Saturday, July 20, 2013

What would you do with almost an acre in Waunakee? 4 bedrooms, 3 bathrooms, $369,000

After living here for more than 12 years, we are moving to Portland, Oregon. We have to sell our suburban homestead, where we have invested thousands of hours and dollars into making the place more comfortable, functional and sustainable. We never planned to leave, but we must, and we need to find a new family to enjoy what we've started.  There's a lot you can do with an acre, and we've done quite a bit!

The property is at 102 Winston Way in Waunakee, WI 53597. (You can see some more interior pictures by the official Stark photographer at the preceding link to our official MLS listing.) 

The image on Google maps is a couple of years old--it shows the raised bed garden and the solar hot water, but not the new landscaping in the front and the new roof.

Waunakee is just north of Madison and is a great place to live, with excellent schools. We live close to the middle school, high school, village library, one of the elementary schools and the intermediate school.  Check out the map link: we are an easy walking distance to all of these places.  If you have kids, their ability to get themselves to school and activities is a significant quality of life issue for the parents!

This is a two level ranch home with an open floor plan. You walk into an entry area that looks over to the living room--a huge space with a vaulted ceiling. 

The kitchen and dining area are completely open to each other, and mostly open to the living room. Behind a pocket door of solid oak, there is a hallway with three bedrooms and two baths. There is also one bedroom and one bath downstairs. The master bath and downstairs bath have showers, the second upstairs bathroom has a new oversized tub as well as a shower. 

The lower level is a walkout basement, with a south facing sliding door providing plenty of light, and substantial windows in most rooms. Half is finished (family room, bedroom/office, bathroom) and about half is unfinished (big wood shop, pottery area, laundry room, lots of storage. 

The kitchen is huge, with the original oak cabinets. We have made many improvements to the property, and planned to live in it forever. We installed a geothermal heating and cooling system last summer, solar hot water several years ago, a whole house fan a few years back and a new roof just this spring. The main living area has hardwood flooring that we just got refinished. The non-master bedrooms have hardwood flooring that we installed a few years ago. 

We have extensive edible landscaping, with three apple trees, a peach tree, a pie cherry tree, a paw-paw tree (with fruit for the first time this year!), maybe a dozen blueberries, raspberries, hardy "Prime-Jim" blackberries, a blackcurrant bush, jerusalem artichokes in abundance, asparagus and winecap stropharia mushrooms spreading throughout the yards of wood chips I trucked into a shady part of the property. 

We have a big formal raised bed garden, with the beds made of 2' x 2' concrete patio blocks on end--the most comfortable gardening ever!. There are 4 beds made like this, each L shaped and 3' wide, 9' long (18' total, sort of). You can see it on the satellite photo linked above. The inner L shaped beds are about 2' tall and built of black locust. We also have 3 more typical raised beds, each 4' x 12', that are just made of boards, and every year I use the large area in the "back back" for pumpkins, sweet corn, sprawling tomatoes and edamame. The only chemical we've used on our property in over a decade is occasionally some glyphosphate. The soil here started out pretty good and has become simply amazing.

When we put in the geothermal HVAC they drilled four 150' deep wells in our front yard, and we took that as an opportunity to completely re-landscape. Formecology did the rockwork and we did the earthmoving, putting in a new lawn, a hugelkultur berm and over 2000 bulbs and a couple dozen fancy day lilies.

The house has an attached 2 car garage and in the back is a 45 foot by 45 foot outbuilding. Yes, it's an airplane hangar--we are on the Waunakee airstrip. No worries about noise--a couple of Harley motorcycles driving by make more noise, and for longer, than a little 4-seater Cessna taking off. Most days there are no planes at all--most of the pilots are retired dudes who fly on sunny Saturdays in good weather only. Being on the "airport" is how this typical looking ranch home has a one acre lot. We have a really nice guy currently paying us to store his airplane in the hangar, and he doesn't mind all of our stuff in there as well.

What I love about our house is that you see it from the street and think "Oh, that's a nice house." Then when you walk in the front door you think "This is bigger than I thought." Finally, when you walk through the living room and look out the south facing windows you think "Wow!"

