Renovation Timeline: June - October 2011

Armstrong House Renovation


Armstrong House












Front Exterior – Fall 2011

June – October, 2011

As the winter weather beacons, the Armstrong House is buttoned up and ready to test its integrity against the elements. All interior plumbing and electric is finished, highlights of which include low flow fixtures, dual flush toilets, efficient compact fluorescent lighting fixtures, and the lowest resource consumption “Energy Star” rated appliances. Some of the more unique plumbing features we’ve installed are future rain water connections to the toilets and clothes washer as well as a copper heat exchanger wrapped around a section of the waste line that recovers most of the heat from the upstairs shower waste water.

A particular source of pride is our American made Sun Frost refrigerator/freezer which is one of the most energy efficient available anywhere. With a full 14.3 cubic feet it uses less energy in 24 hours than it takes to power a 40 watt light bulb for the same period of time.

Final preparations are being made to complete the installation our high efficiency Takagi “tankless” instant hot water heater (propane fired) which will be integrated with our solar hot water panels to provide hot water for domestic consumption as well as our low temperature radiant space heating system.

In order to ensure optimized fresh ventilation in such a well-sealed house, we are installing a state of the art Energy Star rated heat recovery ventilation system (HRV) by Fantech. The HRV continuously introduces fresh air and exhausts stale air from the house enabling improved indoor air quality with minimal energy consumption. It accomplishes this through an “air-to-air” heat exchanger which transfers heat from the exhaust air stream to the incoming air stream.

An intensive spring and summer has brought the interior finishes to spectacular state. In keeping with our goals of a sustainable green historic restoration we have restored the original wood wall paneling and wherever possible integrated reclaimed and/or donated lumber and other materials. Our 100-year old doors are re-conditioned, and rehung along with their reconditioned original hardware. Trim throughout the house is a mixture of as much old material as was salvageable supplemented by new material as needed. Authentic plaster finish covers the cement board radiant panels in the bedroom walls and ceilings.

All wood surfaces including wall paneling, exposed beams, floors, doors and trim have been finished with Sutherland & Welles natural Tung Oil. The results have been exceptional. A Tung Oil finish is hard yet flexible, waterproof and impervious to alcohol and many food acids. Tung oil is penetrating oil that allows wood to continue its aging process and to develop its patina. The wood’s rich color and grain are enhanced by a natural ambering (coloring) which occurs over time.

Over the summer, our 65 x 45 community edible garden was constructed by a cadre of high school students using up to 13-foot cedar fence posts harvested from the property and composted, excess top soil retrieved from the sides of our ¼ mile driveway which itself underwent a major upgrade using recycled roadway material – a combination of recycled cement, brick and other re-used, crushed materials. The Mandala garden layout was designed incorporating companion planting and limited disturbance concepts. A patio was constructed out of reused bluestone and site work was begun to redirect limited water flow away from the residence.