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.
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’.
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.
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.
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.