• environmentally it is made with little waste to ship from WI and is recyclable if not somewhat reusable at end of life.
• water from the roof is cleaner for gardens with no PAH rich asphalt debris.
• structurally the 2x12 rafters are absurdly strong if a tree hits the house to dent the roof.
• last > 50 years maintenance free (even the paint finish is warrantied longer than an asphalt shingle has lasted in our climate).
In 2014 L-House Roof and Heat Projects were approved on a shoestring budget. Directors of the BOD were discussimg proposals that implied demolition of L-House for new construction by MSC or a purchaser within years, so Sustainability Committee optimized for only a 10 year life expectancy. A 67% AFUE direct vent tank water heater let the roof Project proceed to tighten the house. Volunteers removed the chimney down to the 1st floor mantle piece, and refurbished 4 double hung windows. Six leaky windows in the smallest bedrooms are replaced with 3 very tight windows of comparable glass area, but far less leaky frame area for about what it would cost for professionals to refurbish all 6 windows.
Normally 7 residents share the L-House. This is few enough that to keep out of each others way with less strict rules than houses with more than ten people often require. We have two bathrooms, a kitchen, a pantry, a living room, a porch, and after a 2 year break we hope to again have our whole garden.
In the kitchen we each get a cupboard or two to ourselves, and share a refrigerator with one to two other resident(s). We all share the gas oven, stove top, and microwave oven.
This house uses less gas & electricity per person than any of the 4 other houses (at least until 2014). This was largely resident habits (turn off unused lights, close doors in winter, never set thermostat above 70°F), partly cozy house architecture (fans & trees shade reduce need for AC), and partly technological modifications (High quality LED lights sip power; incandescent here is halogen).1
Quite simple, wood floors, bay window faces south yet is shaded by trees. We normally have a couch and a table in there. My camera underexposed the center photo due to sunlight from the windows. Floor lamps light the room at night, since there is no ceiling fixture. LED string lights provide night light sufficient to walk to the bathroom. S windows provide abundant daylight.
We'll update house photos once the stucco brown coat, new roof trim, 3 new windows, and fresh painting of the trim are complete. For now we strategize what sequence we can establish gardens without damage from construction. We are impacient because we did not plant most the garden last year in anticipation of construction.
Currently this serves as the garden tool shed, but people still chat and some smoke out here in the shade of the porch. Smoking is not allowed anywhere inside our buildings, but some does waft in from time to time. Fortunately there is another entrance.
Having a trash closet is good. Having pot racks is a big improvement. One may store 2 pans on the rack, but extras go back in the pantry room because kitchen space is limited. When we have 8 residents, due to a double occupancy, we may need to get a 4rth fridge because we've been enjoying the extra kitchen space. This is a small kitchen if 3 people cook at once and meals shared by 7 in our kitchen involve 4 people standing.
Long ago Little House had no kitchen, and residents ate in the main house. A stainless steal bucket collects food scrap for garden compost. We are the one MSC house to properly use a compost bucket to reduce trash related fruit flies. It involves no vegetable waste in the regular trash bin, cleaning sinks and the pale, not leaving stored vegetables to rot, and taking out the compost every 3 days in humid weather. When we fail at these, fruit flies can persist. Moisture is problem because mold likes to grow in cool basements. It takes a long time and much bleach to clear mold if allowed to bloom, so we must not do that. We must not leave puddles of water in our kitchen and moisture control is central to most L-Kitchen remodel concepts.
Doubles as a storage room. Never tidy, but it is finished with tile floor. It was used for laundry until 2014. It is one place where we can repair stuff.
Every room in the Little House has a closet. Your room is your secure private space.
Two rooms are available as of Dec 2. People are expressing interest in applying, yet still no application has been submitted for either room..
Rent is slightly higher without a 6mo lease, %20 higher for double occupancy, and $25 lower for those actively serving on the board of directors. Residents may rent one car spot for $10/mo. Extra car spots are less than $30 paid monthly by non-residents.
Honestly old forced air heat couldn't reach 85°F in rooms L12, L22, or L23 of this old house on very cold days without bothersome dessication issues. Professionals had mistakenly oversize the furnace which merely increased desiccation, periods of chilled rooms between heat cycles, and heat loss. Residents convinced MSC to fund house and heating system modifications in 2014 while replacing the roof. Our argument was simple, we pay the same rent per square foot as anyone else in MSC while we are a household that consumes less, costs less, and offers less shared space per person than any other house in MSC. Conservation is good by choice --we are proud to help fund needed improvements elsewhere-- but on cold windy winter nights we were unable to provide warmth many modern people prefer in 3 of our 7 rooms. That was not by choice. Work is not done, winter construction likely increased 2014 energy use, and plentiful hot water enables longer showers so it is too soon to learn many important lessons from L-House renovation. Indications are insufficient to celebrate financial success other than we heat rooms at least as well as before with somewhat less dryness.
Taking advantage of past neglect of L-House and much free resident labor, the 2011 L-House Project Proposal sought to make L-House the most comfortable in MSC by replacing the roof, removing an obsolete chimney, installing a dual zone 97% efficient micro-boiler to provide both hot water and radiant heat, replacing key windows --in rooms L12,13,22,23--, and running modern ventilation ducts to someday carry the right amount of HRV cooled or warmed air to each room after we upgrade all L-House windows and tighten air leeks sufficient for that to be both necessary and affordable. House audits in 2009 showed 7 air exchanges per hour via passive air leakage in a 25mph wind. Active ventilation is only required if this falls below 4 ACH. A guy at Badger Heating & Cooling expects removing any chimney our size to reduce total air leakage by 5%. Could tighter windows and doubled slant ceiling insulation result in 6 ACH before an energy audit? Could an energy audit compare a Larson insider window panel to window refurbishment of an identical window to inform investments in other houses?
After rejecting HVAC professionals who seemed clueless regarding how our old house works, we found Metro Heat recognized that short cycles of heat from our grossly over capacity furnace and inadequate air return for that volume of airflow explain both the long cold periods in certain bedrooms and the severe dessication that resulted in nose bleeds if not for many pans of water in bedrooms and aggressive watering of houseplants. He sized a dual stage condensing forced air furnace for the actual heat being delivered to our house, so it will deliver the heat more evenly over time resulting in less time for certain bedrooms to cool between heat events.
Instead of conventional roofing company proposals to provide R15 slant ceiling insulation where R14 felt inadequate we chose a creative metal roof option that accommodates R-37 by widening the rafters and uses a metal roof to:
• reflect 20% more summer heat
• rapidly distribute heat above ventilation chutes to prevent ice dams
Work is incomplete so we only know that the smaller furnace was adequate for an unimproved house accept when all slant ceiling roof & insulation were removed during construction, and that L22 is significantly cooler with the new roof than last summer. L23 is a new resident with no basis for comparison. Both L12 & L22 have sufficient ventilation and light with fewer new windows. We have corrected many