The Felicity house is an urban infill project in Bellingham’s historic York neighborhood. Existing was a small early 1900’s house that did not meet the clients needs or comfort. The house had many toxic materials, did not meet current building code standards with steep stairs and low ceiling heights on the second floor, and was extremely uncomfortable due to the lack of insulation and air sealing.

While the existing house was to be removed,  the owners wanted a net-zero passive-style home where they could age in place on the same lot where we have already lived for twenty years.

Although the house has a more contemporary appearance and layout than its neighbors, using the historic massing the new house fits seamlessly into the existing fabric of the neighborhood. We expect the owners will be sitting on the front porch waving to neighbors on the sidewalk as has been happening at this site for the last 100 years.

Rather than fighting against the historical nature of the neighborhood, the building was designed to embrace the traditional gable form. In doing so the design simplified many of the energy efficiency details. Most of the surrounding buildings had limited roof overhangs, so this was used to our advantage to make clean transitions from wall to roof with the air barrier and continuous exterior insulation.

As the building is in the rainy Pacific Northwest, the building still needed protection from the weather. As most of the surrounding historic houses have front porches, simple flat roof that could be used below as covered porches and above as roof decks were designed. These flat roofs provide weather protection to the building and occupants as well as create a working platform for future maintenance of the building, roof and PV system.

The build has 2 units–a two story, two bedroom 1275 sq ft front unit from which the owners live and run a small press publishing company and a back unit, a 450 sq ft ADU studio that is currently a rental, but which is designed for us to retire to when we choose to stop working.

To accommodate mobility needs that inevitably accompany growing older, the house was designed with a discreet ramp. In addition, the studio incorporates ADA features such as a curbless shower, wet room style bathroom, with full kitchen and on-site laundry.

The owners also wanted to prioritize sustainable construction materials and methods.

Felicity was crafted with simple lines, minimal trim, zero-VOC finishes, and a rewarding pallet of colors and textures. Using the most efficient mechanical systems and a net-zero solar array, the home is self-powered.  Carbon-sequestering insulation (cork exterior, cellulose cavity), near Passive House air tightness, and a cladding of reclaimed Juniper siding will ensure this home ages beautifully with time.