Top Ten Most Energy Efficient Homes of the Year

Last week Earthcraft Virginia recognized Latitude 38 for building two of its Top Ten Most Energy Efficient Homes of the Year at 776 Ridge Street and 413 10 1/2 Street, both in Charlottesville. We are excited to build to Earthcraft’s high standards of measuring:

  • Site Planning
  • Construction Waste Management
  • Resource Efficiency
  • Durability and Moisture Management
  • Indoor Air Quality
  • High Performance Building Envelope
  • Energy Efficient Systems
  • Water Efficiency
  • Education and Operations
  • Innovation

Having third party verification of our construction through preliminary and confirmed energy modeling, design review, a pre-drywall inspection, a blower door test, and a final inspection, makes us stay on top of our game. We appreciate our relationship with our local auditor, John Semmelhack from Think Little, who helps keep pushing us to use new science to make our homes ever more comfortable, energy efficient, high performance homes. If you have any questions about Earthcraft Virginia, please contact us!


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Cottage sealing up

We are building a small accessory cottage at 318 Oak Street behind the house we recently renovated. This will be available for rent around April 1. Just 16′ x 24′, with a loft over the kitchen and bathroom, and a bump out with a twin daybed and kitchen table bench seating, the cottage will be a perfect spot for someone wanting a unique personal space with ample space for outside gardening and a deck for hanging out.

Attached are a few photos showing some details of how the house is built for exceptional comfort and energy efficiency. Here are some details:

  • The conditioned crawl space is only open to the inside of the house.
  • We hand painted the exterior of the concrete foundation (which we formed and poured on site) with a Sampson water proofing tar.
  • All exterior OSB plywood seams are sealed with Siga Wigluv tape
  • All interior penetrations are sealed with Siga Rissan tape
  • All exterior walls wrapped in 2″ Cellofoam Polyshield Type II

We will be posting more finish details shortly. Stay tuned!


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Mitsubishi Electric case study

Jeff and Joey’s own home at 6th Street SW has just been featured as a case study in the Mitsubishi Electric website. It is a nice summary of our HVAC system (with a few nice photos too), if that kind of thing interests you. I don’t think we ever officially announced that this house received Passive House certification, which is a quite rare 3rd party environmental building standard in the US, but quite widespread in Europe. Passive House design focuses on the envelope of the building, which is about 11″ in the 6th Street SW house. With double studs, Serious (now Alpen) triple pane windows, and copious amounts of cellulose insulation, our heating and cooling system is quite minimal. We have ductless wall-mounted units on the ground and first floors, and a ducted mini-split on the second floor for the bedrooms. Our house stays exceptionally warm in the winter and cool in the summer. We have a lot of cross breeze in the house as well, through thoughtfully placed windows.


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Solarize Charlottesville Info Event July 29

Solar power for homes will be easier and more affordable than ever July through September 2014 thanks to Solarize Charlottesville, a grassroots, community-based outreach initiative sponsored by the Local Energy Alliance Program (LEAP) in partnership with the City of Charlottesville, Albemarle County, and the UVA Community Credit Union. Solarize Charlottesville is a one-stop-shop for community members to learn more about solar power options for their homes and facilitate the installation and financing of their own project. Through bulk purchasing and free solar site assessments, Solarize Charlottesville puts solar within reach.

Benefits of Program:

  • Free Solar Site Assessments
  • Lower than ever solar pricing and affordable financing
  • Qualified local solar installers and high performance systems

If you live in a Latitude 38 home, please contact Joey to find more out about your options for connectivity.

UVA Community Credit Union Seminar

July 29 @ 6:00 pm – 7:30 pm

Is solar right for you? Learn about solar energy and new opportunities to turn solar into savings. We’ll show you how to “crunch the numbers” and review other non-financial factors to help determine if solar is right for you. We’ll provide information on local rebates and tax incentives. Plus, we cover the benefits of participating in the Solarize Charlottesville campaign (for City of Charlottesville and Albemarle County homeowners) which will offer bulk discount pricing on solar installation and reduced rate financing options. Presented by our area’s non-profit Local Energy Alliance Program (LEAP), solar installation experts, and the Credit Union. Register here

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First Time Homebuyer Savings Account

HB 331 – Establishing First Time Homeowners Savings Plans

Virginia just passed a new law allowing people hoping to be first time homeowners to create a saving account that is free from state income tax to use towards a down payment. The law will go into effect July 1, 2014. Keep an eye out for more info. See link above for legislative detail.

