Archive for the ‘Materials’ Category

Making Our Solar Rebate Filing Deadline

Thursday, September 29th, 2011

We made it!  It was a complete team effort by everyone involved and we filed our rebate under the NSHP by September 29, 2011.  Yeah!

Focusing on Our Solar Permit Approval and Meter Release

The first item that we needed was the approval of our solar permit with the City of Monte Sereno.  Then, we needed a ‘meter release’ from the City so PG&E could install a permanent meter to measure the net electricity that we are generating/consuming.  With these two items, our rebate application will be complete and we will meet the deadline of September 29, 2011.

These two items are linked to the indemnification that the City asked us to provide them with regarding the live electric panels in the house.  Bryan agreed to the indemnification yesterday with Brian Loventhal, the City Manager.

When Bryan went to sign the indemnification agreement this morning, Brian explained that we would have to provide a certificate of insurance in with a minimum of $2 million per occurance.  This was a surprise.

Rolling with it, Bryan called our insurance expert, Ed Szylko, at EJMS Insurance Services in Los Gatos.  Ed explained that the first step would be to get the City of Monte Sereno as a named insured on Al’s insurance.  He would investigate our insurance.

After calling Al’s insurance agent, First Service Insurance Inc., Bryan learned that Al’s insurance is limited to $1 million per occurance.  Another issue to resolve.

While Ed worked on the our insurance, Bryan met with Brian Loventhal and explained that we have $1 million per occurance, not $2 million per occurance.  Brian agreed to discuss it with the City Attorney, Kirsten Powell, to see if the lower level would be acceptable.

Then, Ed called Bryan and outlined how he could get insurance for us at $2 million per occurance and, with our approval, could have the certificate of insurance prepared today.  Cool … Bryan agreed to this.

Brian Loventhal called Bryan, who was sitting in the parking lot at City Hall, and said that they had finalized the indemnification agreement, with the $1 million per occurance, and it was ready for signing.

Bryan scootted over to the counter at City Hall and both Brian and Bryan signed the indemnification agreement.  Brian gave Bryan a copy of the signed agreement, then he approved and signed the solar permit, and gave Bryan a copy of the meter release for PG&E (Brian was going to fax it to PG&E directly).

With the documentation in place, Bryan headed over the hill to see Roseanne at the Real Goods Solar office in Santa Cruz.  Roseanne scanned the documents and Bryan returned over the hill, now headed to PG&E’s service planning group in Cupertino.

The PG&E representative that Bryan met with previously, Catherine Only, met with Bryan and reviewed the meter release.  Since we had missed the scheduling deadline for Friday, Catherine set expectations with us that the permanent meter would be installed no later than Tuesday, October 4.  Way cool …

As Bryan drove back to the job site, he spoke with Jo-Anne (who is in Boston as it is the end of the quarter and she has to be available for any and all last minute legal issues that may arise).  Jo-Anne reminded Bryan of his obligations under the indemnification agreement and that he should focus on those items so we are in compliance.  Focus, focus, focus …

Back to the Job Site

At the job site, Bryan reviewed the progress on insulating the ceiling in the Wine Cellar and Wine Dining, and the installation of the siding on the East wall of the house.  Then, he printed the insurance certificates that he had received via e-mail.  Also, Bryan drafted language for the warning signs for the electric panels (required under the indemnification agreement) and then called with his brother, Darryl, in Calgary, Canada who is fluent in Spanish.  Bryan explained to Darryl that we need signage on the electric panels in both English and Spanish, and asked if Darryl could translate into Spanish for us. 

Darryl agreed to do the translation and said he would call back.  Meanwhile, Bryan got Nep to do the initial translation and then went to the City of Monte Sereno.

City of Monte Sereno and Signage

Bryan provided Brian Loventhal with copies of the insurance certification, which named the City of Monte Sereno as an additional insured.  Brian reviewed the certificates and said they were fine.  Then, Brian reviewed the wording for the signage and selected, ‘Warning – Do Not Open.  Live Electric Panel’.  Having fufilled the insurance certification obligation, Bryan headed to Frankie’s Awards to have the signs engraved. 

On the way, Bryan received the Spanish translation from Darryl on his Blackberry.  At Frankie’s Awards, Gloria reviewed the signs and said she would create a draft sign for approval.  Bryan waited and then reviewed the layout and wording.  There was a spelling error, which she caught, and Bryan approved the layout.  The two signs will be available tomorrow morning.

Back to the Job Site, Again

Bryan saw that everything was shut down for the evening and then Kel Marchbank arrived.  Kel hadn’t been to the job site in more than six months so Bryan provided Kel with a quick tour.  Kel loved the siding glass doors at the back.

