Sourcing Products from Around the USA

Often your local lumberyard does not stock or have the capability to order all the products for a particular project. Sometimes a single vendor has all the materials, but will not distribute to residential customers or you geography. My journey to select the cladding material for my addition took me from various trade shows to vendor discussion via email and phone.

The best residential construction show occurs during Design & Construction Week in Las Vegas. The world converges to the NAHB International Builders’ Show in the early part of the year for 3 days of exhibits, education, and the ability to see products in context of an actual building, not just a small sample. Regional shows like Dwell on Design expand on modern materials.

The best relationship you can have are with local representatives of suppliers. They will help you walk through project objectives, give you tips, and answer any questions you have. I have saved in installation getting a better handle on products before I’ve purchased, making virtual models and installing the products on computer simulations before a single drill or saw starts.

I search the internet for videos and downloadable manuals of competitive products. One instruction set may help in the installation of another similar product. Obviously, the vendor manual is sacrosanct when it come to warranty, but other manufactures often have more information or unique local perspectives not available.

Home Improvement Retailer
In my area, there are the big box home improvement retailers, the indepenent specialty distributors, and building material dealers. Each one has their advantages. After shopping at each variety of distributor, I get the majority of materials from the big box stores. They have fantastic return policies and delivery prices, and with patience can source most anything you need.

For my current cladding phase of my project, I actually got buiding materials and supplies from no less than 10 stores. I ordered stainless steel cladding fasteners from PMP Building Products, fiber cement panels and reveals from Lowe’s, aluminum window flashing from Tamlyn, torx insert bits and holders from, sealants and nippers from Essential Hardware, bi-cellular backer rod from DK Hardware, carbide blades on eBay, and a water-resistive barrier from The Home Depot.

Green Building Concepts Redesign

Green Building Concepts supplies information exchange on a more resource and energy efficient lifestyle.

Reader Q & A
Question: I am entertaining some major renovations to my home and would like to work with a green architect and builder. How would I find a list of architects and builders that are knowledgeable and willing to build green?

Answer: Congratulations that you are willing to remodel using resource and energy efficient techniques. Green building is at a point where education is king, and you are on your way, by reading various resources on the web, to steer any contractor and architect to think green. In order to find a contractor willing to work with you there are three basic steps you can take:

  1. Energy and Environmental Building Alliance (EEBA)
    There may be a member of the EEBA in your area to personally guide you through the remodeling process. They have a “Master Builder” certification in resource and energy efficient construction.
  2. National Association of the Remodeling Industry (NARI)
    There may be a member of NARI in your area to personally guide you through the remodeling process. They have a “Certified Remodeler” designation and may be aware of green building.
  3. Using sites like and others can guide you in asking for building products and techniques for green construction. Ask your contractor to look over the various sites to learn what green building means.

Looking for something in particular? Try the Search page. Through the internet, Green Building Concepts knows no geographic boundary. If you need assistance in a building project specifying products and techniques from North America to Antarctica, from Africa to Asia to Australia, Green Building Concepts can help.

Green Building Concepts provides quick background guides to many housing systems and energy alternatives.

Year in Review and New Year Preview

By this time, if my planning schedule was accurate and blogged about, I should have been in phase three of my home addition, but other issues prevented that project from starting. Two products that I wanted to use on this project were announced, but not yet through the arduous Los Angeles building and safety review. Living in earthquake country, and under a well formed bureaucracy, innovation is squashed, or takes many thousands of dollars to persuade city engineers that products are viable. The two interesting products form the basis of the foundation and the structural members of the home, so basically everything. I had already settled on using structural insulated panels (SIP’s) to build the home, but the previous technique require much material handling machines like forklifts, front reaching cranes, and a teams of laborers. that’s the old way of building. I want to build a home with one or two people. It can be done!

The first option is Apex Block. This product, around for a few years, made LA approval on 1 November 2008, and would require a complete redesign of the structure, but when complete would only need grouting with cement for insulation and stability. The second option is the modular housing system (MHS), approved 1 December 2008. Both are lighter in assembly, as the foam Apex Block are extremely lightweight, and the extruded aluminum of the MHS system is manageable. The venerable choice remains Premier Building Systems tradition heavy SIP. What better way to decide which to use, but by having each one go head to head in a bidding war! I’ll let you know the outcome in February 2009, when in earnest I begin again.

First I am going to the International Builder’s Show in Las Vegas to research some interior fixtures and lighting design packages. It’s easy to look on the web, but a much different experience to view the finishes and touch the products. It will be cheaper to get a room in Vegas for a night than drive a couple hundred miles to showrooms around Los Angeles, hoping that they have the product I want to see and touch. that show runs 20 – 23 January 2009, so that is my final check list and then the construction!

Have a wonderful 2009. I will be busy. It has to start out of the gate at full gallop, and this time I hope to finish the race, and not have to scratch out like in 2008. make 2009 your green year, where you climate change contribution is half of 2008. We all can do it.

Home and Garden Tours

It s Law Day in the USA, and Golden Week in Japan. It was also the day I made it to the Huntington Library Chinese Garden. Close to 20 million dollars to construct, and ten years in the planning, the site is stunning in it’s collection of water and stone. Unlike other styles of gardens, the plants take a secondary role to the constructed environment. It’s been a long time coming, and I was glad I could take a look.

I’m somewhat surprised that it’s been several weeks since I’ve added some notes to the project file, and I have been very busy researching floor girders. I like knowing all the minutia of a project, and with the internet I can download research reports of ICF construction, concrete admixtures and slump, seismic planning, and architectural design. sometimes I get off track, and sometimes illness prevents me from finished this project.

Last week i was ill for four days from Monday until Thursday starting with a severe migraine style headache, and ending the days with a Norwalk Virus. If you’ve ever had such an illness you would know it, more commonly referred to a a norovirus. Basically you feel deathly ill for around 30 hours, vomiting and exhuming all the fluids in your body every 2 hours throughout the day and night, but then you feel better.

Last Friday and Saturday I was at the Altbuild Expo in Santa Monica. Sunday was the Santa Monica green building house tour. Hopefully not too much longer to go to finish the architectural plans to present to the City of Los Angeles.

Building Show opens In Orlando

Today in Orlando, FL opens the 2008 International Builders Show, and I was curious on what new products will be introduced. I was not expecting to learn about a technique that make 90% of all keyed locks vulnerable to attack. Kwikset has introduced new bump resistant locksets for 2008, to combat a growing bumping technique in burglaries.

Apparently the technique is trivial with a key easily made at home or bought off the internet. Using a simple tap on the key, the vibrations disturb the tumblers inside the lock, making the lock open. If you search for lock bumping, you can even see watch a youtube tutorial on how to get into someone’s house. Only now are manufacturers addressing this crime, but practically any lock made before 2005 is now a simple tap away from opening. The only solution is to get new locks.

In the future expect a super class action lawsuit against kwikset, schlage, and other lockset manufacturers for defective products.