Archive for March, 2010

Staying on Track

Thursday, March 25th, 2010

Our project is complex and we’re doing our best to stay on track. 

However, our non-maleable building materials (i.e., concrete, glass and steel) make it difficult to correct mistakes or make other changes and, consequently, we’re taking more time and money than we had planned for this project.  That said, a LEED-H Platinum project, by definition, requires more thoughtful planning, material sourcing and handling, and documentation than otherwise.  Especially in an earthquake prone location with increasing seismic conditions.

So, comparing our budget, timeline and other elements to traditional projects, which are generally energy- and resource-intensive, is not appropriate.  But, no surprise, that comparison, and evaluation of our project management, is done by others every day. 

If we were using traditional building materials with traditional construction methods (i.e., stick framing, wooden floor joists and roof rafters, baseboards and door trim) then we should be on a much faster timeline and a lower budget.

We just need to get over it.

Assembling the Lower-Level Flat Roof

Around the entire perimeter of the house is the ‘lower-level flat roof’.  The ceiling height of this roof is identical to the existing house at 96 inches (8 ft).  The only exception to this is the roof at the back of the house, which sits above the lower-flat roof, which we call the ‘mid-level flat roof’.  Yesterday, the entire perimeter roof was completed as the mid-level flat roof connecting the Dining Room and Kate’s Bedroom was assembled.

Way cool.

Steel Flush Beam in SIP Roof

There is only one steel beam in our SIP roof and it is a flush beam that is hidden inside a SIP.  This is a critical beam that supports the upper-level flat roof over the Atrium and allows us to have only one post in the Kitchen area.  And, of course, have an extremely strong structure that meets the new code requirements for seismic conditions.

This steel flush beam sits on top of a lower-level roof SIP over the Garage and goes over the steel post in the Kitchen and is connected to a 7.00 x 11.25 inch Paralam beam that sits on the 8×12 Douglas Fir drop beam.  This steel beam will carry lateral forces into the concrete wall in the Garage so it must be connected robustly to that concrete wall.

The fabrication of the steel beam must include:

  • 5/8 inch Nelson studs to attach 2×6 nailers on the top and bottom;
  • a hole in the top and bottom flange to connect the beam to a 5/8-inch anchor bolt that is embedded in the concrete wall;
  • a Simpson GLT welded to the north end of the steel beam to connect it to the 7.00 x 11.25 Paralam flush beam;
  • two sets of 5/16 inch stiffeners welded in the locations where there are vertical loads (i.e., over the concrete wall and over the steel column);
  • four sets of plates welded to the flanges of the steel beam to connect to the 4×6 and 6×6 posts that support the upper-level flat roof; and
  • four bolts connecting the steel beam to the HSS 4×4 steel column in the Kitchen.

The steel beam must be the correct length and each of the components noted above must be in the correct locations.  Yeah, there is a lot going on with this steel beam.

Hosting Thien Doan’s Site Visit

Duquette Engineering designed the concrete foundation for the structure and Thien Doan did most of the work under Steve Duquette’s supervision.  Thien was at our project site numerous times observing the drilling of the holes for our concrete piers as well as the placement of the reinforcing steel (rebar) in the concrete slabs. 

When Steve Duquette attended our integrated project planning meeting on March 9, 2010, he said that he would like Thien to come by at this interim point in the project and take some pictures.

Thien came to the site today and walked the property with Bryan.  Thien was most interested in the SIPs and how the SIP wall and roof assembly was designed to transfer the shear forces to the concrete foundation walls.  Thien appeared impressed with the design and the construction, noting that there would probably be limited cracking of the sheet rock in the house during an 8.8 earthquake.

Reviewing the Shop Drawings for the Steel Beam with Larson Steel

Bryan drove to Larson Steel’s fabrication shop in Gilroy and met with William Zapeda to go over the measurements they took on Friday, March 19, prior to fabrication of the W8x18 steel beam.  They went over each of the measurements, noting one key area where Bryan needs to confirm with the lead framer from Earth Bound Homes, Francisco Espinoz.

