CA Cabin - Feature Summary

There is nothing dramatically different about what we did: in fact the people who worked on it all do mainstream construction.  The differences are all in the details.


  • Small footprint (1500SF) using "not so big" ideas.
  • Pattern Language - designed for flow, privacy gradient, places on the edge, sunny place, outdoor connection, thick walls, and many others
  • Form - 1-1/2 story single family, 1500SF finished space, slab on grade, unheated attic via attic trusses.  There is also a 325SF guest house on site.


  • Passive solar design: House faces 15° east of due south, although E-W axis is limited due to other design considerations. Full 8' deep porch both east and west to protect against summer overheating.  The west porch is enclosed and can act in a limited way as a solar greenhouse in the winter.
  • 5% of floor area in south facing glazing. Overhangs give full shading by mid May.
  • Slab on grade with perimeter+full under slab R4 XPs.
  • 9-1/4” advanced frame double framed 2x4 walls filled with BIBS fiberglass R-30
  • Unheated attic floor: 3 layers of unfaced fiberglass batt+4" blown in (14" total, R40+).
  • Vaulted ceiling: 12" TGI filled with BIBS, approx R40.
  • Andersen 100 series fibrex windows: U=.43, SHGC=.52 double glaze clear glass on the south, U=.29 SHGC=.22 elsewhere.
  • Energy: solid Mesquite R1, elsewhere Fiberglass, R5
  • Glazing ratio: 14%, although 3.4% is protected by an enclosed porch
  • 1.5ACH50
  • No central heat: backup via Hearthstone Craftsbury 25kBTU wood stove, 3.8g/hr particulates, 65% efficient located in living room.
  • Hot Water - Rheem heat pump, located in unheated attic
  • Ventilation - spot in kitchen, bath and laundry
  • 1.8kw PV on pump house shed.
  • Very efficient refrigerator & dishwasher.
  • 100' of clothes line used for 90% of drying.
  •  CFLs + LEDs in frequently used fixtures

Materials & Waste

  • Existing barns deconstructed and given to neighbors/friends.
  • Some salvage lumber used.
  • Most lumber is FSC certified, although sheathing is OSB
  • Acid stain concrete slabs
  • Approx 250SF re-milled oak barn wood used as flooring.
  • Stair treads are salvage oak barn wood.
  • Kitchen and bath cabinets made from urban salvage Elm
  • Cabinet shelving all from urban salvage cypress
  • Window sills are salvage redwood from on-site deck
  • Pantry cabinet and 3 sets of closet doors from on-site redwood deck.
  • Book case and shoe cabinet from reject oak barn wood flooring
  • 4 interior doors from salvage Douglas Fir construction lumber
  • 3 closet doors made from urban salvage cypress
  • Recycling & salvaging waste from construction process
  • Exterior exposed wood all back-primed and painted before install.
  • Low maintenance stucco and tile exterior

Healthy House

  • Sill pans for all windows & exterior doors
  • Low toxic materials, paints & finishes
  • No materials with Urea Formaldehyde used inside the house
  • No carpeting/no vinyl
  • House was thoroughly vented out throughout the process

Site & Water

  • Building site previously used for horse+hay barn.
  • Ultra low flow toilets (1.28gal/flush).
  • Low flow shower with volume control
  • Low water use washer (Fisher Paykel) and dishwasher (Bosch)
  • Landscaping will be fully drought tolerant (although current there is none)
  • Pex supply lines (home run manifold system)