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Project Participants:

Spirit Interior Design

Sons Development & Green Building Supplies

Doherty Construction

Green Upgrades to a Traditional Tahoe Cabin


We had the unique opportunity to salvage many of our materials from a lakefront home which was destined for the landfill. This got the ball rolling a year early and we remained active in the project throughout construction. In addition to incorporating many recycled products and energy efficient design it is a great example of the small house concept. To build half as much as you think that you need and using every bit of space more resourcefully is very green. Our original project was to double our space, but we reconsidered.  Reading lots of books about small spaces (especially the works of Sarah Susanka) helped us realize what we really wanted and actually needed. These books also showed us how to make a smaller space more useable and yet seem larger. We utilized the concept of bringing the inside out by creating useful outdoor space. We did most of the product research and planning ourselves, as well as putting many hours of physical work this project which has made us very invested in our new home. 


Build Half as Much – Build what you’re going to need 80% of the time. Larger homes mean use of more resources both in construction and ongoing heating and cooling, lighting, etc. and more maintenance (cleaning and routine maintenance). Figure out how much it’s going to cost you to have that extra room, “just in case.” Plus, the more space you have, the more you fill it with stuff. If you’re planning to use recycled/reclaimed material, it’s never too early to start buying and gathering. Materials are not always readily available when you need/want them. Same goes for off-the-shelf green materials. We spent a lot of time researching and sourcing many of the finish materials for our project.  California and Nevada have different regulations as far as regulated VOC content in materials sold. If you are purchasing materials in Nevada you have to be more conscious of the content in the materials you purchase.  The Industry still has a lot of growing to do. We spent a lot of time tracking down the low VOC products that we needed. There are a lot of green products out there, but they might not necessarily be what you need or might not have the quality that you are looking for. There is not much locally available and you may need to order materials from a distance. Order samples in advance and plan ahead.

Special thanks to John Doherty, Doherty Construction, for helping us to source many of the salvaged materials used in this project. Also, to our friend, Sue Duerksen (former SiGBA president), our biggest cheerleader and who offered up space in her garage for over a year giving us a place to store most of the salvaged interior materials.



  • General Contractors: Building Energy SolutionsReno, NV and Kurt Schoemig of Cedar Ridge Builders
  • Designer: Shoberg Design, Kings Beach, CA
  • Plumbing: Moraine Sink Company, Truckee, CA
  • Electrical: Vink’s Electric, Truckee, CA
  • Framing: Cedar Ridge Builders, Truckee, CA
  • Excavation: Basile Management Practices, Tahoe City, CA
  • Interior Design: Spirit Interior Design, Truckee, CA
  • Salvage Material Sources: Habitat for Humanity; Re-Use Store, Reno, NV; Ohmega Salvage, Berkeley, CA; Urban Ore, Berkeley, CA.
  • Green Materials Sources: Eco Home Improvement, Berkeley, CA; Green Sacramento, Sacramento, CA; EcoHaus, Seattle, WA; Special Hardwood Products, Atlanta, GA; Son’s Development and Green Building Supplies, Grass Valley, CA

DESIGNER: Shoberg Design, Architectural Design

BUILDER: Building Energy Solutions, General Contractor

OWNER: Lefrancois

LOCATION: Kings Beach, CA

SIZE (SF): 800


COST/SF: $150



Recycled Content:

  • Salvaged wood for interiors and decking
  • Salvaged furniture and doors
  • Fly ash in concrete
  • All excavated soils remain on site for landscape.

Waste Diversion:

  • Prepared all demolition and salvage materials for reuse onsite.
  • All original plumbing and wiring recycled.
  • All waste sorted to ensure maximum recycling and appropriate handling
  • Original windows, doors, fixtures, etc were sold off or donated for reuse.

Renewable Resources:

  • FSC specified framing specified inside and out.
  • American Clay interior wall finish.


  • Blown in polyurethane closed cell foam insulation for exterior walls
  • Ultratouch Cotton Fiber  for Interior“sound proofing"
  • Quality windows/doors selected for energy efficiency.
  • All windows/doors sealed with foam to minimize leakage.
  • Overall tight construction, blower door tested.


  • Low flow toilets and shower heads.
  • Landscape to be native and/or adaptive species for minimal irrigation
  • Energy Star washing machine and dishwasher


  • Mechanical ventilation via an energy recovery ventilator (ERV).
  • High efficiency gas fireplace on programmable thermostat
  • Instant gas hot water heater


  • Dimmer and Motion switches
  • Compact Fluorescent Light bulbs
  • Passive solar for natural lighting


  • Plumbed and planned for future solar hot water.


  • ITRPA compliant infiltration onsite
  • Vegetate disturbed and compacted areas

Tags: Remodel/Addition
Water Conservation
Building Performance
Reclaimed Wood

Mail can be sent to: SiGBA P.O. Box 4245 Truckee, CA 96160

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