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The Mudroom Sink

What we don’t see – the design time, the plans, the plan changes, the research and the collaboration between designers, builders, and Barb and Tom.

I’ve recently been sorting through hundreds of photos taken at Desert Rain from project initiation to the current phase of the construction. The progress from the deconstruction of the original homes on the site, to the Desert Rain structure that is beginning to look like a home, is documented with the visuals of the photos.  It is an impressive transformation to see the empty site become reality as each phase of construction adds an element.

Some of the many interior design elements, each one must go through the ‘behind the scenes’ process.

The building process is very much a layering or ‘trickle’ down effect.  One element depends on another. The timing is not always precise as builders may be waiting on design plans or one sub-contractor may be waiting on another. That sub may be waiting on a supplier or the material may be in the process of ‘approval’.  Unlike a traditional building project, Desert Rain is building towards the goal of Living Building Challenge certification.  That means every material and element from nails and glue, to lumber, plumbing pipe, windows, and roofing, must be researched and approved.  ML Vidas is the LBC and LEED consultant for Desert Rain.  ML has a spreadsheet of EVERYTHING that is going to be used. She tracks what it is, where it is being used in the project, who is the manufacturer, what raw materials are in it, and the source of those materials.

The design team continues to work on specifications and collaborate with the builders and with Tom and Barb.  Every item must go through a process. I recently saw an e-mail regarding ‘the mudroom sink’.

Step One in the process that begins the dialogue that leads to the selection and installation of the mudroom sink.

Something that basic, still requires the time and effort of one or more of the ‘team behind the scenes’.  That sink must be selected for design and fit, researched for LBC standards, ‘vetted’ by ML and approved by Barb and Tom.  E-mails and phone calls go back and forth. Time is spent. Decisions are made and eventually the sink will be installed.  When we walk into the mud-room, ‘voila’, we will see the sink. What we won’t see are the details that put that sink in place.  What we won’t see are the team players that did their due diligence. What we won’t see are the choices to be made, the e-mails to be answered, or the meetings at the drawing board.

One of the many collaborative meetings.

We can go to the property today and see the pieces in place; from foundation to framing, windows to roofline, solar panels to the cistern and all the other elements that are bringing Desert Rain closer to home.  Talking about the visual standpoint of the project, Kevin Lorda, on the Timberline Construction build team described the ‘front end of things with excavation, concrete, and framing, as sort of, the lion’s share of the building process.’  What we visualize today are all those elements of the ‘lion’s share’ and more. What we don’t see is the enormous amount of design, research, discussions, and decisions that have happened behind the scenes so those elements are in place.

One small detail – the downspout and copper connector.

Every time I visit the site to document what is new, talk to the builders, and take photos, I am amazed at the progress and what I see. Thanks to the mud-room sink, I am reminded to be equally amazed at what I don’t see.

 

Tom and Barb in the process of making another decision.

Green Foam is Cool

Spray foam insulation in the living room ceiling.

Current temperatures here in Bend, Oregon are soaring above 90 degrees F. What better time to bring up the topic of insulation?  While we often think of insulation as being crucial to keeping out the cold, it is equally as important to maintain comfortable indoor temperatures when there’s a furnace outside.

Spray foam insulation fills all the irregular cavities and flows around obstructions creating an air tight seal.

Spray foam insulation, though not green in color is gaining popularity as a ‘green’ alternative to traditional fiberglass and cellulose insulation systems.  Spray foam provides outstanding building envelope performance by expanding around voids, filling irregular cavities, and creating a seal against air infiltration, the primary source of energy loss.

Did you know that a home that is improperly insulated and sealed, delivers 4500 lbs. of excess greenhouse gases into the air each year? It can also waste 20 percent or more of the energy used to heat and cool the home.

 

The US Department of Energy studies show that 40% of a home’s energy is lost through walls, doors, windows, and roofs. Buildings using spray foam insulation typically perform at least, 50% more efficiently than buildings using traditional insulation. The result is more constant indoor temperatures allowing decreased use of heat and air conditioning.  While the initial costs of installation may exceed that of fiberglass insulation, spray foam is a long-term, energy and money-saving investment.  Other benefits of spray foam contribute to its rising use. There is no settling or decay or ‘off gassing’ over time.  Spray foam blocks moisture, eliminating mold and mildew growth. The application of spray foam strengthens a building’s structure, as the foam expands and fills the gap between each wall, floor, or roof cavity. As a polyurethane product, spray foam does not act as a nesting ground or a food source for pests and insects. The density of the foam creates a sound barrier.  This all adds up to a healthier, safer, and more comfortable living environment.