Front yard crabapple spring 2013

The crabapple in front of the house is simply gorgeous, with beautiful limb structure. It's what you see when you're at the sink in the kitchen. I have a shade garden underneath, with spring bulbs and lots of different hostas. The stone wall and steps are new, installed last summer, so there's now some new room for gardening! The other tree in this picture is a mountain ash. You can see that the "basement" windows are substantial for much of the house.

Spacious kitchen

The kitchen is full of space, including storage space. We put in a stainless steel sink with a small tub on the left (with garbage disposal) leaving room for a whole cookie sheet to sit flat in the right hand sink. The faucet is a Grohe, and you can also see the little faucet for our reverse osmosis water filtration system. 

The stove is by Bosch, and if I could take it with me, I would. I LOVE that stove. The flat surface is easy to clean, and each burner has 9 heat levels, with two burners having multiple sizes available. There is a spot for every one of my pans, and low/slow cooking is a breeze. The oven does convection baking, convection roasting and even dehydrating--I don't use my counter top dehydrator any more for things like drying tomatoes. It has a proofing setting which will warm the oven to 90 degrees, and basically you can get that oven to be any temp between 90 and 500 degrees, in 5 degree increments. The range vent is by Broan, and it actually works. It vents to the outdoors, and it's not so horribly noisy that you never want to run it. The refrigerator is a GE Profile, with the freezer on the bottom. It is less than a year old.

If there is a theme for our house it is FUNCTION. We have spent money (often a lot of money) on things that work for us.

Tomatoes in the kitchen garden

This is the formal raised bed kitchen garden in the back yard. You can see the hangar behind: we have resided the north wall and installed three large windows, which makes it a nice thing to look at (much better than the original metal siding)! You might be able to appreciate the large gate, big enough to drive through, between the kitchen garden and the hangar. The main door of the hangar is partially open in this picture: the white panel sticking out will slide into place to close the door, or all of the panels can be turned sideways and slid to the sides in order for an airplane to leave.

Having all the windows in the hangar makes it a much more enjoyable space to occupy, but it is also wired for power.

Dining area and living room

Turning around from the kitchen picture location, you see the dining area and how open it is to the living room. Most of the main floor (entry, living room, kitchen and dining area, hallway for the bedrooms) is done in solid oak, which we had refinished this spring--gorgeous.

Both the dining area and living room have multiple south facing windows bringing in plenty of light through the Wisconsin winters and affording nice views of the beautiful back yard.

Apple trees and the hangar, spring 2013

Here are two of the apple trees, and another view of the hangar. There was a chicken pen hidden behind those trees (shhhh! no telling!), which does get sun in the morning. On the other side of that fence you can see (newly installed--very sturdy, made of redwood with steel poles) are playing fields for the schools. No neighbors for the chickens! There is a line of spruce trees shielding the pen from view on the west side.

Master bathroom

The master bathroom has a shower with an extra large (8" in diameter) Moen showerhead, mounted way up high for my very tall husband. It has a nice amount of storage, and a window looking west at the blueberries along the wooden fence.

Terraced garden in August of 2012

One of our projects in 2010 was changing a near-vertical retaining wall of boulders into this terraced garden, digging back into the hillside and adding more boulders to make it safe and secure. This succeeded in bringing a whole lot more light into the lower level of the house, which has a sliding glass door flanked by two more floor to ceiling panels of glass looking south towards this garden.

The garden has flowers and bulbs (mostly black-eyed susans in this picture), with an ornamental elderberry and a climbing rose in the top bed, then blueberry bushes and an Annabelle hydrangea (plus some hostas and variegated Solomon's Seal under the sugar maple) in the second bed, and finally a variety of flowers, including milkweed for the Monarchs, plus a horseradish plant, in the third bed.

Behind the garden you can see the star magnolia, which is north of the kitchen garden, and the tops of the bean and tomato supports up in the kitchen garden We have since trimmed all the posts but the one being used by the climbing rose.

