Rear exterior with deck at twilight

Off the Grid by Necessity

Inspired by the stovepipe visible through large, stacked panes of glass at a vacation cabin in Montana, the owners knew their off-the-grid, green built custom home would be designed around creating a similar stovepipe and window aesthetic and function.

Located on an in-holding lot in a national forest, the home was sited to strike a balance between minimizing the disturbance of sensitive Native American archeological sites and capitalizing on the sun’s energy. Facing west, a bank of large windows along the back captures solar gain. Solar film on the windows helps to manage the solar gain.

Thoughtful layout for aging in place

Living room fireplace, large windows and kitchen island

The floor plan provides for one level living and aging in place. The main bedroom suite, access to major systems, laundry, half bath, and an ample, central great room with kitchen are all located on the main level. A lower, walk-out level offers generous secondary bedrooms, a full bathroom and considerable storage.

The focal point – the exterior stovepipe framed by large banks of glass – came to life exactly as the owner had envisioned. The gas log powered fireplace anchors the large great room and provides definition to the seating and dining spaces.

Overcoming unique challenges

The home encountered several unique challenges to overcome in building this home. During the survey to site the home and driveway on the lot, artifacts and sensitive Native American archeological sites were discovered. The project was delayed while the owners collaborated with the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians to inventory the sites and resolve any concerns about the building envelope and driveway.

Located within the national forest, the home had no access to electrical service from the provider in the area. Construction was delayed while we worked to negotiate easement access between the national forest and the power company. As negotiations wore on, the owners decided to shift the original idea slightly to allow for an energy generating and sustaining solar power system to power the home. Although not originally intended to be a self-sustaining home, the idea for an off-the-grid home became a necessity.

“Without power to the home for most of the build process, we had to get creative to supply power to critical tools and systems during construction,” said Will Thomason, field manager for the project. “Many aspects of the home were built only using a high efficiency gas-powered generator and once installed, a high efficiency LP gas-powered generator. Timing and thoughtful planning were paramount to scheduling.”

Interior Green Features

Regardless of whether a home is certified green-built, we incorporate green building techniques and technology into every project’s construction process. Recognizing the need for this home to use less energy, the owners chose to install a number of energy-conserving finishes, including:

  • Low E Windows
  • Low Flow Faucets and Toilets
  • Bamboo Floors
  • High-efficiency Appliances
  • Solar Glaze/Film on Windows
  • Tankless Water Heater
  • Spray Foam Insulation

Exterior Green Features

The home was sited to capture as much sunlight as possible when considering the slope of the land. Relying on solar panels, the roof was gently sloped to ensure as much sun exposure during the day as possible. The exterior included a number of green elements, including:

  • LP Gas Powered Generator
  • Gently Sloped Metal Roof
  • 31 Solar Panels
  • Insulated Concrete Slab
  • Native, site-harvested stone used in retaining wall and hardscape

Saving on Energy Costs with Green Building

This project was challenging and inspiring, and we are thrilled for the owners to move into their home. As certified green builders, we knew we were up for the task. By reducing its carbon footprint, this off-the-grid home will ultimately save the owners on energy costs for years to come.

Are you ready to build a green home?


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