Important design comments


It’s hard to keep up with all the ideas on a project like this... but here are some key concepts that we bat around.  Note the evolution of ideas.

1.  This will be a LEED-H project.

2.  We’d like to use the trees from the farm in the project.  There are a lot of these nearby, many of them blown down in storm or ice events.

3. Keep in mind a place for the plant maintenance and potting area.  This shouldn’t be an afterthought, but rather a key part of our outdoor life.  It should be big enough for pots, dirt, tools and etc. and yet not an eyesore.

4.  Similarly, if we use chickens and fowl around the house to manage bugs, let’s think about where they would be housed and where they would wander.

5.  We should focus on the transition from inside to outside.  Instead of a painfully clear demarcation between the house and the landscaping, let’s think about how we gracefully blend the two.  This is in sync with the beauty of the site and our goal to live a vigorous outdoor life. 

6.  We would like to plan for a very small wood stove for the main floor of the house.  We don’t think we’ll need a lot of heat, but in case of power failure, these can be handy.   I would like to make it removable so we can store it outside in temperate months.   Here are some examples:

7.  We talked about refrigerator/freezer planning.  How much space and how many of these appliances will we need.  Can think about a small walk-in cooler in/near the house that is cooled by the same water x water heat pump that does the HVAC for the house?

8.  Let’s make sure we plan for a clothes line that somehow works with the design of the house/landscaping.  Ease of access?  Sun exposure?

9.   We talked about the main entrance issue.  Can we incorporate an airlock/mudroom entry that splits into two doors to take us into the house?  Normally it functions like a mudroom, but it could be cleaned up to serve a more formal function.  We’re preoccupied with designing one entrance that serves formal and informal needs.

10.  We talked about the sprinkler system for the house.  We think a residential fire sprinkler is a practical idea when we are far from volunteer firemen.

Discussion with Jennifer and Travis, June 25, 2010
“Recent Thinking” August 8, 2010

Ideas from Susan Susanka

From the “Not so big solutions” book.

1.  entryways:  Page 30:  make a beautiful transition from inside to the outside.  Somehow make this work with the energy saving idea of an airlock.

2.  mudrooms:  Page 34: a great idea for our house.  Can we integrate the mudroom and pantry
and bathroom and airlock in our design?   Make the bathroom smaller, the mudroom bigger and consider a pass-through window from the entry to the pantry.  Somehow make the entry a graceful transition to the whole house, but allow it to be extremely functional.  It could be really cleaned up/disguised when important visitors were coming for example.   Could the second entry door be a see-through pocket door to save room?

3.  Open floor plans, pages 39-42: Keeping the kitchen and living areas areas in balance.  Use varying ceiling heights to keep people comfortable.  Try to manage noise with cabinet design.  Note upper cabinets between the two rooms can help to separate them.

4.  Outdoor porch windows, page 60:  Note our sleeping room concept outside of the master bedroom.  There are combination screen and glass windows that look promising.

5.  Importance of a place to sort mail, page 65.  Consider using a pass through window in the entry to the pantry area for mail as well as other stuff coming into the house.

6.  Design a pantry, page 78:    The most important storage spot in the house.  Avoid deep shelves.  We like the idea of vertical pull out pantries to make use of all available space.   Margy wants space in the kitchen for staples.

7.  Recycling, page 82:  Locate bins close to the sources if possible.  Think about doing this in the pantry area.  This makes the larger pantry area more important with the easiest access to the outside.

8.  Ceiling height, page 88:  Vary the ceilings to make things more interesting and to match the use.   If we have a lower space over our kitchen, then we should think about what to do with that space:  display stuff?  Storage?   Vining plants?  Think about soffits around the edge of the kitchen to visually lower the ceiling.  See also floating shelves.

9.  Window placement, page 106:  Think about the Pattern Language reference to light on two sides of every room.

11.  Skylights, page 111.  Think about how we can use use light tubes in our case to get light onto the bedroom floor.

12.  Light fixtures, page 115.  We need an all LED light setup for energy reduction and possible color mood lighting.  Can we put little bitty LED lights under the kitchen cabinets?

