Babb Custom Homes began this morning to set walls on a new structure in Sunset Harbour, North Myrtle Beach. I arrived onsite at 10:30 am so you can see the progress accomplished in that brief period of time. We have been dodging rainstorms locally as Tropical Storm Isaac blows up the coast of the Atlantic. Putting together consecutive productive days has been more than a challenge for area builders, but the brief respite allow this component construction home to come together nicely. With limited space on the lot, tightly scheduling wall components, building materials, and trusses is essential. The wall panels and bracing lumber arrived yesterday, with the floor trusses and 3/4″ T+G floor plywood slated for this afternoon. Both sets of panels, first and second floors, both exterior and interior walls are stacked and prepared to be erected. This crew is full time employed by Babb Custom Homes understanding the required speed and possessing the experience to benefit from what prefabricated components can add to the construction process. Interesting to note is the center bearing post of the garage being shipped loose so the LVL garage door headers can be set in the notched openings on either side. What transpires onsite is the cultimation of hours of planning and design, with approval modifications, integrating structural and architectural specifications into a cohesive component unit. All that is left is to fit the puzzle pieces together.
Archive for August, 2012
Eric Dunn of Dunn Metalworks has caught the stair manufacturing bug from First Flight Stairs and had his own offering. Although he will occasionally employ labor outside of his own efforts, he is by all accounts, a one man show. It is always a pleasure for me to go back into his shop and see the projects he commissions. Then again, having the talent to work steel into any variety of shapes and configurations must be used for personal use. The beautiful wedding arbor is being made for a family member. I think of the practicality of this gift as surely it will grace the home of the recepient long after its original intention is fulfilled. Usually Eric has several projects going on at once, which is true of any successful production facility. There is something to be said about creating continuity through methodical intervals of revisiting projects during their creation. The mind seeks find the most efficacious method of combining knowledge and talent into a finished product by allowing for different perspectives over time. Working several projects at once generates the synergy required for maximum creativity.
Question: How many employees of First Flight Stairs does it take to set two very large sets of stairs? Answer: Five (not counting myself who just offered my services to transport one of the two sets). Creation of specialty millwork products such as this set of stairs represents only half of the equation for customer satisfaction. The most difficult part is the jobsite installation. Dealing with onsite variables takes as much talent, if not more, than building in the shop. We arrived at lunchtime hauling the cargo securely fastened to the trailers. After preparing the upper surface to receive the top of the stairs on both wings, removing intrusive framing materials, and pealing back wires, the crew was set to carry each set through the front door. Due to the scaffoling base, the stair had to be manually twisted around the center column. Once inside the opening, they were quickly and efficiently tucked into their respective positions and braced into place. Because of the weight of these units, it was decided the precut treads would be field applied. To conduct an effective install job all members of the crew much work in coordination with one another. Playing to each individuals strength, owner Abe White personally supervises to assure all operations meet code and are properly braced both temporarily and permanently. He must remain focused on the present while mapping out the next procedure simultaneously. Unfortunately I was unable to stay much longer than it took to get my trailer unloaded so these photos were only the beginning of the installation. I will return to photograph how the stairs will blend into the structure, creating the dominant “pop” of the homes aesthetic appeal.
As mentioned in the last post, here is the brazilian cherry masterpiece being constructed in shop. Ten of the lower steps are 52 1/8″ wide graduating to 49 1/2″ moving upwards. The risers set at 7 3/8″ make for a comfortable ascent. The “double winder” will complete the open to below balcony with a juliet flare out on both sides of the center. The treads pictured here are beautiful to me in their original state. Looking down the barrel at the texture and grain of this cherry wood, it is almost a shame to apply a finish. It is a rewarding experience to witness the time and care taken to pay this one of a kind creation it’s due. I hope to be able to snap some photos and create a post on the installation process very soon. First Flight Stairs and Abe White, the man who operates the business, exemplify quality and attention to detail as well as integrity on every project they contract.
