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Post #6: Put A Lid On It!

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 view from across Fish Creek reveals the walls and evolving roof lines of our house. We love the feeling of being nestled among the trees- twisted madrones and gnarly firs- that make up our rocky shoreline. The house fits right in with our neighbors' homes, which likewise hug the craggy bank of Fish Creek.

San Juan Island, June 22, 2019

Cape Drive Zero Energy Ready Home

Blog entry #6- Put A Lid On It!


After 3 weeks we returned to a home whose exterior walls have been fully raised. The crew has been busy sheathing the walls and hoisting engineered beams into place. The engineered roof rafters are also in place and roof sheathing partially completed. This is the start of our building envelope, the single most important element of a Zero Energy Ready Home. The building envelope contains critical thermal, moisture and air control layers that will determine the ultimate performance of the home.

In this view, roof framing members are installed in the Living-Kitchen wing of the house. The engineered rafters can be seen stacked in the foreground. We chose 14" rafters to provide the span capacity for the space (18'-0") and to give us extra depth for insulation. Filling the 14" depth with high-density fiberglass batt insulation will yield R-51 in thermal resistance. A second layer of roof framing above this- consisting of 2x6 rafters filled with R-15 high density fiberglass batts- will bring our total roof R-value to 66.

I-joist roof rafters sit on the ground, awaiting installation. I-joists are comprised of top and bottom flanges, which resist bending, coupled with webs, which provide outstanding shear resistance. The flange material is typically laminated veneer lumber (LVL) or solid sawn lumber, and the web is made with plywood or OSB. The use of smaller lumber pieces for the top and bottom flanges, and flaked or laminated web material make I-joists inherently more sustainable, level and capable of spanning greater distances. Wood as a building material is an environmentally responsible choice, since wood sequesters carbon and is a renewable resource. Additionally, engineered wood products preserve or extend the use of the forest resource by using a higher percentage of wood fiber, which previously was burned or left to rot. The use of wood from residual sources, sustainable plantations and second-growth forests reduces the pressure to harvest more forest areas

The Living-Kitchen wing with 14" I-joist roof rafters installed.

The Living-Kitchen wing (foreground) and the Master Bedroom wing (background) after roof sheathing was installed. The Lid is on!

Raised-heel common trusses await installation over the Garage. This type of roof truss has a raised "heel" at the ends, where they sit atop exterior walls. The raised heel allows for ceiling insulation depths to be maintained at the perimeter, unlike regular trusses, where insulation is squeezed down at the perimeter, impairing its thermal performance..



The view from the future Guest Room and Mud Room into the Garage. A large glulam beam supports the 14" I-joist roof rafters and is in turn supported by 6x6 timber posts at each end.

The post cap that will support the glulam ridge beam seen in the previous photo, is shown here prior to the installation of the beam. Hefty steel connectors such as this Simpson post cap make this architect very happy!


In the Dining area, the opening for the 14'-0" wide x 8'-0" tall sliding patio door has been framed using a 12" Parallam PSL (parallel strand lumber) beam. PSLs are yet another engineered wood product that offer superior structural performance while being environmentally responsible.



The view from the Dining area into the Living area. A glulam beam supports the I-joist roof rafters that will give the Dining area a vaulted ceiling. Wrap-around window openings in the Living area will provide a panoramic view of Fish Creek.


View of the evolving house from the bank below. One of the things we fell in love with at first site were the trees on our lot. Their twisted, gnarly shapes are a testament to their ability to survive in this dry, rocky (and often windy) climate.

View of the house from the dock we share with our neighbor. The snags in the foreground are important perch trees for our resident bald eagles and ravens.

No home is complete without a mailbox. Here, our mailbox pier is starting to take shape. We decided on a gabion cage for the base, which will be filled with some of the Jurrassic-era rock excavated during the foundation portion of the construction. Our mailbox will sit atop the black steel pipe, on a cantilevered 1"x 6" ipe board. La Pedrera will make her street presence known!

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