cool houses on the Cool House Tour

Herded the bride into the Element and ventured out into an overcast Sunday to snoop and snaggle several five-star rated homes showing themselves off as part of the Cool House Tour. We've been on this tour before, so we're not spring pups when it comes to touring green houses. The homes on the tour this year were more standard architecture-wise (the city of Austin and the solar people seem overly concerned that people associate green with calm [and cool] Modern). For us, admirers of calm (and cool) Modern, this made the tour a bit less interesting. Nonetheless, we did see some interesting homes and green features.

What we learned:
  • The coming code for solar will make it much more difficult to get city-subsidized solar (this from a solar installer).
  • You can get solar panels these days that have the power converter at the cell. This is more expensive, but saves having to run thick wires all over the place. You can also monitor the performance of each cell.
  • The city requires walking space around the solar cells (you have to be able to clean the bird poop off them thar panels!).
  • Cabinets over elevated washers and dryers are nice.
  • The bride doesn't want fossils in the limestone cladding on our house (the things you learn about people on a tour...). I consider that a lack of respect for our Cretaceous elders, but Queen trumps Joker, so creamy limestone (something we saw in the landscaping at the Spring Builders house) it is.
  • Cool cats like cool houses (see the cutie-pie below).
Unique for this tour was a house completely on rainwater even though city water is knocking at the front door (now allowed under a state law passed last year) and a straw bale house (with a "truth window" see what's inside the wall). The Barley & Pfeiffer house was nice, with wonderful views and wonderful breezeways. Although not our architectural style (and the interior design was busy-busy-busy), it was quite the nice place. The breezeways combined with the humidity created the weird sensation of being a wee bit chilly while sweating. The Spring Builders house was nice: much cozier than the B & Pf house (being smaller and more efficient helps). But the right-sized AC was struggling to keep up with the crowds and constant opening of doors. This house had the nice touch of champagne in the master shower (I like that!) as well as a having countertop material on top of the beauty bench (which held the champagne). We liked that as well.

We hope to have our house on the tour in the future (to give back, as they say).  

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