From the Susanka “More not so big solutions” book.

13.  Open plan from Wright, page 16:  Note what works and doesn’t in an open plan. 

14.  Let there be light, page 21.   Bounce light off reflecting surfaces.

15. Let’s do a breakfast nook, page 32.  Susanka argues that little nooks are great.  They are why everyone wants to sit in a booth in a restaurant.  Maybe we can combine a nook and place for Margy to pay bills into one spot (with a view).  The nook table top can also serve as a place to stage kitchen stuff.  Think about a bay window there.

16.  Trim, page 60.  The unifying use of horizontal trim is sort of oriental and it makes a house look beautiful.

17.  Vary ceiling heights, page 66.  Another discussion about varying ceilings to add interest and comfort.

18.  The importance of an entryway, page 92.  She makes a big deal about this.  An entryway is an important transition and it needs careful design to make it work.  In our case, we need to make it work with a mudroom, pantry, bathroom and airlock.

19.  Breakfast nook, page 97.  Another article about a breakfast nook space.  Here are dimensions and recommendations for the table and seating.

20.  Tubs in bathrooms,  page 126.  She talks about slightly tub that works better in smallish bathrooms.

21.  Laundry Room, page 130.  This is a very good discussion of how to organize a laundry/utility space.  We probably don’t need a sink because we show a bath right next door.

Susan Susanka


Ideas from Greenbuild:

Overview:  Here’s a sampling of materials we really liked from the USGBC Greenbuild show in Chicago during November, 2010.    We don’t have prices and we don’t know about local suppliers, but these are some inspirational ideas that will help us make decisions.

1.  Grass filled GrassCrete paving solution for the driveway.  These are like giant egg cartons that are laid on a gravel base, then loaded with rebar and covered with concrete.  You poke out the tops, add dirt and that forms a permeable driveway surface for cheap.  We can get a more solid surface for all the drives and still be permeable.

2.  Home fire sprinklers.  We talked with officials of the non-profit that promotes fire sprinklers and got some good ideas.  We will need to find a good residential spec for our house.  This is a place to start:

3.  Lutron whole home controls for lighting and shades.  Lutron seemed to have the best solutions for smart controls for lighting our house.   They know LED lights and have several solutions for zoned controls.    We also liked the idea of motorized shades for each window.

  1. 4. Sustainable and beautiful countertops.  We looked at lots of options, but the prettiest with the most options seemed to be TorZo from Woodburn, Or.  We don’t know if this is affordable, but it is beautiful.  We liked the hemp version.

5.  Cork floors.  There were a lot at Greenbuild, but we liked these guys the best:  Globus and Expanko.

6.  Garden Roof Systems.  There were a lot at Greenbuild, but mostly commercial.  The guys who seemed to have the most user friendly approach were Delta.  This is a roll-out mat that goes over an EPDM (or other) roof surface.

7.  We liked this USA company for photovoltaic panels:  SolarWorld.  Of course, we will be using local suppliers for panels, but these guys seemed to have great technology and were one of the only domestic suppliers.

8.  There were a lot of rainwater companies on display, but here is a possibility:  Brae Rainwater systems.  We know them from Watts days and we have a connection there, so they are on the list.

9.  We think we found a great pipe grid to go into the concrete wythe wall sections.  This is from Aquatherm, a German company we are familiar with.   The USA supplier says he can build them in any configuration to fit the door/window openings for each 10‘x35’ section, both interior and exterior.

10.  Below grade wall waterproofing.  There are skeptics out there who think it will be difficult to waterproof the seams of the Precast wall sections.  The guys from Delta have a product that when used with a bituthene-type coating should do the job.

We also liked the Certainteed product called Platon.  Does this eliminate the need for bituthene?

11.  Probably the most cost effective way to get light from the roof to the rooms below is to consider solar tubes.  We like both the Velux and the Solatube versions.  Both companies have versions for residential flat roofs.