The insulated ceiling in Desert Breeze (Accessible Dwelling Unit)

Spray foam is the insulation of choice for Desert Rain. Recently, Desert Rain, the main house and Desert Breeze, the ADU guesthouse received their first round of spray foam insulation. The spray foam used by Energy Conservation Insulation (ECI) on the Desert Rain site is a closed cell, polyurethane foam.

Good Enough for NASA –
The Space Shuttle’s External Tank is covered with closed-cell spray-on foam insulation that serves to insulate the tank before and during launch. It keeps the Shuttle’s liquid hydrogen fuel at minus 423 degrees F and the liquid oxygen tank at minus 297 degrees F. The foam insulation must also be durable enough to endure a 180-day stay at the launch pad, withstand temperatures up  to 115 degrees Fahrenheit, humidity as high as 100 percent, and resist sand, salt, fog, rain, solar radiation and even fungus.    Read more here:

http://www.nasa.gov/pdf/63758main_TPS_FACT_SHEET.pdf

 

Closed cell- foam insulation is dense, with a small, compact cell structure making it an excellent barrier to air and water vapor. ECI uses foams that do not contain HCFCs, VOCs or formaldehyde, meeting the Living Building Challenge ‘Red List’ requirements and making the insulation systems free of toxic air contaminates.  Polyurethane spray foam typically has an R-value of  R-7 to R-8 per inch. Blown fiberglass insulation is typically only R-2 to R-4.  R-value is the term given to thermal resistance to heat flow; the higher the R-value, the more effective the insulation properties.  Desert Rain will have R-values more than twice the code requirement.

ECI is spraying the foam in stages.  Once the vent stacks and mechanical elements that go through the roof were in place, the ceiling and duct work received layers of spray foam. The walls will initially be sprayed to about half the final thickness.  Any mechanical systems, plumbing and wiring in the wall will then be installed before the final layer of foam is sprayed.  Without the obstructions the spray foam can more easily penetrate the wall cavities, creating a better seal.   ECI uses standard and custom equipment that processes foam through both spray and injection techniques. This allows them to take advantage of numerous chemical systems with varying densities, speeds, closed-cell content, fire rating, vapor permeability, and other desirable environmental characteristics.  ECI considers the principles of heat, air and moisture flow, and how the building envelope interacts with a building’s mechanical systems as well as who occupies the structure.

An example of thermal imaging showing a passive, well insulated home in the front and a traditionally constructed home in the background.

Thermal imaging is used to check for any deficiencies once the insulation has been sprayed.  In a conversation with Will Lebeda, owner of ECI, he stated, ‘my business is all about optimal levels – using the best products and techniques to make the home as energy-efficient and comfortable as possible’.

The spray foam insulation will be a significant addition to the other elements that contribute to the comfort and efficiency of the passive design of Desert Rain. Ninety degrees or nine degrees, – Desert rain is also – ‘all about optimal levels’.

The insulated ceiling in the living/kitchen area.

Why the Roof is the Foundation

It was a very blustery day in Bend today, with winds gusting up to 40 mph. But anyone who lives and works in Bend is used to the area’s quickly changing weather conditions–from 70 degrees and sunny one week to 50 degrees and raining the next. Rain or shine, snow or wind (or all of the above–completely possible on one day in Bend!), construction crews across town show up to work.

To the rear left you can see the roofing material now on the garage. To the right, the River Roofing of Bend crew is getting ready to place the steel roofing on the accessory dwelling unit.

The crew from River Roofing of Bend was on site at Desert Rain today, busy installing the metal panel roofing on the ADU (accessory dwelling unit). They completed the garage yesterday. To get video of the guys I climbed up onto the roof of the main home (you’ll find the video at the bottom of this post). You can really feel the wind from a rooftop! After an exhilarating hour up there, I climbed down to find a perfectly timed e-mail from Morgan Brown, president of Whole Water Systems in Seattle, Washington.

Whole Water Systems (http://wholewater.com)

Morgan is leading the way in engineering and managing Desert Rain’s water sustainability. Whole Water gathered more than two decades of rainfall data to develop a comprehensive water system–from rainwater collection (rooftops) to water storage (cistern) to water treatment (constructed wetland bioreactor)–that will allow Desert Rain to meet its water needs without having to rely on any water beyond that which is naturally available to it: rain and snow.

