Archive for the ‘ House ’ Category
It's been a while now since Lisa first suggested we enter our Bungaloft project in the Build It Green! Home Tour. Once we were accepted (and committed, or more likely, ready to be committed ), we accelerated the pace a bit, worked hard on the house and finally waved a glorious goodbye to our temporary, fifth-wheel-trailer-home and moved into the house. A week later we welcomed about 150 green building aficionados to our 550 sq ft experiment in compact living for a day's worth of interesting conversation about our work in progress. Although a bit of imagination was a useful tool for the typical visitor, the temporary staging job we did to make a serviceable presentation came off pretty well. In spite of an unfortunate, last minute, job-site accident that left Lisa feeling a little less presentable than she might have liked, we all three (Zane entertained guests) thoroughly enjoyed the day.
Now that we have been in the house a while and are beginning to tackle the many remaining tasks in earnest, it feels like time to review what got us this far. We would never claim to be the ultimate green warriors on the home remodeling front, but we have made a significant commitment to incorporating green building techniques wherever we felt we could. The other major consideration has always been to find a comfortable melding of the Bungalow heritage of our little house with our shared fondness for Modern design principles.As the modest remodel began to look more like a complete rebuild, I keep noticing how much beautiful old fir was coming out of the original construction. 1928 was undoubtedly a good year for framing lumber. So our thoughts turned to ways we could make use of the growing bounty. The first significant step in that direction was recycling some of the material into thick veneers to build our bathroom vanity pictured above. In keeping with the Modernism meets Bungalism theme I had in mind, we had decided to build a European style wall-hung cabinet. Two particular pieces of fir seemed destined for this project. The one visible in the photo above had beautiful straight, close grain with a smattering of nail holes to remind us of it's provenance. The other board, originally a painted baseboard, had a wilder wavy grain pattern with a bit of lighter colored sapwood. I made use of some leftover bamboo stair tread material to make a set of towel hooks like the one at left below the motion-detector shower fan switch.
We stumbled upon the one-piece counter top at Ikea. It is a very well made part complimented nicely by a Cifial faucet purchased inexpensively at a local fixture shop sale. The very modern top surface of the cabinet inspired me to look for a handle that would nicely blend that polished look with the more rustic feel of the Fir. I finally decided to make the handles from some recycled steel angle lying around the shop. The combination of a modern design with the rough mill finish seems like just the right touch. The photo below shows the other Fir material and a detail of the smaller pulls used on the narrower right set of drawers along with a glimpse of Lisa's idea to use open shelves for rolled-up bath towels.The material reclamation process we used involves a number of steps starting with planing and resawing the original material. The photo below shows one of the boards making its way past the blade of my vintage Dro bandsaw equipped with a custom fence I built for it. I chose to aim for 1/16" inch veneer just because it felt right.
The material reclamation process we used involves a number of steps starting with planing and re-sawing the original material. The photo above shows one of the boards making its way past the blade of my vintage Duro bandsaw equipped with a custom fence I built for it. I chose to aim for 1/16" inch veneer just because it felt right.We pressed Lisa into service for the sanding phase. I salvaged this little wide belt sander years ago and rebuilt it. I have found it very useful for just this kind of project. We were able to make up some really sweet Fir veneer. The drawer fronts made of cabinet plywood were laminated with the Fir veneer using a shop-made vacuum pump and bags. (Yes, the reservoir is a propane tank but it never had propane in it and the capacity is just right for the pump capacity.) I didn't have any veneer tape in the shop so we made do with blue tape. Some will recognize the "bench" as a structural insulated panel - one of many stored as walls or other surfaces around the shop until they see use in a building project.
Back to work . . .
I pinch myself each morning . . . I'm actually living inside a house!
The Prowler - a 5th wheel trailer, which the three of us - Lisa, Zane and I - nested in while I tore our house apart and gradually put it back together, no longer obstructs the better part of our driveway or our sanity. In its place we can now park both cars and still have plenty of room to make our way into our new dwelling. Well, it's not exactly new but perhaps 25 percent of the old house remains. We long ago took to calling the project Bungaloft.
The shape of our Bungaloft is clarified with each additional completed project - a kitchen tile backsplash is underway at the moment. The Bungaloft (I think "Where Modernism meets Bungalism") is our attempt to infuse a bit of Modern style into this modest bungalow. My formal and informal history as a student of Modern design and Lisa's fondness for the phenomenon that is Dwell Magazine delivers the drive for a crisp clarity in each choice we make. The welcoming diversity of Portland's neighborhoods filled with an endless collection of traditional architectural styles provides the counterbalancing love for the coziness of intimate scale cottages. It is not done but we now enjoy the progress from within its walls.
