Follow the construction of Tom's super-insulated home in Port Townsend, WA

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Siding, Paint, and Solar Panels

My initial plan was to put cedar shingles on the whole house. That plan ran into several snags: 1) Shingles are made from old growth cedar and plastering old growth wood over my house didn't seem like the right thing to do. 2) I wanted to see the wood grain through the finish which means that I woud have to use a transparent or semi-transparent finish. The people at Miller Shingles in Granite Falls told me that going that route, I'd have to refinish the south side every 3 years and would eventually need to put on a solid stain to hide the blemishes. That sounds like too much work. So I went with Hardie boards and planks. They are made from cement and fibers, take paint well and last forever. Glo and I played with color samples and patterns for a while with Jesse's help and finally decided to break up the wall area by using a board and batten pattern on the ground floor level coupled with 7" sidings above. We also decided to use a single color for both areas with a separate lighter trim color. Here are the results on the south and west sides.

The south view also shows the 3.1 kW photovoltaic array on the dormer. I hadn't planned to do this, but the incentives from the electrical utility and the IRS are quite attractive: there is a tax credit for 30% of the purchase price (which was $30k) and I get $0.54 for every kilowatt hour produced because the panels and inverter are manufactured in state - even if I use the electricity generated rather than dumping it in the grid. With those incentives, I should be able to pay off the purchase cost in 10 years. The control panel on thenorth side of the house is pretty ugly, but we'll cover it up with artwork further down the line.

For my sister Carolina, pictures of the kitchen granite counter.

What a relief to have the outside (almost) done just in time for the rainy season. I still have to put cedar shingles on the north side porch. I've stained them all and will get started on this project next week. In the meantime, there have been lovely meals outside, enjoying the view to the south.