if you needah, we gottah!

first, a quick update….construction continues to crawl toward completion.  cabinets have been installed; concrete countertops are in-process; interior painting is scheduled to be completed soon; backyard landscaping, patio and fencing should be completed next week; and, other odds and ends are falling into place.  HOPEFULLY, by this time next week the galvanized steel stair will be installed! so, in spite of the quiet here at the blog (my social media has been suffering lately due to time constraints), we have been pressing toward completion, albeit later than we had hoped for, but….

our awesome galvanized metal gutter and downspouts were installed a few weeks ago.  they’ve added a nice level of techno-detail to exterior.  in addition to looking pretty cool, they’ll direct roof run-off into a rainwater collection system (rain barrels) for use in watering the gardens and lawn.

nice gutter/downspout configuration at front entry court.  cool photo, too.

nice gutter/downspout configuration at front entry court. cool photo, too.

more very cool hardware at downspout.

more very cool hardware at downspout.

downspout installation will appear more sensible when rain barrel(s) and fence are installed.

downspout installation will appear more sensible when rain barrel(s) and fence are installed.

gotta love those gutter brackets!

gotta love those gutter brackets!

Downeast Gutters from aurora, maine installed the gutter system.  their voicemail greeting is “if you need her, we got her”.  BUT, you MUST use wicked good downeast accent.  if you do, then it goes something like this “if you needah, we gottah”.  so, “got her”….”gottah” = gutter! got it?!

SUNNY BOY

SLOWLY, the corrugated galvalume metal siding is making its way onto the exterior walls.  after months of looking at housewrap and a grid work of overlapping 1×3 strapping, the house is receiving its outer layer of skin.  it looks great; it’s durable; requires no maintenance; has high recycled content; is 100% recyclable; and, my client LOVES it!IMG_6487-2

Solar Hot Water is up and running.  We’re making hot water!

Hot water tank.  Glycol mixture is heated at the solar panels on the roof and pumped through the copper pipes which are connected to a coil in the bottom of the tank.  The coil heats the water in the tank.

Hot water tank. Glycol mixture is heated at the solar panels on the roof and pumped through the copper pipes which are connected to a coil in the bottom of the tank. The coil heats the water in the tank.

This monitor tells us that the glycol temp at the collectors on the roof is 156.3°F.  The temperature in the tank was 139°F.  Readings were taken yesterday morning at 9AM.

This monitor tells us that the glycol temp at the collectors on the roof is 156.3°F. The temperature in the tank was 139°F. Readings were taken yesterday morning at 9AM.

Solar PV is up and running, too.  Yup, we’re making electricity!!!!

This is the inverter.  Basically, it converts the DC electricity generated by the PV panels (AND the sun!) into AC electricity.  Yeah, I know, you might think it should be called a converter, huh?  But, a converter changes AC into DC.  As I type this, I'm simultaneously shrugging shoulders and rolling eyes!  Kindly note that geek-O feedback that will further understanding on this point is welcome. ;-)

This is the inverter. It converts the DC electricity generated by the PV panels into AC electricity. Yeah, I know, you might think it would be called a converter, huh? But, a converter changes AC into DC. As I type this, I’m simultaneously shrugging shoulders and rolling eyes! Kindly note that geek-O feedback that will further understanding on this point is DEFINITELY welcome. ;-)

As of yesterday, Mr. Sun (with a little help from some silicon, aluminum, etc.) has saved 339.81 lbs CO2 since being activated - sorry, I don't know when that occurred.  A more detailed rundown on all things energy-related is forthcoming.  BTW, gotta love the name of the inverter - SUNNY BOY!  (man, some marketing-types were thinkin' overtime on that one!).

As of yesterday, Mr. Sun (with a little help from some silicon, aluminum, etc.) has saved 339.8 lbs CO2 since being activated – sorry, I don’t know when activation occurred. A more detailed blog post on all things energy-related is forthcoming. BTW, gotta love the name of the inverter – SUNNY BOY! (man, the marketing-types were thinkin’ overtime on that one!).

Revision Energy of Portland is our renewable energy consultant/contractor (you can find their contact info on the “team” page).  363HOUSE will be featured in Revision’s June email newsletter.

 

shower drain

i know, such an exciting post title!  (please refer to the previous post “hiatus completus” for photo of the shower and context for below).

so, what’s cool about this drain is not just it’s sublime (sophisticated?) aesthetics, but it’s important function.  obviously, it’s primary function is to drain water from the shower.  but, it’s design and location will provide drainage with minimal negative impacts re: wheelchair.  this linear drain allows the shower floor to slope toward the rear wall thus minimizing the potential for water to find its way out of the shower proper.  the floor slope is mono-pitch vs. multi-pitch (with requisite “valleys”), more commonly provided with a “typical” central floor drain (usually square or round) .  therefore, jessica’s shower chair will be more stable (less likely to roll around).  and, it looks cool!

this shower drain is KERDI-LINE manufactured by schluter.  a variety of covers are available, including one that accepts tile.  the cover is easily removed for cleaning.

schluter KERDI-LINE, linear floor drain at jessica's shower.

schluter KERDI-LINE, linear floor drain at jessica’s shower.

