Check out clips from our recent open house.Read More
Step One: Budget
No matter the size of the project, an appropriate budget should be the first thing you establish, for all projects you can do this yourself. During this preliminary stage, through careful research you can establish an initial project budget, then once the project design gets moving along you can contact a local contractor for more a more accurate budget.
Step Two: Feasibility Study
Can your project be accomplished? While your project may sound like an amazing idea, that doesn't mean it's feasible, like commercial ventures in the middle of a residential neighborhood. Although it sounds great to be able to walk two doors down to the grocery store, in an established residential neighborhood, it is highly unlikely it would ever be permitted by your jurisdiction! Do your research first, or hire a professional to do it for you. Spending a little time and/or money now could save you from going down the wrong path in your investment.
Step Three: Contractor or DIY?
You may not have a choice about which route you take, but either route you need to know exactly what you're signing yourself up for. From financing, to permitting, to ground breaking and beyond, it may all be your job. No matter what though, you need to be clear on who's responsible for what, because soon your contractor will be on your speed dial and talking to them will likely become a daily routine. Be sure to interview several contractors, getting along with all parties involved will help to ensure the success of your project.
Step Four: Design
Depending on the scope of the project and your own abilities, you could execute this yourself. However, depending on the complexity of the project you may want to consider interviewing and hiring a design professional. This nominal cost should result in a better design and help avoid extra costs as your project is being built. Keep in mind, there are many types of projects that by law require the stamp of a professional thus ensuring the safety and welfare of the occupants.
Step Five: Permitting
This may not even apply to your project, but it does apply to most. This step is integral and should be started as soon as possible. Depending on your jurisdiction, and the complexity of your project, this process could take just a matter of days, to months, to quite possibly even years, the whole time costing you time and money. Doing a thorough Feasiblility Study should inform you of the task you have ahead of you at your planning and development departments.
Step Six: Ground Breaking!
Now, this might not be a very big deal for some, as they are now set to build their backyard chicken coup, but for many others, this is the project they've dreamed of for years and now they're finally going to watch (or literally make) it take shape. This can quite literally be the most exhilarating, and exhausting, months, or even years, of your life. Although this is a momentous occasion and worthy of celebration, you should be sure to take the time to mentally prepare yourself for the task ahead as it will likely test you. Many people come out of it ready to start their next big project, like both Sean and I, however, just as many come out with more grey hair, or less hair(!), and a tremendous sigh of relief and thanks that it's finally done and they'll never have to go through it again! Whatever the outcome of your emotional state, in the end, you will be overjoyed that it is all over and done with, and, if you took the proper steps, it will have been a successful and far more enjoyable process. Keep in mind why there even is the saying, "On time and under budget," and why it's regarded as such a good statement to be able to make!
After all these steps have been taken, or taken into consideration, I hope you are able to enjoy your chicken coop, remodel, new house, or maybe even your new grocery store, or at least the profits from your well thought out venture for years and years to come, I know I will!
Being one of the older neighborhoods in Bellingham, South Hill residences have seen a lot of remodels over the years. A 1-1/2 story craftsman style home is about to go through a major transformation. The current residence is being taken apart piece by piece to make way for a 2-1/2 story modern home. The residence will have a similar footprint and take advantage of the views there are to offer. Stay tuned for more new to follow as this haven is getting built!
Buildings are generally comprised of straight lines and measurable distances to discrete points. In the design of buildings, we generally do not get to work with curving shapes very often because of this. For a recent small project, we were asked to create a landscaping plan which contained a large amount of curving geometry. This was a bit of a learning process but the final result will give the owners a very organic backyard space where they can enjoy their beautiful gardens and tall trees.
A lot of progress has been made to Sean & Jaimi's Traditional Net Zero Haven since our last post a couple of months ago. The roof is on, windows are in, insulation is in, drywall is up, the rain screen is nearly complete. And more importantly, the solar panels are up!
The 33 panel system will create an average of 25kWh every day. With electric appliances and heat, it's not clear how much the energy the Hegstad family will use annually. But with rebates currently available, the Hegstad's will receive an annual check from PSE based on the kWh their panels produced.
Solar panel technology has come a long way in the past few years. Previously, it was only recommended to install solar panels exposed to the south and propped at an angle equal to your latitude. For us here in the Northwest, that means 45 degrees (or a 12:12 roof pitch), which is steep. On the Hegstad Residence there are three locations of solar panels: one catching the suns energy from the east, one from the south, and one from the west. And they're not at a very steep slope either.
The next steps are to install the exterior siding and all of the interior trim, cabinets, fixtures and appliances. The exterior color scheme has been narrowed down to two options, but I'll leave the surprise for next time.
Haven Design Workshop has been in the process of creating a new office space for the past few years. While it has taken some time to find the right site that would accommodate the new workshop and living spaces, the goal is closer to being constructed.
Since purchasing a corner lot in Ferndale on the corner of Second Avenue and Eaton at the end of 2015, the team has been working out the specifics. The new office, with 1,000 square feet will be an upgrade from our current 500 square feet of workspace. Though we’ve been able to make it work comfortably, the larger space will allow for a separate conference room from the work space, more storage space, and more work space for each team member.