The roof design is an integral part of the home’s water use plan. In essence, it is the foundation of the water system. It is where precipitation first makes contact with the site, and, as a home being built to meet the Living Building Challenge, it is that water–and that water alone–that will provide for Desert Rain’s water needs. There must be enough roof surface area to effectively gather the needed precipitation. And determining roof area requires consideration of a variety of factors. Morgan explained the modeling used when calculating water needs for Desert Rain:

“Our engineer took into account the twenty year history of precipitation in Bend (average = 12 inches/year); lowest rain year (seven inches); amount of roof surface area available for collection; and range of anticipated user demand (occupants behavior, amount of water used). The resulting modeling suggested the need for a 30,000 gallon cistern to store enough water to get the occupants through the worst case dry spell without sacrificing on their intended average water use.”

Bear in mind that Barb and Tom’s intended average water use of 30 gallons a day per person pales in comparison to the national average, which is 98 gallons of water per person. Water conservation will come from a variety of areas, including Barb and Tom’s conscious behavior, high-efficiency plumbing fixtures, and a landscape that requires no irrigation.

The River Roofing crew installing the steel panels on the garage. May 2, 2012.

But to get the water we go back to where I started: the roof. “There are a variety of techniques that are employed to ensure the quality and sanitary nature of the drinking water collected from rain,” says Morgan. “First of all, the type of roofing material needs to be appropriate to assure that no unacceptable substances leach into the water.”

Jim Fagan, Desert Rain’s contractor with Timberline, said “It’s rolled steel from Kalama, Washington. They put an LBC [Living Building Challenge]-approved coating on it, and then place it on a big roll and deliver it to River Roofing here in Bend. And they actually fabricate the roof panels here. Steel is one of the things that LBC refers to as globally sourced. There’s a lot of recycled content in almost all steel now–there’s no virgin steel anymore. Steel is steel and we can get it from anywhere. But obviously if we can buy a coil of steel from somewhere in the Northwest, we’re going to stay close.”

This regionally sourced material serves to further the sustainability of the home and to create a dwelling that meets various aspects of Living Building Challenge standards, including respectful use of water.

I’ll close with a compelling quote from Morgan Brown about why water use and conservation is something we should all be thinking about–and why a standard like the Living Building Challenge is now more important that ever.

“From space, Earth appears as a water planet with two-thirds of its surface covered with the liquid. Unfortunately, this is saltwater and life on land requires freshwater to drink and grow the plants that produce our food. Of all the water on Earth, only three percent is freshwater and less than one percent is available to us in the form of rivers, lakes and aquifers that we can use to drink and grow food. To exacerbate the problem, we haven’t done a very good job of taking care of this one percent. With worldwide population at seven billion and climbing, we have been doing a miserable job of stewarding the finite resource we have available. Unlike oil and gold, we can’t live without freshwater. Necessity being the mother of invention, the near future will see drastic changes in how we use and value freshwater.”

– Morgan Brown, Whole Water Systems, Inc.

Video from the Desert Rain site today is included below. (Please excuse the wind noise; there was certainly no escaping it

Panoramic Picture Blog

The home’s placement on the lot was carefully planned by by Tozer Design Studio. That placement, along with the deep south- and west-facing overhangs visible in this picture, are integral to Desert Rain’s passive solar design. April 24, 2012.

The forms are now gone from most of the cistern’s walls. The main holding tank can be seen on the left of the structure. The cistern will be covered by a concrete slab, over which the garage will be built. The collection of precipitation on site, and its storage and filtering in the cistern, will allow Desert Rain to be water independent. April 24, 2012.

Scott and Jason working to install large wooden beams inside Desert Rain. Framing will soon be done, after which time the electrical and plumbing can begin. All of the wood seen in this photo is Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certified. April 24, 2012.

Looking up into the trusses that run the full east-west length of the home. The trusses will eventually be covered by reclaimed wood for the ceiling. April 24, 2012.

 

Touring Desert Rain

Timberline Construction's booth at Earth Day Fair, where they highlighted their work on Desert Rain.

The 23rd Annual Earth Day Fair and Parade took place in downtown Bend today. Hosted by The Environmental Center, the event celebrates sustainable living–making it a great place for Timberline Construction of Bend to highlight their amazing work on Desert Rain. Their booth featured some of the materials being used in the home, including reclaimed wood, Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certified wood, and high R-value foam insulation.

