Addition Stories

It’s been a rough year and we are just 8 months in. Who could have predicted all the wild and unbelievable that has already occurred?! One thing that hit us very personally was the sudden need for one of us to stay home and participate in the homeschooling of our daughter as spring break was extended and then online schooling began. A project we anticipated being a bit faster turned out to take a bit longer when the reality of homeschooling hit. Fortunately, we had amazing homeowners to work with for this addition project!

This home was built about 5 years ago and when we met our homeowners they were looking to extend their living room and extend their office in to a sitting area. Below are a few photos we snapped yesterday of the areas, check them out!

The first couple of photos of are the extended living room. The Structural Beams that were once outside were pulled inside and kept exposed instead of hidden.

In these next couple of photos, the windows were directly behind the barn door seen and the exterior wall for the office ended at the partition seen to the right in the photo. The exterior alcove was pushed out to make space for a sitting space with an electric fireplace to enjoy during the colder months.

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.

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.

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!!

Making it Work

Sometimes on our job sites, we find ourselves coming up with clever solutions to tricky problems. For example, there are several large structural posts and heavy beams being placed throughout our Fort Collins project home, and we found ourselves getting crafty for an afternoon to get them in place. Getting the top beams into place for welding required the use of our truck and a custom made bobcat attachment (see bright yellow unicorn horn on the bobcat below). The attachment was made by one of our own, and has been used for several other jobs-it’s magical, just like a unicorn horn. As Theodore Roosevelt once said, “Do what you can, with what you have, where you are.”

 

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And since it’s Aloha Friday, lets have one last look at the mythical Bobcaticorn…

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It’s so magical.