The Deep Energy Retrofit began with Liane’s decision to not only renew the roof of her house, but to also make certain changes which would improve the quality of life for all those living beneath it.  For most people, the idea of such a major retrofit is unimaginable: the cost and timeline are intimidating.  However, with a little research it is found that rebates and financial incentives are available at both the federal and state levels.  Also, though not possible overnight, the process of a retrofit is becoming streamlined and soon may be completed in a matter of weeks.  It is important to find an experienced team and be prepared for the noise of construction…but even these discomforts are far outweighed by the benefits: a lower energy bill, increased market value, a longer life for the house, and of course a partial contribution to the health of the planet.

Having said all that, below is a quick image & video summary of Liane’s DER!

The Little Green House

One of the first things to be done is the blower door test.  This told us what kind of shape Liane’s house is in to begin with.  Another test will be done once the retrofit is complete; we expect to see a huge difference!

...And from the rear. Notice all that foam!

As the siding comes off, cellulose fiber insulation is blown into the walls of the house.

The insulation is also blown into the rafters. After all, we don't want to lose any heat through the roof!

The dumpster arrives. There is going to be A LOT to get rid of.

Little Green House no more...

The house looks completely different without all that siding!

Following the stripping, the house is covered in house wrap. This is going to be the last barrier against moisture penetration.

The house is nearly completely wrapped and work has begun on the roof.

The first layer of foam is being applied on top of the house wrap.

The Serious Windows are ready for installation once a second layer of foam is applied to the exterior.

Extra foam is trimmed so the new window will fit in snugly.

An ice & water shield is placed around the frame before the new window is installed. We want to keep water out of the interior!

The new 'outie' windows after installation. Don't they look great?

While all this is going on, another crew of guys deals with the roof…

Notice the many layers of the new roof: ice & water shield, double layer of foam, and finally plywood which will have new shingles attached to it.

As the roof is being wrapped in ice & water protection, flashing is applied around any protrusions.

The roof, coming along at a brisk pace.

The rafters need to be extended to support the new roof.

John showers the windows to make certain that there are no leaks.

Lookin' good!

Nearly finished! Notice the soffit above the second floor balcony: lots of insulation there too.

Our gorgeous new roof! The lighter tiles will help to reflect heat away from the house.

The concrete stairs leading to the back porch are old and ugly...

...so they've been demolished and will be replaced by wooden steps.

The sand has been moved and work on the stairs' foundation has begun.

The hole for the foundation needs to be at least 4' deep to penetrate the frost line.

Trim has been applied around the perimeter of the roof - this was the final touch!

So what happens next?

Obviously, siding will be applied over the insulation to tie the house together – once this happens, it will not look any different than a regular house but as we all know, you can’t judge a book by its cover.  The insulation will keep the interior of Liane’s house cooler in the summer and warmer in the winter, helping her save on energy bills and allowing for more overall comfort within the house.  Once new systems (electrical/plumbing/heating) are installed, this little house will have an extended life and provide residents with greater control over the environment within each space.


2 responses

28 07 2010

Wow! That is a great overview!! Thanks so much!

12 05 2011


great project!

One question:

We you added dense pack insulation to the existing wall, how did you apply it? Did you have to completely remove the sheathing to get at all the weak points? Or did you just remove pieces? It seems like this is the big challenge in a project like this, how to add fiberglass to the existing without tearing up the existing wall.

Your thoughts are greatly appreciated!



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