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!

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Above: Concept Drawings to Confirm Tile Look and Layout

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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.

 

Home Design Thoughts

As a new “normal” takes new form and globally we start to shift toward developing new standards and regulations for how we interact, shop, learn and live, it’s worth also considering the place of home design, and for that matter maybe even renovations.

Some ideas that come to mind, stream back to early home design others are new thoughts about how we might shift spaces within our own homes to take on these “new normal” practices.

1. Vestibules: these rooms are more commonly known as “mudrooms” but don’t really function as they had originally. Today they are the catch-all. The mudroom is the place to collect our shoes, seasonal layers, grocery bags, the things needed for kids athletic practices, the place to do laundry, etc. However, in ancient Greece, vestibules were the barrier between one’s home and the outside world. Bringing a true vestibule into home design could give a more private and secure location for deliveries, as well as a holding spot for those who would like to make sure that any deliveries can be cleaned or properly prepared before entering the main living space.

2. Kitchens: Today the kitchen is the meeting place. It’s the spot where dinner and homework get done; where lunch and zoom meetings are happening. We have, over time transformed kitchens from contained work centers into the  most popular gathering place of our homes. In the early 1900’s, when tile and stone became more popular, kitchens were designed with hygiene in mind. Obviously, there is great joy in gathering around food but as we think more toward how to not spread or how slow the spread of illness during social gatherings, having a kitchen that focuses on just the art of cooking and leaving dinning and living spaces as the social spots could be an option that reemerges.

3. Washstand: Is the first thing that comes to mind when reading this, that age old concept of a pitcher in a large bowl? Hand washing is one of the easiest ways to slow the spread of many pathogens, and having a small dedicated sink that reminds your household and guests to do that before continuing into the main area of a home could become a thing, especially as we continue to hear from health officials about the importance of hand washing to slow the spread and see local retail shops putting out their own hand sanitizer stations, that encourage patrons to stop and clean before proceeding into the store, out for use. Having a powder room near the entrance of the home was quite common as private bathrooms and personal hygiene became a popular thing in the 19th century. More commonly, we see powder rooms in a more central part of a home, occasionally next to the kitchen or in between living spaces, but designing one next to the entrance of the home is easy to do and helps remind people to wash up before continuing into the house.

4. Better Home Ventilation: Talk about the next up-and-coming home feature. Instead of bragging about that low flow shower head, or super efficient windows, ventilation systems are going to be all the rage. Why? The cleaner the air in your home is, the healthier not just the occupants but the whole house is. In all of our homes, the ventilation system is just as well thought out as the plumbing or electrical system. Bringing air in, pulling air out, designing around wet locations and areas where there is greater solar gain, being considerate of where air might need to be more regularly refreshed and when makes our homes function efficiently and sustainably!

 

These are of course just some ideas, a way of looking forward to home and interior design!

Interested in discussing a new home build in Northern Colorado? Check out our Welcome! tab for contact information!!

Building Away

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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.

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Fort Collins Project Exterior Looks

Hey there!

Here’s a quick post just to show some photos of our Fort Collins Project’s Exterior details. Concrete, Wood, Stucco and Metal all played a role in providing a modern and brutalistic aesthetic!

Wood Stain: Sherwin Williams Super Deck Stain Covered Bridge

Stucco: Custom Color

Metal: Custom Color

Decking: Bison Decking Mahogany

*A few of these photos were obviously taken before everything was completed. As the landscaping is being implemented we will update several of these exterior looks with the completed landscaping.

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Thanks for checking out these photos!

40,000lbs of Cellulose

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

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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.

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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!

Stairway View

Our Fort Collins project features several large windows and sliding doors, mainly at the patio locations on both the second and third floor. The particular window seen in this series is at the intersection of the second and third floor stairway and was quite fun to install. It certainly creates a dramatic look from both outside and inside. The homeowner is considering the trendy glass globe cluster chandelier as the feature lighting for this space; which will really add an elegance to the steel and wood stairway which it overhangs!

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One Truss, Two Truss, Green Panel, Heavy Panel.

