Posts Tagged ‘redwood’

This recent full house remodel and additions in Berkeley turned out great. I don’t usually use so much wood, but it makes this house very cozy. More photos soon!


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nice walnut street house

This old house near my office caught my eye this afternoon. I am curious how they maintain that  beautiful wood. Is it original? It looks like high quality material. I bet they restain it frequently. The combination of stained wood and painted wood details is nicely done. I particularly like the gable end details.

nice walnut street house detail 3

nice walnut street house detail 1

nice walnut street house detail 2

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More info on this project can be found here:



New Burgee

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Redwood railing with copper pipe – Forestville, CA

artisitc photo 2 77 vine

Point Richmond Railing

D D-B railing

Painted railing with decorative holes in the white pickets, contrasting black braces – Inverness, CA

Painted railing with decorative cross-shaped cutouts – Berkeley, CA

Redwood and Stainless Steel Railing – El Cerrito, CA

stainless steel with round posts

stainless steel with round posts – Michigan (Thomas Hardware Photo)


Simple Ipe railing – Oakland, CA

CAM00093 (1)

Simple Ipe Railing – Oakland, CA

Redwood Railing – Berkeley CA

Cookie cutout railing – Berkeley, CA

painted wood railing

Diamond spaces between red painted slats – Albany, CA

ceder railing with floral cutout

Elegant traditional railing – cedar panels with botanical cutouts

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fibercement mitered corner

hobbit lurking in the sun

A bit of redwood siding after all that fibercement

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Prototype #1 is finished with a bit of pyrography – a prehistoric winged creature.

Apologies to customers waiting for treasure chests, this one has become my toilet paper storage box.  As you can see there are many uses for such a chest.  Soon we will have prototype #2 underway.

treasure chest post 1

treasure chest post 2

treasure chest post 3

more photos of the bathroom 

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I went on another tour of a couple of passive houses under construction in the San Jose area. The two were very different from each other.  The first is a remodel, designed by Thamby Kumaran with energy modelling by the owner-builder, Scott Heeschen.  It uses a lot of salvaged redwood for the rainscreen siding, a mixture of Marvin Integrity and Serious windows, and rainwater catchment.  Clearly architecture was a priority, since attics and flat ceilings make it easier to maximize insulation. (Compared to this beautiful vaulted ceiling)

Thamby Kumaran and passive house tourists

I am curious how the long strip of south-facing clerestory windows will perform in summer with such a minimal overhang.

Nabih Tahan and several other visitors on the back deck

Casement, awning, and fixed windows were chosen for their air tight seals.

Marvin Integrity casement windows

Several large water cisterns in the side yard

The other house I had already visited in the fall of 2010.

Cottle Zero Energy House

This one is more of a standard high-end spec house, but it seems to be quite technically competent on many levels.

Presentation to eager passive house enthusiasts.  Note the open web joists above. These make for easy routing of ducts and plumbing

“Ladder blocking” allows for more complete insulation of the exterior envelope

Insulated concrete form on display

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I’ve made progress on the prototype. The lid is installed. I fashioned a hinge out of retired spectra running rigging from the 5o5 Bar-ba-loot (pictured below). The hinge needs a little fine-tuning, but I like the Xs. I handcarved the curves in the lid.  Nice soft fir makes for easy carving.

Treasure chest Post 1 Treasure chest post 2

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After gluing the box together, it needed some sanding.


The  lid is made from two fir 2×6 scraps and a redwood 2×4 scrap that John brought home from his job site.  Better than average specimens, with fairly straight, tight grain; they are probably from appearance grade stock.   I did not have a planer on hand, but they were pretty straight and flat.  I used my new jointer to make edges flat and perpendicular to the faces. I also used the jointer to clean up the faces. (This is usually accomplished by a planer) Then I glued and clamped them together as shown in this photo.


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I recently paid a visit to the little cottage in Philo that I designed a few years ago. I was happy to see that the owners were using the cozy little space and had decorated in good taste. I took a few pictures since I only have photos of the unfurnished rooms on my website.

Finally they moved a couch into the little cabin…and lots of other things too

The builder took the liberty to use some of the 100 year old salvaged redwood siding from my house in Berkeley to make this cute little vent cover

Still no art on the tall southern wall. stay posted. I think a painting will be installed soon

The loft above has been furnished too! complete with a painting of bruce lee and sheer curtains!

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Go HERE and HERE for more photos of the project Here is an article about the project on Dwell Magazine’s website and Here you can vote for or against the design.