Oh, Scott and Sue arrive tomorrow …

Al works on the siding on the East wall, by the Kitchen door.

Kitchen window with siding over the Tyvek.


Dan completes the siding on the North corner of the East wall.


Approved solar permit!


Approval and note, referring to indemnification agreement that Bryan signed.


We moved the wine racks into the Conference room so the insulation can be installed in the ceiling of the Wine Cellar and Wine Dining.


The wine racks, looking great, take up a lot of real estate inside the house. It would be great to get the ceiling and cooling panel completed in the Wine Cellar so we could install the wine racks permanently and get them out of the way.


The insulation is attached to the ceiling using sharp spikes, which are attached to the underside of the concrete with no VOC adhesive.


Insulation hangers attached to the underside of the hollow core concrete panels.


The insulation in the ceiling in the Wine Cellar. We will have closed cell polyurethane foam sprayed over the sheets of foam, which will create a moisture barrier inside the Wine Cellar.


Ceiling in the Wine Dining. The central vacuum system is in the dropped ceiling so we will have another layer of insulatin in the ceiling here.


Picking Up Our Pink CAT5 and Priming the FSC Siding

Tuesday, September 27th, 2011

We moved forward on several fronts today … nothing completed but solid progress.

Submitting a Draft Document to the City of Monte Sereno

The first task of the day was to drop off our documentation to the City of Monte Sereno.  Bryan handed two copies to Howard Bell, the Building Official, who stamped them as ‘Received’ and said he would review the documnet.  Howard will be in a class all day tomorrow so Bryan will follow up directly with Brian Loventhal (as one copy was for Brian).

The deadline of September 29 is looming …

Picking Up Our Pink CAT5

While we don’t need to use pink CAT5 for our C-Bus network, we thought it would be a nice touch to follow the Australian code for lighting controls.  In Australia, pink CAT5 is mandated by the building code.

Bryan picked up 2,000 feet of pink CAT5, which had been ordered through ADI in Santa Clara.  Armed with the pink CAT5 and the ferrules that arrived on September 23, we have all the materials to rough in the lighting control system.  OK, we still need the final lighting design …

Working on the Lighting Design

Bryan is still working on the documentation of the lights in the house.  After the design session with Randall Whitehead last week in San Francisco, Bryan documented most of the decisions.  He needs to finish it off and get the list of lights out to the suppliers.

When going through the Artemide showroom on August 30, 2011, we discovered the Artemide’s Mouette lights, which look like airplane wings or birds in flight.  We couldn’t think where they could ‘fit’ in our home.  On the weekend, when going to the Artemide catalog again, we started to visualize how there could be a series of three individual lights that would like like they were emerging from the lower level (basement) and exiting through the clerestory windows in the atrium.

Bryan gave Scott Andersen and Sue Therrien, who are visiting us on Friday, Saturday and Sunday, the address of the Artemide showroom in San Francisco so they can see the lights and then help with the design.

Time to focus on this one …

Priming the FSC Siding

Al started priming the FSC siding yesterday and then Al, Dan and Nep were cutting and installing it.  Al decided it would be more efficient if he and Nep primed all of the siding.  Then, they ccould all work together on getting the siding installed.  Especially since another box of Cor-A-Vent should be delivered tomorrow.

Dan got another couple sheets of siding up today.  These were some of the most difficult sheets of siding as they require holes for the electric receptacles and the air vents.

Lots to do tomorrow.

Especially since Scott and Sue arrive on Friday!

Photo from the Artemide catalog showing the Mouette lights in the San Francisco Airport (SFO). These lamps are very cool ...

Another photo from the Artemide catague showing the asymetric Mouette lamps. Note the glass bridge in this photo.

Our pink CAT% matches the smaller loop of pink CAT5, which was included in our light switches. We can now start wiring the switches together.

Bryan picked up another 5 gallon pail of tinted primer as the FSC siding is soaking up the primer!

Al primes another sheet of FSC siding ...


We're using all stainless steel nails on the exterior so we don't run the risk of seeing nay corrosion caused by nails.


The primed, back and front, FSC siding installed on the West side of the house.

The West wall is looking great after the inital pieces of siding have been installed.


Starting on Our Rainscreen Over the Radiant Barrier

Monday, September 26th, 2011

With the approval of our building wrap by the City of Monte Sereno on Friday afternoon, we started on building the rainscreen over the radiant barrier on the West side of the house today.  Dan Shurter joined the team today and will certainly increase our capacity and accelerate our progress.

Addressing the Issues Relating to Our Solar Rebate

Our rebate under the NHSP expires on September 29, 2011, which is only days away.  On Friday, September 16, 2011, the Building Official at the City of Monte Sereno, Howard Bell, noted that the installation is complete but he would not approve the permit.  Since then, we have been working with the City of Monte Sereno and Pacific Gas & Electric Company to search for ways to connect our solar photovoltaic system to the grid through our temporary electric service but have not been successful.

