Sustainable and beautiful home: Beverly Hills, Michigan


My clients had renovated a large ranch house but were frustrated by its plain appearance. While discussing improvements to the exterior, they seemed expressed concern about high energy bills. Icicles grew several feet thick during winter, and the air conditioners ran all summer long.

On closer inspection, we found that multiple ceiling lights were not insulated and had penetrated the ceiling insulation, allowing hot air to escape and melt roof snow. Moreover, because it was poorly ventilated, the attic retained heat which radiated into the living space during the summer.


We raised a steeper roof gable above the central part of the house to add architectural interest and create an attic space for proper ventilation. Stripping the existing roof deck below it and applying continuous, foam insulation added significant R-value while effectively sealing the offending can-lights.

A thermostatically-controlled fan exhausts the new volume to protect the house from summer heat. Deep skylight shafts soften natural light, and an electric roof window encourages fresh air flow.

A reverse gable of structural, cedar timbers celebrates the entrance; and raised-rib, steel roofing adds texture while repelling the western sun.

Vertical plywood siding was removed and replaced with 8” horizontal cement boards to accent a contrast of the lower wings of the house with the new central roof.

Finally a distinctive foundation landscape, pathways and contrasting paint colors set the building off from its lush surroundings.


Tim Nichols, architect; Building by Design LLC, builder