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First Light house welcomes famous faces in Washington

First Light house welcomes famous faces in Washington

How long does it take to put together a solar-passive house complete with all the interior fittings? Six and a half days if you’re the First Light team. With the house completed and already graced by some famous faces, the team is now focused on the contest side of things. 

The Solar Decathlon 2011 is underway and so much has happened in the last two weeks! For one, the First Light house was assembled in six and a half days and now thousands of Americans are streaming through its doors. 

But let’s go back to the start. At 11pm on September 13, assembly started on 19 solar powered houses on West Potomac Park in Washington DC. Along with the Victoria team, a group from Fanshawe College in London, Ontario joined the team for assembly. 

The full team crew was split into two groups and took the assembly phase in two shifts.  This meant we could work around the clock and make the most of the six and a half days to complete the house. 

The value of the practice run and time on Frank Kitts Park was immense, with assembly running smoothly and on schedule. Feeling relaxed and happy in their work, the team is enjoying each other’s company and working like a well-oiled machine. 

There were a couple of minor set backs, such as a couple of cracked tiles, but nothing that couldn’t be worked through and certainly no more than what was expected with a house that was transported across the world.  

The team worked long hours to complete the house and wound up passing all the organiser inspections with a few hours to spare. Only one team out of the 19 completed all inspections before us. 

After the final inspection was over the team breathed a sigh of relief. It was surreal to be walking around the First Light house that only a few months ago was sitting on Wellington’s waterfront.

The house is looking great, and is finally completely finished! There were parts of the house that were not complete in time for the display period in Wellington, so there were a number of little surprises for the team as they put in the final elements. The bathroom flooring was installed for the first time in Washington. Made from Ash, the floor boards sit above a stainless steel shower tray making the whole bathroom a wet area.

Another first time feature  of the  house installed in Washington was the central table. Made from fibre reinforced concrete and inlaid with recycled Rimu forms, the table forms the centre-piece and meeting point for the home. The table looks great and it’s fantastic to see it in the house and not just in the renders! 

Now completed, the house is being seen for the first time by the American public along with a few well-known Kiwis. Bill English came to check out the First Light house on Friday and Helen Clark came by for a visit on Saturday. 

All houses in the competition are open for public exhibit every day until October 2 and so far there have already been huge lines to see the First Light house. The 10 contests each house is judged on are underway and on October 1 the winner will be announced.