Setback reduction approved

Most people don’t know, but we had applied for a 20% setback reduction so that we could build further away from the root system of the silver maple tree. Last night Hannah and I went to the ZBA hearing for the setback reduction and we are very happy to announce that it was approved. This means we can build an additional 5′ feet closer to the roads and 2′ closer to the side lots.


Bunks for lumber constructed

Last Sunday with the generous help of my classmate Thom and his girlfriend Beth we built the bunks that the lumber will be stacked and stickered on. I made my first trip up to Renew Building Materials and Salvage in Brattleboro to get the material for the bunks: 6×6 beams, and cement bricks. On the way home I picked up old metal roofing material from Brett and Guy’s father Craig. The bunks are 9′ 10″ wide by 13′ long.

Thank you Thom and Beth!

Bunk Spot Cleared

Bunk Spot Cleared

Tamping Thom

Tamping Thom

Bunks Done!


Thom and Beth

Thom and Beth

The first three above pictures were taken by Beth.

House Design

Although I have not yet designed the house I have many of ideas. Here is a list of some of the characteristics that the house will have

  • The general idea is a small, passive solar, super-insulated home in the saltbox style.
  • The house will be small maybe in the 1100 sq ft range. Not including porch space.
  • No basement – on slab due to the high water table and the fact that concrete has a high carbon footprint
  • The foundation will be insulated using ICF’s for the stem wall and foamboard under the slab
  • There will also be a skirt of foamboard buried around entire perimeter. This will effectively raise the frost line so the stem wall does not have to be four feet deep–less excavation and less concrete.
  • The wall system will have a double stick frame wall design. This will allow for more insulation and less thermal bridging. Overall the wall will probably be about a foot thick.
  • I have heard good things regarding the Zip system for exterior sheathing and will probably be using it.
  • Stained cedar shingles or clapboards with a rain screen
  • Metal roof, ideally standing seam. It should be white or silver to reflect as much heat as possible.
  • Solar hot water system
  • 2 foot overhangs to keep water away from the house
  • Cathedral ceiling or open ceiling space to the second floor on at least part of the house

Its official!

Hannah and I bought land! We will now embark upon the journey of building ourselves a home!

The plot is in Greenfield, MA, our current hometown, at the corner of Charles St and Vernon St. We really got quite lucky, it is 1 mile north of downtown and in a desirable established neighborhood.

The lot is .27 acres and currently has trees on it. Although the trees are nice they need to be cut. A few of them are leaning away from the property. Others are where the house will be located. Finally the majority of them are on the Southern side of the lot, which would block the wintertime passive solar gain.

We would like to thank all of our friends and family who have supported us throughout the years. We send special thanks to those who put up with our non-traditional request of asking for money for a home at our wedding–we will shortly be putting all of it to use.