When my friend Laura Murphy mentioned that her neighbors in Ripton, Vermont, Chris and Zoe Pike, stayed warm last winter by burning just half a cord of firewood, I was intrigued. So I tracked down the Pikes to learn a few more details about their house.
It turned out — surprise, surprise — that the Pikes’ house was designed by Chris Corson of Belfast, Maine. In fact, the Pikes’ house is a virtual replica of the well-publicized Passivhaus that Corson built in Knox, Maine. (GBA has published two stories about the Knox house: Striving for Passivhaus Affordability and Cold-Climate Passivhaus Construction Costs. Chris Corson’s JLC article about the Knox house was titled An Affordable Passive House.)
Chris Corson, the founder of Ecocor, is one of two New England builders — the other is Carter Scott in Massachusetts — who have been justly praised for building high-performance cold-climate homes that don’t break the bank.
A tight thermal envelope with high R-values
The Pikes hired Alex Carver of Northern Timbers Construction to build their house. Construction was completed last fall.
The house sits on a slab-on-grade raft slab foundation that includes 12 inches (about R-50) of expanded polystyrene (EPS) foam. “Branch River Plastics delivered the EPS foam right to my shop, which is two miles away from the building site,” Carver told me. “We precut the four outside corners. I had to miter the corners, using a combination of hand saw cuts and a hot wire. The house is a rectangle, so that was easy.”
The 14-inch-thick walls are a variation of the Klingenberg wall, with 2×4 bearing walls sheathed with OSB and vertical TJIs attached to the exterior side of the OSB sheathing. The TJI bays were insulated with dense-packed cellulose, and the 2×4 bearing wall was insulated with 3.5 inches of Roxul mineral…
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