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!!

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.

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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!

Energy With A View

When we think of solar installations, we generally think of those big black panels that dot the roofs of homes, buildings and sometimes the roadside. But what about windows?

When Robert Clarke from Alpen HPP LLC (our window supplier), called us up and asked if we would be interested in meeting the VP Sales Rep from Solaria about a new BIPV  (Building-Integrative Photovoltaic) technology they were working on for residential homes, we said yes! Solaria has been talking with Alpen to produce highly efficient windows with a solar grid in them. Not only would you/potential customers be getting a high performance window, but also one that is going to generate energy for your home. The windows have already been installed in larger commercial buildings, one specifically in Japan, you can find the link to the article below. Currently their BIPV glass panels, used in conjunction with standard glass windows are taking the idea of being “green” and “sustainable” to a new level. The panels not only collect solar energy, they provide glare control, thermal performance and effective daylighting (Solaria).

The idea of combining solar windows on a home, while also getting the benefit of daylighting, thermal control and glare reduction desired in a window is exciting. The fact that these cells are unobtrusive to the view is a huge positive. We are looking forward to seeing  how Solaria and Alpen continue to work out the details of making these panels for residential installations.

Here’s Jason, holding up the sample pane Scott Hoover brought over (the image has been edited to show the outline of the cells better. Had this image not been manipulated, you the reader would have thought Jason was just standing there with his arm up for fun-not something he is particularly known for)

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Link to Solaria’s BIPV System in Japan: ASAHI GLASS COMPANY AND SOLARIA ANNOUNCE STRATEGIC PARTNERSHIP TO DELIVER ADVANCED BIPV SOLUTIONS TO THE ASIAN MARKET

Link to Alpen Windows: http://thinkalpen.com/

 

Summer Hustle

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IMG_4693eThese three have been staying busy; unlike the tiny boss chilling in the wheelbarrow above.

Once framing and sheathing wrapped up, we quickly got to work on air/water/vapor sealing, and installing windows, doors, trim and siding.

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The design of the homes exterior incorporates wood, stone and brick. The homeowner had two colors of wood that she stained, one very dark and one very light-you could say it’s black and and white in appearance, but up close there is a lot more color variations including tones of brown and green that help give the homes exterior a very rustic country look.

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Here is a corner photo of the two stains side by side.

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As you can see, there is a lot of character and variation in the color of the siding depending on light and where a person is standing.

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The white siding has also been used as an accent color under some windows. The Cupolas along the roofs ridge provide a bit more character along the gable.

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The rough plumbing and electrical have been completed and we are getting ready to start blowing insulation.

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Just look at that light switch box! We really appreciate the work both the plumbing and electrical contractors have done!IMG_4695e

Here is a photo of the tenting around the fire sprinklers. This is a mandatory step before insulation can be installed. What we are doing, is creating a barrier between the sprinkler line and the cellulose; which will help to prevent/minimize the chance of the line freezing. The netting seen above the line will also be tacked to the studs along the walls, and cellulose will be blown in and dense packed.

Moving Forward in Berthoud

We keep making the most of every day. The insulation is in, the concrete floor has been stained, the septic system is installed, the drywall installers arrived yesterday. We are putting up siding and aside from a set back from our window company, we keep moving forward.

Check out our photos to see what we are up to. Have a question? www.harrington.build is just a click away! We look forward to hearing from you!

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Let’s get Cozy, with Insulation.

Insulation (noun): the action of insulating someone or something.IMG_8878

This is probably the face you make when your home is either too hot or too cold, because you don’t have proper insulation….

There’s a lot of options available to home builders and owners in the area of insulation. Why? Because it’s so important to the comfort and the efficiency of your home. Think about the last time you were in a home, in the middle of winter and the insulation was say, sub-par. You probably considered making a face similar to the one above. Why? Because who wants to be cold in their home, in the middle of winter? What cost is there to having a poorly insulated house? Well, there’s the personal comfort cost. You may spend those cold months layered in thermals, jackets and blankets or more than likely, you spend a lot of money every month firing up the heater every time it gets to chilly. Likewise, in the summer months, you’re plugging in that cooler and running it just to deal with a sweat box…unless you’ve taken it to LEVEL EPIC and just moved the kids’ swimming pool into the living room, just kidding. But let’s face the facts, insulation is important to the efficiency and integrity of any home.

