806 W Market Street
Silver City, NM 88061
Passive Solar Design
“Built like a bunker”
Neighborhood: 7 blocks to downtown, 5 blocks to university, residential-commercial mix, light traffic. Downtown Silver City features numerous art galleries, cafes, shops, a food coop, and renovated historic movie theater. Even the post office and bank are within walking distance.
Lot: 1/10 acre corner lot on Market and A Streets, zoned commercial-residential, fenced on three sides (north side a hill cut-away). Cedar fence with curved corners and three gates (main portion 8 years old, studio fence 2 years old) offer a cozy, private space. Pull-through parking for three vehicles or one vehicle pulling a 21’ trailer. Two and a half − three feet wide storage space behind house and studio. Unbuilt, treed hillside lot behind house.
House structure: House, on concrete slab, has 14” solid poured concrete wall on north, and concrete block on the east, south, and west walls, all wrapped in exterior rigid insulation, the north wall stuccoed, the other walls finished with wood siding.
A 50-year warranty steel roof, with locking seams, and parapet were installed in 2006, with corrugated steel on the sunroom/front porch roof.
Evaporative cooler on roof is of unknown age, but works very well. It’s used infrequently because the 2 tons of thermal mass in the house keep the temperatures stable, summer and winter.
The house is remarkably quiet because of the sound-blocking or sound-absorbing nature of the sunroom, vegetation and fence.
Passive Solar design: Passive solar design consists of 1) solar gain, 2) thermal mass, 3) insulation, and 4) convection. The owner is a teacher and designer of passive solar homes, and retrofitted this home for passive solar benefits.
The winter solar gain is accomplished with the sunroom’s 110 square feet of windows receiving sunlight in winter. In summer, the windows are naturally shaded.
The thermal mass is provided by 2 tons of adobe brought into the home and used to create door and window arches, wall sculptures, nichos (niches which can be used for display), a banco (bench/chair), a firewood bin, fireplace hearth, and bookshelves in the great room and bedroom.
The insulation, correct for passive solar homes, is on the outside of the house, enclosing the thermal mass inside its envelope.
The important forth element of passive solar design is convection – moving the warm air throughout the house – which is accomplished very simply in this small home by opening the door and windows between the house and sunroom.
Sunroom: The sunroom helps heat the home in winter when the low southern sun fills the windows. In summer, the eaves shade the windows from the higher arc of the summer sun. The solar gain offsets potentially $50 of gas heat each winter month.
Living Room: The 16 x 22 great room features a sculptural tree, sculptural door and window frames, fireplace hearth, “flame” art on the buttress behind the fireplace, built-in natural-wood coat rack, firewood bin, and banco – all of natural refined adobe plaster, designed by California natural plaster artist Gavio, constructed by him and the current owner. The walls are painted with natural alis (all-organic clay paint). The tile floor is porcelain. The coat closet is deep, with extra shelves behind the clothes bar. The high ceiling features a “cat walk” on east and west walls with lighting on the west, and electricity (ready to add a string of lights) on the east. Three pair of sconces light the room, along with a ceiling fan and light. The fireplace (Answer brand, Lopi model) is an excellent design, often commented upon for its excellence; the straight stovepipe makes for super-easy chimney cleaning. Window blinds are quality solid wood.
Bedrooms: Both bedrooms have 100% non-toxic, natural wool carpet with hemp and latex backing, and rustic wood ceilings.
The guest bedroom (10 x 11 plus 3×3) has a natural plaster tree on the east wall with a “full moon” light behind one branch; two windows, one looking into the sunroom and front garden, both with natural plaster arches; an arch over the doorway; shelves in the doorway, and a 5’ wide closet.
The unfinished master bedroom (11 x 12), has an 8’ wide closet, a north wall with shelves that will allow either a double or queen size bed between them, with three-way wiring for reading lights with convenient operation from doorway or bed. (For king size, the shelves could be adapted.) The walls await the new owner’s design. If desired, Seller will provide names of local plaster artists (or guidance to learn the craft). One large window, with window seat, looks out to the tree-covered hillside behind the house.
Kitchen: The large and bright 12 x 12 kitchen looks out to the grape arbor and tea rose. The kitchen has 32 drawers and cupboards, a 3’ pantry, a Kenmore refrigerator, 7-year old Kenmore gas range/oven, hood-vent (with duct work ready to vent outside), 9-year old Kenmore front-load washer and gas dryer. (There is also wiring for an electric dryer.) The cabinets were probably installed in the 70s, and are of sturdy plywood construction. A couple of broken drawers can be repaired professionally if requested. Moss green Formica countertops. Steel sink with high-arch faucet and sprayer. Also, an under-counter water filter with counter-top dispenser. Tile floor. Gas water heater of unknown age. All appliances work so efficiently that Seller usually has electric bills and gas bills both under $30/month.
Bathroom: Wonderfully bright with two windows and a solar tube. Tiled shower enclosure, newish toilet, 3 x 5 wall mirror, and three-way mirror cabinet with vanity lights, cut glass wall sconce, and overhead light/fan. If desired, the bathroom could be reconfigured into a bath and a half.
Gardens, west side and front: This garden was featured in the 2013 Evergreen Garden Club’s Annual Garden Tour. Many species of birds visit and even nest in the yard or nearby.
All gardens were designed to be low-maintenance with native and drought-resistant species selected. The front yard was designed for easy-care, year-round greenery and flowers, with evergreens far enough away from the house to allow solar gain. The side yard was designed for herbs, trees, and social space, with the potential for a little vegetable gardening. There are perfect spots for enjoying the outdoors almost any time of year or day.
The garden has also been designed to harvest water, with all surfaces sloping away from buildings, patios, and walkways, and toward plantings. A “swale” runs from the major runoff point for the roof around all the fruit tree terraces. A food-grade tank at that corner can catch the first 300 gallons of any rainfall; when it is filled, the tank overflows into the swale. The tank has a tap and hose.
Species of trees include: Apricot, almond, two cherries, and two dwarf peach trees (espaliered on fence partly hidden by rosemary bush), plus elderberry, desert willows, mesquite, and many other natives. There are also two red flame grapes, herbs and flowers. Herbs include: rosemary, garden sage, marjoram, peppermint, chocolate peppermint, spearmint, yarrow, hyssup, catnip, artemesia, osha, monkey flower, and probably more. Flowers include: irises, salvia, columbines, lilies, roses, tea rose (over the front gate), trumpet vine and more.
The covered patio has a corrugated steel roof, which captures water and sends it into the swale. The far end of the terrace contains a fountain and small pool.
A clothes line retracts against house. Trash, compost, and tools have space out of sight from the patio.
The chicken coop and chickens can stay if the new owner wants them, or the seller will remove them. The chicken coop was called “state of the art” by the city inspector, and is convenient to the kitchen and side patio, but is hidden behind a fence.
The antique “Beauty Queen” kitchen sink in the garden (painted copper color) has convenient outdoor storage and can be used as a potting table or other work space. It will be left or removed, as buyers wish.
The freeze-proof water pump has an easy-use handle, and there are two other standard water spigots.
The studio: 11 x 26 frame construction with corrugated steel roof added in 2010. Interior all wired for electricity and partly finished for a small studio or guest house, with a bed, closet, bath area, kitchen area, built-in table, and 11×11 living area. A sewer runs from the bathroom north to south under the foundation to 4’ in front of patio, ready for connection to city sewer. R-15 insulation throughout. French doors with sliding screen door, metal-clad for best exterior use. Front patio, 5 x 11, could easily become a sunroom. Private yard with hidden but easy access to the house.