The house was designed with a retire couple experienced in residential urban infill housing, with a strong desire of low energy compact living. The design criteria included maximum use of interior and exterior spaces that were not only energy efficient but simple, connected to the street, with maximum interior site usage for relaxing, growing food, and retaining site water. The final design incorporated smart growth principles, passive solar heating and cooling, healthy and durable construction and finishes, and aspects of Passive House air infiltration detailing.
The street on the west side of the site required the southern sun to enter the building over the adjacent neighbor’s house. The built site plan places the house the minimum distance to the north property line, and the one car garage tight to the south property line. The space between the 2 structures is a sun filled enclosed courtyard connected visually and physically to the interior living spaces.
The site collects all rainwater from the roof and courts and retains them in a native plant fill Water Garden, prior to overflowing to the city drainage system. The existing street trees are saved by arranging a gentle curved and sloped sidewalk that provide barrier free access to the house. A grass pervious paving block driveway retains rainwater on the site while giving a natural green look to the garage entrance.
The walls are built of Faswall recycled material ICF’s with durable cement-lime stucco finish. The architect and contractor Jim Dustman worked closely together during design and construction to build an ultra low infiltration enclosure. German made air and vapor tapes, fabrics, and sealants were used with craftsmanship and detailed on site review to keep all construction joints air tight. The roof is a simple economical gable sloped interior pre-fab wood truss with blown-in cellulose insulation. Windows are low heat loss wood units, with northern climate passive gain type windows on the south facade. High ventilation windows in the south roof dormer, and interior thermal mass provide excellent natural cooling during Sandpoint summers.
The entrance to the house is from the porch off the street, and includes a screen porch overlooking the urban environment and connected to the southern courtyard. The garage is connected by a flat roof to the kitchen, providing protected entry from the garage.
The interior spaces are arranged with an open living-dining-kitchen facing the southern court. The bedrooms are to the east and both receive southern light. The northern wall spaces include the bathrooms, laundry, and closets. Circulation is along the northern spaces so not to interfere with the living spaces. The master bedroom includes a door connection to the rear garden thru the bathroom space, providing easy use from the rear garden area.
The interior finishes are tinted - no paint - plaster on the exterior walls and GWB on the interior partitions. The floor is a radiant heated stained concrete slab.
The design heating load is under 17000 btus at minus 5 deg F, which allows for a small electric boiler to easily heat the space when the solar gain is lower during the cloudy north Idaho winters. Backup heat is provided by a small European model wood stove.