Cottage development unique to Port Townsend

Patrick J. Sullivan news@ptleader.com
Posted 4/11/17

A first-of-its-kind cottage residential development is taking shape in Port Townsend in 2017.

TerraHaven Homes is working to obtain permits for seven cottages, ranging from 850 to 1,000 square …

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Cottage development unique to Port Townsend

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A first-of-its-kind cottage residential development is taking shape in Port Townsend in 2017.

TerraHaven Homes is working to obtain permits for seven cottages, ranging from 850 to 1,000 square feet in size. Three of the “Charelle Cottages” are to be constructed this year, with four more planned for this development, and if all goes well, similar, larger projects would follow – with some homes to be rented as “affordable” housing, and others to be for sale.

The project’s most unusual aspect is that the cottages are to be built within an existing forest, with as few trees being removed as possible.

“The shape and orientation of each cottage depends on the trees at each build site,” said developer Darryl Sale. “These cottages are not arranged shoulder to shoulder like loaves of bread on a shelf. The various orientations and careful window placement also remove sight lines into neighboring cottages.”

SAVE THE TREES

Port Townsend architect Kevin Coker of Gemini Architectural Design is a member of Sale’s team. Coker said that city officials had anticipated the building lots would be cleared of trees, leveled and the cottages built on typical concrete foundations, with standard drainage and paved parking. However, that’s not what the developer and the architect intend.

“Every house plan fits around the trees,” Coker said. “There are 10 times as many tree credit units as required with this project. It’s never been done like this in Port Townsend.”

The cottages are designed to integrate into the existing forest using diamond pier foundations, which do not damage tree roots. With tree location as the top priority, designs take into account solar orientation, utility access, slope and wind.

“Often during home construction, the first step is the elimination of every tree that interferes with the house design. We flipped the problem and decided to eliminate house designs that interfere with the trees,” Sale noted.

Every tree on the property has been inspected, Sale said; he declined to identify the exact location until permits are finalized. An arborist has reported that by retaining the forest, including ferns and salal, the stormwater requirements for that property are reduced.

Covered parking for vehicles is planned in the form of “radial” pads interspersed among the trees to minimize the impervious surface and help block the houses and cars from each homeowner’s view, Coker explained.

Once the foundation piers are in place, the cottages can be erected in less than 10 days, thanks to structural insulator panel (SIP) construction. Panel construction eliminates the need for stud walls and reduces heat loss because the structure is more effectively sealed, Coker said. Panel construction costs about 8 percent more, but the investment is returned in less than three years with lower utility costs, Coker said.

Construction features include SIP floors, walls and roof; gray-water recycling; stormwater catchment; and interior green walls for herbs and vegetables. Simple finishes, both interior and exterior, are planned to keep costs lower.

Cost is also reduced by concentrating the mechanical and plumbing features in one area, rather than having, for example, bathrooms at opposite ends of the house. All the mechanical pieces are on two walls, which reduces labor and materials cost.

‘AFFORDABLE’ HOUSING

At the 2017 Jefferson County Association of Home Builders Home and Landscape Show, “people told us they prefer a mixture of owner-

occupied and rental property, so we will offer both,” Sale said. “Some cottages will be sold at market prices, the rest are to be rentals offered at affordable housing rates.”

The city municipal code defines affordable housing as housing payment plus utilities equaling about $1,100 per month. “We will meet this by making the cottages small and reducing the utility costs by making those cottages very energy efficient,” Sale said.

“Seven cottages is not going to make a dent” in the area’s need for affordable housing, Sale acknowledged. “It is a start. This is a project we think will help, and others could follow.”

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