Acker Builders Logo   Energy Star   Green Built Home



This website documents the construction and performance of our "green built" home in Middleton, WI. Acker Builders completed construction on November 16, 2009. On this site you can find real-time solar panel output, photos during and after construction, and a description of the techniques used to improve indoor air quality and maximize energy efficiency.

Solar Panels


Posted Wed, 07/22/2009 - 19:07 by danceydoodles

Today they began drilling for the geothermal wells. The wells will be located in the front yard, as previously posted. Here are some pictures and some short video footage. The video is not the greatest, as I could not zoom in any further, and did not want to get too close to the activity.

ALL Clear!

Posted Tue, 07/21/2009 - 19:45 by danceydoodles

Today we drove out the lot. Acker Builders had cleared the lot in preparation for the drilling of the Geothermal well locations. Here are a few snapshots of the cleared lot. The orange posts denote where the house will be. The blue flags are the markers for the well locations.


Geothermal well locations

Posted Tue, 07/14/2009 - 17:25 by kpbadger

Today Matt and I met with Modern Heating & Cooling and Sam's Well Drilling out at the lot.  Due to the small size of the lot we will be doing vertical loops as we already knew.  Today's meeting was to determine where on the lot the wells would be drilled.

Here is what was learned:

  • The wells need to be 10 feet apart.
  • Everything associated with the wells will be at least 6 feet under the ground. There will be no visible evidence on the surface that the wells are there.  Bury them and forget them.
  • It will be preferable to do the wells before the foundation is installed, so that the pipes out to the wells can be run under the floor.
  • Because of the slope in the middle of the yard, the wells need to be either on the top, or on the bottom. They can't drill in the middle of the hill.
  • We are avoiding drilling in the back yard behind the house in case there is a future desire for additions.  (There's a green built home point about planning for additions... I'll have to be sure we claimed that one.) Also this presents less risk to the conservancy as the mud associated with the well drilling will be on the front, not the back, of the lot.

The one unresolved issue is to obtain permission from the owner of the neighboring vacant lot. Part of the drill rig will need to be parked on the adjacent lot while drilling one of the wells. If we do not obtain permission, then this well will be installed under the driveway.

The current plan is to have the wells put in first (starting within the week), before the foundation. This delayed our original estimate of "digging" this week, but with good reason. The plumbing in from the geothermal loops can now run under the foundation, where it will be more efficient than if it ran across the ceiling.

The proposed drilling location is at the front right of the property. That's on the top of the hill, in front of the proposed retaining wall.  I snapped some pictures as the tentative locations of the wells were measured and marked. They will apply for the well permits from the DNR today and should begin excavating and drilling within the week.



There has not been any construction activity this week or appreciable change out at the lot. We are expecting that some of the excess dirt from one of the other lots in the subdivision (0.1 miles away) will be moved to our lot in the near future.

The appraisal is in. There was some fear that the appraisal would be low because the "green" features might not translate dollar-to-dollar. We were pleasantly shocked that it came back $80,000 higher than our contract price. Jim and Kristin at Wells Fargo have been fantastic in lining everything up for the most cost-effective financing.

Tomorrow I meet with Matt from Modern Heating & Cooling to review our heat-loss calculations and identify any opportunities for savings by adding insulation or sealing. We are currently considering under-slab insulation and enhanced sealing of the attic but want to make an informed choice.

We will be finalizing our contract with Acker Builders on Sunday. Jenny before, and Matt this week, have been great answering all my questions and getting quotes for all these wild ideas. We will also be finalizing our "Green Built Home" checklist with them, because this needs to be turned in before groundbreaking. The points need to be claimed up front.  One needs 60 total to be a "Green Built Home" (with some prerequisites and a minimum number of points in certain sections).  We believe we are solid on about 160 points, and it could go as high as 190 depending on "game day decisions."

More to come...

Pre-construction visit to the lot

Posted Fri, 07/03/2009 - 20:54 by kpbadger

Today we paid a visit to our lot, which will soon see construction. The lot is overgrown with weeds, which is not a surprise. The conservancy is also in bloom behind the lot; although the trees hide most views of the pond, this will be a great place for our son to play and explore.

The rest of the pictures are available in the Empty Lot gallery.

We expect that next week, a builder who is excavating at a nearby lot will begin to pour excess fill in our lot. (Wayne has determined that our lot is "short" fill, and it is most environmentally friendly, not to mention cost-effective, to take excess dirt from a lot in the same subdivision, rather than to haul it in from far away.) Therefore, the next picture may well be of a growing dirt pile.

We had the opportunity to meet one of our new neighbors today. Our 4-year-old son was admiring the ceiling fan on her porch -- he loves ceiling fans -- so she came out to talk. It is great to know that there are other children in the neighborhood near his age.

We are currently finalizing all of the details, including preparing the Green Built Homes submission. Groundbreaking is tentatively scheduled for Monday, July 13, assuming all goes well.