Jason Peacock wants to build houses that impart the benefits of green building to the people who occupy them, and he took a major step in that quest last fall with the completion of a 950-sq.-ft. two-bedroom in Wiscasset, Maine, a village on the Sheepscot River, northeast of Portland.
Peacock is a LEED Accredited Professional, and the house, which he hopes will be the first of at least four he wants to build on 36 wooded acres he owns in Wiscasset, includes a photovoltaic system and design, materials, and construction intended to conform to LEED for Homes Platinum criteria.
Small house on a spacious lot
Called Souler House, it features a frost protected shallow foundation (a foundation system commonly used in Scandinavian countries; click here for a primer on the subject produced by the National Association of Home Builders Research Center), 2×6 exterior walls insulated to R-25 with open-cell spray foam. Peacock installed a VaproShield permeable moisture barrier and used fiber-cement board and a rain-screen wall.
The ceiling is insulated to R-50 and the standing-seam roof is recycled aluminum. Air leakage is minimal: a blower-door test showed 1 air change per hour at 50 Pascals pressure difference. Peacock also used plenty of reclaimed material, including wood around the front door, which, notes a website called Green Homes of Maine, he salvaged from an airplane hangar.
An air-to-air heat pump, Convectair electric heaters, and a Regency wood stove help keep the building comfortable in winter, and a 3.6 kWh Kyocera photovoltaic system supplements the home’s electrical needs.
Peacock told Green Homes he plans to make photovoltaics, LEED Platinum criteria, and the performance level of the house standard for all of the other homes he builds at the Wiscasset site, adding that he might offer some of them for sale or rent them to seasonal visitors. In an email to GBA, Peacock noted that the weekly off-season rental rate will be $800, and the peak-season rate will be $1,200.
So far, he told GBA, he has sold three lots on the site, although because of still-lagging economic conditions he doesn’t expect building on those lots to commence until 2013. But if the rental business on Souler House is robust enough over the summer, he might build another house for himself. Souler House, he added, was appraised last year at $195,000, including the 36-acre site.
Like Souler House, the other houses he builds on Wiscasset likely will be small and solar-powered.
“I do like the small-house movement and I strongly believe that life is better when you have less stuff,” he said. “So my next home will potentially be smaller with a large decks to enjoy outside spaces and views. It’s not a requirement for the community, but all the homes will probably be 1,000 square feet or less. I’ve been working on a design for a 650 square foot, two bedroom home that I’m excited to build. These houses will be great for people that believe that ‘Less is More…’ ”