Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Ditzs in the "B"

by Martha Hurwitz
April 11, 2012

We’re the Ditz Family: Eric Dolven and Martha Hurwitz (parents), Arlo Dolven (12) and Vera Dolven (9). We’re the ones building the red house (#5) at the Clearwater Commons. On March 9, we put our little Seattle home on the market and moved to the Commons to live in the Mini-B for a week or two. It’s been over 5 weeks now…and we finally and reluctantly are about to leave.

The Mini-Bungalow (“Mini-B”)

The Mini-B is the 300sf passive solar bungalow built by Joe Giampietro and a group of students at South Seattle Community College. The Clearwater Commons bought the small green cottage and set it up as the start of our common house. You can see pictures of the move and read more about the Mini-B here and here.

The Mini-B is already serving its role as Common House. Several afternoons or evenings each week, other kids and adults now or soon to be living at the Commons (or nearby) come over and hang out. As a family we have a sense of having moved to the Commons already—before our Seattle house has sold and our Commons house is built.

 Arlo and Martha on the couch/bed next to Eco-Heater panel


Living in the Mini-B is like spending a long vacation in a cabin in Mazama or a small lodge at Sleeping Lady. Sharon Garrity of unit #14 outfitted the B with a double mattress in the loft and a comfortable futon couch in the main room. The kitchen is fully functional with a combo convection oven/microwave, small fridge, two burner stove and more pantry storage that we can use. There’s a large closet, desk nook and bathroom with shower.


 Eric in the kitchen

The space is working remarkably well for us, given that our Seattle home felt way too small at 1000sf. The kids have gone from sharing a room to sharing a bed. The small space inside is mitigated by the vast space outside. Coming from a Seattle house lot, moving to 7.3 acres is thrilling. Arlo and his friends practice soccer moves in the pervious pavement parking lot (in the rain, no puddles to worry about); Vera and her friends check out how much the creek swells with rain.  Eric is thrilled to go from his desk job (upstairs in the shop loft) to his prepping projects (downstairs in the shop) to his installation projects (throughout the new house). I love falling asleep to the nightly frog opera.

 Vera on the best ladder ever

One clear night, the temperature on the B’s deck was 32 degrees: inside was 70. The single Eco-Heater had been on for a couple of hours first thing in the morning—over the rest of the day the sun’s heat and the B’s design that kept the temperature balmy through the day.

 Tuning up the Heat Recovery Ventilator with Joe Giampietro

There’s been something surprisingly sweet about being so close together as we make this transition from our Seattle home of 15 years into the Clearwater Commons community. Once we’re in our new home, I’m sure we’ll think back to our time in the B with fondness.

 Looking at our new red house from the loft bed