Expert advice on remodeling & new home construction, Green Building tips, energy efficiency, opinions, and building industry stories that catch our interest.
Tuesday, December 8, 2009
Condensation on Windows - What's the deal?
Degnan Design Builders Announces Alliance With New Business Associate
AnneMarie received her training at the Colorado Institute of Art in Denver, Colorado. Since graduating, she has built experience through association with interior design firms in Colorado, North Dakota and Wisconsin. She has owned Annemarie Design LLC for over seven years.
Are you choosing to build, update your existing home through a massive remodel--or perhaps a less drastic change? Degnan Design Builders and AnneMarie Design will work together to create a unique and beautiful environment by giving their attention to the tiniest details so that your home will function well, represent your personal lifestyle and tastes, and be attractive to all who enter your home.
Our firms recently collaborated on a condo remodel project in Merrimac, Wisconsin. While Degnan Design concentrated on the construction aspect of the project, AnneMarie worked her charm to create a warm, inviting aura of Wisconsin in each remodeled condo.
One of the fireplaces at Summer Oaks,
a remodeled Condo in Merrimac WI.
General Contractor, Degnan Design,
coordinated the construction
while AnneMarie Design created the
"look and feel"
One of the values we share is that AnneMarie listens until she understands your needs. Her goal is to create a custom environment that is tailored exclusively to your taste, your unique individuality and any special dictates of the space. She provides benefits and needs that become uniquely yours.
A custom look created by
AnneMarie Design LLC
Together, Degnan Design Builders and AnneMarie Design strive to exceed your expectations. We at Degnan Design work out the construction details while AnneMarie devises the look and feel that is distinctively you. The result is minimized stress, an enjoyable remodeling process and the satisfied confidence that a knowledgeable team is guiding you.
Call us when you are ready to begin your next remodeling project. We will be happy to involve AnneMarie in our discussions to guide you with the decorative aspects of your remodel project planning, furniture layout, color consultation, custom window treatment, or to consult on space planning while we put together your remodeling plans.
Visit AnneMarie's website at http://www.annemariedesign.com/ to see more photos of her work.
Visit http://www.degnandesignbuilders.com/ to see photos of our projects.
You can find us on facebook .
Friday, December 4, 2009
How should you build your walls - balancing cost and efficiency?
1) We found out how much foam shrinks over time. In 2007 we remodeled a home where my dad had done an addition in 1987 with 2x6 walls and 1" foam sheathing. When we re-sided, we found that all the seams in the foam had been taped. But, the foam shrunk and the tape broke loose, leaving some gaps and air infiltration. The housewrap will prevent that from happening.
2) On the big house in Pewaukee, we were intentionally redundant. We had a lot of stucco for the finish on that house, and we wanted a bond-break between the foam and the OSB wall sheathing. That house was fully sheathed in OSB, then it has housewrap over it, then it had foam, then the masonry or stucco finish. The stucco wire lath was fastened over the foam, and the stucco will adhere to the foam. The housewrap created a bond break to allow the stucco and foam to move interdependently (a tiny bit) compared to the structure of the house. This will keep the house energy efficient and air-tight and also it will help prevent cracking of the stucco.
3) So my new general rule is this: There should be 2 layers of "something" and the seams should overlap.
-When re-siding a house and adding a layer of foam over existing sheathing, those 2 layers will provide air tightness just by their sandwiching together. Taped seams will suffice for air sealing, and the sandwiched layers of material will provide the backup if there is shrinkage over time.
-When building a new home, if you are using just foam you should also use housewrap, so that you have a redundant air barrier of the housewrap as the foam may shrink over time.
-If you apply OSB to the entire house first, then foam over it, with the seams offset, you should be OK to skip the housewrap in most cases (with vinyl siding or brick, for instance) because the OSB and foam will work together to form a redundant air barrier sandwich. Still, tape the seams during construction, as maybe the foam won't shrink in the future.
4) I also have some possible new methods using spray foam insulation, but that is a whole other story!
Thanks for asking.
Tuesday, December 1, 2009
THE REVEAL! 2009 Green Built Home Makeover
On November 6, the 2009 Green Built Home Makeover turned the keys back over to Terry and Tammy Moss. The family had not seen the inside of their house since the Sept. 25th kickoff. They are excited about their new home, its new look, comfort, and the energy efficiency savings. They have AnneMarie Design to thank for the tasteful décor of the home. The boys’ bedrooms were decorated with new beds and storage pieces from American TV. The entire house was painted and new lighting fixtures and fans installed.