William and Bryan went in the yard and reviewed the actual W8x18 steel beam and measured it.  The beam was a beautiful blue color, which is exactly what we would like the exposed steel beams and two steel columns to look like.

Finding Curb Damage in Los Gatos

The City of Monte Sereno requested that we have three 1-1/2 inch pipes carrying our excess water from our underground cistern to the curb on Winchester Boulevard, where it would then flow into the storm drain.  The engineers from the Town of Los Gatos did not like this design and requested that we connect our underground cistern with an 8-inch pipe connecting directly to the back of the storm drain.

They cited potential damage and maintenance issues as the reasons for requesting this change.  Today, Bryan saw a location where the 1-1/2 inch drain went though a concrete curb and had subsequent cracking and damage. 

Now, we can appreciate the request for a direct connection.

ArchiCAD rendering showing the W8x18 steel beam and the lower-level SIP roof.

ArchiCAD rendering showing the W8x18 steel beam and the lower-level SIP roof.

ArchiCAD rendering showing steel beam and posts supporting the upper-level flat roof structure.

ArchiCAD rendering showing steel beam and posts supporting the upper-level flat roof structure.

Mid-level flat roof at the back of the house.  This is where the three sliding glass panel doors will be located, which will go into a pocket behind the exposed concrete feature wall at the left of this photo (the Dining Room wall).

Mid-level flat roof at the back of the house. This is where the three sliding glass panel doors will be located, which will go into a pocket behind the exposed concrete feature wall at the left of this photo (the Dining Room wall).

View from the middle of swimming pool to the front door, showing the mid-level SIP roof that was assembled yesterday.

View from the middle of swimming pool to the front door, showing the mid-level SIP roof that was assembled yesterday.

Thien Doan, from Duquette Engineering, on the lower-flat roof over the Garage.

Thien Doan, from Duquette Engineering, on the lower-flat roof over the Garage.

View of Master Study and Master Bedroom showing completed 2x4 wall under 6x10 beam in Foyer and pony walls ready to receive the posts and ridge beams to support the SIP gable roof.

View of Master Study and Master Bedroom showing completed 2x4 wall under 6x10 beam in Foyer and pony walls ready to receive the posts and ridge beams to support the SIP gable roof.

Thien taking photos of the SIP roof structure.

Thien taking photos of the SIP roof structure.

Simpson Strong Tie HTT22 connecting the 6x6 post to the hollow core concrete panels.  Solid.

Simpson Strong Tie HTT22 connecting the 6x6 post to the hollow core concrete panels. Solid.

LPT4s in the Master Bedroom, reinforcing the SIP walls to the 6x10 flush beams in the SIP roof structure.

LPT4s in the Master Bedroom, reinforcing the SIP walls to the 6x10 flush beams in the SIP roof structure.

Exposed feature concrete wall at the back of the house, showing the space for the pocket that will hold the three sliding glass panels.  Note that we will be adding a drop beam under the mid-level flat roof.

Exposed feature concrete wall at the back of the house, showing the space for the pocket that will hold the three sliding glass panels. Note that we will be adding a drop beam under the mid-level flat roof.

Measuring the profile of the W8x18 steel beam in Larson Steel's yard in Gilroy.

Measuring the profile of the W8x18 steel beam in Larson Steel's yard in Gilroy

The W8x18 beam is 5-1/4 inches wide.

The W8x18 beam is 5-1/4 inches wide.

We like the blue color of the steel and are considering having all of the exposed structural steel in the house finished in gun-metal steel blue.

We like the blue color of the steel and are considering having all of the exposed structural steel in the house finished in gun-metal steel blue.

Concrete curb in Los Gatos, showing damage caused by the 1-1/2 inch pipe going through the curb.

Concrete curb in Los Gatos, showing damage caused by the 1-1/2 inch pipe going through the curb.

At the end of each day, Jo-Anne does her best to drop by and review our progress.  With the longer days and the time change, it is easier for her to do so.  And, it is always good to see her smiling!