12.  We loved the new LED light strings or rope.  They seemed to have a lot of potential for moods and decorating.  They last a long time and don’t use much electricity.  It reminded us that we need to plan for outlets for holiday LED decorations instead of powering them from wall outlets like everyone else.   We didn’t include a link. 

13. LED lighting throughout the house seems doable now that there are so many more choices in residential fixtures.  Here is a company catalog we liked:  Con-Tech lighting.

14.  A great, energy efficient window is Serious.  There are zillions of good windows out there, and in our case, budget is a big deal, but that said…. these are great windows and we should put them on our bid list.

15.  Our house will be so tight that indoor air quality would be compromised without an Energy Recover Ventilator.  There weren’t as many companies at GreenBuild as we expected to see in this industry, but we liked the GreenTek Home Ventilation System.  The sales guys suggest that we try to mount this unit as near to the center of the house as possible.  If we thought we could pull off the proper sound-dampening, we should consider mounting it in one of the dropped ceilings on the main floor.

16.  The EPA has a new program that is a check off certification like Energy Star called Indoor airPLUS.  Because our house is a like a Boy Scout project, we need to follow their guidelines apply for this rating.

17.  Similarly, we need to make sure our house is rated EnergyStar by EPA.  Its a matter of following the guidelines and filling out the forms.

18Similarly, we need to make sure our house is rated WaterSense by EPA.  Its a matter of following the guidelines and filling out the forms.

19.  We’d like our house to be compliant with the International Dark Sky Association standards.  This is a great organization that is devoted to standards and products that minimize light pollution in residential and commercial applications.  All our lighting plans should take these priorities into account.

20.  Issues we didn’t resolve at Greenbuild.  We didn’t see composting toilets or great alternatives to conventional septic systems.  For this, we will need to talk with Tim Smith at Greene County and Mike Kromrey at the Watershed of the Ozarks.  We didn’t find a Internet Protocol security camera system that we liked or much in the way of reverse osmosis water filtering technology, although I’m not worried about that because I used to work for a company that supplies them.    We also didn’t find companies that specifically sold sound proofing technologies.  We assume they are out there with objects and hard surface coverings, but we didn’t see them at Greenbuild. 

*  *  *

Our visit to GreenBuild in Chicago 11.16.10

Here's some thoughts for our 10 am meeting on Wednesday.  In addition to themes below, I hope we can go over the Susanka home books and agree on details we all like.

I don't have Susie's e-mail, so please forward.

Discussion outline for December 7, 2010

With Susie, Travis, Jennifer, Margy and Dan.

Project overview:  

a.  This is not a mansion, mini-mansion, McMansion or a luxury retirement home.  It is a LEED home that will get a lot of attention as an example of “green” best practices.  It is a small, but mechanically advanced commercial project that happens to be a house. We are putting a strong emphasis on design and a fast construction schedule. 

b.  Our themes:  Susanka sized, Pattern Language inspired, sustainable, clean, practical, affordable, energy efficient & safe.  This will be part of a small, working farm and integrated into a network of trails, outbuildings, chickens, tractors and gardens.

c.  Visually, we want a strong reference and connection to the cliffs, greenery and water featured directly below the house

d.  We need clever transitions to the outdoor world:  How will the inside and outside spaces connect and interact?

e.  We need clever planning for a host of practical activities:  recycling, trash, deliveries, food storage (including refrigerators, freezers and pantry), muddy boots, firewood staging, cat/pet services, coat staging, mail sorting, house cleaning, yard work and gardening.  These activities that should be mapped out and thought-through before construction begins. 

f.  Because we have a large family, we need a focus on flexible spaces that can serve multiple uses: i.e. rooms that can serve a living areas and bedrooms.  Examples include the living room, the downstairs and the office.

g.   Stairs are special design challenge:  The openings can create channels to carry unwanted sounds from floor to floor and we will need to plan for stair chair systems to carry us between floors when we can no longer walk.

h.  Universal design that will accommodate us in our advanced age is a priority.