Little Terrell couldn't wait for the "Reveal" to see his new home.
He just had to take a sneak peak.
Abe Degnan of Degnan Design Builders coordinated the project by lining up volunteers and scheduling the crews so the work could be completed in 5 week’s time. It was challenging but particularly important to keep the work flow moving along and overseeing quality control, and that we met the projected deadline for the family to return to their home.
Volunteers, family, and friends gathered at the "Reveal" Open House held on November 6 to see the changes that were made and share the Moss family's excitement.
Tammy Moss, Abe Degnan and
AnneMarie Dresen in Tammy's new living room at the "Reveal"
New beds and storage pieces
Visit us on Facebook!
See a complete list of this year's 2009 Green Built Home Makeover donors. Click here.
Monday, November 30, 2009
2009 Green Built Home Makeover
A South side Madison family is thankful for the best early Christmas gift ever this year!
2009 Green Built Home Makeover kicks off!
Terry and Tammy Moss, with their four boys ages 18 months to 12 years, were chosen for the 2009 Green Built Home Makeover project—now in its third year. Degnan Design Builders with 40+ member volunteers from the Madison Area Builders Association went to work remodeling and upgrading the inside and exterior of this home with energy efficient materials, products, and practices following a September 25, 2009 kickoff. The Moss family was chosen for the Green Built Home Makeover by the Madison Area Builders Association because of their need, their efforts to help themselves, and the ability to significantly transform the home. The family had previously replaced windows and doors and added a garage and driveway. They were trying to do what they could. Terry Moss says that the improvements by the Green Built Home Makeover volunteers will help them financially and to get ahead.
Siding in need of repair ................Work in progress
Tyler from Maly Ceramic Tile Company
volunteers for this year's project
A closet area that housed the old furnace, water heater and washer/dryer was completely remodeled. There were no heat ducts, so the furnace blew only into the living room and not to any of the bedrooms! As long as the kids can remember, they have woken in frigid bedrooms. Now, new ductwork from a new high efficiency Hybrid Heat Pump furnace and air conditioner installed by volunteers from Cardinal Heating and Brown Heating comfortably heats the entire house including the three bedrooms. Terry and Tammy will no longer have to turn on space heaters two hours before their kids go to bed to warm their rooms. For the first time since they have lived in this house, they will all wake up to warm rooms in the morning and dress in comfort.
Thanks to Closet Tailors for
the new closet systems
A tankless water heater and a water softener are now in a small portion of the hallway closet. The water heater provides a continuous supply of hot water for showers and laundry at a fraction of the cost of the old tank – it runs about 38% more efficiently than a tank heater and has no standby heat loss! A new ENERGY STAR stacked washer and dryer donated by American TV sits alongside a cabinet/counter system donated by Closet Tailors. The unit will give Tammy a place to fold clothes and needed storage space. Closet Tailors also installed a closet system in the master bedroom and shelving in other closets.
The bathroom was depressing with a low ceiling and visible mold around a rotting window and on bathtub walls. Volunteers completely gutted the bathroom to remove the damaged materials. Spray foam insulation in the bathroom walls will prevent condensation on cold surfaces, and a cement board substrate for the tile shower walls will never become moldy. A new tub from Renew It was installed along with new plumbing fixtures and an acrylic block window. An air-to-air exchanger provides ventilation for the bathroom and the rest of the home to remove excess humidity and provide fresh air. A colorful shower curtain and new light fixtures chosen by AnneMarie Design set off the new, bright look. Tammy just loves her new bathroom.
A colorful shower curtain
chosen by AnneMarie Design
brightens the new bathroom
In the kitchen, an ENERGY STAR refrigerator was installed, and a new over-the-range microwave has its vent run outside the house to remove steam and cooking odors. The range, cabinets and countertop were in good condition and reused. Tammy will totally enjoy making and serving scrumptious meals with her new energy efficient appliances for her family and guests and snacks for all the neighborhood kids who congregate at their house
Materials that could not be reused were taken by Royal Container Service to their recycling facility in Madison for sorting and recycling. Degnan Design Builders has always reused and recycled materials in their home remodeling projects. This practice will become the standard for all contractors in 2010 when a new Madison City Ordinance goes into effect. The Ordinance will require homeowners and contractors to reuse and recycle all construction materials for 1-, 2- and 3-family dwellings among other types of projects.
