I’m thrilled to interview Eric and Alex about building the first net-zero house in Seattle, Washington. In this interview they talk about the ups and the downs of their ambitious project and offer up their lessons learned in setting project goals, building a successful team, and trusting in themselves and the process.


Eric and Alex knew nothing about building a custom house, let alone building a zero-energy house on a strict budget. They took their thirst for challenges and trying new things and combined it with their knack for research, to build a highly efficient house in 2011.

Through a simple design, affordable finishes, and a project team who believed in their vision, Eric and Alex were able to build their dream house for $124 per square foot ($114 after rebates and incentives). They document this amazing journey on their blog, Net-Zero House Seattle.

But, their passion for building sustainably didn’t stop there. After finishing their dream house, they were inspired and motivated to co-create Artemisia, a new net-zero vacation cabin in eastern Washington with their friends, this time acting as their own general contractor. Documenting their projects happened organically for Eric and Alex. What they didn’t expect was the outpouring of support and interest they received from their new audience of followers.

Today, I speak with Eric and Alex about their journey. I think it’s their go-getter attitude (it’s infectious) and their willingness to share their story for others to learn from that makes this interview really inspiring.

Net-Zero House in Seattle - Eric&Alex
Net-Zero House on a Budget


Key Takeaways from the Interview

  1. Maintain a good relationship with the seller throughout the closing process.
  2. Being naive can actually be very helpful to manage the overwhelm.
  3. Set project goals and stick to them.
  4. Work with a designer and builder who believe in your project goals, vision, and philosophies.
  5. Make as few changes as possible during construction.
  6. Make decisions based on your project goals and stick to them instead of changing your mind.
  7. Spend your money on things that have the best long-term value and savings.


OPEN DOOR Resources


More Resources


Progress Photos

Net-Zero House radiant heat

Net-Zero House interior

Net-Zero House interior

Net-Zero House exterior

Net-Zero House interior

Net-Zero House interior

All photos courtesy Eric and Alex.

Special thanks to Eric and Alex for joining me.

And thank YOU for listening. To share your thoughts, leave a note in the comments section below.