“In the mountains, temperatures can drop to 10 degrees at night in the winter. The typical winter day is between 30 and 40 degrees, and yet we are able to heat our entire house with one wood burning stove and a whole house air circulating fan because the SIPS make it so insulated. I don’t understand why anyone would build a stick frame house ever again. This was affordable, looks amazing, and was easy to do.” – Homeowner, Christie Walker
Low impact on the environment while reducing your footprint….how do you go about that when designing and building a house? Homeowners Christie Walker and Robbie Bos did just that by going with big style and a smaller footprint while designing their home in Southern California. The artistic minded couple (Christie is a photographer/writer and Rob is a graphic designer) included many artistic and sustainable features in their new home. And to help determine the size of the home to hold those many features, Christie and Rob took a practical look at what they needed.. The two measured all their existing furniture and cut out little pieces representing the furniture that were to scale. They then used grid paper to layout the furniture in each room. There you go, a house sized to meet their needs to go along with the home designs they had envionsioned.
Located on the east end of Big Bear Valley, in the San Bernardino Mountains in Southern California is Christie and Rob’s 1,800 sq. ft. residence on Piñon Hill….owner named for all the Piñion trees on the 2.2 acres. The locals call the area Baldwin Lake for the dry lake bed that used to be full of water. Christie and Rob’s house is positioned for a southwest exposure situated on the side of a small hill overlooking the lake, the valley and surrounding mountains. They picked this location because it gets less snow in the winter, more rain in the summer….and of course the view. I love that Christie and Rob call this their ‘Little bit of paradise on Piñion Hill’.
THE BUILDING PROCESS
Christie and Rob made the decision to use Premier Structural Insulated Panels (SIPS), provided by US SIPS out of California for their building envelope. SIPS have several benefits: you can save up to 60% on energy costs, quick construction time, less job site waste and more. Since Christie and Rob designed their SIPS house themselves, they hired a local designer to turn their detailed plans into blue prints. They then hired Rob Carpenter, of Carpenter Construction to compelte the foundation and building of the house. Sub contractors were hired for things like roofing, plumbing, electrical, ect. Christie and Rob were overly pleased with builder Rob Carpenter who had never built a SIPS house before. Rob traveled to Santa Barbara to research a SIPS house being built to get tips from the contractor, Rob was confident the build was not going to be a problem. Christie had this to say about building with SIPS:
“Here’s what was so amazing about the construction aspect of the SIPs. First, they took our very customized plans and turned them into a house. The house arrived like a kit on two flatbed trucks. So like a kit, there was very little waste because it was premade in a factory BUT is was totally custom! When I had looked at other kit houses, they were never quite what I wanted. Doing it this way, we could design the house exactly like we wanted and then have it arrive ready to go. Second, the house went up really fast. We broke ground in April and moved in Dec. 4th. That’s from the first scoop of dirt to the last brush of paint. The SIPs part of the construction went up even faster. One day there was only the foundation and two days later we had a floor. To celebrate we had a party on the floor complete with a band!!! Next the walls went up. Once the walls were in we had a wall party and invited people to write their good wishes and thoughts on the SIPs walls before we covered them with drywall.”
Further to using SIPS to frame and insulate their home, Christie and Rob included the only truly hybrid wind/solar system in California, created by Joe Moore of Wind Sun Energy Systems. What does truly hybrid mean? The wind and the solar are working together using one inverter. Other systems have two separate inverters and work independently of each other. Given the couple now had a mini-power plant….their SIP built home is an all electric house. And as for the artistic features that fill the home, just to name a few include: a lamp made out of Patron bottles, exterior windows made of wine and beer bottles and a stair railing to the second floor made from rebar. This ‘little bit of paradise on Piñion Hill’ is a one of kind sustainable home.
- Premier SIPS floor, walls and roof
- Hybrid Wind/Solar System: 16 solar panels and a 1K wind turbine
- Energy efficient appliances
- LED lighting
- Property well, septic and leach field
- Rain Harvesting system (coming this spring to water vegetable garden)
- 75% of waste is recycled, composted for garden
- Recycled materials: Rock from the excavation of the house used to make rock design behind wood burning stove and hearth
- Location: San Bernardino Mountains, Southern California
- Size: 1,800 sq. ft. with a 750 sq. ft. attached garage
- Designer: Homeowners designed the house, brought in local designer Eddie Etter of Double E Design & Construction to turn detailed plans into blueprints
- Builder: Rob Carpenter, Carpenter Construction
- Premier SIPS Used: SIP Floor, Walls and Roof
- SIPS Provided by: US SIPS
- Hybrid Wind/Solar System: Joe Moore, Wind Sun Energy Systems
- Click here for more project photos