Lakeside Green Cottage

Last June our 100 year old seasonal cottage in Lakeside, Ohio took a direct hit from a 100 year old maple tree during a storm that came across Lake Erie. We loved the funky old cottage but we knew from the outset that repair versus replacement would be the major decision in front of us. After months of debate, evaluation, structural analysis, historical study and consultation with experts and some not so experts, we finally decided that the Greenest thing we could do was salvage what we could from the old cottage and build a new, state of the art Green Cottage. Tearing down the funky but appealing old structure and the history that would go with it was a tough decision. We also knew that we may have difficulty getting the Lakeside community to accept the idea of tearing down one of its treasured architectural structures. The entire Lakeside Community is on the National Historic register.
 It initially seemed that the Greenest thing to do was to repair the old cottage. We had already been planning to repair it and spruce it up, but the tree forced us into action. But how do you economically and esthetically repair something that had no real foundation, no level or square floors or walls, would not meet any current building code, had antiquated cobbled wiring and plumbing, a compromised fireplace and chimney (the only heat source), no insulation or subfloors, inoperable and deteriorating old windows, multiple broken structural members, hidden areas of rot, and a roof way past it’s prime. As we considered all the options, repairing the cottage was looking more like the classic money pit.
So we decided to rebuild. Once that decision was made, we were excited at the opportunity to build what would be a much better cottage and would also be a state of the art Green Cottage. For 30 years we have been advising and supplying sustainable design and materials to clients. Now we had an opportunity to incorporate all we have learned into our cottage. With all the experience and the resources available, that should be easy, right? If only that were the case.
I’ve heard it estimated that there are over 30,000 decisions to be made in the construction of the average home. Add in the considerations to make that home truly green, the complexity grows immensely even for folks like us who have had experience with Green and sustainability thinking.
In an effort to assist those hoping to build their own Sustainable Green Home, we will chronicle the path of how we have made our Green choices, developed Green specifications and rationalized decisions where Green was more like Gray. We’ll be keeping a log here on Greenspeak as the project progresses. Follow this link for a general overview of the project and follow Frank’s Green Speak for updates on the process.


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