Thursday, August 15, 2013

Lenore gets a commision for Bats.

 I made a bat house for Almost Eden, my last little commission for the garden. Bats are needed to eat insects, which helps protect the plants.

Client: bat

Location:  Bat houses need to be placed in shady areas but still need exposure to the sun (min of 7 hours of morning sunlight). They should not be placed near roads, and not too far from permanent water.
Vent holes: Mine is placed about three inches from the entrance.
Entrance: Bats prefer entering the home from below, with a 5" landing.
Room size: 3/4" spacing.
Dark color: I stained the plywood with wood stain.

Here are all the pieces cut up (I had to use a hand saw, it was kind of awful). The wood recycled from scrap material.
Here's the bat house being assembled, I fortunately had an automatic screw driver. The back board needed to be scored so the bats have something rough to cling onto.
I had to caulk some gaps in the home (as my sawing skills are not up to par).
Example of my caulking needs.
 Here's the bat house ready to be painted. (The metal roof was later placed by Helen, my bat house supervisor- she is quite the metal smith).
 I liked the rustic color the stain gave to the home. Here is a close up image of the vent hole.

The roof of the bat house, with Helen's wonderful metal addition.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

IJE 23

Yesterday was my last day, which is horribly sad because I'd love to stay and see the projects I've been working on progress.

 We went over to an architect's home for the meeting Tali and some local architects/contractors have every month. The topic was SolarCity, the leading solar panel company serving the U.S. A salesman came in for a presentation on SolarCity, focusing on the cost benefits for having a solar panel system. Tali used this presentation as less of a sales pitch directed to her, but as an example of how to sell the solar panel to a client to gain green points (which is tricky because the cost of electricity in Palo Alto is much lower than the rest of the west coast run by PGE, Pacific Gas and Electric Company).
One topic that came up a lot during the presentation was net-metering--retaining excess electricity made from the panel -- which will be going away in the near future (1-3 years) because the city is obviously losing money. Thus the next task for solar panel systems is to provide a battery that may hold the excess electricity (some people are using car batteries such as TESLA/ Nissan LEAF).
Although the solar panels create for a better environment and help save money in the long run, building green creates a huge impact on the electricity bill as well. One of Tali's projects was built so efficiently the family already pays half of what Tali pays for electricity, the home being just a couple houses away.

There was also a studio structure getting built in the backyard of the house. Tali pointed out the poor insulation--it was mostly scrunched up and stuffed between the posts. For more efficient insulation, the fiber glass should be more spread out for more air pockets to form and insulate the structure.  Other ways for evenly distributed insulation would be the blow in insulation method.

Later back at studio I mostly researched on dark sky lights for the almost done home. Dark sky lights are downward facing lights, which helps decrease the light pollution at night. The lights must be restricted to only LED, CFL, or motion sensor light. If the light holds incandescent bulbs, it does not count towards a green point. Regulations are made by the IDA (International Dark Sky Association).
Light restrictions such as this have come to be a problem while designing for interior spaces. %50 of lights in a kitchen must be LED or CFL. Since one incandescent bulb uses say 75 watts, and a CFL light holds 26 watts, one would need at least 3 more lights that are CFL to meet the regulation. However, a standard kitchen sized room may not need that much lighting, causing an unnecessary surplus of light. This has continued to become an (ironic) problem (however, it will most likely be changed).

  • Tali uses Houzz to effectively connect to clients. Houzz, similar to pinterest, allows its users to create idea books. Users may clip images from architects, interior designers, and other users. One of our current clients have an idea book for every room in the house.  The architect may also create a separate idea book for the client. This helps the architect and the client better visualize what each person is trying to achieve.
  • Hubbardton Forge has some beautiful lights.
  • Wood is stronger when placed on its side rather than flat.
  • Beams in a house may be reused, however code regulations for beam sizes/distances may be different. Wood used in the 60s for example are much stronger as they are resourced from old growth trees compared to wood used today, which are resourced from new growth (less strong).

