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Victorian Home Brings Vintage Style to Family Farm

The Stitt Group Blog - News and Building Tips

“I knew I wanted a Victorian farmhouse look with gingerbread trim and different roof lines,” Jean Gruenewald said recently. “I’ve always loved old styles because they have so much character.” Jean and husband Don had planned for years to retire from careers in business and education and build a home on the family farm in Missouri where Jean grew up.

When the time came, they walked the property with Jill Abert, their Stitt representative. They chose a site that let them orient the front of their home to the south for both the view and use of passive solar energy. Because the site was flat, Stitt recommended a slab foundation rather than a basement and upper floor, which is common near Columbia. However, they didn’t want to lose the storm protection a basement typically provides, so they opted for a FEMA approved safe room in the garage.

The design process went quickly because Don and Jean knew what they wanted. Jean had spent several years collecting pictures of details they wanted to include. “We wanted a house with character, enough room so that our adult children would want to come to stay when they visited, a screened porch, and ceiling fans,” Jean said. They also wanted their home to be energy efficient because, according to Jean, they had always been interested in energy efficiency.They accomplished their goals with 2,879 square feet of finished heated and cooled space and 275 square feet of covered patio. The home includes four bedrooms, 2.5 baths, and open gathering spaces on two floors. They also included such home-for-life features as wider doors and hallways and larger bathrooms to accommodate any future need for walkers or wheelchairs.

Other design features include a columned divider between the living and dining rooms, bookcases that substitute for a stair rail upstairs, and a window seat. “The window seat in the den is something I’ve always wanted,” Jean said. “It’s a great place to read and look out over the yard and countryside.” Another custom feature is a small table with built in seating where Don and Jean can catch a snack when it’s just the two of them.Although they had built an energy efficient home before, Don and Jean attended a seminar to learn about Stitt’s concept of designing the whole house as an integrated energy system. It made sense! Their new home includes an insulated concrete form foundation, spray foam insulated walls, Ice House Roof® radiant barrier in the attic, and Energy Star® rated windows and doors.

To this super efficient energy shell, they added a high efficiency geothermal heat pump, an energy recovery ventilator, and a solar water heating system. When their home was tested, it earned a 45 on the Home Energy Rating System (HERS) index — 40% better than Energy Star® standards at the time!

When asked what they like the most about their home?  “We like the style and comfort…we are just very pleased with it,” Jean said. “I would say that the screened-in porch is my favorite room when the weather is right!”And words of advice to others contemplating building an energy efficient house? Don and Jean were gracious in their response: “Find a company like Stitt who knows what they are doing…who has a reputation on building quality and has a proven record of efficiency.”

Thanks for the vote of confidence, Don and Jean. We appreciate you!

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