Millhaus

Last week we had the opportunity and pleasure to tour the, in construction, passive home of the architect who designed our Fort Collins Project (See previous posts)!

The lecture was held at Wolverine Farm here in Fort Collins. Emu Systems, run by Enrico Bonilauri and Mariana Pickering are training and consulting with builders, aspiring builders, architects and different trades to help people learn and implement passive haus building systems. Would you like to know more about Emu Systems? Check out their website: https://emu.systems/

The tour was conducted at well known architect Greg Fisher’s soon to be home. As mentioned, Greg designed the Fort Collins project we just completed. He wanted to learn more about passive haus construction processing and certificaion and decided to go all in with Emu Systems to certify his new home. It was a great afternoon watching Greg show off not only his beautiful home but his beautiful craftsmanship! Building a passive haus is a complicated and timely process, it takes a thoughtful approach and it is clear that Greg has the desire to pursue the process with his future designs while using this time building his new home as a learning opportunity! We look forward to watching the process of his house continue and working with him in the future!

Big thanks to Fort Collins Utilities Energy Code Compliance Specialist Brad Smith, who puts on these informative and fun Green Building Lectures that bring folks in from all over Colorado! Want to know more about the Green Building Lecture Series? Check out this Link: https://www.fcgov.com/greenbuilding/

The above excerpt was from 2019 when we had the opportunity to visit the early stages of the Millhaus home designed and built by Greg Fisher. Greg took part in Emu Systems passive house trades person certification and his home build was a pilot project with Emu. Fast forward two years later and Greg and his wife are now living in this beautiful home and we had the opportunity to once again tour it during the Passive House Open House days. Greg’s design and craftsmanship shine so elegantly, and his use of interesting (bark siding) or recycled materials (brick) add to unique story of Millhaus.

There were several groups of couples all very curious about passive house at the tour and we love seeing more and more people interested in utilizing this approach in a new home build! Reflecting back on the tour the one thing that I think about, and this is something that comes up whenever we talk about what passive building or efficient building is, is how complicated the process can seem to folks. Building a house in general, even tradition home building can seem daunting with all it’s stages and parts, but it shouldn’t be! Our approach is to build simpler to build better! The more approachable the concept is, the easier it is to implement. As always, if you’re interested in discussing building an efficient home or passive house don’t be shy, reach out!

Below are few photos from the tour of Millhaus and of some details I really loved as well as a group photo. If you’re interested in more from Millhaus check out Emu Systems Instagram page: https://www.instagram.com/emubldgscience/?hl=en

Big kitchen windows and providing lots of light and wonderful views!
The details on the steel accents are just fantastic
Lots of natural light!
Love this Coffee/Wet Bar with a window that looks into the living room!
I’ve been very excited to see this pantry completed since the framing tour, love the metal mesh and steel beams. This pantry is right in the middle of the home; the entryway, kitchen, hall toward bedrooms, access to garage all move around this central part and it has been designed to be such an interesting feature!
Recycled Brick mixed with the steel beams-love this rustic industrial look that was throughout and a nod to the Millhaus story!
Greg and Enrico opening up the tour with a discussion of design elements and passive house construction (I’m in the back corner with the black shirt, just enjoying the conversation!)

Efficiency

As fall settles in, so does the cold and with that comes the firing up of heating systems. Here in Fort Collins, and likely other cities, we have a TOD or Time Of Day usage rate that increases the utilities rate for electricity during peak hours. In the winter, the TOD begins at 5:00p.m. and ends at 9:00p.m., which makes sense given this is when folks are coming home after a day at work or school and the demands on the grid increase. This TOD rate is meant to encourage folks to be more conservative with and in charge of, their electrical usage during these hours. The city recommends setting thermostats at 68F, opening up window coverings during the day to allow the sun to warm up spaces and preheating the home before the 5:00p.m. rate change and then “coasting” through those peak hours.

One great advice tip that many of us grew up loving to hear from our parents, and the city forgot to mention, is to “put on more clothes” ūüėČ

I’ve read in some local online forums how frustrated people are that these increased usage rates exist, that folks find themselves in the cold dark months layering up, cooking less and avoiding lighting up their homes in the evening-just to avoid that larger utility bill.

As the climate changes (as it always does), demands on our power grid also change. Some years electrical demands in the summer are greater than the winter or vice versa. Regardless of what the climate is doing, one thing that doesn’t change is the demand for stability in the system and this is where building smarter and efficiently is of huge benefit.

We frequently get feedback from the homeowners in our previous builds about how well their home is operating. That even on the coldest days and without a grid tied heating system, everyone is staying warm and the energy bills aren’t dramatically increasing.

Building efficiently with air tightness in mind, with good insulation, daylighting and an overall design that considers how a home is really lived in and used by it’s occupants, helps not just in the winter but also the summer and leads to a more comfortable and healthy living environment overall.

If you’re thinking about building your new home and curious about our process for an efficient home build you can find our contact information on the “Welcome!” page, send us an email and let’s talk about your project!