We are far enough along that we find ourselves settling into the task of making the modern - cozy. As we search through the collection of photos and other artworks we have collected, a bit of the lived-in look builds with each additional nail and hook pounded into the wall. Because of my long-standing work designing and building cameras I have a pretty decent collection of photographic work by artists who may or may not own one of my cameras. Each image has its own point-of-entry, its own collection of stories which necessarily includes the one about how we came to posses it. So when the beautiful image above slipped into my consciousness I quickly recalled that although not made with one of my cameras, it was in fact made by an artist who does own an example of the current camera - the P.90. Although I am quick to express the preference that my cameras live a productive life as a useful tool, I have the impression that Jean-Claude Mougin purchased his camera more as a work of art. Much as I would love to see P.90 images made by Jean-Claude, I'll readily accept as a substitute the gift he made of a beautiful print of this image with no further incentive than my compliment on its haunting beauty. Some images possess an emotional power extending well beyond the simple total of their visual content. For me, this image is a rich and compelling story engaging my imagination every time I look at it.
Having nearly met its demise at the beak of a certain African Grey parrot who will go unnamed, the print is now destined for matting and framing in preparation for its prominent role in elevating the level of enchantment we experience each day we share the privilege of living in this little jewel we call Bungaloft.
We are settling in to our somewhat campy (in the outdoor around the campfire sense) life in the early days of occupying our unfinished, but now livable, Bungaloft. The Paperstone counter is in the backyard with trimming, edge finishing and prep for sink cutout underway and everywhere I look there is something large or small demanding attention, but the overall sense is one of a vision coming to fruition. We actually enjoy coming back home from an outing now.
Having yielded a bit of my job list to speed up our preparation for the Green Home Tour, I called upon a neighbor in the building containing my shop to build some of our cabinets. The last of the basic install was completed today as the red-faced (no, not out of embarrassment) cabinets sharing a wall with the opposing Beech and Birch wall unit received most of their finishing touches. We still have to decide on cutout styles for the doors and drawers and a few other details. Mike Schmaltzer of MWS Woodworks did a great job of pulling together my rough ideas for the cabinets.
This addition to the "Command Center" in the kitchen fits nicely with the Bungaloft concept. We're hopeful that the remainder of the project will continue to feel the same way.
Wow, you mean we don't have to sleep in the trailer tonight?
Quality control inspector
Bungaloft - blending Modernism with Bungalism.
Last Saturday we participated in the 2011 Build it Green Home Tour and had a lot of interest in the small scale of our Bungaloft project. It seems that a number of people share our interest in living with a small footprint. Although we have quite a ways before the project is complete, we received a lot of useful feedback and encouragement from those who stopped by.
I tend to feel that attempting to live a more responsible lifestyle must certainly entail minimizing the volume of resources required to put a roof over your head. But as closet Modernists living in a tiny Bungalow, Lisa and I have the additional interest in designing a functionally efficient living space that effectively integrates the original bungalow details with our interest in modern design.
The house as we found it. 150 feet of personal park for a back yard sold us.
So we went to work . . .
. . . and found some strong colors . . .
. . . some interesting buried treasure . . .
. . . and the will to keep going when things got awkward.
We are comfortably ensconced (albeit in somewhat primitive form) inside the Bungaloft and looking forward to a winter without the 5th wheel.
We'll provide some stories and images in the coming days as we grow accustomed to living in a real house once again and continue to fill in the many remaining gaps in the Bugaloft project.
After staring at roof brackets in our bungalow-filled neighborhoods for some time, I finally had to commit and make my own. Our theme with the project is to attempt to bring together traditional bungalow details with modern design ideas. We also have a very colorful paint scheme so I tried to come up with something that would work within the context of all three themes.
As am amateur builder I look for ways to make up for lack of experience with the various trades. When it came to the shower I wanted to have a curbless walk-in design. The shower floor area turned out to be too small to make this work with simple sloping while still meeting the code. So I dropped the framing for the shower floor 3 inches with the ultimate goal of building a slatted wood insert that would effectively bring the shower floor up to the level of the rest of the bathroom floor. I felt that the traditional process of building the slope into the shower pan with mud might be tricky in the cramped space so I opted for this pre-sloped shower pan insert system.
The final result with slate tiles. Next on the agenda will be the limestone wall tiles and the remaining slate floor through the rest of the the bathroom.
When I first realized that plumbing was to become part of my future work on the Bungaloft project I naturally sought to drown myself in information (perhaps to avoid the first actual testing of the waters?). But it really didn't take long to find one particular path taking precedence over the competition.
