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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

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