Posts Tagged ‘building’

Making A 3,000lb Onyx Vanity / Sink & Suspending It From A Ceiling

January 4, 2011

In the spring of 2010, the owners of Barbacoa Restaurant in Boise, Idaho, came to Impact Imports to help them decorate their new restaurant with unique pieces. One of the most unique pieces is the men’s room vanity / sink. It is made from a single piece of onyx stone and has 2 sinks and a tissue holder hand cut into the surface. The goal was to install this sink suspended from the ceiling on heavy anchor chains. As you can see from the pictures, this feat was accomplished. Here is how we did it:

On a trip to Indonesia in April of 2010, I began to hunt down and find all the pieces requested by Barbacoa. The most difficult piece was the men’s room vanity / sink combination. However, we knew the perfect supplier to make this piece. So it was only a matter of getting there, finding the stone and then begin the sometimes-difficult task of explaining how we wanted it. The travel time involved to get to this supplier in East Java, Indonesia, was approximately 36 combined hours from Boise. But, it was well worth the trip.

Upon arrival, I hooked up with a friend and began the search for the perfect piece. It had to be no more than 6 feet long and the depth would eventually be cut to 24-28 inches. The first picture in the series below shows the piece I found as it sits upside down on a pile of onyx stones. My friend is negotiating the price with the owner of the stone, and she was a tough one to bargain with! I chose this piece because it was exactly 6 ft long, and the angle on the bottom of the piece made it ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) Compliant, saving a tremendous amount of manufacturing time. After about 3 hours, the stone was delivered to the supplier for cutting.

The supplier has these huge wet saws that cut through this material like butter! Most of the main cuts were simply "eyeballed," as I was kind of creating this piece on the fly. I think we pushed this through the big blades about 6 or 7 times to fine tune everything. Next came the layout of the sinks, the tissue box, the cavities behind the sink to hide the plumbing, the holes for the drains and, most difficult of all, the holes for hanging the sink from the ceiling. To find the center of balance (so the sink would hang relatively flat before we tied it to the wall with bolts) I had the supplier turn the sink upside down and balance it on pieces of bamboo! Highly scientific approach!

The end result is one of the coolest vanity / sink combinations you will ever see! We hope you enjoy it! Thanks, Barbacoa! Searching, cutting, hand crafting & installing the coolest vanity / sink combo ever!  
 
 
 
 
 

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Passive Solar Heater

November 23, 2010

I know it’s a bit ugly, but i wanted to show you my home made passive solar heater. This heater is attached to our 10,000 square foot warehouse here in Boise. Right now, as i write this post, the outside official temperature is 24 degrees, with a windchill temperature of 11 degrees. But, the sun is shining, and this unit is creating heat for the warehouse approximately 95-100 degree air is coming out of this unit at about 10 cubic feet per minute.

To make this heater, I used discarded corrugated metal roofing to capture the heat, insulating it on the back side. The glass came from a remodel project (reclaimed), and the PVC pipes were sitting in the neighbors warehouse (also reclaimed). Heat is generated by the sun passing through the 1/8inch thick glass and is absorbed by the 2 layers of corrugated roofing. Heat rises, so there are 2 holes at the top of the box putting heat into the warehouse. The cold air is drawn into the bottom of the box from near the floor in the warehouse.

Now, if we only had about 15 of these on the south facing wall of the warehouse, we would save a ton on our heat bills AND be extra cozy in the winter!

Yes…… It only works when the sun shines, but we have PLENTY of clear, winter days here in Boise!

Passive Solar Heater

Passive solar heater outlet temperature

Dec 31, 2010: Official outside temp = 24F My Passive Solar Heater outlet temp = 119.3F

passive, solar, heater, home, made, warehouse, boise, idaho

This is a view of the passive solar heater from the outside. In this picture, you can see the (2) layers of metal roofing. The back piece is full 8′ long, while the piece suspended in the middle is about 7′ long, allowing air to flow on 3 surfaces. Hot air goes in to the building through these 2 holes.

home, made, homemade, passive, solar, heater, heat, free, eco, boise, idaho

This is a view of my home made passive solar heater installed on the southeast corner of our 10,000 square foot warehouse. The heater is facing almost directly south.

home, made, passive, solar, heat, heater, boise, idaho,

This picture shows the bottom of the home made passive solar heater. Cold air from inside the building (about 12″ above the floor) enters the heater though these 2 holes and washes up 3 steel surfaces painted black.

home, made, passive, solar, heater, heat, boise, idaho, impact, imports

You can see the sun shining through the (4) holes of the passive solar heater in this view from inside our warehouse. Cold air enters the 2 holes at the bottom and hot air comes back into the building through the top 2 holes.

