Archive for August, 2011

Picking Up Our Ladder and Looking at Artemide Lights

Tuesday, August 30th, 2011

September is coming like a freight train!  Along with everything else, we need to finalize our lighting design plan and get our vertical culvert covered.

Picking Up Our Ladder in Merced

One of our major building challenges is that our house is located on a ‘seasonal perched water table.’  During the year, we can have underground water that rises to 5 feet below grade.  Thus, we have a series of underground pipes that flow into a 20 ft deep vertical culvert.  Inside the vertical culvert, we have sump pumps that pump the water into our 3,677 gallon underground cistern.

The vertical culvert will be covered with an aluminum manhole cover.  Inside the vertical culvert, we need an aluminum ladder that can be used to service the sump pumps.

We worked with Ralph Rabbatt at O’Keeffe’s Inc. in San Francisco to have a custom ladder manufactured.  The ladder will be permanently mounted to the wall of the vertical culvert, and allow easy and safe access to the sump pumps.

Bryan drove to O’Keeffe’s manufacturing site in Merced today and picked up the ladder.

Looking at Artemide Lights

After picking up the ladder, Bryan drove to San Francisco to visit the Artemide showroom and look at lights.  We have been working with Randall Whitehead Lighting Solutions to create a lighting plan for the house.  Randall is a well-known lighting designer that has published several books on lighting design.

Randall suggested that we include several Artemide fixtures in our lighting plan.  It is difficult to understand the look and scale of lights by looking at photos in a catalog.  Given that Artemide has a showroom in San Francisco, Bryan drove there to see some of the Artemide fixtures that Randall was recommending.

Lots of driving!

Arriving at O'Keeffe's manufacturing site in Merced, California.


Our ladder is loaded securely on the rack, and the safety post is in the box.


The Artemide showroom at 855 Montgomery Street in San Francisco.


Pirce Suspension, by Giuseppe Maurizio Scutella, 2008.


Mesmeri wall sconces, by Eric Sole, 2005.


Mouette suspension (symetrical), by Willmotte & Associes, 2004. This light is way cool and comes either symetrical (as shown) or in an asymetrical style.


Megan suspension system, by Ernesto Gismondi.


Floor mounted framed mirror, by Ron Rezek.


Going for Another Ride in a Tesla Roadster

Thursday, August 25th, 2011

Steve Chambers was in town for some brief meetings and had a small window of time in his schedule.  Steve took advantage of that window to take Bryan for a quick test drive in a Tesla Roadster 2.5 Sport.

Previously, on August 3, 2011, Bryan had been for a test drive with Shel Schumaker, when they went over Highway #17 to Scott’s Valley.

Steve wanted to drive across Highway #237 to see the new Tesla manufacturing plant, where the Model S sedans will be assembled.  Tesla bought the former NUMMI plant and is now changing it over so they can start manufacturing cars in 2012.  The Tesla Model S was designed with Autodesk’s software and is an excellent example of Autodesk’s commitment to, and focus on, Green Building.  Autodesk has some great images of the Model S and a case study of how their software was used during the design process.

Before going for dinner, Steve dropped by our project site with Jo-Anne and walked the property.  Steve had visited our project site on March 17, 2010.  He was impressed with progress and thought it was coming along nicely.  But, as Steve is a tough marker, he was moste certainly not impressed with the glacial speed of the project.

We’re sure Steve will not forget his first ride in a Tesla …

Steve Chambers, smiling after a test drive in a Tesla Roadster 2.5 Sport. Steve is in front of the former NUMMI plant, where the Model S will be manufactured.


Bryan needed to have his picture taken, too.


Steve and Jo-Anne, visiting the site before dinner. Steve, dressed in all black, had just opened the sliding glass door at the back of the house and then his phone rang ...




Taking Delivery of Our Red Front Door

Wednesday, August 24th, 2011

It has been a very, very long time … we finally took delivery of our red front door today!  And, we have our LEED for Homes signage in place at the job site.

Taking Delivery of Our Red Front Door

Nathan Merrill, of American Ornamental Iron, started working on our red front door in late November 2010.  His smile was almost as big as Bryan’s smile when Nathan delivered the red front door and black frame safely today to the job site.

