This is the caption. John B. Carnett

Even though I spend most of my time thinking about geothermal heating systems and backyard solar plants for my green home, in the end, a house is a house; holes must be dug, foundations must be laid, steel delivered and erected, and so on. Here’s a look at our progress in that less glamorous but wholly necessary department.

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John B. Carnett, PopSci’s_ staff photographer, is using the latest green technology to build his dream home. Follow along as the project progresses on his Green Dream blog:

Digging Holes

Carnett on his beloved Kubota tractor, digging holes for the concrete pour. “Prior to the start of my build, I purchased a sub-compact tractor with a front end loader, backhoe and a mowing deck. My wife gave me that look that ALL men know (the one that says “That is a toy, and you know it”). I’m the sort of guy that stops at construction sites to watch heavy equipment in operation, so owning a tractor, even if it is a tiny one, was a longstanding dream of mine. I knew I was going to use it to cut the lawn, but I had no idea what I’d be doing with the backhoe- until this day… The machine paid for itself. My steel staircase and structural steel supports will weigh over 4,000 pounds, so my engineer said that I’d need two 4’x3′ by 4′-deep footings. I needed them on this day. I called for concrete and the guy said he would arrive at 3PM. It was 12 noon, and I’d never used the backhoe. No fear; I backed the tractor down and started digging. The space was so tight that I had to keep stopping and moving the dirt- the side walls were caving in and the clock was ticking. I had one hole completed when the concrete arrived. The property was so tight that I continued to dig for another fifteen minutes as the truck driver moved into position. It seems that with concrete you’re never ready in time, but we got it all poured in the end.”


The concrete footings for the massive steel staircase.

The Beams Arrive

“The primary shell of my house is a panel system, but I still need lumber and steel to hold it all up. Some of my engineered lumber is 45 feet long, so you can only imagine what it was like to find the center point and then lift and off-load it on an uneven driveway. There were a few close calls, but I got it all off. The truck driver was not so lucky, as he got stuck in the mud and then screamed and yelled and said he would never come back… I make new friends every day.”

Part of a Day’s Framing

“By the end of day one we had the knee walls up and some of the structural lumber in place. I’m blending old and new foundations, and not everything lines up. Each step takes a bit longer than expected.”

Panel Company Commitment

“Traves, with LightShip Group, was on location with me as we prepared the deck for the structural steel. He takes his job very seriously; as you can see here, he camped out next to the build. You could say that he is on top of the project.”

Green Dream: The Hard Hat

This is the caption.