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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40,000lbs of Cellulose

What is one of the most exciting, most fulfilling, most…most…acchhoooo.

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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.

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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!

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“Baby It’s Cold Outside” has been the jingle on our minds at our Fort Collins project these last few weeks. Between adjusting to winter temperatures and crazy winds that blow down from the mountains, our work space has been just a little chilly and most days we look like we may have added 10lbs to our person just in winter layers!

Last week we installed the large glass window/doors that over look the patio deck. This large glass fixture is on the South Side of the house, so during those chilly winter days the homeowners will benefit from the heat gains at this location!

Check out our super fun process photos and a few other window shots!

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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.  

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

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.