Preservation of the Past, Ready for the Future

Craftsmanship and Sustainability

This project combines the historic preservation of a mid-nineteenth century Italianate farmhouse with a deep-green renovation and addition. Nestled in a pastoral setting with beautiful views, this magnificent house serves the many needs of this working farm and the community around it. Careful restoration of the existing structure, together with artful finishes and details in the addition recall the period in which the original house was built, and weaves the parts together into a beautifully crafted whole. Although large in size to accommodate a variety of functions, this home is also exceedingly efficient, producing most of the energy it uses on-site. Step into the craftsmanship of yesterday with comfort and efficiency that is years ahead of its time.

Deep Green Preservation

It would have been simpler and cheaper to tear down the existing house and build new. But this was a well-built classic home over 150 years old with loads of character and beautiful finish details. It was surrounded by mature shade trees that the owners prized. The owners of this 1850’s vintage Italianate farmhouse came to, Keith Fineberg, architect, with clear goals: create more space to meet the needs of a working farm and its community; preserve the historic character of the home and its beautiful setting; and conserve energy using green technologies. By adding on creatively, guided by the original architectural style and site, the design shepherds this home and setting respectfully into the future.

Why & How did we Build Green?

Preserving an older home should involve preparing it for the next century. Vintage homes can be leaky, uncomfortable, and they generally waste energy. To correct this, we performed a Deep Green renovation of the existing structure, while adding on with state-of-the-art building materials. The addition architecture uses a long Southern exposure to capture free passive solar energy. Building and mechanical systems we used gave us a home that uses one-fifth the energy it would if built to meet the Michigan Energy Code’s minimum standards. With 20 kW of solar panels, this house becomes one of the most energy-efficient in the nation. The result is a home that is exceedingly comfortable and healthy to live in, and built with materials that will need a minimum of maintenance.

Custom Details

Design details such as trim and window configurations were faithfully replicated, and the sizes and proportions of the new rooms were guided by the original home. Custom Meadowlark Builders built-in cabinetry designed in collaboration with KSF Architects was installed throughout for a look and feel fit for a century ago. Large profile, built-up trim frames the opening grandly, while hand-made British Victoria tile creates beautiful, intricate patterns. A cherry library glows with richness and character. This home is a testament to the warmth and serenity that detailed craftsmanship can bring to an interior space.

Building Methods

Insulated Concrete Forms (ICFs)

ICFs make a warm, dry basement that saves more energy than masonry or poured wall foundations. We completely insulated beneath the basement floor slab sealing the house’s thermal envelope.

Efficient Water Heating

The hot water tank in this house loses just 5° F in 24 hours. This electric tank’s energy use is offset by solar panes on the roof, and can be retrofitted for solar hot water later.

Geothermal Heating & Cooling

Just 5 feet below the surface, the stable 52° F ground temperature provides energy we use to heat and cool this house. With a heat pump, 1 unit of electricity turns this underground heat into about 4 units of heating and cooling energy.

Solar Panels

Roof area on the house and an adjacent barn provides space for 20 kW of solar panels, enough to offset almost the entire energy usage of this home! Over time, incentives through the utility will pay more than 120% of the entire cost of this solar power system.

Radiant Floor Heating

Radiant floor heating using Warmboard subfloors results in controllable, even heat without blowing air. We experience heat radiantly, so this type of heat feels more comfortable and pleasing.

PEX Manifold Water Delivery System

Cross-linked polyethylene (PEX) tubing is inert, quiet and resists mineral buildup. When installed with a manifold system, it uses far less water and energy to heat it. A PEX manifold system combined with low flow water fixtures can use up to 70% less water in a home.

Energy Recovery Ventilator (ERV)

A tightly built home needs fresh air circulation to maintain the health and comfort of its occupants. To avoid wasting air that we have paid to heat or cool, fresh air is brought into the house mechanically and an ERV recovers the heat and moisture of the interior air to make the home more comfortable.

Structural Insulated Panels (SIPs)

SIPs are made by pressing a thick piece of Styrofoam between two sheets of OSB Plywood. They are lightweight, structurally strong, and create an energy efficient building envelope. Since the foam in the middle minimizes thermal bridging from inside to out, SIPs save a lot of energy.

Passive Solar Energy

With the long axis of the house facing a Southern exposure, most of the windows capture free passive solar energy. A massive and thermally-broken concrete basement floor acts as a thermal battery to soak up the radiant energy of the sun during the day.

Advanced Building Envelopes

The best techniques and products, including spray foam insulation, rigid insulation, thermal framing breaks and SIP panels reduce convective heat loss in this innovative building envelope. This increases the comfort of the home while making the envelope much more efficient than a standard stick built home.

Built-in Cabinets

Custom cabinetry made by Meadowlark Builders brings a warmth and richness to this home that is hard to rival. Each quality piece is designed for the space and built into place, accommodating any space or functionality requirements.
“Layout” — corinnaheard
“I like the arched doorways. Also, this is kinda what I pictured for the Den, a mixed area where the” — mpwoolac
“Floor” — cindypunch
“This is the feel I imagine for our Den. Minus the chotchkies.” — mpwoolac
“Sweet desk space.” — mpwoolac
“Window trim” — andrewmoore
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