Indy House #7: Interview with the Owners

24 06 2008

We took a little hiatus from this project for a few reasons – babies, construction projects, etc. but we’re back on track now! We’re calling this post # 7 to continue from where we left off.

To recap, (check out the previous blog posts), our goal is to document the design for a proposed secondary space in Indianapolis adjacent to a single family home. This small getaway space would be a backyard living space (mainly an artist’s studio) and will incorporate as many environmentally friendly design and construction methods as possible. The design of this small home design will attempt to create the most efficient home in terms of cost, energy efficiency, material waste, and carbon footprint reduction. Here are some of our goals:

* Modular Design: to save on material costs, ease of constructability and time.

* Zero Energy Home – designing a building with a net energy of zero over the course of a year.

* Passive Solar Home Design: Using the sun to heat and cool the house through orientation, materials and natural methods.

In our effort to achieve these goals, green guidelines are important to establish upfront not only for the design team but for all parties involved in the construction process. It is also critical for the owners to have baseline metrics and common language for green expectations. Although our priority for the Indy House is not necessarily to gain a green certification (such as LEED), we believe it is important to outline the major categories involved in the holistic design approach for any green building: Site, Energy, Water, Materials, Air Quality. Regarding certification for homes, this article in Sunday’s New York Times, points out some pros and cons of the current residential certification process.

To better understand the project and how the space will be used, we compiled a questionnaire for the Owner because we want to make sure we understand how the owners envision the space. Following are the questions and answers:

1. Use of Space:

* Will you cook in this space?
* How many hours a day will you spend inside?
* Will you entertain guests here?
* Would you like to garden here?
* What kind of maintenance do you expect from this space?
* Activities?

The space will be used as a retreat which will be used mainly for painting and writing. Rarely will we entertain here. We’re a busy family so low-maintenance is key. Eventually we will grow a garden, most likely after this building is complete so we don’t ruin the garden during construction.

2. How do you envision the relation of this house to the main house?
* connection or hidden?

The house should be connected visually but actually separate. The whole point is to find quiet space away from busy family life.

3. How will you use the house through the seasons
* Winter? Spring? Summer? Fall?

We intend to use the house year-round so comfort is crucial.

4. What do you think about generating power from this house for the main house?

If we can….ABSOLUTELY! It’s a no-brainer.

5. Of schemes A, B, C, D
* which do you like the best?
* what don’t you like & why?
* what would you change or add?

We like Scheme D – we don’t need a green roof to grow stuff or to occupy since we have the lawn and the adjacent patio, we’d rather use the roof area for solar panels if possible. However, we’re concerned about leaks from the inverted roof.

6. How public/private will the spaces be?

Entirely private.

7. Composting waste on site for the garden – what do you think?

Absolutely, but let’s keep it hidden from view and as far from the house as possible to avoid contamination by bugs, mice etc….

8. Roof access – what do you think?

Don’t really need it.

9. Whats your thought on materials?
* texture
* feel
* color
* maintenance

We want the house to feel natural – that it’s part of the landscape, not that it just dropped down from outer space.

13. If there was a wood burning stove, would you use it?

Yes. By the way, with the rains we have had over the past 10 days, the backyard is a swamp so think about elevating the house somewhat so we can use it during Indy’s new “rainy season”.

Thanks. We love the design so far!

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