Amazingly I met the woman who with her husband originally had the house designed and built. I knew the original owners’ names from the county website and found out a bit about them from a neighbor. I found that the lady was living right in Arvada, but was too shy to try to call her. So I decided to see if she was on Face Book! She was, so I messaged her and when she noticed the message she answered me. We have met and she visited the house.
It is a wonderful house and I was sorry for her to see how dilapidated the former owners let it get. She said that they seemed to have no interest in the energy efficiency of the house, the special blinds that were covering the windows are gone, the awning covers are gone, most of her flower gardens and many of the trees she and her husband planted are gone too. Of course the floor was not buckled when she sold the house either. But we speculate that the french drain at the rear of the house has failed in some way and water got under the slab from there.
There is a new water handling system in the southeast corner that seems to take the water away from the house there and the former owners did try to use some kind of metal poles to reinforce the foundation in the front, which was probably unnecessary since it is a cassion foundation. They also put the bamboo flooring in the rear of the house which is a nice addition, even though the trim is missing in many areas. The roof has been replaced too. Originally it was a shake roof and now it is dimensional shingle and the flat roof is heat treated asphalt. They also painted the kids room bright red and orange which was a bit jarring as well as the turquoise trim in the kitchen area!
Her husband unfortunately passed away unexpectedly and she ended up selling the house because it did require a great deal of maintenance. He used to oil the cedar siding and roof shingles yearly, and the lack of that treatment for the past decade is obvious now. They were so energy efficient that the heat rarely came on in the solar areas of the house. He also has sensors throughout the house that were connected to a computer system that showed temperatures in all the areas in real time on a diagram of the house. That was smart house technology way ahead of its time.
Of course she mentioned that the awning material (as well as the insulated curtains) were an important part of the energy efficient design and I was feeling hot with the sun working at cross purposes with my new swamp cooler installation, so I decided to replace the awnings temporarily. I bought a cheap silver reflective tarp and some grommets and cut the tarp into strips to apply to the awning frames. But I found that the existing grommets were an unusual oval size and the round grommets were not going to fit. I was having this dilemma when we met for coffee and she suggested I just staple them up, they were temporary anyway, right? Well, of course I realized, I was trying to reproduce the original system cheaply so I might as well just staple them. Great idea and a big help to have someone to talk to about the house!
I used stainless staples so they won’t rust and enjoyed seeing the sun blocked from the window areas on the lower south side of the house. That effectively reduces the solar gain in the home keeping it cooler. I have not done the upper awnings but there is little sun that is shining in through them right now so I’m good until I remove them in fall. We plan to eventually replace the awning system with the architect’s rendition of new awning construction and porch roof.