The door is 100% custom, and has a number of innovative features, including Aerogel’s Spaceloft insulation (R-36).  The door will have Valli & Valli hardware and Soss hinges.  The color will be the same as the original red front door.

Nathan took extreme care when fabricating the door.  He took the door to Spray Technology in Santa Clara to be powder coated.  The team at Spray Technology took several months to powder coat the frame and the door.  It looks spectacular!

Nathan, with a friend, picked up the red front door and frame using a trailer, drove carefully to our job site, and then backed the trailer into the garage.  Al, Nep and Bryan helped to unload the door and frame.  They secured the door and frame to the wall in the garage.


Our LEED for Homes signage, attached to the front of the house.


Our red front door and frame arrived on a trailer. Nathan backed into the project site so we could unload the door and frame easily (and not carry them very far!).


Nathan Merrill is smiling, knowing that the red front door and frame are inside the garage safely.


Pouring Two Concrete Pads

Thursday, August 11th, 2011

Al brought one-half yard of concrete to the job site today and he poured the tiny pads at the back of the pocket door and the side of the house for the BBQ grill.

Having the concrete pads in place will allow us to continue working on the infrastructure inside the house.

Excellent progress today.

Ready to pour the tiny concrete pad that will allow us to cover one of the roof downspouts.


The concrete pad under the cabinets for the natural gas BBQ grill on the East side of the house.


West concrete, ready for finishing ...

Finished concrete. Note the extra concrete used to seal the base on the right.


Poured concrete pad that will be under the BBQ grill. This concrete will be under the cabinets so it will not have to match the exposed concrete around the house.






Working on our Central Vacuum and BBQ Concrete Pad

Wednesday, August 10th, 2011

We’re working on getting the central vacuum in place and completing our exterior infrastructure.  

Based on advice from Dan Singleton, we are using Sequoia Central Vacuum Systems of Menlo Park.  Michael White, owner of Sequoia Central Vacuum Systems, has unparalleled expertise with central vacuums.

Since the HVAC and plumbing is in place, the central vacuum is being installed so the electrical and low-voltage will be next (after the radiant supply-return where applicable).

At the same time, we are getting our exterior BBQ and other infrastructure in place, before we get the siding ready to be installed.  We met with representatives of Danver Stainless Steel Cabinetry at the Pacific Coast Builders Conference in San Francisco.  They have excellent cabinets that we are looking at specifying for our outdoor grill.

With the forms in place, we plan to pour 1/2 yard of concrete tomorrow morning.

Vacuum in wall. We will probably have three outlets off this 2-inch line.

The air ventilation is in the steel beam and the central vacuum is in the wall.

Both the supply air ventilation and central vacuum are shown in this photo' Note how the air ventilation wil be hidden once the wall is furred out from the steel beam.


The central vacuum manifold is in the soffit and then goes over the dropped ceiling in the Guest Bathroom.


The vacuum enters some congested space on the North side of the East wall in the lower level ...


Al and Nep set the forms for a concrete pad for our outdoor grill (BBQ). We will pour the pad that will be under the enclosed grill structure so this concrete will not be seen as it will be hidden by the kick. The remaining concrete, which will be visible, will be poured with the pool deck and other hardscape around the house.


After much consideration, we decided to extend the non-structural wall for the sliding glass pocket by 14 inches and enclose a drain from the roof. The drain will, however, be outside our thermal envelope. This will make a cleaner exterior and eliminate a zinc downspout.



Pouring Our Concrete Generator Pad

Friday, August 5th, 2011

We poured concrete today and it looks great.

And the HRV is now mounted and in place, connected to the exterior supply/exhaust plenum.  The seismic cross-bracing needs to be added and then the interior supply/exhaust can be connected.

We’re getting there …

Al and Nep are finishing the concrete they just poured for the generator pad.


The HRV is mounted to the ceiling and connected to the exterior plenum.


We used unistrut framing to connect the HRV to the ceiling. This needs to have a cross-brace each way for additional rigidity (seismic).


The forms were stripped at the end of the day ... it looks great!