Discussion with Susie, Travis, Jennifer, Margy & dan: December 8, 2010

Meeting notes

for Dan & Margy’s House

Jennifer Wilson

Jereny Jackson

Travis Tindall

Ryan Evitts

Richard Herman

Mike Chiles

Margy Chiles

Dan Chiles

Following our excellent meeting Jan. 26, here are some issues to think about.  Sorry for the jumping around, but that’s how the conversation went.

1.  The stairs.  We’d like to conserve space and money by using a spiral staircase inside the 20x40 footprint.  Round holes through the floors would be a nice touch and pretty practical if we go with concrete floors.   Below are some images for spiral stairs that I found on the internet.

2.  However, we need access to all floors when we are old and disabled.  This suggests that we plan for an elevator or lift.  A lift on spiral stairs is problematic, so it has been suggested that we make plans to rip out the staircase in the future and install an elevator… either pneumatic or hydraulic or cable.  Or possibly make sure that closets are stacked so that they can be removed and a residential elevator installed in the future. 

3. Propane tank?   It has been suggested that we find a place for a propane tank to supply an emergency generator and/or to use for our stove to cook.  We are thinking about this.  Where to put the tank is a landscaping issue.

4.  At almost 8,000 square feet and a rough cost of concrete at 9.00/sq. ft., a concrete drive could cost us about $70,000.  So, we need to explore permeable alternatives that don’t pose problems for water, but can support cars.  Can we install something that matches the tire tracks?  That is permeable?  That isn’t prohibitive in cost?  Here’s the grass crete specs in case that makes sense:

Here’s plastic grids that reinforce grass for vehicles:

Here’s another example:

Jennifer (or Jereny) mentioned that she knew someone in town who is making a concrete grid like this one:  We need to get more information.

5.  Margy and I will make plans to visit Forrest Keeling.  This will help us understand the RPM method of tree propagation.

6.  We need to think about the outside of the house walls.  Should we dye the outer layer of concrete a darker color to more closely match the dark gray color of the near-by stone?  (We only need to color the outside wythe because the inside one will be painted/covered).  Otherwise, over time, the natural color of the concrete will probably look light grey.  Margy is worried about both the concrete and wood exterior fading to a similar shade of light grey over time.  Is this what we all want?   Is this an optimal color for a wall system that is functioning as a giant heat exchanger?

7.  We’re thinking about the glass on the south side of the wall on the main floor.   Do we need all that glass to illuminate the main floor?   Otherwise, that much glass seems to have a lot of downsides:  cost,  possible added cost of the concrete walls, security and energy efficiency.  We need to see some lighting studies from seasonal and artificial light.  Can we be happy with less view?  Does the design of the house inspire us to go outside and see nature for real?  What does Pattern Language say?

8.  At the local homeshow, we met Thad Forrester with Forrester Tech who has good ideas about integrating a lot of technology in the house:  distributed entertainment, distributed internet, distributed music, IP cameras, lighting, window shades and computer networks.  We are especially interested in his Lutron product line:  LED lights, master controls and shades over the windows.

9.  Margy has some ideas about dining table options in the kitchen that may allow us to build a small nook.   We think the two of us will be using the nook for eating, talking and reading every day, so it might be worth the extra effort/expense.  She thinks we may be able to incorporate file size drawers in nearby cabinetry.

10.  Can we get our domestic water from a rainwater collection system that is located below/with the foundation?  Mikes’ back-of-the-envelope calculation is that we can expect 20 gallons of water per square foot of roof area and that we have about 1800 sq. ft. of roof/garage area for an annual yield of 36,000 gallons from the roof areas alone.  We’re guestimating that we could store 5,000 gallons, although that number needs examination.   That would avoid the cost of deep well that would require the same Reverse Osmosis/UV light system needed for a rainwater system.  Will the Greene County building codes allow us to drink rainwater?   We can also use it for flushing toilets and hopefully that means there will be ample supply in rainy times and dry.  

