The Complete Guide is mostly about preparation, understanding what to expect, and how to approach each phase. That’s the foundation for helping a construction project stay on time and on budget.
Category Archive: Architecture
Livability and Laundry 🏡 🧺
The post below was sent as an issue of my newsletter, Ready for Rain. The idea of helping homeowners understand the construction process has been on my mind for about a year. As I wrote chapter after chapter, I was looking for some kind of unifying theme. While...
The Westward Wind
Despite all the watching and planning, we still didn’t know why the westward wind was happening. That all changed a couple of weeks ago when we hosted a small dinner party that included a retired Coast Guard officer. We talked about the wind and he said, “Oh, that’s a land breeze”. I had heard of a sea breeze before, but never a land breeze. I had to learn more.
The Time Between Glass and Mirror 🪟🪞
I soon came to appreciate the glass wall as a feature of the house that exists in multiple states. During the day, it disappears and reveals a view over the Salish Sea, as it was designed to do. But at night, when darkness hides the view, the glass becomes a mirror to the interior. One minute you’re looking at the water, another you’re looking at yourself. I think of this as the time between glass and mirror.
Flattop’s Finer Points 🪵🔥
When looking at the completed house, it’s easy to lose sight of all the decisions that achieved the look and feel of the place. Before we move on, I’d like to share some of the biggest stylistic decisions we made, along with the craft that went into making it real.
The Creative Brief 📄
Starting then, the idea of eventually building a new house on the island started to dominate our thoughts. What would we build? What could we build?
This Fireplace Sucks 🔥
Sometime in the middle of the house project, I learned a lesson about chimneys that has fascinated me ever since. We were talking about the metal tubes, or “flues” that would eventually stick out of our roof and vent our two wood-burning fireplaces. According to the fireplace company, the size of the fireplaces meant the flues needed to be eighteen feet high to work. This explains why.
What Does it Want to Be? 🔨
There are two considerations in making home finish decisions: what you want and what the house wants. By the time the finishes are being completed, the house will tell you what fits, or not.
Smart Lights, Smart Home 💡🏡
Our final decisions on smart home lighting and home automation options for our house on Orcas Island.
Masking and Painting The House 🎨
We are doing the painting on the house project, which ended up being a much bigger job than I expected.
Designing Our Blackened-Steel Fireplace 🔥
Our fireplaces are the heart of our house and an element we took great care to design.
Shou Sugi Ban Siding – Fortified by Fire 🔥
The siding for our house is Japanese cypress that has been charred to make it more resilient and beautiful. It’s called “Shou Sugi Ban” or “yakisugi”.
What to Consider Before Drywall is Installed 🤔 🏡
Once the drywall goes up, a lot of decisions become harder to change. We tried our best to think ahead and avoid any changes.
Rolling Out Our Metal Roof 🏡
Our house was designed to have a metal standing seam roof and I was not clear about how, exactly, the roof panels would be delivered and applied. It turns out they are formed on-site.
What is a Rain Screen for a House?
Before siding was applied, our house was striped with wooden supports. These are there to create a rain screen that’s designed not to trap moisture.
The House Project: Flattop on Orcas Island
In the spring of 2017, Sachi and I became consumed with an idea. On a camping trip to Orcas Island, which is off the NW coast of Washington State, we started to ask serious questions about the future. While drinking wine from a box by a campfire, we first started to...
Sweat Equity and the House Construction Project 💦🏡
We’ve taken on a number of projects in the house construction project. Along with a lot of planning, we are the painters and cleaners. These help save money, help us learn and make us a part of the team.
Home as a Platform 🏡
The post below was sent as an issue of my newsletter, Ready for Rain. I had anticipated this moment for over a year. For the first time, I stepped foot onto the newly laid subfloor of our house. I realize this might not sound like a revelation and in reality, I had...
Why Home Construction Takes So Much Time ⏳
Home construction is a project that takes significant time and it’s not always clear why. It can be painful and frustrating, but it’s often necessary for quality. This is our experience.
Beefy Structural Steel 🏗
The post below was sent as an issue of my newsletter, Ready for Rain. Early in the design process, John, our architect, said something that caught my attention. He said our design would require a lot of steel. Not knowing much about engineering a house, I took it as a...