previous
  • Remodeling in Action
    Remodeling in Action
  • 7 Smart Kitchen Solutions
    7 Smart Kitchen Solutions
  • 7 Trim Carpentry Secrets
    7 Trim Carpentry Secrets
  • Tips & Techniques for Painting
    Tips & Techniques for Painting
  • 7 Small Bathroom Layouts
    7 Small Bathroom Layouts
  • Deck Design & Construction
    Deck Design & Construction
  • Master Carpenter Videos
    Master Carpenter Videos
  • Magazine Departments
    Magazine Departments
  • Shorten a Prehung Door
    Shorten a Prehung Door
  • All about Roofing
    All about Roofing
  • 9 Concrete Countertops Ideas
    9 Concrete Countertops Ideas
  • Electrical Articles & Videos
    Electrical Articles & Videos
  • Read FHB on Your iPad
    Read FHB on Your iPad
  • 12 Remodeling Secrets
    12 Remodeling Secrets
  • How to Install Housewrap Solo
    How to Install Housewrap Solo
  • Energy-Smart Details
    Energy-Smart Details
  • Video: Build a curved step
    Video: Build a curved step
  • The Passive House Build
    The Passive House Build
  • Buyer's Guide to Insulation
    Buyer's Guide to Insulation
  • Basement Remodeling Tips
    Basement Remodeling Tips
  • Clever daily tip in your inbox
    Clever daily tip in your inbox
  • Play the Inspector Game!
    Play the Inspector Game!
  • The Hobbit House and More
    The Hobbit House and More
next
Pin It

From a Leaky Old House to a Tight New Home

A young couple retrofits the house next door as an investment in deep energy savings

When Sara and Gareth Ross decided it was time to settle down and raise a family, they rented a house in Amherst, Mass., to give themselves time to look for the right location to build a new house or to renovate an existing one. They fell in love with their neighborhood, however, so when they learned that the house next door was going up for sale, they jumped. Built in the 1880s, the house had suffered from years of neglect. It turned out to be a perfect candidate for a deep-energy retrofit, and because the Rosses were hoping this would be their last home, they weren't interested in cutting corners on long-term energy performance. Because they ultimately wanted to install a photovoltaic system, they decided to go with an all-electric energy solution. After further investigation, the Rosses decided that the incentives in Massachusetts for solar were too good to pass up, so they didn't wait on the PV system. Now their 3270-sq.-ft. home produces more energy than it consumes. The Rosses also wanted a comfortable home for their family and for entertaining guests. They opened up the downstairs and replaced load-bearing walls with engineered-lumber beams. Upstairs is a master suite and two bedrooms and a bath for the kids. The third floor, which before the renovation had been a cold attic, now contains a study and a guest bedroom. A sidebar shows how Andrew Webster, designer of the renovation and author of this article, detailed the new air barrier. Another sidebar lists some lessons he learned from this project. For designing this gut rehab that opened up a choppy floor plan and created a super-efficient house, Webster won FHB's remodel-of-the-year award for 2012.

Online Extra:  2012 HOUSES Best Remodel 

From a Leaky Old House to a Tight New Home

Become a Fine Homebuilding Member

to view this article and over a thousand more

Learn More