Wooden shutters and motorized solar screens



Motorized solar screeens:


That’s expensive, but pretty cool.

Wooden garage doors – the morons at the Home Depot and Clopay garage doors

Beautiful garage doors:

http://www.accessgaragedoor.com/access_themes.html —$4-8K

http://web4.mymartindoor.com/ Home Depot – no wood doors


Home Depot

Unfortunately, I was unable to get a quote.  The morons at Home Depot told me I needed to pay $50 for a “site inspection.” When I told them that I haven’t even poured the slab yet, they told me that I needed to build the garage first, then order the $50 estimate to get a price, order and leave the garage OPEN until the door gets there.

And that’s after I wasted well over an HOUR at the Clopay and Home Depot websites, trying to follow links that didn’t work, finally calling and having the first person disconnect me, having to call the god damned automated system again to somehow get to an operator who then refused to give me the direct “confidential” number for garage doors and finally transferring me to an apparent mentally challenged person instead of the “supervisor” I had requested.

If they took their heads out of their asses for a few minutes their brains might start working again.

There is NO way that I’ll pay $50 to get a price and I’ll definitely try to order my door prior to building so that I know that the opening will fit the door and that the door is ready to be in stalled ASAP.

Unfortunately, the Home Depot is the only reseller I could find for my area.

URL submitted at http://www.clopaydoor.com/contact.asp and at the Home Depot site for comments.

Exterior shutters and wooden windows (double hung)


Couldn’t find any prices or online ordering anywhere, no dealer in my area.

http://www.myeshowroom.com/search.asp?dealer=22894—various double hung window manufacturers


Factory direct sales—no prices online, requested prices through their information request form

http://www.hideadoor.com/pg_fullbookcase.htm—hidden doors, I thought they only had those in the movies.

Building a flat roof

Building a Flat Roof Right

3. Screw Down Underlayment
The sheet-rubber roofing material that Tom is using requires a substrate called iso board—½-inch-thick rigid foam (made of polyisocyanurate) with a special fiberglass backing. The iso board (a flat version of the same material he orders custom-fitted for larger roofs) cuts easily with a utility knife and anchors to the plywood sheathing with screws and large galvanized steel washers. It provides a soft, protective base for the rubber. Tom makes sure to stagger the joints and to fit the pieces tightly against each other, as iso board doesn’t expand and contract like plywood

Update 9/14/08:

Got my elastomeric roof and love it because it’s so easy to fix.  I still have a bunch of holes to cut into the roof for a stove and lights.   Already put lots of holes in it when I put the solar panels on the roof.  There’s nothing like being able to fix a roof easily myself.



… Today, in almost all parts of the country, one can go to a local lumberyard with a building design on the back of an envelope, watch the technician keyboard all the critical dimensions—spans, snow loads, roof pitch, and so on into the software formula— and, a few seconds later, watch the printer spit out a complete roof truss design with every piece of lumber identified as to size, every joint identified as to strength, and a complete cost estimate to boot.

If you can’t choose between two alternate designs, ask the computer to do both. It’s usually free. The lumberyard or truss-assembly plant provides this service in the expectation of selling trusses that wouldn’t be sold if the potential buyer had to go out and buy expensive engineering services for their design. …

In MY part of the country, that doesn’t seem to be happening.


Rafters and Joists

For light duty (typically residential) applications, the allowable spans for roof rafters and joists are given in tabular form in the North American building codes. For applications which fall outside the limits of the tables, the size and spacing requirements must be calculated.

Rafters and joists should be continuous, except where spliced over vertical supports, and should be doubled for extra strength on both sides of openings wider than two rafter or joist spacings.

Roof Trusses

Roof trusses must be designed to limit deflection. This is especially crucial on flat roofs where deflection will result in ponding and a consequent increase in load.

For residential construction, some of the North American building codes list spans and sizes of members of some wood species for some of the more common truss types. Generally, these table apply only to roof trusses of up to 12m (40’wink span spaced up to 600mm (2’wink on center. For longer spans or heavy loads, engineering analysis is required.

