Arlington, VA Residence

Whole House Renovation & Addition
Arlington, VA

A Green Reconstruction
A Colonial grows into a sophisticated gem in Arlington, VA

The owners were empty-nesters and looking forward to retirement. They liked the location and knew the house had potential for a big change. They started with the idea to add a family room over the garage.

The clients reached out to CHECA Architects and we helped them see that the house could also be redesigned to have better flow, more openness, and a lot of natural light. Pretty soon a third floor was added that would be their haven in retirement – a his and hers lofty home office or writer’s studio. The surrounding trees and open skies are especially inspiring here.

As the additions started to come together, we saw that the house would be well-served by a new centralized staircase that allows light deep into core of the house. The existing spaces were re-organized and the additional pieces assembled into the new composition that was to be their home.

From the start, the owners were aligned with CHECA Architects’ commitment to designing and building with a responsible, green mindset. Please see the “Green Features” section below for more details. The home is super energy-efficient, smart, comfortable, and inspiring.

A wonderful team of green-minded consultants, builders, craftsmen, and product suppliers worked with the owners and architects to create a beautifully integrated and harmonious home.

Green Features

• Highly reduced total energy costs
Reduced total energy costs by 60% while increasing the total square footage by 63%. The energy cost today is about 40% of what it would be with older technology and a previously smaller home.
• Geo-thermal heating and cooling system
The system puts heat into the ground in the summer and takes it out in the winter. Heat transfer with the earth is accomplished with 2700 feet of 2” diameter PEX tubing pumped through three 450 feet deep holes in the back yard. Compacted Bentonite surrounds the PEX tubes in the holes to provide high heat transfer between the earth and the antifreeze fluid in the tubes. The geo-thermal system is used to heat the potable water to 110o F, which feeds the tankless hot water heater, which expends only a small amount of energy increasing the temperature to 120o F. The gas bill averages $18 per month all year long.
• Zoned radiant floor heating system
Used in all (4) floors, including the basement. WarmBoard was used in the (3) upper floors to position the PEX heating tubes into the aluminum channels and spreads the heat evenly across the floor, eliminating warm and cold spots.
• PEX crossed-linked polymer plumbing system
Crossed-linked polymer (PEX) is a very tough and long life plastic used for all of the water distribution in the home. PEX has a lower cost than copper for purchase and installation.
• Radiant heating under the front walk and driveway
• High velocity air conditioning system
• Super insulated envelope
2 x 4 framing was added to all existing exterior walls and all new outside walls are 2 x 6 construction, allowing for thicker insulation. High R-value spray foam insulation was used in all exterior walls and the roof areas, providing a tightly sealed envelope requiring a 70% efficient Energy Recovery Ventilation (ERV) system that allows fresh air into the home while minimizing heat or cooling loss.
• Ultra energy efficient windows and glass doors
All windows and glass doors throughout the home are ultra energy efficient double pane, with added UV protection.

• Natural ventilation
• Day-lighting
• LED lighting

• Original house was “deconstructed”
• Re-purposed and re-claimed wood flooring
The original Oak wood floors were “deconstructed” and reinstalled in the (3) upper floors. The Hemlock floors of the living and dining rooms were re-claimed from the attic floor of the Methodist-Presbyterian Church of Pleasantville, NY, built in 1820. The basement wood floor is made from end grain pieces of Mesquite, glued to an over lay of special high heat conductive concrete for the radiant floor heating. Mesquite has a zero coefficient of expansion when it gets wet, so they floor won’t buckle or pop off the concrete if any flooding were to occur in the basement.
• Built-in future flexibility of use in the third floor
Designed with options, the third floor can be converted to two bedrooms with an additional bath in the NE corner, which was pre-wired and plumed.
• “Slate” roof shingles made of recycled tires

• Rain chains and rain gardens
Partial onsite storm water Management, water from the front of the house runs down two rain chains into rain gardens.
• All landscape plants are native to Virginia

• Whole house vacuum system for improved air quality
Built into the walls of the home is a super powerful, hypoallergenic, vacuum system with a retractable hose on each floor and one hose in the garage.

My husband and I bought a 1950s colonial house with the idea of remodeling it.  We decided to live there before doing any remodeling so we could see what we liked and didn’t like about the house.  We found that we both liked the idea of living in an older house but we wanted something that was more open and had more natural light.  Also, we were attracted to the neighborhood because the homes were unique and there were lots of big trees and rolling hills.  Unfortunately, the house didn’t take advantage of any of that.

We spoke with at least two other architects before we found CHECA Architects.  We decided on CHECA for several reasons.  First, we liked the idea of working with a smaller architectural firm so we wouldn’t be just another project.  Second, we had seen pictures of a house Lorena had designed and we were very impressed with the clean and open design of that house.  Third, from the beginning, Lorena spent a lot of time studying all aspects of the house, helping us visualize the new design, and giving us suggestions on materials to use.  Finally, she didn’t try to talk us into tearing down the house, even though that would have been easier, and she welcomed our input throughout the process.

We have received many compliments on our house.  When people enter the house and look out the floor to ceiling windows in the back, they always remark about how beautiful it is.  The master bedroom has the most amazing view of the sky and the surrounding trees.  When you’re on the third floor you can look out the windows and see the sunset and the trees swaying in the wind.  In addition to being a lovely and interesting structure, the house is adaptable and comfortable, whether we’re enjoying a cup of coffee on the deck or hosting a home concert.  We are very pleased with the results!”

Arlington, VA

  • by Scott Sowers, The Washington Post, March 15, 2014

  • Principal Architect
    Lorena Checa, AIA, LEED AP
  • Project Architectural Designer
    Marc Stauffer
  • Interior Design
    Lorena Checa, AIA, LEED AP
    Missy Stockton, IIDA, LEED AP
  • Structural Engineer
    JGK Structural Engineers
  • Construction
    Leon Home Improvement Contractor
  • Custom Millwork
    Vista Joinery
    From the Woods
  • Geothermal & Mechanical Design-Build
    Harvey W. Hottel, Inc.
  • Landscape Architect
    Low Impact Design Studio
  • Landscape Installation
    J&G Landscape Design
  • Deconstruction
    DeConstruction Services, LLC
  • Photography
    Kenneth M. Wyner Photography Inc.