Covering Our Gable Roofs

Having completed the flat roofs, we could now start on covering the gable roofs.  This requires six layers before the waterproofing starts.

Bryan pulled the trigger on the yellow cedar shakes and wired the payment in U.S. dollars to BCF Shake Mill Inc. located in Fanny Bay, British Columbia, Canada.  They will be sending 28 squares of yellow cedar tapersawn shakes to Mission, B.C. to be firetreated and then the firetreated shakes will be shipped to our project site in California.

At the end of the day, Bryan received a call from Akeena Solar, notifying us that the installation of our solar photovoltaic panels will be completed by REC Solar, Inc.

REC Solar, Inc. Picks Up Akeena’s Installation Customers

Akeena Solar (AKNS, now WEST) decided to exit the installation business and focus on products.  Accordingly, on Friday, September 10, 2010 Akeena closed their installation business and terminated most of their installation employees at their offices on Los Gatos Boulevard.  We were concerned with this development, but didn’t spend any time worrying about it.  Our experience is that these changes are planned and we would be notified in due course.

Searching through the SEC filings, we found the following information that Akeena filed on Form 8-K on Monday, September 13, 2010:

Item 2.05  Costs Associated with Exit or Disposal Activities.

On September 7, 2010, the board of directors of Akeena Solar, Inc. d/b/a Westinghouse Solar (the “Registrant”) approved plans for the Registrant to expand its distribution business to include sales of its Westinghouse Solar Power Systems directly to dealers in California, and to exit its solar panel installation business.  The exit from the installation business is expected to be completed by the end of the fourth quarter of 2010.  The Registrant has transitioned over the last year to a distribution business model in other parts of the country, and believes that it can reach profitability more quickly by focusing exclusively on its lower overhead manufacturing and distribution business.

As a result of the decision to exit the California installation business, the Registrant expects to record a restructuring charge totaling approximately $2.5 million in the third quarter of 2010.  This restructuring charge is expected to be comprised primarily of (1) one time severance costs of approximately $0.8 million related to headcount reductions, (2) inventory write downs of approximately $0.7 million, (3) lease accelerations and the write off of leasehold improvements of approximately $0.5 million, (4) goodwill impairment of approximately $0.3 million, and (5) vehicle, furniture and fixtures write downs of approximately $0.2 million. A portion of items (1) and (3) represent cash or future cash expenditures of approximately $0.6 million, primarily for lease payments in future periods.  The remaining $1.9 million of restructuring charges primarily represents non-cash impairments of inventory, goodwill, equipment, and leasehold improvements.  The excess inventory, equipment, vehicles, and furnishings are expected to generate net cash of approximately $1.4 million when liquidated in future periods.  The Registrant also expects to incur transition expenses from its discontinued operations in the third and fourth quarters of 2010, with corresponding revenue from project completion, after which its quarterly cash operating expense run rate is expected to be approximately $1.5 million.

Yesterday, Bryan was on his way back from Ford Wholesale with 22 1/4-inch 4×8 sheets of Securock and, having a few minutes, he stopped into Akeena’s offices to ask about the status of our installation.  Ralph Fallant, VP Sales, came out and met Bryan.  Ralph explained that Akeena was finalizing an agreement with a major solar installation company and that we would be notified by Monday, September 27 regarding the company that would be completing our solar installation.

Today, at 5:42 pm, Bryan received a call from Ralph saying that he would like to introduce Bryan to Josh Price.  Ralph said that Akeena had signed an agreement with REC Solar, Inc. and they would be completing all the installations that were in process with Akeena.  Josh is Vice President and General Manager of the Residential and Light Commercial division of REC Solar.

Josh followed up within minutes with an e-mail with his contact information.

We’re looking forward to working with REC Solar.

Paying for Our Yellow Cedar Shakes

Bryan has been corresponding with various people at BCF Shake Mill Ltd. in Fanny Bay, BC, Canada for over a year regarding yellow cedar shakes. It was time to order the shakes so they can be firetreated and delivered to California.

Bryan lived in Prince George, BC from 1967 through to 1978, when his family moved to Edmonton, AB.  Many of Bryan’s friends are involved in the forestry industry and when we were searching for materials last year, Bryan contacted his good friend, Bill Kuzmuk, regarding cedar shakes from BC.

We would like all of the materials in our house to ‘tell a story’.  Our house is a showcase for innovative building materials and innovative construction practices and we want it to be as ‘Californian’ as possible.  Hence, our desire to reuse the 2×8 Redwood decking from original structure, obtain Madrone hardwood flooring from the Santa Cruz Mountains, and install Sierra White granite from Raymond, California.