Last week we mixed in a few crazy windy days with putting up trusses. Check out the quick video below.

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As soon as the trusses were in place, we began to install the floor sheathing. This project is using the Warm Board system.

Aside from the very cool minty green color- because all floor sheathing should have cool colors, obviously- there are some other useful features.

These boards are 1.125″ thick, which makes for a very heavy to lift panel but stiff floor. That super cool mint color is a 22 gauge aluminum, which allows for heat conduction.  Tile, hardwood, carpet-any floor covering, is compatible with it.

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Another well thought out feature is the underside markings which help during MEP installation. The markings ensure the subs installing mechanical, electric and plumbing systems know exactly  where not to drill.

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Check back for more updates on the Warm Board experience!

Berthoud Residence

We finished up at our Berthoud Project and although things have been quiet on the blog, we have been very busy! Here are some photos of the residence just before move in day. There were a few minor delays our clients had with some of the finishes they were doing independently of us, but we are really excited to share these photos and then get back there and take some “moved in” photos! Enjoy!

First Lets start with some of the Master Bathroom Features!

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Walk in Shower. A great feature is the niche, which you can’t see in this photo, providing product storage out of sight keeping the attention on the details of the shower itself: a higher shower head and the mosaic glass liner that goes across the entire bathroom. Another interesting feature is the linear shower drain, located below the shower fixture.

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The built-in niche, shown above, located along the wall with the door, providing a somewhat concealed space for shower products. 

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The homeowners tired out several tubs to find the right one, and settled on this beautiful teacup tub with a freestanding floor faucet. The window provides ample natural light, while also giving privacy to the shower and tub when in use. We built the window space to be lower to provide a place to set a candle and glass of wine while relaxing, haha! 

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The Master Bath Vanity, before the cabinets were finished (one of the delays our homeowners encountered) features a tall middle section where the outlets are housed, out of sight and convenient for storing the beauty products that require an outlet! On the back wall, you can just barely make out the the thermometer. The Bathroom floors heated, so no cold feet!! 

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The bathrooms upstairs also feature the wonderful heated floors!! Doesn’t it sound just wonderful to not have to walk into a bathroom barefoot and feel like you just stepped across the frozen tundra!?!

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A view across the upstairs hall, with a little look at the custom handrail! There is a lot of natural light in the upstairs area. 

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The homeowners wanted to incorporate a little bit of the existing structures of their property (a horse barn) into their new home. It’s such a mindful idea and is featured in their powder room. The sink wall has the barn wood laid out horizontally. The family, together, selected the pieces of wood they would use and laid them out. The husband installed the wood with his son and his wife found a barn wood frame for their mirror. We love when the homeowners find a unique thing to add to their home! 

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The Laundry room features this beautiful full piece counter and an apron sink. Harrington Constructions own Eric worked so hard fabricating the beautiful counters throughout the home!! 

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One thing we did across the window wall, where the washer and dryer are also at, was add wainscoting to the wall. It wasn’t originally called out in the plan, but it really added to the space.

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Looking out from the hall closet into the very tall open living room. The high ceiling in the entry/living room gives a lot of light and character to the space.

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Looking into the office, the homeowners really loved incorporating sliding barn doors into a few of the spaces, this being one. 

Finally, let’s look at the kitchen. This was definitely an important space for the homeowners and it turned into an incredibly beautiful and functional gathering space. Keep in mind, not all the details are finished in these photos- a teaser to come back and see the space with the doors and panels installed!

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Some of the great features in this space are the island sink, the stove top with the  curved glass rangehood and heated tile floor. The stacked oven and convection oven against the wall, the main sink with the triple window set up. Tall cabinets were a must for our homeowners, as was the large island. 

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Here’s a little close up look at the beautiful countertop.

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The night light function on the rangehood is a great feature!

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The pantry also features sliding barn doors, and base cabinets with a coffee bar!

Have any questions about what you have seen in any of the photos? Let us know in the comments! Thanks for taking the time to check out the features and we are looking forward to showing the moved in photos in the coming weeks!

~Dusty