The House was Smokin'

[photopress:issaquah_highlands.jpg,thumb,alignright]Randy (husband) and I are buying a new home in Issaquah Highlands, a neighborhood I really love. Won’t we be neighbors, Robbie?  Reminds me of Queen Anne with the local community feel.  It was supposed to be the new home for Microsoft, but the company decided to stay in Redmond although Issaquah Highlands is home to many Microsofties. It didn’t seem to matter that Microsoft didn’t take up residence there as it is booming anyway.  I’m looking forward to seeing it continue developing.  I understand the shopping district will be like the U Village and that they’re just waiting for an anchor grocery store before they begin building the village. In ground internet and intranet, acres of playgrounds, in community grade school, wine restaurant, everything you need in a community.[photopress:smoking_house.JPG,thumb,alignleft]

The Highlands has several green builders and we’re buying from one of them, Specialized Homes who specializes in the Healthy Habitat approach to building. It’s educational to understand the purpose behind the eco friendly materials and systems he’s using. One of the really interesting things I’ve learned watching the home get built is the heating system.  Most heating systems lose up to 50% of the heat in leaky ducts making the 92% efficient furnaces hardly worth the extra money when the system is really only 46% efficient.  

One day, my duct work was all gunked up with a gray substance which I’d never seen before. It was applied to about 90% of the ductwork in the entire house. Bob, the builder, told us that he had conducted a ‘smoke test’ by running smoke thru the ductwork to look for leaks. The gray gunk was applied anywhere and everywhere there was smoke coming thru. They applied it until it was totally sealed and no more smoke! It improves comfort, lowers heating bills and improves air quality.  There’s also better windows, totally sealed doors, better insulation. it all adds up, but the smoke test I thought was cool and it makes sense now to spend the extra cost of the 92% efficient furnace.

These are great websites to learn about this if you’re so interested. Not only am I happy to know that the house will be healthier to live in, but I predicting a heating bill 1/2 of what I am now paying which I’ll need with the higher payments! Check out those web sites to learn more ways to improve the energy efficiency of your home.


16 thoughts on “The House was Smokin'

  1. We will be neighbors. I’m loving the network over there and I can’t wait for the retail developments to show up.

    One odd thing I’ve noticed is that I’m paying a lot more for utilities now, than I was when I lived in Carnation. So I’m not convinced my home is that green (either that or PSE and the City of Issaquah are money grabbing bastards compared to Tanner Electric and Ames Lake Water).

  2. Robbie, slick that we will be neighbors. Probably run into you at the Lladros but I really love The Sip, don’t you? I’ve only been there for lunch and it was one of the best I’ve ever had.
    Re: utilities. Yes, Issaquah is horrible. last summer I had one two month bill that was $900!!!!! I can’t even imagine but of course, they charge you for sewer costs at the same usage as the water costs, even though the water simply ran off the lawn. This year, we let everything go brown and just left the pots watered (drip) and I still got one bill for $727. I’m glad my yard is tiny tiny. no front yard at all!

  3. Shane, thanks for the introduction to a great site. Those top 10 technologies are eye opening. I’ve just heard about the mold resistant gypsum. Wonder if I have it. I’d love to know about the combination heat and electric idea. The permeable concrete is way late in coming out. I wonder if the permitting folks will still count it in the non permeable category. It’ll be fun to watch for these great forward movements.

  4. Thanks – I have a lot of links on my site that you are more then welcome to check out that I hope will help you, fun, government, news, and blogs – make your self at home.

    If I remember right the manufacture estimated cost at about 20,000 dollars for the average placement. In the Midwest they estimate that based on sun light hours that the cost can be recaptured in about 7 years if I remember right. I do know that the west coast has a much better recapture rate.

    If I remember right the manufacture estimated cost at about 20,000 dollars for the average placement. In the Midwest they estimate that based on sun light hours that the cost can be recaptured in about 7 years if I remember right. I do know that the west coast has a much better recapture rate.

    Some of the neater stuff out is foam-based stucco – worth checking out too. Concrete is changing also with foam sandwiched in panel forms like drywall, fiberglass and other goodies.

    Building technology is advancing so quickly that almost impossible to keep up with. I try to hit at least three home builder shows and lawn and garden shows a year and do a builder survey by phone at least once a year just to try to keep up. Its getting crazy out there but is really cool at the same time. My favorite is the slide in place tongue-n-groove brick facing made out of a carbon material really slick stuff.

    I also have a link on the site to Lowe’s where you can find a neat construction calculator that is not half bad, but to be honest with you I am still a pencil and paper person with old fashion math. Check it out and see what you think.

  5. I saw the HGTV construction special with the foamed in place modular units from Washington that were shipped to Colorado. The electrical and plumbing conduits had to be installed on site and they had a horrible time doing it. Also, a whole wall was off by a fraction of an inch and it took them a couple of days to retrofit the rest of the first floor. I wonder how they will solved these kinds of problems. The City of Seattle won’t let you use modular units to build. They’re lagging behind the rest of the nation and need to get caught up.

    I will spend some time on your site soon. Sounds like you’ve done a ton of research. maybe you can interview Bob at Specialized Homes sometime since he lives and breathes the stuff. Our neighborhood is going to be unique in that it will not be northwest colors, but rather color palette inspired by East Coast communities. We were a bit suprised when our house turned out gray blue until we found out that the gorgeous house next door is going to be blue red so we will fit in fine! Imagine, red and blue. I’m anxious to see it but trust the bulder.


  6. I am also pleased the builders in our new neighborhood are forced to use green building technologies. It goes a long way toward justifying the Issaquah ridge deforestation and wildlife habitat loss, not to mention destruction of valley-residents’ views up toward this ridge. It took all that to let me sit on my butt in this neighborhood way up here with this high-speed web connection and the mini-SUV and Prius in the garage.

  7. as always, progress vs flora and fauna. Don’t fotget though, that the permit was only issued by preserving the greater portion of Issaquah Highlands into Greenspace. Which crams all the houses on small lots to get all the services we have there and even have enough financial . My home is built right to the setbacks. I’m not even sure if there’s room for a lawn.
    I’d prefer fewer public spaces and greenbelts and a larger lot, personally, but I’m not the majority on this one.

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