Bryan met with Brian Loventhal, City Manager, today and Brian requested that we submit a document outlining the situation we are facing, the alternatives, and a proposed solution.  Brian noted that he cannot address the issues relating to our project based on conversations.

So, Bryan focused on documenting the issues relating to our solar rebate and a recommended solution.  He will deliver two copies to the City of Monte Sereno on Tuesday morning.

Starting on Our Rainscreen over the Radiant Barrier

We noticed that the siding on our house was damaged by water and sunlight, and needed maintenance.  To address this, we decided to extend the roof overhang as much as possible and to use a ‘rainscreen’ to reduce damage caused by moisture.  In addition, we included a radiant barrier to reduce the cooling load in the house.

While researching radiant barriers, we learned that a radiant barrier is not effective without a 3/4 inch air gap over the radiant barrier.  This ‘fit’ well with a rain screen design as the back of the siding needs to be exposed to air.  We found a product, Cor-A-Vent, that could go at the top and bottom of the wall that would allow air, but not insects, to flow through the air space.

For siding, we worked with Robert Spaulding (Roseburg Forest Products) and Chris Tritschler (Channel Lumber) to specify and source FSC siding that would be the closest match to the original siding that Eichler used.  Note that the original siding is still on the structure, it is under the Tyvek building wrap and the radiant barrier.  As well, Chris provided the FSC furring strips for the rainscreen.

Front view of the rainscreen design. Air enters at the bottom and flows out the top. Furring strips every 16 inches on center.

Detail of bottom of rainscreen, showing how air enters through the Cor-A-Vent.

Top of rainscreen, showing how air exits.

FSC siding from Roseburg Forest Products.

Roseburg Forest Products' chain-of-custody number is stamped on each sheet of siding.

FSC furring strips, primed and ready ...

Radiant barrier at front of house.

Furring strips on 16-inch centers on West side of house.

Fresh air intake (bottom) and exhaust air (top) that supply air to, and exhaust air from, the house. These air flows go through our heat recovery unit in the Air Handler room.

Detail at top of wall, showing wooden beams above windows.

The first sheet of primed FSC siding is in place.


Diving into the Details

Saturday, September 24th, 2011

We need to button down the outstanding details so we can move forward expeditiously.  There are a couple, ok, lots, of details to button down.

Al wants to have a decision on paint, stain or paint/stain (pain?) for Monday.  And, we need to establish the audio, video, data, security and other wiring inside the house.

March 31, 2012 is our move-in date, which is cast in stone.  Or, more accurately, carbon fiber.

Looking at Black Stained Beams at Cinnabar Hills Golf Club

Our wooden beams that extend from the outside to the inside need to be one finish.  And, we’d like that finish to be dark.  Importantly, the synthetic wood structural beams that are above the original reclaimed Douglas Fir beams should look the same.  Yeah, a tall order.  Standard on our project.

Craig Rathe, our contact at Kelly-Moore Paints in Saratoga, suggested that we go to see the wooden beams at Cinnabar Hills Golf Club to see how they look.

Bryan did just that on Saturday morning.

Reviewing the Home Theater Layout at 300 San Jose

We hosted our daughter’s eighth birthday party at 300 San Jose last Saturday afternoon (September 17).  300 San Jose is a very modern and high tech bowling alley.   (Yeah, it was fun!).  We noted that they have a great projection screen and other relevant furniture and finishes for our home theater.

Bryan returned to 300 San Jose with a digital camera and measuring tape.

Reflecting, Green Building with Autodesk’s BIM software could have been used to verify the home theater design using the software’s three dimensional capabilities

Ending the Day at the Job Site

The day ended with Paul Fulton coming to our job site to review our proposed audio, video and data wiring plans.  Paul arrived in this blue Tesla Roadster 2.5 and parked just in front of our Nissan LEAF.  During our research of electric vehicle charging stations, on April 2, 2011 we looked at Paul’s charging station for his Roadster.

Craig Rathe, our contact at Kelly-Morre Paints, recommended that we review the wooden beams at Cinnabar Hills Golf Club. So, we did.


The exposed wood beams looked striking against the natural wood of the eaves.

Beams, exposed to the weather.


300 San Jose. (It was a beautiful, blue-sky California day!)


Screen layout in the lounge area, with the projector. The screen was 120 inches wide and the projector was 96 inches back from the screen.


Not being shy, Bryan took out his tape measure to take the dimensions of the room with the seating.


Very durable chairs and footstool ...


While the screen was flat against the wall, the two televisions were angled down for close viewing.

