You Build What?

Often, when we are talking to people about what we do, there’s a pause and then, “You build what?” It’s easy to reply, “an energy efficient home” but it doesn’t really get at the heart of what building passive or super efficient means and we want everyone to know because we believe that building in this way is just one way to make an impact on our environment for the better!

Here are some details of home building we consider/ implement for a passive or super efficient home:

Conditioned Spaces: the size and density and where a home is geographically located is investigated to determine how much energy the heating/cooling/ventilation system would have to use per year. To determine this, we look at Peak Heating and Cooling loads. Peak heating is how much heat your system needs to put out on the coldest day of the year in the location of the home. Peak cooling then is the opposite. We build with dense packed cellulose insulation and do a rigorous amount of air sealing to keep the peak loads at a minimum. We want our homes to basically maintain a comfortable temperature of approx. 74F throughout the year which for the customer, results in lower energy bills.

Energy Sources: We want our homes to be significantly less consumptive than a standard home. To do this, we consider, how many people will live in the home and how the home will be used; what appliances will be in the home, what type of bulbs for lighting, the hot water heater and the Energy Recovery Ventilator Unit. We design the windows to provide solar gain in the winter when it’s needed and avoid window placement in areas where summer heat gain would be greatest. We evaluate the quality of everything making up the home because it’s these materials and fixtures that play a significant role in the energy performance of the home.

Air Tightness: By using the right materials and well developed building practices that prevent air and vapor from penetrating or leaking through the envelope (your homes shell) you can have a comfortable and healthy home. To do this, homes are blower door tested, which is an interesting and informative part of the build. The house, once the windows, doors, siding, roofing, and insulation are installed, is closed up and pressurized using a fan placed in a doorway. As the fan runs, the amount of air that escapes the home is measured, through software, and the output is generated in cubic feet per minute at 50 pascals of pressure per square foot. FUN FACT: Pascal: a pressure of one newton per square meter or in S.I.: one kilogram per meter per second squared.

COMPLICATED!

Lets just break that down a little: the number generated from the blower door is the number of times the air volume changes in a house over an hour at 50 pascals of pressure. PHIUS (The U.S. Chapter) requires homes to meet 0.06cfm50 per ft2 to be considered passive. The lower the number, the tighter the home! Some City and County Building departments will also have their own standard for air tightness as well. For example, in the City of Fort Collins a homes air tightness “shall not exceed 3.0 ACH50 (air changes/hour at 50Pascals of pressure) for either gas or electric heated homes” https://www.fcgov.com/building/files/cfc-sfd-air-tightness-testing-protocol-v4.2.pdf?1588951497 This is an important and incredibly useful tool in determining the energy efficiency of a home!

Whew! you’ve made it through that lengthy interpretation of what makes a passive home, passive. By building thoughtfully, we create homes that make an impact in human health, building health and environmental health.

Lyons Bath

Over the winter, we had the opportunity to do a quick project for a friend needing a mother-in-law cottage/AUD (accessory unit dwelling) in Fort Collins. Having watched our process on the Fort Collins project and been a part of several job site talks, our friend wanted the dwelling to be as efficient as possible. The space was previously a garage, and had the interior walls already up. We came in and helped with ventilation, air sealing and the insulation.

As we wrapped up the insulation and got them through their rough inspections, they asked if we would be willing to do their bathroom tile as well, as they really wanted to get the space finished before the spring. They were doing most of the finish work themselves, but felt the pressure to get things wrapped up so that their mother could move in. Below are a couple of interior design renderings we put together to show them what the bathroom would look like. They really appreciated getting to see before hand what the space they were envisioning would look like. After a few adjustments to the original design, we got to work and the completed bathroom turned out fantastic!

MIZIA BATH VIEW 1MIZIA BATH VIEW 2

Above: Concept Drawings to Confirm Tile Look and Layout

IMG_20200130_103631795IMG_20200130_103748451

Above: Installed Tile 

A few of the things that changed were the glass door and the bench, which were a part of the original drawing.

Many homeowners often express that they are not able to imagine their home and the spaces within it based on construction documents alone. This coupled with picking tile, cabinets, fixtures, carpet, even wall colors can become a daunting task during a home build. Having well produced interior design renderings that can show what a space will look like based on the materials being considered and the dimensions called out, are such an important and helpful tool as they can help confirm choices and allow for changes to be made before moving forward with installations or big purchases.

Are you living on the Front Range and thinking about building a new home or an Accessory Dwelling Unit? If so, send us an email at dusty@harrington.build 

Building Efficient…Just Because

Do you ever watch the progression of home building developments? They are fast. It’s pretty incredible actually, just how quickly a new home can be built. One huge factor in the speed, is the repeatability and simplicity of the home. These homes are usually just meeting the building code requirements, not really going beyond and one of the biggest drawbacks to rapidly built home are the energy costs. Homeowners in many of these developments pay just as much to overcome the heating and cooling issues and overall quality of the house year after year as compared to the upfront cost of building efficient.

