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Morales house remodeled to sustainable glory
Island farmers and contractors celebrated a win last week with the completion of the Morales farmhouse, a model for farming and sustainability on Bainbridge Island.
“It’s a showcase that volunteers really can get together and do something of significance in a community,” said Craden Henderson of PHC Construction. “And that sustainability does matter and it’s cost effective.”
Friends of the Farms hosted an open house March 10 to show off the remodeled home. Another open house for the public is scheduled for 1 to 4 p.m. Saturday, March 24.
The house will be home to interns working on local farms. According to Wendy Tyner, executive director of Friends of the Farms, affordable housing is a barrier that interns face.
Tyner said interns will live at the house for approximately a year.
“It is a time for people to live someplace, learn about farming, and hopefully move on and have some skills,” Tyner said. “And they will hopefully understand how to write a business plan and become a viable farmer.”
Tyner hopes that after receiving applications from local farmers with interns, the house will have renters by April 1. Interns will pay $50 a month plus utilities.
“It’s become more and more apparent there are more and more interns that need housing,” said Bart Berg of Friends of the Farms.
“And every year there is this scramble for where these interns will live. And they don’t make much money,” he said.
Originally built in 1953, the 1,000-square-foot residence was home to the Morales family, who locally farmed strawberries and vegetables. The city purchased the house with open space funds about 10 years ago.
Various farmers previously used the house to dry vegetables and seeds.
The house sat vacant for nearly a decade until last year when Berg started an initiative to restore the home.
While Berg was making a number of phone calls to local companies seeking assistance, he came across Craden Henderson with PHC Construction.
“PHC thought about it and we just decided to do all the remodeling ourselves,” Henderson said. “It’s in the range of $80,000 to $100,000 of volunteer dollars from PHC and all of its subcontractors.”
Friends of the Farm kicked in $15,000 to $20,000 of their own funds for the project as well.
Seven months ago, crews began stripping out all the old electric wiring, plumbing and other unusable material. Mold had been discovered since the city took on the property, and that had to be remedied as well.
Henderson praised the project’s use of sustainable materials, such as bamboo flooring and environmentally friendly foam insulation.
“A lot of the time, the insulation is petroleum-based, which isn’t great for the environment,” Henderson said. “This is soy-based, and it has really great insulation properties.”
By assessing air leaks and other deficiencies in the house, Richard Perlot of Heat Holders also contributed to the home’s sustainability by making it more energy efficient.
Perlot said that most homes in Washington use about 25,000 kwh, and Washington state has a goal of making homes more energy efficient operating with a target of 12,500 kwh.
The Morales house was such a success; it beat the state standard by 20 percent and uses only 10,000 kwh of energy.
“It makes a really nice way to knitting together suitability through farming with sustainability with architecture and construction,” Henderson said.
PHC had help from a number of subcontractors who all donated time, materials and money to help make the Morales house a success.
Air Systems Engineering, Inc.
Bird Electric Corp.
Premier Spray Foam
Anderson Windows and Doors
Fluid Concrete and Design Studio
Kitsap Conservation District
Paradigm Building Contractors
Christian Berg Woodworking
Mark Purdy Tile and Installation
RE Power Bainbridge
Schmidt's Home Appliance and Sleep Center