This project was my first custom home “professional” design – in 1975.  The client was a young single woman who had bought 40 acres of remote country property.  She wanted a modest house that took advantage of the magnificent views to the south and west.  The building site sloped gently down to the south. A gravity flow water system was developed and a propane tank installed but no other utilities were available.   There was a lot of timber on the property.  Several fir trees were harvested and a mobile dimension saw was brought in to produce the necessary framing members.

The house is 36’ square designed on a 12’ post and beam structural grid system.  The living area is open and spit level.  As the roof plate is the same height all the way around, the lower living room area has 11’ tall walls with large vertical windows.  An 8’ x 12’  concrete block basement was placed under the bathroom in the northeast corner.  This helps anchor the building into the hillside and provides much needed cool storage.

Twenty – 4 x 6 posts, on a strict 12’ grid, go all the way from the foundation to the roof with double 2×10  lower floor support beams, loft support beams and roof support beams bolted to either side of the posts at the proper height.  Exterior panels were constructed on the lower floor, with studs, plywood sheathing and redwood siding, before being tilted up in place between the posts.  A symmetrical hip roof is supported on the perimeter double 2 x10’s  and on the short loft walls.  The  steeper upper “A-frame” roof covers the upper floor bedroom loft.  The roof construction is 4 x 10’s, 4’ O.C. with exposed fir T & G above.   The insulation was put in “sandwich” space on top of the exposed ceiling.  My best friend, Mick Burkholder, and I did all the construction from the footings to the roofing.  We even built the doors and windows.  I marvel at the energy we had in our youth!


Ten years after the original house was completed the property was sold I was asked me to design a remodel  to suit the needs of the new owners, a retired couple.  The new addition essentially tripled the size of the original house.  It’s designed to provide wheel chair access  from the parking area and around most of the lower level.  In the 10 years since I first started designing I learned a lot about using retaining walls to create hillside terraces.  The hallway gallery, provides a way to get to the laundry room, studio and little meditation room .  It is lined with well lighted display shelves for the owner’s collection of African art.  The office over the master bedroom has a pyramid roof with a pyramid skylight in the center.

To heat such a sprawling floor plan we used radiant floor heating in a concrete slab.  A propane heater was added to the original house to supplement the wood stove heat.  A whole new energy system was installed, using photovoltaic panels, a water turbine generator with a large battery bank and an automatic propane fueled generator for backup.   A small shop was added under the dining area.  A deck was added off the dining room and, off the living room, a deck was added that connects to the new patio terrace.  I did some carpentry on the addition also – although by this time in my career I was mostly concentrating on building design.

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