House Designs

Wattle and Daub – The Ancient Wall Made Modern

by Erik North on April 26, 2012

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  I’ll admit I think I’ve driven myself a bit ‘cooling crazy’ after a solid month writing solely about air conditioning. It’s like eating vegetarian for a few weeks and you end up craving a bacon cheeseburger. With steak sauce and a few grilled onions. Ohhh, yeeah. Um, so what am I writing about? Right, […]

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Pretty Good House is a Pretty Good Idea

by Erik North on April 19, 2012

Pretty Good House is a Pretty Good Idea

  I recently joined Maine Green Building Supply’s monthly efficient building discussion group. Over beers and hot dogs in previous months, they had brainstormed an idea which has caught the popular imagination of folks in the broader efficient building world, that of the ‘Pretty Good House.’ The idea is like Pareto’s Principle applied to energy […]

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Difficulty with Heating Colonial Style Houses

by Erik North on February 22, 2012

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  OK, this is it…last house post…for now. You would think given the simple ‘Monopoly’ house framing of Colonials that they would have relatively few heating and insulation issues. And you’d be largely right if we were talking about a square, unadorned Colonial. But that very simplicity and styles’ attendant popularity invites homeowners and builders […]

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Garrison Style Houses and the Cantilevered Joist

by Erik North on February 21, 2012

Garrison Style Houses and the Cantilevered Joist

  Just about wrapping up the overview of housing styles and their energy issues. I’m sure I could proceed to cottages, Queen Annes, bungalows, A-frames, Sears catalog kit houses, Neo-eclectic, etc., etc. But you have to draw the line somewhere. Despite their colonial roots, Garrison style houses and their distinctive extended overhangs continue to be […]

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What is a Colonial Style House?

by Erik North on February 20, 2012

What is a Colonial Style House?

  When Colonials crop up, for whatever reason the Monty Python cheese shop sketch pops in my head. Why? Because they’re staggeringly popular; they’re the singular most popular cheese in the world. Colonials might not quite be that but they are a very popular choice in upscale developments and suburbs. Their symmetric design and flexibility […]

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Saltbox Houses (And Saltbox Roofs)

by Erik North on February 15, 2012

Saltbox Houses (And Saltbox Roofs)

  Another house style with a great name. Saltbox houses originated in the New England colonial period and remain popular here even today. The very distinctive elongated saltbox roof creates a unique look and some unique heating and ice issues as well. Owners of saltbox houses seem to call for energy audits about the same […]

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What is a McMansion?

by Erik North on February 11, 2012

What is a McMansion?

  McMansion was already a derided term years back prior to the recent collapse of the housing market. Since then, it’s become symbolic of the rampant over construction as prices ballooned. The bloated McMansion (though my favorite term is ‘Garage Mahal’) has been so conceptually discredited that the NAHR reported that the average size of […]

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Are McMansions Dying Off?

by Erik North on February 10, 2012

Are McMansions Dying Off?

  One truism of efficient building is that smaller is the easiest way to make something more efficient and green. Building a McMansion then slapping on the efficient and green is a lot like the proverbial ‘makeup on a pig’. It’s an energy disaster to begin with and who would want to live in a […]

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Post and Beam Construction

by Erik North on January 7, 2012

Post and Beam Construction

  If you’ve read the posts on any of the framing techniques (Platform, Balloon, SIPs, ICFs) or the housing styles (Capes, Garrison, Ranches) they all date back to the mid-19th century at the latest. There were many building techniques that predate these and one often seen in the U.S. (especially in New England…think farm houses) […]

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The Difficulty in Heating a Gambrel

by Erik North on December 31, 2011

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  Gambrels are one of my favorite building styles. The double pitch roof evokes classic New England and it lets me use the phrase ‘Multo in Parvum’ and talk about my pug. The Gambrel roof is a classic style with some real advantages. The steep pitch on the lower half of the roof easily sheds […]

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