A Cape in New England

In this rural part of central Massachusetts, winters are long and the cold northwest wind brings plenty of snow.  Keeping a house warm and cozy can be expensive. In spite of the challenges, many people who live in this region, including the couple who commissioned this home, love both the area and the traditional New England architecture of older homes found here.

When these clients purchased a 10-acre parcel on a south-facing hillside, they decided to build small cape that has the potential to become a net-zero home with the eventual addition of solar panels.  They approached Helga with their ideas, showed her their newly-acquired property, and soon the three were working together to make their dream a reality.

The plan was straight-forward – create a very traditional-looking cape-style home that is extremely energy-efficient.  To achieve this goal, strategies employed include:

  • Taking maximum advantage of solar orientation and wind direction
  • Designing a building envelope of highly-insulated double-stud walls with minimal thermal bridging and careful detailing to seal potential air leaks
  • Utilizing an electric mini-split heat pump system for heating and cooling
  • Incorporating an ERV (Energy Recovery Ventilator) system to recapture heat energy from stale indoor air and transferring it to fresh intake air
  • Specifying insulated windows with simulated divided lites (SDL) to invoke the look of traditional divided-lite windows
  • Creating a small, compact design that meets the couple’s needs without adding seldom-used unnecessary spaces
  • Using traditional finishing materials with careful attention to historic detailing