In the fall of 2005, a young couple and their son and daughter began talking to us about building a home in Columbia County, New York. Utilizing meetings at our offices and communicating via phone calls and numerous emails, they worked closely with our in-house design team to complete the design in less than two months. With the Emmaline Gabrielle Farmhouse as the starting inspiration, the home was slightly enlarged to accommodate a larger mudroom and larger second floor master suite bathroom. An attached barn with future loft studio space defined a courtyard feel around the front door.
The starting design, the Emmaline Gabrielle, is a farmhouse inspired by Federal detailing. An asymmetrical front entry and fireplace, generous overhangs, 12/12 window patterns, and a 10/12 roof pitch are some of the federal influences felt in this farmhouse. While the original inspiration had a wrap-around porch, the porch was only carried along the north side to protect the entry doors. On the other sides the glass and doors were exposed to take full advantage of the sun's path.
The homeowners had already purchased their land when we began working them, so we worked together to site the house for maximum solar gain as they planned to utilize both passive and active solar energy. Because of their distance from us, we worked with site maps and photos to best understand the setting. Just off a county route, the drive follows a mature hedgerow of trees and empties into the field in which the house sits. The chickens and ducks who will greet you as you leave your car complete the picture of a historic farmstead!
Excavation began in late November and we framed the house in our shops in the first days of January, 2006. The family came over to our shops on one of the framing days so the children could watch the walls of their house being built. As their ICF insulation foundation was being installed the walls of their home were being built, and this would ensure that the minute the foundation was completed the house could quickly be erected in the winter months of upstate New York. Tim Holk of Columbia County Historic Homes was the general contractor for this project. Tim has built many Connor Homes over the years and so took command from day one on the site.
Exterior trim finishes included energy efficient Green Mountain Windows, insulated glass doors, vertical grain hemlock siding on the house and vertical board pine siding on the barn, a covered porch that protects the main entrance as well as the mudroom door, Everseam standing seam roofing and a louvered Connor Homes cupola.
The interior was a mix of materials. The homeowner found salvaged wood floors from Antique & Vintage Woods of America and reclaimed light fixtures to usr throughout the house; many fixtures were heirlooms from their families. The builder provided the cherry kitchen cabinets and a custom library milled on site from locally harvested cherry. Connor Homes provided stairs, doors and interior trim.
The homeowners chose many ways to create sustainability in this house. As mentioned earlier they utilized both passive and active solar heating. Expanses of glass provided by large double hung windows and triple French doors with transoms above flood the house with light and warmth. There are two types of solar panels on the southern roof exposure providing solar heating and solar domestic hot water. The house has grid-tied photovoltaics, Lifebreath heat recovery ventilation, radiant floor heating, a Munchkin high efficiency propane boiler, low flow toilets, energy efficient appliances and an insulated ICF foundation that along with Icynene foam wall insulation makes this a super insulated and super efficient farmhouse. The house is Energy star certified with a Five-star rating. Now those are not descriptions we usually find associated with up-state New York farmhouses.
In addition, the homeowners took care to choose recycled and reclaimed materials wherever possible. Reclaimed lighting fixtures, flooring and landscaping stones help keep waste from our landfills and bring touches of old charm into this new farmhouse. The same features that makes this house so tight and energy efficient also convinced the owners to use all non-toxic and low VOC finishes for healthy air quality.
This house is a unique example of green technologies with classic New England design appeal. The process, in which homeowner, builder and Connor Homes worked together to create this beautiful one-of-a-kind home, is one we cherish.