from an article in Sonoma West Times:
This concrete house stays cool in the summer and warm in the winter. The passive solar design fits the ridge top setting very well. Chuck Johnson of Artisan Builders in Sebastopol was the designer and contractor of this unique concrete house built for Ben Wallace in a remote, rugged area near Guerneville.
The home has an “Insteel 3-D” panel system and a passive solar design that focuses on resource efficiency and provides a “healthy, comfortable living environment.” Wallace, a 66-year-old retired U.S. Navy pilot, bought the remote property in 1981 and a couple of years ago “started seriously looking for a builder” to construct his retirement home, said Wallace. When his real estate agent recommended Artisan, Wallace met with Johnson.
“We came up and looked at the site,” said Wallace. “He seemed interested in building to the site, in doing things like digging in to make the house unobtrusive,” said Wallace. Johnson also came up with the idea to use the In-steel concrete system utilizing four inches of foam in the walls covered with a two-inch mesh of steel. “It’s not chickenwire,” said Wallace. “It’s all tied together with rebar.
”The house is “strong, well-insulated, and uses very little wood,” said Wallace. As for the functioning of heating and cooling, “It’s been fabulous,” said Wallace. The steel and foam panels are an “extremely efficient way to build,” said Johnson. “Sprayed-on concrete forms the walls and acts as thermal mass to hold the heat collected during daylight hours.”
The contractor says the In-steel system exemplifies energy efficient, non-toxic, sustainable construction. Lumber use is dramatically reduced, and the concrete house is free of danger from fire, vermin, insects, and dry rot. The steel reinforcement provides extreme resistance to earthquakes, and the concrete minimizes maintenance on the exterior surface over hundreds of years.
The 2400-square-foot house utilizes an acid-stained concrete plaster finish which gives “a mottled Old World look that is maintenance-free for seven generations,” said Johnson. The redwood doors are all recycled from old wine and water tank wood and the roof eaves are made from recycled redwood. Native, sustainably-harvested walnut was used for the countertops.
Artisan Builders, combines the experience of four licensed contractors who together combine 100 years of home craftsmanship experience.
Their trade specialties include radiant heating systems and “Cement Plus” colored plastering systems for floors, counters, showers and baths.