Where to start?
I’ve read about passive houses for some time and understand the basic design principles. I have a piece of land that I am considering building a new passive house on and am looking for some guidance.
I currently have a one-story 4 BR, 2.5 bath home that has a finished basement. I’m looking to build a home that has 3BR and 2 bathrooms. I think I can sell my current home and have enough cash to pay off what is left of my mortgage and build a new home with the proceeds. My brother-in-law built my current home and can build my passive house as long as I give him the correct specs (selling him on the idea would be helpful, too!).
I confess my main motive for building is a selfish one. I’m not looking to spend a ton of cash just to be green, though I certainly don’t mind making some efforts to go in that direction. I primarily want to build an inexpensive house (because I’m cheap) that will have low energy requirements (also because I’m cheap & am concerned about rising energy costs).
I realize that a passive house will require some upfront costs for insulation, windows, and the like, but I don’t spend a bunch of extra money just so I can call the house ‘green.’ I realize I’m posting at ‘green’ building advisor, but I’ve read about some homes that are 3000+ sq. ft. vacation homes with all the latest ‘green’ features that cost 500k — I just want to be upfront about my motives and budget. Building a passive house with Energy Star appliances, low-flow sinks and toilets, and CF bulbs is ‘green’ enough for me!
That all being said, I wish there was a repository of building plans and suggested materials for use in a passive house. I’ve been gleaning information from this site and others, but still struggle with what are the *best* heating (radiant floor, heat pump, etc.), HRV, (brand, specs. to look for), window (brand, rating), water heater (elec., propane, tankless), etc. options for me.
If you were building a 3 BR, 2 bath (1500-1700 sq. ft.?) passive house in south-central PA (N 40, W77) on about an acre of land, what design and construction materials would you use, esp. if you’re trying to keep costs down?
Would you suggest building a one story house or a two story? Basement or slab? Earth warming tubes with HRV or not? What kind of exterior siding? What kind of floor materials?
I realize this is a bunch of questions at once, but this is overwhelming for me! Just throw down your opinion as to what you think some of the most important considerations are and what I’m missing!
Thanks in advance!