Let’s Get Visual!

From floor plan to built, there are many steps along the way and creating visuals is one way to help homeowners throughout the building process really grasp the concept of a homes design.

As mentioned in our previous post, we have been finding more and more ways to bring what is seen on a floor plan to life-before the building begins! Being able to see a space in more than one visual representation can be a very useful tool in determining how a space might feel once built. By creating different visuals early on, we as a team (homeowner(s) & builder) have the opportunity to discuss the likes and dislikes and make adjustments that can save on time and costs during construction.

This master closet set up was 3D printed and hand painted for a recent design meeting. It was paired with several other design components, such as a look book with a 3D photo rendering of the space and the floor plan and samples of cabinet and counter top materials.

Reclaimed Corral Wood

We look at old barns, corral fencing and snow fencing and find beauty in the patina of the weathered wood, the chipped paint, the old knots and the rust stained nail spots. We see structures that stood the tests of time, kept livestock , stored equipment and fodder and delineated boundaries and we think to ourselves, “that wood is really something”, and we seek it out, giving these old timer barns and fences that have become dilapidated, abandoned or unuseful a new purpose. Restoring vitality.

Reclaimed wood can have some very interesting qualities to it making it an ideal wood for cladding. For the most part, much of the early barns and fences were built from wood out of slow growth forests. The most common early building wood came from pine, oak and chestnut. The trees from these areas grew taller and straighter and typically had much denser grain. After they were harvested, milled, affixed and matured their resistance to rot and insects increased as did their strength. Reclaimed wood is having it’s day, as more architects and builders look toward “greener” practices and incorporate it into their designs.

Reclaimed Corral Wood out of Montana, sourced by Western Hardwoods in Wellington, CO

On our Steamboat Springs project we have had the opportunity to work with Western Hardwoods out of Wellington, CO for our exterior siding and interior ceiling finishes. For this project we are installing reclaimed corral wood, coming out of Montana. Looking back to last spring, the addition project we did incorporated reclaimed snowfence from Laramie, WY as the exterior window cladding finish. On our Steamboat project, the wood fits so perfectly with the outdoor environment that the mountains continue to be the focal point of the space and the structure itself looks like it has been there for generations. On our addition project last year, the stucco color and overall design/shape of the house incorporated with the snowfence fit perfectly into its prairie surrounding. There’s so much to appreciate about good design and making a new structure fit right in with its natural surroundings!

Reclaimed Corral Wood out of Montana, sourced by Western Hardwoods, being used on the Siding, Sofit and Fascia of our Steamboat Springs Project
Reclaimed Snowfence out of Laramie, WY as the finish detail around the windows of our Fort Collins Addition Project

Have you checked out Western Hardwoods? Every time we stop by it’s to talk about a project, but before we leave we get plenty of lovin’ from the shop horses…I mean the Great Danes ūüėČ and we get to check out all the new creative things taking shape from their talented crew! From custom doors and furniture to mantles, beams and siding there’s a lot of cool things going on all the time over there! I’ve attached a link to Western Hardwoods website, if you’re interested in reclaimed lumber for your next project check them out! https://westernhardwoods.com/

Concrete Looks

For our current project we had to match the homes existing concrete stain to the newly poured floors. To do this, we asked the company that originally did the staining to come back.

Take a look at a couple of the photos of the fresh stain work next to the older work in the two spaces we added on to, it turned out FANTASTIC! As we wrap up the project, we will add more photos of everything together! Thanks to Concrete Visions out of Fort Collins for doing a great job.

When considering reasons for planning a concrete slab as a homes flooring, one huge perk is the Energy Efficiency of the slab. In the cold months the slab retains solar heat. The heat is then released as the interior of the house cools, helping maintain a comfortable temperature. In the summer time, and as long as solar heat gains are avoided (done by selective window placement, exterior facades or interior finishes such as window coverings), the slab helps keep the house cooler. Radiant tubes through the slab, using water, can also play a role in home energy efficiency by running warm water in the colder months and cool water in the warm months.

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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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!

Fort Collins Project: Concrete Floor

Once the walls were poured, we got right to work getting the floor ready to be poured.

Steps that had to be taken before concrete could be laid were: trench for in-slab plumbing, trench for drainage and radon mitigation, backfill, compact, install steel posts and beams, move in and level gravel, lay out foam, lay out plastic, install rebar mesh, install heat loops, and add chairs for mesh.

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Have any thoughts or questions? Let us know in the comments!

Stability

On our Fort Collins project, the homes entryway landing is built up from the ground level. To add stability to the backfilled dirt, we have spent a great deal of time getting chummy with the compactor and we have also added concrete to the loose dirt. Check it out below!

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Here is the space before being backfilled. The entire front section of the home is being built up.

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Once backfilled and compacted, Eric began forming up the stairs and landing.


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There’s more concrete to be poured at the front, but at the moment we have the stairs competed and a small portion of the upper landing.

 

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