our house 2

Phase Two again began with demolition. The proposed changes to the existing ranch portion of the house were so extensive that a full gut down to the studs made sense. For the insulation, I obtained a large quantity of salvaged rigid foam sheets that I installed between the studs and rafters, followed by cellulose, and […]

our house 1

It had long been a dream of mine to build a home, and managing my own project should be easy, so I thought. But project management requires a lot of time, and for a do-it-yourself-er that’s in addition to one’s regular job. As an architect, designing one’s own home has been likened to a surgeon […]

starchitecture

The recent passing of Zaha Hadid at so young an age was a sad stroke for architecture. She burst onto the scene as a student with designs that seemed to defy gravity. Her exuberant imagination and play of form could be seen in each new built work. But I’ve only seen her work in photographs, […]

according to plan 2

Specific planning strategies include the notion of servant and served spaces. In home design, utility spaces such as mud room, laundry area, bathrooms and closets can be grouped toward the less desirable side of the house, leaving the served or living spaces to occupy the prime real estate. This split might occur along the line […]

small building company

One summer during college a couple of friends and I built a potting shed in the backyard for my dad. His passion was sculpting bonsai trees, including making concrete pots to house them. We called it the house of two birches wedged as it was into the corner of the yard between existing trees. I […]

to bid or not to bid

For many homeowners a competitive bid is an appealing notion. After all, we all make cost comparisons while shopping. The difference in custom home building is that an estimate is based not only on a product but also on a service. What assumptions have been made within a given price? How timely and attentive to […]

builders & managers

  One of the key aspects of a successful project is hiring a good contractor, a role that requires a range of skills. I’ve done it myself, I’ve been on the other side as a customer, and I work on the other-other side as an Architect. With the type of work we do, I find […]

degree of difficulty 2

Complexity of form and detail increases the cost of a project, so clean and simple lines should be cheaper. However, what in finished form appears minimal, in process often requires more time and precision. Trim carpentry typically hides all of the gaps, out-of-plumb and out-of-level exigencies of construction assemblies. Take that away for a crisp […]

degree of difficulty 1

Back in Canada I worked for an Architect who once likened the practice of architecture to Olympic figure skating. In it there is technical skill, finesse, creative interpretation, performance, competition, and success is in part a judgment call. In scoring one looks at all of those elements and judges not only the execution but the […]