You wouldn't expect the first Passive House in Texas to be a DIY remodel, but that's precisely the story behind this adorable cottage. The original 1955 Austin house was in bad shape due to a lot of asbestos, lead paint and termite damage. The remodel was handled by the owners, Nick Blaise Koch of E Green Group and his wife Misha, who gutted the interior, salvaged or donated a lot of the material and then rebuilt the home with higher ceilings, a more open floor plan, super-tight energy efficient systems, and a high-performance envelope to achieve Passive House certification.
Passive houses are some of the most energy efficient houses out there and completely prove themselves when it comes to the performance. Most of the time, passive houses are new construction in order to achieve the air-tightness that is necessary for certification, but not this house. Nick and Misha Blaise Koch bought a small house built in 1955 that was full of asbestos, lead paint in need of a lot of TLC. Nick, who runs E Green Group, a sustainable design/build firm, knew he could transform the old house into the home of their dreams. Nick and his firm deconstructed the home, salvaged what materials they could, donated some and sealed in the asbestos and lead that was too dangerous to remove.
To reconstruct the home, they brought one half of the house to the same level as the rest, raised the roof, and adopted a more open floor plan layout. In order to achieve Passive House certification, the home features a double wall with lots of insulation and all the gaps and seams are taped and sealed to be under the 0.6 air changes per hour requirement. Heating is provided with a simple and inexpensive heat exchanger and cooling is provided via one mini-split unit located in the living room.
The design of the home was inspired by mostly Misha and Nick’s travels, mostly to the Middle East and Israel, and includes a lot of bright elements inspired by Misha’s work as a graphic designer. Indirect lighting provides a pleasant atmosphere and improved insulation inside the home. The interior also features the use of reclaimed woods and materials (some of which came from the remodel). Outside are two 5,000 gallon, bright orange cisterns, which collect rainwater for use around the home. Learn more about their work in this video.
Images ©E Green Group