Bill spoke with several friends and then called us back to suggest that we talk with Jim Lennox at BCF Shake Mill in Fanny Bay (on the East side of Vancouver Island).  Specifically, Bill recommended that we talk with Jim regarding yellow cedar shakes.  Bill, a forester, believes that yellow cedar would be much more durable that red cedar and, importantly, they are rare and would be way, way cool.

We decided to cover the gable roofs with yellow cedar shakes for three important reasons.  First, we’d like to have a ‘cool roof’ for the gables, to compliment the flat ‘cool roof‘ (the white 60 mil single ply membrane) and having a yellow cedar shake roof would have a higher albedo than red cedar shakes.  The higher albedo would reflect more heat.  Second, durability is important and yellow cedar shakes will last longer than red cedar shakes.  Finally, we’d like to have some good Canadian softwood lumber in our house.  What better than some yellow cedar shakes from BC?

Rodger Lennox, who we are now working with, will make all the arrangements to get the 28 squares of shakes to Mission, BC where they will be firetreated.  Given the high fire hazard in California, we must have firetreated shakes.  After being firetreated, the shakes will be trucked to our project site.

Covering Our Gable Roofs

We believe that, over the life of our house, the cooling load will continue to increase, which is why we believe having a ‘cool roof’ is important.  We want to use the design to address the increasing cooling load.

The design of the gable roof includes a 3/4 inch air space for two reasons.  We want to include an air space so we can have an effective radiant barrier.  As well, we want to have cool air enter the air space at the bottom of the gable roof and then exit through the ridge vent.  Sort of like a rain screen on a wall.

When we submitted the detailed design to the City of Monte Sereno’s Building Official, Howard Bell, he required us to include a fireproof covering over the OSB deck of the SIP roof.  Howard recommended DensDeck, by Georgia Pacific.

While reviewing DensDeck at Ford Wholesale, Bryan looked into a product with similar specifications – Securock, by USG.  The Securock product was less ‘dusty’ and was easier to handle.  However, the ‘tipping point’ for us was that the DensDeck product was not very green’  Specifically, DensDeck for the California market is manufactured in Antioch, CA (less than 70 miles away) from virgin materials imported from San Marcos Island, Mexico.  Both the source of the materials and the manufacturing location must be within 500 miles to earn the maximum credit.  However, recycled materials are always preferable

Securock is manufactured from 95% recycled material in Santa Fe Springs, CA (Los Angeles), which is within 500 driving miles from our job site.

We selected Securock, by US Gypsum.

The first layer is aluminum sheeting, which will have 2 inches exposed.

The first layer is aluminum sheeting, of which the bottom 2 inches will be exposed but covered by the yellow cedar shakes.

The 3/4-inch Cor-A-Vent (SV-5). This will go across the bottom of the gable roofs and allow air, but not insects, to go under the roof.

The 3/4-inch Cor-A-Vent (SV-5). This will go across the bottom of the gable roofs and allow air, but not insects, to go under the roof.

The sun at noon on the autumnal equinox (approximately) just hits the bottom 20 inches of our south-facing windows.

The sun at noon on the autumnal equinox (approximately) just hits the bottom 20 inches of our south-facing windows.

Putting up the first 4x8 sheet of Securock on the South side of the South Gable.

Putting up the first 4×8 sheet of Securock on the South side of the South Gable.

Loading another 22 sheets of Securock at Ford Wholesale in San Jose.

Loading another 22 sheets of Securock at Ford Wholesale in San Jose.

We need to get the 1/2 inch FSC plywood onto the roof and are planning on using Ford Wholesale's equipment to do so.

We need to get the 1/2 inch FSC plywood onto the roof and are planning on using Ford Wholesale

We used the loading conveyor to put the plywood onto the deck of the truck.

We used the loading conveyor to put the plywood onto the deck of the truck.

Next, the conveyor moved the plywood onto the roof. Way cool ...

Next, the conveyor moved the plywood onto the roof. Way cool …

The Securock covers the entire South side of the South gable.

The Securock covers the entire South side of the South gable.

The layers are visible in this photo. Bottom layer is Tyvek, then the aluminum, and then the Securock. Next, we will put the Cor-A-Vent along the bottom with the 1x3 furring strips, covered by the radiant barrier and then the 1/2 inch FSC plywood.

The layers are visible in this photo. Bottom layer is Tyvek, then the aluminum, and then the Securock. Next, we will put the Cor-A-Vent along the bottom with the 1×3 furring strips, covered by the radiant barrier and then the 1/2 inch FSC plywood.

The plywood, furring strips and Securock waiting patiently on the roof over the garage.

The plywood, furring strips and Securock waiting patiently on the roof over the garage.

With the plywood out of the garage, we can move everything else so we can take delivery of the 25 clerestory windows from Murray Window and Door on Tuesday, September 28.

With the plywood out of the garage, we can move everything else so we can take delivery of the 25 clerestory windows from Murray Window and Door on Tuesday, September 28.

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