There will also be three townhouses, and two lofts as part of the project. Each unit will be about 1,250 square feet and have an open living area with kitchen, eating, entertaining space, and deck/patio, and three bedrooms and two baths. The two buildings, each containing three units, will form a central court.
With construction projected to start this fall, Haven is hoping to be in their new space with the next year.
Haven switched to using SketchUp and Layout for both the design development (DD) and construction document (CD) phase back in 2008, after lack of enthusiasm with 2D drawing programs. The programs are intuitive to use and backed with friendly customer service, and they allow us to accurately model the entire project. This helps to convey the experience of the space to the client before construction is even begun. We’ve realized the benefit of using SketchUp for a long time. What we didn’t realize until attending SketchUp Basecamp this year was how few people are using Layout to create their drawing sets, especially construction documents.
SketchUp is an easy to use 3D modeling program that is widely used by a variety of disciplines. Layout was made to create drawing sets from this 3D model. By setting up scenes in the model and importing this into Layout, you can even create an intricate set of drawings like construction documents. This keeps the drawings accurate and allows opportunity to visually portray the feeling of the space while containing technical information as well for contractors to build from.
Below is an example of the difference of using Layout. The first two images were drawn with Layout and the second two images are from a 2D program that we previously used. While both are beautiful in their own right, using Layout certainly helps add depth to the drawings. Everyone has different abilities of being able to visualize a space from looking at a flat 2D drawing. By using a variety of 2D and 3D scenes, we're able to convey the character of the space.
Stephen and I both have had the opportunity to attend the SketchUp Basecamp 2016 held in Steamboat Springs, Colorado. While we use SketchUp and Layout everyday for our projects, we are always looking for new ways to expedite our workflow, and be inspired by what is possible with these awesome programs. We have seen so many awesome presentations in two days and have already been given new ideas to improve our process, and better convey that information to both our clients and contractors.
We've had a lot of fun and have really enjoyed what the Steamboat Springs area has to offer. Last night we got to take a gondola ride up to the Thunderhead Lodge to connect with other SketchUpers, and enjoy a fantastic meal while taking in the breathtaking views below. SketchUp pictionary was pretty fun too!
We have two days left to enjoy the beautiful Colorado scenery and continue to have our minds be blown with the possibilities of SketchUp. We're looking forward to bringing all of this enthusiasm and knowledge back to Haven!
Sean's personal residence is coming along very quickly now! In these latest photos you can see all the walls are up, the rain screen is nearly finished, and the roof is on! There has been much progress as well since these photos were taken just over a week ago which has now gotten the home to the lock up stage! They are on target to have the home finished up and move in ready by the beginning of this next school year! It has been so great watching the progression of this innovative, yet still traditional home!
At just past the framing stage on Sean's personal residence he decided it was time for us to get out from behind our desks and get our hands dirty! We had long since planned to assist in the build of Sean's home so as to better understand the construction process in order to improve our working drawings. The time has now come and it was a great change of pace! We worked on the rain screen on his home which was explained in detail in our last blog post and will be back in two weeks to continue our work!
Part 2: What it means to be Net Zero and how this will be achieved in the Hegstad Haven
There are many defining factors that go into creating a Net Zero home, today we will take a deeper look into the home's exterior walls. Firstly you need to create an efficient envelope, this is done with the use of extra insulation, thicker walls, and the reduction of thermal breaks throughout.
To get the higher quality envelope we made a thicker exterior wall, however, we needed to make the construction as affordable as possible. In order to meet this goal we first started with you typical 2x6 exterior stud walls at 16" on-center, as framers can build these walls efficiently. On the exterior side of this wall we have added 2x4's running horizontally at 2' on-center. By adding these we have given added protection against thermal bridging on this portion of the envelope. Next we added a Zip-System sheathing to the exterior instead of plywood and building wrap, doing this does not give added R-Value, but instead gives a much higher resistance to any water penetrating through this layer as the sheathing is factory coated with a water proofing membrane. On the exterior of the Zip-System there will then be a rain screen for added protection against moisture becoming entrapped within the walls. The rain screen also helps to further reduce thermal transfer and since it is very simple to construct it does not have a nominal effect on the overall cost. Finally, there will be hard board added with wood siding to complete the exterior finish. Overall this will make the exterior walls approximately 8 3/4" thick, not including interior drywall. Now, prior to adding the interior drywall the cavity of the wall will be filled with High-Density Cellulose. This was chosen over traditional fiberglass insulation for several reasons, one being that spraying in the insulation coats the 2x6's and 2x4's and all their joints, which is where the majority of your thermal bridging occurs. Another reason for choosing High-Density Cellulose is that it is only 4 PSF. Typical fiberglass insulation is heavier and eventually starts to sag under it's own weight, creating entirely uninsulated cavities at the top of your walls! Lastly, it is made of, up to, 85% recycled materials, helping to reduce the overall carbon footprint of the new home. All this forward thinking will bring the envelope of the home to an insulation value of R-27, rather than the standard R-21, making the exterior envelope of the home very well insulated with little to no thermal breaks and little to no chance for moisture to become entrapped in the walls, which is of extreme importance in our moist climate!
