Archive for December, 2010

Insulating Our Red Front Door with SpaceLoft

Wednesday, December 29th, 2010

We received an e-mail from Nathan Merrill today, including four photos showing the progress that American Ornamental Iron is making on fabricating our red front door.

Insulating Our Red Front Door

Nathan designed our front door and is fabricating it from steel.  As with our original red front door, the new red front door will make a statement.  Being made of steel, the door will be quite heavy so the frame and structural components must be very strong.  We want the door to look monolithic but be light to the touch.  And, of course, the frame and structural elements must be minimal but designed to last for 100 years (or so).

The door is fabricated with a metal frame, with two sheets of steel on the outside.  The cavity between the two sheets of metal will house the braces that are part of the frame, the Soss hinges and the electric mortise.  Importantly, the door must be insulated so it does not allow heat to go into the house nor to escape from the house.

With only a one-inch cavity, we decided to use Aerogel’s SpaceLoft insulation so we would have the maximum insulation for the door.  We obtained a roll of 0.4-inch thick SpaceLoft insulation, which is rated at R-10.3 per inch. 

Nathan used three sheets of SpaceLoft and cut the first two sheets so they would fit inside the diagonal metal braces that provide structural strength to the door.  The third sheet of SpaceLoft covered over the entire door frame assembly to prevent any thermal bridging inside the door.

To allow for the 24 volt DC electrical wires going to the mortise, Nathan designed a curved conduit that goes from the hinged part of the door to the mortise.  This small conduit is covered with the SpaceLoft insulation.

It is very exciting for us to see our red front door coming together so nicely.

Ovrrview of the door, showing the top layer of Aerogel SpaceLoft insulation.  Note the pockets on the left side for the Soss hinges.  Also, note the pocket on the right side for the electric mortise.  There are three layers of SpaceLoft in the door cavity, resulting in more than R-12 (not considering the structural components and thermal bridging).

Ovrrview of the door, showing the top layer of Aerogel SpaceLoft insulation. Note the pockets on the left side for the Soss hinges. Also, note the pocket on the right side for the electric mortise. There are three layers of SpaceLoft in the door cavity, resulting in more than R-12 (not considering the structural components and thermal bridging).

The three layers of SpaceLoft insulation, cut to fit inside the structural frame and the pockets for the Soss hinges.

The three layers of SpaceLoft insulation, cut to fit inside the structural frame and the pockets for the Soss hinges.

The pocket for the electric mortise.  Note the hole leading to the conduit for the electrical wires.

The pocket for the electric mortise. Note the hole leading to the conduit for the electrical wires.

Close up of the mini conduit that goes into the steel door frame.  This tube will protect the wires that go from the door frame to the electric mortise that will allow the door to be opened remotely.

Close up of the mini conduit that goes into the steel door frame. This tube will protect the wires that go from the door frame to the electric mortise that will allow the door to be opened remotely.

Making the ‘Year in Review’ for the Los Gatos Weekly Times

Tuesday, December 28th, 2010

Bryan received an SMS message from Wendy Reyna this morning that stated, ‘You’re in the Los Gatos paper again!”

The photo from March 16, 2010 story on our project was included in the Year in Review that the Los Gatos Weekly Times published today.

Way cool … 

Cover of the December 28, 2010 Los Gatos Weekly Times.

Cover of the December 28, 2010 Los Gatos Weekly Times.

First page of the Year in Review ...

First page of the Year in Review ...

Photo on page 28 of the December 28, 2010 Los Gatos Weekly Times.

 

Monte Sereno homeowners Bryan and Jo-Anne Mekechuk dug a basement to have more room for their children and visiting relatives.  In the process, they decided to turn their 1969 Eichler into a green showpiece, adding a rainwater collection cistern and 48 solar panels.  They are also reusing many of the original building materials and are trying to stay true to Eichler’s vision to ‘Bring the Outside In.’

Hosting Mignon O’Young’s Visit

Monday, December 20th, 2010

Mignon O’Young is a licensed architect in the State of California that now lives in Switzerland.  Mignon has a blog, Green Architecture and Building Report, where she covers sustainable design, worldwide.