It was clear long before the houses' other onion layers had begun falling away that the mongrel collection of cast iron, galvanized steel and PVC pipe was a treacherous beast laying in wait. (In some cases, small leaks from this arrangement can be the reason for a damp basement) It was also apparent that our construction-phase-living-arrangement in a fifth wheel trailer parked in the driveway would benefit from maintaining at least some of the plumbing in the house as long as possible. (We took to calling our visqueen concealed toilet as the "black room".)
So consider for a moment the standard options:
So PEX won out as the clear winner for moving water around the Bungaloft. I'll elaborate on an accessory for PEX systems that makes things even more interesting in another post.
For now, here are but a few of the resources I encountered in info-overload mode.
How Safe is it? GBA article
Lisa spent some time making sawdust in the front yard recently. We had finally decided that the Bungaloft penninsula counter top would be a butcher block surface. Since there was quite a stash of old growth Fir lying around from the demo, that was the obvious choice for material. So we are accumulating boxes of 2 inch blocks to build the slab with. It's generally really nice tight-grain material that's hard to come by these days.
We also have a stack of planed planks from the demo awaiting other uses in the remodel.
Last week was spent on the road. Part of the trip included a visit with Steven Holloway, an artist in Oakland who is now the proud owner of two of my cameras. His new P.90 left with him the following day for a birthday adventure to Yosemite. Steven teaches at the Kala Art Institute housed in the historic (and very cool) Heinz building. I was able to view the building from the outside and am anxious to visit next time I get to the Bay Area.
We also went with my sister and Bay Area resident Dana out to Sausalito to visit the Heath Ceramics outlet where we found a wonderful colored trim tile for the Bungaloft shower. The eternal project moves forward a notch . . .
The ShowPDX event preview party is tomorrow. The event runs through October. Check the ShowPDX site for details. It's in a big warehouse space this year and the FIX team has done a great job getting it set up. I have a luminaire in the show and there are several other designers from the 28th Ave studio building (aka - "the hole") exhibiting in the show as well.
I decided to change the base of the "Palomar" to a concrete form and the change is definitely for the better. The piece was just never comfortable with a wooden base. In wrapping up the reassembly I visited one of my favorite resources in Portland - Sunlan lighting. In all the time I was off on a lighting design tangent I would have loved to have Sunlan available for a local resource. Alas, I was in Santa Fe at the time . . .
The Bungaloft project plods along,
The list grows.
The list occasionally shrinks.
We begin the preemptive siding project on the front of the house.
The purpose . . .
To figure out how the insulated rainscreen siding will go together
and . . .
to give us something more hopeful to look at towards the end of the day.
So . . .
We have HardiePlank 5 1/4" lap siding stacked up in the house. Lisa applied the first coat of a delicious Benjamin Moore red paint to each plank. They'll get finishing coats after installation in complete.
The extant walls in the front (the back half of the house will eventually be almost completely new) are 2 by 4 fir studs with 3/4" t&g fir cladding on the outside. Among the other creative things the original builder of our house did was to choose a pleasingly random stud spacing. The standard practice for Hardie involves looking for studs at standard spacing to attach to. This was clearly not gonna happen intentionally on the Bungaloft. Dialogs with fiber cement siding engineers and a couple of obscure Hardie documents on rainscreen siding (Technical Bulletin 09152008B) and SIPs construction (Technical Bulletin 07102008) led to the alternative concept of firmly re-attaching the existing fir cladding and using it for the siding substrate.
The rainscreen system will consist of a layer of 15 lb felt serving as a secondary water resistive barrier over the original fir cladding , a layer of 1 " extruded polystyrene insulation taped, sealed and flashed as the primary water resistive barrier, 1/2 inch pressure treated plywood furring strips and cor-a-vent strips to provide a ventilation space and finally the Hardie siding.
The view above shows the Hardie plank applied to the front of the Bungaloft and the preparatory work done on the adjacent side. the first strip of siding is applied with a thin starter strip over the cor-a-vent which is in turn applied at the intersection of the 1 inch Fomular insulation and the custom flashing I designed to manage water intrusion and keep bugs away from the bottom edge of the foam. That detail can be seen below.
I've consulted voluminous sources of information during the course of the Bungaloft project and on the rainscreen issue in particular I have found the extensive writings of modern building science researcher Joe Lstiburek of BuildingScience.com very informative. A lot of similar information is now routinely presented and discussed on the GreenBuildingAdvisor.com website. Some usefull information can also be found at the ToolBase Services Rainscreen article. But one thing is painfully clear - there is no one single one-size-fits-all solution for rainscreen design. You have to evaluate your particular case against climate issues, structural issues, budget issues, local practice and the building codes to find something that makes sense.