Earlier this week here in central Oregon, we had a few days of snow flurries. Yesterday was crisp, clear and warm. At the Desert Rain site there was a flurry of a different kind. The property was teeming with trucks and contractors with several different projects on the agenda.
When I arrived, Keith Krewson of Central Oregon Construction Contractors and his crew were awaiting the arrival of the Hooker Creek cement truck. Forms and bracing were in place for the pouring of the irrigation/graywater cistern. This 5,000 gallon cement tank is adjacent to the 35,000 gallon rainwater collection system. The large cistern is for all domestic water uses. The new, smaller tank will be used for irrigation water. The tank spans the entire length of the south side of the previously built cistern, then wraps around the west wall part way. The two cisterns share a common wall. The hole for the cistern was excavated from lava rock. Concrete was poured into the void between the rock and the outside of the form to create a massive exterior wall. Keith and crew were working the concrete for the floor of the cistern at the same time. He had some concerns about the pressure against the forms – 80,000 pounds of concrete.
The greatest difficulty seemed to be the tight working space. The bracing and re-bar in the narrow space presented some tough obstacles but the crew persevered. The spirit of the Desert Rain team was evident when Mike Wagnon, the electrician, jumped in with a power cord that was needed for the cement vibrator. Mike told me that he used to work in concrete and it is a very stressful time during a big pour. With the exception of Keith dropping his phone in the wet mix, the process seemed to flow smoothly. Well done, Keith, Ian and Logan!
Mike with All Phase Electric Systems was continuing electrical installation work inside the main house. The entire lighting system for Desert Rain is LED. Part of what I love about my job is what I learn every time I talk with these contractors that know their trade well. Using a rough sketch on an exposed stud, Mike explained to me the main difference with LED installation, verses standard electrical. LED fixtures require a driver. The driver acts as a transformer converting the incoming 120V, AC power to the 24V or 12V DC power that the LED fixtures require. In some of the fixtures the driver is contained within the fixture. In other situations one driver may work for several fixtures. Though he has done many LED installations, Mike said he has never wired an entire residence for LED fixtures. The all LED lighting system at Desert Rain is quite extraordinary. Thank you, Mike for the LED lesson.
Back outside, Rob Conrad owner of American Painting and his crew were hauling ladders and preparing to apply a penetrating stain on the FSC cedar lap siding. The original plan was to let the cedar ‘weather’ naturally. Kevin Lorda, project manager with Timberline Construction said, ‘there was some concern about the inconsistency in color tone that would be visible as the cedar weathered due to the different exposures. Moisture absorption may also become a problem.’ The decision was made to seal the cedar with Penofin Verde, a sustainable penetrating oil product. Rob showed me the thick, rich, honey consistency of the product. Rob and his crew were working with brushes, rollers, and paint pads depending on the space they had to work and the obstacles on the walls. The oil application had a dramatic effect on the wood deepening the natural color tones – beautiful and protective.
Bill Bancroft and Dennis Gant with Versatile Carpentry were inside taking measurements for trim around all the interior door frames. Bill said the trim will be milled to specification from the reclaimed lumber that is being stored off site. Lumber was salvaged from the original two houses on site that were carefully deconstructed and also from a potato barn outside of Prineville. Some of that lumber has been used on the exterior soffits and will also be used on the interior ceilings. Versatile Carpentry crew framed the interior door openings and pocket doors.
In this flurry of activity I am appreciative of the time these guys take to answer questions and educate me about the process of their various trades. Then I can share that knowledge here on the website. Every one of the contractors I have encountered on the Desert Rain Team has been helpful, informative, and friendly. I feel most fortunate to have the opportunity to learn about and watch the process of Desert Rain unfolding.