Road to a Finished Balsam


| July 15, 2021

Once the building shell is up, our team of master craftsman gets to work.

Blower door test

After the house shell went up we had to make sure the external air barrier was up to scratch, via a “blower door test.” This is a standard and critically important feature in the Passive House world. Essentially you close all the windows and doors and pump pressurized air into the house. If none of it leaks out you have satisfied one of key conditions of a Passive House. And our beautiful shell passed this initial test with flying colors!

Interior and exterior finishing

With this, Bensonwood’s work was largely done, and a team of local carpenters, plumbers, electricians, tiling specialists, painters and countless other trades descended on the house. Were there challenges? You bet, with the chief one being Covid. We couldn’t build at all for a while, and when the construction market limped back to some semblance of life the prices of many commodities skyrocketed. Among the hardest hit was lumber, with prices rising up to fivefold for a period. Fortunately, we had already procured most of the lumber for the model house through Bensonwood prior to the price spike, and prices have since started to come back down.

But problems are there in order to be solved, and the nearly finished model home is a tribute to that. Throughout the process we stayed true to our mission of circular economy, short supply chains and responsible sourcing of materials. Among the best examples are our floors, ceilings and kitchen backsplash: the soft maple, cherry and ash we used in the house was harvested locally while clearing the site for the building, septic, driveway and other infrastructure. We will repeat this for subsequent homes, giving future owners the comfort of knowing that much of their house came literally from outside of their window.   

Absolutely committed to doing the best project that we can, here. Carbon-neutral, net-zero, regenerative design, is at the heart of it.

Buck Moorhead, Principal Architect & Partner

Local ethos, above all else.

The local ethos of TCP extends even to the homes’ names. We agonized over what to call them for quite a while. Should they pay homage to trees, rivers, animals, plants? Then one day when we were in the midst of another debate of the topic on a zoom call a spouse of one of us helpfully butted in, exclaiming “fire towers of course, fire towers”! Her less talented other half on the call confirmed that the two of them just finished the Catskill Fire Tower Challenge, consisting of climbing all five remaining fire towers (there used to be dozens back in the day). And the names Balsam, Overlook and Tremper were quickly settled on. We hope that living in one of the homes will bring the lucky dweller the same sense of satisfaction and excitement as the view from one of the towers after a hearty hike. In fact, we are sure it will.

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