Dream House

I am in the fortunate position of being able to afford to build myself a new house (well...perhaps myself and the bank). Having been to several 3rd world countries and knowing that there are lots of people in the world who don't even have housing, I felt a few pangs of guilt about this. I had a decision to make: rehab the old or build new. The cost to rehab my old house was going to be substantial. It was October of 2009. My husband had passed away in August from liver cancer. I was in the depths of grief and sorrow. I needed a project. I decided that if I had to plunk down a lot of money anyway, it was better to build new. I also decided that if I was going to build new, I was going to build green. My new house will be both beautiful and "green". I will share the journey and the adventure with you.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Drive by Shootings (i.e. Taking Random Photos of Houses)

       Caroline was my accomplice over the last couple of days in driving around upscale neighborhoods as we took pictures of houses we liked. She came up with the phrase "drive by shootings" for this activity as I drove the PT cruiser and made her get out and take the pictures. We were a little nervous that people would think us suspicious. No worries though, no one stopped us. I am specifically trying to come up with a color scheme for the exterior of the house. This is a challenge as there are several elements to this. Like many houses, the front will be fancier than the other sides. However, the challenge of having a house on the lake is that there are really 2 fronts--one on the streetside and one on the lakeside.
     The architect came up with a multi-media compilation for the exterior. The front will be stone and stucco, and the other sides will include vinyl shake with some stucco and stone. In the world of green building, the ideal would be to have materials on the exterior that can be recyled at the end of their lifecycle.

     I have some experience with this now since I did tear down my  old house. On the old house, the siding was wood, which Winnebago county recycles automatically at the dump (it recycles/chips any wood).  Overlying the wood siding was some relatively new vinyl siding. This is one of the hardest material to recycle. It can be done though.  There are companies that use it in making PVC piping, and other products.  I could find no companies in Wisconsin that would do it without charging a hefty price for taking it down and transporting it. I also asked Habitat for Humanity about it. They rely on volunteers and didn't have any volunteers to do it. In the end, the house stood abandoned long enough for some unknown person to come along and take it--a version of "one man's junk is another man's treasure".
     In my ideal world, I would have a house of entirely brick, stone as they are natural materials and are easily recyclable, durable and require little maintenance. However, they are the most expensive. Also, brick is expensive to produce and has a high carbon footprint during its production. Another reasonable option is modern day stucco which is a product known as EIF: exterior insulation finish.  It is moderately expensive. It is  less expensive than traditional stucco, though, and adds insulation to the exterior of the home. They can make it look like stucco, brick, or a smooth stone. It has an R value of about 12. A common brand name is Dryvit.  It can be repainted and has its listed as lasting 25 years although in reality, it usually lasts even longer. It is made of recycled materials and the waste can be recycled too. Another natural option is wood siding--moderately expensive, requires maintenance, and attracts pests, but its beautiful.  There is another new product out there too--fiber cement board. Its made of sand, cement and wood pulp. It takes a lot of energy to manufacture it, and its heavy, but durable.
     The cheapest option is vinyl siding which is why there is a lot of it. I will be using some of it on my house (a product called Cedar Impressions vinyl shake). This is produced by a company called Certainteed;  they use 60% recycled content in their products.
     That's all for now. I will try to attach some pictures of my favorite stones. I would like to use a stone that will match with blue trim and or siding, neutral/light brown or tan stucco and/or siding. The 2 houses to the north of me have gray siding which is why I don't want to go with gray,even though it matches with a lot. Give me your opinion. I had a hard time with the pictures. Thats why they are randomly placed. Have a great day!


I like this stone, not sure if I could use a blue trim; I would go with a light colored stucco;  above on left is close up of the above
Neutral/gold toned stone

neutral stone, imagine different color siding, like blue with neutral stucco
blue against a neutral stone
good representation of stone/stucco/vinyl shake combo

 color options for stucco

stucco option

a nice brick/stone/stucco. The stone is pricey though (I checked)

other neutral options for stucco    




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