One of the biggest challenges that builders in the Northeast face is the high cost of construction. Part of the challenge is just finding an affordable south facing land that has a good source of water, power nearby, and friendly soils that can support a septic system and allow for a foundation without blasting and installing lots of retaining walls. We are quickly running out of reasonably priced lots that aren’t full of bedrock and wetlands, heavily wooded, and loaded with protected wildlife habitat and rare species of plants. The average length of driveways and utility trenches is around 200, ’ but they can easily hit 500’ by the time all setback requirements and environmental buffers are satisfied. This is just a short list of variables that amplifies the cost.
Just after Christmas, the cold snap arrived, just as predicted by The Old Farmer’s Almanac. At first, the man wasn’t too concerned. The oil tank was full, he had managed to split and stack quite a lot of poplar. The first night wasn’t so bad; the big thermometer on the tree outside registering just a little below zero. The wind wasn’t blowing, so it was just a little colder than an average winter night. No big deal, he thought to himself, scraping some frost from the single-pane window.
by Guest Blogger: Larry Huot
The Prudent Living Train is a Museum Work of Art with the unbelievable attention to detail in so many different interesting, historical, and educational ways. The multiple trains that operate at a press of the button for every child and every age get the action started. The engines that pull the winding trains thru countryside and cities are recognizable to those who appreciate the Glory Days of Trains and Railroads--History abounds in this all-to-scale layout. AND, if you look closely, each time children and adults of all ages discover new themes and Dinosaurs sure to amaze and educate to times gone by and insight to the future.
In 2013, Prudent Living Inc. (PLI) opened its Educational Train Display, measuring 24 feet by nearly 45 feet, at LaValleys Building Supply at Rte. 12-A, Colonial Plaza, West Lebanon, NH (open Monday through Saturday). The theme of the diorama, which took a team seven months to build, is: “How America Makes Energy and How We Use It.” The project’s goal is to connect an educational experience about the history of energy with the ageless fun of a train layout, all of it free to the public.
Prudent Living was incorporated in 2009, but it feels like it could have happened this morning. It amazes me how much we have changed and how fast it’s happened; almost as if I got into a DeLorean on my way to work this morning and punched in the year 2013. Does time really go by that fast or did I get transported into the future without knowing it? It hasn’t always seemed to go so fast. When I was in the second grade, four years seemed like an eternity. I wanted so badly to be one of the big guys that wandered the halls in Junior High. Then I blinked and I was a freshman in High School thinking the same thing all over again about those seniors with facial hair, low voices, and their own cars to drive. Suddenly, I am sixty years old and I have grandchildren to entertain with my electric trains.
I asked my Dad to create the blog for this week. Here’s what he had to say:
The notion that a house can become sick has always interested me. I have seen five-year-old houses that were so sick that they had to be torn down. It was a very sad situation where an older builder, who was very proficient at installing studs and plywood, trusses and shingles, failed to keep up with the technology of building tighter and tighter houses. The owners of the house I’m thinking of were a young couple who had invested their inheritance into a dream house, in which they fully intended to settle and raise a family.
Reason 4: Your Home Will Pay You Back Over Time
Over the span of a thirty-year mortgage, your operational savings could be as high as $200,000.00, compared to an identical house built to minimum energy codes at the same time. Sustainable strategies really do make a difference! Yes, there might be an initial 10 percent difference in building cost, due to the high tech, high performance elements that are part of a custom zero energy home.
Reason 3: Every Room Your House Can Be as Warm or Cold as you want it to be in a zero energy home.
Sometimes when I think back about the old way of heating a home and what we can do now, I marvel at the changes, progress, and the options that we can offer you today. For example, travel back with me to the day when the only heat source was a pot-bellied stove. In the dead of winter in Vermont, the room that stove was in was sometimes very hot and then as you moved away from it on the same level of the house, the cold took over progressively. There was the option of letting the heat circulate via open grates to the second floor, but even so, it was difficult to stay uncold in the unwarmest part of winter unless you did a slow pirouette next to the stove, in which case you became a human rotisserie. In addition to the inconvenience of being at least half cold most of the time, the inside air was smoky all the time, and there was lots of dust on everything in the house, by spring.
Reason 2: Your rafters won’t snap at you when it’s really cold and your windows won’t ice up
Perhaps your ideal retirement home is an old farmhouse you saw in a brochure about Vermont living. In summer there are wildflowers and wildlife all over the place. How charming and attractive! In winter the four foot banks of snow around the house seem, in a photo at least, to snuggle up to the house and keep the occupants warm. A closer look at the winter photo shows multiple huge icicles hanging off the house en masse, and you imagine how entertaining it will be to grab one from time to time and lick it like it was an ice cream cone.