Monday, October 30, 2006
Sunday, October 29, 2006
They not only design your project from scratch, but also spend time with each client to determine their specific needs, lifestyles, priorities and budgets to create a custom room, addition, renovation or entire home. Residential designers may best be described as a cross between an architect and an interior designer. The interior of your project is equally as important to them as the exterior.
Q: Why seek out a residential designer to design my project when so many contractors offer free design advice as part of their service?
A: Contractors generally tend to fill a client's requests in the most straight forward manner possible, keeping things simple to avoid confusion and spending any more time than they feel is necessary. Getting the job and building it are usually their number one priorities. By contrast, the residential designer's whole purpose is to sit down with you and work out your design puzzle in its entirety, with the emphasis on finding the best solution rather than the most obvious. A residential designer will creatively present options to you and point out their advantages. Helping you understand the complexities of the project fully before it goes to bid ( or worse, gets built) prevents misunderstandings and possible regrets about your choices.
Q: But isn't using a residential designer expensive?
A: Not at all. In addition to saving time and effort, it often saves you money. Most quality contractors are thrilled to get well-documented, professionally designed plans. They recognize that detailed plans with full specifications and interpretive detailed drawings result in a smooth-running project. A client who understands and wants exactly what he is getting saves the contractor from the potential barrage of change-orders, time and money over-runs, and bad feelings on both sides that can easily result from misunderstandings and/or ambiguities. Having accurate plans before the bidding process even starts makes it easier on the contractors AND the client. If multiple bids are obtained, everyone is bidding on EXACTLY the same materials, brands, models, quality expectations, etc.
Q: So when should I bring in a residential designer?
A: You should select and employ your residential designer as soon as possible. You need to have a basic idea of what you'd like to accomplish, but skilled questioning by the designer to help determine your hidden wants and needs is a very important part of the process. An incredible array of products is available and getting guidance from a professional saves you time and money. Questions about your site, lifestyle, budget, quality expectations, creative solutions, or suggestions for new/specialized products may even trigger your looking at your project in a whole different light. The designer takes practical everyday usage, future growth or change in use, and yes, even resale possibilities into consideration when creating your final design.
Q: What is the range of services that a residential designer typically offers?
A: It varies, but generally includes development of design options, schematic sketches, preliminary design presentation, final plans with notes and specifications, a custom lighting and electrical plan, miscellaneous details as required, interior appurtenance selections and schedules, all permit-ready.
Working with an experienced. residential designer should be a priority if your expectations are for a "one-of-a-kind" building project. He will be the first and most important member of your project team. The planning and building of any sizeable project involves large sums of money, many hours of honest communication, hundreds of decisions, and can take many months or longer to complete. The entire process should be taken very seriously but it should also be fun. After all, the designer's reputation is also always at stake.
Optional services would include, but not be limited to, color renderings and sketches, assistance in appurtenance selections and interior design, contract negotiations with your contractor, and project observation throughout the construction.
Saturday, October 28, 2006
"So here I stand before you preaching organic architecture: declaring organic architecture to be the modern ideal and the teaching so much needed if we are to see the whole of life, and to now serve the whole of life, holding no traditions essential to the great TRADITION. Nor cherishing any preconceived form fixing upon us either past, present or future, but instead exalting the simple laws of common sense or of super-sense if you prefer determining form by way of the nature of materials..."Frank Lloyd Wright, An Organic Architecture, 1939
Frank Lloyd Wright used the word "organic" to describe his philosophy of architecture. It was an extension of the teachings of his mentor, Louis Sullivan, whose slogan "form follows function" became the mantra of modern architecture. Wright changed this phrase to "form and function are one," claiming Nature as the ultimate model.
Although the word "organic" is now used as a buzzword for something that occurs naturally, when connected to architecture, it takes on a new meaning. Organic Architecture is not a style of imitation, but rather, a reinterpretation of Nature's principles to build forms more natural than nature itself.
