Friday, March 20, 2009

Toured the McNamee House

Wednesday evening Larry and Blake took us out to see one of their current projects, the McNamee House. The house is at a beautiful spot in west Salem, perched on a hill with a great view. The first thing I noticed when I walked in at around 5:30pm was the sunlight bouncing off the ceiling, streaming through a series of 15 small windows up near the ceiling and facing west. It was really quite striking. Although the house is style-wise very different from what we're building, it does share some similarities. Besides being energy efficient, it also has an open great room layout and a kitchen somewhat similar to what we are imagining.

It was great to walk through the house with Larry and Blake and talk about what will translate to our house. I got a better idea of how a lot of the green features will work. Well-insulated walls are much thicker than in most homes, which creates a deep window sill (Abby will love it). It also allows for some beautiful window woodwork. We got to take a look at the solar thermal water heater. It's pretty fancy looking, and I had to resist the urge to turn various levers and knobs.

Blake has me mostly convinced that we should install hardwood floors. Up to this point I wanted laminate floors, since the one we have now is so durable. But it seems that hardwood may be even more durable and has fewer environmental toxicicity problems (offgassing and whatnot).

We will likely be using the same cabinet maker, and the build quality of the cabinets looked great. In fact, the fit and finish throughout the house was great. Even though I never had any doubts about their ability to build a house, it's still reassuring to see quality work.


  1. Don't be turning our knobs! Your discussions with Blake regarding VOCs have only JUST begun. Be prepared..I hate to give him any credit but he's pretty knowledgeable. It was interesting to learn, and redefine, our definition of green home building. The floors are a great example. The bamboo flooring companies have done an amazing job selling their goods as "green." When, in fact, these products are far (in my opinion) from sustainable, sensible, or healthy. Using local, sustainably harvested oak (versus materials made with glues that off gas a bunch and arrive on nasty diesel powered ships from Asia), made a lot more sense to us. Good luck, it will be an amazing adventure with the B Boyz...The McNamee House