Mignon contacted us in October 2010 because she was interested in touring our site and seeing what we were doing.  Since she was back in the San Francisco Bay Area for the holidays, she scheduled a visit to our site today.

Bryan took Mignon through the project and showed her as much detail as she could handle.  Maybe a bit more than that …

Mignon liked the project and said that she would cover it in one of her upcoming blog entries.

Bryan and Mignon agreed to stay in touch.

Mignon OYoung, who writes Green Architecture and Building Report, on our roof as part of her tour of the site.
Mignon O’Young, who writes Green Architecture and Building Report, on our roof as part of her tour of the site.
Mingon OYoung, taking a picture of Bryan.  Perhaps her photo will appear in her Green Architecture and Buidling Report blog some day ...

Mignon O'Young, taking a picture of Bryan. Perhaps her photo will appear in her Green Architecture and Buidling Report blog some day ...

Mocking Up Our Zinc Fascia

Tuesday, December 14th, 2010

We mocked up our zinc fascia today.  And put three yellow cedar shakes on.  It is cool.  Way cool.

After we finalize the design, the installation crew from Wildcat Metals will arrive on our job site on Thursday morning so they can work through and finish putting the zinc facia on the gables by Tuesday, December 21.  The natural zinc material is from Rheinzink and the yellow cedar shakes are from BCF Shake Mill in Shanty Bay, Canada.

Time in 2010 is dwindling quickly – we leave for Edmonton early on December 22.

Designing the Cooling Panel System in Our Wine Cellar

Our home will be heated using geothermal heat exchange.  As a byproduct of making hot water, we will make cold water.  That cold water will be put back into the ground.  Instead of putting the cold water back into the ground and making our overall geothermal system less efficient, we will use the cold water to chill our wine in the Wine Cellar.  How cool is that?

Way cool …

While a great idea, using the waste cold water to keep our Wine Cellar cool requires an immense amount of design work.  Fortunately, we have an outstanding design team!  Markus Benzenhofer, from Twa Panel Systems, and Ken Martin, from Silicon Valley Mechanical are world class professionals, and know how to move BTUs from room-to-room, and from the exterior of a structure to inside that same structure.  And, of course, visa versa. 

Bryan met with Markus today to specify the cooling panels for the ceiling of the Wine Cellar.  As well, there are other aspects of the design that they reviewed, including how to move the chilled water to and from the West Mechanical room.

They took detailed measurements so Markus could calculate how many BTUs could be ‘dumped’ into the Wine Cellar and how those BTUs could be controlled by the system that Ken Martin is designing.

The mechanics of moving the waste cold water to the Wine Cellar is important as the structural elements of the Wine Cellar must be designed to work effectively.  The order of construction must be determined as well as the structural strength required by racks that hold the wine bottles.

If the capacity of the Wine Cellar is 2,900 750-ml bottles and each bottle weighs 1.0 kilo then the total weight of each of the three racks (when full) will be more than 2,000 lbs.  When we experience an earthquake of, say, 8.8, we don’t want the wine rack to collapse.  575 gallons of wine would make a huge mess.  The wine racks must be strong.  We don’t want to cry over spilled wine (but we would).

During the discussion, Markus raised a very important point.  We should consider having some ‘fast’ heating in the Wine Dining as anyone in there needs to be comfortable in order to enjoy the wine.  We will consider and evaluate using electrically operated radiant in the floor where people will be seated.  This is important, especially for Jo-Anne’s comfort (Bryan can suffer cold feet, Jo-Anne cannot).

The first piece of natural zinc is fastened to the gable rake fascia over the Garage.  It looks great!

The first piece of natural zinc (from Rheinzink) is fastened to the gable rake fascia over the Garage. It looks great!

Bryan took three shakes and used a 1-inch overhang to see what the shakes would look like.  We could probably have the seam extend anothe 1/2 inch, so the flat expanse of the zinc would be reduced.

Bryan took three shakes and used a 1-inch overhang to see what the shakes would look like. We could probably have the seam extend anothe 1/2 inch, so the flat expanse of the zinc would be reduced.