11. We think the embedded tank will satisfy the issues of freezing.  But we will need a liner that doesn’t leech chemicals into the water.  Since we are pouring footings for the carport and entry area, can we incorporate a site built/below ground tank for rain storage in place of the original plan for an above ground tank?

Here is an example from Atlantis that uses an underground box structure and impermeable liner.

12.  Can we pump water from the lake/spring for drip irrigation for the many native plants we will be putting in?   How would that be better than a shallow well into the cave system below?  When the next drought comes, will we regret that we didn’t dig a really deep well?  I think we all agree that to give our new plants and trees the best start and to keep them alive during droughts, we will need a large drip irrigation system with emitters throughout the house/barn site.

13.  Assuming that we run all waste, grey and black water to a holding tank near the house, then will we pump waste from the house to a dedicated septic field not far from the Barn?  We noted the value of a strategy that places nutrients where they will move downhill to nourish plants.  What is the best use (and patterned shape) for the vegetation in that field?  Does it have to be a square shape?  What should grow there?  Food for the fowl?  Native prairie plants?  Should we make plans for an annual burn-off?

14.  We noted that this is a practical house and landscaping plan that will have to take into account the use and storage of lots of stuff like wheel barrows, weed-eaters, tillers, garden hoses, buckets, shovels, picks, gardening wagons, mowers, rakes, soils, and potting supplies.   We should think about where all these critical tools and supplies will be staged so we don’t have to go out the first weekend we live there and start sticking RubberMaid plastic sheds all over the place.  These tools/supplies need to be integrated into our plan because if they are located too far away, they will end up parked in the rain and leaning against trees.  Horizontal space under the decks is a possibility if everything will fit and if it is convenient.  I lean toward tasteful out-buildings adjacent to the paths to and from the house/barn.  Can these be integrated into hill structures that Hobbits would like?

15.  Similarly, we talked about the Fowl House.  It needs to be far enough away to avoid being a disturbance, but close enough to manage and to close enough to encourage the little critters to do their bug-eating job.  Can we get the advantage of fowl without watching them damage valuable plants?

16. Start with the water in any permaculture plan.  Richard notes that water in all of its many guises will have a lot to do with the success of our project.   What we can try to do is store, sink and spread water in the best ways.

17. Richard will look over Ryan’s proposed list of sustainable plants.    In general, we want a native, low maintenance, food-oriented, Japanese Beetle resistant plan.   We are fortunate to be working with amazing Natural Capital:  soils, trees, natural diversity and plants.

18.  A difficult subject we covered was the proposed removal of so many trees from the site.   All those X’s over so many trees was alarming, but we noted that many of these are diseased, dying and ice-storm damaged.  The poor soils and uncertain future for many of these trees have to stand up to a plan for new and more vigorous natives that will, over time, provide a longer lasting, more sustainable canopy.

19.  Future plans: We like the idea of identifying spaces for a labyrinth and a future swimming pool and/or grotto so we can make sure that water/electrical service can be accommodated.

20.  We agree that we should make a landscaping activity/repose center at the northeast corner of the house, facing the driveway and looking to the barn.  This is where people will arrive and depart.  It is the crossroads for people, cars, chickens traveling on trails and driveways.  It doesn’t have to be elaborate, but it is the place where we will spend a lot of time standing around, watching, talking and coming & going.  In this area, native river cane might be a good plant if we can manage it’s invasive nature.

21.  Mike and I have begun doing some drawings to show where the heat exchanger tubing and manifolds will be located in the walls for both inside and outside wythes.   We’ll share these with Dave at Prestressed to get his comments.

22.  We noted the drainage ditch to the south of the house that drains the field down to the spring.    We will think about how to manage this intermittent flow to reduce the erosion in that channel and the resulting damage that’s being done to the rock-face above the spring entrance.  Jereny referred to checks and small dams and we should also consider swales and/or pools that will hold and slow water flows.

23.  We will use lighting for the house and landscaping that is International Dark-Sky Association compliant.   This will save energy, allow for stargazing and improve our relationships with native animals.;jsessionid=672201D6024202121D2C67F2E469D508.mc1?sitePageId=119791

Let’s meet again when we’ve had a chance to think through these issues.

