Michael Maines joins me in this episode to talk about the new book Pretty Good House- A guide to creating better homes. Mike was one of the authors of the book, and a residential designer and writer from Maine. The Pretty Good House movement is explained at www.prettygoodhouse.com

About our guest:

from his website www.michaelmaines.com

“I grew up on an old farm in central Maine, learning practical skills and spending a lot of time working and playing outdoors in woods, fields and water. During high school I became interested in timber frame construction, where the skeleton of the building is expressed with large timbers and traditional all-wood joinery. I knew I wanted to design and build beautiful, natural, expressive homes for a career, but was torn between going to college for architecture, engineering, or another field. I chose to attend Tufts University and earned a Bachelor of Science in Engineering, with a minor in Architectural Studies, graduating with honors and with an award for entrepreneurial achievement. I had spent every break during college working as carpenter or woodworker, and used my savings and award money to buy an old Volvo station wagon and some tools, and spent the next several years working as a fine woodworker, carpenter and contractor all over New England, mostly in Cambridge and Nantucket, MA.

In early 2002, my now-wife, Cari, and I moved from Somerville, MA to Portland, ME and I found a job as a drafter at a respected residential design/build firm nearby. Over the next twelve years, I worked in various roles at the company as we grew to more than five times their size when I started, including a stint back in the field as a foreman and project manager. For the last several years I managed the design department and business development as we established a new cabinetmaking division and took on some of their largest and most successful projects to date.

Throughout my career, I had studied building science and energy efficiency, and the more I learned, the more frustrated I grew with not being able to convince clients to implement strategies that were better for the environment. Cari and I had also decided to relocate from our small urban lot to have more land for our growing homesteading activities, and to be closer to our parents, so in 2014 we moved to a farm established in 1830 in Palermo, Maine, between Augusta and Belfast, about 75 miles north of Portland.

I had been interested in the Passive House building energy standard since he had first learned about it in 2006, and got a job with one of the premier builders of Passive Houses in the US, who happened to be starting a shop to build the most energy efficient buildings in the world, indoors, in Searsmont, Maine. My title was Operations Manager; I performed a wide variety of tasks to help bring the new business from concept to a successful venture. I learned a whole new paradigm during his 15 months as an employee there, and subsequently earned the designation “Certified Passive House Consultant,” which means I am qualified to design buildings that use 80-90% less energy to operate than conventional buildings, and that are healthier and more comfortable than other buildings as well.

As exciting as it was to help start a new venture, I missed using the skills I had learned helping hundreds of clients design new homes and renovations, so in early 2015 I started a new firm, Michael Maines Residential Design. I understand that not every client is interested in building a certified Passive House, but I work with them to find a balance of efficiency and cost, while making sure that the home or renovation is beautiful, functional and healthy for its occupants and the environment. I work all over Maine and New England, and sometimes beyond, using the advantages of digital communication whenever possible.”

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Music at the beginning and end of the episode is The House Maven’s Jig, written and performed by Neil Pearlman, www.neilpearlman.com

Show Cover Art by Sam White www.samowhite.com

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