Weekend Update

Now that we are into January it’s getting closer and closer to reality. It’s good to see the patio take shape. It’s a little over engineered. I’m glad I beefed up the columns otherwise they would have felt diminutive relative to the beams! I should have made it wide enough to park a car there.



Eight Douglas Fir were harmed in the making of this house. I have been trying to put them back into the project in some fashion but was stumped. I had ran into a wall with milling it. I had given up after a few failed inquiries. “It will make good firewood”. Then I caught a lead on a friend of a friend with a portable mill. It looked good that he could mill it and had connections to kiln dry it and machine it into T&G for my walls. There was hope! But they flaked out at the end game. Then I was hopeful we could power wash the bark off and at least use some logs for the deck posts. The logs are just too green so the bark was stubborn and moving large wet logs was also very awkward so we had to give up on that idea. Then I thought a stump staircase could work and the google brain led me to the idea of the cordwood patio.

The stump staircase will lead up to the secret garden. I get to use the word juxtaposition here without guilt. In general the exterior landscaping will be organic and round where the house is organized and square.

Speaking of stumps and reusing. We also found an excellent new home for a great stump we had to remove.

I’m sure there is a stump nerd out there somewhere that will appreciate this.


A side benefit from all the work with passive house principles is the house will have some nice light. It might not have passive status but it has a strong relationship with the sun.

Windows are going in. We went with West Coast Windows on the recommendation of my builder. A solid double pane window made in BC. If we weren’t going to make passive then why the added embedded energy in triple pane? Plus there is the added money…. Speaking of light I am glad we went with the dark frame. It blends with the shadows in the reflections. I am curious what it will look like with the dark siding. Which should be showing up soon from West Coast Pre finish. No relation to the windows….

Light boxes are also being located, wired, switched, and electrical generally being roughed in with the logic of it all getting nailed down on the fly and on site. My drawings got us 80% of the way there so still very useful. I picked up a couple of pendant lights this evening via Used Victoria. I also found a six hundred dollar light shade on VarageSale for $20 so it will be an interesting collection to say the least. At least more eclectic then 100% Waifare. The radiant heat is also going in. Our mechanical room is filling up!

Tom also completed the Rockitecture. He has performed some great work refining my thoughts into some real bolder artistry. It’s a now a solid foundation for some serious gardening.

Even the septic has fit itself into this puzzle. This dream might actually come true…

Getting Dirty

It’s been a busy month with a warrens nest of activity with plumbing, electrical and inside framing happening. Lots of bodies. But this week the fun stuff is starting to happen. Digging in the dirt! 

Not only is that beautiful machine, more Mech actually, and it’s expert operator carving and sculpting the land as it interfaces to the house, we have plastered dirt on the walls in a couple of test spots. Sand water and flour is the primer coat. Bryce says “ Gluten is nature’s glue”. Not a gluten free house… earthen plaster will be the final finish on most of the inside ICF walls. This makes for minimal extra material, very low embodiment energy, and a middle finger to drywall. It’s just the ICF wall and the earthen plaster layer. No paint or anything. It will also look earthy and beautiful. I hope….


This was the nice discovery. Snow! The unpleasant discovery was cleanouts. Lots and lots of cleanouts. I have lived my entire 47 years without once wishing I had a cleanout. At least not inside. Well now I have eight. Maybe more. I keep discovering them. I have been struggling on paper with placing electrical outlets every twelve feet from each other and six from any opening while maintaining an actual logic to where they are where I should have been thinking about the access hatches for the cleanouts. Here is an example of one that isn’t too bad since it’s behind the kitchen cabinets. It’s the round cap with the square detail on the end. However it’s not quite in the cabinet. It will be part in the cabinet part on the edge. It protrudes 2” from the wall so there will be some funny detail yet to be determined here. 

Some rework has been necessary in order not to have strange access doors in awful locations. Also some creative new design features. This is the disadvantage of having all the space being finished. No basement, crawl space or attic. It makes it a puzzle to hide things. Besides the plumbing going in, the HRV ducting is also being put in. 

Despite the irritation of dealing with the many cleanouts appearing in difficult locations some big progress is happening. 


This is some of the inspiration for the house design. I guess a phrase from it’s “pattern language” is – asymmetrical compositions. These shots show some of the bones of these spacial compositions. I hope once it grows a skin it all works as well as it feels now. It’s a discovery process as it moves from design (which is a blurry and incomplete vision) to reality where that view becomes clearer and clearer.