Building Resilience

The climate of the planet is changing. The heat causes more intense weather conditions such as hurricanes, storms, fires and other anomalies. The political divide is astounding regarding climate change. But while people are arguing over weather or not it is happening, or what is causing it I start to wonder, is there anything we are doing to adapt to these new planetary conditions? Building Resilience is an initiation that started in New York after Hurricane Sandy in 2012. City planners got together to figure out how they could prepare New York City for sea level rises and heavy storms. This idea has spread across the globe from Barcelona to Colorado.

Building Green California Fires

Combating Fire is difficult in a drought.

Building Resilience is affecting large cities from things like flooding but how does that translate to home building? Are there steps you can take to protect your home against the growing intensity of Earth’s weather conditions? On July 8, 2019, Building Green posted an article that you can read here describing the importance of building resilience and what home owners can do to prepare their homes for the coming changes.

The Building Green article states that San Francisco was the first city to appoint a chief resiliency officer. The resiliency strategy here in The Bay Area is focused on combating increased drought, fire, sea level rise, and of course, the ever impending earthquake. There are large scale issues that a city like San Francisco faces like people living in buildings that are too close to each other or in need of repair. This could lead to collapse during an earthquake or fires to spread more quickly.

 

Building Green Protect the Planet

We have to take care of the planet we have.

 

One city initiative in Marin County enlisted the help of a heard of goats to eat dry, dead grass to help protect against wildfire. I was fortunate to see this gigantic herd of goats while walking my dog. It was quite amusing watching the herd of goats graze as a group of confused dogs at the dog park looked up the hill with perked ears and heads cocked to the side at the sound of the Billy Goats “Baaaah”. Perhaps you do not have the property or the patience to enlist a herd of goats to help protect your home, fortunately there are some things you can consider when building your home.

Here, in the Bay Area we have no shortage of hills. When looking for a property consider living as high above the sea level as possible. This is an advantage in California that many do not have in other coastal cities. Routine clearing of dry grass and shrubs will create a barrier and help protect your home against fire if you live on a large property. Dirt can be an unsightly landscape design, but you can consider options such as concrete, tile or a succulent garden to separate your home from fire.

It is important to have someone knowledgeable at your side when you are building your home, to not only have a home that lasts, but to have a home that keeps you and your family safe while doing your part to protect the planet. Richard WOdehouse has 44 years of experience building custom homes and has all of the latest knowledge on building green homes.

For more information on how to consider climate change during your home building or remodeling project, visit Building Green.

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Environmental Factors in Home Building

The report below is an example of how much detail and care go into the construction of a custom home. It is not as simple as designing a home then going in to build. As we discussed in the last blog, there are many factors to consider when building a home. The location, the environmental threats, height, size, and geographic location are just a few factors that must be taken into account when building a home. It is also always important to remember that while cutting costs may save you money now, it can cost a great deal more in the long term. The damage cutting corners causes can often times lead to families having to take out a mortgage,  sell their homes or worse, go into foreclosure because the fix becomes too great a burden. The following is an (edited) report authored by Richard Wodehouse, Principal of West Coast Project Management. This home most likely had faulty stucco used at the time of the build. This coupled with the wind is starting to cause some potentially costly issues. 

Remember to consider the weather.

This residence is a three story contemporary design with large glass fenestrations facing the direction the winter storms attack this site from. It is located in such a way that it catches the full brunt of wind and rain. In the winter of 2018/2019 the San Francisco area receive unusually frequent and strong storms with record amounts of rain.  There have been an unusually high number of failures in homes resulting from the rains, landslides, and leaks.  West Coast Project Management Inc. has been called to investigate and repair other weather related problems in the area.  Roofing and waterproofing contractors are booked for the entire season.

GLAZING:

I observed that most of the north facing windows and doors had failed in that the dual glaze panels exhibited  a “rainbow effect” which is caused by the two panes of glass touching each other.  The cause of the collapsed glass is typically the result of the perimeter seals on the dual glazing failing and the gas encapsulated in the space between the two pains of glass escaping allowing the glass to bend towards each other from wind pressure.

As I will elaborate on in the discussion on stucco following, it is possible that moisture allowed to come into contact with the edge seals of the glass panels has exacerbated the rate of deterioration of the perimeter seals allowing the gas to escape.

STUCCO

I observed that the stucco on this residence was the synthetic type that was popular during the time this home was constructed.  The dominant product name at the time was Dryvit, a type of EIFS wall system that used foam insulation panels with a thin coat of an acrylic coating that mimics stucco in appearance.  

There were extensive lawsuits regarding moisture problems related to the use of this EIFS system.  If there are any areas where water can enter behind the acrylic coating it is trapped as this coating is non-breathable and therefore the moisture stays inside the wall potentially and probably causing damage to any surface it is touching.

The home showed signs of white discoloration around stucco cracks which is evidence of water  that entered elsewhere exiting at various locations on the North facing wall.

DECK WATERPROOFING FAILURE

There is evidence indicating that the deck extending out on the north elevation allowed water to penetrate the building.  I did not attempt to find the cause of this leak as the owner at the time had extensive plastic tenting covering the deck. (end of report)

It is likely that the owners of this home were not the one to have the stucco put in, but they will be the ones to pay the price. This is why it is so important to have an experienced and knowledgeable project manager or owner’s rep helping you build your home. A good project manager knows which corners are ok to cut and which ones you cannot. 

San Francisco is windy and damp year round, but the Bay Area is filled with micro climates. Marin, for example, is substantially warmer and sees a great deal more sun than San Francisco. The beach areas have the added difficulty of salt in the air which has its own set of challenges to consider. Sonoma county and Napa are considerably hotter and drier. Richard Wodehouse at West Coast Project Management Inc. has over 45 years of experience building custom homes, in many different climates. He is passionate about building custom homes and cares about homes being built to last, and built with the most recent technology in energy efficiency. 

