• Denise Garcia

Post #14: The Sprint To The Finishes- Part 3

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.

Even in the middle of December, a warm, sunny day can yield surprises in the landscape around our house.

San Juan Island, January 6, 2020

Cape Drive Zero Energy Ready Home

Blog Entry #14: The Sprint to the Finishes- Part 3

What a difference 8 weeks make! With the holidays behind us, the house is nearing completion. In the view from across Fish Creek, we can see that the west side is almost finished. The house is blending nicely into the rocky shoreline and looks as if it's been there for a while.

Closer in, the view of the house reveals siding that is almost complete and the deck, which is about half complete.

With most of the siding complete, the crew has renewed their focus on finishing the deck.

The long afternoon shadows reveal the texture of the corrugated metal siding that forms a skirt around the house. The skirt provides us with a rot-proof, insect-proof and fire-proof layer close to the ground.

The corrugated metal skirt continues under the cantilevered deck, closing off the underside of the deck to curious critters. We added the stainless steel mesh behind the skirt and buried it 12" into the ground to further discourage animals, particularly river otters, which can wreak havoc if they get established.

The view from the northwest shows the deck under construction. We decided to go with stainless steel balusters and cable, which will do well in our shoreline environment and provide a maintenance-free railing.

At the front of the house, new topsoil has been added to the future planting areas and our 50-gallon rain barrels have been installed below the downspouts. We left a 2" gap between the pavers, which we plan to fill with creeping thyme. Creeping thyme is naturally deer-resistant. We're learning that the deer on San Juan Island will eat practically anything, so we plan to pick our plant material wisely. Our priorities for plant selection are: edible, deer-resistant and drought-resistant. Our short list will be relatively small but tasty!

Another view of the front shows the 36" long vertical-grain fir plinth block at the entry, which has a light installed and awaits our house numbers.

Above the entry door, a Tech Lighting fixture has been installed. As a Net Zero Ready home all of our lighting will be LED, including these handsome fixtures.

Inside, at the Mud Room, tile work is complete and the laundry sink and faucet have been installed. Also installed are the washer and heat pump dryer. Heat pump dryers are very energy efficient and require no venting, a plus when building a high-performance building envelope. This pair is made by Samsung. Heat pump dryers cost a little more than conventional electric dryers, but pay for themselves relatively quickly in the form of reduced energy bills. In addition to helping us reach Net Zero Ready status, and since we plan to live in our home for a long time, the investment makes total sense.

In the Powder Room, our wall-hung toilet has been installed. Above it is the flush activator plate, which has two modes: light flush and heavy flush. Water conservation is critical on San Juan Island and these fixtures- besides being attractive and easy to clean- will help us reduce our water usage. A win-win!

In the main part of the house, we've begun to move in some of our furniture. We're delighted with the way it fits in to our new home.

We're pleased with the way our wraparound windows turned out. I love the clean look of the drywall wraps paired with the warmth of the stained oak sills. On the floor is our engineered wood floor, which complements not only our other finishes and furnishings, but recalls the weathered trunks of our fir and madrona trees.

In the kitchen, the backsplash tile is complete and duplex outlet covers have been installed. We fell in love with this tile, which reminds us of the colors of the Salish Sea around us. On the counter is a 3 cm. honed quartz, which will be as durable as it is beautiful.

One of my bugaboos is a cheap-looking duplex outlet cover. These Legrand covers have concealed fasteners, rather than exposed painted screws. It's a small detail, but an important one.

It's fun to get down to the level of furnishings, like dishes. We opted for open shelving for our dishes in order to enjoy the visual play between them, the backsplash tile and our walnut floating shelves. A feast for the eyes!

Looking back toward the Living Room from the Master Bedroom, we get a nice sight line to the trees beyond. Internal sight lines are critical in a small home; they help tie spaces together visually, as well as connect the inside of the home to the outdoors.

In our new bedroom, the views through the wraparound windows are delightful. What a treat to wake up to this setting every morning! All that's left to fully enjoy the house is the rest of our furniture and furnishings, plus the completion of our "punch list". More about that next time...

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