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.

 

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.

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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!

 

Trusses

This week we put down the bottom sill plate for our first floor and today we began marking out truss locations, and bringing  trusses into the house to set in place. It is exciting to be starting the framing, as lots of people stop by to ask us what we are doing.

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Unveiling

One of the most prominent features of our current project in Fort Collins, is the first level concrete walls. These walls are 11ft tall and except for the front entrance planter (seen in this video) are smooth faced; the planter is board formed. The walls were formed with snap ties and have a very modern look. As we continue to strip away the forms on the walls we will share more videos and photos of this feature!

We also plan to host periodic open houses throughout this project, giving anyone interested an opportunity to come meet us, check out our project and ask questions. We will post the days of these events here and on our Instagram account.

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.

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Standing in the Dinning Room, kitchen to the right.

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

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

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

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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.

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

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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.

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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. 

Summers End

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Summer is quickly coming to an end. We are happy about the cooler weather, and how well our project in Loveland is progressing. We are looking forward to new projects moving along in their stages of planning and we look forward to hearing from you-when you’re ready to build your dream home.