Wood on display at Timberline's Earth Day Fair booth. These boards were reclaimed from a deconstructed potato storage barn in Prineville. The wood is being re-used in Desert Rain.

People could sign up at Timberline’s booth for a tour of Desert Rain. At the home site, Barb and Tom talked about their inspiration for Desert Rain, how they came across the Living Building Challenge (LBC), the basics of LBC standards, and how they’re working to achieve LBC certification.  Following is a photo-blog of a tour.

Gathering near Desert Rain's front entrance for a tour of the home and the property.

Inside the front entrance of Desert Rain.

Barb and Tom explain the inspiration behind Desert Rain, as well as the philosophy of the Living Building Challenge.

Touring the home, which is close to being completely framed.

Tom discusses some of the materials being used in Desert Rain, including the kitchen tiles, which are made from recycled toilets.

The area to the left includes the personal living spaces, such as a bedroom, bathroom, small office, and laundry area. The area to the right will house the social spaces, including the kitchen, dining and living areas.

A wooden porch swing, crafted by Tim Bartels and made of wood reclaimed from a deconstructed potato storage barn in Prineville. You can view more of Tim's work at http://oldcrowwoodworks.blogspot.com/

Barb, second from left, on the west side of the home, talks about Desert Rain and Living Building Challenge.

Tom explains how the solar oven is used. Barb had chicken cooking in there today while everyone toured the home.

It was a beautiful day to tour Desert Rain!

Roofing Begins

Tyler Sanden (center) and Theron McClure (right) talk with Jim Fagan about roofing materials for Desert Rain. April 12, 2012.

Samples of steel around lower fascia. The final steel will be a continuous piece along each section of fascia.

While the concrete for the cistern continues to cure, activity is picking up on the work for the roofing, gutters and downspouts. Tyler Sanden and Theron McClure, from River Roofing of Bend, were on site today prepping the fascia, which will be wrapped with steel. The steel for the roof, gutters and downspouts is coming to Bend from Kalama, Washington. It arrives at River Roofing in large coils, or rolls. River Roofing will fabricate all elements here in Bend.

Tyler and Theron preparing the fascia for its steel wrapping. April 12, 2012.

The blue material is a water/moisture barrier. It will be capped with steel-wrapped wood. April 12, 2012.

I talked with Jim Fagan, of Timberline Construction, about the steel roofing in February. “Steel is one of the things that LBC [Living Building Challenge] refers to as globally sourced. There’s a lot of recycled content in almost all steel now, and you can get it from anywhere. But obviously if we can buy a coil of steel from somewhere in the Northwest, we’re going to stay close.”

These elements form the first stage of water collection, which is essential for Desert Rain to be net-zero water and to achieve LBC Water Petal certification (see the Standard, page 19). Being “net-zero water” means that Desert Rain uses only the precipitation that is available to it on site. In addition to only using what nature gives, Desert Rain will also feature ultra-efficient plumbing fixtures. LBC is a performance-based standard, meaning that certification is only granted after performance is proven over a 12-month period. The build-up is a long one, but it’s something that Tom and Barb are completely ready for—and absolutely committed to.

We have some video from today’s work on the Facebook site: www.facebook.com/desertrainhouse

Of Shopping Lists and Food

Inside the house today I found a great shopping list:

The framers' lumber shopping list.

Framers Jason and Scott tallied their lumber needs on the work desk inside of Desert Rain. Situated perfectly above the list was a saw. I don’t think they realize it, but they often leave their plans and tools arranged in the most artful manner. Stumbling across the next artistic find is always something I look forward to when out on the site.

I stumbled upon this list after walking onto the lot to find a Parr Lumber forklift delivering items from the NEED column. Contractors planning for what they need is an important part of the Living Building Challenge (LBC) process. Not just what you need, but when you need it. As Nate Morgan, the project’s sales rep at Parr Lumber explains, “The idea of the [Desert Rain] project is to be as sustainable as possible, so we’ve had conversations about, hey, we realize you need that, but would you be willing to wait until you need the rest of it or more of it? This job is really about sustainability and the footprint. Because every time you [deliver] it takes resources, such as fuel, and causes emissions. So we’re all really working to overcome historic mindsets of how construction has been done.”

The cistern's wall forms are complete and ready for Tuesday's concrete pour.

The next big delivery of materials comes tomorrow (Tuesday, April 10), when roughly 160,000 pounds of concrete will be poured into the forms for the cistern’s walls. They’ll pump in approximately three feet of concrete at a time, then pause to use a special tool to vibrate out all of the air, and continue with the next three feet, repeating the process until the get to the top (which is about 12 feet high). Once the concrete sets the forms will be removed and we’ll all get a look at how the cistern is taking shape.

