Passive House Update – drywall, selections, & Big Ass fans


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Surprise! It’s after the 4th of July and we are STILL NOT living in the Passive-Aggressive house. By the way, #passiveaggressivehouse is my official hash tag AND the official name of our project registered with PHIUS (Passive House Institute US). If you follow me on Instagram, you can search for #passiveaggressivehouse and see all of the pictures I’ve been sharing over the last two years of our home build. I’m much more reliable about sharing the process on IG than I am about updating you all on my blog.

Passive House Update - drywall, floor tile, & Big Ass fans from

When I last provided an update oh so many months ago back in March, we were just getting ready for drywall. We had finished the insulation, installed the Zehner ERV, and passed the blower door test with flying colors. And there was still snow on the ground, you guys.

Passive House Update – drywall, selections, & Big Ass fans


Passive House Update - drywall, floor tile, & Big Ass fans from drywall in progress

Since then, we’ve made HUGE progress. The drywallers finally showed up and worked their magic. It took them about a month from start to finish because we changed the scope 3/4 of the way through their time here. Initially, Dan planned to put a slatted wood finish (boxcar siding) on the peak of the house using boxcar siding. But after the nice white drywall starting taking shape, we decided a wooden ceiling would look weird.

Passive House Update - getting drywall up to the 4th floor from

Changing our minds about the drywall slowed the process considerably. At first, Dan thought that he, I, and my great friend Robin could hang the drywall on the highest part of the house (4 floors up) on our own. Robin and I had our doubts but together we huffed and puffed 12-foot long sheets of drywall from the basement up to the 4th floor (remember we have a bonus floor?). To my great surprise, we were actually able to hang half a dozen or so pieces at the top of the house before one about fell over the top all the way down to the basement and Robin and I said no more. I mean, I didn’t even want to watch the drywallers tackle this part of the process. There was no way we would have been able to stand on scaffolds and do it ourselves. And have you ever picked up a 12-foot long piece of drywall?? They are seriously heavy and I did not want to go overboard with one and fall to the basement myself.


As the drywallers worked their magic, Dan and I finally had to make the hard choices for how to finish the house. Did we want hardwood floors? Tile? Paint colors? Kitchen cabinets? Trim? Friends, these decisions required marriage counseling and it’s a good thing my friend Robin was visiting to mediate our conversations. Seriously. Dan will smuggly tell you that he was very slyly able to bend me to his will and I will tell you the same. The truth is probably somewhere in the middle, but I think we reached a pretty good compromise and I’m really  happy so far with all of our choices.

Passive House Update - drywall, floor tile, & Big Ass fans - making the trim from

I was worried about different wood colors in the house. I didn’t want one color for the floor, one color for the baseboard, another color for the windows, and a different color for the kitchen cabinets. We already had a light brown color on the big south facing windows that I didn’t like. So using that as the color for everything else was out of the question as far as I was concerned. I wanted white, but Dan was dead set against it as we’ve had white trim and doors before and found them hard to keep clean {did you read my post about my disgusting children?}. Finally, with the help of Robin and visits to the local cabinet shop and flooring showrooms, we decided on dark cherry slab kitchen cabinets and dark cherry trim, which we stained this past weekend. The house will have a very modern feel throughout and all the finishes are pretty simple.

Passive House Update - changing the color of the window wall from Dan also agreed to change the color of the big windows to match the darker wood elsewhere in the house which made me really happy. It’s so hard to get a good picture of these windows from the inside with the light streaming in, but you can sort of make out the light color in the left picture, and the process of changing it to a darker color. I love the darker color and am very pleased with this change.  I can’t wait to see how it looks with when the trim and cabinets are installed.

Big Ass Fans

Passive House Update - Big Ass Fan from

The last thing I’m going to tell you about in this update is the installation of the Big Ass fan at the tip-top of our house. It might be one of the coolest things I’ve ever seen and is an integral part of our HVAC system. Its power is unbelievable and I love the way it looks. We’ve got a smaller Big Ass fan for the master bedroom but it isn’t installed yet. Hooking up the big one at the top of the house was the last thing we needed to do before all of the scaffold could be pulled out. And what a difference removing that scaffold makes in the house! I can’t wait to share pictures of the house all opened up.

But that’s all for today! I promise another update in August. It’s getting very interesting now and progress is happening every single day. Curious what a Passive House is? Read this. To see exactly how much progress we’ve made, read this update from six months ago when I said we’d be living in the house by the 4th of July. 😀

Any bets for when we’ll finally move in? I’d love to hear your thoughts.

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. She empowers families to grow and eat seasonal, local foods; to reduce their ecological footprint; and to come together through impactful travel.

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  1. 12′ sheets of drywall are super heavy. I still can’t believe we hauled them up and helped hang them. Crazy, but fun! Now to plan my next visit…

  2. I’m just redoing my rooms in my house and it’s taking forever. I love the fans!! Hopefully you’ll be in before school starts 😉

  3. Michelle, I find this whole process so fascinating (all the while thinking “better her than me”!) I hope you are in before the snow flies!

    1. Ha! I know. I can’t believe it’s been two years… I think I’d rather drink your double trouble mini martini shots, Ann! 🙂

  4. That is very cool – I’ve never heard of a passive house before. Very exciting!

    1. Passive House is relatively new concept in the US but they’ve been building them for a number of years in Canada and Europe. 🙂

  5. HaHa, my husband is a drywall contractor of 30 odd years. We gutted our house and did a big 6 month remodel in which we camped in our house with our kids for several months. We had to go back to the bank three times because we kept changing our minds! The good news is, we LOVE it even after 15 years and will have the mortgage totally paid off in 6 months. It’s so worth it!
    I used to work with my hubby hanging high ceilings on scaffold, and other dangerous stuff. Not fun!
    I’m so excited for your family to do this passive house. Being in the construction trade we are always checking out new ways to construct. Waiting on the pictures and your next post!

  6. It’s crazy that the drywallers took a month to finish! I can see how changing your minds would slow the whole process down. I am going to build a house in a couple of months. I want to make sure that I have a good plan to avoid unexpected delays.