Yesterday was the first time I had a property on the 'BIG' tour.  I could not have imagined it any better than it was.  We had a constant stream of interested, gracious and motivated people.  There were architects, builders, designers and artists.  Many of the people were homeowners, families, and couples.  Neighbors came over as well as many people from BPS.  We had a politician stop by with his entourage looking for a photo opportunity that conveys his concern for sustainability.  There was also an author that used the Backyard House as the background for her biography shot.  A few people were more interested in the garden and the chickens than the construction project.  It was constant fun, education, and entertainment and the six hours were over in a flash.  The sunny warm weather pulled it all together.  Thank you for the amazingly successful day.  I love you Portland!

The upcoming BIG Home Tour has generated great interest in further detailing the design of The Backyard House.  I started this project concept by designing it on paper over several months.  Here are a few of my inspirations.  Then I worked on Google Sketch-Up to formalize my idea.  This image remains unchanged from May 2010, which is a month prior to the beginning of building.  Sketch-Up is free and a great tool for those of us without formal architectural drawing training.  I never did get the drawings as close as I wanted to a translation of my concept, but despite my Sketch-Up shortcomings they look very much like the final product and I stayed true to the vision throughout. 

In addition to the drawings I spent a great deal of time backcasting.  This is a green construction term that I learned from a Brightworks lecture.  They emphasized the need for clear focus on the final product of a construction project.  Then peel off each step that needs to take place all the way back to the beginning of construction.  This is contrary to the conventional construction model, which is to add layer upon layer and make the design decisions as you go.  Backcasting takes patience and more time up front and also causes the best results.

Once I had plans for the design and backcasting, I assembled a great team to begin construction.  I enlisted the help of Matt at Quartertwenty and they did great work with drawings, framing and exterior detail.  Matt collaborated on the first phase of this project and I credit him with two specific brilliant contributions among other things.  The flared walls in the loft that create a slight pentagonal shape and the siding detail were ideas by QuarterTwenty.

Almost all of the wood for The Backyard house came from Bruce at Barnwood Naturals.   These are the ones who dismantle barns and have an array of beautiful historic wood.  He provided these pictures of the deconstructed barns that produced Backyard House wood.  Bruce has been endlessly supportive and enthusiastic about this project.

Guess how easy it is to get a good roofing crew to install a used copper roof.... well, it’s not.  Many people didn’t want to talk after I said that I will provide my own metal roofing material.  But, not Todd at Willamette Roofing.  He didn’t flinch for a second about reusing a metal roof.  He was timely and did amazing work to create the copper roof that is aesthetically crucial to this project.

The interior detail was built by Douglas Shepherd.  He was amazing to collaborate with on the interior loft design and his finish carpentry work is inspired.  The beautiful cork flooring was installed by Douglas and turned out just right. 

Did I mention that I did not do any of the physical construction?  I say that now because as I am about to gush about Traditional Natural Plaster Company.  Plaster was one of the items that I thought I would do myself.  Ha!  Not a chance.  You should see these guys in action.  They have unbelievable skill and are true professionals and artisans.  Their finished plaster work is amazing and echoes the historic quality of the barnwood. 

The stairs, railing and fireplace base are creations by Jeffmade.  The stairs have a minimal appearance with great strength and perfect functionality.  Jeff has a wonderful portfolio, as do many of the above, that have included Backyard House photos. 

The landscaping was completely destroyed after construction was complete.  Desantis Landscapes saved the day.  They know landscape design and are incredibly pleasant to work with.  Thank you Dean, Andy, and Manuel. 

I took many of the photos on this site, but the really good ones are by Uwe Schneider.  The Backyard House looks great in person, but Uwe flatters it with precise lighting, clarity, and angles.  His architectural photography is thoughtful and impressive. 

I could go on and on, thanking at least fifty more people.  I don't want to bore you all, but want to give credit where credit is due.  Even a small project like this involves so many players.  I wish I could list every person and their specific collaborations and contributions.  Good projects of any size take inspirational design and a great team.  Luckily, Portland has a wealth of talented craftspeople, designers, energy consultants, carpenters, artisans, builders.  Thank you to all who helped form The Backyard House.

See you on the tour!

Earth Advantage offers a free green building workshop.  The class is in Portland on September 22nd, 10-12:30, and provides a broad overview of sustainable design topics.  I have been to this lecture and it's worthwhile if you are motivated and new to the world of green building.  Thanks, Earth Advantage, for this free opportunity.