During the late 70's I became very interested in energy efficient construction and solar heating systems. I was not alone, all sorts of groups and agencies were attempting to respond to the energy crisis and to a host of environmental concerns.
By the middle of 1980 I had attended a number of seminars regarding passive solar design and construction and heard about a competition for such projects. At that time I was 'George Guttmann General Contractor' and in that capacity attempted to find a client who would want to contract for such a project, no luck. My wife and I then decided to build a passive solar "spec house". The idea was to use such a project to demonstrate how passive solar heating works, develop a reputation in the field and make a few dollars.
I contacted the Architectural firm of Van Horne and Van Horne and asked them if they would be interested in a "joint venturing" this project. I had worked with John and Audrey Van Horne on several projects before and always liked their work. Audrey Van Horne took on the project and designed the home.
We started with a very small old one bedroom house in the central area of Seattle. We ended up with a two bedroom, two bath home. Western Sun, gave this project the highest honors in its category. It was The Seattle Times "Home of The Month". We had an open house with an estimated 2000 visitors in one weekend. It was on several local TV programs. And now, 20 years later we know that it really works!
The project was a great success, but mortgage rates in the summer of 1981 were 17% and nothing was selling. We rented out the house at a loss for a number of years, then were able to rent it out at cost. A few years ago our daughter bought the house from us and resides there with her husband and two cats.