Periodicals for Your Perusal

As we move into a “green washing” phase as the impulse to record petroleum, natural gas, and other carbon sources, It’s important to know who is delivering information that you can trust. I regularly review blogs and websites, and some of the info is complete hyperbole and misleading statements. For example, in California there has been a concerted effort to install residential solar on a million roofs.

Go Solar CA

For a normal household this investment would take over 30 years to recover, if it ever does. I don’t get the return on investment that such an altruistic investment makes for the climate change impact.

My slant on green building lies in total conservation and energy efficiency to reduce fuel use. If you could live inside a thermos, you would use less electricity and less heating resources. I have the European sensibility that we need to cut back on use, not reward energy efficiency alone. Here are some publication that I recommend you look to for your green building, green remodeling, and green buying.

Environmental Design + Construction
Sustainable Home
Roofing Contractor
Walls & Ceilings

I’ve chosen these magazines since they offer free downloadable issues and have good advertisers and tips.

My Summer Building Project

A few of you may know what I’ve been up to the last couple of months. I’m building a substantial addition to the family home. Too often construction projects are left to general contractors or craftsman, skilled in 20th century technology, but I’m trying to build the 22nd century structure. At the end of the exercise, I expect to move out of the 1950’s post World War II structure, into the new abode permanently. It’s time to leave the near free carbon energy economy and lazy building systems of the 1930’s and try to thrust into 2150 and beyond.

Presently California has a mild climate, but in 30 years, who knows what will be normal. If you want a front seat to the future (the way I envision it), I’ve already started a project blog, which you can read and contribute comments to (you might have to register). I’ve been at this project for some time, so they’re lots of blog posts. I launched it a couple of months ago as a platform for reflection, but you can read it too. I expect to post at least every two weeks, and when summer comes it should be a little more regularly, as the mental construction becomes tangible.

Project by Yourself

Self contracting a project can be greatly beneficial since you learn all tasks and ultimately can afford certain luxuries that would normally go to a tradesman. I heard once that a construction project is a triangle with vertex points of cost, quality, and time, and normally you can only choose two of the three. Already I’ve blown my time schedule by months, but I am learning a lot about green construction.

By doing it myself, I can order tools that normally would have to be rented or contracted out. By reading other builder’s websites, a general contractor may charge between $6,000 to $15,000 to assemble a SIP structure. I looked into crane rentals, and they start $400 for two hours of service. It does not take too many crane hours to figure out that if a gantry crane costs $1,200 that’s just 6 hours of crane rental. If a tool is not too large, the answer is why not?

The material lifting I’ll need to do is no more than 600 pounds, easily carried. I’m looking into renting a conveyor belt to move debris to a recycling bin. They’re are so many time saving and labor saving technologies, that’s it worth my time investigating and ordering, well in advance of the project actually starting construction.

Moving Forward Fast

I got some responses from the manufacturer of the SIP panels, with answers to my satisfaction. Premier also suggested I apply for the Los Angeles building permit now at the Department of Building and Safety (LADBS), as it may take some time. I had prepared drawings for panel manufacturing, but not for submission to the LADBS. I had not made the foundation plan, nor the proper elevation plans. LADBS wants to know what type of finished will be in the interior, exterior, and roof, along with insulation levels.

It took me two weeks to get the complicated drawings prepared, and I hope i can finish the refinement to the plans in three days.