Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Good Bye 2012

As the year closes, we're looking back to an eventful time here at the Nob Hill Haus: While the early months have been marked with clean-up work from the pine tree that fell, we soon had positive news: The home has won 2 architectural awards and has been published twice in the printed press- apart from numerous online publications. Artwork has been created and the garden slowly recovered from the tree disaster. We had our first homegrown apples (the squirrels took the most of them, though), oranges, limes and lemons. And now we are looking forward to what 2013 might bring us: We wish you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year 2013!

Sunday, November 18, 2012

winter strikes again

The rainy season has started again and were were greeted with a snow capped Mount Baldy in the morning. Earlier in June, we actually had turned off the instant backup water heater to see how long we oculd use the solar panels for hot water. And while there was still warm water (in the upper 90s) coming out of the shower (after 2 days of solid cloud cover) we decided to turn it back on. We also had the Eucalyptus trees pruned to avoid a similar disaster as last year and are not ready for the dark and cozy season...

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

The Pain with the Stain

Most of the materials of the Nob Hill Haus have been selected for low maintenance and longevity we tried to stay away from using wood in exposed situations as much as possible- Most of the facade is integral color stucco, the rainscreen looks like wood, but is made of phenolic panels. This leaves us only with one element- The deck. The decking is Mangaris hardwood while the supporting beams consist of douglas fir. Since the deck has the most sun exposure, it's been taking the most beating- even though the exposure is not as bad as it would be on the South side. But nevertheless, the stain (we used Penofin, a penetrating oil) faded eventually after 18 months and we had to get on it and spend a few weekends sanding the deck, fixing some of the broken-off screws and staining it twice. The photo shows the (then) faded stair with the freshly stained deck at the bottom. Looks like new again- until next year...

Monday, September 3, 2012


Yesterday, around 4PM we noticed a huge smoke cloud looming over the San Gabriel Mountains and blocking the view towards Mt Baldy. That was no ordinary rain cloud, it looked more like a smoke cloud from a fire- so we checked out the news and learned about the 4000 acre (by Monday morning) big Williams Fire which had spread fast on Sunday, but the fire fighters seemed to have made soem headroom in the meantime. The smell of burnt trees was in the air this morning as the clund started moving along the Mountains towards the West. Later that day, the wind direction changed again and blew the plume towards the Inland Empire.

Sunday, September 2, 2012

on the cover

The Nob Hill Haus made it on the cover of the August issue of Builder's Magazine-as the feature story about a collection of 5 sustainable homes! For us, that is quite an achievement. We got an almost 5 page long article on the inside and are really proud of it. As part of a special symposium, the L.A. County Health Department and the Environmental Protection Agency will tour the rainwater harvesting system next week. They’ve been using it as a case study project for rainwater use in residential applications. We have September in the meantime, but there's still water in the cistern for them to see! In the garden, the figs are ripe, but the squirrels get them faster than we can pick them- a real bummer.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Nob Hill Haus receives two Awards!

We could not believe it ourselves, but the Nob Hill Haus has recently received not one but two of the most prestigious awards a home can hope for: Two Gold Nugget Merit Awards: One was earned in the custom home under 3,000sf category, where the clean modern yet functional design was honored. The second one was in the sustainable category for projects certified under Build it Green's "Green Point Rated" program. The Golden Nugget Awards are held every year and entries from all around the world are competing against each other. We are very proud to be among the winners!

Saturday, July 21, 2012

The power of the Sun- taken a step further

With the summer heating up a lot in recent days (we are hitting the 100s now regularly), the solar water heater is reaching the tank's hot water capacity long before the day is over. The collector fluid (glycol) reaches temperatures around 270 degrees while we have a water temperature of about 130 degrees inside the tank. As a matter of fact, the pump is shutting off at 1.30 and the glycol drains back into the expansion tank to prevent the system from overheating. See the graphic above with the solar WH performance chart. The energy of the sun that is hitting the collector after that is not being used at all. In order to make use of that energy, a steam generator would have to be connected to the tank and the hot water could then contribute to generate electricity. This is definitely something to think about for future solar systems.