*  *  *

Notes by DC

House Discussion at JWA with interested parties, January 26, 2011.


Spiral stairs restored, January 28, 2011

From an e-mail from Jennifer.  Note the spiral stairs shown on both floors.  Also a concept for a nook in the kitchen.

House thoughts:

1.  We’re really happy with the progress on the inside of the house.  And that’s the proper order:  form to follow function. 

2.  Let’s look at the terrain model and rotate the house slightly to get the optimal orientation for the hill, the view, the wind and the sun.   We will give up some performance, but the house will fit the contour of the hillside and orient itself better to the lake/spring.  Travis will talk to GRA to see how the landscape and water flow plan will be affected.

3.  As we plan the outside of the house, I’d like to understand more about how the house sits in it’s environment.  For example, one priority for this project is to focus on the transition from inside to outside.  Rather than barriers, we want harmony between the two worlds.  That’s why I think we need a model of the approaches, walkways, gardens and other outside features to see how they relate to the doors and windows of of the house.  What is the flow of people, water, supplies, energy, sunlight?  How can we design the decks and wood wrap around the house without understanding all these things?

4.  I think we need another look at the wood forms on the outside of the house.  Here are some thoughts:

    a.  We don’t want our house to look like a prison or castle.  Sam Hamra’s building comes to mind as an example of what not to do.  Our plan is to integrate three important elements from the site:  stone, vegetation(trees) and water. 

    b.  I think the current wood wrap concept works well for the carport and front of the house.   I think we need some new ideas for the east, south and west walls.

    c.  For example, the wood wrap could mimic the character of trees: lighter structure, airy composure, organic flow and color.  That means we might integrate tree-like design to:  break up the grey squares, support the sleeping porch, create decks and make shading for all the south facing windows and doors. 

    d.  So, under this thought, the sleeping porch becomes more like a treehouse.  The shade over south and west windows has a tree-like flow and shades like a tree would.   As we remove the tall mature trees from the site, window shading in the hot months is an important consideration.

    e.  The heavy East facing wood wrap element now would become more open, airy, lighter.

    f.  The south facing decks could become more like treehouse platforms that let light light through slated decks.  I’d like to see a connected and complementary platform on the west wall to break up the stark grey shapes and to give a better observation to that side of the house.

    g.  This allows us to explore some shapes that aren’t rectilinear and would complement the prominent shape of the stair cylinder rising out of the roof.

    h.  One character of this lighter design concept is to allow light to penetrate the decks to light the ground below (one of Travis’s concerns is that with convention deck design, the ground below is dark, cold and doesn’t grow plants.

i.  Below is a bubble concept.  In this brainstorm stage, let’s assume that we find a wood (like cypress) that we like.  Let’s assume that we stain it green (any wood we select has to be stained some color).    I recommend these elements are prefabricated and stained in a wood cabinet maker’s shop and then transported to the jobsite and attached to the building with connectors that are built into the wall when the concrete is poured.  Prefabricated structures will have higher quality and will keep the jobsite hassles to a minimum.  The supports for the decks could be trees from the site.   These drawings are primitive, but I hope they suggest the tree canopies that surround the site and they also roughly resemble treehouses… a favorite construction activity of the Chiles family.   Here’s a project we did at Ycamp.  Click on the Treehaus link.

From our last meeting, here’s some review:

a.  Pantry: Mike and I are thinking about how to place heat in all the interior walls.  In the case of the pantry, we don’t need much heat from the walls.  We can leave the tubing out, we can leave the tubes in and provide for insulation behind the cabinets or we can leave the tubing in and provide for zoning (or isolation) to each 10’ wall section.  Pantry shelves would be floor mounted but we probably need to attach them to the walls with non-mechanical fasteners.  Constructive adhesive comes to mind.

b.  Pantry:  It’s whimsey, but I’d like to think of  way to physically connect the pantry with the mechanical/storage directly below.  A simple dumbwaiter is a possibility as is a small ladder.  This ladder would’t take much space and it would get covered with a hinged counter top when not in use.  A 24”x24” space would be sufficient.    Our future grandkids will love a ladder.

c.  All of the cabinetry design is coming along nicely and we are pleased that we are followin
g a Susanka “small space is meaningful and should serve several purposes, like on a boat” school of design.

d.  Radiant and floor discussion.  

