Thursday, September 29, 2011

Final Pics

Ok, unless something newsworthy happens (e.g., a product fails or something blows up), this will probably be my last blog post. It's been fun! PB hired photographer Mel Curtis to take some nice photos of the final result, which you can view in a web album here. This one's my favorite, but do click through to see all of them:

Our house has recently gotten some great blog coverage, such at Contemporist, ArchDaily, Dezeen, HomeDSGN, and a few others; they're also great places to see our final photographs laid out in one page, and read people's snarky comments. I hope my blog helps you in a future project, or at least convince you that it's possible to build affordable modern!

Deck Lighting and Other Tips

Ok, it's time to finish off the blog with a few more details that I think will be useful to others trying to build affordable modern homes. First, I want to show the completed rooftop deck. As you may recall, our biggest cost overrun came from our decision to extend the roof-top deck out onto the cantilever where the views are best. Well, here is the final result.

[Photo by Mel Curtis]

The powder-coated aluminum railings were the most expensive component; cedar decking itself is rather cheap. However, it does require maintenance; we actually had our first re-coat of stain applied just a few months after moving in. Now a night-time shot:

I'm super excited by how the lighting turned out, and it's not a well-known product: they're called Dek Dots, made by Dekor. They're very small, low-voltage, LED lights that are installed flush to the surface, resulting in a super-minimal profile that can be walked on! You barely see them when they're not lit (try to find them in the first pic above). We actually stumbled onto this option; the original plans called for standard recessed outdoor lights, but it became clear on-site that cutting into the roofing membrane to install them would be a bad idea. These lights run on landscaping wire, so could be installed directly on the decking. All told, we spent about $350 on 20 of them! Highly recommended, and I wish we had used them for all our outdoor lighting.

Ok, now for two random tips that don't merit their own post, but that I wish I had know earlier.
1. Recessed lighting trim can be expensive! Our Juno 5" cans call for their 215W-WH trim, which runs about $20 each online. BUT, it turns out Juno has a super-secret "economy" line of trims, called VuLite, that you won't find for sale online or in normal stores; they're generally only sold through electrical supply stores that work with builders/contractors. These run about $7 a trim, and look almost identical to the 215W-WH; they feel a little plasticky, but you certainly won't notice once they're 3 feet above your head! So walk into a local electrical supply store and ask for VuLite trims; they'll give you a surprised look, and you'll save lots of money!
2. Our plans called for recessed lights in the ceilings of our closets. This is a bad idea, in part because your clothing isn't that well lit from above, but also because the electrical code calls for lensed trims in closets (just like in showers). These trims are quite expensive, around $50, not including the cost of the can itself! Instead, go for a fluorescent bar mounted just above the closet door; it lights very evenly, is energy efficient, and a 2' fixture costs about $20.