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Arlington - Lyon Village - Traditional Spanish Colonial

This house was 1375 square feet with an additional semi-finished basement that has only 7 feet ceiling height; it had three bedrooms, two full baths, and separate family and living rooms. The Kitchen was small, with very little storage and counter space. The staircase leading to the basement was next to the kitchen preventing the kitchen to be expanded. The rooms were all very small, one of the bathrooms was in the basement, and one of the bedrooms opened onto the living room. The house lacked linen and coat closets. The flat roof had a history of leaks and the basement got wet after big rains. The house felt cold in winter. As a consequence, Naina and Josh decided to do a full-scale green renovation and a second floor addition that preserved the beautiful Spanish style of their house.

The Solution

In order to address the wet Basement, a drainage plan was developed and a soil report indicated that the existing rear foundation needed to be reinforced. The existing walls had interior plaster and exterior cement stucco that homeowners wanted to keep. Some of the interior plaster was opened to verify the existing wooden wall structure, and unfortunately mold was found. Instead of mold remediation, the decision was made to remove the plaster and stucco. Once the walls were opened, dry rot was found in the wood structure and the damage was repaired. Opening the studs allowed the installation of spray foam insulation on the existing walls and the proper installation of new windows.

EnviroHomeDesign’s solution applied Integrative Design to the whole house addressing the homeowner needs and requirements within their budget. The key elements of this comprehensive plan are functionality, green strategies and beauty.


The new Staircase is located at the center of the house and opens to a more spacious Kitchen, Dining and Family Room, keeping the original Living room as it was. Also, the staircase connects the house from the Basement to the Second Floor. An operable skylight at the staircase ceiling allows natural ventilation by using the chimney effect. The new Second Floor includes a Master Suite and two Bedrooms with plenty of closet space, a complete Bathroom and Laundry. The house layout is very compact and with no wasted space. The full scale renovation of 1373sf of the First Floor and the addition of 1508sf on the Second Floor brings the house to a total of 2681sf with an unfinished Basement.

Green strategies:

Energy Efficient Building Envelope and Systems

Air sealing measures were taken and Biobase Spray open cell foam insulation was applied to the envelope. DOW SIS (Structural Insulated Sheathing) was used, which adds R-5 to exterior walls reducing heating load and thermal bridging. Insulated headers, corners, T-walls, band joists, and energy heel trusses were used. Highly efficient fiberglass Integrity windows by Marvin were installed. The design and location of operable windows allows natural cross ventilation in most rooms and natural day light is enhanced with Sola Tubes. The new mechanical system includes zoned control radiant heat, Heat Recovery Ventilator, 17 SEER dual speed AC, 95% efficient boiler, and programmable thermostats. All attics and crawl spaces are conditioned where HVAC and duct work was placed. All Energy Efficient Appliances are Energy Star rated and water efficient. Energy efficient Lighting with Indoor fluorescent fixtures and compact fluorescent recessed light fixtures are used throughout the house. Ceiling fans were installed in most rooms to increase comfort. High efficient lighting with Horizontal cut off was used for exterior illumination.

Resource efficient Design, Building Materials and Durability

Reused hardwood floors were used. Recycled content tile, insulation, outdoor decking and porches were installed. Advanced manufactured products such as engineered floor framing, roof framing, OSB (oriented strand board) roof decking, sheathing, exterior trim, and beams and headers were installed. The framing design allows insulation in all cavities. Soapstone Kitchen countertops, recycled counter at vanities for all baths. For Roofing we used Distinction Tile Composite Roof by Trimline as a non polluting roof material for rainwater collection. Cement stucco with rain screen was installed for the exterior finish. Covered entry ways with front and rear porches were designed for durability.

A Waste Management Plan to recycle or separate recyclable materials was followed to recycle cardboard, metal, drywall and plastics. Job site framing plan with studs, joists, and roof cut list with a central cut area was used to further reduce waste.

Water efficiency strategies include high efficiency toilets and a shower drain heat recovery device was installed. In addition there is a gray water recovery system used in the master bathroom to reuse water from the sink.

Indoor Air Quality

The subfloor, all cabinets, shelves, and countertops materials are urea-formaldehyde free. Water based sealants were used throughout the house. Low VOC paints, stains, and finishes on wood floors, sealant and adhesives were also used.

Beautiful Design

The main design goal was to address a seamless house unifying the existing and the new, also enhancing the Spanish Style in both interior and exterior. The interior was enhanced mainly with the colorful tiles and iron railing at the staircase, also keeping the existing arches at the Living room. The exterior was enhanced with the pitched tile-like roof that solves the problems of the water problems caused by the flat roof and accentuate the Spanish character. The recessed partial Second story balances the exterior shape, and provides South roof exposure for future solar systems.

This design solution develops the full potential for energy savings and that enhances the value of the property. The application of energy conservation strategies will decrease the operational cost. The analysis of energy and water bills one year prior and one year after renovation will be compared to verify the savings.

The project has the local Green Home Choice Program Certification from Arlington County, Energy Star Certification, NAHB Green Building and LEED Homes Certifications. The Energy Star Program requires the ducts leakage test and the building envelope air leakage test using the blower door and providing the quality control.

Traditional Spanish Colonial