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  • Denise Garcia

Post #12: The Sprint To The Finishes- Part 1

Updated: Jan 6

The following blog will chronicle the construction of a new Zero Energy Ready Home

designed by Domain Design Architects and located on San Juan Island, Washington. Denise Garcia and her husband, Eric Schmidt, who together have degrees in architecture, landscape architecture and city planning, have been passionate about environmentally responsible design since their student days at MIT. Their new ZERH home is the culmination of over 30 years each of professional experience. We hope this blog will inspire others to consider building a Zero Energy Ready Home.



The change in seasons brings shorter days, cooler temperatures and bundling up under warm coats. Like us, the house has its top layer going on.

San Juan Island, October 16, 2019

Cape Drive Zero Energy Ready Home

Blog entry #12: The Sprint to the Finishes- Part 1



As temperatures get cooler, activity on finishes heats up. We're in the home stretch for the exterior cladding, with the 1x4 rain screen furring strip system completed.

On the north side of the house, work has begun on the installation of our cement fiber lap siding. We made an early decision to go with cement fiber lap siding because of its fireproof qualities, recycled content and low maintenance, all of which make it a very sustainable material. We found a pre-finished product by Woodtone that resembles a favorite inspiration of ours: Japanese 'shou sugi ban' siding.

Shou sugi ban siding is a charred wood material that has been used in Japan for centuries. Charring wood gives it a protective finish and produces an exquisite color range that highlights the texture of the wood. Our siding comes close in appearance to this ancient technique while providing equal durability. Shou sugi ban siding has been known to last 80-100 years..

As more of the lap siding is installed, the resemblance to shou sugi ban charred wood becomes apparent.

Crew members Andrew and Bonnie finish siding the sidewall of the shed roof over the Master Bedroom. The north side is nearly complete!

Viewing the house from the west side, the lap siding is now complete on the north side. Also visible is the newly-seeded area below the house. We plan to restore the natural grass and wildflower landscape that is prevalent on the south end of San Juan Island and which is vital to the survival of butterflies and bees.

Meanwhile, back at the entry, the concrete subcontractor has finished forming the porch slab and staggered concrete pavers that mark the approach to our front door. The use of staggered pavers to imply a diagonal path is a hallmark of Japanese garden design (of which we are huge fans).


Viewed from another angle, the diagonal concrete pavers form a dynamic approach to the front door.

On the south side of the house, the concrete subcontractor has finished forming for the concrete stoop that will provide access to/from the kitchen door. Rebar has been drilled and epoxy-grouted into the foundation wall to keep the stoop from settling or pulling away from the house.

On the south side, a restored landscape area has been seeded with native grass and wildflowers. In the foreground is our new addition: a monkey puzzle tree. Monkey puzzle trees (Araucaria araucana) are a slow-growing conifer with cones that provide nuts similar to Pinyon pines. They are also known as 'Pehuen' in the indigenous Mapuche language of Chile where they orginated. The 'leaves' are sharp and spiny and should deter the deer in our area that seem to feed on almost any and all vegetation. With any luck, ours will grow to 30-50 feet.

A few of the native wildflowers that we've seeded. Not shown: California Poppy. Native wildflower meadows have significant environmental benefits: in addition to providing food for bees and butterflies, wildflower meadows do not require supplemental watering or fertilizing (unlike lawns) and once established can sequester up to 1 ton of carbon per acre. A win-win-win!

Inside the house, tile work has begun. Here in the entry foyer, a few floor tiles are stacked awaiting installation.

In the Master Bath shower area, the walls have been waterproofed in preparation for wall tile. We decided to make our shower "curbless" to allow for aging in place. Here, the shower drain has been installed and the floor has been flushed up with the rest of the bathroom floor. Around the shower, our 24"x 24" floor tile has been laid and will continue seamlessly into the shower.

In the Mud Room, the waterproof membrane has been installed in preparation for the floor tile. We decided to use the same 24" x 24" terrazzo tile in both bathrooms and the Mud Room.

Also started in the interior: paint and stain. Our painting subcontractor, Vince, takes a break between coats. He did a super job of staining the wood interiors of our windows and doors, as well as painting all the drywall.


In the Living Room, the oak windows and door have been stained a warm grey. Vince applied a coat of semi-transparent stain, then wiped to reveal more of the oak grain. On the walls we went with Benjamin Moore "Grey Mist" a warm white that provides a nice compliment to furnishings. Soon, oak sills will be installed at the lower windows and stained to match.

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