*   We’ll need a small electric snowmelting zone in the front of the house at the main entrance.  Otherwise the north facing steps and approaches will be ice and snow hazzards.  We’ll use the Watts ProMelt system:

We talked using bar-joists and a more traditional floor as an alternative to Dave’s proposal for Prestressed concrete floors.  In that case, we should consider Gyp-Crete or lightweight concrete toppings over the plywood subfloors.  This should be 3/4” in depth.  Mike and I have decided that we don’t need to imbed tubing in the floors… that the walls will be sufficient to keep the floors warm.  One possible exception will be to consider SunTouch floors in the entryway and bathrooms to give a quick boost to the floor and because we invented and developed the product.  But I will call the GypCrete guy to see about prices.  I think we get the same benefits from 3/4” and we don’t have to double plate the interior frame walls to accommodate a 1.5” concrete subfloor.

e.  Margy likes her desk location but would like to turn her chair so she isn’t surprised by people like me.

f.  We can probably do away with the sink and plumbing in the laundry room.  The bathroom sink is close enough.

g.  We are thinking about the best place to put the emergency generator.  Hopefully, we will only need a small one… one that gets used for farmwork most of the year and only gets moved to a location during winter storm/tornado events.   The best location might be on ground level, south side, under the deck.  Let’s decide so we can plan for the proper wiring.

h.  Likewise, we’re thinking about the best approach for a small wood stove.  I’ll talk to my cousin rich, the chimney sweep about this.  I hate to take up so much space and expense for an occasional use.

i.  We agree that the area over the carport could be a simple buffalo grass surface with no people programming.  Still, we will have to plan for a weight load of grass/soil and all the snow we might get.

k.  We will need more detail showing how a hidden rainwater tank would fit under the steps and front entry of the house.  Maybe it’s a plastic tank that fits in the footings.  That seems like less trouble that forming up a concrete tank, but who knows.  Anyway, we need to detail access to the tank for periodic inspection, cleaning and service on the float and pump.

l.  We’d like to explore an alternative to pumping sewage into the Osage Indian village site.  We can use a whole house composter for black water and I’m assuming that it will be located in the mechanical room.   Sun-Mar is one choice that seems to get good reviews.  That leaves the question of the basement floor bathroom.  How can we connect that toilet into the central unit?    Can we elevate the toilet to get the fall needed for the composter?  Should we buy a small unit that works only for that bathroom?

m.  Then we need to deal with grey water from the bathrooms, kitchen, clothes washer and mechanical room.  One proven technology is ReWater from California.  It meets all the strict codes in the few states which permit this technology.  And it’s not cheap… but it might permit us to create a small greywater drainfield down the hill from the house and not pollute the spring/lake.

n.  The sleeping porch has the potential to block almost all the wonderful eastern morning light.  So, let’s plan for a translucent roof (or light tube)in the sleeping porch that lets as much light in as possible.

o.  We like the wave concept over the ceiling of the main floor.

p. We are looking at alternatives to the bid by PreStressed for the concrete roof.  The requirements of the spiral staircase may make the concrete too complicated and perhaps we can save money with a traditional approach.  Mike and I are going to chat with Dave at PreStressed to get his comments. 

q.  We still hope to have a elevator back-up plan in place.  That assumes that someday we may need to get up and down floors and the spirals may not work with a cane.  So… now is the time to think about how we may want to add an elevator somewhere outside the house.  Where would it go?  Do we need to put in a footing now?  Can we work a plan so that we won’t have to cut holes in the walls and damage the heat exchange tubing?