While this project was valued at about $50,000, the story is not necessarily about payback on energy efficiency alone. The improvements did result in air infiltration reduction of 24% and estimated energy savings of 15%. But the bottom line is that the home just didn’t work! The furnace and water heater needed replacement. The house is finally set up with proper distribution of heat, and the systems will improve indoor air quality by providing the proper amount of fresh air and preventing mold in the future. The home will be comfortable and safe since space heaters will no longer be used to supplement the bedrooms. When so many maintenance issues exist, it is important to go the extra mile and make the house work properly to be prepared for the next 50 years of its life. Now, that is green!
Watch for the "REVEAL" in our next post.
To see a list of this year's Green Built Home Makeover donors, click here.
Visit us on Facebook.
Monday, July 27, 2009
Degnan Receives National & State Award Recognition
Degnan Design Builders, Inc. holds the distinction of being the winner of three 2007 "A Cut Above the Rest" remodeling awards from the WBA Remodelers Council. Two of these projects received Honorable Mention from the Qualified Remodeler 2008 Master Design Awards. The projects were in the categories of Finished Basement, Green Remodeling project, and Bathroom over $30,000.
Finished Basement project: The goal of this finished basement project was to create a space with the atmosphere of an old Chicago pub combined with an industrial modern influence. The clients enjoy entertaining family and friends. One of their dreams was to have a custom-made restaurant booth for snacks or playing cards. Our clients also had a number of needs including:
-Computer and AV workspace,
-Home entertainment center with HDTV,
-Informal party/entertainment area,
-Game table with reversible top,
-Hot tub area and bathroom/changing room with continuous tiled floor, and floor drain to accommodate wet guests,
-Exercise area with padded workout floor.
All of this was carefully fit into a compact footprint of under 1,000 feet.
Bathroom under $30,000 project: Our clients requested a larger shower and more contemporary finishes. One of Degnan Design Builder’s first suggestions was to enlarge the window looking out of the house. This window overlooked the fenced-in backyard and acres of farmland beyond. The cabinet designer created a furniture look to the cabinetry through the use of bun feet and bumped-out base cabinets on each side of the single lavatory sink.
Green Built Home Make-over: In 2007, the Madison Area Builders Association decided to embark on a philanthropic project that would educate the public about green remodeling and energy efficiency by remodeling a home. The Annual Green Built Home Makeover project came to life. After two months and the help of dozens of volunteer companies and donors, senior citizen, Hazel Tookes, was given the key to her Green Built remodeled home – with more than $100,000 in energy efficient, environmentally friendly improvements.
Wednesday, July 22, 2009
Pewaukee Lake House - Part 2: Insulation and Energy Efficiency
Tuesday, July 7, 2009
Degnan at Extreme Makeover Home Edition - Part 2
Now, 20 people in a 2500 sq ft house may not seem ALL that bad. But, on top of this there were about 10 cabinet installers and another 10 people whom we didn't know what they were doing! So, in fact, there were closer to 40 people in the house, and it was a crowd.
We planned to arrive to the site around 2 AM so that we could begin unloading equipment and start as soon as possible. It was a very hot July, and even in the middle of the night it already seemed warm. As the day continued we were certainly sweating buckets! It didn't help that the super-mix of concrete for the foundation was still curing in the walls and under the floor. So even through the insulation, heat was radiating into the finished basement. Walking into the unfinished basement with no insulation protection was nearly unbearable. I would guess it to be 120 degrees from the heat of the curing concrete in that area, while it was in the 90's during the day inside the house.
We divided into teams and each had our own area of production—window jambs, casing, doors, baseboard, etc. Challenges arose, whether it was locksets that had the wrong setback or window extension jambs that were too narrow. To be honest, I cannot now even tell you how we solved many of the challenges. What's the most important thing is that the work was completed— and it was very well done! The bumps in the road were many, but the finished product would not reveal that story. It was very good!
While we wished to get some rest before our early wake-up call, Anthony and I headed in for the stairway repair. Another carpenter overheard and offered to make the repair to the basement stairway. Anthony and I went at the main level stairs, taking off the 1-1/2" thick treads and replacing them with 3/4" thick ones. When finished with another layer of 3/4" hardwood, these stairs would now comply with code.
