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Build Like This

A simple approach to building a super efficient house starts with six key elements

Is it possible to build an affordable, beautiful, energy-efficient house that can cozily withstand the rigors of a Maine winter? Architect Matthew O'Malia would say yes, based on his experience with the house featured in this article. This 1000-sq.-ft. retirement home, designed for comfort and flexibility, costs about $160 per sq. ft. to build and, depending on siting, is capable of meeting the Passive House standard. Six key elements work together to make this house appealing: insulation for an R-50 SIP wall assembly and an R-60 foundation; triple-glazed windows; diligent air-sealing; minimized risk of thermal bridging; attention to indoor-air quality; and a super-insulated slab foundation that picks up heat during the day and releases it slowly at night. This house is finished with simple interiors that highlight the house's forested surroundings. This article includes a sidebar about the high-performance German EGE windows used in the house.

From Fine Homebuilding232 , pp. 40-45 November 8, 2012