Our Net-Zero Home in Long Beach, California

Living the Change We Want to See in the World

  • Decisions, Decisions, Decisions

    What a year! The first quarter of 2016 was full of excitement for us, some of which we would have been happy to avoid. Fortunately there were no tragedies. Intermixed with all of the excitement was the need for us to make decisions -- a lot of decisions.

    Countertop materials and colors, tiles, fixtures, appliances, paint, lighting, windows, and doors were just some of the decisions that we made. We had to balance performance, aesthetics, and price. Since we don't have unlimited funds to build our new home, price is often the deciding factor.

    Because we are using mnmMOD for the structure, we had to make certain decisions in advance compared to a standard stick build house. We didn't mind because once we start construction we don't want progress to stall awaiting a decision from us. Also, Jeannette Architects prefer that we define as much as possible up front so that we don't encounter design "surprises" after we start construction.

    Finally, a key aspect of our decision process is to involve our General Contractor, Scott Yanofsky, and our Interior Designer, Allison Smith, in as many of our decisions as is appropriate. This involvement slowed the decision process a bit but we hope it will make the construction process proceed smoother and more quickly than if we hadn't.

    We will see.

  • Design Is a Process

    I am going to fast foward this blog to today. About a year ago, after interviewing three architects, we selected Jeannette Architects to design our home. There were a number of reasons why we selected Jeannette Architects. The key reasons were:

    • Their experience and commitment to building enviromentally friendly homes, including their recent design of two LEED certified homes;
    • Their portfolio of homes with modern architecture;
    • As a Long Beach firm, their familiarity with local building codes and regulations;
    • Their attention to detail in the design process.


    Another factor was that the firm's Principal, Jeff Jeannette, is also a cyclist.

    At the same time we selected our General Contractor, Terra Firma, Inc. We interviewed Scott Yanofsky, the owner/operator, and we were impressed with his portfolio of work. Additionally, I've known Scott since Junior High School as we both grew up in Jericho, NY. We appreciate Scott's attention to detail and his pragmatic view of home construction.

    Those of you who know me, know that I am very concerned about the details of any design; automobiles, bicycles, computers, cameras, and now, our green dream home. Consistent with this, I prepared a very detailed mind map of our requirements for our future home. The mind map provided Jeff, his Project Manager, Alison Young, and Scott a common view of what we want to achieve.

    In the late spring, Jeff and Alison produced several sketches of floor plans and elevations for our consideration. By early summer, we approved final sketches and we moved into Preliminary Design. Then came the real fun, could we build this house within our budget?

    As part of cost estimating process, we selected an interior design firm, Allison Smith Design, out of Portland, Oregon. Allison has provided design services to residential and commercial clients across the United States and internationally. We have admired her sense of style for years as she also happens to be Nina's cousin.

    Estimating is taking some time but working with Scott as our estimating focal and with the rest of our team's guidance, we believe we have a design that is affordable. We have a few details to change in the Preliminary Design, but as a preview, here is the proposed front elevation of our house:


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