Rain garden

The rain garden went in back in 2001 on the west side of our property--we have a lot of the water from the house directed there, and in the case of extreme rain events there is a culvert that drains into there as well. We had a minor flood the summer we moved in (the previous owners had messed with the original landscaping), so we realized right away that managing rainfall was a must. Just a few days ago we had a major rain event--no issues at all.

The peonies were put in just a couple years ago, up away from the water collection area. Later in the summer you'll see Joe-Pye weed and other cool natives like cardinal flower. In this picture you can see the border of day lilies (fancy daylilies with pink and purple flowers) and a whole lot of, um, I think it's called mountain mint. The structure in the back there is the "dig pit" we built for our GSD when he was a puppy back in 2000. It was just designed as a place where he was encouraged to dig--I would hide toys in the composty mulch in there.

Shade gardens

As it moves into summer, the hostas get bigger and the bulbs fade away. The big light green hosta on the right becomes HUGE. It is named "Sum and Substance," and it is well named. I have multiple shade gardens with hostas and ferns. 

This shade garden is just inside the back yard on the east side of the property. You can see lamium, wood poppy (Celandine poppy) and wild ginger in addition to the hostas. It extends for over twenty feet along the shady property line on the east side of the property.

Tulips in the terraced garden

These tulips are in between two blueberry bushes (in bloom with little white flowers) in the second level of the terraced garden. I love bulbs, and over the past dozen years I don't even know how many I have planted. Thousands. I try to get bulbs that naturalize well, and I do have many tulips that have been coming back for years and years.

Daffodils in the back back yard

Daffodils are probably my favorite bulbs, and there are enough now that you can gather bouquets to enjoy indoors and still have plenty to look at outdoors. These are growing in the full sun border in the "back back" yard. The big broad leaves coming up are for globe allium--giant purple balls of flowers that bloom a little later in the spring. The best thing about these is that they are going to keep coming back every year without any work from you! Other flowers need some protection from weeds, or mice, but not these. They are thriving without any input from me.

Viburnum by the front door

The fragrance of this viburnum is nearly overwhelming when in bloom, and the flowers last a long time if it's the typical cool spring. The windows in the picture are of the kitchen, looking out north into the front yard.

The only Waunakee in the world.

Waunakee is a lovely community, close to Madison and yet its own town, with excellent schools.

Natives border in the "back back" yard

This lovely garden is something I started to put together when I realized I had some prime full-sun gardening area in the "back back" yard, behind the kitchen garden along the property line in front of the hangar. You can see the park-like lawn of the airstrip beyond, and, far in the distance, the hangars of some of our neighbors on the south side of the runway.

It is primarily composed of natives, although I have a couple of hardy roses, and a whole lot of daffodils and other spring bulbs.  The land is sloping and thus better suited for perennials than for turf that needs mowing.

The sheer amount of space here is a blessing, especially to have such space while being in town and close to all the schools.

Now, of course, there's a whole new full-sun gardening space in the front yard, created when we had to take out our 50 foot tall Ash tree.

Mosaic tile in the sunroom

In early 2012 we took out the carpeting and installed this mosaic floor in the three season room. It is primarily south facing and on the east side of the house, next to the kitchen. It has one vent for heating and cooling, but it does get colder than the rest of the house in the winter. This was the "dog room" until recently, and is now the "bunny room." It was a godsend to have the option to leave the dogs at home if we needed to be gone all day. Inside they had cool floor, soft dry beds and water, but they could go outside any time they wanted. My good LGD, Java, preferred to sleep here so she could keep the hens safe! Since this picture was taken we removed the doggy door and refinished the wall boards. 

We've replaced the windows on the east side of the room, but the windows on the south side of the room should still probably be replaced.  We have the windows, already purchased, in the hangar but we are leaving their installation to the next owners.  I was recently asked if the property had any big projects that needed to be done, and replacing these windows is the only thing I could think of.

What you don't see in this picture is the mud room, between the garage entrance and this space. In there we've installed a large deep sink, for washing produce, and a wide shallow sink on the floor for washing dogs, boots, and whatever. Both have Grohe faucets. The two sinks share a massive debris trap that is easily accessed from the woodshop in the basement.