Just as in Nature, Organic Architecture involves a respect for natural materials (wood should look like wood), blending into the surroundings (a house should be of the hill, not on it), and an honest expression of the function of the building (don't make a bank look like a Greek temple).
The Philosophy of Organic architecture continues today through the work of hundreds of students of Mr. Wright.
2. Buy ENERGY STAR®-rated appliances. Compared to a 1990 model, an ENERGY STAR-qualified refrigerator would save enough electricity to light a home for more than four-and-a-half months.
3. Repair leaky fixtures: one drop per second from a leaky faucet can waste as much as 10 gallons of water each week.
4. Install low-flow showerheads, faucets, and toilets to reduce water consumption by as much as 50 percent.
5. Choose carpeting, rugs, window treatments, and other textiles made from natural fibers, such as cotton or wool, which are untreated and free of toxins.
6. Ask for flooring products made from rapidly renewable resources, such as bamboo. Bamboo is one of the fastest growing plants in the world, requiring no replanting and little fertilization.
7. Select solid woods harvested from sustainable-managed forests for furniture or cabinetry, rather than pressed woods or composites that may be toxic and hazardous to your health.
8. Eliminate waste by choosing products that are biodegradable or recyclable.
9. Recycle packing and shipping materials from any newly purchased items, and safely dispose of paint cans and other containers with contents that could potentially contaminate the ground or water supply.
10. Turn down the thermostat. Lowering it by just one degree can reduce heating energy costs by about four percent.
Wednesday, October 25, 2006
- Accessible entrances and main floor doorways must be at least 36 inches wide with at least one zero step entrance.
- Main floor hallways must be at least 42 inches wide.
- There must be at least one bedroom and one bathroom on the first floor with a doorway at least 36 inches wide. This bathroom must have a minimum 48 inch turning radius (standard wheelchairs need 60 inch turning radius, motorized wheelchairs need a 72 inch radius).
- There must be accessible electric switches on the first floor. Recommended height is 48 inches maximum and outlet height should be between 18 and 24 inches.
- The kitchen must be accessible with a minimum 48 inch turning radius.
You do not need to incorporate all of these criteria into your new home to enjoy the benefits of lifetime Design. If you carefully examine the criteria, you will notice that the main concern is space. Simply start with a wider hallway and wider doorways is an excellent start. Add in a bedroom and full bath on the first floor and you are well on your way to having a home you can live in for a lifetime.
Tuesday, October 24, 2006
Friday, October 20, 2006
Strength: ICF walls benefit from concrete's inherent structural qualities, particularly important in regions affected by severe weather. A reinforced concrete monolithic concrete wall offers far superior strength and safety when compared to wood construction.
Lower Utility Bills: The combination of a continuous concrete wall plus the integral interior and exterior insulation provides superb energy efficiency.
Indoor Environmental Quality: ICF's energy efficiency translates into more even, consistent temperatures throughout the home. Outdoor pollutants can be kept to a minimum - particularly important to allergy sufferers. A fresh air exchanger (strongly recommended) helps regulate humidity in the home for maximum comfort.
Soundproofing: With several inches of concrete sandwiched by foam insulation, ICF homes are typically quieter than neighboring homes built conventionally.
Environmentally Friendly: The use of wood products is significantly reduced and far less fuel will be required to heating and cooling. Concrete homes are a Green method of construction.
Fire Rating: Three hours protection from a 6" concrete wall.
Thursday, October 19, 2006
Friday, October 06, 2006
2006 Fall Parade of homes was a success we had two homes on the parade this time. Our Craftsman Style was with Arlington Homes, LLC and our Prairie Style was with Scott Bronkema Builders again. We are proud to have provide architectural design services to these two talented builders. Our parade house with Scott Bronkema builders is entered in the People's Choice Awards this program gives the public an opportunity to judge participating homes. All entries are judged on their own merit, not against each other. And our parade with Arlington Homes was Energy Star rated.