Best of Cville 2016

Best of Cville 2016

Thanks to everyone who voted to recognize Latitude 38 in our community! A total surprise. We did not even know we were nominated! Please excuse Joey’s verbose treatise here.

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Abode November 2015: Before and After

Check out this month’s Abode for beautiful photos of our most recent house on 5th St SW in Fifeville. On stands now! Online version here.

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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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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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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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under roof…

It wasn’t quite an old fashioned barn raising with the compressor drowning out any neighborly conversations and the hydraulic lift dangling 150 pound roof trusses over our heads. With a crane operator who casually planned out his next adventure on the phone while simultaneously steering the crane with the unearthliness of Vishnu playing x box, we got the roof assembled with minimal stereotypical “construction workers standing around doing nothing” moments. The following day, we lofted the roof sheathing into place employing only the brute strength of some exceptionally exceptional builders. We rolled out the ice and water shield as if rolling out the red carpet for the rapidly setting sun. At the base of the scaffolding, we were met by the owners and a thank you loaf of pizza bread and Eight Point lager.


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Under roof and open treads

We’ve been under roof at our latest spec house in Belmont for a good two weeks or so, but really haven’t had a chance to really appreciate it. We’ve been busy racing to finish our house on Sun Ridge Road and get a second house going in Belmont for winter.

In the last day or so, Bryce and Jeff were able to sneak back over there and build steps to the second floor. Typically, we’ve gotten pre-built stairs made that we just pop into place, but we wanted to break up the monotony and try and build something from scratch.

In particular, I’ve always wanted to build a proper open tread stair that feels like it is floating out of the wall. This is the perfect house for it as we have switch back stairs with a landing that has 5′ wide by 10′ tall window. The large window not only gives nice moment of pause to take in a little league game from the landing, but also has great morning light. With the open tread stairs, we are able to bring a lot of that light into the kitchen and dining area.

There was probably a way to build this with less wood, but we built a platform for each step. Then, not to make it a nightmare later for our drywall guys, we went ahead and put up drywall. We then notched out the drywall and slipped in the treads. We used 9 1/2″ wide by 1 3/4″ microlams. We will eventually wrap them all the way around with 3/4″ material that I will think will give a nice mass to each tread.

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