LEED Green Home

LEED Green Home
View of Carport with Two Hotrods


Week of March 26, 2007: Alphonso and I come up with the brillant idea to sell our northwest side condo and move into the "The Pheasant House" so his commute won't be so long in the mornings when he has to meet the subs at 6 am. We "stage" our condo for sale and put it on the market. Meanwhile Alphonso and Gianluca practice their boxing "guard" position.

Week of March 19, 2007: Backfilling around foundation wall done. Alphonso and I locate where the interior first floor plumbing walls will be so the plumbers can lay in their pipes.

Underslab plumbing walls:


Week of March 5, 2007: Things are moving quickly. The excavation has been done, the footings and foundation walls have been poured, and the formwork is ready to come off soon.

March 1, 2007: We've spent many weekends since purchasing the property coming out to the site to study how our home would be orientated on the property.

Given that the site is a corner lot, it is somewhat triangular and of course filled with trees. We wanted to take advantage of the sun for its heating benefits in the winter but also wanted to avoid the direct sun in the summer. We wanted to use the trees as a natural shading element. Removing as few trees as possible was high on our list of priorities. The least amount of land that we disturbed, the better. There's nothing worse than destroying all your grass during construction just to have to install new sod (or seed) when your done.

Once we finally figured out where the house was going to sit, we staked it out. The sub contractors were given a 5 foot offset around the footprint of the house to work in. (As construction progressed, the 5 feet grew but we still tried to keep it to a minimum.) Then the silt fence went up, the one evergreen tree and brush were tagged for removal by a landscaper, our drawings were submitted to the Village awaiting our Building Permit, we were getting pricing on materials and shop drawings for the steel were being started.

We couldn't wait to get started even though the weather was not quite ready for us to start digging a hole. One weekend we were out at the site and Alphonso decided he would get started on removing some of the brush. With no tools with us and wearing a suede coat, he used a hacksaw to cut a small tree down and took about 2 hours. Needless to say my two year old son and I couldn' t have been more bored. Five minutes later the landscaper shows up with his chainsaw and equipment and is done in about an hour-with everything.

LEED Home Marks One Year Anniversary

We have now been living in our home for one year. It earned the distinction of being "Illinois' First LEED Detached Single Family Home" in May of 2007. We still get a lot of questions about the house so maybe this can answer some of them. If there are still more questions anyone may have, feel free to ask.

Both I and my husband are architects and what better fun can an architect have than getting to design and build their own modern custom home! It was a long time from finding the right lot up to move-in day but well worth it. There have been pros and cons and I'll let you know about those too.

Back in the middle of 2006 we were lucky enough to find a half-acre lot for sale in Bloomingdale. http://www.villageofbloomingdale.org/ (Actually a pretty savvy Realtor called us and let us know about it.) It was undeveloped land with roughly 25 mature trees on it ranging from ash, honey locusts, maple and a variety of evergreens. Even though it was undeveloped land it was in an established suburban setting within walking distance to a multitude of amenities-a park, school, shopping, dining, etc.

One caveat to buying the property was that we had to buy the adjoining 1 acre lot. That lot had a home on it that was built in 1974 with all the original finishes still in place. (If you love flocked wallpaper, mirrored walls, multi colored shag carpeting, orange counter tops-think Brady Bunch, then you would have loved it.) It was (and still is) a great home with good bones that just needed a face lift. We affectionately named that house "The Pheasant House". There willbe more about that later.

We went in with the plan that we would design and build a new LEED home for us on the half-acre lot and do a LEED renovation/addition of the existing house on the one-acre lot and then sell it.

The only thing that made us nervous about the purchase was the fear that the Village would not let us build our home with the design we wanted-a modern home with a flat roof. Prior to finding this lot we had been looking for a piece of land (within our price range-and specific requirements like not next to the highway, no well and septic, walking distance to amenities...) for about a year. Then we stumbled upon a lot in a neighboring town that met our requirements and were soon under contract. Luckily, we went to the Village and the seller (who happened to live next door) to let them know about our plans for doing a green home and showed them renderings of our proposed design. Who knew flat roofs could cause such a commotion! After months of discussions, the Village was not about to grant a variance for our flat roof and the seller decided to not sell the property. What a God send we never made it to that closing table! So when this property in Bloomingdale dropped out of heaven, we knew this was where we wanted to build our home and raise our family.