Self-reliant urban homesteadingRead More
Located in the high desert of Arizona, 90 miles north of Phoenix, the town of Arcosanti offers an alternative approach to urban living. Started in the 1970’s by Paolo Soleri, an architect, planner, and artist, envisioned a living environment with urban density that offered connection with the landscape and with the greater community.
Soleri’s concept of arcology (architecture+ecology) has been the major driving force behind the design of the town. Which is evident when looking at it’s organic form and natural building materials. Local silt has been used in making concrete for the structures which helps it blend into its landscape. Moving away from the standard grid pattern of the rest of urban America, the pathways meander between buildings, creating opportunities for public and private spaces.
Like any viable town, there needs to be some sort of industry or work besides just providing for daily living. Arcosanti has been largely funded by it’s bronze bell casting business, as well as hosting workshops that focus on Soleri’s ideas of arcology and alternative building methods.
Soleri’s vision was to create an urban village for 5,000 inhabitants. While current infrastructure is home to 150, the master plan with a 5,000 inhabitant capacity is slowly being implemented. Thousands of guests visit every year to learn more about this alternative form to urban living.
How to Provide Affordable Housing with Good DesignRead More
Part 1: So we’re just going to start from the beginning, the very beginning.
In the beginning God created the Heaven’s and Earth… and then God said “Let there be light” and there was light. God saw that the light was good…
Okay, so maybe we don’t need to start quite that far back, but still, light would be what started this project and many others like it, which we will delve deeper into in the next part of this series.
Sean and his family had been living in their custom home that Sean had designed out on acreage in Ferndale. Well, since building their home in 2008 their needs had changed significantly. They were now looking at selling their home with the goals of building their new home closer to school and work, reducing their mortgage, and designing and living in a Net Zero home. This would significantly reduce their travel and monthly expenses and allow their money to go toward other goals. As part of their mortgage reduction goal they had decided to fit their new Net Zero home into a $300k construction budget with an additional cost of approximately 35k for the solar panel system. And they did it!!!! In the end Sean and his wife Jaimi purchased a reasonably sized and priced lot in NE Lynden that is much closer to their children’s school, a more reasonable commute for Jaimi to work, and closer to their extended family, but unfortunately a little more of a commute for Sean, but hey, not everyone can just walk through their yard to their office! And! Although the overall size of their home is reduced, it’s still a very well planned use of 1,948 sq/ft, and Sean, being the space planning genius he is, was able to fit an additional 588 sq/ft 1 bdrm. apartment (ADU) above their garage in what would have otherwise been lost space. Now this space, once rented out, will be used to reduce their monthly mortgage expenses by nearly 50% and more over time instead of just being attic space!
It can be hard for some to imagine when looking at a raw piece of land the immense amount of changes that will be going on there and before you know it a whole new house is constructed, but for Sean, Jaimi, and their 2 kids, when they found their spot they were able to each stand on a corner and imagine this as their new Haven. The ground was broke this last week for their foundation, which was so satisfying to see as they had, had the pleasure of being able to stake out their home site themselves and really have that “moment” with their family when you stand back and get to truly build that excitement as you take that last look before the plunge!
Home site all staked out and ready to go!
Freshly dug foundation!
Part 2: What is means to be Net Zero and how this will be achieved in the Hegstad Haven
With the new year behind us, the team at Haven recently embarked on a planning retreat to Mt. Baker with the intention of considering how to best move forward in 2016. Haven is in the midst of transition from an outbuilding at Sean's previous property to what will be an exciting mixed use development in Ferndale which will include townhouses as well as the future office. With this in mind, there was much to consider to both prepare for the new location as well as continue to provide excellent service at the current temporary location.
But first, we needed to get out in the snow and do some team building by going snowshoeing! The weather on this day was less than cooperative: we encountered a steady slushy rain on our heads and snow as soon as we left the car. The plan was to walk up to artist point
but as we got more and more soaked by the rain, we quickly decided to turn around after we briefly took shelter under the protective porch of an old lodge belonging to the resort. We had a quick snack there and enjoyed the view and a few laughs about how wet everything was, demonstrating by wringing out our gloves like a wet towel. Despite the wet, we had a good time enjoying each other's company and the fresh air and exercise that the mountain provided us.
After making it back to the car and changing out of our wet jackets, we headed down the mountain to the town of Glacier and the popular skiers destination Chair 9 to have lunch and a focused planning meeting. We discussed how we might continue to improve Haven's image and good community standing, evaluating which strategies were working and which ones we might consider no longer pursuing. With the launch of our new website, we are excited to increase our internet presence and play a more active role in the content of our pages. We are also looking forward to continuing our ongoing partnerships with some of our best networking and resource partners such as sustainable connections. There was positive discussion on how each team member's position might be improved, helping to share the workload evenly. The discussion was lively and productive, helping us to establish a clear direction for the future of Haven.
A new website for the new year.Read More