 

wood floor

yes, we are moving forward again.  the “restart” has been a little slower than i had hoped.  causes for our standstill are many – my absence for two weeks; cabinetwork budget issues required a few weeks to remedy; delivery and acclimation of wood flooring; delivery of interior doors and trim, to name a few.  the good news is now we have most of the parts needed for interior fit out to move along in a ready manner.  so, here we go!

the flooring at the second floor has always been planned to be wood. but, the species and finish type was only recently decided.  jessica had been planning on using bamboo flooring.  it has some appealing sustainable qualities – namely, bamboo is a rapidly renewable resource.  however, i’ve had longstanding misgivings about bamboo flooring. these include: it’s not wood, it’s plant fiber – the bamboo fibers are “sliced and diced” and then glued together under heat and pressure to create a wood-llike product – what is the glue?, how much energy is required for that “heat and pressure”?; bamboo is mostly harvested in southeast Asia where it is then processed into flooring, then shipped halfway around the world to land here in Maine; i question its ability to be refinished in the future (can it be sanded?); and, i’ve been told its very difficult to install (hardness of the glue!).  bamboo flooring’s upsides include the aforementioned renewability, popularity and hardness.  so, given my misgivings, i urged my client to consider a more local flooring resource – pre-finished maple flooring grown, harvested, milled and finished right here in maine.  granted, maple takes a lot longer to renew (vs. bamboo), but the product we used is a local resource (A LOT less than 500 miles from the jobsite); provides local Maine jobs; has a very low VOC finish; installation is familiar with commonly available tools and know-how; can be sanded and re-finished (longevity/durability); and, it looks good!  what’s not to like about all that, except for the renewable part, i suppose?  oh yeah, this locally sourced product is surprisingly affordable – about $8/sf to buy.

premium (no dark heartwood) maple flooring helps to bounce the abundant daylight to provide bright interiors, even on this cloudy day.  not sure about that demon trash can????

premium (no dark heartwood) maple flooring helps to bounce the abundant daylight to provide bright interiors, even on this cloudy day. not sure about that demon trash can????

manufacturer and contact info for Maine Traditions right on the box!

manufacturer and contact info for Maine Traditions right on the box!

VPL – vertical platform lift

Gallery

This gallery contains 12 photos.

VPL (Vertical Platform Lift) also/formerly known as wheelchair lift.  quite the piece of machinery.  photo gallery below documents how the 13’+ tall tower was inserted into the shaft.  i was skeptical  but, kevin (the installer) kept saying “yeah, we’ll git … Continue reading

metal siding

early morning sun making the corrugated galvalume metal glimmer.  love it!  installation = SLOW (kinda like the metal roof).  but, once it's in/on, it will last a long time with virtually no maintenance.  it has high-recycled content value and it's 100% recyclable.  what's not to love????

early morning sun making the corrugated galvalume metal siding glimmer. love it! installation = SLOW (kinda like the metal roof). but, once it’s on, it will last a long time with no maintenance. it has high-recycled content value and it’s 100% recyclable. what’s not to love????

solar thermal

solar thermal collectors at top left corner of roof.

solar thermal collectors at top left corner of roof.  read below for system description.  let the sun shine!

Major System Components Based on an evaluation of anticipated domestic hot water demand, the proposed closed loop antifreeze solar hot water system consists of:

  • (2) Wagner EURO C20 AR flat plate solar thermal collectors with Sunarc solar glass.
  • (1) Caleffi 119G solar storage tank with electric element backup
  • (1) Flowstar solar pump station by Stiebel Eltron; includes temp. gauge, flow meter, and PRV
  • (1) Stiebel Eltron SOM 6 plus Delta T controller with variable speed pump control

The system is designed for primary solar domestic water heating with seamless automatic backup from the electric element in the tank.

System Operation Whenever the rooftop collectors are warmer than the water in the bottom of the storage tank, a differential temperature sensor automatically activates a solar circulating pump. Sun-heated antifreeze pumps up to the collectors, then down through a heat exchange coil located in the bottom of the storage tank. In the spring, summer and fall, the system will provide a significant fraction of the household’s domestic hot water for showering, laundering, dishwashing, etc.

This is a closed-loop system, meaning that the non-toxic propylene glycol antifreeze never comes in contact with the domestic water supply. In case of unusually high hot water demand, or an extended period of cloudy weather when there isn’t enough sun to heat the top of the tank to its set point, the back up electric element will take over. The integration of the solar hot water system and the backup element will ensure that you always have an ample supply of hot water.

System Overheat Protection Under certain conditions solar hot water collectors can reach temperatures of 350 degrees F or more. Glass, copper and aluminum live comfortably at these high temps, but the propylene glycol heat transfer fluid in the system needs to be kept below 250 degrees to prevent acidification.

