Finding the right location: The most important part of beginning this project was finding the right piece of land. My wife and I visited nearly half a dozen sites before tentatively settling on two plots of land in southern Maine. One was heavily wooded along a small, pristine river and the other overlooked a marsh with a view of the ocean. We invited our architect, Steven Strong of Solar Design Associates, to visit both locations and help us decide between the two. The first lot was too heavily wooded to harvest the sun's energy and the mosquitoes tended to block the view. At the second lot, Steven pulled out his compass and with a twinkle in his eye, blessed the marsh view property. We had begun the process.
The view is spectacular! In front of us is a portion of the Rachel Carson Wildlife Refuge, a meandering tidal river, and off in the distance, the Atlantic Ocean. The land has a gentle slope down to the marsh some 200 feet away. Between the house and the marsh is our garden. We are 40 feet above sea level. During an extreme high tide, the marsh below us becomes a large pond. In addition, we regularly canoe down to the ocean. There are seals on the rocks and an active group of stripped bass around the river's mouth. At night, we can usually hear the breakers on the beach.
All manner of sea birds and marsh animals inhabit the area--hawks and herons, deer and moose, as well as fox and (according to neighbors) coyotes. The moose and coyote are recent arrivals in this part of the state. It is an ever changing slice of nature.
The lot is not oriented true south but more to the southeast. We catch more of the early morning sun and less of the late afternoon sun.
This turned out to be a significant design advantage in that the open living area of the house would have a fantastic view and the "working roof" would be relegated (do I dare use that word?) to the side.
The black arrow on the map points north.