So…some big news here. We have put in an offer on a new house! I know that might seem odd, given all I’ve done to this homestead, but check out these features:
- It’s in the woods, but there’s a place to garden, because it opens onto a wetland (fen or peat bog, not sure which). This also means it’s really quiet and peaceful – my main complaint about the current house is road noise.
- It’s a passive solar design – actually won an award for its design. On sunny winter days, it needs no other heating. Not that Michigan gets a ton of those, but every bit helps.
- The design includes a 50′ long solarium on the south face of the house, which heats the upstairs and gives the house a ton of natural light, even though the main living space is earth-bermed on 3 sides
- It’s just gorgeous! It’s an incredibly peaceful place – very grounded and relaxing.
There are a few down sides – it’s further from work (though closer to a town) than our current place. The vegetable gardening will be OK but probably not great. I plan to do more perennial gardening, though. We may need to trim or cut down some trees…but we want the solar collectors to be shaded in the summer. No sense pumping heat into the house when it’s 90 degrees. So we have lots of thoughts, but it’ll take a while to figure out the best approach.
It’s also a short sale, so though we have an agreement with the sellers, it won’t be official until their bank agrees to the price. That could take months; we wouldn’t close until spring.
We had the home inspection yesterday, and it checked out pretty well. Some sign of termites, but it might be an old, inactive infestation (we’re having an expert in to check). The inspector is also concerned about mildew/mold in the “rock room” passive solar collector. The owners say it smells musty when they open the vents to let that air in. We can tell that water is getting in down there, though, and wonder if that would go away if we took care of the water issue (the downspout discharges on the panels, and has warped the furring strips and destroyed the caulk) and got the air moving down there again. The danger is that it wouldn’t help, and that we’d be pumping mold spores into the house in the meantime. We are going to see if someone at the architecture school has any ideas. Worst case scenario is that we seal off the ventilation loop through the rock pile and retire that part of the passive solar system. It might still help with some radiative heat, or we might just have to chalk it up as a loss.
So…if you know anyone looking to buy our existing homestead, with a nice, sturdy, well-insulated 4 br house near Ann Arbor, Michigan, surrounded by lots of excellent garden beds…let me know!