As climate change (it’s real bro) continues to affect our living environments, the costs of heating and cooling, due to the increased demand for comfort, become more expensive. That’s where having an efficient home can pay off. All too often we hear, “but it’s so expensive” or “it takes longer to build than those other guys” and to that I say, “what do you want the future of homes to look like?” Are we interested in moving forward with building homes that can’t perform in optimal ways? I hope not. I continue to hope that pushing for efficient homes will help to decrease the negative impacts we have on our planet and leave a better future for the generations to come; and good news, there’s plenty of other builders out there who feel the same.

Benefits of building a home as either a passive house or an efficient house that uses passive house techniques are: Less outside noise in the home due to the tightness of the building envelope. Increased in home air quality because of the use of air exchange units. Less demand for heating and cooling due to a tighter building envelope, better insulation, thoughtful placement of windows for solar gain and considerations for how a home is used by it’s occupants overall. To name a few.

We want to build a better home, to build a better community, to build a better future.

Building efficient…just because.

 

Building Away

IMG_20200310_131352722-02

Even though many folks in Colorado are staying home, construction and home building is still progressing. New homes across the front range are in some form or phase of planning or permitting, many homes are actively being built, remodeled or added on to and our company is, as the Brit’s say, doing our best to keep calm and carry on.

Currently, we are just outside of Fort Collins working on an addition to a passive home that was built about 6 years ago and designed by DNA Design + Architecture, who designed the Loveland Project (see previous posts) home we built. This home is really very beautiful. The design elements find balance among the prairie landscape of the foothills. From large steel beams, to reclaimed barn wood and a stucco color that compliments the hues of the local and native plants, everything is well thought out and planned with intention. We’ll include some photos once we have it completed.

If you’re looking to build a home here in Northern Colorado, check out our Welcome page for our contact information. We look forward to continuing to build interesting, creative, beautiful and most importantly- efficient and sustainable, homes here in Colorado.

IMG_20200206_121120073IMG_20200226_141855075-01

 

 

 

Pascal Catch Up

Dinning Room with PaintingHey, hi it’s good to get back on here and play a little catch up. The last post was about cellulose blowing and here we are, August and we have a finished house. Oooohhh where did the time go.

After insulation was blown in, things took off, as they often do in home builds. Suddenly all the trades are working diligently to wrap up the final parts so that our homeowners could move in. And they have! We really appreciate the different trades we work with, from our plumbers at Kahar Plumbing, electricians from Delaney Electric, steel work from Curly Metal Fabrication, glass work from Abraxis Glass, wood flooring from Schmidt Custom Floors, carpet from Avalanche Floor Coverings, custom fireplace concrete mantle from Concrete Visions,  to mechanical work from Forge Mechanical and geothermal energy from Colorado Geothermal Drilling.  Everyone working together to bring all the parts of a beautiful home together for the homeowners!

One goal is to always keep our readers here and anyone looking to learn more about us updated on our projects, however as things sped up on site, posting slowed down. It isn’t ideal, but when you’re a mama, a builder, a wife, a designer…adjustments have to be made to the schedule. Now that things have evened back out, its time to share some looks! So enjoy these photos showing the living, dinning, office nook and kitchen areas.

Looking into the spaces, you can see the waterfall edges at the kitchen, custom metal features, oak lower cabinets with soft white upper cabinets, large doors, glass sliding doors, steel beams and stair case.

Nook and Dinning

IMG_5461IMG_5465Cabinets Next to Fridge

Kitchen Backsplash

Nook Shelves

Nook Laptop Drawer 1Laptop Drawer 2Laptop Drawer 3Laptop Drawer 5

IMG_5427

IMG_5438

 

waterfall edges

IMG_5434

Pantry

IMG_5448

IMG_5449

IMG_5545

Floating Stairs 2Floating Stairs

The next post to come will feature some of the tile work throughout the bathrooms. Cheers!

 

40,000lbs of Cellulose

What is one of the most exciting, most fulfilling, most…most…acchhoooo.

Calllie insulation 2

Oh, excuse me.

Cellulose is one of those materials that, once you start blowing you just can’t wait to be done, honestly. From recycled paper materials in your hair, nose, ears, and tucked into every nook and cranny of your clothing to heavy bales, a heavy hose you end up holding over head for minutes at a time, and a remote with the behavior of an erratic woman (hey, it’s a woman writing this post so that can be said with confidence), blowing cellulose can be tedious and messy. That being said, dense packed cellulose really adds to the comfort of each home we build as well as the sound quality.