Monday, August 12, 2013

IJE 22

Today was a challenging day. After finishing a couple sheets for the garage house, Tali wanted me to brainstorm some designs for our latest project, the remodel house (the client wanted to pretty much completely remodel the home). They wanted a great room consisting of a kitchen, dining and family room, a guest/office room with a full bath, a laundry room, and an upper level with two kids rooms with a shared bath and a master suite. This was all a lot of information to put into a few hours of design but I came up with a few logical organizations (one being the four square style in which four rooms take the corners of the home, and two hallways, which could also be storage rooms or bathrooms, intersect each other like a cross to divide the four main rooms). I found it easiest to design based off circulation and linear pathways.  It was also difficult to design around the existing bathrooms (I tried to keep them in place since it's expensive to relocate, and the client is on a strict budget). I also forgot about the daylight plane, which restricts the placement of certain rooms on the second story in order to deter strong shadows against the neighbors yard. It was fun however to get back into design, get critiqued by Tali, and continue solving these puzzles. Tali liked my idea of having a loft (it is a room, a sort of cubicle mass) extending into the kitchen, with a structural column coming down creating a corner of the kitchen island. This cubicle space above also forms/ defines a space below, in the kitchen.

Friday, August 9, 2013

21st Century Sustainable Homes Edited by Mark Cleary

I found this book in the Menlo Park Library. I got a better feel on what current sustainability techniques architects are using for residential design. The book gets a bit repetitive, but there's some beautiful houses, fun ideas, and loads of information on the sustainability measures used today. Glossary in the back is also very informative.

Some topics covered in the books include: Black water recycling, green roofs (manages water runoff and insulates home), thermal chimney, recycled material, water storage tanks, solar hot water systems, super insulation, cross ventilation, tight wall, use of pools for natural cooling, strategic orientation, cork (along with bamboo are very good products to build with. Bamboo grows quickly, cork is harvested without killing tree), permeable paving, underground cisterns for rain collection to be used for irrigation, solar shading/ overhangs, low water landscaping, double glaze/ low-E windows/high performance windows, local materials, salvage yard, soy based spray foam insulation, fly ash concrete

IJE 21

Today was the weekly site meeting day at the almost done house. These site meetings are mostly just to answer questions as a group that the site manager, architect, homeowner etc has for the project.
 Topics covered:
Grout colors for the tiles
Wall missing next to water heater (what type of material to build the wall)
Concrete border around driveway (must be concrete because driveway is made of rigid edges)
Paint colors
Cabinet hardware (usually not worried about until end of project)
Dark skylight (light that casts downwards, will achieve a green point)
area between urbanite units-3"

I edited a couple things on my last projects, then created a detail drawing:

Above shows the rough draft of my detail drawing.  Tali advised to work with line weights, opacity, text styles to clarify and make the drawing more appealing.

This detail shows the foundation of the garage house. 

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Site plan for Almost Eden Garden

During the days I am not working, I've been creating a site plan for the Almost Eden Community Garden in Palo Alto. Today, I finished it (couple days of measuring then I created the plan on AutoCAD and then exported into Adobe Illustrator).

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

IJE 20

Tali and I took a little field trip break to the Planning Dept of Menlo Park to get some questions answered for a home remodel in Menlo Park. This home (or part of it, can't quite remember) is a non-comforming structure, meaning it is not part of the codes for the city. Thus, the architect's addition requires a special permit if the value of the edition/remodel is over %50 of the value of the home. The special permit is called a Conditional Use Permit (C.U.P.) After 3-4 months of "discretionary review" in which a notice of the remodel would be sent to neighbors, and a planning commission review open to the public would take place, the architect may recieve the CUP as long as there is no appeal. This permit is also very expensive, ranging from $2000-4000.

Tandem: One behind the other
Tali's building may undergo two phases. For Menlo Park, the permit for the second phase may not be requested until 12mo after the first.
City of Menlo Park has separate setbacks for decks
Importance of having a permit: in order to follow code/keep the building safe. To keep the building insured by the insurance company (if it's not built by code. insurance won't pay for any damage).
If an architect has not stamped and signed the plans, the architect is not liable for the building if it were to be built without a permit.

Today I created the site sheet for the garage house project. Now that the homeowners have chosen a floor plan, we are beginning to create the large sheets to be sent to the planning department. The sheet I worked on today had the site plan, the new floor plan, the left and rear elevations.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

IJE 18

I finished the latest blueprint today, the house we measured for yesterday.  Once the slabs, roof, windows, doors, plumbing fixtures are all in, I created a sheet layer. The sheet will be sent to the client tonight (which holds the blueprint/scale/north arrow/labels).

Monday, August 5, 2013

IJE 17

Same vintage: built at the same time: "the roof here looks like the same vintage as the roof on the garage"
Mud sill/ sole plate: horizontal beam that lies on top of concrete foundation for vertical beams (structure for wall) to stand on.
Top plate/ top sill: horizontal piece of lumber at top to "cap" the vertical beams.
Tar paper: Place above plywood on a roof before the roofing to keep the structure water proof (also used in bathrooms/ other areas exposed to moisture).
Collar tie: horizontal beam beneath the rafters of the roof as extra support.

