Rain, Mud, Ice, Heat and Trash

Jim Fagan, builder, with Timberline Construction, fixing a leak in a temporary drain.

Heavy rain followed by dropping temperatures through the night, then warming sun for a few hours in the morning is a recipe for less than ideal conditions on a building site. When I arrived mid-day there were still remnants of ice in the shady spots and a good deal of mud everywhere else.

David Kaiser with Elite Plastering adding some more details to the plaster lathe.

The Elite Plastering crew was working on more lathe and wrap prep on the garage and some details on the main house. The ADU is completely wrapped and tented ready for plastering. David Kaiser, owner said they are waiting on the sheetrock. Pounding on the walls from the inside has the potential to crack the curing plaster on the outside. He prefers to do the plastering after other phases of construction are completed. He said they can plaster year round in any temperature by tenting the structure, adding heat and fans as needed to control the curing conditions.

A large load of dirt fill was piled by the garage. It was being used to complete the back-filling process around the cistern/ foundation. The pile was saturated with rain – heavy and muddy. Equipment was on the way to assist in moving the dirt so holes could be filled and compacted.


The new heat pump – working well, the house warm and comfortable.

The biggest surprise of the day was walking up the ramp into Desert Rain. There was a temporary door in place. Opening the door, there was a rush of heat. The Daikin heat pump had been installed last week and put into operation. The electricians from All Phase Electric were continuing the electrical installation. Given the biting cold outside, they were in an ideal environment. The passive solar elements of Desert Rain design combined with spray foam insulation, a tightly sealed building envelope, and extremely energy efficient windows and doors show all indication of keeping the house warm and comfortable.

Wiring and electrical work continues. Mike Wagnon with All Phase Electrical Systems – happy to be working in the warm house.


The recycling trailer was on site and full. Anna Vacca, the recycler, had been on site last week to sort and load the materials. She comes on a random schedule as needed, more often in the earlier phases of the project when more material was generated. Most construction sites have a dumpster that stays on site through the entire building process. According to a study done by the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB), the construction of a 2,000 square foot home can generate 8,000 pounds of waste. Most of that weight is wood, cardboard, and drywall and almost all of it typically ends up in a landfill. Desert Rain has taken a different approach. Streamlining the material coming into the site by good design and accurate planning is the beginning of reducing unnecessary waste. There is no dumpster on site at any time. Each sub-contractor is aware of the on-site management of separating the waste into piles. When the piles grow, Anna arrives and separates them further for the destined locations.

Anna Vacca, recycler, finishes up the load. The two black garbage bags on the left corner of the trailer are the only pieces in this load going to the landfill. Everything else in the trailer will be recycled.

Our local Deschutes County Recycling accepts wood, metal, and many other items for recycling, including paint and other ‘hazardous’ waste. The system at Desert Rain is working. Most of the building materials from the deconstruction of the original two houses were either, reclaimed to be used on site, donated to Habitat for Humanity, or recycled. Timberline Construction, Desert Rain builders, have always had a ‘green’ approach to waste on their building sites. Now they are raising the bar and incorporating the construction waste process at Desert Rain into their other building projects. With the on-site recycling in place during construction of Desert Rain, less than 500 pounds of material has ended up in the landfill. Compare that to the 8,000 pound estimate in the NAHB study – Desert Rain is making a statement – and it isn’t ‘trash talk’.

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