A small timber frame high performance house in Vermont

High Performance, Timber Frame House in Vermont

By | high performance home, projects, Small house, super insulated, Uncategorized, working with an architect | One Comment

Last week I received these photos of a project I helped out with last year. When I say helped out it really means just that. As an architect, I do very little imposing on clients. I nudge, hint, suggest, recommend, advise but in the end it is their project and their money and people hire me for different reasons. Sometimes it doesn’t go as smoothly as this which ended up being a pretty sweet project and people make some really awful decisions. (you don’t see those projects in my portfolio but all architects have them) These clients live a few hours away in another part of Vermont. I visited them last spring and I’ll make sure to visit again.

Classic New England timber framed house being sided with clapboards
A classic new england house corner

Of all the projects I do, most projects involve some level of client involvement during construction – not just during the design phase. It may be as little as purchasing fixtures and lights and doing some painting but often I design for clients who will be doing the contracting and much of the building themselves. This is Vermont after all. It’s how we roll up here. In this case the young couple had family with timber framing experience, they had survived the house building process as kids and they were ripe for some professional assistance with floor plans, aesthetics and some good solid building science. The result is one of my favorite combinations – good building science, natural building and classical New England detailing and form. And enthusiasm.

unfinished interior of a timber framed house showing air barrier
timber frame and plaster on a high performance home in northern Vermont

Specifics:
This is a timber frame cut from wood harvested on site. The frame is wrapped with a neat double stud detail that puts the intello air barrier in a nicely protected location. Braces are set so that sheetrock can slip nicely behind them saving much labor fussing. Much of the framing lumber also came from the site. Interior finishes are plaster which saved them money on taping and finishing the sheetrock as they were able to do it themselves. Future provisions were made for a mudroom and porches. This house may even end up being net zero. The overall footprint is 22’ x 34’ which seems to be a common size for my work in recent years. I can do a lot with that footprint.
Enjoy.

timber frame detail showing air barrier

This project represents a “limited services” project. My role is to assist where needed but I don’t do full architectural services. My usual role involves lots of help with plans, advice with the building science and buildability aspects of things and helping the clients to keep things as simple as possible. I spend much time as a sounding board. Drawings are fairly minimal and often involves sketchup models and sketches in lieu of construction drawings. I do minimal structural and framing plans, no electrical plans, no interior elevations, minimal specs and schedules etc. We really focus on the core elements of the house. Costs for this level of service range between 2 and 5 % of construction cost if yo want to look at it that way. I’ve done a lot of these projects over the years and I’ve been involved with some really great clients.

ENJOY

DSC_0238

Progress Photos

By | affordable modern, projects, super insulated, traditional vs modern, Uncategorized, working with a builder | 2 Comments

Here are some progress photos on a current project which should interest those interested in building science. The AH project is under construction fairly close to my own home so I can get over there frequently. This will be a fairly modern house with large windows, double stud cellulose filled walls, a high level of air sealing and an amazing three season porch using the Kent Webster’s (the builder) most excellent system of removable panels.

The most interesting thing in these photos for many readers will be the use of board sheathing. Local builders are returning to this method as it provides a vapor open layer in a location within the wall where a barrier to moisture (plywood, OSB) can cause problems in a heavily insulated wall. Plus it’s local wood. plus it’s more fun – carpenters don’t get to cut many actual 1x boards anymore. The exterior will be sealed up with Mento to prevent air movement through the wall – an excellent combination with the board sheathing.

pretty good house, board sheathing

DSC_0211

DSC_0228

DSC_0240

DSC_0254

Perry Road House photos

By | Living in Vermont, projects | No Comments

Some photos from the Perry Road project which is sitting empty and unfinished and for sale UPDATE: SOLD!– (It’s hard for people to earn a living around here so the owners made the decision to move to where they could work.. for money)

Perry Road House in Southern Vermont by Robert Swinburne, Vermont Architect.Perry Road House in Southern Vermont by Robert Swinburne, Vermont Architect.Perry Road House in Southern Vermont by Robert Swinburne, Vermont Architect.Perry Road House in Southern Vermont by Robert Swinburne, Vermont Architect.Perry Road House in Southern Vermont by Robert Swinburne, Vermont Architect.Perry Road House in Southern Vermont by Robert Swinburne, Vermont Architect.