The screen was made by Da-Lite. Easy to follow up on from here.

Back at the job site, we wanted to document the low-VOC adhesives that we are using. Indoor air quality is very important to us.

Our friend, Paul Fulton, dropped by the job site to review our plans for audio, video and data layout and cabling.

Our Nissan LEAF has white carpool stickers, just like Paul's Tesla.


Building the Racks for Our Solar Panels

Tuesday, September 6th, 2011

The team from Real Goods Solar arrived at the site this morning and started working immediately.  They have a sense of urgency to complete our project as our rebate will expire on Monday, September 12.

Picking Up Our Custom Sink for the Kitchen Island

We were trying to find a Kohler 5-sided sink for our Kitchen Island.  After learning that the particular sink we were looking for was discontinued in 1993, we almost gave up hope for the sink dimensions.

After speaking with Cathy and John at the Powder Room in Los Gatos, we thought of getting a custom sink manufactured.  First, we tried to have Julien make the sink but they declined.  Then, John contacted Elkay in Chicago.

Elkay reviewed Bryan’s sketch and created shop drawings for review.  After two iterations, we signed off on the drawings and the sink went into production.

After the sink arrived today, Al and Nep cut a hole in the kitchen island mock up, and installed the sink.

It looks great!

This is an image from the internet of the five-sided Kohler sink that we were looking for. Apparently, Kohler stopped manufacturing these sinks in 1993.

Our Elkay sink is mounted in the mock up of the Kitchen Island.


Another view of the sink ...


The sink works! Back into the protective box until the island is built.


We need to have a couple breakers installed in our 400 amp panel for our solar panels. One of the circuits coming from the roof will land in this panel.


The team from Real Goods Solar assembles the racks on the Upper Flat roof.


Starting to assemble the tallest of the four racks on the Upper Flat roof.


The team from Real Goods Solar made great progress today. This is the status as of the end of the day.


The rack supporting the solar panels that straddle the North gable will only be visible from the back of the pool.




Installing Our Displacement Air Ventilation System

Tuesday, August 2nd, 2011

We engaged Silicon Valley Mechanical to install our displacement air ventilation and hydronic heating and cooling systems.  Ken Martin took the original design and has improved on it immensely.

Before we can cover any of the walls, we need to have the rough plumbing, rough electrical, rough HVAC and rough hydronic systems in place.  In addition, we need to have all of the low voltage wiring (e.g., security, network, vacuum, generator and pool controls, etc.) in place.  And then inspected by the City of Monte Sereno.

Silicon Valley Mechanical has been working on the ducting for our displacement air ventilation for over a week.  Yesterday, Bryan picked up the heat recovery ventilator (we missed the delivery a on Friday) and took the unit to the job site.

The heat recovery ventilator is from Lifebreath Systems Inc., headquartered in London, Ontario, Canada (where Bryan completed his MBA at the Ivey School of Business at the University of Western Ontario in 1991).

Ken was on site to ensure the HRV was installed as he had designed.  With such new equipment, it is key to get the unit oriented in the optimal position so it is easy to maintain and operates in the most efficient manner.

Examining the Lifebreath HRV, so we can orient and install it in the most appropriate manner.


The inside of the Lifebreath HRV. The unit takes the incoming fresh air and transfers the temperature of the outgoing exhaust air to it.


Ken Martin works the the Lifebreath heat recovery ventilator so it is positioned in the optimal orientation for operation and maintenance.


Emmanuel Zendejas positions the HRV in the West Air Handler room. Note the nifty platform Silicon Valley Mechanical uses to raise/lower/swivel bulky and heavy mechanical components at a job site.


Silicon Valley Mechanical uses low-VOC duct sealants, such as the product in this photo. Design Polymerics' 1010 Duct Sealant has less than 7 grams of VOCs per liter. This amount of VOCs is far lower than the 200 grams per liter required by MR 2.2.


In order to improve the efficiency of the clothes dryers, we used the Dryer-Ell, which is a large radius dryer exhaust elbow. This photo shows where the dryer exhaust comes down from the Upper Laundry room.


There is another Dryerbox Ell where the exhaust comes up from the Lower Laundry room. Also, the ducting for the displacement air ventilation is above the dryer exhaust.


This is the fresh air duct going to Kate's bedroom. Note the low VOC mastic over all the joints.


Two exhausts, one for each of the Lower Laundry and the Upper Laundry, going up, then through the concrete under Kates vanity before exiting the house on the West wall.


Before going through the steel beam, the duct splits and goes up to provide fresh air for the Living Room. We are, finally, using one of the holes that were cut through the steel beam.


Al and Nep have prepared the location behind the swimming pool and statue where the generator will be anchored. There will be a concrete pad in place here for the 100 amp generator.