I swear this is true!

Today I made Ted sniff a stranger's floor

Submitted by Andrea on October 1, 2011

Ted and I visited several houses today in the NESEA Green Buildings Open House Tour. A bunch of homeowners in the northeast kindly opened their doors to nosy strangers and showed off their eco-upgrades.

Many of the houses had solar electric or hot water systems, and others had superinsulation, high-efficiency heating systems, green building materials, etc. All the houses we saw were optimized for passive-solar performance. We enjoyed meeting other nutjobs green building enthusiasts, and when we paused to shut up about our own project we learned quite a lot of useful stuff.

One house was a brand-new net-zero house, which the owners moved into only last week. In addition to many energy-use upgrades, they used LEED-friendly materials such as PaperStone counters and Marmoleum floors. I was particularly interested in the floors, because Ted and I haven't yet decided what to install in the rooms where hardwood floors would be impractical. I'd been considering linoleum (which is what Marmoleum is), but it was a non-starter because of Ted's sense of smell.

Whenever I mention "Ted's sense of smell," you should imagine that the words are followed by a thunderclap or a horse whinnying. For me it's an ominous, implacable force that must be appeased. I have a fairly strong sense of smell myself, but Ted's is bizarrely strong and offended by things I can't even detect. Many times have we walked into a hotel room that seemed just fine to me but was promptly declared "reekitudinous" by the sensitive Ted. We have definitely pushed more than one hotel clerk to the limit of their "customer is always right" patience.

When I suggested linoleum floors in the kitchen or laundry room several months ago, Ted's sense of smell (speaking through Ted) nixed it, citing some stinky floors in the house where he grew up. I was under the impression that Marmoleum and its ilk are actually quite benign, but Ted wasn't interested.

So when we toured that net-zero house, and the chatelaine pointed out the Marmoleum floors in the laundry room, I ordered asked him to get down and sniff it. And lo, he declared it odorless! I should contact the homeowner and ask if it was the edge-locking Marmoleum Click or the Marmoleum tiles that need to be glued into place. But at least I can put Marmoleum back onto the list of flooring options.

This may not be the last time I make Ted sniff flooring or paint; as we start choosing interior finishes his nose's advisory role will only grow. For the moment I will resist adding it to this website's tag cloud, but I make no promises for the future.

Dig our crazy pier foundation!

Submitted by Andrea on June 10, 2011

That's what we told our excavator! [rimshot]

But seriously, our foundation design looks like Eastern European public art:

That top section is a grade beam, and the long/wide sections are pinned to ledge. In fact, nearly every one of the footings will be pinned to ledge. (For you flatlanders out there, ledge is the rocky substrate frequently lurking below the topsoil in hilly regions like New England.)

So far they've formed most of the footings, and the plan is to pour the footings early next week and then pressure-wash the whole area to clear away the organic material (AKA dirt). The piers will get formed and poured after that.

Ted will surely post more about the hows and whys of our foundation, and we'll put up pictures as well.