Chapter 19 – The mechanical room is the brains of a BRES home, but the garden is its soul!

Chapter 19 – The mechanical room is the brains of a BRES home, but the garden is its soul!

The scaffolding is down!  The stucco is complete and the house’s exterior exceeds my expectations.  I’ll be the first to admit that it won’t appeal to everybody, but I make no apologies for the contemporary design of this house!!  I SIMPLY LOVE IT.

David and Julius build stone steps to Robinson Creek

David and Julius build stone steps to Robinson Creek

William Deaver, owner of Trademark Homescapes, and his co-workers David and Julius, have been hard at work transforming the compacted, scarred earth into my version of paradise. Building stone steps, removing rocks and debris, obtaining the final grade around the house, and adding soil amendments have been a major focus these last two weeks.

The first load of Amy's mix

The first load of Amy’s mix

The land around a construction site gets very compacted and in my case has plenty of rocks and roots that make gardening impossible.  My landscape designer Nancy Duffy, Muddy Boots Garden Design, was very specific about the depth of soil to be tilled, topsoil to be brought in, and then amended with Amy’s Mix. Amy’s mix is a gardener’s delight because it is a mix of manure, mushroom compost and sawdust that plants and trees absolutely crave.  Asheville Mulch Yard is the source and if you are planting anything, you need Amy’s Mix!!

The tilling of compacted soil and then blending the topsoil and Amy’s Mix was no easy feat.  Julius grabbed onto that rototiller like his life depended on it….and the possibility of man or machine ending up at the bottom of a very steep bank was no desired outcome!

Julius tills topsoil and Amy's Mix in the new gardens

Julius tills topsoil and Amy’s Mix in the new gardens

After two weeks of hard work, some planting begins today.  Nancy, William and I will be out there in our muddy boots placing the plants and Mother Nature looks like she will water the garden for me by the weekend.  All is right in the world!!

As landscaping began, I took some quiet moments of a very personal nature.  A dear friend and father-figure, Dick Blomberg, passed away in May, 2012 in Vermont.  I have had some of his ashes that his widow Dorothy had asked that I return to North Carolina.  They had lived at Penland for many years and we had become family to each other.  Waiting for just the right time, I created a memorial spot under my rhododendrons by Robinson Creek for his ashes.  At every death I have recited this poem and I did so one more time:

In Blackwater Woods

by Mary Oliver

Look, the trees
are turning
their own bodies
into pillars

of light,
are giving off the rich
fragrance of cinnamon
and fulfillment,

the long tapers
of cattails
are bursting and floating away over
the blue shoulders

of the ponds,
and every pond,
no matter what its
name is, is

nameless now.
Every year
everything
I have ever learned

in my lifetime
leads back to this: the fires
and the black river of loss
whose other side

is salvation,
whose meaning
none of us will ever know.
To live in this world

you must be able
to do three things:
to love what is mortal;
to hold it

against your bones knowing
your own life depends on it;
and, when the time comes to let it go,
to let it go.

Dick, you are still missed but I hope you know you are in my heart every day.

Sidney working on shelves and rods in a guest closet

Sidney working on shelves and rods in a guest closet

Randy and Sidney continue to install maple shelving, baseboard and door trim.  Everything is custom with Blue Ridge Energy Systems, so I will have shoe shelves, sweater shelves, purse shelves, Christmas paper shelves!!  What more could a girl ask for?!

At last the mechanical room, the brains of a Blue Ridge Energy System house, is under way.  Rick Greene and Lorne Duncan are simply the best in HVAC installations and they definitely delivered here!  The Bosch geothermal heat pump is a thing of beauty and they took the care to select unscratched and premium grade grill covers for the ducts throughout the house.

HRV, hot water heater, and Bosch geothermal heat pump

HRV, hot water heater, and Bosch geothermal heat pump

Andy Presley and Robin Woodward installed all the plumbing devices in the mechanical room.  The hot water heater is an 80 gallon tank.  The reason for this large size is that I will be on time of use energy rates which means I do not want to be using any unnecessary energy during peak demand hours.  So the hot water heater will be on a timer and the hot water will be produced at cheaper off peak rates.  Then I will have PLENTY of hot water throughout the day during those expensive peak demand hours.

As I have discussed before, a Blue Ridge Energy Systems home is so tight (less than .2 air changes per hour when a typical home has 5 or more!!) that you need fresh air intake on a controlled basis.  The purpose of the heat recovery ventilator is to bring in that fresh air from the outside but to pre-condition it to the temperature already inside the house as the air from the outside passes by the inside air.  This means I will have fresh air automatically without having to recondition it…and that saves LOTS of money!!

One week and counting to the Parade of Homes.  Please come out to see firsthand this most amazing project as well as others by some of Asheville’s leading homebuilders.  It’s free and I promise you will get some great new ideas for your own home.  You can use this link to plan your visits.  We are featured on Page 19 and a beautiful home by Jade Mountain Builders is featured on Page 40.  It’s right across the street from me, so you’ll get two fabulous homes in one quick visit!

I find myself becoming very emotional as this project begins to wrap up.  I have been living and breathing this idea for almost a year now, and although I have never had a child, I feel as though I am giving birth to something so wonderful and so rare.  Am I a bit biased?  You bet!!  Building is something I highly recommend for everyone…it is the dream opportunity of a lifetime to express the essence of your lifestyle into architecture.  The most important advice I can give is that you spend the same amount of time PLANNING it as you do BUILDING it.  The rewards will last a lifetime and the mistakes will be minimized.

Mignon Durham is a retired computer consultant, avid art and craft collector, founder of Toe River Project Access, and founder of Toe River Valley Watch. She has always been fascinated with what makes a place feel like home, and she hopes this blog will enlighten your own personal journey home.