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Homestead Update 9/4 ~ Ready to Build our Passive House!!

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We are finally ready to build our passive house. After a couple of years of going back and forth on building or not building, we are finally taking the plunge! It’s been a little quiet around my blog because big things are happening on the home front.

Homestead Update 9/4 ~ Ready to Build our Passive House!!for sale signBehold! Our house is FOR SALE! Prepping a house for market is not on my list of favorite things to do. But be that what it may. It’s done. I finally finished my spring cleaning. He He…. Well, almost…I still have a bit of cleaning to do. Windows, mostly. Ugh. Anybody want to help??

The great thing about having the house on the market is that it is the final step to make building our passive house possible. If you’ve never heard of a passive house, you’re probably not alone. A Passive House is a European concept that uses 80% less energy and requires NO furnace {yes, even in the brutal Iowa winters}. This is possible because of massive amounts of insulation, maximizing solar energy and shading, and limiting holes in the building envelope. Our passive house will be the first in Iowa and one of only a handful in the entire US.

passive house iowa home plansWe have been working on the plans for our house for 2 years. We think we’ve nailed them down with the help of my wonderfully awesome brother-in-law architect. Mark attended Passive House US training, as did my husband. And we’re working with a Passive House Consultant as well to make sure the home will perform according to super strict energy requirements of passive homes. My Certified Green Builder husband says that if building homes to Energy Star levels requires a Master’s Degree in the building world, building a Passive Home requires a PhD. Our passive house consultant is busy analyzing climate data specific to our building site, considering the topography of our building site – down to the existing trees at our homestead, as well as the home design to make sure it will perform and be certifiable in the Passive House US world.

If everything goes according to plan, we will dig the basement hole yet this fall so we can get building and work on it over the winter. We’ll have to do most of the work ourselves so we can afford the dang thing. New homes are just expensive. It doesn’t matter if you happen to be a builder or not – things cost what they cost. Building our house to passive house standards will probably add 15% – 20% to the final cost of our home. But since we intend to live there forever, the benefit of using very little outside energy will pay back over the life of the house.

If you know anybody in Eastern Iowa looking for a cute little starter house for a reasonable price, send them our way!

home for sale in wilton, iowaI’ll update as we make progress and start the actual build! We are so ready to get out to our barn and gardens and homestead. We are ready to live a self-sufficient, environmentally responsible life in the country!!

Window washing tomorrow at 8:30 am. Bring your gear. 😉


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About Michelle Marine

Michelle Marine is the author of How to Raise Chickens for Meat, a long time green living enthusiast and rural Iowa mom of four. An avid traveler, Michelle has lived on three different continents and has driven all four kids across the entire USA (by herself!). She loves sharing farm-to-table recipes, their family travel adventures, and gardening and homesteading tips on her popular lifestyle blog, SimplifyLiveLove.com.


  1. blankRobin H says

    Woo hoo!!!! Moving in the right direction – can’t wait to hear about and see the progress! You should probably consider heading out when it’s time for the basement/foundation work… maybe head to NY for a week or two. 🙂

  2. blankHome Insulation says

    I must admit that I hadn’t even heard of the passive house concept before reading this blog post! It’s good to see that adequate insulation is a high priority, as people always seem to undervalue the contribution that good loft, wall and pipe insulation can offer. That’s the start but I am interested in what other measures the home will use. Are you going to implement geothermal solutions, like heat pumps and the like, into the home?

    • blankMichelle says

      No. There will be no geothermal. There will probably be a couple of electric baseboard heaters to supplement on really, really cold days, but no furnace to speak off. Otherwise, the concept relies on a tightly insulated house, solar & shading {from the windows and the existing trees}, and the activities of the 6 people who live there, to heat it. It also will have a very good air circulation system to make sure fresh air is brought into house and bad air expelled. There may be a small air conditioner. I haven’t heard the final verdict on that. These homes have been built in Canada and Europe and work really well. There are also a few not too far from us in Minnesota and Illinois.

  3. blankMark A. Miller says

    So glad to stumble upon your blog, and congratulations on pursuing a passive house. If you want to stay connected to our community of passive house professionals, supporters and friends, consider joining the Passive House Alliance United States. With our website full of information on Passive House, weekly newsletters and multiple learning opportunities each month with our National Webinar Series, it’s a great place to be, share and connect with other like minded folks. Check us out at http://www.phaus.org

    Keep up posted of your progress!


    Mark Miller
    Executive Director
    Passive House Alliance United States

    • blankMichelle says

      Hi there! Thanks for your comment. We are so excited to get going and I’m really looking forward to sharing our progress on my blog. Lots of good educational opportunities there. I hope to help spread the word. Michelle

  4. blankFoy Update says

    Love it! So excited for you. How wonderful to have family that can build a passive house. We just bought an old Victorian cottage and I marvel at how smart they were about building houses to capture solar heat in the winter and vent in the summer. Although I’m sure modern insulation could go a long way to improving that! Can’t wait to read all about your adventure!

    BTW – thanks for contributing to Eat Make Grow! That’s how I found my way over. 🙂

  5. blankmjskit says

    How very exciting! You obviously have lots of exciting times in the future as well as frustrating times. I’m just remodeling a kitchen and it has its moments. 🙂 I love that you’re building a passive home. 35 years ago we bought some land east of the mountains to build a passive home “eventually”. Soon after, I got my dream job and realized the commute would be way too much – 45 minutes one way. At the time I lived within walking distance (2 miles) and ended up walked to work everyday for 25 years! We still have the land, but no house on it. It’s wonderful seeing that your dream is coming true. I can’t wait to start watching the progress!!! Best of luck Dear!

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