BUILDING IN THE METHOW
The longer I have lived in the Methow Valley the more firmly I believe in certain things. Here are a few considerations that have become important to me in respect to building smart and sustainably in the Methow Valley.
To me the biggest priorities in building when possible should be orienting the home towards the Sun so as to integrate passive solar heating. This is sometimes difficult depending on the site. Equal in importance to benefiting from the radiant warmth of the Sun in the Winter is to protect from the overheating effects of the Sun in the Summer. I believe that these concerns should be addressed whenever possible, and can often happen while still producing interesting home designs, and capturing whatever view potential a site has.
Solar energy is becoming more affordable and more popular as a way to not only make a statement, but save money in the long run, and feel good about not being as grid dependant. There are great solar contractors in the valley to consult with.
I strongly believe in the heating and cooling effects of the Earth. On sloped sites Earth bearming, and slab on grade construction are two ways to help capture the free heating and cooling capacity of the Earth. There is a wealth of local knowledge about how to capture and integrate these and other construction methods into one’s home design so as to receive what nature offers for free and benefit from the thermodynamic earth.
Granted, not everyone wants to have a concrete floor, or has a site where bearming makes sense. Geothermal heat, or even heat pump technology, mini split heating/cooling also make sense for pulling what’s available from the earth and the atmosphere in energy efficient ways.
Due to the extreme climate that we have in the Methow Valley I strongly encourage giving extra attention and budget consideration to insulation. Staying cool in the Summer and warm with efficient heating in the Winter are priorities everyone need consider; for their personal comfort, for their pocketbook, and for the sake of the planet. Insulation is a good investment and will provide many returns, many time’s over. Ask me about my what I am considering my new standard for creating a thermal break with a dead air space right under your siding.
The Methow Valley is known for it’s beauty. Most everywhere in the valley has unique and special views. I place high value on laying out homes and spaces so as to achieve maximum exposure to whatever view potential may exist. This often can mean raising a beam, or a window header just the right amount to consider a view that would otherwise be compromised.
Some home designs clearly were not meant for this valley. Gutters do not exist here. Rain and snow can splash and pile up against buildings. Consideration must be made in the design process for these realities. A roof must either shed snow well..and well out of the way, or hold the snow. Roofs with valleys should be avoided if possible, or use composition roofing for less damage. Many people have learned the hard way about what kinds of roofs work and what one’s don’t. Ice dams, snow piling up where you don’t want it, large enough overhangs to protect from the elements, covering your decks if possible, protecting your building from the sun in the summer and yet getting the angle right so as to let the sun in in the Winter.. there is a lot to consider when thinking about your roof in the Methow Valley. More people who choose metal roofs are considering snow brakes to hold the snow, and more and more people are considering composition roofs, which hold snow, provide greater insulation, and can be more affordable as well.