Designing and Building “Just Right” for High Performance and Affordability

We designed and are in the midst of building a new home in Cheshire that aims to achieve high performance and affordability by integrating today’s most advanced building practices with lessons from the beloved small homes of the early twentieth century. We’re thinking of this as the Goldilocks house, designed and built to hit that “just right” sweet spot.

The techniques we depend on in our award winning high performance houses are serving this more modest new home. While some of those homes were designed and built to measure up to the rigorous Passive House standard, this home is satisfied to come close. Close in this case still means 70% less energy required for heating and cooling as well as the levels of comfort, health, durability, and energy security that are achieved when you build to this level of home performance.

With a living area of just under 1000SF this two bedroom home makes the most of every space simply and smartly. The form of the house and its exterior style are inspired by the “Westly,” one of the Sears Kit Homes popular in the 1920’s. That classic design extends its roof to create an inviting front porch. An upstairs balcony will be a home for the coming and going of the owner’s beloved bees!

The interior takes its lead from the town house; one large open room in width with entry, stair, bath, and pantry to one side of the building. The first floor is devoted to social living. Upstairs are two bedrooms, a full bath, and a laundry. One of the delights of a small home is the presence of windows close by wherever you find yourself. Set on a small suburban lot with mature trees, the house opens out to gardens for food and flowers and a backyard rabbit hutch. This is a nature lover’s home.

The home replaces a single story “camp” style home that was well past worn. That building was deconstructed by Urban Miners of Hamden and a variety of the finishes will find new homes in this new building.

The home was designed and built to provide lasting beauty, feature enduring craft, and from the start will have low energy use baked in. And with all these features, by keeping it small and simple, the budget was kept manageable.

Barefoot comfort is made possible by thick walls and tight construction. This means less energy is required to heat and cool the space, which is easily accomplished at a low cost with small, high efficiency mini-split heat pumps. Constant fresh air from a balanced heat recovery ventilation system assures better health. Hot water is produced efficiently by a heat pump water heater. Conduit run to the roof sets the stage for the later installation of a PV system that would allow the home to produce all the energy it needs on an annual basis. The term for a house built to this standard is “Net Zero Ready.”

Wolfworks vision is: “Better home. Better life.” Wolfworks mission is to provide the design and construction experience needed to build and remodel homes that respond to the environmental challenges of the twenty first century. This one meets that standard.

We’re creating a series of short videos to tell the story of this project. Here is the first in that series.

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