I have had the good fortune to become friends with the original owner of the house. Of course she is a very interesting person as well as a retired business owner, a wonderful gardener, and a good cook! She was kind enough to search up and down for the original plans for the home and I am fascinated by them.
The house was designed by an architect in Boulder who later moved to the northwest. Her husband was involved with a local interest group that met at SERI in Golden (Solar Energy Research Institute–the forerunner of NREL–National Renewable Energy Laboratory). The influence of the latest passive solar building techniques in the early 80’s is evident in the home–3 faces buried and the south face designed to collect as much solar heat as possible. We were reading about the same techniques about the same time but the Buffaloes were at the forefront of the movement.
There are two plans that she found–of what looks to be three original drawings. The plot plan has the topography of the lot as well as quite a bit of detail for the drainage, water and septic systems.
There actually are two large septic fields, probably due to the clay soil. They lay horizontally across the elevation instead of vertically and there is a diversion valve to change which field is used–the Buffaloes changed about twice a year.
The deviations from the original plans are also quite interesting to me. The east foundation for the wall that is not buried was to be protected by a planter that never was installed. Instead there was a small deck and a hot tub on that side of the house. The hot water solar collectors behind the utility room were never installed. Probably because the home was so efficient that the extra expense and maintenance was not worth the trouble at the time.
Improvements were also made over the years. The original drive was gravel and asphalt was laid, there seemed to have been no concrete pads in front of the garage or as walkways, and of course the front yard was not enclosed by a wall and trellis that privatizes the space and allows for outdoor living. That space was designed later.
The floor plan has some of the same differences which I find very interesting. But there is also a great deal of building detail that is not currently visible–especially the construction of the trombe wall.
I can see that some changes were made to open the living area, but there was to be an air lock entry at the front door that was not built–instead there was an insulated 6″ wall between the master bedroom and the front hall area and a built in cabinet was used instead of a wall between the entry and the living area. Since most of the entry to the home would have been through the “back door” near the garage, the airlock at the front door doesn’t seem as necessary. But then there should not have been a need for the 6″ wall. Not sure if the builder didn’t actually understand all of the principles or if the wall was already built when the changes were made.
This plan is very much as it was built, however, the kitchen was later remodeled to have a cooking island in the middle instead of the pantry space.
Here is our latest plan for the remodel–changes were just approved by the Arvada building department for french doors in the front instead of windows and although they really don’t require strict adherence to interior layouts, the new layouts for the master bathroom and the hallway were included.
Although necessarily small, side by side, the plans show the differences between the original and the remodel. Clicking on any photo enlarges it individually.