While we were building our house, we were desperate to find some trustworthy soul to whom we could pose questions like: How did you pour your foundation? Are you happy with it? How did you pick windows? Do you like them? How did you get a clean line of plaster around your trim? What moisture level were your bales at after plastering? What would you do differently? Et cetera.
So, when Pascale (a friend we made during the straw bale workshop we attended last year in Rhode Island) began calling us asking technical questions about her first build, we were thrilled to help. In talking with her, it really hit home just how much we've learned!
Last weekend, Pascale flew in from Washington, DC for a whirlwind visit. She wanted to see our house and and ask the rest of her questions in person before breaking ground on her project.
We had a wonderful time. First, we went on a tour of our homestead, during which she asked about the details of each of our buildings and their various parts, what worked well, what didn't, etc.
Then, we headed back to the cottage so Pascale could do a blower door test for us. She runs an energy efficiency auditing company back home, and was kind enough to fly here with her equipment!
The verdict? Our house is basically air-tight. To be honest, this came as no surprise and confirmed our first-hand experience and general sense of the building. I mean, we can barely close the front door when all the windows are closed! If we turn the vent hood on while there is a fire in the fireplace, it'll suck smoke across the room out of the stove vent.
Though the end result was what we'd predicted, it was instructive to see where our leaks were—mainly around our outlet boxes, our skylights, and the very peaks of our gable roof where we were unable to plaster over the straw in the tiny gap formed between the ridge beam and the rafters.
Thanks for bringing your gear and doing a blower door test for us, Pascale!
By far the best part of Pascale’s trip was sharing stories over dinner and hot tub. Pascale is one of the most interesting people I have ever met. She walked across Bali, Sumatra, the length of Thailand, and loads of other places. She lived/crewed for eight years aboard the research vessel, Heraclitus. She LIVED IN THE BIOSPHERE as the electro-mechanical systems manager. Oh, and in the biosphere she lived with the couple that's planning to head to Mars. WHAT!?
Pascale, you’re awesome. You’re going to kick ass on your house. Come visit any time— we’ll miss you!