We measured the zinc fascia seam on the lower flat roof and it must change.  We'd like to keep the same proportions with the gable roof rakes so the seam on the lower flat roof should be at 10-1/2 inches (not 11-1/2 inches),

We measured the zinc fascia seam on the lower flat roof and it must change. We'd like to keep the same proportions with the gable roof rakes so the seam on the lower flat roof should be at 10-1/2 inches (not 11-1/2 inches),

Visiting K&L Wine Merchants and Reviewing Wine Racks

Sunday, December 12th, 2010

Bryan, with our daughter Kate, went to K&L Wine Merchants in Redwood City to review the design of their wine racks.  As they say, “Immitation is the sincerest form of flattery.”

We see things a bit different.  We want to take someone else’s ending point and use that as our starting point.  Essentially, we want to take someone else’s idea and make it better.

Yes, we’re lazy.

Various Wine Rack Design Elements Are Acceptable

K&L sells wine to consumers.  They have many people going through their branches and handling their wine bottles.  Also, K&L has been around for years so they know that earthquakes happen.  Consequently, their wine racks are designed to be robust and take a lot of punishment.

One of the interesting things that we learned was that K&L has several designs for their wine racks, indicating to us that nothing was ‘best’ and that various designs were acceptable.

Prior to taking any photos, Bryan bought a case of wine then asked for permission to take the photos.

Kate played patiently on her iTouch.

Rack with three rows of display bottles with the individual bottles under each.

Rack with three rows of display bottles with the individual bottles under each.

Detail of rack, showing the mitering of the edges of each bottle support.  All the racks are made of Redwood.

Detail of rack, showing the mitering of the edges of each bottle support. All the racks are made of Redwood.

Detail at base of rack.  The racks did not appear to be anchored to the floor as, probably, to allow for flexibiltiy in changing traffic patterns in the store.

Detail at base of rack. The racks did not appear to be anchored to the floor as, probably, to allow for flexibiltiy in changing traffic patterns in the store.

Magnum bottles (1.5 l) ... we need some of these but not too many.

Magnum bottles (1.5 l) ... we need some of these but not too many.

Structural detail on side of racks, showing 3/4 inch by 1-1/2 inch Redwood framing.

Structural detail on side of racks, showing 3/4 inch by 1-1/2 inch Redwood framing.

A distraction!  Bryan got stuck in the section with wines from Argentina.  This is a bottle of the ultra premium wine from Vina Cobas.

A distraction! Bryan got stuck in the section with wines from Argentina. This is a bottle of the ultra premium wine from Vina Cobas.

Another fine wine from Argentina.  We havent tried the wines from Durigutti.  Yet ...

Another fine wine from Argentina. We haven't tried the wines from Durigutti. Yet ...

Without any pride, Bryan pulls out his tape measure and gets to work recording the dimensions.

Shameless, and without any pride, Bryan pulls out his tape measure and gets to work recording the dimensions.

Depth of the display rack ...

Depth of the display rack ...

Width of the rack ...

Width of the rack ...

Dimensions for magnums (1.5 l) ...

Dimensions for magnums (1.5 l) ...

Dimensions for 750 ml bottles ...

Dimensions for 750 ml bottles ...

Display rack slope measurements ...

Display rack slope measurements ...

Height of display.  Note this is for retail purposes, with people wandering through the racks.

Height of display. Note this is for retail purposes, with people wandering through the racks.

Verifying the depth of the racks, again.

Verifying the depth of the racks, again.

Evaluating Hardware for Our Red Front Door

Thursday, December 9th, 2010

Yeah, the red front door hardware selection decision is taking too long.  Way too long.  Our cousin, Dean Grant, chided us for failing to make decisions. 

We need to order the hardware for our red front door.  This hardware includes the interior and exterior handles, the escutcheon plates (interior and exterior), the interior and exterior handles/levers, and the finish material (e.g., brushed stainless steel).

Our red front door is the entrance to our house, so we need to get it ‘right’.  Right?

Getting it wrong is not acceptable.

Insulating Our Red Front Door

We bought 598 sq ft of Aerogel’s SpaceLoft insulation.  It was delivered in a large roll and placed in our Garage.

