Sunday, February 21, 2010

No Front Door

Only one person has commented on the fact that we don't have a front door.  The front door is actually on the side of the house.
Here's what our 'side' front entrance will look like.  If you look at any of the photos, you'll notice that the 'front' door is just a flat slab of birch.  This is called a dunnage door.  It will be replaced with the real front door, as drawn here, once construction is nearly complete.  I wouldn't want the real thing to be needlessly damaged during construction.

In New England there are strange (to me) traditions of people with fancy front entrances which are hardly ever used.  The big two-story entrance with the palladian window and the grand staircase largely goes unused and instead most guests use the mud room, the back deck, or even the garage as the primary entrance.  And, in new houses, they usually get the palladian thing wrong too.

Here's another house in Centerville without a front door.
The driveway continues beyond the house and the 'side' front entry just makes sense.

This is our Site Plan, which illustrates why the side door makes sense here too.

The raised septic system occupies most of the front yard and the driveway is to the far right.  It's straight shot from the driveway to the 'front' door and this arrangement also allows for direct access to the deck from the front porch.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Low Flow

Sometimes low flow is not such a bad thing.  Low flow plumbing fixtures can save significant amounts of water and LEED for Homes gives credit for doing so.  Programs like EPA's WaterSense help too.  The WaterSense label makes it easy for consumers to identify more water-efficient products.

Although Congress mandated 1.6 GPF low flow toilets in 1992, things were not so good at first.  Dave Barry attested to in his column titled The Toilet PoliceMany toilet manufacturers just reduced the flow on their standard models and consumers suffered.  Manufacturers like TOTO used computers to model hydrodynamics to create more efficient flushing systems.

We've decided to use TOTO's Aquia II dual flush toilets downstairs.  Terry Love has reports and reviews based on real world experiences which are quite helpful.  The Aquia II is 1.6/0.9 GPF and it's a nice, clean looking toilet.  The dual flush button on top seems intuitive so hopefully instructions won't be necessary.

The new low flow toilets are typically taller because gravity rules.  Upstairs we need a shorter toilet, so that one will be the TOTO Eco Supreme, which is single flush and 1.28 GPF.

And, regarding lavatory faucets, we looked at what the various manufacturers had to offer and settled on Grohe for most of the fixtures.  Although the current trend seems to be reverting back to double handle faucets, we really like single handle faucets because, to us, they just make sense.  Grohe has some nice contemporary designs and they are high quality.  LEED offers one point for ≤2.0 GPM faucets and two points for ≤1.5 GPM or WaterSense labeled faucets.
We'll be using the Grohe Essence 1.5 GPM faucet most places.  It's a neat, clean design with kind of a zen look to it ...

although we'll be using the Grohe Eurodisc, also 1.5 GPM, in the Powder Room because it goes better with ...

the small corner pedestal sink from Porcher.

The tub and shower will have the Grohe Essence valves ...

with a Grohe 1.5 GPM shower head upstairs but ...

with the Delta Raincan showerhead in the Master Bath, which uses their H2Okinetic technology.  It uses only 2.0 GPM but feels like more.  We won't notice much difference with low flow faucets and toilets, but a nice shower is important.  The only drawback is that it's not as stylish as the Grohe products but, by using 1.5 GPM upstairs and 2.0 GPM downstairs, we achieve the 1.75 GPM average which gets us two more points with LEED for Homes.  Every point counts.