Sunburst House – Sustainable Design – White Mountains, NH

Sunburst House – Sustainable Design – White Mountains, NH

Sorensen Partners’ Sunburst House is a 960 square-foot home in the White Mountains used as a primary residence and studio/guest house. The eighty-foot long structure is united under a single stress-skin panel roof and is clad in Corten steel and red cedar planks. A polished radiant concrete slab floor extends the length of the structure.

Six living spaces strung along a continuous deck – bedroom, bath, living/kitchen, mud room, screen porch, and studio – have 180-degree views of the White Mountains to the east, south, and west.  The bowl-shaped landscape, a former quarry, steps down to the Androscoggin River and Moriah Range to the south.

The concept for the house strongly driven by the client’s landscape awareness, material palette concerns, and social concept of welcoming visitors. Berlin, NH-based Simple Structure is the general contractor. Stress-skin panel roof by Foard Panel.  The project was completed in Spring 2019.


  1. Small footprint. The house and studio sleep 2 people as a primary residence and 4 people including the studio. 480 square feet per person is only slightly larger than the 400 square feet per person acknowledged by code as a ‘Tiny House.’ As a ‘small footprint’ dwelling, this structure creates less impermeable area and has less heating and cooling demand per person than larger structures.
  2. Continuous insulated roof. The stress-skin panel roof installed on Sunburst House consists of continuous rigid insulation held as a sandwich-panel between plywood layers. Because this insulation is not broken up by wood framing, it leaks less heat (has less ‘thermal bridges’).
  3. High-performance windows.
  4. High-R-value walls.
  5. Mass floor absorbs heat during daytime and releases it at night to keep the house warm.
  6. Reduced transportation impact. Located within ¼ mile of the Appalachian Trail, Sunburst House is accessible by foot – no vehicle needed.

2019-5 Construction update: Interior nearly complete.

2018-9-22 Construction update: Exterior complete. Interior nearing completion.

2018-3-27 Construction update: Interior wallboard installation.

2017-12-12 Construction update: Red cedar and Corten steel siding installation progress.

2017-11-30 Construction update: Corten installation, north side.

2017-11-28 Construction update: Cedar siding installation.

2017-11-10 Selecting American Clay Plaster colors:

2017-10-16 Construction update: Windows installed. 2017-9-14 Construction update: Framing nearly complete. 2017-8-1 Construction update: Frost-protected shallow foundation (FPSF) insulation in progress.