Finishing up the summer projects at Black Creek and Lakes 50, now making plans for the the autumn rush of new homes, I am excited about the potential of the market for the first time in many years. The magnificent double winder stair going in Black Creek will be featured as they are finished in our shop, and I will take photos of the installation process as well. Several new component construction homes start next week, including mixing ICF construction with interior wooden walls constructed from the Framer’s Series lumber manufactured in the wall panel plant. I am working on shop drawings for the largest single family I have been involved in throughout my career. It is 100 Dunes which boasts 21,700 square feet constructed on 12″ concrete block, a ICF foundation using floor trusses, interior fabricated wood walls, and a massive roof truss system. There will be solid sawn douglas fir timbers over several of the rooms which I hope First Flight Stairs will contribute to the fabrication process. Condominiums coming to Ocean Keyes in North Myrtle Beach have just been released today. Looks like an excellent ending to 2012 and the start of big things to come. Keep tuned in to Timberology as I continued to illustrate craftsmanship in construction.
Nestled in the foliage of historic former rice fields of Pawley’s Island, SC is Prince George. This 1900 acre tract will allow no more than 150 home sites preserving the natural beauty of wildlife and forests. Marking the initial use of wall panels for Classic Commercial a more beautiful setting could not have been chosen. In slightly over one week, the house plans were processed, designed, approved, produced, and delivered. The versitility and consistency of building custom homes using component construction is evident. Employing the use of the Framers Series lumber and optimum value engineering, Classic Commercial is able to offer their clients quality materials in a timely manner. Classic has used engineered roof and floor trusses for years, now adding the planned load transferance through shop built wall panels to their product lines. The day after the wall panels were delivered 3/4 of the walls were set according to the construction supervisor. The time savings on a house of this size will assure all following trades will advance their schedules as well. What transpires is predictable results through thoughtful planning, a winning combination for progressive thinking general contractors.
Here we have two, two story houses starting within a week of each other. Charleston Landing 144 was constructed off of crawl space while Windsong 24 off a raised slab. Both are in “dry in” stage in a week from when they began. Obviously creating square footage multi-level takes slightly longer than ranch style homes. The use of floor trusses allows for mechanical chases where the 1st level is conditioned from the 2nd floor and the 2nd level from the roof. HVAC units are often “platformed” in the roof trusses, stacking bottom chords in this area for insulative values. Component manufacturers are often relied on in the industry to prompt the builder with locations, allowing for servicable access in specific areas designed and loaded for these conditions. Open to below areas, as shown here, are well suited with wall panel exceeding 10′-0″ in height without a floor break becasue of the use of LSL studs and Timberstrand headers. Building habital areas formed by attic frame trusses have increased in popularity in recent years as the technology of engineered lumber products evolve. Even “webbed” areas of these attic frame truss are being pushed further making even more space availiable. In the picture of Windsong 24, combining flat roof girders as the kneewalls of the room with webless mono trusses makes accessibility possible.
A Sunday late afternoon fading into night, warm tropical breezes mingling art with music made for the ideal setting of the Designers Generation’s “Art Saves” show in North Myrtle Beach. Held on July 29th on The Deck at the House of Blues, rain clouds gave way to a clear evening of entertainment for the crowds who attended. I haven’t seen a group of people have so much fun with hula hoops (“made with love” I overheard from the artist selling them) in years. Mesmerized by a young woman named Paisley, I observed her balancing the orb first around her neck then down to her ankles without missing a beat (or touching the floor). During the break between Lunar Fizz leaving the stage and Treehouse taking it, many older folks tried hula hooping but not nearly as gracefully as Paisley. This was a bittersweet event for me personally as it marked the last show orchestrated by my son Michael before moving to Texas in August. When he sat next to me at my table I commented it must be rewarding for him to see his plan come together so successfully. He played it off by saying he just hoped everyone was having a good time because that was the intent. It was good to see such gracious donators, both bands played for free and the HOB didn’t charge for the use of the facility. All this in the interest of young talent, musically and artistical, sharing their wares with whomever came to enjoy. In our conversation, Michael eluded to setting high standards for the next show which he would not be present to participate in. Caught up in this moment of unselfish motivation, I realized sharing talent is rewarding it’s own right, but should never go unnoticed. Thanks to all those talented sharers for a great night and a bright future.