r.  Similarly, we need to think right now how we can get furniture up to the top floor without having to use the spiral stairs.  This is just a matter of designating one oversized door or window portal that can be reached with a tractor bucket so we can make sure we can move stuff up and down.  And that could be big stuff:  washers, beds, desks and etc.  So, we need to think in terms of a heavy two-wheeler moving stuff around.

s.  We talked about the expanding importance of the storage room on the north end of the carport.  We know that there will be a water garden on the outside, but we think we need access to the outside of for gardening.  This storage space will now serve two main purposes:  1.  to store dry goods that we bring in from our cars. So, that needs a door to the inside.   2.  to serve as a potting room, garden storage and tool staging area for all the outside activities.  This space will need to accommodate a wheelbarrow, bags of bird seed, bags of gardening stuff, tools, pots and etc.   So, that needs a door to the outside.

t.  We like Thad Forrester from Forrester Tech and he is the local Lutron rep.  Here are the things we will ask Thad to consider for our house:

* LED lighting in zones.  This includes a discussion of the best kind of LED lights including way cool color strips.

* Automated shades for the windows on the same master control.

* Whole house sound in a room by room or zone by zone configuration.

* Computer and network wiring with WiFi, automated computer backup.

* Remote IP camera compatibility.

* Security considerations

* Phone options (or we may just use our cell phones)

* Internet access

* Satellite or TV antenna access.

u. Additional issues that are still fuzzy:

*  The coating for the driveway.

*  The septic and greywater system.

*  The water supply:  drill a deep well; pump from the spring; windpower with a storage tank?

* The irrigation system.  I like a company that was featured recently in the Wall Street Journal:  DripTech.

* The selection of all the edible landscaping and planting plans for the site.

v.  The CRES logo is cool!  The water (blue glass), vegetation (green, think) and stone (grey) elements are pretty clear.  I think the historical needs thought.  How do you represent history?  Unless it is too complicated, I think a closer connection to native americans is appropriate.  Can we reshape the historical element into an arrowhead figure?  What you show for the historical element is pretty close to an arrowhead anyway and it makes a stronger visual connection to history… as long as it doesn’t distort the cool overall leaf visual.   I agree the historical component could be recessed, but that will only be clear in stamped applications.  Otherwise the logo has to work as in B&W, RGB, high rez, low rez, business card and giant powerpoint sizes.

Here is a Google search for “leaf shaped arrowhead”

*  *  *

notes by DC


Meeting notes from our discussion with Jennifer, Travis, Margy and Dan on Friday, February 11, 2011.

Hi Jennifer, 

I’m off to San Antonio on Tuesday for the RPA conference, returning on Friday.  Here’s some refinements to our latest thinking.

a.  Margy thinks she would prefer a seasonal sleeping porch that would fit on the deck and could be stored in the winter.  That would simplify all our planning for the current sleeping porch.  Here’s some discussion and examples:

b.  I’d like to think about a revised East, West, South deck plan using iron/steel framing with wood elements to develop a stronger tree theme.  I think I could find a local metal fabrication company to make all the sections in their shop.  We could integrate plants, canopies, lighting, drip irrigation, art and tree trunks from the site into a interesting visual for less cost than plastic wood.  I’d like to see shades over the windows with the same visuals if possible. 

c.  Dick suggested that we use a door to provide the top floor access to the garage roof.  We could hoist heavy stuff up to the car port roof with a tractor, but we need access to the bedroom areas.  I know the inside floor and roof deck are not on the same plane, but we might consider a ramp or/and small handrail with short stairs.  He also thinks there should be stair access to the roof and from there to the main building roof deck.  I’m thinking that over…

d.  We like the cabinet planning, but we should keep in mind the importance of building in hidey holes.  For valuables, guns, documents and etc.  I think we can make the space if we can be creative.

f.  Dick also suggested that the storage room on the garage would be dark (as his is…) and he suggested that we put on a south facing skylight or light tube on the roof of the garage over the storage room.



E-mail to Jennifer from Dan, Monday, February 14, 2011