Leaf buds on one of the apple trees at Desert Rain.

Around the lot, signs of spring continue to bloom. The apple trees have small leaves coming forth, as well as blossoms. To receive LBC certification, Desert Rain must “integrate opportunities for agriculture appropriate to the scale and density of the project…” (Source: Living Building Challenge 2.0). This means there must be edible food grown on site; certainly no easy task in Central Oregon’s high desert region. But landscape designer Chris Hart Henderson is working with many edibles beyond the site’s existing apple trees. “We decided to go with plants that provided more of an indigenous culture diet and that are readily available. We have service berry, elderberry, currants, wild strawberries, rose hips, Oregon grape, choke cherries,” she says.

One of the two apple trees on the site.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

So Many Changes in So Few Days

Desert Rain as seen from from the western edge of the lot. Plywood temporarily covers some window spaces, while sheeting covers others. April 1, 2012.

I made my way out to the Desert Rain site this afternoon after being out of town for a week. And what a difference seven days make! The cisern’s exterior walls are partially formed.

The cistern continues to take shape. April 1, 2012.

On the northern half of the cistern, where the interior wall forms have yet to be placed, you can see the reinforcing steel rebar that will give the walls additional tensile strength.

The home is now completely covered in plywood siding (FSC-certified and free of red list materials), except of course for those areas in which there will be doors and windows.

The curve of the interior “Miró wall” is seen in the foreground. At the back, the first section of the wall has been framed. April 1, 2012.

Inside, the Miró wall is also taking shape. This curved wall runs the entire east-west length of the home; in fact, it runs through the home and into the outdoor spaces, including a patio area devoted to memorializing a Ponderosa that once stood on the site (the large tree was removed in compliance with Living Building Challenge standards and is being milled in Tumalo for use in the home). Visually, the wall brings the outide in, and the inside out. Designed by Tozer Design Studio, this unique element was inspired the work of Joan Miró. “I had this idea of just this paint brush stroke across a white canvas—an arcing stroke,” said architectural designer Al Tozer. “That paint brush stroke was tied into the Ponderosa memorial with a secondary paintbrush stroke that overlapped the first then wrapped around the geometry of the Ponderosa memorial. Now, on a blank sheet of paper, it almost looked like you had the start of a Miró painting. That creativity and geometry was imbedded into the house, and the house is wrapped around that organizing element. Now it’s become the spine of the home.”

This landscaping layout shows how the Miró wall takes shape outside of the home—note the area between the main home and the accessory dwelling unit (“decomposed granite patio” and “existing ponderosa memorial”). The wall will wrap around the memorial tree. April 1, 2012.

Tozer’s Miró wall was not a part of the home’s original design. It only came to be after the first design was shelved when Tom and Barbara decided to strive for Living Building Challenge 2.0 certification. This is a beautiful testament to the remarkable things that come about with change—even when the change is difficult or painful. Says Tozer, “When you’re faced with the idea that something isn’t working, that’s pretty intense. Then you think, we have a blank sheet of paper. Let’s come up with something fresh and new. It’s fun to grab hold of something a client might have said or shared … and then let the creativity bubble up and try to build that into a new design. It’s really been fun.”

The memorial tree in the yard of Desert Rain. April 1, 2012.

Extreme Green—Down to Every Last Nail

 

Cistern in progress at Desert Rain. Bend, Oregon. March 20, 2012

It’s the first day of spring, but you wouldn’t know it here in Bend. We continue to get precipitation. Today it came in the form of wet snow this morning and turned to light rain later in the day. I went out to the Desert Rain site close to 2:00 this afternoon. All was quiet; the wet weather certainly makes it more challenging to work.

The cistern is slowly taking shape, the form walls growing to create a huge mold for the concrete to come. 

 

The outside of the forms for the cistern’s concrete walls.

Looking at the cistern—and at the whole site—I’m still awed by the materials used and how everything is tracked. When I say everything, I mean EVERYthing. The nails, the concrete, the wood, the rebar used in the concrete, the insulation, the adhesives, the pipes, the drains, the fixtures, the faucets, the pavers, the lights, the roofing, the gutters—there is nothing being used in Desert Rain that is not tracked and, of course, approved as Living Building Challenge (LBC) compliant.

A few cells from M.L.’s expansive spreadsheet.

