Secret Fortress Hideout

This blog documents the progress of our super-cool, pre-fab home "somewhere" in the wilds of Northwest Arkansas. Rocio Romero designed the home, model LVL, and incorporated our custom modifications. GC Don Lourie is doing the build and architect Brad Satterwhite is providing additional ingenuity.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

SFH on

Earlier this week I received a Google Alert with a link to this article and slide show on I was surprised--and happy--to see the home they chose to feature in the first two slides. Look familiar?

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Speed Metal

There's a new addition to Secret Fortress Hideout. Earlier this year, I began researching garage options that would give us some extra stowage with style. The search concluded with a decision to create an original modern structure that could be erected in a month using mostly local materials and labor. Based on these criteria, it became clear that my best option would be a metal building supplier that could handle custom design requests. It turns out that Floyd's Sales & Construction in nearby Berryville, AR, had just the right combination of experience and ingenuity. Not to mention, Floyd's is the only metal builder in the region with the ability to fabricate steel trusses for a single-slope shed roof.

I designed the basic form for the building using Google Sketch-Up in September. We started construction in October, and Floyd's completed the job last week. Now we need a little landscaping to beautify the dirt work surrounding the slab.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Rocio Romero On NPR

NPR ran a story today on the LV and the success of Rocio's prefab business model in this economy. The story aired nationally and and featured 10 seconds of yours truly. Kudos to the editor who boiled 20 minutes of my rambling down to one 10-second quote!

Here's the story.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Going Green

Once SFH was built and looking fantastic, we realized something was missing. Like a great masterpiece, it deserved a fine frame. So, we added a lawn. After clearing a few trees and adding rich topsoil, Don and Jeremy layed down about 6,000 sq. feet of zoysia sod. The visual effect was immediate and dramatic. Best of all, zoysia grass is drought tolerant and requires little maintenance once established, making perfect for xeriscaping.

This got me thinking about how we've made the house green in other ways and I decided to make a list of all the eco friendly materials used in SFH.

• passive-solar home orientation on shaded lot
• high-efficiency multi-stage heat pump
• soy-based spray insulation on interior walls
• formaldehyde-free bat fiberglass insulation in faux walls
• VOC-free interior paint
• formaldehyde-free strand bamboo flooring
• natural formaldehyde-free cork flooring
• PaperStone 100% post-consumer recycled paper counter tops
• low-e glass
• Energy Star appliances
• high-efficiency Rais wood stove
• insulated concrete form foundation walls for crawlspace
• electric radiant bathroom flooring
• drought resistant zoysia grass
• energy efficient TPO reflective white roofing
• water-conserving dual-flush toilets
• dimmable compact flourescent light bulbs
• LED outdoor lighting
• sustainable, recycled pecan shell mulch
• locally quarried stone wall, stepping stones and river gravel paths
• Ipe deck from certified sustainable forests in Brazil
• CUZN (Copper-Zinc) water filter system

Monday, September 1, 2008

Flat-Roof Resolution

I thought this may be helpful for other LV owners who have built in the woods. Last fall we had to make regular ladder runs to the roof to keep the scupper's clear of deciduous debris. To prevent drainage issues this autumn, Don and Jeremy designed a filter box that fits over the scuppers. The device should block larger objects and reduce clogging by increasing the surface area of the grate. Wider-guage screening should improve flow and a "cover" fabricated with Kynar-color-matched steel keeps twigs and leaves from falling directly into the drain. I'll keep you posted on how well this works!

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Mom's Day Getaway

We heard Don's sheet metal crew had made a lot of progress and we were anxious to see the finished deck, so we celebrated Mother's Day at SFH. The weather was absolutely gorgeous after Saturday storms--breezy, fair, low 60s. Using a remnant piece of ipe decking and an old dock line, we improvised a rope swing for the ancient, broken oak that dominates our east view. After discovering several ticks in our flight path (and in our pants), we spent the rest of the weekend hangin' on the deck with Durga and Pedro.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

The Hills Are Alive with the Sound of SFH

Don sent this amazing note last week. His message was so passionate, I just had to post it. I'm thinking his suggestion at the end will become a favorite Secret Fortress tradition and a great way to remember our guests--like an audio guest book! But I'm telling you now, NO Celine Dion. I would hate for you to have to spend the night in the storm cellar.

"On Thursday, we made it back to the SFH. I turned on the radio to get some nice background music while working on the deck. The first piece of music played that morning was Toccata and Fugue in D Minor by Bach. Wow! There was no way I would work while that was playing, so I sat down on the couch to soak up the music. Your speakers are sensational! My goodness, I have never heard that music that well. It was so brilliant! I'm getting excited just thinking about it. It sounded like the organ was in the room. Great choice on speakers. Your guests are going to love it.
I would recommend you begin a small library of great music and each guest can make a contribution. That way you'll have an eclectic music choice. I will contribute the first CD. Racmimaninoff's Vespers performed by the Robert Shaw Festival Singers. It's my favorite and can't wait to hear it on your stereo."

In other news, Don and Jeremy completed most of the deck railing. The posts were custom fab from L & L Metal Fabrication of Springdale, AR, and the steel cable rail was manufactured by American Metal Specialties of Tacoma, WA.