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

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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!

Tile Looks

This post will focus on the tile and stone looks from our Fort Collins project that we wrapped up in September. Our in house designer Dusty helped to make sure that the colors and sizes the homeowners had envisioned with their interior designer during planning, could be sourced and met the budget requirements.

Kitchen

Backsplash: Daltile Clio Mosaics Random in Hera

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In our last post we showed off some of the counter tops in the kitchen, such as the waterfall island.  Counter tops: Daltile One Quartz in Morning Frost and Absolute Black Granite. The back splash at the island is the Daltile Portfolio in Charcoal.

waterfall edges

All bathrooms in the house also received the One Quartz Morning Frost for the counter top.

Powder Room

The powder room has a floating cabinet with four drawer fronts however we designed the box to only house two drawers, both the length of the box. Given that it is the powder room, our homeowners felt there wasn’t much need for multiple drawers.  The cabinet wall is floor to ceiling Daltile Clio Mosaics in Hera, the same as the kitchen. On the Floor: Portfolio in Charcoal @ 12×24.

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Master Bathroom

Our homeowners wanted a little color in their master bathroom and to achieve this we went with Dalitle Colorwave Green Parade. It really is a fun accent to the room! On the Shower Walls is Ottimo Elektra Lux and on the Floor is Daltile Avery

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Hall Bath

The upper hall bath in our project has Daltile Bee Hive large format hexagon tiles. We used three colors, Grey, White and AshGrey. On the walls is Daltile Cove Creek Off White 4″x16″ tiles. The cabinet in this bathroom is also a floating cabinets with 4 drawers.

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3rd Master Bath

Several of the tiles in the house were used in multiple locations. For the 3rd floor master bath, Daltile Avery, seen on the floor of the master bath posted above, is used on the walls. Daltile Portfolio Charcoal in 12″x24″ is on the floor and a 6″x24″ at the wall inset. The use of the large format tiles really accentuated the tall walls and gave a lot of character to the space. The shower door is a full swing glass door. The shower wall inset was an idea we had after our homeowners requested a built out shower bench. To save space and avoid any code issues we decided to build into the wall, giving the shower it’s own interesting feature.

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The mudroom and lower level bathroom in the house used elongated subway tiles, also from Daltile.

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Thanks for checking out our tile features!

Next Post: A few photos of the Exterior Details!

 

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

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Kitchen Backsplash

Nook Shelves

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

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waterfall edges

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Pantry

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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!

Curley Metal Fabrication

We work hard to find good people to work with. People who can understand our process, who are interested in what we do, like what we do, and who want to be a part of what we do. We also want to work with people who like  what they do and take pride in their work.

 

IMG_20180523_085740767IMG_20180523_085855307For our Fort Collins project there are exposed beams throughout the home, a custom multi-floor stair rail and custom patio railings going in. We met Ben Curley, owner of Curley Metal Fabrication, about a year before work began. While he does do structural work, he also has several other types of fabricated metal work projects. Projects like gates, metal screens, planter boxes and artistic work. You can see some of the projects he has done at his Facebook page: https://m.facebook.com/CurleyMetalFabrication/

We have enjoyed working with Ben and continue to look forward to working with him throughout this project and in other projects. Everyone we have met on his team have been easy to work with, understanding, competent and responsible. They care about their work, making sure everything is done right and well before leaving and it shows.

Video of the fabrication to come!