Total Cost: $24522.47 ($204/ SF)

Design: Free (by owner)

Permit Fees: $111.55 (Electrical only, 120 SF accessory building didn’t require a building permit.

Foundation materials: $1425.79 (incl sand, gravel, plastic, 30% Flyash concrete,  forming materials, pumping labor, tool rental, rebar, etc)

Framing materials: $2661.73  (Almost all FSC Certified includes several large appearance grade exposed beams and FSC Certified sheathing plywood and all the hardware)

Building Paper and Flashing: $397.00   (We had to buy the roofing felt twice because the roof installation was repeatedly delayed by rain.

3 Windows & 1 Door: $1720.02   $750 (half price) for the Loewen half glass aluminum clad fir door salvaged from another project.   The windows are dbl glazed aluminum= inexpensive.  I chose aluminum because It looks good with the redwood.  This is a small outbuilding without heat and they work fine, but metal windows have lower U-value than wood, fiberglass and vinyl.  It would be hard to justify metal windows in a larger project with a heating system.  The glass in the south facing windows is Sungate 500.  This is a special glass that is designed to have a high U-value and also a high solar heat gain coefficient. “In winter, Sungate 500 Low-E Glass transmits the sun’s visible light and directs solar shortwave infrared energy into the home. At the same time, it reflects longs wave infrared (heat) energy — like that which comes from a home’s heating system — back into the room”

Paints and Finishes: $544.90 (Penofin Verde, American Pride, Earth Paint, AFM Safecoat, Bioshield) These are not the cheapest finishes, but honestly way more pleasant to work with than the traditional smelly stuff. Ill have to report back on longevity and durability, but so far so good.

Insulation, Sheetrock install and finish (incl labor), Interior Trim (FSC certified): $1609.93

Roof: $2615.93 (galvanized standing seam painted red by Tri Sheet Metal, James Morgenroth)  I hope this is a long lasting solution.  It was chosen for the clean crisp lines and the cheerful color. I was considering a zinc roof for its infamous longevity advantages, but didn’t find a local installer familiar with the material.

Exterior Siding & Trim: $850.73 (All the redwood siding was milled from logs salvaged from a road widening project in Sonoma County and gifted to the building. (ie free,  just involved a lot of  labor and $200 worth of stainless steel screws)

The siding is installed as a rain screen with a space behind the siding for ventilation and drainage.  The idea is to make everything last longer by preventing moisture from getting trapped and rotting the siding or the framing. I used Penofin Verde, an eco-friendly penetrating sealer on the redwood. I’m hoping that I wont have to reseal it more than every other year.  I have used the more stinky petroleum product Marine Grade Penofin on my wood garage doors for several years.  It seems to do a good job of protecting the wood, but since they are on the south side without much protection, I reapply every year.

I sealed the exposed fir rafter tails with penetrating epoxy before priming and painting.  They should hold up well, but I need to keep an eye on the corner where the high-end rafters meet the wall.  I can imagine water running down the underside and sitting in this corner.

Rain protection & Dump runs: $114.66

Tools and bits: $75.87

Electrical & Plumbing: $1469.40 (includes fixtures, somewhat expensive LED exterior strip light that only uses 7 wAtts. The Louis Poulsen PH5 pendant was a gift)

Landscaping: $1982.88 (brick path by Hornby Garden Design and Construction)

Misc: $585.35

General Labor: $8,004.00  (carpentry, Built-in furniture, electrical, trenching, rough plumbing, etc.  Some of this is discounted because it was done by my good friend John Mcbride.  This does not include extensive work by owner/designer)

Cost analysis: The door, the roof and some of the lights are expensive. The built-ins were inexpensive, but involved a lot of labor that normally would have cost far more.  The unusual shape  involved more labor in framing, siding, and roofing. This building didn’t require a permit except for the electrical.  Many components  that were free would normally have cost a fair bit. The design labor and other extensive labor of the designer also would normally have cost money.   For this reason, one should assume that a similar structure might cost at least $36,000, not including design.  This would mean $300/ SF. 

Things I would do differently or might change later: Insulate the concrete slab, use this sort of window trim detail

Performance: So far the thick and careful insulation (R19 in the 2×6 framed walls and R30 in the roof) and the passive solar features (mainly the south-facing windows with overhangs and a deciduous California Buckeye tree in front of them) perform wonderfully.  The building is very comfortable without supplemental heat.  On the occasional day that is too warm, opening the high windows works magic. When it is too cold I warm up the room by turning on a few lights and my computer. Sometimes I bring a large dog inside or do 10 jumping jacks to generate some heat.  Because of the insulation, the heat sticks around.

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