Design | Remodeling

How Feasible Is It to Remodel Your Attic?

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Remodeling your attic can not only give you much needed space for your family right now, but it adds to the future resale value of your home. So how difficult is it to turn your attic into an extra room?

Converting your unfinished attic into usable space is one way to increase the size of your home. From recreational spaces to bedrooms, the possibilities are nearly endless for an attic remodel. Before you start drawing up the plans, you should review the following things to make sure the project makes sense.

House of the Month: Rain or Shine, This House Is Always Green

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RainShine is the first modernist LEED Platinum house in the Southeast, according to architect Robert M. Cain.

Retired couple Chuck and Mary Bosserman purchased a lot near downtown Decatur, a suburb of Atlanta, Georgia, with the goal of building an energy-efficient home filled with natural light, cooled by cross-breezes, and supportive of their active lifestyle. However, they accomplished much more than that. Their vision, executed with the expertise of architect Robert M. Cain, AIA, LEED AP, resulted in a home that exceeds LEED Platinum standards – the greenest level of certification in the organization’s pilot program for homes. Dubbed “RainShine,” the home uses nearly half the energy of its traditional counterparts, and its modern aesthetic has attracted the attention of the community, creating opportunities for education.

When Zero Is Positive: Two Projects Achieve Net Zero Certification Through the Living Building Challenge

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The International Living Future Institute unveiled its Net Zero Energy Building Certification program in October 2011. In April 2012, the ILFI announced that it had awarded its first two certifications under the program.

Meeting any set of sustainable building standards is a challenge, but to reach net zero status – supplying 100% of a building’s energy needs through on-site renewable sources – is surely the Holy Grail of green design. The Living Building Challenge, a third-party certification program offered through the International Living Future Institute (ILFI), has recently launched the Net Zero Energy Building Certification option, and two projects have already attained certification. This program is not just another set of checklists, however. Following the poetic analogy of a flower, the ILFI uses the dandelion as a logo and emphasizes beauty, collaboration, and curative properties, giving back to the community and paying it forward.

Energy-Saving Strategies You Can See

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It’s no fun to spend money on something you can’t see. Therefore, some green homebuilders are giving you a peek inside their homes’ walls via full-scale "deconstructed" models in order to showcase their energy-saving features.

Homebuilders are finding that green homes, which save owners money in addition to helping the environment, are a powerful differentiator in today’s real estate market. However, buyers may be more motivated to invest in goods that they can actually see. Companies such as Central New York builder Miller Homes and Utah’s Garbett Homes are using deconstructed models to show prospective buyers – as well as building industry professionals and members of the general public – actual sustainable products located inside their buildings’ walls. Miller Homes was awarded a grant from the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority to implement high-performance building practices, with a focus on tightening the building envelope, and then partnered with Dow Building Solutions and CDH Energy to build an educational, deconstructed duplex. Garbett Homes has built several deconstructed models to reach out to their target market, first-time home buyers. Referring to a Garbett deconstructed model, Rene Oehlerking, director of marketing at Garbett Homes, says, “Nothing is mocked up. We built the home and we stripped the walls, basically taking parts of the home and peeling them back so people can see the actual application. Everything in our deconstruct is a standard feature.”

House of the Month: Saratoga Creek House by WA Design

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A single-family home conceived as a series of pavilions harmonizes with its site, while showcasing several art-meets-architecture pieces.

David Stark Wilson, AIA, is one of those rare architects who pursues passions beyond his profession. An avid mountaineer and photographer (his third monograph is soon to be hot-off-the-press), Stark Wilson’s love of nature is evident in his built work, particularly in his designs’ relationships with their sites and his subtle incorporation of texture and color. He founded the design/build firm WA Design in San Francisco’s Bay Area in the mid-1980s. Since then, the firm has completed a range of residential and commercial projects including the Saratoga Creek House, for which it simultaneously served as architect and contractor.

Green Home of the Month: Ross Street House in Madison, Wisconsin

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This month’s featured home in Madison, Wisconsin, is the personal residence of Carol Richard, AIA, LEED AP, and founding partner of Richard Wittschiebe Hand, an award-winning firm in Atlanta, Georgia.

Architect Carol Richard isn’t new to the challenges and rewards of designing and building green homes. In fact, she has spent her entire career helping her clients to marry livable, modern aesthetics with sustainable design. So when she and her husband, mechanical engineer Fred Berg, began to make plans to build their full-time residence upon retirement, the experienced duo was determined to pour all of their collective knowledge and expertise into a sustainable-living dream home.

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