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Differences in Architecture Across the US: Which Style is Right for You

Recently I have been traveling in the midwest. I am a Southern California native so I am always taken aback by the lovely brick homes and basements in more eastern regions. It makes me think about the differences in home architecture in the midwest vs. California and the different needs for safety and architecture styles when considering home design. 

The biggest difference between common homes in the midwest and homes on the west coast are basements (what are those? You mean they have a greater purpose than storing wine?). Many people I talk to from the midwest are surprised to learn that basements in California are not common. Brick is seen all over the Midwest because it is more likely to withstand tornadoes, but is not seen very often on the west coast because it is not suitable for earthquakes as there is not much give to it. If you live in a small town or rural area you may not need an advanced security system, however, if you live in a crowded city this may take priority. There are many things to consider when building a home to make sure it is safe for the area you are building in.

However, there are differences in architecture across the US depending on climate and culture. For example, houses with a triangular roof are more ideal for areas where it snows. There is a little more upkeep required when you live in a building with a flat roof to ensure the weight of snow doesn’t cave in your house. Adobe style structures, reminiscent of the Native Americans, are popular in the Southwest where it gets incredibly hot in the summer. These style houses help trap in the cold and the clay coloring fits in with the desert landscape. 

Construction Project Manager

A superb home in which Richard Wodehouse was the construction Project Manager. Lovely winter getaway that blends into its surroundings.

Then there are cultural differences in architecture across the US. Architects Greene and Greene designed the Craftsman style house in California which is why they are most popular out here. Spanish and mission style houses are more popular in California because of the Spanish influence in California and Mexico. Greek democracy was a large influence on architecture in the United States in the 18th and 19th century. This is why there are many homes and buildings on the East Coast that have features that mimic greek buildings such as columns or pillars around the house, pediments above doors, and even large porches. There is also the obvious nod to Greek architecture in state government and federal buildings like the buildings in the National Mall. More colonial style houses are popular on the East Cast where those designs originated, along with the shingle mansions on the coastal regions designed to fit in with the landscape. In the 1920’s art deco style structures swept the nation and these style buildings can still be seen from coast to coast and are represented in Malibu homes and buildings like the Chrysler Building in New York. 

Of course with the move of technology and advances in home building, you can see any of these styles outside of their origin. It is important to have a project manager or owners representative when building a home that is familiar with the styles of architecture and methods of building in the region you plan to build your custom home. Homes on the coast in Big Sur and Marin need to be able to withstand salt and sand as the waves carry it through homes. Many neighborhoods and regions have certain requirements like stilts or height parameters. If you want to build the custom home of your dreams and you have a specific style in mind Richard Wodehouse from West Coast Project Management has years of experience building custom homes in snow area like Telluride Colorado, the Spanish style homes in the posh Rancho Santa Fe in San Diego County, and where he is located now in Marin. 

Art Deco style home

Before building a home, research all of the different styles out there, see what will work for you and your family. Then consult with a seasoned professional to work out a plan on how to build. If you are in San Francisco, Tiburon, Napa, Sonoma, Berkeley, or Marin consider consulting West Coast Project Management for your home building needs. 

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Building Green’s Top 10 Products for 2019

Building Green recently published their top ten energy efficient products of 2019. If you would like more information on these products you can watch the video from Building Green here. However, the following are the products and what they replace (in no particular order):

10. SolarEdge EV Charging Single Phase Inverter- This replaces the standard home outlet for charging vehicles or difficult to integrate renewable energy and EV charging stations.

9. Industrial Louvers Custom Aluminum Sunshades- These sunshades offer an answer for buildings with no exterior sun control.

8. Rheem Prestige Series Hybrid Electric Heat Pump Water Heater- To replace the old standard water heater.

7. Superior Essex Red List Free Communication Category Cable- Use these cables to replace PVC-coated high voltage copper wiring.

6. Rad Power Bikes Red Wagon- These fun bikes can help cut down on energy, traffic, and car usage.

5. Shaw PVC-Free Resilient Flooring- This flooring can replace vinyl resilient flooring

4. Urban Mining Northeast Pozzotive Ground Glass Pozzolan- Replacing high global warming potential concrete.

3. MSA Safety Chillgard 5,000 Refrigerant Leak Monitor- Reduces your risk of high global warming potential refrigerant leaks.

2. NantEnergy Zinc-Air Smart Energy Storage Systems- Replace toxic lead-acid batteries.

1. Seool  Semiconductor SunLike Series LED- Get a more illuminating and less offensive light than regular LEDs with these.

http://www.seoulsemicon.com/en/

Seool SunLike LED

Whether you are building or renovating a home, or just want to learn new ways to help lower your carbon footprint, these are great alternatives to outdated energy uses.

If you live in the Bay Areas of Berkeley, Tiburon, Marin or San Francisco, and you are in the midst of or thinking about building the custom home of your dreams, make sure you have a knowledgeable project manager or owner’s representative to help you build an energy efficient home.

There are plenty of places to cut costs when building a home, but cutting costs at the expense of our environment does not need to be one of them.

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Efficient Home Walls: A Good Construction Manager Knows These Rules

Efficient Home Walls: A Good Construction Manager Knows These Rules

If your building or renovating a home in the Bay Area and are installing walls in your home, you might think “can’t be that hard to do right?” You’ve seen it in the movies or on TV, maybe even in real life. You nail in some studs, put up some drywall and you’re done. Right? What can be so hard about a vertical structure that supports weight and keeps out the rain? I hate to burst your bubble if you wanted to try DIY home walls, but there is much for a Construction Manager to consider if you want walls that will last and prevent things like leakage and mold.

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