In our last post, we shared pictures of the insulation install on our current project. We blow loose cellulose made locally by Applegate Insulation, and practice the “Dense-Pack” method. Dense packing is an effective way to decrease air flow through wall cavities and coupled with our separate air barrier strategy this creates a robust redundant air sealing approach. It increases a homes R-Value significantly (when properly installed) helping to minimize the thermal bridging experienced in most simple stud cavities. It also helps to decrease the movement of fire through wall cavities that would otherwise act as chimneys, and it is a renewable resource (made from recycled paper products).  Some even feel that the borate (think old borax soap) added to the insulation for fire protection helps to protect the wood structure underneath.  Recently, an article in the Journal of Light Construction reported on a multi-year test comparing thick wall construction types on the east coast. The study found a higher than optimal moisture content in the different insulation types.  The wall humidity tracked higher than thirty percent during portions of the the test period. This year, the test walls were opened up and mold and fungal growth was absent, in the cellulose walls.

We are really excited about insulation and energy conservation as you can see and don’t want our customers making a face similar to the one pictured above!

This Place About to Blow!! Cellulose that is…

We have finally arrived at the stage of building where the homeowner says: Wow! and the employees say “yeahhhh” and everyone who has been in the home up to this point notices a significant change. What change is that? The change brought about by cellulose insulation. Suddenly the cold shell of the house feels warmer, quieter, and more like a home.

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After dense packing the cellulose, we will hang drywall. The homeowner has decided to install American Clay as the finished look for the walls, and will be doing the work himself, as he has chosen certain parts of the project he would like to be involved in. We are basically done here,after drywall installation, while the homeowner finishes his projects and finals the home. Our next projects are coming up quick and we are excited to be moving forward!

Check back for a follow up post about Cellulose Insulation!

Today’s Letter of the Day is… R!!

murray

If you have a small child, chances are you have watched Sesame Street, with Murray who presents the Letter of the Day…or is it just us here at Harrington Construction who get the joy of watching episodes of Sesame Street?

Well let us play the R game for construction, can you name some R things on a job site? Don’t be shy.

Rip Saw, Rafter, Rail, Ramp, Rake, Rendering, Rise/Run….. R Value.

There it is…. a term that gets thrown around just as much as Net Zero, Sustainability and many other construction terms that are of current focus in the building world. But what does it mean?

The R-Value is used to describe Thermal Resistance, or a solid materials resistance toward a conductive heat transfer. More easily said: how well a material prevents heat loss. Usually this term is sided with insulation, however windows and doors have R ratings too (actually, windows and doors get a U Rating along with the R-Value and the system of testing is based also on the thermal transfer of the material.). We know that thermal conductivity is the property of a material to conduct heat, but when thinking in terms of construction materials we are also looking at how well the insulation, insulates against cold or heat. Yes, cold too. As discussed on Energy Vanguards blog: http://www.energyvanguard.com/blog-building-science-HERS-BPI/bid/59419/Big-News-The-R-Value-of-Insulation-Is-Not-a-Constant, when evaluating types of foam and insulation; testing is done with cold on one side and heat on the other. This gives an accurate picture, and by that I mean a test using numbers, that shows how well the material is performing at minimizing heat loss. The better the R-Value, the better your home is performing at energy conservation. This in turn helps with energy bills and the level of thermal comfort you feel in your home.

Materials tested get R-Values placed on them. You may hear someone say; that insulation has R-13, that door R-20. Feeling curious about other R Valued construction materials? Check out this table put together by ColoradoENERGY.org: http://www.coloradoenergy.org/procorner/stuff/r-values.htm

The US Department of Energy published a table, showing the recommended total R-Values for homes. The R-Values are broken up in to eight zones of the nation based upon energy costs, insulation costs, heating and cooling demands and projected energy costs/savings for those areas. Depending on where you live, you will insulate your home differently. A person living in zone 1 (the tip of Florida) uses/installs insulation differently than a person living in say zone 7 (Minnesota). See the chart here: http://www.applegateinsulation.com/Product-Info/Technical-Pages/249732.aspx

When building a highly efficient house, such as a Passive House (which is something we like to build) our goal for the building is a very high R-Value. How do we achieve a high R-Value? We super insulate the wall cavities between the exterior and interior wall and attic spaces, we install triple pane windows (these have High R and Low U ratings), we air seal around gaps, and install moisture barriers. These building practices help create a home that is comfortable in temperature despite the temperature outside.