Freshly remodeled bathroom with soaking tub

We remodeled the main bathroom, taking out the traditional tub and installing a large soaking tub. It is not a jacuzzi, just a tub with the option to fill it up all the way and soak up to your neck! It sits diagonally, but it's not a triangular tub, so it doesn't take much more water than a regular tub for a shallow bath. This tub is great for 2-4 kid baths, or 2 adult baths. There is a shower installed, very nice Grohe brand fixtures with separate temperature control and volume control.

The tilework was done by the same artisan that did our 3-season room. It extends right up over the ceiling in the bath area, and the floor is done in ceramic tile similar to the other room. We installed a new window with glass block as part of this remodel, and the room is so much nicer with natural light.  The glass block wall is trimmed in tiger wood and the vanity drawers and cabinet are faced with solid walnut. As in, planks of walnut that are more than 1/2" thick! I wish we could take this bathroom with us. The drawers are built of high quality baltic birch ply with seriously sturdy hardware. 

Family room downstairs

Our downstairs is rather sunny, since it's only half buried and has a walkout wall of glass facing south. We took out the lame fake gas fire insert and installed a nice wood stove. The stove is a Buck Stove, has a catalytic convertor and thus is relatively efficient. You can heat much of the house with it, which always felt reassuring during winter ice storms!

Buck stove: efficient wood burning stove

The wood stove has a nice big window, so you can enjoy watching the fire.

Wolf River apples

It looks like the Wolf River apple tree is having a great year.  These are great apples for pies and apple sauce.  I don't do any spraying, so these are completely organic.

6 kinds of berries! (not counting the cherry tomato)

This is just to show what's available from this property in July. You've got pie cherries (on the right), blueberries, alpine or wild strawberries, giant blackberries (these are Wisconsin hardy), raspberries, black currants and a cherry tomato, just for color contrast. This year the only thing I'm having trouble with birds on is the blueberries, so there aren't so many of those. I'm not using nets this year--too busy trying to pack up and move.

I'd like to recommend black currants to anyone who hates using nets. They go from green to black without a lot of red color, and they hang out under the leaves, so I've never had to shield them from birds. They make great juice, jelly and jam.

Monday, July 15, 2013

Energy saving geothermal and solar hot water systems

Just last fall (September 2012) we installed a Water Furnace geothermal heating and cooling system. I was looking at our power bill, and I can report that our electric usage was 1669 in 7/2012 and 2485 in 8/2012, but skipping to this year our usage was 927 in 6/2013 and 865 in 7/2013. (That would be a billing period that ran from 6/3/2013 to 7/1/2013, so it's actually June). Anyway, I'll keep collecting data, but it seems the new system is saving energy.

See that black flexible join in the air duct above the unit? That is for noise control, so vibrations from the fans don't reverberate through the ducting. Now, I'm sure any new furnace/air conditioner was going to be quieter than our old one, but the near silence of this system is amazing to me. It's really hard to tell if it's on, unless you are near a vent and can feel for warm or cold air.

Because the cooling comes from the four 150 foot deep wells, there is no noisy, ugly unit for A/C next to the house anymore! That's a plus.

Here's a shot of our solar hot water system, or at least parts of it.  On the left is the 80 gallon storage tank, so the hot water created in the afternoon is still there for your morning shower.  The computer controller is on the copper pipe, and all the temperature gauges show you what's up at any particular time.  (Don't worry-you don't need to understand the system in order to enjoy it.)  On the right is the natural gas on-demand water heater, that is capable of bumping up the temperature if it needs it.  It generally only turns on between October and April.  Interesting fact: the system will run fluid through the roof units at night in the summertime, to bleed off excess heat.  

Gardener's paradise, urban farmer's delight, suburban homesteader's dream. . .

Our home at 102 Winston Way in Waunakee is for sale!  We have lived here since the summer of 2000.  We planned to stay here forever, but sometimes life gets in the way.  We are moving back to the west coast, to Portland Oregon and we need a new family to enjoy the love and craftmanship we've put into this home.