Good to know:
Insulated windows not only helps maintain the temperature of the room, but also avoids condensation of water, that would damage the paint of a wall (non insulated windows have a cold face on the outside, and a warm face on the inside that triggers condensation).

Today we measured a new house. I was able to draft most of it today, leaving the windows and roof left for tomorrow.

Later this evening we met with the garage house clients to present our drawings for the bedroom suite remodel. It was so exciting to see what the clients thought of our two options we provided. I took some notes on how Tali presented the material to the client (although the formality/ organization of the presentation may be different for each client/type of project).

1. Talk about expense of the two options, explain certain conditions to take note of (such as sewer placement: one of our plans has the bathroom too far from the main sewer, thus needing an ejector pump).
2. display two options, explain the demolition, and compare before/after plans. Show any extensions, explain briefly the floor plans and main room dimensions. Show axonometric view to help clients better visualize the project, show elevations to indicate door/ window patterns (Tali had a set of drawings printed out for each person).
3. Display a set of drawings on table for everyone to see while explaining, allowing for clients to take notes on their personal copies.
4. Analyze the option the client seems more interested in: explain in further detail the plan including the roof slope, beam placements...
5. Tali also explained the %50 Flood zone situation Tali and I went over to the planning department for last week.
6. Ask questions to the client such as : certain furniture they need to fit into the room? materials for floors? Window types? Replace existing windows? Heat solutions (house heater is far from the remodel, might have to buy a heat pump)? Door types? Placement of doors? What is important for them... tv.. room in bathroom... etc? This is the time the client usually asks questions for the architect as well.
7.  We discuss the next steps: Getting in touch with the contractor to find out the cost, get client to think more about what they'd like in terms of lighting, materials etc.
8. Walk client through the room design in the existing room, pointing out where each part of the plan would be.
9. Plan to meet again with client next week.

It seems like the heavy expenses for this project would be relocating the bathroom, washer, dryer, and water heater

We also stopped by the almost done house quickly because the site manager had a question about where to place the back splash tile.

 Here is the sink counter in the bathroom, ready for the backsplash tiles (that go right behind it on the wall, so when water splashes back, it does not damage the wall).
 A nifty idea to store medicine/bathroom clutter
 I loved the stones and the tile in the master bath
The air duct for the bathroom
 I really loved this tile in the kids bath that went all the way to the ceiling.
 I also loved the built in bench in the kids bath (I think it's silo stone).
 The beautiful colors of the kitchen (grey silo stone, white cabinets).
The trellis work (used to shade the building/control sunlight through windows, but also adds a cute touch to the home).

Friday, August 2, 2013

IJE 16

There was a site meeting today for the almost done house. Topics covered during meeting: Confirming paint colors, cabinet hardware (nobs/ pulls, how long handles should be), arbor ledger (The trellis in the front still needs its ledger).

 The plywood gets prepared for the silestone counter top: Glue, and thin set mud. The steel shown beneath the plywood is connected to the cabinets to cantilever the weight of the silestone for the island seating area.
 I thought the color palette here was pretty, white counter against wood.
 Here's the tile flooring Tali and I went over to the site earlier for to discuss grout lines.
 Here is the sheet wall beside the stairs. Sheet rock, stud, sheet rock.
 Deciding where to place the ledger in relation to the beginning and end point of the trellis.
 Cute detail of the backyard trellis.
Another image of the end detail of the trellis pieces.

Later, back at the studio, I organized all the little CAD files in the Resource Browser of Vectorworks (which holds all the components of a CAD file such as wall types, images, "Record Formats", Rendering backgrounds, slab styles (floor), symbol folders, symbol plug-ins, text styles, worksheets. I transferred all these parts of the Resource Browser on the past 8 projects Tali has been working on all onto one single Resource Browser labeled "Tali's favorites" in which she'll go back and edit. Now, instead of uploading certain fixtures/walls for each projects, she can use a single resource browser that is personalized.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Lenore Made Sheets for the Cottage

 A few people have been wondering what the cottages I worked on a couple weeks ago looked like. Here are crops from the Sheet Layers I made through vector works (annotated by Tali).

Top Right is an isometric view, below that is the plan view, and to the left is a site plan. Each of these images are the "viewports" I have been mentioning.

This design has a loft above the bathroom, ideal for a bed space.