World’s “tightest house” for sale in Dillingham

Jan 16, 2018

Credit Tom Marsik

Marsik family is moving to Fairbanks and put their record holding efficient house, built in 2011, on the market. 

A small Dillingham house that holds the unique title of the world’s “most airtight residential building” is on the market. The home is owned by Tom Marsik and his family. Marsik is an associate professor of Sustainable Energy at the UAF Bristol Bay Campus and a passionate advocate for reducing use of non-renewable resources like fossil fuels. He and his wife Kristin Donaldson put that passion to work when they decided to build the home in 2011.

“In my position I have been teaching people about how to build efficient homes,” he said, “and now here I was building a home. I didn’t want to be hypocritical so I thought well, I might as well build a home that is aligned with what I’ve been preaching”

That he did. The two-bedroom, one-bathroom house sits cozily at the end of Gauthier Way, overlooking an expanse of tundra on either side of Scandinavian Creek. Its 28-inch thick walls were built using a “box-in-a-box” technique, stuffed full of cellulose insulation and shielded with a Visqueen vapor barrier to keep the heat in.

Most of the heat comes from passive solar gain and byproduct heat from appliances and bodies inside. Marsik says the “passive house” is “net zero energy ready.”

He didn’t initially set out to break an efficiency record. But when he had a standard blower-door test performed to measure the house’s airflow, the rating that came up was lower than Tom, an expert in the field, had ever heard of.

They contacted the World Record Academy in 2013, and after conducting another blower-door test monitored by third-party witnesses, the house was officially dubbed the “World’s Most Airtight Residential Building.”

Donaldson and Marsik were recognized by the World Record Academy in 2013

The family has now put the house on the market because Marsik is leaving Dillingham for work at the Cold Climate Housing Research Center in Fairbanks, a joint appointment with UAF. Marsik has always welcomed students and visitors in for explanatory tours, work that he hopes the next owner will continue in the future.

“It would be great if the owner is somebody who would want to be involved in education.” Marsik explains, “But even if it’s just a person who lives there and shares the same values, by that nature it will continue to be an educational tool informally.”

Marsik stresses that ‘airtight’ doesn’t mean ‘stifling’. The home is equipped with a heat recovery vent that exchanges the stale air inside with fresh from outside without dropping the temperature inside. He estimates the actual energy used to heat the home is about the equivalent of 35 gallons of oil per year.

The house has been on the market for a few months with the asking price recently lowered to $299,000.