Finally found a place to order trusses with a Phoenix location and a lot of cool calculators:


Flat roofs—gutters

box gutters

waterproofing decks

Flat metal roof with 20 year warranty

“Twenty-year material warranties are customary for metal roofing systems, which is considerably longer than the standard protection for built-up and single-ply systems. Long-term warranties are sometimes offered for weathertightness on metal roofs, including those with a 1/4:12 slope.”


“Metal standing seam roofs are becoming increasingly common on low sloped roof assemblies.

Residential roof designs in mild climates or where there is little precipitation tend to exhibit lower pitched roofs and drainage at the exterior wall; an example of residential flat roof is that of the adobe construction in the American Southwest.

Rastra blocks – Mikey blocks – Omni blocks – Ytong ….

I just received my Amazon order with 2 solar books and started to go through John Schaeffer’s Real Goods Solar Living Source Book: The Complete Guide to Renewable Energy Technologies and Sustainable Living (Real Goods Solar Living Sourcebook)

I barely got started, will update with my thoughts on the book once I made it through.

Since I’m almost certain that I want to use some kind of blocks for the house, it got my attention when John wrote that he just built his house with Rastra blocks.  Obviously, he highly recommends them:

“… Recent structural testing found a Rastra wall to be seven times better under earthquake-type stresses than a wood-framed shear wall, according to marketing director Richard Wilcox …”

And:  “… Another huge advantage to Rastra is that it lends itself beautifully to being shaped and sculpted in to just about any design. …”

I didn’t see anything about thermal properties, R-rating, etc.

A neighbor is building his house with Omni blocks, concrete blocks with styrofoam inserts.

A very negative page marketing of Rastra blocks, but little substance:  Rastra Bad Vibrations

Building tomorrow’s home

I like the looks of the house outside, but the inside is too much of a “Sunset” yuppie home.  I like the curves and rounded edges and I’ve been looking into plaster.

“IT’S CALLED RASTRA:  a precast forming system using long modules made of recycled polystyrene and cement that contain cavities for rebar and concrete. Despite their massive appearance, the 10-inch-thick, 15-inch-tall, 10-foot-long blocks weigh only about 150 pounds …”

ONLY 150 lbs?  Damn, I struggle with a 50 lb dog food bag.

“… and can be glued together horizontally or vertically. The polystyrene and air gaps in the block add insulative properties and, when sealed, give a 10-inch-thick wall an R-value of 36, more than twice that of traditionally framed walls. …”


Quite a bit of info and even prefab walls.  I don’t know whether that truck would make it to my lot.  They did just bring in a mobile in the next block.

A report on the Pima County Alternative Building Materials Exhibit

Overview of various materials.  I have yet to find any PRICES and since I got the court yard, I have LOTS of walls and would really like to get an idea what it’s going to cost me.


“Rastra’s square-footage price—$3 to $4.50—is based on wall surface, not floor space. Rastra has historically cost more than stick-frame, though rising lumber prices are shrinking the difference. Milholland says installed Rastra costs about 10 percent more than wood, though you’ll save on maintenance down the road.”

I’m too tired to start calculating right now, but sooner or later, I’ll have to.


Rastra Block

Description: These are like real long concrete building blocks, except they’re made out of recycled styrofoam coffee cups…a good insulator…they’re stacked up, bonded together with spray foam, then poured full of rebar and concrete to form a very strong wall … similar to “ice-block”. The wall is stuccoed and plastered.

Characteristics: They provide a superior wall insulation…the mass (concrete) is isolated by the foam and not usable…but the thin-mass plaster interior is good massing.

Recommendations: That much steel and concrete is hard to rationalize as sustainable, but the foam is recycled. They’re very owner-buildable. It’s not a natural system, but it’s more recycle-based than new iceblock systems.


That the mass is not usable is strange.

And here are Mikey blockshttp://www.mikeyblock.com/home1.html

And HTM: http://www.thenaturalhome.com/passivesolar.html

And Ytong, a popular material in Germany:  YTONG and HEBEL brands

Ok, my head is spinning now.