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Most of the work we have been focused on has been new construction. It isn’t that we have anything against remodeling existing structures. In fact, I have great respect for the reworking of a building. This changed after a phone call from Shannon Bloemker. Truth be told, I didn’t even have a chance. First of [...]
Most of the work we have been focused on has been new construction. It isn’t that we have anything against remodeling existing structures. In fact, I have great respect for the reworking of a building. This changed after a phone call from Shannon Bloemker. Truth be told, I didn’t even have a chance. First of all, Shannon has a unique and powerful mixture of being extremely smart as well as thoughtful and generous. She charmingly ignored my standard response that we do not work on remodels, as she began to describe a dream project.
She and her family had recently purchased a home in Piedmont that they fell in love with. It had been carefully designed and well built in the 60s. However, it needed some revisions to make it work functionally for their family. They wanted to rework the home to make it “a modern version of itself”, while making it healthy, energy efficient and conserve water. They were committed to making the home LEED platinum. They wanted to reuse as much of the existing materials as possible, just move them around to rework them into a new design. I was extremely excited to begin this new challenge with Shannon and the Bloemker clan.
Our initial design work had the goal of minimizing the footprint of the home on the site and maximizing the usable, permeable landscape. We reduced the existing home’s footprint area by moving some of the spaces from the ground level to a new second level. While we loved the design, we noted that we had gotten away from the intimate and peaceful scale of the original home. We therefore went back to a strategy of maintaining the existing home’s profile, but adding some space by transforming the existing garage and making it living space. We reworked the design to sculpt new interiors and more connections to the outdoor courtyards and decks, making more of the home feel like it is connected to the beautiful landscape. Similar to boat designers, we looked at each of the interior spaces to figure out how to get more out of less and how to make each space feel larger than it is, allowing us to build less and have less energy and materials required, but without giving up a grand sense of space or functionality for this family of 6. This new approach feels right.
LEED for Homes on a remodel is tricky, especially with the goal of Platinum. There are many points that make sense on new construction that do not make sense when it comes to a remodel. However, we have a great team who are helping to make sensible decisions for the long term. Both Shannon and I plan to share our experiences on this blog as we move through the process of construction documents through construction. I am sure we will be learning a lot through these adventures and look forward to sharing it all with you (all the good and the bad). The more we share about the process hopefully leads to refinements that makes it easier and more accessible for all to have better environments.