M.L. Vidas, the LBC consultant for Desert Rain, maintains a spreadsheet that details exactly what’s being used and where it came from (materials must be sourced from within a certain radius of the project). Of course, everything used must comply with LBC’s strict standards, which strive to “…induce a successful materials economy that is non-toxic, transparent, and socially equitable” (from LBC 2.0). M.L. updates the spreadsheet regularly. Currently, there are 330 items listed on the spreadsheet, and M.L. is tracking up to 42 details about each item (sourcing radius, manufacturer, supplier, primary contents, raw materials content location, and on and on). 330 items, up to 42 details about each; that’s more than 13,000 bits of information.

Insulation foam (tracked and approved in the materials spreadsheet) setting in the gap left between pieces of FSC-certified wood (tracked and approved in the spreadsheet).

“My actual work ends up being a lot of research and a lot of organizing information,” said M. L. earlier this month. “Every product, every material going into this project is on this spreadsheet. Everything. I’ve tracked what it is, where it’s being used in the project, who’s the manufacturer, what raw materials are in it, and where they come from. And we’re tracking for LEED, too. I didn’t think my area of expertise would be to track and manage information, but it is now!”

Concrete masonry unit (CMU) blocks manufactured in Oregon—tracked and approved in the materials spreadsheet.

 

The trusses are coming, the trusses are coming!

The trusses are here!

We woke up to four or five inches of snow and a two-hour school delay today. My first thought was I wonder if they’re going to get the trusses in this morning. After we shoveled our driveway and I warmed up with a hot cup of coffee, I pulled on my snow boots and a warm jacket, grabbed the camera, and headed out to the Desert Rain site at 9:00 a.m.

Trusses delivered on snowy morning

Desert Rain trusses make their way up the alley behind the home—but first, the truck driver chains up the wheels after getting stuck.

It was clear but cold, and it was quickly apparent that an overnight snow storm wasn’t going to halt progress on the house. I walked up the narrow and none-too-straight (and unpaved) alley to find the truck driver—with a load of trusses behind his truck—chaining up. He was stuck mid-alley, though the crane had already pulled in and was set up and ready. Once he chained up he was able to move forward and get the trusses back to the crane without a problem. As I watched the huge truck rumble by, framer Jason Bozovich laughed. Having just averted what could have been a day-changing setback he jokingly asked “What could possibly go wrong?” Happily, nothing did.

I know this is what builders deal with all the time?cranes and backhoes and big rigs and platforms and power tools that go “phwoosh-ch-ch” when you use them. But if you’re like me, and you don’t normally work around this stuff, then it’s pretty fun to watch. The framers traversed the tops of the walls and grabbed the trusses as they were lowered from above. With huge beams flying through the air and men walking 15 feet above the ground like it was nothing, I couldn’t help but to think of a high wire act.

The first truss is lowered.

The first truss was placed around 9:30, and the last ones were placed before lunch. It was a gorgeous day, especially with all of the fresh snow from the night before. At one point a Bald Eagle swooped down over the roof and headed on up river. What a sight. Scott Creson pointed it out and everyone took a minute to try to follow its path, but it was gone as quickly as it came. And, of course, I had just shoved my camera back into my pocket when the eagle made his brief appearance.

Everyone took a momentary pause at the eagle sighting, but went right back to work. The crane kept delivering the trusses, one by one, and they were quickly but carefully fastened into place. As with all new wood being used in Desert Rain, the trusses are made of FSC-certified lumber. The wood was purchased from Parr Lumber, and the trusses were fabricated in Redmond—18 miles north of Bend—by Quality Truss.

Placing the last few trusses on Desert Rain.

With the trusses now in place you can clearly see the angles of the roof. This design allows for the home to capture the maximum amount of precipitation. Rain and snow will drain from the roof and collect in specially designed gutters. That water will then flow through downspouts and into pipes that direct it to the home’s 35,000 gallon cistern, which will be located under the garage. From there the water is filtered at several points and pumped back to the home as potable.

Most of the trusses in place.

A view from the inside—it’s like being in the belly of a whale!

Walking on high beams, snow on the ground, cold temperatures biting and hands and noses—this was probably one of the harder days on the site for this crew. But besides that initial hick-up in the alley it all went off without a hitch. And we spotted that Bald Eagle to boot. Soon the boards will be placed on the trusses, the siding will go up, and it will continue to look more and more like a livable home. But for now, the view from the inside is still pretty remarkable.

Here are a few more photos from the day: