In making my rounds at jobsites this morning I witnessed the erection of ICF walls being set at 100 Club Drive. With the floor system decked, the next order of business requires the exterior walls to be placed into position. Looks remarkably like a huge Lego kit, the styrofoam outer blocks being separated by plastic spacers, but once the concrete is poured in them they become a solid entity. Able to withstand extreme weather conditions, the ICF walls eliminate dust and drastically drop utility bills while making a home a soundproof fortress. Tomorrow the approval process of the interior wooden wall panels continues with corrections of adjusted plate heights. The roof over the garage has become somewhat of a hotspot as the ICF end wall is balloon framed and having this independent roof area manufactured and delivered would coordinate the process.
One of the most beautiful and awe inspiring recent creations from our shop is the formation of a wrought iron balustrade for a client in Carolina Forest (hey Rosy!). Balustrades differentiate themselves from conventional stairway balusters in that they are welded together to form a flowing pattern versus vertical oriented pickets. Each set is uniquely handcrafted commanding presence on the entry of the home. Wrought iron has a rich history, dating back to Roman times where it was employed in iron gates or to tie together masonry arches and domes. The significance of wrought iron over cast iron lies in it’s tension qualities against cast iron primarily compression qualities, making it far more durable. The pattern of this particular stair rail accentuates symmetry and sweetness of the line following the rails ascent to the juncture of the open balcony. The curved stair has been in place for several weeks now, the nosing and floors being installed, awaiting it’s crowning piece.
Floor installation continues at the 100 Club Drive jobsite combining steel support and LVL’s to form the girder system. Eric Dunn with Dunn Metalworks was chosen to weld and drill the steel beams for appropriate wood facing to receive the floor trusses. Craned into position, both the 3 ply LVL’s and steel with hangers premounted, floor truss placement begins. As shown in the illustration, flat roof trusses oriented in the 1 1/2″ direction allow for the 7″ drop in the theatre room and in the bathrooms 6″ drops for the showers. The mechanical “basement” is large enough for accessing HVAC and plumbing / wiring issues that may present themselves in the future. Once the floor trusses are decked, progress can be realized on the ICF exterior walls which has already begun in the rear garage area. The process of confirming the interior wooden wall panels and subsequently the roof system will have 4 to 6 weeks to develop prior to their need onsite. The douglas fir heavy timber trusses which will adorn the great room, dining and sitting room are being engineered to meet schedule once the ICF walls are in place and delivered with the roof trusses. Custom home building requires special attention to details. It can be somewhat of a moving target with changes occuring in the different phases of construction as plan meet reality. A perfect example is the impact of the chandeliers on changing the plate heights of this structure. Rod Edwards, the general contractor on this project, has great perception of the requirements of his client, making these changes seamless in their execution.
The poignant aroma of seasoned wood greeted anyone entering our shop for the last few days. Reclaimed heart pine is the species of the lastest First Flight Stairs creation, which makes for a difficult choice of which I enjoy the most; the smell or the beauty of the lumber. Using reclaimed lumber is an ecologically sound decision by recycling and reusing lumber that would have been burnt or scrapped into a landfill. Heart pine can have areas that are very dense due to heavy concentrations of sap. It is more dense in comparison to new lumber, being fully seasoned makes in stronger and stable as well. It adds a special charm to any home it graces with the knowledge it was around in another form as far back as the eighteenth century. Reminants of it’s previous life are shared through nail holes and grain pattern variations. The rustic apperance is milled and planed into a product, such as these stair treads, prove this timber still has plenty of life left.
The next step for 100 Club Drive is preparing for sitting the girders into place. The inside of the 12″ CMU walls will have single ply (1 3/4″) LVL’s attached for perimeter bearing conditions. Meanwhile, the main support system which are 3 ply (5 1/4″) 20″ deep LVL’s are to be connected in place before being positioned by crane onto the piers. Floor truss hangers (over 1000) will be applied to the assembled LVL’s prespaced 19.2″ o/c making the process of setting the floor trusses as effortless as possible. These composite beams are very heavy and using the crane to set them is a huge timesaver preventing backbreaking manual handling. There are a number of steel beams which are to arrive next week so having the wood framing portions ready in advance takes advantage of the crane being needed for setting steel. With the exterior walls being ICF, the drawings and approvals for the interior wall panels is my next step for staying ahead of the construction schedule. ICF wall construction will take approximately 3 to 4 weeks once the wooden girder system is in place. This will allow enough time to prepare for the interior wall panels to be closely reviewed and manufactured. Coordination of the massive roof truss system already designed will be scrutinized in conjunction with load transference through the walls to the foundation. Varying plate heights, even lighting fixtures selected, are all part of the approval process upcoming next week to assure the premanufactured wall panels are correctly sized and ready to be built.
Work on the foundation is being conducted in the Dunes Club, 100 Club Drive in Myrtle Beach. It is very exciting to be involved in a project of this magnitude. This is a 21,700 square foot home built under fortified home specifications. The 12″ concrete block foundation will be followed by a LVL pier system topped with 16″ deep floor trusses specially designed for 7″ drops in the theater room and 6″ drops in the showers. An ICF wall system will be installed with the interior walls constructed out of Framers Series wall panels of varying plate heights before the massive roof truss system is installed. On my visit to the job site entering from the left side of the structure, I mentioned to Rod Edwards, the general contractor with Innovative Design / Build, that the walk seemed like a football field. He corrected me by saying converting from feet to yards the distance was actually 75 yards. A house of this size takes time to develop especially considering the unique specifications presented. We started in earnest April of 2012 by presenting numberous elevations to the homeowner on the basis of the architectural floor plan. Structural engineering was developed with major considerations given to load transference and hurricane anchorage in this 150 mph (20 mph higher than the code of 130 mph for the fortified home compliance). Approval drawings were submitted and reviewed for months leading up to this stage of construction. It is fulfilling for me to see all this work forming the plan, but not half as thrilling as seeing the components placed into action as the house continues to materialize. I will continue to document the progress in future posts…
Certainly has been a long time since my last post. I could say I have been extremely busy, or a variety of other excuses, but being preoccupied with the barrage of incoming jobs is a great thing for me. It is indicative of an economy which has moved in the right direction in comparison to recent years. I don’t know if this is just pent up demand or not, surely the confidence of buyers has increased for my marketplace of custom single family homebuilding. Anyway, I am thankful for either or both.
This component construction home in Dye Estates is Energy Star compliant, designed and built by standards above most other homes on the market today. Exterior walls constructed from 2×6 Framers Series lumber allows for increased R value insulation. Ladder wall construction shown here is used at intersecting interior panels, while “L” shaped two stud corners create a pocket for insulation damming and reduce lumber use. Infiltration barrier blocks the moisture laden air that increases the homes humidity along with reducing air leakage. In addition to insulating at the tees and corners, it is also important to insulate window and door frames, both above and around these openings. The 2×6 exterior walls provide space to accomplish this.
There is a third party inspection required to qualify the home for the Energy Star rating who will ensure the general contractor meets the necessary criteria. Once certified, the homeowner will enjoy years of reduced energy bills while taking the enviromentally correct path to sound construction techniques. When the new building codes are institued, expect this type of construction to be required, not optional. Those general contractors now utilizing Energy Star requirements will be well above the learning curve. Component construction takes the trial and error stage out of the equation by manufacturing wall panels in a factory controlled environment aided by computer generated specifications. Roof truss design is changing as well. The “heels” of the trusses (over the wall height) will be increased so that insulation can be continued uniformly along the top chord of the truss, thus increasing it’s R value.
First Flight’s millwork shop crafts a variety of specialty items including this set of nightstands to match the existing decor of a clients home. Working with maple offers challenges, even the soft maples are harder than many other hardwoods, such as cherry. Hard maples by comparison are distingushed by small knots appearing along the grain, often referred to as “birds eye maple” The ability to match corresponding pieces of the unit make this fine furniture exclusive as well as unique. Utilizing full extension slides allows the full depth of the drawer to be exposed, something you cannot acheive with other drawer mounting techniques. Typically, the strongest joints need to be between the front and sides as this is where stress occurs everytime the drawer is opened or closed. The mechanics of operation and the fine tuned individual selection of matching components separate these from mass produced counterparts.
Identifing potential geographic hazards and preparing against their effects is the foundation of the fortified home program. Fortified housing undergoes rigorous multiple inspections to maintain specific standards for certification. The protective measures taken to assure against wind, water, and fire far exceed code requirements. Walls, openings such as windows and doors, along with the roof system these homes employ are planned and inspected to be held to a higher standard against conventional homes. Wind speeds are increased by 20 mph over local code. Sheathing thicknesses are increased, a secondary water barrier is installed to prevent water intrusion should the outer sheating become damaged. In our location which is prone to hurricane damage often times impact resistant windows are required. The Grande Dunes house illustrated here is constructed with ICF walls which adds a level of security against the elements. The subject I have been an advocate for pertaining to establishing a continuous load path from roof to foundation, is a requirement in fortified building. Even the fastners, anchors and connectors must be of corrosion resistant materials when exposed or coming into contact with treated materials. So why would one go to this extreme to get the certification other than their piece of mind and protection of their investment? Reduction of insurance rates of course. Besides designing a home that can withstand just about anything Mother Nature can fling at it, receiving reduced insurance premiums is icing on the cake.
Being in a predominantly slab foundation market, I seldom have the opportunity to spotlight engineered lumber for crawl space applications. Suriano Homes is building a model home in the Waterbridge community of Myrtle Beach utilizing Weyerhaeuser I level joist 11 7/8″ deep @ 16″o/c for the first level of the structure. They install quickly spanning long uninterupted areas by picking up intermediate bearing along the way. These I joist are superior over conventional lumber because of their uniformity and reduced tendency for warping and shrinkage. The real value in my mind is the ability to design for individual building loading conditions. Different series of I joist with varying flange sizes can be empircally verified for a variety of load conditions, offering good, better and best options. Modern I joist allow for larger holes to be cut in them for mechanical chases, which was a major drawback of any solid lumber flooring solutions. Here at the beach, I have been recommending them for waterproofed decks due to the increased live and dead loads requirements for this application. The second level of this home will be the 360 Series for spans exceeding 20′-0″. In the larger markets, with an optimum cutting facility, it is possible to get PET (precision end trimming) and specified mechanical opening precut. Knock out holes are drilled in the web of the I joist to easily allow wire passage. With increased residential building materials weight being imposed, such as slate countertops, kitchen islands and wood flooring, “eye” joist perform silently for the lifespan of the home as they were designed to do.