Archive for March, 2012

A little closer still…

Progress always seems slow to a crawl but money seems to fly at the last stages of a project.

This week Robye Stucco came back to complete the EIFS work.

At first we were not so sure about our color selection.  When they first put it on, the green was so bright, I was shocked.  As it dried out, it really settled into a nice green.  I like it more everyday.

The siding is almost completed too.  The siding is a cementitious shingle siding made by Nichiha.  It is very similar to James Hardie but Nichiha is a little thicker.  We also really like the color that they came in.  It works well with the green stucco.  We’ll leave it up to the buyer to paint it if desired.

Here’s a view of the west side.  The garage will be able to fit two cars (not your ginormous SUVs), sort of a rarity in Arlington to have a 2-car garage but we were lucky to have a wider than standard lot to fit this luxury in.  However, in hope that the future owner will not contribute too much to CO2 emmissions, the garage is wired for electric cars.

The roof deck cantilevers above the side entrance allow for protection from weather when you enter the home from the side entrance.

Here’s the back or the south side.  Like any good southern exposure home, we have the majority or our glazing on this wall.  As you can see the 3ft long overhang of the roof shades most of the second floor windows from excessive sun light.  The first floor is more exposed but motorized exterior shades are on their way!

In all of these pictures you can also see the beautiful wrought iron railings that Reliable Rails fabricated for us.  We initially wanted to use cable rails.  After looking at the selections available, we just didn’t feel comfortable with cables that can sometimes get loose.  After some thought and looking at the neighborhood homes, which are mostly built in the 30s-40s and all have wrought iron rails.  We decided that it was a good way to tie our home in with the rest of the neighborhood.  Additionally, wrought iron rails are fabricated locally and can be customized.  Reliable Rails did a great job with it.

Another thing I want to point out is the window trim/flashing detail.  I love that deep sill and the windows look really great sitting back into the wall.

That’s it for today.  Stay tuned.



Arlington Green Living Expo

We exhibited over the weekend at the Arlington Green Living Expo

This was our second year there. We love this little local event because many of our friends exhibit there too.  It was very cool to introduce people to our project and our company and awesome to see people who came to talk to us last year, as we are finishing things up and putting the home on the market shortly.  We also got to sit next to David, Izumi and Mike of  We had a good time hanging out.

Ribbon Cutting Ceremony

We sat directly from the nature center, which had a bike with a generator that converted kinetic energy to electricity.  Man, it was hard to make enough juice to power a hair dryer.

I guess I couldn’t power a passive house all by myself.  The heating and cooling consumption of our Passice House is about two 2 hair dryers.  I guess I should tell whoever that buys it not to use hair dryers.

Here’s our floor plan:

Overall, the event was a success, we signed up about 50 people to come to our Open House.

Oh, here’s our poster.


Also, if you don’t live close enough to come see the house, here’s a model of our house that you can cut, glue and build yourself.  Have fun!



After a few more delays due to our own coordination issues, we are finally making some progress.

On the outside


The EIFS (Exterior Insulation Finishing System) work started.  Robey Stucco is doing a great job.  I have to say, I really like the look and feel of it.  Additionally, it’s a great way to break some of those thermal bridges!


EIFS With base coat

I have to agree with my professor though that because it is too easy to manipulate, it invites bad architecture.

Here’s a funny one…

2. Siding

Our siding installation also started.  We decided to go with primed cement shingle siding made by Nichiha.  The price of pre-painted is just too high and considering we will most likely still have to touch it up, we went with primed.  I think we will end up with a better finish anyways.

Siding installation

3. Window Trim Detail

We spent some time implementing the window details Matt (our architect at ZAVOS) designed for us.  Essentially, we fabricated a metal flashing that gets placed at an angle, right in between the Grace Vycor and the Tremco Trio, we left the weep holes open, then placed a piece of PVC trim on top, also set at an angle.  Then we caulked the joint between the window frame and the PVC trim.  I think between the trim, caulk, metal flashing and the Vycor, water will find its way out.

Here’s the final result.

Window Trims

On the Inside

1. Bamboo

We stacked the bamboo and let them acclimatize for almost a week.  Then Raul and his guys started installing the really hard grass.

Bamboo Stacks

Bamboo Installation

One thing I had a lot of difficulty understanding was why an underlayment is necessary when installing hardwood.  As far as I can tell, the underlayment serves two purposes: moisture barrier and mitigating uneven subfloor.  I can see using it in the basement where it can be more moist.  But for the rest of the house, moisture should not be a problem.  Also, if the subfloor is uneven, it should really be smoothed out a bit before installation.  The biggest problem I had with underlayment is that installers typically use 15lb Asphalt felt for this purpose.  This is disturbing to me.  I finally gave in when I found AguaBar, which is still asphalt based but at least does not smell like tar and emit VOCs like crazy.

Aquabar “B”

So, that’s it for now.  With the drywall done, flooring in place and the exterior underway, this project is counting down to its eventual completion.  We have mixed feelings about it.  It’s a relief to be where we are and we can’t wait to get it done but at the same time, we are going to need to start marketing this baby and eventually sell it…  I guess we shouldn’t get too attached.

Arlington Green Living Expo

We are exhibiting again at this Arlington Green Living Expo this Saturday.  Come visit us if you are in the D.C. area.  Also several local Passive House folks are exhibiting too.

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