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Open House

Open House
Sunday, April 13, 2014
413 10 1/2 Street NW
Charlottesville, VA 22903

Stop by Sunday afternoon to check out our most recent project, which is For Sale. If you have any questions, please contact Joey at 434-806-7871.

Directions: Go west on Preston Avenue, then merge onto Grady Avenue after light in front of Martin Hardware. Take first left from Grady onto 10 1/2 Street NW. 2nd house on right across from community garden. Park in driveway or on street right in front of house.

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Abode February 2014: From Start to Finnish

Check out this month’s Abode for coverage on a modern white kitchen we built last year in Belmont on Druid Avenue. On stands now, or read here: Abobe February 2014 From Start to Finnish

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Abode November 2013: Would you ever use basketball court flooring in your home?

Check out this month’s Abode for coverage on the reclaimed flooring from a north Philadelphia high school gym we put in at Palatine Avenue, as well as in our own house on 6th Street. Source: Provenance

Abode November 2013: Basketball flooring


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Appraisal Institute Enters Into Agreement with Resnet

One of the hurdles of making energy efficient features cost effective for builders is that they are rarely are incorporated accurately into the sales prices of homes, at least not consistently across a market. One of the key players in this equation is the appraisers, who use available one year comps in the immediate locality to determine if a sales price is “fair market value,” or justified for a bank to make a loan. If a buyer values paying more for an energy efficient home with the expectation that their long term operating costs will be lower than a comparably built home (in size and location, without such efficiency features), but the appraiser cannot show why that additional value is justified, then the buyer may not get the appraisal they need. If builders cannot find buyers with cash to pay for the the additional features, they may have difficulty selling, and then less likely to incorporate said efficiency features in future homes. This is not the fault of the appraisers individually, but more of the whole multiple listing system and appraisal standards, which have not developed simple ways to compare homes based on energy efficiency.

Various parties have been at work nationally to bring the appraisal process up to speed with the growth in the number of energy efficient features that can significantly change the value of a home more than just its age, square footage and location. Just this week the Appraisal Institute entered into an agreement with Resnet, which developed the HERS index, one of the leading green building rating system, to produce their Residential Green and Energy Efficient Addendum. This is a good step towards making energy efficient features more of an integral part of any appraisal. We are still pretty far from that uniformity, but each step is appreciated. Here is more info if you are interested:

Appraisal Institute Residential Green and Energy Efficient Addendum

RESNET News about partnership

In practice, we have not chosen to cut back on energy efficiency features, although we are not sure if we are getting the appropriate value they deserve when looked at life cycle value. We have always had appraisals come within about $3000 of the sales price (always over), which leads me to question how the appraisal process works, as I have trouble believing that our pricing is so exactly in line with other new construction. However, I would say that we do keep fairly close to the general market, as we do not want to overbuild for a particular neighborhood, which is very possible building on infill lots in older neighborhoods.



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Open House this Monday: 4 to 6pm!

Come see Latitude 38’s newest completed home at 310 Palatine Avenue! We are turning it over to the new homeowners on May 1, so please help us welcome them into their new home.

Open House
Monday, April 29, 4-6pm
310 Palatine Avenue (next to Quarry Park, off of Rt 20 South on the way out of town to PVCC)

Low key, light refreshments (beer and juice), and information on our next project.

Parking: Try to park in the gravel lot between the house and the baseball field. There is a fair amount of parking, but no marked spaces, so please just try to not block anyone in.

For building aficionados, you can check out a few things we have never done before (open tread stairs, European large tilt and turn windows, passive air inlets as part of our thoughtfully and efficiently designed hvac system, reclaimed basketball flooring from a Philadelphia high school, reclaimed barn siding from an Ivy barn.)

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