At the end of each day, Jo-Anne does her best to drop by and review our progress. With the longer days and the time change, it is easier for her to do so. And, it is always good to see her smiling!

Taking Field Measurements for Our Steel Beam in the Roof

Friday, March 19th, 2010

There is one steel flush beam in our roof, which will not be visible.  However, this beam connects many of the key structural components together in the house and must be fabricated to very fine tolerances so it will fit into the SIP roof assembly and connect the components as designed.

Given it was a beautiful Friday afternoon, Reed Kingston stopped by with his two boys, Graham and Cole, to see the progress.  And walk around the roof!

Taking Field Measurements

We are putting a W8x18 steel flush beam into the SIP that connects the concrete wall in the Garage/Atrium with the 7.00 x 11.25 inch Paralam flush beam by the Living Room. 

This steel beam will have:

  • 2×6 nailers on the top and bottom, with Nelson studs connecting the nailers to the steel beam;
  • a hole in the top and bottom flange to connect the beam to a 5/8-inch anchor bolt that is embedded in the concrete wall;
  • six CS14 straps to connect the steel beam to the concrete shear wall;
  • a Simpson GLT welded to the north end of the steel beam to connect it to the 7.00 x 11.25 Paralam flush beam;
  • four sets of plates welded to the flanges of the steel beam to connect to the 4×6 and 6×6 posts that support the upper-flat roof; and
  • four bolts connecting the steel beam to the HSS 4×4 steek column in the Kitchen.

Yeah, there is a lot going on with this beam.

(We better get it right!)

Cole and Graham Kingston Visit Our Project Site

Reed Kingston brought his twin boys, Cole and Graham, to the project site this afternoon.  All three of the boys tour the site on a regular basis so they have a good understanding of where we were and how the projects unfolds.

William (left), from Larson Steel, and Francisco (right), from Earth Bound Homes, review the structural plans and identify the various connections for this beam.

William Zapeda (left), from Larson Steel, and Francisco Espinoz (right), from Earth Bound Homes, review the structural plans and identify the various connections for this beam.

William Zepeda, from Larson Steel, measuring the HSS 4x4 steel column in the Kitchen.

William Zepeda, from Larson Steel, measuring the HSS 4x4 steel column in the Kitchen.

Francisco Espinoz, Earth Bound Homes, measuring the W8x18 steel beam over the concrete wall in the Garage/Atrium.  The CS14 straps will go over and under the nailers that will be attached to the steel beam.

Francisco Espinoz, Earth Bound Homes, measuring the W8x18 steel beam over the concrete wall in the Garage/Atrium. The CS14 straps will go over and under the nailers that will be attached to the steel beam.

Reed Kingston with his two boys, Cole and Graham, went to each corner of the roof as they reviewed progress to date.

Reed Kingston with his two boys, Cole and Graham, went to each corner of the roof as they reviewed progress to date.

The FSC-certified LVL is now inside of SIP panels around the perimeter of the lower-flat roof.

The FSC-certified LVL is now inside of SIP panels around the perimeter of the lower-flat roof.

SIP roof over main entrance with LVL inside of SIP.

SIP roof over main entrance with LVL inside of SIP.

West side of front of house.  Note the window well to bring light into the lower level (and allow emergency egress).

West side of front of house. Note the window well to bring light into the lower level (and allow emergency egress).

The week ended on another beautiful, blue-sky California day.  The weather was the complete opposite of the torrential rains exactly one week ago today.

The week ended on another beautiful, blue-sky California day. The weather was the complete opposite of the torrential rains exactly one week ago today.

Appearing in the Los Gatos Weekly Times

Tuesday, March 16th, 2010

Judy Peterson, lead writer for the Los Gatos Weekly Times, came to our second Collaborative Informational Session on Wednesday, March 10 and interviewed a number of people.  George Sakkestad came with Judy and took photos of the event.

The Los Gatos Weekly Times just published Judy’s story today (the text of the article appears below).

Way cool.

