Thursday, December 10, 2009

Change is Good

At least that’s what I keep telling myself…because the past couple weeks have brought plenty of changes. There have been changes to our wood stove venting, and therefore our solar panel layout; our kitchen appliances; our first floor bathroom; our flooring; and our well allowance.

Wood stove venting- By order of the fire marshal, our interior wood stove vent cannot bend twice at 45 degree angles before exiting the home. It’s too hard to clean and you can’t have more than 15 degree angles inside the home. Venting needs to run straight up and out. This modified design also throws a wrench into our solar panel layout.

Solar panel layout- Solar Wind Electric had sent us a clean-looking solar design that accommodated all 12 panels and positioned them in a way that made brushing off snow a bit easier. Because our wood stove vent will now run straight up the south wall and exit the roof lower than we planned, our panels will have to be reconfigured away from the heat source.

Kitchen appliances- Originally, our U-shaped kitchen layout called for an electric slide-in range facing south. I fell in love with the idea of cooking meals while admiring the mountains. Really, just being able to glance at the view from anywhere in the kitchen! Alas, our home is so air tight, it’s highly recommended we vent our stove. I hate the idea of a huge hunk of metal obstructing our view. Instead, we’re opting for a stove that has a built-in downdraft. Unfortunately, we found no induction stoves with this option (which crushed my soon-to-be husband’s dream of being the coolest kids around). In fact, there’s essentially only one kind of slide in range with a downdraft: Jenn Air. And from what we’ve seen, they’re never on sale. Our only option at this point is to buy a cook top and wall oven as two separate appliances. The cook top will remain at the south end of the kitchen, but because of the downdraft venting, the wall oven won’t fit underneath. After much arranging and rearranging our kitchen plan, we came to the conclusion that the north wall is the best (really, only) spot for it.

First floor bathroom- When we designed our home, we thought it would be practical to have two full bathrooms—one shower upstairs next to the master bedroom, one shower downstairs next to the guest bedroom. What we didn’t think of at the time was accommodating children. And children take baths, not showers. Our first floor bathroom is now a standard tub shower.

Flooring- We got the quote back for our flooring options, and it’s over budget…by a fair amount. Our first floor has a pretty big area that will be slate, which is driving our price up quite a bit. But because it will work so well with our passive solar design (not to mention look nice!), we’d like to keep it in the plans and compromise somewhere else. Perhaps we’ll forgo the bamboo flooring on the second floor in favor of cork.

Well allowance- The original quote for our home included a $7,000 allowance for digging a well. Nobody realized we’d need to dig to China to strike water. Really, our well is 600-feet deep! And $4,000 over budget.

Fortunately, we saved $4,000 by switching from Marvin to Pella brand on certain windows. (Windows that didn’t compare spec by spec were not changed.) We also saved $500 by switching the first floor bathroom to a tub instead of shower. We’re crossing our fingers that the hearth quote comes in low, so we can save money there as well.

It comforts me to think that all home builders likely go through this same process and share our stress. I don’t want to sound callous. I just want to know that we’re not the only ones juggling money and making compromises!


  1. You guys are doing great. Keep rolling with whatever comes your way:-).

  2. We have built 3 houses from the ground up... and it can be frustrating at times trying to trade one thing for another. It truly is all about compromises. Hang in there! I do think you made the right choice about having a tub/shower combo in at least 1 of the bathrooms. And 600 feet... holy crackers... that may as well be China :)

  3. The changes and compromises are definitely a bit frustrating, but we know it will all be worth it in the end! Thanks so much for your support! It's so nice to know we have people pulling for us. :)

  4. This is the stuff that I'm dreading when we get to a similar point in the game as you. You've spent a lot of time thinking things out and then have to scramble at the last minute. For what it's worth, I think cork floors look better than bamboo and plan on use it for our kitchen. I've seen other cork floors and think they look really nice.

    BTW, we just played the water lottery this past week as well. Our lucky number was 280 feet. Sorry your number wasn't as fortunate.

  5. Dan--I'm so glad you like the look of cork too! My only worry is that it will be in such a large area of the house (entire 2nd floor loft), so it might be easy to get tired of. Do you have any brands or pattern names that you were looking at?

  6. We haven't picked out the flooring yet. However, the first place I'm going when it comes time for it is Planet Hardwood, They specialize in sustainable flooring and have a very large selection of cork. The website doesn't do them justice, but they're very much worth the visit if you can make out their way.