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  • Denise Garcia

Post #9: Roughing It

Updated: Aug 31, 2019

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.



Sunset on Fish Creek. We pinch ourselves daily knowing that this is our view at the end of the day.

San Juan Island, August 19, 2019

Cape Drive Zero Energy Ready Home

Blog entry #9: Roughing It



It's been over 3 weeks since the last blog post and much has progressed on the house- on the exterior as well as the interior. Our roofer showed up on a sunny Monday morning in late July and proceeded to cover our newly-sheathed roof with waterproof underlayment in preparation for the standing seam metal roof that will cap the house. In the foreground, the extruder machine holds two coils of 24 gauge material ready to be turned into 16" panels.

A sample of roofing panel has been generated by the extruder for approval. Shallow ribs in the center of the panel help to mitigate "oil canning", the visible dimpling of the metal. Once installed, these ribs will be virtually unnoticeable.

Once the waterproof underlayment is in place, metal valley flashing and edge flashing are installed.

Here the double valleys over the Dining Room have been flashed.

Starting with the gable roof over the Garage, the roofers installed the standing seam metal panels.

By the end of the week, the entire roof had been installed. All breathed a sigh of relief, as now interior rough-in electrical, HVAC and plumbing work could begin.

The electrician was eager to get started. Here, some of his "home runs" lead back to the east wall of the Garage, where our 200-amp load center will be located.

The plumber also began his rough-in. Here the tanks for our wall-mounted toilets are installed and will be completely concealed. The advantage of wall-mounted toilets is a smaller profile and a custom seat height. They also have the benefit of leaving the floor open underneath, which makes cleaning a breeze. No more icky toilet base to clean- a definite win-win!


With the roof on and electrical, plumbing and HVAC rough-ins underway, the building crew got back to finishing the roof soffits. Here, the 1x6 clear cedar boards are being installed on the underside of the shed roof at the Kitchen-Living Room wing. Below the soffit, the timber framing for the small eyebrow roof has been stained. Like the windows, the timber members are held 2+" from the wall in anticipation of the exterior insulation, rain screen and siding which will be installed next.


The crew did a sweet job of mitering the 1x6 clear cedar soffit boards at the corner of our entry roof. It pays to look up!

On the water side of the house, concrete piers have been poured. These will support the deck 4x10 beams, which will in turn support cantilevered 2x8 deck joists.

Rock wool insulation boards are stacked in the Garage, awaiting installation. Before that's done, we'll take a break for a blower door test, one of 2 that will be done. This test will determine how well the house has been air sealed. Air-sealing is a critical component of high-performance energy-efficient homes. Net Zero Energy homes typically have a much lower air infiltration rate than code-compliant homes. More about the first blower door test in the next blog post!

Now that the roof is installed, the "Zero" work of "Net Zero Energy" can begin. On its own, a Net Zero Energy home is much more energy-efficient than a code-compliant home. However, it can't achieve "Net Zero" status without the addition of photovoltaic panels to generate electricity. When designing our home, our energy consultant determined that we would need an 8.6 kW solar panel array to get us to true "Net Zero". Now that the standing seam metal roof is on, that work can begin.

Using this handy tool, Andy, our solar panel contractor determined exactly where to place the photovoltaic array to maximize electricity generation throughout the year. San Juan Island is in the "rain shadow" of the Olympic Mountains and as such, has many more sunny days compared to Seattle and other parts of the Pacific Northwest. Good news for us and our photovoltaic array!!

Andy, up on the roof, using his tool to get solar readings...

Andy's final configuration based on site solar readings shows the 23 Silfab panels arranged on the roof over the Master Bedroom, which is oriented SE and the roof over the Dining Room, which is oriented SW.

As the sun sets again on our little piece of Paradise, we eagerly await the weeks to come, when we'll have the blower door test, the start of exterior insulation, the installation of our rain screen and siding and continued work on electrical, plumbing and HVAC. Looking forward to it all!

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