heating system to handle abrupt cold snaps, with the day-to-day heat & cool being delivered via the Zehnder Comfopost, a heating/ cooling coil that sits in the ventilation delivery ducts. The Comfopost coil is driven by the Chilltrix CX34 heatpump, along with a further fancoil heat/ cool unit located in the 2nd floor rec-room.

The energy-shell is formed using the system: 6.5” SIPs walls, 10.25” SIPs roof,’ with 4” slab-on-grade concrete-mass insulated from below with 4” of R20 foam. The openings are plugged with Vinytek triple pane Boreal windows & Thermatrue fiberglass doors.

TC Legend built this net-zero house through the winter of 2020/ 2021. The SIPs roof panels swung in on a crane through the blowing snow, Ted now reporting feeling has returned to his fingers, 6 months later! The owners planted over 630 native trees and shrubs in the chilling March rain, and the crew scooped up the mud and maintained the new 700’ driveway to this remote & beautiful lot: A gem in the Pacific Northwest.

Saint Claire Powerhouse

Saint Claire Powerhouse

This 1,900 square-foot 3 bedroom clerestory home, with an additional 672-square-foot attached garage located outside the SIPs shell, was built in 2016 in western Washington.

Because the master bedroom and bathroom were required to be located on the first floor, the clerestory design allowed us to locate two additional bedrooms and a bath on a minimal second floor, while leaving the glorious and spacious SIPs vaulted ceiling within the main living & kitchen spaces.

The play of light from the second-floor clerestory windows penetrates deeply into the main living spaces, eliminating glare at the large south windows and providing unusually even and dynamic day-lighting within the kitchen and living room. The occupants feel connected to the sweep of the sun, clouds, and weather patterns outside.

This is a near-perfect lot for a solar-panel net-zero home, identified by the clear solar exposure to the south, with no trees or buildings between the building and the sun.

 

SPECS/FEATURES

  • Department of Energy Net-Zero certified
  • Chilltrix CX34 air-to-water heat pump
  • 100% on-site storm water infiltration via 30-foot dispersion trench
  • 10.8 kW of solar panel installed
  • 6.5” R-29 SIPs walls
  • 10.25” R-49 SIPs roof
  • 4” R-20 foam under 4” concrete slab-on-grade for thermal mass
  • 5.5” foam (total) R-23.8 insulated concrete form (ICF) perimeter stem walls
  • Vinyltek Boreal series triple-pane windows (U values from 0.14 to 0.16)
  • 1:1.6 aspect ratio floor plan, with the long side facing south
  • Minimal east and west glazing

Worrell

Worrell

This 1,340 square-foot single-story, south-facing rural home was built for a professional couple in western Washington in 2018. It features an additional 576-square-foot attached garage to the north. The unheated garage, which sits outside the SIPs shell, is stick framed to reduce building and energy costs.

The home’s two offices are permitted as legal bedrooms, so it’s really a three-bedroom, two-bath net-zero rambler with a huge south-facing roof that has space for enough solar panels to power two electric cars and run the house.

Specifications

  • Department of Energy Net-Zero certified
  • Fujistu 9RL minisplit heat pump
  • 100% on-site storm water infiltration via 40-foot dispersion trench
  • 70 trees and 160 shrubs were planted that will grow a forest on site
  • 10.8 kW of solar panels installed
  • 6.5” R-29 SIPs walls
  • 10.25” R-49 SIPs roof
  • 4” R-20 foam under 4” concrete slab-on-grade for thermal mass
  • 5.5” foam (total) R-23.8 insulated concrete form perimeter stem walls
  • Vinylek Boreal series triple-pane windows (U values of 0.14 to 0.16)
  • 1:1.6 aspect ratio floor plan, with the long side facing south
  • Minimal east and west glazing

 

Chappell

Chappell

This 1,950 square-foot, two-story, 3-bedroom family house was completed in Seattle in 2018. It has a two-wall carport adjacent to the back door.

The project presented a challenging permit process for the TC Legend office and a complex dig: The undeveloped lot was located atop a known landslide area, requiring deep pin piles and extensive geotech involvement. A heavily protected 6-foot-diameter seqouia tree stands beside the only site entrance and was successfully cared for during the extensive dig, with drain lines threaded through the roots, dug by hand.

With the main hilltop vista facing west, the challenge was to have the house embrace the view without overheating in the afternoon sun. Retaining the deciduous western tree cover was essential, as was ordering the western windows with low solar-gain coatings.

The storm-water system was not allowed to point-discharge onto the steep slope. The extensive use of permeable pavement ensured the trees and shrubs remain watered, stabilizing the slide-prone slopes.

Specifications

  • U.S. Department of Energy Net-Zero certified
  • Chilltrix CX34 air-to-water heat pump
  • Zehnder 350 HRV
  • 10.8 kW of solar panels installed
  • 6.5” R-29 SIPs walls
  • 10.25” R-49 SIPs roof
  • 4” R-20 foam under 4” concrete slab-on-grade for thermal mass
  • 5.5” foam (total) R-23.8 insulated concrete forms perimeter stem-walls
  • Euroclime triple-pane windows (U values between 0.14 and 0.18)
  • 100% rainwater-permeable driveways and walks
Massey

Massey

This 1,200 square-foot two-bedroom clerestory riverside home was built in 2020 in Ferry County, WA. TC Legend designed and permitted the home, and it was built by a Ferry County contractor.

The greater temperature swings associated with the continental climate led us to do a cost-efficiency study to choose the best SIPs panel thicknesses. Walls were bumped to 8 inches, yet the roof remained 10.25 inches. The exposed concrete stem wall footing stands high above the finished grade to keep the snow away from the panel toe, assisted by generous eaves and covered walks & porches, which also provide necessary shade during the hot summers.

An entry mudroom/utility room airlocks the house to minimize the entry of smoke during the fire season. Fresh, filtered air is delivered throughout the house via heat recovery ventilator (HRV), scavenging the heat from the waste air and imparting that heat into the incoming fresh air.

The circular windows are very easy to cut into SIPs panels; the trim-out is a bit more tricky.

 

Specifications

  • Fujitsu 9RL heat pump
  • Zehnder 220 HRV
  • Ground-mounted solar array for easy snow removal
  • 8.25” R-38 SIPs walls
  • 10.25” R-49 SIPs roof
  • 4” R-20 foam under 4” concrete slab-on-grade for thermal mass
  • 5.5” foam (total) R-23.8 insulated concrete forms perimeter stem walls
  • Vinylek Boreal series triple-pane windows (U values between 0.14 and 0.16)