September 25, 2009
I was out to inspect the spread footings today in the Preserve at Pine Meadows and everything looked great. The contractor, Bud Moore with American Craftsman Homes met me out there and we went over the schedule for the reamining concrete pours.
He was very complimentary about how the home nestled into the site and also how we nailed the views from the home’s footprint.
This is the second project that we designed in The Preserve that American Craftsman Homes has built and the third design in the development. We look forward to many more in this great mountain community.
August 20, 2009
The Prairie Style is often associated with Frank Lloyd Wright and the Arts and Crafts Movement of the early 1900s. One of his finest examples was the Robie House with its dramatic overhangs, stretches of art glass windows, open floor plan, and sweeping horizontal lines that echoed the prairies of the great Mid-West. The Prairie style is seen as Wright’s reaction to the overly-ornate Victorian style of the late 19th century. Although it was designed nearly a century ago, the Robie House remains a prime example of modern residential architecture.
Today’s Prairie Style homes include many of the same attributes: shallow-pitched hip roofs, oversized eaves, cantilevered projections, open interior spaces, central chimney massing, minimal exterior ornamentation, and low proportions. Different geometric shapes are often highlighted through window arrangement, columns, low walls and planters, all which create an aesthetically appealing home. Transitions between indoor and outdoor spaces are seamless with broad covered porches and large masonry columns. Large casements as well as rows of clerestory windows are commonly seen in Prairie style homes to provide plenty of daylight for a comfortable interior and also to accentuate its linearity. Massing generally consists of boxed shapes at varying heights and depths. Layouts tend to include open common areas with no hallways on the main level, and a modular grid floor plan using only right angles.
Brick is the most common exterior material used in Prairie Style design, but today many of these homes combine it with other materials such as stucco, stone, or concrete block. The materials were generally light-colored to blend in with the home’s natural surroundings.
August 19, 2009
On Sunday I stopped by the Kershenstein residence to see what progress has taken place. Along with the upper floor framing and upper framed walls, the upper level trusses look to be almost all in place. Also on the lower level, temporary bracing is in place until the stone clad concrete masonry columns are built to support the main level deck above.
August 15, 2009
Habitat for Humanity of Metro Denver offers a service for those renovating a home. They have specialized volunteers who will go to your site to pick up anything that can be salvaged and sold at Habitat’s Home Improvement Outlet. Almost everything can be re-used from cabinets, appliances, hot water heaters, light fixtures, toilets, and bathtubs to doors, carpet, thermostats, and fireplace inserts.
Not only will you be helping the environment, but you will be saving money by reducing demolition costs and you will also receive a tax donation receipt.
Habitat typically offers this service on Saturdays, however they can work around your schedule depending on the size and scope of the project. Visit Habitat for Humanity of Metro Denver for a more complete list of accepted items.
August 3, 2009
With two of our offices in Colorado, we come across a very common problem with Radon in basements of homes.
Radon is a radioactive gas that is present in soils with a high degree of mineral variety. In Colorado, the soils in most geologic zones present the very environment for higher levels of radon to be present. Radon gas is heavier than air, and therefore settles in the lowest areas of a home. As a result, many of our basements wind up with very high radon levels.
Nearly all homes have radon present, however, that does not necessarily present a health hazard. According to the EPA, radon levels under 4.0 pCi/L are considered safe for habitation without any need for mitigation. Well ventilated spaces tend to have fewer issues with radon levels (this is why during a radon test, all windows and doors to the outside must remain closed). However, because of Colorado’s colder climate, many basements are closed up much of the year. For homes with finished basements, a radon test is highly advised.
So what can you do? The best course of action is to address it in the initial design of the home, however, existing homes can also be mitigated. The most effective approach is to install a radon mitigation system. While that name sounds terribly intimidating, it is actually a fairly simple and low-tech solution for a common problem.
The basic assembly is this:
- You start by core drilling a hole through the lower level slab, or the lower level structural floor.
- Then, a pipe (typically pvc plastic) would be inserted into the sub-floor space and would run continuously up and out through the roof of the home.
- An in-line fan can be installed in the pipe that would create negative pressure in the sub-slab space. This system would evacuate the sub-floor air (where the settling radon would be present) and exhaust it outside of the home.
Note: If the soil below the slab is not gravel or a soil type that would allow for good air movement, the effectiveness of the assembly is reduced, however it is still not rendered ineffective.
For more about radon, you can check out the EPA literature . Any home inspection company can provide radon testing and the cost for the test runs around $150 dollars.
August 2, 2009
When I’m requested to investigate a house with structural concerns one of the first things I check is proper floating sill plates on slab-on-grade floors. I’m always amazed how so many basements are finished without a floating sill plate or some way of allowing the slab to move without moving the structure. I believe the problem starts with engineers not specifically detailing a floating sill plate. If they do, many of them are detailing it wrong. Compounding the issue is most basements are finished by the homeowner with the help of contractors with no information on a proper floating sill plate detail.
The first thing everyone must understand is ALL slab-on-grades have a good chance at moving. The amount of movement, up or down, depends on the soil type, backfill compaction and existing or introduced water percentages. A soil report by a geotechnical engineer will typically provide you information about the risk your basement slab-on-grade may move. The risk can vary from low, moderate, high or very high. When a high or very high risk is encountered an elevated structural floor is typically the best choice, so the soil movement does not translate into the structure. With low to sometimes moderate slab risk a slab-on-grade can be used with precautions to isolate the slab-on-grade from the rest of the structure.
The most common error that contractors or even some engineers make is assuming the gypsum board wall sheathing will just crumble if the slab pushes on it. This is not a good assumption to make. Yes, gypsum board is brittle and falls apart fairly easily compared to other building materials, but it does have strength. When the gypsum board is placed full height from slab to ceiling any movement in the slab can be translated into the structure.
Jim Houlette observed this incorrect floating sill plate while working at a previous employer, MNA.
EVstudio | Engineers and Architectures | Denver and Evergreen
QCI Structural Solutions – Residential and Commercial Repairs
July 30, 2009
Are you trying to sell your home and the inspector found a few ‘concerns’? Or maybe, you’ve been wondering about those cracks in the foundation wall and what you should do about it? EVstudio can help you determine the best course of action. Our experienced team can identify any situation and provide you realistic options to correct the structural deficiency, if needed.
The fact is concrete is going to crack. It is typically due to shrinkage during the curing process or from the expected design loads. Residential foundations typically have just enough reinforcement to support the design loads and soil pressure, not to prevent minor cracks.
Another issue lately has been elevated structural floors that have buckled from lateral pressure or have been damaged by moisture. With the addition of vapor barriers below the structural floor, moisture is hindered from entering the crawlspace and stays in the soil. That has improved the crawlspace condition but appears to cause other issues. One issue is when the vapor barrier is wrapped around the steel column. Water condenses on the steel column and damage from rust occurs. I’ve been finding more and more columns that need replacing. To prevent any structural components from being damaged by moisture, the vapor barrier should always be below any structural components.
EVstudio worked with QCI Structural Solutions to repair this home and other residential and commercial projects. They are a great team to work with and has done an excellent job.
Replaced Damaged Steel Column by QCI Structural Solutions
EVstudio | Architecture and Engineering | Denver | Evergreen