Passive House Update – Railings, Garage Steel, & Trim


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Passive House Update - Railings, Garage Steel, & Trim - South side of #passiveaggressivehouse from

Passive House Update – Railings, Garage Steel, & Trim

We are three to four weeks until MOVE-IN, friends. We have to be in the house by the end of August / beginning of September so we can turn the barn back into the offices it was designed for, before we so rudely moved in on the business two years ago. This is a hard deadline because we are hosting our NAHB (National Association of Homebuilders) Remodeler 20 Group the second week of September and 20 or so of our closest remodeling buddies from around the country will be here to provide feedback on our home remodeling business, Oak Tree Homes. They’re not coming to see our lovely Passive-Aggressive house per se, but I’m sure they’ll peek inside. The ultimate goal of course, is to have functioning offices in the barn once again.

Anyway, the pressure is on and work continues to move at a much more rapid pace than it has for most of the last two years! Here’s what we’ve been doing in the weeks since my last update.

Stair Railings

Passive House Update - Railings, Garage Steel, & Trim -- railings collage from

My favorite improvement since my last update is the installation of the stair railings. Our stairs will have open treads – that means there’s no backs on them – and the treads aren’t finished yet. The temporary treads are quite narrow and when combined with no railings, it was really quite scary going up and down those stairs. We’re talking sheer terror type scary here – like fall down three flights of stairs and end up on a concrete basement floor. I didn’t really want anything to to with them! I’m very pleased that our welders finished up the railings on the stairs that go down to the basement and up to the second floor as well.

Passive House Update - Railings, Garage Steel, & Trim - upstairs railing from

We’ve also got railings around the stairs on the first and second floors now so we can’t plummet to the death anymore. We’re still waiting on the railing on the top floor – we’d like to keep people from falling off it too. I really can’t express how nice it is to be able to move up and down the house without fearing for my kids’ lives. This improvement is huge. Now, I’m ready for the permanent stair treads which Dan still has to build, so it might be a while before they are finished.

Garage Steel

Passive House Update - Railings, Garage Steel, & Trim - garage trim collage from

This improvement actually happened before the stair railings were completely installed. Dan and our Oak Tree Homes crew spent a week installing the garage steel. It was placed piece by piece all over our nice lawn before installation so that it would start rusting in the rain, and it’s done that quite nicely. I love the way the steel looks with the stone on the house. I think it’s a really nice complement.

Door & Floor Trim

Passive House Update - Railings, Garage Steel, & Trim - door trim from

If you follow me on instagram, you may have seen several pictures of the family work day we had a few weeks ago when we stained all of the door and floor trim for the Passive-Aggressive House. We’re lucky to do business with a great custom cabinet shop, Pearl City Wood Products in Muscatine, Iowa, and they’ve been working with us to produce all of our custom trim and cabinets. Dan is a handy wood worker and designed all of the trim that’s going into the house himself.

We’re going for a minimalist look almost everywhere in the Passive-Aggressive House and we’re quite pleased with the way the trim looks on the doors. It’s been installed on 2/3 of the main floor doors and all of the doors on the second floor. Floor trim is next, and I can’t wait to see it!

Passive House Update - Railings, Garage Steel, & Trim - north side of house from

And that’s the latest update! I’ve resigned myself to the fact that the house will not be completely finished when we  move it, and while that’s a little depressing for me to contemplate, I guess it’s better than continuing to live in the barn. I’m so excited for my state-of-the-art kitchen, custom shower, and a door on my bedroom!! Those things might make the last two years in the barn worth it. We’ll see. 😀

Keep watching for quick updates on facebook and instagram. And if you’re curious about the awesome Passive House building concept, read this post: What is a Passive House?

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. Oh my it’s looking amazing! I’m looking forward to the completely finished photos, good luck with the move!

  2. Michelle, Congratulations. Your home is beautiful. Friends of ours down the hill from us are almost done building a full-solar, off-the-grid home and I’m so envious of its efficiency—but in a good way. It’s awesome. Thanks for hosting. -Sally

  3. Thanks for sharing your home remodel with us, Michelle. Your house looks fantastic. I love the iron stair railings. I’m glad that you have something now to protect people from falls on the second floor. That would be awful! Good luck with the rest of your projects!

  4. The railings on your stairs look great! I like the clean lines they have, and feel like they really add a lot to the overall look of your home. My mother-in-law is looking for new railings for her stairs and I’d love to persuade her to go for some modern ones like these. She might want to stick to a more traditional look, though.

  5. What a unique fan. I love all of the different touches, your house is coming along beautifully. Thank you for sharing!

  6. You make a nice point about the way the steel looks with the stone. Those two should go together nicely, as you shared.