This is a Structural Insulated Panel (SIP)house on and Insulated Concrete Form foundation (ICF) The windows are Marvin Integrity – there are a lot of them although they seem all very logical and needed. Too bad they are not triple glazed. The basement slab is piped for radiant heat, there is an air exchange system, two bathrooms, (plumbed for a third) up to 5 bedrooms, porch and sleeping porch. There is also a lot of land with a stream and waterfall.

Old Fashioned Stoves in New England

By | links, Living in Vermont, Uncategorized | 3 Comments

I grew up in Maine with a large wood cookstove similar to this one.
old fashioned wood cook stove
Cooking in it was sketchy and it was far from tight or efficient. The top surface and oven provided excellent places to keep pies and already cooked food warm on Thanksgiving. My own home has a small efficient and relatively airtight woodstove tucked into the stone fireplace. It has a knurled top surface which makes it hard to even heat water on but it does a good job of heating the house and the front is a large widow so we can watch the wood burn. (nice) We used to have an old fashioned parlor stove but it was too big and inefficient (and a bit scary when it ran hot) It now sits in the barn awaiting installation out there for use during barn parties. Here is what it looked like in place:
antique parlor stove in my fireplace
Please ignore the pink fuzzy slippers and yellow koosh ball. And the socks…
I would love to have a spot in my home for a modern wood cookstove such as this:
Ellis cookstove by Boru of Ireland

Here are some places in New England that restore and sell antique wood stoves.

Once Upon a Time Antique Stove Shop in Vermont. VPR recently did a story on them HERE

Good Time Stove Co. in Massachusetts
parlor stove at good time stove co. in Goshen MA

Bryant Stove and Music in Thorndike ME
wood cook stoves at Bryant Stove Works in Thorndike maine
I purchased my own parlor stove from this place and it is truly amazing. there are not only hundreds of stoves but an antiques museum and a huge room packed full of dolls and gizmos that, when you flip the switch upon entering all erupt into action including merry go rounds, dancing dolls, teddies on airplanes, circus bands….I can’t really describe it well. Here is a Boston.com article that does a better job and an image from their article
Bryant stove Works Doll Circus photo from Boston.com
did I mention Slinkys?

Photos! Stratton Modern is nearly complete

By | projects, super insulated, traditional vs modern, Uncategorized | 4 Comments

I visited a recent ski home project near Stratton mountain ski area to get some photos. The house is nearly complete. As usual there are things I would do differently next time and things that didn’t quite follow the drawings but that’s for me to know and no one else to notice. I really like the “presence” of this house. The coloring and materials are first rate. It is very “touchy feely” and very responsive to the changing light as the clouds raced across the sky. I can’t wait to do the local, green hemlock over Solitex Mento again. and better. Click on the photos for big screen enjoyment.


FALL = Wood

By | mutterings | No Comments

I have been rather absent from both this blog and from my office lately. Fall is a time of “busy” for me. The first cold snap sends me scurrying for my chain saw when I realize I have made little headway towards getting the winter wood supply cut split and stacked. Typically, I fell some trees in the winter and spring for the following year. I also cut a lot of ash which grows near the house, is dying, (?) is easy to split, burns well even if it is not seasoned. Fall is also a time when I realize that we live in a small house and it is a mess. Thus I spend an inordinate amount of time “nesting” Paying work is slim this fall so I cleaned and insulated the basement, then I cleaned and added insulation to the attic. Of course the part of the house we live in is still a mess. Fall is also a time when I like to bake. I don’t know why. I have been baking bread several times a week as well as muffins, rolls and assorted other treats. Perhaps, when I do the lumberjack thing I feel the need for buttered scones with tea.
Bob's woodshed

The Necessity of Good Hydration

By | mutterings | One Comment

Short and anecdotal, this one. Perhaps I need a new category – TMI (too much information)
I live in a small, poorly insulated house with a wood stove for heat. The wood stove is rather small and fits in a stone fireplace. The stove is also fairly new and efficient but really doesn’t hold a fire all night. So…. In the winter when the nights are cold I have a “system”. In order to insure that I wake up at least once during the night to feed the fire I make sure to drink lots of water before I go to bed. The ramifications of neglecting to do this are chilling.
And it keeps me nice and healthy too.

houzz interior design ideas
Robert Swinburne in Brattleoboro, VT on Houzz

Contact

bob@swinburnearchitect.com 802.451.9764 72 Cotton Mill Hill Brattleboro, Vermont 05301