Sunday, November 29, 2015

Settling In To The Modern Prefab House - Tiny Little Lab

Tiny Little Lab, the guest unit of the prefab modern house from Green Modern Kits, is currently being used as a weekend retreat for the client until the sale of her home, at which point she will move to this beautiful area permanently and then build the main unit of the modern prefab cabin.

So even though the prefab house project is unfinished, the client is happily settling in, already making it home, and kindly sent in pictures and stories I thought I would share, as those of us passionate about prefab houses and modern design usually love to see the colorful finds of others, love to share the stories and memories! 

I am so grateful our clients are sharing their adventures and delights with the rest of us.
Here are her words:

"Two photos of the driveway through the field of perennial grasses to the Little Lab, on August 1, 2014, about 2 p.m., on an overcast day, but with strong UV. The tallest grasses are Big Bluestem, and goldenrod is abundant.

View from the porch South, 8/1/14. The 275 yr old oak tree is in the middle, with a rounded shape that extends quite far to the right. Still healthy and producing acorns!

My lizard buddy’s name is Eric, for Eric Dahlen, his maker, who clearly went to UC Davis.

Purchased in San Francisco in the 70s, Eric’s head separated during a minor earthquake, but he went back together surprisingly well, with only that one patch of unglazed clay under his chin. Hopefully the noose is temporary, but given this history, I am leery of removing it, and it is a sad fact of life that you get used to such things. Eric is so morose - he makes me smile with my heart.

I’ll ask my contractor, Jere, to take pictures of the porch with stacks of wood on it; otherwise, it’s still a muddy mess outside, but the perennial grasses and goldenrod are growing back and covering lots of bare ground. He’s coming today to fix a leaky shower problem.

The main unit: sorry if I gave the impression the main unit would be built later this year. It will not be built until the old house I live in sells, and the old house is now ready to put on the market, probably in September. It may take 3 years to sell, which is why I decided to build the guest unit first, so there would be healthy place to sleep with healthy air to breathe, instead of waiting 3 more years. Jere told me I look better, meaning eyes not so swollen and puffy and so forth.

Wood delivered yesterday from a local sawmill. A mixture of locust, cherry, hackberry, and walnut. I don’t remember taking walnut to the mill, but here it is! All of this wood was lying on the ground, leftover from a poor lumbering operation, except for a few skinny hackberries that were rubbing branches of the oak tree and a fairly big locust that was leaning over an old stone fireplace, taken down before it fell on the fireplace.

The wood will be used in the main unit for bookshelves, closets and closet shelves, and surely there’s enough for flooring here and there."

...and there you have it, the latest update from a GENEROUS client sharing her life with us all.

Friday, April 4, 2014

Prefab Cabin House - Tiny Little Lab Progresses!

Prefab Cabin House - Tiny Little Lab Progresses!

I am so thrilled to get an update from the prefab house in the northeast, The Pennsylvania Project!
If you recall, this client is "doing it backwards"- building the smaller unit first, then the main unit later this year.  

She calls her prefab cabin, "The Little Lab."
It's such a beautiful house site. The client is surrounded by meadows and rolling hills... I can't wait to hear about her life there once it's all complete.  

Project Notes: The client used different windows that were spec'd by our prefab house architect, Damon Pearson.

Here is her prefab house kit update, in her words: 
"J. took pictures of the porch yesterday - as you can see, ALL the ice and snow have melted away, and with any luck, life will stay that way.
The porch boards are hemlock from Pennsylvania, a major forest tree for us, but one under serious threat and pressure from the woolly adelgid and other pests.  The boards were planed and tongue and grooved at a mill in about 20 - 30 miles from here.  Hemlock is one of my favorite trees, so graceful and flowing in a breeze, and it is a great joy to have hemlock included in the construction.

... the Marmoleum looks pretty true to character except it is really black. It is CP-2939, SMART certified, a black with a little whitish pattern, and I am trying it out in The Little Lab to see if it disguises the dust and dirt that will probably always be a fact of life when you live in the middle of a field. If it doesn't, a grey will be installed in the bathroom in the main unit. My ideal for the main bathroom is the London Look: black floors, white fixtures, and birch plywood walls, but then you deal with reality.
The yellow paint on the walls is Valspar's Dandelion Wish, a warm, wonderful yellow that is much stronger and redder than in this photo. The combined effect of strong yellow and strong black will be a little over the top for some people, especially when they see the assortment of towels, all different colors, that will be used in this bathroom!

The next picture is of the corner windows with trim and hardware installed."

[A week went by, then more pictures!]
"Walls are ROMA Biodomus Superflat (, a very special finish that is luminous and reflects light, in addition to all its healthy properties! I call it a plaster, but it is applied like paint, with a roller or brush. As you know, ROMA tied for 3rd place in the 2013 Cradle to Cradle Product contest. I love it and will try some tints for walls in the main unit.

