A Better Way to Build

By | business, education, Food for thought, high performance home, Passive House, projects, super insulated, working with a builder, working with an architect | 3 Comments

We are starting a new Bluetime Collaborative project here in the Brattleboro area. This will be a High Performance house that will provide the chosen team including myself and the builder the opportunity to refine the integrated process that goes with building a HPH. We don’t know yet if this project will be built toward any certification such as Passive House or Efficiency Vermont’s High Performance Home program. That question will be addressed early on in the design process.

I reworked my contract quite a bit to set up and guide the process better than a standard contract does. This includes fleshing out the design process, what to expect and when, expected meetings along with the purpose and goals of those meetings and finally, guidance with selecting the right contractor for the job at the start of the project – meaning at the start of design.

I am fortunate to live and practice in an area with an impressively large number of excellent builders with a high level of interest and enthusiasm for building science and green building and training in Passive House and high performance building. I have been finding that I can’t or rather, shouldn’t, as an architect, design and detail a HPH without the full partnership of the people who will be doing the actual building. I can’t draw up a set of plans and send them out to bid. There are many conversations to have during the design process with the builder and a high level of builder competency and knowledge is required.

The process of designing and building a High Performance Home requires a level of integration between architect and builder that is uncommon. In the past I have followed a more traditional approach, working with the client to develop a design then taking it to one or more builders to price and build. This is the normal way things are done and many builders and architects prefer this approach. I have decided however that to provide the level of service and quality of product that I want to be known for, a truly integrated and refined process where the builder is retained at the very beginning, provides expertise, guidance, cost-benefit analysis + research support from the very beginning of design is necessary. And I provide similar through construction.

The result can be much more time and resource efficient process, a more refined and well designed project, and overall, a higher level of control and accountability for the builder, the architect and most importantly, the client.

For this project, I introduced my clients to three such general contracting firms and helped them interview all three. The first meeting was with Josh and Gero of Mindel and Morse Builders – a firm that have worked a lot with. I was a carpenter with them in the late nineties after architecture school. The second meeting was almost immediately after that with Scott and Gabe of Mathes/Hulme.
I had done the Brattleboro Tiny house with them several years ago when they were just getting started on their own and we have been looking for a project to do together ever since. Later in the day we met with Chad of Vermont Natural Homes (who built the Greenfield house) at his own straw bale home complete with an amazing spread of hors de vors (thanks Carly!) Wish I had gotten a pic of that.

All three firms are super-professional and very supportive of each other. There is an impressive culture of support among many local builders locally with a monthly building science group that supports continuing education and discussion. Firms often help each other out with manpower and expertise. This project can provide an excellent case study and learning opportunity for the local building community.

Over the next week, the clients were further wined and dined by the builders with house tours and the clients were starting to realize not only that they were in good hands but that they had a really difficult decision to make in choosing which builder to hire.

So now that I have put some serious pressure on myself (and the builder) to do an awesome job, I will reveal that the clients have chosen Mathes/Hulme who are now busy writing up a pre-construction agreement which will be a further definition of their role in the process that I introduced in my own proposal. I haven’t had a conversation with the clients yet about what tipped the scales toward Mathes Hulme. I tried to remain very neutral during the interviews which was rather easy as I was just pleased with the opportunity to work with any of the firms.

I will be meeting this week with Gabe Hulme and Mel Baiser of Helm Construction Solutions, a construction management firm that both Mathes/Hulme and Vermont Natural Homes use. We will discuss first steps, who will be doing what and when – process and scheduling. We will discuss how communications will be handled (we might give Slack a try) and generally mapping out the next few months. I have been sketching – schemes, sections, details etc to start that conversation with the builder before I refine it a bit and present to the client.

Stay Tuned!

Here is an article about High Performance Homes in ISSUES in Science and Technology

Building a High Performance Home with an Integrated Team from Robert Swinburne on Vimeo.

The Field

By | Food for thought | 2 Comments

In varius varius justo, eget ultrices mauris rhoncus non. Morbi tristique, mauris eu imperdiet bibendum, velit diam iaculis velit, in ornare massa enim at lorem. Etiam risus diam, porttitor vitae ultrices quis, dapibus id dolor. Morbi venenatis lacinia rhoncus. Read More

Amazing post with all the goodies

By | Food for thought | 2 Comments

In varius varius justo, eget ultrices mauris rhoncus non. Morbi tristique, mauris eu imperdiet bibendum, velit diam iaculis velit, in ornare massa enim at lorem. Etiam risus diam, porttitor vitae ultrices quis, dapibus id dolor. Morbi venenatis lacinia rhoncus. Vestibulum tincidunt ullamcorper eros eget luctus. Nulla eget porttitor libero. Read More

Nulla fringilla magna

By | Dining, Food for thought, Gaming, Music | No Comments

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Morbi vitae dui et nunc ornare vulputate non fringilla massa. Praesent sit amet erat sapien, auctor consectetur ligula. Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Sed non ligula augue. Integer justo arcu, tempor eu venenatis non, sagittis nec lacus.

Aenean laoreet tortor

By | Food for thought | No Comments

Vivamus risus mi, lobortis ut congue vitae, vestibulum vitae augue. Maecenas nunc odio, pulvinar id vulputate nec, porttitor at quam. Suspendisse vulputate diam eu leo bibendum feugiat. Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Sed non ligula augue.

Read More

Aenean laoreet tortor

By | Food for thought | No Comments

Vivamus risus mi, lobortis ut congue vitae, vestibulum vitae augue. Maecenas nunc odio, pulvinar id vulputate nec, porttitor at quam. Suspendisse vulputate diam eu leo bibendum feugiat. Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Sed non ligula augue.

Read More

Mauris pharetra interdum lorem

By | Dining, Food for thought | No Comments

Quisque at dolor venenatis justo fringilla dignissim ut id eros. Quisque non elit id purus feugiat vestibulum. Phasellus eget sodales neque. Morbi eget odio nec justo consequat gravida. Phasellus dolor nisl, venenatis eget euismod et, dapibus et purus. Maecenas interdum nisi a dolor facilisis eu laoreet mi facilisis. Read More

Robert Swinburne in Brattleoboro, VT on Houzz
Robert Swinburne in Brattleoboro, VT on Houzz

Contact

Robert Swinburne Architect, LLC AIA, NCARB, CPHD, DAD bob@swinburnearchitect.com 802.451.9764
Browse Home Office Products on Houzz- For Example: