Victorian undergoes deep green remodel
An Ann Arbor, Mich.-based green building and remodeling company, Meadowlark Builders, has taken a run-down Victorian home built in 1910 and transformed it into a showplace for energy efficiency, smart building technology and family-friendly design.
The homeowner's, tired of their suburban Detroit McMansion, looked towards Ann Arbor and purchased a home located on the northwest side, in a neighborhood called Water Hill, well within walking distance to the downtown shopping district and to the Kerrytown Market area.
The house had nothing to offer with the exception of a great location and a great view of downtown Ann Arbor. Structurally it was something that most builders/remodelers would have strongly urged the owners to tear down. However, the owners knew that there was value in this building and that part of their goal of living in a deep green home meant recycling anything that still had value.
As the job progressed, new structural problems surfaced almost on a daily basis. The existing foundation had to be re-poured in areas, the framing was extremely poor — resulting in skewed exterior walls and window frames that had to be rebuilt from scratch. The site was small, it was on a busy street with no street parking, and there was very little space for dumpsters and equipment.
It was not all bad. When the asbestos shingles were carefully removed from the sides of the house, what surfaced was the original gingerbread Victorian wood siding with a beautiful sunburst design in the gables. These were lovingly restored and painted, resulting in a truly distinctive exterior. Other items were reclaimed. The old chimney was demolished, the bricks salvaged and used in the new fireplace. The old main beam from the house foundation was restored and used in the fireplace mantel and for the legs in the kitchen bar. The flooring in the office and the master bedroom was salvaged wood used in the original framing.
The salvaged and restored items add character, but inside these new walls there is a long list of structural and mechanical components that are leading this home on the road to Leed Platinum certification. Two 1-inch layers of structural foam insulation added onto framing, rain-screen wall coating, Hardie Board siding and spray foam insulation, give this home an exterior blanket that will keep the air inside comfortable and healthy. Geothermal heating and cooling, an Energy Recovery Ventilator, low-flow plumbing fixtures, energy star appliances, a metal roof, and eco-friendly building material selections all add to the components that make this house ultra energy-efficient and green. Future landscaping will incorporate solar panels as part of the design plan and will take this home to net zero energy usage.
A custom kitchen along with a floor plan that takes advantage of the home's southern exposure and captures the views over the city, make this home not only smart and green, but also a joy to live in. The interior color scheme was inspired from a piece of artwork the owner had since she was a child. The exterior colors are not your typical Victorian colors, but are a meld of the old and new, and present a striking facade to anyone passing by.
Read more about remodeling a green home.
Teena Hammond Teena Hammond has published more than 2,000 articles in People and W magazines, Women's Wear Daily, and in dozens of newspapers and books. She also wrote a home improvement, remodeling and decor column that ran in Gannett newspapers nationwide. She's interested in all things green and would love to hear from you with your story ideas.