Attending Monte Sereno’s City Council Meeting

Bryan attended the City Council meeting and took the opportunity to address City Council regarding the sign ordinance.

His comments were noted in the minutes of the meeting.

March 16, 2010 edition of the Los Gatos Weekly Times.

March 16, 2010 edition of the Los Gatos Weekly Times.

.

Eichler ‘California Modern’ is goin’ green
Couple is updating their 1969 home
By Judy Peterson

When real estate developer Joseph Eichler started building homes in Northern California in 1950, he targeted middle class home buyers who appreciated the houses’ light and airy architecture that eventually came to be known as California Modern. With skylights and floor-to-ceiling windows that looked out onto gardens, patios and pools, Eichler’s vision was to “Bring the Outside In.”

Fast forward to the late 1960s, when Eichler set his sights on Monte Sereno, building a 16-house subdivision on Via Sereno, just off Winchester Boulevard. Today, one of those Eichlers is being re-built to reflect what could well be called California Green. That’s because the new California style is to build sustainable, healthier homes, with many homeowners trying to achieve LEED certification. LEED stands for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design.

Homeowners Bryan and Jo-Anne Mekechuk bought their 1969 Eichler in 1997. At the time, they had no children. Now they have two, plus they needed room for visiting grandparents. So, it was time to plunge into the money pit that is known as home remodeling.

“We’re building this house to live in for the next 15 years,” Bryan Mekechuk said.

At first, the couple considered adding a second story.

“A second floor on an Eichler is not appropriate,” Mekechuk said.

Instead, they took the house apart board by board and dug a basement. Even so, Mekechuk says the home will remain true to Eichler’s vision.

“We kept all the design,” Mekechuk said. “The footprint of the house is identical. For example, the garage door is in the same place.”

Well, almost identical. Besides the basement, 18 square feet was added and three windows were moved. But two windows at the front of the home are identical and Eichler’s trademark atrium will be rebuilt. Mekechuk was able to reuse 100 percent of the original home’s redwood boarding, while adding structural insulated panels-styrofoam insulation sandwiched between plywood. Mekechuk gets LEED points for that. The LEED rating system gives homeowners points that, when added up, can determine if a house is LEED certified or if it is certified as silver, gold or platinum. Mekechuk is shooting for platinum.

Mekechuk also gets points for holding educational open houses.

But it is the guts of the house itself that will determine if he reaches his platinum goal. That’s why a cistern was dug to capture rainwater that will irrigate drought-tolerant plants. Polished concrete floors are a key element as well. “It’s easy to keep concrete clean, plus it doesn’t trap dust and dander,” Mekechuk said. The concrete floors are composed of 70 percent slag. “Slag is a byproduct of steel production. Slag usually goes to the landfill,” Mekechuk said.

The house will be heated and cooled by a geothermal system.

“Geothermal takes warm water out of the ground and uses it to heat the house through tubing in the concrete floors,” Mekechuk said. “Cooling is the reverse of that.”

Mekechuk also plans to put 48 solar panels on the roof.

“Monte Sereno is really pulling out all the stops to encourage this kind of project,” Mayor Don Perry said at a recent open house. “We’ve waived all permit fees for solar panels. We’re really proud of this project.”

Vice Mayor Lana Malloy was also on hand, pointing out that the city once tried to get Via Sereno designated as a “street of historic significance,” but in Monte Sereno homes must be at least 60 years old before they’re considered historic.

Even if they’re not technically historic, Eichlers set the tone for post-war development in California. Mekechuk expects his new “Eichler Green” to be completed by late October.

To follow Mekechuk’s progress, visit www.eichlervision.com.

© Los Gatos Weekly Times, Silicon Valley Community Newspapers.

Drop In and See the Construction of a LEED-H Platinum Home

Thursday, March 4th, 2010

We posted the invitation to our second Collaborative Informational Session.

Registration

You can register for the session by clicking on the button below.
Register for Drop In and See the Construction of a LEED-H Platinum House in Monte Sereno, CA  on Eventbrite