Category Archives: people

the craftsman

2014 05 19: william brickey has worked on the house from the start. he is the best craftsman ever. he sculpted the foam glass insulation under the foundation so that it fit around the drain pipes to perfection. he installed the interior trim for the house and he painted the interior of the house. i have honestly never seen a better trim or a better paint job. he put up the kitchen cabinets that didn’t fit together so well so that they would fit well. he erected the unusually shaped structure for the solar panels. if you want a job better than just well done, give him a call at 301 520-1319. you’ll be glad you did.

water efficiency

2013 12 17: mary sper and lauren wheeler of natural resources design, inc., 202-489-6214, have put together a very water efficient landscape for the house. mary predicts the outdoor water usage for the site to be 47,487 gallons per month.  leed baselines the outdoor usage at 179,574 gallons per month; i suppose as a sort of norm. quite a reduction!

the indoor usage is also very low. the toilets use only 0.8 gallons per flush, and each bathroom is equipped with waterless urinals, low flow shower heads and low flow faucets. the kitchen is equipped with a low flow faucet and a very efficient dishwasher and the laundry room uses a very efficient washer.

at the end of it all, we are predicting, using leed methodology that the house will save 134,907 gallons per month from the base-line. leed says this is exemplary performance. of course, this will have to be verified by the leed rater but i think we’re looking very good in this department.

living building challenge visits

2013 10 17: peter doo of the living building challenge arranged a guided tour of the house. we gave a presentation that went over the engineering for our passive house certification. this included measures to insure that the house will be so air tight that air changes per hour will be below 0.6 at a pressure of 50 pascal with a blower door test, that the house will use less energy than 15 kWh per square meter of floor area per year for heating and that it will consume less than 120 kWh per square meter per year of energy from the electric company without counting the input from the home’s photovoltaic panels.

the passive house website says: “A Passive House is a very well-insulated, virtually air-tight building that is primarily heated by passive solar gain and by internal gains from people, electrical equipment, etc. Energy losses are minimized. Any remaining heat demand is provided by an extremely small source. Avoidance of heat gain through shading and window orientation also helps to limit any cooling load, which is similarly minimized. An energy recovery ventilator provides a constant, balanced fresh air supply. The result is an impressive system that not only saves up to 90% of space heating costs, but also provides a uniquely terrific indoor air quality.” the old hopkins road house is designed to be a passive house. we hope that this was evident to our visitors.

peter doo gave a presentation on how the house and lot are and will be configured to meet living building challenge requirements. please google living building challenge and have a look at the terrific work this organization is doing.

i also went over how the house will be certified to leed platinum.

it’s all so darn exciting.

follows a few photographs of the over twenty people that visited the house! it seemed that most of them drove priuses or is it priusi or prii?

a forest of praises

a forest of praises







a full house!

our visitors!

our visitors!

appreciation for taz ezzat

2013 09 23

taz ezzat has been building houses for more than 30 years. he has been a great builder for my home and I think he would be a great builder for any home.

perhaps his greatest motivation is to please his customers.

taz has understood, planned, organized, directed, staffed, and controlled the build almost to perfection. everything about the build process seems to flow together effortlessly!

taz is constructing my house with excellent quality and according to plans. the later is especially important for a house that is to be leed, living building challenge, and passive house certified.

when i have had concerns, taz has addressed them thoroughly; and, by the by, the very large majority of my concerns were allayed with nothing more than an explanation.

some specifics:

as the design of the house developed, the framer we had originally picked decided that the wall specifications were outside of its usual construction techniques and decided not to participate in the build. i thought we were in trouble. it took taz less than two days to get bruce l. jones, who is himself an excellent builder, signed on for the task.

when a front loader developed a small leak in one of its hydraulic lines, taz placed plastic sheet under it to prevent the leak from contaminating the site. when he learned that LEED recommended a spill kit to clean up and protect from spills, Taz provided one quickly.

one of the windows wraps around a corner. it will be difficult to install. as has been the case in several other instances, taz devised an innovative method to accomplish this.

the house requires the careful control of materials. taz has gone out of his way to see that this gets done. as an example, the house foundation needed to be protected against moisture; but the living building challenge consultants had not specified a material required for this. Taz asked before specifying the material.

this list goes on and on.

taz’s company, maryland custom builders inc., has a website at:



rusty collins appreciation

2013 08 22: rusty collins is a foreman for bruce jones construction, the firm framing the house. this date’s blog is my acknowledgement of his work. rusty is multi-talented with the many skills needed to execute a top notch job. he is able to organize a crew to perform work quickly, efficiently, and right. even though he and his crew work with what i think is amazing speed, they have assembled the house with precision and care.

rusty seems to carry around the complete plans for the house in his head. i can’t get over that.

he also has a great visualization. the soffit corners shown in the photo are tricky as the overhang dimension on one side of the wall differs from the overhang dimension on the adjacent side. rusty effortlessly managed the  geometry assembling the overhangs so that they mesh perfectly.

thank you rusty. your responsiveness, skill, and hard work are much appreciated!


rusty collins, tyvek is rusty's favorite backdrop

rusty collins, tyvek is rusty’s favorite backdrop








overhangs of different widths

overhangs of different widths