Saturday, March 19, 2011

Another heat source

Multiple people who have taken tours of our house have asked us about these plumbing labels in the mechanical room: Kids tub? Kids toilet?

We didn't have kids when we built the house, but we knew that we planned to live here for a really long time and raise a family here. So we built more than we currently need, in preparation for our future children.

That time will soon come, as I'm pregnant and due to have our first child around the beginning of August. Hence the title of this blog post: we will be adding another "heat source" to the home, making it even cozier in winter. :-)

The change reminds me of the things we did to prepare the home for a future family. The most obvious was that we built the house bigger than we needed, to have room for children. We have two extra bedrooms that we weren't really using yet, and one will soon become our nursery. We included a second upstairs bathroom with two sinks and a separate tub, shower and toilet area, for our kids to use (hence the plumbing labels in the mechanical room). When Blake first did the Passive House calculations before we even began the build, he calculated how much energy might be used and required by about four people -- the number that might live in a house this size.

But perhaps equally important to the extra space needs, we wanted to create a healthy environment for our children, even though we didn't have any yet. We wanted the indoor air to not contain a lot of random gases radiating from the materials in the home. This is why we used low-VOC paint on the walls, and things like MDF in the cabinets and closets that is free of urea-formaldehyde, a type of resin that can release toxic vapors. We chose wool carpeting for the upstairs, which is made of natural materials, is very durable and does not release all the same vapors into the air as regular carpet (no new carpet smell). Downstairs, the stain on our wood floors is non-toxic. These features will be great for a new baby crawling around the house.

Additionally, we have better indoor air quality just by having a Passive House, because we control the ventilation of air in and out of the house. The air coming in goes through a filter and only at the place we allow it, which is much better than just having contaminated outside air leak in anywhere throughout the house.

We're really looking forward to raising a family here, and we're also excited and comforted to know that we've built a home that will be healthy and safe for us and our kids.

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