Perfect Solutions and the Pretty Good House

Posted on Mar 31, 2017
Perfect Solutions and the Pretty Good House

Like most architects, I am susceptible to believing two things:

  1. That a perfect solution to a design problem has yet to be discovered, and
  2. If I think enough about said design problem, I can discover a previously undiscovered solution to it.

As I have researched the various possibilities for wall assemblies at Mullet Hall, I have reluctantly backed into a relatively straightforward and uncomplicated wall/roof assembly. In the planning for Mullet Hall, and as we continue to refine the design, I have been influenced by’s continued discussion of the Pretty Good House. I even bought the 99c PGH book at Etsy. At 99c, I can say it was worth the money. All this has led me to the following wall/roof detail:

The Figure Ground Studio Architecture Landscape Sustainability Perfect Solutions and the Pretty Good House Roof Wall Connection 20170331 Annotated

One thing about the high performance home community which is so amazing is that there is a true desire to share information, and the community is very generous with their ideas. It feels sort of like working in an open source community for software (something I have read about but haven’t done), in that there is open sharing of ideas and a willingness to open oneself up to criticism in order to fine tune a solution. To this end, the detail above is currently posted at the website for critique.

I feel we are pretty close to a wall assembly that works, though I am still unsure if I can rely so heavily on the ZIP sheathing alone to provide the Weather Resistive Barrier as well as the Air Barrier. In developing this roof/wall, I have also been influenced by my conversations with contractors, who often have a good eye for a “too good to be true” solutions (often overly-technical). In addition, my back to back visits to Boston’s NESEA conference and Providence’s JLCLive conference were a great primer on how to draw a Venn Diagram to find where “conventional” construction and “high performance” construction overlap.

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