Green roof adventures part 1

This Easter weekend we took out first steps towards putting in a green roof on the breezeway. Because the Resist-eau coating we put on the roof wasn’t UV proof, it was important that we get it covered this year.

I spent about three weeks looking for the drainage mat online, I found places in California and Ontario. Then miraculously I found a place in Burnaby that had exactly what we needed. You don’t always need a drainage mat for a green roof but because our roof is quite flat (it slopes about 1.5 inches every four feet) drainage is very important.

We had top soil which we mixed in with pumice and coconut coir. We picked coconut coir since it’s a by-product and renewable, unlike peat moss, and we picked pumice over perlite again for its lower environmental impact. I’d read about some even greener alternatives, such as recycled glass growstones but these don’t seem to be commercially available yet, We used 1/3 of each material. I’m a little worried this mix will hold too much water since both pumice and coir are more water-retaining than their counter-parts but we’ll see how it goes.

Kevin found a rock down the hill for the step. He not only had to move it up the hill to the cabin, but then get it to the second floor. He got a little peeved when I laughed at him rolling it up the hill,


Next week we’ll finish the dirt and hopefully do some planting!


thinking about spring and green roofs (again)

As we gear up for spring I’ve been surfing the net looking for the cheapest and most effective way to finish up the top of the breezeway. As we have discovered time and time again, those two goals aren’t always compatible. so really we are looking for the best possible compromise. One option we’re exploring is a green roof.




Since nearly all the windows are now installed, it seemed like a good time to give the 7L breakdown on this part of the project:

Loveable liveable and logical Because we were building from scratch, we bought windows we loved first, and designed our cabin around them. All windows are from salvaged construction projects, which covers low-cost, local and low-impact and we bought only wood or metal framed double-glazed windows so that our windows will be long-lasting and gets lots o’ use which I feel is an acceptable variation on lots of uses.

  1. Logical
  2. Light / Low-Impact
  3. Liveable/Loveable
  4. Low-cost
  5. Long Lasting
  6. Lots o ‘uses
  7. Local

Confessions of a siding geek

In the dreary afternoons of November it is truly amazing to look back on the photos of this past summer and see everything we were able to accomplish. All those smiling faces, all that hard work, it’s a reminder of how fortunate we’ve been throughout all of this.

The cabin is tarped up for the winter, and now is the time when we ponder next steps (siding, roof) and dangerously day-dream about things like finishings and floors. In the summer it is easier to remember that we always have to take everything step by step. With my hands on a hammer, I’m grounded. Here in the city, it’s easy to believe we can just fly through the next steps, and even at my imagination’s lightening speed, I’m impatient to get there.

Siding and roofing alternates between being very boring to think about and almost overwhelmingly complex. Throughout so much of our building we’ve had a solid place to start from: a great set of windows, free timber, a site we fell in love with. I just don’t seem to feel that we have that same clear sense of direction for how we finish the house. However n the process of trying to figure it out I’ve become something of a siding geek.

Some choices are easy: no to vinyl, since it fails most of the L’s except low-cost.
Logical:  We are quite close to trees so something with some fire-resistance at least for most of the cabin. This means metal or some kind of fibercement siding. But is it loveable? We don’t want anything too industrial looking though. I think we are agreed that the cabin should have some sense of natural variation. Inset cedar tongue and groove? Shakes? is there a ‘logical’ approach to this kind of ornamentation of a house? Logical/low (visual)-impact:  Colours and materials that work with dark metal window frames, fir posts and cedar decking. The east side of the cabin should be fairly dark coloured so it doesn’t stand out on the hill. The dominant colours of the hill are rock grey, dirt & bark brown, and cedar green.
Logi(sti)cal: We probably need to buy most of our siding materials from a commercial supplier (vs second hard/re-purposed)since they can put it on pallets and deliver it to the dock for the barge.

i think the look we are going for is natural but tough aka rustic modern. That still leaves an incredible number of variations and possibilities though and on a long rainy afternoon, a thousand different websites and photoshopped pictures and google sketchups to ponder as we anxiously wait for spring.