Advanced Framing Techniques

After numerous discussions and reviews with the Town of Carrboro regarding lot reconfigurations, storm water drainage issues. etc. etc., we are finally on our way to building two new energy efficient affordable homes  in Carrboro.

There are many features of these homes we are building in conjunction with the Community Home Trust that contribute to their being a great example of affordable Green building. One that will no longer be evident after completion of the home is our employment of advanced framing techniques. Advanced framing (also called Optimum Value Engineering) results in lower material and labor costs and improved energy performance for the building, due to less conductive temperature transfer through the framing components.  Consequently,  effective use of  advanced framing techniques starts with a well thought out framing  design that considers common lumber and sheet sizes. This reduces waste, minimizes cutting and consequently your material and labor costs.  Architect David Ripperton's conscientious design work was crucial in this effort to build with both energy efficiency and affordability in mind.

Advanced Framing

To read more about affordable home construction click here.

Moving Day!

Move-in was on the 15th and it went well. Being in feels very good. The colors work. The floor finish is impressive. The stained finish on the interior doors is beautiful. The kitchen countertop goes very well. It’s been neat starting up all the new appliances. I’ve cooked several meals already. The Zephyr range hood is striking. The built-ins by the fireplace, after getting the books and handicrafts on the shelves, lend that homey feeling.

kitchen-384x2881 There’s a long list of things to do and I’m going to pace myself. Life has been stressful and I’m going to find ways to relax. The landscape infrastructure is unique with gravel pathways bordered by site-made curbs in which tumbled glass found at the landfill got embedded. Site-made stepping stones are at every entryway and pathway. They’ve got embedded river stones and are colored to match the color of the exterior concrete slabs. River stone is also acting as mulch in the raised beds my son and I built. Down the road in a couple of months we’ll start putting in some plantings.

front-path-1-288x3841 stepping-stones-288x3841 Clearing a lot and building from scratch means you sacrifice a mature landscape. Going into an older neighborhood and remodeling a house has its attractions. But this is out of town in the county. So I’ve got an energy efficient house in which I’m looking forward to experiencing the radiant floor heat. There’s also a wood-burning fireplace and the heat pump for backup. The 9’-4” ceiling height, open floor plan, large south facing windows, all give a spacious feeling to the 1800 sq.ft. of living space. All in all it’s unique, special, creative, comfortable and enjoyable.

For a slide show of the construction of this home click here. living-room-384x2881 To read more about this post click here!

Duplex Rental to Single Family Historic Renovation

We just started an exciting new project in Chapel Hill.   Demolition is underway.  This is a beautiful historic district home close to UNC,  that started out as a single family home in the 1930's, but was divided into two rental units about 20 years ago.   The current owners have decided to completely renovate the structure and bring it back to a single family residence again.  That means removing walls, replacing roof, windows, and doors,  reconfiguring traffic patterns,   removing all the existing hvac ducts and equipment,  most of the plumbing  and electric, removing two kitchens, adding a screened porch and deck,  and renovating all the finishes.   The project poses some challenges, but we're confident that when we're done,  we'll have an energy efficient home with all the modern conveniences, while saving much of the character and feeling of the original 1930s home.

Here are some pictures of the exterior of the home before the renovation began.

To read more about this project click here!

Finishing issues with AAC Block

The septic tanks are in. There are two tanks, this being a pumped system in which the septic field is in the upper part of the property. septic-tanks-1 The stucco is on and looks fabulous.  Jose was a perfectionist.  He started with a skim coat of portland cement and sand.  That was necessary to smooth out the imperfections of the AAC block work. Then the base coat was put on.  We used a product by MasterWall, Inc. It came in bags and got mixed with water.  The finish coat by MasterWall is a pigmented acrylic polymer.  I picked out a color that was easily mixed in and put into buckets ready to apply. But Jose wasn’t familiar with the product and that’s where I had to bring in an expert to help.  We rounded the corners of the house. stucco-skim-coat-1 Once Jose and Mike started to trowel and float on the finish, they had to boogie to do the entire wall and continue beyond that corner to a break point. stucco The concrete slab floor was finished last week. The process we did is not for the faint-hearted.  The final result is dependent on the concrete itself and the installation of the concrete months ago.  It is unpredictable how the final finish will turn out.  I went along with the recommendation from the subcontractor.  First was a complete cleaning of the slab, which was tricky since this house doesn’t have a baseboard. Then the floor got stained with the dye.  Following that were two sealant coats and lastly were four coats of wax.  The result is unique. The drywall came out very well.  We glued and screwed it to the exterior AAC block walls.  Bullnose corner bead went everywhere:  at the windows, doors, arches, and passageways.  What I didn’t anticipate was the interior door openings narrowed due to the bullnose corner bead being attached (with adhesive) directly onto the door jambs. The sheetrock mud on it not only narrowed the openings but covered the hinge mortises on the jambs.  Consequently, we had to rip the poplar doors in order to fit and I hung them by securing the hinges directly over the bullnose finish.  In other words, we didn’t mortise for the hinge but it made for easier hanging and the effect is fine.  I am looking forward to putting a stain on these interior doors and a luxurious red on the outside of the exterior doors! Next week the countertops are going in.  The kitchen gets laminate with a wood edge.  There’s so many interesting finishes on laminate I have no problem going with it in the age of granite and solid surface.  I like saving money there.  The vanities will get granite, however.  I found remnants for $25/sq.ft.  And for the built-ins next to the fireplace, I had wood tops made that have been painted the same luxurious red that’s going to be on the exterior doors. The ceramic tile is in.  I did something different with the master shower.  I put a rust-colored metal edge on in lieu of bullnose tile.  It looks real good. We ordered the appliances and plumbing fixtures this week, both within budget.  Shopping was made easier by setting up times with salespeople I know and trust.  The time was well spent and very helpful.  And I got some good deals.  Again, I hold the intention to stay within budget.  In these areas, as in so many areas of construction, you can go crazy spending money.  There’s no substitute for a good salesperson working for a reputable supplier. Interior painting has started.  I got help picking colors from my artsy friend.  I had my own idea of what I wanted but it’s her eye that I needed.  I definitely am not playing it safe.  I really don’t know how it will all turn out but I’m feeling confident. Landscaping is starting tomorrow.    We’ll start with the infrastructure and wait for the plantings until later in the Fall.  We’re going to have to get creative to find a way to accomplish the water element inexpensively. To read more about this project click here!