Nathan Merrill, from American Ornamental Iron, needs the SpaceLoft insulation when he fabricates our red front door.  Nathan came to our job site this morning to pick up the Spaceloft insulation.  It was easy to load the entire roll in his truck, which he then took back to his shop.

Having the SpaceLoft insulation will allow Nathan to fabricate the door unimpeded.  He needs the shop drawings for the door hardware, which we need to select and order.

Selecting Door Hardware

Our choices for the door hardware include FSB and Valli&Valli.  While we like Valli&Valli, it has a long lead time.  The cost of the door hardware for either Valli&Valli or FSB is similar although Valli&Valli is higher.  Nathan warned us that there is a long lead time for door hardware and he explained that, once we selected the door hardware then we must obtain the shop drawings for that hardware so he can fabricate the door so the door hardware will fit.

The swinging glass door in the Kitchen has FSB hardware so we’d like the front door to match.  Today, we learned the difference between stainless steel and coated brass hardware.

Stainless Steel vs. Coated Brass

Most of the ‘smooth’ and rounded door hardware is made of brass, which is then coated with chrome and then brushed.  The finish of this hardware looks very similar to stainless steel. 

Stainless steel hardware is very angular and not as ‘soft’ as the brass hardware.  This is because stainless steel stock is cut and welded together, and then filed, brushed and polished.  Making round edges cannot be done easily with stainless steel.

Since we want stainless steel hardware, many of the alternatives that we like are not feasible.  If we want the rounded door hardware then it will be made of brass and have a brushed chrome finish.

Our roll of SpaceLoft insulation is loaded into the back of Nathan's truck.

Our roll of SpaceLoft insulation is loaded into the back of Nathan's truck.

We decided to move the entire roll of insulation to Nathan's shop so it would be easier and faster for Nathan to use when insulating the door and the door frame.

We decided to move the entire roll of insulation to Nathan's shop so it would be easier and faster for Nathan to insulate the door and the door frame.

The roll of SpaceLoft insulation next to the door, which is being fabricated by American Ornamental Iron.

The roll of SpaceLoft insulation next to the door, which is being fabricated by American Ornamental Iron.

Side view of the door, showing the four Soss hinges that will support the 260 lb door.

Side view of the door, showing the four Soss hinges that will support the 260 lb door.

Close up of the Soss hinge, in the open position.  Nathan made a pocket around each hinge so the SpaceLoft Insulation will not impede the hinge at all.  Note the additional bracing (gusset) to support the hinge.

Close up of the Soss hinge, in the open position. Nathan made a pocket around each hinge so the SpaceLoft Insulation will not impede the hinge at all. Note the additional bracing (gusset) to support the hinge.

Soss hinge in the closed position.  These hinges are invisible and will not be seen from the interior or exterior, providing a very clean and simple look for our red front door.

Soss hinge in the closed position. These hinges are invisible and will not be seen from the interior or exterior, providing a very clean and simple look for our red front door.

We ordered Maze nails from White Cap Construction Supply.  They arrived at the job site this morning.

We ordered Maze nails from White Cap Construction Supply. The nails were delivered to our job site this morning.

These nails will be used on our shake roof.  The fire treatment in the wood shakes is very corrossive so we decided to use stainless steel nails.

These nails will be used on our shake roof. The fire treatment in the wood shakes is very corrossive so we decided to use stainless steel nails.

FSB hardware on our swinging door in the Kitchen.

FSB hardware on our swinging door in the Kitchen.

Profile of the door handle, which we would like to match with the front door.

Profile of the door handle, which we would like to match with the front door.

This is the door handle in the FSB store display.

This is the door handle in the FSB store display.

Similar door handle offered by Valli&Valli (except with a polished chrome finish).

Similar door handle offered by Valli&Valli (except with a polished chrome finish).

Valli&Valli display rack.  Maybe we like Valli&Valli because of the bright red display, which matches our red front door?

Valli&Valli display rack. Maybe we like Valli&Valli because of the bright red display, which matches our red front door?

This is the interior door handle that we selected, as it is made with stainless steel.

This is the interior door handle that we selected, as it is made with stainless steel.