Thursday, January 15, 2009

Making it energy efficient....

Ok, now its done (yes, I know, we're very bad at updating... thats a project for another day), I'm trying to follow the energy usage of the house and of course minimize it.

Finally now we have the solar system on and functional, and at this time of year it is generating 8KwH/day. Not so bad I suppose given the low sun at this time of year.

Thursday, January 3, 2008

First Floor Construction

Dec 16, 2007

First floor construction continues with joists and rafters for the second floor, stairs, and wall enclosures.

The second floor looks to be more than sufficiently supported

My laundry room is below the stairs, with the front-loading washer & dryer literally tucked in beneath.

They cut a trap door for the subfloor access in the hall closet, also under the stairs. Little Man is making a silly face as he stands in it. He doesn't like the house. He says it's a Skeleton House. He's quite cross that it hasn't yet been painted.

The south facing walls are sheeted with Thermastrand to reflect the heat from the sun. Little Man decided to tidy up after the construction workers.

The second floor is ready for sheeting

And the rest of the first floor is nearing completion

First Floor Framing

Dec 708, 2007

Woo hoo, walls! It's starting to look like a real house now!

We even have water, to water the displaced pine tree

It seems very sturdy. My brother, a Project Manager for a commercial construction firm, remarked that there will be an earthquake, and our house will be the only one left standing.

The joists for the second floor are enormous, and held up with the biggest joist hangers I've ever seen.

First Floor Sheething

Dec 1, 2007

Dad came up for an inspection. Yes, that's my gut sticking out from behind the cooktop vent. The cooktop will be situated in the island, facing the great room. We'll be using a downdraft vent system that pulls the air through the floor and out one of the few walls that weren't sheerwalls.

Initial Framing

Nov 17-22, 2007

Once the foundation was laid, things progressed pretty quickly. Apologies for not posting more and sooner.

The garage floor was poured over the vapor barrier:

After that, they subfloor was laid:

Along with the plumbing:

Note that all of the wood used is from well-managed forests:

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Foundation Complete

We now have a foundation.

Forms have been removed, and you can see the layout of the house.

We had them lay a vapor barrier below the garage slab so that we could seal the garage. The garage slab will be poured on Monday.

Thursday, November 8, 2007


After demolition, things began to move very quickly. First they graded. They drew outlines in the dirt.

Then they excavated for the forms.

They built the forms.

We were then ready for concrete. They managed to save the Gregory Tree!

Pouring concrete took one day.

Gregory thought it looked like a Longneck Dinosaur.

A Robot Dinosaur Ate My House

We waited on PG&E in September. Then October began with two weeks of WEATHER. We had to wait until it dried up to begin demolition.

Of course, the perfect window opened up after we booked a weekend away in Phoenix. We arrived back in Mountain View on Monday morning around 10:30am. By then, most of the house had already gone.

We stood and watched as the frontloader took great big bites of the house...

Chewed it...

...and spit it into the awaiting truck. It took something like 4 or 5 loads to get everything. And then the lot was empty.

Gregory was fascinated and I think a bit overwhelmed. I asked him what he thought and he said, "I don't like a robot dinosaur eating my house!"

Step One: Empty House

We happened across a house right around the corner that was available for rent. What luck! We took possession on the first of August, and spent the month moving in.

We emptied the Eldora house of everything, including the kitchen sink.

My brother came up and took all of the cabinets, windows, and doors for his house.

Friends and neighbors took what they could use. We packed a lot of infrequently used belongings into portable storage containers. We moved way too much into the tiny little rental house. We gave lots of stuff away. Come to think of it, we might not have removed the kitchen sink, but I think Matt & Amanda took the facet.

Finally, we were ready for demo.

Complete House Reconstruction

After 15 years, I've done all the remodeling I can to 96 Eldora Drive.

The 3 bedroom/2 bathroom post-WWII California Ranch house has become too small and lacks character. We thought about simply remodeling--adding a second floor, updating the facade. The problems with that were myriad: the city of Mountain View has a setback for the second floor based on distance from the property line irrespective of the placement of the house. The original tract houses were built practically on top of each other, far closer than is allowed now. This meant that our second floor would have to start close to the center line of the existing house, which didn't really get us the expansion we were seeking. Compounding that was the fact that no matter what we did, we'd still end up with something that was kludged onto the existing dull architecture. I was tired of compromising.

We began consulting with Vox Design Group, a "green" architecture and construction management company in Mountain View. We confirmed our doubts about adding a second floor with a brief initial round of designs, and then began pursuing complete reconstruction in earnest. It turned out to be faster than remodeling, and not appreciably more expensive. We explored the possibility of digging a basement but that WAS prohibitive: an additional $250k was just more than it seemed worth. Oh but how I wanted that :(

Without further ado, here are the plans we (and by that I mean Forrest, our amazing architect) came up with

Site Plan



Ground Floor

Upper Floor