You can't see it yet, but...

the site is coming together. The ditches are filled in and the mounds are spread out. Once the rake does it's work, much of the construction mess will be gone. Because of the rain it was difficult to grade as smoothly as desired. Erin has taken the first swipe at raking getting rid of the worst of the hills and valleys.

Eric & Rose

pay a Christmas Eve visit. Even our huge machine couldn't entice Ben away from his grandparents, so Eric and Rose had a bit of time off from parenting.

Wing Walls

Brad and Travis install the wing walls of insulation. These layers of insulation, one foot deep around the main living, are designed to help hold the heat in the ground and in the insulated heat sink. There are sensors outside these wings, inside the heat sink, further out from the building and at different levels. 24 sensors in all will be recording soil temperatures.

The Stream-in-the-making

Moving these huge rocks was no easy feat but Brad did an amazing job, with no mishaps, in these tight quarters. Now the challenge is to turn this pile of rock into a believable stream.

Beginning the Stream

First we worked the grade, adding and raking soil, for the stream under our bridge between the guesthouse and main living. We then spread the pond liner. And then, we were able to set the rocks.


Rain & Mud

It's difficult to imagine being any dirtier!

Erin spends time behind the compactor

Brad & Ben place sensors in the heat sink

The machine ran almost all day non stop

Ben, Ed & Brad set sensors with Erin and Travis
moving dirt in the background

We'd hoped to get to a holiday party, or two, today. Instead we worked in the mud and rain from early morning until after dark. We were exhausted at the end of the day and wanted nothing more than a shower and a good night's rest. Tomorrow morning we start work again -- early -- setting rocks. Preparing for Christmas has been pushed aside this year as we pour on the building effort. However, we will be leaving for the Pass tomorrow afternoon for two days of R&R at Greg and Deb's cabin in the snow.

Whidbey Kids

I love how the Whidbey kids ride along with mom or dad when the deliveries are made. This is a late in the day delivery on Saturday. LandShapers was able to respond to our emergency call:
"help we need more sand"


Long Days

The days have been long, especially for Brad beginning before 7:00 and ending after dark. To back fill the site and fill the heat sink we've had one load of rock, two loads of sand, and one load of gravel delivered by Whidbey Topsoil. Needing more, we had a load of sand delivered by LandShapers.

The Utilities

The utilities are first placed in an insulated chase and then enclosed in a half culvert. The other half of the culvert enclosed the pipes and wires coming up in the main living building. This shot, between the guesthouse and the main living building is the location of the creek-to-be.

Moving the Guesthouse forward.

Travis and Kent work on the beams.

This opening is the guesthouse window seat window.

Mr. Ed the wiring man.

Electrical wiring between the guesthouse and main living.

Erin gets a ride.

Look at the heat sink now.

Many of the sensors are in; both the small and large
compactors have been at work; and Ben has been on
the end of a shovel for days.

Ben, Sterling, Brad and Travis

The grade rises...

On the west side we can now step directly
into the guesthouse

Also, on the west side, the main living grade
is rising.

Don Colvin

delivers the solar heat system sensors.

Another machine

for filling the heat sink, leveling the site, moving
load after load of sand, gravel and mulch, and
compacting the sand in the heat sink. Plus, in
another day or two placing the creek boulders.

Travis and Brad

Landscaping Happens As We Build.

These huge boulders will make up the stream
that goes under the bridge and flows into the pond.

Travis working on the pond. He's standing in
what will be the wetland.

Looking under the bridge to the pond.

Assembling the Heat Sink

Ben and Kent install the Pex tubing for the Solar
hot water system in the insulated heat sink.

Ben adds sand on the tubes as Kent and
Sterling "work" the tubes.

Sterling compacting the sand/soil mix so we can
pour a concrete slab over it.

A Day of Friends and Work...

Paul, from Ventura, CA not only visits but
works, including wiring the E-One

Martha, home for three months from her other home
in Ireland, gets a tour.

Barry, Brad's Dad, skillfully and generously
helps in a million ways.

Simple living?

Running between the guesthouse and the main living building
is domestic hot & cold water, DSL, Telephone, T.V. Cable, 3-way
switch wires, 2 layers of solar heating water pipes, plus spare conduit,
with the result being not simple at all.... In fact, the complexity of our
modern lives is stunning.

Add to the above, sensor equipment to measure the effectiveness
of the solar heat system and the result is quite amazing!

Of course, then there's the wiring for the E-One
(our grinder/pump for the sewer hookup)
which includes an alarm system. And, then
the electrical service box.



One of the frustrations in planning our heat sink and solar heating system is the lack of documentation available to support the theories. Many systems have been designed and used, with some being more successful than others, but few, that we can find, have data to support their successes or failures.

Brad has been in touch with Don Colvin of Mukilteo, WA to set up a system that will record the actual results of our system. Don has ordered 18 sensors to place in the heat sink at different locations, plus sensors to place outside the heat sink, some nearby and others further away. In this way there will be a record of the actual temperatures, recorded on a daily basis, so we can evaluate the success of our solar heating system.

More will follow on this topic...

Judy's Story

Brad went skiing today; I ran errands; Ed worked on accounting stuff; and the crew had the day off. This is what we missed by being off site:
So I was outside this afternoon...actually doing a little yard work. (And yes it was cold.) There was a car stopped in the lane, near your trailer, so I thought I would ask the driver my standard question...i.e., "Are you lost?". But then I saw he had a camera in his hand. So instead, I said, "Guess you aren't lost..." He was photographing the carport/guest house. Said he was wondering about the empty space at the top. So I told him a little about the building, and he said that he is an architect. As the conversation continued, he mentioned that the person he trained with taught him that "you can do anything", but that when he started working, he found that it wasn't true. Finally said that he was trained by Frank Lloyd Wright. And yes, he was the right age. While he could have been some kind of inspector, I think not. (Also, he and his wife were in a rented car.) He seemed wistful, that someone was able to design and build an unusual building. I explained about recycled materials and wished that Brad were there to take the "kudos". I'll tell him, if/when I see him. But if not, be sure to tell him that the building was admired by an architect trained by Frank Lloyd Wright.


Barn's Electrical

passed final inspection!


No Squished Utilities...

This is a temporary plank road for crossing the utilities.
The end of next week we'll be ready for tractor work, and
the tractor is heavy with the capacity to damage the utilities.
The planks are in preparation for the tractor work. Check
out the beautiful mulch from Ken Petry in the background
waiting to be spread.

Coming soon -- guesthouse roof

The push the past two days has been to clean up the beams
and rafters for roof building next week. Staging is a big part
of any project. Travis has just carried another prepared
rafter to the guesthouse. Note behind the guesthouse,
plywood is also ready.

The Sun's Energy...

Brad with Chris and Kelly of Whidbey Sun & Wind Renewable
Energy Systems dialed in the details of our solar system today.


Ben laboring to cover utilities

which is no small task. He's checking the
levels for drainage; making sure the cables
are protected from bending, rocks and sharp
objects; bundling so cables don't separate;
and checking on a million details to insure
years of no interrupted service on our
guesthouse and main living utilities.