While we were working, I heard David behind me talking to the camera. We had been given strict instructions not to intentionally look into a camera if they were near us when we are working - if we are on film, they want us working rather than hamming it up! David approached me and said something like, "We had a little problem with the stairway, but Abe is here to repair it. You can see he's putting on lots of adhesive to make sure there are no squeaks when the house is done, right Abe?" "No squeaks, David!" I replied. Unsure of the filming status, my back was to the camera the whole time. As it turns out, I did make it on film -- just not on the show. Anthony and I can be seen in Veridian's behind-the-scenes DVD that they privately produced.
We thought we were done and packed up our tools and started to carry them out to load up. Soon, a project manager ran out after us and cried, "We need you to tear the basement stairs apart again! The other guys didn't fasten them correctly!" Much to our dismay, at that point (less than 6 hours until we had to be back on site), we found out that while the other carpenters replaced the treads, they did not properly fasten the treads and risers, leaving the thinner 3/4" material to flex. Luckily the adhesive was not yet dried, so our second demolition went much faster. Anthony drove in concealed screws to securely fasten the risers to treads, and within an hour the stairs were finally done correctly!
People have asked me about quality control on these homes. It is my experience that this home had excellent quality control, consistent with Veridian's standards. In fact, every one of Veridian's foremen/supervisors were on the job—someone was there 24 hours per day in charge of quality control, and that is how the stairway error was discovered, checked, fixed twice, and re-verified. The home was tested by Wisconsin ENERGY STAR™ Homes and a private, independent building inspection team was on site 24 hours per day to handle any inspection issues so work could continue. While errors certainly did happen, I choose to focus on the way that they were fixed. In any home, the final product is what counts. Errors can be fixed when they are caught, and the team was there to make sure it happened!
So we finally packed up our equipment after fixing the stairs, grabbed a late dinner around 9:00 PM, and then headed to a nearby vacation cottage belonging to one of Mike Twohig's employees. We wound down, got about 3 hours of sleep, and did make it back to the jobsite for our 3:00 AM starting time. And going full circle, that is how this story began.
Tuesday, June 30, 2009
Green Built Home Makeover 2008
Wednesday, May 6, 2009
Pewaukee Lake House - Part 1: Overview
There are 5 separate elements to the design: the "storybook cottage", the "chapel", the "barn" garage, the "English Manor", and the "new timberframe." The challenge was to make these parts of the house into a cohesive whole, but to have the house represent a creation that was added to over time. It is as if these separate, smaller buildings were moved onto the site and connected together over time, in a slightly hodgepodge way as was often the pragmatic way of our forefathers.
The clients were inspired by their trips to Europe - specifically the Cotswolds in England, but also trips to Italy. While the Italian Villa was considered, in the end the old English cotswold style won out, with a bit of storybook imagination added in.
- Material choices
- Geothermal heating & cooling
- Solar panels - PV & domestic hot water
- Radiant heat
- Creating a gymnasium under the garage
- Framing a curved roof
- Timber framed great room
- Wainscot details - using barnboards and creating perfect corners that Tom Silva would be proud of
- And more...
Please subscribe and stay tuned!
Friday, May 1, 2009
Degnan at Extreme Makeover Home Edition - Part 1
The story of the demolition was a "Storybook Demo" because the owner, Shelly Anders, is an elementary school teacher. It was a little like "The Little Engine that Could" since there was a small excavator "learning" how to tear the house down with the help of a bigger excavator. As we were back from the center of the circle formed around the Design Team, we could hear little of the story until we actually saw the TV show several months later.
- Good quality control - the stairway example
- The night of trimming.
- Home - for a while.
- Punch list - the most thrilling part, got to see it all!
- An hour in the bedroom with Paige Hemmis. Installing furniture.
- Who else was there to help... Bob Degnan, Andy Schneider, Nick Hoehl, AnneMarie Dresen, her brother-in-law(?), Jon Benninger... more...
Thursday, April 23, 2009
Sun Porch Conversion using Mon-Ray Glasswalls
Degnan Design Builders, Inc. complete a project converting a screened porch into a 3-season sun porch. Ten years and several cats had abused the old screens to the end of their life.
The cause & solution depends: Is the frost on the storm window or on the interior window? Frost will almost always appear on the storm window and it usually indicates that the interior window is working OK! That's because it is keeping the heat in the house and the storm window is the cold surface.