927 Lee Road 268, Valley, AL (706) 773-9274

Buildings Don’t Last Forever

An old falling-down house at the end of its life The old shack above has been around a long time. It still looks good in its old age, but you’d probably have to pour a lot of money into that building to make it useful again. A nice house, in good shape, but… This home looks nice, too. It doesn’t appear to be all that old. The inside was nicely decorated and the family I met there in 2006 seemed happy with it. Despite that, one of the owners told me she had been told that, just because of the…

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Architects and Engineers Must Act

Increasingly strong weather events in the Northeast and Midwest should prompt engineers and architects to design buildings differently. The existing U.S. building stock may not be prepared for climate-related storms and flooding in the future. Photo courtesy of Scott Gibson. In the past seven years, four major disasters have caused serious disruptions in the Northeast and Midwest. Hurricane Sandy slammed into New York City in 2012, inflicting nearly $11 billion in damage to buildings. In 2014, a storm dubbed “Snowvember” dropped more than 7 feet of snow in western New York. Three years later, historic flooding along Lake Ontario inundated…

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Living Building Challenge Met

The ultimate performance. Though a private residence, this home is an internationally publicized Living Building Challenge (LBC) demonstration project. In addition to LBC certification, it is LEED Platinum and Earth Advantage Platinum certified. The Living Building Challenge (LBC)— designed by the International Living Future Institute (ILFI)—is considered to be the world’s most rigorous green-building standard. The LBC is organized into seven performance areas called Petals. They include Place, Water, Energy, Health & Happiness, Materials, Equity, and Beauty. Each Petal is then subdivided into Imperatives, which set specific objectives within those categories. The compound shown here, named “Desert Rain,” was the…

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Current Obsessions: The Countdown

Current Obsessions: The Countdown - RemodelistaIcon - Arrow LeftIcon - Arrow RightIcon - External LinkIcon - MessageIcon - Down ChevronIcon - CloseIcon - Dropdown ArrowIcon - Location PinIcon - Zoom OutIcon - Zoom InIcon - SearchIcon - EmailIcon - FacebookflipboardIcon - InstagramIcon - PinterestIcon - TwitterIcon - Check Mark An icon we use to indicate a rightwards action. An icon we use to indicate a leftwards action. An icon we use to indicate a button link is external. The icon we use to represent an email action. Used to indicate a dropdown. Used to indicate a close action. Used to…

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Dealing With Construction Moisture

Depending on where, when, how fast, and how well you build, construction moisture—sometimes called “built-in” moisture—may require significant one-time management. I learned from my grandmother that my great-grandfather was a Pennsylvania home builder. She told us that he never built a home in the winter; she played in his woodshop much of the winter as he built cabinets, doors, windows, stair parts, and trim for the home or homes he would build when the weather permitted in the spring. This would have been about the turn of the 20th century. I bet he built homes slowly, never closing in a…

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A Case for Composite Wood Siding

Wood is one of the most environmentally benign building products. Not only does it extract carbon during tree growth and then sequester it as lumber, it provides us with a low-polluting, guilt-free renewable resource when extracted from well-managed forests. Unfortunately, in exchange for not cutting old-growth timbers, modern forestry has brought us fast-growth timber with inferior structural characteristics. Because today’s young timber does not make a lasting siding like the old-growth trees of the past, a large market of wood alternatives like vinyl and fiber cement has taken hold. For those who still prefer wood, manufactures now turn wood chips…

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