Floor is finished with OSMO Polyx-Oil, second coat in these pictures. I realize I should buy an American product for this job, but the European air quality standards are so far ahead of ours, I went with the best.
I like the white trim (in the SIP cavity) better than I thought I would, and probably will stay with it in the main unit.

Third picture shows the 275 year-old White Oak, beyond.

Rest of floor and interior doors going in today.

The closet wall in main living/bedroom.  A chance to experiment with different whites and blues to use in the main unit.  The ceiling and 1 foot down is covered with the Biodomus Superflat, & you can see the boundary line I left between the plaster and paint.  Drywall compound needed to be covered, hence the blue in the middle of the wall & white paint on drywall screws.

Formaldehyde-free birch plywood on the floors.
IKEA sink - long and narrow - that echoes the shape of the bathroom, IKEA faucet;  Valspar Dandelion Wish on the walls. more orangey than in the photos;  Smart Certified Marmoleum real CP-2939 on the floor is doing a good job hiding boot prints.

IKEA kitchen cabinet and Domsjo sink with new model Moen Align faucet.  The high faucet looks surprisingly good with the small 24' cabinet, I think because the cabinet is on legs.  Will not look as good when doors are put on because IKEA stopped making flush birch doors (damn).  I gave up - the doors will be flush white.  Tested a blue on the wall behind the sink, Valspar Cobalt, samples come in satin, giving a little water protection."
And there you have it! 
We are *very* grateful to this wonderful creative client for sending us an update, we all can't wait to see and read more!!!!

Friday, January 31, 2014

Passive Solar SIP Modern Prefab House Being Built In Northeast Project Blog

I am so thrilled to begin sharing with you the progress of the passive solar modern prefab being built in the northeast! This client is incredibly creative with impeccable modern taste, is passionate about the environment, and thoughtful in every aspect of her home so I am very excited to share with you her modern prefab house as it is constructed, as she sends updates.

Note: This client is a *very* busy woman who is involved with environmental advocacy. Because of her schedule, she tells me her missives will be sporadic, but I hope not- I can't wait to see what she does!!!!

This client is building her tiny house "backwards" - she is first constructing the guest house, THEN, after selling her current house, will erect the main living area.

The client has made some modifications, which we will detail as the project goes along, but here are initial pictures!

"...the little unit is so beautiful with the Iron Grey rainscreen and windows that look in all 4 directions!  I can't wait to "move in" and start spending time in this healthy place.  A fridge, sink, and stove will be installed in the North room, all necessary to receive an occupancy permit."

[Note: Don't forget an ERV or HRV for fresh air exchange in tight, energy efficient homes!]

She mentioned the contractor did not have green materials experience, so this  is one more example of our prefab house kits adding green building skills and knowledge into each community, which makes me very happy.

Here she describes the prefab house more, and changes.

"Lightly snowing...

The first is of the EAST facade, where the electric connections come in from the road. The long window is in the North room where the kitchen will be placed until the main unit is built. Note one change, from piers to blocks. 

Although the roof appears to be at a slant in this photo, it is a 3" tilt from N to South."
[Editor Note: This is an engineering change from our original prefab house design.]

"Second photo is of the East and South facades. The third, of the South facade and porch on the West side.

Note window changes. J. wanted to use Anderson windows, & bigger corner windows meant custom. Again, to save money, I stayed with standard sizes. For the main unit, tho, larger corner windows will be made for the south/west windows. And at the last minute, realizing that solar gain was being blocked by the South wall, I changed the clerestory to a vertical casement, same size as on the East, and it allows light and heat to flood into the entry and living space.

The trees you see in the third photo are on a hill that extends from XXX Road to XXX Lane. The Dogtrot sits on c. 60 acres between these 2 roads.

...I truly love the Iron Grey color, you can see how soft it looks, while a blackish paint would be so shiny and hard. And it WAS installed as a rainscreen!"
[Editors Note: She used Hardiplank.]

"The outside doors are steel for fireproofing, after I learned recently that warm season grasses do burn, and burn fiercely and rapidly. I'd like to paint them a bright blue, but the white primer is good for now.

Purchased 2 RainwaterHOGS & think I've have them lying on the ground to hide their ugly olive green.

Job was contracted to be finished by Jan.15th, but we probably are looking at the end of Feb."

She ends with, "...Bitter cold & wind coming back today, and I doubt the drywall will be installed until weather moderates. Same for drilling the well."

Here are original unaltered prefab house renderings, below.  
We can't wait to hear more details on her modern prefab house progress!!!!