Building the NewenHouse Kit Home: Nearing Completion of the Interior

| 7/14/2011 5:06:42 PM

Sonya NewenhouseSonya Newenhouse, Ph.D. is an eco-entrepreneur who enjoys providing practical and creative solutions to help individuals and organizations live and manage green. Her firm, Madison Environmental Group, provides LEED green building and sustainability consulting services. She is also founder and president of Community Car, a car sharing organization in Madison Wisconsin. Currently she is developing NewenHouse, a business that will provide super-insulated sustainable kit homes.  

My favorite days during construction are when there is a lot of activity and there are multiple subcontractors on the job site. I think it’s because I like people and sometimes it gets a little lonely working from home. On these days I especially enjoy the interactions, seeing progress and learning from the trades and crafts people. Eight people are working here today, and I am running construction related errands and overseeing the work. It’s fabulously fun. 


The cabinet makers, Garit and Mike Pedersen, from Washburn, Wisconsin, are installing the kitchen cabinets, hutch, linen closet, bathroom vanity, medicine cabinet and the built-in 6-foot long dining bench that turns into a cot! The electricians are installing light fixtures, many of which I bought for less than $5 each at regional Habitat ReStores (second-hand building supply material stores located in Madison, La Crosse and Hayward Wisconsin). The painter is staining the west wall of the house with a second coat. He has already finished painting most of the interior walls and trim. The tile subcontractor is working on the upstairs bathroom and will tile the 16-inch deep window sills on the first floor. David and Dan are trimming out the interior of the three-season room.  

Because the house is small (970 square feet) it can get crowded for the subcontractors. So this past Sunday I spent the afternoon organizing the building materials, paint supplies and tool boxes to make room for this week’s work and the cabinets. The cabinets and built-ins will occupy most of the first floor when Garit and Mike unload their trailer and bring them into the house to install. You can save money and be more efficient if you clean and organize the job site regularly. The following picture shows the living area before I cleaned it.  

 The Living Area Prior to Cleaning and Organizing