The glass came from a remodel project (reclaimed), and the PVC pipes were sitting in the neighbor’s warehouse (also reclaimed). Heat is generated by the sun passing through the 1/8″ thick glass and is absorbed by the 2 layers of corrugated roofing. Heat rises, so there are 2 holes at the top of the box putting heat into the warehouse. The cold air is drawn into the bottom of the box from near the floor in the warehouse.

Now, if we only had about 15 of these on the south facing wall of the warehouse, we would save a ton on our heat bills AND be extra cozy in the winter!

Building Houses In China

September 29, 2009

In the late 1990’s, I opened an office in downtown Beijing, China, near the intersection of Second Ring Road and Chang An Lu Boulevard, with a friend of mine from California, Tate Miller, who is currently the Dean of Advising, Careers and Student Services and the Monterey Institute of International Studies. Tate had been living in Beijing for a couple of years and contacted me in 1997 to start a new business representing US building material companies in China. He would run the operation ‘in country,’ while I traveled back and forth between China and the US. Appropriately, we named our company “American Western Homes and Building Materials, Inc.,” and we represented several building material companies, including a family owned business called Precision Panel Structures located in Eagle, Idaho. Precision Panel manufactures Structural Insulated Panels (SIPs).

Although I enjoyed traveling throughout the country, I found China to be a very difficult place to do business, particularly if you are trying to sell and ship product to China. My experiences were parallel to some of the people in the book, “The China Dream,” a tale about Western business woes in China stretching back 700 years. However, after a couple of years of hard work, we finally found a customer who actually conducted business the way we preferred. As a result, we were the first Americans to build houses in China using Structural Insulated Panels (SIPs) and all engineered lumber. And, even though the manager of the Chinese port held our shipment for a $10,000USD ‘ransom’ before he would release it, our customer was happy with the end result of the project.

This first project consisted of six homes in the northern part of Beijing in an area called “Fragrant Mountain,” a high end ‘neighborhood’ reserved for the Chinese political elite (The Presidential House is located in this area). Considering most every building in China is built using concrete, this sale was a major accomplishment. I helped build the shell of these six homes made from SIPs and all engineered lumber, mostly from Idaho manufacturers and suppliers. But, the primary construction managers were customers of mine from Idaho who also happened to be ex-Navy Sea Bees; they were used to working in unknown and difficult conditions and were eager to go to Beijing to work on this project. They considered it to be quite an adventure!

Consider this: it normally takes about 4 to 5 months for 25 to 30 guys to build the shell of a 4,000 square foot (approx 400 square meters) Villa out of concrete and bricks in the metro areas of China. We had sold these six homes to our customer telling him we could build all six shells, tight to weather, within 2 months from emptying the shipping containers. Our goal was aggressive, but we knew we could do it. What could go wrong, right? We had drawn and engineered the projects in Idaho, so we knew the houses (each one a different design) were fairly easy to build. All the pre-engineered wood was reliable to work with, and we bought trusses from one of the most experienced truss plants in BC, Canada (the only non-Idaho supplier, by the way). But, the fact there were no ‘formal’ plans for the development sent up the first red flag.
The Master Plan drawn in the mud for reference..... The ‘master plan’ (above) was drawn in the mud for our 2 man crew when they arrived on the site to get concrete slabs ready for the shipment from Idaho. Our guys had to know what they were going to build, right?

Despite the difficulties experienced on the job site (language barriers, minimal tools and equipment for building wood framed houses, etc.) in the end we easily met the schedule of erecting the shells of six homes in less than 2 months. We accomplished this goal with 2 Americans on the job site instructing 8 Chinese on how to build with our materials. After the shells were built, the finish materials were purchased ‘in country’ and it took another 3 or 4 months to complete every house to a move-in condition. To make it even more interesting, there were no ‘official’ building permits for this project….. This is a project I will never forget.

Because all of these homes were built using Structural Insulated Panels (SIPs) for the shell of the structure, I know these were the most energy efficient modern-day homes built in China. And, quite possibly, they still are.

This is what I do now: Impact Imports