ReVision Energy incorporates ‘steamback overheat protection’ into every solar hot water system to protect the heat transfer fluid from a ‘stagnation event’ which can occur during power outages or during long stretches when hot water is not being used (i.e. you are away on vacation) and the solar circulating pump shuts down to prevent overheating the storage tank. Steamback is a robust, well-proven strategy developed in western Europe and widely accepted as the best industry standard (rather than building a separate heat dump zone).

Steamback is simple and elegant: when the solar pump has stopped and the collectors reach approximately 250 degrees F, a small amount of the water in the water/glycol mix begins to boil. As the water boils and turns to steam it expands to several thousand times its liquid volume, thereby forcing all of the propylene glycol out of the collector and into a specially sized expansion tank where the fluid stays cool and happy until the collectors fall back below the boiling point. At this point the water condenses, contracts and the system will self-recover as soon as the solar pump starts running again.

You can learn more about this important system design feature at http://www.renewableenergyworld.com/rea/news/article/2011/08/steamback-shows-promise-for-solar-water-overheating

System Performance This solar hot water system is expected to:

  • Produce roughly 11,592,000 Btu’s of clean, renewable heat energy annually
  • Offset roughly 4,906 lbs of C02 emissions from fossil-based energy sources

Incentives This system qualifies for the following state and federal rebates:

  • The solar system is eligible for a 30% federal tax credit. This credit (not deduction) is subtracted directly from an existing tax liability. Please consult with your accountant or tax professional to ensure that you will be eligible for the tax credit.
  • This system is eligible for an Efficiency Maine Solar Thermal Rebate. Incentives are based on projected annual energy production and must be cost effective to be eligible.

smarthome

jessica and todd have decided to install a “smart home” system.  basically, this will allow for control of audio, some video, heating, window shades, security system and lighting via software controlled by computer, iPhone, etc.  the in-house controller will be an iPad mini. its a pretty cool, whiz bang feature that has a deeply practical application for jessica, given her limited mobility.

so, when the sun glare/heat is too much or night-time privacy is needed, pull out the iPhone and lower the shades; when someone is at the front door, pull out the iPhone and see who’s there!; wanna control what rooms are receiving the piped music, pull out the iPhone; driving home and want some outside lights on for your arrival, pull out….you get it.

should be cool.  now, we just gotta get all the wires run before sheetrock starts!

fiber-cement siding

fiber-cement siding has been around for decades in europe.  it has been gaining more of a foothold in the U.S. the past decade, or so.  its advantages include durability, low-maintenance, appearance (it looks like traditional clapboard siding), and fire-resistance.  its reported disadvantages are mostly limited to cost – acquisition and installation.  i take issue with the cost issue.  one must ask “compared to what?”  if the standard is cheap-O vinyl siding, then yes.  when compared to good quality wood siding, my experience is the fiber-cement siding is cost-competitive.  like any building product, the detailer and installer must pay honor the limitations of the product – primarily, protection from moisture penetration/saturation (BEFORE, during and after installation).

i have used A LOT of FC siding in the past 6-7 years with minimal problems/issues.  its a natural fit to this project, mostly for the reasons stated above.  because its primary ingredient is cement, it does have some recycled content and is recyclable at the end of its useful life.  the product is guaranteed for 50 years with a 15 year warranty on the finish.  not that i put a lot of stock in manufacturer’s warranties (read the fine print), but i do think the warranty duration can communicate the manufacturer’s confidence in their product.  given FC siding has been in use for decades, i am comfortable with its claims of durability.

there are two primary FC siding manufacturers – JM Hardie and Certainteed.  we chose Certainteed because they have siding that imitates a stained wood appearance AND because my client wanted it! :-)  the picture below is a good representation of its beauty.  jessica just saw the wall yesterday and couldn’t be happier.  we HOPE installation will be completed before christmas break, pending weather and roofing subcontractor (we need the metal roof and trim installed to install the soffits!).

earlier posts on window details and rain screen provide more info on siding details.

progress continues….

in spite of the paucity of recent posts, construction has been progressing at a steady pace. the garage has been framed, roofing has been “roughed-in” (not totally watertight, but nearly so!), utility connections in the street completed (BIG deal!), and LOTS of miscellaneous framing, etc.  we are about a week behind schedule for our current phase.  not bad considering the wet weather we’ve had in october.  sunny, bright skies this week should help us on our quest to have exterior work 90% complete by thanksgiving – that is if HUNTING SEASON doesn’t slow us down too much!

three windows in this palette will be stacked into one 8′ w. x 9′ h. window in the living room.

at LONG last, the windows and doors (see previous posts entitled Drewexim Uno and Duo) were delivered to the jobsite today!  installation starts tomorrow with completion scheduled for next week.  the crew was impressed with the rugged (AND heavy) windows.  they are beautiful!  i think the client will be happy.