Forward Motion

Weather here in Central Oregon changes on a whim. Several days of near 90 degree days last week make it difficult to remember the downpours of rain we had a few short weeks ago. The Desert Rain site was awash with puddles and mud when Barb and Tom arrived to give a tour.  Last night we had a frost. Change represents motion. Desert Rain is seeing significant changes as the project moves forward.

Barb in rain 2

Through rain and shine, challenges, frustrations, rewards, and successes – Barb and Tom and the Desert Rain team keep moving forward.


Water – essential to Desert Rain meeting the goals of the Living Building Challenge.

Rain is good for Desert Rain. To meet the criteria for the Water Petal of the Living Building Challenge, water must be collected on site for all domestic and irrigations use, including drinking water. Desert Rain is outfitted with rainwater collection systems on all of the buildings. The water will be harvested and stored in a 35,000 gallon cistern. Wastewater must also be processed on site. Good news came today in the form of permit approval from the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality for a composting toilet facility. There will also be a bio-reactive, constructed wetland to treat the graywater for use in irrigation.  The water permit is still pending with the City of Bend.

Juan, with Elite Plastering working on the second coat on the garage.

Juan, with Elite Plastering working on the second coat on the garage.

The base coat and second coat of plaster have been applied. A third and final, colored, finish coat will be added soon. The exterior of the structures are under wraps during the plastering process so the curing can be controlled.

house in wraps

Still under wraps. There will be much excitement when the final coat of plaster is complete and the exterior revealed.

What is happening under all the wrapping?

Tile in guest bathroom

Jason is tenacious with the tedious job of tiling all of the shower walls with the crushed glass tiles from FireClay. Doug Cahail is working diligently in the master bathroom.



Tilers, Doug Cahail and Jason have been diligently working on installing the FireClay ‘Crush’ tiles in the bathrooms of both the ADU and main house. ‘Debris’ tile from FireClay was used for the backsplashes and shower in the ADU. ‘Debris’ is comprised of more than 70% recycled waste, including recycled toilets.



High Desert Hardwood Flooring crew, Sonny and John, have installed the salvaged myrtlewood floors in both the ADU and the main house. In the ADU they have been sanded and finished with, OSMO, a green, wood- wax product.

myrtlewood finished

Oregon Myrtlewood flooring – the picture says it all!











Gabriel Dansky and crew with Dansky Handcrafted of Bend, have been installing more cabinet bases in the dining and laundry areas. Installation of the doors on the kitchen cabinets is also underway. The cabinet doors are made from Forest Stewardship certified wood and finished with OSMO wood-wax.

cabinet doors

The beauty of all the elements blending together; reclaimed wood on the ceiling, FSC wood on the cabinets, American Clay plaster on the walls, recycled FireClay tile for the backsplash, and cement countertops from Cement Elegance.

OLLI tour

A group from the Osher Lifelong Learning Center listen to an introduction from Tom about the project before they make their way up the ‘mail trail’ to the house.

Meanwhile, tours have been ongoing with groups and individuals interested in green building and the cutting edge elements of Desert Rain. Recently a group from the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute, partnered with the University of Oregon, visited Desert Rain. A notable visitor, Denis Hayes and his wife, Gail Boyer-Hayes also toured the site. Hayes was the coordinator for the first Earth Day Celebration in 1970. He is currently the president and CEO of the Bullitt Foundation based in Seattle.  The Bullitt Foundation opened a new center in Seattle this Earth Day in 2013. The facility was built to meet the standards of the Living Building Challenge. Hayes and his wife hope to build a LBC home of their own.

tour with Denis Hayes

Denis Hayes, coordinator of the very first Earth Day, tours Desert Rain with his wife Gail Boyer-Hayes. Tom, Barb, and James Fagan, DR builder, talk about the elements of the extreme, green project.

Back outside – Keith Krewson with Central Oregon Construction Contractors has returned to lay and pour the forms for the ‘Miro’ wall. The curved wall begins on the exterior, west end of the house, continues through the structure, emerges from the east end and will eventually, gracefully encircle a courtyard.  A wall in flowing motion – a project in motion – flowing forward!


Keith Krewson and crew have been involved with the Desert Rain project since the early phase of construction. They have done all the concrete work; the foundation, the cistern, the interior, cement slab floor, and now the exterior ‘Miro’ wall.

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