Fellas 1

It has been quite interesting in our Fort Collins project to go from frigid rooms throughout the house to comfort even with no doors and those winter winds and chill passing through. We started blowing on the third floor, and while netting, stapling, gluing, and blowing we ran a few small heaters. After we got the bulk fill done in the ceiling and walls it was incredible how much warmer the third floor stayed, just from those two small heaters. Comfortable enough, that even on the very cold days where the temperature outside didn’t go over 20F, those working upstairs were in their long sleeves and no jackets. That of course wasn’t the case for the machine loader on the “basement” level who was wearing snow boots, snow pants and a winter jacket while working. The proof of it’s efficiency in reducing drastic thermal changes was very apparent even from third level to main level. As one descended the first string of stairs, the temperature difference at the landing between the two, if one had to guess, was within 40F to 50F degrees-meaning the fellas in only their shirts were quickly going back up for their jackets before they ever made it to the second string of stairs (about 10 steps to a landing) and the woman dressed for a blizzard was finding it necessary to remove layers! It’s incredible what 40,000lbs of cellulose will do for a home.

Fellas 2

We are just starting to blow cellulose into the basement level and up next is getting the drywall in, then flooring and cabinets as well as exterior finishes.  An interesting feature we look forward to sharing on the main level will be the trimless drywall and beautiful natural oak doors along with all the steel. Things are shaping up and the house continues to be a sightseer for passersby.

Stay warm!

Stairs!

The stair way from the second to third floor went in a few weeks back. This section of stairway is a floating stairway. The treads will be an oak wrap. The stringer will remain visible and there will also be a custom steel handrail. All the metal work on this project is being done by Curly Metal Fabrication!

Two Flights of StairsAbove: Stair way from entry way to the “basement” level. 

StairWay

Above: Floating Stairway from Second Level to Third level

Stairway 2

We can’t say enough about working with great people, and Ben Curly and his team are great to work with! Below is Andrew welding things together, which I personally was thrilled about because it meant no more hauling materials up and down a ladder!! Woohoo!!

Andrew Welding 1Andrew Welding 2

Looking Around: Berthoud Project

Things are rolling on our Berthoud Project. The cellulose has been blown in and drywall is just about finished. Here is a little peek around the house.

IMG_20170814_143950_941

Standing in the Dinning Room, kitchen to the right.

IMG_20170814_144039_684

Looking out from the Master bedroom toward the Office (where tiny boss is), Living and Dinning rooms. Also looking up to the second level.  

IMG_20170814_144131_256

In the Master bedroom, to the left is the closet and to the right is the bathroom.

IMG_20170814_144237_073

Moving upstairs, we can see a bedroom, bathroom and the beginning of the loft space.

IMG_20170814_144306_714

Here we see the rest of the loft space, a second bedroom is behind the loft wall and then to the right is the mechanical room.

20170814_144324

Looking down out from the loft area toward the entry way where the office is visible.

20170814_144541

Moving back downstairs, this is the kitchen area. To the right is the pantry. Down the hallway is a laundry room, powder and entry into the garage.

20170814_144609

Last we have a panorama from the dinning room looking into the kitchen (to the left) and the living room and entry way. to the far left in the photo you can see the master bedroom door, and in the right corner is the office space. 

Building Seasons

Lets get caught up! Our last post was about some of the features on our Loveland Project. So much has happened since that post. The homeowners have their C.O. and have been moving in and getting settled. We will be back to get some photos to show off just how great it looks at a later time.

It’s funny how each project takes shape like the seasons. The beginning of the project is like Spring. There’s so much to look forward to. There are plans, visions and a lot of enthusiasm. As the project progresses you get to a point in building where there are subs everywhere and things are happening very quickly-much like being in the heat of the Summer. Once the subs have finished, there are finishes to look forward to, it takes shape like Fall-where golden leaves and kitchen sinks, bathtubs, flooring and wall colors bring about a renewed sense of excitement. The last season of building is the final finishes work and then stepping out of the project completly-Winter.

Just like the seasons in Colorado, sometimes we are in winter at one project and spring at another and isnt that just the beauty of it all? Of being a part of so much change and growth!

Currently, we are in Berthoud, CO and the season of building is Spring. Our foundation work is complete, we have framed the floors, walls, set trusses and are ready to start sheathing the roof and start siding. We are gearing up for summer, both figuratively  (see earlier mention) and literally. We have another project in Fort Collins that is just about ready to start breaking ground.

download_20170524_085233download_20170524_085217download_20170524_085209download_20170524_085203download_20170524_085129download_20170524_085115download_20170524_085056

It’s exciting to be doing what we are doing. To know that at the end of day, the homes we are building can withstand the seasons providing quality and comfort for its homeowners. We are excited and thankful that people continue to reach out to us and are interested in building a highly efficient passive home with us! Cheers to the seasons, may they keep on coming!